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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Finding Happiness in a New Year

This year an estimated 139 million Americans will do some type of New Year’s resolution.  That is about half of our nation.  By June, 92% will have failed, leaving only 8% to celebrate victory.     
 
A resolution is a statement of purpose backed up with an initial resolve to make a change like “I make a resolution to lose 25 pounds this year.”  They typically cover areas like our health, finances or relationships. 
 
Why do we do them, especially if the majority of us fall short?  Likely, it is something deeper than the resolution itself.  One driver could be a lack of satisfaction.  When someone looks at different areas of their life, they might not like what they see.  As a result, they might think “If I can just get this mountain of debt paid off I’ll be able to breathe”, while another says to themselves, “If we can just turn our marriage around that’ll make all the difference.”     
 
With that in mind, consider this statement from author and motivational speaker, Stephen Shapiro.  After reviewing the data from a major research project he said, “People who achieve their resolutions every year are NO happier than those who do not set resolutions or who are unsuccessful in achieving them.”       
 
Wow!  What a mind blowing finding.  What is the deeper motivation in setting your resolution or goal?  Is the focus just to lose the weight or do you think it will bring greater happiness or satisfaction to your life?  Consider this - if we believe that working hard on the outside of our lives is going to change the inside, we will be sadly disappointed.   
 
When we achieve what we set out for, yes, we will be happy for a moment or a brief season of time, but then it will wear off.  Eventually we will be right back where we started.  Honestly, are the changes you want deeper than just your health, finances or relationships?   
 
The Scriptures say, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).  This is saying, “I am going to look for happiness here and there, but when I get there I find it is only a vapor – emptiness.” 

Where do we find the answers to the deep things of the heart and soul?  Where do we find meaning, happiness and satisfaction?  They are found in Jesus.  In Him we will find all we need. You will get temporary happiness in your resolutions, but you will find lasting peace through Jesus.                      

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Looking For a King

On the eve of history’s first Christmas, the Jewish people were filled with centuries of hope, rooted in the prophecies of their religious writings.  Hope that one day a King would rise up from among them to deliver their people from the occupation of the Romans.  All the non-Jewish people in the world did not have such a hope.  If they faced a similar oppressive government, all they had to rest on was their own efforts at forging change.  In a sense, for all the world, it was truly the dark ages.  Outside of an inward hope or personal heroism, how would the darkness of the nations be turned to light?
In approximately 4 B.C. a divine earthquake caused a split right down the middle of human history – the birth of Jesus Christ.  It was like the rising of the sun that meant a new day, a new era for mankind.   

The Jewish prophet Isaiah, 700 years earlier, foretold about the coming of a Messiah who would become the hope of all nations.  Isaiah wrote, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

As Jesus grew up and settled into His heaven-sent role, the public responded and a movement was built around Him that evolved into a revolution of sorts.  However, His followers became disillusioned at His messaging.  He was not becoming the national Savior they envisioned. 

He told the crowds His purpose was to “seek and save the lost”.  He said if they wanted to follow Him they must “deny themselves”, meaning give up pursuing their agenda and take up God’s.  All this was much different then what they expected. 

Jesus' focus was the hearts and souls of mankind.  He purposed to deliver them from the bondage of sin and lead them to spiritual freedom.  He came to govern the lives of precious souls, not a nation. 

Still today, the world is looking to political leaders and government for societal change.  And if that does not satisfy they escape into entertainment, addiction or self-determination.  The lesson of Christmas teaches us that real and lasting hope is found in one place, Jesus.  He brings us spiritual freedom, where we no longer have to be a slave to our sin.  This kind of freedom the world longs for and it can only be found in the Christ child.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

America’s Only Answer

When we look at the state of America through the lens of news headlines it is not very buoyant.  And if our news sources supposedly reflect the true nature of our country then I must say they are only getting half the story.      
Typically, alongside the daily bad news they report stories about efforts to turn our country around through elections, new laws, religion, education, conferences, summits, awareness campaigns, improved research and analysis, healthcare, poverty relief, volunteerism, social justice and much more.  Yet, America continues to decline and the world with it.  All these attempts are good things.  They have made pockets of progress and been a genuine help.  However, they are lacking and temporal at best.  The Scriptures give us the answer saying, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Jesus is the person in which America’s future rests.  When we leave Him out of our efforts for change we do so to our peril.   
Prayer is one practical way in which we can bring Jesus into the middle of our nation’s woes.  Prayer in His name can do the impossible.  People are seeing this and during 2016 our national prayer life has grown exponentially.  This year we have seen news worthy movements of prayer that have largely been ignored by most of America’s top news outlets.  Here are the ones I am aware of:  Azusa Now; United Cry; Burlington, North Carolina revival; Harvest America; Decision America Tour; West Virginia revival; The 8-8-8 God Speaking Initiative; Together 2016; The Gathering and Cry Out.  I am confident there are more.  It is no stretch to say these events have reached millions in America and across the world.  Though unconnected they have four things that unite them.  1) The United States is in a moral and spiritual decline.  2)  The rate of decline is a cause for serious alarm.  3)  There is only one solution – Jesus.  4)  We must seek Jesus in prayer and go announce Him anew boarder to boarder.
These gatherings are producing large swaths of people, scattered all across the nation, to call upon Jesus.  They are calling out for His intervention into the lives of individuals, and for the soul of America.  It is a historic time.
The news headlines are only telling half the story of the state of our union.  It is a time to believe and persevere.  Press onward!  Join the movement.  Gather together with others and cry out to Jesus for revival in the land.  He is our answer.  Turn to Him and see Him act.          
 
© Anthonyheflin | Dreamstime.com - Cross And American Flag At Sunset Photo

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Campaigning With Honor

Some historians view the Presidential Campaign of 1800, between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as the origin of dirty American politics.  According to the Miller Center's research one newspaper gave a stern warning about a potential Jefferson Presidential Administration writing "Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes."  

Religious leaders, 205 years after the Jefferson/Adams campaign, put out a statement calling for decency in politics saying that politicians, “ . . . should also use dialogue characterized by mutual respect, coolness, truthfulness, maturity, sobriety, and [have] the use of decent language.”  This was actually written about politicians from the African nation of Ghana. 

All nations across the span of time have regular ongoing issues with ugliness in political campaigns.  It goes farther back then 1800 though.  Its origin goes back to a pivotal historical event in the Garden of Eden. 

Why is there, and will there always be, this ugliness?  One word sums it up – power.  Everyone wants to be the top dog and with it comes unrivaled influence, riches, fame and the ability to shape the future and be remembered in history.       

If I could get an audience with the two main candidates for President here are three suggestions I would offer in their pursuit of this seat of great power.       

1 – Have honor in your name.  Some good advice is given in the Bible, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).  Already your names “Clinton” and “Trump” have developed a reputation.  The rest of the campaign and election will continue to shape those.  Conduct yourself in such a way that future generations of your family (not the public) will be proud of that name. 

2- Be compelled by your own vision for the good of America and not by vision of others.  Running for President can bring out the leaches.  Despite people pushing and pulling from all directions, remain true to that vision. 

3 – Bring God into the central working of your life and campaign on a private level, not in front of the cameras.  Seek God's wisdom in His Scriptures and through His faithful followers in your daily responsibilities. 

No one can completely control what others say and do, but we can control one person, ourselves.  In pursuit of the highest office in the land and for the sake of personal conscience, win or lose, may our candidates aspire to a legacy of honor.    

 

© Chrisdorney | Dreamstime.com - US Presidential Election 2016 Photo