Yearning for Joy

By Nate Hartman

September 5, 2011

JoyThis is the fourth in a season-long series of posts on the topic of joy, as it relates to the life and athletic pursuits of your teams.  These weekly posts will correspond with each weekly study from The Wellspring of Life Initiative, a unique "Discipline for Godliness" program for athletes developed by the NCSAA (and available to all member schools, as part of their membership).  This post corresponds with Week 3: "Yearning for Joy."

   1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

-- Hebrews 12:1-3

  • According to this passage, why did Jesus endure the cross (v. 2)?  What was the “joy set before Him”?  Is that joy something to which you also can look forward?  Did Jesus endure the cross only so that He could go to heaven and be with His Father again, or did His death have a greater purpose?  Can it be possible that Jesus had you in mind as part of “the joy set before Him”?  (It’s almost unfathomable to think that you were a part of the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, but it’s true.)
  • When Jesus yearned for joy, He yearned for relationship with His Father and relationship with you. When you seek joy in your own life, what are the things that you desire?  Are those things going to bring you closer to true joy (right relationship with Christ), or do your pursuits hinder you from a deeper relationship with Christ?  Are they part of “the sin that so easily entangles” (v. 1)?  What distractions and worthless goals do you need to “throw off” in order to pursue true joy?
  • Athletes often have the experience of playing in front of crowds of people.  How do different types of crowds (hostile, encouraging, large, silent, taunting) affect your play?  Is your play affected when you know certain people are in the audience?
  • According to this passage, what surrounds you (v. 1)?  Do you often think about your life as being watched by a large crowd?  Who is this “cloud of witnesses”?  Do you remember what Hebrews 11 is about?  (If not, glance back and read that chapter.  It lists many people of the Old Testament who lived by faith.)  Who are some of your favorite Bible characters?  Have you ever considered that they may be in that “cloud of witnesses” that has gone before you — seeing the way you live, watching you play?  Does the knowledge that they surround you make any difference to you?
  • What encouragement should you take from the example of the faithful people who have lived before you (v. 1)?  What other people (living or dead) have set a faithful, godly example for you; and how can that encourage you to persevere in obedience?  Do you have teammates or  opponents who have set such an example for you, as an athlete; and how does their faithfulness encourage you to persevere?
  • As an athlete, do you sometimes “grow weary” or “lose heart”?  Describe some of the times when that has happened to you.  What do you typically do, in response to those times when you feel run down or discouraged?  What does verse 3 tell you to do, in order that you will not grow weary or lose heart?
  • How can the fact that Jesus “endured such opposition from sinful men”  (v. 3) encourage you?  Did He see difficulties and unfair treatment as negative (v. 2)?  Did He feel sorry for Himself? Remember...for what reason did Jesus “endure the cross” and “scorn its shame”?  What was the mission that was so important to him, that He was willing to see these hard things as parts of something bigger and rewarding?  Do you yearn for that same joy that Jesus did?

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