Psalm 89:14-17 (NLT)
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong.
It’s Sunday. Many people are stirring around getting ready to head to the house of worship. Some will open their eyes and just roll over to go back to sleep. Why bother? I can live in condemnation, regret and guilt just fine without the hassle of others telling me what I have done wrong. This is not the One who is calling you closer today but the lie of the enemy trying to keep them in bondage. The covers are not holding them back. The excuses are not keeping them down. It is simply a lie that has taken hold of their heart. This is not an all call for you to get up, rush around, get everyone dressed, suck down some coffee, and make your life look somewhat orderly to head to the church to pretend to be something you’re not and fulfill your weekly obligation. No not at all. There are many ways to worship God with our life. Not everyone attends church on a regular basis although I must admit it helps me in so many ways to gather with other believers. But if the only reason you go is to find God, don’t bother.
God is in us. The Spirit of the Living God fills our heart to overflowing. Each and every day the Lord goes where we go, sees what we do, hears what we say and knows what we mean. It’s a little intimidating if you think about it, but it’s true. God is omnipresent which means that He is everywhere all at once. He knows everything about us without a formal introduction or even a commitment of our life because He made us. Sin separated us. Once we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we become Children of God once again. His Unfailing Love and His Word for our life go before Him ushering us into His Presence. When we get there, righteousness allows us to come in. Happy are those who hear the call to worship and not the words of condemnation from the greatest liar ever known.
Nehemiah 8:9-12 (NLT)
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.
Everyone gathered for a church service in the middle of the city. As the Word of God was read, the people fell under deep conviction and began to weeping. This was before the age of grace and their time of celebration hindered by the letter of the Law. But Nehemiah told the people to go celebrate. Don’t be sad, because “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” I think we should all listen to the words of Nehemiah today. We have been offered an opportunity to enter the Presence of God each and every day. Too often we hear what God is saying, but then because some concerned with what we are or are not doing that we forget what the Lord has already done for us. The people had gathered to celebrate but ended up weeping. God has given us great joy. His Unfailing love is better than anything else I have found to celebrate in my life. the Lord has forgiven our disobedience so we have a reason to worship Him no matter how many times we get it wrong.
I have shared many times that I listen to praise and worship music for my workout sometimes. It really seems to help when I am working on endurance rather than strength building. It encourages me to keep going as I get lost in it. Yesterday, I was running on the machine and fell into probably the greatest time of worship that I have had all week. The end of the workout was actually better than the first part according to the computer tracking my progress. This wasn’t hard pounding, thumping cardio jam just thinking about the Goodness of God with Kari Jobe and Bethel of all people. As it went from words in my ears to the testimony of my heart, I began running and praying right there in the gym and became overtaking by the Unfailing Love of God. Worship is getting lost in the Love of God. There is nothing that I can that is worthy of God’s Love and Goodness in my life. Worship is me entering His Presence to tell Him so.
Psalm 28:6-7 (NLT)
Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Church is not a place to go but who we are. When we join together with other believers, it is a congregation but we leave as a Temple of God. We bring the Holy Spirit with us to that place. It is unfair to expect the pastor, deacons, teachers, ushers and greeters to produce anything in our life. It is the God in us trying to get out. We learn from those we are with. You should never feel guilty in church. If anyone tries to guilt you into doing anything, it is religion. Your relationship with Jesus is the very thing that produces good things in our life both in attitude and action. The Lord is my Strength. He is my shield. He is the One who helps me. My heart is filled with inexpressible joy looking for a way out.
Psalm 32:1-2 (NLT)
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
Our overwhelming and unending joy comes from one simple truth – our sin has been forgiven. It is not that I am perfect or will ever be. No, it is in the fact that His Grace is enough for me… and you! We have all that we need to live in the Presence of God forever just as we are. There is joy for those who live for Jesus with complete honesty that means if you want the Lord surely you will act like it. You cannot have Jesus and hold on to sin, too. There is a difference between using grace as an excuse and accepting grace as a solution. God sees our hearts today. He knows those who love Him and those who are simply trying to use Him. I am talking to those who have fallen (just like me), who are not perfect (just like me), and who want God’s Plan for their life even though they struggle with faith and confident hope along the way (just like me). The people who in spite of themselves are desperate for His Love!
Psalm 146 (NLT)
Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations.
Joy comes in allowing God to be our strength in all things. We try to do the right thing but end up doing it all wrong sometimes. That’s okay. God perfects that which concerns us. When we give Jesus Christ our life, we are no long responsible for the results just to have faith and put our trust in Him. That’s all we have to do to have supernatural outcomes. We think we have to change, but it is the Lord in us who brings dead things back to life and makes something out of our nothingness. The Lord is our helper so we worship Him for that very reason alone.
Isaiah 61:10 (NLT)
I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.
Our daughter was married last November. We planned her wedding before, during and after her brother’s bone marrow transplant so you can imagine the added stress. My heart’s desire was for her day to be everything she dreamed of. I spent hours online while away and snuck in every opportunity to do all the things the mother of the bride gets to do. I remember the morning of her wedding just wanting to sit in the middle of the reception hall and cry. I was exhausted. So many details, this little problem and that unexpected challenge. God, I want this to be perfect. The next several hours seemed to fly by. The next thing I knew her new husband was whisking her away in the car for their honeymoon. As we all began to clean up from the festivities and give away the mounds of food left over, my phone buzzed with a text message. It was my daughter. Her words to me – “Thanks mom! It was perfect!” As a parent, this is what we live for to make our children’s life better. We get it from our God who is the best Father ever!
Today we need to find this happy place for ourselves and be overwhelmed with the Joy of the Lord. Why? He has clothed us with salvation and draped us in righteousness. It is a covenant relationship that completes us. It is perfect without us doing anything other than being committed to His Love as He is to be our love.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NLT)
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
True joy is found the moment we understand grace and what it really is about. It’s not an excuse. It’s not an oppressive weight. It is not a reason to kill ourselves trying to do the “work” of the Lord. Grace is simply to accept that I can do nothing apart from Jesus. He is the fulfillment of my life. I just need the Lord to have joy and peace in each moment. His Grace is all you need today. His Power works best in our weakness. Every one of us lives in this place so don’t let anyone fool you. Above all don’t let anyone even you keep you from finding that happy place God created in your life as your refuge – it’s called worship. It is your privilege as His Child. What are you waiting for? Find your happy place in Him today! What if today just for today you stopped trying to be a “good” Christian? What if you stopped trying to do all the “right” things? What if just for today you decided to fall in Love with Jesus all over again? Would it be enough? Yes, for both of you!
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NLT)
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! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.