Our church is going through a daily “Joy Writing Challenge” for the month of December. It’s a reading/writing plan by “Elihu’s Corner” (click here to read his original post). Basically, there’s a couple verses to read each day that you simply reflect on and find where God promises or gives us hope or joy.
If you want to join me in it, you can start at any time. Here’s an image of the daily reading plan and below. You can download the plan and other resources at Elihu’s blog.
Sometimes, all we need is just a little encouragement that we’re not alone. That others have faced the doubt and struggles we have. Press on, don’t give up. Many have gone before us and have held onto this truth: Jesus is for us, so who could be against us.
Hebrews 11 includes many encouraging words (and I’ve actually written a 3 part series on it which you can read here)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and 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
Are you persecuted for the good you do? You’re blessed.
Are you reviled by others and have false things accused of you? You’re blessed.
Regardless of our circumstances, we have a reward in heaven that cannot be taken away.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:10–12
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
They definitely took Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from the previous reading seriously. They encountered great persecution – and were filled with joy and praise from it! I wonder how our daily responses would be different if we focused our eyes on Jesus through our suffering instead of ourselves and our pain.
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.Acts 5:40–42
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 that the Christ is Jesus.
So often we assume we did something wrong when we’re in a trial. And sometimes that’s true! We can bring things upon ourselves, but there are many things that happen that are not a result of poor decisions and they shouldn’t surprise us: God will use even those to make us more like Him and to glorify Him in our lives.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.1 Peter 4:12–13
Day 27: CATCH UP DAY
Even in the most difficult suffering, we can know that God is using even our suffering for our Good and His Glory as He continues to make us more like Him.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5:3–5
Because we know that God uses even our deepest sufferings, we can take joy that today’s tears will sow into our character and steadfastness of faith.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.James 1:2–3
One of the biggest factors of joy is contentment. May God give us the grace to be content in Him in the midst of all circumstances.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.Philippians 4:10–13
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
This Christian life, following Jesus, is not meant to be lived alone. May we encourage others, and be encouraged, as we continue to live for Jesus.
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.Philippians 4:1