The JOY of the FATHER

Audio:  The JOY of the FATHER (we are presenting an audio of this post to see if this is something our viewers are interested in, to share with friends who are not readers.  Let us know what you think.)


What a blessing it is to serve God and to proclaim His kingdom in this world! He calls us as His children, His image bearers, to “be about the Father’s business.” But even a greater blessing than this is for Him to bid us come away with Him, from the hustle and bustle of His work, to spend time with Him.

Yesterday, after months of steady, and sometimes stressful, labor, it seemed as if the Father was leading me to sense His presence away from the work, just to enjoy Him.

It was not too many years ago that the Shorter Catechism became a special gift from Him. Although there are 107 questions and answers in this little booklet, the first one is the most important; one that has had a great impact on my life

Q.  What is the chief end of man?

A.   The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

What? Enjoy God? From what I had learned from my childhood, my sense of God was to fear him. Most of what I knew was in relationship to His wrath. Enjoying God was not a doctrine with which I was familiar. When I discovered this new teaching, the first thought of glorifying God came across as something that I had to do, but did not know how.

To enjoy God was not contemplated until later. Finally, there came the realization that enjoying God had something to do with glorifying Him. These two have a correlation that is bound up in a relationship. My main desire, then, became one of knowing how to enjoy Him.

When our purpose in all of life ~ the mindset of all that we are, what we think, speak and do ~ begins with another person, namely our Creator, the importance of all things shifts from us to Him. The desire of all things is focused upon Him.

As in my writing First Things, about the concept of love, beginning with a Father and passed on to us as His children, so the thing of joy begins with Him, also.

What a beautiful thought is found in Zephaniah 3:7, remembering that Jesus teaches us that God is our Father.

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee   with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

Joy, like love, is not a natural trait. It is a by-product of a relationship with the source of love and joy. The Father rejoices over His own work, in creating and redeeming His people.

What is our response?

“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because you defend them: let them also that love your name be joyful in you.” Psalm 5;11

Again, here is His initiation:psalm-16-11

“Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11

And what is our response?

“Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.” Psalm 43:4

Joy and Meekness

This joy springs from our relationship as humble and meek children before Him. His joy fills the humble earthen vessel.

“The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord.” Isaiah 29:19

Isaiah shows us that our joy is “in my God.” And we understand what He has done to evoke this joy in Him.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

The joy of the Father is the same as the “joy of the Lord.”

     “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21

This joy comes, is in and through the Son, Jesus Christ. It is a full joy, a supernatural joy that no man can take away.

“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Romans 5:11

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11

“And you now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you.” John 16:22

We also have this joy in the Holy Spirit.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Romans 14:7

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13

The Joy That Was Set Before Jesus

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Some say that this joy that was set before Him that enabled Jesus to endure the cross, was the joy of saving His people. Was it not more than that? Was it not the same joy that He had in relationship with the Father before time began, and before He came to earth to save His people. Was it not the joy of doing the will of the Father, to please Him, and to accomplish the work that He sent Him to do, and to return to His place with the Father?

Was not His joy a result of glorifying the Father in His life and His death, so that we might fulfill our chief end of glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever?

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.  To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 24-25

The Value of the Lord’s Day

The worth of what we have is proven by how we spend it. The person who values the small amount of money that he has will spend it wisely on what is important to him. He, in understanding his needs, will spend his money on necessities before he buys something trivial.

The same is true with the spiritual blessings that God gives us.   The Lord’s Day is one of those blessings and is needful for His children. If this was not so He would not have placed such a high priority on it and in it. If it is so valuable to Him it should also be to us as His children.

“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price,

went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”  
Matthew 13:45-46

oyster-wound-brings-forth-a-pearlWhere do we find in God’s word the value of the Christian Sabbath? I believe that we discover this in the pattern that was given for the first Sabbath. I have read books that are focused on the Lord’s Day, its ordinances set forth by the Jewish Sabbath, and the transition to the first day of the week as the honor given to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath. I have come to my understanding, by way of prayer and study, to peace and commitment in the value of the Lord’s Day. My conclusion can be summed up in the statements and scriptural references found in the Shorter Catechism. Many have found this as a teaching basis for an introduction to the Christian Faith. Presbyterians and Baptists have used it alike, except for the doctrines on baptism.

Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy
Like many other things of Biblical teaching some things are spoken, but not practiced.
There is more written in the Scriptures and in the Shorter Catechism about the fourth commandment than any other commandment. Does this not prove the value God has placed on it? When he set aside the seventh day he blessed it and hallowed it. We understand this to mean that the Lord’s Day is also blessed because it the day of our Lord’s Resurrection, the day of victory over sin and death for His people. This is the value of the Lord’s Day that is placed on the Christian faith and by His grace given to us. Let me share with you what is derived from God’s word and the doctrine that was established and accepted in the early church, based on the first day as the Lord’s Day and the Christian Sabbath.

Q 60: How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

A: The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

 Q 61: What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

A: The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

“ If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable: and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” Isaiah 58:13

Here was the settling point for me, and how I arrived at the value God has placed on the Lord’s Day, in honor of Christ Jesus, His Son, and our Lord. The same value placed on the Jewish Sabbath after God’s work of creation applies to the day that is honorable to Christ, the second person of the Trinity, after His work of redemption.

Commands and Promises
With His commands come promises. If we spend our time as He desires for us, of which He is worthy, here is the promise that follows in verse 14.

“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

How much more is the importance of sanctifying the Lord’s Day? His purpose for the first day of each week is that we spend our time with Him, in the public and private worship and fellowship of the Father and the Son in Spirit and truth. As He was refreshed after His six-day work of creation (Exodus 31:17) His desire for us is to experience this refreshing after our work week.   This promise was made to the heritage of Jacob. The Israelites were God’s people and so are we, as Abraham’s offspring ~ children of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and the church and body of Christ.

The Lord’s Day is meant to be a delight for us as we spend the whole day on Him, with Him. This is the practice and the preparation for that eternal day with Him. If you have never experienced a whole day with the Lord on His day, I encourage you to pray and seek His guidance for how He wants you to meet Him, in obedience to His word. You will not be disappointed. Your week will take on a different meaning as He causes you “to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feeds you with the heritage of His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ~ the eternal bread of life.

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious;”
1 Peter 2:7

Dear heavenly Father, as you created and rested; and was refreshed after your labor, teach us how to rest on the Lord’s Day; in you and all that you and your Son and your Holy Spirit have done for us.  Refresh us by your word and your Spirit in all that is holy and valuable to you.  Keep us holy, that we may keep your day holy.  Fill us with your presence and power for the work you have planned for us this week; and bring us to your refreshing in Christ next Lord’s Day.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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elated article: A Summary of John Owen on the Sabbath