Laughter is Good Like a Medicine! It is Time to Laugh!

Solomon, the wisest man who lived, said laughter is good. Just as good as medicine! Tell that to the 1150 billion dollar pharmaceutical industry! Perhaps with a little more chuckling, those figures might drop!

Let’s face it, the cares of this world easily rob us of joy.

“A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:4

Laughter is contagious! Few can hold back a smile when deep, belly laughter erupts. I’m not talking about the kind that is serrated with sarcasm, barbed with ridicule, or is a satirical stab. Just that free unrestrained joy in the present.

It is Good!

Let’s look at the “good” hidden in this joyful behaviour.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
Proverbs 17:22

Laughter is like medicine

“Medicine” means “a healing and cure“. Several studies declare a cheerful attitude can improve the outcome of even the most serious illness.

One commentary says laughter makes good recovery!”  I like that! Even when ailments inflict, a good recovery sounds promising! If a “good recovery” includes healthier hearts, relaxed bodies, and boosted immune systems, then laughter delivers.

Believe it or not, joy is a personal choice — a way of “recovering”. Choosing joy creates a perspective that can make a big difference.

A few years ago, a difficult swirl threatened to engulf me. Every morning God encouraged “Choose joy!” So each day before my feet hit the floor, I agreed with God’s view and aligned my thinking.

That decision prevented the dysfunctional atmosphere from drowning me emotionally.  Joy kept strength from being “sapped”!  To “sap” here means “to be ashamed, confused, disappointed, to dry up, and wither.” 

Was it easy? Certainly not!

Was it possible? By God’s grace, yes!

It is Godly

Do you know that God laughs? Discovering God’s response to situations will change our own view of things.

“The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.”
Psalm 37:12-13

We have an enemy intentionally stealing, killing and destroying everything he can. He specifically targets our joy!

Laugh! I am!

Recently, I was feeling the intensity of an onslaught.  Problems of all sorts were hitting hard: physically, financially, relationally and spiritually. The enemy’s thrusts worked overtime in the lives of those I love and are close to.

During prayer, I felt God prompt, “Why don’t you laugh? I am!”

So I did! First strained and loudly! Then authentic laughter rolled naturally from some deep recess.

First, it was an act of obedience. Then I remembered I have a lot to laugh about. The enemy is still “gnashing his teeth” at us, but he was

crushed at the cross,
defeated on resurrection morning,
rendered powerless by the blood,
and sentenced to destruction.

Laughter is good! It reminds me the enemy’s “day is coming” when God brings justice. It produces alignment with God’s attitude, in some way bringing heaven’s glory to earth.

A time to laugh!

Strength

In Nehemiah’s day, the exiles returned after a long banishment to reestablish their homes. Under Ezra’s instruction,

“They read from the Book of the Law of God,
making it clear and giving the meaning
so that the people understood
what was being read.”
Nehemiah 8:8

The grief stricken people realized that disobedience to God brought about their captivity.

Mourning sounds logical to me! Countless times, I’ve been on my face distressed over the contradiction between my attitudes, words or conduct and God’s holiness. Reading “the book” puts things into perspective!

Joy in the Lord is strength

Nehemiah says something surprising under the circumstances,

“…This day is holy to our Lord.
Do not grieve,
for the joy of the LORD
is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10b

Sometimes we need encouragement to move from grief to joy, sorrow to gladness, or wailing to laughing. When they felt like grieving, Nehemiah reminded them, “Laughter is good!”

This word “strength” means “a place of safety and protection.”  It pictures standing on a solid rock, protected within a fortress, or secure in a strong defense.

A sports motto states, “The strongest offense is a powerful defense.”

God affirms that laughter implements both offensive and defensive action against Satan’s attacks.

Laughter is good! It creates a synergy between heaven and earth. Laughing at the enemy, no matter what his ploy, reminds me that God remains in control.

Laughing at Myself

I don’t purposely do incredibly foolish things! They spontaneously occur naturally and often! Laughter seems only logical in this moments.

A solid sense of self-worth releases me to laugh at my blunders and make light of my forgetfulness. Whether I have a particularly good day or not, my value securely resides with God alone.

Second, I demonstrate grace in even my ungraceful moments. I’m not what I used to be, but I sure haven’t arrived. Allowing myself time to laugh at my shortcomings liberates me to get up and try again.

Third, deliberately create time to laugh. It takes less energy to smile than to frown, I’m told.

Laugh together

Fourth, laugh at life! My father taught me well how to laugh during times of stress and pressure. He possessed an incredible ability to find a pool of joy in an ocean of despair.

Fifth, laugh at the past! I’m “getting long in the tooth”! Or in other words, I have more life behind me than ahead. Many situations threatened to crush me forever. By God’s grace, they served to refine me instead and in many ways make me stronger. Now, I smile in remembrance of those once painful times.

Life’s Journey

Pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem for the Jewish festivals sang the Songs of Ascent, Psalm 120-134. The priests also repeated them as they ascended the steps to the temple. One song declared at each step forward and upward.

Joy resonates throughout these psalms.

“I rejoiced with those who said to me,
Let us go to the house of the Lord.'”
Psalm 122:1

Songs triumphantly raised in praise to a God so faithful!

“We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 124:7-8

Laugh throughout life

Listen to this declaration of praise and rejoicing!

“When the LORD restored
the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
P
salm 126:1,2

And hear the promise!

I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.”
Psalm 132:15-16

If the pilgrims going to the temple praised God with rejoicing, perhaps I should take time to laugh as I journey through life’s course. If the priests sang praise while entering God’s presence, I’m thinking the same is important as I approach our Awesome God.

Laugh often!
https://www.facebook.com/glimpsesofgloryphotos

Have you captured the importance yet? Let’s all make today a time to laugh!

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Free from all Fear! Psalm 34 – Is Fearless Living Possible?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in North America. For many people, living free from fear is an unrealistic expectation. Is fearless living possible? What would it look like? In Psalm 34, David hands us the key to overcoming all fear.

Believe it or not, there are more than one hundred phobias people experience. Many we can easily relate to: acrophobia (the fear of heights), ophidiophobia (the fear of snakes), mysophobia (the fear of germs, and arachnophobia (the fear of spiders).

Several years ago my daughter-in-law took possession of an inlaid willow frame I had made. She wanted to use it for a mirror. Since we had an unused large mirror, we both proceeded to the basement to cut it to the appropriate size. The first edge cut perfectly! As I was gently under-tapping the second cut, she frantically swung her arms in a wide flailing motion sending the mirror and tools flying through the air. A spider had appeared! She panicked!  The mirror shattered against the far wall. I laughed! (Sorry to the rest of you arachnophobics, I couldn’t help it!)

Fear can sometimes cause us do unusual things.

Positive Fear

Fear can be positive. In fact, it is essential to our survival! Fear warns us of impending danger. A certain amount of fear increases adrenaline flow helping us perform demanding tasks better.

I read once that Alfred Nobel awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local newspaper: “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before and he died a very rich man.” The obituary should have been for his brother, but in error Alfred’s name appeared instead. Alfred was afraid this would indeed be the assessment of his life so he initiated the Nobel Peace Prize, the award for those who foster peace! Fear led Alfred Nobel to rewrite his life’s work!

God Uses Cowards

There are 365 bible references encouraging us, to be courageous. One for every day of the year! The bible is full of accounts of God’s ability to use even the fearful, however.

  • Gideon is found hiding in a winepress, afraid of the Midianites (Judges 6,7)
  • Moses afraid of his own people and Pharoah was unwilling to obey God without help. (Exodus 3 & 4)
  • Ninety year old Sarah, fearful of promises long delayed lied to God about laughing at the news that she would conceive a child. (Genesis 18)
  • Jonah was afraid God would be merciful, so he ran from his assignment. (Jonah 1 & 2)

There were just as many who missed their opportunity because of their phobias:

  • Ten out of twelve scouts sent to explore Canaan infected the camp with fear of giants and strong cities. (Numbers 13 & 14)
  • The rich young ruler, afraid of losing his wealth and comfortable lifestyle, refused to follow Jesus (Luke 18:18-23)

Do Not Worry

Jesus encouraged the people,

” … do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink
or about your body, what you will wear …
Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes?
See how the flowers of the field grow.
They do not labor or spin.
… not even Solomon in all his splendor
was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field,
… will he not much more clothe you
— you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …
your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
Matthew 6:25-33

For the majority of the world’s population concern for the basic essentials of life is constantly present! The wealthy minority worry about protecting their possessions, a secure retirement, the next vacation, and pursuing dreams.  Many in Jesus’ audience were struggling daily for survival.

Jesus frames this passage with wisdom,

” … store up for yourselves treasures in heaven
seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow …”
Matthew 6:20 & 34

All sufficiency is in God alone. He can and does give us the ability to create wealth and wisdom to know how to use it, but ultimately everything is His and comes from Him.

Free from all fear!

David’s words echo the thought,

Lord! I’m bursting with joy over what you’ve done for me!
My lips are full of perpetual praise.
I’m boasting of you and all your works,
so let all who are discouraged take heart.
Join me, everyone! Let’s praise the Lord together.
… make him famous!
Let’s make his name glorious to all.
Listen to my testimony: I cried to God in my distress
and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears!
Psalm 34:1-4

When did David write such joy filled praise? When he was afraid!

To escape from Saul’s death threats David ran toward Achish king of Gath. Because David was famous for his military exploits, hiding wasn’t easy!

“David …  was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath.
So he pretended to be insane in their presence;
and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman …”
1 Samuel 21:12,13

The Right Fear

In the midst of justifiable fear, David “sought the LORD.” Relief came! Courage was restored! He was courageous not because he chose to be brave, but rather because he sought God in the midst of his fear.

As a matter of fact, David recognized how deficient his courage was,

“This poor man called, and the LORD heard him:
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those
who fear him, and he delivers them.”
Psalm 34:6,7

The LORD, Jehovah, the self-existent, all powerful, eternal God is big enough to wipe away all fear and circle his trembling ones with protection. In Him is unrattled security!

The Human Factor

Let’s be honest, being afraid is something we all face. In agreeing with David’s assessment of our “poor” condition, we rightly position ourselves before God who fiercely defends, protects and supplies us with needed courage.

Fear the LORD, you his holy people
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”
Psalm 34:9-10

Jesus said it this way: “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.”

When fear is centred in God alone, there indeed is freedom. Fearless living is possible after all!

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Further Reading:

The Righteous are as Bold as a Lion – Survive and Thrive

Never! 8 Things God Will Never Do

 

 

A Good Appetite is a Sign of Health – Blessed is the One Psalms 1

Most people prefer either sweet or salty food. Combine sweet with a good dash of chocolate and you will discover the pinnacle of my personal food preference. A good appetite is a sure sign of physical health; an unceasing appetite for the word of God and His presence are attributes of good spiritual health as well.

While reading Psalms 1, I began to evaluate how “healthy” my appetite presently is.

“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.”
Psalm 1:1-3

The Progression

The progression, or rather digression, within these verses is quite obvious:

  • walk in step
  • stand in the way
  • sit in the company

Allow me to form this progression more fully. If I’m not careful, I can find myself walking “in step” with others down the “chocolate-covered-delicacy” aisle in the grocery store (which of course I could find in a power outage blindfolded)! Although temptation is building, there is no serious problem yet.

It is when I actually stop and “stand” in front of those mouth-watering goodies, that I begin to feel compelled by some indefinable inner force to reach for my chosen “yummies”. Temptation has reached a whole new level!

I convince myself to plunk those goodies into the shopping cart, pay the price and stash them into the pantry for “company”. But what happens next is predictable!  You and I both know that inevitably I will end up sitting “in the company” of those sweet treats, devouring their scrumptious, though unhealthy, goodness.

The cycle is complete! I have stepped, stood and sat. The process is repetitively familiar especially at moments of fatigue and stress!

Danger Zone

Unfortunately, a far more serious cycle is the rhythm I notice in these verses!

“…does not walk in step with the wicked…”

Generally, I’m not overly tempted to “walk in step with the wicked.” In my work place, I meet face to face people being charged with serious crimes. I am reminded of the historic events of World War II where inconceivable wickedness was unleashed in unprecedented measures. Walking the soil of Cambodia, where unspeakable atrocities were openly committed, was a life-changing experience for me.

My main temptation is neither to “walk in” or even skirt around such serious issues. Blatant wickedness should and must cause everything in me to rise up and say, “Enough!”

“…or stand in the way that sinners take…”

Now “sinner” is far more inclusive!

 “for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God”
Romans 3:23

Like it or not, I am one of “all”. Paul puts it so well,

“I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do.”
Romans 7:15

Tolerance toward our own or other’s sinful bahaviour, is actually a form of “standing”. In fact, this word “stand” literally means to “delay or hold back from doing something.” Christ has made the way; we can immediately turn to Him, repent and begin moving forward. There is no place for sin in our spiritual shopping cart!

Personal Pitfall

There have been individuals and groups throughout history who have been so entirely consumed with evil that only a thunderclap of the hand of God is sufficient to turn them from it. Disdain for such wickedness has a way of mellowing to tolerance, and finally to blind consent.

Stand “in the way that sinners take” long enough and one becomes acclimatized to sin. How deeply does abortion, euthanasia, human trafficking burn upon my heart? Do I feel its sting as strongly now as ten or twenty years ago?

Sitting is my real problem! A personal pitfall! This term holds the context of “a dwelling place or abiding in a given location.”

“…or sit in the company of mockers…”

Mockers are those “who make what is good and holy the object of their ridicule“: “defiant, cynical, free-thinkers”; “their character is proud, self-sufficiency”. That description covers most of the culture we live in! A literal translation for the word is “pests”.

Have you ever sat down for a wonderfully prepared and planned picnic only to have pesty flies, mosquitoes and wasps show up and spoil the whole affair?

I am uncomfortable with “mockers”. Usually I make attempts to steer conversation toward a healthy path, try to insert the positive, or silently wait for opportunity to escape the situation. Unfortunately, far too often for far too long I “sit”!  Why?

I never sat in the company of revelers,
never made merry with them;
I sat alone because your hand was on me
and you had filled me with indignation.”
Jeremiah 15:17

Jeremiah had it right! He chose to sit alone rather than with negative talkers and mockers. How? His priorities and focus what set in the right place — toward God.

The Appetite Solution

The psalmist gives the solution:

Blessed is the one …
whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who mediates on his law
day and night…”
Psalm 1:2

My delight and desire, like my appetite, is where I find pleasure and will chose to sit.

Whatever I am hungry for, I will crave; cravings seek to be satisfied. If my “delight” is toward God, I will set His word, His desires, His perspective above my own and those of others. It will matter far more to me what He thinks than the judgments of those around me. Alone with Him will actually become the best place to be!

“Who stands fast?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked.
“Only the man … the responsible man,
who tries to make his whole life
an answer to the question
and call of God.”

There are many heroic men and women who have influenced generations with courage, stepping in time to a heavenly calling, standing perilously for righteousness at the cost of their lives and with steadfast voice spoke living truth. Such courage and bravery doesn’t come from walking, sitting and standing contrary to God!

The ways of the world may taste good for the moment, but the repercussions go far beyond.

The Promise

Listen to the promise within these few verses:

“That person is like a tree
planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither
— whatever they do prospers.”
Psalm 1:3

Now that is something worth chewing on! I may crave the sweet, but it is fruit that satisfies my need!

The image is of perpetual beauty and productivity. “Prosper” describes the Holy Spirit’s affect on persons making them powerful and mighty; pushing forward and breaking out; or rushing forward in battle.

A consistent appetite for the word of God by sitting with the truths of scripture, standing in His Presence, and walking along His path, reaps undeniable generational and eternal spiritual benefits.

Bravo to a healthy appetite!

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Further Reading:

The Word of God – Cutting a Straight Line!

The Bible – The Most Powerful Book in the World

 

 

 

 

Psalm 91 – God Has You Covered

Protection

Psalm 91 is a familiar and loved portion of scripture for many, containing over twenty promises. Each promise exemplifies as aspect of God’s sovereign protection.

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”
Psalm 91:4

The expression, “got you covered” is not recent. Although the author of this psalm isn’t fully known, many scholars attribute it to Moses. Now that goes back a few years! Even Merriam-Webster’s 1066 edition included the definition:

 “to have done, gotten, or provided whatever is needed :
take care of everything
Don’t worry about a thing.
We’ve got you covered.”

Protection

Many birds are known for the way they offer complete protection for their young by holding them safely under their feathers. It is an image depicting both gentleness and strength.

“I Will Say”

The psalmist declares:

I will say of the Lord, 
He is my refuge and my fortress
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91: 2

Fortress

 

Typically a fortress was built of rock on elevated ground, often surrounded by a moat or high wall. Declaring God as our fortress is saying He alone is our ultimate protection.

Because this is my firm confession and solid belief, I have rest and can live free of fear.

Do difficulties come? Absolutely!
Is there evil around us? Most assured!
In the midst of it all –
God has me covered!

“If You Say”

The psalmist now encourages everyone to the same acknowledgment toward God.

If you make the LORD your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,”

Psalm 91:9

For He commands angelic armies to guard you, lifting your up in their hands giving you supernatural empowerment to face the fiercest foes.

“You will tread on the lion
and the cobra, 
you will trample the great lion
and the serpent.”
Psalm 91: 13

The “lion” here represents all open and violent foes; the “cobra,” all secret and malignant ones. The young lion (kephir, the lion in the height of his strength) and the serpent (tannin, the most dreadful form of serpent) shalt thou trample under your feet.

Fiercest For

 

“Says The Lord”

It’s one thing when I say something or when you say something to be true. It is totally different when God declares truth!

“Because he loves me…”
Psalm 91:14

God responds to our feeble love and acknowledges us! When we have come to know Him in an intimate, experiential way, God declares over each of us:

I will” rescue and protect,
answering and being with us in trouble,
delivering and honouring us
satisfying us and saving us!

God’s response to our fragile declaration is, “I WILL…!”

Protection

I spent much of life not realizing God’s desire to be intimately a part of my life. From Genesis to Revelation is God’s invitation to “dwell” in Him – the shadow of His Presence.

I encourage you to respond to His invitation today! Make the Most High your dwelling place. The place where you choose to stay. He alone is the place of rest and shelter. The Lord God has you covered!

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