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 Pastor Madle 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
Updated from 2006:
As I have battled the last few days with sin the that is not visible to others (you know, the typical of going over something in your mind that someone did wrong to YOU!) these verses have really been running through my mind. I am writing this as a saved woman but one who gets the occasional glance of how truly wicked her heart is. Oh that all of us might see that glimpse more often!
"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:1-8
1. We must see the Lord “high and lifted up”: Too often, I am guilty of not seeing the Lord high and lifted up and to see Him "Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts." Why else would I choose to sin as I do? Any of us can be so good at cleaning up the outside cup, but what of the cup of our hearts? Is it filled with abominable thoughts? Too often, yes.
2. We must see our sin: This cry has been in my heart:
“Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a "woman" of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
It is only when we "see" the King, the LORD of hosts, that we truly see our sinful condition, and the need for daily, yay hourly, renewal. This is not being resaved, of course, but the keeping of short accounts with God on our sin by daily confessing them and a daily dying to self. (1 Corinthians 15:31) So when we see the LORD high and lifted up, we will acknowledge our sin and its need to be purged. How willing our Lord is to do that!
"And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." Isaiah 6:7
Have you ever realized that our sin is the only thing God forgets?
"And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Hebrews 10:17
How loving and gracious He is to us!
3. We must see the need of the lost world: It is only when we "see" the King, the LORD of hosts, that we truly see the sinful condition of the lost world and how they need the Saviour.
4. We must submit to the need. Finally, when we've seen Him high and lifted up, have seen our sin and the sins of this world, have had ours purged and are now a vessel fit for the Master's use, He calls for a servant to use:
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Isaiah 6:8a
and we can with eternal gratitude answer:
"Then said I, Here am I; send me." Isaiah 6:8b
Angela Trenholm June 20th, 2006
I’ve heard and often said that the greatest battles we will face are against our own selves. As I was driving, I was having my own wrestling match with God. It only lasted about 2 minutes, but it really was the final conflict of an issue I’d been wrestling with myself for just over 2 years on one issue, and it seems all my life in others. It amazed me how draining these two minutes turned out to be, especially when the added element of wrestling with myself was added in.
To be blunt, I was being foolish. I was fretting over a situation that I had no control over. My thoughts were along these lines:
“I wonder if this would work? Maybe not…. Oh this would be better… No, not that either…”
On and on it went. I was on a merry-go-round!
Then words from a recent sermon struck me: I was being prideful! I thought I could handle the situation better than God! I lacked faith. I felt that my life could not be fulfilling as a Christian until a situation was dealt with, or rather, that I had a part in resolving it.
Someone who claimed to be a Christian had hurt many families, including ours, and I was convinced that this person had to be stopped. God’s name was being brought down among believers and blasphemed by the lost after all!
As I began to surrender this over to the Lord, I knew I had to let God be God. This was not easy to accept. Not being able to take care of something on our own is a struggle for many, including me. It seemed like God was telling me: What if God's will could be accomplished better with this person continuing their hurtful behavior? What if more souls ended up being reached because of it? I couldn’t see how, but I finally accepted that God knows best and that He would deal with this person in His timing and His way. He does not let sin go unpunished, so what about me? It was way past time for me to deal with me or God would have to.
When I realized that my lack of faith was rooted in self-pride, I was truly hearetbroken and repentent. I was prideful – an abomination before God.
"Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished." Pro 16:5
No, I could not take care of this better than God, so I needed to give it over to Him, stop fretting about it, and let God be God. I was mentally exhausted at that point. This wrestling match might have only last two minutes or so, but it broke a thought process of sin that had grpipped me for over two years.
“What a wrestling match!” I thought.
Then the paralells with the Biblical account of Jacob’s wrestling match began to dawn on me. In Genesis 32:24-32, Jacob is wrestling with whom he first thinks is an angel, but realizes at the end that it is God in the form of man, or the theological term – a ‘pre-incarnate Christ’. Think on this! The passage says that “when He (God) saw that He prevailed not against him…” (vs.25) In order for God’s physical form to not be able to prevail against a human being, God chose to lower himself, or drop his physical abilities in order to accomplish what was necessary in Jacob’s life.
What a picture of our Jesus! It’s as described in Hebrews 2:7a,9b:
“Thou madest him a little lower than the angels…” (vs 7) and “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels….” (vs 9)
In order for God not to be able to prevail against Jacob, He had to have the identical physical abilities – like a physical clone or Jacob himself, as Jacob had to be weakened for the Lord to prevail. Isn’t that how God works with our will and sin nature? The sin nature is so strong because of our pride and stubborness that God has to weaken it, so the Lord can finally have impact to change us.
The Bible doesn’t say, but I can’t help think Jacob was happy at times about this new weakness. It meant so much! A tremendous battle against Jacob’s sin nature had been won, and God was on his side!
Through this, I also realized that the two forms of a wrestling match are very different. One holds little to no profit, yet the other great profit. My wresting match with myself, apart from God and His Word, had very little profit since it exalted myself and left God out of the solution. Bringing the matter to God, and searching out the Scriptures produced a peace in my soul that could only be achieved through allowing myself to give a matter over to the Lord.
Fretting and worrying are sins of pride and lack of faith. At least sometimes now, when I start to fret about anything, my wrestling match with God comes back to mind, and I repent. I cannot take care of situations better than God, and He knows best.
In light of the recent US elections with Obama winning another 4 year term, the following was posted on my Facebook.
Tonight, after the election is over, we can predict (and guarantee) the following results:
1. God will still be on His throne
2. Jesus will still be King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
3. The Bible will still have all the answers to every problem.
4. The tomb will still be empty.
5. Jesus will still be the only way to heaven.
6. Prayer will still work – it will still make a difference and God will still answer prayer.
7. The cross, not the government, will still be our salvation.
8. There will still be room at the cross.
9. Jesus will still save anyone who places their faith and trust in Him.
10. God will still be with us always – He will never leave us or forsake us.
What precious reminders! This easily applies to all events in our lives. I sure needed these reminders!
Context: Genexis 41 & 47
Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. Genesis 41:29-31
It is amazing how we can read portions of the word of God over an over, yet all of a sudden see something we've never seen before and it's something so basic. As I read the above portion as part of my daily read-through-the-Bible every year, the phrase "…and all the plenty shall be forgotten…." really struck me.
In this passage, Joseph is interpreting for Pharaoh the two dreams he's had. The story is dealing with a real life, physical situation and verses 29-31 sum it up in how 7 years of famine would follow 7 years of plenty. As is often the case, we can draw a spiritual application from this physical situation.
As I go over my own Bible reading & prayer time as well as church attendance and the spiritual nourishment received there, I know that unless I am continuously attending to those things, one "week's" worth of faithfullness in those areas cannot provide adequate supply for the next week.
We see that the Egyptians had to keep coming back again and again to Joseph to get food when they ran out, and each time, they had to sell something of great value to get enough food for the next year.
1st year: They gave all their money – Genesis 47:13-14
2nd year: They sold all their cattle – Genesis 47:15-17
3rd year: The sold all their land and themselves – Genesis 47:18-20
If they did not keep coming back, they would not have the food & nourishment they needed and would perish physically. Over time, the body would "forget" what it got before.
So it is with us: We MUST keep coming back to God's Word and church for the Spiritual nourishment for the daily spiritual nourishment we need to remain spiritually strong. The previous day's nourishment does not keep providing enough energy for the next day. Our body requires nourishment daily for optimum physical health, and likewise our spirit. Otherwise, "the plenty shall be forgotten," and we forget the spiritual lessons God gives us day by day, especially in the reading of His Word.
I often fail in the area of faithful Bible reading, and I see the consequences of the "forgetting" in my own life: lack of faith, unthankfulness, pride, and the list goes on.
Let us be diligent to seek God's plenty, for:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" 1Peter 5:8
Yes, I know where the quote comes from, but the idea originated in a dream, and then I couldn't get the thought out of my mind after I woke up. An alternative title could be:
A Life Sentence
Although I do not put any stock in dreams in this era, this devotional really did start with a brief dream, but the thoughts stuck with me after I awoke. In the dream, I was sitting in a hospital room getting a diagnosis from a doctor. It was not good: I had terminal cancer, and as far as he was concerned, I could drop dead any moment. My reaction was definitely not what the doctor expected. I have no fear of death, and I know that the day of my death rests squarely in God's hands.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" Hebrews 9:27
I told the doctor as much and said that I understood, but that God has is the one who appointed the day of my death, and it could be weeks or years. It looked like the doctor thought I was just in denial to his reality of the situation. My husband then walks into the room and the doctor was just giving him the diagnosis when I woke up.
As I lay awake in bed pondering my reaction in the dream, I was at peace. It truly was a reflection of how I view death, or rather, my home-going. How can I say that, you may ask? One can never know their reaction till they really are face to face with death, but you see I have been there; twice. As a 13 year old girl with a life threatening disease, and as an adult being rushed to the ER at the hospital before my appendix burst. In neither situation was I agitated about dying. I would be going home! Why would I be agitated!
This is the reality of life and death for a child of God: God knows exactly when we are going to die. For me, it could be while I'm writing this devotional, or 40 years from now. The only thing that changes when given a terminal illness diagnosis from a doctor is that the doctor now believes he can pinpoint it more precisely. For us, there is no concern for the hereafter:
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,(51) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.(53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.(55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56)The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57)But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1Corinthians 15:51
"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2Corinthians 5:8
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:1
There's no such thing as being "good enough." It's not about what we can do, but what God has already done, through His own sacrifice on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty of sin for us: condemned sinners. Because of what Jesus did, I can stand before the Lord as a forgiven sinner – His child! There is no greater blessing in this life, or the next, than to have one's sins forgiven.
"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
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:2
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5-7
If you do not have this blessed assurance, or have any kind of doubts, I beg you to read God's Simple Plan of Salvation.
Chocolate Surrender??? Yes, you read right. Several years back, God used chocolate to teach me, again, the concept of surrender. I'm going to subtitle this lesson as:
Whatever It Takes!
A few years ago, I was totally addicted to chocolate. It was really bad! I HAD to have a dark chocolate bar every day or I got really cranky!!!! I was getting really cranky too as I knew this was getting expensive and it just needed to stop! I finally couldn't take it anymore and went to the Lord sincerely in prayer, "Lord, whatever it takes, take the desire for chocolate away!"
I was totally serious! I didn't care what it took, what He had to do – just as long as I didn't crave it anymore!
Well, the Lord answered that prayer all right! I began having MASSIVE migraines every time I had chocolate! It was sooooo bad! Drilling in the temple and waves of dizziness which left me incapacitated in bed for the whole day after the day I'd had chocolate! The desire for chocolate quickly vanished! It became so intense, that all I had to do was think about eating some and I'd begin to feel that drilling in my right temple. Pain is an excellent deterrent! LOL
So that brings me to the application: How badly do I want certain things to happen or change? There's been other instances where it seemed whatever needed fixed in mejust didn't get fixed till I had the attitude, "Lord, whatever it takes, fix me!"
It reminds me of the Biblical account of the little widow woman who went to the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8. She simply just wouldn't give up until she was set free from her adversary. Too often, our biggest adversary is ourselves as we fight against our own sin, but we must not give up!
I'm so thankful the Lord gives us so many promises to help us in our struggle against sin! What a wonderful Lord we serve!
"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." Lam 3:21-23
As taught at our church’s monthly ladies meeting by Mrs. Susan Hutchens, our pastor’s wife.
There was a show several years ago entitled Extreme Makeover, on which the “experts” took extreme measures to change people’s appearances. Each person was always grateful to have these changes made, and I once saw a father cry from happiness over the changes in his daughter. I wonder what kind of extreme changes God would like to see in us, and what He would do in our lives if we allowed Him to perform His Extreme Makeover?
* Lose Weight
“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,…” Hebrews 12:1
- Repent - Change my mind about what I am doing wrong
- Confess – Agreeing with God that it is wrong
- Put away – Determine to take measure to stop it.
* Get a New Hairstyle
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:5
- Cast down strongholds of Satan’s lies (Ex. Not good enough, failure, husband doesn’t love you, kids hate you)
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:5
- Replace his lies with God’s truth – (Remember the price God paid for your soul!)
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: ” Col 1:14
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Heb 9:12
* Get a Manicure
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” 1 Timothy 2:8
– Holy hands are clean hands:
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8
– Holy hands are willing hands:
“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.” Proverbs 31:13
- Holy hands are helpful hands:
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10
* Put on Some Lipstick
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6
- A soft answer or no answer:
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
- Sweet lips:
“The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.” Proverbs 16:21
Children will learn better when my attitude is right and reflected in my speech.
- Speak the truth in love:
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Ephesians 4:14-15
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6
- No gossip:
“The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” Proverbs 25:23
* Get New Glasses
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
- Forget those things that are behind:
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 8:12
- Reach forward to new things:
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
* Get a New Wardrobe
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:24
- Put off the old man.
- Put on the new man.
3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
3:12 ¶ Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
What can God do with YOU in 2011?
Will you let Him perform His Extreme Makeover?