The pursuit of Joy. Day 6

The Psalms: the last installment

Distant songs of joy

  1. We can proclaim the satisfying pleasure we find in God through jubilant song and shouts of victory, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and horns, with dancing. Not only that, but the rivers will clap and the mountains will sing because God has done marvelous things like revealing and clothing us with his salvation. God’s right hand has done mighty things!  (Psalm 98, 107, 132, 118, 149)
  2. God’s law is our joy (119:111)

    “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”

  3. To be liberated from slavery is joy and the cause of it, which God has given us and why we sing songs of joy to him. (105, 126:2)

    When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

  4. In times of sorrow, songs of joy are distant, but we yearn to sing them once again. (Psalm 137)

    “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How can we sing songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? If I forget you Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.”

I wish I sang songs of joy more often for the salvation God has given me, for the freedom he has liberated me to in Christ. I wish I was so moved that I might praise God with dancing and instrument, with laughter and joy. There are times when I forget that I have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord and that he is ever with me!

But I can imagine the sorrow the nation of Israel felt in exile, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land,” they said as they hung up their harps.

Unit next time…

Counting My Blessings Day 7

I can’t remember if I posted today or yesterday. This is what happens when it’s late. Image

 

This isn’t a picture of my bicycle but a strangers bike I saw on a sidewalk once, but my bicycle is a blessing especially because I’ve been without it since July 18th. I’ve been counting.

Tomorrow I get to ride it once again because it’s fixed.

I want to ride my bicycle, and yes I even prayed that I would get it back :)

God blesses me in the greatest ways, I’m also easily pleased; though I miss out on a lot of blessings God gives me because I can’t see. This one is pretty obvious though.

It’s going to be SO fun tomorrow. I might not even sleep… that’s how excited I am.

On Submission and Sovereignty

Warning: This is a long one, but summarizes a lot of what God has taught me in my life thus far (at least recent life anyway)

One might assume the redundancy of mentioning a statement such as “bad things happen”.  It’s truth is well… truth. But still necessary for those, like the few I’ve run into lately, who actually believe that life is going good even though they still feel this emptiness and sadness inside.

Whatever faith you have, whatever you believe there is this one fact you can’t deny. You look out into the world and see the brokenness, the loneliness; you look out at the earth and feel the pull, the desire for something good. We yearn for a time of no more tears, of peace, of happiness.

A song from Mumford and Sons says “There will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.” We long to get rid of this bad and replace it with whatever notion of good we think could suffice. At least that’s what I do, over and over again. That’s what I feel. I long to replace my bad feelings with good, my hurtful memories with rolling hills and greenery, sunshine.

It’s so easy to look at God and see, how can he be good if there is bad? How can the truth that he destined everything to be the way it is, including the bad things that happen, be good?

The other Wednesday I heard a teaching from a man from a sister church in Minnesota, talking about God’s sovereignty and how he has specifically asked each and every one of us to follow of life of certain measures and means, that every event has been handpicked for our lives so that God might know us and us Him. For me, the fact that God has specifically “ordained” my life events to transpire made me angry. It means that He has allowed and planned specific bad things to happen in my life. Later that week I went home and just cried out in anger to God. “I can’t help but be angry with you. I’m so angry at you God. Why do you give me this life, why do you pick these things to happen to me. God, I feel unjust in my anger towards you, but I can’t help but be so.”

Earlier I had the tendency to be angry at others, at Satan which is all a cover for our anger towards God. God ordains everything, even the actions that Satan wants to commit, he can do nothing above the Lord’s authority as Christ came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and has all authority over everything on earth and in Heaven (Matthew 28:18)

So it felt good in a way to go to God and share my anger with him, towards him; but I was angry none the less. My anger again, was rooted in the fact that God has placed bad things in my life on purpose. The tendency here seems to be, in my heart (and what I assume to be in the hearts of others) is that because “bad” things happen, God is bad.

The truth however is that God knows your heart, before you were born he knit you, and knew just what decisions you would make, and all the ways you would choose the world over Him. He knows just how it’s going to impact you and He knows exactly what it takes to win your life over to Himself. Acts 17:26-27 He determined the times set for them (all men) and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

 I consider the present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation (thats us) waits in eager expectation (the desire for things to be good) for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subject to frustration (anger for “bad” things) not by it’s own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it (that’s God), in hope that the creation itself (us again) will be LIBERATED from its BONDAGE to decay and BROUGHT into the GLORIOUS FREEDOM of the children of God (thats Christians). We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. [Even us saints] groan inwardly as we wait EAGERLY for our adoption as sons, the REDEMPTION of our bodies.

Romans 8:17-23 (emphasis mine of course)

I love this verse because it speaks a lot of truth about why God gives us trials, that we would be freed. You can’t be freed unless you are not. God is using this to show his power and his love. (There is also a lot more to say about such things, but that would take a book [The Bible] )

So what does this have to do with submission?

Well it’s starts with me being angry at God on a Friday and ending up in the office of a beloved Beth Moss on a Monday.

Like I said I was angry with God for giving me the life he has, wishing he could take my memories, or maybe just go back and re-write a few parts. Who wouldn’t want to do that (besides people who are completely content with their life or are more mature in their faith than I). Thing is… that’s not possible. Wishing for another life is like saying God, the life you’ve given me just isn’t good enough. And then I spit in his face. God has given me the life he’s given me because he’s working my life out in ways (though sometimes I can) I don’t understand… yet.

Mrs. Beth Moss gave me some really good perspective from God.

Luke 22:41-42 “He (Jesus) withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them [a measure of distance away], knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet NOT MY WILL, but YOURS be done.”

Christ knew the suffering he would have in store, not only the physical punishment, but the torment and complete loneliness of being turned away from God. He asked God to take the cup, but still says “Your will be done” Christ submits his heart to the father even though he is in ANGUISH (vs 44 NIV).

I can ask God to take this cup he’s given me, but I can submit my heart and my life to him regardless of what he does.

I also stop and consider that I will NEVER have to experience the ANGUISH that Christ experienced. God has rescued me from that. I have confidence in faith in God’s promise of eternal life and hope in being liberated from this life to the next.

If God is going to use me as a part of his plan, don’t you think I’d want to be apart of it: THE REDEMPTION of our SOULS! Why wouldn’t I want to submit to a God like that, a God with such power.

I love the lyrics to a song by Leeland called “I wonder”

I am afraid, for no ones ever sacrificed and loved me this way. So on my face I fall under your heavy grace and here I lay in awe and wonder.

When I am angry, and wishing God to take my cup, I resubmit my heart to God and say “Your will be done”. God could take my cup, but that’s for him to decide to do so as the creator of the world.

A verse that is encouraging for my suffering, the laying down of my life for God’s glory to shine through because of the greatest sacrifice that God has made is 2 Corinthians 6: 4-10

…As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing everything.

And to summarize: Galatians 2:20- For I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,but Christ lives in me. The life I live in body I, live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

My prayer is that I can take this a submit my heart to God all the time. Trials and sufferings are hard but I have confidence in God who is using my life for his glory. What worth do I have but to glorify God?

1 Timothy 6:12 – Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…

However, I count my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)