cccHow can we be joyful? Some of the elements of joy or happiness include strong marriages, family ties, friendships, spirituality, the fellowship of a church family, a satisfying avenue of employment with human rewards that reach beyond a pay-check, the understanding that life has meaning, and the crucial element of hope in the best and worst of times. But what if some or all of these elements of joy or happiness are missing in our lives? What if other factors serve to oppress and to take away true joy from our lives? In our thoughts, at times, it may seem that joy is impossible and that joy is beyond our capability. But when it comes to having true joy and in all else, are not God's thoughts higher than ours; and, yet still, are not God's promises sure? So, how can we jump-start joy or happiness in our lives and still uphold Christian standards? If we habitually claim God's promises and avail ourselves of His thoughts, even amid sorrows, can we be joyful? Some people labor under the misunderstanding that we are never to judge, but should we not exercise righteous judgement in seeking after true joy and in all matters?
cccFor My thoughts are not your
thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as
the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than
your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain
cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither,
but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that
it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall
My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return
unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it
shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go
out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and
the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the
trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn
shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come
up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. Thus saith the
Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for My
salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.
Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that
layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it,
and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Isaiah
cccIs true joy really beyond our capability? Do you suppose that helping other people be happier not only benefits these people, but it also starts a process that leads to increasing happiness in our own lives. In effect, if we give happiness away by helping others, will joy increase in our own lives? Notice what God's thought and promise is:
cccHe that watereth shall be watered also himself. Proverbs 11:25.
cccThus, in effect, God promises that what we give (more than what we get) produces the strength of true joy and happiness in our lives.
cccHe that watereth shall be watered also himself. Proverbs 11:25.
cccCommenting on these Words, the Spirit of Prophecy adds the following certain promises, as we see below. In order to jump-start the positive strength that is gained from true joy, it is up to each of us to put God's Word in action and to literally claim God's promises in our individual prayers.
cccOne of the divine plans for growth is impartation. The Christian is to gain strength by strengthening others. `He that watereth shall be watered also himself.' This is not merely a promise; it is a divine law, a law by which God designs that the streams of benevolence, like the waters of the great deep, shall be kept in constant circulation, continually flowing back to their source. In the fulfilling of this law is the secret of spiritual growth. . . .
cccLet those who are oppressed under a sense of sin remember that there is hope for them. The salvation of the human race has ever been the object of the councils of heaven. The covenant of mercy was made before the foundation of the world. It has existed from all eternity, and is called the everlasting covenant. So surely as there never was a time when God was not, so surely there never was a moment when it was not the delight of the eternal mind to manifest His grace to humanity. He is ever calling, `Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.' `Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it can not save, neither His ear heavy, that it can not hear.' ST June 12, 1901; or 4ST 185.
cccThere are many to whom life is a painful struggle; they feel their deficiencies and are miserable and unbelieving; they think they have nothing for which to be grateful. Kind words, looks of sympathy, expressions of appreciation, would be to many a struggling and lonely one as the cup of cold water to a thirsty soul. A word of sympathy, an act of kindness, would lift burdens that rest heavily upon weary shoulders. And every word or deed of unselfish kindness is an expression of the love of Christ for lost humanity.
cccThe merciful `shall obtain mercy.' `The soul of blessing shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.' Proverbs 11:25, margin. MB 23.
cccAngels are ever engaged in working for the happiness of others. This is their joy. That which selfish hearts would consider humiliating service, ministering to those who are wretched and in every way inferior in character and rank, is the work of the pure, sinless angels in the royal courts of heaven. The spirit of Christ's self-sacrificing love is the spirit which pervades heaven and is the very essence of its bliss.
cccThose who feel no special pleasure in seeking to be a blessing to others, in working, even at a sacrifice, to do them good, cannot have the spirit of Christ or of heaven; for they have no union with the work of heavenly angels and cannot participate in the bliss that imparts elevated joy to them. Christ has said: `Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.' If the joy of angels is to see sinners repent, will it not be the joy of sinners, saved by the blood of Christ, to see others repent and turn to Christ through their instrumentality? In working in harmony with Christ and the holy angels we shall experience a joy that cannot be realized aside from this work.
cccThe principle of the cross of Christ brings all who believe under heavy obligations to deny self, to impart light to others, and to give of their means to extend the light. If they are in connection with heaven they will be engaged in the work in harmony with the angels.
cccThe principle of worldlings is to get all they can of the perishable things of this life. Selfish love of gain is the ruling principle in their lives. But the purest joy is not found in riches nor where covetousness is always craving, but where contentment reigns and where self-sacrificing love is the ruling principle. There are thousands who are passing their lives in indulgence and whose hearts are filled with repining. They are victims of selfishness and discontent in the vain effort to satisfy their minds with indulgence. But unhappiness is stamped upon their very countenances, and behind them is a desert, because their course is not fruitful in good works.
cccIn proportion as the love of Christ fills our hearts and controls our lives, covetousness, selfishness, and love of ease will be overcome, and it will be our pleasure to do the will of Christ, whose servants we claim to be. Our happiness will then be proportionate to our unselfish works, prompted by the love of Christ.
cccDivine wisdom has appointed, in the plan of salvation, the law of action and reaction, making the work of beneficence, in all its branches, twice blessed. He that gives to the needy blesses others, and is blessed himself in a still greater degree. God could have reached His object in saving sinners without the aid of man; but He knew that man could not be happy without acting a part in the great work in which he would be cultivating self-denial and benevolence.
cccThat man might not lose the blessed results of benevolence, our Redeemer formed the plan of enlisting him as His co-worker. By a chain of circumstances which would call forth his charities, He bestows upon man the best means of cultivating benevolence and keeps him habitually giving to help the poor and to advance His cause. He sends His poor as the representatives of Himself. By their necessities a ruined world are drawing forth from us talents of means and of influence to present to them the truth, of which they are in perishing need. And as we heed these calls by labor and by acts of benevolence we are assimilated to the image of Him who for our sakes became poor. In bestowing we bless others, and thus accumulate true riches. 3T 382-383.
cccIf God and Christ and angels rejoice when even one sinner repents and becomes obedient to Christ, should not man be imbued with the same spirit, and work for time and for eternity with persevering effort to save, not only his own soul, but the souls of others? If you work in this direction with wholehearted interest as the followers of Christ, discharging every duty, improving every opportunity, your own souls will be gradually settling into the mold of a perfect Christian. The heart will not be sere and unfeeling. The spiritual life will not be dwarfed. The heart will glow with the impress of the divine image, for it will be in close sympathy with God. The whole life will flow out with cheerful readiness in channels of love and sympathy for humanity. Self will be forgotten, and the ways of this class will be established in God. In watering others their own souls will be watered. WM 307-308.
cccThe Christian is to be a benefit to others. Thus he himself is benefited. `He that watereth shall be watered also himself.' Proverbs 11:25. 7T 170.
cccA good work cannot be done by the human agent alone. For the full development and efficiency of the intellectual as well as the spiritual powers, there is, there must be, a vital connection with God, a communion with the highest source of activity. Then with the soul all aglow with zeal for the Master, we can be a blessing to others. Jesus said, `Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.' John 4:14. Those who become partakers of the grace of Christ will guide others to the living stream.
cccIs it not a privilege to be thus copartners with Jesus? Is it not an honor to be connected with the grand work of saving souls, acting the part assigned us by our Saviour? And none can impart a blessing to others without receiving benefit himself. `He that watereth shall be watered also himself.' Proverbs 11:25. CH 507-508.
cccThose who have been most successful in winning souls, were men and women who did not pride themselves in their ability, but who went in humility and faith, and the power of God worked with their efforts in convicting and converting the hearts of those to whom they appealed. Jesus did this very work. He came close to those whom He desired to benefit by personal contact. How often with a few gathered about Him, He commenced the precious lessons, and one by one the passers by paused to listen, until a great multitude heard with wonder and awe the Words of God through the heaven-sent Teacher. He did not wait for congregations to assemble. The grandest truths were spoken to single individuals. The woman at the well in Samaria heard the wonderful Words, `Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.'
cccThe interview with the humble Samaritan was not in vain. The Words that fell from the lips of the divine Teacher stirred the heart of the listener. She gladly acknowledged Him. She felt the power of His holy character and the heavenly influence that went with His Words of truth. Perfect trust filled her heart. Forgetful of her errand to the well, she hastened to publish His fame to her townsmen. Many left their employment to come to the stranger at Jacob's well. They plied Him with questions, and eagerly received the explanation of many things that had been dark to their understanding. The perplexity of their minds began to clear away. They were like people in darkness tracing up a sudden ray till they had found the day; and the result of the work of Jesus, as He sat weary and hungry at the well, was wide spread in blessing. The one soul for whom He had labored became a means of reaching others and bringing them to the Saviour of the world.
cccThis is ever the way the work of God has made progress in the earth. Let your light shine, and others will be kindled. Jesus said, `Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled.' This means work. Idleness and religion do not go hand in hand; and the cause of our great deficiency in the Christian life and experience is inactivity in the work of God. The muscles of your body will become weak and useless if they are not kept in exercise, and it is so with the spiritual nature. If you would be strong, you must exercise your powers. Exercise faith in God by proving His promises as you take up your cross and lift your burden. Put on the yoke of Christ, and prove His Words that `ye shall find rest unto your souls.' Open the Scriptures to some one that is in darkness, and you will not complain of weariness and lack of interest in the cause of truth. Your heart will be awakened to an anxiety for souls, and joy in the evidences of the faith will fill your heart, and you will know that `he that watereth shall be watered also himself.' With living faith claim the promises of God. RH March 13, 1888; or 2RH 194.
cccIt is the perfect trust, the firm reliance, the steady claiming of the promises of God, the simple faith that He is and that He is a rewarder of all those who diligently seek Him, that prevails with God. 1T 645.
cccIs there some way you can help someone else be happier today? Perhaps it's sending a card, making a phone call, giving yourself in friendship, telling someone you care, or sharing the truths of salvation. Joy comes as we seek the good of others and give away what God has given us. What will you give away today?
cccNot what we have, but what we give,
cccNot what we see, but how we live---
cccThese are the things that build and bless,
cccthat lead to human happiness. Anonymous.
cccFather, we pray and thank You for giving each of us an inspired formula for happiness. For each of us to nurture this happiness, we simply ask for a clean heart, for a right spirit, for saving faith, for increasing trust in Christ, and for Your will to be done in our lives - - day by day - - one day at a time. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
God bless you!
Your friend and brother in Christ,
Pastor Michael O. Hodges
FORERUNNER, self-supporting ministries
Pastor Michael O. Hodges
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