Preparing My Heart with Gladness

This Saturday, as we prepare for worshiping our God tomorrow, I can’t help but think of the first verse of Psalter #348:

With joy and gladness in my soul

I hear the call to prayer;

Let us go up to God’s own house

And bow before Him there.

How glad and joyful I am that I can go to God’s house! Why am I so happy, you ask? Why is it such a good thing to go to church? How joyful can it really be to go and worship?

Let’s think about it this way. We are busy as beavers Monday through Saturday: school, work, family, friends, relationships—all of these things demand our attention and care. We are always thinking ahead to what we have to do next, or when this is going to happen, or who we are going to see here. It’s as if our minds are clocks wound up tightly and we just have to cruise on full speed ahead the whole week long. Now, it’s Saturday, and we finally have a chance to relax, slow down, and not worry about all those things! God has set aside a day for us to rest from all of the things of this world that we are always busy with because He omnisciently knows that is the best way for us. He loves us so much that He gives us a full 24 hours to dwell on Him and His words instead of being consumed by everything that takes us away from Him. Think about that for a minute. How amazing is it, that right from the beginning of creation, God set aside the Sabbath for that very reason? In His perfect plan, God gave us our Sundays for such a blessed rest—therefore, I am joyful!

Not only am I glad because I get a chance to rest, but going to the Lord’s house also means that I will be hearing the preaching, the very words of Christ spoken to me. I have much to learn yet about who God is, and every Sunday, Christ commands me to learn more about Himself. Through His mouthpiece (the minister) Christ tells me how to walk my antithetical walk; He instructs me in so many things, and for this I am so glad! How else would I gain knowledge and wisdom?

Going up to my Father’s house is a wonderful experience as it brings me comfort as well. I am reminded week after week that I am saved. I have a Father who was willing to send His only begotten son to die—for me and my abominable sins. So often our busy lives Monday through Saturday can be exhausting, often leaving us in grief and despair. How am I supposed to get through it all? What does everything even matter anymore? And then we come to church, where we hear once again that we can lay our burdens on God, and He will take care of us. There is no doubt: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Being reminded of this constant safekeeping makes my heart glad, so glad! It is such a joy to prepare for worship knowing that my dry and aching soul will be refreshed once again.

So, when you are traveling to your worship services tomorrow, be glad and joyful! You are going to hear your Father speak to you! You are taking a break from all the worrisome things of life! You have the opportunity to drink in the fellowship with God’s people and be refreshed once more! God loves you, cares for you, and has given you a day to enjoy and praise Him in!

“Who is so great a God as our God?” Psalm 77:13

Grace Medema

Hail, the Incarnate Deity

Sometimes I think lyrics to most songs go in one ear and out the other. This, of course includes our hymns and songs of praise to God. Too often, I think we read and sing off the lyrics to the songs we sing in church, or even at home or in the car, without really thinking about what those words really mean. I may sound like your high school choir teacher, but let’s really think about the words to some of these songs, especially this Christmas season.

This struck me while driving in my car tonight, listening to a Christian Christmas station I had found. Like usual, I found myself singing along to the ones I knew when “Hark, The Herald” began to play.  I have always loved the line of that song “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see. Hail, the incarnate deity,” but I found myself thinking carefully about all the words of that song and what they were saying about the birth of Christ.

Not only was it humbling to realize that I have so often sung the words to this classic Christmas hymn and not thought about them, but it was also awe-inspiring to feel the power in those lyrics as if it were the first time hearing them. Most of us have heard these Christmas songs every year for our whole lives, and the same goes for many other religious hymns. When was the last time you let the words wash over you and feel the meaning of the words God speaks to us and through us? Let’s do that this Christmas!

Negatively, we need do to be careful that we don’t do this with secular songs as well. It’s so easy to learn the lyrics and sing along to the songs we hear on secular radio every day, but here again, we should be thinking about the lyrics to those songs. Often worldly music has dangerous and spiritually harmful lyrics that we should not be overlooking and singing along to.

Positively, we should think about the words to the Christian songs we sing regularly. This includes the songs we sing in church, choir songs at school or church practices, or programs and CD music we may listen to. Songs we all know well like “Amazing Grace” or “Be Thou My Vision” have incredibly powerful lyrics that we would do well to take to heart. It’s amazing to realize what some of these songs are saying!

Over the next week or so, church and Sunday School Christmas programs will be taking place. Here’s my challenge. Since those programs are often a time when we hear many of these classic songs we often sing without thinking about, really listen to the words this year. Watch and be awestruck as your son, daughter, cousin, niece, nephew or other relation sings out the amazing lyrics of these songs like “Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever,” or  “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” It really is a beautiful time of year, isn’t it?

Suzie Kuiper

 

Finding joy in every day

Do you ever have days when you just don’t feel like doing anything? Days when you have no motivation to get out of bed? Or even days where everything just seems to go wrong and you just want to crawl in a hole? Probably all of you have felt this way at some point in your lives. How about the opposite? Days that you would deem the best in your life, that you wish could last forever!? I hope that this is true for you too. It is a very human thing to have good days and bad. Our human nature doesn’t allow us to be happy all the time. However, God commands us in Philippians 4 to “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice.” This has to do more with our attitude than our actions. Yes there are times when we may be sad, such as at a funeral, when we feel sick, when we are going through a hard time, or are suffering with another saint who is going through a hard time. In these times it would not be appropriate for us to shout and sing happily or make jokes. But we are called to rejoice in the Lord. Our attitude every day, every minute of each day, and in every situation, must be submission that God’s will and plan for us is best. He never gives us anything in this life that He will not work out for our good. We know that verse well, and love to say it. But can we say it and mean it? God has put me in this certain situation that I may learn better how to glorify and praise Him. So next time something goes wrong, say you get a bad grade, or you are driving behind a slow driver, or something more serious or devastating happens in your life, maybe you lose your job or get into an argument with a friend, whatever it is, learn how to rejoice in the Lord. He is still with you! He will never leave nor forsake you, and He is calling you to lean on Him, trust in Him for your peace and happiness! Get out of bed each day with that knowledge of His love, with the assurance that He will lead and guide you, and in that way you will be able to find joy in every single day of your life.

LK