Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory, honour, and power, for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created. (Revelation 4:11.)
We are to rejoice in the Lord always. We are to consider everything joy when we encounter various trials. We are to have a song of praise in our mouths for God has lifted us from the miry clay and has put us on a solid rock. From Genesis to Revelation we find the people of God giving praise and adoration to their great King and Saviour. Abraham offered sacrifices to God (Gen. 12:7; 13:4, 18; 22:9). So did Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 26:25; 28:18). Moses, when seeing the bush burn without being consumed, heard the voice of God say, ‘Take off your shoes for the place you are standing is holy ground’ (Exod. 3:5). God later gave explicit directions on how he was to be worshipped in the building of the tabernacle (Exod. 25-31). After witnessing the awesome destruction of the Egyptian army by drowning in the Red Sea the people of God sang a song of praise to their mighty deliverer (Exod. 15). The glory of God in the form of a cloud hovered over the tabernacle and the people bowed down to worship him (Exod. 40). Joshua met the captain of the Lord’s host and was told the same thing as Moses – ‘Take off your shoes. The place where you are standing is holy ground’ (Josh. 5:13-15). When Sisera fled from Barak and hid in the tent of Jael, and she drove the tent peg through his head, the people sang praises to the God who had delivered them from oppression (Judg. 5). And of course much of David’s praise and adoration is found in his Psalms. Solomon praised the Lord (1 Kings 8:22ff). And we see praise and humble, joyful adoration given to Yahweh by the prophets. In one of the more remarkable examples of the Lord Jesus giving adoration to his Father, when seeing the hardness of heart of the religious leaders and the willingness of the poor to receive him, he says, ‘I praise Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and hast revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well pleasing in Thy sight’ (Matt. 11:25-26). And the Apostle Paul, in the midst of instruction, often bursts forth into praising God, seemingly unable to control himself, becoming lost in praise and wonder at the great mercy and grace of God (Rom. 11:33-36; 1 Tim. 1:17). And we repeatedly find the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and myriads of angels giving praise and adoration to the Lord Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, the bright and morning star, the Faithful Witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth, the One who has loved us, who has released us from our sin by his blood (Rev. 1, 4, 5).
And why is it that these great saints of biblical antiquity find the praise of God constantly on their lips? They seem to understand powerfully what we too often take for granted – all they have, all they are, every aspect of their eternal salvation is by God’s mercy and grace. They understood they had a cobra heart (Psa.58:1-5), that they loved sin and hated God, that consequently they lived a godless life and had a filthy past (Rom. 3:10ff). They came to know they were under the very wrath of God, that they had no hope, that they were without God in this world (Eph. 2:12). They came to understand they lived a poisonous life, that like an herbicide sprayed on crops in a field kills everything on which it lands, their relationships were destroyed (James 3:2-12), that all their religious or moral efforts to conquer their sin problem were to no avail. But God came to them in the person and work of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). He brought someone to them who preached Jesus and him crucified. The Spirit caused them to be born again, to have the heart of Jesus that loves God and hates sin, that applied the pure, precious, and undefiled blood of Jesus to their souls, that washed away all their sins, that gave them the very righteousness of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1-8; Col. 1:13-14), that gave them the holiness of Jesus (1 Cor. 1:30) that enabled them to walk in holiness, to obey the law of God (Ezek. 36:27). They, along with Isaiah, after seeing the three-fold holiness of God, came to understand the depth of their sin and cried out to God, ‘Woe is me, I am undone’ (Isa. 6:1ff). In the light of God’s holiness Isaiah came to see that it was as though he was a decomposing body in a tomb. He was utterly and completely annihilated. But God had mercy on him, on the others, and they consequently could not help but give continuous praise to God.
Why then, my friend, do we tend to go through our days grumbling, cold-hearted, complaining about how our spouses, children, parents, or employers treat us? I am not unaware that sorrow often comes our way. Jesus wept and so do we at the loss of loved ones. James tells us to consider everything as joy (James 1:2-4) but later he tells us to be miserable, and mourn, and weep, to let our laughter be turned to sorrow and our joy to gloom (James 4:9). Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 3:1; 4:4) but earlier in the same epistle he tells us that he wept over those in the church who actually were enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18). The glory, the mystery of the Christ-centred life, is the complementarity of truth. Jesus is 100% God, and he is 100% man. The Bible is the Word of God, but it is recorded, written down by man. God chooses people to be saved before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5), but everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13). And so it with us in joy and sorrow! We are to rejoice always and we are to weep and mourn over our sin and the sin and suffering we find in the world. Only the true Christian can do both.
So you are to live a life of constant adoration and praise to God. I am presently in Uganda (January 24-February 5 2012) and I am seeing this first-hand. This past week in Ft. Portal, in the west, at our School of Evangelism, the two hundred people there, the poorest of the poor, broke forth continually into praise at our preaching. On two occasions, while I was preaching, people came forward and put a few thousand Ugandan shillings (a dollar or two) on the pulpit in appreciation for what they were hearing. When we took them out to share the gospel in the streets I saw men and women run to the front of the church, to stand in line behind the ones who would be leading them out. I saw one man jump in the air for joy, like he had scored a game-winning goal in a soccer game, at the prospect and privilege of sharing Jesus that day. It seems to me that the more material goods we have, the harder it is to see truly what God has done for us. When people have nothing, they come to see that when they have Jesus, they have everything. Most of us live in untold wealth yet we too often seem to lack the joy of the Lord. Step back, my friend, and see what great things God has wrought for you in your eternal salvation! Indeed, you were without hope, you were without God in this world, but you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Jesus. Yes, rejoice in the Lord. Again I say rejoice in the Lord!
- The third of eight core values for life and ministry. The first two are Scripture saturation and meditation.
Rev. Allen M Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. He planted (2003) and served as Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Connecticut, until December 2011. His weekly devotional, ‘Forget None of His Benefits’, can be found here.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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