Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Full Life
It can be easy to look at the lives of others and covet their blessings, their opportunities or their situations. The grass being greener on the other side is a common perception error made by those who are less than content. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
One way to overcome discontentment is to don an attitude of gratitude. Acknowledging the gifts God gives you is a discipline that cultivates genuine thankfulness and an honest perspective that is rooted in humility. But it doesn't come naturally to the sinful soul. The Christian must exercise faith and faithfulness diligently, so that he actively yields his heart to being transformed by the renewing of his mind.
Some may feel they've gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to their circumstances in life. But what I've found is that most unfavorable circumstances are the result of someone's poor choices. Sometimes people settle for something less than godly, and end up reaping a less than stellar situation. But even in those cases, a man who turns to God can be blessed and can find contentment, because even though God says that a man will reap what he sows, the God who turned water into wine can use any circumstance to bring about something for which He should be praised. And praising God is what we were created to do. I'm convinced that the Enemy desires nothing more than to steal God's praises and kill those He loves.
We are told in Psalm 16:11
"...in your presence is fullness of joy".
No matter how the Enemy entices a man, the joy we seek is found fully in Christ. This is why a hungry weary mother in Africa can sing praises to Jesus as she lays on her dirt floor at night. This is why the tortured believer in a cell of a prison can endure extreme pain and loneliness, yet end his days in songs of praise. This is why believers who hide and worship in secret can celebrate in spite of their hardship. This is how a Christian woman who compromised and chose her spouse poorly can remain married to him in spite of the fact that she feels alone, and passionless in her marriage. It is not our circumstances that give us joy. It is our God, who helps us endure the hardships and mistakes of our lives, who gives us joy. Our enemy will try to make us feel like we can not endure. He will try to convince us that we don't need to exercise integrity when coping with the consequences of our mistakes, by justifying for us an unsanctfied fix that in the end does not honor God. He will try to rob us of the confidence we have in God's goodness and mercy and in His ability to redeem any one who turns to Him. But God will and He does redeem us and He is eternally good and merciful. That should be our first praise right there.
A life committed to praising Jesus moment by moment, is not easily over-shadowed by unfortunate situations. This is common knowledge to faithful believers around the world. The reason I share this now, is that I hope that if there is even one person out there who is struggling, who by chance reads my ramblings, he will hear the truth. In the presence of God is fullness of joy. And one need not wait until he passes through the Pearly Gates to be in God's presence. He is not far from anyone of us! Praising God for His mercies and blessings is a discipline that ushers a soul into the place of worship. And where one is worshipping God, God is there to receive it. The weary soul will not be crushed while it is praising God. The wounded heart will not bleed out when it is bound up by the One who holds it. The lonely soul will find that she is not alone when she walks with God. Even the one who feels like he is suffocating can praise the One who gives the breath of life.
The question is, will you? Will you praise God, in spite of your circumstance? Will you honor Him, in spite of temptation?
Having a thankful attitude begins with speaking praises to God for any one good thing in your life. And once you begin looking, you will not be able to ignore all the other ways in which you are blessed. Circumstances may not change in your life, but what changes is your heart. And when a man's heart is praising God, his eyes are no longer on the negative things but on the good and the lovely and the right things that He tells us they should be on in Philippians 4:8.
The Enemy would have you covet the lives of others, looking longingly at their lovers, their homes, their riches, their jobs, their families, their position or what ever he knows will be tempting to you personally. There is no greener grass for the thankful. The one who praises God in all circumstances is already partaking of the full life God offers, because the full life is found solely in Him. And when all is said and done, those who have chosen to worship God over all else will be given the opportunity to worship Him forever. And their joy will be complete.