Live a life of abundant joy!
There is a scripture that I love that captures the essence of the kind of life I hope to live, and it's the kind of life that God wants for all of us! It's in the book of Phillipians 2:16-17.
"Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ's return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy."
The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Phillipians and it has so many rich truths if we examine what he meant by these words. He says first, hold firmly to the word of life. Jesus was the Word, and when we hold firmly to Him and follow his lead, we see that he did not live a life focused on himself or his own needs. He knew his father would always provide for him. In Matthew 6:26 Jesus said, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" In his ministry, Jesus traveled around to many towns and gathered disciples into his group to serve and to be fishers of men. Paul was one of the disciples he invited and he used to persecute Christians! Paul wrote that he wants to be proud that at the end of his life he can say that he did not run the race in vain. He wanted to live the life that Jesus was calling him to.
And we are all being called to live a better life than the one we create on our own. We all have only one life to live and we ought to make it count. We don't want to look back on our lives and see that the things that we pursued only served ourselves or even didn't serve us at all. How many people are so focused on their problems, their career, their sense of importance or fame, social media, or focused on what others think of them, that their lives have very little meaning or purpose? Jesus doesn't want us to live like that. He wants our work to make a difference, in whatever form that may be. Paul continues in the verse with his desire to make his life like an offering to God and he says that he wants everyone to share in the joy that he feels. He means that despite being imprisoned for serving the great commission that God placed on his life, he experienced joy--giving his life away for the Kingdom of God!
Friends, this is what God is calling all of us to do-- to live a life of abundant joy! We can't do that by sitting at home on our phones or binge watching all the latest seasons on Netflix. We won't experience the satisfaction and joy that Christ has planned for us unless we get rid of all the distractions that the enemy puts in front of us, and re-focus on our relationship with Jesus. Once we do that, we will begin to feel the desires that he has for us and those are to seek opportunities to pour out your love on others. You can begin simply, right inside your own home! Seek moments when you can serve your spouse or your children. Ask your children to help you volunteer at church or for a local nonprofit. Maybe you can help an elderly neighbor with their yard work or offer to babysit for a neighbor while she goes to the grocery store. The more you give of yourself, the desire to serve others will grow in your heart. The more you draw near to Christ, the more that you will feel the desires that He has for you and follow them and then you will experience the abundant joy he has waiting for you.