Day 1:

Christ’s Joy


“...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

- Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

I decided to open up class differently that day. The exercise was simple: Share something - anything - that brings you true joy. My sixth graders gave plenty of true, but canned answers: Family, friends, pets, home… 

I dug deeper: What else? Outside of these things…What brings you immeasurable joy - something that is unique only to you?

Silence saturated the space. 

I waited.

A hand inched up, followed by a tentative voice, “When I score a goal in soccer.”

“Yes! I love it! Who else?” 

“The way my dog’s tail wags and wiggles so hard and crazy when I come home from school.”

“My mom’s chocolate chip cookies.”

The descriptions of joy continued, each focused on moments in time, moments of sheer positivity.

Chances are if we asked ourselves to reflect on what brings Christ joy, we’d land on true, but canned answers as well: prayer, giving, Bible reading, obedience, surrender - just to name a few. If pressed to dig deeper, we may offer specific examples in our lives or mile-markers of faith; but I believe few of us would declare, as Thomas Goodwin does in his book The Heart of Christ, that Christ’s “own joy, comfort, happiness, and glory are increased and enlarged by his showing grace and mercy, in pardoning, relieving, and comforting his members here on earth.” 

In Hebrews 12:2, we read that Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” 

What was that joy set before him? What joy would be so great, so powerful, it would outweigh suffering on the cross? 

The healing of our pain. The forgiving of our sins. The saving of our souls. 

This. This is what Christ loves to do! While our limited concept of joy centers mainly on the positive, Christ views doing all of life with us as pure joy. 

Need grace? Healing? Forgiveness of sin? Comfort in your suffering? 

It’s all Christ’s joy. So why go it alone? It’s his absolute desire to love and do life with all of you.

For reflection:

  1. Showing mercy and grace gives Jesus great joy. How does this impact your perspective on who he is? How does it impact your perspective on who you are in Him? 

  1. What is one step you can take right now to bring Jesus joy? 

Day 2:

Spiritual Practice


“...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

- Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

As we discovered yesterday, Christ doesn’t just want to redeem and heal you. He wants you. All of you. The awkward, the quirky, the complicated - the frail and broken you. 

In today’s spiritual practice, we’re going to use our imaginations. We’re going to imagine we’re going on a grand adventure with Christ, and it is up to us to do the packing. But, instead of packing essentials like clothing and toiletries, we’re going to focus on packing and surrendering parts of ourselves.

Create a list: On the page, list the easy, loveable parts of yourself first. (You know, your charming personality, quick wit, and knack for staying cool under pressure.) Or, perhaps you’ll start with what’s “easy” to give over to Christ.

As you progress down the page, dig deeper into your personality, your strengths, your weaknesses, your temptations, your failures, your shortcomings - your burdens. 

Add them to the list. 

This is hard work, but don’t give up. Layer by layer, ask God to reveal what needs to go on your list. Unclench your fists, unclench your heart, and write down those areas of your life that you have yet to relinquish to Christ. Place them




Now, you’re ready to run the race - unburdened and free!

Day 3:

Never Alone


“14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

-Hebrews 4: 14-16 (ESV)

5 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.”

-Hebrews 5: 1-2 (ESV)

The screen glowed in the middle of the night. Blue links lined the page. Click after click. Face after face. Doctor after doctor - experts in the field. But could they relate to my fears? My dread? My confusion and pain? 

In desperation, I searched and hunted for answers. In a sea of what-ifs and unknown outcomes, I struggled to come up for air. 

I felt surrounded, exhausted, and so very alone. 

I’m sure you can relate. But, even more comforting is the fact, the truth, that Christ can relate. 

We don’t worship a distant Savior. We worship the One who is able to sympathize with our struggles, our weaknesses, our pain (v. 15). And, as Ortlund explains in Gentle and Lowly, this isn’t a “cool and detached pity” reserved for those who separate themselves from someone else’s pain; no, this is a sympathy that co-suffers, co-lives, co-exists, with us in our pain.

When Jesus walked this earth, the Bible says He was tempted in “every respect” (v. 15) and was also “beset with weakness” (Hebrews 5:2). And, while Christ in his weakness never sinned, we can still run to him for comfort with confidence. Not only will he sympathize with us, but he will care for us gently (v. 2)

This. This is the beauty of Christ’s story, his very incarnation. That God’s Son would come to earth, in flesh, in blood - as a baby no less - to experience all that humanity has to offer. Why?

So he could relate.

So he could look into our lives, our hearts, our situations, and - simply put - understand.

Remember, you are never alone in your suffering or even your sin. Christ is with you, and he wants nothing more than to embrace you with his tender heart and gentle spirit.

For reflection:

  1. Name anything hindering you from believing the truth that Jesus himself sympathizes with your pain. Ask the Lord to help you unpack this disbelief and renew your mind.

  1. Reflect on your life experiences. Recall a time when Christ was gentle with you. Be specific. What did it look like? Did it involve others? How can you use this experience to deepen your faith? 

Day 4:

Spiritual Practice


For today’s devotional you are invited to select and do a practice from the  spiritual practices page. God bless your time with the Lord today.

Spiritual Practices