"There is no place like home." Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." Hebrews 11:6. "The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper." Proverbs 19:8. "Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His place."1 Chronicles 16:27. "Joy is the simplest form of gratitude." Karl Barth.
In our world, we witness so much discontentment and despair in the midst of such bounty and opportunity. To borrow from author, Charles Dickens in his "Tale of Two Cities,"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the season of light, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going the other way..... " You could write these words in the present tense, and you will see that this applies to our times right now. A Tale of Two Cities explores the societal conditions that lead to collapse, immorality, and ruin, and the individuals struggling against forces larger than themselves. Familiar ring?
On a more individualized level, many people are literally experiencing the range of observations and conditions and circumstances described by Dickens. Some/many people are lonely in a room full of people. Some even in a room with the one they love. There is enough wealth to go around for everyone not to be hungry, yet crushing poverty is allowed to flourish in too many places for far too many. We are treating others in ways that demonstrate a total lack of humanity. I digress. On my journey to understand and now appreciate the abundant life, a plaque on one of my shelves containing the words in the title of this blog caught my eye. The moment was profound. I marveled that four simple words could return us to "home." Well, at least to the beginning; alright to a new beginning; a heightened awareness, if you will.
Like Dorothy in the play/movie "The Wizard of Oz," we have the answer to address our needs, but we just cannot see it or perhaps we have lost the will to take the appropriate steps to make a change for the better. It is my hope that somehow my simple writings here today will spark something and renew in you a desire to look within and commit to making a positive change that will impact your life and the lives of all those that you come into contact with. This is my wish and my prayer.
Many wise men and women and some not so wise have searched far and wide to to answer the question: "What is missing in our lives?" Why do so many get to middle age and beyond and ask, "Is this all there is?" I can attempt to answer by saying that we have been set up to believe that superficial things like possessions, beauty, wealth, power influence, etc., will fill the void in our lives. I am not saying that these are all awful. What I am saying is that the effects of these things are only temporary. Once the thrill is gone, the emptiness returns. Why? Because there is a road map to contentment (fulfillment), and it was designed by our Creator. Obviously,
it is not the map to the road most traveled. But, you must be bold enough to trust that God knows what He is doing. I would like to briefly share with you four major components that will lead to success. Slow down! Now, when I define success, it can be summarized as "loving and appreciating life and all that it has to offer. Finding joy in loving God, serving Him and loving and serving others. Finding and having peace no matter your station or circumstances in life. The components are noted above, but here they go again: Love, Faith, Wisdom, Joy.
According to Scripture, love is the greatest gift of all. Because of God's great love for us, He sacrificed His only begotten Son. Without love, we are nothing. "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2. "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8,13.
So, if we have love, give love, share love, we will have the right attitude about everything. We will take care of ourselves, others and the world. We tend to cherish what/who we love. I am aware of the old line, "We only hurt the ones we love." Truth be told, we can only hurt them because they are the ones who love us. Your enemies have no love for you. By the way, if you find that you hurt those you love, seek help. Start with prayer and then get the necessary and appropriate intervention (doctor, therapist, Pastor, social worker, etc.) to correct this behavior. Read God's word, and you/we will understand what real love is and what we are to do to show it. Mark 12:29-31.
"Without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." Hebrews 11:6. This is what we mean to begin at the beginning. Without placing our faith in God, we are going nowhere. Seek God through His word. His word is the truth. "Faith is not knowing that God can, it is knowing that God will." C.S. Lewis. "Have faith that God has a plan and that it is Good." Anonymous
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom....." Proverbs 9:10. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live got his wisdom from the Lord. He knew that He needed great wisdom to lead his people. Acknowledging who God is and reverencing Him is a huge step in the right direction. We need His wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault; and it will be given to you." James 1:5. "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." James 3:13.
There is a song that we sing: "Joy, unspeakable joy, the world didn't give it to me, and the world can't take it. away." Yes there is joy in knowing God. I do not want to sound a like a zealot, but these words are true. "My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you: my soul also, which you have redeemed." Psalm 71:23. Amen! "He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love." Zephaniah 3:7. "In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name." Psalm 33:21. "Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which we catch souls." Mother Teresa.
They say that life is what we make it. Well, if that is true, then let's try some time- tested truths to achieve our best life. Are you up for success? Here goes:
Stop fretting. Make each moment count. You do this by completing an inventory of your life. Ask the hard questions. Are you practicing love, faith, wisdom and joy? Each of these is a gift from God which He freely gives. Have you asked lately? If you have asked, were you too busy to hear His answer? Or to notice the He has been working in your life? Stop right now and thank God for answered prayers. Live in victory even when you do not feel it. Everything will fall into place as you continue to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Stay on your path: The one that God has designed for you. Eventually, you will reach your destination. Do not get weary in well doing,
Let love guide all your actions. True love (the love that is spoken about in God's word) covers a multitude of sins. Love motivates us to see and encourage the best in ourselves and others. It also inspires us to take care of ourselves and others (even strangers in need). Certainly, we can see that as a society we are failing miserably at loving each other. Maybe you and I cannot change the entire world. But, we can start be changing ourselves and our small corner of the world. If enough of us do this, we will impact the world. Spread love, see how far it goes.
Know that we are finite creatures. There is an ultimate source of power, and it is not us. We must honor that source. God is the source. It is because of God that we move and have our being. We are wasting time if we think that we can ignore God's authority and power. Stop wasting time. Seek God and pray to Him for help in living this life. Remember, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." If you need more wisdom or wisdom period, ask God for it. He already knows you need it. Live a life of integrity; it is the wise thing to do.
Faith teaches us to relinquish our control to God who has all power to take care of us. He loves us and is concerned about us. He promised to never leave or forsake us. He is faithful and dependable. He is trustworthy. This should eliminate worry, as we can be assured that no matter what we can trust God in all circumstances. We can follow His commandments knowing that He will give us the strength to do so. This cause for rejoicing. In all things we are to give Him thanks, praise and glory because at all times we are in His loving hands. Let me add here that this does not that life is going to be a "bowl of cherries," but when the pits come we have the comfort of knowing we are not alone.
We have so many reasons to rejoice. We can find joy in the little things. Joy is a form of gratitude. Who does not find joy in the sunshine or in a baby's smile or a young child's laughter? They should. God has made these things possible. Look for evidence of joy in your life and look to Heaven and give God praise for making all these things possible; big and small.
Share love and joy with others. If there is a need that you can fill, fill it. Take every opportunity to share the goodness of God with others. Share His word. In this way, we address both physical and Spiritual needs. According to Jesus's teaching, we will also be showing obedience and following the two greatest commandments. (Mark 12:29-31).
Stir this all up, and we have the recipe for success God's way. God's way is the best way. Think about it, how many missteps, setbacks, etc., have you made doing it your way. You have tried the rest, now try the best. Pray about it and let God have His way in your life. Which way is that, you ask? You will find it in His word, the Bible. Start reading and believing.
God will illuminate His word and His direction for your life. Trust me on this: God is faithful and can be trusted to keep His word, He will guide you with His eye. What are you waiting for? GET GOING!!! GODSPEED!
Thank you always for your love and continued support. You can comment at firstname.lastname@example.org
I remain appreciative.