Practical Enjoyment of Life

Ecclesiastes 5:18

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot.

               When we ask ourselves why does God bless us.  Our first response might be, “ so that we can be a blessing” and that would be true.  The second reason God blesses us is because He loves us and He wants us to bless as well.  Just as we would want to do what we can to make the lives of others better, I believe God wants us to enjoy life as well.  Certainly, we can fall into the snare of making riches and wealth our God, but with a right heart God blesses us because He loves us and it is in His nature, as it should be in ours.  In our blessing of others, I believe God wants us to be blessed and enjoy the bounty of those blessings as well. 

               Personally, I am a very practical person for the most part.  I tend to be conservative, try to hold on to money and be very functional in my spending.  I’ve not been one for a lot of luxuries or extravagant things.  What God would work in all of our lives is a balance.  My wife is not an extravagant person, but she enjoys having some nice things and she doesn’t always worry about will there be enough money tomorrow for this or that.  If she sees something that is within her means to purchase and really desires it, she buys it.  She just wants to enjoy what she has today, while I am always worried there won’t be enough for tomorrow.  The principle that I have come to realize in her life is that in this respect she is living in faith.  She just believes that God will provide what is needed for tomorrow.  She is also a very giving person in many ways and has used her resources to bless others many times and in many ways.  The frustrating thing to me has been to see that usually she is right.  There always seems to be a supply for her and it is not from me it is from God. 

               Our finances are probably one of the greatest topics of our marital disagreements and struggles.  We all have different priorities, opinions, philosophies and thinking about how we view and handle money and finances.  The important thing is that we can find common ground.  The biggest mistake we make is allowing finances or the lack of them to divide us rather than unite us.  If we can become one in our finances then we have come a long way to becoming one in our marriage.  We have to approach finances from the stand point that my way doesn’t always have to be the right way, just because it is right in my own eyes.  We do have to be practical in our finances, the bills do have to be paid and household expenses met.  Giving is an important aspect of our finances and ties directly into our blessing.  The other part of the equation is that we don’t want to get so hung up on tending the fruit tree that we never take time or use some of our blessing to enjoy any of the fruit.  Take time and spend some of your resources to enjoy life, Ecclesiastes says this is our lot and the reason why we toil.  At the same time, put the Lord first in all that you do.  It is not a fleshly thing to enjoy life if Christ is at the center of our enjoyment.  He never intended on us being sad gloomy people.  He wants a joyous people that are blessed and enjoy, as well as appreciate, the blessing that God has given us.  There will always be those that are more blessed than we are and less blessed than we are.  We should not feel either guilty because we have more or envious because we have less. 

               1 Timothy 6:6-10 tells us, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  Our focus is not in riches, but in Christ and with that we are content.  This life is short and the world is not our home, but it is not a bad thing to take time and smell the roses along the way.  Possess your finances; don’t let them possess you.  God has given all good things for us to enjoy.

Blessings,
#kent

Practical Application for a Holy Life

Colossians 3: 1-3
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The first thing we need as Christians is a revelation of who we are in Christ. In Christ, the former man with it natural affections has passed away and we are putting on a new man renewed in thought, purpose and deed; reflecting and producing the image of Christ. Colossians 3 is a great application for who we are and what we are becoming, as well as what we need to be doing to get there.
We start out by realizing positionally where we are at, “raised with Christ” who is seated at the right hand of God. We are in Christ who is seated at the right hand of God. We aren’t going to find many positions higher than that. We, who are in that position, have come to a new mindset different from the one we formerly carried. We must be a heavenly-minded people whose affections are on things above and not on things below, who walk after the Spirit and no longer after the flesh. Many of us are still holding on to that old unrenewed mind and earthly affections. It is bringing us down and robbing us of who we are and what we have “in Christ”. It is only as we behold Him that the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Colossians 3 is an instructional in the practical ways we are to become heavenly-minded and have a renewed mind. The first thing that it instructs us to do is often the hardest for us to put into practical application. Verses 5-11 instruct us, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming, 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Do you happen to recognize any of these attributes still lingering around your life? The hardest thing to put to death is our flesh. It has an instinct for survival and it will do anything, compromise anyway, promise to be good, it just doesn’t want to die; yet it must. We can see the value of keeping Christ and the Word of God constantly in front of us, so that we have a mirror of who we are in Christ and we don’t loose vision of where we are going and what our purpose now is. These little daily devotionals are just one more means I pray the Holy Spirit uses to continually prompt and exhort us in His ways and not our former nature. We tend to want to turn away and ignore the things that put a finger on our sin and our reluctance to yield certain areas of our lives to Christ. We all have our little weaknesses, our idols, and those things that our flesh covets and doesn’t want to give up. Yet, if we are unwilling, then we are living in rebellion and disobedience to Christ, we are not being true to who we are “in Christ”, thus we deny His best and His highest for us.
These scriptures tell us what we must take off, but what about what we must put on. God never takes anything away but what He doesn’t give us something better to replace it with. Verses 12-17 instruct us, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” God is in affect telling us to be clothed now with His nature, which is the holy apparel that is consistent with heavenly citizenship. The world around us must see something unique, different and special about the people who bear the name of Christ. If we are no different than the world, then we haven’t really changed identity or clothing. We are still living in the same old unredeemed man. Its not all about us going to church, or just talking about Jesus, or telling the world they are sinners bound for hell unless they repent; it is about a lifestyle and behavior that exemplifies who and what we are in Christ. That speaks so much more loudly than words. Give me a person that truly lives Christ before me and that will more quickly move me to change than all of the words and arguments they could give. When you put on Christ you don’t just put on different behavior, you put on a holy presence. It is a presence that exudes the love and power of the Spirit that you are of. God now has place and platform to glorify Himself through you.
Colossians 3 concludes by these instructions to the households of believers and the reminder that at the end of this natural life there is a reward and an inheritance. A reminder that it is Christ we serve and that if we choose to do wrong, that wrong bears its consequences without respect of persons. Verses 18-24 instruct us, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”
Thus we have simply laid out for us the guide for living the practical Christ centered life that is consistent with whom we now are. Daily we present our bodies a living sacrifice and daily we renew our minds in Christ. We apply these practical instructions with the help and power of the Holy Spirit, that in all things we might be conformed to His life and live consistent with the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
#kent

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