Are you grateful for where you are in life? I mean truly grateful, and content? Or, are you craving, driving for more?
I believe Hebrews demonstrates how we can be content by seeking holiness, and this contentment will strengthen our worship.
JOY COMES FROM DETERMINATION
JOY COMES FROM DISCIPLINE
JOY COMES FROM PEACE
JOY EXPRESSES IN WORSHIP
"Therefore"... What's the saying ...anytime you read 'therefore', there is something there before. Hebrews 11 is what we refer to as "The Hall of Faith". The faith of things to come; maybe not in the same lifetime.
"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,"
Hebrews 12:1 ESV
JOY COMES FROM DETERMINATION:
Why should I persevere? Is there a time in your life when you weren't sure you could / would?...
James 1:12 says... "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."
1 Tim. 4:1 says... "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."
Luke 21:19 says.... "By standing firm you will gain life."
"...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 12:2 ESV
Joy? How could Jesus see "joy", with what He was facing?
Godly "contentment" is a thing to be desired, for sure.
Is it only for the joy of eternity with God? That is certainly foremost in our thinking. But can a Christian truly be joyful in this life?
Let me ask this... do you have to be "entertained"? Or, can you be content in just meditating on God's goodness?
Yesterday, as I was praying, it occurred to me to be thankful both for what God has given me, AND what He has denied me. I would not know the joy of long1suffering, of patience, of endurance, were it not for being denied what I've often wanted. I see life through a different lens.
Let me give an example, which may sound trivial....
I was thanking God for my automobile situation in life. This is very "practical", both in a worldly sense AND an eternal sense. I was talking to my 18 year-old about how I had to plan, starting several years ago, to ensure he and his brothers have automobiles to get started in. This turned into a blessing for both them, and Cindy and myself. Let me explain.... determining, way back, that I was going to pay-off both of our automobiles not only provided the boys with wheels; it provided me with better credit, which provides my wife the ability to drive a newer, more dependable, car. It provided us with the ability to be just a little less dependent on earning more money, but also helped us balance our budget, which allows us the ability to give more. Too, it provided the boys something to look forward to.
Do you get how this isn't trivial? Do you see the trickling effect? This is not about worldly prosperity. It has nothing to do with the "things" I just spoke of. Instead, it has to do with laying aside things which entangle us.
"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."
Hebrews 12:3-4 ESV
JOY COMES FROM DISCIPLINE:
"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons."
Hebrews 12:5-8 ESV
"For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV
JOY COMES FROM PEACE:
"Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal."
Hebrews 12:12-16 ESV
JOY EXPRESSES IN WORSHIP:
"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,"
Hebrews 12:28 ESV
Live on-purpose! If we don't decide our purpose, the world will decide it for us, Make glorifying God your purpose. He WILL reward you. Not with things, but with JOY, and a PEACE that goes beyond our understanding.