Restore to me the joy of Your salvation… (Psalm 51:12, N.K.J.V.)
Prominent Baptist preacher Dr. Tom Wallace tells of an experience he had when he was serving as the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Elkton, Maryland. One Sunday morning a man visited the church, listened intently to the sermon, and came forward during the altar call to receive Christ as his Savior. The fellow didn’t know much about Baptists or “religion” in general, but he was definitely excited about experiencing the salvation offered in Jesus.
When it came time for the man to be baptized, he joined Dr. Wallace in the baptistery and was immersed. But when the fellow came up from the water he did something unexpected. Rather than observe the usual reverential, dignified protocol, he immediately started clapping his hands and shouting, “Hot dog! Hot dog! Hot dog!” Dr. Wallace finishes the story by saying:
Our people roared with laughter. I quickly asked them for silence as I explained that this dear man had not been around the church and didn’t know about “amen,” “praise the Lord,” and “hallelujah.” His phrase was “hot dog,” and he was praising the Lord with the only vocabulary he knew.
Christian, you need to understand that a joyless life wasn’t what God had in mind for you when He saved you. I’m not saying that you should feel like saying, “Hot dog! Hot dog! Hot dog!” all the time, but frequently there should be times when you feel like it. Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, joy isn’t based upon your outward circumstances. It’s an inward thing that bubbles up from deep inside you, not an outer thing that oozes into your skin from the outside when everything happens to be going your way.
In John 15:1-10, Jesus tells His apostles that He is the vine and they are the branches, and they must abide in Him if they want to bear fruit. Next, He tells them how they can abide in Him. He says:
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10, N.K.J.V.)
Following these words, Jesus then explains the direct correlation between keeping the commandments and experiencing joy. He says:
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11, N.K.J.V.)
The teaching, Christian, is that keeping the Lord’s commandments is the secret to you experiencing the joy of Christ. Even more than that, it is the secret to you experiencing that joy to the fullest. Actually, it’s not a stretch to say that joy is the reward that God bestows upon those who keep His commandments. .
We find further evidence of this in my text verse for this post. The verse comes from Psalm 51, a Psalm David wrote after he had lost his joy. And what had caused him to lose that joy? He had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had for all intents and purposes ordered the execution of her husband, Uriah (1 Samuel 11:1-27). In other words, David had broken God’s commandments regarding adultery and murder. Therefore, it became inevitable that he would lose his joy. That’s why he had to confess his sin, seek God’s forgiveness, and beg God to restore to him the joy that is supposed to walk hand in hand with salvation.
The upshot of all this, Christian, is that if you want to have a genuine joy about you, you must keep the Lord’s commandments. Never forget that sin is a joy killer! This makes your choice very simple. You can either have your sin or you can have the joy of your salvation. What you can’t have is both at the same time. This is the lesson that David had to learn, and it’s one that you and I must learn as well. Here’s hoping that you’ve already learned it and are choosing wisely.