An ongoing battle that every Christian faces is the one between the person you were before you met Jesus and the one you are now that you have met Him. Old temptations beckon. Old habits resurface. Old desires rekindle. Old loyalties divide. Old beliefs hinder. Old memories haunt. When you feel this tension, remember that you have a new identity, a new life and a new you because you believe in and belong to Jesus! You have been changed, are being changed and will be changed by His transforming grace. So fight the good fight of faith against sin as you rejoice in this today: that’s not you anymore.
Here’s a simple, but significant, lens through which life looks radically different than we often see it… will this matter 100 years from now? How we think, feel, speak, act, and react would be wonderfully different if we saw things in light of eternity, and remember that this short life is not all that there is. Our lives would create an everlasting ripple if we could look a century into our future to see the impact of our today. As we live by grace, in dependence upon the presence and power of Jesus, let us give less priority to the things that really don’t matter and more priority to the things that do.
Our joy will always be at risk if it is dependent upon things that we look to instead of Jesus because we are always at risk of losing them. The thrill fades away. The moment is over. The thing breaks. The experience disappoints. The person leaves. But Jesus has promised to give us a joy that doesn’t burn out, fade out, check out or sell out so we don’t have to miss out on real and lasting happiness that is only found in Him. Though every other form of happiness will inevitably leave or forsake us, He never will. In Jesus, we are offered a joy that can never be taken from us no matter what else is.
Bad circumstances, bad people and bad news make me want it. The more I survey the landscape of the sinfulness and brokenness we are all a part of, I look forward to our eternal heavenly home that Jesus is preparing for us so we can be with Him forever. A place where there will be no more sorrow, suffering or sin. A place where bad things will be eliminated, good things will be perfected and the best things will be unveiled. Our citizenship is in heaven, and God has put a longing in us for our homeland. When it’s hard here, let’s take heart and remember: He is preparing a place for us, and preparing us for a place.
One of the enemy’s biggest lies is convincing us to live as if this life is all there is. He wants us to prioritize and pursue things that won’t matter for long over things that will matter forever. But everything looks different when you look past the temporary to eternity. This place isn’t our home; we’re heading home. This life won’t last forever; the next life will. This treasure trove will fade away; the ones laid up in heaven have an everlasting shine. Yes, let us enjoy our time on earth and the things of earth as God means for us to do. But, even more, let us think, feel, speak and act as people who have set their sights on eternity.
Every single day you and I should do whatever it takes to be happier in Jesus. That’s how we win against temptation, frustration and dissatisfaction in this life. The attempts we make to improve ourselves, improve our circumstances, and improve our lives should not simply be about trying to take away things we dislike and add in things we do like. Instead, our goal should be to know and enjoy Jesus more and more and more. We grow in our inner peace, rest, security, confidence, hope and joy not because over and over we figure out a way to make things better, but because over and over we find our way to Jesus.
We go to great measures to gain treasures in this world. But trophies, trips, triumphs, titles, toys, things and time spent on earthly pursuits and pleasures with no regard for eternity will undo us in the end. It’s not that these things are inherently wrong, evil or unprofitable; it’s that we often ignore God to pursue them and value them more than we do Him. God has given us all things richly to enjoy, but the point of that enjoyment is to point us to Jesus. To gain all that the world has to offer yet not have Jesus is to have nothing at all. To gain all that Jesus has to offer yet not have the world is to have everything.
Many people see God’s commandments as a life-draining set of rules that is unpleasant, unnecessary and unwanted. They are seeing them wrongly. Do you know how bridges are designed, built and maintained for our safety? By “rules.” Do you know how meals are prepared, served and consumed for our nourishment? By “rules.” Do you know how music is composed, recorded and performed for our delight? By “rules.” God has decided how things should work for our … Safety. Nourishment. Delight. God’s good design for all things in our lives and in our universe is not life-draining; it is life-giving.
Faith in Jesus is followed by following Jesus in faith. Saving belief leads us to step off the throne, take off the crown, and let Jesus take over ruling our hearts and lives. We haven’t really put our faith in Jesus if we are indifferent to what He wants and resistant to what He says. That’s not trust. That’s a lack of trust. That’s mistrust. Real faith in Jesus makes us want to give up our sin and self-rule to follow His steps, His ways and His commands (although imperfectly executed) more fully over time. Why? Because we are confident that life His way is better than any other option, and that for eternal life He is the only option.
It is defined in different ways. It is pursued in different ways. It is measured in different ways. But what happiness has in common no matter how it is defined, pursued and measured is this: every single human being wants it. The message of the world is to “do what you want to do and be who you want to be” and this will make you happy. Only it … Does. Not. Work. The message of Jesus is “do what I want you to do and be who I made you to be.” In doing so, we will experience His joy, and our joy can be full no matter what else is happening in our lives. Want to be happy? His. Way. Works.
Being in a loving relationship with Jesus brings both gracious privileges and glorious responsibilities. On one hand, we are given endless blessings that will carry on throughout eternity. On the other hand, we are given important assignments to be carried out until completion. While it may seem like the privileges are more desirable than the responsibilities, this should not be so. Our assigned tasks are opportunities to proclaim, serve, please, model and glorify the One Who saves us by His grace. When we do the good things that Jesus has planned for us, we do them unto Him. That, in itself, is a privilege.