This is the time of year when people are extra thankful, joyous, and generous. In other words, more people are acting like how Christians should behave all year round. One thing I particularly love about this time of year is the music. The Christmas music that is filled with the joy of Christ. We all have our favorite song; if you are like me, you cannot choose one favorite, but there is one that stands out to me as an essential, ”Joy to the world.” This song is proclaiming the joy of the birth of Christ Jesus. Although we do not know exactly when he was born, we do know that there was one joyous day when Mary gave birth to our Lord and Savior (Luke 2:1-21).
This song is about the joy that comes from this fact. The song celebrates the beginning of Jesus’ time on earth. Jesus was praised from the moment he was born (Luke 2:13-14) until the moment he died on the cross. Let us think about the last few days of his life here on earth. As Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time the people cried out praising him, but everyone was not happy about that. Luke 19:37-40 says,
“Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying:
‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’
And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’
But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.’”
On his final journey to the holy city Jesus was adored by believers. He is the only one worthy and we should be honored to praise him with the fruit of our lips (Hebrews 13:5). But as we read, not everyone wanted him to be praised and not everyone will want us to praise him. Jesus told the Pharisees that if we, his disciples, fail to praise him the rocks will do it instead. If for some reason Jesus did not get the praise he is worthy of from humans the elements of this earth will do what we are meant to do.
Let us NEVER let a rock cry out for us! Let us not need a substitute; let us not need assistance to praise. We may fall short in many ways during our life, but let us always give praise and proclaim joy to the world.
We were created to worship (Isaiah 43:21), and if we do not direct that worship to he who is worthy then our worship will be directed elsewhere and lead us to destruction. We must be careful especially during this time of year to not worship the things of this world.
Last year my family moved into our new home two days before Christmas. It was a joyous occasion, but I remember how stressed I was because on Christmas Eve we had 11 family members coming to spend the holiday with us. We had a great support system to help us unpack and care for our son, but it was still so much to do. We did not get it all done, there were still boxes to be unpacked and still rooms with no furniture, but our home was SO filled with love. My husband and his siblings lost their father and grandmother earlier that year, so for them all to wake up under the same roof with their kids on Christmas morning was special. No one cared about sleeping on air mattresses; in fact, the kids loved sleeping on the floor together like one big slumber party. It was my son's first Christmas, and I would not change a thing. Our God is love (1 John 4:7-12); we can not let the distractions of this world allow us to forget what is truly important in life. I praise God for our new home, not because I want to show it off to others but I am blessed that we now have room to host holidays for our family.
I recount that story to say that sometimes we can let the stresses of the world impact our praise to almighty God. When trouble comes our praise is the first thing to go. Let’s look at a couple possible reasons for lack of praise and ways to rejuvenate our praise.
We put our faith in “church” and not Christ. The church belongs to Christ. He died for it (Ephesians 5:25), he built it (Mattew 16:18), and he is the savior of it (Ephesians 5:23). However, the church is filled with people and people sin (Romans 3:23). If we have our hope wrapped up in people, we will lose sight of the savior every time. I’ve heard it said that people try church, but they don’t try God. I love my brothers and sisters; I know they love me, but we are all in desperate need of a savior so we can not lift each other up. The more trust we put in people the less we have for the one who deserves it ALL. Instead of letting the downfalls of man sway us, let us always remember that Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). He died for anyone who would believe on him (John 3:16). We put our hope and trust in Jesus. He is our safe place, he is our redeemer (Ephesians 1:7), our advocate (1 John 2:1-2), and he will never leave us (Matthew 28:20). As we meditate on HIM, and not those sitting in the pew next to us, let us praise him for his loving kindness and never let a rock cry out for us.
We do not find our joy in Jesus. During the height of COVID I was so thankful for virtual worship, but—oh!—how I longed to be back in the assembly to sing praises to God almighty. Worship was something I took for granted, but that is all different now. Looking forward to being in the assembly is something that should be true for all Chirstians. We delight in the law of the Lord. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Do not feel bad if somewhere along the way you lost that joy, there is still time to get it back. One way to do that is through song. It may seem obvious, but we must praise him with the fruit of our lips in song (Hebrews 13:5). Praising God in song is a fundamental part of being a true worshiper. It does not matter what you sound like, as long as you sincerely sing. Colossians 3:16 says,
“ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
We sing to praise God; in doing so, we are also encouraging one another. You have to be in the assembly to do that. We can not hold back when it comes to singing. We do not sing in the assembly to transition from one thing to another. Singing is imperative to our worship. We must sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord if we do not want a rock to cry out for us.
Jesus loves us, he died for us and he is coming back for us. We want to be true worshipers (John 4:24) who show our appreciation through our praise. Our life should be a living praise to Jesus, that is the way we speak to our neighbors, the way we treat our families, and the way we serve others should all point to our Lord and how thankful we are for Him.