The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Tag: victory

Easter Devotional: John 20:1-29

John 20:1-29 (click here)
Simon Peter… went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. (John 20:6-7)

Reflection
Peter and John have just been told that Jesus’ body is gone! They race to them tomb, John gets there first and peers in, but as soon as Peter has caught up he barges into the cave-like grave. Then we are given some interesting details… the grave cloths have been left behind and the face cloth has been folded like a freshly washed towel.

Why do we need to know these tiny details?

I believe there is a practical reason and a symbolic reason. First, on a practical level, this story is true… it is not and myth, and small details like this help affirm that “realness.” Why did John tell us about the grave clothes?…Because they were really there! He’s describing the situation as they found it.

Secondly, John has mentioned grave clothes one other time in his gospel. In John 11, he tells us the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus and in verse 44 the text says this, “The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.'” Lazarus came out of the tomb still bound up in his grave clothes. It is almost as if he brought them out because he would need them again one day.

But, when Jesus rose, he left behind the grave clothes. He wouldn’t need them anymore! He was alive forevermore! Death defeated! It’s almost like he folded up death and left it in the grave! Hallelujah, what a savior!

Jesus has permanently defeated sin and death! He has no need of grave clothes and neither do we…for through him we are promised life eternal! This Easter…remember that Jesus resurrection guarantees you resurrection. You have been freed from the grave so that you can live fearlessly for Christ!

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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Lent Devotional: Job 42

Job 42 (click here)
And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. (Job 42:12)

Reflection
God brought Job’s suffering to an end and vindicated him through blessing. He showed Job’s “friends” and all the community that Job had been speaking truth all along. This is what God does for his people, he vindicates them!

Often, the world looks at believers as they suffer and go through so many struggles and (in one way or another) they ask, “Where is your God?” Sometimes we struggle with those thoughts ourselves…but the good news of the Gospel is that God will vindicate his people and show himself to be for them through eternal blessing.

One day, all our suffering will cease. We will dwell with God in endless celebration with no more tears, no more pain, no more sickness, no more sin, and no more death!  The ending of the book of Job gives us a temporal picture of the eternal reality awaiting all God’s people. Suffering ends and God wins!

This truth is guaranteed to us by the event that we celebrate tomorrow…the resurrection!  The resurrection vindicated Jesus! It showed that everything he ever said was true. It brought his suffering to an end with celebration! And tomorrow, we celebrate that his resurrection guarantees our resurrection! The end of his suffering guarantees the end of ours!


*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Talitha…

IMG_5064This one was different.

I awoke at 5:45am to my wife telling me she was in labor and immediately I knew…this was not the same as before. Sure it was our third kid, but something in her voice said that was irrelevant. This morning was sure to be full of surprises. And, why wouldn’t it be? This entire pregnancy had not been anything like the other two.

Intense labor pains began to set in, and by the time we got to the van, I knew we had to hurry. As I climbed in the driver’s seat, Holly began to get into the back when a strong contraction hit! She grabbed onto the side of the van and spoke to me in a voice I had never heard come out of my wife before, “Jonathan! We are gonna have this baby NOW!!!”

She made it into the car, and the scene became something you would picture happening only in the movies. I threw caution (and the law) to the wind as I ran stop signs, doubled (even tripled) the speed-limit, and raced through Homewood. I must give props to the folks at Toyota…the Sienna is a mini-van with some real get-up and go power!

Throughout the drive, my foot grew heavier as my wife’s extreme pain became more apparent…via volume. This was different. Holly was able to receive pain medication with the first two and wanted to go natural with this one…natural would be the only option at this point.

IMG_5062I zoomed into a parking spot and rushed her upstairs as fast as I could. We didn’t fill out paper work or go through any normal protocol…there wouldn’t even be time for an IV. We were rushed straight into a room where the nurses tried to keep Holly from pushing until the doctor could arrive.

He made it, but barely.

Her water broke at 6:55am and just 22 minuets later, Talitha Mae Haefs made her way into the world at 7:17am.

Going through labor alongside my bride with no pain medication was a whole new experience. Never before had I seen her or another human being in such pain…and I’ve witnessed some pretty painful events in my day (just ask my brother). I felt so helpless, so lost, so useless as she thought her whole body was about to break.

During those minutes that felt like days, Genesis 3:16 went through my mind over and over, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.”

Scripture was alive in the room with me.

I thought I had always understood this verse…understood why God determined that children should come into the world through pain. You see, as a result of sin, all humans have come under the judgment of of God and deserve death. We experience death gradually through pain and ultimately as our life expires.

I always thought that children were born through much pain as a reminder to us that every human comes into a world of pain, through pain, under the judgment of God. Every new life will experience pain and death in this world for we are all children of wrath by nature. I still believe that is true, but it is only half the truth. It is only half the reason for the pain in childbirth.

As I encouraged my wife through immense pain, the moment finally came…Talitha was here. In that moment…pain lost.

IMG_5052There was not only sheer relief, but extreme ecstasy and joy! The room filled with laughter, and my wife broke into a full on smile! This was the truth I had missed concerning pain in childbirth…

The pain ends and life wins.

Pain is not the last word of Genesis 3:16. The last word is life! “In pain (first word)…you shall bring forth children (last word).” You will go through incredible, unbelievable pain, but through this will come new life!

This is a small picture of the Gospel itself! Jesus Christ took all of our sin and its consequences of pain and death upon himself on the cross. He went through immense, incredible, intense pain (first word)! But, he rose from the dead (last word)! Through his death comes new, ultimate life.

The pain ends and life wins!

Pain and suffering are a guaranteed part of this life, but it is also guaranteed that they have ultimately been defeated by Jesus! And, just like in the delivery room where there came a moment when my wife and baby were delivered from pain to joy…so also will there be a moment for every believer in Christ when we are delivered from all trials into the everlasting arms of our father!

IMG_5119The pain will end and life will win.

For this reason, we can victoriously endure! Think about it like this…God gloriously designed the female body to endure birth pains for the joy that is set before them…so also, he has provided the power and grace for us to endure for the joy set before us! For a mom, birth pains lead to new life. For a believer, suffering leads to eternal life!

Suffering serves God’s glory and our good! Therefore ,we are MORE than conquerors when we suffer! Because Jesus not only guarantees that we will have victory over suffering (that makes us a conqueror), but victory in the midst of suffering for it serves our purposes to bring us to him (that makes us MORE than conquerors)!

Through suffering, we will know life…through death, we will know resurrection…because the pain will end and life will win.

Through Talitha’s birth, Jesus has taught me this truth ,and he will always remind me of it simply through her name. Talitha is Aramaic for “little girl.” It comes from chapter Mark 5 where Jesus raises a little girl from the dead with the words, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, get up.”

When Jesus speaks, death loses.

IMG_5157The name Talitha reminds me that God is in the business of calling forth life from death. He will bring us through pain and suffering by his power and grace, for his glory, and the joy will be ours! Everlasting joy that will overshadow all the pain.

As I go through suffering in life, Talitha helps me remember that Jesus is with me, working a miracle of resurrection for his glory and my good. Talitha helps me remember that pain is not the end and that death does not get the final word.

Talitha helps me remember that the pain ends and life wins.

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