On the last Bless Net I introduced a subject that started my New Year: “The Joy of Serving."

Unfortunately, many Christians see living the Christ in you lifestyle as almost a burdensome sacrifice. Many are taught you have to suffer if you are really serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Some denominations even connect salvation to the works that you do. My Bible teaches the joy of the Lord is my strength. Yes, you may have to handle a phone call at 2:00 AM or give financial help beyond what you normally share. But if you are serving with the right attitude, and in spite of what sacrifices occur, we can still experience the joy of the Lord in our service.

I know this may sound like an oxymoron or a conflict of statements, but there is one verse that settles it all for me.

Hebrews 12:2:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

"Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross." How could it be joy to go through what He did? Didn't He go to the Father in the prayer in Gethsemane and ask if "this cup could pass from Him?" What is it to have such a joy and yet go through such pain and suffering?

First of all, joy is not an outside expression like happiness. Joy is an inside experience of great delight as caused by something exceptionally satisfying. Godly joy resides in the depth of your heart and gives you a satisfaction unrealized in any other way. Joy is one of the fruits of the spirit. For Jesus Christ the "joy set before Him" was the realization that God would raise Him from the dead and sit Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies far above all principalities and powers. The price would be paid and He would have a new spiritual body that even we would someday have.

For us who serve today, we must look to the rewards that will occur in the future not the inconvenience or suffering at the time. As Christians we know the spiritual realities far outweigh the physical ones. We take on the burdens of service to others because of the vision we have of the future.

The one great perspective that motivates us to believe and serve with joy is the knowledge that Christ will be returning soon.

I Peter 1:7 & 8:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: