From Pastor Jeff

FINDING A REASON TO GIVE PRAISE TO GOD!

One of my favorite hymns is Henry van Dyke’s “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” This great hymn isn’t printed in our hymnal in the section of Easter hymns, but it could be. Sung to Beethoven’s “Hymn to Joy” the first verse calls us to celebrate God for who God is and the difference that God makes in our lives.
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee, Opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day!

It is not always the case that we feel joyful. Great sadness can steal our sense of joy. The trials and difficulties of life can lead to despair rather than hope. This hymn reminds me that if I will but lift my eyes up to the God of glory, the God who created all things, I will discover that He is also the Lord of love. His love was made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth.

There are times when we need to be reminded just how much God loves us. As Paul wrote to the Romans “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV) The Cross reveals the depth and the power of God’s love. It is a love which has the power to “melt the clouds of sin and sadness.” It is a love that has the power to “drive the dark of doubt away.” It is a love to which we can respond by offering our hearts like a blooming flower to God. There is power in God’s love.

The resurrection of Christ from the dead reveals God to be the “Giver of immortal gladness.” In our darkest hours, in the depth of grief and loss, in midst of trial and sorrow, the resurrection tells us that there is hope, hope for a future we cannot even imagine. The resurrection tells us that love awaits us, a love which is alive because Jesus lives. The resurrection allows us to have a living faith because we place our faith in a living Lord. The resurrection fills us with the light of a new day…a new day that can make the painful days of life more bearable.

“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee!” No matter what you and I might be facing, we can find a reason to give praise to God. May we express our joy each Sunday as we glorify God in worship. May we express our joy daily as we love others with the love of Christ.

To God be the Glory!

---Pastor Jeff Lowe