How to Be Strong in the Lord

1. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Is it not good to belong to a God that makes gladness the pathway to power? Satan is a very gloomy god. But Jesus said, “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for, behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23). Satan cannot abide the songs of the saints. (Knowing this he fabricates “musical” substitutes which are not the heart-songs of happy people, but the grunts and gasps and screams of people without peace.) I have seen Satan driven out with the songs of hope-filled Christians. And I know that in my own life finding the pace to finish the race means recovering the joy of the Lord again and again. Joy is a great power.

2. “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).

Some joy comes from what we have now—forgiveness of sin, fellowship with God, purposeful lives, worship, fellowship, sunrise, sunset, precious friends and family. But the simple and painful fact is “our outer nature is wasting away” (2 Corinthians 4:16); we are “afflicted in every way… perplexed… persecuted… struck down” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9); and we who have the Spirit “groan inwardly as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). Therefore if we’re going to have an unwavering joy in this life, it will have to be “in hope.” “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience”—and with joy (Romans 8:24f). Therefore “Rejoice in hope!” (Romans 12:12).

3. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be crying any more, for the former things have passed away…The city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:4,23).

This is our hope. The glory of God will one day stand forth in a new creation and wipe away all evil and all pain and all sorrow and all fear and all guilt. All obedience and faithfulness will be vindicated and rewarded. All self-denial and suffering in faith will be recompensed 100-fold. “He who did not spare his only Son, but gave him up for us all, will freely give us all things with him” (Romans 8:32) All that God owns will be the inheritance of his children for their everlasting enjoyment.

4. “I do not cease [to pray] for the eyes of your hearts to be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of your calling and what is the wealth of the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:16-18).

The great challenge for us now is to know the glory of our hope. To see it with the eyes of the heart and not just think about it with the mind. This is the great spiritual battle. And this is fought with the television off, on our knees in the Word. God forbid that “seeing we would not see and hearing we would not hear.” Let us pray with all our heart that the God who said, “Let there be light,” will shine in our heart “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Summary

Pray for eyes > behold the glory of God > hope in that glory > rejoice in hope > be strong in joy.

On the stretch for God with you,

Pastor John

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