Joy To The World!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! the savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness,
And wonders of his love,
And wonders of his love,
And wonders, wonders, of his love.

-Isaac Watts, Psalms of David Imitated (1719) under the heading “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.”

This magnificent hymn, which is popularly sung at Christmas time, is about King Jesus and the kingdom of God.

The echo is of Psalm 98: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!”

The gospel is the gospel of the kingdom.   The great joy in the gospel is that the Lord has come.

It is a great misconception that the kingdom of God is all future, all ‘not yet’.  The kingdom is ‘already and not yet’.  The kingdom is neither finished coming nor postponed in coming.

The kingdom of God has been coming.  Isaac Watts’ song is describing the world: past, present and future-

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her King!  Let every heart prepare him room.”

“Joy to the earth the savior reigns.”

A hallmark of the kingdom of God is joy.  It is the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace and joy (Rom 14:17).

Father’s great joy is to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:3).

The news of the kingdom is news of great joy (Luke 2:10).

Right now, the kingdom is breaking in and breaking out on the earth and a marker of it is the joy.

Despite what the world would tell you, there is more joy right now and joy is increasing in your life.  Joy is flowing out from God to you, if you will see it.

Look for, recognize and live in the new level of joy that God has provided.  Cultivate it and share it.

Experience the joy that God is opening up to you, pouring out upon you and reinvigorating you with

The message is: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her king!”  That was the message when baby Jesus was born, when Jesus lived, when he died, when he rose, when he ascended and today.

We do not live in a ‘grim time’ of no joy.  Today is a day of joy.  God is pouring out joy on his people today.

Joy is coming from heaven to earth today.  Joy from God is here.  Christians are meant to be the joy filled people and God is making sure of this by giving us more joy right now.

Discover it, pick it up and put it on.  See it in your heart and let it out.  Thank God for it.

Praise God.  Worship the Lord.  Turn to God always.

Simply enjoy your life with God and welcome those you meet to join in and be adopted by papa in Jesus.

God, give your justice to the king

God, give Your justice to the king and Your righteousness to the king’s son.

-Psalm 72:1
What do we do with verses like this?  Isaac Watts wrote a hymn called “Jesus Shall Reign” based on this psalm.  These words are attributed to Solomon, who was asking God to help him to be a good king.
Solomon and his words anticipate Christ.  Christ is the ultimate dispenser of God’s justice and righteousness.

But these words are also real requests, written in real time, for that present time and for this present time (2 Tim. 3:16).  These requests of Solomon echo his request to God for wisdom, when God appeared to him in a dream and asked him what he wanted (1 Kings 3:9).

Today, we can say, “God, give your justice to the king and Your righteousness to the king’s son”, and apply it to our president.  Christians should always be praying for those in authority:

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
-1 Timothy 2:1-4

The specific prayer, in Psalm 72:1, is for justice and righteousness: the ability to make just decisions and the ability to make fair decisions.  This is the gift of wise rule and the gift of just rule, that is being asked for of God, for the king.

This is how believers can pray this, for President Trump:

“God, we ask you to give President Trump the ability to make just decisions.  God, we ask that you give President Trump the ability to make fair decisions.  God, we ask that you give President Trump the gift of wise rule and the gift of just rule.  God, give Your justice to President Trump.  God, also give Your righteousness to President Trump.  God, we pray for Your righteousness, Your justice, Your vindication, Your deliverance, Your fairness and for Your integrity to come to bear through President Trump.”

When I went to a non-denominational Christian college, in the 1990’s, I stood up one day and addressed the student body and said that I think we should pray for President Clinton, and I was booed.  But, I loved my peers and became close friends with a number of them.

Our God Our Help In Ages Past a song by Issac Watts & William Croft

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
Return, ye sons of men:
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

This hymn is by Issac Watts.  Watts wrote between 600 and 750 hymns in his life and many more poems.  He also wrote, “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross“, “Joy To The World“, and “Come Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove“.

It is interesting that John Wesley changed Watt’s lyrics from “Our God, our God in ages past”, to “O God, our God in ages past”.  It is also interesting that this song has nine verses.  Literate prose has a rich tradition in hymn writing.

This song was Winston Churchill‘s favorite hymn.  He requested it, when he had a church service, when meeting with Roosevelt, at sea, in 1941; and it was sung at his funeral.

William Croft wrote the music for Watts words to this song.  While this song is Croft’s most enduring, his “Funeral Sentences“, which are songs from the Common Book of Prayer, which contains verses from various Bible passages, was called a “glorious work of near genius”, by music historian Matthias Range.  George Frideric Handel was an admirer of Croft, and the Funeral Sentences was performed at Handel’s funeral in 1759, and every State funeral in England since, including Princess Dianna’s in 1997 and Margaret (Baroness) Thatcher 2012.

Issac Watts (1674-1748) was in the Non-Conformist movement, in England, that said “no” to state sponsored Anglicanism, which gave birth to the Puritans who came to America.  Many of the middle-aged denominations had their beginnings during this time, including Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, and Methodists.
His dad was imprisoned twice for his non-conformist views.  He studied Latin, Hebrew, and Greek.  He wrote many of his hymns in his twenties and began preaching at age 24.  A condensed biography and a listing of all his hymns is here.

He was born with a gift for making rhymes, which his parents did not understand at first and thought irreverent.  But, as a young man, when he complained about the poor quality of the hymns in church, his father challenged him to write better ones, and Issac did.  He wrote most of his hymns between the ages of twenty and twenty-two.

After the Protestant Reformation began, the Lutherans and Moravians began to develop their own hymns.  The Calvinist Christians carried the idea that the Bible already contained a hymnal, so they attempted to put the Psalms to music, and published them first in 1562.  Their hymn book went through 78 editions.  This was the basic Hymnal that Christians had when Issac was Watts born in 1674.

The timeline of his life, is that he finished school, in 1694 and wrote the bulk of his hymns over the next two years.  In 1696, at the age of 22, be began working as a tutor and chaplain.  He did this for three years.  Then he became an assistant minister at Mark Lane Independent (i.e. Congregational) Chapel in London, and full pastor in 1702.  Note that the Congregational Church had its beginnings in the non-conformist, informational, movement.

He was a pastor until 1712 (age 38), when his health failed.  He then slowed down and wrote for the rest of his life, and he died in 1748.


Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
(Issac Watts, 1719)

My hope is in God. God has been good to me. God is my only hope. I won’t make it without God’s help. Hopeless situation? Not a problem for God. Impossible situation? Possible for God. Even if “it” isn’t happening, I still hope in the one who can do “it”, and keep walking.

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