Are You Enjoying Your Life?

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. ~ Henri Nouwen

The New Year will soon be here. These last few days of December are a time of reflection and introspection. It’s when most of us decide what resolutions we want to make so that the coming year is better than the last.

Of course, a lot of what happens we can’t predict or plan for, other than through faith and prayer. We can’t anticipate a debilitating disease, the loss of a loved one, or the need to become caregiver to aging relatives. Divorce, job loss, or other major life events can throw us into a mental and emotional tizzy. Maybe you’re in the midst of some of that turmoil now. Even so, let me ask you a question …

 Are you enjoying your life?

Yep. That’s what I asked. As a Christian, God wants you to be the best, have the best and experience the best that Life has to offer. So … are you? If not, I encourage you to adopt a new way of thinking. Here are four points to mediate on from the Bible.

Jesus came to ensure your joy.

Let’s start with Jesus own words from John 10:10:  The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they (you!) may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

If you really think about that verse, you will know not to blame God when bad things happen. It’s the thief – the devil, satan and his minions – who come to steal your peace, kill your joy and destroy your abundant life.

Are you overflowing with joy, peace and abundance? Are you essentially happy with your life? Whether you are or aren’t, are you ready to reach higher? Are you willing to make some changes so that you can become all that God wants you to be and have everything He wants you to have?

Or are you grumbling and complaining like the Israelites who spent 40 years wandering around in the desert because they wouldn’t listen to God or appreciate all He was doing for them? He’d broken them free from the bondage of Egypt and prepared a land of milk and honey, but they were too fearful and ungrateful to lay claim to His promises. He fed them manna and quail from the skies, provided water and campsites, stayed with them day (in a cloud) and night (pillar of fire). And all they could do was complain. He kept their feet shod and their clothes from wearing out … for 40 years!

OK, so I don’t really want to wear the same pair of jeans or shoes for that long, but I do want to recognize that everything I have ever had or ever will have is from God. He’s the Source of all things. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). Friends, job, clothing and food, money for other expenses, a place to live, blessing and favor – all of it originate from the Father of Love. And if you’re missing any of those pieces to a joyful, abundant life, it’s time to dig into His Word, find His promises and take your stand in faith for whatever you need or desire!

God wants you to have joy.

God gives us richly all things to enjoy (I Tim. 6:17b). You can’t really earn the right to enjoy life. Like everything else, joy is a gift of grace, received by faith.

The beginning of that verse charges those who are rich in this world not to trust in their accumulated wealth. Everyone knows that the stock market, investments or real estate are volatile. People who trust solely in material means to generate wealth are subject to worldly disaster and collapse.

Instead, recognize God as the Source of every blessing in your life. Gratitude is powerful. As your Divine Parent, I’m sure He’d love to hear from you when you’re not whining, complaining or begging for the next favor or fix. “God, if you’ll get me out of this, I’ll never ask for another thing.” You know it’s a lie when you say things like that, but you’re desperate.

Here’s the solution. God wants to help. But He needs your faith to make the connection!  That means no more begging and pleading. It means taking a stand on His promises and being grateful to Him for the answers you need. If you’ll do that, you can rejoice (have joy), knowing that He started working on your problem the moment you stepped out in faith. If you STAY in faith, the solution just keeps getting closer until – suddenly – you have whatever you asked. Therefore I say unto you, what things soever you desire, when you pray, BELIEVE that you receive them, and YOU SHALL HAVE THEM (Mark 11:24).

Why would God do that for you? Because He loves YOU – and He wants to give you richly all things to enjoy! He takes pleasure in your prosperity (Ps. 35:27).

Your work should be a channel of joy.

And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God (Ecc. 3:13). In one sense, you have worked hard, probably still are. God wants you to take some of the results of your efforts to play, relax, experience and enjoy.

A miserly attitude is based in fear that the money will run out, that someday there won’t be enough. Yet God wants us to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Don’t neglect to tithe (it opens the windows of heaven for an overflow of blessing – Mal. 3:10). Your tithe connects you to the Blessing of God and allows Him to pour more and more abundance into your life.

Don’t look to a JOB as your source. Instead, remember that God is The Source of all. Expect Him to expand your opportunities to exceed your need and give you more than enough! God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work (2Cor. 9:8).

What’s a good work? When you’ve got your needs met and can help meet the needs of others. There is great joy in giving, in knowing that you are making a difference in someone else’s life. Whether that means baking cookies to take to the neighbor down the street, giving money to church or charity, or donating your time to help with a community project or a friend’s need, it’s your abundance that enables you to focus on others and abound to every good work.

You job is not just about the paycheck. You are performing a valuable service to the company you work for and its clients and customers. You are needed. You should be an asset and a blessing to the people you work with or come in contact with every day. If you are contributing to the well-being of your company, you can feel good about your work. That sense of satisfaction enhances your joy.

Joy is an inside job.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16:11). God, the Source of all, is also the Source of your pleasure and joy. The more you recognize His presence and power in your life, the more time you spend in His Word, meditating on His promises, the more joy you will experience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace … (Gal. 5:22a) Joy comes out from your spirit. It needs to be nurtured and encouraged to grow and expand. You need to make a conscious effort (New Year’s resolution?) to focus on the goodness and blessing in your life, not the negatives or the things you think you lack. Blame, unforgiveness and anger are enemies of joy and peace.

I’ve known people who have every advantage and material blessing, but they were miserable (and often miserly). I’ve also known people (you probably do, too) who have less in the form of material possessions, but they are happy, full of joy and gladness. The difference obviously wasn’t the money or lack thereof. It was all in their individual attitudes about life.

You can’t expect other people – not your spouse, boss, kids, friends or pastor – to be responsible for your joy and happiness. No matter how hard they try, people disappoint. They misunderstand, miss-speak or miss the mark. Your joy has to come from inside you, your divine connection to Almighty God.

So, let me ask you again, are you enjoying your life? When God said, “Light, be!” in the first chapter of Genesis, light flowed from Him at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. God never told it to stop, so Light just keeps expanding beyond anything man can gauge or record.

 Joy can do the same thing inside you if you’ll let it. Expanding, growing, until it overflows from your spirit and soul in such abundance that it spreads joy to those around you. Then, you’ll not only enjoy your own life, you’ll help others enjoy theirs, as well.

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