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How to Change Your Future—Joyfully

on Mar 24, 2017 | OGI Mike |

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR FUTURE—JOYFULLY

Have you ever quoted that much-loved Bible verse, "The joy of the Lord is your strength"? It's a power-statement all by itself, but that power increases dramatically when you discover the setting in which it was originally spoken.

The children of Israel had just returned to their homeland after seventy years of slavery in Babylon. Excitement was brimming. They were about to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. Many thousands gathered at Temple Mount to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles that day and to hear the Word of God explained for the first time in seven decades.

For hours, the Jews listened to Ezra and other leaders expound the Law (the first five books of the Bible). The more they heard, the more they realized how deeply they and their forefathers had failed God—and they wept, profusely. In wisdom and compassion, their leaders waved their hands over them and proclaimed:

"This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep . . . Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:9-10)

In other words, these God-fearing men were declaring:

"You cannot change the past by grieving over it. You will only weaken yourself mentally and emotionally. But you can alter the future with praise, by rejoicing in faith-filled expectation of God's intervention and blessing. While you are penetrating your tomorrows with hope, your heart will be healed and strengthened in the process."

That's how Jesus thrived even in His darkest hour. He endured the cross by looking to "the joy that was set before Him" (Heb. 12:2) That's how you will endure too. The source of joy for the firstborn Son is the source of joy for all of those who trust and believe. Always remember, it is far more strengthening to rejoice over a better tomorrow than to mourn over a terrible past.

Even when people hate you, exclude you, revile you and "cast your name out as evil" for the Son of Man's sake, Jesus gave the amazing promise, "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven." He even commanded His disciples to "leap for joy" (Lk. 6:22-23, Mt. 5:12).

The apostle Peter suffered martyrdom, yet before his life ended, he wrote the encouraging words, "Even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed" (a word that means supremely happy, highly favored and enriched with benefits) (1 Pt. 3:14). James, who was also eventually martyred, urged believers to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (Ja. 1:2). For you are going through a process that will change you, step-by-step, into the glorious image of the LORD Jesus Christ. That's why "no weapon formed against you shall prosper" and "all things work together for good to those who love God" (Is. 54:17, Ro. 8:28).