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God Expects Joy in His Service

The Bible clearly speaks to the pain of this life and encourages us to be honest about it as well. This point is often lost on prosperity preachers and the “happy-clappy” approach to worship.

At times, though, I see the error in the opposite direction- the idea that those who are serious about their faith can be seen by their grave expression. Such people are never too carried away. When asked how they are doing they will immediately mention their struggle with sin, the reality of our fallen condition etc. and than say something like “What else can we expect in a fallen world.” While there is truth here, it is really the opposite extreme of the prosperity gospel.

God knows we suffer and told us to expect it. God does take sin seriously and does not want us to take it lightly. At the same time, the scriptures clearly teach us that because God has loved us and resolved our sin problem we should be joyful! I find that I too easily get caught up in the struggles and fail to ponder the reality of all that God has done for me, fail to revel in the assurances of the gospel. And revel I should and would if I think clearly about the amazing truth declared to me in the gospel!!

As Matthew Henry wrote:

“By holy joy we do really serve God; it is an honour to him to rejoice in him; and we ought to serve him with holy joy. Gospel-worshippers should be joyful worshippers” (on Psalm 100).

The Psalms have brought this all to my mind. The very Psalms which teach us to take our complaints to God also command us to approach God with joy.
Psalm 100:2- “Serve the Lord with gladness”
William Kethe’s famous versification of Psalm 100 rendered this “Him serve with mirth.” Later editors changed this to “Him serve with fear.” That is a proper rendering of Psalm 2 but not of Psalm 100!

Psalm 27:6 “I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy.”
One versification renders this:
“Within his tent with glee
I’ll offer sacrifice.”
Such commands abound in the Psalter. God declares that we should approach him with joy because He has been so good to us. The command in Psalm 27 comes in the midst of the psalmist crying out to God because of enemies who are after him. This is no escapist imagination. Rather, it is the real assurance which births joy even in the midst of trouble. “If God be for me who can be against me!”

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