Blessed Mother Teresa once said, "I believe God only gives three answers to prayers - yes, not now, and I have something better in mind."
Pau's recipe for the good life is taken from his letter to the Philippians, chapter 4. It basically requires the kind of attitude embodied in the quote above.
Ingredients for the good life are like ingredients for cake. If you put rocks and sand in your cake batter and leave out the eggs, you're not going to end up with cake!
When someone asked Michaelangelo how he created the David from a hunk of stone, the artist replied, "I just kept chipping away at whatever was not David." Following the recipe for the good life is probably going to be a lifelong endeavor. But by keeping what matters in the front of our mind and life, and allowing Jesus to work in us, we can continue to grow towards it. Like Michaelangelo, we can allow Jesus to just keep chipping away at whatever is not what He really created us to be.
Ingredients for the good life (from Philippians):
"REJOICE in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!" 4:4
There is a lot about joy in the Bible. In this verse, it says to ALWAYS be rejoicing in the Lord. That is a tall order. There is also a verse that says that the JOY of the Lord is our strength. Think about the implications of this for a bit.
"Let your GENTLENESS be evident to all. The Lord is near." 4:5
I admit that this is a tricky one for me. My voice wants to rise and my heart beat faster when I am annoyed and it seems that things are just going to get more annoying. But what does such a reaction accomplish but more havoc? Gentleness is surely an ingredient in the good life.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 4:6-7
Again, easier said than done. But being anxious about anything really boils down to not trusting God. If we truly trust in Him, there is nothing to worry about. The thing I find interesting in these two verses is that we are to pray *with thanksgiving*. This means praying with such trust in Him that we can thank Him for answering our prayer even as we are praying it!
4. Positive Thoughts
"Finally brothers, 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." 4:8
There is a good reason that this verse exists. Everything stems from our thoughts - our attitude, our actions, how we treat others. Everything. Let's keep it positive so that our attitude, our actions, and how we behave and treat others is also positive.
"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put into PRACTICE. And the God of peace will be with you." 4:9
Knowing, learning, reading, praying . . . it all must end in doing. There are only two things that matter in life - what we do for God and what we do for others. So, as they say, be sure to keep the main thing the main thing. No matter what others say or think, no matter whether you are worried about success or failure, stay in the will of God and do, do , do!
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being CONTENT in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." 4:12-13
"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." 4:19
This last ingredient pretty much comes into your life when you are practicing the other ingredients.
At night, pray for what you need and go to bed in peace knowing that God is the source.If you need inspiration for this, the story of Jesus calming the storm is perfect. Jesus and these men are in a little boat and the sea is very turbulent. There is a storm and the boat is rocking and being thrown around. While the men are fretting, where is Jesus? Sleeping! That is the strength of His faith in God - He is sleeping through life's turbulance, knowing His Father is awake and in control. When the men wake him in a panic, He seems frustrated at their lack of faith.
Again, pray for what you need, then go to sleep in peace. Your Father is awake and He is in control!
We may live in a world filled with break-downs, but we serve the God of break-throughs!