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Heard another great message from our pastor, Stephen Collins yesterday morning. He has begun a series on “The Beatitudes”. This question was asked:
Are you happy? Is this really what you want? Will that alone satisfy you long-term? When feelings change and emotions are fickle?
The most profound statement came in the middle of the message. ‘When we settle for just being happy – we aim too low’ – missing out on God’s blessing in our lives’. Sometimes, God doesn’t want us to be happy. Sometimes there are lessons in the ‘gift’ of pain and hardship in our lives. The most significant changes in our heart and character come when life is not ‘happy’ – but dark and sad.
For me – I know this is a true statement – and sums up just what I have learned and lived through over the past 2 years – as I grew and discovered God’s ‘gift’ of hard times, both personally, in my relationships and spiritually.
If we accept the ‘gift’ in the way it is intended – then God can do His greatest work in us – bringing us more than just ‘happiness’ – but a blessed and meaningful life. And sometimes what may feel like the end of the world – may only be the beginning of a great and rewarding life.
Are you happy? Is that what you really want? Or do you want more? Do you want God’s rich blessing poured out in your life. I know I do. I want to reap the reward of choosing to do the right thing – when doing that goes against everything I may be feeling. It means doing right by people and relationships – and being the right person. Living by character and integrity – rather than emotions. And when I do stray away and don’t choose what is right – at least initially – then knowing how to get back on the right path – hard as it is – to reconcile and fix it – and keep my heart open.
I am more than happy. I am blessed. I understand this now – but it took a couple of hard lessons to really believe it. I’m blessed with a wonderful family, a man who loves me with everything that he is – and friendships that mean everything to me. What I lost – God has richly replaced – and has taught me a great many lessons in the process. Things I could not have learned – just by following my heart and emotions because I ‘wanted to be happy’. When we see life as a journey – and know that there is a much bigger picture than just personal happiness – we will not want to aim so low.
Are you happy? Are you wishing for more than that? I invite you to share in some hard times – and think of them as a ‘gift’ – an added blessing to enhance your character and integrity. I wish you more than happiness, my friend. I wish you a life of blessing and purpose – a holy calling in which you give up ‘personal happiness’ for something richer and deeper. To see people the way that God sees them. To understand there is a lost world out there – and your unique gifts have placed you right where you are – to influence those that He has entrusted to you. Use them today.
Be more than just ‘happy’ – be blessed and be a blessing to those in your life.
I had a disturbing dream last night. I was singing in a mass choir – we had a new director and he had to leave for several minutes – leaving someone else in charge temporarily. What was done next I am not sure – because in the dream I was out of “earshot” and left for a few moments – but when I got back in the room where rehearsal was going on – the choir was learning choreography to a song we had just learned. It was even going to be an audience participation number. I thought – “great – hope I know all the moves so I’m not embarrassed” Someone next to me patiently explained all the moves and I felt fine. Performance time came – we got up to perform our song – the real director was back on stage with us and we began…I started doing the choreography and a couple of rows of people in the audience too – NO ONE ELSE. The director was horrified – he looked at me – then turned around and looked at the ones in the audience too. The song stopped – I was embarrassed – the audience was embarrassed – as this turned out to be an elaborate “hoax” and was meant to undermine the real director and humiliate him in front of an audience. I remember talking with him afterward and assuring him I had NO idea that this had been a “setup” and that I was sure sorry – I mean – WHO would do something like that? And in public? Why would someone want to “bring him down a peg”? It was disturbing – petty and small.
I was still thinking about that dream when I woke up this morning – and was looking at some of the blogs my friends have written today and was intrigued by an article my good friend JoJo Tabares had written – on just this subject – people being cruel – small minded and petty – just because they can. Here is the article: http://artofeloquence.com/blog/rush-to-hatred
It is especially hard to understand when Christians feel this way – and wish harm, humiliation or embarrassment on other people.
Have you ever had this done to you? The answer will always come back – YES!!! I’m sure MANY times over your lifetime. Maybe not in a way that is in public – but we have all felt betrayal – mean spirited individuals that try to “bring us down a peg” and those that seem to have it in for us. I have had it happen – people embarrassing me – I have even had a situation where I had trusted someone with my words only to have conversations that were meant to be private – be brought out in PUBLIC – twisting my words and making me look like an idiot. I’ve been betrayed by a good friend – someone I trusted – and this hurt and humiliation is doubly sharp when you were open, loving and authentic with them – and the only thing I can figure is that “hurting people – hurt people”. Our responsibility is NOT to retaliate – God judges our heart and motives – and we cannot carry around the hurtful things that others do to us. No – we must forgive. And in the end – God himself will hold us accountable for how we treated others – not the other way around.
I wish I had the answers for WHY people behave like this – why those we love and thought loved us would treat us so badly. We expect it from those that are not walking in a relationship with the Lord as their Savior – but what about those that are?
Are you in to “President Bashing”? I would think again – if you’re a Christian. The Bible clearly says that it is God himself who sets up those that are in authority over us – and that it is our responsibility as a believer to PRAY for them. Can our voice be heard? Absolutely!!! But our words should be respectful and kind – Christ like – we SHOULD lead by our example of love and grace. We need to have more Christians like this in our world – so we CAN turn things around – and get others to follow our lead. We should be the most encouraging, loving and positive people in the world! I want to live in a world like this, don’t you?
If you have been treated unkindly – by any of the things mentioned above then you know first hand how damaging it is! Start taking steps to turn it around! Be the first to walk away from a negative conversation – “bashing” of another and stand up for what is positive and right. Defend people – d0n’t be a part of petty schemes to embarrass and bring people down – EVEN if you think they deserve it. Even if someone has hurt you. Even then. God is our judge – only Him. Let Him do the job that is rightfully His. Be a good friend. Be someone others come to – to hear loving, encouraging words. Words of health and life. Be that dependable, trustworthy friend to others around you. Slow to anger – slow to retaliate – Quick to listen and forgive.
Just something to think about today.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
What is good? Do we sometimes forget what that is? I know I do. I know I love mercy – that is – I love it when others are merciful to me – and I try to show mercy to others. But I’m sure I fail miserably at it. The old, “do unto others” routine gets a bit old – especially if we do not feel any of that grace and mercy from others. But I do try. I am trying.
But when we’re talking about what is good – I think we have an idea in our mind – and sometimes this is not what God is meaning by this. Good to me – means a life of blessing. A life safe within proper boundaries. And there is a fine line between what feels good and what is good. Sin feels good – that’s why people stray away from their life of safety. If it didn’t – people wouldn’t do it. But there is a “fall out” from sin – and the bible does warn us about this “fall out” many times – in other words – it’s just NOT worth it!
I don’t know about you – but to live with “blessing” from God is what I want for my life and for my family. It requires discipline of the mind – thinking about walking humbly – to act justly and love mercy.
What does the Lord require? That I be perfect? That I automatically love good instead of bad? No – I don’t think so. I believe that He gently works in and through us – in a very loving way – to inspire us – to teach us to love good things in our life – to love and embrace people – be merciful to others – and to be humble.
Dear Lord – breathe in me your will for my life. Daily renew my mind and spirit with your eyesight. Probe the deepest parts of me. Show me what is good. Help me to wave goodbye to things that aren’t. To love mercy and be merciful to others – in the same way that you showed mercy to me. Help me to walk humbly among people and to represent YOU to everyone I meet.