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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Monday, July 25, 2011

ARE WE HAPPY YET?

This is Abby; she makes me happy! She belongs to our son.  She makes him happy too; he loves being her 'daddy'.  Abby is a precious two year old Cairn Terrier and even when she's being naughty, she's lovable! 

I actually haven't been too happy lately.  I'm in the midst of having a book published.  It's like giving birth, painful!  I'm not much of a 'detail' person except when it comes to the Bible, so I find the process stressful.  Sometimes Abby will be sitting by my feet at the computer and I tell her, 'Let's run away together Abby!'  She perks up those little ears and looks interested.  Then I remember, I don't have to run away from stress, I can run to the Lord and cry out, "Abba Father", Galatians 4:6, and He's faithful to come to my rescue!

I've needed to be attentive to the task at hand, and haven't been able to blog lately.  I so enjoy blogging.  I feel a sense of expectancy as I begin a blog, waiting to see what the Lord has for me to write this day.  You see, I'm learning right along with you as His thoughts and words fill my heart and pour out all over the keyboard.  I've done a lot of fun things in my life; this is one of the 'funnist'.  I think it's OK to make up words, just like with cooking, sometimes you need to be a little creative.

My husband reminded me this morning that today is his Christian birthday.  We, who have been  given the gift of faith, have two birthdays....what could be better?  First we have a physical birth, then we are 'born again' spiritually.  My husband remembers that day like is was yesterday, instead of thirty-nine years ago.  He remembers where he was, who he was with and how it felt to have God Himself come dwell inside him. 'Happy' can hardly describe this.

I love all the different seasons of the year.  Yes, we do have 'seasons' here in Southern California, just not as pronounced as in many areas of the country.  I've been in the yard picking herbs, raspberries, tomatoes, lavender, and watching a new patch of grass grow.  Summer here is good.  People seem to want to relax a little and read more.  Maybe it's the extra hours of daylight this time of year.  I saw a selection from one of the library book clubs that perked my interest.  I've never been a part of a 'book club' per se, but decided to get the book and see what happens.

The title that intrigued me was, The Happiness Project Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun written by Gretchen Rubin.  The very title got me thinking about what 'happy' really means.  I think we'll all agree, it means different things to different people.  If you can't tolerate dogs, Abby could never make you happy like she does me.  Gretchen did a lot of research on this subject and concluded that being happy energizes you and raises your self-esteem.  In many ways this quest for happiness is an intangible goal - uncertain, vague.  She pointed out that many will try to attain 'outer order' - clean up that messy closet - in hopes of achieving inner peace.  She quoted Buddha who said, "When a student is ready, a teacher appears."  What better teacher than God's Word?

The same day I picked up the book at the library I stopped into the 'Friends of the Library' used book store. I was delighted to find a book of poems Dancing With Joy, edited by Roger Housden, containing 99 poems written by 69 poets of current and past fame.  I love it!  Isn't that just too sweet of the Lord to put things together like that?  I paid $2.00 for all this pleasure! I left the library knowing the Lord wanted me to blog on 'happy'. 

So, how does the Bible view 'happiness'?  The word 'happy' is mentioned about twenty-five times in the NIV version, a scant amount compared to the word joy (joyful, joyfully, joyous) mentioned two hundred, forty six times....246!   Content, is mentioned only nine times.  Obviously the Lord wants 'joy' in our life, but today we're talking about 'happy', something that eludes us at times.  King Solomon, known to be a very wise man, wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:26....

"To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God."

Seems like the unbeliever will work on the believer's behalf.  We need to answer this question, who can please God?  I think the best, most succinct answer, comes from the mouth of Jesus in John 6:29.  A group of religious Jews attempting to please God by their good works , and failing to do so I might add, had just listened to Him speak and wanted some clarification...."What must we do to do the works God requires" they asked.  We might state this differently today.  We might ask - "How do we please God", or "How can we be sure we'll go to heaven?"  The answer Jesus gave was very straight forward, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."  No list, just one thing, believe in Jesus, the One He sent. 

We all know it; we humans look for happiness in all the wrong places.  We have this sin-trained brain that tells us 'I'll be happy if.....', so we try lots of things to get it to happen.  And it doesn't.

The Greek word for 'happy' is makarios - to be blessed, or a blessing.  It is the spiritual strength that is the result of the blessing that matters, not the emotion. When a Christian says, "I'm so blessed", it doesn't necessarily mean that he is deliriously happy as we normally think of 'happy', rather it means a strength and security in knowing he's loved and protected by God.  Nothing in this world can compare with that. 

We start very early thinking, 'I'll be happy if '- Mom will get me an ice cream cone, I get the doll or train I want for Christmas, I can just pass this class, have a car, if he'd only ask me for a date, if we could get married, if I could find the perfect job, if we could buy a house, have children.  Our list goes on forever and with each achievement, we experience being 'happy', for a while, then there is another goal to achieve.....like chasing rainbows!  Only when we experience spiritual strength can we be content, which I believe is more desirable than being 'happy'.  Read Paul's words in Philippians.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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, living in plenty or want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength". Phil. 4:12

Love these words, 'content in any and every situation'!  Paul was blessed and we can be too if we stop looking for 'happy' and start looking to the One who orchestrates our life.  When we moved into our home fourteen years ago, we put an engraved tile in the patio as they were pouring the cement.  It's possible, but would be difficult to remove.  Our desire was to have everyone who lives in this house and visits our patio know what a blessing it is to know Jesus is Lord.  We chose this verse, Ephesians 3:20....

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations, for ever and ever!"  Amen.

This verse becomes very real when you personally experience asking God for some small thing and then realize He's giving more than you even thought to ask Him for.  It's amazing!

Lord, we thank you for Your blessings and for showing us that happiness is in YOU alone, nowhere else.