Being Happy in the New Year
As I was considering how to challenge us all to have a great 2019 I ran across a website devoted to Being Happy. As simple as that sounds, so much of our effectiveness as Christians is multiplied or diminished by how happy we appear to others. As we reflect Christ in our lives and serve as His hands and His feet, people will be more curious and more excited to see and hear what makes us different if we go about life reflecting the happiness that we can only have with the assurance of our salvation.
Everyone has struggles and challenges, this isn’t ignoring the pressures, anxiety and stressors that come at each of us at different levels and in different ways, but my desire is that we each welcome 2019 finding new and more paths to happiness!
On behalf of the elders as I wish you all a Happy New Year, here are some thoughts to ponder and challenge us toward being Happy!
Here are a few verses to consider when you feel challenged:
Did You Think to Pray?
Ere you left your room this morning,
Did you think to pray?
In the name of Christ our Savior,
Did you sue for loving favor,
As a shield today?
Mary A. Kidder authored this song in 1876. Our speech has changed a little in the last hundred or so years, but the message is still the same and still very clear. We need prayer. At times though, we need to be reminded of what it brings to our lives.
I'm so thankful we are looking at Christ's teachings on prayer in Growth Groups. I hope you are part of one of the many groups around the county, as this topic has already proven to be an enriching study for ours.
In regard to our prayer life, there is just too much to discuss to cover in one, or even several, articles. With that in mind, I'd like to give you a few things to consider which may be out of the realm of usual thought related to your prayer life.
The first, fasting, is found throughout the Bible. Some fasters in scripture you may be familiar with are Esther, David and Jesus, among several others. At first glance, fasting, as depicted in Scripture, may seem outdated, harsh and even unnecessary. Starving yourself to get closer to God. My cramping, growling, stomach might just be a bit of a distraction when I'm trying to pour out my heart to God in prayer. But when you intentionally set out to combine your fasting with prayers and study of Scripture, specifically at the time of your greatest hunger pangs, it becomes a beautiful way to draw yourself closer to God.
The second, deliberate solitude, is something Jesus modeled throughout His life that we as a culture seem to have trouble implementing on our own. Scripture tells us there were several times when people had to go searching for Jesus. This was because He had removed himself far from all earthly distractions so He could talk to His Father, undisturbed. This suggestion pre-supposes you already have an established, daily, back and forth with God through prayer and Bible study as your foundation.
We save and plan elaborately for all kinds of vacations. Disney, the Grand Canyon, a Caribbean cruise or pick your favorite destination. These can all be wonderful times, especially when surrounded by people you love. What I hope you will think about doing is sacrificing some built up vacation time and hard earned savings to get away from all of your distractions, close yourself off from the world physically and electronically, and get one on one with your Creator. Maybe you've heard of vacations, playcations or staycations. You could call this a praycation. With the same planning we put into our other trips, this could work for an individual, a couple or a family. Try it. You may just find it becomes your favorite annual event.
I love you all.