Answered Prayer, Dominion, Happiness, Key to Happiness, success-in-the-new-year

Fatigue

Weariness of mind, emotions, body and even, soul has become commonplace in this oh-so-fast world we live in. Ever present fatigue has crept into many lives and sleep nor vitamins nor exercise nor fasting will drive it out. Motivation, inspiration, purpose have to overcome lurking fatigue which threatens to divert the enthused.
“For heaven’s sake, I am just trying to have a good life,” you bemoan. Scripture gives us a complete outline of how to have a great and fulfilled life in Proverbs 3; the entire chapter. What a list! Everyone and I mean everyone, is knocked out of the running at the first verse. “Child forget not the law and keep the commandments in your heart.” This advice is beneficial only if the reader is superhuman, an immortal. Expounding on these two parental suggestions, the next 34 verses are filled with do’s and don’ts so that the “child” may live a well rounded, successful life. There is no backdrop description mentioning the condition of the economy, politics, public health alerts, terrorism, crime statistics or weather patterns. In fact, the undisclosed environment surrounding the reader is the very medium in which the success of this advice is measured. If the world were paradise, this godly counsel is moot. But are there immortals living among us? Those who have endeavored to take this sort of advice and succeeded? Weary and frustrated souls is the typical outcome as history reveals and our own experience proves. Who hasn’t meant an overwhelmed person that spews bitterly, “I’ve tried all that and look where it’s got me?”

The nature of the human beast is to default to all the don’ts in this list and also, to commit most of the do’s to our emotions; we do right when we feel like it or it is not an inconvenience. “Don’t envy”, “do trust in the Lord”, in verses 5 and 31 for example. But are there immortals among us? Those who have worked this list and succeeded?

The answer to this question and to the human dilemma is found in scripture. Flip forward from the Jewish proverbs to the Jewish New Testament.

We read of those who have been born spiritually into the great God’s family. This extra layer of life added to the reborn allows freedom to move beyond the constraints of physical defaults like envy, greed or malice. The propensity toward these unhealthy desires are often still present although no longer controlling. The letter to the Romans in chapters 7 & 8 gives the reborn direction about allowing the spirit to lead rather than defaulting to selfishness. 

Driving an automobile gets one to any place much faster than if one was walking or even riding a bike. Not everyone has access to a motorized vehicle. Especially in third world countries, a disparity of wealth or family connection makes this obvious. Conceding to the spirit to live a successful life is not possible for those who are not a part of God’s family. Certainly, there are areas of individuals’ lives that are morally successful but without the rebirth, one cannot fulfill the commandments or the law… Impossible to do so and therefore, one’s endeavoring is a labor without true success. Jesus said that he will take that burden when you concede it and also, take on His own burden. Body, soul and spirit makes up the complete person. Without the spiritual rebirth, the body and soul are frustrated. Fatigue sets in.

What is Jesus’ burden that one must take on? Faith. The people asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” and Jesus replies, “The work of God is this: Believe in the one he has sent.” That discourse is record in chapter 6 of John and later, John 14:1 records Jesus stating, “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.” How refreshing!

Is fatigue vanquished entirely? No. If we walk in the spirit we must feed the spirit. The physical aspect must be cleansed and refreshed to proceed. Even immortals but be reenergized!

Faith is the catalyst for rebirth. Rebirth is the conduit for engaging both soul and flesh to success. Rebirth allows the child of the great God to walk by faith conceding to the spirit at will. Yes, immortals walk among us!
Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 1 Thes 5:23

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Firm Foundation, Key to Happiness, Surviving the Greatest Depression

Prep

Weathering the storm is most important. Perhaps a number one priority, with preparing for the storm, number two. Life goes on all around the casualties and though a note is skipped, the music plays on. Renown pianist Vladimir Horowitz explains “If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, my wife knows it. If I don’t practice for three days, the world knows it.” During crisis, as life begins to unravel, those unprepared are the first to recognize their lack of forethought and eventually, sooner than later, everyone else recognizes their lack too.
The only method of preparation is from start to finish. Half baked efforts fall short exposing any previous effort as futile.

Digging deep to discover the bedrock of need is prerequisite. From that moment, genuine preparation begins. The great God of eternity advises, “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.” Seems a bit of an understatement. Its not. This advice is the real deal. A genuine foundation stone from which to launch into the future whether that forecast be grim or glorious. There is no guessing, no gamble or uncertainty. Build on the Rock and plans will stand. Dont’… and experience an inevitable demise.

This isn’t an exercise in spirituality. Preceding from the firm foundation slices through every distraction du jour; me vs them, right vs left, straight vs gay, religiosity vs religiosity, rich vs poor and all the other contrasting contentions. Once the feet are positioned to go forward, legitimate injustices become apparent. Conscientious effort, resources directed and even solutions are streamlined while thrashing about in quicksand as invaluable time is spent helps no one. First and foremost, a uncertain foundation does not help you or your loved ones.

“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
But you would have none of it” And, therein lies the rub.
Isaiah 30:15 reveals God’s counsel but also, His understanding of our so-called independence. Like a two year-old discovering a new ability, humans in our spiritual immaturity often say, “No… Me do it!” Yes, God wants us to do it! Survive the storms ahead and also, live an earthly life unregretted by getting right with God. The only way He has made available is via the Rock, Christ Jesus. And, therein lies the rub!

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Key to Happiness

Hearing from God

I read about the Monarch butterfly today. Scientists saying that they have figured out the internal compass…
There is a movie (can’t remember the name but Anne Hathaway is in it), and the main character gets caught in a time warp or perhaps, another dimension. He tries to communicate with his 10 yr old daughter and she thinks this weird interaction is a poltergeist. This portion of the story-line made me rethink how God interacts with humans. Sometimes, it is loud and clear but so otherworldly that the recipient may or may not decipher the message correctly. A dream, a thought, a key situation, a Biblical highlight or sermon which unites one’s actions with godly conviction; any or all of these methods bringing forth God’s direction. The complete spiritual apparatus is present and God’s willingness is there so why do people, God’s people and others, complain about not hearing from God?
Take yourself as an example although not as the end-all to the discussion. Sometimes, you do not respond to a voice directed at you; the panhandler on the sidewalk, a telemarketer, your child asking for the umpteenth time, your conscience… See? Made in God’s image, we share similar attributes with Him. Monotone apathetic conversation is usually tuned right out, as is whining, accusation, conspiratorial groveling, haughty and grandiose petitioning. Like the question asked by a professional marketer, what gets the Target’s attention? Psalms 10 gives us an answer. Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear.

The voice of God works silently at times. And like the Monarch, God has put the benchmark concept of eternity in our understanding, although dormant as the thought of a mountainous destination in Mexico is to the caterpillar before wings form. Our personality, character, environment and situation are incorporated into the discussion we are having with God… Our soul, with thoughts and responses pinging the mind of God and vice versa. This is why character matters. How do we live when no one is looking? Do we have a front stage-back stage lifestyle that dulls godly pings? God sounding you out and your ability to hear the clarity of His reverberation is fine-tuned by you.
Character is honed by exercise… Exercising righteousness. Do the right thing; choose the high road; be selfless when the situation calls for it. When you fall short, repent asking for forgiveness and asking for strength to overcome the temptation as it re-arises (because it will).

When I lived in a Third world country for a short time, initially I was an easy touch for beggars but then, I realized I did not have enough of anything – money, food, time to give to each and every petitioner. Some weeks in, my strategy of giving changed. When people crossed my path for a handout, their requests had to dent my discriminatory armor before I would give over. For example, a woman with three small children in tow had more hope than the cigarette smoking young buck. The man at the gate that was willing to pull weeds was sure to get money compared to the oily opportunist who changed pace toward me, crossing the street when he saw me emerge from my front door.
The Holy God’s criteria are not always my own but there is similarity in that He has criteria! Surely each of those Third World petitioners had genuine need; God says He knows our need before we ask. Unlike my finite compassion, wisdom and provision, our Creator has plenty and He is very generous.

The Jewish proverbs contain working advice for those wanting to hear God’s voice and looking for His guidance. Proverb 1:23 written to the person whom desires true direction: “Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise. For all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.” Actually, these sentences from the New Living Translation are bookends to the confusion and disaster that springs from not taking a bead from eternity’s perspective, from the Great God in Heaven who sees and knows all. In truth, God wants you to call to Him so that He can answer you, giving great and otherwise, inaccessible direction. Do you want to understand the voice of God? Like the lowly caterpillar, one must be transformed into a new creature and that, in Christ. Once metamorphosed, the journey to those heavenly mountains begins. 

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Key to Happiness, Strategy

Balance

Finding the balance is important. No need to explain why balance is important to building, budgeting, planning of any sort and eating, for example because by the time you read this, surely you understand that without balance, life’s titter-totter plunges uncomfortably to one side.
Spiritually speaking (which should be addressed first because when the dust settles only the spiritual will remain), balance is obtained by pushing for the morally right side of the spectrum while resting in God’s promised grace. Easy sounding and in truth it is simple and once the threshold is crossed, spiritual equilibrium is doable. Because we remain in the physical until the trumpet sounds or we flat line, the physical/spiritual balance can be confusing if not approached correctly. Taking a bead from the Jewish Proverbs and then also, from the Gospels can lead one into a mental conundrum… if not for grace. Not your boss’s grace or your spouse’s or the guy’s you pass on the sidewalk but God’s supernatural grace given without merit, labor or even prayer on the recipient’s part. Even so, God’s grace can be petitioned for and I believe He is a Push-over when it comes to asking for His grace. Really. God loves to answer prayer and while grace applied is difficult to see in the moment, hindsight reveals its valued presence with clarity.
Having made that audacious declaration (God’s a Push-over), our subject is balance. God’s grace may become ineffectual if our meager efforts at morality are not a part of the equation. Our efforts to maintain a well-lived life are much like a drunk riding horse back; he sways this way and that until he topples from the saddle, (to adequately misquote Martin Luther). As we totter back and forth in our efforts, Grace sustains us and brings the buoyancy and balance.
When scripture counsels, take no thought of tomorrow while also encouraging, live in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit we see that “thought” is required. Also. we read, let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing but we must be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares… How to give and be hospitable with out preparation is muddling to rational thought.

In truth, balance becomes an issue of the heart. Nothing is hid from the great God of Heaven. Our motives are transparent. Furthermore, how do we view God? Is He loving and a wonderful counselor or is He an egotistic dictator in our minds? Our viewpoint and how we process His character changes nothing of Who He really is but it does effect how we interact with Him and more importantly, how He interacts with us. Work backwards as if you were planning your wedding day or your own funeral or most specifically, you are planning the day in which you stand before the Bema Seat of Jesus. The big picture like a map, is before you and the smaller although pointedly significant events that effect our lives are regulated to correct places on the planning schematic. There are non issues and nonsense that may be diverting in the short-term. Weighty matters such as a betrayal, offense or misunderstanding, or a question of God’s willingness and/or ability are highlighted on your big picture. All in all, with this planner in hand you can formulate how the “day” will turnout. Grace fills in the deficiencies. Motive and genuine love for God and respect for His purposes links grace to grace; deep calling to deep. Works are rewarded. Salvation is a gift of grace while our eternal reward is effort by circumambient  grace. A life well-lived not only incorporates a world-side legacy but also, most importantly a posthumous eternal inheritance. This is why an ongoing relationship with God through His Son is so important.

Scripture which so often seems contradictory, is like a math equation that is missing a factor or two. The balance in the equation is solved when the unknown factors are revealed. The LORD demands accurate scales and balances; he sets the standards for fairness. With that in mind, the LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him. Like the Gold Standard, God’s standards are key and His grace allows mere men to be weighed in the balance and to be found more than acceptable.

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Happiness, Joy, Key to Happiness, Love

Key to Happiness

The short answer:
Joy rather than mere happiness is the goal. Joy abides while happiness is mercurial allowing pleasure only at the mountain tops… Valleys, and the hike up and down should be enjoyed too.

Joy can be spiked with happy events and horrid encounters but the nature of joy moves one above the affairs of life. The atmosphere of joy is a rarefied air. Even happy moments are seen from above when joy rules. And moreso the challenges, set backs, failures, regrets, mistakes and even, sin are all quashed under the strength and abiding power of joy. Not the naive, impractical, unrealistic feeling that is similar to fool’s gold but I write of another emotion that one must cultivate.
Joy is birthed from love. Yep. Brotherly love generates joy. The reason being is that when we push to love others, even the unlovable, the portal opened by toxic emotions like hate, envy, bitterness begins to close. God’s eye turns towards love. All our previous and present screw-ups fade until the love that we are endeavoring to give, covers all.
God, Himself opens and shuts the valves that release the purified air we need to be happy or full of joy. Revelations 3:7 alludes to a prophesy given to a Jewish steward named Eliakim. The link between the two scriptures is the Key of David which shuts and opens and the clue to how God uses this key is found in the name of the congregation in Revelations 3; Philadelphia or literally, Brotherly love. In Isaiah 22, Eliakim is contrasted with his selfish, mean spirited predecessor. As a steward, Eliakim’s new position was one of responsibility toward those he would serve and as in Revelation 3, the key he wields enables an opening and closing.
Love does something! Reach out. Take time. Stop with the snarky thoughts and speech. Pray for those who spitefully use you. Be grateful. Quit trying to be the bride at every wedding and the cadaver at every funeral… Be humble. Do something. Philadelphia!

Toxicity levels will begin to drop. We are reassured that love covers all sins. God so loved the world removing the debt of sin if we choose to believe. Meanwhile, God counsels from Proverbs 10:12- “Hatred stirs up strife but love covers all sins.” Furthermore, Peter being moved by God’s Spirit advises, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1Pt4:8
It is not solely God doing something for us in that Jesus was given as vicarious atonement but He expects us to do something for others, by way of love.

So to conclude, the Key to Happiness is receiving God’s love by accepting His forgiveness by faith in Jesus; He died and rose from the grave. Joy tangibly fills the inner chambers of the soul as guilt of sin vacates. When Jesus opens, no one can shut and when He closes, no one can reopen. For happiness to remain, joy to be full, the forgiven must in turn forgive, let go, love. And, that is the long answer.

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