joy

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #1

Friday, April 14, 2017

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Psalm 22:1-21 provides us with a glimpse of Jesus’ thoughts as He endured that awful crucifixion: He is greatly tormented physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Various verses in Psalm 69 provide additional insight, especially as death begins to close in on His soul. Written about 1000 B.C., these and other “Messianic psalms” graphically describe assorted events in our Lord’s earthly life (in this case, His crucifixion)… centuries before they occurred!

What Jesus Christ thought about while suspended on Calvary’s cross was the Holy Scriptures. He had faith in the Old Testament passages that applied to Him. No matter what happened to Him, He knew it was His Father’s will, and His Father would be glorified. As He stated earlier, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup [of Thy wrath; Revelation 14:10] from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt (Mark 14:36). “…The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:29bc).

Do you realize what today’s Scripture is saying? Jesus Christ felt immense physiological and spiritual pain, but He thought about the overall view: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (cf. Psalm 16:8-11). Yes, the Old Testament spoke of His suffering, and those Scriptures must be fulfilled, but it also testified of His glorious kingdom that would follow, and those Scriptures also were to be fulfilled in due time! “…The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). While it did not diminish the extent of His distress and suffering, Jesus Christ kept in memory the glory His Father would give Him once He had endured the crucifixion (Philippians 2:8-11). It gave Him such joy. He felt grief unspeakable, but He also had joy unfathomable!

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?

Scrooges and Christians

Friday, December 16, 2016

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

To the old identity, we say, “Bah, Humbug!” To the new, we say, “God has blessed us, everyone in Christ.”

Other than Jesus Christ’s conception and birth as found in the Holy Bible, there is one other classic story associated with Christmastime. British author Charles Dickens’ 1843 book, A Christmas Carol, focuses on the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (the novella has some Christian influence).

From the onset, Scrooge is a wealthy, miserable, mean, stingy, and selfish old man. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is underpaid (yet, strangely, Ebenezer observes, Cratchit is cheerful). Scrooge refuses to donate to charities collecting for the destitute—to him, Christmastime is a time for others to “pick his pocket.” He even refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas party. What a miser!

Through visitations by four Spirits—his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future—Scrooge is forced to realize what a thoroughly rotten man he is. Once confronted with his future, the awful events that lie ahead, he asks for another chance to make things right (which, thankfully, he receives and does!). The Scrooge at the end of the book is drastically different from the Scrooge at the beginning. Scrooge is now loving, warm, cheerful, and generous—he is a brand-new man.

Bible-believing Christians recognize parallels between Dickens’ work and the Holy Scriptures. The sinner starts off rotten, a rebel from birth—selfish, miserable, and mean. When he or she comes to realize that pitiful condition he or she is in, and comes by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins, God gives him or her a new identity (today’s Scripture). That identity is designed to influence subsequent actions. Scrooge did not simply change his outward activity; he had a change in heart first. This Christmas, let us be submissive to God’s Holy Spirit working in our hearts, as He uses sound Bible doctrine to manifest in our behavior our identity in Christ, that we be not Scrooges.

Our final Bible Q&A for 2016, article #335: “What is true forgiveness?

Joy to the World! #4

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Psalm 45:6,7 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.”

When Satan’s reign on Earth and in Heaven concludes, voices in heaven cry out, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Hebrews 1:8,9 quoted today’s Scripture as true of Jesus Christ’s righteous reign. Notice how Father God addressed Jesus as “God.” Human history has never experienced a global, benevolent, theocratic monarchy. For the first time ever, all power in Heaven and Earth will be consolidated forever in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:8-10). All governments in Heaven and Earth will be cleansed of evil. By faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, we will participate in that operation of God (Colossians 1:16-22). We will reign with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6,7)!

Zechariah 14:9: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Daniel 2:44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” And, Jeremiah chapter 23: “[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. [6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Indeed, there will be such joy! Jesus Christ glorified forever, in Heaven and Earth! 🙂

Joy to the World! #3

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

“For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.”

God’s Word to Adam just after he sinned included the following pronouncement, “…[C]ursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee” (Genesis 3:17,18). This is part of the “bondage of corruption” of which Romans 8:21 speaks. Sin tainted creation. Thorns and thistles began to grow, making Adam’s labor in the field even more grueling. Paradise was indeed lost… but not forever!

When God created the heaven and the earth, He selected a special location on Earth as His home. Exodus 15:17,18 say: “Thou shalt bring them [Israel] in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O LORD, which thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.” Isaiah 40:22 says God “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” While Adam’s sinful actions delayed God’s earthly kingdom, God would take care of those mistakes and still accomplish His original intention.

Israel’s mistakes further delayed God’s earthly kingdom. However, God will restore Earth’s ecology to its original, pre-Fall (pre-sin) conditions. This is true especially of Zion, Jerusalem, which will be the global and universal capital city. There will be joy and gladness, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. All believers in heaven (Body of Christ) and earth (redeemed Israel) will join the angels in song. The curse has been lifted, and Jesus Christ has been exalted (Isaiah 11:1-9)!

Bible Q&A #333: “Why should I go to church?

Not Intimidated But Exhilarated

Thursday, June 23, 2016

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV).

Therefore, onward in Christ we go!

Not long ago, a girls softball team lost a game 5-15. After this discouraging loss, their coach told them the opposing team was “beatable,” but that they had allowed the opposing fast-throwing pitcher to intimidate them. The losing team disagreed: the winning team was not “beatable” as their coach suggested. Yet, the next day, they practiced and determined within themselves to win the rematch. How excited the former “losing” team was to win 7-2! They were stunned to learn that the team that seemed “unbeatable” was actually beatable!

Recently, I had a discussion with a discouraged sister in Christ. People had done her much wrong. Her Christian life was still greatly damaged. Satan had had—and was having—a great time destroying her life. I reminded her of today’s Scripture: “…Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” She could not help but reply, “Amen, brother!”

Friends, we are surely in a spiritual battle—the most important war ever. Yes, many are sleeping while it is being waged, but there is a conflict between God and Satan, good and evil, over the eternal souls of men and women and boys and girls! As Christians, we see Satan as “unbeatable.” Wielding so much influence, using so many allies, and implementing so many schemes, he seems invincible. No wonder so many poor Christian souls just throw up their hands in complete helplessness and hopelessness!

Like the aforementioned girls softball team, they are focusing on the opposition and ignoring their provisions. They have been equipped to fight the battle in Christ, but they focus too much on the enemy and they ignore their commander’s instructions. Israel’s believing remnant will endure a very difficult and wearisome time during Daniel’s 70th Week; despite the innumerable false prophets (verses 1-3), the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John exhorts believing Jews to remember that the Creator God is in them, and He is more powerful than Satan who is in the world (1 John 5:19)! Let us remember likewise. 🙂

Thrilling Bible Study!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16 KJV).

Can you agree with the Prophet Jeremiah?

Too many people who read the Bible are unwilling to let it speak for itself. They always try to force into it their own preconceived denominational ideas. In doing so, they make it a mess and destroy the clarity. It becomes such a burden that they almost wish they never picked up a Bible at all. May they learn this lesson from Jeremiah!

In today’s Scripture, Jeremiah was one of the few people living in his day who was so willing to receive the Word of God. God’s Word became the joy (noun) and the rejoicing (verb) of his heart. He was a servant of God so it only stood to reason that he would submit himself to JEHOVAH God’s instructions. Since Jeremiah knew God’s will for his life, he conducted a successful ministry for 40 years. We have come so much further than Jeremiah concerning God’s purpose and plan for creation, but we should be just as willing to receive God’s revelation post-Jeremiah as Jeremiah was receptive to having God’s Word in his own day.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). When you take God’s Word, study it rightly divided, and take your stand by faith in it, you are going to have the thrill of your life! The “Old Book” will literally become a “New Book.” You need not struggle any longer trying to sort through “contradictory” verses. Rather, you need to rejoice in God’s Word to you—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon—and study all 66 books of the Bible in light of the Pauline revelation. Break free from the chains of Satanic confusion and get on with working with God to accomplish His will: “God, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Let me assure you—you will never regret it! 🙂

Our latest (companion) Bible Q&As: “Can you explain Genesis 6:1-4?” and “Can you explain 1 Peter 3:18-21?

Stability in Extremes

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24 KJV).

Life is filled with extremes. Grace fills us with stability.

Having just attended a Christian wedding, I will soon attend a Christian funeral. Joy and excitement one week—trouble and grief the next! Such is the “roller coaster” we call “life.” Saints, if we lived our lives based strictly on our emotions, we will have one *wild* ride… and eventually, “fall off!” However, if we have a steady (daily) intake of sound Bible doctrine, believing it, reckoning it as true, that will run our lives and bring emotional stability. While our circumstances can and will change, the Holy Spirit will always be supporting us internally.

Notice how our apostle conducted his life and ministry. In today’s Scripture, Paul gave some farewell advice to the Ephesian church elders (beginning in verse 18). He had spent approximately 30 years suffering for Jesus Christ: “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me” (verses 22,23). Day in and day out, Paul experienced extremes. He had the joy of seeing pagans come to Jesus Christ. He had heartache of seeing deceived Christians troubled. He worried about the angry mobs determined to imprison and kill him.

Paul did not know what would soon happen to him when he arrived in Jerusalem. Still, despite all the troubles, he said, “none of these things move me” (today’s Scripture). He knew that, no matter his circumstances, even if it meant being put to death, he had a divine obligation—to preach the Gospel of the Grace of God. That same grace he was preaching had carried him through all those circumstances, good and bad. He was determined to continue with the Gospel “with joy.” Right up until the day the Lord called him Home, he did just that. Likewise, may we rely on God’s grace to stabilize us! 🙂