Tries God’s patience

Rising Joy, Vicki Matheny

Let’s enter his presence with thanksgiving! Let’s shout out to him in celebration! Psalm 95.2

What a difference gratitude makes! It helps us to focus on the positive things in our lives. God blesses us each day with the things that we need if we will obey him.

We basically have two choices: obey, not obey. When we do not obey, we live in rebellion to God. What are the results of rebellion? Many times it brings anger, resentment, selfishness, and many other negative things to our lives. Rebellion challenges authority. It tries God’s patience and brings his disgust.

God is the creator of the universe in which we live. He holds the depths of the earth is his hand. The mountain peaks belong to him. He made the sea and formed the dry land. We should bow down in worship before him. He cares for us and loves us! That is cause for thanksgiving and celebration!

#risingjoy #Psalms #gratitude

The reason to go to worship

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

I desperately want to be in the courts of the Lord’s temple. My heart and my entire being shout for joy to the living God. Psalm 84.2

The temple was the place where the Lord was present in the Old Testament. The Jews would travel from afar to offer sacrifices to God. It brought joy to the heart to be in the temple, God’s dwelling place.

The temple in Jerusalem no longer exists. However, there is a spiritual temple today. Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 2.21 that in Christ they were growing into a holy temple in the Lord. That holy temple today is the body of Christ. Christians are members of Christ’s body, 1 Corinthians 12.27.

Do we have the same desire to be in the Lord’s temple, the church? The church is not a building but a group of people who gather to worship God. Does my heart shout for joy to be in the presence of God? So often I hear people complain that they did not get anything out of worship. They were not sure why they even went. Friends, the reason one should go to worship is not what is received, but what one gives. We are in the presence of the living God and should be giving praise and honor to him. That privilege is enough to bring one joy!

#risingjoy #Psalms #temple

Something wonderful happened

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Rejoice in the Lord and be happy, you who are godly! Shout for joy, all you who are morally upright! Psalm 32.11

There is something to be said for living correctly. You do not have to constantly look over your shoulder to see if you are about to get caught.

David writes in Psalm 32 about the negative effects of sin. When he refused to confess his sin, his body wasted away. He groaned in pain all day long.

However, once he confessed his sin and did not try to cover it up any longer, something wonderful happened. God forgave him. David encourages the faithful followers of God to pray while there is a window of opportunity. God will teach us how to live through his word and his faithfulness will overwhelm the one who trusts in him.

Those who are godly and morally upright can rejoice, be happy, and shout for joy!

#risingjoy #Psalms #sin

Upon our repentance

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For his anger lasts only a brief moment, and his good favor restores one’s life. One may experience sorrow during the night, but joy arrives in the morning. Psalm 30.5

This is a psalm written by David. David had experienced the Lord’s anger first hand. In 2 Samuel 24, we read where the Lord’s anger raged against Israel. He incited David against them, telling him to count both Israel and Judah to know the size of their armies. Joab goes to do the bidding of the king much against his own better judgment.

After nine months, Joab returned from counting the armies. David felt guilty for having ordered the count. In 24.10, David confessed his sin to God asking him to remove his guilt. God sent Gad, the prophet, to present him with three options of punishment to remove his guilt. David chose to be attacked by the Lord through a plague rather than to be attacked by men, 24.14.

David felt the Lord’s anger in the plague that lasted for three days. It lasted for a brief moment. In 24.25, David built an altar for the Lord and offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings. The Lord accepted them and the plague was removed from the land.

Upon our repentance, God restores our lives. While we are reaping the consequences of our sins, we may experience sorrow, but joy arrives with the realization that our sins have been removed and forgiven.

#risingjoy #Psalms #repentance

Two paths we can choose

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

You lead me in the path of life; I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight. Psalm 16.11

There are basically two paths that we can choose to take in this life: the path that enters through the narrow gate which is a difficult way that leads to life and the path that enters through the wide gate which is a spacious way that leads to destruction, Matthew 7.13-14. The psalmist teaches that God leads us in the path of life if we choose to follow him.

The path of life might be difficult, but 1 John 1.7 says that as long as we are walking in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. We are not in this alone. We have the presence of God and his Son with us as well as other Christians.

The psalmist states that he experiences absolute joy and sheer delight in God’s presence. I can experience that same joy and delight today knowing that my soul is prepared to live with the Lord.

#risingjoy #Psalms #life

Full of positive thoughts

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But may all who take shelter in you be happy! May they continually shout for joy! Shelter them so that those who are loyal to you may rejoice! Psalm 5.11

This psalm was written by David who was once king of Israel. One of the meanings of to “take shelter” is to go somewhere for cover or protection from danger or bad weather. The life of David was turbulent many times, but almost without exception, we can read of his trust in God to see him through the difficult times.

This verse is full of positive thoughts. We can be happy when we take shelter in the Lord. This does not mean that bad things will not happen. Even David experienced many bad things in his life. But in the midst of the trial, our soul is protected and secure. It brings a joy to our lives that is continuous. David asks that God shelter those who are loyal to him so that they may rejoice. God is our protection. It is a protection that brings joy to the heart!

#risingjoy #Psalms #shelter

Are you needing to suffer?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

It was good for me to suffer, so that I might learn your statutes. The law you have revealed is more important to me than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. Psalm 119.71-72

We are such fickle creatures! Many times, when things are going well, we may not even think to thank God for his blessings much less spend large amounts of time in prayer. We seem to forget that he is the source of our blessings and even of life itself.

That changes drastically if we are called to suffer. We may go to God in prayer questioning why something is happening or what we did to deserve what we are going through. Very rarely do we think of it as something good! However the the author of this psalm writes that it was good to suffer. What? Why would you even think that much less say it? Because many times, in the midst of suffering we turn back to God. We spend more time reading his word and yes, learning his statutes. We spend more time in prayer and more time thinking about God which is always a good thing.

How important is God’s word to you? The psalmist ranks it as more important than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. We spend time with things that are important to us. How much time do you spend in God’s word? In prayer? Are you needing to suffer? May we learn even more the importance and value of time spent in God’s presence.

#risingjoy #Psalms #Bible

Limited in what you can do?

Psalm 42 was written by a Korahite, a temple singer, who in exile was kept from his duties among God’s people. He longs for the day when he can again participate in temple worship, perhaps even leading the procession to the holy place. He agonizes and questions his present suffering, but the great refrain of the psalm (vv. 5, 11) is to wait for God, to hope in him and give him thanks, for he is Savior.

It is noteworthy that the author does what he did best: he wrote a song and sang it. It wasn’t in the temple, but he used his talents to do what he could under the restrictions he was subjected to.

The psalm can have a good application to us who are used to serving the Lord in specific ways and with well-defined gifts. We may not be able to do that today, because of the social distancing. But we can still use the talents God gives us within our limitations. We may agonize and question, as the psalmist did, but he encourages us to wait for God and, in the meantime, do what is within our possibility.

#Psalms #limitations #gifts #restrictions #coronavirus

Easy to fool ourselves

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For the waywardness of the simpletons will kill them, and the careless ease of fools will destroy them. But the one who listens to me will live in security, and will be at ease from the dread of harm. Proverbs 1.32-33

How easy it is to fool ourselves! Waywardness has the same meaning as disobedience or willfulness. Simpleton means inexperienced. What this verse is saying is that the disobedience of the inexperienced will kill them. Many people have a false sense of security thinking that all is well when nothing could be further from the truth. Wisdom, in this chapter, is referred to in the first person. The one who listens to wisdom will live in security. We do not have to be fearful or full of dread for what the future holds. In James 3.13-17, we read of two types of wisdom: that from above and that which is earthly, natural, demonic. Obviously we do not want to practice the wisdom that is earthly or demonic. James tells us that wisdom brings works done in gentleness. The wisdom from above is pure, peaceable and gentle. If the wisdom that you are practicing brings disorder and evil practices, beware. It is not from above. The neat thing is that God gives wisdom generously to those who ask for it. It is found in his word. May we practice the wisdom which God gives generously to all who ask! Have you asked for wisdom lately?

#risingjoy #Psalms #wisdom

Complaining indicates a deeper problem

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Certainly the godly will give thanks to your name; the morally upright will live in your presence. Psalm 140.13

David is the author of this psalm. He writes asking God for protection from wicked men. The majority of the verses in Psalm 140 talk about the wicked men who are attacking David setting traps for his defeat. The last verse describes, in sharp contrast, the difference in the attitude and actions of the person who has respect for God. This person is grateful and acknowledges God’s care by giving thanks to him. The moral person will live in God’s presence. Gratitude is an important attitude to cultivate. Most of the time, however, you hear people complaining about every little thing. So many times the children of Israel were punished because of their complaining. Complaining indicates a deeper problem. It shows a lack of faith in God. We doubt that God is in control of the situation. We doubt that he cares for us and will provide for our needs. David reminds us of the importance of gratitude. There is no doubt that the godly person will be one who is grateful. Gratitude is a weapon against many illnesses that threaten to overtake us. What about me? Am I grateful? Let’s cultivate this important attitude and give thanks to God for his care!

#risingjoy #Psalms #gratitude

Mind ready for action

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Deceitful people will not live in my palace. Liars will not be welcome in my presence. Psalm 101.7

God is holy. In 1 Peter 1.15-16 he calls his people to be holy. We are to be like our father. Peter writes that we have purified our souls by obeying the truth. Truth and deceit are opposites. They cannot exist side by side. Either you are truthful or you are deceitful. In 1 Peter 2.1 we are told to get rid of all evil and all deceit. We cannot continue as we were and be pleasing to God. Deceitfulness is sin. We read in Isaiah 59.1-2 that sin separates us from God. If I want to be welcome in God’s presence, I have to be holy and pure. How do I remain holy and pure? Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1.13 to get my mind ready for action. I do that by renewing it with the word of God. I have to be in the word of God, reading and meditating. That is what prepares my mind to be ready for action. It does not happen by chance. I want to be welcome in God’s presence. And you?

#risingjoy #Psalms #holiness

The most incredible thing of all

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

O Lord, you have been our protector through all generations! Even before the mountains came into existence, or you brought the world into being, you were the eternal God. Psalm 90.1-2

It is hard for me to grasp how immense and awesome God is. My mind has difficulty capturing the unlimited extent of his power. Moses, the author of this psalm, wrote that God existed before the world was created. I read in Revelation 1.4 that he (God) who is, and who was, and who is still to come. God has always existed and will always exist. He is eternal. His spoken word created the universe and everything in it from nothing, Genesis 1. His spoken word! That is power! His power has brought the dead back to life. He raised Jesus from the dead and has promised to raise me from the dead. That same power abides in me. Nothing can separate me from the love that he has for me and he gives complete victory to me through Jesus. Paul wrote in Romans 8.37-39 that nothing can separate me from his love. That is, nothing but myself. Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 3.20 that he is able to do more than I can think or imagine. Do you want to know the most incredible thing of all? He wants to have a relationship with me. Little, unimportant me. He wants me to know him. Now that brings hope and joy to the heart!

#risingjoy #Psalms #God

Where is my heart’s desire?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Certainly spending just one day in your temple courts is better than spending a thousand elsewhere. I would rather stand at the entrance to the temple of my God than live in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sovereign protector. The Lord bestows favor and honor; he withholds no good thing from those who have integrity. Psalm 84.10-11

Where is my heart’s desire? Where do I prefer to spend my time? Do I prefer spending it with God and his people? Do I make time for God in my life daily or do I grudgingly spend time in prayer and reading his word? God is my protector. He provides for my every need. In Matthew 6.33 Jesus taught the multitude to pursue God’s kingdom and righteousness above all other things. If I pursue his kingdom first, he has promised to provide me with clothing and food. God gives favor and honor. But, these are given for a purpose. That purpose is to reflect glory back to him. He withholds no good thing. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9.8 regarding giving back to God that he is able to make all grace overflow. This overflow provides me with enough of everything in every way at all times. Not to be selfish and keep it to myself! But to overflow in every good work, to share with others about God who bestows favor and honor. To reflect glory back to Him!

#risingjoy #Psalms #needs

Joy in God’s presence

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

How lovely is the place where you live, O Lord who rules over all! I desperately want to be in the courts of the Lord’s temple. My heart and my entire being shout for joy to the living God. Even the birds find a home there, and the swallow builds a nest where she can protect her young near your altars, O Lord who rules over all, my king and my God. Psalm 84.1-3

The Temple for the Jews was the place where God lived among the people. The Jews would travel from afar to the Temple to make their sacrifices and celebrate their feasts. The verses above express their desire and joy to be there. Today the temple of God is not a physical location. In Ephesians 2.19-22 we read that the saints in Christ are being built together into a dwelling place of God. The church is the dwelling place of God today. The church is not a physical building. It is a spiritual building where the saints abide in Christ and where God is present. I need to ask myself if I have the same desire and joy to be present in the church as the Jews had to be in the Temple. If not, why not? So often we do not show the same joy of being in the presence of God. Perhaps that is because we are focusing more on the other people who are there instead of focusing on God. The church is where God’s presence dwells today. May you and I feel the same joy today in his presence!

#risingjoy #Psalms #God

God doesn’t randomly pick

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

How blessed is the one whom you choose, and allow to live in your palace courts. May we be satisfied with the good things of your house – your holy palace. Psalm 65.4

Blessed means happy. The man that God chooses is happy. God does not look down and randomly pick those whom he wants. He has had a plan since the beginning of time. That plan was to send Jesus his son to die on the cross for man’s redemption. Jesus came to earth to make God the father known to man. He taught that if you know the son then you know the father. We have the phrase “Like father, like son.” Jesus revealed to us who God is and what he wants of us. In John 8, Jesus said that he knew the Father and that he obeyed him. The Jews did not know him because they did not obey him. In John 8.47 Jesus said that the one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words. This is the man that God chooses. This is the man that is happy!

#risingjoy #Psalms #happiness