Joyfully Lifting Malformed Hands in Worship


Regard God As Our Chief Joy

by Larry Crabb

Choosing the New Way is costly. If we don’t regard God as our chief joy, we won’t have the capital to pay the price. It’s by faith we see Him as the source of supreme pleasure; it’s a faith that keeps us coming to Him until He gives us a taste of the pleasure we believe is available, and then coming to Him again.

The Pressure’s Off, P 168

Church was designed by God to be the dance studio

…church was designed by God to be the dance studio.  A gathering becomes a church when a group of Christians together hear the music of heaven’s party and the laughter of God enjoying Himself and begin awkwardly dancing with the Trinity into the relationships and circumstances of life in order to bring heaven’s way of doing things to earth.

Real Church, Page 15

Where does a Christian’s joy come from? How should it be expressed in our worship?

This blog by Adrian Warnock may make you squirm a little bit. It did me.


This is now the third post in a series based on an edited transcript of my recent sermon on the Life of Joy.

Today we ask, where does this joy come from? and how should it be expressed?

1 Thessalonians 1:5 speaks of ‘…joy of the Holy Spirit’. It is joy that is both in the Holy Spirit and it is joy that is from the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5 lists the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, JOY, peace, patience… Those things are indivisibleand if you want a life of joy, study Galatians 5 and ask God to help you express all of those things, because you need all of them. In order to be in joy, you need to be at peace with God, with others and, actually, with yourself.

God promises us joy. In Isaiah 51:11, it says: ‘The ransomed of the LORD…’ Did you know that God has paid a ransom for you? Isn’t that wonderful? ‘The ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.’ Hallelujah!

Acts 13:52 says of the disciples in New Testament days that they were – get this – ‘continuously filled with joy and the Holy Spirit’. Continuously. Imagine that: continuously to be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. So it is not just Sunday morning, but it is Monday morning. When that alarm goes off and you want to throw it across the room, except you suddenly remember it is rather valuable these days. It is a nice, posh phone usually, isn’t it? Dear oh dear, I think you would be upset if you threw your alarm across the room. Some of you may feel like doing that, but on those mornings, God wants you to be filled with joy.

Our joy comes from God. It is a mutual joy. It is a joy that overflows from our knowledge of God and from our knowledge – get this! – that God rejoices over us. In His presence says this Psalm, is fullness of joy. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore and one of the things that He is rejoicing over is you. Isn’t that wonderful?

The Scripture says that God rejoices over you to do you good (Jeremiah 32:41). That would be a great verse to memorise this term, wouldn’t it? The exact words are this: ‘I will rejoice in doing them good…’ What a wonderful truth. That is surely enough for us to be joyful in and of itself.

It also says in Isaiah that God will rejoice over us as a groom rejoices over his bride.

1 Peter 1:8 promises us, ‘…joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…’ You can see when you start to read some of these verses and understand the breadth of them, the depth of them, the extent of them, that they are big promises. This is why I say we have only dipped our toes into it. Joy inexpressible and full of glory. Full of glory.

In the Old Testament, there is a number of words for joy but all of them have this in common, that they are words which talk about our whole being expressing that joy. So, there are words in the Old Testament that talk about clapping or shouting or dancing, and they are all words that relate to joy. There are some people that say something like this: I am clapping on the inside. You can’t clap on the inside!

Just one of many examples of commands for us to express our joy comes in Psalm 47:1: ‘Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!’ So we don’t clap here because that is what we are used to, or that is just our personal preference or, we have to do something to keep the Africans happy. No! We clap our hands here because it is a sign of rejoicing and we celebrate our God with loud songs of joy because it is commanded to us to do it, and because He is worthy. Amen!

I watched an advert on the television just the other day. It was shot of a football stadium. I can’t remember if it was promoting a specific team or the new season of football, but it was in England, and it was British crowds. Each shot showed the crowd when a goal was scored. There was not a single person who did not respond something like this: YEAH!!!! They were rejoicing. They were cheering. They were clapping. They were jigging. There is something very wrong if, as a Christian, we celebrate more at a football match than here in church. To be honest, those crowds could teach the Africans something about how to worship! Amen? I know some of us find it harder than others, but it is a command. Joy is something that wells up within us and it must be expressed. It must be expressed.  A recent article on the Gospel Coalition website speaks more about the correct posture we should have before God.

So that is the sort of joy that we are looking for: a joy that comes from God, a joy that is glorious, abundant, amazing, and a joy that expresses itself.

The Christian and Joy

The Holy Spirit has exhorted the faithful to continue clapping their hands for joy until the advent of the promised Redeemer,” wrote John Calvin in a comment on Psalm 47:12. Paul would heartily concur! Writing from a prison cell from which he had no certain knowledge of escaping other than to his execution, joy is what came to mind. Joy is what the epistle to the Philippians is all about. So much is Philippians about joy that George B. Duncan once referred to it as “the life of continual rejoicing.” The opposite of joy is misery, and miserable is something we are not meant to be. The Reformers caught the centrality of joy in the affections of Christians when they insisted that our chief goal in life is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (WSC, Q. 1).

Christians are tempted, of course, to be discouraged and depressed by the force of overwhelming circumstances. But in such circumstances, we must tell ourselves that we have no right to feel the way we do! Paul, who knew what it was to be in prison, to be beaten and spat upon, to be cold shouldered and ignored, commands us to rejoice, despite what we may feel: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).

Joy Portrayed


A Prayer About Singing Mountains and Clapping Trees

by Scotty Smith

“My word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:11-12

Gracious Father, you know how much I love mountains, of all shapes and sizes. There’s just something about mountains that causes my heart to feel the greatness of your glory and grace—the weightiness of your majesty and the endlessness of your mercy. What a glorious creation… what a magnificent Creator you are.

It all started with excursions to the foothills of western North Carolina, and then onto exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains around Boone and Banner Elk, NC. And I’ll never forget my first sighting of the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colorado… and bright yellow Aspen leaves dancing against the rich blue backdrop of a haze-free fall skyline.

But then there was the day I stepped off the train in the village of Interlaken, Switzerland, and got hammered with the holy wonder of three Alps, the Eiger, Monch and the Jungfrau. I can still see, smell, feel and taste the sensual overload of that day. Indeed, Father, the works of your hands declare your glory, loud and clear. For those who have ears to hear, there is no place in all creation where your loving and wooing voice cannot be heard singing your praise. (Psalm 19:1-6)

But, Father, these words of Isaiah envision a Day when the mountains themselves will burst into song—the new song of the new creation… the regenerating, renewing and restoring melody of the gospel. Though your glory is clearly revealed in the beauty of your creation, it is revealed ten thousand times more in the redemption that you freely give us in Jesus. Jesus is the Alps of your mercy, grace and love for us.

Because of Jesus, we, your redeemed people, will go out in joy and be led for into the peace—into the shalom—the perfect order, society, environment and world of the new heaven and new earth. You have spoken… you have promised… and so shall it be. Your Word will accomplish everything you decree and every one of your delights.  Hasten that Day, Father. Bring in on… make it happen, the sooner the better.

In light of the Day of singing mountains and clapping trees, we enter this day groaning inwardly and waiting expectantly… confident that your Word will not return empty (Romans 8:18-27). Joy is coming to the world because Jesus has come to the world, and is coming again. So very Amen, we pray, in His matchless and merciful name.

Ten Ways To Bring Joy To Your Pastor