How Do You Grab God’s Joy?


For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.

43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations,
Psalms 105: 42-44
(All scriptures from the ESV unless noted otherwise)

14 practical keys for those who want more joy in their lives

  1. Be filled with the Spirit-Galatians 5:22–But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
  2. Get into God’s presence–Ps. 16:11 (1 Chron. 16:27; Ps. 4:7, 5:11; Ps. 21:6; Ps. 43:4; –You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
  3. Be thankful for what God has given you-Deuteronomy 28:47 (+1 Ki. 8:66) “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things.” Quit griping. Count God’s blessing to you.
    Sing joyfully because of your THANKFULLNESS for what He has done for you. “Psalm 92:4–For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” And, “Psalm 95:2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
    Sing, even when it’s a sacrifice, sing songs that remember His faithfulness and give you joy. Enter His presence with joy and thanksgiving. Psalms 100:1, 4)
  4. Joy arrives when we obey the Lord (1 Chron. 12:39, 40; 1 Chron. 29:17; 2 Chron. 20:36)
  5. Sometimes we just raise a joyful sound before the actual feeling of joy comes–“…the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.” (1 Chron. 15:16; Ps. 32:11!) It’s easier to act yourself into feelings than to feel your way into acting.
  6. We rejoice over victories that God gives (2 Chron. 20:27; Neh. 12:43)
  7. We can be God’s instrument to give His joy in others (Job 29:12, 13. And because “give and it shall be given to you” is a bedrock spiritual principle, joy rebounds on us from giving joy to others in the Lord’s name.
  8. We may weep for a time but joy inevitably comes if we trust Him— “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
  9. Shout! We shout for joy because we know that He delights in our welfare!!!–
    “Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” Psalm 35:27; (Ps. 66:1 also)
  10. Sing if you want joy! (Psalms 63:7. 67:4; 81:1) Even when we don’t feel like it we sing and shout our way into God’s presence. “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” Psalm 84:2
  11. Remember that you are saved to eternal life in Christ, life that begins now. “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.” (Psalm 71:23 , Ps. 98:8)
  12. Clap your hands! Obey the Lord. Do what is right. “Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.” (Psalm 97:11)
  1. If you know how, play a musical instrument for the Lord. (Ps. 98:6)
  2. Learn to intercede in prayer which leads to results which lead to great joy. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5)

Stand Up!

Is it okay if I deviate a bit from the usual format of Coffee Stains? I want to share something that’s on my heart.

Am I the only one that feels like there is a malignant fog lying over the land? Not just in the US but all over the world.

This past year has seen a pandemic that altered all our lives. Racial strife tears at our unity. Political venom has engendered hate. Instead of talking and reasoning, we’re screaming at each other. And worst of all it seems that individually people suffer as they try to find an antidote for the pain gnawing at their gut: abuse, addiction to social media, alcoholism, drugs, sexual addictions, isolation … the list goes on and on.

My Dad’s Day

Now you may say, “David, there have been worse times in history.” And I’ll agree with you. My father was born in 1923 right after a war that claimed 20 million lives and the Spanish flu that probably killed even more than the war.

When he was still a child the Great Depression ambushed the world and lasted ten years. According to History.com, “The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world.” Some say nearly one half the banks in the U.S. failed!

He fought in World War Two and came home with a life-long limp from a half-track (a military vehicle) wreck. Estimates range from 50-75 million, the number of people who died as a result of that conflict.

So, yes, our troubles seem small potatoes compared to all that. But, it would probably be accurate to say that 2020 was one of the most difficult years in the last 75.

Something Is Going On

Behind all the things we see, I think there is a spiritual attack. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12, NLT)

I do believe there has been an attack by the devil like we haven’t seen in years. Satan takes advantage of the fact that the Church often can’t meet. He’s fighting a dispersed version of the Church.

I always knew it was important to get together with other believers, but my heart cries out for the day when all believers get together freely again. (And I know that quarantine is necessary). There is power in unity, a synergy when we stand together against the devil.

Yes, we can worship individually and I thank God for YouTube and Facebook services, but it isn’t the same. We need each other. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the devil has attacked so hard when the Church can’t get together like before.

Battle of the bean patch

Is it possible to roll back the darkness so that a sense of God’s life caresses the land? Can we see one more revival? The Church has been knocked off balance. We need to grab our swords, set our feet, bend our knees and say, “Enough!” I’m not talking about politics but about seeing the good that God wants to do in hurting lives and fighting for that.

I’ve been in church services where people made decisions that changed their eternal destination, rescued their marriage, and saw God move in healing. I miss seeing believers wrap their arms around others to pray for them. How much hope and healing have we missed these past months because so much of the Church hasn’t been able to unite?

Will We React?

How will we react to the enemy’s attack?

The warrior Shammah shows us how it’s done. “The Philistines had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. So the people fled from the Philistines. But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.” (2 Sam. 23:11, 12, ESV)

I suspect that the “new normal” will be worse than before … or better.

What Worse Would Look Like–

            *Many forget God’s house. Just don’t go back. They say they can serve God on their own and get colder and colder. At the last, they act just like those who don’t know the Lord.

            *They continue to cope with this malaise in their own ways.

            *They continue to reap the results of forgetting God.

What Better Would Look Like–

            *Run back to God’s house but don’t take it for granted. Unite in God’s Spirit so that people see what God is like and are drawn to Him. Realize how important it is to win the lost. Together we raise our voices in worship.

            *Call out to God,

Will you be angry with us forever?

Will you prolong your anger to all generations?

Will you not revive us again,

that your people may rejoice in you?

Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,

and grant us your salvation.

(Ps. 85:5-7, ESV)

        *Refuse to set up those idols again that we had built in our hearts–massive searches for fun; mindless media consumption that destroys time to think and reflect for ourselves and keeps interrupting God when He wants to talk to us; pet sins that drag us down, etc. etc. etc. Each of us knows which idols we fight.

        Go to war against the devil, not others. Dare we stand up (as we kneel down) in prayer and say, “Stop! That’s enough pain, enough hurt. Stop in the name of the Lord Jesus.” “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them …” (Ezek. 22:30, NKJV). You may be the only one standing between disaster and protection for someone else. INTERCEDE!

        Dare we become master of our heart and turn it back to God passionately? Can we return to our first love for the Lord?

If so, that “malignant fog” I spoke of that seems to lie over the land can be replaced by the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit everywhere we stand up and take our place for the Lord.

Hmmm …

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. I never learned anything while I was talking.” Larry King

Slurped by Goodness and Mercy

Would you permit me to launch into a flight of imagination?

What’s that noise? Hunting dogs? Oh, no!

My heart pounds double time as I race through the forest, the sound of the hounds drawing nearer all the time. Branches slap my face and briars rip my skin but fear propels me forward.

They’re baying right at my heels. I’ll never outrun them so I turn to face my pursuers—two enormous hounds bearing down on me. I brace myself, eyes squeezed shut, waiting for the impact of their attack and the pain on their knife-like teeth.

Then …

Well, they stop, raise up on their hind legs, and put their paws on my shoulders. Then they start licking me! Big, sloppy, drooly licks. I look at them and see fondness in their eyes. Wiping off slobbers, I reach to read the nametags hanging on their necks.

The one on the left is called “Goodness” and the “one on the right has a long name: “Mercy and Unfailing Love.”

Hmmm, that’s not what I expected.

You’re Being Pursued

If you love the Lord, did you know that something is chasing you? “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” (Psalms 23:6 NKJV)

The Message version says, “ “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.” Here’s another rendering, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (NLT)

The word translated “follow” is râdaph in Hebrew, the original language of the psalm. According to Strong’s lexicon, some of its various usages are: to run after (usually with hostile intent; figuratively (of time) gone by): – chase, put to flight, follow (after, on), hunt, (be under) persecute (-ion, -or), pursue (-r).

Might we translate it, goodness and mercy hunt me all day?

I spent a lot of my life ducking and hoping God wouldn’t thump me if I got out of line. Look at the rest of Psalm 23. Does this sound like a God who is looking for a chance to whack you?

I’d say He’s sent his “twins”—goodness and mercy—to slurp you with His kindness. Look what He does for you: “No lack, rest, restoration, righteous life, no fear, God’s presence, God’s power for you, provision even when enemies are there, Spirit anointing (the Living Bible sees this head anointed with oil as the way people welcomed guests in that day, “You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!), more than enough, goodness and mercy, eternal life with the Lord.”

“Sluuuurp, sluuurp!”

Wow! Bring out the towels! His blessings are dripping all over us.

Here’s a song that’s been pursuing me lately:

*Goodness of God

I love You, Lord

For Your mercy never failed me

All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands

From the moment that I wake up

Until I lay my head

Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

And all my life You have been faithful

And all my life You have been so, so good

With every breath that I am able

Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

‘Cause Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now

I give You everything

Some of us are running from God’s blessings. Those blessings are revitalization “vehicles,” to renew and refill us. Sometimes it is a messenger with God’s purpose for our life we’re running from (Jonah) Often it’s just God wanting to love on us (our kids attract our hugs).

If you’re running from God maybe you ought to stop, turn and look. You might find that God’s goodness, mercy and love, have been trailing you, wanting a chance to show you how much He loves you.

Listen to the song: “The Goodness of God”

Hmmm …

“Lord, I don’t ever want to presume upon Your goodness and not ask for Your blessings.” Stormy Ormatin, Praying the Bible into your life

*Source: MusixmatchSongwriters: Ed Cash; Ben Fielding; Jason Ingram; Brian Johnson; Jenn Johnson Bethel Music

Image by Roman Michael Gottfried from Pixabay __

The Funny Side of Water Baptism

Sometimes hilarious things happen during water baptismal services.

I had a friend who pastored a small church that didn’t have a baptismal tank. They needed to baptize some new believers so they borrowed the baptistery of a nearby church. The service was scheduled at the borrowed church.

That baptistery hadn’t been used in a long time so my friend went the day before and cleaned it. That proved to be wise because it had been a while since the pool had been used and it was dirty.

Did I mentioned that they killed a scorpion while cleaning? 

Baptism day arrived and it proved unforgettable. A little lady entered the baptistery with him. He plunged her into the water and as he was bringing her out he noticed something big and hairy next to his foot.

Shock rippled through him. His cleaning experience from the day before caused him to see a giant tarantula or some other malevolent creature. He wanted to jump out of the water but with Spartan discipline he held steady like a good soldier of the Lord.

Then he glanced at the lady he had just baptized and realized something was different. He looked at the harry ball in the water again. That was no spider next to his foot. The lady had left her wig in bowels of the baptistry.

Strange things happen when you baptize people.

Baptism Represents Change

Lots of things happened when we were baptized into Christ. When we were plunged into the water, it symbolized our death to ourselves. That’s what repentance is all about. We confess our sin and God forgives us.

When we came up out of the water that symbolized Jesus‘s resurrection. It symbolized ours, too. Baptism reminds us that we have a brand-new life in Jesus and the potential to defeat sin is there.

When Jesus came into our heart we moved into a new world and became a new person. (2 Corinthians 5) Jesus is, “…able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, NKJV)

Forgiven. Washed clean. Full of the life of Christ. Declared righteous before God because of Jesus. God’s children. Full access to the throne of God’s grace. The spirit of God dwelling within us.

New creatures.

And this life principle continues to work in us each day of our life.

We choose daily to die to what doesn’t please God in our life, to hurting other people. And His Spirit dwelling within us gives us power to live for the Lord to serve and add value to other people’s life. 

We choose to live in Christ. We talk about the crucified life, and that is good. It just doesn’t go far enough. We need to live the resurrected life. You’d be useless if you had stayed in the bottom of the baptistery. Dead even.

The Resurrected Life

We are new creatures in Jesus. We live to do his will. Yes, we fight against the dead man. Yes we fight against temptation to sin and selfishness. But we have the power of the Spirit of God in us, enabling us to live like a new man or woman. God’s man and God’s woman.

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

“It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. (Rom. 8:11-16, The Message)

Hmmm …

But there’s one nagging reason that keeps many of us from moving ahead in life. It’s our thoughts: those seemingly insignificant sentences that pass through the mind, greatly influencing everything we say and do. From our thoughts, we hear messages that can propel us toward great accomplishments and positive change . . . or drag us into a negative spiral.” H. Norman Wright

Image: Image by alexramos10 from Pixabay

Which Direction Do You Aim Your Prayers?

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This is going to sound weird but when we first went to language school in Albertville, France many years ago, I was confused. I couldn’t figure out which direction God was when I prayed.

I never really thought of it before but when I prayed back in the good old USA, I just had the sense that God was there. I couldn’t have pointed to the direction but my heart knew where He was.

In those majestic mountains of France, I couldn’t get oriente, though. That might have been because we lived on the side of a mountain.

My experience seemed out of whack because when you leave all to follow Christ you’re supposed to have a joyful sense of God’s presence 24/24. A free pass into His presence.

Right? Well, I didn’t.

Change Can Disorient Us

I know now that a lot of it had to do with changes that were going on in my life. Tough challenges faced Phyllis and me and our three small children. Spiritual changes, physical changes, psychological changes, ‘positional’ changes.

They taught us about culture shock in missions school but mine was more of a “positional shock.” My superstructure had been dismantled. Family left behind. Hobbies. Church. Au revoir.

From an important leader in the church I pastored, I had sunk to trying to formulate sentences in French that a kindergartener could say. “Où sont les toilettes?” for example.

So, when I prayed, this strange question haunted me: “Where is God?”

I am glad to report that I found him, or maybe he found me. But you know what? Sometimes I still feel like God is lost. Or more likely I am lost. Where can I find him at times like this because I sure need Him?

Others Lost, Too

Can you believe it? I’m not the only one who has ever had this problem.

“Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound; again and again they scoff, “Where is that God of yours?” (Psalm 42:10, Living Bible) And the man after God’s own heart cries out, “O God, my God! How I search for you! How I thirst for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. How I long to find you!” (Psalms 63:1, LB)

Today some of you may feel like you don’t know where God is. I’ve got good news for you. He’s there with you. You may not sense His presence. You may not see him. But he’s not leaving you. He loves you too much. He is working for you. He is your Father, and you’re his incredibly loved child.

You say, “David, I’ve screwed up. I’ve sinned.” Repent then. God will hear your prayer (1 John 1:9). Often sin isn’t the problem, though. Life is.

We all have times when our emotions either don’t work or they betray us and join our enemies.

What God Has To Say About It

Is God still there? Before you consult your feelings, consult something much more reliable—God’s Word.

–He promised to be with us in the Covid-19 epidemic, even when we can’t get to the hairdresser. “I will be your God through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white …” (Isa. 46:4 LB) (Sorry, I’ll get serious again).

–“For God has said, ‘I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.’ That is why we can say without any doubt or fear, “’The Lord is my Helper, and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me.’” (Heb. 13:5, 6 NIV)

–God revealed Himself to Ezekiel and His people by the name, “Jehovah Shammah,” the Lord is there. (Ezekiel 48:35) He’s not the “way off God.” He’s the God who never leaves the side of His people.

–“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20, NLT)

When we hang onto to the truth of Jesus’ presence in tough times we get reoriented. We know “where” to pray. If you feel like you’re spinning round and round inside, give it a try. Cry out to Him, expecting Him to hear you.


Hmmm …

“In short, God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knew.” Tim Keller

Smile

Life is short … pray hard!