|Volume 18 Number 5 May 2016||
What brings happiness to someone may bring no fulfillment at all for another person. That’s because we are such a diverse people. The dictionary defines happiness as “a feeling of contentment coming from being and doing well or of satisfaction at having got what one wanted.” We’re all made up of different genes and chromosomes so we can’t possibly all want the same thing.
We’re reared in different homes, states and countries, and we witness so many changes in values and upbringing from a family level to a national level. Standards and values can vary greatly in just a small area. Beginning in the home, much more may be expected of one child than what is expected of another one in the same family.
Educational facilities may expect more from some students than from others. Some cities, counties, states and countries may require more of its citizens than others do. We get the idea. Because of all these variants, it’s difficult to pinpoint “happiness.” We do know that happiness is a state of mind that causes us to feel good at least temporarily. Every one of us has had that feeling at some time, and it may have come from a personal interaction with someone, a feeling of accomplishment, having received praise for a job well done or just personal satisfaction. This list of what makes one happy is certainly not meant to be complete, but these things give us food for thought.
I submit to you that there is a “true happiness” that comes only one way. The Psalmist said it simply. “Happy is that people whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15). Again, in Psalm 146:5 we find, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help; whose hope is in the Lord, his God.” When God is the One Whom we are trying to please and we are doing our best to do just that, there can be no greater happiness.
Paul told young Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. We brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Let us be content with food and raiment” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). A Christian’s happiness and contentment doesn’t come from his material accomplishments and belongings, but it comes from knowing that he is living daily for Christ and has his sights set on heaven. All this “stuff” on earth will be burned up, and we surely know there’s more to it than that!
We read in Proverbs 3:13, “Happy is the man that finds wisdom and gets understanding,” and in Proverbs 16:20 we find, “Happy is he who trusts in the Lord.” To enjoy true happiness is to find wisdom in God’s Word, and understanding it, to apply it to one's life. That will make him happier than anything else he could ever do or of which he could dream.
Peter taught a little differently about what brings happiness. He said, “Happy are you if you suffer for righteousness’ sake” (1 Peter 3:14), and “Happy are you if you are reproached for the name of Christ” (1 Peter 4:14). Peter, how can we expect to be happy if we are suffering and being reproached? Remember the Scripture above that said, “Godliness with contentment is great gain”? When we are doing spiritual things in view of eternity and according to God’s will, He will provide the happiness and contentment in spite of any aches, pains, distress and misery.
This contentment doesn’t come without some effort. One must be doing what is necessary to receive God’s blessings. The psalmist said, “The Lord is near to all those who call upon Him…in truth” (Psalm 145:18). That “call” doesn’t mean that all one has to do is make his request and it will be granted, but it means that he will be searching the Word to know what he must do and then doing it. Jesus said, “Happy are you if you know these things and do them” (John 13:17).
We must study, know and do God’s will to enjoy the contentment that is in Christ. Above, I made the statement that we can’t all possibly want the same things in this life. Perhaps the one exception to this rule is that every one of us surely wants to enjoy eternal bliss in heaven. May God bless you in doing what it takes to hear Him say “well done” to enter that heavenly home!
Lord, Increase Our Faith
Fred C. Nowell, Jr.
Perhaps none of us would claim to have the strongest faith or conviction. There are times and circumstances that may test the level or strength of our faith. I know that my faith is much stronger than when I was a babe in Christ, but does it continue to grow and increase as it should?
Ever think, “If I could have literally walked with Jesus my faith or conviction would have been so strong!” Just think of the many miracles we would have witnessed with our own eyes! Think of the joy that we would have felt as our ears took in His infinite wisdom! If we could have lived and walked with Jesus, how could our faith or conviction have been anything but strong? And yet, in Matthew’s account of the Gospel, we find four times where Jesus condemned the faith of His apostles and disciples, those whose faith should have been the strongest.
First in Matthew 6:30. In the context of God’s providential care (caring for the things needful for the body), Jesus said to His apostles, “If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
Second in Matthew 8:26. When it came to God’s protection over the elements of the world, as Jesus slept in a boat with His disciples, a storm came and they feared for their lives. Jesus was woken, and their concerns were stated; “Lord, save us: we perish.” Mark records that Jesus was accused of not caring for their safety with the words, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). Many (if not all) of us can relate or understand why they might have had concern for their lives. Personally, I do not like to be in a boat in rough waters. Most likely, I would have been the one to wake my Lord! Jesus responded to their cry by a sharp rebuke. Not that He was upset at being awakened, but for their fear and lack of faith. “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the seas; and there was a great calm.”
Third in Matthew 14:31. Jesus approached His apostles on the water, and they believed Him to be a spirit or ghost. Peter asked the Lord to enable him to walk out to Him on the water, and he was granted permission. Peter bravely stepped out on faith, but when his focus moved from the Lord and on to the waves, he began to sink. Peter was most likely very hysterical, and He called out for Jesus to save him. “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Forth in Matthew 16:8. After rebuking the Scribes and Pharisees for their desire to see a miracle, the apostles joined themselves with Jesus again. Jesus told them to “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (v. 6). The apostles all thought Jesus was speaking about bread (v. 7), and Jesus responded to them saying, “O ye of little faith, why do ye reason among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?” Jesus continued to bring the things that were done prior before their eyes. “Did you forget about the feast not too long ago that was produced from so little?” (paraphrasing v. 9). “Get your mind off the physical things and build upon your faith or conviction!”
Those that literally walked with the Lord were not always so strong in their faith. Like many of us today, their focus was not always where it should have been – on Christ and His will. May our faith or conviction continue to grow and strengthen as we take in God’s Word, trusting Him as we obey. When we walk in the Lord in the strength of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way!