Some of the most precious verses in the Bible were penned when the writer was experiencing strife, grief, turmoil, or heartache. From an earthly perspective, we can’t always distinguish between what’s trouble and what’s a blessing—at times trouble results in some of God’s most wonderful blessings in our life. And yet there’s a tendency to think that if we live just right in this ungodly world, we won’t have to face any struggles.
David was able to write Psalm 32, not because he’d calmly sat on a hilltop somewhere, watching sheep and playing his harp. Rather, he could express those profound truths after undergoing great difficulty and heartache as well as God’s forgiveness and deliverance. The joy David found in the Lord was sweeter because he had tasted bitterness.
The heavenly Father will not always rescue you swiftly from trouble. He may watch you float downstream, right toward the waterfall, while you call out, “Lord, don’t You see where I am headed?” He does see you. He knows when you’re at your wits’ end, when you’re hurt and broken, when you feel resentful and bitter. So why does He sometimes seem so far away in those situations?
The Lord doesn’t necessarily intervene as we would like Him to, but He’s always present in our times of trouble (Psalm 46:1-3, Psalm 46:7). What’s more, He meets our needs in a way that benefits us in the long term instead of merely providing a quick fix. The question we should ask ourselves is, Am I willing to learn what God wants to teach me through this situation?
Bible in One Year: Proverbs 5-8
Read: 2 Chronicles 7:1–10
Bible in a Year: Job 38–40; Acts 16:1–21
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. —Psalm 100:1
My granddaughter’s favorite tune is one of John Philip Sousa’s marches. Sousa, known as “The March King,” was a US composer in the late nineteenth century. Moriah isn’t in a marching band; she’s only twenty months old. She just loves the tune and can even hum a few notes. She associates it with joyful times. When our family gets together, we often hum this song along with claps and other boisterous noises, and the grandchildren dance or parade in circles to the beat. It always ends in dizzy children and lots of laughter.
Our joyful noise reminds me of the psalm that implores us to “worship the Lord with gladness” (Ps. 100:2). When King Solomon dedicated the temple, the Israelites celebrated with praises (2 Chron. 7:5-6). Psalm 100 may have been one of the songs they sang. The psalm declares: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. . . . Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (vv. 1-2, 4). Why? “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever”! (v. 5).
Our good God loves us! In grateful response, let’s “shout for joy to the Lord”! (Ps. 100:1). —Alyson Kieda
Dear Lord, give us thankful hearts to praise You, because You are good and all that You do is good. Your love endures forever!
Praise is the overflow of a joyful heart.
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)
How can you rejoice in the Lord always? Sometimes life might seem too difficult for you to be happy. However, you can always rejoice in God’s Word. David, the man after God’s own heart, found great delight in God’s Word. David calls God his “exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4). He says, “I will delight myself in [God’s] commandments, which I have loved” (Psalm 119:47), and “let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight” (Psalm 119:77). David found so much delight in God’s Word!
But what about you? How can you rejoice in God’s Word? The first step is obvious: Read it! Read it, looking for how great and amazing God is on every page. Read it prayerfully. Read it as God Word to you, and then talk back to Him in response – speaking right back to Him! Few people truly delight in God’s Word, and most of them do not even try to delight in it. Do you ever read because you have to? or because you think you ought to? You should read God’s Word as much as you can because you love it! You should not be able to get enough of it! You should want more and more time with God, just as a deer longs for the water brooks! (See Psalm 42:1.) Pray about it; ask God to help you love His Word more.
You can live joyfully because you have God’s eternal, unchanging Word, and because you have a great God. No matter what happens, you can, and should, always rejoice in the Lord. Rejoicing in God’s Word isn’t all! There are all kinds of things to rejoice in. Look in the Bible to see what else God has given you to rejoice in. Learn to delight in God’s Word as David did, and say with him “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). Rejoice in God’s Word!
Rejoice in God’s Word.
» Have I spent time reading God’s Word today?
» What did I learn about God today in His Word?
» How can I rejoice in the Lord today?
For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father! —Romans 8:15
The apostle Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption. The word adoption means that we are brought into the family of God, even though we were previously outsiders, unrelated to God in any way. We were sinners and separated from God, but God in His great mercy redeemed us, purchased us, and brought us close to Him once again through the blood of His own Son.
We understand adoption in the natural sense. We know that some children without parents are adopted by people who purposely choose them and take them as their own. What an honor to be chosen on purpose by those who want to pour out their love on them.
This is exactly what God did for us as believers in Christ. Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are now eternally part of His family, and His Spirit dwells in our spirit and cries out to the Father. God the Father decided before the foundation of the world was laid that anyone who loved Christ would be loved and accepted by Him as His child. He decided He would adopt all those who accepted Jesus as their Savior. We become heirs of God and joint heirs with His Son, Jesus Christ.
It is the knowledge of our family relationship to God that gives us boldness to go before His throne and let our requests be made known.
From the book Closer to God Each Day by Joyce Meyer.
“For He has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).
A famous general invited me to his office. He was hungry for God and eager to become a Christian. Yet as we counseled together, he seemed reluctant to pray. I inquired as to his reluctance, and he said, “I don’t understand myself. I want to receive Christ, but I can’t.”
I turned to Colossians 1:13,14 and asked him to read it aloud. Then I asked him to tell me what he thought it meant. The light went on. Suddenly he realized that he was a member of Satan’s kingdom, and Satan was trying to hinder his being liberated from darkness and gloom into the glorious light of the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Satan did not want him to receive Christ into his heart.
As soon as the man realized he was a member of Satan’s kingdom, he was ready to pray and receive Christ into his life so that he would then become a member of God’s kingdom.
I, too, was once in Satan’s kingdom – not a very pleasant thought, but true. And so were you if you are a Christian. Every person born into this world is a part of Satan’s kingdom; all who are not now experiencing the saving grace and love of Christ are a part of his kingdom.
It is God the Holy Spirit who enables men to comprehend spiritual truth. It is God the Holy Spirit who liberates men from darkness into light. It is God the Holy Spirit who is responsible for the new birth that brings men into the kingdom of God.
When we go out to witness, it is not enough to know God’s plan. It is not enough to know the Four Spiritual Laws. It is not enough for us to be nicely groomed and properly scented. We need to go in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. He alone can change men.
Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:10-13
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: My first concern in everything I do and every contact I make today will be that the power of God’s Holy Spirit will be operative in my life, so that others will see His supernatural qualities in my life and want to join me in following Him.
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. Mark 6:30-32
Wise leaders lead their team (and/or family) into a time of rest. They find a quiet place and rest together. Rest is required after extreme busyness because your spirit begins to rebel against the hustle and bustle. The joy you found in service for God starts to fade, and people become a drain rather than a blessing. It is time to break away to a solitary place, for you cannot continue at a breakneck pace. It is unrealistic, bordering on contempt for God.
Even Jesus took a break. If you continually push yourself and others, you will eventually lose all energy and perspective. A driven heart becomes a judgmental heart. You begin to look down on people for not pulling their weight. Jaded criticism replaces your joy. You feel you’re the only one who is really committed. Your peers have become slackers in your mind. Be careful; you may be serving out of your own strength, not the Spirit’s. It is the Holy Spirit that sustains you over the long haul. Wise leaders understand the danger of an unsustainable schedule: You begin to sacrifice relationships in order to reach unrealistic goals.
Read 1 CHRONICLES 8
Karl Vaters, church pastor and author of The Grasshopper Myth, calls small churches “the next big thing.” Vaters believes “small churches are uniquely poised to meet the needs of Millennials and perhaps turn the tide on the trend of the unchurched.”
Today’s passage focuses on the tribe of Benjamin, described as “little” in Psalm 68. This tribe was descended from Jacob’s youngest son. At the time of the first census it numbered 35,400 and by the second census had grown to 45,600 (Num. 1:37; 26:41). When Saul was chosen to be Israel’s first king, he noted that Benjamin was “the smallest tribe of Israel” and he was from least significant clan in that tribe (1 Sam. 9:21). Benjamin distinguished itself by siding with David when the Northern tribes revolted against him.
In chapter 8, the author mentions several locations within Benjamin, placing special emphasis on Gibeon and Jerusalem. Jerusalem shared a border with Judah and Benjamin. The chapter concludes with the family of Saul, setting the stage for the narratives that follow which describe the rise of David and the establishment of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The story of Benjamin is mixed. It includes tales of victory as cities were built and giants defeated, but there is an underlying note of warning. The original audience would have known that Saul’s reign began with promise but ended in tragedy.
An old hymn asks, “Does the place you’re called to labor seem too small and little known? / It is great if God is in it, And He’ll not forget His own.” God is not daunted by small size or limited resources. As the refrain of this song declares, “Little is much if God is in it.”
APPLY THE WORD
Little is much if God is in it—but He must be in the method as well as the motive. As the stories of Saul and David demonstrate, small size is no obstacle, but our failure in the areas of faith and obedience will be. Ask God where and how He wants you to exercise your faith today. The sphere may be small, but the effect will be great.