Tag Archives: abundant life

The Key to Happiness is?

I am leading a group study of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes.  I began our study today with a question.  “The key to happiness is _______.  A simple, fill in the blank answer.  I did get a few great answers from the class, but no one thought of my suggestion.

The key to happiness is a glass of water. 

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Huh?

I proceeded to pour a half glass of water.  As I poured, I posed another question to them, “Are you a glass is half full or a glass is half empty kind of person?”  People from both persuasions participated in a show of hands.  I asked the “glass is have empty” folks, “At any time did you see me empty anything out of the glass?”  I had not emptied anything out.  I only filled it half full.

Hmmm.

I proposed to them that this glass of water represented a solitary persons life essence; their successes, achievements, financial well-being, family, etc.  Everything valued in life.

My questioning continued…So, are we thankful for what we have (water already in the glass) or are we focused on what we don’t have (empty portion of the glass).  The challenge we face is being happy and content with what we already have in our glass.

Aaah!

I poured water into a few more glasses.  Some were filled to the brim, others appeared clearly more than half full.  This batch of glasses, I said, represents a truly blessed society of peoples.  The person with the half full glass, if they continually mingled with the richly blessed group, would naturally start wanting their glass to be filled more.  Contentment, they believe, can only be found with more ________ . (Fill in the blank)

Next, a handful of other glasses were poured.  This time the glasses received varying degrees of water, each much less than half full.  Some glasses with barely enough water to cover the bottom.  If, our half full glass subject mingled with the less fortunate, wouldn’t he or she be more appreciative of what they had in their glass.  They may even be compelled to share some of their water it with the less fortunate.  It is becoming apparent that perspective may have something to do with happiness.

To make another point I poured all the water out of each glass, including the half full one.  “Which glass had the advantage now?” I asked.  None of them.  This, I said happens to each of us. When we die our glass is empty.  Hence the opening lines of Ecclesiastes, “Vanity, Vanity all is vanity!”  Where is the advantage for all our toil?

For my final point, I filled each of the empty glasses to the brim.  As believers in Jesus Christ, life does not end when we die.  Jesus, In John 10:10 said that he came to give us life, abundant life!  This abundant life can be enjoyed in the here and now as we journey through life.

I decided to give the class a homework assignment.  The next time each of you pours a glass, stop halfway and think of something that you are thankful for.  Then, fill the glass the rest of the way.  As you continue to pour, remember the abundant life we have in Christ.

Yes, the key to happiness can be found in a glass of water!

 

 

 

Introducing the Gospel of John

IMG_0674Wow, what a change the New Year has brought. Suddenly life is spinning wildly around me, and important decisions that will need to be made are lurking on the horizon. I had hoped to make progress this year on the devotional book I started writing a few years back.  Now, I wonder if that will be possible.  So, in an effort to prepare my heart to reengage the story and provide my mind with some much-needed inspiration, I thought I would post some devotional notes on the Gospel of John as I study it.

The first note I would make: the gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) were not biographical accounts of the persons writing them. Instead, they focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John felt it was extremely important to communicate to us that Jesus is who he says he is – the Son of God.

And why should that be important to people like you and me living today? If Jesus really is the Son of God, then he would have the power and authority to forgive sins.

You might ask, why is the forgiveness of sins important or even necessary? The Bible links sin and death together as cause and effect. Sin causes death (Romans 6:23). No one needs reminding that death is a certainty for everyone.   Yet, many of us live our lives as if death is something we can do nothing about, so the general consensus is, why not ignore it.

But what if we could do something about changing the certainty of death, to the certainty of life? Could I believe in something or someone who could deal with my sin so that even though I died, I could live again – forever?   This is the message of the Gospel, to believe that I am a sinner, to believe that Jesus Christ is who he says he is, and that he died in my place so that my sins (past, present, future) could be forgiven.  This same Jesus did not just die for me, he rose from the grave and lives again, just as I will.

I find it very interesting that the word “believe” is mentioned so many times in the Gospel of John. John, a fisherman turned disciple, writes to those who already believe in Jesus and are facing an uncertain future and persecution. To those don’t believe, John submits seven signs (miracles) and seven affirmations (I am statements made by Jesus) as proof that Jesus is who he claims to be.

When I reach the end of my days, and death comes for me, there’s only one thing that really matters. Do I believe the gospel message or do I choose to reject it?

 

Gospel of John

Chapter 1:1-5

John gives us quite an introduction to his gospel account. “In the beginning was the Word,” immediately brings to mind the Genesis creation account, which offers a biblical explanation of our origin. The “Word was God” is a monumental statement. From this we can conclude that the “Word” is a deity whom we should esteem as we do God. The word “was” used here implies the “Word” has continuously existed rather than being someone which was created. “Through him all things were made,” communicates that the story of Jesus extends back prior to creation, where his hands formed the heavens and the earth.

Before the opening paragraph concludes, we are also given an additional attribute of the Word, “in him was life,” which is the light of men. This statement communicates to me that abundant or true life comes when a moral or spiritual truth is illuminated in my life (just as a lightbulb is turned on) and I choose to incorporate it into my life. Later in his gospel, John tells us that God’s word is truth (John 17:17).

IMG_0837The paragraph closes with the statement that light (illuminated truth) shines in the darkness and has not been overcome by it. Darkness, then, can be explained spiritually as an absence of light, and is associated with an ignorance of spiritual things or wickedness.

I continue to be amazed at the positive effect light has on our world. It gives life to plants, animals and people. Light offers hope, which quickly dissipates when we are denied it’s life-giving properties.  True light stands in opposition to gloominess, hopelessness and darkness.  Choose light!