Today’s blog, written by Pastor Peter Yoon of Kairos Church in San Diego, was first posted on November 26, 2014.
Devotional Thought for Today
“How Happy Are You?”
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
In the summer of 2015, Pixar is going to introduce a movie called “Inside Out” to a worldwide audience. Those who’ve seen the previews undoubtedly are looking forward to meeting the movie’s characters, such as “Fear,” “Sadness,” “Joy,” “Anger” and “Disgust.” These emotions that we feel daily often influence how we behave. Sometimes, they come into our hearts for a quick visit and before you know it, they are already out the door; other times, it feels like these emotions have parked their cars in our hearts, having thrown away their keys.
Here, we see that Solomon, long before the rise of psychology, had already recognized how the inner disposition affects the well-being of the body. He recognized that happiness would generally lead a person towards good health while a crushed spirit dries up even the bone of that person.
So the question today is, how happy are you? You might be quick to think about your present circumstances to answer that; the question, however, is not, “How are your circumstances?” The question is, “How happy are you today?”
A researcher by the name of Shawn Achor (Harvard), while he was studying about happiness, had an opportunity to visit schools and talk with kids living in Soweto, South Africa. Realizing that his Harvard education and background were irrelevant to the children, he made an attempt to bond with them with something more universal: Dislike of homework. He asked what he thought was a rhetorical question: “How many of you like to do school work at home?” Shockingly, almost all of them raised their hand in favor of school work at home. Achor learned that two groups can approach the same situation, or the same assignment, or the same work, or the same class, and come to totally different conclusions. One group would express their disdain and complain while the other group would express joy and gratitude.
It was because what some people perceived as their “right” (not to be hassled by homework), these Soweto students saw it as a gift to grow: “I get to learn. I get to read. I get to discover. I get to use creativity. Develop critical thinking skills. I’m so fortunate.” When you see what you are given as a “gift” that you did not deserve, you naturally develop joyful gratitude.
Today is a day before the annual Thanksgiving day; count your blessings and be happy because God loves and cares about you even though we really don’t deserve any of it.
Prayer: Lord, there is so much to be thankful for today. I rejoice because You have given me life. I rejoice because You are with me. I rejoice even in my troubles because You will refine my character and produce within me a hope that does not disappoint. Thank you for your gift of joy. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 27
Lunch Break Study
Read Phil. 1:12-19: Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. 15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
Questions to Consider
- What is Paul’s surrounding circumstance as he writes this letter to the Philippian church?
- How do some believers, presumably acquaintances of Paul, behave that further agitates the apostle?
- How does Paul respond in the midst of his trying circumstances?
- Paul is “in chains”. He is actually sitting in prison (most likely Rome) having been arrested for his faith.
- Since some of the leaders of the church were threatened by Paul’s presence in the city, his incarceration became their opportunity to shine. In other words, they were ministering out of envy and rivalry and selfish gain.
Spend some time reflecting with the Lord about your family. Take some time to thank the Lord specifically for each of your family members.