Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

Blue sign points the way to happiness

I heard someone the other day make this statement to me about how unhappy his life is and all of the troubles he is going through right now. He said that after all the bad stuff he has had to deal with, he believes now he has paid the price and is due some happy times because he deserves to be happy.

Is that how our lives are supposed to be? We struggle with daily trials and difficulties whether we are married or single. We deal with our kids, our jobs, and our families and once we reach a certain point, the scale tips and then things start to go our way? Is that part of God’s plan?

But what does God think? Does He say, “Well this guy has been on my “bad” list for 6 months but now I am going to switch him over to my good list to balance things out”.

Sometimes I think we work hard in our minds to assume that God thinks like we do.

Everyday, all of us hear that something isn’t fair or, we need to balance that out when all along God never promised us happiness and bliss while here on earth.

I know what I am about to say will not excite anyone but the reality is, who are you or who am I that we would challenge God about anything? The idea that God needs to bring me happiness in this life or else is ludicrous and frankly, just selfish. I have said this before, God is God and we are NOT. If we approach God on those terms, HE WILL NOT HEAR US. The Bibles tells us to, humble thyself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up. James 4:10

There is a character in the Bible that maybe you have heard of or maybe not called Paul. Before he was Paul however, he was called Saul and before he was an Apostle, he was on a mission to exterminate Christians from the early church (Acts 9:1). Saul was NOT a nice guy. But as we see in the same series of verses (Acts 9:1-17), God had a very different idea about who Saul was and how He would use him for His own purposes. God’s intent was to save Saul and use an actual enemy of Christianity as a force for His good.

My main point in using this story today is to simply draw your attention to a single verse from Christ at the point of Saul’s conversion.

For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. Acts 9:16

When I read this, my first thought was Christ was getting retribution from Saul for all of the persecution he inflicted upon Christians by making him suffer too. But then I realized that was not the case at all, Christ was foreshadowing the many statements that Paul himself would make as he walked his own Christian journey.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

 

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

 

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.     Philippians 1:27-30 (NKJV)

 

Through his own suffering, Paul experienced an amazingly, intimate relationship with Christ that he would never give up for anything he had before. There are so may examples of how Paul went through prison and torture and still praised God.

Read this from Paul’s own words:

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.

 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move.

 I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.

 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27

 

So am I suggesting that we focus on just suffering for God? No, I’m not. What I am suggesting is that my original question is flawed because we are NOT on this earth to be “JUST” happy. God never promised us that. He never told us that life on this earth would be pure bliss and our existence is just about being happy. I do think the world we live in does make that a priority. What God did tell us is that HE WOULD BE WITH US as we walked down the path. One thing I can say with confidence, bad things will happen but in Him, we can find ways to move forward even though we may be in pain. God does NOT owe you or me anything. You have been given a freewill to choose either the easy path or the hard one. (Luke 13:24)

I encourage you to read what Paul wrote about the pain of his life and his journey as a way to help inspire you on yours. (Philippians 3: 7-11) If we can gain the right perspective about our life here on earth and NOT think that God owes us anything, it will change the way you think and pursue God but more importantly, the suffering you may experience along the way will be different. How?

God will use your suffering to make you stronger in Him. I know it sounds crazy but if you rely on God while on the path, He will get you through safely and over to the other side.

I leave you with one more word from Paul:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11

 

Until next time guys…

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The-Magic-of-Christmas

This post is probably not going to be what you thought based upon the title but frankly…I think it fits…

Let’s start off with a question…Have you ever been to Disneyland? I’m sure you probably have. In fact I would say that 75% of Americas population has been to one of those parks and there is a reason for that…it is a GREAT place to go. In fact, it is the “happiest place on earth” right? Have you ever seen a television commercial for Disney? In 30-60 seconds, you are taken on a magical journey to a place where happiness abounds and dreams come true. Years ago, I saw my children gaze longingly towards the television for several minutes after one of these commercials ended and I have to say…I don’t blame them! Who wouldn’t want to go to place like that? Just for a little while to be taken away into a different world…filled with characters and music and nothing but fun. A place that can completely overwhelm ones expectations because you have to admit that just looking forward to a Disneyland trip might be the best part of the vacation…unless…

Have you ever been to Disneyland on a busy day?…thousands of people with small children…Long lines, long days, hot weather and rides that are closed. Is this really the happiest place on earth? Please don’t take me wrong…I am not complaining about Disney at all, I am focusing on an ideal that our world puts out there for us to swallow which is this promise of magic or an experience that will somehow take us someplace better that is more fulfilling? They want you to believe there is a place on earth that can actually provide you contentment or happiness…or maybe just temporary happiness? Does anyone really think that is possible?

Then we have Christmas. Christmas for children is truly amazing. Why? Because of their expectations. Expectations are what create the feeling of excitement inside all of them and causes them to look forward to that exciting day of waking up and opening presents. But that is the kid side of things…what about the adult side? Does anyone really feel the way we did when we were children at Christmas time? Probably a big NO right? Why is that? Why can’t we experience the joy we had as kids anymore? For me, over time, I began to believe that somehow if I could just get that one “thing” I wanted…somehow it could make me feel different but as was always the case, it never worked. I was always left with this strange, empty feeling inside…The overall anticipation of Christmas “stuff” was never able to satisfy me inside…deep…at my core…WHY?… Because loving other stuff could not bear the weight of my expectations. My expectations of what this world can provide have always fallen short of my deepest satisfactions. I can assure you, any feeling of elation I may have had at the time was only temporary.

So if the stuff of this world can’t fulfill what we need…the question is, how do we fill that empty void we get at this time of year? Hopefully, my reasons pointed you towards an understanding that neither Disneyland, nor presents under a tree, nor anything else this world can offer can fill your void completely. The void WILL still exist once the “new” wears off…

Did you know you were created in his image and therefore are wired for heavenly things? As you have probably already experienced…you cannot fill that void yourself. No matter how many times you go to Disneyland…you will still feel the same afterwards…temporary satisfaction….For anyone to truly experience the magic and the essence of Christmas, you must accept the greatest gift of all…the gift of Salvation. Christ provides it to all of us who will simply receive it…It is absolutely free but with a condition. Christ requires that you believe in Him…that’s it…Acts 16:31 says:

“…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…”

I challenge all of you this Christmas…don’t fall victim to this world’s illusive pursuit of contentment and joy because you WILL NOT find it…no matter where you look…anything you find can, and WILL only be a temporary feeling…I challenge you this year to delight yourself in Christ (Psalms 37:4) and not in a quest to fill your emptiness…we already know how that story ends…

Until next time guys…

From all of us here at @Ironmanstrength

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…