How to live a consistent, joyful life
To live a consistent, joyful life is the highest goal of every individual whether rich or poor, healthy or sick, strong or weak; because living a joyous life is better than living a miserable life, even if there are riches, health and power applied to it. However, to live a consistent, joyful life is not easy to obtain, because Jesus Christ himself said “... in this world you will have trouble...” (John 16:33). We will all have trouble because the world we live in is in trouble, because of sin. Sin had marred God's universe.
Rom. 3:23 says - "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. Rom. 3:10 says - “It is written. There is none righteous, no, not one”. Now, what does it mean to be righteous? I will give you Dr. McGee's statement about this. “What does it mean to be righteous? Well, it means to be right. Right with whom? We are to be right with God. And if we are going to be right with God, it is a little different from being right with your fellow man. When we have differences with friends, we may or may not be to blame, but we have to reach some sort of compromise. But if we are going to be right with God, we must play according to his rules. Actually, you cannot play games with God. You see, God's salvation is a take it or leave it proposition. God is not forcing anybody to take his salvation. You don't have to be saved. You can turn it down. God says, “This is my universe. You are living on my little world, using my sunshine and my water and my air, and I have worked out a plan of salvation that is true to my character and my nature. My plan and my program is the one that's going to be carried out. You are a sinner, and I want to save you because I love you. Now here it is. Take it or leave it." That's what God is saying to a lost world. This is what he is saying to you. Have you accepted it? Well, I want you to know that I have accepted it. To be right with God, then, means to accept his salvation”.
There are several benefits of salvation that are given in the bible, but if we read Rom. 5:1-11 we could find out that there are eight benefits of salvation. (1) Peace - We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This peace is available to every believer, but it comes only to certain believers who have trusted Christ and who are resting in him and who are doing his will. (2) Access - We have access to God in prayer without any mediator. (3) Hope - “And rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” The Hope that is mentioned here is the hope that the scriptures hold out. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). (4) Triumph in trouble - We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, character and hope. (5) Love of God - "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. (6) The Holy Spirit - The holy spirit dwells in us. (7) Deliverance from wrath - We shall be saved from wrath through Christ. We have been saved from the penalty of sin; he is constantly saving us today from the power of sin; and he is going to save us in the future from the presence of sin. (8) Joy - We joy in God. This is one of the most wonderful statements we have in scripture. It means that right now, wherever we are, whatever our problems are, we can rejoice in God.
I accepted God's salvation in February 1991. I was 50 years old. After being with the Lord for sometime, I developed a great passion in my life, wanting to know more about the word of God. I tried my very best to get closer to God so that I can live a joyful life. One day, one of my friends recommended a book titled “The Mind of Christ". After reading it, I found out there are many do's and don'ts method of rules to follow. I tried my utmost effort to follow these rules. I tried to imitate the mind of Christ; follow the life style of Christ; I wanted to live like Christ - humble and obedient, etc. But the more I tried, the more it gets harder. There was a chart called “Evaluation of Your Current Mental State" given in the book to follow. When I started evaluating my walk in the Lord using this chart, I found out the grade I was getting varied everyday. There was no consistency. In fact, there was a time when it gets even worse, especially when I was not filled with the holy spirit. I was getting disappointed, so I asked God to give me wisdom. Then (James 3:17) gave me the true wisdom of life. The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, peaceable, gentle, treatable, merciful, fruitful, steadfast and sincere. And if this wisdom is combined with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, then we have pure love, peaceable joy, gentle peace, treatable long-suffering, merciful gentleness, fruitful goodness, steadfast faith, sincere meekness and temperance.
By now, the way I was walking was becoming more difficult and complicated, because there are many method of rules to follow and remember. But still, I tried my hardest to follow this method of rules until after a year or so I got burn-out and failed. I realized later why I failed; I failed because it was not only how I walked that counts, but it was mostly where I walked that really counts. Was I walking in the light? Was I walking in fellowship with Christ? These were my questions and I started seeking for an answer.
One day, I went to a christian bookstore where I incidentally found a small booklet entitled “Seeking God's Will” by Watchman Nee. Watchman Nee became a christian in mainland China in 1920 at the age of 17 and began writing in the same year. In 1952 he was imprisoned by the communist government. He remained in prison until his death in 1972. His words remain an abundant source of spiritual revelation and supply to christians throughout the world. I would like to quote his statement about seeking Gods Will. “The life we possess has one basic demand - to walk according to God's will. The more we obey God's will, the happier we become within. The more we deny our own will, the straighter our pathway will be before God. If we walk according to our own will as we once did, we will not feel happy. Instead, we will suffer. After we are saved, the more we walk according to our own will, the more suffering and the less joy we will have. But the more we walk according to the new life and the more we obey God's will, the more peace and joy we will have. This is a wonderful change”. After reading this small booklet, I found out that God's will is made known only to those who are determined to obey his will. “If anyone resolves to do his will, he will know”(John 7:17)
This small booklet inspired me to seek the will of God for my life. I knew very well that when a person is born again, (1) He is regenerated or renewed (Titus 3:5); (2) He is in dwelt, sealed, and annointed by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21-22); and he is baptized by the Holy Spirit (Act 1:5), (Rom. 6:1-4), (Col. 2:12). All these happen once only, and at the same time. Also a born again christian is filled with the Holy Spirit during conversion (Act. 2:4). This filling of the Holy Spirit will also happen many times in the life of a believer after conversion, depending on his walk with God. And to be filled with the Holy Spirit is also God's will for every believer. Also a believer must be sanctified; he must love his brother; he must be obedient to God; he must trust God; he must submit himself to God; he must thank God for all circumstances. These are all God's will for us. If we walk according to his will, we will rejoice, otherwise we will suffer. (IPE. 3:17) says - “It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil”. If we suffer for Christ's sake, we can rejoice in that; but if we are suffering because we have played the fool, because we have gotten into trouble and into sin, then that is a different strong altogether. Rom. 5:3-5 says - "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us”. Here we see that even in suffering we can rejoice if we are walking in God's will.
After learning God's will for the believers, I asked God to tell me his will for my life so that I can rejoice evermore. I pray fervently asking his specific will for me. I wanted to know the criterion or gauging of his will for me. I wanted to gauge my walk everyday according to his will. Now, I confided with him that I know where I walk. I submitted my life to him.
One day God directed me to (1 Thes. 5:16-18) and it says - “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you." These are 3 commandments that are included in the 22 commandments for christians in (1 Thes. 5). These 3 commandments go together. This is not the happy hour that he is talking about. This is a joy in the Lord as Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Rejoice again I say, rejoice"(Phil. 4:4). Pray without ceasing has to do with the attitude of prayer. It doesn't mean one is to stay on his knees all the time. But it means to pray and to be constantly in the attitude of prayer. In everything give thanks means give thanks in all circumstances, not just once a year, but all the time. By this time, I learned that the will of God for me is (1) Rejoice always (2) Pray without ceasing (3) In everything give thanks. These are the criteria I have to remember always when I walk according to God's will. To pray without ceasing was no problem to me because I knew the only way to communicate with God is through prayer. In the beginning, I decided to be sure that I rejoiced always and that was my first criterion in order to know that my walk was according to God's will; and I always thank God for that. When sometimes, I did not rejoice because of sin, then I prayed on my knees and confessed my sin; and I would stay on my knees until I rejoice again, then I thank God for that. I always remember that my responsibility is to confess and God's responsibility is to forgive. To rejoice always became my first criterion in order to know that I was walking in God's will. But sometimes I was compelled to stay on my knees for a long time when the burden was so heavy. So, I asked God to tell me how I can apply these criteria of his will for me more effectively. Then God made me realize who God is and who I am.
God revealed himself to us from Genesis to Revelation. God is our creator (Gen. 1:1); God knows our heart (Ps. 139:23); God is our salvation (Isa. 12:2); God loves us (Ro. 5:8); God gave us eternal life (Rom. 6:2); God is our supplier (Phil. 4:19); God is righteous in judgment (Ro. 2:5), (Rev. 19:2). And because God created everything, therefore he owns everything including me; and I am nothing away from him. My only hope of survival is to depend on him, to submit my entire life to him.
In time, when I matured in my walk with the Lord, he made me realize that I have nothing and he has everything.
Finally, in everything give thanks became my first criterion in order to know that I am walking according to God's will. God made me know that I can not really thank him without being filled with the Holy Spirit, without being sanctified, without loving my brother, without living in the light, without living in fellowship, without being obedient, without trusting God, without fervent prayer, without being joyful, and without peace. By doing so, I can tell the whole world that I can live a consistent, joyful life by thanking God for everything through unceasing prayer.
(Phil. 4:13) I can do everything through Christ who give me strength.
Written by Osmundo Sabado
Edited by Orman Sabado