Tag Archives: Happiness

I Envy You!

“I envy you!” A common expression used by folks of my day.  When I use it, I’m congratulating a friend or acquaintance on the favorable position he or she finds themself in.  There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

Umm, maybe.  But what if deep down inside me there is a little more to it?  What if my own life isn’t going according to carefully laid plans?  What my station in life isn’t what I imagined it would be?  Then, there’s the part of me continually comparing myself to others. While I’m at it, what if I drag my faith into the equation.

Tim, a friend of mine,  goes so far as to suggest that envy possesses the ability to turn a person away from God.  How can that be? It is possible for a person to turn bitter towards God when He doesn’t deliver the goods they long for.  When this happens, envy becomes a complaint against God.  Without realizing it, a person takes issue with the sovereignty of God, and the plan He has for their life.

How do I keep this from happening to me?  Humility plays a big part in keeping me off the wrong path.  God loves to respond to the humble.  Humility feeds gratitude, and gratitude fosters contentment.  It is joy, not happiness found in acquiring and possessing things, that gives life meaning.  Joy can be experienced in both good and bad situations.  Happiness, on the other hand, is fleeting — like chasing after the wind.

Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.  2 Corinthians 6:10 NLT

Embrace joy!

P.S.  Maybe, “I’m so happy for you!!” is a better expression to use.  And yes, I should mean it like I’ve said it!

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A fourth key to happiness

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A fourth key to happiness, in my opinion, involves viewing the life we live as a beautiful painting. Each person creates their own over the course of their lifetime.  If we experience no hardships, oppression, financial struggles, loneliness, or heartaches, our painting would be a blank canvas, devoid of composition.

It’s the dark lines of struggle, which create the composition and define the boundaries of color. Those colors range from dark and gloomy trials to bright colors of joy, happiness and hope. Together, they make our painting beautiful and desirable to those who love us.

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Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked?  In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider:  surely God has appointed the one as well as the other…Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Third key to Happiness

I am going all out in an attempt to give my class visual reminders of the message of Ecclesiastes.  Previously I have used a glass of water and an open pair of cupped hands to convey keys to happiness and contentment.  This week I implored them to dance their way through life.  Outwardly or inwardly, openly or secretly it seems that dancing can be an expression of gratitude to God for all he has given us.

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As I began to paraphrase Ecclesiastes chapter 3 into some kind of dance choreography, a dance used during intermissions at sporting events I have attended came to mind.

Yield to the God of heaven. He has determined a time and a season for everything.

In My heart he has planted eternity that I may seek him.

Though the Certainty of death has caused many to see life as vanity,

And Around me lies injustice and wickedness; I will give my cares to God and dance!

Y – M – C – A!   Y – M – C – A!  Can hear the music playing?

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Ecclesiastes: Futility and Folly

Have you been so concerned with a problem that you have felt the tension in your arms, legs or chest? Have you been so stressed out that you lost sleep over it? Solomon is telling us he has seen the futility of life under the sun. In this section (Ecclesiastes 1:17-2:26) his futility gives way to frustration. He is leaving “no stone unturned” in his search for the meaning of life.

William D. Barrick refers to the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes as Solomon’s honest confession. He can’t solve life’s most important issues without God. It is highly unusual for a king of this era to admit to “failure, frustration and folly.” But God uses failure, frustration and folly to draw wandering prodigals back to Himself.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

In chapter one, verse thirteen a new prospective is identified, “under heaven;” the abode of God, the all-supreme Creator. However, Solomon’s search under heaven does not include the eternal, only the temporal.   His search includes:

Wisdom – The more we know, the less it seems we know.

Wm. Barrick – “What is crooked cannot be straightened” (a proverb). In essence, mankind cannot change all that is done under heaven. C’est la vie (that’s life).  “With wisdom comes much grief” (another proverb). In essence the more wisdom obtained the greater the grief. Solomon keeps reaching the same conclusion that man cannot save himself.

Josh McDowell – If education were the key to life, “universities would be the most moral, ethical and spiritual centers of any nation.”

W. Wiersbe – “The Christian won’t be able to explain everything that happens in life but life is not built on explanations, it’s built on promises.”

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Pleasure – Solomon denies himself no pleasure. He enjoys it. Today we talk ourselves into believing that pleasure is something we have earned, or deserve; like the advertising jingle, “Work hard, play hard.”

Why does pleasure lead to disappointment (under the sun)? We seek the ultimate meaning out of that which is temporary and perishable.

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Work – alone is not the key to happiness. The more we work the more unbalanced the rest of life becomes. For many, work is an attempt to keep them busy from facing how empty their lives really are (under the sun)

Work is not evil. God put Adam in the Garden and gave him work to do. We are wired to work. Unfortunately, for some accomplishments in their work give them the feeling that they are captains of their souls, masters of their destiny.

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Wealth – wealth cannot be taken with us when we die. Where is the advantage of wealth? “The more we have the more we want what we don’t have.” (Dr. D. Jeremiah).

“Money is the universal passport to everywhere except heaven, and the universal provider of everything except happiness.” Wall Street Journal

More about work – Solomon struggles with the realization that labor doesn’t produce anything that will endure for eternity. Futility of labor is equivalent to a hamster on an exercise wheel.   Additionally, there is a realization that death levels the playing field. It comes for everyone; both the lazy and hard-working, the wealthy and poor, the renowned and anonymous. Work done under the sun is not lasting in the light of eternity.

Why did Solomon use the word “hate” referencing his toil? He couldn’t keep the fruits of his labor (his toil ultimately is handed to others). Secondly, he couldn’t protect its fruits (those who receive it won’t have the same appreciation as the person who produced it). Finally, wealth can’t be enjoyed as it should (a lifetime of toil leaves relatively little time to enjoy it).

Solomon’s Conclusions:

Remember Solomon is attempting to find the meaning of life under the sun (striving apart from God). He mentions the sinner, which means one who falls short or misses the mark. This person ultimately gathers resources only hand down to someone else when they die.  Life apart from God (without reconciling with God) leaves the sinner no means of accessing the eternity of heaven.  For them “all is vanity.”

Everything we have is a gift from God.   The believer in God whose prospective is above the sun (under heaven) can find enjoyment under the sun.  In the words of Jesus, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

A Second Key to Happiness

hands-1926414_960_720Dr. David Jeremiah in his book, Searching for Heaven on Earth, offers this key to finding happiness – an open pair of hands. He assures us that the Christ-centered follower can experience happiness in wisdom, wealth, work and pleasure (under the sun). God is the dispenser of pleasurable pursuits and we are the receiver. Our Lord can bless us with possessions, wisdom, pleasure, and employment. Our job is to keep our cupped hands open and resist the human urge to close them selfishly. When we keep our hands open we are allowing God to give and take his blessings as he chooses for his glory. We must remember that God’s resources are limitless. Don’t close your hands and cut yourself off of from His blessings.

Remember to pray with your hands open.

 

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!