Thursday, September 2, 2010

Got Joy?

Does God need to answer a prayer that you are praying in order for you to have joy in your life right now?

Does something need to change at work or in a relationship for you to have a little more peace?

Is your joy completely overflowing in your life right now?

I have a friend who really challenged my thinking when he shared a story. The Lord had used me to help him see the cross again as the center of his thinking. He had a friend that was really getting discouraged because God was taking too long answering some of his prayers. Prayers and work dedicated to good things, but not seeing the results yet. My friend shared what he asked his friend. "Did Jesus need to do more on the cross in order for you to be satisfied?" Wow, that question hits hard. We have such a tendency to move right past the cross on to "more pressing" issues, when the source of joy and satisfaction has already been bought and paid for.

I have related what Christ did on the cross to an analogy of my father wrestling with a person holding a gun to me. If he gave his life in order to save mine, would I still demand more from my father? Would I get mad at my father for not being there when I missed him or things were difficult? The clear answer is no! So an imperfect father, saving only my physical life receives a lifetime response of gratitude for his heroic act, but Jesus heroic sacrifice of His life for mine receives anger, contempt, rebellion, and disappointment when He doesn't give me more than His very life. Is my heart really that hard?

It is at the cross where Christ demonstrated the greatest measure of Grace from God to me. That Jesus would become my very sin, that God would pour out His wrath against my sin on Christ, and that I would become the Righteousness of God through Christ. That the love and acceptance that would be shown to Christ is shown to me. God sees me as righteous, blameless, holy, and as His child. I am given the spirit of God himself as a gift to seal my soul one day to be made into the image of Christ. I am given a gift more valuable than all the treasure of the entire earth, and I am left empty and dismayed because I feel he has shorted me the equivalent of one corn flake out of my bowl of cereal. The gift of the whole world is cast aside, because of the equivalent of one flake of cereal that I feel should have been added to my bowl.

Paul asked for the thorn in his flesh to be removed three times, and the Lord's answer was that His grace was sufficient. I never had considered that the grace that God showed me through Jesus on the cross was sufficient to overcome any difficulty or disappointment in life. I always assumed that it was future demonstrations of graciousness that would be shown to Paul and me that made His grace sufficient. I can see clearly that God continued to show Paul an unmerited favor and kindness after that point, but I believe God was turning Paul's eyes back to the cross! That Paul would know nothing but Christ and Him crucified! May we all return to the cross as the source of strength and joy! For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life.

Lord, let us not get so far from the cross that we feel we need something more from you to have joy today in our lives for you have already given us immeasurably more than we could have ever asked or imagined. Let our lives be lived as our response of gratitude for what was done on our behalf on the cross. Here am I, be glorified through me today!

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