Commentary

Joy – the Sound that Jesus is King. Joy results from the happy news that Jesus is alive (Acts 2:14-15, 25-28). Our King, though now reigning in exile, still exerts influence on events on the earth. He maintains a presence here in the earth through the office of the invisible Holy Ghost. And He communicates with his bride-partner, the Church. One day, He will return. One day, we will rule and reign with Him. One day, the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord. Until then, we have the assurance that heaven’s economy is not affected by some banking crisis on the earth. We have the certainty that God will take care of us; that His sovereign reach extends into this war-torn, divided planet, plagued with heartache and disease. There is another world that is not war-torn, where the government is sure and the throne secure. There is no sickness or disease, no sorrow or crying, no death or dying. From such a world, we borrow victory and import it into our world.

Joy – the Sound of a Spirit-filled Church. In Acts 2, with the city full of pilgrims for the Feast of Pentecost, we might have expected the disciples to fear for their lives. Their Messiah was dead – crucified. The same leaders that had demanded His death were now leading yet another major religious festival and were no less hostile to the things he had preached. It was as if His life was unnoticed, His death a non-event, His disciples a marginal faction. God had come to the planet, only to be rejected by His own – and amazingly, to have life go on as usual. Those who had demanded the death of Jesus certainly would tolerate no more trouble from His followers!

When the day of Pentecost was fully come, with a city full of international visitors, deeply religious folks, a sound from heaven rocked the city. Fire flashed across and flooded into the upper room. Language barriers were broken. Into the streets, these disciples rumbled with the sounds of joy. They would not hide. They would not cower. They had fresh news from heaven, brought by the Holy Spirit. God would not allow Israel or for that matter, the earth, to go on dismissing his Son. Not only was Jesus not dead, the Spirit witnessed that He had been received into heaven itself (Acts 2:3-36; Hebrews 8:1; 9:11-12, 14-15, 24-28), and had completed the mission of reconciling man to God (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18). Most astounding of all, He had been inaugurated as the King of the earth, and enthroned on David’s throne in exile. He will rule from heaven for a season. And He will certainly return to the earth (Acts 1:11). Meanwhile, we are to serve as undercover operatives of His invisible in-breaking Kingdom. We are to be agents of the rejected-but-reigning King, serving as ambassadors to this world in which we are pilgrims. Our King is alive and is coming again. Joy is the sound of our subversive counter kingdom, even now present in the earth.

Joy – the Sound of the Roaring Lamb. What is subversive joy? It is the sound of the roaring Lamb! It is Stephen, seeing Jesus as the stones fell on him (Acts 7:56-60) and crying out. It is Paul and Silas, beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, who rather than react with anger, and with threats, with an immediate assertion of their rights, sang at midnight, and God visited the jail-house. This is subversive joy. How could they be happy? How could they sing? Suddenly an earthquake unshackled them, broke off the stocks and bonds, and opened the doors of the prison. It was the finger of God. They were free. Their joy did not follow the display of God’s intruding power. Joy led the way!

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Barnes’ notes on the Bible indicates, “The word here rendered endure means properly to lodge, to sojourn, as one does for a little time. The idea is that weeping is like a stranger – a wayfaring person – who lodges for a night only.” Whatever sorrow there is for the believer, it is only temporary.[1] Joy leads the way to the morning. James says we should count it as “pure joy” when we fall into divers trials, literally “multi-colored” trials (James 1:2-3). The needy state itself is only God’s opportunity. In such times your faith develops perseverance. You only grow stronger.

Joy – the Sound of Christians in a War Zone. “Joy runs deeper than despair,” said Corrie ten Boom.[2] Robert E. Lee, the great Confederate General, declared amazingly, “I don’t see how we could have an army without music.” Both the Union and the South had bands. About four million dollars a year was invested in the musicians. At times, in the evenings, when the battle had died down, both sides listened to band music, sometimes from across the lines. There are reports of their blending their music together. In the middle of the Civil War, there were as many as 618 bands, one musician in service for every 41 soldiers. When the battle raged, at its most intense moments, the generals instructed the bands to play. And music inspired the men to fight. At times, the bands themselves seemed to be warring with one another.

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Giving Tuesday – November 28

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P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

[1] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old and New Testaments, Psalms (1983).

[2] Dennis Cory, Devotions for the Wounded Heart (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, A Division of Thomas Nelson, 2011), 125.

 

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