Tuesday, January 1

Reasons to rejoice!

Scripture: Genesis 1-2, Luke 1

Observation/application

This year as I read through the Bible again, I’m paying special attention to the following themes: the excellencies of God (who He is and what He does), Life (with a capital L), and joy.  

In Genesis 2, there are two kinds of life.  First, God breathes into man the breath of life, and man became a living being (2:7).  I understand this to be physical life.  Second, God placed man in the garden (2:8) to cultivate and keep it (2:15), and the tree of life was in the middle of the garden.  This represented more than physical life, which they already had—it represented eternal life, abundant life, life with God (see 3:22), Life with a capital L.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil likewise was symbolic, representing the forbidden experiential knowledge of evil.  

God made Himself and eternal life available to them in the garden.  In the same way, God has made provision for us for abundant life in Jesus.  From the very beginning, God’s intention was that we enjoy eternal, abundant life in Him.  We were made for this Life—Life with a capital L!  I love that the tree of life was there for the taking in the middle of the garden, revealing God’s intentions for us.

Joy shows up often in Luke 1.  First, the angel assures Zechariah that he and Elizabeth will have joy and gladness at the birth of their son, John, and many others will rejoice as well.  That happened (v. 58) when John was born and all their neighbors rejoiced with her at the Lord’s great mercy!  It was not only joy for a new baby, but specifically joy because of the Lord’s mercy to this aged couple.  Rejoice in the Lord!

When Mary visited Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb “leaped for joy” (v. 44) at the sound of Mary’s voice, and Elizabeth, filled with Spirit, spoke a blessing over Mary.  John, in utero, recognized he was in the presence of Jesus and leaped for joy!  Jesus has that effect on people!  Rejoice in the Lord!  

After hearing Elizabeth’s words, Mary breaks into song (the Magnificat) and says, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”  Mary rejoices in the Lord, in what God has done, is doing and will do.  In the same way, God is at work in our lives.  If we pay attention, we have much to rejoice over!  

The chapter ends with John’s birth, widespread rejoicing, Zechariah regaining his speech, and bursting out in praise to God!  “Blessed be the Lord!”  Praise is the natural outcome of seeing what God is doing.  Once again, if we pay attention, we have much to rejoice over—and it should lead to praise.  

I read last week in Desiring God, by John Piper, that praise is the natural expression of delight.  Any time we delight in something, we can’t help but praise it to others.  When we consider who God is and what He is doing—when we delight in the Lord—it should result naturally in praise!

Prayer: Lord, as I begin the new year, help me to be attentive to what you are doing.  Let that attentiveness result in joy and delight, and in praise to You!  Thank you for making Life readily available to us in Jesus.