Joy in the Morning

by Ted Kyle

 "And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin" (alloy) (Isa. 1:25).

"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God" (1 Pet. 4:1-2).

In Isaiah 1:25, God was speaking to His wayward children, the Children of Israel. But there is also great and pregnant truth in those words for every child of God, every Christian.

He promises to purify His people, to burn away their sin nature, as a smelter burns away the impurities in raw ore, leaving only the precious metal. This promise was followed immediately by another promise: "Afterward thou shalt be called The city of righteousness, the faithful city'"  (v. 26). Thus, a two-part promise: first, affliction (the purifying, burning agent); then the reward (splendid holiness: "the city of righteousness, the faithful city."

From the very first (Gen. 4:3-7), God has sought for a people who would love Him and serve Him in simplicity and purity. He still seeks such people, adding them to His Kingdom one by one.

First Peter 4:1: tells us we are to  "Arm (hoplzo/, equip) [ourselves]with the same mind"—that is, the mindset of Christ Jesus, who was willing to undergo the suffering that was part of His great task, by going to the cross.

And why ever would we want to do this? For the same motive that impelled our Savior: "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (Heb. 12:2). Our Lord had total knowledge of the agony that awaited Him, but He also knew the joy that would follow—and the last made the first acceptable.

Christians who follow their Lord wherever He leads aren't masochists, seeking pleasure in pain. First of all, they simply want to be obedient servants; but as servants, they also look forward to a reward for faithful service—the reward of joy.

That reward is in sight in the remainder of verse 1: "for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." Is this not the apex of our desire—to be pure and righteous in our Savior's sight? To be altogether lovely in His eyes? What joy awaits in being beautiful in the eyes of our Lover!

Is it our own righteousness that we are to pursue? Never! It is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We can no more transform ourselves than can the leopard change his spots. Yet we are to seek, we are to pursue, we are to followwe are to ask our heavenly Father to do in us the work we can never do ourselves. But what about the countless striving Christians who fall short of such an awesome goal? It is enough, I believe, that they strive—that they "follow (pursue) holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

And how does our God and Father do this work in us? By purging out our dross. This is what our Father means in Isaiah 48:10: "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."

No one knows exactly what lies ahead. But this we do know: Our God is a loving Father, "who comforteth us in all our tribulationfor as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." He will not allow anything to happen to His children which is not for our ultimate good.

When our tests come—our trials and troubles—let us face them as Jesus did, and as did true men of God through the ages. I pray we will each choose the path of joy.

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