The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Lent Devotional: 1 Peter 2:18-23

1 Peter 2:18-23 (click here)
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:19-23)

Reflection
Suffering unjustly is a gracious thing. Just let that sink in. This is so backwards to how we think. Could we see the world in a more opposite way from which God sees it? How could suffering unjustly possibly be a gracious thing?

There are many ways to answer this question, but we’ll focus simply on two. First, when we suffer unjustly we are following in the footsteps of Jesus.

We actually come to know Christ more through our suffering. We know more of what he experienced on our behalf. We are able to identify with him, and know more of his heart as we literally experience it.

Further, we must depend more upon Christ when we suffer unjustly! We must depend upon his grace and his power. He is the only one that knows how to experience this kind of suffering and yet not sin. Thus, it is literally a gracious thing in that we need his grace to empower us to walk this road! None of the things we normally depend upon in this life will sustain us amidst unjust suffering…we must turn to Christ and Christ alone and depend upon him as never before.

Suffering is a path that leads us deeper into the gracious-loving-sustaining-power of Jesus.

Second, when we suffer unjustly we are storing up eternal treasure. In this text, Peter tells us that suffering for sin is of no “credit” to us…so when we suffer unjustly, it must be to our “credit.” We must be gaining something…something must be working toward our “credit.” What are we gaining?

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” 2 Corinthians 4:17

All our suffering is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory. In other words, when you suffer…not only are you growing in your experience of the glory of Jesus right now, but your capacity to enjoy his glory forever is growing!

The great American pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards described our experience of God in heaven being like throwing various sized vessels (think buckets) into the ocean. We can rightly say that every bucket is equally full, but some still contain more water than others. Edwards point is that every person in heaven will be fully satisfied in God, but some people will have a greater capacity to enjoy him. That capacity will continue to grow for every one of us throughout eternity.

Suffering is one of the things that prepares our hearts for a greater capacity of knowing and enjoying Jesus. It is a gracious thing for God to expand our capacity to enjoy him forever!

Suffering is not a fun thing. It is not enjoyable. It is not to be sought after. But… suffering is still a gracious thing in the sight of God, for it increases our sight of him… could there be a greater grace?

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

1 Timothy 1:12-17 (click here)
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Reflection
Why was I saved?

That is a question we would all do well to ponder. In a sense, there is no answer. God did not save any of us because of something in us. He didn’t save us because we were smart, good looking, or deserving in any way.

Yet…in another sense there are many answers. He saved us for many reasons in him. He saved us to the praise of his glorious grace, to display his great mercy and love, to bring us into eternal joy in him.

As a much older apostle Paul is imprisoned with much time to ponder…this is one of the things he thinks about…why was I saved?

Among many reasons, Paul highlights one for us to think on…he was saved as an example of God’s great mercy. Paul says that there is no sinner worse than himself, for her persecuted the very church of God. Therefore, God saved him as an example to you and to me that there is no one beyond the grace of God.

Jesus Christ is perfectly patient in his pursuit of us! Paul is declaring to our hearts… “Do you think you are too far gone for God to save? Just look at me! No one has ever been more “far gone” than me! I didn’t just rebel, I tried to put an end to the church! Did you try that? I didn’t think so! If Jesus is patient enough in his mercy to save me…he is gracious enough to save you!”

Why were you and I saved?

One reason is simply to be an example to the world of how great the grace of God is! That he would save a sinner like me is a display of his infinite grace!

We have been saved to the praise of his glorious grace!

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: Jonah 4:5-11

Jonah 4:5-11 (click here)
But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:9-11)

Reflection
Jonah has set himself up. He has trapped himself with his own words.

He was angry over a plant that the Lord had graciously provided to him for some shade and relief from the sun. The plant lasted all of 24 hours and Jonah’s praise died with the plant.

Yet…Jonah insists that he has every right to be angry over the plant! It was important and valuable to him. He pities the plant…he has compassion on it. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t create it, sustain it, or even know it for very long…he has the right to be passionate about this plant.

And now God turns the tables.

If Jonah thinks he has the right to be passionate over this plant, how much more so does God have the right to be passionate about 120,000 people whom he did create, he does sustain, and who he has known since before they were born! Are they not more valuable than a single plant. God even gets sarcastic…if Jonah can’t see these people as valuable he must at least be willing to admit that so many cows are worth more than one plant!

Jonah looks silly, pitying a plant while wanting people to perish.

This must be how we look, when we get upset over small broken comforts…a broken picture frame, a busted A/C, or a flat tire. Oh the injustice of it all! We care deeply about these little things…all the while we care little for so many people. We have a “Nineveh” in our life that we wouldn’t mind seeing perishing…but to see our comforts perish…that is a crime!

God’s question to Jonah hangs in the air… “Should I not pity Nineveh?” We don’t get Jonah’s answer…because Jonah’s answer isn’t the point. The point is how will we answer the question? We are supposed to finish the story.

Should God pity our Nineveh? Will we embrace his amazing grace…or be angered by it?

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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