Joy Ahead

joy-ahead

I Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Over the weekend, I began renovations on our soon to be guest bedroom. The spare room in our house received a fresh coat of paint. The baseboards, trim and doors were painted with pristine white paint. An old dated bed I bought secondhand also received a makeover. New linens I had my eye on were purchased and now await the arrival of the new mattress set soon to arrive. All the work the last few days has produced soreness in my body due from age and being completely out of shape. Getting up in the morning, I am moving a bit more slowly allowing my muscles to loosen up and catch up with my reeling mind full of the next home makeover to do list. Even though I am filled with little aches and pains the smell of fresh paint and all the like new things coming together have filled me with deep satisfaction. Sitting on the couch with my husband, my best friend, and partner for life sharing a cookie date to reward our labor, I am no longer concerned about the fact I may require assistance to get back up and walk like an elderly woman. I am deeply content in our progress together and look forward to our next project as our new house becomes our home.

There is wonderful joy ahead. I believe this statement wholeheartedly. I know that God is working the details of my life for His Good and His Glory just as He has promised in His Word. (Romans 8:28) However, it is going to take an investment on my part. It is through faith that God protects us by His Power so that we will receive salvation. Too many times, we buy in to things without reading the fine print and conditions or go in halfheartedly making it into what we want it to be. The fact is that in this life there will be trials and temptations that test our faith for genuine authenticity. It is just a part of our life in Christ that determines if this thing called faith is valid or not.

I Peter 2:19-20 (NLT) For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

Jesus promises that the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) The one who continues to live by faith when it seems small and insignificant. When things don’t go our way, do we react in the moment or have the confidence to respond by His Spirit. Faith is about forever. It is futuristic. It is unseen. In a world full of distractions, it is up to those who desire a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ to live “conscious of His Will” and not according to how we feel or how others may treat us. Life is hard. It is unfair. People can be callous, cruel and uncaring. My conditions, circumstances or even consequences may cause inconvenience, suffering or hardship in my life. How do I respond? What is my reaction? If the things I endure are merely consequential, it is not the kind of endurance that produces more faith. When I do what is right and I am treated unjustly yet still choose to endure – it is then that God is please with me.

God’s Will for my life is good. He promises me a plan with a future and hope. If I pray, the Lord listens. If I seek Him wholeheartedly, I will always find Him. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) When I choose to walk by faith and not by sight, it doesn’t secure the journey but the outcome. I will still go through things. I will face temptations. There will be trials. It is the joy ahead that my heart holds on to. The reality of Jesus Christ is formed and fortified through every hardship endured. It is our decision to stand that makes Him the Cornerstone of our life. The unmovable and unshakeable foundation that will remain when everything else falls apart. Are you ready to give up? Thinking of giving in. Not sure what the point is anymore, life is getting harder. There is no relief. Where is Jesus in all of this?

Hebrews 12:2-4 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

To gain perspective in the life of faith, one must keep all eyes on Jesus who is the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Don’t look down but look ahead to the joy of meeting Him face to face as you are welcomed into forever with Him. This must be the reality of our life and existence to overcome the hardships and trials. We are the “joy awaiting him” that kept Jesus on His Journey to the Cross. His eyes were on us. His Beloved so He kept going. He endured the Cross. We just have to make it through hurt feelings, hard times, and harsh reality. Yet we have hope. Jesus did it all for me a broken shell of a human who needed everything that He had to offer but able to give nothing in return. In His Perfection, people were hostile to the Lord. Threatened to kill Him. Tortured Him. Humiliated Him. Mutilated Him. Nailed Him to a Cross. Most of us will only know minor inconveniences in life but have a hope far greater than anyone can imagine. Lord, thank you for the Cross. Thank you for enduring and calling me joy!

James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Thanks to Jesus, God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Those who do are promise the crown of life reserved for those who love Him. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1, “we think you ought to know about the trouble we went through…” He goes on to share the hardships and trials they faced in their ministerial journey. “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure…” Paul elaborates that they did not think they would live through it and expected to die. The result is the part of this passage that is “as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God.” Paul continues “we have placed our confidence in Him and He will continue to rescue us.” This is the point of our trials and hardships in life. Endurance is not easy. It is not the outcome for everyone. Those who do will be blessed.

2 Corinthians 6:10 (NLT) Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

When we were looking at homes to purchase, we had to picture our life in the house despite the fact others lived here. When we found this one, we knew it had the potential to become our home. Now that we live here, it is a continual process of cleaning, painting, and renovating to make it our own. Some areas are bare while others are coming together. If I choose to continue this process, one day each room will represent home to us. For now, there are paint swatches on the walls, patches on the holes, lots of conversations concerning possibilities, and purchases to be made. It will take some elbow grease or maybe a lot of it to get this place into shape. Crawling around the floor painting baseboards the other night, I could feel the stiffness coming on. I knew the next day or so would prove that climbing up and down the ladder produces the same results as three sets of squats in the gym. However, it is worth it to see the new guest room coming together.

Our spiritual life comes in the form of possibilities. What once was impossible becomes completely possible because we have a seed of faith to grow, develop and mature in us? We must count the cost of faith and decide if we are willing to make the investment required to have real and genuine faith. Faith is a process. It requires a commitment to Jesus Christ and the unseen reality of faith in Him. We must believe that He is real and His Promises are true. We have an advocate. The Holy Spirit works in us and through us to produce all the awesome things that God has promised. We must give up our personal real estate called pride and selfishness to have it. We also have an enemy who tries to taunt us and tempt us to give up, give in or quit altogether. The struggle is real. The promise is true. We have been given a free will to choose how much of our life that we will invest. Will I give until it hurts? Will I press when I am weak? Will I trust when I am discouraged? How far am I willing to go to find Him? Will I endure?

Matthew 14:28-31 (NLT) Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

I have been thinking a lot about Peter walking on the water. Jesus didn’t make him leave the boat. He chose to step out of the boat to walk to Jesus. When he saw the conditions around him, and stopped looking at the Lord, he began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus “immediately reached out and grabbed him.” I believe wholeheartedly that it is in these trials and temptations of life when I come to the end of myself. It is in that moment, when I cannot do it anymore, and lunge toward Jesus that the purpose is served. The moment when I have nothing left to give but rather than going under I make one last effort to reach Jesus. Peter did not try to save himself. He did not try to get back to the boat. He called on Jesus. He found His Joy. He didn’t want to go back. Peter wanted the Lord as is clear throughout the account of his life. This disciple tested every boundary or perceived obstacle between himself and Jesus Christ. He endured. I believe that Peter was saved. I want to live this kind of life. Like Peter I must decide that the joy ahead of me is worth all that is in me to obtain. Jesus is my joy! He is my salvation. It is His Grace alone that is the powerful potential locked inside of me. I must be willing to endure for it to make its way out of me by faith!

We endure this life for the joy set before us. He died for us. We will probably never experience more than inconvenience for His Cause. He gave up everything for us. I must decide today if His Way and His Will are worth having and that the joy found in His Love and Grace are enough to get over those things that irritate, annoy and hurt me to find my joy. When Jesus is my everything, He will always be enough! Endurance is the effort put forth to respond to God’s Promises rather than reacting to the persistent testing, trials and troubles of life. It keeps us engaged and fighting the good fight. Be encouraged today! One small step of faith can change our entire perspective of life. To endure for a moment can offer strength for a lifetime. You can do it. Don’t give up. Jesus hasn’t given up on you. You were worth dying for! Surely we can stand a little longer for Him. For those who do, there is joy ahead!

2 Timothy 2:11-15 (NLT)  This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them. Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s