For The Joy That Was set Before Him

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”      Hebrews 12:1:2.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Christ endured the cross and the shame for the “joy that was set before him.” He knew what God’s plan was for his life. He knew that he would have to endure the suffering and shame of the cross. Yet he chose to follow God’s plan. Because of his trust and    obedience to His heavenly Father, Christ was able to go to the cross. But he also did for the joy which would be his. He suffered for the joy of being seated at the right hand of the Father, and he suffered for the greatest joy of all —- saving you and I.

He suffered for the joy of imparting His righteousness to you and I; for giving us a mansion in heaven, or as C. H. Spurgeon says, “ for the joy of finding mansions in heaven for homeless souls.”

If Christ can endure the shame, suffering, and agony of the cross for our homeless souls, shouldn’t we be able to endure suffering for His sake?

Yet send even a little suffering our way and God will find us crying out for relief. He will find us praying, “It is too much, Lord!” or “It is not fair, God!” Our suffering in this world pales in comparison to him who was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

This Easter season, take a fresh look at the cross. Stand there at the feet of your suffering Savior and worship Him anew. Marvel at His great love for you.

Do not turn away from His suffering, for it is that suffering that you were healed. Worship Jesus Christ, your Savior and pray as William Gadsby did,

Now, for the love I bear His Name,

What was my gain I count my loss;

My former pride I call my shame,

And nail my glory to His cross.

Grant, O Lord, that in your wounds I may find my safety, in your stripes my cure, in your pain my peace, in your cross my victory, in your resurrection my triumph, and a crown of righteousness in the glories of your eternal kingdom.

Jeremy Taylor, in The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers, compiled by Dorothy M. Stewart

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He Set His Face to Jerusalem

WHEN THE DAYS DREW NEAR FOR HIM TO BE TAKEN UP, HE SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM.
LUKE 9:51

In Luke chapter 9, Jesus is traveling south with the disciples after finishing his Galilean ministry. He had preached in many synagogues, taught in many towns, and performed many miracles. He had spent very day of the last year and half to two years with his twelve disciples. His words and teachings would become the doctrinal foundation of Christianity. He is now in the last six months of his life. The time has come for him to journey back to Jerusalem to be crucified, and so “he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” The Latin Vulgate says he “strengthened his face.” This denotes courage, boldness, and firmness of mind.

We often minimize the fact that Jesus was wholly human as well as wholly God. We think that He was probably not as troubled by sin, temptation, and selfishness as we are, and living in this world was easier for him. But Jesus was as human as we are and he had to choose to obey his Father just as we do. He made the choice to go to Jerusalem with full knowledge of what awaited him there. It was not an easy choice. It was hard. He knew what going to Jerusalem meant. He predicts in Luke 18:32, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; they will scourge him and kill him…” When Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, he set his face to die.

He willingly chose to go to the cross for us—to take upon himself our sins, our shame. He states in John 10:18, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”He knew God’s purpose for his life and he was committed to carrying it out at all costs. His disciples were still ignorant and unaware of Jesus’ true purpose. While traveling to Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples took the shortest route, through Samaria, even though the Samaritans and the Jews despised one another.

They had journeyed through Samaria before. John chapter 4 tells of Christ’s meeting with the Samaritan woman. The woman became a believer as a result of her encounter with Christ. However this time, Jesus and the disciples did not get a warm reception. “But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:53) Public opinion of Christ was already changing. His rejection by the people had begun. His disciples, James and John, wanted to destroy Samaria because of their rejection. The “sons of thunder” lived up to their reputation.

“And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.’ For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.. And they went to another village.” Luke 9:53-56

Jesus’ message to his disciples and to us in this passage is clear. You too will be rejected by men. To be a true disciple of Jesus is to be an imitator of Him. He calls us to follow him down Calvary Road to Golgotha. We must crucify ourselves, our selfish nature, and our wishes for a comfortable life. We must allow the light of God’s Word to penetrate the darkest parts of our sinful hearts. We must be ready to give up our desires and wishes to serve God and one another. This is true discipleship ——to be ready and willing to “set our face to Jerusalem.”

A Circle of Love

We are entering a new phase of our lives. Our son proposed to a wonderful woman, Rachel, last night and she said yes. We will soon we known as the “in-laws”.

His proposal took place at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles a place that is special for both of them.

Rachel knew that it was going to be “the day” as Joel had given her hints along the way. She wanted to be prepared with a quick answer. Fearing she would be overcome with emotion, she wrote “yes” many times over on a piece of paper and kept it in her pocket. That way when he proposed if she began to sob as she thought she might, she could pull out the paper and show it to him so he would not be wondering “Well, what is the answer? Are you crying because it is ‘yes’ or because it is ‘no’?”
The proposal itself honored not only his love for her but their love for the Lord. Joel got down on one knee and said, ‘Rachel Susanne, I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to do kingdom building with you. Will you marry me?”
Of course the answer was Yes and we are thrilled beyond words, but it provoked quite a mixture of emotions.

We are thrilled for the new family and new life together they are beginning. We are blessed that they desire to follow God’s calling and be ministers of the Gospel. But I am glad that at my core I am not a fearful person. If I was I would be fearful for them. This world is so different than when we began our life together some 32 years ago. We too were headed to the ministry together, still finishing school, and wondering how it was all going to work out.

Today the nightly news is enough to put fear in your heart for the future; wars, earthquakes, economical uncertainty, recession, joblessness. Not a good climate in which to begin a family.

I wonder how the newlyweds will survive financially; where will they live; will the ministry pay them enough to start a family? The ministry life is a blessed life but also a difficult one. Will it be kind to them, will they have a life of joy, love, and laughter?

Revelation 1:17-18: “He placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever!”

Again and again Jesus tells us in His word to not be afraid. He will take care of us.

Matthew 6:25-31 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. So don’t worry about these things… but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
I am thankful for the assurance that God not only takes care of me but my children as well.

Thirty-two years ago when we were newlyweds, the world did not seem much better. Iran had seized American hostages, homes mortgages were at 17%, and we had to wait in line to get gas for our vehicles. Yet we saw our future through God’s eyes, one filled with hope, love, and the promise of blessings working to build His kingdom. I am thankful that Joel and Rachel have that same view. I am thankful that they are in God’s hands and it is His job to care for them; mine to trust that He will. My main job; extend my circle of love for my son a bit larger to include a new daughter, and try not to bawl through the wedding.