SUPREME HAPPINESS FOREVER!

The Serenity Prayer column is published on the first Friday of each month in 2019. We’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today.

” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy forever in the next.   ~ AMEN “

 

Scripture makes it clear that this world is not our permanent home. God created us to dwell on this earth that we might learn and grow in His ways, teach them to others and hopefully bring glory to His name.

We may have periods of what we might consider happiness. But the happiness that we experience here on earth is nothing compared to the incredible happiness we will have in the presence of God forever in eternity.

Much of the happiness we humans are seeking is directly related to the desire for that heavenly happiness that only God can provide.

In times of struggle, challenge and sorrow The Serenity Prayer can help us. Each stanza of this beautiful prayer carries wisdom that can strengthen us on our journey.

The Serenity Prayer is a timeless classic that will continue to encourage us for many generations to come. I pray this column has been a blessing for you this calendar year of 2019 as it has been for me.

Take a few minutes to contemplate your forever happiness with God as you listen to this wonderful song by Michael W. Smith.

WHAT YOU SEE IS TEMPORARY

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

” All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen.

For what is seen is temporary…”  

~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18b

 

We have a tendency to get attached to people, places, and things. Often we hold on too tightly. 

When our child grows up and leaves home our hearts are broken. 

When a life change comes and we have to move, maybe even across the country, we have to leave the home we’ve made so cozy. We leave a church family we’ve been part of for many years, close friends and loved ones are now left behind. 

In that process we may have had to downsize drastically; selling or giving away some of our treasured possessions. 

How can you know when you are too attached to something? 

When being without it truly hurts.

I write about this with first hand experience. In fact, due to job changes and other challenges my husband and I moved 12 times between 2006 and 2017. The last few called for drastic downsizing taking us from a 5000 square feet house down to a small condo with 600 square feet. Now that hurt! Yes our life has been simplified and our load lightened. But still the process was very painful. 

At the beginning of our life transitions in 2006 I read about a missionary when reminding himself to not get too attached and that life changes quickly would post notes around his home that read:

“THIS IS TEMPORARY”

Everything we can see and touch is temporary. This earth is not our permanent home. And because this world is not our permanent home we’re supposed to keep our hearts, minds and spirits focused on things above. 

” Since you became alive again, so to speak, when Christ arose from the dead, now set your sights on the rich treasures and joys of heaven where he sits beside God in the place of honor and power.  Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here. You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does. Your real life is in heaven with Christ and God. ” Colossians 3:1-3 (Living Bible)

We must hold on to things, people and places loosely or not at all. We’re much better off putting them in The Hands of our Heavenly Father, Who knows best how to care for them and us. As we do our life will be more peaceful for ourselves, more pleasant for those around us and more pleasing to God. 

With all the beautiful, yet temporary, things of this world that we can see today, God promises us there is so much more to come… beyond what we can ever think or imagine!

Let’s take a few minutes to meditate on the joys of Heaven and things above with this beautiful song by Bethel Music.

GOODNESS AND MERCY FOLLOW ME

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we will be studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

As you look back on this journey called life… the school years, marriage, raising a family, having and changing jobs, moving around, buying houses, making various life choices… What do you see?

 

 MISTAKES

          or 

LESSONS LEARNED

 

It’s easy to look back with regret and see all the things you wish you could change. We need to remember that when we were living in that space and time we made the choices we did for a reason. We could only do what we could with what we knew at that particular moment.

Ok, maybe it was a bad decision that became a huge mistake.

But we who are followers of Christ must believe what God has promised us:

 

“…every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives…” 

~ Romans 8:28  (The Passion Translation)

 

No one is going to manage our memory time. It’s up to us to not waste time looking back in the rearview mirror at yesterday with regret and sadness.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. ~ Psalm 23:6a

Today’s portion of Psalm 23 assures us that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. That means we can expect to look back and see God’s goodness in every season… to see God’s mercy sparing us of something bad that could have happened that was much worse instead.

When we take this perspective on our past, whether it is in the distant past or just earlier today, we must trust that God is faithful to His Word.

He is going behind us, as we follow His will in our life, He is making sure there is goodness and mercy following us as He weaves every detail of our life together according to His special plan.

When we do this, we can rest much easier without hanging on to regretted mistakes. We can trust that God knows who we were when we made those decisions and He will turn that mistake into a message that we can share with others along the way.

Join me in celebrating the Goodness and Mercy of God in our lives with this new music video by Encounter Music.

BE REASONABLY HAPPY… NOW!

The Serenity Prayer column is published on the first Friday of each month in 2019. We’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today.

” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life…”

 

Let me begin by saying this is an area where I struggle, not every day, but often enough. I don’t want to come off as someone who has this all figured out. Because I definitely don’t. I’m in a life learning process just like you.

While we can be sure that God is going to take care of us each day, Scripture never promises us an easy life. In fact, Jesus tells us to expect troubled times.

How can I be reasonably happy in a life that’s often filled with difficulties?

The key word here is “reasonably” which by definition means: moderately. So to be moderately happy, is to be in the middle, not excessively happy or excessively sad; balanced.

Most of us want to live on the mountaintop, in the exciting times of life. But life is filled with peaks and valleys. Life is balanced with happy and sad times.

There is a time for everything,
and everything on earth has its special season.
There is a time to be born
and a time to die.
There is a time to plant
and a time to pull up plants.
There is a time to kill
and a time to heal.
There is a time to destroy
and a time to build.
There is a time to cry
and a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad
and a time to dance.
There is a time to throw away stones
and a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug
and a time not to hug.
There is a time to look for something
and a time to stop looking for it.
There is a time to keep things
and a time to throw things away.
There is a time to tear apart
and a time to sew together.
There is a time to be silent
and a time to speak.
There is a time to love
and a time to hate.
There is a time for war
and a time for peace. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

We must also consider that happiness is related to happenings. Where as joy is a deeper emotion that is available to us even when outward circumstances may warrant different reactions. True joy is not about situations but rather a spiritual component. The Bible tell us that joy is a fruit, a by product, of the Holy Spirit’s work in our life.

The secret to being REASONABLY HAPPY lies in The Serenity Prayer itself…
    1. SERENITY comes when we accept the things we cannot change.
    2. COURAGE comes when we step out to change the things we can.
    3. WISDOM comes as we seek God’s guidance.
    4. LIVING each day as it comes, pressing forward step by step.
    5. ENJOYING each moment as if it were our last.
    6. ACCEPTING that hardships will lead me to the Prince of Peace.
    7. TAKING the world as it is because I can’t change it or other people.
    8. IT’S NOT MY WORLD to change but God’s in His perfect timing.
    9. TRUSTING GOD will make everything turn out for good in His plan.
    10. SURRENDERING my will to God’s perfect will and purpose.

As we purposely walk out these steps of The Serenity Prayer we will begin to experience the reasonable happiness that God has for us.

Let’s enjoy some everyday Happiness NOW with this great Ayesha Woods video.

AVOID IDLE LAUGHTER

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

 

The tenth step of humility is that a monk is not quick to laughter.  ~ The Rule of Benedict

A fool raises their voice when they laugh. ~ Sirach 21:20

 

As Christian believers and Christ followers we should be cultivating an atmosphere where all people can feel safe. Much of today’s culture, media and entertainment is harsh and brutal, even bullying, when it comes to humor. Television and movies use sarcasm and vulgarity dressed up as humor that bring harm to various groups of people.

Words that harm others are not humorous.

Humor is about seeing the lighter side of life. It should be used to lift us up out of troubles and weaknesses, not beat us down into them.

Hiding behind hurtful words, the prideful will use negative words to lash out at others while trying to avoid their own internal pain. These arrogant vulgar jokes somehow make them feel better about themselves when they tear others down.

Saint Benedict taught his community of monks not to be quick or loud in their laughter. Step 10 of Humility invites us to take our humor seriously. We must guard our laughter, taking care not to use it in hurtful ways. When someone falls down or has taken a turn for the worse in their life, we mustn’t make light of or laugh at their troubles.

We mustn’t delight in or find humor in the pain of others.

Just like it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, so too our kindness toward others can lead them to God. Let’s cultivate an atmosphere around us that invites others to Christ with our words and behavior.

Contemplate the kindness and love of God in your life with this beautiful song by Chris Tomlin.

SEE THE UNSEEN

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

” All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen…”

~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18a

Although we don’t like to hear it, the life of a Believer will always be one filled with difficulties. Jesus even told us to expect them. Life is a series of problems beginning and ending over and over again. And we’re supposed to walk seemingly blind through them all with our faith guiding us.

What is this unseen leading factor called faith?

The author of Hebrews defines faith for us:

” Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.”  ~ Hebrews 11:1

What does this kind of faith look like in reality? All we have to do is read the stories in the book of Hebrews “Hall of Faith” chapter 11 to see this faith:

      • Noah built the ark for a flood when he had never seen rain.
      • Abraham obeyed God’s calling to leave his home for an unseen land.
      • Moses kept the Passover before seeing the deliverance it would bring.

Like these Patriarchs, we’re to have the kind of faith that believes God will bring us to the other side of each struggle in His perfect way. This challenges our natural minds because we can’t see spiritual things. We want proof that it’s going to work out…. not later but now!

When struggling with our finances we need to put on our “Jesus glasses” and see that God will provide for all our needs but maybe not all our wants.

When struggling with health issues we need to put on our “Jesus glasses” and see ourselves healed healthy and whole no matter how we feel today.

Whatever the problem is we can put on our “Jesus glasses” and see by faith that God is solving it in His perfect time!

” You’re always moving in the unseen

   The breath You exhale sustaining me

   Before I call, You know my need

   You’re always going before me.”

ANOINTED FOR LIFE!

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we will be studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

” The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over…”

 

In this section of Psalm 23 we see God represented as our Heavenly Host instead of our Shepherd. He has prepared a feast for us even though we are surrounded by enemies. During Biblical days a proper host would anoint their guests as a sign of honor and hospitality, as well as refreshment.

When priests, kings and various people were anointed in the Old Testament the sacred oil that was poured over their head signified that they were being set apart for divine use, they are now established to represent God to the people and that they were now empowered by the Holy Spirit for tasks at hand.

Today, we aren’t anointed in this traditional way, rather we’ve been anointed by the Holy Spirit when we are born again. The symbolism of the oil anointing can be applied to the Holy Spirit anointing as well.

When we are anointed by the Holy Spirit: 

        • We have been honored by God.
        • We have been set apart for God’s service.
        • We have been designated as God’s representative.
        • We have been empowered to perform the tasks set for us.

Looking at the anointing by the Holy Sprit in this light gives it such a stronger meaning. Another thing to consider when God anoints us it isn’t a one time thing. The anointing is always flowing. It’s overflowing God’s power, healing and blessings in our lives!

If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior today is the best day to do that. Simply call out Jesus’ name, ask Him to come into your heart and to set you free. Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint you with His blessings, power and healing today!

Allow the Holy Spirit to anoint you like a flood with this powerful spontaneous worship song by Molly Skaggs and Bethel Music.

SURRENDERING MY WILL

The Serenity Prayer column is published on the first Friday of each month in 2019. We’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today.

” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will…”

 

The typical image of surrender is a criminal with hands raised above their head signaling that their hands are free of any weapons. While we may not be a common criminal who has been caught breaking the law, scripture tells us that stubborn willfulness, which is nothing less than pride, is one of the worst sins against God.

The LORD detests all the proud of heart.

Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

~ Proverbs 16:5

Lucifer, before his fall, was one of the angelic hosts in heaven. But because of his beauty his heart became pridefully and he saw himself greater than God. He coveted God’s power and rebelled against God’s authority. God then cast Satan out of heaven along with one-third of the angels who were in league with him.

Pride brings a person low,

but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

~ Proverbs 29:23

When we hold on to what we will for our lives instead of surrendering to God’s will for our life this is the sin of pride. By humbling ourselves, trusting in God’s will and plan for our lives we put ourselves in a position to be honored.

So then, surrender to God.

Stand up to the devil, resist him

and he will turn and run away from you.

~ James 4:7

Surrender can be a scary thing. Letting go of our plans and trusting the unknown can be uncomfortable. The faith-walk is definitely not for the faint of heart! Even getting to a place where we’re able to surrender is difficult at times.

A process of steps is helpful here:

    1. Silence and Solitude: Beginning the process of surrender I must first find some silence and solitude. Actual silence and solitude may be impossible depending on the particular situation or circumstance. I may need to inwardly find the silence and solitude when in a crowded environment.
    2. Settle in Peace: Having found some silence and solitude I must then settle my anxious mind from worry. Maybe I’ve been reliving yesterday’s regret or fretting tomorrow’s uncertainty. Either way, I must find some mental peace. To help settle my mind I imagining a boat floating across a lake or river.
    3. Surrender Mind Body and Soul: To get to the place of surrender that I’m seeking I close my eyes and visualize myself floating on my back in a swimming pool. The peaceful stillness of the water holds my anxiety at bay and allows me to rest in God’s loving hands. I am then able to be fully surrendered in the moment, mind body and soul and to what God has for me here.

As we listen to this wonderful song by Matt Redman let’s contemplate surrendering to Christ’s power working in, through and for us. With our arms held high and our hands open grasping nothing, we can give ourselves over to God’s loving grace that brings us what’s best in His perfect timing.

NOT WHAT IS SEEN

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

“All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart.

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen…”

 

The world is all about the seen. People say, I’ll believe it when I see it. But God tells us to believe even when we don’t see. That sounds crazy and impossible, which is exactly what God is best at… doing the crazy impossible things!

What are you looking at today?

An empty bank account…

A dead-end job…

A dream unfulfilled…

We must stop looking at what we see and focus our eyes on what we can’t see: God and His promises for our life.

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1 (The Passion Translation)

The verse above tells us that our faith, now faith… today’s faith… this moment’s faith becomes the foundation that we need to reach the things we long for. Our faith is the only evidence required to prove what is still invisible, the things which we are hoping for.

Think about that statement for a minute. Our faith, your faith and my faith is the only thing standing between us and the manifestation of what we are hoping for!

I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for a great many things… financial provision, physical health, complete family restoration, reunited not just in spirit and truth but geographically. I’m hoping for my dream to teach and minister to women… the list could go on but your get my point.

“…[Abraham] is our example and father, for in God’s presence he believed that God can raise the dead and call into being things that don’t even exist yet.” ~ Romans 4:17 (TPT)

Now… today… this moment… I must have the faith to see these things that are yet invisible to my physical eyes. I must reach deep into my spirit, put on my Jesus glasses and see these things with my eyes of faith and believe that they exist even before I can see them… like Abraham did.

Maybe the most important part of this kind of faith is not just to believe it and see with eyes of faith, but to thank God for them with faith-full words in advance.

Lord, give me the kind of faith Abraham had. Help me to believe, see and profess with faith-filled words of thanksgiving, and receive the things I am believing you for!   ~ AMEN

Watch this wonderful video by Hillsong United and contemplate how you can fix your eyes of faith on the unseen things in your life today.

THE PREPARED TABLE

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;

for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…

In our culture today we don’t really have enemies surrounding us like David who faced lions and bears that were trying to get his sheep. However later in his life, David had to run for his life many times when being chased by enemies like King Saul and even his own son sought to kill him at one point.

What enemies do we face?

Because you’re reading this column most likely you have all the basic comforts of the Western world: food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc… In a spiritual sense the biggest enemy we face I believe is doubt and fear. Our physical enemies are often things such as lack or sickness.

Our own worst enemy.

Sometimes my biggest enemy is my own mind. I may have physical struggles although I have all my basic needs met. But when I wake up in the morning my mind goes right to today’s challenges or to the things I wish could be different. Starting my day with worship music always helps me with this. Maybe that’s why David wrote so many songs.

See the blessings not the struggle.

The lesson I get from this portion of Psalm 23 is that no matter what enemy we may be facing: lack, illness, fear or doubt… We need to look around and see all the things we already have before we grumble about the things we don’t have.

God has already blessed us with so much.

See His Goodness now!

Contemplate God’s goodness with this beautiful video by Elevation Worship.