By Russ Ramsey
Christ-followers live with our feet in two worlds: this present world that we taste, see, and touch, and the world to come—the new heavens and the new earth, the eternal Kingdom of God. That second world is the one where our true citizenship lies. But that first world, this world, is the one where we are currently living out our days.
In this world, Jesus said, we will have trouble. But then He told us to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). We live in tension here, don’t we? We hold on to the hope of, as Tolkien put it, every sad thing coming untrue. But we still daily brush up against things like conflict, inadequacy, grief, poverty, lustful appetites, and (for some, anyway) persecution. One day, all of our struggles will become distant memories, if any memory of them is permitted to remain. But for now, we live in the tension.
How do we respond to this tension? How do we not cave in to the sorrows, conflicts, and stresses that so often seem to want a piece of us? One exercise we can always turn to for help is the prayerful practice of gratitude. When we take time to reflect upon and give thanks to God for the work of Christ, we set our minds on truths larger than the circumstances right in front of us. We ascribe the seat of power to its rightful King. We remember that the darkness can’t have us (Psalm 23).
Meditating on gratitude is more than an exercise we can use to combat stress. It is a way to deliberately set our minds and hearts on what is true. The empty tomb proves that Jesus has, in fact, overcome the world. Because of this, we can confidently live with our hearts and minds trained on the world to come. Jesus wants this for His people. We need look no further than the Beatitudes to see that this is true.
Early in his Gospel, Matthew gives us the Sermon on the Mount—the single largest collection of Jesus’ teaching on how to live in this world in light of the life to come. The Beatitudes, which open that sermon, frame some of our deepest present struggles against the solution that will be ours in the coming Kingdom. The first four beatitudes focus on our relationship with God, and the last four deal with how we relate to one another.
The Beatitudes don’t simply describe our future hope. They define what Christ Himself embodied during His earthly ministry. Each beatitude makes a promise about the coming and certain peace and healing that belong to all who follow Christ. And every promise they contain is backed by the fact that Jesus perfectly embodied them. He was the meek One who inherited the earth, the One who hungered and thirsted for our righteousness and, by His resurrection, was satisfied. He was the Peacemaker we know as the Son of God. And when our faith is in Him, we are fellow heirs to His kingdom.
The promises of God are anchored in the finished work of Christ. All of them are. Rest in that. Give thanks for that. And may your time in this study be marked by a gratitude-saturated worship of Jesus, Who has overcome the world.
Written By Russ Ramsey
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10 thoughts on "Present and Future Joy"
If I have died with Christ, that means that I have been raised with Him, as well, and everything that has happened to Him, has happened to me. That, coupled with the fact that Christ is the completed and perfect fulfillment of all the promises made in the beatitudes means that these promises made in this passage are not some far off, distant promises that will be fulfilled in the future. There is a sense in which they won’t reach their full completion and fulfillment until the return of Christ, but because we live in the Already/Not-Yet, these are present realities that should and MUST have bearing on my life, here and now. This is my reality.
Living in this world at this time is a privilege from God. Even though we will go through hard times, we are promised that we can have joy through it. God has chosen me to be alive at this time for a reason. God is moving in my life more than I have ever seen before. I am the salt and light of the earth and must proclaim his truth to those around me.
Keeping my eyes fixed on heaven is difficult in world like this. It’s hard to tune out the “now” in order to tune into the future. Lord keep my eyes fixed on things eternal. Things unseen.
We are the Saints. We are the Children of God, given this title by our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever we ask in His name it shall be done, here on this temporary Earth as it is, in Heaven. Thank you God for the precious gift of Salvation. Everyday you call me to deeper intimacy with you and I am eternally thankful. Lord I can’t do any of this, but you can. In your strength you can overcome, and you are alive within me. So therefore, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. With you, I have all that I need, without you, even what I do have is taken away.
“I love you, Lord, my strength”
I would like to improve my walk with, and my outward reflection of, Christ in my life, who is my God, who is my heart, and who I can feel so connected to at times, and be so complacent and indifferent at others. How can I overcome this inconsistency?
Lord I thank you that you have called me to be your son. I thank you that through your death and resurrection I have new abundant life. Father it is my prayer that each and every one of your children know that they are heirs to your kingdom. I pray that as we walk upon this earth you will give us the strength to standout among the crowds. That we walk out what it means to be the “salt of the Earth”. Pray that we will never lose our flavor that comes from your Holy Spirit. Help us to not only read about being humble and hungry and thirsty but we will live it out each and every day!
In Jesus name, Amen
There are lots of difficulties in this world. There are many troubles that we will face.
Jesus never said that we wouldn’t face troubles. We should never expect that we won’t meet troubles.
Rather when we meet troubles we need to have the right mindset that Jesus has overcome the world. We need to have our hopes set on Christ and let that buoy our hearts with hope.
Day 1: it’s crazy to think about how much tension we live in here on earth. But what a beautiful truth that the lord has conquered this earth already, so our hope is to be put in the world we will inherit. God’s already conquered this messed up world. Our no is to be confident and grateful in that. Our gratitude should reflect on those around us, of the hope we find in Jesus because of his work here.
It does not come natural to constantly be reminded and grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice. I need to force my mind and heart to not be distracted and to realign myself with Christ. Over time this can become a habit and a part of my every day life.
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