A Joy That Can Never Be Taken

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.

To Seek His Honor Is To Seek Our Happiness

The ultimate goal of our lives is for God to be honored in us and us to be happy in Him.  There isn’t anything higher to aspire to than the duality of God’s honor and our happiness.  When we thank Him, trust Him, and treasure Him, these two things are achieved.  Thanking Him means our hearts are glad because of something He gets glory for doing.  Trusting Him means we delight to do what God has decided because we believe that He is good.  Treasuring Him means we find enjoyment in His companionship because He is infinitely worth knowing.  To seek His honor is to seek our happiness.

Whatever It Takes To Be Happier In Jesus

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.

Defined By God

When we are secure in our identity in Christ, we are free to have relationships that are not defined by comparing ourselves with others, but by caring for others.  If our sense of personal worth comes from how God feels about us, treats us, and remakes us as His children, then we don’t have to prove ourselves in categories of better and worse, more and less, or ahead and behind in how we measure up against the people in our lives.  Instead of ranking ourselves as better off than others or resenting others who we think are better off than ourselves, we can joyfully love and serve them as equal image-bearers of God.

His Way Works

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.

Seeing Signs Of God Everywhere You Look

You can look all around and conclude that God is absent or that He is present.  May He give us spiritual eyes that see… Not just the beauty of a sunset, but the God who paints the sky.  Not just the miracle of a baby’s birth, but the God who brings things to life.  Not just the taste of a great meal, but the God who invented flavors.  Not just the satisfaction of achieving a goal, but the God who empowers us to do so.  Not just a lovely wedding, but the God who created marriage. Not just a great day, but the God who offers us eternal life.  Shining through every good and right and true thing we see is an ever-present God.

The Enemy Of Your Soul

The enemy of your soul doesn’t care about you.  His only interest in you is as a victim.  He wants to “steal and kill and destroy,” and a primary way he attempts to do this is by leading you astray.   How?  By making sin look attractive, and obedience seem restrictive.   He wants you and me to believe that sin isn’t sin, that sin is worth it, that sin isn’t that serious, and that sin won’t cost too much.  Jesus leads our lives to deliver us from sin and deliver to us abundant life now and eternal life later. When He calls us to follow Him in loving obedience, it is not because He’s a tyrant; it’s because He intends to set us free from one.

He Is The Real Gift

It is right to enjoy the good gifts of God in the way that He designed them to be enjoyed because that’s why He gives them to us.   The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of the created world are supposed to be enjoyed because God made them to send and made us to receive … pleasure.  But rather than enjoying them too little (ingratitude) or too much (idolatry), let us enjoy them as they were intended, as a catalyst for treasuring the Gift-Giver far beyond what He might give to us.   The gifts that God sends us are wonderful; but they are nowhere near as wonderful as Him.  He is the real gift!

We Will Find Lasting Satisfaction

If our contentment depends upon our lives being full of good times and good things, we’re going to ride a roller coaster of highs and lows.  We will never be satisfied for long.  Why not?  Because we will find that the details of our lives are constantly changing so that we often have what we don’t want or want what we don’t have.  Jesus offers us something infinitely better… His unchanging presence.  His unchanging promises. His unchanging provision. This doesn’t mean life won’t have its ups and downs. It means whatever life is like, we will find the lasting satisfaction we fail to find elsewhere when we look to Jesus.

God Wants Us To Be Happy

God wants us to be happy.  When He tells us in the Bible to do, say, correct, believe, feel, think or share something, it is not to take away our happiness; it is to take away the things that are in the way of our full and lasting happiness.  We must trust that God is after our happiness, that He knows best how to bring about our happiness, and that what He tells us in the Bible is designed to lead us into happiness.  Doing what God tells us is not always easy, popular or instantly gratifying.  But it is always for good, always better in the end than sin, and always the best option for making us truly, ultimately, and eternally happy.

It’s A Buffet, Not A Bite

By grace, God serves up an endless feast of soul-nourishing, soul-delighting blessings for those who trust in Jesus. This includes:  forgiveness, friendship, freedom, wisdom, power, peace, purpose, joy, hope, security, rest, justice, thankfulness, assurance, deliverance, guidance, significance, endurance, comfort, companionship, care, courage, transformation, satisfaction, love and life. And this is not a complete list!  The countless implications and applications of the benefits that are ours by grace are staggering and extend from now until eternity.  It’s a buffet, not a bite. In Jesus, we have the life we’ve always wanted.

Happy In Ways That Will Not Be Regretted

Loving others includes being happy that they are happy … unless the source of their happiness is sin.  People can find happiness in things ranging from cheating on a test to cheating on a spouse, hurting themselves through addictions to hurting others through mistreatment, and ignoring family needs to ignoring God.  This is not the time to be happy for them; it is the time to help them. We should support: Godly ambitions, but not selfish ones.  Godly affections, but not sinful ones. Godly actions, but not senseless ones.  Let us encourage each other to be happy in ways that will not be regretted in the end.

It Will Be Worth It All

There is a heavenly scene that should run through our minds often as we run the race of life.  When we grow weary from serving, we should think of it.  When the good we do doesn’t seem to be doing much good, we should think of it. When the risk or sacrifice of living out our faith is high, we should think of it. Here’s the scene:  We cross the finish line.  We see the smiling face of Jesus.  We fall down before Him.  And we hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your master.”  Know this… Every long day.  Every hard day.  Every costly day.  In that moment, it will all be worth it.

When God Says No

There is much I love about my heavenly Father.  One thing is this:  He doesn’t just let me do anything I want to do.  He knows that there are many things I want to do which are not good for me or for other people.  So, instead of letting me live selfishly, He removes some things from me in order to replace them with better things.  His plans for my plans.  His ways for my ways. His outcomes for my outcomes. The result isn’t that I experience less, but that I experience more.  More peace.  More joy.  More hope.  More purpose.  Remember, when God says “No,” to something, He is saying “Yes” to something better.

A Life Of Real Contentedness

You can’t afford it; but it’s already paid for.  You can’t earn it; but it’s freely given.  You can’t secure it; but it’s always available to you.  God’s grace has countless implications and applications for everyday life and eternal life, ranging from getting good things to getting through bad things to getting to the best things. There is grace for you to have the life of real contentedness that you’ve always wanted.  And that’s just the beginning, for it will expand and extend throughout eternity.  All you have to do is … Want it.  Ask for it.  Receive it.  Enjoy it.   Grace isn’t about your doing or your deserving; it’s about God giving us His gifts.

We See His Wonderful Heart

There is a lot we learn to love about Who Jesus is, which we learn about from what Jesus does.  We love that He is gracious, kind, powerful, wise and compassionate … and we see He is all of those things in the way He relates to us.  He forgives us, so we know He is gracious.  He blesses us, so we know He is kind.  He helps us, so we know He is powerful.  He guides us, so we know He is wise.  He cares for us, so we know He is compassionate.  But it is His character, nature and personality that draw us and delight us. We don’t love Jesus because we see His wonderful acts; we love Jesus because we see His wonderful heart.

Worship War

Worshipping Jesus is war against worshipping anything else.  Only one person, pursuit, prize or passion can rank as your highest priority, get your greatest admiration and be your fullest joy.  The more you value Jesus above all other things, the less you will value other things above Jesus.  Your heart.  Your mind.  Your will.  These will all bow down to something or someone that means the most to you.  While we are “given all things richly to enjoy,” none of these things are meant to compete with our love and loyalty for Jesus.  Who is worthy of our worship?  May we answer with our hearts, minds and lives: Jesus is.

God-Glorifying Happiness

How is God glorified through our happiness?  There are at least three ways… First, He is glorified when we trust that He knows best how to make us happy, and we lovingly do what He says to bring about our happiness.  Second, He is glorified when we thank Him for the good things He gives to us and does for us that make us happy so that He gets credit.  Third, He is glorified when we treasure Him as our ultimate source of happiness by delighting not just in His gifts, but in Him as a good and generous and gracious Giver.   Trust Him.  Thank Him.  Treasure Him.  This is how God is honored in us and we are happy in Him.

Contentment Will Be Ours

We rob ourselves of satisfaction when we long too deeply for something more or something different than what God has given us. We will not like our lives when we think too much about how unlike they are from… The way it used to be in better times.  The way we want it to be in current times.  The way it seems to be for others at all times. But we can stop this robbery by trusting God knows best what to give us and by treasuring what God does give us in, through and because of the gift of His Son. Contentment will be ours if we stop focusing on what is absent from our lives and start rejoicing that Jesus is present in them.

Our Big-Picture Purpose

How many of these we have and what we do with them differs, but we all get 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and 365 days in a year. What our enemy wants us to do is fill them up with vain pursuits.  We have countless options and distractions available to steal our attention.  Rather than scrolling and clicking and watching and recreating our lives away on things that don’t matter, Jesus is calling us into something better. Namely, to glorify God by experiencing real joy in Him and helping others experience it too. So… While we still have time, let us make the most of it by living out our big-picture purpose.