Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy . . .
Psalm 43:4 NASB
David had learned two things concerning joy. First, there is only one source of joy: It is God Himself. Second, there is only one place where we can draw from that source: It is the altar. The altar is the place of sacriﬁce, the place of commitment and consecration, the place where our lives are laid down. Through the sacriﬁcew e make at the altar, the joy that comes from God alone is released within us.
There is a great difference between joy and happiness. Joy is in the realm of the spirit. Happiness is in the realm of the soul. Happiness is related to our emotions, our feelings, our circumstances. When things are going well, we have happiness. When things are not going well, we have unhappiness. It is good to have happiness, but we cannot have it all the time. Joy, on the other hand, is not dependent on feelings or circumstances. It does not depend on our physical condition. It is within the spirit. There is only one source of joy, and that is God—God Himself.
God is eternal, unchangeable. That is why it is possible to have joy even when we cannot feel happiness or pleasure. Joy comes directly from God Himself. Just like God, joy is eternal, unchangeable, unaffected by situations or circumstances. But joy is released only at the altar. We have to make up our minds, as David did, that we will go to God, to the altar—the place of sacriﬁce—the place of commitment and consecration—the place where we yield ourselves without reservation to God. Then we can have joy all the time, unchangeably.
On Your altar, Lord, I lay down my life without reservation. Release within me the joy that comes from You alone.
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