God inhabits the praises of His people, so we should enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and enter His courts with praise. After we have praised Him, He also instructs us to ask and keep on asking. He is longing to bless us when we are obedient to Him. And never forget to be grateful for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do for you. Worry will not accomplish anything useful, so just rest in the arms of Jesus and enjoy the “now”. He gives us a peace that passes all understanding, even in the worst of times. Remember the times He has brought you through and be encouraged. When we walk through the valley of tears, He is still God and He is still holding our hand
19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called,because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. — 1 Peter 2:19-21 NIV
As we look back and honestly assess the hard times in our lives, we can attribute most of them to bad decisions that we have made. Those decisions may have involved unkind words that we spoke causing ill feelings and anger between us and others. The decisions may have been based on our fleshly desires and caused us to commit acts that we should not have committed. The decisions could have been bad financial decisions we made because we did not want to wait until we were able to afford certain things. We get no credit or praise for enduring those times that were brought on by our own wrong doing. I cannot recall one time in my life when I had to suffer because of a good deed that I had done. I read the horror stories of our brothers and sisters being abused and persecuted for the good deeds they have done and are doing and I pray for them. Those events seem so far away and foreign to me. And I wonder what my reaction to that kind of treatment would be. Would I stay faithful to God and endure the pain? We are called to and warned to be ready for such acts. We have the examples of those in the Bible and in our daily news of those who do endure. They are the ones who make up the “cloud of witnesses” that surround us. I shed tears of grief as I listen to their stories and I feel so small and unworthy knowing that the tears they are shedding as they tell their stories are tears of joy, the joy of sharing in suffering with our Savior.
It should break our hearts to think about what pain Mary felt as she gazed upon the cross and saw her Son in such agony. What anguish she must have felt as she remembered that this was the little baby that she had held in her lap on the first Christmas day! It must have been hard for her to believe that it took that kind of suffering to redeem a fallen world. As we celebrate the season this year and every year. let us remember that there is no gift that can match the one He gave on the cross. He gave His all for us, so let us commit to living lifestyles that reflect His love for us. Let us rejoice because the cross is empty! Let us sing with gladness of heart, “Joy to the World, the Lord has come” and He has risen in our hearts!
20 I tell you the truth, you will cry and be sad, but the world will be happy. You will be sad, but your sadness will become joy. 21 When a woman gives birth to a baby, she has pain, because her time has come. But when her baby is born, she forgets the pain, because she is so happy that a child has been born into the world.
22 It is the same with you. Now you are sad, but I will see you again and you will be happy, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will not ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you anything you ask for in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy.—John 16:20-24 (NCV)
From desperation to delight, a part of the journey that most, if not all, of us must go through on our way to heaven. It’s that part of the journey we would like to skip, but God doesn’t allow any shortcuts. It is in those times that we learn where our true allegiance is. The disciples had been on a mountain top experience while they were walking with Jesus, but now they were in the valley. But as the McKameys sing’ “the God on the mountain is still God in the valley”. At this point in time, the disciples didn’t have the luxury of looking at the cross from the resurrection side. Those three days would seem like a lifetime to them. Jesus knew this and encouraged them to be faithful. Ask the Father in my name and He will fill you with joy, the fullest, possible joy.
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.–Romans 15:13 (NASB)
28 After Martha said this, she went back and talked to her sister Mary alone. Martha said, “The Teacher is here and he is asking for you.”29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Jesus. 30 Jesus had not yet come into the town but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews were with Mary in the house, comforting her. When they saw her stand and leave quickly, they followed her, thinking she was going to the tomb to cry there. 32 But Mary went to the place where Jesus was. When she saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw Mary crying and the Jews who came with her also crying, he was upset and was deeply troubled. 34 He asked, “Where did you bury him?” “Come and see, Lord,” they said. 35 Jesus cried. 36 So the Jews said, “See how much he loved him.” 37 But some of them said, “If Jesus opened the eyes of the blind man, why couldn’t he keep Lazarus from dying?”—John 11:28-37 (NCV)
Mary made the exact same statement that Martha had made, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died”. The weeping of Mary, Martha and their friends clearly upset Jesus. So much so that Jesus began to cry. The crowd thought He was crying because Lazarus had died. Little did they realize that the death of Lazarus had nothing to do with His tears. Jesus was heartbroken because of the lack of understanding and faith displayed by these people including Mary and Martha. You can almost hear Jesus asking them the same question He asked His disciples. 17 Jesus answered, “You people have no faith, and your lives are all wrong. How long must I put up with you? How long must I continue to be patient with you? Bring the boy here.” –Matt. 17:17 (NCV)
We have to ask ourselves the question: How many times have we broken the heart of the one who loved us enough to die for us? Has our lack of faith and our disobedience caused a river of tears? But God has already forgotten all those sins and mistakes. Let each of us pledge to do the same and press forward with a renewed faith that brings gladness and joy to our Lord and Savior. It would bring joy to His heart if each of us truly “cast all our cares upon Him” and let Him carry us through every situation. His mercies are new every morning. 22 The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop.
23 They are new every morning; Lord, your loyalty is great.–Lamentations 3:22,23 (NCV)
5 In the same way, the Anointed One, our Liberating King, didn’t call Himself but was appointed to His priestly office by God, who said to Him, You are My Son.
Today I have become Your Father,
6 and who also says elsewhere, You are a priest forever— in the honored order of Melchizedek.(Read Genesis 14:18-21 for more on Melchizedek)
7 When Jesus was on the earth, a man of flesh and blood, He offered up prayers and pleas, groans and tears to the One who could save Him from death. He was heard because He approached God with reverence. 8 Although He was a Son, Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. 9 And once He was perfected through that suffering He became the way of eternal salvation for all those who hear and follow Him, 10 for God appointed Him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.–Hebrews 5:5-10 (The Voice)–
As a man, Jesus had no authority to take the office of our High Priest. But because he was obedient, even to death on a cross, God appointed Christ Jesus as our High Priest. He was tempted and suffered just as any human would, but He resisted the fleshly urge to sin. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for the “cup” to be removed from Him. His prayer was not that He would be spared physical pain and physical death. The “cup” He wanted removed was His separation from the Father. He knew that while the sins of all other humans was poured on Him at the cross, He would be separated from His Father. Sin always separates us from God. But because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, now when God looks at us, He sees us through the blood of Jesus. Because of that perfect sacrifice, we will never be separated from God again. To reject us, after we have accepted Jesus and been cleansed in His blood, would be to reject Jesus Himself.