Archive for November, 2009

Are You Making An Effort To Know God?

Longwood Gardens 045Knowing God takes real effort. Matt. 6:33 says to seek first the kingdom of God. While the efforts we need to make come in a variety of forms, they always are of one basic fundamental problem, removing our self from the path to His righteousness. For example, consider the following:

  • Forgiveness – Why is it so difficult for us to forgive when it is a given that God forgives us?  His forgiveness allows us to move into relationship with Him. When we forgive others the door opens for us to move into relationship with them. In our selfishness we may say that we do not desire a relationship with the other person but we forget that God loves the other person as much as He loves us. Did Jesus not say that we should love others as ourselves? Can we really love God while discarding others? 
  • Worry – At the root of every worry we find ourselves once again. Worry usually means that we do not have a clear trust that God is in control and that He understands what is best for us. We worry that life may not turn out as we would hope. (It seldom does.) Scripture tells us to be “anxious for nothing”. (Phil. 4:6) What happens when we get past the worries? By simply accepting God’s favor, even when the outcome is obscured, we enter into relationship with Him by means of faith.
  • Fear – Remember the acronym, F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real). Fear is a lot like worry but on a much more intense level. Personally I believe that it is the enemy’s most prized weapon. Using fear he is able to melt your trust, confidence and faith. Fear paralyzes and inhibits our relationship with God. Satan is described as the master deceiver. His ability to make something seem insurmountable is unmatched on earth. It is supernatural and can only be combated by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, hence the need to seek first the Kingdom.

In each and every case we find that it is always about relationship. The real power for living life is found in the relationship we have with God through His Son. In each and every case we find that it is always our self will that impedes that relationship and a great effort is required on our part to identify the problem and surrender our will. Don’t skip past the surrender part. There is a lot more of our self in the way than we imagine and the task of identification and surrender is challenging, but well worth the effort.

I Just Want To Be Happy…

        ss35450qf7  Most of us have uttered this lament from time to time. Happiness seems to be the illusive goal of just about every person I know yet rarely do I meet a truly happy person. Webster defines happiness as “a state of well being or contentment”. It is often associated with prosperity or good fortune. Quite possibly it is an expectation that most of us have regarding our life and our perception of what it should be like. Happiness is often a momentary and fleeting experience that fuels our desire to pursue it all the more. Our “Declaration of Independence” echoes this basic tenant of human rights; “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Rooted in biblical belief, our founding fathers believed that the “pursuit of happiness” was directly connected to our creation and a God given right of every individual. Therefore, if we have any shot at discovering happiness in this life is it possible that we can do so apart from the One who created us? What was God’s first desire in the order of creation, for us to be happy or holy? Can we truly be happy without being holy or does happiness exist as a by-product of being holy?

          The “pursuit of holiness” should be first and foremost in our minds. Holiness means to be “set-apart” for God. The implication is that God’s plan for us should be of the highest priority and all other desires in our life should be subordinate. One of the greatest deceptions in this life is that we can order our lives according to our own personal view and desires, then we will be ready for a deeper walk with God. We mistakenly substitute our appetites as the means to gain happiness. How many times have we acted on a want (sometimes to our financial detriment) only to find that the joy didn’t last as long as the term of the monthly payments? How often have we mistaken the true meaning of life for an identity produced by a career or the things we own – status? In Luke 12 Jesus tells the parable of the man who tore down his barns and built new ones in order to store an overabundance of crops. The man reveled in his status of security and his view that he would be happy for years to come. Jesus declared him a fool as he would die that very day and leave it all behind. In verse 23 Jesus states, “life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”

          What is the relationship between happiness and contentment? In Phil.4:11 Paul declares”…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am”. He applied this principle to abundance and poverty, his contentment was not affected by his circumstance. It was a “learned” responce to life, an ordering of the inner world rather than the outer experience. When we are discontent with the experiences of life we cannot be happy. “But Godliness with contentment is great gain”. (1Tim.6:8, NIV) Could that great gain include happiness?

          As the future continues to unfold in front of us revealing the perilous and uncertain times in which we live, it is vital for all of us to discover the true nature of happiness. It lies not in the shallow desires that please our senses but rather in the possession of relationship with the One who created us. Consumerism and marketing tries to convince us of our constant need to fulfill our quest for happiness by purchasing an endless array of products, pills and adventures. Consumerism thrives on the insatiable desires of the flesh, perhaps exploiting our longing for heaven on earth. As the rights suggested in the Declaration of Independence are facing the possibility of extinction in the near future, are we prepared to handle the changes coming our way? The only answer I can come up with is to be happy. Not as the world sees happiness but in the power of true happiness. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35)