Thought for the Week - 30th OctoberPastor Gareth Watkins
Psalm 43: 1-5
Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
This week I want to touch on finding God in the midst of exceeding troubles.
In this passage we can see that David is a troubled man, but he knows can go to God to find exceeding joy among his troubles.
When troubles come, people often stop going to church. In life, upset, worries, depression and guilt can come against us, as with David. In spite of it all, David went to the altar of God, his exceeding joy. Can you say – in spite of all the things that happen and are going to happen in your life – you will come to God who will give you this joy? Can you say that you will go to the altar of God, who is the fountain and source of your joy?
The world doesn’t look at it like that. The world looks to get rid of the problem, or mask the problem. That isn’t where your joy is. The joy that David found, was coming to God, the source of his joy. Can we say that we can come to God and our relationship in Christ will take you into God where the enemies you have don’t matter? These don’t have to be physical enemies. They could be people, mental enemies, or circumstances; anything that stops us moving on with God.
This is a spiritual thing. When a person comes to God through Jesus Christ, they can have this joy! David knew this in his spirit, despite all the troubles that surrounded him.
Joy is a beautiful word! There are many similar words out there, but they are different. Happiness is a different thing. Joy brings a loveliness with it. Joy in the New Testament is spoken of as a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). It’s not a natural thing and of ourselves, it’s a supernatural thing, given to us by God.
David knew if that he came to that place where God was, that something of the realm of God could come to him by way of joy. That is part of our truth too! If a person doesn’t want to come to God, that joy is absent from that person. When a person comes before God with these things, these things come time and time again.
We can know pleasure and happiness, but not necessarily joy. Joy is our spiritual inheritance, a gift from God. Happiness is gone in a moment. We can be looking for happiness – and looking for all the natural things – but it can disappear in a moment of time. Joy is something that your connection between you and God and goes down deep, holding you in a place not defined by your circumstances. Many Christians place their happiness in natural vessels, they then turn against God when things aren’t as they expect. Joy is in our God and our relationship with him, not dependent on our enemies or troubles.
When people turn from God and blame Him, chaos comes; whether that’s bad nerves, drinking, anger, disappearing faith and drama. However, God is a God of order, a sound mind, blessings, structure, future and a hope for living. David says that we can go to the altar of God, and find joy time and time again as our spirit connects with God. There is a place for all of us on our knees before God! David sinned and didn’t deserve to go into that place… just like us, and yet he does.
We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Do we recognise that we are split into separate parts? We are a body, a soul (who we are without are body) and a spirit (the part of us that connects with God). Is it possible for this joy affect the different parts of our being? Yes it is. Our body enjoys earthly pleasures (e.g. a glass of water). Our souls enjoys the happiness and sunshine. The other part is reserved for our spirit, and the part we give least recognition to. The other parts we feed nicely with days out and meals etc. But our joy is in God. This is the bit we have to work at!
Our emotions come and go and will change. The things that we enjoy and make us happy can change. If our joy is attached to the things of God, God never changes (Malachi 3:6)! If God never changes then we can keep this joy connected, as it’s not dependant on earthly and external things! Our joy is connected with God! This is something we can all have today, just as David had all those years ago. I encourage you to say that your joy is connected with God and not dependent on the things around us. Amidst all our trouble there can be joy!
In Acts 13:52 we read “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Surrounding the disciples at this time was tremendous persecution. Yet they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit! Joy can come in spite of the troubles we face. We read in Romans 5: 3-4 that those troubles that do come produce perseverance, character, hope for the future and our justification. Those benefits can only come out of troubles, persecution and trials. We have to come before God and find that joy, the Holy Spirit and the answers God has for our lives. He gives us things that aren’t part of our lives – a persevering spirit, enriched character, and increased hope for the future.
Are you someone who works harder to keep close to God, or someone who lets troubles push you away from God? Find the joy of the Lord becomes your strength, in spite of everything around you.