Monday, March 10, 2014


Remember those old wristbands – "WWJD" – What Would Jesus Do?

Well, our pastor is doing a series about something else – What Did Jesus Pray?

He's specifically focusing on what some people call the *real* Lord's Prayer (found in John 17).  The prayer that Jesus prayed right before His traitorous encounter in the Garden of Gethsemane.

It's been a wonderful series.

I love our pastor, I love our church – I love the Lord.  But still, sometimes it's very hard to get up and go to church.  Especially today with the time change.  (Does anyone else get *jet lag* from one measly "spring forward"??)

But, I had a strong feeling that this morning was important.

And I was right.

The sermon was about JOY.

(Oh, the Lord is hysterical.  I can't get away from that word!!)

Pastor Tim focused this morning specifically on verse 13:

"…I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." (John 17:13, NIV)


Not happiness.

Happiness is an emotion, and it depends on right happenings, on the outcome of circumstances.  At best, happiness is fleeting.

Joy is an attitude, and is not dependent on circumstances.  So what does it depend on?  What was the basis of Jesus' joy?

Good question.

Here's some thoughts:

First of all – Jesus based His joy on the sure knowledge of His Father's love. 

"…that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:23, ESV)

"I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them..." (John 17:26, NIV)

And, because of Jesus, we can also know the Father's love.

In fact, Jesus told us that God loves us as He loved Jesus, His Son!

This is an amazing thing!

Do we forget the Father's love for us?

Maybe not, but we sure don't live like we know it sometimes.  We wallow around in self-pity and defeat.  We all too easily get mired in the enemy's muck.  We diminish what His love can do.

His love is a life-altering fact.  It can make us fearless, purposeful, deeply satisfied, complete.

It surrounds us with His safe and secure protection – soul protection.

Life may toss and turn us, rip our hearts out and beat us up, but we are eternally enfolded by God's love.

Here's the second thing – Jesus based His joy on obedience.

"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:10-11, ESV)

Yes, joy is dependent on obedience.


It comes in obeying what God has said.  Joy *holds hands* with your obedience.  We cannot have God's things in our own way.

And, if you ponder the path of your life, weren't the times when you were really unhappy also the times when you veered from God's ways?

I can look back at some severely unhappy times in my life.  And they were most often the times when I wandered away from obedience.  Desperate to "do my own thing," I only ended up losing my joy.


Because God knows us better than we know ourselves.  He created us, and His commands are geared to our sinful natures, they are fashioned to keep us from falling prey to the "devouring lion" that stalks us all the time.

And so, if we do not obey Him, we will be subjugated to the enemy's world system – a system that is dedicated to doing anything and everything to cause us to separate from our trust and faith in, and our love for, God.

Jesus emphasized in this prayer that we are "not of this world."  

And our "otherworldliness" is demonstrated in our obedience.

Finally – Jesus based His joy on His unshakeable assurance that God's plans were perfect even if they involved pain.

Obedience does not guarantee an easy way.

Often, in fact, it brings persecution, trials, and suffering.

Do we have any better example in this than Jesus Himself?

He was actively persecuted, He was literally put on trial, He suffered more than we'll ever know.

And He told us to expect the same:

"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:24, NASB)


Not sorta dislike.  Not just be intolerant of.  Not kinda annoyed at.


A strong and powerful, and frightfully accurate, word.

The devil hates us, just as he hates Jesus.

He hates us because of Jesus.  He hates us because we love Jesus.

Our faith humiliates him, it wounds his pride.  It makes him less.

He isn't just a lion hunting us down.  He's a devouring lion, who wants to eat us up.

And his biggest weapon, the one he's used since the Garden of Eden, is this seemingly insignificant, yet so insidiously dangerous question:

"Is God really good?"

Oh, what a devious inroad he seeks.

I wonder how many times he whispered this to Jesus in those last few hours before the cross?  I wonder if he cackled and shouted it when Jesus uttered these soul-wrenching words:

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

It didn't work.

No, indeed.

Because Jesus didn't doubt God's perfect plan, even if it caused Him incredible pain.

He counted it joy.

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame." (Hebrews 12:2, NLT)

Can we do any less?

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." (James 1:2, NLT)

Joy when we consider the glory we can bring to God now, and the glory that we stand to inherit one day in eternity.

So, what did Jesus pray?

Quite a lot, my friends.

And He prayed all these things for us, too – "for those who will believe in me through their message."

Today I am contemplating my Word for 2014 – JOY.  I chuckle, for it seems that I cannot escape its presence in my life!

And today I heard once again what it means for me.

It means learning, through the very words of the Lord’s prayer for me, how to have HIS joy.

By knowing God's deep and abiding love.

By obeying God's commands and remaining in His way.

By believing with unshakeable faith that God and His plans are perfect and good.

As in all things, dear Lord, You are our example.

Jesus, Only You.

You are to name him Jesus,
for he will save his people from their sins.

"Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal's death on a cross.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."

(Philippians 2:6-11, NLT)

What is hardest for you - to find JOY in accepting God's love, in obedience to Him, or in the assurance of His goodness in spite of pain?

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. So nice to read a post from you my friend. Praying for you, and loving you.

  2. Hi Sharon...wishing you a beautiful Sonday.

  3. Blessings Sharon, So glad that J.O.Y. is surrounding and coming at you from everywhere (I'm finding the same with my one word; everywhere I go or read) ...

    Wonderful reflections and insights on JOY and a powerful question. As I thought about answering it, I was thinking; of course it's my obedience (or lack) and then as I looked to the other choice of assurance of God's goodness; well, I think I do find JOY in each opportunity of accepting God's love inspite of my disobedience most of the time, so I concluded that it's in the pain, trial, tribulation, "whatever' that I question His goodness (though I deep down know God is good, God is love) it is in those times, I lack His joy and wonder about my goodness and His ... cuz I feel a void, like He's not there, He can't be there, if He was, why would this 'pain' continue and it's then I realize how much He is there, He does love and I must accept this and find JOY in knowing this, as I pray "what would Jesus pray?"

    So glad that you woke up despite quite an early change of time (we don't change until April 6th) but this time change both ways seems to mess me up! Thanks for sharing your SONday sermon (:0) Still praying and lovin' ya' (((h.u.g.))) Peggy

    1. Here's a quote from something I'm reading and listening to with John Piper "Hunger for God" for you and your JOY (even your word keeps popping up, I guess our words are companions)

      "Where did the joy of John G.Paton (missionary to New Hebrides in 1824)
      most deeply repose?"

      "It rested most deeply in the experience of personal communion with
      Jesus Christ mediated through the promises of God in his written Word,
      the Bible.Most central to his communion with God seems to have been
      the promise of Jesus in Matthew 28:20, “Lo, I am with you always.”

      "Alone yet not Alone" ... I just heard a song by Joni E. Tada with this title
      at Cathy's blog ... simply BEAUTIFUL!

  4. Hi Sharon. Well we have been focusing a lot on Joy at church too, as I have in my prayer times. It doesn't depend on happy circumstances. My word was endurance and I think that somehow goes with yours Joy.

  5. Sharon, I looked like a bobble head the whole time I was reading your post...shaking my head in agreement with everything you wrote. This post surely is one of the best I have are such a gifted writer of the truth, my friend. Obedience...I struggle the most with obedience. You bring me joy, sweet Sharon...bless you!

  6. Thank you for sharing with us today at "Tell Me a Story." Joy is indeed an attitude and a decision to realize that God is IN control. Jesus in his humanity prayed, PLEASE let this cup pass from me - - but he also had us in mind when He prayed, "Not my will but thine be done." He knew the end result and that was the grand reunion with us all in heaven.

  7. This is wonderful. Yes, there's a big difference between happiness and joy. We can have complete joy in the midst of tests and trials. Happiness is sometimes trivial. Joy is deep and abiding and life-giving. Jesus is our joy!

  8. It is hard recuperating from the time change. I found myself having to rush around yesterday after sleeping longer than I needed. Sound like you are getting a good dose of your word for the year.

  9. "Joy holds hands with your obedience". This statement stood out for me. Beautiful post Sharon. Love your definitions of happiness and joy. God bless.....and we hope to find a church we love too. Right now we are in a season of change.

  10. I think it sounds like a great series your pastor is preaching, Sharon. John Chapter 17 is definitely a favorite of mine with Jesus' prayer! I love how you seem to find JOY being preached and lived all around you in this year!


  11. I love this -
    Yes, joy is dependent on obedience.
    Wish my family would get that!

  12. I've experienced the difference between joy and happiness firsthand, feeling the Lord's deep joy in the midst of some difficult times. Good thoughts, friend.

  13. Beautiful, Sharon! A glorious meditation on joy! Yey and amen! A great message by your pastor - glad you made it to church even with the time change. I am CHOOSING JOY. Not always easy, as you say. But, Peace does settle down in the heart when we "choose" joy. Hoping spring brings you greater joy and peace this year!

  14. I love that Christ prayed for me (us) even before I was born! That fills me with such JOY! Yep...there's that word again! lol I'm praying you experience incredible joy this week!

    Blessings, Joan

  15. Excellent lesson. Joy and hate… Perfect sense. I need to think on that. Obedience and how the world views our Savior that they don't know… May they come to know Him through our joy… in obedience.

  16. This is such an amazing, meaty, joy-filled post. While reading your words, I felt a surge of joy within... so I really am so glad I got to visit your blog just as this day is ending for me. I have a number of blog friends who have stopped writing, so to see you keep up and share posts that are chunky, and full of good things to ponder on, really inspires me. We are redeeming and claiming the cyberworld for Jesus, and the more writers there are who will write for the glory of God the louder our corporate voice gets. Thank you Sharon for sharing these thoughts on joy, and obedience.. Shalom, Lidia

  17. That 3rd point is gold, Sharon. I can choose to have joy in the pain because I know that God redeems all.

    Lord, help me to have that kind of faith.

    Thanks for linking up at Thought-Provoking Thursday.

  18. His joy, so much more profound than man's happiness
    in the midst of the storm, His joy can be found

    great post!

  19. Thank you for these thoughts, Sharon. It's so incomprehensible that Jesus suffered excruciating pain for us, but that He did it with JOY because He loves us so much is even more amazing. "Life may toss and turn us, rip our hearts out and beat us up, but we are eternally enfolded by God's love." Beautiful. Thank you.

  20. What a great, great lesson here!! I truly enjoyed reading this....and pictured my dad (who is a pastor) preaching this exact same message. I love how you pointed out the difference between happiness and joy and that joy is purely dependent upon our obedience. What a great lesson! Thank you!!!

  21. Yes, He knows us better than we know ourselves, and that's all I can rely on. I get confused over and over again about myself...and as I get older it gets more confusing. [pushing 70 in about 1-1/2 years.] And John 17 is one of my favorite chapters; the Lord was so kind to us, so committed to us...way back then, and promised for now.

    Thanks for sharing.

  22. Happiness is temporary, joy is everlasting, when rooted in Him. Thank you for sharing!

  23. Thank you, this are new lessons for me.

  24. We go to the early service and yes, getting out of bed is hard. Once I get there I'm happy I made the effort. I love the thought of joy holding hands with obedience.

  25. I continue to love that your word is JOY and so glad you can't escape this word. Thank you for sharing glad you got up and went to church. :) Yes...I struggle with the one hour time change too!!! Much love.


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

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