Religion article written by Dr. Bob Allen:
RECOVERING THE POWER OF JOY News Of Great Joy “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) The great theme of Christmas is Joy – joy that a Savior has come, joy that the door is open for all men to return to the blessing and favor of God – joy arising from our faith in the good tidings of great joy. Joy is one of the great themes of the Bible. It is the natural response to the revelation of goodness of God. There are more 800 scriptures that exhort us to rejoice or praise the Lord. Paul actually says that our assignment in life is to praise God. “We were also chosen as God’s own, .. in order that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be for the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12) Our highest destiny is to acknowledge, welcome, and rejoice in God ‘s goodness.
Obviously praise and thanksgiving is not the language of the world around us. It is definitely not the language of politics or of the media. Praise is the holy language of the priests of the Most High God. “7 On that day David first appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the Lord in this manner: 8 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 11 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” (I Chronicles 16.7)
The language of the world is colored by fear, anxiety and worry. It is a language of complaint – what the Bible calls ‘murmuring’. Before we became believers and discovered the inexhaustible grace and provision of God, most of us spoke that language too. However, When God (through Jesus’ coming, death, resurrection and ascension) lifted us up out of
the miry pit of the world, to sit with Him in the heavens. He lifted us out of the strife and fear that controls the world. He also gave us a new language and put a song of praise in our mouths. “He brought me up also out of the pit of hopelessness, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and straightened my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.” (Psalm 40:2-3)
The Rejoicing Priesthood
As followers of Jesus, we share in His priesthood, and as priests we are appointed to give thanks and praise. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10) It is the assignment of God’s priests to thank and praise the Lord and invoke His help in the face of life’s problems. We do this through the language of victory and praise. It is easy for intercessors to be distracted by the problems they are praying about and lose their focus on the goodness and power of God. The task of the true priesthood, however is to • shift our focus upward to the glorious presence of Our Loving Heavenly Father, • declare and rejoice in His goodness and • invoke His mighty help in the face of life’s difficulties. This life of praise and thanksgiving is not only our assignment – God commands it! “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Th. 5:17-19)
It Is Not “Sticking Our Heads In The Sand” Some people do not understand the power of rejoicing in the Lord and dismiss it as “happy clappy emotionalism.” In 1989 the then Archbishop of Canterbury famously dismissed charismatic praise as ‘happy-clappy emotionalism”. The lifestyle of thanksgiving and praising God should never be dismissed as shallow, unexamined optimism. Some have even abandoned the lifestyle of praise and rejoicing for fear of being labeled as shallow and not serious enough. When we embrace the heavenly lifestyle of joy, rejoicing, thanksgiving and praise we are not acting as if there were no sorrow, no evil no tribulation in the world or in our lives. We are not “sticking our heads in the sand.” we are connecting ourselves with the joy and resources of heaven, We are not thanking God for the evil that is in the world or acting in some sort of smug indifference to the problems and sufferings that lie all around us. We are declaring that He is at hand and is more powerful than all the evil around us and that He can release His redemptive help on the scene when we invite Him to.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! …. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7) The call to rejoicing is not in any way shallow. It is a holy and resolute focus on the goodness of God in the face of adversity. It is the highest expression of the overcoming life. Far from being an expression of shallowness – it is the secret of the martyrs. We see it exemplified in Jehoshaphat’s great victory over the Assyrians (2 Chronicles 20). We see it in Paul & Silas’ victory over self-pity and discouragement in the jail at Philippi. Through praise and thanksgiving they released the miraculous working of God, the activity of angels and a chain reaction of revival. Discouragement threatens to ‘quench the spirit’ but praise and thanksgiving releases the operation of the Holy Spirit anew. “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies.” (Deut. 28.48) While praise has its positive benefits making a way for power of God and His angels to act on our behalf, grumbling on the other hand makes us vulnerable to the operation of the Evil One. Scripture not only exhorts us to praise but also warns us from grumbling.
“(And do not) complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” (I Cor. 10.10 He Who Sits In The Heaven Laughs Praise and thanksgiving is impossible to the earthbound and for those who have lost sight of the presence, power and purpose of God. It is the birthright of those who have been lifted into the heavens in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1) “He who sits in the heavens laughs.” “All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” We who have been lifted with Christ Jesus to sit in the heavens can laugh in the face of life’s problems, can rejoice in the midst of sufferings and can glory in the face of tribulation. We can do this because we live by faith and not by sight. We can constantly rely on God our Father’s continuous comfort, His provision of strength as we look to His ultimate triumph. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:35-37) Joy In Evangelizing In evangelizing we usually ask people to forsake their sins and turn back to God and His ways. We can also approach the subject in a different but equally valid way. We can invite people to lift their minds and mouths away from their frustration with their inability to solve all their own problems and discover God’s ability to help them in all their problems. We can invite them to abandon disillusionment and discouragement with life and discover for themselves God’s goodness and mercy – to which they have access by the coming and work of the Savior. We can invite them to the life of joy and rejoicing and encourage them to abandon the life of despair discouragement, grumbling and disillusionment. “Therefore they shall come streaming to the goodness of the Lord … and they shall sorrow no more at all.” (Jer. 31.12) The coming and work of Jesus has opened up a new life and makes possible a life of joy and rejoicing and regardless of our circumstances. We see the people of every nation and religion hearing the glad tiding of great joy and d streaming to the goodness of their Creator revealed in the coming and work of the Savior. Let’s provoke the world to jealousy by the joy we have though Him.
Let’s rediscover the Hallelujah factor!
Dr. Bob Allen
Life Is Good – God Always Loves You