Asa’s heart

“The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2)

“It is an honor and happiness to be in bonds to God.” (Matthew Henry)

So much of our misery is the result of forsaking God. True happiness may be found only in seeking, loving, and obeying God. Asa lived a happy and meaningful life because he lived for God. He spent his energies in fighting idolatry in the land and repairing the altar of the Lord. And his zeal for God inspired great numbers to seek the Lord because they saw that God was with him. Because they sought God with all their heart, he was found by them and “the Lord gave them rest all around.” Such is the influence of a godly person! Peace and happiness not only for himself but for others who have been touched by his life. To be sure, he wasn’t perfect. There were things he left undone. “Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true all his days,” (verse 17). As Matthew Henry points out, “There may be defects in some particular duties where yet the heart, in the main, is upright with God. Sincerity is something less than sinless perfection.”

Lord, may my heart be like Asa’s – wholly true to you all my days. Amen.

To be holy is to be happy

“In proportion as the sanctification of a believer advances, his real happiness advances with it” (Octavius Winslow)

“Man’s holiness is now his greatest happiness, and in heaven man’s greatest happiness will be his perfect holiness.” (Thomas Brooks)

We pursue happiness in the wrong way. We run after success, money, fame and pleasure, and once we have these they turn into ashes in our hands.

Holiness, on the other hand, carries with it a peculiar enjoyment – the kind only heaven can give. Pursue holiness and you gain joy that thrives even in the midst of affliction. Mere happiness cannot do this; it wilts at the first whiff of unfortunate circumstances.

The Happiness Track

Today is Saturday. Yes, I did post yesterday that I’ll be posting a Dennis’ Reader’s Diary article only once a week [note to Philippine Theo Law Gee readers: I originally posted this on my FB page]; but on Saturday mornings I usually do nothing but read (unless I have a class to teach), and today – Saturday – I finished reading Emma Seppala’s The Happiness Track, and I just have this urge to share what I’ve learned from this very good book, which I’m now recommending to all of you. Here are some of the ideas I got from this book:

– A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.

– Your fatigue is mostly psychological.

– Keep calm and carry on.

– Imagination is more important than knowledge.

– Walking boosts creativity.

– The more creative you become, the more joy you invite into your life.

– Believe in efforts, not strengths.

– “Failure is success in progress.” (Einstein)

– Our beliefs largely determine whether we learn new skills.

– The experience, succeed or fail, is a form of success in itself.

– Gratitude balances our negativity bias.

– Writing about your emotions can help regulate them.

– Selfishness prevents success.

– Excessive positive regard can make you blind to your own weaknesses.

– If you are unkind to someone, they are likely to reciprocate.

– Self-focus damages physical and emotional health.

I found much of what the book has to say quite helpful and I’m glad I read it. But what I found interesting is that a lot of what it says coincides with the Bible’s teaching, especially the last chapter on “Why Compassion Serves You Better Than Self- Interest.” Seppala says, “[E]xcessive self-esteem can be harmful because it usually entails comparing yourself to others. Psychologists call this the ‘better than average effect’ …” She goes on to say, “While self-focus is associated with poor outcomes on both personal and professional levels, focusing on other people – that is, other-focus, especially in the form of compassion – leads to tremendous benefits.”

More than 1500 years ago, however, the Apostle Paul already wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4, ESV)

The Happiness Track is a good book. I’m happy to recommend it. But a much greater book is the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. Nothing beats what it has to teach about true happiness: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)