For genuine, growing Christians, our relationship with Jesus increasingly influences how we live. As we turn to the Bible and turn its pages, we learn of His good plans for us, His gracious promises to us, and His guiding presence with us. Only when we regularly read and respond to the Bible can we be who we were made to be and do what we were made to do. That’s why it is essential that we… Read it. Pray it. Live it. Share it. If your ultimate aim in life is to be as happy as you can and bring as much honor to God as you can, there is no substitute for the nourishing, encouraging, strengthening, transforming Scriptures.
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.
You can talk yourself into just about anything. Other people will try to talk you into something. Only God will talk to you truthfully about everything. There are many voices that speak into our lives such as family and friends, news and social media, advertising and entertainment, and especially ourselves … but the loudest (most influential) should be God. We are being shaped by influences all around us which is why it is essential that each day we read God-breathed words in the Bible and listen to God-sent voices who speak His truth to us. When we listen to Him… He won’t just tickle our ears; He will delight our souls.
Followers of Jesus take steps of faith in our day-by-day “walk” with Him. Wherever He leads, we follow in the same direction, one step at a time. In loving obedience. With humble dependance. For a blessed experience. While there are many places we will go and things we will do, there are four basic steps that every Christian never stop taking until they follow Jesus all the way home: Pray. Read the Bible. Respond to what tells you. Help others do the same. This is how God is honored in us and we are happy in Him. Certainly we will take mis-steps along the way; but Jesus will never let us permanently lose our way.
Defeat doubt by preparing for battle in advance by filling your heart with the truth of God’s Word. In advance, because doubt appears without warning. With the truth of God’s Word, because doubt arrives with lies. The enemy will attack you in times of darkness because it’s hard to see him coming, and it’s hard to see the situation for what it really is. So, start your day in the light by saturating your heart with a good and accurate picture of God’s graciousness and faithfulness so you can remember those truths and promises when darkness falls. Never forget in the dark what God has shown you in the light.
Our thoughts have the power to shape us, for better or for worse, so we must let our minds land most often on Jesus. His Good News message is full of life-changing truths and promises that will guide us into a right perspective on every life issue. It changes how we see our past so we can know real freedom from guilt and shame. It changes how we see our present so we can know real purpose and peace in the midst of busyness. It changes how we see our future so we can know real hope as we joyfully anticipate what lies ahead. The more we think about Jesus, the more it will rewire how we think about everything else.
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 in Him. 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. It is His grace at work when He tells us what to do, gives us power to do it, and delights us in Himself as we do it. God’s way is not always easy, popular or instantly gratifying, but it always leads to real joy.
When reading the Bible, if you don’t experience both conviction and celebration, you’re not reading it correctly. On one hand, we should not ignore the places where God’s words challenge and correct the way we are living if we are disobedient to His commands. On the other hand, we should not isolate the places where God issues His commands so all we have is a list of “dos and don’ts”. A proper reading and understanding of the Bible should equip us to joyfully do as God intends and encourage us with all that Jesus has done, is doing and will do for us. His doing makes our doing possible and makes it worth it.
We often hear one thing when God is saying another thing. We hear, “You can’t do that or have that or be that.” God is saying, “That is not good for you.” We hear, “You must do this or have this or be this.” God is saying, “This is good for you.” What we interpret as a restrictive rule, God intends to be a gracious guardrail. While we may think His commands are something that will rob us of joy, He is actually saying them because He knows they will safeguard our joy. Therefore, let us trust Him as we listen to Him. Remember, even when we hear God saying something we don’t like, He is actually saying, “I love you.”
The truth will set you free FROM fearful hearts, false hopes and fleeting happiness that cleverly disguised sin creates. But only if you know what the truth is when you see it. False things are often mixed in with true things which leave us mixed up if we can’t tell the difference between the two. Do you know how to spot a fake? By knowing what the real thing looks like. That is why it is so important to fill our hearts and minds with the truth of Scripture, the promises of God, the commands of our King, the words of Jesus, the beauty of the gospel. The truth will set you free TO enjoy real heart-peace, real hope and real happiness.
It may surprise us. It may confuse us. It may overwhelm us. But when it does, let us rest in knowing that the plan of God is good for us in the end, better than our own preferred ideas, and the best way of doing things to get what we’re both after. The mutual goal for our lives is simple: for God to be glorified in our happiness. We don’t have to choose between God being honored and us being happy. We have to choose between God’s way and our way for getting there. Trust Him today because… His plans are perfect even when we don’t think they are. Our plans are flawed even when we don’t think they are.