Count it All Joy — His eye is on the sparrow

I have had a hard time defining, much less capturing joy. Recently I read from Augustine that Jesus is joy. Then I discovered this wonderful blog …

I do have some difficult times so often with the defining of the word JOY. I have been riding it like a roller coaster up and down, round and round, off and on for many years. I’m coming to almost believe I might just be obsessed with the subject. I simply can’t let it go. […]

Count it All Joy — His eye is on the sparrow

Rock of Joy

Lately, my heart has been heavy, so heavy, with grief and pain for a lot of reasons – personal to global. Having a real struggle with that joy thing. Crying a lot, crying out to God. Then, all in one morning, the following blogs and daily devotionals show up in my email. A gift of grace and mercy. Emmanuel.  

Perhaps you are burdened with some sort of heavy grief. It could be over someone dear to you who is suffering, in trouble, or hurting. It could be a son or daughter who is backslidden, slowly sinking into the death of sin. Or it could be a loved one facing a severe, looming financial crisis. I say to all: Jesus Christ is moved by your grief. — David Wilkerson https://worldchallenge.org/devotion/burdened-heavy-grief?ref=devos  

The Oxford Dictionary defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Psychiatry defines anxiety as “a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.” Anxiety is common to humanity; it lives on a spectrum and we know it when we feel it. But what is it, really? Here’s my take: anxiety is the felt experience of being unaware of the presence of God …  “Do not be anxious about anything.” Translation: be aware of the presence of God in all things all the time. — J.D. Walt 

Are you telling me that when I sing “Joy to the Word, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King” that I am proclaiming Jesus as King and Ruler of MY life? That “Let every heart prepare Him room” actually means room in MY heart? Are you wanting me to believe that every heart that dies to self is a heart that will sing? — blogged by Beholding Ministries https://beholdinghimministries.org/2020/12/18/i-adore-selah/ 

To magnify God is to look closely at him and take careful notice of his actions and attributes. Mary, the mother of Jesus, did exactly that. We read an example in the account of her visit to Cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) … For ten verses (Luke 1:46-55), Mary magnifies the Lord, examining the reason for her joy (vs. 46-49) and looking closely at God’s attributes and actions (50-55). Never mind her relative poverty, the misunderstanding and derision of others, or the uncertainty of the future. Mary focused on God who was working a miracle within her. — Nancy Ruegg https://nancyaruegg.com/2020/12/17/marys-joy-our-joy/  

How do I choose life? I am becoming aware that there are few moments without the opportunity to choose, since death and life are always before me. One aspect of choosing life is choosing joy. Joy is life-giving but sadness brings death. A sad heart is a heart in which something is dying. A joyful heart is a heart in which something new is being born. — Henry J.M. Nouwen 

In Psalm 30:5, the psalmist says joy is found on the other side of suffering — weeping lasts the night, ‘but joy comes with the morning’ … it is just as true that my night of weeping would give way, in due time, to a tearless joy. That’s what I think the psalmist means when he says that joy follows sorrow. There are waves of sorrow and pain and loss that break, big waves that break, over the unshakable rock of Christian joy, and these waves submerge the laughter in the surging. You can feel it: the surging surf of weeping that wells up unbidden from your heart. But they don’t dislodge the rock, and the waves recede in due time, and the rock glistens again in tearless sunlight … The rock of joy is submerged in grief, but it is not dislodged, overthrown, or removed. — John Piper https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-joy-come-after-suffering-or-in-it  

Image, Rocks and Surf in Iceland by Timbu https://flic.kr/p/SwwxzG

Joy Beyond

In this dark world the shepherd needs to be our LORD.

I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. Hebrews 13:23 

This verse is a little oh-by-the-way postscript to the letter to the Hebrews. It is like “and, oh yeah, Timothy has been released from prison.” The way it is tacked on at the end like that really struck me. It communicated to me that this was a common occurrence. This idea of persecution for our faith is foreign to most of us in the United States. But there are thousands and thousands across the world for whom this, and worse, is still common. I was thinking about this when I read this from A.W. Tozer speaking to the Church here in the U.S.: 

“The gradual disappearance of the idea and feeling of majesty from the Church is a sign and a portent. The revolt of the modern mind has had a heavy price, how heavy is becoming more apparent as the years go by. Our God has now become our servant to wait on our will. ‘The Lord is my shepherd,’ we say, instead of ‘The Lord is my shepherd,’ and the difference is as wide as the world.” — A.W. Tozer, God’s Pursuit of Man 

The first emphasis keeps our gaze on ourselves. What we crave, what we need, what we think we deserve. Affliction is no longer unexceptional, it is unacceptable. The idea that “the lord is my servant, I shall not want,” keeps us in the little-lamb baby state always looking for the next blessing. When my heart’s attention is only on what God can do for me, it is easy to slide into errors like prosperity-gospel-type thinking. Trials and afflictions shake my cozy, planned-out little world and my faith wavers. 

But, the second emphasis puts our Lord on the throne (or realizes that he is on the throne). It opens our eyes and minds and hearts to Amazing Grace. The amazing, almost incomprehensible, uncontainable grace of the unfailing love of the Mighty God. Creator, King – God of gods and Lord of lords – who has bent down to pull us up out of the pit and lead us into His very Presence. Unworthy, self-centered, rebellious as we are. When the emphasis is on the LORD, gratitude and thanksgiving and praise naturally flow. We are enabled to bear the Shepherd’s rod and staff of testing and discipline willingly and joyfully. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds James 1:2 

This is a hard saying whenever, but it is especially hard when our assumption is that the job of the lord (small “L”) who is our servant-shepherd is to lead us to good pasture and quiet waters and make us feel good. 

“The prosperity gospel believes that God wants to reward you if you have the right kind of faith. If you’re good and faithful, God will give you health and wealth and boundless happiness. Life is like a boomerang. If you’re good, good things will always come back to you. Think positively. Speak positively. Nothing is impossible, if you believe …. 

“In his sermon on the mount, Jesus didn’t say, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they will never have to deal with infertility. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive a Porsche 911. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will never have medical complications or financial hardship.’” — Rachel Chimits, Do Bad Things Happen to Godly People? i 

But if our eyes are on our majestic LORD and his Amazing Grace we can expect afflictions – In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33) – but we can consider it all joy because we see beyond – But take heart! I have overcome the world. 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 

The joy was beyond for Jesus (and that joy was us, by the way, us with him). The joy was beyond the scorning and mocking and shame. It was beyond imprisonment, testing and afflictions and suffering and death and the cross. And if we are going to persevere to that joy we need to be following our Lord (capital “L”), who is also our Good Shepherd. We can trust that shepherd through anything. We can trust knowing we will hear his voice leading and guiding. We can trust the One who has gone this way before, knowing that our hard way produces good – for us and for others – and he will be with us all the way. And if we do that, the joy beyond will be here and now too. 

In this dark time, let us follow the Shepherd who is our LORD.  

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4  

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

[P.S.] I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. Hebrews 13:20-21, 23 

i Rachel Chimits’ complete blog post here https://worldchallenge.org/blog/do-bad-things-happen-godly-people?ref=em1020 

Photo copyright 2009 by Derek Bair

The Shout

Could it be, in the place where God dwells, in eternity where there is no time, that all these shouts are the same shout echoing out into eternity?

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? … On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Job 38:6-7 

In Job 38, God asks Job where he was when the cornerstone of the universe was laid to a shout of joy. The Cornerstone is later identified as Jesus Christ. 

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:19-20 

For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6 

And the angels shouted for joy when this precious Cornerstone was laid. This shout of joy is one of those themes or threads that run all through the Bible.  

Jesus came to die with a shout. 

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 (NASB) 

 Jesus ascended back to heaven with a shout. 

God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. Psalm 47:5 

And he will come again with a shout. 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (NASB) 

Jesus, himself, shouted out on the cross. 

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out (shouted) in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 

And you might wonder, why am I including this shout of agony and despair in the list of joyful and triumphant shouts? Because this shout is the whole reason for the joy. This shout is the whole reason we can sing and shout in victory and be overcome with joyous celebration. He died that we might live. He was rejected by his Father God that we might be eternally accepted as beloved children. This Cornerstone that was laid at the foundation of the universe, this “Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), he was God’s purpose and provision from the beginning. And looking ahead and seeing the redemption and salvation of the world, the heavens and the earth and the angels shouted the great shout of joy.  

Could it be – think about it – in the place where God dwells, in eternity where there is no time – could all these shouts be the same shout echoing out into eternity? The earth shouting for joy; the heavens shouting for joy. Even the mountains and trees shouting for joy?  

Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it! Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it; For the LORD has redeemed Jacob And in Israel He shows forth His glory. Isaiah 44:23 

The Psalms say, “Shout with joy to God, all the earth!” (Psalm 66:1), and are we not also called to join in this joyful shout? Jesus says at his triumphant arrival in Jerusalem that if his disciples praising him are silent, “the stones will cry out.” Let us drown out the stones and the trees and even the angels with our joyful shouts! 

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy (be overcome, cry out, shout for joy, give a ringing cry). Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96:11-13  

But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Matthew 25:6 (NASB) 

Photo by Jack Bair

My Testimony During My COVID Struggle

A dear friend of mine has been struggling through COVID-19 illness for many weeks. Yesterday she posted this wonderful testimony of her experience of God’s love and faithfulness through it all. I asked her for permission to share it here because it is so uplifting and encouraging – no matter what your current struggle is.

My testimony during my COVID struggle:

My Father has given me three very intense and personal experiences with Him to make sure I KNOW with every cell and every part of who I am, how deep His love is for me, how He has compassion for me and how He SEES me with no condemnation but PURE LOVE.

  1. Jesus is sitting right beside me at the table He has prepared for me, in the presence of my enemies. Sitting right next to me, laughing with me, enjoying me, eating with me… MY BEST FRIEND who SAVED me. Every door to my heart is open to Him and He is fully with me. I feel His joy in me, His friendship with me and His complete love for me.
  1. My Father God is sitting right beside me. His face shines on me with PURE JOY. I saw Him beside me and saw Him turn His face and look directly into mine. He fully SEES me, and I am UNDONE. Pure love. Pure joy. Pure compassion. With NO CONDEMNATION.

I am undone. On my face before Him with just that brief glimpse of total love for me. When the veil is removed, and I get to spend eternity with Him face to face how can I stand? For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.

  1. This life is precious and sacred because God is WITH me and IN me. With everything that is in this world and this life that would beat me down and cause me to give up and give in… I push into Him. Wanting only deeper love for Him and a deeper KNOWING Him.

Death means FULL JOY, FULL LIFE, FULL LOVE. A full knowing and understanding of the love and joy He has in me and for me. And it means I will be fully with Him with no veil and no barriers ever again.

For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

Whether I am healthy or sick. Whether I grieve or experience pure joy in His presence. Whether I am overwhelmed by life, or am sitting with Him on the beach at Lake Michigan at sunset. Whether I am alone, or in the presence of a husband and family He blesses me with. Whether I feel very far from Him, or I feel Him in me and with me. Whether I can’t catch my breath, or peacefully breathe in His presence through the Holy Spirit.

NOTHING in this life will EVER separate me from the love of Jesus, my LORD and SAVIOR, who rescued me from running after sin, and rescued me from death.

HE IS EVERYTHING to me. EVERYTHING.

I am uniquely His. Here on earth and into eternity.

 

 

 

Image copyright by Jack Bair

 

Joy Overcomes Fear

Hope gave them boldness to stand. Joy gave them strength to run.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the LORD came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:1-8

These verses always make me smile (sorry!) The men, the guards at the tomb, fainted dead away at the sight of the angel and the earthquake. But, when the angel turned to give the good news to the women, they were still standing. Not only did the women not collapse in fear, they were able to make their legs work to run and give the disciples the angel’s message.

But I think the reasons behind why the men and the women were there at the tomb gives the clue to their respective responses to the angel. The women were there out of love for Jesus, to serve him one more time. They had been there with him in his life; they had followed him and listened to him and saw his love and care and healing touch. At least one of them had received healing herself. But, they had both heard Jesus say he would rise again.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21

They were there to take care of his dead body, but in the back of their minds must have flickered that great hope of the resurrection. In spite of the hopeless situation, they clung to that hope. And when they saw the angel, that hope must have flamed up.

The guards were there because they had been told to keep the tomb secure. It was a assignment, nothing more. They may have seen and heard Jesus, they definitely had heard about him. But, they didn’t know him. They had not put their faith and hope in him as the women had. It reminds me of a couple of verses.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.  2 Corinthians 3:12 (NIV)

Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

Hope gave the women boldness to stand before the angel. Joy gave them strength to run with the message. Let us also boldly run with joy to carry the Good News!

For love is as strong as death… Song of Songs 8:12

He is not here; he has risen!

He is risen indeed!

 

 

Image in the Public Domain: He is Risen, the First Easter by Arthur Hughes (1832-1915)

 

Buried Treasure

You who see yourself as buried, forgotten rubbish, good as dead, worthless, hopeless. Can you see yourself, not as buried waste, but as buried treasure? A treasure worth, to God, his very life.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matthew 13:44 (NIV)

I have always seen this verse interpreted, and thought of it myself, as us finding the treasure of Jesus. And then going off and selling all that we have and following him, like Jesus recommended to the “rich young ruler” in Matthew 19:21 (NIV).

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

But this time, as I read Matthew 13:24-44, I saw something else. Previously, in these verses, Jesus is comparing his people, his chosen, as good wheat planted in a field (this world), and the “sons of the evil one” as weeds. What if the treasure found in the field is us too? What if the good wheat and the hidden treasure are the same? And what if the man who finds the hidden treasure and goes away and sells all he has to buy the field is Jesus?

Yes, I believe and know and am joyfully grateful that Jesus is my Treasure, my “Pearl of great price,” worth everything I am and own. But, I am seeing that I am his treasure too. The treasure he came to find. The treasure for which he gave up everything to buy back, to redeem. The treasure that he can rightfully claim as his.

… Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:13b-14 (NASB)

The Greek word translated “possession” in the above verse is periousios, which means peculiar in the sense of special, or one’s own. H. Preisker has written that “Christ’s work of redemption has created for God a people that is a costly possession or special treasure.”[i] A treasure for whom Jesus joyfully went and “sold” all he had, for whom he sacrificed all.

… who for the joy set before him endured the cross … (Hebrews 12:2)

.. who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8 NASB)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV)

You were bought at a price. (1 Corinthians 6:20 NIV)

Can you see yourself as a special treasure? You who see yourself as buried, forgotten rubbish, good as dead, worthless, hopeless. Can you see yourself, not as buried waste, but as buried treasure? A treasure worth, to God, his very life. A treasure he has pulled up out of that hole in the ground. A treasure who has, through his death on the cross, been resurrected out of the grave to new life, new value, new hope. You, yes you, are his precious treasure.

“You [Jesus] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9 (NIV)

 

Photo by Puuikibeach on flickr.com https://flic.kr/p/DyTeW1

This post is also available as a Bible study, freely available for use at Buried Treasure Bible Study

 

[i] Preisker, Herbert, “periousios,” in Gerhard Friedrich, ed., and Geoffrey Bromiley, trans. and ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968), VI, p. 57.

His Mercy Prevails

Praise the Lord [shine, flash forth, boast, glory, clamorously make a fool of yourselves, celebrate, act like a madman], all nations [peoples];

Laud [loudly praise, commend, glory, triumph in] Him, all peoples [tribes, communities, nations]!

For His lovingkindness [goodness, kindness, faithfulness, mercy] is great [prevails, is strong, stronger, mighty, powerful, valiant] toward us,

And the truth [firmness, faithfulness, sureness, reliability, stability, certainty, verity, trustworthiness] of the Lord is everlasting [forever and ever, evermore, perpetual, always, unending, eternal, without end].

Praise the Lord [shine, flash forth, boast, glory, clamorously make a fool of yourselves, celebrate, act like a madman]!

Psalm 117:1-2 (NASB)

 

David danced before the LORD with all his might. 2 Samuel 6:14a (NKJV)

 

Image: Jump for Joy by Kreg Steppe https://www.flickr.com/photos/spyndle/3480602438

Joy

I don’t seem to have much joy in myself right now, but Jesus is saying that I can have his joy – “so my joy may be in you.” And, suddenly, I saw where the joy of Jesus resided.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:9-13 (NIV)

I have been thinking about joy lately, maybe because I have been fighting depression. The Bible talks a lot about the importance of joy. It is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. In other words, it is supposed to be showing up in my life if I say I have the Spirit of God in me, If I say I am a follower of Jesus.

So, I started looking at the verses in the Bible about joy, and I was stopped in my tracks by Jesus’ words in John 15:11 above. I don’t seem to have much joy in myself right now, but he is saying that I can have his joy – “so my joy may be in you.” And, suddenly, I saw where, in the context of those verses, the joy of Jesus resided.

It was in the middle of relationship.

The verses before John 15:11 speak of Jesus’ relationship with the Father – how the Father loves Jesus and how Jesus remains in that love. How that love pours out of Jesus and into us, how Jesus loves us and how we can remain, reside, dwell in that love. Jesus’ passion on the Cross was to make it possible for us to share in that relationship of love with the Father.

The verses after John 15:11 speak of our relationship with others. Jesus’ passion now is for us to pour out the love given us to those around us who don’t know him, to bring them into that loving relationship too.

It’s in the sharing of love that Jesus’ joy happens. That’s where his joy springs up in us and fills us with joy that is “complete.” That word means replete, crammed, jammed, stuffed, imbued, filled to the brim. Jesus commands us to do that, to love each other, so that we – and the ones we love – can have that kind of joy.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a (NIV)

Notice in the list of fruits where joy is positioned. Love comes first. Relationship comes first. If I love him as he loved me – which was with everything, with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind and with all his strength – and if I love others that way too (actually it is his love flowing down through me), all the other things on the list will pour down on me. Just as Jesus loved us first looking forward to the joy.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1: 3-4 (NIV)

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7 (NASB)

 

Photo copyright 2019 Derek Bair, all rights reserved

Middle of the Story

Ann Voskamp wrote, “Faith thanks God in the middle of the story.”[i] The middle of the story is the hard place, where behind me, and at my feet, is the stumbled-over rubble of past mistakes, rebellions, regrets. And before, is the obscured darkness of unknown hazards and hopes. Faith thanks God amid the wreckage. Faith asks me every day to turn from fear and trust the One who has promised. How do I do that? Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) says:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The amazing Greek word translated “substance” is hupostasis.  It partly means “steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution, confidence, firm trust, assurance,” and it is mostly translated that way as “confidence.” It literally means “a setting under”[ii] as in setting under a support, a substructure, a foundation, that which is firm. Faith is the setting under me of the foundation that makes or causes me to stand and be confident. Jesus is that foundation[iii] under me. He is the Rock on which I stand.

Thinking of it this way helps me, because it makes me realize that faith is not so much something that I “have,” something I am required to manufacture or come up with. But faith is something I do. I simply step onto the Rock. I place my faith and hope, not in my ability to produce faith, not in something that may or may not happen, but in Jesus – his faithfulness, his truth, his Word, his love and care.

But, the hidden treasure in this word is another facet of meaning. Hupostasis also means “actual existence, substance, real being, essence.” It is used in this sense in Hebrews 1:3.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (hupostasis) sustaining (bearing up, upholding, keeping from falling) all things by his powerful word.

Faith is the essence of hope as Christ is the essence of God – His exact representation. When I step onto the Rock, I am sustained, upheld, kept from falling by the very essence of God, which is love. God is love; his real being is love. I will thank God here in the middle of my story, confidently standing on Jesus, the Rock of my salvation, supported and sustained by his Love that was proven at the cross.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16 (NIV)

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2 (NIV)

There is so much in Hebrews 11:1! I will look at the second half of the verse next time. Read more about faith in the blog Faith, Part Two

[i] Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

[ii] All translations from NetBible.org and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

[iii] 1 Corinthians 3:11