One of the greatest struggles of a Christian is to maintain joy. Life has a way of drawing us into its mold. When this happens, we become deflated and disillusioned. This is one of the greatest tragedies of Christianity! We NEED to experience the joy of our Lord on a regular basis, but how do we do it? And once we’ve done it, how do we maintain that joy? Scripture contains numerous gems. For instance, we sometimes are tempted to limit the Psalms to chapters we reference in times of grief to receive a spiritual “pick‐me‐up”. And while it’s true the Psalms can provide a salve for the weary, we dare not lose the richness of their beauty! Try looking at the Songs of Ascents sung by the Israelites as an experience they enjoyed as opposed to our usual approach of a scholarly point of view. We can divide these fifteen psalms into five "stages" of three psalms each. Psalms 120‐122 are the first stage, the stage of "vision." The second stage, Psalms 123‐125, focuses on our consecration. Out of our vision we come to a consecration. The third stage, Psalms 126‐128, is the stage of enjoyment. Our consecration leads to a rich enjoyment of the Lord. The fourth stage, Psalms 129‐131, we will call the stage of enlargement. Our enjoyment of the Lord eventually causes our vision to expand. Then from our experience of enlargement we enter the final stage, the stage of maturity (Psalms 132‐134). If we were to approach these songs as the Israelites did, we would appreciate a general ascending of the songs pitch as well as a deeper connection with God. We should never go so far as to think that in the stage of enjoyment our consecration can now take a break so we can love the world and love the Lord together. Remind yourself that whenever our consecration is gone, then our enjoyment of the Lord is also gone! If we want to enjoy the Triune God then we must be a consecrated person all the time. The moment we are away from consecration we are also out of the enjoyment. Just as the Israelites progressed upward as each stage was sung, so too did this symbolize their spiritual growth. Think of it like this: our ability to comprehend these messages is based on our level of experience. Some of these messages may be beyond our grasp. If we appreciate the first message the most, that probably means we are recently saved. If we enjoy the second message the most, that means we have gone farther in our growth. If we get lost by the fifth message, that means we still have a long way to go. The more we understand a message, the more we know we have experienced it. Our experience will determine our ability to understand. Isn’t the Bible an awesome teacher? Aren’t its precepts true, reliable, exciting and relevant yet today?
Have a blessed day and remember the One who gave it to you! Kevin
Kevin Lough is the minister at the Whitehall Church of Christ in Fairmont WV.