Rejoice in the New Year!

“Today is the day The Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”.  How many times have we heard this? 

There are those that possibly have an inclination towards “the positive” and “the happy”, for whatever good fortunate reason, and will take the word rejoice and fly with it.  How wonderful and appropriate, not necessarily out of context.  However, the initiative is based solely on their taking kindly to the word rejoice.  Perhaps they have circumstances that deserve rejoicing.  Perhaps they were hardwired through proper parenting and extended family support that they heed to the word rejoice.  Better yet, maybe there are those that have had positive experiences with their religion or God and actually know how to “on the fly” rejoice to/in The Lord.  These are all fortunate circumstances that not all of us are akin to.  Nor have all of us had these proactive positive experiences to randomly produce a joy that allows us to rejoice the way God would call us to do.  No matter the inclination to rejoice or not, and whether we do or not, my question goes deeper.  Not only how many times have we heard this “cliched” scripture, but also are we able to adequately and correctly answer the WHY should we rejoice?

Is there a Rejoicing that occurs beyond our current circumstance, situation, mood, outlook, etc.?  Is it much like praising God through the storm?  How on earth are we to Praise and Rejoice when everything seems amok?!  Is it as simple and basic as “just put a smile on your face”?  Whereby psychosomatically a cause and effect produces the outcome we desire, which in turn brings good feelings, so we then continue until we grow weary and have to start the process over?  If that is the case, that only works for those that have learned how to put a smile on and keep it on, or those who are tenacious; those of us where our day to day life isn’t allowed to infiltrate or effect our state, where our memories and triggers are kept at bay, somehow.  Works for some, not for others.

Is it about a feeling?  I am sure at this point you have come up with various notions and ideas in regards to these various questions I pose, based on your background and experience.  For some it is a no-brainer…it is better to be joyful than not.  Period.  For others, it may seem as though it is impossible to be joyful no matter what…at any given time, all the time.  In fact, to the latter, it may seem as far fetched as saying one should eat clean 100% of the time and exercise 24/7 without ceasing, while working when you should be sleeping…and having a clone do your sleeping and every other aspect of living that would define you as a partner/parent/friend/etc.

The long and the short of it, is that, this Rejoicing is not about having anything in our personal lives to rejoice about.  It is not about our success or triumph, provisions, health, friends, status, discipline, achievements, family, or anything that we typically attribute to happiness. It is, at this point, important I make mention of a fact in order to position us for the Truth…that is, happiness is about what happens.  It’s okay to be happy but it has nothing to do with joy.

What is the definition of Rejoice?  To express great joy.  To be ecstatic with joy.  The act of feeling or showing great joy.  Celebrations.  To feel joy or gladness, take delight, to make joyful, gladden.

It seems that joy is a big part of this Rejoice thing.  We will briefly look into what joy actually is in order to fulfill this definition.  First things first.
I, as well, want to add a disclaimer…a pertinent thought.  Though the rejoicing we speak of here is not about ourselves, supposedly, let me say this…what we must Rejoice in first, will inevitably flow and trickle into our personal lives.  In fact I hold the Power back by using the word trickle…in that, it will at most times flood and saturate our whole life so much so that it will encompass all we put our heart, head, and hands to.  But first things first.  Who comes first?  You, your life…or God?  If we rely on anything other than God for joy we will be set on sinking crumbling ground.

So let us look at the “Rejoicing” we are focusing on right now.  This “cliched” Scripture (“Today is the day The Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”) is contained within Psalm 118.  A portion (Chapter) of Scripture that is used during the Jewish Feasts.  Primarily Feast of Tabernacles and Passover.  This fact in and of itself carries interesting weight and symbolism into my writing here.  I will come back to this fact after reading through the 118th chapter.

Psalm 118

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

2 Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say:
    “His love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say:
    “His love endures forever.”

5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.

8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
11 They surrounded me on every side,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
12 They swarmed around me like bees,
    but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defense[a];
    he has become my salvation.

15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16     The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.[b]
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up[c] to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

It…all the Joy and Rejoicing, is all about who The Lord is and what The Lord has done.  The Rejoicing is not about thanking God for the stuff or the victories, but about thanking God for Himself.  For His love that endures forever.  This song was sung at Passover Celebrations, therefore it is more than probable that Jesus, the Anointed One, sang this with His disciples before He went out to the Garden of Gethsemane.  A time and place where Jesus would sweat His own Blood out His brow over what He knew deep inside He was about to go through.  He was about to be stripped of all and reduced to being the Sin of the world; the Sacrificial Lamb.  Passover is in fact the first month of the year, the month of Nissan.  So as we celebrate New Years in January we can remember that the New Year in fact begins with Jesus being our Savior.
Moreover, this song is sung at the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) a time to remember and focus on when God indwelt in us and to commemorate when He will indwell amongst His people for the Second Coming.  The first indwelling is as occurred when Jesus was born; hence Emmanuel (God with and in us).  Feast of Tabernacles is a Fall Feast occurring in the month of Elul (the 6th/7th month of religious year, 12month on Jewish calendar)..this is most probable when Jesus was actually born as he dwelled among us.  Adding to this prophetic aspect of things….is this song will most likely be a part of His second coming.  A time to come that has not happened yet.  A time to look forward to.  To invest our hearts and minds in, as opposed to the hum drum we get caught up in here on this earthly plane. 

We are to warrant in the kingdom of heaven.  The following scriptures represents this as well.

1 Peter 2:1-10

2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
The Living Stone and a Chosen People

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.”[b]

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”[c]

8 and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

We are to be Joyful and Praise God and Rejoice because we are a chosen people, a holy nation, Gods special possession, that you may DECLARE THE PRAISES of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

Past the history lesson there are two ways to take this.  You either already know that God has pulled you out of the pit or protected you from the pit and our in light therefore rejoice.  OR…you must know that no matter what is going on it is our responsibility to Praise God at all times.  You know that old saying “it could always be worse”.  Well it could.  However, so much worse that let us take one moment to truly imagine there being no God.  Even as i wrote this i momentarily stopped writing dead in my tracks as i finished posing that question.  The question was not posed to have a debate or discussion on whether God exists.  I meant it to say what if you were removed from His love that endures forever?  From His Mercy and Grace.  His Salvation?  What then are you left to rejoice about?  This life is but a blink of an eye.  Making the most of it is not the ultimate goal in the sense that we are taught.  There is a bigger strategy, a bigger cause.

Revelation 3:14-21

To the Church in Laodicea

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

This scripture can seems daunting to some, perhaps to most upon initial skimming and reading.  But let us focus on one grand thing.  The Lord Himself has said, “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”  Let us really look at this.  Imagine your favorite artist (musical, theatrical), your favorite politician, your favorite sports player, the most admired famous person you can think of.  No, really imagine.  Who is or are these people for you?  Now imagine if you could sit with them at dinner. How would you feel?
At this point I could easily say…now imagine God (Jesus) doing this with you, and that would be enough to meditate on.  But this thought goes a few steps further and deeper.  I am not the one posing this question.  God Himself actually said it.  He is proclaiming it, He is actually beckoning us.  This is reality!  Not only about Him coming for dinner.  This is about true communion and intimacy.  He said…”Here I am!”.  He’s here!  He is standing at the door of your home, your life, your heart and He is actually knocking.  We are not begging Him or longing for a visit…HE is knocking.  And if we will believe this and recognize this fact and open the door…He WILL come in and eat with you…and you will eat with Him.  The honor.  The honor is unduplicatable.  You could be in the pit of despair and He is ready to eat with you…to be in your presence…greater yet…His Presence with you.  The Lord of Lords, the King of Kings.  Rejoice I say, Rejoice, for we are not alone.

In His Presence we are Healed, we are Restored, we are Redeemed, we are Delivered, we are Blessed, we are Protected, we are Provided for.  Faith got us there, Faith connected us to Him.  Faith is He, and through this Faith we bring the Kingdom upon us…onto this earth to share and grow.

Luke 17:20-35

The Coming of the Kingdom of God

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”[a]

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day[b] will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

As much as we are to treasure what we have and what is given…this scripture leaves us to ponder what it is we are building and fostering on this earth in this life.  What is of importance…what is making us happy?  The greatest of ponderings beyond this scope is the last line.  “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather”.  Now what on earth does that mean?  How random does it seem not?  What is considered dead is the more important question that inevitably provides the answer.  I will not attempt to answer this question when Scripture can do an immeasurably better job.  The One doing the better job explaining is the Holy Spirit.  The answer is in this….

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The definition of Reconcile is to establish a close relationship with, as in marriage.

In closing i want to pull all this together.  The Joy of The Lord is our Strength as is said in Nehemiah 8:10.  This Scripture is intensified and better understood when thought of in relation to all the scriptures above.  I, at times, like to spin it and say The Strength of the Lord is our Joy.  Not to change the initial meaning, but when we think of strength we think of Mighty Mouse, Super Man, Popeye, or whatever other image of strength that is beyond our capabilities.  God is all that and more.  Because of Who He is, we should have great Joy knowing that someone such as Himself would Love us the way He does.  That is worth Rejoicing.

In Rejoicing we must remember that our ill feelings and circumstances are brought on to thwart Gods plan.  Although we all know that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28), I am speaking outside of this.  The ruler of this world (earth) is not God and we must remember that.  And that, in and of itself, is worth us Rejoicing in the knowledge that God is with us here while we are on earth.  But He is also in us for a greater purpose then to just “look pretty”.

So no matter how we feel on a day to day or moment to moment basis, there is an interesting reason why we are to Rejoice and Praise God no matter what.  That reason is that the Rejoicing and Praising is our direct connection to God.  It is the antidote.  It is the catalyst, if you will.  It is the exercising of our Faith.  Without Faith we can not access the Kingdom of Heaven.  Quite frankly without Faith we can not even be Saved.  I will not debate here that once you are Saved you don’t remain Saved.  However, Victory is a whole other ball game.  Just because you made the team doesn’t mean you will automatically win the game or the series.  This life with God is not about works as it is by what He has done and Who He is…however…without active Faith…without Rejoicing and Praising God we will lose much of what God has for us.

When doing your resolutions this year…when putting together your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals let us not forget that first is God, in all things.

“Today is the day The Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”. 

If your day is not seeming good or you know that your day is “bad”….remember this… Unless we declare that The Lord has made the day that you are in, then you are out of default presupposing it was made by some other thing or entity.  Who wants to leave their day held by a questionable means?  Surely, not I.  As well, let us remember a prayer taught to us by Jesus Himself.  “Give us this day our daily bread”  in Matthew 8.  And let us compare it to Matthew 4:4…”man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”.
Without the Word of God in our mouths and our hearts…without declaring and decreeing Gods Word on our lives…without God our day is not worth anything…regardless of what we think we have in it.

Rejoice that He is our daily Bread…without Him we will always hunger and thirst.
With Him we have it all!!
And after we Rejoice first and Praise Him first…everything else will fall into place.  But never, ever, give in and stop Praising and Rejoicing in Him.  He is God all the time.
His Love endures forever.
We are the Righteousness of God in Christ.

Praise Be to God!!
Happy New Year!!!



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