Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Joy for the Journey


Like many of you I am occasionally faced with serious situations in life which demand I make a decision. At times I find myself with a lack of direction and even after much prayer, counsel and consideration, not sure what to do. In these times, like you, I continue to seek the Lord, praying continually and keeping my ears open to the Lord as I consider every angle.

I have also developed a habit throughout the years of purposefully opening myself to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit while I sleep. As is my custom, when I lay my head down upon my pillow I consciously ask God to speak to me in my nighttime and give me the direction I need. Many times through the years I have awakened in the night or early morning to catch my first thoughts and find that the Lord has truly spoken. And, one word from God changes everything!

Over the past couple of months, since the death of my mother, I have been experiencing a lack of some direction I needed in a small area of my life. Nothing significant and nothing that really mattered to anyone else, but nonetheless a consideration of my spirit to know what I should do in order to please God and best serve His purposes.

Last night, with nothing more pressing on my plate, I decided to dedicate my sleep time to inquire of the Lord concerning this matter. Before I went to bed I offered a prayer to the Lord based on a passage of scripture in the book of Job.

Job 33

14 For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;

16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,

When I laid my head down on my pillow and settled in to go to sleep, I asked the Lord to speak to me in the nighttime. When I awoke early this morning I heard the Lord say:

“You shall go out with joy.” My mind went immediately to Isaiah 55 which we’ll read in a moment. While I was considering this passage I heard God speak in my spirit and I began to write down what I heard. God said:

“Don’t sit in darkness while light shines all around. Get up and get involved in the joys of my work. Don’t sell yourself to labor but rather to harvest. Consider your first love and let me lead you with joy.”

To me this meant, if you can’t go with joy, don’t go. Don’t go until you find your joy! Our example is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying all alone until He found joy for His journey. He went to the cross with joy …

Hebrews 12 NKJV

2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Joy is not often found in the tasks or in the labor at hand, but rather in the harvest which that labor yields. When there is no joy in the harvest, there is no joy in the labor. We cannot afford to lose our focus … if we do, we are apt to lose our joy for the work to which God has called us.

King David’s greatest low in life is written about in Psalms 51:12 when he said, “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation …”, King David realized that he had gotten his eyes off what pleased God and onto what pleased him. It can be a dangerous thing to seek temporal pleasures, wealth or happiness.

Isaiah 55

1 ¶ "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price.

2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you — The sure mercies of David.

In ancient times our forefathers used what is now called the old third person singular, ending in “eth”, for the imperative mood. We have a fine example of His in the first verses of this chapter. The imperative mood expresses direct commands and tells the audience to act …

Isaiah 55:1-3 in the old MS. Bible:-alle gee thirstinge cummeth to wateris: and gee that han not sylver, goth forth and bieth, and etith. Cummeth, bieth without silver, and without eny chaungyng, wyn and mylc. Heerith gee, heering me and etith gode thinge, and deliten schal in fattnesse your soule. Bowith in your eie and cummeth to mee, heerith and liven schal your soule. And I shall smyten with gou, everlastynge covenant, the faithful mercies of David.

Anyway, back to the heart of the message at hand – Joy for the Journey.

When I heard “You shall go out with joy” in my spirit this morning, I immediately thought of the scripture in Isaiah 55 verse 12. So, I got up, wrote down what I heard, washed my face and went to the Word to read the whole chapter and meditate on what God was saying.

By the way: Isaiah 55 is the most beautiful and open invitation for all sinners from all walks of life to come to Messiah and receive the everlasting provisions of God’s mercy. Come one, come all, rich, poor, needy, the unrighteous and the wicked – come freely and receive your pardon.

God does not think like we think or do what we would do were we in His situation. God has provided for everyone, His mercies are sure and His pardon secure; seek Him while He may be found. Let’s read:

Isaiah 55

6 ¶ Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.

9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

10 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,

11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

12 "For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; And it shall be to the LORD for a name, For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."

Just as David cried out to God to restore the joy of his salvation, and like Jesus prayed in His greatest hour of need and found joy for His journey, a journey which led by the way of the cross, God desires that we too be filled with joy for our journey.

If we focus on the labor alone we will not find the joy we need for our journey. We must look to the harvest to find strength for our labor. It’s hard to find true joy when we make life all about us and ours and what we want or think we need. Even Job recovered when he finally turned his eyes off his troubles and prayed for his friends.

Life is not always all about you. And, if you wake up one day without joy for your journey, you may find that you are so focused on the labor, so focused on the moment, so focused on yourself that you have lost sight of the harvest. Only the joy of your Lord is your strength.

Don’t sit in darkness while light shines all around. Get up and get involved in the joys of God’s work. Don’t sell yourself to labor but rather to harvest. Consider your first love and let God lead you with joy.

Let’s pray and return our hearts to the Lord of the harvest. He will restore the joy of our salvation and give us renewed strength to do His will.