An Appointment with Happiness  

Suppose a man had an appointment a hundred miles north of his home, and if he kept it he would be sure of having happiness and prosperity. He has just enough time to get there, just enough gas in his car. He drives out, but he decides that it would be more fun to go 25 miles south before starting in earnest. Nonsense, isn't it? Dorothea Blande

This quote from Dorothea Blande's book, "Wake up and Live", sadly sums up the lives of far too many people. They know what they need to do to have happiness, but they don't do it. Then, strange as it may seem, they are genuinely surprised when they miss out on the contentment that they so earnestly desire. I'm sure glad that I'm not that dumb - aren't you?

The fact is that most of the failures I have had in my life have not come from a lack of knowledge. Instead, they have resulted from a lack of effort and commitment. The truth is that when things are really important to me I do them, and when they are not, I don't. We might have what seem to be legitimate excuses for not accomplishing the important things but the harsh reality is that we cannot reap that which we have not sown.

I suppose there are few areas in life that we make more excuses for than in our service to God. We haven't become a Christian yet because we want to study some more. We didn't go to worship last week because we felt a cold coming on. We don't study more because no one can really understand the Bible.  If we are honest, however, we have to admit that the reason we haven't become a Christian yet is because we don't want to. The reason we didn't go to church last week (if we were healthy enough to go anywhere else important) was because we didn't want to. The reason we don't study more is because we  don't want to. But...

We do have Heaven waiting for us if we truly want to go. We know this is true for God so loved us that He allowed His only begotten Son to die in our place. If you and I want something as tremendous as service to God and Christ (as well as the happiness that service brings) then we will have to do something about it. And, if we don't, we won't! Do you?

Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22, NIV

 

An Abundant Life

It matters not how long we live, but how. Bailey

We are sometimes way too concerned with our health to enjoy life. Too often, we fear that we will come down with some dreaded disease that will cut our life short. So we exercise and read up on healthy lifestyles and visit our doctors on a regular basis - all good things to be sure - but if it is long life only for the sake of long life that we seek, then we are wasting our time. It's what we do with our time that counts, not the amount.

There are far too many people who are so concerned with having good health in order to enjoy life, that they simply forget to. They spend hours on calorie counters and exercise programs and the latest diet craze. They obsess over their blood pressure and their blood sugars and even the thickness of their blood, but they forget to live in a way that actually stirs the blood.

They read the doctor's columns in the newspapers, and listen with rapt attention to the physicians on the radio and television, just to find out if they might possess some symptom that will foreshadow their sure and impending doom. But they forget to turn to the Great Physician's Book of Life to find out how to really live. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing improper with seeking good physical health (it is both reasonable and prudent) it's just that it's not the main thing.

The fact is that this physical life is just the beginning (not the sum total) of our existence. We are eternal beings created by a loving Father for an abundant life, not temporal creatures with a few skimpy years of uncertain duration. When our lives are properly viewed through a spiritual lens, we realize that we are not getting one day older. It is the spirit that your physical body houses that makes you, you, so why not concentrate on the quality of your years here, rather than the quantity? Christ came that we might have an abundant life, so why not enjoy it to the fullest? Such a life of abundance begins by living for Him! If we will spend our life in His service, He will give us all the time we need here. And then, eternity!

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. Jesus 

John 10:10, NKJV

 

A Matter of Perspective

Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw the mud, the other stars.  

Anonymous

A number of years ago, Dale Carnegie shared the story of Thelma Thompson. Thelma was married to a man in the military who was stationed near the desert. She hated the sand, she hated the fact that she was stuck home alone, she hated that her only neighbors were the native Indians who did not speak her language. She was lonely and she was tired and she had had enough.

Thelma wrote to her father that she was at the end of her rope and was ready to return home. Her father quickly replied with a letter consisting of two lines - "Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars". These two lines changed her life, so she began to do what people always must do when confronted with adverse circumstances: She did what she could.

Thelma began to take a closer look at the desert. She discovered sea shells in those desert sands left from an age gone by. She got to know the Indian women, showing a genuine interest in their activities. She noticed the craftsmanship in the pottery that these Indian women made, and these gracious women began to make special gifts to her because of her appreciation. She began to see just how lovely the sunrises and sunsets were in the desert, and looked forward to each passing day.

In short, she began to look for the beauty in the desert, and she found it. She began to look for beauty in the people, and she found it. She began to look for beauty in all of God's creation, and she found it. Note that the desert, her neighbors and her circumstances did not change. It was when her perspective changed that her life changed - from a miserable existence, to one of admiration, appreciation and thankfulness.

What circumstance in our lives would not be improved with such a transformation? If you or I should find ourselves in unbearable circumstances, perhaps it is time for a change of perspective.

Rejoice in the Lord, always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4, NIV

 

Aim For Perfection

Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle.  

Michelangelo

 

There's a story told of three men who were applying for a school bus driver's position. The route was over a dangerous mountain pass with several difficult switchbacks. The first man was asked how close he could get to the edge without going over the side. He allowed that he could probably get within a foot. The second applicant proudly proclaimed that with his skill he could get within six inches. The third man just shook his head and said, "You guys are crazy! We are driving children! I'm staying as far away from the edge as possible." Guess who got the job? Who would you hire if he were driving your kids?

 

While this illustration is just a story, the point is very real. Many people go through life trying to see how close they can get to the edge without going over the cliff. The fact is that God has called us to a lifetime of service. If we are faithful to Him, though we make many mistakes along life's way, we will be with Him forever.

 

The reason we can say this with confidence is not because we are perfect, but because God is faithful. Still we need to remember that while He knows we cannot be perfect, He does insist that we make every effort to stay as close to the mark as possible.

 

An important issue for each one to settle in his own life is this: Will we just serve God in any old way that suits us and call it perfection, or will we truly aim for perfection? The reason that we have even heard of Michelangelo is that he sought perfection in his work by paying close attention to detail. As a result, he was able to accomplish the remarkable.

 

How about us? Can we seek anything less than perfection in our service to the Master? Do we think that He will accept anything less? Would you?

 

Aim for perfection...    

II Corinthians 13:11

 

A House Divided

A house divided against itself cannot stand. 

Abraham Lincoln

On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln gave his famous, "House Divided" speech. He was later to say that he was looking for a familiar phrase to get his point across on the dangers of a divided nation. The one he turned to for that familiar phrase was our Lord. Lincoln was warned by friends that his speech was too radical, but he insisted it was the right thing, so he did it.

Clearly, Lincoln presided over one of the most divisive and tumultuous eras of U.S. history. I believe, when we look at our nation today, that we are looking at a time comparable to that period. We have politicians who are skilled at division, not in uniting, and they are very good at what they do. One cannot turn on the T.V. or radio without hearing some outrageous remark, and they have their desired effect because we are outraged. But, have we ever stopped to wonder if, in fact, this is the motivation of many of our politicians? Have we ever wondered that perhaps it is in their best interest to continually divide rather than unite?

Perhaps it is time for courageous men and women to once again step forward and take a firm stand for what is decent and right, if for no other reason that it is decent and right. Perhaps it is time to stop looking to the short-sighted, self-interests of the day, and start looking at what is right in the eyes of God.

I am convinced that it was because of the firm Christian principles that our founders stood for that allowed this nation to become great. It is when we return to the bedrock of our faith - of loving the Lord with all of our heart and of loving our neighbors as ourselves, that we return to greatness. This is true for the individual, it is true for the family, it is true for the church, and it is certainly true for the nation. The only question is whether or not we will allow the skilled manipulators in the political realm to sway us more than our righteous God in the heavenly realm. It may seem that time is running out, but it is never too late to do the right thing.

Every city or house divided against itself will not stand.  

Matthew 12:25, NKJV