The followers of Jesus asked a reasonable question, one that we would most likely ask had we have been there. Why would anyone want to return to a place where the people had tried to kill him? While the question shows their love for Jesus it also shows again their lack of faith in His ability to protect them and Himself. Had they not just walked away before? How quickly we forget the goodness and mercy of God when danger seems to lurk at our next step. Jesus uses the illustration of natural sunlight, but the followers had much more than that to watch over them. They had the Light of the world leading them. Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead and the purpose for which Lazarus had died. “And I am glad for your sakes”! Think of it, the followers are concerned, but Jesus is rejoicing! They will see the miracle of a friend being raised from the dead and their faith will be strengthened. Walking in the Light of Jesus, we are always safe from harm. If we live, He walks with us and if we die, we walk with Him. We should rejoice and be glad! Jesus does all things well and in His timing.
36 You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what he has promised. 37 For in a very short time, “The One who is coming will come and will not be delayed. —Hebrews 10:36-37 (NCV)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
He was, He is and He always shall be. The Trinity, the Triune God was, is and ever shall be. They were, They are and They always shall be. They existed before time as we know it, They are alive today and They always shall be. Two are in heaven, One abides in us. Together, They planned what was, what is and what is to come. God’s spoken and written words are infallible, inerrant and immutable. Their plans are unchangeable. They are the Author and the Finisher of our faith. As it is written, so it was, so it is and so it will be. What we believe does not and cannot change what was, what is and what will be. What we believe will only determine our part in it and where we spend our eternity. They are immovable and unstoppable. They are coming back and nothing or no one can stop them. Our part is to believe Their story, tell Their story and live rejoicing every day because of Their story. We, as Christians, have the one and the only true story and true hope. History has confirmed the truth of Their story over and over. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” – –The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Baptist 1:8 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
We should live rejoicing each day because of what Christ has done for us. Yes, we have rough times when we aren’t happy, but happiness and pleasure are temporary conditions caused by earthly situations. Our joy is caused by the indwelling of God’s Spirit within us and no one can take that from us. Don’t focus on the temporary, set your focus on the eternal Jesus and the joy He provides for us. He hides us under His wings, He provides for us, He gives us every good gift. Rejoice and again, I say, Rejoice!!
Each morning when we get up, we should take time to thank God for His mercies and faithfulness. The fact that God does not deal with us as we deserve because of our sins is reason enough to spend each day rejoicing and giving Him praise. We deserve death and an eternity in hell, but God has chosen to forgive us, redeem us and bless us. Spend today giving God the glory, blessing, and honor that He so richly deserves and when the evening comes, you will discover that you have had a joyful day. Focus on Jesus and your day will be a blessing to you and to those around you. Every day, from now until Christmas, practice showing mercy to those you meet and pray that it becomes a year round habit. We can have that “Christmas feeling” year round, if we meditate on the love of Jesus, store it in our hearts and release a little bit of it everyday.
10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
After the work on the walls of Jerusalem had been completed and the gates were hung in place, Ezra gathered all the people together and took a census. Then he sent them all home. They reassembled in Jerusalem and asked Ezra to read to them all of the Book of the Laws of Moses. As Ezra and the scribes read the laws, the people wept remembering their disobedience. They realized how much God had forgiven them and how he had brought them safely back to Jerusalem. They had seen how God had provided everything they needed to rebuild the walls. Though the enemy came close shouting insults and discouragement, God had protected them while they finished the work. Ezra and the priests explained to the people that this was not a day for weeping but a day for rejoicing and celebration. There are times in our lives, when some things need to be rebuilt. When some unexpected event has shaken our faith, we need time to rest and heal. Perhaps a close friend has broken our trust or one of our spiritual leaders has fallen from grace. The enemy will come close whispering discouraging words in our hear. God will protect us through the storm and when the skies are clear, it will be a time for rejoicing and celebration for us just as it was for the Israelis in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.– 2 Cor. 4:13-15 NIV
“I believed; therefore I have spoken.” is a reference to Psalm 116 (KJV). The Psalmist is referencing a time when God had delivered him from death either physically and/or spiritually. Paul says that we who have this same spirit of faith can have confidence, believe and therefore speak of the saving grace of Jesus, our Savior and Lord. We know that the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead has already raised us from spiritual death. Since we know this, we can be confident of the hope we have that one day He will raise us from the dead physically. We will die as mortals and be raised as immortals clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. If we were not changed into His image, we would not be able to stand before God. This knowledge of God’s amazing grace and our hope for the future should cause us to continually give thanks and explode with joy and praise that overflows to the glory of God. Through this power, we can be over-comers and participants in the abundant life with which God wants to bless us. Our rejoicing will bring more and more people to the Kingdom!
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. — Psalm 104: 33, 34 NIV
18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. 21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.–1 Peter 2:18-21 (NLT)
In today’s society and in most countries, we no longer have slavery. But in our workplaces, we do have taskmasters that often treat us unfairly. So, Peter’s admonition to endure with patience is directed to us. Just as Jesus is our example of enduring unjust pain and persecution, so are we to do the same. God is our Jehovah-jireh, our provider. He has provided us with jobs so that we can provide for our families. Instead of complaining and gossiping about our bosses, we should be thankful for the provision. No matter who signs the paycheck, God is our provider. We are to set the example for those around by having a grateful attitude and not joining in when others are criticizing the employer(s). Jesus promised us that we would be treated unjustly and offended by the world, so we should not be surprised by the unjust treatment we receive. We have not yet been required to be faithful when we are facing death for Christ’s sake. We should have the same attitude that the apostles had in the First Century. 40 The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. 41 The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus–Acts 5:40-41 (NLT)
9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.–Ephesians 1:9-11 (NLT)
Since before time, as we know it, began, God has had a plan. He reveals that plan in segments and “in the fullness of time”, His timing, not ours. He created, He breathed life into us. He revealed His plan that man should have dominion over the earth. Man sinned, abdicating his position. God gave us the Law that showed us how sinful we are and how we can not redeem ourselves. So, God revealed Himself as the man, Jesus Christ, to be our redeemer. One day, He is returning to us to reveal the last segment of His plan. Then all nature will be restored to its original creation. That is why nature is groaning and awaiting the return of Jesus. We will receive our inheritance and our glorified bodies, so that we will be able to look upon His face. Then we will spend an eternity with Him in glory. That is the hope that we hold onto as Christians. No religion on earth offers its followers that hope. So, live rejoicing each day and be faithful. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!!