Psalm 100 (NIV)
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Have you heard the one about the barber and the Pope?
A man was getting a haircut before a trip to Rome.
He mentioned the trip to his barber who responded…
“Rome? Why would anyone want to go there? It’s crowded and dirty and full of tourists. You’re crazy to go to Rome. So, how are you getting there?”
“We’re taking American Airlines,” was the reply. “We got a great rate!”
“American Airlines?” exclaimed the barber. “That’s a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly and they’re always late. So where are you staying in Rome?”
“We’ll be at the downtown International Marriott.”
“That dump? That’s the worst hotel in the city. The rooms are small, the service is surly and they’re overpriced. So, what are you doing when you get there?”
“We’re going to go see the Vatican and we hope to see the Pope.”
“That’s rich,” laughed the barber. “You and a million other people trying to see him. He’ll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You’re going to need it.”
A month later, the man again came in for his regular haircut.
The barber asked him about his trip to Rome.
“It was wonderful,” explained the man. “Not only were we on time but we flew in on one of American Airlines’ brand new planes, but it was overbooked and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a beautiful flight attendant who waited on me hand and foot. And the hotel—it was great! They’d just finished a $25 million remodeling job, and now it’s the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us the presidential suite at no extra charge!”
“Well,” muttered the barber, “I know you didn’t get to see the Pope.”
“Actually, we were quite lucky, for as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder and explained that the Pope likes to personally meet some of the visitors, and if I’d be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt as he spoke a few words to me.”
“Really?” asked the barber. “What’d he say?”
He said, “Where’d you get the awful haircut?” 😊
Now that’s full of joy wouldn’t you say? Speaking of joy, was 2023 joyful for you? Now that we’re at the very beginning of 2024 when you look back will you be saying that it was full of joy?
Where do you find your joy? I find joy in many things. My family is my joy. My writing is my joy. I find my joy in reading God’s Word. Hearing beautiful music is another joy. My friends are my joy. Praying is my joy. Seeing the smiling faces of my grandchildren is my joy. And now that I have a great-grandchild, I can say seeing his smiling face is an added joy. There are other joys in my life but those are the main ones.
Jesus came so our joy would be full. God wants this for us. It’s important to remember that joy doesn’t mean happiness always. Joy means you see and seek joy in all circumstances. Good and bad. Seeing joy during the bad times is quite difficult.
Worship the Lord with gladness this is the orientation of our lives. It speaks to our focus. That we worship and serve God with gladness. What are the focal points of your life? Whatever it is tells you what’s the most important parts of your life. If God is the focal point all else falls into place. From this we find joy. It helps us to come before the Lord with joyful singing.
If you are nervous about something it affects your performance. I remember the first time I told a story in front of a group of seasoned storytellers. Talk about being nervous.
I’ve battled stage fright almost my entire life. Sometimes I wish I were that little girl again who never seemed to be afraid of speaking before one person or a hundred people. Somewhere along the line stage fright reared its ugly head. I no longer felt comfortable speaking in front of a group. I prayed a lot about this. I decided if I were to overcome this, I had to put myself out there in the hopes that it would get easier and possibly go away altogether. The good news is that although I haven’t conquered it completely, I’m so much better at it. I do find that I’m much more comfortable speaking in front of kids than adults. I’m sure that probably speaks to my level of maturity. 😊 God has taught me that if joy is in my heart things don’t feel so daunting.
Next is identity. Knowing who God is and that we are His. This echoes Psalm 23. We are made in God’s image. But if we forget who we are it puts us off balance. Knowing we’re God’s children helps us to know who we are. This is a strong foundation.
Next is gratitude for God’s goodness and grace. Knowing God is faithful and loving. When we pray we must be grateful for how God sticks with us. God will always be with us and that fact alone should give us joy.
So, what’s your focus
- Knowing God is God?
- Being grateful for His love and grace?
- Knowing we are His children?
Make this new year a joyful year by living in God’s joy.
From my family to yours, I wish you a joyful and joy-filled 2024!
And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!