Tag Archives: happiness

Psalms 96-101; Joy Unspeakable

Have you ever experienced joy to the point you thought your heart would burst? The day you looked into the eyes of the love of your life and said, “I do”? Holding your newborn baby in your arms for the first time? Taking that dandelion from chubby fingers, stretched out to present you with their treasure? Receiving an “all clear” from your doctor? Watching a sunset?

What do you do with that joy? These psalms tell me that praising God is the steam value on a pressure cooker. Praise is a natural expression of heart-filling joy. If you read these psalms you’ll see dozens of reasons to praise God.

96:4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise…

97:1 The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

97:9 For you, O Lord are the Most High over all the earth…

98:1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things…

But let’s be careful. The joy we receive is a result of God’s grace, His mercy and love. When we understand that, we can only respond like Ebenezer Scrooge did after spending the night hanging out with the spirits: “I don’t deserve to be so happy, I just can’t help it.”

Because true happiness, real joy comes from a right relationship through the precious blood of Jesus. Knowing your sins are forgiven, having fellowship with God can bring joy unspeakable. But let’s not make joy or happiness our goal. If we do, we are worshiping idols.

Praise God for who He is. Worship God because He deserves it. Recognize how blessed you are, and tell Him so. Let Him know how blown away you are at the thought of Him. Then experience that indescribable joy that does not come from things or circumstances. That indescribable, unspeakable joy is God Himself.

 

Psalm 1; The Pursuit of Happiness

The book of Psalms is the go-to for many people when they are sad or discouraged or feel far from God. And many find comfort in these precious chapters.

Honestly, I haven’t been one of those people. The Psalms have never been my favorite book of the Bible. Usually, as I get to this portion of God’s Word while reading through it each year, I plow through as many psalms a day as I can, just to say I’ve read them. Oh, I’m blessed by a verse here and there, challenged or convicted by others. But in general, I don’t let it speak to me like I do other places in the Bible.

My pastor has been going through the psalms with us on Wednesday evenings, and that has given me a new appreciation. So today I read Psalm 1, a psalm I memorized in my youth, and I’ve been sitting here chewing on it, praying about it, then reading what some others have to say about it. And… WOW!

We all want to be happy. I mean, come on. Doesn’t the US government even give us the right to pursue happiness? So why is there so much sadness? Why so many people medicating to mask unhappiness? Psalm 1 has the answer.

First of all the happy (or blessed) person doesn’t listen to the world’s idea of what happy looks like. It’s not found within us, or in having bigger and better things. It’s not found in relationships or self-satisfaction. People who suggest that the answers to life’s problems are situational or a matter of mind control are wicked counselors, sinners, and mockers. (vs 1)

The blessed man is the one whose life is grounded in Scripture, who loves God’s Word, who has made the Bible such a part of his life, it is with him day and night. He is like a tree whose roots are deep, nourished by living water, refreshed, and fruitful.

The psalm says the wicked man, the one who denies God or ignores Him, has no roots. He’s based his life on shallow ground that won’t stand up in the end. Like chaff, or dandelion seeds that blow apart in the wind, he has no standing with God. And he doesn’t even realize what an unhappy state he’s living in.

The dandelion looks at the sturdy oak and says, “I’m just like you.”

No, you’re not.

The blessed person, we who are happy in our relationship with God, grounded in His Word, know that this life is only a blink in light of eternity. The problems of this life are temporary, but the rewards of knowing God will last forever. We can afford to be happy in that truth, regardless of situations we face here in this lifetime. We are blessed!

Dear God, thank You for slowing me down as I study Your Word today. I pray that as I spend time in the psalms You inspired men to write, I will listen to what You would say to me here in 2018. God, I want to be grounded in Your Word, rooted in Scripture, bearing fruit as a result of my relationship with You. I’m looking forward to getting to know You better, loving You more, and serving You more effectively as I let these psalms penetrate my heart and soul.

May 28 – I Love the Lord

Psalms 111-118

Sometimes I read a psalm and am surprised at how it reflects my own thoughts as though I had written it myself. These psalms I read today have me praising God.

Psalm 112 says we who fear the Lord are blessed. We who love to obey Him are blessed. To the world, that seems backwards. Fear God? What’s to fear in our heavenly Santa Claus who wags his tail like a puppy when we call him, and wants only to please us? Obey Him? Doesn’t God want me to be happy and strong and follow my heart? It’s my life. What’s right for me doesn’t have to be right for you. Right?

I am reminded that what the world has to offer in its definition of happiness is shallow and an imitation of that which God gives through His Son. This Holy God and Judge is to be feared. He demands perfect obedience.

Yet this Holy God wants to and will bless us with heavenly blessings when we obey Him, by accepting His Son as our Savior. It’s a blessing and joy the world can’t understand or manufacture.

I am blessed by God Himself. Let it be known that I love the Lord!

June 10

Ecclesiastes 11&12; Psalms 73&88; I Kings 11:41-43, 14:21; 2 Chronicles 9:29-31, 12:13&14

What is Solomon’s conclusion to his experiment? After who knows how many years of earnestly seeking happiness and meaning what is his answer?

Ecclesiastes 12:13&14 say:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Solomon came to realize late in life that it’s all about God. He challenges young people to remember their Creator before the days of trouble come. Wisdom, pleasure, wealth, religion, morality, living for yourself are all meaningless. 

I hope Solomon found joy at the end of his life. I hope he turned back to God and repented of his wasted years. The Bible doesn’t really say. It just tells us Solomon died after leading Israel for forty years and was buried in the City of David. 

I don’t know where you are in life but I do know it’s never too early or too late to turn to God. If you are finding your life has no meaning, if you cannot find joy and contentment, Solomon and I would suggest you are looking in the wrong places.

Jesus died to give your life meaning. He longs to fill you with his joy. Just accept it. Repent of selfish ambition or misguided efforts. Recognize sin and lay them at his feet. I promise you will find the most amazing meaning to life .

It’s in God alone.

June 8

Ecclesiastes 3-6

J. Vernon McGee wrote a “Thru the Bible” commentary a while back and I dug my copy out this morning. I had remembered using it as a reference when I taught an adult Sunday School Class several years ago. Here’s how Dr. McGee sees Solomon’s experiment in finding fulfillment.

Chapter 3:1-15. The king adopts a fatalistic point of view. Whatever will be will be so what’s the use. Many religions and modern-day philosophies see life in this way. Solomon found there is no joy in believing that life is mapped out by some deity and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

Chapter 3:16-4:16 Solomon embraces the philosophy that it’s “all about me”. He says that since this life is all we get, why not live it up? He even toyed with the idea that man is no better than animals, that the end is the same for both. Again, Solomon was disappointed.

Chapter 5:1-10 Solomon takes a look at religion. It’s like he’s saying, go through the motions but don’t get too close. Going to the temple is one thing but don’t make a vow to God. We who are Christians understand that. Christianity is not a religion. It’s a person. It’s a relationship. It’s so true that religion falls short and cannot bring true joy or fulfillment.

Chapter 5:10-6:12 chronicles Solomon’s search for meaning through wealth. He’s not going to find fulfillment there, either.

Like I said yesterday Solomon was on a mission to find happiness because he hated life at this point. And Solomon had the means to conduct an elaborate experiment. What we’re seeing in Solomon’s experience is that fatalism, self-centeredness, religion, and wealth are incapable of bringing real happiness to anyone.

The void that God created in each of us is designed to be filled with only him. We might try to substitute something or someone else. But in the end, true happiness, joy in the midst of difficulties, hope, acceptance, love are the benefits we receive when God alone fills that void. 

Solomon’s going to keep experimenting and we are going to go along for the ride in the next couple of days. But my prayer is that we all will take inventory. Have we tried to fill a void in our lives with anything other than God himself? 

Lord, reveal any similarities we have to Solomon’s quest. May your people be filled with Jesus only.

June 7

I Kings 11; Ecclesiastes 1-2

The wisest, richest, most productive, and most popular king that ever lived hated life. But before we talk about how Solomon was feeling, let’s look at some of the choices he had made.

I Kings 11 tells us Solomon had a weakness. He loved women. He married 700 of them and had sex with 300 more. And instead of insisting that these women worship Solomon’s God, he allowed them to continue to worship their idols. 

I can almost hear a Moabite wife, whispering to Solomon in a private moment saying: If you really loved me you’d join me as I pray to Chemosh.

And gradually Solomon began to take part in the worship of these false Gods. Verse six says Solomon did evil in God’s sight.

So Solomon did what mankind has been doing since the Garden. He tried to replace God. Ecclesiastes says he went on a mission to find happiness and spared no expense. 

The king started with what he already had… wisdom. And he tried to learn everything he could about everything he could think of. He hired the best science teachers, philosophers, historians. He studied hard. But in the end he had to admit that intellect, all the knowledge in the world is like chasing after the wind.

So he went on to something else. Fun. Solomon had the means to throw the best parties. And he did. He hired the best entertainment. He served the best food. He invited the rich and famous. He owned more gold, silver, livestock, land than anyone. He built gardens and parks and reservoirs. He denied himself nothing. If material gain and living to please yourself could bring happiness, Solomon would have been the happiest man ever.

But he wasn’t happy. He found out that “things” can’t satisfy  no matter how lavish. What does he say about his experiment with pleasures?

This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

We’re not done looking at Solomon’s quest for happiness and fulfillment. But I think God would ask us all to check our own pursuits. What is it I am working toward? What is it I am using to replace God in my life? Is it education or science? Is it living for the weekend, having things, being caught up in material possessions? If we are honest we will agree with Solomon. None of that is eternal. None of that can last. 

If we are pursuing education or pleasure as means of fulfillment we might as well try to case the wind.

Dear God, as we look at the book of Ecclesiastes I pray that we will do so with open hearts and minds. Some who read this may hate life like Solomon did. May each of us be ready to take inventory, to recognize those things we think are so important in our lives, and to measure them according to your standards. I pray you will use Solomon’s words to help us know where true happiness lies.