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  • Writer's pictureBetty Dodge

How to Cultivate Gladness (Psalm 100:1-3)

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! ²Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! ³Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.—Psalm 100:1-3

Dad to child: “Straighten your room and make your bed!” Child to Dad: “Aw, Dad! Do I have to?”

Parents, we've all heard that reply. But, oh, how we long to hear a happy submission to our training and discipline flowing from the hearts and mouths of our children. Our heavenly Father longs for that from His children, too.

Psalm 100 gives us a glimpse of God's expectancy, of His joy in the happy heart of His creation, His people, the sheep of His pasture. Knowing the Eternal Lord (Yahweh), that He is our Creator God (Elohim), will induce love and joy in us and infuse with right motivations all that we say and do.

When my children were young, I talked with them about the motivations behind their actions and how important it is that our worship and obedience to God flow from a joyful heart of love for Him. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord…serve the Lord with gladness…come into His presence with singing!” There is not a hint of “do I have to?” in these verses. It is our flesh that begrudges God’s commands and makes joyful service obligatory. We could say that our flesh is “Mr. Have To.”

The Holy Spirit pours out love and joy into our hearts—irresistibly drawing us to respond to God in worship, to give Him praise and glory in all that we think, say, and do. The Holy Spirit in us enables “Mr. Want To.” He is our teacher, growing our knowledge of the Lord our God who is good and steadfast in His love. The Holy Spirit teaches us truth about God and motivates our joyful worship in spirit and truth.

In Deuteronomy 28, Moses reminded Israel of the blessings and curses held out to them by God as they entered the promised land. The curses are hard to read, but what struck me especially was one particular reason for the curses: “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed…Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things… (vv. 45, 47, emphasis added).

This caused me to reflect on times when my work was done with the deadly motivation of “just get through it” or “just get it checked off the list”—no joy, no gladness, no singing. The Apostle Paul commended the believers in Romans 6:17 saying, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed” (emphasis added).

This moves me to pray, Heavenly Father, may a heart of joy and gladness in You be my motivation of worshipful service and obedience. May this glorify You and make You known to others, as they see I am no longer a slave of sin, but belong to You. Amen.


For Reflection

  1. How would you define your service to the Lord: Is it only what you do in ministry and in church, or does it extend to your work and all that you do?

  2. What can you do to cultivate a heart of joy in the Lord?

  3. Ask God to use these verses to help you slay the deeds of the flesh (“Mr. Have To”) and walk in the Spirit ("Mr. Want To”).


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