The Bare Soul - January 10, 2010
Fullness of Joy

Psalm 16:11 - You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

King Solomon states in Ecclesiastes 7:8 that the end of a matter is better than its beginning. The implication is that there are many unknowns in the beginning but all is revealed at closure. For example, when a woman learns of her pregnancy (especially if it is her first), she may feel a mixed bag of emotions. While there is excitement there is also trepidation regarding all the particulars of her pregnancy. She will often carry these emotions up until her delivery day. However, with proper medical advice and pre-natal care, she patiently progresses through each trimester until the end of her pregnancy is at hand. Unfortunately, many women throughout the world will not have the opportunity of proper nourishment and medical care during this critical time of their baby's development. Some will be born sickly while some mothers will tragically miscarry before that expected day. However, for many who are blessed with healthy pregnancies, the big day will one day finally arrive! Through the birthing of her child, she is able to see and hold the treasure she has so faithfully carried for nine months. As a father, I've experienced and shared in that joy that a mother most certainly experiences. (However, even as a joyous father, I'm sure I can't truly comprehend the joy of a mother as she brings forth this incredible gift!)

The unbridled happiness of bringing this new human being into the world produces a joy that is not uncharacteristic to that which we experience when we are brought into God's presence by our drawing near unto Him. Every believer that calls upon the Name of the Lord should desire His fullness of joy. In Psalm 16:11, David explains how we too must allow the Holy Spirit to "mother" us from the point of conception in the womb of regeneration (e.g. to be born again), to a place of living a joyous, Spirit-filled life that bears fruit for the Father. The first of three steps as outlined in this verse is to acknowledge that God has made known to all who call upon His name "the path of life". Without knowing, understanding, and walking this path we will never know what it means to experience true joy. Solomon states also in Proverbs 10:17 that ... He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray. This upward journey for the upright of heart (Proverbs 15:24) comes by giving ourselves to God's wisdom through humble acceptance of His commandments. Jesus stated if any wished to follow Him they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). It is a simple plan but not always an easy path to follow, for Christ states earlier in Matthew 7:14 that the path is narrow to Life and there are few who find it. However, if we are diligent to keep His commands then we will experience His friendship as we walk this upward path (John 15:4). And, it should not be an arduous journey, beloved. Along the road with Jesus there will be joy as we obey His command of taking up our cross. I venture to say if there is not, then we have taken up the burden of legalism and the Law which has never and will never perfect anyone. We must experience His joy along the way or we have certainly strayed from HIS path.

As we experience the joy of walking this path of life with our Savior, we must be careful to grieve not the Holy Spirit along the way by succumbing to worldly pleasures. Jesus has promised us that in God's right hand ... there are pleasures forever. Daniel and his young Jewish counterpart denied themselves the delicacies of this world (Daniel 1:8-21) for the delicacies of God -- His wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. In doing so, they experienced the fullness of God by keeping their spirits and souls in tune with the purposes of God. The Heavenly Father was delighted to reveal His wisdom to these young men because they had given themselves to God and denied their flesh. Would Jehovah have revealed His wisdom to Daniel to interpret dreams if he hadn't denied himself? Most certainly God would have spoken to him (for God cannot deny Himself [II Timothy 2:13]), however, the young man's spiritual senses might not have had the sharpness to understand and receive with the same clarity (Daniel 2:19-45). It's not by works, but by faith working through our submitted actions that God will do for us just as He did for Daniel if we will but pursue Him passionately in faith.

If we do not desire a life that is given to the pursuit of living in His presence and longing for His unspeakable joy, then possibly we have somehow experienced a miscarriage of faith along the way. If our hearts as believers are not turned toward Him in all out love, then we may need to test ourselves to see if we have truly been brought through the womb of the new birth (II Corinthians 13:5; John 3:3). Are we experiencing His joy? Are we living for His pleasures that He so freely gives instead of those of the world? To live constantly in His presence on this side of eternity is very possible if we hunger enough for Him (for one example, see the online book The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence). It will take a passion and desire to remain on the path of life, experiencing His joy while indulging only in the pleasures and delicacies that He offers. While this path may look arduous and daunting in the beginning, we soon experience the words of Jesus if we will but diligently keep to the narrow road before us ... that truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Beloved, that we would all find Him on this path called "Life" and that we would find seasons of joy and pleasure in Him that would turn into a constant abiding in His presence. Oh, what a God we serve!

Heavenly Father, a glorious path is laid out for all who would call upon Your Name -- a path of life that is adorned with joy and pleasures from Your right hand. Help us to walk this joyous road with Jesus our Savior. For only in Him, will we find our way. In Jesus' Name, the Name above all others, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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