A GOD WHO REJOICES.
I am not sure where the image of God as some old, severe task master comes from. First, we have no physical description of God. He is not susceptible to aging so we cannot presume to think He is an old man. Nor can we reasonably think that God is severe. God does hate sin and will deal with it harshly when judgment comes. But the reality of the nature of God is quite different. As the Scripture says, "God is love" (1 Jno. 4:8).
The fact is God has reached out to sinners, not to condemn them, but to try to save them. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life...But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Jno. 3:16; Rom. 5:8). God will judge sin, but first He will do all He can to save sinners. And that included sending His "only begotten Son" to die in our place.
Further, there are some things which you and I can do that will actually bring joy, or rejoicing, or delight to God. When we respond to Him in certain ways, God will actually enjoy us. We do not serve a God who is sour, bitter, or miserable. We serve a God who rejoices in His people -- when they meet certain standards which He sets. You and I can make our God rejoice, when we do the following:
GOD REJOICES WHEN WE OBEY.
Nothing brings a smile to God's face more quickly than a person who obeys Him. "And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your hear and soul" (Deut. 30:8-10). As Moses wrote these words, he wanted to remind the Israelites what would make God rejoice. It is simply turning to the Lord with all your heart and soul. It is obeying Him and being careful to observe all of His commandments.
Our world doesn't put much stock in the concept of obedience. Even among Christians, we sometimes stress God's wonderful grace so much that we forget that obedience also matters to God. In fact, if you want to have confidence that God is delighted in your life, then be careful to observe all of His commands today. If you want to bring joy to the Creator of the universe, then obey Him in all things; do what He says. God rejoices when one of His children is careful to do just as He commands.
King Saul learned this, the hard way. "And Samuel said, Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams" (1 Sam. 15:22). God did not appreciate Saul's efforts to look religious, or even to follow religious forms, because Saul had been so disobedient. What God wants, and what God enjoys, is that person who will obey in all things. Then the worship and religious forms will be acceptable to God. Do you want God to be happy with you? Learn to obey Him in all things.
WHEN WE ARE BROKEN HEARTED.
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (Rom. 3:23;1 Jno. 1:8). The sad reality of life is that each one of us is or has been, a sinner. None of us has lived well enough to please God. "There is none righteous, not even one" (Rom. 3:10). But, in spite of God's anger at our sin, even sinners can bring delight to God's heart.
We cause God to rejoice when we are convicted of our sin and repent. King David experienced this change after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, murdered her husband and did other sins in connection with those. But he later wrote, "For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (Psa. 51:16,17).
David knew he could not bring God enough sacrifices to make up for his sin. David knew that even if he brought hundreds of sacrifices, God would not appreciate the act. What David had to offer to God was a broken heart. But the king knew that God delighted in a person who was willing to bring a broken heart to God. "For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly spirit, in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isa. 57:15). Our God, who is Holy, and who dwells on a high and holy place, actually finds pleasure in dwelling with those who are contrite and lowly in spirit.
That is why God rejoices and forgives so quickly when we repent. Repentance reflects a broken heart: "For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation" (2 Cor. 7:10). This kind of change is demanded, "And Peter said to them, Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). When sinners face their sin, feel the emptiness of their broken heart and turn to God in repentance, He offers them forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. God eagerly and with joy forgives us and dwells with us, when we offer Him a genuinely broken heart.
WHEN WE COME HOME.
In Lk. 15, Jesus tells three parables about sinners coming home. The first story tells of a lost sheep. When the shepherd found the sheep, "He lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! 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" (Lk. 15:5-7). Jesus tells us there will be joy in heaven when a sinner is reclaimed by God.
The second story is about a lost coin. When the lady of the house found the coin, "She calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost! In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Lk. 15:9,10). Again, Jesus tells us that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over a sinner who repents. All of heaven joins in the delight God takes in saving one lost soul. Even if ninety-nine sheep are safe, God rejoices in the one lost sheep that comes home. Even if nine coins are safe and sound, God rejoices in the one lost coin that is found.
Jesus then tells the parable of the lost son. When tht prodigal returned home, the father in the story killed the fatted calf and held a great celebration. "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 be merry; for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found. And they began to be merry" (Lk. 15:22-24). The father throws a party to celebrate the returen of his lost son. He rejoiced that his son had come home!
All three of these parables describe how God feels when a sinner comes home. It is not a time of dread or somber contemplation. It is a time of delight, a time of rejoicing, a time to celebrate.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
What is your image of our God? Do you see Him as critical, severe and harsh? Or do you see Him as loving? Whatever your view of God, know this: If you will turn to Him with a broken heart and determine in your heart to obey Him in all things, you will being joy to God. You can know that God is rejoicing in your life when you repent, are baptized and then live for Him. God will be pleased with you. Make God happy today. Turn to Him.
By: David Thurman. GOSPEL MINUTES, Vol. 50, No. 30, July 27, 2001.
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /