Monday, September 26, 2016

God’s Joy


[Photo of a bronze statue]

“The Lord your God is with you, he is
mighty to save. He will take great delight
in you, he will quiet you with his love, he
will rejoice over you with singing.”
—Zephaniah 3:17

My husband, having spent his entire professional career in the field of fire protection, was given this statue of a child held by her rescuer.1 Can you imagine the deep joy in the heart of that firefighter? This must resemble in a small way the joy our Lord has in us.

First off, we are told in Scripture that, in and of ourselves, we have no good in us. What joy would that ever give to God? No, instead, God’s joy comes from what His Son, Jesus, has done for us and what He has made us as new creatures in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

In fact, even as Jesus went to the cross, He saw joy ahead. Hebrews 12:2 tells us:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

God’s joy in us comes rather in His joy for what He has accomplished and is accomplishing through us. Joni Eareckson Tada writes:

God’s joy and delight over you finds its best expression at the cross… And He watched His Son’s murder because He loves you. This means His joy and deep emotion for you is rugged, hard-won, and victorious. He is the admiral flying colors of victory over you. He’s the hero who has carried you to safety from hell’s burn. He is the joy-filled warrior who has brought you home.2

God’s joy isn’t about us. His joy in us comes from what He has done for us. He looks at us as wonderful trophies of His mercy, grace, and love. We should be grateful and share in His joy for all that He did, and all He plans to do in and for us.

May His heart and ours be filled with that joy “unspeakable and full of glory!”


1 Garman, Michael, Fireman with Child Statue. Colorado Springs, CO, 1986. A gift presented to Dean K. Wilson by Robert and Marlene Anderson.
2 Tada, Joni Eareckson. More Precious Than Silver. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation, 1998. Devotional for September 22nd.



Monday, September 19, 2016



[Photo of a child sitting in a corner]

“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the
present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward
it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.”
—Hebrews 12:11 NKJV

No one wants to wait until “afterwards.” When we go through trials of all kinds, we want God to remove the pain and give us the results He has designed for us. Yet, no one would expect a surgeon to allow a person to get up during a surgical procedure and enjoy the results. The child must take the sting of the antiseptic before he can experience the healing.

We have ample illustrations of this point in the lives of biblical characters. In the case of poor Jonah, who ended up in the belly of the fish because of his disobedience, even after he confessed his sin and repented, he had to go through the process of being vomited out upon the beach! Only then did he respond obediently to God’s call.

In John 11, Lazarus went through death and decay in the grave. His family had to go through the associated grieving. Only after this trial did Jesus come and speak those words to his dead friend in the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!”

As recorded in 1 Kings 19, Elijah went through a terrible wind storm, an earthquake, and a fire before he heard the gentle whisper of God. Only then did he hear the words of direction and relief he had waited for from his Lord.

Job experienced unbelievable loss, lived through pain, grief, the misunderstanding of his friends, and his own crisis of faith. Yet, when God finally did speak to Job and bring his trials to an end, Job replied, in Job 42:5:

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

We don’t feel blessed while going through the deadly, mysterious, confusing storms of life. Afterward, if we persevere in faith and obedience, we can say with the psalmist, as recorded in Psalm 94:12-13:

Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law; you grant him relief from days of trouble.

If the trial you experience seems more than you can bear, and if you see no good coming from it, even while you are still in the dark decide before God to trust Him to help you through and bring about the desired harvest in your life. There will be an afterwards. And, it will be joyous, peaceful, and light-filled.



Monday, September 12, 2016

New Mercies


[Photo of a woman raising her arms in praise]

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are
not consumed, because his compassions
fail not. They are new every morning:
great is thy faithfulness.”
—Lamentations 3:22-23

I have known these verses nearly all my life. I’ve been reminded of them each time I sing the old hymn with the words “Morning by morning new mercies I see.” 1

Recently, in need of so many things and thinking I knew how things for which I prayed would end, the Lord reminded me of that verse. He particularly drew my attention to the word, “new.”

Now I know the opposite of “new” is “old,” but it can also mean “different,” “unique,” even “surprising!” What if we approached each day looking for the “surprising” new mercies of the Lord?

God rarely answers our needs in just the way we think He might. Take the story of the disciples in Luke 5. They had fished all night and caught nothing. In the morning, Jesus told them to let down their nets in deep water. Because they obeyed, they had such a catch of fish that the nets nearly broke. This showed the surprising mercies of Jesus.

Another somewhat similar story at the end of Jesus’ earthly reign, recorded in John 21, had the disciples coming into shore after another whole night of catching nothing. This time, Jesus told them to try the opposite side of the boat. The disciples, who knew Jesus well by now, didn’t respond in mockery, but obeyed. Again, they had a catch they could hardly haul into their boats.

When you look at stories of healing in the Bible, you will see that God healed people with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (2 Kings 4). He applied mud and spittle to a blind man’s eyes (John 9), and sent a possessed man’s demons into a herd of swine (Mark 5). Often our Lord demonstrates His power in “new” and “surprising” ways.

As you look to God for answers to prayers, come expecting “new” mercies—not ways in which He worked once before, or for another person. If we watch, He will show up to do marvelous things for which we can praise, exalt, and stand in awe of Him.


1 Chisolm, Thomas, Great is Thy Faithfulness. Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Co., 1923.



Monday, September 5, 2016

Occupational Privilege


[Photo of an old sailing vessel]

“Others went out on the sea in ships; they were
merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the
works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep.”
—Psalm 107:23-24

What parts of your job give you privilege? Maybe you hadn’t considered that before. But, in this passage of Scripture, we read about sea-faring merchants who saw things the average person would never observe about God. Does the work you do afford you special ways of seeing God that others will never know?

Let’s say you stay home to raise children. Almost no one ever sees your hard work and sacrifice, your patience and devotion to those little ones. Yet, you have the privilege of catching the first word from a baby’s mouth, or to observe a funny never-to-be-repeated expression that passed so quickly you couldn’t even get your cell phone camera out! You may hear your child’s first prayer, or notice the pure joy on the little face over some new discovery.

Let’s say you own a thrift store and sort through pounds and pounds of other people’s junky leftovers. You alone discover the old cabinet for which you’ve been looking that will work so nicely as a baby’s changing table. Or have the opportunity to witness how something a struggling person finds in your store will fill a great need they couldn’t afford to satisfy any other way.

In my occupation as a church organist and as a school music teacher, I have often experienced God’s awesome blessing, or privilege. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit come and move a congregation by a hymn, or piece of music, that I accompanied. I’ve experienced the moment, after hours of practicing, where the right interpretation of a piece comes together.

I’ve seen an angry, moody child who came to my music class with a pout and refused to participate later leave my class with a skip in his step and a smile on his face. I’ve heard glorious sounds from children in rehearsals that no one else would ever hear in a performance.

God makes sure He shows up and reveals Himself in the day-to-day experiences of His children. Too often we miss seeing unique experiences. Or, when we do, we fail to acknowledge that our God is the author of such blessings.

Today, no matter what your work, take notice of all the ways in which you see God’s privileges in a different way than any other person, through those things He brings to pass along your very special pathway.