The Joy of Knowing God

Good morning. Friday has finally arrived. And this is a long weekend! Today is Friday, August 31, 2012. Today is “Eat Outside Day.” Okay…does that mean “take your meal outside and eat it day,” or “go outside and eat whatever’s there day?” I think I would go for the former, because you never know what’s out there.

On this date in 1955, William Cobb demonstrated the first solar powered car. I see how well that caught on.
On this date in 1888, Jack the Ripper claimed his first victim, a prostitute named Mary Ann Nichols. He was never caught.
On this date in 1949, the American Gigolo, Richard Gere, was born.
On this date in 1928, The Threepenny Opera premiered in Berlin. It was composed by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. I love Threepenny! Here is a clip of Raul Julia and Bill Nighy performing “The Army Song” in a movie that I didn’t even know existed!

On this date in 1959, Sandy Koufax struck out 18 batters in a single game, setting a National League record.

All that happened in Christi’s doctor appointment yesterday was a referral to an orthopedist. So we had to pay for a doctor’s visit for that? Nothing else much happened yesterday, at least that was worth talking about. The work day was a bit stressful, but I think I handled it okay. Today should be interesting. The manager is taking a vacation day (so as to have an extra long weekend), and my direct supervisor won’t be in, as he is working tomorrow (Saturday) to cover our holiday Saturday deliveries. I’ll be by myself, pretty much. It’s not the first time…things should be fine. Oh, and there’s no work Monday.

Father, I pray that you show me a glimpse of yourself this morning, and fill me with your Spirit as I look into your Word today.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 92. Again, there is no composer listed; it is simply called “A song for the Sabbath.” It is, indeed, “good to give thanks to the LORD.”
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep!

As I continue to read Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I stumbled across this line in the chapter on service. “Is it not better to serve our neighbor than to get our own way?” (p. 96 of the version I’m reading) That little sentence shouts volumes across the centuries. In fact, I’m thinking that the entire book could be summarized by that one line. “Life together” works best if one adopts that philosophy. It is better to serve my neighbor, to serve my brother or sister, than to get my own way. May we all remember this, and may we all pray for the Spirit of God to infuse that attitude into our spirits!

My Utmost For His Highest
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

Oswald Chambers says, “It is an insult to use the word happiness in connection with Jesus Christ.” Jesus never spoke of “happiness.” While I realize that the TEV translation (Today’s English Version) of the Bible uses the word “happy” in the Beatitudes, that is quite an oversimplification. One must remember that the TEV has a vocabulary of only about 5000 words. It was translated with the idea of being understood by someone whose first language was not English. Here, Jesus speaks of “joy,” both his joy and our joy. We must never confuse “joy” with “happiness.” “The joy of Jesus was absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do.” Jesus prayed that our joy would be the same as his joy.

What should bring me joy in my life? It is not physical health (important as that may be, and I’m certainly still working on improving that). It is not in “external happenings.” In fact, the most joy should not even come from seeing God’s work succeed, according to Chambers. Rather, the “full flood of my life is…in the perfect understanding of God, and in the communion with Him that Jesus Himself had.” That is the goal of my life. It is the sussing out of external circumstances that will hinder this joy. The cares of the world choke out God’s word.

Again, Chambers speaks of being “rightly related to God.” “Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water.” That sounds familiar…just yesterday, right? Chambers cuts to the chase: “Stop being self-conscious, stop being a sanctified prig, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes.” (Emphasis mine) Think about it…”The lives that have been of most blessing to you are those who were unconscious of it.”

We must find our joy in our relationship with God in Christ, and in no other place. If I can manage that, then those “rivers of living water” will begin to pour through me, and then out of me onto anyone who gets around me. Isn’t that the kind of joy that all of us should desire?

Father, I pray for this kind of joy; the joy that finds itself simply in the relationship with you, for that is the single most important thing in my life. My health and weight are not important (not ultimately…it is true that my quality of physical life has improved as I have been more active and lost weight, and I intend to continue to do so); my “happiness” is truly not important. It is joy that is of utmost importance, and that joy being the joy that comes from knowing you. I pray that I would be “rightly related” to you, so that rivers of living water would flow out of me. May I be a channel of that living water, Father! Make me a blessing! Make this joy as natural as breathing to me. But, here’s the catch. I also pray that I would unconscious of being a blessing to people. Sure, it’s nice to hear it…I won’t deny that I enjoy comments on this blog that tell me that I have blessed someone. But I don’t want to walk around thinking, “Watch out, I’m about to BLESS YOU!!” No. This is why I pray for the characteristics of the Beatitudes to be manifest in my life every day. Meekness, poor in spirit, hunger and thirst for righteousness. I pray for all of these in my life every day. Keep me humble, Father. In this joy, may I also find humility. Give me perfect understanding of you and communion with Jesus Christ.

I also pray for the attitude described by Bonhoeffer…let me be more desirous to serve my neighbor than to have my own way. My way is not important. It is your desires that should be the desires of my heart, and you commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that we should, even more so, love each other as Christ has loved us. This requires me to set aside my own way. So my goals for this day are that I would find joy in being rightly related to you, and that I would make service to others a priority.

I pray for this day, Father. I pray for relief for Christi, that she might not continue experiencing this pain. I pray that her work day will be stress free and smooth. I pray that my work day will be smooth, as well, especially as there is potential for carry over from yesterday’s issues. If issues arise, may I look to you to keep me calm. May I not allow my external circumstances to cast a shadow on my joy. I also pray for Stephanie on this day, that she would have a good day and that her thoughts would be drawn to you. I thank you for her sweetness to her mother yesterday evening that helped draw Christi out of a funk.

Look for that joy today…the joy that comes from knowing God.

Grace and peace, friends.