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
The beginning part of this verse, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;” has always been one of my favorites, even to the point of using it as the theme of two of our websites: Looking Unto Jesus Backgrounds and Prints and this blog.
However, for some reason, the meaning of rest of the verse didn’t take root until our pastor recently mentioned it again, and I knew I needed to really dig into it.
“…who for the joy that was set before Him…”
What could have been so wonderful, so joyful, that the Lord was willing to “endure the cross” for? I mean really? He endured what has been considered the most barbaric form of death devised:asphyxiation. Besides all the agony He went through because of the scourging; the beating of the crown of thorns on his head; the nailing of his hands and feet. Our Lord endured all that….for what?
“… who for the joy that was set before Him…”
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10
God Almighty endured all the rejection, humiliation, betrayal, agony and distress for the joy of seeing one soul saved! A sinner finding his way home!
I began to think about how easy it is for me to get down in the dumps about how “hard a time I’m having.” Whatever I have been through, or will go through, is nothing compared to what my Lord went through, yet He could say, “…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…”
Did you catch that last part? “…despising the shame…” The Lord didn’t care about the shame He endured. He even despised it. It was nothing compared to the joy of seeing a sinner saved!
What can I set before myself as a joy while I endure the cross that the Lord has given me? Here’s just a few that are on my heart right now:
* My sins are forgiven and I’m a child of the King of kings
* I have a home in Heaven where there is only joy, no crosses to bear
* I will spend eternity with my Saviour, the one who could endure all He did for the joy of seeing me saved
What “cross” are you bearing right now? Wouldn’t it be easier to bear it if your heart and mind were focused on the joy ahead?
Now, make you own list.
January 13th, 2009
A few years ago, during some very tumultuous times for our family, I found it rather easy to rely on the Lord and believe that He was working all things out for our good. Daily, I would beg Him to show me what He wanted me to learn from all we were going through. I can honestly say I never felt closer to Him than during those times. However, once the greater part of the burden wad lifted, and at first it looked like our family could get the spiritual help to heal from what we’d been through, that didn’t happen and I was crushed. My faith faltered severely for a few years, but then I realized that I had built up some false expectations.
I expected the Lord to fix in weeks and months, wounds caused over many years. Reality check! So much of what we had been through was now woven into who we are and what we believed. Like Moses who spent 40 years in the backside of the wilderness to cleanse his mind from the 40 years of the polutions of Egypt, it would take time to weed out what God wanted us too weed out, and keep that which makes us more like the Lord Jesus Christ.
Too many think the Christian life is for wimps, but it is not an easy road. We are called to face the challenges that God gives us, not run from them. A spiritual battle is just as exhausting as a physical battlefield, maybe more so. Just ask a soldier suffering from PTSD. Many a soldier endured the hardships of the physical battlefield, only to fall in the aftermath as a new, invisible war now raged on in their mind and spirit.
As Christians though, we are given the weapons we need to fight this battle for the mind and spirit. (Ephesians 6:10-18) That’s not the aspect that this devotional is about though, but rather, my faltering faith.
Regaining my faith was the same solution as most other things in a Christian’s life: Confessing my sin of my lack of faith and changing my perspective and expectations from what I thought I needed to what God knew I needed. Where I couldn’t yet see His will clearly, I needed to focus on putting my faith in Him, again, that He would change me in His timing, not mine. Too often, we want the circumstances to change, when it is us God seeks to change. Like His promises and mercy which are new each morning I must renew my focus by looking again to Him.
Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us , and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  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.
Lamentations 3:21-26 KJV
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord .
Watched the movie ‘The Grace Card’ a few days ago. Overall, pretty good movie. Teen-age and up.
Anyway, it really helped me through some things I’d been battling with for a few years.
God’s grace (unmerrited favor) is truly amazing. Forgiveness towards others can only happen when we start to truly see and appreciate the grace and forgiveness he has extended us in our own sin.
This is the ‘Grace Card’ premise:
“I promise to pray for you every day, ask your forgiveness, grant you the same, and be your friend always.”
Oh to apply it day by day, moment by moment!
Thank you, Lord for your grace and forgiveness.
Originally publshed May 8th, 2010.
This has been in my thoughts very much lately. God’s love is so great, so immeasurable, yet it seems elusive in many Bible believing churches today.
First, let me clearly state that I am unequivocally a Bible believer who stands firm on separation & holiness. The love I’m talking about is not the unscriptural, modern, wishy washy eceumenical – join with everyone regarless of doctrine, love everyone & their sin type love.
I’m talking about the kind of love that will graciously – with the compassionate, understanding heart of someone who sees their own sin- show the sinner their sin, and then lovingly show them the Saviour!
These verses clearly demonstrate the key:
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Jude 1:21-23
We cannot show God’s love if we do not keep ourselves in His love! Notice verse 23 says we are to hate “the garment spotted by the flesh.” not the person themselves!
Here’s some points to ponder:
A. Examples of Christ dealing with the lost:
1. When Christ confronted the woman at the well, yes, he showed her her sin, but spent far more time directing her to himself. John 4:7-42
What portion of time do we spend on “badgering” people about sin, instead of directing them to Jesus? When they see their sin, it’s time to show them the Saviour!
2. When the woman “caught in adultery” was brought to Him, she had obviously already dealt with her sin, so He showed her Himself. John 8:3-12
Are we walking close enough to Jesus that we can tell when a sinner is already convicted of their sin and can simply be shown the Saviour?
3. Jesus didn’t even tell the tax collector Zachaeus his sin. Christ’s very presence brought him to repentance and He took him in. Luke 19:2-10
4. The woman who washed Jesus’ feet with tears had already dealt with her sin and given Him her heart so He didn’t humiliate her, but for the sake of others hard-heartedness, He publicly acknowledged her sins were forgiven. Luke 7:36-50
Is Christ visible enough through us that others can be convicted of their sin without a word and be drawn to our precious Saviour?
Let me make it clear that I am not teaching people should not repent. There is no salvation without repentance:
“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3&5
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:21
B. God’s love hasn’t gone anywhere or changed:
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:8.
Too often it is the vessels the Lord wants to use – us – that have become unusable. We cannot spread His love because we have become corrupted with a pride that exalts us so high we can no longer see where we have come from.
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 2 Peter 1:1-10
Sadly, we are the ones that God says have become hard-hearted and He has to be longsuffering with.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
C. Questions to ask ourselves to help measure our degree of love:
What is my first thought when I see:
– the drunk or druggie on the street
– the prostitute on the street corner
– the single mom on wellfare with a car load of kids
– the teen/young man with his pants hanging so far down you can see his underwear
– the illegal alien you or your spouse just lost your job to
– the new immigrant who is struggling to learn how it all works in this foreign land
– the homosexual/lesbian, etc.
– the prisoner or the ex-con
– the gang member
Does my heart break for their condition, or is my heart elevated in pride? Do I think I’m too good to bring myself low enough to show them the love of God? Okay… maybe I’ll show thew how to get saved, but I really don’t wan’t them in “my church”…. Really? Is that Jesus? No. Not by any means and it cannot be me!
We cannot hope to reach a lost world for Christ if we no longer remember the state in which Christ saved us, nor where we would be were it not for the grace of God.
The great apostle Paul said: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10
He knew he was nothing without Christ, as we are.
D. Christ as our example of humbleness:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8
E. God’s commands to the believer:
Notice that Colossians 3:12-13 are in the imperative (or commanding) form.
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. Colossians 3:12-13
Being merciful, kind, humble in mind, meek, longsuffering, forbearing & forgiving are not requests. They are commands!
F. What our message must be::
If we go to the lost world with this genuine humbleness of heart and a genuine love for the Saviour and the sinner, only then will they see & believe the greatest love of all:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
I’d like to finish this devotional with a song from the Marshall Family that really expresses this whole idea so well:
How Can We Reach a World we Never Touch?
Originally posted July 2010. Edited April 2, 2014
For those who’ve read some recent posts, you’ve been reading how the Lord has been leading us through some trials. This is a continuation of sorts, but what God showed me the morning of July 3rd, 2010 has me in complete awe and wonder and His mercy & grace in our lives.
Years ago, I felt our lives as Christians were just too easy. I know that the Bible says:
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12
I kept feeling that I must be a failure as a Christian because we weren’t under persecution. We had gone through a hefty bout 13 years ago with attacks on our family and me personally, and an occasional upheaval through the years. They just seemed like nothing compared to what I saw other Christians going through. Don’t get me wrong! I really DO NOT relish going through persecution, but I felt that the Lord must think my faith is so weak, that I couldn’t handle much. These were feelings I was putting on myself. It was not the Lord’s doing.
What I was failing to see is that the Bible doesn’t say we will have persecution ALL the time, just that we will. I was also failing to see that, as the Potter, He was molding and shaping me/our family into what He wants for us in His timing, not ours.
“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21
“But now, O Lord , thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Isaiah 64:8
As I go over our current trials, and yes, I will call them persecution as we are being attacked for Christ’s sake, I can see back through the years all the things I thought were so little, yet each and every one was meant to mold and shape us/me into Christians that could handle what we are going through now.
I’ll use an example from my husband’s (dh) work to try and get the point across. There have been many individuals at his work who have tried to cause him trouble over the years, but one by one, he has watched as they’ve come and gone, yet he is still there. One man in particular was so difficult to work with and untrustworthy that no one wanted to work with him. He took particular relish in attacking my husbad, yet my dh never went after him. Well, as I’ve heard many times, when a person’s testimony is good, fling all the mud you want, but it won’t stick! And it didnt’! God removed that man in His timing, not my dh’s. As dh and I discussed this and the mud-slinging on our family happening in another area of our lives, something dawned on me and I expressed it to him: “If you had not gone through all the attacks by “so and so” over the years, would you be able to handle what is happening now?” He said, “Probably not.”
That is when I truly began to see the bigger picture. God had been faithfully shaping and molding us through small but frequent, and bigger but less frequent trials throughout our entire lives. I just wasn’t seeing it! I could relay other instances, but I want God to get the glory here! He did it! Not us! God gave the grace! God gave the mercy & care to see us through so that He would get the deserved glory!
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18
What a wondrous God we serve! He counted us worthy to suffer for Him, and He has NEVER left us alone, and He has left us precious reminders for whe our hearts are lying to us and blinding us to His great purpose for our lives.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord , thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” Jeremiah 29:11
“Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy:
27 That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.” Psalm 109:26
“A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalm 23
What can I do but speak or sing of His mercy & grace!
I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:1
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Philippians 2:16
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:13
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11
What if we stopped listening to our hearts when our feelings don’t tell us the truth and instead we chose to believe God’s words more than our fears and doubts?
Let’s map out our thoughts and walk in the power of God’s Word today—living like it is true—no matter what our feelings tell us.
It will be a moment-by-moment, doubt-by-doubt decision. Will you commit to process your thoughts and emotions with God, positioning your heart and mind to let His perspective redefine yours with each uncertainty you face?
With God’s help it’s possible to have lasting Christ-confidence by choosing to remember to believe Him.
– Renee Swope – A Confident Heart
To be firm stand in some areas of life can be so simple, yet so difficult in other areas. I had been thinking on this when a friend posted one day on Facebook.
Here is an excerpt from a work of Baptist history, “Spurgeon’s early complaints centered upon three problems; the decline of prayer meetings among the Baptist churches, the worldliness of ministers relating to entertainment, and doctrinal problems which stemmed from the inroads of the higher criticism? of that day. This controversy isolated Spurgeon from many who refused to stand with him for the defense of biblical truth. Many believe that the grief and conflict of this battle hastened his death after a period of illness at Mentone in Southern France. He died on Jan. 31, 1892 at 57 years of age. In our day when apostasy abounds, God grant us men of God like him.”
Spurgeon lived a short life, and died young, yet even now his testimony lives on. Things haven’t changed much. Today we still must stand against those same issues. I agree with the author, God grant us men (and women) of God like him. – Abby Louise Allison.
There are individuals, like those who are not part of traditional “Bible believing” circles, for which it is easy to mark the false doctrines and to stay well away from, but what of those who are brethren, yet have departed from sound doctrine in few or many areas? This is what Spurgeon dealt with. He had to separate from his peers and friends on the basis of false doctrine; something which I am seeing more and more for in this day and age. We love these brethren, yet to love the Lord, we are commanded to separate – but of course not treat as enemies.
There seems to be a general hesitancy among Independant Baptist churches to label “our kind” as heretical, cultish, etc. If you doubt this, research how long it took for some so called IFB preachers to be labeled as abusive cult leaders by the majority of IFB churches. However, in order to stand before the Lord in good conscience and not to be respecters of persons, this is what must be done. To stand with those who abuse God’s people, are lords over God’s heritage, and preach their own philosophies as doctrines, is to stand in opposition to the Lord.
In the last few years, I actually removed posts on modesty from my blog which, although they declared a sound doctrinal position on women’s attire and modesty, emphasized man’s philosophies and IFB cult leaders’ quotes, versus the Word of God. Verses had also been pulled out of context to prove their point. For this, I truly apologize. We are to be students of the Word of God, not blindly follow men simply because they have a title. Also, if a position is Biblical, there is no need to twist verses to bolster a sound position. God’s Word stands alone.
May the Lord give each one of us the grace and strength to stand against error and apostasy, regardless of who is the source.
Originally published Sept. 10, 2011.
Always a good reminder!
Feeling the need to strenghten my faith by reading God`s working in other Christians` lives, I decided to re-read the biography of George Mueller (1805-1898). This man`s life of faith as he began orphanages in England is truly amazing. He never asked for any money, but simply told people what he knew God was leading him to do. As he did so, God always blessed with what was needed. Many times, God sent money from individuals who said it was to be used for a specific purpose that Mueller had told no one about yet.
On one occasion, he prayed for the blessing on the food that he, and around 300 orphans would eat, despite the fact there was no food in the orphanage or on their plates. As prayer finished and they all sat down, the local baker arrive with bread to spare as the Lord laid on his heart the night before to bake it for them. Within a few more minutes, the local milkman arrived on the doorstep asking them to take many bottles of milk off his truck. They needed to be offloaded – to be donated to the orphanage of course – as his truck wheel had broken down right in front of the orphanage, and could not be repaired with all the weight on it. Again, milk for the meal and to spare.
In his life, George Muell helped over 2000 orphans by taking them from the streets and the destitute poor houses. Then caring for their bodies and nurturing their souls with the Word of God. Most went on to lead productive lives and in turn, either continued to help the orphanage in person or by gifts.
The following quote – written in relation to a very large sum required to build another orphanage buildin in 1851 – is what started me wanting to write this note:
“The greatness of the sum required affords me a kind of secret joy; for the greater the difficulty to be overcome, the more will it be seen to the glory of God how much can be done by prayer and faith.”
And it brings to mind this Scripture:
(KJV) Luke 17:6 `And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”
I encourage everyone to read his biography! I have yet to find a better modern day example of what real faith can do, and I need all the help I can get too.
On January 6th, 2013, our church had the annual “Vision Night Service” where our pastor explains the events, conferences, etc. for the church’s coming year, and the direction he feels the Lord is directing the church. A month or so before, Pastor Hutchens challenged us to write short testimonies of what the Lord had done for us this past year, and he put them in the booklet for this year’s events. They were written on small “tag” cards, so not much room, and this is what I wrote:
It has been a harsh year of trials for our family, but God has proven Himself more faithful and gracious than all the trials. He continues Phillipians 1:6 –
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
Those who are close to our family know some of what we have gone through, and it is indeed heart wrenching, yet there is so much more that only God knows. This devotional isn’t about all that though. It’s about my best friend, my Jesus, who is always faithful to do exactly what He promised He would do – make me more like Him – whatever it takes!