Monday, January 3, 2011

How to Have a Happy New Year


I must have said (or heard) "Happy New Year!" a hundred times over the weekend. But how do you have one of those? Success at work, a happy wife, well-behaved kids, a run on the beach, a few more margaritas? Where does true happiness come from?

The great English Puritan John Owen helps answer the question about our happiness, ironically enough, by stating what brings sorrow to God's heart.
"The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to him, is …"

How would you complete that sentence? Owen said: "The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to him, is not to believe that he loves you." John Owen continues:
Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not constantly delight and rejoice in God. There is still in them a resistance to walking close with God … So do this: set your thoughts on the eternal love of the Father and see if your heart is not aroused to delight in him. Sit down for a while at this delightful spring of living water and you will soon find its streams sweet and delightful. You who used to run from God will not now be able, even for a second, to keep at any distance from him.(John Owen, Communion with God, abridged by R. J. K. Law, Banner of Truth, 1991, 16, 17, 32–33.)

Does this seem too simplistic? It certainly isn't simple, but it is the key to true happiness. Delight and rejoice in God. This is only possible by knowing that God, in Christ, delights and rejoices in us. Consider the following as great words for a happy new year:
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
(Psalm 4:7)

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
(Psalm 5:11)

O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices,
and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart's desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
For you make him most blessed forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
(Psalm 21:1, 6)

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

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