Loving the Life we have now
Sermon for August 22, 1999
We toil and care. We strive and we fuss. We deal with situation after situation never really stopping to "smell the roses." We seek a promotion on the job, more education for increased pay, and other such things. What are we really trying to do? Ultimately we all want to be happy and find enjoyment and pleasure in our lives. Now ask yourself the following question and be honest and thorough. Do you enjoy your life? Think about the answer for a few minutes. Discover the reasons for your answer whether you answered yes or no.
Now some people may equate having an enjoyable life with having a prosperous life. We sometimes think that we have to have lots of money in the bank and the car or house of our dreams in order to experience happiness or prosperity. We equate a good life with "things." Some church teachings even equate the blessings of God with the amount of money we have, the type of car we drive, or the type of clothes we wear. Some ministers tell us that we can have the new home, the nice car, nice clothes, nice jewelry, etc. We are told that these things are an indication of the blessing of God on our lives. Prosperity, they say, is for all and this prosperity is an abundance of things. We are told that Jesus was talking about "things" when he said that he came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). We have taken something so beautiful and polluted it with things and the pursuit of riches.
We are not blessed just because we have thousands of dollars at our disposal. The blessings of God do not manifest only by not being in debt. We cannot say that we are blessed because our checkbook is running out of places to put digits. Blessings are not monetary in nature. Yes we may say that we are blessed because we have money in the bank. However, that is not the real blessing. Things cannot bring true blessing to our lives. We are blessed when we can enjoy these things whether it is much or little.
Our blessings are in Christ. The real blessing is when we realize how faithful our heavenly father is and how much he loves us. Our real blessing is realized when we understand that the blood of Christ saves us and from that point to eternity we are secure in Christ. A true blessing is the ability to enjoy what we have at this very moment. We are going to look at this concept in this study. Namely, we are going to discuss how we can love the life that we have now.
Lets first discuss focus. What are you focused on? Where is your treasure? Consider what Jesus said about our treasures.
Matt. 6:21 (NKJV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Is your treasure in heaven or on Earth? What is meant by treasure? Your treasure is simply that which has great value to you. This value is so great that you tend to depend on it. Your treasure is the thing that you confide in and protect. Your treasure is ultimately what you pursue. For example, a person may treasure their money or possessions. In his or her mind the possessions are what sustains. They would be lost without the possessions. Their whole aim in life is ultimately to protect their treasure (riches and possessions) and to acquire more to further secure themselves. Again look at what Jesus said about our treasures.
Matt. 6:19 through Matt. 6:20 (NKJV) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Jesus indicates here that our treasures should be in heaven. That is, the important THING in our lives should be heavenly (as in the Kingdom of God). These heavenly things include proper prayer, forgiveness, love, etc. In essence, our treasures should consist of those things that are godly or of God. The THING we should pursue is God and His kingdom. Well what about the nice house that I want or the nice car. Dont think that these things are wrong. However, if they are your treasures then you are on the wrong road. Your treasures consist of things that are earthly, which are only temporal. Your treasures should be things that are heavenly, which are permanent.
Sure, you may say, my treasures should be heavenly. However, I desire certain things now to enjoy my life. I want the nice car and the nice home. I want to enjoy my life! I want to find pleasure in my life in the here and now! True, we all want to enjoy our life and we all want to find pleasure. It is seemingly innate to a human to pursue happiness. I guess this is natural. However, this pursuit and the desire for enjoyment should not be the forces to govern your life. These THINGS also should not be the definition of your happiness because these THINGS are temporal. They dont last. The topic then shifts to that of balance. How can you "enjoy" your life and at the same time store up treasures in heaven. Consider first what Jesus said about this very topic.
Matt. 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
There it is. Seek God and his Kingdom and all of your needs are met. We cannot seek God and at the same time pursue riches. Again look at what Jesus said.
Matt. 6:24 (NKJV) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
The word mammon is sometimes translated as money. However, it more generally refers to the Earthly thing that you trust in over and above God.
What we need is confidence in Gods word so that we really believe that what he says will really happen. We need to come to the point where we believe that seeking God will fulfill us or cause us to live according to Gods expectations (will). We need to believe that if we seek God that our needs will really be met. Yeah, you may say, but what about my wants? Sure God will meet my needs but will he grant my desires. The implication here is that in order for you to enjoy your life, you have to have THINGS. You are really saying that apart from your needs, you must have your desires met in order for you to find pleasure. However, is this accurate? Is true fulfillment or pleasure found in these THINGS? Can we truly say that happiness comes from the accumulation of things? Are we pleased having the things we now possess?
I recall when I got my first car. I remember the excitement that I felt while in the dealer with the anticipation of really having my own car. It was like the feeling a child has around Christmas time when He knows mom and dad will get him or her that special toy. The moment of truth arrived after all of the paper work was complete and I was given the keys to the car. It was time to drive it home. I remember driving it home and to my surprise I was not all that excited. I guess reality stepped in. It was just a car. It would make my life more convenient I guess since I wouldnt have to wait for public transportation but so what? Yes I was really glad about it but I realized that it ultimately did not bring me happiness. The feelings after the car became mine were no where near the excitement I felt anticipating it.
The same thing happened when I purchased my first house (with my wife). I remember the great excitement I felt before the settlement day. However, the house did not bring true happiness to my life. These were mere THINGS. They were temporal. What then brings true happiness? How can we really enjoy our lives? We pursue more money because we believe that more money will allow us to have more things and more things will bring us happiness or more happiness. I believe that this is one of the greatest deceptions of life. We believe that the new or the "better" will make us happy. Some miserable husbands may think that the other woman will bring happiness to his life since his wife doesnt. A wife may think that the other man will bring happiness and pleasure to her life since her husband doesnt. We think that happiness is out there someplace. We think that happiness is found in the things that we need to get. We equate happiness with having this or having that. Again, is this true happiness?
EnjoymentThe Gift Of god
Consider the following scriptures very carefully.
Eccl. 3:13 through Eccl. 3:14 (NCV) God wants all people to eat and drink and be happy in their work, which are gifts from God. 14I know that everything God does will continue forever. People cannot add anything to what God has done, and they cannot take anything away from it. God does it this way to make people respect him.
Eccl. 6:2 through Eccl. 6:3 (NCV) God gives great wealth, riches, and honor to some people; they have everything they want. But God does not let them enjoy such things; a stranger enjoys them instead. This is useless and very wrong. A man might have a hundred children and live a long time, but what good is it if he cant enjoy the good God gives him or have a proper burial? I say a baby born dead is better off than he is.
Eccl. 5:18 through Eccl. 5:20 (NCV) I have seen what is best for people here on earth. They should eat and drink and enjoy their work, because the life God has given them on earth is short. God gives some people the ability to enjoy the wealth and property he gives them, as well as the ability to accept their state in life and enjoy their work. They do not worry about how short life is, because God keeps them busy with what they love to do.
See also Ecclesiastes 9:7
These scriptures are absolutely phenomenal in what they seem to imply. Enjoyment in life is not in the accumulation of things. Enjoyment in life is not due to money in the bank. Enjoyment of life is a gift of God and a reward for those who respect and obey him. Imagine that! True enjoyment comes from God. Yeah, you say, but what about my desires?
I want and I want. Consider what Paul said (this is a very powerful principle so strap on your seat belt).
Phil. 4:11 through Phil. 4:13 (NCV) I am not telling you this because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.
This is powerful. The secret is Christ. With Christ we can do all things (See also John 15:5). The accumulation of things is not important when we consider Christ. Paul was content because his faith was in Christ. Paul could be happy at any time because his happiness wasnt founded upon Earthly things. Paul said that there were times when he had plenty and there were times when he didnt have enough but in all of these times he was content (satisfied). He remained happy in any situation because his happiness wasnt dependent on what he had except the possession of the knowledge of Christ. Furthermore, I think we all can agree that Paul, as well as the other apostles, were blessed of God.
Are you content? Are you satisfied or are you busy running around pursuing this or that in hope of obtaining that oh so elusive happiness? What is the foundation of your happiness? Where is your treasure? If your treasure is Earthly then you are seeking happiness in vain. If you treasure is heavenly then you can experience true happiness if you will only realize that it doesnt come from THINGS, rather from God through Christ.
Dont Worry, Be Happy
Let me close with this a quote from Paul.
Phil. 4:6 through Phil. 4:7 (NCV) Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. 7And Gods peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
What does it all add up to in general? Dont worry. Be happy. You dont have to worry if you know that God is looking after you. You can be happy because God is the source of your happiness. Remember to seek God first and enjoy the life that he gives you. There is nothing greater that you can do.
You can enjoy your life at this moment by being content with what you have at this moment. Enjoy yourself (responsibly) when you get your paycheck. Im not implying that you should just let it all hang out. I am saying that you should not worry about so much stuff. Instead learn to be content with what you have and then enjoy it. The toils and the strife we experience can separate us from the experience of Gods gift to us anyway. It can choke the word right out of us. Jesus said that the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches could choke the word out of us.
Matt. 13:22 (NCV) And what is the seed that fell among the thorny weeds? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching but lets worries about this life and the temptation of wealth stop that teaching from growing. So the teaching does not produce fruit in that persons life.
Not only does the pursuit of things not bring true happiness, it can also have very negative effects. Again, be content with what you have and learn to enjoy what you have at this very moment. Also remember that true blessing, enjoyment, and happiness are gifts from God so it would seem reasonable that we seek God first. We dont seek God because it is a way to the things. That would be pure deception. We seek God because He is important to us. He is the desire of our life. After that, we can enjoy the life that God gives us. Not all people will be rich and have great things. However, all people can enjoy a prosperous life that God has given them so it would seem reasonable again that we simply enjoy what God has given us at this moment.
Loving the life we have now means that we have to respect and obey God. Blessings flow from God and not things. An indication of Gods blessing on our life is more in the ability to enjoy what we have and not merely the accumulation of THINGS. Respect and obey god and experience true enjoyment and happiness.
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