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Saturday, September 28, 2013

How to Enjoy Life and Have Good Days




 

How to Enjoy Life and Have Good Days

 

The Bible says:  “For let the person who wants to enjoy life and have good days keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from treachery and deceit.  Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right.  Let him search for peace and go after it eagerly.”  (1 Peter 3:10-11)   

 

I think we all want to have a good life.  This verse gives four things a person can do to have a good life.  1.) Keep your tongue free from evil.  2.)  Turn away from wickedness.  3.)  Do what is right.  and 4.)  Search for peace.

 

The first principle – keeping our tongue free from evil – is more difficult to accomplish than it might appear.  Our words are powerful – they can bring life and blessing into the lives of others or they can bring misery and death.  Our words come out of what is in our hearts so that is why it is so difficult to control our words.  If our hearts aren’t right, you guessed it.  Our words won’t come out right either! 

 

So we not only need to watch our words but we also need to watch our hearts.  If we have the habit of being anxious about how we are going to take care of ourselves, it can cause us trouble .There is nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves and our loved ones, in fact we are supposed to work hard to care for ourselves and our families.  But I said “anxious” self-care.  We do our very best and then we ask God to do what we can not do and trust Him to see us through.  This following scripture illustrates how ugly words and trouble come in through anxious self-care.

 

“You are jealous and want what others have and your desires go unfulfilled: so you become murderers.  You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain what you want, so you fight and war.  You do not have, because you do not ask.”  (James 4:1-2)  We are encouraged here to pray to God and ask Him for the things that we need or want instead of fighting with one another.

 

Joyce Meyer in her book “Life without Strife” writes: “We can live our lives trying to take care of ourselves or we can trust God to take care of us.  God want to take care of us! …Self-care leads to strife.  Trusting God leads to peace.  The strife resulting from self-care will ultimately destroy the people who have failed to trust in God for His care.

 

When things seem out of control and when people are taking advantage of us or harming us we want to strike out and put them down.  If they fight dirty then we want to fight dirty back.  But anxious self-care does not produce supernatural results.  We need supernatural results in our lives that only God can give!  We need to give God our problems and ask for His guidance.  The Bible tells us: “Cast all of your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)  Scripture teaches us that God is our defense and our vindicator and our reward, (Psalm 27:1: 59:9 and Matt. 22:44) We need to let God be God in our lives!

 

God has given strong promises to those who love Him.  When we are in trouble we can stand on these promises and be comforted.  One of my favorites is: “Fear not for I am with you, be not afraid for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with the right Hand of My righteousness.”  (Isaiah 41:10)

 

There are other things we can do to “keep our tongues from evil”.  Scripture says: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as Christ has forgiven you.”(Ephesians 4:32) Our hearts and our words need to be ruled with the law of kindness.

 

 And we also need to keep our words truthful.  One of the Ten Commandments states: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16) We will live the good life when we go after the truth and when we are kind and caring and forgiving of others. 

 

The second thing we need to do to enjoy a good life is to” turn away from wickedness”, according to our verse in 1 Peter. And when Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer (Matt.6:9-13) He also taught us to ask for God’s deliverance from evil.  Staying away from all appearances of evil is a recurring theme throughout Scripture.  We may believe that we aren’t at risk for playing with evil.  We don’t even get near evil we tell ourselves.  We are upstanding folks – we don’t rob banks or harm others. But don’t be too sure!  Think again!  Destructive attitudes and angry hatreds can slip into our hearts and minds when we least expect them to and hide out under our radar screen.  And soon we are dancing with the devil.

 

Scripture says:  “For wherever there is jealousy and contention, there will also be confusion and all sorts of evil and vile practices. (James 3:16)  As we live our lives we will have temptations.  Dark clouds can descend upon us.  Along our way we are sure to encounter disagreements and arguments and troubles. We can count on it!  And these hateful surprises can cause us to hate back in return and our joy and our peace and our good life is gone. .

 

When we least expect it friends betray us; family members stop speaking, insults hurt our feelings.  With the pain and confusion we become angry and judgmental.  And if we are not on guard, the love that burned so brightly in our heart for these dear ones can grow cold.  Yes, the temptations will come!

 

 Like James 3:16 says,-where arguments and jealousy are in the mix, the door is opened to evil and vile practices..We don’t win the argument so we become jealous because we are competitive and winning is important to us!  We are angry that we aren’t getting our way and they think we are wrong!  Why is it so difficult to be wrong?  So important to be right?  Does our pride make it easy for evil to get in the door?  Pride will trip us up every time!

 

We must be vigilant – watchful – staying away from evil is not as easy as we thought!  We are in a war – a spiritual war - onward Christian soldiers!  We have to constantly humble ourselves and keep giving our egos to Christ - hide in Him- give Him our problems and keep giving them to Him when we take them back.  He can take care of our problems no matter how impossible they appear and He promises that He will even if we don’t see it until after we die. But we will be victorious in Him!  We can count on it!   .       

 

The third rule for enjoying a good life according to our scripture verse is: “Do what is right.”  Sounds so simple!  But watch out, it’s harder than you think to do right!  Joyce Meyer writes in “Life without Strife”; “The decision to do right must follow the decision to stop doing wrong.  It may appear that the one automatically follows the other, but it doesn’t.  Both are definite choices.  Repentance is two-fold: it requires turning away from sin and turning to righteousness.  Some people turn from their sin, but they never make the decision to start doing right.  As a result, they are lured back into sin.” (p. 79) So we must make a choice to do good! And keep making that choice! 

 

And the fourth principle for good living in first Peter is, “Search for peace.”  Here we are told to “search” for peace.  We must go out after it and work for it.  To have a peaceful resolution to a problem requires wanting it, picturing it, believing in it, praying for it negotiating for it, humbly giving up something for it, not insisting on always having your own way!

 

When people are treating us badly we feel like fighting back.  Such a natural reaction but then Scripture tells us to “search for peace.” Jesus teaches us a different way to fight our battles.  He spoke these words: “But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  (Matt.5:44)  This is a new way of thinking!  Jesus came to open up a “new and living way.” (Heb.10:20)  We are to minister life instead of death.  We are to be peacemakers.    

 

Living and enjoying God’s “good life” requires fighting a spiritual battle. And we can not fight this battle on our own.  Our victory is in Christ so we must fight our battles in Him.  Jesus tells us:  “I am the Vine and you are the branches.  If any person remains in Me and I in him/her, that person will bear much fruit.  For apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)  We can’t do anything outside of Christ!  But if we stay close to Him – in Him – we will bear much fruit.  He is the one who fights our battles.  And He always wins!   

 

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