Rejoice and Sing Out His Praises

Rejoice and Sing Out His Praises

What causes you to rejoice? It may be a long or short list, depending on temperament or circumstance—not that circumstances are the true source of joy, but struggles can, indeed, make joy more difficult to maintain. The world is constantly trying to “sell” us on joy: “Just use this product or listen to this guru and you will have joy. Just throw off restraints, do your own thing, actualize yourself, deny yourself no pleasure, and you will have joy.”

Our world is more “liberated” from the “restrictions” of God than ever in the last millennia, and yet there still seems to be a dearth of joy. People appear to be unhappier, more stressed and anxious, deeper in depression, angrier, and less satisfied that ever. Where is all the joy that “freedom” from the alleged shame and guilt produced by all the rules placed on us by the Bible and religion?

It’s been the lie foisted on mankind since the Garden of Eden. God gave them one restriction—ONE—and the devil hissed in their ears, “If you want to be truly fulfilled, truly happy, throw off that rule and do your own thing. Then you’ll have what’s lacking. You’ll have full joy.” The devil has been repackaging that same lie ever since. He doesn’t have to change it much, because we tend to fall for it generation after generation.

Pastor Jay Childs is fond of saying, “Holy people are happy people,” and that is the truth that we are constantly deceived into denying. We were created to be in fellowship with a holy God, and to do so we must be holy, for He cannot draw near to sin. All that is happiness, indeed all that is beyond happiness and is that deeper joy, is found in Him. So those who embrace those God-instituted “restrictions” that the world, flesh, and devil entice us to throw off, are the ones who find true joy, because joy and happiness are found in Him alone.

The modern thrust of self-love, self-actualization, and the other selfisms preached by our culture (and sometimes even in the church) leave us flat and unfulfilled. We don’t find that kind of talk in the Bible or in the gospel. In fact, what Jesus says is, “Deny yourself and take up your cross.” What Jesus modeled what not doing His own thing, but walking in full dependence on and submission to the Father. When hungry after forty days of fasting, Jesus didn’t take feeding Himself into His own hands, even though it was a legitimate need and He had the power to do so. Instead, He submitted to the dependence on and provision of the Father. Our modern way of thought would be for us to take the initiative, display our power, and satisfy ourselves. We can couch such an attitude in spiritual terms, such as: God has given me the power, so He must intend for me to use it. But have we even taken His will and ways into consideration before we act? And is satisfying ourselves the way to true joy, or would that be better found in waiting on Him and being lost in the wonder and joy of how He Himself provides for us?

We tend to think our joy is found in what we attain, but it is really found in Whom we attain (or has attained us) and what is found in Him. He is the Source of all good, and that is especially true of joy. Our anthem reminds us of that Godward focus as our source of joy. We are enjoined to sing praises to Him. One of the biggest joy-robbers in our lives come when our focus is on our circumstances and not on the Lord. What we focus on is what sets our mood, so when we moan and complain about the inconveniences, sorrows, and pains—it pulls us down, we become “under the circumstances.” But when we focus on the Lord, praising Him for His goodness, love, mercy, presence, strength…we are lifted above the circumstances to the place of joy—the fullness of joy in His presence!

The anthem speaks of rejoicing being a decision we make. “I will rejoice.” We have a choice where we will put our focus. So, we can choose to remember all the benefits the Lord has given us, as it says in Psalm 103. Where would we be if He hadn’t forgiven our sins? O rejoice, Christian! You are fully forgiven! And He is our Healer—many times in this life, and ultimately in the next—not just of the body, but of our souls, spirits, and minds. We must choose to rejoice in these rather than take them for granted.

He has redeemed our lives from the pit. Do we think of this enough? Do we realize what our destiny was before we were saved? We were dead already, and headed for eternal destruction, but He rescued and redeemed us by His own blood. He took away our filthy rags of all of our sins and placed white clothes of His own righteousness upon us, and set a crown upon our heads—a crown of His love and compassion.

Do we rejoice in His love? Think about all He has done for us in His love—the giving of His very life and abundant good gifts. Do we marvel at that, and rejoice in it?

Do we rejoice that He alone satisfies us, and fills our lives with good things? No amount of worldly things we pour into our lives will ever fill the void, for we have a God-shaped hole that it takes an infinite God to fill. We will only find our joy in Him. So, let us make it our choice to rejoice, and to experience the joy He longs for us to find in Him alone.