Thursday, January 9, 2020

Be Happy !!!

HAPPY New year
How many times in the last couple of weeks have you been wished a HAPPY greeting? 

Have you stopped to think how often we focus on 'happy' as being the ultimate wish?  Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Anniversary, Happy Travels.  Whatever we wish others we attach 'happy' to the wish.   

While it is a given that everyone desires to be 'happy' we never seem to be able to hold onto it even if we do experience it here and there for a short time. 
For most of us, most of the time, 'happy' is a future state of being that is dependent on whatever personal conditions we place upon it. 
I will be happy 'when' or 'if' my conditions are met.  I will be happy if I win a million dollars... I will be happy when my mortgage is paid off,  I will be happy when I retire, I will be happy when all my children are grown, I will be happy if I have a new car,  I will be happy if I am successful in my career, I will be happy when I finish my schooling, I will be happy when my medical condition is resolved,  I will be happy when I lose 20 pounds, I will be happy when I am on vacation ...I will be happy if my bills are all paid ... etc, etc.  
And then even if we do fulfill our happy-conditions, it seems happiness has suddenly moved out of reach presenting yet another need before it can be a felt reality. 

That our default as humans is  to desire happiness is noted in the United States Declaration of Independence that the right of every American is "the pursuit of happiness."  

Yet Eleanor Roosevelt clarifies the misconception in her quote, "Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness, it is generally the by-product of other activities."

As a child reading "Alice Through the Looking Glass", by Lewis Carroll,  I was always intriguer by the fact that Alice had to walk away from something in order to reach it.   She did not realize that she was observing life through a mirror.

Eleanor's quote echoes this, identifying that Carroll's illustration is a  reality we all experience in our lives.  
We all naturally view life through the physical  reality of our world but we must learn to view our life through the 'mirror' of God's word.   Then we will see how walking contrary to what seems logical or reasonable will bring us to the very goal we are desiring to reach. 

Happiness cannot be attained by reaching for it, it will prove to be an illusive mirage or futile exercise.  
BUT when we believe God's word , when we put God and His righteousness first and do the things He tells us to do, when we seek the good of others,  when we focus on the task  before us and do it well, when we are thankful,  suddenly we will find that happiness has filled our hearts. 

Happiness is the fruit of the things we pursue in life and therefore is not dependent on circumstances or possessions or events - it is the reward of seeking the best in each day, yes, even in each moment.  If we see ourselves and our life through God's 'mirror', we will find that not only is our happiness a state of being but it deepens into abiding joy. 

"And these things write we to you, that your joy might be full." 
 I John 1:4


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Not Worthy

Car Accident, Damage, Crash, Insurance

In my last post I referred to an accident my husband had recently.  The photo above is not a
photo of our car but it looks much the same. It was deemed 'not fixable'.
We were talking about the accident today  and my husband made a remark that I immediately saw was a wonderful picture of what God has given us.

The accident was my husband's fault and our car was old.  It was in good condition but had a lot of miles on it. We did not expect we would get much of a settlement from our insurance.  But to our surprise, we were awarded more than we paid for the car a year ago.  It was a wonderful surprise but totally beyond our wildest hopes!
The remark my husband made in our conversation was ...
"It was totally my fault, and yet the reward was so generous!" 

I thought of the words ... "not by works of righteousness which we have done".  We are all a mess, like a car after a serious accident.  Not only are we not fixable but we are also undeserving of God's favour because the condition we are in is our own fault.   And yet, God offered to us salvation that is far beyond what we deserve. 
Tit_3:5  "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," 

Just as our insurance settlement had nothing to do with our rights but had to do with the willingness of the insurance company to give us more than we could have expected, so also God does not measure His grace and forgiveness and salvation by our 'good deeds'  or our 'deserving character' and even though He knows our 'mess' is our own fault , He offers salvation with a generous hand so full and free!

Our almost unbelieving joy in receiving the insurance settlement was an appropriate response ... but I had to honestly wonder ---   Do I respond the same way to what God has so generously given to me, not just for this life, but for all eternity? Do I just take it for granted?  Should I not live in joyful praise to Him for His goodness to me? 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Understanding 'Holy'

Bible, Christian, Jesus, Religion

We all have some vague understanding of 'Holy' but for most it is not an easily definable word or concept.
HOLY  is a rare and unique word in the sense that it is the only word we have that is totally meaningless if God is removed from any definition.
Yet, the word is one we are all very familiar with . We all know God is Holy,  The word is used in 544 verses in our Bibles.  In fact, the word Holy is imprinted on most Bible covers.  Yet it is strangely a word people struggle to define.
 God is Holy, which we readily acknowledge.  Yet, there is a commandment in Leviticus 11:45 that says ... "Be holy, for I am Holy!"   How shall we obey this command if we are not sure what 'holy' actually is ?

'Holy' is a word that has always held a very reverent place in my mind and heart and always brings a sense of awe when I hear it or even think it .... but it was only recently that God enlightened my mind to grasp a deeper understanding of what it means.

To be 'holy' means to be always true to character.  It means that all of the time, every time , in every way,  in word or deed there is a purity of character - an unchanging and unvarying action and reaction in every situation. Who then can be holy but only God?
As it states in James 1:17 in reference to God ..." the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."    No shadow of turning refers to the old sundials which indicated the time of day by the changing of the shadow on the dial .   With God there is no variation of change - as He is in the morning , so is He at night ...  no sun or anything else has any effect of change in who He is.

Understanding the unchanging character of God has only one conclusion -- God is totally and always dependable.   He will always be true to Himself -- we can trust that He will never change.   And we can know without a shadow of doubt that all of  His promises are true.  If God even once, in one person's life reneged on ONE promise , He would no longer be holy. 
Every promise of God is true, all the time, for everyone to whom the promise was made - to every child of God trusting in Him.

Let me give you an example from my own life - recent events. 
One of God's promises are found in Philippians_4:19  "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." 
Our default is often to limit that verse to a monetary promise but of course it refers to  much more.  Financial security cannot and does not meet all our needs -- often not able to meet the most important ones. 

Recently, my husband had an accident with my granddaughter in the vehicle.  He was picking her up and was coming off my daughter's driveway.  A parked vehicle was blocking his view of oncoming traffic and he inched out a little too far into the street and a gravel truck -  the driver of which said the sun was in his eyes and he could not see -  drove over the front end of my husband's vehicle - first with the front tire , then with the rear tire.   No one was hurt in the accident and while there was no damage to the gravel truck our little Toyota was totaled.  My husband does not do well in emergency situations like this, and tends to panic.  He called me but I was not able to get to the accident scene to help.  
God in His foreknowledge knew what was going to happen that day and while both my daughter and son-in-law would have been at work, God made other plans. That morning my daughter woke up with a slight cold and called in sick . Since she was going to be home, my son-in-law took a Family-day off work and so both of them were unexpectedly at home.   
Yet God's provision went further.   Had they been in the house they would have experienced the shock of hearing the horrible crash and their first thoughts would have been fearing the worst !  No, God spared them that.  They had gone out to run a quick errand and came home just in time to see my husband and granddaughter standing -safe and sound-  on the street looking at the accident..   No trauma for any one !  And my daughter  - who is a take-charge kind of person - immediately made sure everything was taken care of regarding the accident. 

My brother and his wife moved about 12 hours away from extended family to a city up country.  My sister-in-law was diagnosed with a rare cancer 8 years ago but her doctor found a little known drug that has extended her life far beyond the medical expectation.  But now she was getting worse.  She had a strong desire to come visit her sister and felt well enough to do so.   She was here only a couple days and ended up in emergency in the hospital. They quickly diagnosed her as beyond help, and within a week or so was placed in hospice.  A beautiful and caring place to be for end-of-life patients.   Now she was with extended family and friends and receiving good and loving medical care - all of which would not have been available where they live.   God knew, God provided in giving her the desire and ability to come visit her sister, knowing that this is where she would want and need to be!  

I lost a very dear friend to cancer in the last year.  I lead a woman's bible study group that she was part of.  We were having one of our summer lunches that I hosted in our clubhouse.  She was already not well but still having good days and she was happy that this luncheon day was a good day. As the women started coming I happened to glance over at the food table that was being filled with salad bowls and my eye fell on a plate of dill pickles.  It struck me as a little odd -- who brings dill pickles to a salad luncheon?   But, I shrugged, smiled and thought someone really loves pickles.   We had not yet gathered around the table when my friend came to me and said... ."Julie, I feel really bad... I have incredible heartburn, the pressure is terrible.  I can't stay, I'm going to have to go home."   
I responded .. "Ohh !  but someone has brought pickles !!!   Just eat one and you will be fine."  She said, "Really?"  but was willing to try and I watched her eat a pickle.  Someone distracted her and she walked away.   Not many minutes later, she came to me and told me that she was totally fine. ALL the symptoms were relieved.  She stayed, ate and enjoyed the meal and fellowship .. God provided.  I never did find out who brought the pickles, no one confessed. I still wonder how God prompted them to bring the pickles.... or ...  just maybe did God bring them Himself?  (smile) 

Back to the commandment that we too are to be holy.   How can we be holy?  Is not only God holy?   Yes ... but only because He  alone  is perfect - totally without sin.  
He commands us to be holy in that more and more we become true to the character of God.  We have His Holy Spirit indwelling us and helping us to be godly in all our ways - our words , our actions and our reactions.   We are not perfect and never will be ... BUT .. this is to be our daily aim and goal - to be true to our 'new' character, to be dependable, to be people of our word with a reputation of being trustworthy, honest, true, kind, gentle, compassionate , forgiving ... "...against such there is no law."  (Galatians 5:23) 

Let us walk in faith - knowing, believing that our God - because He is holy is ALWAYS dependable and true to His word and will fulfill all His promises.   
And let us strive to be holy, even as He is holy. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

A Field of Bibles

 Recently I dreamed a dream.
I dreamed I was looking over a field that stretched as far and wide as I could see.  
The field was dry - not a blade of grass, not a thin weed grew anywhere. 
 There was nothing but dust. 
But spread out across the field in neat rows, covering the whole field were Bibles. 
Black leather Bibles with the letters HOLY BIBLE imprinted in gold across the bottom front.

I awoke and thought, 'That was a strange dream'.  But I immediately went back to sleep, 
only to dream the same dream again ... exactly the same in every detail, 
nothing added, nothing taken away.

Having the same dream twice caught my attention and nudged me to think it was a God-dream. 
 But what did it mean?
I prayed, even asked for another dream to explain the first ones, but no more dreams came.
I let my mind wander over scriptures ...searching for something that would 'fit' but nothing seemed to lend meaning to the dreams.

Then, the next day when I was doing an unrelated scripture search, my eyes fell on Matt. 4:4 
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." 

I felt the YES in my spirit ... and then to my delight discovered that the verse is repeated in Luke with a repeated reference --  both 4:4.  - Matt. 4:4 and Luke 4:4.
I then turned to the Old Testament verse that Jesus was quoting... Duet. 8:3 where I read these words,

"So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not lives by bread alone, but man live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord."

The field is the earth ...  the world.   We seek what it can offer. Food , success, affluence, comfort, material goods, travel, entertainment, shelter  etc.
 There are many things in this world that are needful to us, for life and comfort but if we are 'sowing' into this world thinking we shall reap a harvest with eternal value, then we are going to be disappointed. In the end we will behold a field of 'dust'. 
Nothing of this world can ultimately satisfy, nothing will feed our spirits. We can take none of it with us when this life is over. 

Sometimes God steps back and lets us experience the dryness of what the world offers -- allows us to become hungry ... just like He did with the Israelites.  When we are 'hungry' we cry out for food. As long as we are 'happy' in the world, we do not seek God.  It is when we realize that we need more, when we feel that deep dissatisfaction in core of our being,  that we seek for eternal food. Then we desire the Water/Bread of Life that truly satisfies. 
Just as the manna covered the dry field of the wilderness, so also the Manna - the Bread of Life covers the earth.  We need only 'gather it up'.

Romans 10:17,18 says .. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed, Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."

If we invest the energies of our mind, building our life on the words of God we will reap a hundredfold harvest, not only for this our earthly life but also for all eternity !