Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Joy of the Lord - part 2
"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, 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. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
For years my twin daughters used to defend their spiritual beliefs in Bible class by saying, "My mom says..." The teacher grew weary of arguing with their mother, that eventually he would just look at the girls and ask, "What does your mom say about this?" Eventually I challenged them to change their defense from "My mom says" to "God's Word says." It was a far more powerful authority and by the time they reached college, most professors wouldn't care what their mother said.
When trying to define the joy of the Lord, I don't have to tell you what I think. If we search the Word, we can discover exactly what the joy of the Lord is. From earlier comments, there is a lot of scripture we can look at and find several things that bring Him joy. What a blessing! My desire is that this lights a fire in you to seek beyond what we discuss here...
So keeping in mind that the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10), I found myself drawn to this Hebrews passage. Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him.
What was it that got Jesus through His suffering?
Well, we see Him sitting down at the right hand of the Father when His suffering was complete. He does this as mediator between God and man. He is our ultimate High Priest who doesn't have to continually sacrifice for our sin like earthly priests, but He sits because His work of mediation is done.
The joy set before Him was the final result of the justification and propitiation of man - the restoration of the relationship between the Father and His children.
Jesus lived with the results in mind.
He suffered with a heavenly perspective, knowing what His suffering would accomplish.
Restoration was His joy.
Do we live with a heavenly perspective? I would suggest today that if the joy of the Lord (His ability to focus on what the suffering of this life would accomplish - a restored relationship with me) is to be my strength, then as I struggle through life, His focus should be my focus. His joy of this restored relationship and ultimately being able to sit with His Father, should be my joy.
I am restored. I am justified. One day I will be done with this fleshly suffering and will be in the eternal presence of the Lord.
If I live with that as my goal - if that is where the road in this life leads - then that will be my strength to endure to the end.
What can I possibly face that will take this truth away from me? Does my road lead to poverty and sorrow? Is life hopeless and meaningless?
We know the answer to all of this - nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Our eternity is set - that is to be our joy and at times in life where there is little happiness, joy can abound because of this truth.
Determine to live with the joy of the Lord as your strength. Set the future before you and as the author of Hebrews says, "Fix your eyes on Jesus!"