Unexplainable Joy

Did you know God is sovereign? If we desire to live a life full of joy, then we must learn how to humbly embrace God’s sovereignty (Matthew 20:8-14) I want us to notice that the laborers all go to work, by doing so at 5 different times, 6, 9, 12, 3, and 5 o’clock. When evening comes, at 6 o’clock, the landowner tells his foreman, to pay their wages. Matthew 20:9-12~The workers who were hired about five…each received a denarius…when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more…they began to grumble …hired last worked only one hour…and you made them equal…(ESV) When they receive their pay, they protest, saying this is not fair. 

Their objection is to the owner who has been generous, yeah he gave a job and paid a wage but the workload was not equal. To which the landowner replies Friends, instead of a derogatory name I would have chosen. Matthew 20:13~But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? (ESV) I gotta ask, does friend mean something different in your neighborhood? This farmer sets a calm, civil tone to open up a dialogue. Is that how you handle the riots in your home? Jesus is surely doing some teaching here. The landowner has just been accused of injustice, but he doesn’t take offense. He is practicing Proverbs 19:11~A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. (NIV)

After calling the laborer friend, the vintner says he is not being unfair because the worker agreed to work all day for a wage. In other words, I lived up to my agreement, and you want to complain about what? Getting what you were supposed to. Have you ever complained over getting exactly what you were promised? I mean this is, well you know, I just thought…I don’t know! The landowner is trying to get them to focus on their original agreement, not on the other workers. If you want to make a case, this is not a problem of injustice; it is a lack of compassion. They couldn’t care less that the families of the late workers might have to go hungry if they were paid less. Matthew 20:14~Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. (ESV) 

What he pays the latecomers is his choice. Also, he has not cheated those he hired earlier. It is his choice if he wants to pay the latecomers more than they had earned. Jesus’ twelve disciples can be compared to the workers hired at the beginning of the day. So, Jesus is answering Peter’s question about what the Twelve from Matthew 19:27~Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” (ESV) Which implies they should receive a greater reward. This parable teaches that they will get a just reward, but God has the right to give the same reward to those who didn’t follow Jesus as long. God is sovereign, compassionate, and just. 

If you are in need of joy today then like every other believer, we must learn to embrace God’s Unexplainable Joy as we humbly embrace God’s sovereignty. Is there something that affects your joy more than anything else? If so, then what you must do is begin to let God have it. This is a process that requires us to let go, and let God. Today, say, Lord, this is my issue and I need your help relinquishing it to you. Do this again and again as often as you need to, until it becomes something that you can freely let go of, knowing God is in control. 

Pray Often

Over the years I have had countless people ask how often do I need to go to the Lord to have real joy? Each time I remind them that we must go Every Day if we are to live in the overflow of God. (Matthew 20:1-16) That is how often we are to be filled with Joy as we labor for the Lord. Jesus now tells a parable to explain Matthew 19:30~But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (ESV) This parable is about God’s incomprehensible love, compassion, and grace. One of the best descriptions of God is found in Psalm 86:15~But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (NIV)

Jesus begins His parable speaking about the kingdom. Matthew 20:1 ~For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. (ESV) Now the Jewish workday began at 6 am and ended at 6 pm. Laborers would gather in the wee hours awaiting the prying sun, hoping to be hired for the day. Let’s call it 5 am as these early birds flock, looking for worms. The landowner hires his first gaggle of laborers, who all agree to work for a penny a day, aka a common wage. Matthew 20:2~He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. (ESV) 

Later, the landowner goes out again looking for a new pod of people. Matthew 20:3-4~About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right. (ESV) As another 3 hours pass, the sun stands at the pinnacle of high noon as the vintner goes again to rally a raft of red-blooded wage earners. 3 hours pass and the husbandman does the same thing at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Down to the last hour, the landowner goes out again. Yes, it is 5 o’clock in the place called somewhere. Where he meets a cauldron of constituents who may not seem like the best, yet they have converged on this place like a college of craftsmen. 

Since these laborers are still available at five o’clock, with only 1 hour left in the workday, they must be desperate with need. (20:4-7) In the parable, the vinedresser doesn’t promise the latecomers a particular wage. All the laborers apparently know the gardener and trust him to give them what is fair at the end of the day. Apparently, the farmer knows that without the work, these families could go hungry. They are so very desperate, they are willing to work for whatever they can get. Poor and unskilled people are often desperate, so sometimes they’re underpaid, overworked, or not paid at all. Leviticus 19:13~Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight. (NIV)

Because God has great compassion for the poor, He commands us to give freely. Therefore, a good Jew would pay his workers at the end of every day because often that would be all they would have to feed their families. Our parable of Matthew 20 reveals that one of the requirements for living in God’s unexplainable joy then we must come Every Day to receive His fresh and new joy. Take a moment and pray. Let go of anything that is flooding your mind, and then, just sit quietly in His presence and listen to what He has to say.

His Joy

I don’t know how many of you are doing Read 2020, but I am so truly grateful for the work of Jesus. Who wrought righteousness and cleansed me, so that I do not have to kill lambs for my sin condition and shave my head and even my eyebrows. The Law was so cumbersome. Thank you Holy Father for sending your son. Why not just raise your hands and wave them as you thank the Lord for all he has done in your life. 1 Peter 1:8~Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, (NIV) Did you know Jesus sees you as joy. Hebrews 12:3~Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (NIV) 

Jesus wants you to know that you are His joy. The Hymn of Joy often referred to as Joyful, Joyful, dubbed so after the first line, it was really a poem written by Henry van Dyke in 1907. He wrote it with the intention of musically setting it to Beethoven’s 9th and final symphony the Ode to Joy. The setting was the beauty of the Berkshires outside the doorsteps of Williams College. Where God inspired a preacher to write: Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love, Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee, Op’ning to the Sun above. Later, Charlie Hall adds to this poem writing how We sing in jubilation, and in adoration to a joyful King, You are singing, jealous love over all your children. 

Are you, a child of God. If not let’s fix that today, and if so, then you need to know that you are the apple of your Heavenly Father’s eye. Listen as King David prays in Psalm 17:8~Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, (ESV) Later the Lord will confirm this for us as through His prophet Zechariah 2:8~For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of his eye: (ESV) This idiom of the apple, it is a reference to the pupil, the very center of the eye. Our Heavenly Father says His eyes are on each of us. In Numbers 6:24-26 the Lord blesses, turning His face towards, He looks at us. Why? It is because we are the apple of His eye. Understand what Paul writes in Romans 8:32~He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (NIV) 

Today, why not go before the Lord and let Him fill you with unexplainable joy. Psalm 16:11~You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (ESV) The Lord wants to be your source for everything you need. Empty yourself in prayer and be filled as you worship Him today.