Remember those old wristbands – "WWJD" – What Would Jesus Do?
Well, our pastor is doing a series about something else – What Did Jesus Pray?
He's specifically focusing on what some people call the *real* Lord's Prayer (found in John 17). The prayer that Jesus prayed right before His traitorous encounter in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It's been a wonderful series.
I love our pastor, I love our church – I love the Lord. But still, sometimes it's very hard to get up and go to church. Especially today with the time change. (Does anyone else get *jet lag* from one measly "spring forward"??)
But, I had a strong feeling that this morning was important.
And I was right.
The sermon was about JOY.
(Oh, the Lord is hysterical. I can't get away from that word!!)
Pastor Tim focused this morning specifically on verse 13:
"…I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." (John 17:13, NIV)
Happiness is an emotion, and it depends on right happenings, on the outcome of circumstances. At best, happiness is fleeting.
Joy is an attitude, and is not dependent on circumstances. So what does it depend on? What was the basis of Jesus' joy?
Here's some thoughts:
First of all – Jesus based His joy on the sure knowledge of His Father's love.
"…that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:23, ESV)
"I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them..." (John 17:26, NIV)
And, because of Jesus, we can also know the Father's love.
In fact, Jesus told us that God loves us as He loved Jesus, His Son!
This is an amazing thing!
Do we forget the Father's love for us?
Maybe not, but we sure don't live like we know it sometimes. We wallow around in self-pity and defeat. We all too easily get mired in the enemy's muck. We diminish what His love can do.
His love is a life-altering fact. It can make us fearless, purposeful, deeply satisfied, complete.
It surrounds us with His safe and secure protection – soul protection.
Life may toss and turn us, rip our hearts out and beat us up, but we are eternally enfolded by God's love.
Here's the second thing – Jesus based His joy on obedience.
"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:10-11, ESV)
Yes, joy is dependent on obedience.
It comes in obeying what God has said. Joy *holds hands* with your obedience. We cannot have God's things in our own way.
And, if you ponder the path of your life, weren't the times when you were really unhappy also the times when you veered from God's ways?
I can look back at some severely unhappy times in my life. And they were most often the times when I wandered away from obedience. Desperate to "do my own thing," I only ended up losing my joy.
Because God knows us better than we know ourselves. He created us, and His commands are geared to our sinful natures, they are fashioned to keep us from falling prey to the "devouring lion" that stalks us all the time.
And so, if we do not obey Him, we will be subjugated to the enemy's world system – a system that is dedicated to doing anything and everything to cause us to separate from our trust and faith in, and our love for, God.
Jesus emphasized in this prayer that we are "not of this world."
And our "otherworldliness" is demonstrated in our obedience.
Finally – Jesus based His joy on His unshakeable assurance that God's plans were perfect even if they involved pain.
Obedience does not guarantee an easy way.
Often, in fact, it brings persecution, trials, and suffering.
Do we have any better example in this than Jesus Himself?
He was actively persecuted, He was literally put on trial, He suffered more than we'll ever know.
And He told us to expect the same:
"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:24, NASB)
Not sorta dislike. Not just be intolerant of. Not kinda annoyed at.
A strong and powerful, and frightfully accurate, word.
The devil hates us, just as he hates Jesus.
He hates us because of Jesus. He hates us because we love Jesus.
Our faith humiliates him, it wounds his pride. It makes him less.
He isn't just a lion hunting us down. He's a devouring lion, who wants to eat us up.
And his biggest weapon, the one he's used since the Garden of Eden, is this seemingly insignificant, yet so insidiously dangerous question:
"Is God really good?"
Oh, what a devious inroad he seeks.
I wonder how many times he whispered this to Jesus in those last few hours before the cross? I wonder if he cackled and shouted it when Jesus uttered these soul-wrenching words:
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
It didn't work.
Because Jesus didn't doubt God's perfect plan, even if it caused Him incredible pain.
He counted it joy.
"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." (Hebrews 12:2, NLT)
Can we do any less?
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." (James 1:2, NLT)
Joy when we consider the glory we can bring to God now, and the glory that we stand to inherit one day in eternity.
So, what did Jesus pray?
Quite a lot, my friends.
And He prayed all these things for us, too – "for those who will believe in me through their message."
Today I am contemplating my Word for 2014 – JOY. I chuckle, for it seems that I cannot escape its presence in my life!
And today I heard once again what it means for me.
It means learning, through the very words of the Lord’s prayer for me, how to have HIS joy.
By knowing God's deep and abiding love.
By obeying God's commands and remaining in His way.
By believing with unshakeable faith that God and His plans are perfect and good.
As in all things, dear Lord, You are our example.
Jesus, Only You.
You are to name him Jesus,
for he will save his people from their sins.
"Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal's death on a cross.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
(Philippians 2:6-11, NLT)
What is hardest for you - to find JOY in accepting God's love, in obedience to Him, or in the assurance of His goodness in spite of pain?
Linked today with:
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Michelle at HEAR IT ON SUNDAY, USE IT ON MONDAY
Laura at PLAYDATES WITH GOD
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"