The Beauty of Life

Peace is the beauty of life.  It is sunshine.  It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family.  It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth.

—Menachem Begin (1913–1992), Prime Minister of Israel

Men and women are expressions of God’s beauty.  He created male and female in his own image (Gen. 1:27).  Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), a leader of the Indian Independence Movement wrote, “When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.”  God’s good.  His beauty is revealed in people and nature.  David Allan Coe (b. 1939), a songwriter and guitarist said, “It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”  For this attribute we must praise God.  We’re wonderfully made and marvelous are his works (Ps. 139:14).

Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  That was why Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), the first lady of the United States wrote, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993), a British actress and humanitarian said, “The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway of her heart, the place where love resides.”

 Love of Beauty

With love we would enjoy the rejoicing of the heavens, the earth would be glad, the fields jubilant, and see the trees of the forest singing for joy (Ps. 96:11-12).  Elisabeth Kŭbler-Ross (1926–2004), a Swiss-American psychiatrist wrote, “People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”  Moreover, Our Lord loves righteousness and justice and we should be full of his unfailing love (Ps. 33:5).

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), an essayist and poet said, “Never lose the opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”  Daily we should pay attention to God’s designs and learn from them.  Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), an Indian artist wrote, “Beauty is truth’s smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.”  While Emerson said, “Love of beauty is taste.  The creation of beauty is art.”  Ultimately with mankind God is concerned with our hearts.  For the Lord instructed the prophet Samuel when he saw Eliab saying, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  But upon David’s arrival the Lord revealed to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one” (1 Sam. 16:7, 12).

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True Happiness

Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land.  The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

—Deut. 30:9-10

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

—1 Tim. 6:17

Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD), a Christian theologian and philosopher wrote, “Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy.”  What is happiness?  How could people have such happiness?  Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), an English Baptist preacher wrote, “Those who are ‘beloved of the Lord’ must be the most happy and joyful people to be found anywhere upon the face of the earth.”  Thomas Boston (1676–1732), a Scottish theologian and philosopher also said, “Consider what man is.  He is a creature that desires happiness, and cannot but desire it.  The desire of happiness is woven into his nature, and cannot be eradicated.  It is natural for him to desire as it is to breathe.”  In Jeremiah 15:16 it was written that to be called by your name, O Lord God of hosts gives joy and delight to our hearts.

George Whitefield (1714–1770), an English Anglican cleric questioned, “Does [Jesus] want your heart only for the same end as the devil does, to make you miserable?  No, he only wants you to believe in him, that you might be saved.  This, this, is all the dear Savior desires, to make you happy, that you may leave your sins, to sit down eternally with him.”  C. S. Lewis (1898–1963), a British theologian said, “It is a Christian duty … for everyone to be happy as he can.”  Lewis further explained, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday by the sea.  We are far too pleased.”  James 5:11 told us that people should count those blessed as the ones who endure like Job.  We have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, because he is full of compassion and mercy.  Johnathan Edwards (1703–1758), a preacher and theologian wrote, “There is no man upon the earth who isn’t earnestly seeking after happiness, and it appears abundantly by the variety of ways they so vigorously seek it; they will twist and turn every way, ply all instruments, to make themselves happy men” For Christians the answer lies with knowing their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Good Relationships

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

—Deut. 5:16

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

—1 Cor. 13:4-7

Earl Nightingale (1921–1989), a radio personality and author wrote, “Learn to enjoy every minute of your life.  Be happy now.  Don’t wait for someone outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.  Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family.  Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”  1 John 4:19 stated, “We love because he first loved us.”  Kim Kardashian (b. 1980), a TV personality and actress echoed this same reality saying, “At the end of the day, life is about being happy being who you are, and I feel that we are so blessed to have the support system and the best family to really just support each other no matter what we’re going through.”

Peace in Life

How do we find peace?  In Acts 10:2 reminded us that our family should be devout and God-fearing.  People ought to give generously to those in need and pray to God regularly.  Menachem Begin (1913–1992), former prime minister of Israel looked at peace a bit differently when he said, “Peace is the beauty of life.  It is sunshine.  It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family.  It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth.”  These gifts are undoubtedly the essence of peace.  But it begins with us.  Buddha (563/480 BC–483/400 BC), an Indian ascetic and sage said, “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.  If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

In Colossians 3:13 was written that believers should bear with each other and forgive one another.  If any of you have a grievance against someone, forgive as the Lord forgives you.  This forgiveness begins in one’s family.  George Santayana (1863–1952), a philosopher wrote, “The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”  So why wreck it with grudges?  Lex Luger (b. 1958), a professional wrestler said, “Many times, the decisions we make affect and hurt your closet friends and family the most.  I have a lot of regrets in that regard.  But God has forgiven me, which I am thankful for.  It has enabled me to forgive myself and move forward one day at a time.”  It isn’t only family and friends people have to forgive, it also starts with them.

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Renewing the Mind

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

—Rom. 12:2

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

—Phil. 4:8

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.  And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.  That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

—Mt. 12:43-45

Willie Nelson (b. 1933), a musician and activist said, “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”  But how could we do this?  Norman Vincent Peale (1898–1993), a minister wrote, “Change your thoughts and you change the world.”  Much of what we think will help shape the world.  Buddha (563 BC/480 BC–483 BC/400 BC), an ascetic and sage said, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  Where the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Having pure thoughts are an exceptional blessing.

Dominant Thoughts

Henry David Thoreau (1817––1862), a philosopher and abolitionist wrote, “As a single footstep will not make a path on earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”  Peace Pilgrim (1908–1981), a non-denominational spiritual teacher said, “I don’t eat junk foods and I don’t think junk thoughts.”  Inevitable there are thoughts that build up minds up and those that pull them down.  So focus on elevating the way you live, and use good thoughts to inspire people.

By centering your thoughts positively you’ll be able to reap numerous rewards.  People are able to bless others by the good deeds they do.  So let your focus, be clear.  In speech be positive by elevating others by what you say.  Let the things you do be positive, for every good work is beneficial in God’s kingdom.  You should create heaven right where you live by sharing love on earth.

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Help Others

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.

—Rom. 12:9-13

An Indian spiritual leader Sai Baba (1835–1918) wrote, “Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply be pouring out love.  Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.”  Saint Augustine (354–430 AD), a Christian theologian asked, “What does love look like?  It has the hands to help others.  It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.  It has eyes to see misery and want.  It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrow of men.  That is what love looks like.”  Christians do honor God when they embrace the afflicted.  Hebrews 6:10 was clear that God is just.  He doesn’t forget the work and love you show him, as you help his people.

Purpose of Life

A French-German theologian Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) wrote, “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”  John Wooden (1910–2010), a basketball player agreed with Schweitzer and elaborated when he said, “Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”  Galatians 5:13 assured us as brothers and sisters we’re called to be free.  This verse explained people mustn’t use this freedom to indulge in the flesh, but rather to serve one another humbly in love.

John 12:26 stated that whoever serves Christ must follow him.  For wherever he is his servant will also be.  The Father will honor those who follow him.  Ellen G. White (1827–1915), a Christian pioneer wrote, “A Christian reveals true humility by showing the gentleness of Christ, by being always ready to help others, by speaking kind words and performing unselfish acts, which elevate and ennoble the most sacred message that has come to our world.”  White’s observation reminded believers of the verse in Romans 12:11 that exhorts us never to lack in zeal, but to keep our spiritual fervor in serving the Lord.  People do so by serving others.

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Commonalities of Religions

Most major religions have a doctrine

A set of principles and teachings

And stories based on myths

About gods, and spiritual events

 

These faith traditions focus on experiences

Describing what their followers ponder in sacred texts

About God, gods, angels, or other Divine beings

Believers are known for their places of worship

Whether in a Church, Temple, or Synagogue

Where activities are coordinated

 

Religious leaders provide instructions

About how believers should live holy lives

And ways for its members to practice their faith

Members follow rituals of spiritual significance

Often with prayer, fasting, and feasts

But religious holidays are for festivals

Where there are blessings of deities

And celebrating the lives of saints and gurus

 

“Divine Providence, let us embrace the underlying teachings of religion – of love and mindfulness.  Help us to respect all faith traditions, and realize there are different ways to encounter God.”

Amen

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Blessings of Vocations

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it.

—Gen. 2:15

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it.’  “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.”

—Gen. 3:17

Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

—1 Cor. 7:20

Vocation comes from the Latin word ‘vocare’ or ‘voice’ which means to follow ‘the voice of God’, or to do what we’re called to do.  Viktor E. Frankl (1905–1997), an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist wrote, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment.   Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”  It should therefore be for us to pursue this divine purpose in life.

A Divine Calling

Wendell Berry (b. 1934), a novelist and environmental activist said, “The old and honourable idea of ‘vocation’ is simply that we each are called, by God, or by our gifts, or by our preference, to a kind of good work for which we are particularly fitted.”  This call could take a variety of forms.  But what exactly does this mean?  A showman and businessman P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) wrote, “Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited for his particular genius, he cannot succeed.  I am glad to believe that the majority of persons do find their right vocation.”  We’re reminded in the Scripture people are blessed with a variety of talents.  Some of them are great while others small, but it’s for us to use our gift or gifts wisely.

A person could find a worthwhile vocation in the national service.  Henri Nouwen (1932–1996), a Dutch Catholic priest said, “Peacemaking is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God’s people.”  Rick Warren (b. 1954), an evangelical Christian pastor saw the benefit of military service.  He wrote, “Well, in the first place, military service, they don’t call it service for nothing.  You are actually serving your country.  And it is a worthy and valid vocation.”  So a divine calling could take many forms.

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Blessings of Prayer

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.  What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.

—2 Cor. 5:11

As God’s coworkers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

—2 Cor. 6:1-2

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

—Eph. 2:18-20

James E. Faust (1920–2007), a religious leader, lawyer, and politician said, “A great heart is the beginning of greatness.  It is an expression of humility.  It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”  What’s the effect of such prayer? Iyanla Vanzant (b. 1953), an inspirational speaker and lawyer wrote, “In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was prayer.  Sometimes my prayer was ‘Help me.’  Sometimes a prayer was ‘Thank you.’  What I have discovered was that intimate connection and communication with my creator will always get me through because I know my support, my help, is just a prayer away.”

True Prayer

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), an English Baptist preacher said, “True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise not a vocal performance.  It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”  What exactly constitutes prayer? Saint Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), a Roman Catholic and Spanish mystic said, “Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed.  Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”

A Protestant evangelist Paul Washer (b. 1961) wrote, “One of the greatest attacks of the enemy is to make you busy, to make you hurried, to make you noisy, to make you distracted, to fill the people of God and the Church of God with so much noise and activity that there is no room for prayer.  There is no room for being alone with God.  There is no room for silence.  There is no room for meditation.”  But how should people counter such distractions and gain insights about prayer?  They should note like Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997), an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun who said, “Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”  This is the nature and power of prayer.

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Living like Christ

“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”

—Mt. 5:14-16

… to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

—Eph. 4:12-13

But rejoice inasmuch you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

—1 Pet 4:13-14

How you live determines where your heart is.  To be like Christ people have to be open to the differences in humankind.  Denis Waitley (b. 1933), a motivational speaker said, “A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” Through a smile let others get to know you.  Invite them in your life like Christ did.

Always remember to show appreciation to others, and compliment them when they do the right thing.  Let people know that you care about their well-being.  To do so try walking in their footsteps, for this is the way you’ll be compassionate.  Alan Cohen (b. 1950), an inspiration writer wrote, “Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”

People’s Actions

So let your actions be like rays of hope even on gloomy days.  Reach out to the broken-hearted, soothe those who are hurting, and always remember to share your love.  Edith Wharton (1862–1937), a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Not all of us are like a candle, but in all we do we can reflect the light of Christ.  This ought to be seen through our actions.  What we say and do is important.  Take time to be a blessing to all people – rich, and poor alike.  Tell them you care about them.  Go the extra mile, and let the grace of Christ work for you.  It’s through this way we share God’s nature on earth.  You could do so by remembering it isn’t only the big things that count, but the many small things people take for granted we are called to do in life.

Five Christian Crowns

“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”

—Rev. 2:10

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.  They put a staff in his right hand.  Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him.  “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.

––Mt. 27:28-29

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.”

—Prov. 16:31

The crown originated as a cap, turban, or other forms, and is at times decorated.  Its placement on the head indicates one was set apart for a particular calling.  Such crowns were used for high priests (Ex. 29:6; 39:30; Lev. 8:9), or for kings (2 Sam. 1:10; 2 Kings 11:12; Ps. 89:39; 132:18).  A crown indicates the consecrated role of the wearer (Ps. 89:39), and his, or her elevated position in life (Ps. 89:19-20).  There are five known crowns.

Crown 1 – Crown of Righteousness

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

—2 Tim. 4:8

Crown 2 – Crown of Self Control

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown which will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly, I do not fight like a boxer beating the air….I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

—1 Cor. 9:25-27

Crown 3 – Crown of Life

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

—Jas. 1:12

Crown 4 – Crown of Glory

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

—1 Pet. 5:2-4

Crown 5 – Crown of Rejoicing

“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”

—1 Thess. 2:19-20

“Undoubtedly those who are wise will shine like brightness in our Lord’s sight.  For they are those who have led many to righteousness, and they would be like stars forever and ever.”

—Dan. 12:13