Relight the Lamp of Joy

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10; 12)

It was spring in old Israel, a time when the king would lead his armies to conquer their enemies and establish more of the land which the Lord had given. But King David sent his General Joab and the army out to do battle and remained in the city of Jerusalem. This was unusual as kings always led their armies in battle. But for a reason unknown to us David remained in Jerusalem. Perhaps he had faith that Joab would manage the army and the battle wisely as they fought the sons of Ammon.

One evening David arose from his bed and went out on the roof and walked about. Perhaps he was pondering the many duties of kingship and they were keeping him from sleep. As he was looking over the city he noticed a beautiful woman bathing and lust for her filled his heart. He sent a servant to inquire about her and learned that her name was Bathsheba the wife of Uriah. Uriah was a soldier in the army and was away in the command of Joab. So David sent messengers to her and they brought Bathsheba back to the palace where David laid with her and she became pregnant. David had sinned and now Bathsheba was with child and he had to find a way to cover the evil that he had done.

David sent for Uriah that he would return from the battle and sleep with his wife and therefore think that her pregnancy was from him. But Uriah did not sleep with his wife and David’s plan was foiled. So David sent Uriah back to the battlefield carrying a message to Joab. Joab was to place Uriah at the front of the battle so he would be killed and then David could take Bathsheba as his wife. Joab followed his king’s order and Uriah was killed in battle. (2 Samuel 11)

King David had committed two sins, adultery and murder and these sins had cast a shadow between him and his Lord God. The Lord sent the prophet Nathan to confront David that he would know that the Lord knew the evil things that he had done. When David confessed the sin bringing it  out in the open he was now able to be forgiven. “Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.” (2 Samuel 12:13)

As David had taken Uriah’s life the Lord could have taken his. David could have lost the right to rule as king, as God had taken that right away from Saul for his disobedience. But God in His mercy forgave David of his sin and did not take his life. But it was Bathsheba that had to bear the sorrow that the child she was carrying would not survive.

God does not want us to live in the darkness of our sin. If we should go there, then God certainly does not want us to stay there. When we stumble and find ourselves in the darkness of sin, then there is only one thing we can do to return to a right relationship with God. We must confess and repent just as David did. True it did not heal the present hurts that David and Bathsheba had in their relationship, a rape, a murder of a loved one, and the loss of a first born child. Such things take time and any relationship requires hard work to reach success in a marriage. By the all sufficient grace of God it is possible to love and cherish, to have and to hold, in better and in worse, and continue to move forward.

From the sin that was conceived in his heart while standing on the roof that spring evening when he first saw Bathsheba, David’s heart was filled with remorse, guilt, and shame. He first tried to cover it up with even more evil acts, which only made the remorse worse. When finally confronted by God’s Prophet Nathan David owned up to the evil things he had done and confessed with a repentant heart. Trust when broken is the hardest thing to regain. Trust can only be restored through remorse, confession, and repentance. If we are remorseful of our past actions this should stop us in are tracks. By confession we are humbling ourselves that we have errored and we are sorrowful. In repentance we turn from our evil way and turn back towards a godly walk in righteousness. Then we have renewal as our misdirected life has been restored to the right path.

Our life is determined by the choices we make as we live out our days. It is not what enters into our life that defiles is but what proceeds out of our life. We must always be on guard at the door of our heart. “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

When one repents, turns away from a sinful way of life to a godly life, there is Joy in the heart of the Heavenly Father and the angels also rejoice. “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:7; 10) How can this not restore joy to the repentant soul that in Heaven there is great joy and celebration over their decision to return home? “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.” (Luke 15:22-23)

Man was not created for sorrow and suffering. He was created to glorify God and to live in peace and joy. When sin entered into the world that perfect harmony between man and His Creator was broken. Man’s heart was tainted with a sin nature and started living for the pleasures of this world and forsook the love of God’s Kingdom. God sent His Son Jesus to reconcile man back unto God. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) Christ came to redeem us and to restore the joy that we were created to share with the Father. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11)

If you have lost the joy in your heart don’t say to yourself “this just isn’t working for me” and let it go. You see the joy in others. You can see it in the way that in everything they do it is a joyful experience. When they talk you can hear the joy in their voice, you can see it in their eyes. You may even envy the love that they have for the Savior Jesus Christ. But that is the point, our joy comes from our love for Jesus Christ.

As follower of Jesus we are a part of His Church. His Church is the bride of Christ and He is the Bridegroom. Some glorious day Jesus will present His bride, the Church, to the Father, perfect with no spot or wrinkle, blameless before God His Father. “He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:27)

As the bride of Christ let us look to the “Parable of Ten Virgins.” In this story we see ten women who were virgins and they all were waiting for the same thing, the bridegroom. Let us not forget that our Lord and Savior is the Bridegroom of His Church the bride. The ten virgins in this story represent us the followers of Jesus and as such we should be pure hearted virgins. The Church stands lovingly waiting for our marriage to Jesus the Bridegroom. The point is that if we have been given the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus that is joyful but we cannot separate that joy from our love of Jesus our Bridegroom. John the Baptist makes this point clear. “You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.” (John 3:28-29)

We have not seen Jesus, but as the virgins we long for His appearing for He is our Bridegroom. Because we have believed and followed Him in faith we have joy for what He has done in our lives. But on that glorious day when He comes for us the joy that we will have will be unspeakable once in His glory.

Our Joy is in our belief and faith in His word that Jesus, the Bridegroom, is coming for us, to perfect us and present us to God the Father. What more joy can there be than that day just a minute away? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, December 16, 2016

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