“Learn your lessons,
receive His grace,
straighten your neck,
and square your shoulders.
Walk like you’ve got a crown on your head
and a kingdom to represent.”
~ Sarah Jakes Roberts
I love this quote by Sarah Jakes Roberts. It reminds me that I still have lessons to learn, a crown to wear, and a kingdom to represent with my life. It also reminds me that my posture and my position affect my attitude before the Lord.
When I began my journey through the Psalms, I was simply seeking a better understanding of praise. I didn’t anticipate the lessons, His overwhelming grace, and a deep passion for more of His presence that would unfold in my life during the process. I didn’t fully appreciate the changes that would lead me to desire a lifestyle of worship.
In the first verse of the first chapter of Psalms the lessons begin. We read in the New Living Translation;
Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice
of the wicked or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
Follow, stand, join. All verbs. Action words describing the progression away from godliness. Following the advice of those who are not led by godly principles is where it begins according to the psalmist.
Perhaps it starts with innocently following a celebrity on Facebook or Instagram. Which leads to a book or insight that sounds good and has a form of spirituality linked to it. Which can lead to standing with opinions and attitudes which cause you to compromise your values. Which can spiral into joining in with those who openly oppose everything godly and biblical. I don’t have a problem with celebrities. The point is where is that person leading you?
I used to think that psalmists were only meant to show us reasons to praise God. But, I have learned that is not their only function. They also serve as watchmen. They are prophets who warn us where our behaviors will lead. They are scribes who handed down godly wisdom in the form of poetry. They are warriors on the front line of battle preparing the way for the rest of us. They teach us how to worship not just with songs and prayers but with our lives. And the first lesson I gleaned from my journey through Psalms is about how to live a joyful life.
To experience a life of joy we must
follow, stand, and join in with God.
1. Follow His word.
I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws.
No matter what path you are on you can change direction and turn and follow Him. Make it a habit to read scripture daily. Try meditating on His word. Habits are not something you are born doing. Habits are about choices. Choose a habit of daily time in God’s word so that when you hear it used out of context you will know the difference between a counterfeit and the real thing. “Our habits are the spine of self-control,” as Ann Voskamp writes. We will not fall for ungodly advice when we have a daily habit of seeking out God’s viewpoint. Stop and think about the direction of your life. Joy comes from a life of living for Him.
2. Stand with other believers.
Those nations will fall down and collapse,but we will rise up and stand firm.
We rise and stand firm together. Don’t try to be a lone ranger Christian. Join a bible study or a prayer group. Find a mentor who shares your values. Research a topic found in the news or in an email before you pass it along. Don’t unwittingly align yourself with opinions that don’t line up with God’s word. Who we stand with reveals what is in our hearts. Joy comes from a heart aligned with Him in community with others.
3. Join with those who praise God.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Yes, we can pray and praise Him alone. But, oh the joy of corporate worship! Join in with those who pray for others. Join in with those who encourage others. Be a part of advancing the kingdom and stay clear of those who are skeptical that God’s word still applies to us today. Don’t give up going to church and associating with other believers. We do need our personal times of devotion because daily time alone with Him is sweet and helps us to plant deep roots. But, we also need time with others to grow and heal and find true joy in the context of healthy godly relationships.
Being wrapped, immersed, and filled with the word of God is where the blessings of intimacy, strength, peace and joy come from. There is no delight in relationships that draw you away from Him. There is no joy on a path that does not lead to a life that gives glory to God.
Who we follow determines what path we take. Who we stand with reveals our values. And who we join in with reflects the condition of our hearts. Our verse talks about the wicked, those who are sinners, and those who are mockers. In contrast we should seek out relationships with the godly, with those who are disciples, and with those who are maturing as believers.
There is courage in pondering the path we are currently on and honestly evaluating where it will lead. There is integrity in living out our values and not giving in to one compromise after another. And there is wisdom in choosing relationships that reflect the heart of God. And there is joy that comes when we follow the right path in the right way with the right people at our side.
To live a joyful life and experience the fullness
of all He desires for you
follow, stand with, and join in with godly people
to help you fulfill God’s plan for your life!