Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Enjoy God's gifts ... and have a BLESSED new year!! "

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life" (I Timothy 6:17-19).

Starting the new year with joy is God's desire for all who know Him ... so how do you do that?  It may seem easy for some.  You have what you want (at least most of it), and your life seems to be going pretty well.  Life is good, so you have joy.  Others find it hard to be joyful because they want something they don't have, life has delivered a trial or disappointment, or worse - a tragedy.  How do you have joy when times are hard?  There are thousands of different scenarios as people head into the new year, but still God calls those who are His to "be joyful always" (I Thessalonians 5:16).  How do you do that?

There is only one way ...  FIRST, you need to know God.  It's not enough to know "about" God.  A lot of people know "about" God and get upset when their "god" doesn't do what they want "it" to do.  So they have joy when their "religion" seems to be working for them, and they lose their joy when it doesn't.  When their god is nice to them they're happy, when he/she/it isn't nice to them, they're sad, angry and depressed.  Such is the emotional/spiritual state of millions of people.  As we live in this world the "haves" seem to have joy, while the "have nots" seem to be incapable of joy.  Still, there are some who prove that there's more to joy than what you have or experience.  These have learned the secret of contentment through oneness with Christ.

Earlier in I Timothy 6, Paul writes, "Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that" (I Timothy 6:6-8).  Those who truly know God through faith in Jesus Christ have joy daily because we find our joy not in what God gives us, but in God Himself.  HE IS OUR JOY!!  When Paul says in the verses above that God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment," the "everything" is the opportunity to live with Him and for Him, being "rich in good deeds, and ... generous and willing to share ... in this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life" (I Timothy 6:18-19).

You see, living for yourself doesn't give you joy!!  It just doesn't.  Living for God by rejoicing in Him and loving others is the path to true joy.  Who knew that obedience to God's commands to love Him and to love others was the pathway to true joy?!! GOD did!  No wonder the Psalmist wrote, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2).  By giving His Son to pay our penalty for sin and then giving us His Spirit to enable us to live in obedience to His commands God has given us everything we need to find JOY!

Only those who truly know the God of salvation can ENJOY the gifts God gives ... beginning with the gift of His Son ... "Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs ..."  HOW???  "Know that the LORD is God.  It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations" (Psalm 100:1-5).  And it is in enjoying THESE things that we who believe discover the joy God promises His children.

May you know that joy today and every day in the new year by drawing near to God through faith in Jesus and living to please and honor Him, living with Him and for Him, by the power of His Spirit living within you.  Have something better than a "happy" new year ... have a BLESSED new year.

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