JOY: FIGHT FOR IT
It is an absolute treat to write for the 61 Exchange blog today! Amy Boland and I have gotten to spend some time together as we both recently moved to Washington, DC from Atlanta, GA. My husband Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City DC, and we are beyond grateful to have Amy as one of the leading door holders in our house (church). We are living in special days: Passion City DC is launching April 1st on Easter Sunday, and we cannot be more excited!
This last December I rearranged, recorded and released a song called “Holy: An Ode To Joy”. I wanted to put a fun Christmas song out during a time where Joy is expected but not always present. Holidays can make it tough to be joyful, so I wanted to journey with others toward Choosing, Fighting for, and Sharing Joy! Amy asked me to talk about Joy, specifically from Psalm 95. I immediately said yes, because I love this chapter in Psalms because I am a worship leader, and it is an Exuberant Call to Worship.
So I hope you don't mind if we do a little Bible study in today’s blog!
Grab your Scripture and lets jump in!
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[a]
as you did that day at Massah[b] in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
I love all of the verbs in this call to worship! Right off of the top the Psalmist is telling us to “SING FOR JOY” and “SHOUT ALOUD” to the Lord… The Rock of our SALVATION!
Why? Well, let’s find out! It says here that God is Great and the King above all gods. It says that everything we know physically: the earth, mountains, sea, dry land, even our physical bodies are here because HE created us - He is “the Lord our Maker”. That’s definitely something to be Joyful about!
This Psalmist / worship leader is also calling us to humbly come and “bow” down and “kneel” with grateful hearts because this GREAT God cares about us. We are to SHOUT LOUD and sing joyfully with songs and music because we have a Magnificent Maker God that cares; HE CARES ABOUT US!! He even calls us his people. We are HIS Flock and we know HIS VOICE because we are HIS. HE HAS RESCUED US! HE IS THE ROCK OF OUR SALVATION! What more could we ask for than the creator of the universe to know us, choose us and intimately love us?
Why wouldn’t we come to him joyfully?
Well, for some reason the Psalmist is begging us in verse 7 to hear his voice.
We are directed to not be like our ancestors… Why?
I think it is because the people of old did exactly what we do today…
Sometimes we forget the sound of his voice.
I realized my forgetfulness in my own life when I was here in DC, and honestly, feeling pretty sad. I had everything in the world to be happy about but for some reason I was joyless. It was early November when I was dropping my husband, Ben, off for a meeting, he said two short sentences to me before shutting the door: “Are you ok? You seem sad.” I wasn’t sure how to respond except, “I’m just tired.” He shut the door and I drove home. Upon arriving and carrying Owen, who had miraculously fallen asleep in the car, up three flights of stairs to his bed, I received an odd “ding” on my phone. A random twitter from Tim Keller showed up on my notifications that said something that I felt was a trigger to snap me out of the strange hypnosis I felt I was in.
“There is no one more miserable and uninteresting than the self absorbed.”
Hmm. I feel miserable. And I don’t want to be uninteresting…
Wow… the problem is me. I am thinking WAY too much about … ME. I AM SELF-ABSORBED. These are a few things I have found true of myself & some others who have shared their hearts with me:
*We listen to our own voices too much.
*We believe everything we think.
*We convince ourselves of somethings that just aren't HIS WAY.
*We believe lies about who God is, who we are, and how He deals with us.
I have found that the result is : Lack of faith and absolutely NO JOY.
REMEMBER THIS —> GRATITUDE FUELS JOY.
AND —> FORGETFULNESS STIFLES GRATITUDE.
The Israelites forgot that God Mightily & Miraculously led them out of Egypt where they were being brutally enslaved by Pharaoh. HE WAS THEIR SALVATION! He split open seas & destroyed kings for his people! He heard their cries and through Moses, led them out of Egypt. They rightly danced when they reached the other side of the Red Sea, but once life got hard living in the unknown wilderness, they thought more about the minor aches and pains of the desert than the absolute horror of Egypt. They believed that God only cared enough about them to get them that far, so
THEY FORGOT HIS GOODNESS. Even after he gave them sweet honey bread & quail dinners DAILY and topped it off with an ever flowing glass of water from a rock.
**Their gratitude turned to grumbling** Sound familiar?
I think we as women do this. Especially in the wilderness / our dry times.
*We think we are forgotten and so we forget.
*We forget who God is an who we are in Him.
*We forget the close and intimate voice of our Good Shepherd.
*We believe that he doesn’t care about us.
Especially when we don't get what we think is best for us at the time. We often compare ourselves to others who we think God likes more than us because they are getting the things that we want. <—By the way: Comparison Steals Joy
*We get bitter and start turning our attention more on ourselves rather than Jesus and the great commandment which is to Love God and Love people,
*We grumble and we forget gratitude.
The reason I was so sad, void of joy, was because I was totally “naval-gazing” and only thinking about & listening to — MYSELF.
I was the problem.
I forgot to listen to the voice of the one who cares for me. I instead had been listening to my own thoughts that kept replaying in my brain.
That was great news! I had found the root!
SO what now?
Well, I dug deeper… and deeper and yes, the root was the pity party I was throwing for myself. The self-absorption I had been living in had buried me in sadness.
In finding the root, however, I felt free and trapped all at the same time! Why?
Well… I dug down down down to the root and realized while digging, all that dirt had piled up on top of me on my descent.
That dirt was SHAME. All over my head, all over my face.
Shame that I would be so vain…
Shame that I would, as a pastor’s wife, be there in this dark place…
Shame for not having foreseen it coming…
Shame for living in it for so long.
All that shame made me feel worthless, annoying, trapped.
How do I get out?
The Word & Prayer.
I had to wield these weapons in Psalm 95 to chop my way out and get back to joy!
I HAD TO STOP FORGETTING AND:
REMEMBER MY SALVATION: He saved a wretch like me and he will do it again in this! (EPHESIANS 2)
REMEMBER THE SOUND OF HIS VOICE, it is GENTLE and KIND- full of GRACE!
BE HUMBLE enough to confess this to someone that this had been going on and I want the Lights On! I immediately contacted multiple friends who will hold me accountable to not go back into this hole again. (JAMES 5:16)
BE GRATEFUL that there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus! I am never too far gone to join back in the song of the redeemed! JESUS has me EXACTLY where he wants me. I am going to keep pressing in to him. He has prepared good works so that I may walk in them. (ROMANS 8 & EPHESIANS 2:10)
We have to fight for joy.
I had to fight my way out of that hole by digging first, away from the shame that had collected like sediment above me, and then up and out where the dirt fell beneath me and filled up that hole instead of on top of me leaving me pinned.
This is going to happened again. I don’t want it to be true, but sometimes we are going to forget the sound of the voice of our Good Shepherd. And our forgetfulness will stifle our Gratitude which will in turn sap Joy from us. We don’t want that to happen, but when it does, we now know there are weapons we can wield to fight to get back to that JOY!
1. WE MUST REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS DONE: (He is our salvation!)
2. WE MUST REMEMBER THE SOUND of HIS VOICE. (He is a Good Shepherd)
3. WE MUST BE HUMBLE as we recall WHO HE IS and that HE CARES for us
4. WE MUST BE THANKFUL that we are CHOSEN, AND we are PERFECTLY PROVIDED FOR.
When we wield these “fight for Joy weapons” we will write songs of remembrance and sing them joyfully at the top of our lungs for all to hear that we are known and loved by a Great God who moved heaven and earth for his people to be with Him!
And when the world hears us singing…
They will want what we have:
A CONFIDENT, HUMBLE, GRATEFUL, RADIANT JOY!
FIGHT FOR IT…
Jesus, help us remember the sound of your voice, both strong and loving. You are the Joy of our salvation! We sing Loud with Gratitude to You.