Finding Happiness

As the new year approaches, we begin to think about our lives. What have we accomplished in the last year and where are we heading? People begin to make a list of resolutions and start to think of ways to improve themselves and become a more well rounded and happier person. The list begins with trying to quit things like smoking and overeating and ends with trying to accomplish more like joining a gym and earning that degree.

There is a man who loves sports to the point of making it his profession. He has lived and breathed sports most of his life. As he gets older, the reality of not being young forever has hit him smack dab between the eyes. How long will his body be able to continue with the stress of playing; what will he do once he can no longer perform? As he looks back on his life full of joy and hard work, he begins to wonder where his happiness will lie once his career ends.

In the second chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon goes on a quest to find happiness. First he tried to just "have fun", but he soon realized that it alone was "useless" and "foolish". Next he tried to focus on working hard, but soon found that it alone was like "chasing the wind". Next he thought if he truly had wisdom, that would give him true happiness. But,through it all, he came to the conclusion that both a fool and those full of wisdom will all end up in the grave someday. So, he spent his life looking for ways to make himself happy and in the end it says in verse 17, 18, "So I hated life. It made me sad to think that everything here on earth is useless, like chasing the wind. I hated all the things I had worked for here on earth, because I must leave them to someone who will live after me." After trying every avenue to get true happiness, he hit a dead end street, until he began to realize that true happiness comes from God. In verse 25, 26 it says, "because no one can eat or enjoy life without Him. If people please God, God will give them wisdom, knowledge and joy. But sinners will get only the work of gathering and storing wealth that they will have to give to the ones who please God. So all their work is useless, like chasing the wind."

As we glance back at the past and move on to this new year, may we understand that all the fun, hard work and wisdom can hold no joy unless it is given to us by God. All the stuff that we accumulate will be left behind one day. Our new years resolution shouldn't be how much weight we can lose, but how God should hold more weight in our lives. Remember, true happiness comes from God!


Being a Blessing!

At Christmas time, we think about all the presents, trees, lights, family & of course all the Christmas cookies. We plan church parties and family dinners. There are Christmas programs at school and church, and for those of us in the North, there's the sledding and snow ball fights. God has blessed us all so much. We have the freedom to celebrate the birth of our Saviour any way that we choose. There are no shortage of trees or lights; we can run to the nearest Walmart to get our presents and even buy our cookies. Head outside and there's a winter wonderland of snow, just waiting to be thrown or built into a fort! There are blessings all around us!

This has been a tough year for me. Two of my closest friends moved far away and a close family member was diagnosed with cancer; so much of what the holidays represent was lost to me. I was looking back on my year and I became very lonely. Things were just not the same to me anymore and it just did not feel like Christmas! I poured my heart out to my husband and his response was that it wasn't about all the circumstances around me; Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. I began to realize how selfish I had become. I may have had a rough year, but through it all, God taught me so much! He blessed me with knowledge and I truly grew to know Him more. I've learned to let Him lead me and trust that He knows where He's taking me. I also realized that I had been completely focused on myself and needed to be a blessing to others, just as God has blessed me.

So, no matter what you are going through this Christmas season, let us take the focus off of ourselves and try to be a blessing. Pray that God will show you a way to help others. There's people in need all around us, if we just take the time to truly care. Maybe there's a family that you know who doesn't have enough to buy their children presents this year. Maybe there's an elderly neighbor who is unable to shovel their sidewalk or can't get through the snow to get their mail or buy groceries. How about the many who have lost their jobs and are struggling day to day, making the idea of buying gifts one more added pressure. If you take the focus off of yourself and look around you, God will reveal to you those in need and will allow you to be a blessing.

Galatians 6:2 "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."


Be Kind and Compassionate

I have been singing and playing piano in the church since I was very young. I remember as I started hitting those lovely teen years, my voice began to change. One Sunday, I was singing when my voice cracked. I remember just laughing at myself until the song was over, because I was so embarrassed I didn't know what else to do. From that point on, I decided I wasn't going to sing in the church anymore. Every time it was my turn for special music, I would play the piano instead. Years went by and I sang in several choirs at school, but had refused to step on that platform. Finally, my senior year, I got the courage to get up on that stage and sing. When the service was over, someone walked up to me and said how happy she was to hear me sing, and how she had really missed seeing me up there. Those kind words meant so much to me! I had been telling myself for years that no one wanted to hear me sing and that I was better off just walking away!

In Ephesians 4:32 the Bible says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Those kind words from that one person caused a change in me. I became more confident and began to realize that I was refusing to use a gift that God blessed me with. Sure, I fail at times, and I get nervous. I make plenty of mistakes, but each time that I get on stage, I remember that all I can do is my best. I am there to minister to others and I have to just leave it in God's hands.

The world is filled with cruelty. We no longer care about neighbors, most of us don't even truly know them! We let whatever we think come out of our mouths without realizing what it could do to a person. What if that woman had walked up to me and said, "well, I sure wish you would never do that again"? Where would I be today? I probably would have gone down a completely different path in my life. Singing would definitely have not been a part of it. Words can either uplift a person or destroy them. We have all been there when someone has said something cruel and it crushed us. Let us be "kind and compassionate" to each other and remember that we are all imperfect. We also need to forgive each other when we have been offended. Showing compassion to those who have offended us, teaches them the love of Christ. Let's pray that God will begin to soften our hearts towards each other and that we will begin to encourage and uplift. Take a moment to tell your kids how wonderful they are, or tell your Pastor how much you appreciate him instead of always finding fault. Try to encourage and be kind to someone today. A smile and a kind word is the best place to start! And, if you have been cruel to someone, go to them and ask for forgiveness. Remember to think before you speak.

Proverbs 16:23 "The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips."


Just a "little" Disobedience

Knowing that he wasn't suppose to touch the gifts under the Christmas tree, my son still did. He claims that he only touched them, didn't hold them or shake them, and that it wasn't disobedience. I told him he could continue to argue with me, but at the end of the day, God told Eve not to eat the apple. Maybe she only took one bite and didn't gobble the whole thing down or bake an apple pie with it, but it only took a bite to be disobedience!

In today's society, nothing seems to be black and white anymore. Everything seems to be in this gray kind of area. Little white lies and half truths become second nature and are actually encouraged, especially if you want to spare someone's feelings. Telling the truth is no longer the right thing to do and has no longer become a sin or is seen as disobedience. We no longer feel the need to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God.

In Proverbs 12:22, the Bible says, "The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy." It doesn't say, the Lord slightly dislikes lying and it is ok to do once in awhile as needed to get us out of a jam. It says He "detests" it. In the dictionary, the word "detest" means to "hate, loathe and abhor". Those are pretty strong words towards something we are slowly being trained to think of as ok, since we are sinners and well, everyone tells lies. I have a hard time finding shows for my kids to watch. These cute, little, cartoon characters seem so innocent until you look closer. They are constantly filled with shady glances, little small lies to their parents and friends, and then covering it up by saying, "just joking" or "I didn't 'mean' that", when you know they did. Don't get me started on the teen shows that my son begs to watch. It is filled with kids going behind their parents back and telling little "white lies" to cover their tracks. We have become so conditioned to think we are just "joking" that we forget we are in fact "lying."

We as parents need to set a good example for our kids. We need to make sure that what we say and do "match". We also need to "catch" ourselves before we begin to say things that are untrue and be sure to "catch" our kids doing the same. It is easy to let things go and figure that we are all human...and we are! But, that is no excuse when we can turn to God for help. Begin to pray for "clean lips" in our life and in our children's lives. Let us "detest, hate, loathe, and abhor" lying. Let us begin to pray that we will always "speak the truth in love".

Ephesians 4:15 "Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church."