Look at me! Look at me!

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When I was growing up, the street that my parents lived on was an average street, but to me it was the best street.  There was a dozen or so kids on my street that were all the same age as me.  We moved into our home when I was 8 years old, which is the perfect “boy” age when thinking about a life of playing with friends.

It didn’t take long for all the neighbors to come and welcome my mom and dad to the neighborhood, which meant that my brother and I got to meet all the kids!  We quickly became friends.

Over the years, our friendship grew in so many ways.  We started in elementary school together and then on to Jr. High School, and even High School.  At each level, we all pursued different activities where some of us excelled and… some of us didn’t.  A lot of my friends were good athletes and did well in team sports.  I was good at sports, but wouldn’t say that I excelled.  I loved to sing.  I even loved to sing in front of people.  As a matter of fact, I loved to sing in front of people so much that I began to develop my ability so that I would be recognized in a greater way.  So, what did I do? I joined the choir where I was eventually chosen as a soloist.  I sang in different choral programs and found it to be very rewarding.  In High School, I became interested in clubs and organizations that impacted my community.  I ended up attending many meetings and eventually became club president!

What’s my point?  I needed recognition.  I grew up as an identical twin. As a young boy, this was more than “ok”, but as I grew up, I found that I wanted my own identity.  That’s why recognition became so important to me.

The years after High School were different than what I thought.  I thought that everyone who I had known as a young boy would stick around and we would always be close friends, but I was wrong.  All of us packed up, moved on and eventually lost touch.  All of a sudden, I felt like I was on an island all by myself.  My life just got SERIOUS.  It was now my responsibility to form my own destiny.  I needed someone who already knew what I would be facing to follow for a while so I could learn from them and then take it from there.  I needed a mentor, a life coach, someone! The problem however? There was no one to teach me.  Everyone had their own agendas and it was clear that I was on my own.

I continued my search to find someone to follow for years and years.  I found some men over the years that I thought were leaders but found out later they were not.  I had no invitation from anyone to follow.  They “talked the talk” but didn’t “walk the walk”.  So, I began my quest to be my own leader by learning as much as I could as I went along.  It was sort of “on the job training” but ended up being a very bad decision.

Proverbs 12:15 (NKJV) says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.”

I was on the path of becoming my own expert.  At first, I saw that if I put in the work, there was a payoff.  In some areas of business, I became very successful.  I was promoted and found life in a leadership role to be very satisfying.  The problem was I wasn’t sharing anything I learned.  I figured it out; others should do the same. Right? Wrong.

My business pursuits were prospering and I thought I had made it!  Boy, was I wrong.  Without even knowing it, my selfish pride was leading me to destruction.  Eventually, my pride became more than I could handle and I lost everything.

Why?! Why?! Why?!  I often asked myself this.  How could I have let this happen?  I was at my end.  I had no one to look up to anymore and as an adult, I was wanting to be that boy again.  At the very end of my rope, I found someone who was willing to step into my situation and disciple me.

Disciple, in this case, is a verb that simply means, “To teach; to train.”  I finally found someone I could learn from.  Discipleship is: looking for the kind of people we can join in relationship that are going to show us the right way to live.  My “someone” was willing to show me how to live as a follower of Jesus Christ.

I listened to him.  I found an adult who knew what I refused to listen to before.  I found an adult that was willing to spend the necessary time with me to disciple me.  But even in this critical process, I learned a very important truth: only he could do so much for me.  I still had one important choice to make, and that was the ultimate choice.  Would I CHOOSE to live for Christ or continue to live for myself and end up on the path that leads to ultimate destruction?  I chose life!

Friends, we need to make good choices.  Even wise choices.  Proverbs 13:20 (NKJV) says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”  A living example and pattern is much easier to follow as we see life lived out.  I now find myself submitting to the leadership of Jesus Christ and His Word.  My relationship with Jesus is the single most important relationship I have.  He is my guide and He because He’s alive, He is my living example!

I encourage you to take time and listen to this week’s podcast, “Who are you following?”  http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=2 I promise it will challenge you and change you.

We are all headed in a particular direction.  Each one of us is following someone or some “thing”.  Are we following a pattern that leads to eternal life with Jesus or are we headed towards an earthly destination of destruction?  Jesus is calling you… “Follow Me.”  Will you follow Him?

George Leonhardt,
Blogger

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JOY THIEVES

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Can I confess something to you this week? I am a perfectionist. Many of you may be to. No matter what the task is at hand, if it is not done perfectly, the whole world basically comes to a stop. If my bed is not made perfectly (when I do decide to make it, that is), then I MUST remake it 100 times just to make it perfect. If a paper I am writing at school does not get a grade between 95% and 100%, I feel like a failure, even though a 94% is still an A.

Can I confess something else? I am the type of person that must be the best of the best. In high school, I had this goal to graduate as a valedictorian. When I chose the post-secondary option my junior and senior year, however, I realized that would not be possible because my GPA would be affected by the college courses. So, my new goal: graduate from high school with my diploma and an Associate of Arts degree. Sure enough, I spent the last two years of my high school career working towards that goal… and achieved it. I’m that girl that must graduate with straight A’s, three degrees with a minor and a focus, and then proceed to grad school on an advanced standing scholarship. I’m the coworker that must be the best team member at work.

Without things being perfect, or without me being at the top of everything, I become easily frustrated and annoyed. I become that person you don’t want to be around (especially when I receive a bad test score). I lose my joy. And my level of happiness is based off of it.

This is my joy thief.

This is what drags me down.

This is where the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy.

You may be the same way. Or, you may have other joy thieves. Maybe your trigger is when you come home to a messy house, or you’re running late to work and you forgot you needed to stop for gas. It’s these little (or big) things that make us tick. But they are also the things that the enemy uses to drain us of our joy.

Friends, the Lord has given us joy with our salvation. In scripture, we read that in His presence is “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16.11). We are told to “shout for joy” (Psalm 32.11). Psalm 35.9 states, “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation”.

Why do we let these thieves come and steal our joy?

Joy is not based on our circumstances, but on our salvation. If this is true, then we need to do a better job of guarding our joy.

For me, it might be accepting the fact that not everything has to be “perfect”. Let’s face it, the only Person who is “perfect” is Jesus Himself. It may mean taking a step back and being okay with not being on top.

What is stealing your joy? What is draining you of all your energy to the point where you no longer rejoice in your salvation? We all have our own joy thieves, it’s just recognizing them and taking the initiative to rebuild our joy and rebuke the enemy of our soul.

Pastor Aaron, in his sermon series “Habits of Happiness,” shares several joy thieves and joy builders that we can each relate to. It is important to find out what is taking our joy away and holding us back from truly living life to the full. You can check out the podcast here: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=2

Church, I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal to you how the enemy steals your joy. After He’s revealed that to you, dig deep into the Word of God and find HIS truth about the joy of your salvation.

Make it a great week!
Jenny Bushnell,
Writer, Blogger

 

What Kind of Friend are You?

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One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

I am so thankful for friends! God has blessed my life with some pretty amazing people, and to be quite honest, I cannot imagine where I would be without my fellow sojourners! We are all on a journey, and God has been so gracious to provide kindred spirits, brothers and sisters, who travel with us.

The apostle Paul was blessed with some pretty amazing friends himself. We heard about them in the Habits of Happiness sermon this past Sunday. Timothy and Epaphroditus were personally endorsed by Paul as role models, and we can clearly see some admirable qualities in them. They cared about others and were willing and available to serve. They were trustworthy and genuine. Both were considerate of the needs of others. They were cooperative “team players”, so to speak. They took their calling and responsibilities as apostles, “sent ones”, very seriously. They had counted the cost. Both lived for something worth dying for. They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)

The character traits seen in these two friends of Paul remind me a lot of my friend who sticks closer than a brotherJesus! Timothy and Epaphroditus, like Paul… like Jesus, were poured-out servants, fully surrendered to the Gospel.

And we, too, as Christ followers, can be this kind of friend. Actually, as we live completely surrendered to the life of Jesus in and through us, we won’t be able to help but be this kind of friend. His life, in us, will be what people encounter. Countless times I have experienced Jesus through the lives of my friends!

What kind of friend are you? Are you willing to serve others like Jesus served, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility do you consider others better than yourself? “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Are you trustworthy and genuine? Are you living for something… Someone… worth dying for? Only as we lay down our lives for others can Christ’s life be manifested in us. Timothy and Epaphroditus were willing to lay their lives down, and Jesus did lay His life down! He shed His blood on the cross, paying the price for our sin, so that by believing in Him we receive the gift of salvation and eternal life. His death bought our life! Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe!

Consider His words to His disciples regarding their relationship to each other.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” ~Jesus in John 15:12-17

Jesus has chosen me and you! He calls us His “friend”! He invites us to abide in Him and participate in bearing fruit – fruit that will last! How exciting is that!?

What a friend we have in Jesus! All our sins and griefs to bear. And what a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer! (Sorry… sometimes I just can’t help but to burst into song!)

Jenny Gallion,
Writer, Blogger

Missions Update: Any Place, Any Price, So All Can Hear!

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Check out this update from Pastor Aaron on all that’s been happening over the past few months with MISSIONS!

“In January, we shared how God was leading us as a church to give $100,000 to missions in 2017! The commission of God is for us to go and make disciples of all nations. There are many nations that do not have an adequate witness of the Gospel. There are many people who have never heard of the salvation that Jesus came to give. Therefore, we committed ourselves to making missions more of a priority this year. Our call is to be His witness both near and far; Jerusalem and Judea (near) to the uttermost parts of the earth (far). In seeking to fulfill the call of God, we have been able to partner financially with missionaries and missions organizations both locally and globally in the last three months.

LOCALLY

  • Project Hope for the Homeless: This past April, we were able to give an additional $782 to help a family of 4 stay at the Painesville Homeless Shelter. The ministry of Project Hope is one of the only faith based shelters in Lake County who assist with getting families off the street and back on their feet. We are excited to be able to partner with them in this way.
  • Painesville City Fire Department: In an effort to keep children in our city safe, the Painesville City Fire Department offers an educational opportunity called Firepup. Through this program, children interact with local firefighters while learning about fire safety, burn prevention, how to use 911, and so much more. With growing neglect in our city, these skills are vitally important in keeping our children safe. We were able to help scholarship 25 children through a gift of $75.
  • UNO Youth School Outreach: Each school year, our youth ministry partners with Kirtland Christian Fellowship to reach students at Heritage Middle School. Heritage is one of many schools being reached throughout Lake County. We are pleased to share that by partnering with UNO Youth with $50 per month we are able to reach each school in our area with the gospel.

Globally

  • We added two new missionaries to our support group this last quarter. Danisia Ruffin, Missionary to Honduras and Jeremiah Hembree with Royal Rangers International. We are excited to be a part of sending missionaries to share the gospel around the world. In addition, we were able to support various global missions opportunities as well.
  • Home of Hope – Dhaka, Bangladesh: In Bangladesh, many children are left to fend for themselves because their parents cannot afford to take care of them. Through Assemblies of God missionaries, Larry and Sharon Smith, children are rescued from the streets and placed into a home of hope where they are fed, clothed and educated, as well as given the opportunity to hear about Jesus. We are excited to share that we gave $1,000 to help get children off the streets and into a loving home.
  • Convoy of Hope Women’s Empowerment Offering: On Mother’s Day, we took an offering to support Convoy of Hope through their Women’s Empowerment initiative. This program comes alongside widowed and abandoned women to provide job training and give them seed money to start a business. This allows women to not only take care of themselves, but their families as well. This in turn helps the local economy. These women are also discipled through the Word of God and encouraged to place their trust in Christ. Through a miracle offering, we were able to give $11,152.85 to support this wonderful program through Convoy of Hope!

Thank you for your generous giving to missions! Wow! As of July 1, 2017, we have given $64,239.54 toward our goal of $100,000! We are nearly two-thirds of the way in reaching our goal! Thank you so much for helping us to reach people both near and far with the Gospel!”

Pastor Aaron Taylor,
Lead Pastor

Poured Out

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“Happy? Who has time for being happy?  Do you know what my schedule looks like?  If you did know, and we swapped schedules for a day, you wouldn’t last 5 minutes before giving it back to me.”

I’ve thought about saying this a time or two.  Sometimes your life is incredibly busy.  That’s just the way it is.  The world has evolved to being a very busy, hectic, “got to do one more thing” kind of world.  Everything is competing for the minutes you set aside to take a breath.

Now, I am not a man who can multi-task.  I’m just not.  Do you know of anybody that is gifted in multi-tasking? I have learned that most wives are gifted and that makes incredible sense.  Taking care of the home, the kids, their spouses… this has made them experts at this.  Good or bad, they’re gifted multi-taskers.  My wife, Nancy, is a gifted woman of God but also a gifted multi-tasker.  When I ask her what’s going on because I see her walking in every room of our house, she lets me know.  *Note to Self: Don’t ask Nancy that question again*. As she’s describing everything she’s doing, I’m literally exhausted just listening to her.  But that’s me! Because of Nancy’s gift, we are better off as a married couple.  Thanks Honey!

Nancy digs down deep physically at times to complete what she’s set her mind to do.  She is a firm believer in giving her all to the Lord in everything she does.  She is truly happy when she is giving.  And we both believe in serving God as He calls us.  Even in our times of struggle and difficult circumstances, we believe in giving.

Most of last year, beginning in March of 2016, Nancy and I lived through a long season of health issues.  I was in the hospital 5 times in 2016.  Nancy had injured her knee to the point they were discussing replacement of her knee.  She walked in pain every day.  We always believed that sometimes we’re abased and sometimes we abound.  We hung tight to God’s Word and had a great support network that included powerful prayer warriors.  And God brought us through it!  We understood that we didn’t have to live a stress free life to be happy.  We were blessed despite the difficult times.  As in, “beyond measure”.  We experienced blessings both tangible and untangible.  We were able to witness to a nurse at the hospital for countless days and nights.  She called my room a “Haven of Rest”.  When she was experiencing a difficult and tiresome day she would slip into my room and see if Nancy or I was awake.  Then she would sit down beside us for a moment to receive peace.  We prayed with her as often as we could.  We prayed for her family and her kids.  We prayed for her job and for favor from her bosses and co-workers.  Her name is Heather and God opened doors of opportunity for us to share the gospel with her.  We gave her a small gift at the end that she could use as a reference of “light” and “hope”.  That when she looked at it, she would remember her experiences with us and with God.

What’s my point in all of this? All we need to do sometimes to get over what we are facing is to give to someone else.  To be happy, truly happy, we must first be empty.  We must empty ourselves of our own issues so we can see the greater picture.  Jesus did this often in His ministry.  He knew what was ahead for Him.  He knew of His coming persecution and pain.  He knew of His beatings and ultimately His death, yet the Bible tells us that when He looked upon the multitudes, He was moved with compassion.

The Apostle Paul also knew the meaning of happiness.  He really did.  In Philippians  2:12-18 it says, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.  Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the world of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.  So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Did you catch it?  He said, “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.”

It was not about him, but rather about the Philippians he was writing to.  And where was he writing from?  Prison no less.  Paul had found a Habit of Happiness.  That habit was living empty so he could see the greater need God was placing before him.

Click on the podcast link below to hear a powerful message given by Pastor James Aspito called, “Running on Empty”.  You will not regret it. There are 3 Happiness Hints that you’ll want to write down and begin to live out.

http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=2

Friends, what is keeping you from true happiness?  My wife and I find our true happiness in serving others.  The Holy Spirit works through our obedience and as a result, pours out joy unspeakable.  We have struggles.  We have problems just like anyone else.  We are not perfect at all.  And because we are not perfect we need Jesus all the more!  But we have chosen to be participants not spectators and because of that, we have no regrets.  We will pour ourselves out for others until every ounce of energy is gone.  And then we will praise God for the journey.

Blessings and favor and abundance to you in the Name of Jesus!

George Leonhart,
Blogger/Writer

A Desire To Die

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A friend and I were talking Saturday night about our desire to die.

Before you start to think, “How disturbing! Perhaps you and your friend need some counseling!” Let me explain… We were talking about our desire to die to “self” every day. Pride is the root of every sin, and its death is necessary in order for us to live a life of humility like Jesus did.

It’s not coincidental, but providential, that I would be reading a gem of a little book by writer, revivalist, and  Christian pastor, Andrew Murray (1828-1917), entitled “Humility, The Journey to Holiness”, which I highly recommend. I have been challenged and encouraged at the same time.

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I will warn you, just as Pastor Aaron did on Sunday during the Habits of Happiness sermon, that the pathway to humility is radically counter-cultural! It’s the opposite of what many of us were taught since childhood. It may feel unnatural, because it’s a supernatural way of living. And be assured, seeker, that the Lord will offer many opportunities for you and me to exercise humility as we seek to follow the example of Jesus.

Last night as I was waiting for sleep to come, I was reflecting on my heart’s desire to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus and to be a conduit of His love to those He brings across my path, “But Lord,” I asked. “How do I die to myself?”

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The enemy of our souls would prefer that we let pride be our guide and think only of me, myself, and I. Pride is what caused Satan to be cast from Heaven. Pride is what caused Adam and Eve to be cast out of the Garden of Eden and their perfect fellowship with God, and pride is what casts me out of abiding communion with God, for He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

God would have you and me look to the example of Jesus Christ “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8) We are partakers of Christ… participants in the life of Jesus, and He is calling us to acknowledge that self has nothing good in it, except to be an empty vessel that He can fill. We must start by recognizing our spiritual poverty apart from salvation in Christ Jesus. He died to give us life eternal, but He doesn’t want us to wait until we get to Heaven to start living that life. He wants us to live lives NOW that reflect Him to a lost and broken world. We are to have the same attitude as Jesus. In order to possess that same attitude, we must learn the highest lesson a believer has to learn… that of humility… to be completely free of self and full of Christ.

Let’s look at the life of Jesus together, and see the example He set for us, the words He speaks to us, as His disciples. He is the perfect Teacher! Just as Jesus looked to the Father and only did what He saw the Father doing, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as the role model for our lives and cling to Him in that abiding relationship. Reflect on His invitation available to all of us. Notice the chief lesson He wishes to teach us. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Oh Lord, we long to learn from You! Teach us to be gentle and humble in heart! Thank you that the grace to “Come” and the grace to “Abide” are from You alone!

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:3,5 (The Beatitudes)

Whoever is the least among you is the greatest. (Luke 9:48)

The greatest among you must be a servant. (Matthew 23:11)

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11, Luke 18:14)

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:14-15)

But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. (Luke 22:26)

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45)

Brethren, here is the path to the higher life. Down, lower down! This is what Jesus said to the disciples who were thinking of being great in the kingdom, and of sitting on His right hand and left. Seek not; ask not for exaltation; that’s God’s work. Look to it that you abase and humble yourselves, and take no place before God or man but that of a servant; that is your work; let that be your purpose and prayer. God is faithful. Just as water ever seeks to fill the lowest place, so the moment God finds the creature abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless. He that humbleth himself – that must be our one care – shall be exalted; that is God’s care; by His mighty power and in His great love He will do it.”
~ Andrew Murray

Jesus’ teaching and the way He lived His life was truly counter-cultural, as seen by the verses above, and it’s true of Paul’s teaching, as well, but that didn’t stop Paul from instructing and demonstrating that humility before God counts as nothing if not proved in humility before others in our everyday lives.

To the Romans Paul wrote, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:10, 16)

To the Corinthians, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

To the Galatians, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

To the Ephesians, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

To the Philippians, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)

To the Colossians, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

Back to the question I was asking the Lord … “How do I do these things? How can I die to self?”  And He so faithfully answered my question as I read today and realized my inability to do any of this on my own.

“The death to self is not your work, it is God’s work. In Christ you are dead to sin; the life there is in you has gone through the process of death and resurrection; you may be sure you are indeed dead to sin. But the full manifestation of the power of this death in your disposition and conduct depends on the measure in which the Holy Spirit imparts the power of the death of Christ. And here it is that the teaching is needed: if you would enter into full fellowship with Christ in His death, and know the full deliverance from self, humble yourself. This is your one duty. Place yourself before God in your utter helplessness, in the spirit of meek and patient and trustful surrender to God. Accept every humiliation, look upon every fellow-man who tries or vexes you, as a means of grace to humble you. Use every opportunity of humbling yourself before your fellow-men as a help to abide before God. God will accept such humbling of yourself as the proof that your whole heart desires it, as the very best prayer for it, as your preparation for His mighty work of grace, when, by the mighty strengthening of His Holy Spirit, He reveals Christ in you, so that He, in His form of a servant, is truly formed in you, and dwells in your heart. It is the path of humility which leads to perfect death, the full and perfect experience that we are dead in Christ. It is in death to self that humility is perfected.” ~ Andrew Murray

Did you catch that? Dying to self is God’s work. I am so thankful that I don’t have to do the work on my own! Praise the Lord! The work has already been done… it is finished! Just as I am assured of my salvation because I recognized how lost I was in my sin and self and my utter inability to do anything about it, and called out to Jesus to save me, I can be assured that He who began that good work in me, is faithful to complete what He started!

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Now, trust me, I know that self tries to rear its ugly head from time to time, and what should we do when that happens? What should we do when pride seeks to steal the glory that only belongs to God?  I choose to be thankful that God is growing me and giving me awareness when this happens. In my weakness, He is strong! (2 Cor. 12:9-10) I can run back into His arms, confess it, repent of it, and proclaim the truth that I am dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Sin (pride) is no longer my master. (Romans 6)

I know I cannot live the Christian life in my own strength or effort, but I can walk each day in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within me! Let us be diligent to work out the practical implications of the work God has started…  in us… in our relationships with others… in our obedience to Him!

Have a blessed week!
Jenny Gallion,
Writer, Blogger

To hear the message from this Sunday, “The Humble Path To Happiness”, click this link to listen to our podcast: The Humble Path To Happiness

Serenity Now!

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Happiness is a choice.  It’s the truth.  You’re as happy as you want to be.  You create the happiness in your life.  But creating Happy Habits can be difficult if not nurtured and practiced regularly.  Have you heard anyone say to you that to cultivate a good habit you must act as you desire for 21 continuous days?  Then the brain releases something that will enable you to act in accordance with the good habit.  Let me tell you something.  I have a hard time completing one day let alone looking ahead for 21 days.

Have any of you read the Serenity Prayer?  Let me give you a little history lesson on this powerful prayer.

The Serenity Prayer was written by an American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

Portrait Of Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr

Several versions of this prayer were written in the 1930s.  The earliest printed reference of the prayer was in 1936.  Various authors cited Niebuhr as the source of the prayer in 1937 and it was included in the Federal Council of Churches publication for Army chaplains and servicemen in 1944.  The prayer is more widely known after being brought to the attention of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1941.  The AA co-founder and staff liked the prayer and had passed a modified form around.

Toward the end of the prayer it says this:

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

Is this not a statement of Happiness?  These words are steps to Habits of Happiness.

But sometimes we let things get in our way.  Things like Pain, Picky People (yes I said it), Pressure, and Problems.  The “4 P’s”.  The Bible talks about this in the book of Philippians, Chapter 1, verses 12-30.  Wow!  The very first chapter of the letter to the Philippians.  Pretty important I think.  If we look at what the Apostle Paul wrote and how he lived, we have an example of how to be happy no matter what.

So it’s necessary to create habits to be Happy.  You might want to consider these:

  • I can be happy no matter what happens in my life if I look at every problem from God’s viewpoint. No matter what is happening in your life, God is at work.
  • I can be happy no matter what happens in my life if I never let others control my attitude. There will always be critics.  And often times, we’re seeking their approval.  But remember the choice… will you listen to their voice or not?  Now you may have people in your life that truly love you and want to ensure you’re walking in the direction God has for you.  They keep you on the narrow path.  I’m talking about critics that like to hear themselves talk.  I’m not being critical, but when this happens, I believe God is opening a great opportunity to respond in love.  Sometimes though, you just have to let them go and move on.
  • I can be happy no matter what happens in my life if I always trust God to work things out. That is what the Serenity Prayer is founded on.  Trusting God to work things out.
  • I can be happy no matter what happens in my life if I stay focused on my purpose, not my problem. God has a purpose for your life that was established for you before time began.  The Apostle Paul is a great example.  His purpose was to preach the Good News to the world.  In Philippians Chapter 1, verses 21-26 it says, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”

The Apostle Paul sums up his purpose in verse 21.  What is our purpose?  What Habits for Happiness are we using to ensure that we can be Happy No Matter What?

Friends, living a life full of happiness is transforming in so many ways.  As you create Happy Habits you will begin to enjoy one moment at a time.  You will trust God that He will make all things right.  As you surrender your will to Him, you will be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him in the next.

God bless you and have a week of great happiness.

George Leonhardt,
Writer, Blogger