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Monday, June 30, 2014

Empty Hands Receive Greater Blessings

In review of 2 Corinthians 9:11 it says, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

Bottom Line:
We have be made rich enough to be generous at all times. Generosity on our parts will help those in need and produce thanksgiving to God.

What this means to me:
God has given me so much and enriched me in every way, so that I can always be generous and giving. My generosity to others will result in thanksgiving and praise to God. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:11, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (NIV). This is an amazing verse. God makes me rich in every way so that I can be generous on every occasion, which will result in thanksgiving to God. God doesn’t bless me so that I can be greedy; rather he blesses me so I can be generous. I give away, and God gives back to me so that I can give more away and he can give more back to me and on and on and on. God doesn’t give me things so that I can pile them up. Letting go of what’s in my hand, frees it to receive greater blessings from God. God’s giving is based on my attitude. That’s why it’s so important to live with an attitude of gratitude. The Bible says, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12). When I give, I’m performing a service. To serve and to give is the same thing. It’s two actions of love. I can’t love without serving and giving. And the best part is this: My service leads to expressions of thanksgiving to God. So I say, “Thank you God for making me part of your plan for serving and giving to others. Ultimately you make sure I’m never ripped off for doing so.” It helps for me to remember that what I have are all gifts from God. I am only a steward managing what he has entrusted me with. When I give, I’m imitating what my Father does, which is to give to me. My motivation to serve is based on what he has done for me. My service is my expression of thanks to him.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Learning To Cultivate a Life in Common

In review of 1 Corinthians 1:10 it says, “You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.”

Bottom Line:
Get along with each other. Learn to be considerate of each other, be of one thought and one purpose.

What this means to me:
I am to get along, agree and be in harmony with my fellow Christians, allowing no division or splits to take place. I am to be considerate and help cultivate a life in common, in which we are all of the same mind, completely united in our thoughts and purposes. Working well with others is not something that is taught very often. However, It is one of the most important skills to learn on the road to being happy. If I don’t work well with other people, I’m going to be unhappy much of my life. What I need to remember about learning to work with others is:. I must learn to cooperate with others. Epaphroditus was a man that the church in Philippi sent to Rome with a gift of financial support for Paul while he was in prison. Philippians 2:25 says, “I feel that I must send Epaphroditus — my brother, coworker, and fellow soldier — back to you. You sent him as your personal representative to help me in my need” (GWT). By calling Epaphroditus his brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier, Paul was saying that life and ministry is a family, it’s a fellowship, and it’s a fight. The church is the family of God. I am brothers and sisters with the people I minister and worship with, and I should treat them as such. It’s also a fellowship, where I work and serve together with a common goal — the Great Commission. I’m also in the same fight with them against Satan, and we need to support and encourage each other. The best place to learn how to cooperate with others is in the church.. Next, I need to learn to be considerate. Paul is speaking of Epaphroditus again in Philippians 2:26 when he says, “He has been longing to see all of you and is troubled because you heard that he was sick.” Notice there are two examples of consideration. Paul is considerate of his co-worker’s homesickness, and Epaphroditus is considerate about the Philippians’ concern. This is a key to happiness! The more considerate I learn to be of other people’s needs, doubts, and fears, the happier I’ll be. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common” (MSG).By nature its not easy being a considerate person. I tend to think of myself first and not the needs of others. “Cultivating a life in common” takes work, and learning to get along and work well with others will take practice. Like a garden that requires cultivation to bear fruit, I’ll see how my effort bears the fruit of happiness and strong relationships.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Happiness Is A Product Of Living With Integrity And Being Trusted

In review of Proverbs 25:13 it says, “Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat — refreshing!”

Bottom Line:Be reliable and trustworthy to others, then you will be like a cool drink on a hot day, bringing refreshment.

What this means to me:I need to be a reliable and trustworthy messenger to others, always coming through, doing what I say I will do. Then I can be like a cool drink on a really hot day, refreshing for them. What I’m learning is that the more I can be trusted and relied upon by others, the happier I’ll be. If others can’t trust me, I’ll end up living a miserable life. To be happy, I’ll need to be somebody that people can trust. Paul used Timothy as an example of this: “You know the kind of person Timothy is. You know he has served with me in telling the Good News, as a son serves his father” (Philippians 2:22 NCV). Paul had seen Timothy in action, in all kinds of circumstances, and he considered him genuine, trustworthy, and reliable. God’s Word translation says, “You know what kind of person Timothy proved to be.” So the question for me is, “do people know what kind of person I am? Have I been proven trustworthy like Timothy was?” People being able to count on me is much like buying a house. When I go to a mortgage broker for a loan, they’re going to do a credit check. They want to know if I’m worthy of being trusted with credit. Did I pay your bills on time? Did I have a track record of keeping my word? Can I be depended on to pay this money back? Am I creditable? In reality, everybody around me is doing a credit check on the life I lead and my actions. They want to know if I am what I say I am, and if I do what I say I will do. Being trustworthy and reliable bring happiness to relationships. In order to develop and maintain a reputation of reliability I need to do two things:. I live with integrity. Integrity does not mean I’m perfect. It means that what others see is what they are going to get. I’m the real deal, because my actions will match my words. Proverbs 25:13 says, “Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat — refreshing!” (MSG) Will my friends be able to rely on me to be the person I claim to be?. I keep my promises. Psalm 15:4 says, “They always do what they promise, no matter how much it may cost” (TEV). This means I keep a promise, even when I find out it’s going to cost me more than I thought.Learning to live with integrity and keep my promises will show others that I can be trusted and this will in turn allow me to be much happier. Being a reliable friend also means having others in my life that I can be close enough with to be open and honest, sharing what I’m learning, getting and receiving Biblical perspective to. This is what I think will be the most refreshing.  Someone who can speak the truth into my life and mine into theirs. Being trustworthy means that those around me can rely on my being true to any commitments or serving their needs. As I look back at life before becoming a Christian, integrity was something I struggled with. It was very easy for me to say one thing but then secretly do another. Integrity was something that God worked with me on when I became a Christian. I made it my mission statement to “live with integrity and make a difference in the lives of others.” I believe that I have been able to live up to this for the most part, but know that I still need God’s help to continue to succeed in this. Integrity to me, means to be the same whether someone is looking or not.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Learning to Forget Myself, and Look to the Needs of Others

In review of Philippians 2:4 it says, “Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

Bottom Line:
Look out for one another's interests, not just for your own.

What this means to me:
I am to not be so caught up in myself and my own welfare, but be interested, concerned and watch out for what is better for others. The starting point for happiness is to shift the focus away from myself. If all I think about is myself, I’ll end up being a miserable person. If I truly want to be happy in life, I have to care about the needs of those around me. Paul gives Timothy as an example of this in Philippians 2:20-21: “There is no one like Timothy for having a real interest in you; everyone else seems to be worrying about his own plans and not those of Jesus Christ” (LB). I would say that most are only concerned about their plans and rarely look out for the interests of others. Most people don’t get up in the morning and give their first thought to how someone else is doing. Most people are concerned with their own problems. This is likely why most people are unhappy with their lives!  To become an unselfish person, I’ll have to change my focus. I’ll have to shift my focus away from yourself to others. This is not something that comes naturally, so it’s something I have to learn to do. One way to do this is to be intentional about looking away from myself and to the needs of others, where I’ll find happiness in serving God through serving others. Philippians 2:4 says, “Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (MSG). I often allow the goals and commitments of work and school distract me from focusing on others. I need to refocus myself in my morning quiet times toward serving versus being served. Today, when someone interacts with me, I will stop what I’m doing and focus my attention on them. I will work on helping them with their need or needs.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

True Happiness Comes From Giving My Life Away and Serving

In review of Mark 8:35 it says, “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.”

Bottom Line:
Hanging on and saving your own life will not provide the true life God intended. It is in the giving of your life for his sake and for the sake of spreading his Good News, that you will truly have life.

What this means to me:
If I try to hang onto and save my life, I will end up giving up true life God intended for me. It is in the giving up of my life for his sake and for the sake sharing and spreading the Good News, that will provide me the true life to come and the knowledge of what it really means to live. God wired humans so that real happiness is not a result of status, salary, sex, or success. True happiness comes from service. God designed me to be happiest when I’m giving my life away. He does this because he wants me to become like him. Life is all about love! Mark 8:35 says, “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live” (LB). So for me to have a happy heart, I need to practice service and generosity every day. Matthew 20:28 illustrates that, “Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (NLT). Jesus came to serve and give. These two things can bring more happiness in my life than anything else. They define what it means to follow Jesus. If I’m not serving, if I’m not giving, then I’m not fully following Jesus. God also wired me in such a way that the more I give myself away, the more God will give to me and the more blessings and happiness I’ll have. In Philippians 2:17-18, Paul says, “Your faith makes you offer your lives as a sacrifice in serving God. If I have to offer my own blood with your sacrifice, I will be happy and full of joy with all of you. You also should be happy and full of joy with me” (NCV). My faith allows me to offer my life as a sacrifice and to serve God by serving others. Sacrifice and serving are two of the keys to lifelong happiness. I am to generously give my life away for his sake and the sake of the Gospel. Unfortunately with my most recent illness and recovery, I have not been able to really serve anyone but my wife. I am looking forward to having my next surgery, and completing the healing from that, so that I can once again serve others. Meanwhile I’ll think through what I can do to serve others from home. I know that just being back to work for a short while, I was able to serve the team that reports to me, with their mid-year reviews. It was great catching up with them and learning what I can do to help them continue to grow in their careers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Learning To Get a Good Grip on God’s Word

In review of Philippians 2:16 it says, "Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless."

Bottom Line:
Hold on firmly and share the word of life with those around you. Then when Christ returns, you can be proud of the investment you made in yourself and in others.

What this means to me:
I am to hold firmly, making it part of my life and offering to tell others about the word of life. This way on the day that Christ returns, I can be proud that my life/following and what I have done to serve, share and mentor others was not wasted, but instead produced good results and helped others establish a meaningful relationship with God. God has promised many wonderful benefits in my life when I hold firmly and meditate on the Word, make it part of my life by doing it. Surprisingly, knowing how to worry has already showed me how to meditate on the Word of God. Worry is when I take a negative thought and I think on it over and over and over. When I take a passage of Scripture and I think on it over and over and over, this is meditation. There are six ways I can get a grasp on God’s Word. I can hear it, I can read it, I can study it, I can memorize it, I can meditate on it, and I can apply it. But if all I do is hear the Word of God when I go to church, I’ll have no grip on the Word of God, and it can be pulled out of my mind very easily. The Bible says in Philippians 2:16, “Hold firmly to the Word of Life” (NLT). I won’t have a good grip on the Bible unless I’m doing all six habits: hearing it, reading it, studying it, memorizing it, meditating on it, and applying it. Psalms 119:16 says, “Your laws make me happy. I never forget your word” (GW). God’s principles are what I need to make me happy, and I will remember those principles by memorizing them, meditating on them, and then applying them. Psalms 119:35 says, “Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found” (NLT). Typically, I look for happiness in all the wrong places. God tells me that happiness is found in the path of his commands. One thing I lack in my spiritual discipline is scripture memory. This is something I must develop a new habit in. I should consider some form of utilizing scripture memory cards again so that I can work on this throughout the day and keep them with me (maybe even an app for my phone?.) In addition, after I recover from my next surgery, I’m going to move forward with my plans to meet regularly with two others guys I trust. I can have them hold me accountable for scripture memory. Having God’s word close at mind will help me in how I conduct my life. I’m sure happiness will be a by-product of choosing this habit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Clearing My Conscience Provides a Happy Heart

In review of Psalms 32:1-2 it says, “What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record.”

Bottom Line:
Confess and agree on your sins before God. He will forgive you; bringing you great joy, happiness and blessings. Then you will experience great relief and your record with him will then be cleared.

What this means to me:
I will have great happiness, joy and blessing when I confess my disobedience before him. He has promised to forgive me. Therefore great joys come to my life when my wrongs are pardoned. It is a great relief to live in complete honesty. Confessing allows God to forgive and no longer consider me guilty, he clears the slate and my record. Feelings of guilt and shame will cause me to lose my happiness. It’s hard to be guilty and happy at the same time. Philippians 2:15 tells me to, “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (NLT). This might be difficult to do if my conscience is not clear. One promise I can hold on to is what David says in Psalms 32:1-2, “What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record” (LB). Happiness, joy, and relief are the things everyone looks for. Scriptures tell me that in order to be happy, enjoy life and have relief from pain, I should strive for purity, a purity that comes from forgiveness provided by God’s grace. So to maintain a happy heart, I’ll strive to keep a clear conscience. In my quiet times with God, I will continue to consider anything that could be standing between me and God. I need to deal with the junk from my prior day and evening. So, I’ll review my prior day/night, confess my sins, and then take in God’s power, grace and cleansing. God has promised that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV). So as I meet with God, I will continue to take out some emotional and spiritual garbage. I’ll seek to get rid of the stuff that stinks in my life by confessing my sin to God and agreeing with him that what I did was wrong. Verses I find very helpful for this is found in Psalm 139:23-24,  “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (NLT).

Monday, June 16, 2014

Learning to Not Sweat the Small Stuff

In review of Philippians 2:14-15a it says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you.”

Bottom Line:
Do everything without complaining and grumbling, be blameless in your actions, then no one can criticize you. If you do, you will become an example of God’s children, shining like bright starts in a world filled with crooked and sinful people.

What this means to me:
I am to do everything without complaining or grumbling, being blameless, pure and without fault, so that no one can criticize me. I am God’s child without fault who can shine as a bright light in a world full of crooked and mean people. However, If I’m not careful, I can fret over small stuff in my life. It’s a hard habit to break because I can be negative by nature. Starting with Adam and Eve, as humans we have been blaming, excusing and accusing. We excuse our own mistakes but then accuse others for their mistakes and more. Many even blame others for the problems in their lives. However, Philippians 2:14-15a says this: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you” (NLT). This may be one of the most difficult verses in the Bible. From what I’m learning, there are four types of complainers:
. First are the whiners. You can get up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord!” but whiners choose instead to say, “Good Lord, it’s morning!”
. Second are the martyrs. Their favorite expression is, “Nobody appreciates me!” They’re pros at throwing pity parties. They pout and complain when they don’t get their way.
. Third are the cynics. Their attitude is, “Why bother? It isn’t going to make any difference.” They poison everything.
. Fourth are the perfectionists. Nothing is ever good enough for these complainers. Their favorite phrase is, “Is that the best you can do?”
Ultimately in Matthew 12:36 it says: “Everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (NIV). I should reflect on how many times I have complained, whined, or argued about something when in reality I shouldn’t have been “sweating the small stuff.” As I reflect on this, I believe that most of the time this “sweating the small stuff” comes from work related items. I am always concerned about how my team is perceived and not wanting to have any problems. I always want to be seen as a team who has it all together. So today, I want to learn to not sweat the small stuff. Instead I will, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). God bring problems to help train and grow me. I should be thankful for God’s care about me and his wanting to train me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Happiness Will Come From Practicing Harmony and Humility

In review of Philippians 2:6-8 it says, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

Bottom Line:
Christ was God, however gave up this divine privilege to become a humble servant. He was born as a human and then humbled himself, being fully obedient to God, even to the point of dying a criminal’s death on a cross.

What this means to me:
Christ himself was God in everything. He did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit, instead, of his own free will, he gave up his divine privileges taking on the humble position of a servant, where he was born a man and appeared in human likeness, dwelling with us. He humbled himself in life and was fully obedient to God; to the point of his death, dying a criminal’s death on a cross. Rick Warren points out that happiness comes from harmony, and harmony comes from humility. If I want to be a humble person, I need to learn to ask myself some questions: “What would Jesus do?” What would Jesus do in this problem? What would Jesus do for that person who’s hurting? What would Jesus do at the office? At Starbucks? What would Jesus do in my marriage? In response to these questions, Jesus would come up with a humble answer that builds harmony and happiness rather than difficulty, defeat, bitterness, and resentment. To act like Jesus, Philippians 2 provides three examples:

First, I’m not to demand what I think I deserve. Philippians 2:6 says, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to” (NLT). It’s very counter cultural in our world to give up my right to something. I have rights, but there’s a better way to get my needs met than demanding my rights. I can be tender without surrender, and I can be understanding without demanding.

Secondly, I am to look for ways that I can serve. Philippians 2:7 says, “Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” If I want to be like and imitate Jesus, I need to learn how to serve with my life.

Lastly, I’m to do what’s right even when it’s painful. Philippians 2:8 says, “He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

Jesus is the ultimate example and model of humility. For this God gave him the greatest honor in the universe. God will honor my humility as well when I follow Jesus’ example and adopt and do these same things. Today I will not demand what I deserve, I’ll look for ways to serve, and I’ll do the right thing, even if it’s causes me pain. This week at work, I’m conducting mid-year reviews. I will make talking with my team, getting caught up with them after my leave-of-absence, a way to serve them based on feedback I get from them. I will be honest in their performance and communicate weaknesses that need to be developed, even though it would be easier not to deal with it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Learning To Give the Gift of My Attention

In review of Philippians 2:4 it says, “Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.”

Bottom Line:
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others.

What this means to me:
I’m to not be only interested in my own life, I am to look out for and be concerned about the interests of others. I live in an “A.D.D.” world. Everyone tends to have Attention Deficit Disorder, mainly because our phones and technology have left us perpetually distracted. We no longer pay attention to the people around us. Often as I enter into a meeting and during a meeting, many will be looking at their phones and laptops, either texting, IM’ing, emailing or playing a game. Seems our heads are always down, engrossed in a video or word game, and our earbuds keep them from hearing the people around them. If I want to have happier relationships, I need to learn the lost art of paying attention. The Bible says in Philippians 2:4, “Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others” (NCV). Unfortunately, this doesn’t come naturally. By nature, I may not care what someone else is interested in. By nature, I may want the attention on me, not someone else. What I’m learning is that the greatest gift I can give somebody is my attention because my attention is my time, and my time is my life. I’m never going to get it back, and that’s why it is so precious when I give it. This is a simple but powerful tool in growing strong relationships. Learning the lost art of paying attention is an act of love. It can transform my relationships and help me live a happy life. A while back, I let my cell phone, mainly my email accounts, consume me. Then I noticed how often I was referring to my phone when I should have been paying attention to those around me. Unfortunately, I see it all around me, people doing the same thing, consumed in their phones. I have been making it a point to not be consumed by my phone, putting it down, and interacting with those I’m with. I have been guilty of watching my laptop during meetings and conference calls and missing out on some of the conversations. Today, I will strive to pay attention to those around me by focusing on their eyes. I will give them the gift of my time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Not Letting Pride Guide Me

In review of Philippians 2:3 it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”

Bottom Line:
Don’t let Selfishness and pride be your guide in life. Value others above yourself.

What this means to me:
I am not to do anything out of a selfish purposes or ambition for myself, nor should I try to impress others. Instead, I am to be humble in all I do, always considering others as better than myself. Every conflict that I go through in relationships will have an element of pride mixed into it. The middle letter of the word “pride” is I. The middle letter of the word “crime” is I. The middle letter of the word “sin” is I. I can have an “I” problem! “I” want what “I” want and “I” want it now, and I don’t want to hurt you, but if you get in my way I will. This kind of attitude will cause problems of all kinds. In any relationship, I should never let pride be my guide, because pride is the root of every other sin. The Bible says in Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (NIV). Paul says that there are two conflict-creating kinds of pride. One of them is selfish ambition and the other is vain conceit. Selfish ambition says, “It’s all about me” and vain conceit means, “I’m always right.” Furthermore, selfish ambition causes all kinds of problems. James 3:16 says, “Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” When I find confusion in relationships, I can know that selfish ambition and jealousy are causing it. I’m learning that vain conceit is the attitude that I am always right. The Living Bible translation of Philippians 2:3 says, “Don’t live to make a good impression on others.” Unfortunately, I can tend to do this in every area of my life. I like getting others approval. Because of this, it’s always a great temptation to make myself look better than I am. In Galatians, Paul lists about 17 effects of living with pride. He says when we live a self-centered life, it shows up in all kinds of ways. He starts off by saying things like self-indulgence shows up in sexual immorality and wild partying and getting drunk. You would expect those things. But most of the things on the list are actually relational sins. Galatians 5:19-21 says, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear ... quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy.... Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (NLT). To be happy in my relationships, I’ll need harmony. And if I’m going to have harmony, I’ll need to have humility. I should never let pride be my guide. In order for me to maintain humility in my relationships, I need to clothe myself with humility each day. In my morning prayer times, I will continue to ask God to help me “put on humility”, and to not think so highly of myself in all I do. I also ask for his help in having my desires be to consider/treat others needs first.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Happiness Means Giving My Life Away

In review of Philippians 1:21 it says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Bottom Line:
To live is serving Christ, to die will bring even more.

What this means to me:
My life should be all about living for Christ. In death, I’ll have even more. What I’m learning is the true happiness comes from service and giving my life away. Happiness does not come from self-gratification, rather it comes from self-sacrifice. Paul knew that to be happy, he had to stay focused on his purpose and not his problems. He summed up his purpose in Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (NIV). Like Paul, nothing deserves the place of the One who created me and gave me life; Jesus. “Money, success, pleasure or power”, which is what the world has to offer does not deserve first place. I wasn’t created to make a bunch of money, then die, and give it away. God has a far greater purpose for my life. There is only one answer that leads to happiness for me is to live is Christ. I should therefore give my life away. It is my purpose! So I close out my quiet time today with this prayer: “Dear Jesus, you know that I often let circumstances determine my happiness. You know that I often allow the killjoys of pain and problems and pressures and picky people to rob my happiness. Help me to look at every problem in my life from your viewpoint. I want to handle problems in a way that is a witness to non-believers and an encouragement to believers. Help me to remember that what others say and do does not control my happiness unless I allow it. And as for the things that happen that I don’t understand or can’t figure out, I want to trust you to work it all out for good. Help me to stay focused on your purpose for my life and not my problems. I want to use the rest of my life to serve you by serving others. Use me, Lord, so I have a purpose for living and for dying. From this day on, for me to live is Christ. In your name I pray. Amen.”

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Learning To Focus on My Purpose and Not My Problems

In review of Philippians 1:22-25 it says, “If by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and your joy in the faith.”

Bottom Line:
While living, do worthwhile work. For the sake of others, it’s important that you help them grow and experience the joy of their faith.

What this means to me:
While I’m here on earth, I can do fruitful work for Christ. When God does call me, I’ll be happy and ready to go. However He has work for me to do in the meantime. For the sake of others, I confident that God will want me to help others grow and have joy in their faith. If I can stay focused on my purpose and not my problems, then I’ll be happier when life throws it’s little curves. The Bible tells me that Paul was an old man when he was in prison in Rome. He was a long way from home. He was awaiting execution. Everything has been taken from him; his friends, his freedom, his ministry, even his privacy, with a guard chained to him 24 hours a day. It wasn’t exactly a happy time for Paul. But there was one thing they could not take away from Paul: his purpose. Paul made the choice to stay focused on his purpose, even when he had lost everything else. What was his purpose? Serving God by serving others. Paul says in Philippians 1:22-25, “If by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and your joy in the faith” (TEV). I cannot control what other people do to me. I cannot control what other people do around me. But I can control how I respond. Regarding my purpose in life, from what I can tell, God wants me to be a mentor to others helping them with perspective in growing and to have joy in their faith. I just need to make sure I don’t let any distractions or influences that life throws me from focusing on my ultimate purpose.

Friday, June 6, 2014

It’s My Choice To Rejoice

In review of Philippians 1:18a-19 it says, “I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.”

Bottom Line:
Continue to rejoice, for you have those who pray for you and the Spirit of Jesus Christ who will help lead you to freedom.

What this means to me:
I should continue to rejoice, because there are those who pray for me, and from the help which comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. I know that the troubles I encounter will eventually bring my freedom. Given this, when it’s looking like things in my life are falling apart, I shouldn’t try to work it out myself. Instead, I should just let God put the pieces back together. Whenever I face a problem, I can do one of two things: I can worship or I can worry. This is where faith comes in. Paul says in Philippians 1:18b-19, “I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance” (NLT). In that one verse, Paul gives several sources of strength I can rely on to stay positive and happy in any tough time. First, I need to keep God’s perspective on my problems. Paul says, “For I know.” It’s what he knew that keeped him going. Paul knew God was working in the midst of his struggle, and he kept in mind God’s bigger perspective. Secondly, Paul had people praying for him, and that kept him going as well. Then he says, “The Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me.” The Holy Spirit also kept Paul going. Finally he says, “This will lead to my deliverance.” Paul had faith that God would work his problem for good. Because he had God’s perspective, the prayer of friends, the Holy Spirit, and faith, Paul chose to “continue to rejoice.” So, I should adopt Paul’s attitude and also choose to rejoice. In the past, when I have turned my struggles over to God, he has granted me more peace than I could have ever imagined. I have both my direct and church family who prays for me. I have experienced the power of their prayers in my most recent illness and recovery. I know God has blessed me through his grace and through the prayer of others. He has taken something very serious and blessed me through it.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I Don’t Need Someone’s Approval To Be Happy

In review of Philippians 1:18 it says, “It does not matter! I am happy about it — just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives. And I will continue to be happy.”

Bottom Line:
Paul didn’t let others control his attitude. People should be told the message about Christ. He was happy about this no matter how they found out (whether from honest or dishonest motives.)

What this means to me:
What matters is that people are told the message about Christ. I should be happy about that and be glad to continue in doing my part. When it comes to happiness, I can be happy no matter what happens in my life as long as I don’t let others control my attitude. In Philippians 1:15-17, Paul talks about four kinds of people who were affecting his ministry while he was in prison in Rome. There were some who he considered comrades and who encouraged him in his ministry. Others were criticizing, competing with, or conspiring against his ministry. “Some of them preach Christ because they are jealous and quarrelsome, but others from genuine good will. These do so from love, because they know that God has given me the work of defending the gospel. The others do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison” (Philippians 1:15-17 TEV). Few things can rob my happiness faster than being criticized or feeling like others are working against me. Mainly because I want to be loved and approved of. Generally, I want everybody to like me. Yet Paul says in Philippians 1:18, “It does not matter! I am happy about it — just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives. And I will continue to be happy.” I don’t need other people’s approval to be happy. I’ll be as happy as I choose to be! If others are unhappy with me, that’s their choice. If I don’t have someone’s approval now, I’ll probably never get it. And I’ll be miserable if I try to live for the approval of everybody else. Paul later explains in verses 29 and 30 why you can be happy no matter what: “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it” (NLT). Paul says it is a privilege to suffer when I’m doing the right thing because I’m most like Jesus when somebody’s nailing me to a cross and trying to get at me. I can be happy no matter what happens if I look at every problem from God’s viewpoint and never let what other people say or do control my happiness. So today, I must reflect on who I may have been working on receiving approval from and why. Also, next time I’m feeling attacked or criticized, I should consider how might God be working in and through me. In summary, I don’t need someone’s approval to be happy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Learning That A Happy Person Sees God’s Bigger Picture

In review of Philippians 1:12 it says, “I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News”

Bottom Line:
I want you to know, they everything that has happened to me, has helped to spread the Good News.

What this means to me:
Things that happen in my life can be used to help spread the Good News. I have recently gone through a major illness (which could have been deadly) where I spent 22 days in the hospital due to a serious infection. During this time, I never really felt like I was in danger (even though the surgeon was very concerned; I had six surgeries.) I had piece of mind knowing that regardless of what happens God was with me. As I reflect back, I see how God took something really bad, something that was a wake-up call for me, and turned it into something good. As a result, I have lost weight, and have my blood sugar and pressure under control. Even my arthritis has not flared up. I praise God for this. I believe the God will have me use this experience to share with others my belief and trust in Christ. I have great joy in this. What I’m learning is that to be a happy person, I need to look at every problem from God’s viewpoint. A happy person will have a larger perspective. They are able to see the bigger picture. When I get discouraged, frustrated and unhappy, it’s because I have lost sight of my situation from God’s point of view. So, no matter what’s going on in my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, God is working out a plan. Paul knew this very well. He says in Philippians 1:12, “I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News” (NLT). Ever since Paul became a Christian on the road to Damascus, he had dreamed one great dream: He wanted to preach in Rome, the center of the universe at the time. His dream was to preach the Gospel in the most important city in the world. But God had another idea. Instead of sending Paul to Rome to preach crusades, God made him a royal prisoner of Caesar, who was at that time Nero. Nero was about as wicked and as bad as you can get. As a royal prisoner, Paul was chained to a royal guard 24 hours a day for two years, and the guard was changed every four hours. Over two years in prison, he witnessed to 4,380 guards. So who was the real prisoner here. Who ended up having a captive audience? This wasn’t Paul’s plan, but it was God’s all along. There were two results of this that we know for sure. Philippians 4 says that within two years, some of Nero’s own family had become believers because of Paul’s witness in the royal court in Rome. Secondly, it’s kind of hard to get a guy like Paul to stop moving. In prison, he was forced to be still and, as a result, wrote most of the New Testament. He had a bigger impact: both his preaching in the Colosseum and the books he wrote, such as Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. These seven books have revealed Jesus to millions of people over the years. Paul knew that God had a bigger plan, and he could be happy because he saw what God was doing through his problem. In summary, any time I have a problem that’s starting to get me down, I’ll need to do what Paul did; learn to see it from God’s point of view. I should learn to ask, “What is God doing here? What’s the bigger picture? What’s the bigger perspective?” If I can, then I’ll be able to face the problem in faith.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Learning That Positive Prayer Will Make Strong Relationships

In review of Philippians 1:9-11 it says, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.”

Bottom Line:
This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of knowledge, so that you may be able to discern what is best, pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, to the glory and praise of God.

What this means to me:
This is my prayer for others, that their love will keep on growing because of their knowledge and insight, in the knowledge and depth of insight. This way they will be able to determine what is best and be pure and blameless, filled with the good things produced in life by Christ, for the glory and praise of God. Scripture tells me to pray for those who may rub me the wrong way or irritate me. Praying will help me to grumble, complain, nag and nitpick less. Its all about a decision on my part. Paul says in Philippians 1:4, “Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy” (NLT). Paul didn’t just pray for people in his life; he prayed with joy! While there are things in other people’s lives that I’d like to change, the only one that I can change is me. I can’t change others, however I can pray, and then let God do his work in other people. Positive praying is more effective than positive thinking. All the positive thinking in the world isn’t going to change someone or my situation. Positive thinking can only change me. Positive prayer can make a difference in someone else. The quickest way to change a bad relationship to a good one, is to start praying for the other person! This has the power to change me, and it can also change the other person. Paul even tells me how to pray for others: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11 NIV). From these verses, I can learn to pray for the people in my life in four ways:
. Pray that they will grow in love: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”
. Pray that they will make wise choices: “... so that you may be able to discern what is best ...
. Pray that they will live with integrity: “... and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ ...
. Pray that they will become like Jesus: “... filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.
As I pray these things for myself and for those in my life, God will turn around those relationships.

Look for Ways to Bring People Together

In review of 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 I'm reminded that “ God has restored my relationship with him through Christ , and has given me a mi...