Tag Archives: Joy

For Joy, Endure

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB.
 
Reading this passage, the fact the Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” grabs my attention, as it has grabbed me many times before. Jesus took up a cross that truly belongs to such a wretch as I, for the joy it would lead to. As I read this today, three questions come to heart for me to ponder:
 
1. What “joys” might have been on the heart of Jesus as He took up that cross?
2. What life challenge or sin that so easily entangles am I in that requires me to take a stand of endurance against it?
3. What joys lie before me that, fixing my eyes on them, will strengthen my endurance?
 
In this passage alone, I see hint of several things that may form some of the joys Jesus looked to.
 
1. Joy in the cloud of witnesses that would come forth because of His endurance.
2. Joy in the victory His endurance would produce in us as we overcome the cumbersome trouble this life too often holds.
3. Joy in the deliverance from sin His endurance would provide us.
4. Joy in the endurance we would possess as we set our eyes on His example to us.
5. Joy in the relationship with each of us that would come to Him and the Father because of His endurance.
6. Joy in the gift of grace available to us because He despised the shame and bore the cross in our place.
7. Joy in the fulfilling of the Father’s purpose, leading to His privileged position at God’s side.
 
There is much more we can add to this list of joys that had the focus of Jesus, strengthening His endurance. I don’t know about you, but there are many troubling situations and temptations to sin that I need this walk of endurance for, if I am to overcome and press through them in fulfilling God’s purpose and accomplishing His desire for me. Today, following Christ’s example, I set my sights on the joy before me that will strengthen my endurance, to the glory of His Name and the fulfilling of His purpose.
 
Assignment: Reading through Proverbs this month, I turn to chapter 3 and find there the call to persevere in several areas, followed by promised joy for successful endurance. Read Proverbs 3 and note there the call to stand firm. What “joy” do you see as a focus to aid endurance in the successful practice for each area of instruction? Now do this with your own life: List areas where your endurance is challenged. Next, list benefits of endurance that you can look forward to attaining as the joy set before you.

Things Leading to Perfect Peace and More!

Other produce of the “These things” spoken by Christ:

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. …” ~ John 16:33, AMP.

In this series, we looked at the “these things” referenced by Christ, teachings given to us so that we may have perfect peace and confidence. In looking at the teachings of Christ in this message found in John 14-16, we found these ingredients to a life of perfect peace and confidence:

  1. True and abiding belief in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit: knowing who this Triune God is and the truth of His existence and work brings assurance that this world’s challenges to Life in Christ cannot destroy.
  2. Kingdom reality: knowing that we are here with a purpose as God’s representatives in the earth, being in the world but not of it, working to be His light that draws many to His Kingdom, fills us with purpose that is undaunted by life’s struggle.
  3. Fruitful living: As Kingdom representatives, we are to produce fruit in keeping with a true and abiding relationship with God and His Kingdom purpose that bears the image and glory of God in the earth, thus fulfilling our purpose and strengthening our resolve.
  4. Love: as Kingdom people of God, we are image bearers, His producing within us the character and nature that shows us to be His children. As such we are not only to know His love for us, but knowing that He loves because He is love and He cannot deny Himself, we are to love in kind, having love as an attribute from the core of our existence. Love is who we are. Therefore, love done well to His glory produces fruit that strengthens peace and confidence.
  5. Called Friend: As people of Kingdom purpose who bear the image of God, our relationship with Him grows ever stronger as we become more than slaves forced to obey. As friends of God in Christ, we choose relationship with Him, obeying out of faith in Him despite the challenges living in the world brings our way. That abiding relationship with God brings us from slave status, to Friend of God in Christ, a bondslave by choice of love’s friendship and desire to be in His service and under His protective care by choice.

All these things, alive and growing in us, bring us to hearts of perfect peace and confidence in God through Christ, empowered by the Spirit-bond we possess and live out into the world. In studying this out, I found other things that “these things” taught by God-Christ produce. Before we close out this series, let us look at the produce found in “these things”.

Bible001“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me” ~ John 16:1-3.

Jesus knows what it is to be outcast because of faith, belief, and its practice. Living in the world brings challenge that can lead to conflict. Being Kingdom people in a world of opposition against God and godly principles is difficult. Jesus instructs us that true understanding of the things spoken by God and becoming as He is so we are at our best as His representatives protects us from stumbling in a world of obstacles.

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. …It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” ~ John 15:3; John 6:63.

Remembering these things spoken by Christ helps us to trust His cleansing power and to live the life He gives us in the power of the Spirit. When caught off guard in the world and found stumbling over some obstacle, our peace and confidence remains strong as we remember the things we know of God, the things that make us who we are as His Kingdom people. We are already clean because we trust Him and all He says of Himself and of us. All we need when stumbling comes is to let Him wash our injured and muddied feet by trusting His word to us.

“But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. …These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father” ~ John 16:4, 25.

Jesus purposed two things in all the things He taught us: to warn us of the things of this world and the flesh that lead to eventual destruction; and to tell us plainly of the Father so we have what we need to overcome evil and be His image bearers.

“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” ~ John 14:25-26.

I lean heavily on this one in these days of my life, when memory of things spoken to me through God’s word is challenged by my weak ability to recall. Jesus speaks wisdom and instruction in abiding moments with Him and the Holy Spirit brings all to my remembrance when life’s stressors and health issues challenge my mind’s ability to retain His instruction. I trust God to help me recall His instruction, and He faithfully does so through this work of His Spirit in me. We will cover this one in greater detail in our last post for this series. For now, I want to end this post with the following final, awesome promise produced in us through “these things” taught by Christ.

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. …Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full” ~ John 15:11; 16:24.

Following “these things” taught us by Christ produces true and abiding joy in us. We too easily fall to looking for joy in our situations and circumstances, only to find disappointment. We expect joy to come through those we love, too often being let down in our expectations, thus being robbed of a false joy that is fleeting. However, when we get our joy from faithfulness to trust, believe in, rely on with confidence and practice “these things” taught by Christ, our joy remains with us because of Him fulfilling the promise found in “these things” that produce joy, peace and confidence.

Life circumstances and flawed people cannot rob of joy that abides in us through our thriving relationship with God as Kingdom people who are set to represent Him to those we love and accomplish His purpose in our circumstances. When our joy comes from our relationship with Him and our understanding of and commitment to Him as His ambassadors in this life, we will ask according to His heart desire and He will faithfully meet our desires with “Yes” and “Amen”, thus bringing us to fullness of joy found in unity with Him.

God speaks with purpose in mind, and that purpose produces good things in and through us as we remember His teachings and become as He is, representative of Him and His Kingdom in our here and now lives. Remember these things of God, beloved, and go forth to prosper as Royal Ambassadors of His Kingdom purpose.

Destructive Heart Issues

I miss my daddy. I have missed him for a long time. You see, my dad was the most loving, caring, giving man I have ever known. He would give the shirt off his back if it would help. And he was often trusting of others to his own harm. He tried to see and think the best of people.

It was not until his elder years that I was also introduced to his insecurities and hurts. He had many hurts in his heart because of things others did or did not do. And those hurts sat there, hidden, until he could hide them no longer.

In his latter years he became increasing less trusting, and the bitterness that came of the festering heartache became more evident. For those closest to him, his bitterness and anger and suspicious nature became difficult to see day after day. His lack of ability to trust and his bitterness that came out more and more incessantly through his words, facial expressions, and actions began to erode his relationships. It was the saddest thing to me, to see this very sanguine tempered, outgoing man, close himself off more and more from life and from people who loved him.

Such is the way of anger, bitterness, and contention. It is destructive, and it robs us of life and love and joy and peace. And, as we observed with my daddy, it robs us of who we are and always have been. Bitterness and anger robs of the ability to see things as they truly are. Lack of trust leads to slanderous statements given out of obscured observations. The one who is hurting becomes the one who hurts.

I am not telling you this to put my daddy down. I love my daddy. Father took him Home last November and freed him from the pain and heartache he carried. And Father graciously removed the pain and heartache that has such potential to rob me of the memory of the man I knew my daddy to be. He has replaced the hurt and heartache with memories of the good days, freed me through His Spirit-given ability to forgive. And in the areas where daddy’s obscured accusations crushed my heart, God has filled me with understanding that He knows the truth and I can stand before Him with confidence when my day comes to meet Him in the air.

I do tell you this to bring you to alertness over your own heart. Hurts and heartaches need to be dealt with in right ways that free us from anger and bitterness. Having courage to address issues with those we are hurt by; having ability of Spirit to forgive “for My Own sake” as Father forgives, so we can let it go and continue on in relationships unhindered by bitterness, anger, etc. (Isaiah 43:25): These are vital skills to develop in our day.

I urge you, if you are one snared by such destructive heart issues to seek sound counsel from godly people who can help you grow past the hurt to healing in Christ. In the words of Paul, I implore, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” ~ Ephesians 4:31-32.

Relationships can be hard work, but broken relationships brought about by inability to forgive and show grace are destructive to all concerned, and mostly to the one bearing the grudge within themselves. If you are in such a state, I pray the Lord will equip you to love, forgive, and live life to the full in good relationships with those who so long for that love connection with you.

Joy is Strength. Right?

I read a devotional thought by Joyce Meyer yesterday that spurred concern for the people of God who might read it without understanding. Now I have sat under Joyce’s teaching for many years and I know her heart was on target, but for someone who may not know the Lord well or be one who will look at the scripture for themselves, this particular devotional fell short of where it needed to be, as I see it.

The_Comforter2In this particular devotion from her “Power Thoughts” devotional book on February 10, Joyce is covering a thought from Proverbs 17:22, “A Happy Heart is Good Medicine.” In her thoughts on the subject, she says, “Joy is vital! Nehemiah 8:10 tells us joy is our strength.”

I agree 100% that joy is vital to us, as vital as unconditional love and peace that passes understanding, both of which come from God alone. We will struggle to make it in this life without these: peace, love and joy. But it is not joy that is our strength, it is the joy of the Lord that is our strength.

“Then he said to them, ‘Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’” ~ Nehemiah 8:10.

There are many things that can bring us joy: people, relationships, sporting events, hobbies, books, movies, etc. But each of these can also let us down and bring us to much grief. We can feel stronger at the time we are enjoying these, but when some grief comes along, the joy is robbed and strength is gone.

The joy of the Lord transcends all other joy we may have. There are two things I know about the joy of the walking-with-godLord that makes this a joy beyond understanding and comprehension, just like the peace Jesus leaves us and the love that God is. This joy finds its supply in the very storehouse of God. It is not dependent on anyone or anything but God who freely gives it; therefore no heartache on earth can rob us of it. This joy is not even dependent on my emotional state or my ability to possess it. It is found and received when God is our delight, bringing us to seek after and trust Him first and foremost.

Rejoicing in the Lord comes from knowledge of Him that brings us to trust Him despite the trouble that comes our way in this life. Rejoicing in the Lord comes from the knowledge of His presence that is always with us and for us, and will never leave us or be taken away from us. Rejoicing in the Lord comes when we trust His hand knowing that despite the fires of testing that often come, He has a good plan for us and He is working all things for the good of those who truly love Him and are called by His name, as a bride takes the name of the Bridegroom.

There is a teaching in the religious right today that does promote joy in itself as strength. It has people feigning rejoicing in hope of gaining a little strength, then feeling let down by God when the strength they find is fleeting. The only true joy that will be with us despite any grief and will strengthen us is the joy of the Lord, fully focused on and supplied by a close, trusting, loving relationship with Him that transcends to overcome the world.