Hello, How Are You? 10/11/98

Numbers 6: 23 – 26
Page 208 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ gathered with His bewildered followers on the eve of His execution for His last time with them. Confusion and fear held them in a firm grip as He spoke. Much of what He said is contained in John 14 – 17. In that hostile environment His talk was punctuated with such words as “joy” and “peace.” He spoke often in various settings of His followers as being “blessed.” That is us.

Yet, much of our conduct and conversation gives the impression we have little joy, peace, and experience few blessings. Listen the next time you speak to someone with such a simple greeting as, “Hello, how are you?”

Two common negative responses are often heard. One: “So far, so good.” This sounds like the response of a person on safari in a predator infested jungle. Things have been going pretty good so far but at any minute I expect an attack resulting in catastrophe.

Further translated, “God has taken care of me so far, but at any minute I expect His provision and protection to expire.

A second even more negative response is, “Tired!”

It is 9:00 AM and a healthy individual says, “I am tired.” Causes you that have a “I can’t wait until 3:00 PM” attitude to cycle back and see just how much more tired this person is.

In the Old Testament era followers of Jehovah were taught a special prayer which gave cause for optimism. It is often called the equivalent of the Lord’s Prayer in the Old Testament. It is called the Aaronic Benediction.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace” (Numbers 6: 24 – 26).

God taught us this prayer. Blessing is His idea. A simple response to the greeting, “Hello, how are you?” should well be, “Blessed.”

The prayer in faith expects God to draw near and enfold one in His grace. To pray it is to live expectant of blessings not of dread as expressed in “So far, so good.”

The praying of this prayer is a way of saying, “Yes, Amen!” to God’s promises.

“The Lord bless you and keep you” speaks of present blessings and future care by the Lord. He will “keep you.”

He will “make His face to shine upon you.” On Mount Sinai the Lord in His shining brilliance revealed Himself to Moses and gave to Him the Ten Commandments. It was revelation of His will. This expression, “Make His face to shine upon you” refers to Him revealing His will.

“The Lord lift up His countenance upon you” is a term expressive of a smile. May God find such pleasure in you as to smile and reward you with peace.

The prayer speaks of blessing, presence, and the smile of God. It is not a persons idea it is God’s idea. It is what He wants for you.

Now back to the response to the innocent greeting, “Hello, how are you?” Why in light of the provisions of this prayer do so many people respond “Tired?”

This question concerns the medical community as well as the faith community. Dr. Richard Clark Cabbot of the Mayo Clinic led a team that studied the issue of “How to help people overcome that tired feeling.”

Parenthetically, there are times when we are all legitimately tired. It is a legitimate wonderful condition if the fatigue is the result of energy and effort well spent.

Vince Lombardy, the highly successful former coach of the Green Bay Packers, said, “Happiness is to be lying flat on your back exhausted from an effort to achieve victory.” That is a celebration of honest and honorable fatigue.

However, the doctors of Mayo Clinic in their study were concerned with the chronically tired persons who has no physiological reason for always being tired. They concluded four things to help overcome this negative state of being. They are: WORK, PLAY, LOVE, AND WORSHIP.

The Clinic was so impressed they had a logo designed using a cross with four equal arms each of which represented one of the four: WORK, PLAY, LOVE, AND WORSHIP.

Consider them as daily antidote to having that “tired feeling.” It is a prescription from a highly respected medical source.

The way in which it should be done is found in Colossians 3: 23: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

Put yourself into your work as though creating a work of art to be viewed by the Lord Himself. Often a worker finds himself under the supervision of a boss that just can’t be pleased regardless of the effort and excellence. This verse relieves the pressure. If you do what you do to an audience of one, that one being the Lord, and He approves and others don’t you don’t get depressed. If you do what you do to the same audience of one, the Lord, and He approves and others applaud you don’t take off on an ego flight. You didn’t do it for them you did it for Him.

This I refer to as THE LAW OF EMOTIONAL EQUILIBRIUM. It helps you keep your balance.

An Italian Duke was walking through his formal rose garden when he came upon a young gardener cutting roses and placing them in a uniquely beautiful carved wooden box. “What are you doing?” he inquired, not knowing the box had been hand carved by the young gardener. “I am pruning the roses and placing them in this chest.” “Does such a menial task demand such craftsmanship,” asked the duke. “No, sir,” came the reply, “but my nature does.”

“What is your name?” the duke demanded, “you shall be flogged for such impudence.”

“My name sir, is Michelangelo.”

It is little wonder that having a nature demanding such excellence in little things resulted in a life of mastery in major things. He was doing that menial carving as unto the Lord and found great pleasure in it.

Here comes a part you got to like —– PLAY.

Unplug, recreate, and enjoy amusement. Allow yourself to relax and laugh.

Stress, prolonged fatigue, negative emotions, and a pessimistic outlook flood the body with toxins. They release chemical toxins within your body. Don’t make your body a toxic waste dump by depriving it of play.

Health is no laughing matter but it does help if you laugh.

The body is under a biochemical onslaught. Mounting research makes it clear that one’s attitude and emotional state are impressively vital to the preservation of health and recovery from illness.

“Exhibit A” is a stress-sensitized person. Such a ones response to everyday stress has the same flush of biochemical release as during a major threat. This biochemical rush suppresses the immune system to various infections and diseases, according to psychological research. Hormones released by stress promote ulcers, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and strokes.

Conversely, a positive, optimistic, jovial spirit releases health inducing pain killers and a “feel good” mood. These chemicals known as endorphins and enkephlins when released into the body by the brain are a morphine-like substance that act as a good natural anesthesia and relaxant. A person senses his or her highest level of well-being when they are at work. PLAY! For your health sake play.

If God smiles, and our text says He does, so should we. The Bible says, “[God] will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy” (Job 8: 21).

That means you may yet experience a growth spirt in your funny bone.

Solomon, the wisest of the kings, wrote there is a “time to laugh” (Ecc. 3: 4). In praise of the Lord the Psalmist wrote, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (Psalm 126: 2).

Infect people around you with “cheer-germs.” Those who catch the disease will find their load lighter and their Christianity brighter.

Try giving yourself away. A lady when asked what she had been doing said, “I’ve been trying to get something for my husband.” Came the reply, “Did you have any offers?”

If you try loving and giving yourself away there will be lots of offers.

A short version of Jesus’ summation of the law is simply, “You shall love…” He went on to say, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind'” (Matthew 22:37).

Don’t look upon God with suspicion. Release yourself to love Him.

Additionally He instructed us to love our neighbor as our self.

Studies show babies are not born knowing how to love, but with the capacity to receive and experience love. They learn to love from how their parents love them. Perhaps you missed it. Maybe bitter circumstances have made it difficult to love others. It is at this point God, the Father, steps in to show us love. We then learn how to love from the Father. He has demonstrated His love for us. He has shown us the true meaning of love by loving us.

We are slow learners. Here it is right in the Book: “We love because God first loved us” (I John 4: 19).

John follows this up by alerting us to our opportunity to show God’s love for others by the quality of our love: “For he who does not love his brother which he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (I John 4:20).

Babies learn to love by receiving the love of their parents. We learn the highest law of love by experiencing the love of the Lord Jesus.

We put into practice our love by doing for others what God has done for us. We learn to accept people with all of their faults and failures just as God accepted us.

If you dare to love people you are going to be hurt. If you don’t you are going to be sick. Hadn’t you rather be hurt than sick?

Not long ago, a magazine article about Roseto, an Italian- immigrant village in eastern Pennsylvania that became famous for its residents’ low levels of heart disease was researched. Despite hard lives and high-fat diets that included plenty of lard (because olive oil was too expensive to import), the heart- attack rate among Rosetans was less than half the U.S. average. Well, that was then. In the past three decades, the town’s heart disease rate has risen to approach that of any other place in over stressed America. What made the difference? Some doctors believe Roseto actually lost its heart. Earlier in the century, Rosetans lived with as many as four generations of family crowded into a single home. Residents worked together, socialized together, and were extremely dependent on one another. Then came your basic American prosperity: better-paying jobs, big homes on the outskirts of town, and television. According to researcher Stewart Wolf, M.D., there was a “conspicuous social change from family-centered attitudes toward more self-centered, materialistic concerns.” As people grew apart, they also developed more heart disease. Is it possible to find other ways of achieving the close community and personal intimacy the Rosetans had long ago? According to Dr. Dean Ornish, it isn’t just possible, it’s vital. In “Love & Survival,” Ornish issues a powerful call for doctors and everybody else to start considering love, intimacy, and emotional and spiritual growth to be as important as any high-tech medicine in preventing and treating physical illness. American society is facing an epidemic of “emotional and spiritual heart disease,” Ornish says, that is every bit as harmful to our bodies as cholesterol and other risk factors.

In my files I found a poem by Helen Steiner
Rice penned in my mother’s hand writing.
Where there is love the heart is light,
Where there is love the day is bright.
Where there is love there is a song
To help when things are going wrong.

Where there is love, there is a smile
To make things seem more worthwhile.
Where there is love, there’s a quiet peace,

A quiet place where turmoils cease.
Love changes darkness into light
And makes the heart take ‘wingless flight.’

Blessed are they who walk in love,
They also walk with God above.
And when man walks with God again
There shall be peace on earth for men.

This is the fourth necessity for avoiding “that tired feeling” according to the research by Mayo Clinic doctors.

Two ancient factors distract us from worship:
One is TRIVIALIZATION. We, like the ancient Gnostics, have made God in our image and refer to Him as the “Old Man,” or the “Man Upstairs,” or even the “Big Guy.”

The name Gnostic means “one who knows all.” That bunch of know it alls from the first century talked about God. They expressed their opinions regarding Him. They didn’t talk to Him or worship Him. They talked to each other a lot about God but they didn’t talk to Him.

The second is TRIBULATION. Roman persecution in the first century distracted the people from worship. It was not popular to be a follower of the crucified Christ. It was not lawful to be a Christian. This caused economic discrimination, social ostracism, imprisonment, and martyrdom.

John, the beloved disciple of Christ, encountered the Gnostic philosophy that trivialized God and personally experienced tribulation. His tribulation resulted in him being imprisoned on the Island of Patmos. There, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he worshiped and penned the Revelation. Therein he teaches us of worship and to worship.

The Book of the Revelation begins, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day…” (Rev. 1:10).

On the last page of the Bible, after momentary distraction by angels, he refocuses on the issue and exhorts us “Worship God” (Rev. 22: 9).

By the time our study comes to the final entry in the library of 66 books called the Holy Bible, our minds are bursting with knowledge and our hearts burning with desire.

Why then aren’t things better in society and particularly in the Christian community? Could it be that we have become modern Gnostics talking much about God and little to Him. Motivated to work for Him but failing to worship Him. Perhaps we have even read the revelation searching for knowledge regarding the lamp stands, seals, bowls, and beast without getting the central message. That is “worship God.”

Perhaps we even come to our main hour of worship each Sunday bleached out emotionally and depleted physically by the activities of Saturday. Perhaps we have even adopted the world’s calendar and now schedule things on the Lord’s day that interfere with worship. Are some paying tribute to persons on the Lord’s Day when they should be giving it to worship? That is an unpopular thing to say, but if a representative of the Lord doesn’t say it the trend worsens.

A clarion call to worship and an unequaled example is found in the book of the Revelation.

The only way we can stay alert to the reality of God in Christ ruling and saving is in the act of worship.

The only way we can be trusted to say anything about God that is close to true, to do anything for God that is halfway right, is by repeated singing, praying, listening, and believing with the elders around the throne, where the scroll is unsealed and the gospel read out clear and strong in worship.

If we absent ourselves from worship or treat it as marginal on our social calendar we become dominated by the world rather than directed by worship.

Worship is the primary means we are give to orientate ourselves to God’s will. Therein and thereby we are energized. When we truly worship the Living God then – – – –
“The LORD bless you and keep you; [His protection is ours.]
The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; [His provisions are ours.]
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace” [His peace is ours.] (Numbers 6: 24 – 26).

Hello, how are you? BLESSED!