JOY IN THE LORD
Heavenly Father, as I begin this Sunday morning and meditate on your Word, renew my mind and transform my thoughts. Show me your good and perfect will.
Read PSALM 81
For the director of music. According to gittith.[b] Of Asaph.
1 Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
2 Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.
3 Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
4 this is a decree for Israel,
an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
5 When God went out against Egypt,
he established it as a statute for Joseph.
I heard an unknown voice say:
6 “I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
7 In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.[c]
8 Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
9 You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
10 I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
11 “But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.
13 “If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat has God done for you? Beyond the gift of life in Jesus and the Spirit—what has God done in your life? What difference has he made?
Verses 1 and 2 made a great introduction to a service of praise and worship—maybe even for your service today! But what if ‘joy’ is the very last thing you feel in your heart? In this psalm, making joyful music came not from emotion but willing obedience: It was a ‘decree,’ an ‘ordinance,’ a ‘statute’ (vv. 4, 5). But how can God command us to be joyful?
In the Bible, joy has an object: God. And it was closely linked with the thankfulness of remembrance (vv. 7–10). Biblical joy begins not with emotion but with choosing to rejoice in what God has done for us, no matter how we feel at the moment. Thank God that his gift of life depends not on how we feel day to day, but on what he has already done.
When I find myself in a funk, it is nearly always due to my stubborn heart (v. 12). In those times, joy seems impossible to find. The answer? To listen and to follow what God (and I) know is best for me (v. 13). Oh, that it were as easy to do as to say!
However you feel today, can you rejoice in what God has done for you? If you’re finding it a challenge, try to listen to the words of Scripture—listen and follow them into the heart of God’s love for you.
Lord Jesus, help me to abide in you and know the fullness of your joy—the joy that only you can give. Help me to remember all you have done, follow you in obedience, and cling to your promises.
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