Psalm 16:5-9 (NLT)
LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.
My heart is glad! I will rejoice! Is it really? As the days of November rush toward thanksgiving filled with a bountiful harvest of food and goodies, the gathering of family and friends, and preparation for the season of giving that is rapidly approaching, we should take a moment to look deeper to decide if our heart is truly glad. Can we rejoice? The chaos of the last days of the year are consuming. For the last two years, I have prepared for the holidays with the nursing staff of the Oncology Center where our son receives chemotherapy and other cancer treatment. My heart is heavy. It struggles to rejoice as endurance has produced weakness and weariness. Not again. Are we almost there yet? Over the river and through the woods is looking a whole lot better than this! Give me the whiny, crying, screaming kids in the back of the car who are healthy and whole just overtired and cranky. This will soon become a crammed packed holiday season filled with budget-busting Christmas lists, the various activities at church, parties and other events, culminating in tremendous pressure to make everyone’s gift wishes come true. This cycle repeats itself each year. Usually by October, I have many gifts stashed away, meals planned and calendar booked, but not this year. As if moving in slow motion watching the world like a giant merry-go-round just looking for a place to jump on and not break my neck, I am standing still. Where is my joy? Where is my gladness? I am thankful for Jesus Christ. I cannot wait to celebrate His Birth all over again it is the highlight of my year.
After each visit to the Infusion Center, I come home unpack and head to the gym. Do not judge me. I am not worried about the calories or lack of activity over the last couple of days. This is time to unpack my thoughts and align them with the “Mind of Christ”. I work out to worship music in an attempt to exercise my spirit along with my flesh. It seems like God knows exactly what I need in the shuffle of music as just the right song comes on each time that fits my need in the moment. So when the song came on “You Have Made Me Glad”, my first inclination was to hit fast forward and skip it. I was not feeling it. I was not happy. I was not glad. My joy was on skimpy reserve. I wanted a fresh anointing of God, not some old worship song I hadn’t heard in years. But then the words began to massage my heart, tears ready to spill out with the sweat of physical exertion, as she sang, “I will bless the Lord forever. (Ha, I was having trouble today.) I will trust Him at all times. (Not really how I was feeling today in the midst of my pity party.) He has delivered me from all fear. (So this is what it is all about – fear attacking my faith?) He has set my feet upon a ROCK. (Oh yea, I remember now.) I will not be moved. (Picking up the pace a little.) I’ll say of the Lord”…poor gym patrons to my right and left were about to get an earful as I repeated with the vocalist –“You are my shield. My Strength. My Portion. Deliverer. My Shelter. Strong Tower. My very present help in time of need!” God will meet you right where you are if you invite Him to join you there. Worship invites the Lord into your life wherever you are! He will meet you there and take you to where He is which is higher, wider, deeper and longer than anything you imagined. “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
Psalm 92:1-5 (Amplified)
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by the ten-stringed harp and the melody of the lyre. You thrill me, LORD, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done. O LORD, what great works you do! And how deep are your thoughts.
It is difficult to comprehend the vast parameters of God’s Love for us especially in a world that is larger than life, overwhelming, confusing and completely contradictory to the Kingdom of God. It is difficult to experience constant joy and peace in the wake of its chaos. It is not impossible. It is as simple as a choice. It is good to give thanks to God. It is good to sing praises to the Most High. But if you are waiting for the perfect day to do it, you will miss it altogether as the farmer who waits for perfect weather to plant. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) God loves you. Whether you woke up this morning feeling like it or not, God is love and He has proven that He loves you. We must proclaim God’s Love in our life each morning as an indication of trust that no matter how we “feel” that we “know” He loves us. At the end of each day, the fact that we made it through the day alive is proof enough that He is faithful. It doesn’t matter if everything did not go our way – as a Child of God went according to God’s Plan including the future and hope that He promised. You thrill me, Lord. I am willing to admit that it is a strange sensation to be sweating from every single pore on an elliptical and to feel the Presence of God meet you right there huffing and puffing along but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The moment the Presence of God arrives – His Peace overtakes the wildest of hearts and most random of thoughts to confirm that He is our joy and strength. God has made me glad. (Psalm 92:4 – NKJV) To remind myself of all that the Lord has done and the fact that my family will be together this Thanksgiving no matter how we spend the days preceding it reminds me of His Love and Faithfulness.
Psalm 4:5-8 (NKJV)
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the LORD. There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” LORD, lift up the light of Your Countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Gladness is a heart condition. Gladness and joy are two different things. Gladness is a feeling of joy or pleasure, delighted or pleased. It is demonstrating joy in our countenance or utterances. Listen to your words as they are a clear indication of the condition of your heart. Look in the mirror. Can others see the Joy of the Lord in your face and expressions or just worry, doubt and/or fear? Gladness is an expression of willingness. Huh? That’s right are you glad to worship the Lord or do you do it just to get something from Him? Because the Children of Israel did not serve the Lord with joy and gladness for their abundance a yoke of bondage was placed upon them. (Deuteronomy 28:47-48) We are given the primary duty and profound privilege of serving the Lord. It is when we do with the wrong motives that we step back into the bondage of performance and out of the parameter of trust. Every promise and blessing from God is part of your inheritance as His Child. It is with a glad and willing heart that these things make it into our life.
Psalm 100:1-2 (NLT)
Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth! Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.
Thankfulness is not seasonal. Worship is not traditional. Praise is not provisional. It is all a part of serving the Lord with gladness or willingness of heart. It is our privilege as He makes good on every promise with every detail of our life. He doesn’t need or want our help just our willingness to serve Him in all things and all seasons. Give the Lord each new day to work with by surrendering it first thing. (Psalm 118:24-25) Here you go Jesus do something with it. Meanwhile, I am going to serenade you with a heart of thankfulness, worship and praise. Lord, I surrender all my hopes and dreams to you for your inspection and follow-through. Change my life or reshape my heart whichever gets me closer to you! I humble or yield my life to you! (Psalm 69:32) Lord, today if I find joy and gladness in nothing else let me worship you because you reign. (I Chronicles 16:23-31) You are more than enough. You are my contentment and satisfaction no matter what circumstances or situations I face – I will bless the Lord at all times. Thank you Jesus that your unfailing love surrounds me when I choose to walk in Your Will, Word and Way. (Psalm 32:10-11) Thank you Jesus that I am saved! “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Psalm 46:1-7 (NLT)
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders and the earth melts! The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
Gladness or willingness is the conduit of tapping into the Joy of the Lord. It is a river that runs from His Presence to the Heart of His People. It is the “living water” that is to flow from our bellies. God is your strength today. You can count on the Lord to satisfy your soul. That is what joy is. Joy is defined as the emotion that is produced by great happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. To be glad to serve the Lord with a willing heart allows us to fully access the Joy of the Lord that changes our perception here on earth. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God and produces confident hope that we can trust the Lord in all things. It is in that place of hope that we willingly and gladly serve the Lord producing inexplicable joy that overwhelms us even in grave adversity and staunch opposition as the enemy tries to steal it, kill it and destroy it. But our inheritance (joy, peace and love among other things) is secure in God’s Presence to which we have free and unrestricted access through faith and righteousness. You can literally step in gladly and experience the Joy of the Lord every single day in every single season of life. “The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” (Proverbs 10:28) We can be glad simply because we have confident hope in the Lord. We need no other reason. It does not have to be accompanied by a particular season. It is an anchor for our soul! “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” (Hebrews 6:19) By faith, position yourself in the overflow of the rivers of joy that the Lord has prepared just for you. Serve Him gladly in all things and you will experience an overflow of God’s Unfailing Love like never before. You will be glad for no other reason than Jesus!
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NKJV)
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Will you be glad today? Despite the details and delays that seem to make us doubt and fear, will you boast gladly in the Strength of the Lord that enables you to go on? The Power of Christ rests upon those who are willing to say, “I am weak, Lord!” He rushes to those who say, “Here you take control, I can’t go any further.” He is looking for the one person who says, “I can do nothing outside the Power of Christ – Lord reign over my life!” God’s Grace is sufficient for you today, friend. His Love is ready to pour out over your life. He wants to clothe you in it. The early church understood that it was the simplicity of our heart that produces gladness so joined together to serve the Lord. They fellowshipped, formed relationships and combined all resources to focus on spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:42-47)Despite horrible persecution even death, they served the Lord with gladness. Souls were added to the Kingdom daily in their ministry of servanthood. Can we do the same? The gladness and willingness to serve the Lord with our life will produce His Glory! (I Peter 4:12-14)
Psalm 34:1-3 (NLT)
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me and let us exalt His name together.
This world is not going to get any better. The signs of the times are coming to pass at an alarming rate. Children of God have nothing to fear but a reason to rejoice. Our inheritance is closer than we can even imagine. Now is the time to serve the Lord with gladness as we prepare for His Return. Stop focusing on the insignificant details of ordinary life and step into the supernatural Presence of God by faith and confident hope. He will satisfy your soul and pour out His Peace. Joy will begin to flow through life and touch others all around you! This is your purpose, everything is going according to plan. Now go be glad…
Psalm 9:1-2 (NLT)
I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.