That people expend a great deal of energy in the quest for happiness should come as no surprise. After all, the Declaration of Independence states: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
I think it is important to note that while a person may pursue happiness, the founding fathers did not guarantee it; and, the right to pursue it has been endowed by our Creator.
Some people have wasted their life in pursuit of that which can be fleeting and once attained is found to be of little substance. Harvey Weinstein is a case in point; his life has been an endless pursuit of sexual gratification at the expense of those he has abused. Weinstein may have not realized it yet, but the flesh has an insatiable desire for more.
A person might find momentary happiness in the things of this world; however, gladness is the fruit of a fulfilling relationship. In the Old Testament Nehemiah spoke of this when he said, the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Gladness is not found in some sleazy get-rich-quick scheme, nor is it some cheap gimmick; it comes from a relationship of the heart. The love of God for man and man’s love for the Christ who died for him. Jesus said He came so we could have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified!”
Do you judge-mentally or are you judgmental? One is a well-reasoned response to a given situation, while the other is an irrational reaction. One investigates the specifics seeking the best outcome for everyone involved, while the other is condescending and self-serving in its handling of the facts.
A judgmental person thrives by focusing on your weaknesses and failures. As long as he can do that, he doesn’t have to think of his own puny performance and fatal flaws.
Paul challenged the church at Galatia to address this issue: “If a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else. For each one will carry his own load . . . whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith (Galatians 6).”
Here are some questions for you to consider:
- When someone stumbles and falls, do I reject him or restore him?
- Am I reaching out with a “spirit of gentleness?”
- Do I have a “holier-than-thou attitude?”
- Have I examined my life to deal with my own shortcomings?
- Do I look for the opportunity to help carry the burden of the heavy-hearted?
- Am I like the Good Samaritan, and try to do good to all?
Your answers to these questions may help you determine if you are a picker-upper or a put-er-downer. Which of the two are you?
Like many of you, my attention today has been focused on the tragedy that has occurred in Las Vegas. As I think of those whose lives have been taken by a suicidal and homicidal man, and the survivors who will struggle with their emotions for some time to come, I remember some timely words from the New Testament: Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).
Today is a day when the collective heart of our nation aches, and it is a time to weep with those who weep. It is not a time to promote agendas or to draw unfounded conclusions; it is a day for compassion and prayer.
This is also a day when the God question will be asked: If God is all-good and all-powerful, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?
God has created only that which is good. When God created man, God gave him free will. God’s perfect creation can use his free will to choose to do evil. All people are free to choose to do good, but they are also free to do evil. The one who is free to love, is also free to hate.
I choose not to use the name of the shooter, but he chose evil; he chose to inflict harm on the innocent; and, he will answer to God for his actions.
Please join me in praying for the people of Las Vegas.
A first glance the white flowers in the picture to the left add beauty to the shrubbery; however, the white flowers are actually part of a nuisance vine that clings to the host plant and drains it of its strength.
A similar process can subtly take root in our lives. Something that seems harmless will attach itself to our daily routine. Eventually it will blossom into a habit that saps us of our strength and robs us of our vitality.
Because thoughts can become habits and habits can control our lives, we need to be aware of their presence. A simple and effective way to do this is to follow the 4 Star Process:
1. Self-awareness: Become aware of what you are thinking by recording your thoughts.
2. Think about the thought. Is it catastrophic thinking? This type of thinking is characterized by words such as: always, never, should, and must.
3. Action: Many of our thoughts are part of an unconscious process in which we act without consciously thinking, we need to practice disciplined thinking: Eliminate thoughts of Grudges and Gossip, and embrace thoughts of Goodness and Grace.
4. Rehearse: Successful public events are often preceded by hours of private rehearsal. Benjamin Franklin said that, By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Rehearse and prepare by examining your brain drainers and brain boosters. These come in the form of the thoughts and habits that Paul speaks of in the verses that follow:
- Brain Drainers: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:5-10).
- Brain Boosters: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8)
Here’s a question to keep you thinking: What buds are about to blossom in your life?