November 17: “Holiness Can Be Fueled by a Desire for Happiness”

Today’s Bible Reading:

1 Chronicles 9-10
Hebrews 12
Amos 6
Luke 1:39-80

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Hebrews 12:1-2 (CSB): “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Sometimes pursuing a life of obedience to God’s Word can be difficult, especially if we are in an environment that does now share our desire. As so many Christians strive to follow and obey Jesus, they will be mocked, ostracized, persecuted, or even killed.

It’s difficult. Jesus warned us that it would be. His life demonstrated that following Him and taking His commands seriously can get us into serious trouble.

So, what kept Jesus going? What enabled Him to mentally prepare for the cross and then to embrace it?

If we can obtain the answer to those questions, we can determine what attitude we need to embrace so that we can successfully endure the hardships of following Him.

Did Jesus just grit His teeth and endure the trials? Was it sheer-will power?

Nope! It was something much more simple, positive, and attractive. Simply put, Jesus was motivated by His desire to be happy.

Hebrews 12:2 (CSB): “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy (gladness, happiness, joy) that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (emphasis mine)

Did you see that?! Jesus was able to face the cross because He looked beyond it. He was looking to the time when He would be with His Father once again in Heaven, away from earth’s heartaches. He was looking to “the happiness that lay before him.”

Friend, there are all sorts of secondary reasons for happiness. God’s grace is everywhere and if we look hard enough we will see reasons to have a smile on our face.

But the primary reason for our happiness is the realization that one day we will be in His blessed presence.

In fact, this is where Abraham found his ultimate happiness. God’s promises to Him were primarily for future generations, not for him. The only piece of the Promised Land that Abraham would own was his wife’s burial plot. Further, the promised Messiah would not be born into his family for about 2,000 years.

How did Abraham keep his chin up? What kept him going?

Hebrews 11:8-10 (CSB): “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

Abraham, like Jesus, was able to endure disappointment and hardship by looking beyond the trials to Heaven!

While we should demonstrate the joy of the Lord while walking through this life, we also realize that there will be heartaches here. So look to Jesus and your heavenly reward. Allow the “joy set before you” to enable you to endure and even thrive during difficult times.

You’re not home yet. But you soon will be, friend. You soon will be.

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, I want to look to Your example and to the example of Abraham as the way in which I can be happy and can endure what life throws at me. Help me to be so heavenly minded that I’m able to keep a smile on my face, especially when life gets tough. Amen.

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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