Like A Child…

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When we are kids, or even babies, we relied on our parents to help us meet our needs. For example, a baby cannot hold a bottle up by themselves, a toddler struggles to put shoes on the right feet, and a child definitely can’t go grocery shopping and make dinner for themselves. As a kid, it is easy to think that you will have your needs met. There is no question that Mom or Dad is going to make dinner. In that state of being, a child is somewhat helpless: they cannot go to work, earn an income, pay bills, grocery shop, and do all the other “adult-type duties” that parents do to make sure their children’s needs are met. They are completely DEPENDENT.

The concern of “going without” is only an issue when kids don’t get what they want. If this is indeed the case, they will let the whole world know by throwing a temper tantrum. But we all know, kids will eventually get over it. When my mom told me, I couldn’t get all the Barbie Dolls I wanted in one shopping trip, I eventually learned that that was not something I “needed” to live a sustainable life. And it’s probably a good thing I didn’t get all the Barbie Dolls I wanted because I didn’t play with Barbie Dolls too long after that.

Sometimes parents make decisions for us that we don’t exactly agree with and they tell us “no”- like when you really want to touch that hot stove. Sometimes parents set up barriers to protect us from doing something that will hurt us – like a gate at the top of the stairs to the basement. Lastly, parents do things that “hurt” us and we begin to question why they would do such a thing – like getting put in time-out for sassing or “accidentally” hitting our sibling.

Something I’ve noticed on my walk of faith is how God really is MY Father and He plays the role of a parent in my life. Paul states in Philippians 4.19: “My God will meet all of your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus”. Just like an earthly parent, our Heavenly Parent has given us this promise of providing for us and meeting our needs.

The cool thing is, we can continue to have our childlike faith in Christ just like we did with our earthly parents; we can know our needs will be met. We can trust God to give us a place to live, give us food in our bellies, clothes to wear, and help keep us on our feet financially.

Sometimes, these things don’t happen, however. Sometimes a need, that we believe, needs to be met never gets met, even though we prayed and asked God to provide. So, we start to doubt because what we asked for, and thought we needed, was never given to us. It’s kind of like what I described earlier about our parents not letting us touch the hot stove and crawl down the basement stairs.

Maybe, just maybe, the God of the Universe that calls all things to order doesn’t think we need this particular thing we are asking for. OR, maybe He is giving it to us in a way we did not expect. It is hard to accept that God might have a better plan for us, but we must learn to trust our Creator and know that He is Faithful when it comes to keeping His promises.

When I was a kid, my sister and my cousin went to the log cabin on Chardon Square for a VBS one fall morning. I was too young to go. When they got back in the car, they brought a cassette with several Bible songs they learned. It was called, “Lord Teach Me To Pray” and it put Bible verses into a memorable song. My mom played it in the cassette player in our mini-van and we headed home. I still remember several of those songs to this day. One of them goes like this:

“And my God will meet all of my needs / According to / His glorious riches / In Christ Jesus / In Christ Jesus / Philippians four nineteen.”

I could sing that song over and over again for hours, but will it do me any good unless I actually believe it? Church, we are called to be a people that trusts the Lord. We are called to be a people who knows, and has faith, that our God keeps His promises. Pastor’s concluding message in the “Habits of Happiness” series is about this very thing! He teaches us the premise and the promise of Philippians 4.19 and the importance of trusting our God with what He has said!

Take a moment after you have listened to this podcast and seek God with childlike Faith.
http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=2

Have a great rest of the week!
Jenny Bushnell

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I AM A STUDENT

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After hearing Sunday’s sermon, The Characteristics of a Contented Heart; I have been challenged and convicted. Am I a content person? I would say that I am… well, most of the time. Being content is not my natural propensity. It’s probably not yours either.

As I reflect to recent times when the circumstances of my life were a bit challenging, I’m not sure I was living with a contented heart. I was in the midst of a painful process. Our God is the God of the process, but often I don’t like the processes He chooses for me! Regardless of how I feel, I do believe God uses circumstances to grow us and refine us; making us more like Jesus.

What God has recently revealed to my heart is that even when circumstances are challenging, when the roller coaster of life takes you on a ride you’d rather not be on, He is near. He doesn’t waste our pain and trials. Our Father in Heaven wants to reveal Himself to us as ENOUGH in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in! Paul was writing the book of Philippians, a thank you letter, from prison, for goodness sake!

Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  Philippians 4:11-12

Paul’s admission that contentment was something he had to learn indicates that at one time he did not know how to be content. But as he wrote the book of Philippians, he had learned how to be content, even as a prisoner in Nero’s dungeon.  He remained a learner, a student in the School of Christ, his entire life, and so must we. We are students, and lessons about contentment take time and experience. Are you willing to learn?

Now I must admit, some of the lessons I have learned have been difficult. You might remember the show on TV called “Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” Well, in the School of Christ, more often than not, I feel like the answer is “NO! I am not smarter than a fifth grader!” Sometimes I feel as if I must still be in preschool in the School of Christ! Lessons I think I would have learned by now keep coming up for retesting, if you catch my drift.

The one thing I love about this school we’re now enrolled in is that the Teacher is the best! He is so kind and gentle… so patient with His students. He knows me so well, and He knows exactly what I need in order to learn.

My Teacher has my best interest in mind! Just a few of the wonderful things He desires for me (and you) are: to learn to come and rest (Matthew 11:28), to listen to His voice (John 10), to follow Him alone, and to learn to be content, like Paul.

Paul didn’t beat around the bush when it came to declaring how the learning process was possible. He proclaimed, “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13 NIV)

Jesus is the key to a contented heart. He is enough!

Yes, “the secret of being content” Paul was referring to was, and still is, the power of God available to us through Christ Jesus! I love how this verse reads in the Amplified version.

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” (Phil 4:13 AMP)

Supernatural power is accessible to all who will surrender to, and cooperate with, Jesus. He will reveal Himself powerfully and personally to us as we trust in His sovereignty. Trust in His process, and He will infuse you with inner strength and a confident peace in all circumstances.

Contentment is one of the precious flowers of Heaven, and if we desire it, it must be cultivated. It will not grow in us naturally, for it is the new nature alone that can produce it. Yet even then we must be especially careful and vigilant to cultivate and maintain the grace God has sown in us. ~Charles Spurgeon

For the full podcast, “Characteristics of a Contented Heart,” click this link: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=2

 

Still learning… fellow student in the School of Christ,

Jenny

“What? Me Worry?”

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Wanted: Worry. Looking to accumulate more worry as I am currently out. Please contact me as soon as possible.  Thank you.

Could you imagine a “wanted” ad that looks like this? There is no possible way that anyone would ask for others to send in their worry. Yeah. It’s possible. It could be me. There have been times when it seemed that I was looking for more things to worry about. That sounds freaky. But it’s true. Years ago it appeared to others around me that I was actively looking for things to worry about. It could be anything. It could be something that I read in the newspaper, or heard on TV, or just something that others might be facing. I wondered, “what if I were in their situation?” Ridiculous! How could anyone live like that?

Let me share with you a little story about worry. When my son Brandon was about 8 years old, he wanted to play soccer. All of his friends played and he asked if he could sign up and join a team. I said, “Sure, Brandon.  That’s great!” Then I thought, what does Brandon know about soccer? What do I know about soccer? Well, to the latter question, the answer would be nothing. I knew nothing about soccer. I began to think, what if I were to try to help Brandon and taught him something wrong? I worried that his coach would see something wrong in what Brandon was doing. So, I volunteered to be an assistant coach of Brandon’s team. Yup, the guy who knew nothing about soccer was now going to help coach a team. It was as if I couldn’t just let Brandon have fun. He was only 8 years old. The happy ending to this story was that it didn’t matter what I was worrying about, the 8 year old boys were all having the time of their lives. None of them knew everything about soccer. They knew how to have fun and the result was an undefeated season and the league championship. Brandon was overjoyed. Dad was proud of his son and all of his accomplishments that year. As “Mad Magazine’s” slogan says, “What? Me Worry?”

Worry can get you so upset that you feel paralyzed. You don’t know what you should do or, even worse, it can make you physically sick. I have heard stories from friends and family that had medical issues such as ulcers, high blood pressure, and other ailments because of worry.

Doctors have defined worry as: “feeling uneasy or being overly concerned about a situation or problem. With excessive worrying, your mind and body go into overdrive as you constantly focus on ‘what might happen.’” WebMD says this about “worry”: “In the midst of excessive worrying, you may suffer with high anxiety — even panic — during waking hours. Many chronic worriers tell of feeling a sense of impending doom or unrealistic fears that only increase their worries. Ultra-sensitive to their environment and to the criticism of others, excessive worriers may see anything — and anyone — as a potential threat. Chronic worrying can affect your daily life so much that it may interfere with your appetite, lifestyle habits, relationships, sleep, and job performance. Many people who worry excessively are so anxiety-ridden that they seek relief in harmful lifestyle habits such as overeating, cigarette smoking, or using alcohol and drugs.”

Whoa! Worry is not good.  It really serves to affect us in so many negative ways. I guess this is why the Bible says in Philippians Chapter 4 and verse 6, “Don’t worry about anything…” (NLT) Worry takes us into a place void of peace. If I were to write another “wanted” ad, it would look like this:

Wanted: Peace. I am currently out of peace and would like to replenish my stock. Please contact me as soon as possible.  Thank you.

Friend, worry seems to be easy to obtain. Peace, not so much if our eyes are on the problem and away from the giver of peace. The giver of peace is Jesus Christ. We have someone who cares about everything that happens to us.  Jesus came so that you may have an abundant life. He is always there.  He desires to talk to you.  Yes, Jesus desires for you to let loose of all your worry and place it at His feet. You can’t get rid of worry yourself. You may cover it up for a while, but in my experience, worry will come back unless you submit yourself and your worry to Jesus. It is in your weakness that He is made perfect.  So perfect that He will lead you out of worry and into His glorious peace.

Click on the link below to hear a powerful message from Pastor Aaron Taylor entitled, “Habits of Happiness: A Prescription for Worry” – http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=2

I pray you have a blessed and worry-free week.

George Leonhardt,
Blogger

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

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.

humility

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