Happy is that people whose God is Jehovah… (Psalm 144:15)
Yep, were going to get happy this month. We will do something we’ve never done before; we’re bringin’ in the funny lady: Chonda Pierce. If you’re new to Faith, many of you might not recognize the name, but just wait a few days, then you will never forget Chonda. She is part our celebration of Mother’s day on May 12th, performing in concert on Saturday night the 11th. Scripturally, a merry heart (only possible through Christ), a smile, a laugh is like a medicine to us and you will get a good dose of that on that evening. Geoff Moore will join Chonda to host the event. He is one of the early artists in our concert series that caught the heart and imagination of our listeners and for many years held the record for number of concerts performed for WBVN—well, until some kid named Mark took that over. It will be a great reunion with Geoff and a terrific introduction to Chonda. Of course, I have a reason to ‘promo’ that event that’s not really about that event at all. I want to go back to that Scripture about being happy.
We are a ministry of encouragement placed right in the middle of a world and culture that is not very encouraging at all. Truth be told, if we all took off our ‘everything is great’ mask, dropped our ‘everything’s fine’ line, it seems everyone has some kind of trouble to deal with. Had a conversation with a friend the other day and his statement was to the effect that he’d forgotten how it was not to worry or hurry about something all day long. We have calendars and watches to tell when and where we should go, phones that do the same plus they talk to us moment to moment. Facebook is watching and seems to be interested in everything you think or are doing. How many emails do you get each day? Plus internet, TV and you can twitter if you must!
So, how are we to be glad as the Word of God suggests believers should be? We find part of that answer in Psalm 4. Contrary to what we think, the true source of gladness is not in our increase, not in what we have in our home, not in what we put in the bank, but gladness is contained within hearts. I know it seems trite to say such things, but God says such things. The 146th Psalm declares that gladness is to be found in knowing the God of Jacob and knowing He is our help. True gladness, or the more spiritual Joy, is not to be had by controlling everyone and everything in our lives. It’s not obtained with endless, incessant labor on our part. Psalm 127 reaffirms that we labor in vain unless Jehovah builds the house, going further to suggest it’s vain to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for He gives His beloved sleep (Rest). Gladness is not obtained by our pain or sorrow but is simply the fruit of knowing Him. Adam and Abraham were both given gifts while they were helpless, unable to do anything for themselves; they were both asleep. Can we get to a Rest where God does what we can’t and we have the confidence that He will do just that? Scripture says happy: is the man whom God corrects, is the man that finds Wisdom, is the man who has Mercy, is the man who trusts God.
Jesus gave us instruction on how to overcome. John writes of a time when many of the disciples deserted him (John 6:66), times his brethren did not believe (John 7:5). Jesus was thought to have been ‘beside himself’ (Matthew 3:31). He was rejected as a glutton and drunkard and at the same time his miracles were fruitless. In all these, he found Rest in submission and resignation to the Father’s Will. ‘At that time’, a specific time, a time when the disciples were weary and heavy laden with burdens, Jesus’ words are to ‘come unto me all you that pressed and I will give you Rest for your souls (mind, will and emotions). Jesus was not offering a Rest that would come from simply ‘tipping our hat’ as an acknowledgement that he exists, but a Rest that comes from his invitation to ‘be His’. (One of the wonderful things Jane and I discovered during the GBS incident in her life this last year is that as the pressure intensified the ‘complete Peace’ increased in both our lives.)
Many times, in the original Hebrew text, in an attempt to emphasize the point to the highest degree possible, the Spirit of God had the inspired writers to repeat a word twice. In Isaiah 26:3, the original Hebrew language literally reads God will keep us in ‘perfect Peace Peace’ whose mind is stayed on Him. The emphasis is to suggest that God will keep us in much Peace-great Peace, or more accurately, a complete Peace. Need some of that? Jeremiah chapter 6 speaks of a kind of peace spoken of by the prophets but the truth was there was no Peace. Isaiah’s Peace in contrast was one that would pass all understanding even in a time of great trouble.
While Adam and Abraham had a sleep imposed on them, we must choose our Rest to be glad! And, while we cannot be isolated from trouble, the Rest of God can insulate us in our hearts and minds even in trouble. Recently, my mother buried a son; my sister and I buried a brother. The most impressive symbol of that day, the most impressive moment was while I was welcoming people in the visiting line, I turned and looking back at the casket, there stood my 90 year old mother, a smile on her face and greetings in her heart for all that came. She stood at the head of the casket for an hour and half, never faltering, never sighing, and made sure people knew how much it meant to her for them to come, how much she loved each one. Hers was not a simple calmness but a strong tower of Faith because she knows the God of Jacob. I will always remember that day and her Peace and Strength beyond understanding because her God is Jehovah. Shalom! Shalom!