“Plus Ultra” (More beyond) is God’s motto for our lives. His plans for us are “to prosper us, not to harm us; plans to give us hope and a future.” This great life God has in store for us is realized today through our obedience to His directions for right living. But God does not want us to obey him as Israel obeyed the slave masters in Egypt. He wants our hearts. He always has. Thus, Moses explains that Israel’s future failure to give God their heart will be the beginning of their problems. He says in Deuteronomy 28:48 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies…”

Max Lucado tells a neat little story in “The Applause of Heaven.” He says, “I recently read a story of a woman who for years was married to a harsh husband. Each day he would leave her a list of chores to complete before he returned at the end of the day. “Clean the yard. Stack the firewood. Wash the windows.… ” If she didn’t complete the tasks, she would be greeted with his explosive anger. But even if she did complete the list, he was never satisfied; he would always find inadequacies in her work. After several years, the husband passed away. Sometime later she remarried, this time to a man who lavished her with tenderness and adoration. One day, while going through a box of old papers, the wife discovered one of her first husband’s lists. And as she read the sheet, a realization caused a tear of joy to splash on the paper. “I’m still doing all these things, and no one has to tell me. I do it because I love him.”

Max explains how joyful service is the key to our Christian life as well. He says, “That is the unique characteristic of the new kingdom. Its subjects don’t work in order to go to heaven; they work because they are going to heaven. Arrogance and fear are replaced with gratitude and joy.”