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Note to Self: Rejoice
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
- PSALM 100
I know, you see those words and you often ponder them with both longing and frustration. Joy? The way the psalmist describes it often leaves you with the impression that this kind of happiness is not real, but just an amplified expression of what you experience in small, real-life measure. Or you think that it is just a short burst of emotion that arises in a moment of deep worship. But let’s be honest, the reason you do not experience the joy you read about in Scripture is because your heart is divided, and your interests are spread thin.
Why the call for joy? Why can all of creation sing and serve its Creator with gladness? Because he really is God. “Know that the Lord, he is God!” At times you have found yourself wondering, “Is this real? God, the Bible, Jesus, Satan, sin, and salvation—is it all real?” You don’t admit that to those around you, but there are times when you question it all. And in his grace God confirms by his Word and Spirit that it is true. He is God! And the reality of your theology gives you joy.
What you believe is not a religious game, or a manmade crutch upon which you lean for a little assistance. Rather it is the divinely revealed truth that makes you who you are and gives you cause to rejoice. You can rejoice not only because he is God, but because we are his people, and as such he protects us and provides for us in all ways necessary for us to know him more fully, enjoy him more deeply, and make him known more widely.
And you can rejoice because his love remains over you now and always. It never dries up, runs low, or fades out. His love endures forever. Because of all this, and so much more, you can know the joy the psalmists describe in their songs. You just need to return to these truths. You need reminding.
This post is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Joe Thorn's upcoming Re:lit book, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself.