June 19, 2014
TODAY’S STUDY TEXT:
“Then they returned every man of Judah and Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat leading them, to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps, lyres, and trumpets to the house of the Lord.”
II Chronicles 20: 27, 28
“There Was Joy in The Lord’s House”
“Our lives are songs; God writes the words
and we set them to music at pleasure;
and the song grows glad, or sweet or sad,
as we choose to fashion the measure.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Does heavenly joy fill my heart today?
Even if my heart is heavy, will I allow God’s joy to come into my life today?
“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.”
When I was a young girl, I learned to play two instruments – the piano and the flute. But what I really longed to learn to play was the harp. I’ll never forget going downtown in Los Angeles, California to a rather rundown building where used instruments were stored and sold. My parents wanted to check on a used harp they had found which they thought might be affordable with their limited income. Unfortunately, the quality of the instrument was severely lacking and it wasn’t worth the price. That was the closest I’ve come to becoming a harpist. But I’ll tell you one thing, when people joke about heaven being a place where you float around on a cloud playing your cherubic harp all day – that visual doesn’t bother me one bit, for the melodic sound of a harp is so stress-relieving, it automatically brings joy to my heart. In fact, I’ve noted recently, that there seem to be quite a few new musical interpretations with the harp as the lead instrument.
This is why our text today, about Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, with their harps, lyres, and trumpets, caught my attention. After the hard work Jehoshaphat undertook for the cause of God; after going around on a preaching-circuit for his heavenly Father; Jehoshaphat was hit with the news that a “triple threat” called the Ammonites, Moabites, and Meunites were coming to town! As with any normal person Jehoshaphat was afraid. I would have been, too. And I think you would agree that fear is a normal emotion when nothing but trouble is crashing down upon our heads.
However, it is Jehoshaphat’s response that is one we can each learn from. Instead of running in fear from the enemy, he bowed in worship before his God who he knew was in charge. After he worshiped, he began to rejoice at the promised victory – even before it happened. And when he entered the wilderness, before the battle, he again relied on his Father to do for him what he could not do for himself.
Low and behold, the enemies, so confused by their own misguided thinking killed each other off and Jehoshaphat didn’t have to lift one finger to fight – instead – throughout this entire ordeal, he chose to praise and worship God! How I love this story! For coming out on the other side of the battle, we find that Jehoshaphat didn’t go to the enemy and gloat, he went to God’s house with joy on his lips – praise for a Father who can do everything when we can’t do anything! Don’t you just love how God works on our behalf. And lest you get the mistaken idea these kinds of miracles happened only in the Bible, I know of ways God is at work in so many of our lives right this minute. Ways we can’t even imagine, but that will not only shock us, they will leave us speechless as well! Except for one thing! While God is working, we can lift up our voices, along with the harp, lyre and trumpet, in joy and praise. I love these words from the book, “Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing, written by Peter J. Kreeft, “Joy seems to have a necessity to it, as God does. God not only is but could not be otherwise, could not change. We change, so we are not always in joy, nor joy in us; but joy itself is unchangeable, eternal, and necessary. When it comes, though it appears new to us, a surprise, it also seems old, ancient, having existed, ‘before the beginning of time’…Joy in our spirit does not stay there, bottled up and stagnant…joy flows out in three directions: back to God in gratitude and rejoicing, out to others like a watering fountain, and into our own soul and body as a sort of overspill.”
This is what we see exhibited as King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah let the victory of God on their behalf flow through their lives. In praise, they came to the house of God with joy flowing out of them.
I want to share this beautiful poem written by John Kendrick Bangs, entitled, “Joy Is The Word”:
“Today, whatever may annoy,
The word for me is Joy, just simple joy;
The joy of life;
The joy of children and of wife;
The joy of bright, blue skies;
The joy of rain; the glad surprise
Of twinkling stars that shine at night;
The joy of winged things upon their flight;
The joy of noonday, and the tried
True joyousness of eventide;
The joy of labor, and of mirth;
The joy of air, and sea, and earth –
The countless joys that ever flow from Him
Whose vast beneficence doth dim
The lustrous light of day,
And lavish gifts divine upon our way,
Whate’er there be of Sorrow
I’ll put off till Tomorrow,
And when Tomorrow comes, why then
Twill be Today and Joy again!”
John Kendrick Bangs
“Because the way was steep and long,
And through a strange and lonely land,
God placed upon my lips a song,
And put a lantern in my hand.”
Preacher of Joy
“The Spirit of the LORD GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
“And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
But you shall be named the priests of the LORD.
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.”
Isaiah 61: 1-7
New King James Version
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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