How to Find Gladness in God

I will make this a short post, as I know everyone is busy, and time is limited to a few sound bites and perhaps several interesting quotes to carry us through the day.

Think about this for a minute: The universe is 13.7 billion years old. A light-year is the distance light travels in a single year, which is 6 trillion miles (9.5 trillion kilometers). This translates to a speed of 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) a second. The universe is 93 billion light-years in diameter and always expanding.

We live on Earth, third planet from a star called the Sun, in the Orion Arm, one of the spirals in the Milky Way galaxy. There are 100 billion stars in our galaxy, each of which may have planets of their own.

About 3 trillion galaxies populate the universe.

Each of us is one of 7 billion people who live here on this tiny planet.

How to Find Gladness in GodNow I ask you this: Is it possible we are wrong to think God, the one who created the heavens and the earth, made a mistake when he sent Jesus to die for our sins?

After all, who are we who live on this insignificant planet called Earth, among the 100 billion planets in our galaxy, among the 3 trillion galaxies in the universe, that God should so love us in such a way as to sacrifice his only son so that we could share in the inheritance of all things?

It sounds crazy!

And yet, that is exactly what God has planned for every person who believes Jesus is his son. He wants us to inherit the universe and everything in it, just as it says in Romans 8:32“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (KJV)

So today, as we make our way through the events that shape our lives, let us consider God’s view on this: We may be one of 7 billion who live here, but his plan is to give us all things according to his promises and his love for us.

If that is not something that brings gladness to your heart, then look toward the night sky for your inheritance.

3 Steps to Being Happy with What You Have

What is happiness? Is happiness attainable? Is it something I can give to someone else? In other words, can I make someone else happy? Or, do I need something—whatever it is—to make me happy?

These questions I will try to answer with this short article about being happy with what you have.

1. Throw Away Envy and Ambition

Remember how you felt when you received that shiny new phone for Christmas? You had resolved that nothing in the world could ever take away your happiness.

That is, until you saw someone else using the upgraded version. Now, you want one, too.

Envy and jealousy are like poison to happiness. No matter what, someone will always have it better.

3 Steps to Being Happy with What You HaveThe best way to fight the urge to compare oneself with another is to take life one day at a time. Satisfaction comes from realizing today’s problems and successes are for today. As the cliché goes, tomorrow is another day—another day to fail, another day to succeed.

As I believe Jesus is the son of God, I also look to the bible for wisdom. James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” NIV.

There is nothing wrong with planning. Wise stewards plan. But if planning leads to wanting to be better than others, then there will be no happiness.

Throw away envy and ambition and allow happiness to flood your heart and your mind.

2. Stop Humanizing God

There was a time in my life that I used to think God did not know what he was doing. I saw all the misery around the world, the pain people suffered and I did not believe God could ever fix this mess.

It was too great, even for him.

Thinking that way led me to invalidate God and ask that if he could not fix the world, how could he fix me? In a sense, I humanized God.

Making God equal with me made the thought of his inaction bearable.

I was wrong. Once I began to know God and to learn why he did the things he did, by reading his word, praying, going to church, I learned about real happiness.

I learned God does things in his own time. He allows things to happen because it suits his plan. I may not understand it all, but I know his decisions will make sense to me eventually.

Having the faith that God will work things for the best is my reassurance he loves me and is greater than me or anyone else. I may be a sinner, I may stumble and fall, but he will never leave me. He has never left me, nor will he ever.

That reassurance is another layer to my happiness.

3. Be Grateful

Have you ever exercised and found yourself exhausted to the point that you would give anything for a glass of water? Think about how it felt when you finally took that first gulp.

Satisfying. Thirst-quenching. Happiness.

For a single moment in time, nothing else really mattered. The neighbors could have been bickering, your car payment could have been late and your dog could have suddenly developed a case of worms.

But, for that moment—you were grateful.

Imagine carrying that grateful feeling throughout the day—all the time.

You would not complain about the noisy passenger on the train next to you. You would give food to the homeless sitting at the street corner. You would forgive those who had done you wrong.

Your life, as you know it, would change all because you were grateful with what you had.

You would not worry about money. You would not worry about peace. You would not worry about anything, really

When you are grateful, everything else falls into place.

When you are grateful—there is no reason to be unhappy.

Miracles

Do you believe in miracles? I never did. In fact, there was a time I thought those who experienced a healing actually fell under some kind of self-hypnosis. I dismissed it as nothing more than an ol’ fashioned parlor trick found in a fantasy like The Wizard of Oz.

It goes that way until it happens to you. You never think it will happen to you. And sometimes, the little miracles in life convicts one into believing in the very thing he or she discredited in the first place.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 ESV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 ESV)

Little Miracle #1

Some time ago, in celebration of my birthday, Luana and the kids treated me to lunch at one of the hotspots here in town. The food was great, the company I kept was satisfying, and the service was beyond exceptional. Shortly after the main course, the server came by our table and asked me if I had decided what dessert I wanted, given Luana had mentioned why we were there in the first place. I said I had not decided and we agreed the server would surprise me. Several minutes later, I was regretting my decision, but it had nothing to do with receiving the dessert. The server had not brought it yet. I was thinking, since the treat would be free, I imagined I would be receiving a simple scoop of ice cream, or one of those sweet cookies instead. Then I thought, I should have ordered my favorite—cheesecake. I imagined it dished with no topping except for strawberries and syrup on the side. I really had it in mind of what it would look like and mentioned it to my family.

What happened next left me in awe. The server had brought me a plate of cheesecake, strawberries and syrup on the side, and a big sparkler in the center.

Obviously, I was praising God all the way home.

Little Miracle #2

Recently, I took a vacation. The first two days were nothing short of awful. I fell ill with aches, chills, a fever, and a nasty headache. Two days later, I felt much better, except for the headache. It just would not go away. That same evening, I had fallen on my knees asking God for relief. I asked him to remove whatever was causing the pain so as I may not only feel better, but serve him in the way he wanted me to serve him.

It did not help. That is when I decided to bring in the big guns.

I immediately went to Luana. She knew what to do. She laid her hands on my neck and the back of my head, where I told her the headache rested, and prayed aloud. She proclaimed God’s promise of healing asking for the removal of not only the pain but the condition that was causing the pain. I believed with my whole heart that through her intercession my faith would heal me.

At the end of the prayer, after she had called on Jesus’ name, I soon headed back to bed. I did not even make it into the bedroom. The headache was gone. No pain. No weird sensations. Gone.

Other things have happened to me that I would classify as miracles. Rather than list those events, however, I am going to do something altogether different.

Jesus’ Miracles

Below are Jesus’ miracles listed in the gospel of Mark:

Missing is Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13), his prediction Peter would deny him three times (Mark 14:26-31), and many others. Mind you, I have listed these miracles from the gospel of Mark only. It goes without saying there are other miracles Jesus performed that I have not mentioned, detailed in the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John, such as Jesus turning water into wine (John 2:1-11).

Reading about all the miracles Jesus performed while he was here on earth inspires me to appreciate how God intervenes in people’s lives, even if it is surprising me with a slice of cheesecake with a side of strawberry sauce for my birthday, or healing me suddenly of a headache. God knows the needs of his children. He goes out of his way to make his children happy. And if God chooses to bless his children with a small or large miracle, it is entirely up to him.

A miracle is a miracle. It still shows how much God loves his children.

A Change in Heart

How does one go from writing about zombies to writing about God? Specifically, how did it happen to me? Believe me when I say, I did not go out of my way looking for it. I was curious, but not to the point where my life would make a drastic about face. Only a miracle could have done that. And earlier this year, I was not into miracles.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 ESV).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).

Yet, when you see your life slowly spiraling out of control, when once things made sense but now it is nothing more than a jumble of disconnected events, when your legs break from under you to reveal a foundation constructed out of rot, that is when miracles happen.

For me it happened when I began reading the bible from cover to cover, a lofty goal I had wanted to achieve since my early teens. Never had the notion entered my mind that I would not accomplish such a feat until later in life, but I held firm to the hope that I would find the opportunity. Eventually, with the success of my book series underway, my relationships with other people went in another direction. I could have been a better person, but I was not. For a while there, not only was I in a bad place with those around me, but I was also in a bad place with God.

What can I say other than I was thinking only about myself. I recognize that now. Back then, I did not.

Nevertheless, things began to happen to me late last year when I was in the middle of reading the gospels. Matthew 5-7 hit me hard. The simplicity of verses like, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1-2) prompted me to consider a time when I will not be alive, but will be standing before the throne of God to account for everything I had done while living on this puny planet called Earth (Matt. 12:36-37).

My life took a sudden and abrupt shift when I went from focusing on me to focusing on other people and God. It was not until April that I finally fell to my knees with the realization that I was a sinner in desperate need of God’s forgiveness. I knew then that no matter what I did, I could never earn salvation, but through his grace, God is willing to give it freely to everyone who repents (Eph. 1:7-10).

King David echoes my experience in Psalms:

“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:16-17).

Will I ever go back to writing about zombies? Maybe, since I always thought of them as sin incarnate seeking humans to corrupt. But that may not be for a while. For now, I am happy to write about God and his awesome plan for those who are searching for real peace.

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