Greg Laurie really stirred me today in his “Harvest Daily Devotion” entitled “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.” His verse was Hebrews 12:1 in which the writer encourages us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Laurie then went on to say this:
Could you look back on your life and say, “Up to this point, I have finished my race with joy”? If you couldn’t say that, then make a change while you can. If today was your last day, what a tragedy it would be if you didn’t do something to make the appropriate changes.
If you are not living your Christian life as you ought to be living it, then this is the time to make a change.
This got me to thinking. I was reminded of Jesus’ encounter with the Rich Young Ruler. That’s a story of salvation, but I think there is something in it for those who believe as well. What do you think?
Mark 10:20-22 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
I’m going to come back to that. First, let’s look this list:
Are you lacking any of these? Do you suppose Jesus might point anything out to you if you asked him? What do you think he would say? Might he tell you to do something like he did the Rich Young Ruler? Isn’t that what Greg Laurie challenged his readers to do? To make a change?
I’m starting to rethink my position of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 6:22-23). I thought they could come and go, that we could lose them or even have them stolen by Satan. Certainly, the thief has come only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), but can he steal our joy? Doesn’t Paul write, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”? How can someone steal something that God has given us?
John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
As with the Rich Young Ruler, we think of this passage as pertaining to salvation, but I think it goes way beyond that. Even so, don’t we often find ourselves missing the Fruit of the Spirit, perhaps particularly Joy? This is interesting since our circumstances should not affect any of this.
Acts 5:40-42 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Acts 16:23-25 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,
Hebrews 12:2 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.
Should we blame our circumstances on our lack of the Spirit’s Fruit? Good luck explaining that to Jesus.
What, then, is the reason we don’t enjoy the fruit that has been given to us that we cannot lose? Could it be that we don’t know we have it? Could it be that we (gasp) don’t want it? I may say I want Self-Control, but there are times I willingly throw that gift out the window. To my shame.
First, I think I need an attitude adjustment. Didn’t Jesus point out what was lacking with the Rich Young Ruler? Didn’t he also point out what he needed to do? Awareness and a call to action. That’s no different for me. And you.
Do I want to enjoy self-control? I need to make sure my attitude reflects this basic desire. What do I need to do then, once I want it? Well, how about seeking the Lord? Pray. Sing hymns. Go and proclaim the Gospel. Join others in this. Do we see anyone going it alone? Not even Jesus did it alone. People abandoned him, but he had the Holy Spirit and ministering angels. So, do we. Plus, we are commanded to do this as a body, not alone. We are do go through life with other believers.
If we don’t have joy, then study those who do. I’ll tell you one thing I see. I see those with abounding joy really getting in to worship. They go to churches that know how to praise Jesus. They immerse themselves in the music. They lift their hands and sign loudly. They could care less about others because their focus, their eyes, is on Jesus. Nothing else matters. And, joy gushes out of them!
Like Greg Laurie said, “make a change while you can.”
Father, thank you for the wake-up call. I was moping around this morning. Not anymore. The Joy of the Lord is my strength, just as it is written in Nehemiah 8:10. I will praise your name and tell others about all that you are. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers
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