2010-08-26 - How is Your Joy?
John 15:9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. (NASB)
Have you ever had a tough day?
I know someone is holding their head in their hands and nodding as they read this question reeling from this day's events. We all have difficult days. Some turn into difficult weeks or months, and sometimes years. After some time it is easy to fall into a mode of thinking we have done something wrong and are being punished by God, or that God isn't hearing us. Before this goes too far at all I want to be clear that God will chasten His wayward children for our good. He will also allow us to make poor decisions, or for things to not go our way. Neither of these two things indicate that the events which could be construed as chastening is in fact the correction of the Father. Read the book of Job if you need a crystal clear example.
Read the verse above and know that it is Jesus speaking to His disciples. These were men who had come at Jesus' simple call and followed Him - just like you and I. Jesus called to our hearts and we have admitted our failure and accepted His grace and mercy and have promised to follow Him. Consider two points.
The first thought: "Just as the Father has loved Me". How does the Father love Christ? Unconditionally. At the transfiguration three of the disciples heard the voice of God say, "This is my beloved Son. Hear Him." (Luke 9:35 KJV) So few have heard the voice of God in this world and the word "beloved" is selected out of those few words to describe His feelings for Jesus. This is a potent word. It is gentle but deep and strong. This is the tiny tip of the huge iceberg of how the Father loves Jesus, His Son.
The second thought: "I have also loved you." What an unfathomable thought that Jesus would call us beloved with all of our faults and failings. I will move to the front of the line of those who have stumbled and fallen - and Jesus says clearly that He loves me though I can not know the full depravity of my heart and He does. And He tells us here He loves each one of us just as the Father loves Him. Find the "me", "my" and "I" in this paragraph and put yourself in there and know that it is just as true if you name the name of Jesus as Savior. If He is not yet your Savior then Jesus loved you enough to willingly come to die on the cross for you. That is love beyond anything but a pale description of the reality of it.
What is your joy based on? If we stop and think about this three times a day I wonder what a shift it would make in our day. It does not remove the temporal events around us. But it will fuel the depth of our hearts with the assurance that we are far from alone and we are so amazingly loved.
There is one more thing that is more devastating than believing the difficulties you or I may be experiencing are the chastening of God. Whether it is not, to become bitter in this time is so destructive to you and those around you. If someone has ever stopped and informed you that you have become bitter stop and consider the possibility, as painful as that thought certainly is, that they might be right. Humble yourself and be open to the idea because it takes either a tremendous amount of courage or frustration to tell you or I that is the case. To ignore that level of effort and write it off as foolishness could easily be to our own detriment.
Job was told to "curse God and die", and he refused to do so. He examined his own life and could not find a reason there for the problems that surrounded him. He remained faithful to God while sitting in ashes and rubbing the boils that covered his body.
These words tonight are for myself first. No one has called me bitter but there has been an extended stretch of difficult days. Keeping focus and perspective is not always easy. And I pray that they are encouragement to you all and a lifeline to those who need them.
What is your joy based on? Selah.
Lord Jesus - this is not at all what I sat down to write this evening. You in Your sovereignty have changed the agenda for Your purposes not totally known to me. Thank You for the encouragement to my heart and to the hearts of others. Reach the one who so urgently needs You with this assurance. Keep my heart open and my words something that draws people to You. Amen.
Grace & Peace,