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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of April 13, 2015

JOY comes by putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last.

Everyone wants to enjoy life. Many people place the source of their joy in what they own, in their reputation, in their status, or in other worldly things. Yet, all of those things are unstable and can easily evaporate, taking joy with them. In the end, we will depart this world just as we entered it--with nothing (Ecclesiastes 5:15). So, although all of these sensual pleasures may provide short-term happiness, they clearly fail to provide genuine, lasting joy (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).

On the other hand, true joy is offered in Christ. In John 10:10, Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Living life to the full includes living it overflowing with joy.

It's no wonder that the psalmist wrote, you will fill me with joy in your presence (Psalm 16:11). And You have filled my heart with greater joy ... (Psalm 4:7).

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus quoted the first few verses of Isaiah 61 and applied it to Himself. In Isaiah 61:3, that quote continues by saying that he (in this case, Jesus) came to provide for those who grieve in Zion -- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

One of the side effects of Jesus coming to Earth was that we could have lasting joy. Indeed, the gladness and joy that so many people so desperately want can be found only in Jesus.

Time is the price you must pay for intimacy with God.

One of the most valuable things that a person could possibly have is an intimate relationship with God. That same God who is big enough and powerful enough to create the whole universe is also small enough and caring enough to desire a personal relationship with you--a relationship that will last for eternity.

Of course, such an intimate friendship won't happen by chance. Your relationship with your best friend didn't come overnight, and your relationship with God is no different. It requires time.

There is a principle that can be seen both in the Bible and in the world, which basically states that you reap what you sow (see 2 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:7-8). However, you can't expect to reap a harvest on seeds you've never sown. In other words, you can't expect to know God well if you don't invest significant amounts of time and energy into the relationship.

Therefore, it is very important how you use your time. No wonder Paul, in Ephesians 5:15-16, wrote this: Be very careful, then, how you live -- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Here, Paul is encouraging us to use our time wisely--that is, to make the most of it.

The way to make the most of your time is to invest it into something of great value that lasts forever--an intimate relationship with God.

A practical tip that I have found to be true in my own life is this: Reserve a specific slot each day to spend time with God. Don't do anything else during that time; make it your time specifically for you and God. You can't use the excuse, "I'll read my Bible and spend time with God, as soon as I can find some time." You will never find time! You must make time. Therefore, reserve time for God, remembering that time is the price you must pay for intimacy with God.

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