The Joy of Being Together
Read: Psalm 100:1-5
It is a special treat when we are able to spend time with a much-loved family member or friend. It is so fun to catch up, discovering what has happened in our lives since our last get-together. This week I read about two sisters, Ginger Apyar and Jane Hopson and their Christmas tradition. The article was written in 2015; so, I don't know if the tradition has continued to thrive, but what a picture of going the extra mile in order to enjoy special time together. Ginger Apyar lived in Illinois, and her sister Jane lived in the D.C.
area. What to do to make special Christmas memories?? Why not get together and enjoy tea? What better place to meet than the Willard Intercontinental hotel in D.C.? That's exactly what they were in the habit of doing. Wasn't that a long way for Ginger to go for a tea party? Yes, Ginger said it was, especially since she flew back to Chicago only 12 hours after she had flown out of the city. However, to have special time with Jane, enjoying pumpkin spice scones and sipping black tea together, was worth the extra effort. It wasn't something they had to do; instead, getting together was evidently a precious part of Christmas that they enjoyed.
As we begin a new year, we sometimes decide we would like to make some changes in our schedules, either adding good things or eliminating what seems not to be profitable from our days and weeks. Often, it is a time when we think about the best way to carve out a special time when we can both talk with and listen to the Lord. The good thing about thinking about what is frequently called a "quiet time" is that the Bible doesn't lay out any parameters concerning how long our special time with Jesus needs to be or how it must be structured. We aren't mandated concerning how often we must spend time with Him, but by looking into Psalm 100 as well as a few places where people spent time at Jesus' feet, we can get some ideas that we might like to make part of our own times with the Lord.
Psalm 100:1-5 (A psalm for giving grateful praise.) How good it is that talking with Jesus is a joyful experience, not a "have to" time of drudgery. At Christmas time, we sing the song "THE BIRTHDAY OF A KING", a reminder that the baby, though in the manger, was and will always be the royal Ruler of the Universe. Yet, though He is the King of Kings, in Psalm 100, we are told to enter into His presence, joyfully with thanksgiving and praise.
In Luke 17:11-19, the only leper out of the ten who returned to Jesus after being cleansed and healed, fell at the Savior's feet with thanksgiving. Can you imagine his joy considering what Jesus had just done for him? His body that had been marred by leprosy was now unscathed by disease. How about us? We who have been cleansed from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9. No wonder we can approach Him with great joy and thanksgiving. We see another who spent time at Jesus feet, simply being thankful for his forgiveness. She is the unnamed woman spoken about in Luke 7:36-50. She was the one who loved much because she knew she had been forgiven much.
In Luke 8:35, we meet another unnamed person. He once was a man in literal chains who had been living among the tombs. Yet, Luke 8:35 paints a remarkable new picture of this formerly tormented and tormenting man. He no longer was cutting himself with stones. Instead, he was sitting at the feet of Jesus, enjoying rest and refreshment at the Master's feet. How about us? Sometimes we too feel bound by a habit or sin. Yet, when we come to speak with the Lord about this, we discover the joy that turning away from that wrong will bring us into close fellowship with Him. The psalmist David spoke of the joy of sins forgiven and forsaken, and how good it is when we too experience this lightness, Psalm 32:1-5.
Psalm 100 also reminds us that we belong. We are God's sheep, and that makes Him our shepherd. What a truth to remember as we talk with and listen to Jesus. We are His. He cares personally for us. He even made us. Ephesians 2:10 elaborates on this truth. There we are reminded of God's having made us specifically for the planned works He has for us. A reason for joy in His presence. There is a plan, and even though it is often hidden from our eyes, the One Who has made us is overseeing and carrying it out, Psalm 138:8.
Psalm 100 ends with a reminder of God's love and faithfulness. More reasons for joy. We understand both love and faithfulness, and we have experienced and given out both. Yet, at our best we frequently love imperfectly and lack faithfulness, even when we want to do what is right. It is a reason for joy to remember that God loves and is faithful without limits to both us and those whom we love. He cannot be any less than that. No wonder when Moses wanted to see His Glory, God spoke of His awesome love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6. When we come to the place in our talking with the Lord when we bring requests to Him, we are coming to the One Whose love reaches to the heavens, Psalm 103:11. What joy there is to remember that no person or situation is too difficult for God's intervention, Luke 1:37.
Lord, help us to talk and listen to You with ever increasing joy as we come to know You better. May we be like Mary who enjoyed simply getting to know You more as she listened while sitting at Your feet, Luke 10:39. Help us to remember that time with You is sweet because it springs out of the love You have for us.