The Secret to a Happier Life is…

January 28, 2009

Our surroundings can have a profound effect on our lives and the world is insanely difficult at times. If you watch any news at all the weight of that alone is enough to depress even the most optimistic of us. Even political ditto heads like myself have to turn it off every so often to gain some perspective and get away from all the negativity. Unfortunately, we do have to be in the world even if we aren’t of it and so we must engage the culture and try to shake off the bad news to work for a better future. However, even though we can’t control world events from our small circle of influence, we can at least do something to improve our interaction with each other.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a position where we are bullied or mistreated by those around us. I have been in more than a few of those situations. Whether at school or work, the people we come in contact with can be cruel. This makes it easy to become depressed and disillusioned. Why does God let these things happen to us?

Life is hard and Jesus promised to always be with us, but never that this life would be easy. We all know this, but it doesn’t take the sting away and theologians have written countless words to explain why bad things happen to good people, so I won’t tackle that issue here. Instead of asking why bad things happen, maybe we should focus on what our response should be.

The the next time somebody hurts you remember that the Bible says to:

  • Forgive – Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Notice this is not an option, but a commandment.
  • Pray for them – Luke 6:28 “Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who insult you.”

This is not easy and it’s a case where I wrote it down to solidify it in my own mind. By forgiving we are obedient to God and our perspective changes from being persecuted to taking joy in doing his work.

A pastor once told me that “Nothing of eternal significance happens apart from prayer”. If your situation is such that you have enemies encompassed about, forgiveness with prayer is the proper response.

Sharing the Faith

January 21, 2009

In the post, Bible Presumptions, I discussed the importance of Bible study and the benefits to our spiritual development as followers of Jesus. The next obvious question is what to do with all of that knowledge. Do we become ever more pious, walking around with steepled hands avoiding the culture that surrounds us? Do we stand on the street shouting at those that pass by and hand out cards with the gospel written on it? Or do we conduct ourselves as Jesus did by engaging the culture and those with whom we come into contact? This last question is somewhat rhetorical, but there is a simple lesson to be learned here that is often overlooked.

In Mark 2:16 we see Jesus eating with what the pious and religious elite (Pharisees) considered to be  sinners. In Mark 6:30 and following we read about Jesus feeding the 5,000. In Luke 24 the risen Jesus comes along side of two men who were troubled by the crucifixion. There are many other instances of Jesus healing, forgiving and even resurrecting people from the dead, but that is beyond the scope of this encouragement which is to notice that Jesus met people where they were and never looked down his nose at them or thumped them with his greek old testament.

Some opportunities to share our faith include:

  •  Taking an interest in those around us.
  • Accepting people for who they are. We’re all sinners.
  • Serve others by meeting a need. Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Invest in the lives of others with the understanding that the most powerful testimony of Jesus Christ’s love is how we live our lives. People will be watching to see how we handle victory as well as disappointment.

It can be scary sometimes to talk about faith with others but we are commanded to do it (Matthew 28:18) and we are expected to be able to give an answer if they approach us (1 Peter 3:15). Above all pray for those around you who have never put their faith in Jesus that they might understand that they need Jesus too.

Bible Presumptions

January 19, 2009

Over the years I have met many Christians, both new and “mature”, who don’t quite know how to approach and handle the Bible and so they avoid it. Several years ago in a Bible study class at a church I no longer attend, a man tried to convince me that the Bible isn’t all that important after giving your life to Jesus. It wasn’t the first time I had encountered such a person and it was definitely not the last.

Everyone comes to the Bible with a certain attitude or presumption.  To some it is a compilation of moral platitudes that although nice to live by, do not constitute a sophisticated world view. To others it represents a dangerous level of dogma that promotes ignorance and intolerance. More still come to the Bible as if it were a buffet where you take what you like and leave the rest. None of these views can satisfy the need we have to understand the God we claim to serve.

We need the Bible to:

  • Understand the price of sin and the sacrifice to redeem us
  • Give us strength to persevere when times are difficult
  • Teach us to praise God when there is victory
  • Fight temptation with its words.

The Bible is the primary source for Christian living and the best reminder of the great love coming from our savior, Jesus Christ, for the times when we don’t feel like He is there at all.

 

It is His word without error or contradiction that we can trust and use to build our faith.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Romans 10:17

“Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”

Galatians 3:2

“Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law or by hearing with faith—“

Galatians 3:5