Unshakeable Joy Because of What Is to Come
Note: The devotional that follows, as well as subsequent posts in this series, originally were written for and appeared as anonymous publications in the bulletins of a local church. They have also been published at the Do Not Be Surprised Blog; however, considering the joy (no pun intended) which resulted from the composition of this series, and the limited audience to which these articles were initially exposed, it seemed appropriate to also share them here.
In the shadow of His looming crucifixion and unthinkable circumstances, Jesus told His disciples in John 16:22 that “no one will take your joy away from you.” The incalculable hope in His words offered a promise that the transient troubles of this world would one day pass, and they would be with Him for eternity (John 14:1-3).
In Philippians 4:4, Paul commands believers to rejoice, and James 1:2 says that believers must rejoice even in times of trial. Why can believers live lives so full of joy? This joy is not mere happiness, which waxes and wanes with changing circumstances; rather, this is a trusting confidence found in the Lord alone. It is founded on His character and on His promises. His character reveals that He is unchanging, holy, righteous, loving, forgiving, and just. Since this is who God is, we can know that His promises will come to pass. What kind of promises?
Jesus promises that those who have been given to Him by the Father can never be snatched from His hand.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, 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. (John 10:27-30)
As noted above, Christ promised that He would return one day and take His own to be with Him for eternity.
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
We are promised that the good work that was begun in us by the power of the Holy Spirit will be perfected one day in glory.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6)
Paul glories in the sweet blessings and inheritance that are promised to all believers in Christ.
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Eph 1:13-14)
We are promised that those who have been saved will be ushered into the Kingdom by the King Himself.
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matt 25:31-40)
We are promised that God will judge the wicked.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:11-15)
In the next chapter of Revelation, we are given a glimpse of the eternity that is promised for Christ’s own (Rev 21:1-27).
What a foundation for joy is laid by these promises! We serve a covenant-keeping, sovereign, holy God. In light of this, why would we ever let the worries of this world cause us to languish?