“I have told you this so that My joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”
Jesus wants us to be joyful. But this isn't the kind of joy that rides on the surface of our lives and disappears with changes in circumstances or emotions. This is a deep-down joy (in Greek charā) that comes when we recognize God's grace and love working in our lives. This joy is a response to God's perfect plan for us and to His tender care. This joy reaches back to the God Who reaches out to us.
We don't generate this joy on our own. Like everything else, joy is a gift from God that we must embrace and cultivate.
Dear Jesus, may Your joy be in us that our joy may be complete in You. Amen.
(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from http://www.biblehub.com/.)
Friday – The Decision
The decision had to be made, so the apostles gathered in Jerusalem to make it. They had witnessed and heard about what God was doing among the Gentiles. He was no longer making a distinction between Jew and Gentile; He was pouring out the grace of salvation upon them all.
But there was still the Law to consider. Would the Gentiles have to follow every precept of the Jewish Law? Or was that no longer necessary under the New Covenant? Was the Law, or at least aspects of it like dietary codes, merely for a certain time, place, and people?
Guided by the Holy Spirit, the apostles made the decision. The Gentiles were still bound by God's moral law, of course, but not by practices of the Jewish people. These, they determined, had served their purposes of teaching, guiding, and correcting the Jews and of preparing for the coming of the Messiah. They were no longer necessary under the New Covenant.
The apostles sent this message to the Gentile Christians:
“It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.”
The decision was made. God had spoken to the apostles' hearts and minds. A new era had arrived.
Saturday – You Do Not Belong to the World
You do not belong to the world. You belong to God. He has chosen you and called you out of the world to be His own.
So the world will hate you. It will oppose you. It will threaten you. It will persecute you.
And that's really as it should be. You are not greater than your Master. The world opposed, hated, and persecuted Him, too, and it will do the same to you.
But the world doesn't matter. You have Him. You belong to Him. And He is infinitely greater than the world and anything it could ever offer.