“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” Benjamin Franklin
Pharrell Williams recently recorded a song called “Happy” that has gone to the top of the charts here in America. The title and message of the song is great marketing because the idea of being happy clearly appeals to people of all ages. People throughout history have searched and sought for the key to being happy.
People have searched for fame, money, success, relationships, and so much more. When I was serving as a Singles’ Minister at my church, I remember the number of people who would tell me that if they could just find someone to marry then they knew they would be happy. Not to be a wet blanket, but I would tell them finding happiness in that way will only make two people miserable. Instead, my advice to them was to first find peace, contentment, joy, significance, and happiness for yourself in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Only then, will you truly be content.
I love the “be attitudes” in Matthew chapter 5 where Jesus gives us some counter-cultural advice for how to live this life. The attitudes He describes in this chapter are not attitudes that you see regularly in our culture but they are attitudes that I believe will bring peace, joy, contentment, significance, and even happiness to our lives.
One of those attitudes in verse 8 of that chapter really speaks to this issue. That verse says: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” The word blessed in this verse and the other be attitude verses literally means “happy.” What does it mean when it says “happy are the pure in heart; for they shall see God?”
I am convinced that this verse is telling us that when we commit our lives and our hearts completely to God we will sense the peace, the joy, the contentment, the significance, and the happiness that only God can give and only God can sustain. When we live with an undivided heart towards God, we will be able to live with the assurance that whatever we face in this life is only temporary and that God has secured for us our eternity.
I pray that all of us will give hearts lavishly to the Lord Jesus so that we can experience the truth of Matthew 5:8.
The fear of losing someone or something very important to us will cause us to take some extra precautions. Many times we will hold back and protect those people or things we are afraid of getting hurt. I am very protective of my three girls and I will do anything to keep them from getting hurt. There have been times in the past when I have taken extra precautions to check a situation out before I let them be a part of it in order to ensure their safety. Most parents would do this for the good of their children.
There are times when holding back is not such a good thing. At times, I am afraid that we hold back from giving God our entire love and devotion because other people or the lure of things have divided our hearts and have taken God’s rightful place in our lives. There was a time in Abraham’s life when God wanted Abraham to know that he loved God more than anything else and that he would not hold back anything from God.
That time came at Mt. Moriah when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac. Abraham loved God so much that he had laid his son on the altar and raised the knife to kill Isaac when God said in Genesis 22:12:
“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
God saw a true fear for God in Abraham’s life at that moment. God knew how Abraham would respond but I believe He wanted for Abraham to see it and experience it. What does it mean to fear God as the passage says? I believe it means a love, an awe, a respect, and a worship of God above anything else in this life. In the passage, God goes on to say that you have not withheld even your most prized possession from me. Abraham was demonstrating at Mt. Moriah that there was nothing in his life that he valued more than his relationship with God.
A true fear of God goes beyond just the big things of life but also encompasses obeying God in the little things of life. I love a quote by D.L. Moody that I ran across awhile back that speaks to this issue.
“There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.”
What about us? What are we holding back from God? Are we doing the little things in life each day to show that we value our relationship with God over anything else? Do we truly fear God? If we do, then we will have a heart like Abraham. That kind of heart says: “Lord, you are worthy above all else in my life and I hold nothing back from you.”
I want to live a life that holds nothing back from God. I want to run hard after God the rest of my life. I want a heart that fears God and serves Him above all else.
It is Team Member Tuesday and today we are recognizing Wendy Grams. Mrs. Grams has been at MCA for four years. She began her time at MCA as a volunteer and a substitute teacher and then came on staff to assist in Academic Support and now currently serves as a Third Grade Teacher. Mrs. Grams’ favorite Bible verse is Matthew 28:19-20 – “Therefore, go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We asked Mrs. Grams why she enjoys working at MCA and this is what she said:
“I am very thankful to be working at Metrolina for various reasons. First, there is a joyfulness throughout the school. This, I believe comes from living the truth of, "The joy of the Lord is our strength." Secondly, I appreciate the depth of faith and the commitment to God and His Word first. It is wonderful to be able to share Biblical truths with students. It is a blessing to be encouraged in the Word and through prayer by fellow colleagues. Third, I appreciate MCA's care for "the least of these." Offering a place for struggling students in a Christian environment is a marvelous ministry. I count it a joy and a privilege to be a part of MCA.”
We are so grateful for Mrs. Grams and appreciate all she does at MCA!
“Make sure of your commitment to Jesus Christ, and seek to follow Him every day. Don't be swayed by the false values and goals of this world, but put Christ and His will first in everything you do.” - Billy Graham
I am a person that can become easily distracted. I find myself working on something very important and suddenly the least little thing can throw me off course. My problem is that it can sometimes take me awhile to get refocused and moving back in the direction I need to be going.
One of the most critical areas affected by this issue is that of our spiritual lives. Far too often, we can become easily distracted and headed in the wrong direction spiritually. The problem here is that it is never intentional. No one who loves the Lord ever gets up in the morning and says “I think I am going to drift away from God today.” Instead, what happens is that we make little decisions that begin to take us slightly off course. After making a lot of these not so good small decisions, we find ourselves way off course in our walk with God.
Billy Graham is calling this change of direction being “swayed by the false values and goals of this world.” That is what I believe happens to us at times. It is as simple as not realizing we are putting our careers ahead of our family and the time we invest in them. This directional shift will not cause disaster overnight but it will over time have devastating effects on our family and especially our children.
Also, it could be as simple as letting the values of this culture begin to seep into our way of living. We often try and convince ourselves that this one little indiscretion is no big deal. Yet, each time we step in that direction the next indiscretion gets a little easier. Pretty soon, we have a life that is controlled by the wrong things and headed completely in the wrong direction.
Dr. Graham tells us instead to put Christ and His will for our lives first in everything we do. This means that we daily have to allow God to “examine our hearts and know us” as the Bible teaches. By doing so, we can quickly know from God if we are beginning to head in the wrong direction.
I want to spend my life running hard after God. I pray that we will all stop once in a while and ask God to examine the direction of our lives. There have been plenty of times when God used the truth of Galatians 5:7 to redirect my path. That verse declares: “You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?”
Is there anything holding us back today from completely following the truth and heading in God’s direction?
It is Team Member Tuesday and today we are recognizing Jessica Morris. Ms. Jessica has been at MCA for three years as a Toddler teacher and volunteered at MCA for two years before that. One of her favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 59:1 – “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.” She says this is her favorite verse because she can hold onto the promise that she can pray and God will hear her! She says she may not be able to speak to people about her trials and tribulations, but she can always speak to God and He will make her path straight and answer her prayers. We asked Ms. Jessica why she enjoys working at MCA and this is what she said:
“I’d have to say that I love the close knit family atmosphere that I have experienced since being here. Everyone is always there for everyone else to offer advice, assistance, caring words, or support. I am very blessed to work here and to have my two children attend here as well.”
Thank you Ms. Jessica for all that you do! We love having you in the MCA family!
“True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.” Proverbs 22:4
There has been many a book written and many seminars offered that point people to the secret of success in this life. In fact, quite a few of these authors and seminar presenters have become financially wealthy selling their strategies. However, I believe that there is so much more to this life than financial success and the real truth is that financial success will not translate beyond this life.
Proverbs 22:4 provides a different look at how to attain success according to God and also what fruits this type of Godly pursuit will yield. That verse tells us that the secret to success lies in two key elements. First, to possess a true humility. Where does that kind of humility come from? It comes from spending time with God daily, spending time in His Word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to daily live through us. When we seek God like that, we will not only begin to live for God and understand serving others but also we will no longer be focused on ourselves. More than that, we will be focused on bringing God glory and seeking none for ourselves.
Second, Proverbs 22:4 tells us that the other secret to success lies in the living out a fear of the Lord each day. In other words, to honor, esteem, revere, be in awe of, and glorify the Lord because of who He is. The secret here is to live with that mindset and heartbeat.
The writer of Proverbs goes on to explain that pursuing these two things will “ lead to riches, honor, and a long life.” By riches, I do not believe that he is referring to the world’s idea of riches. He is referring to the riches of God. Those riches being love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, and faith for example. This is an inheritance worthy of leaving our kids. Billy Graham once made a statement that echoes this thought when he said:
“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
These two pursuits also lead to honor for one’s life. My heart’s desire is that I would live in such a way that my children will talk of me in terms of being a Godly man. I am a work in progress but that is an honor above all honors. What a privilege and honor for each of us to serve the one true living God.
Finally, these two pursuits lead to a long life according to this verse. I believe that one of the greatest privileges that we as believers can experience is being able to see the hand of God over the duration of our lives. I have been blessed by God to live long enough to see Him do so many things that only He could do.
Most people I know want to be a success in life. I pray that each of us will spend more time in God’s Word and seek out what He would have us pursue with our lives. I pray that we will seek His plan for our lives and then I am sure that we will find the sweetest of all successes.
It is Team Member Tuesday and today we are honoring Pat Dow. She has been at MCA for 15 years and is currently teaching Middle School History and Bible. Some of Mrs. Dow’s favorite Bible verses are Philippians 4:6-8: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” We asked Mrs. Dow why she enjoys working at MCA and this is what she said:
“My two life goals are to honor and glorify God and to help others draw closer to him. MCA has allowed me to teach and at the same time focus on those motivations. How awesome is it to have a job where you get to do what you most want to do!!! Staying close to God takes a whole team of people. The people on the middle school team have been used by God to grow me in Him. That's real church.”
Thank you Mrs. Dow for all that you do each day at MCA! We love you!
“Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp.” Numbers 9:17
The people of Israel in the days of Moses learned to follow God completely. Numbers 9:17 tells us that when God moved they moved and when God stopped they stopped. In essence, they took their daily marching orders from God.
Most people I know struggle at times with finding the will of God for their lives. Other times, we simply allow ourselves to get out of step with God. It is usually in those times that we try to rely on our own devices to steer our course and determine the direction of our lives. Choosing to align ourselves with God is central to finding the will of God for our lives.
Elisabeth Elliot articulated this truth well when she stated: “The will of God is not something you add to your life. It’s a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God…or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.”
In other words, finding the will of God is all about who we choose to direct the daily course of our lives. We can choose to do it ourselves or we can choose to commit our entire lives to God and allow Him to direct us daily. We must learn to do as Elliot says and line ourselves up with Jesus. How do we do that? We do that by spending time in God’s word and spending time daily in prayer. We must learn to cultivate our relationship with God if we desire to know His will for our lives.
Also, I am afraid that we think that finding the will of God means understanding what we are supposed to do for the next 30 years. I do not believe that is it at all. I believe that God wants us to turn over the daily controls of our lives to Him and then trust Him to guide us each and every day. As we trust Him with each day, He then will give us more light in which to walk.
The most frustrated I am in my Christian life is when I try to control the events and the direction of my life. On the other hand, when I spend time with God and allow Him to be my focus then I can more clearly sense the direction that He would have me to go.
Following God completely is all about making the choice to do so every day. I am sure that many of you today are seeking an answer for some question in your life. I pray that you would choose to trust God for those answers. I pray that each of us will learn to follow Him so completely that we will move only when He provides that direction. May God bless each of us as we choose to trust Him!