Monthly Prayer Focus
The Joy of Loving God
Written by: Thomas Sledge
The month of June has come and at Midway Church we just completed a series entitled “Real Love.” We began the series asking the question and examining if many of the things we learn about love are true. We ended with the message, “Real Love is Never Ending.” In thinking on the series, the question comes to mind, have you ever stopped and observed others during a praise and worship service, perhaps at your church, or perhaps at Midway Church? If so, then maybe you too have experienced some of the most intriguing and amazing observations. What are we talking about? Let’s look at some of the behaviors one might observe. Have you ever noticed during a praise and worship service that some of the quietest and reserve people become very expressive and vocal, giving thanks and praise to the Lord? It almost appears as though they don’t even care about whose watching them! How’s about this one: have you ever observed that people you’ve never dream of as mastering the Art of Dance inexplicably during the service have all the right moves, to the point that if being scored by judges, they’d receive a perfect 10? Or, have you ever observed seemingly unemotional people switch to the demonstrative emotions of waving hands in the air, teary eyes, passionate faces, and speaking words of thanks and gratitude? Oh, and let’s not forget this one: have you ever observed perceptibly mile-manner people, maybe a speaker, musician, or other participant in a praise and worship service act as though they went into a closet, changed clothes, and burst onto the stage as superman, or maybe super girl? How does one explain these obvious departures from the norm of the behaviors just discussed? What accounts for these transformations from one spectrum of behavior to the opposite, as if people were just being carried away by some phenomenon and events of the moment during a praise and worship service? We’re explore these questions and look to the Bible for some answers in this month’s prayer focus, The Joy of Loving God.
The word joy is defined in Wikipedia as an emotion in response to a pleasant observation or a remembrance thereof. The reason for a joyful reaction is usually that some expectation or need has been satisfied, and joy is often expressed as a smile, laughter, or an exclamation of joy.  The Greek word for joy is ‘chara”, which describes a feeling of inner gladness, delight, or rejoicing.  Certainly, the emotion known as joy is referenced in the Bible. In the Book of Galatians 5:22, one of the fruits of God’s spirit is joy. Jesus himself instructs us in the Book of John 15:10-11 to keep his commandments to love God and others, as He demonstrated His love towards the Father and towards us. He promises that if we do this, our joy will be full, meaning complete.  In the Book of Isaiah 61:10, the scripture reads, “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in His wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.” Here, the Scripture references a joy that espouses from the acknowledgement and observance of a token of love extended towards us, by our Lord. In the Book of Luke10:19-20, Jesus speaks to his believers saying, “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy…” “But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you, but rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Again, a reference of joy, rejoicing that emanates from the observance and recognition of the salvation extended to us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. From the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah 9:23-24, thus says the Lord, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty glory in his might, nor let the rich glory in his riches. But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord.”
A response to a pleasant observation perhaps expressed in a smile, laughter, or an exclamation of joy. An emotional delight at the thought of a needed or satisfying expectation that has been filled; we refer to these as joy. Perhaps normally quiet people becoming vocal and expressive, perhaps someone with no formal training surprisingly becoming gifted in the Art of Dance, perhaps that mild-mannered person exiting from the closet with super powers, or maybe just that unemotional person whose eyes fill with tears, hands raised in submission, and voices lift in praise and gratitude to God. The delight, rejoice-ful, and joyful remembrance of our love for God. The observance and satisfaction personally felt at the thought of God’s generosity towards us. The remembrance of His love for us demonstrated in the salvation extended to us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Maybe these are what accounts for these behavioral departures from the norm, and the transformations you too may have observed and experienced during a praise and worship service. Jesus promises that if we love Him and others, as He loved His father and us, then our joy will be complete and remain with us always. He speaks to us, “Rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Please join with us this month as we turn our focus to this month’s prayer focus, The Joy of Loving God.
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