A man had just had his annual medical and the doctor said, "There's no reason why you can't live a completely normal life as long as you don't try to enjoy it."
Our Christian life can seem a bit like that, ‘do the right thing but don't enjoy it’. Sometimes it seems there’s endless pressure to surrender our lives to Jesus' Lordship, to deny our selves and take up our cross, to repent, to serve God and give ourselves for others… And this is right, it’s all part of being a Christian, but not as a slavish duty. The Christian life is ALSO meant to be enjoyed.
Think about it, what is heaven like?
When we look at what
This is why our church’s mission statement is ‘to enjoy heaven on the way to heaven and in the process share the love of God with others - Heaven on earth’.
We need times of celebration
God wants us to celebrate, to enjoy and be blessed by his love and goodness to us.
Of course, this has to be in the context of all that’s required of us as Christians, but so often our focus is on the negative instead of celebrating who God is and what he has done for us. The Westminster Confession says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever. Jesus said we glorify God through letting the light shine through our lives so men see our good works (Matthew 5:16). Isn’t it easier to do that if we enjoy our relationship with God?
When the Jewish Exiles returned to
But Nehemiah told the people they should be filled with joy because the day was holy. He told them to go home and celebrate because, he said, ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:9-10).
When God was establishing the Jewish Nation as his called out people he gave them seven feasts to be sacred assemblies (Leviticus 23:1-2). And of the seven the balance seems heavily tipped in favour of celebration - five joyous occasions to two solemn ones.
Sacred assemblies didn’t mean solemn - they were national holidays. The God of the Bible encourages joy.
Our Sunday services are ‘sacred assemblies’ - times of celebration where we have the opportunity to enjoy a break from everyday worries and cares and enjoy being together in the presence of God our Father. Incidentally, when we enjoy coming to church our children will enjoy church too.
We need times of celebration as God’s family - they’re like Birthdays!
So, how do we enjoy God?
If we’re to enjoy living 'life to the full' we need, if we haven’t already, to clear away the obstacles to God in our lives.
It’s worth remembering that God has no problem enjoying us - he loved us while we were still sinners! The problem is with us not being free to enjoy being in his presence. Sunday mornings, for instance, can sometimes be uncomfortable and threatening so...
1: Deal with the past
We all have a past and we need to deal with any residue of occult or other activity like New Age philosophy.
At salvation our past was forgiven, it was buried in the waters of baptism, and we rose to new life in Jesus (see Romans 6:4).
James says… ‘Submit to God and resist the Devil’ (James 4:7). Which is easier and more fruitful: to be concerned about our failings and the ease in which we can sin and so try to resist the devil, or, to focus on drawing near to God (James 4:8)? If we draw near to God and he to us then don’t you think that resisting the devil will be easier?
Confessing our sin restores our broken relationship with God, and James is very clear about that (see James 4:8-10). John says…If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:8-9).
3: Run from temptation
Paul said to Timothy… “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2Timothy 2:22). Paul is saying remove yourself physically from any situation that stimulates your desire to sin (like Joseph running from being tempted by Potiphar’s wife). Knowing when to run is as important in the spiritual battle as knowing when and how to fight.
4: Believe God's Word
Jesus puts it this way…"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32). What stops us believing God’s Word, from holding to Jesus’ teaching? Very often it’s baggage from the past along with our doubts and fears. However, we can deal with these things with the help of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. The answer, as
.5: Spend time with Jesus
Remember Martha and Mary. We're all called to serve God like Martha but not at the expense of an ongoing relationship with God. We also need to take time-out, like Mary, to be with Jesus. So often we're so busy we don't have time to enjoy being a Christian and our relationship with God, other people, and the fruit of our lives suffer as a result.
Our Christian's lives can be marked by much activity and little revelation, and like Martha we become complaining and irritable.
Was king David like Martha? He was a busy man yet this was his desire…One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27:4). I’m sure that wasn’t just a pipe dream - where did he get all his revelation from to write the Psalms, and where did he get his confidence to kill Goliath?
6: Praise God and
give thanks in all things
Paul says… Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4,6-7).
Praising and giving thanks to God lifts us into his presence. Instead of straining in the crowd outside Buckingham Palace to see over the ‘problems’ in front of us to get a view of the Queen, praise lifts us onto the balcony with the King of Kings where we get his perspective on life and it’s problems.
In heaven there’s only the ‘abundant life’ of Jesus – let’s enjoy ‘Heaven on Earth’ right now.
020 8886 3786