Happiness and Joy
Happiness According to God by Bryan Gibson
Happiness is Being Popular ... Or Is It? by Bryan Gibson
Young People: You Can Obey God and Still Have a Good Time by Bryan Gibson
What Is Your Philosophy of Life? by Bryan Gibson
Profile of a Faithful Christian: Some Basic Character Traits by Bryan Gibson
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Happiness—According to God
by Bryan Gibson
Our ideas of happiness don’t always agree with God’s. Let’s look at who should be the happiest people in the world, according to God.
One whose God is the Lord
“Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” (Psalms 144:15). Those who worship and serve the one true God should be the happiest people in the world. We serve a God described as our Rock, our Fortress, our Deliverer, our Shield, our Creator, our Judge, our King, our Savior, etc. We sometimes sing, “He is my everything; He is my all.” That is by no means an exaggeration.
One who is reverent
“Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity” (Proverbs 28:14). The truly happy are those who maintain a reverent attitude toward the one true God.
One who finds spiritual wisdom and understanding
“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding…She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her” (Proverbs 3:13, 18). This is not always true with those who gain wisdom and understanding in other areas. They may become “experts” in their chosen field, but their lives may be as miserable as ever. Spiritual wisdom and understanding is what brings lasting happiness.
One who keeps God’s law
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18). “But He said, ‘More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Luke 11:28). It’s not enough to simply learn the word of God; we must obey what we learn.
One who shows mercy
“He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he” (Proverbs 14:21). True happiness does not come from looking out “for #1”; it comes from looking out for others (see also Philippians 2:3-4).
One who can look to God for help
“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help…” (Psalms 146:5). What a blessing it is to be able to obtain help from the Almighty God at any time. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
One who has hope in God
“Happy is he…whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Psalms 146:5). “The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish (Proverbs 10:28).
Happiness Is Being Popular…Or Is It?
by Bryan Gibson
Many people, especially young people, think that happiness is being popular with everyone, or at least with the “in crowd.” On the surface, this does seem to be one of the keys to happiness. After all, everyone wants to be loved and admired. But let’s take a closer look at this popularity thing and see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.
Let’s suppose you have to sacrifice some very important things to be popular, or maybe even do some things that are wrong. Would you be happy then? For example, if a friend of yours comes up and offers you a drink and you take it because you want to be popular with him, can you really be happy about that? Can you feel good deep down inside knowing that you’ve denied Christ? (Matthew 10:32-33). Or what if you decide to use bad language? You can see that it makes people laugh, that it makes you popular with certain people, so you just join right in. Can you really be happy about that, knowing that God doesn’t want you to talk that way?
But let’s just turn those two situations around. Suppose you say no to the drink and refuse to use the bad language. You may have to suffer for it; others may call you bad names, make fun of you, etc.; but you can be happy, because you know you’ve done right. “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake” (Luke 6:22). Do you remember the voice from heaven after Jesus was baptized? “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). You won’t hear a voice from heaven when you do right, but that is exactly how God feels about you. That is when we can truthfully say, “it is well with my soul.”
Consider the following passage from God’s word: “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). These men knew what was right; they knew what they needed to do; but they wouldn’t do it, because being popular with men was more important to them than being popular with God. How could these men be truly happy, when they had refused to do what they knew was right? Do you think Peter was happy, when he denied the Lord three times? Of course, not. The Bible says “he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).
True happiness does not come from giving in and doing that which will please those around us. True happiness comes from doing what is right in God’s eyes. Muster up the courage to do right, and see if doesn’t make you happy too. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). Look at who the “in crowd” is now.
Young People: You Can Obey God, and Still Have A Good Time
by Bryan Gibson
Young people, be advised—the devil is a liar. Jesus said so in John 8:44. One of his biggest lies to young people is that you can’t serve God and enjoy life at the same time. The devil wants you to believe that God has placed too many restrictions on you (see Genesis 3:1-6); that if you want to really “live it up,” you must forsake His commandments.
Please study the following words from 1 Peter 3:10-12: For "He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
Did you see that? To truly “love life” and “see good days,” you must “turn away from evil and do good.” By doing that, you know that God will always be on your side, that His ears will be open to your prayers. Sin does bring pleasure, but this pleasure is quickly passing (Hebrews 11:25). Obedience brings pleasure too, but this kind of pleasure will last throughout eternity (1 John 2:15-17).
Editor’s note: The next two articles do not mention it, but they are, in reality, the keys to true happiness. Consider Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” This begins with a clearly defined philosophy of life, and it comes to fruition when this philosophy is implemented by faithfulness to God through it.
What Is Your Philosophy of Life?
by Bryan Gibson, based on a sermon by John Gibson
Whether you realize it or not, you do have a philosophy of life, and if you intend to be a disciple of Jesus, yours should be the same as His. Let us consider what things mattered most to Him, and therefore they should matter the most to us. His philosophy of life focused on God, and this was demonstrated in several ways.
His purpose in life was to do the Father’s will.
This purpose was seen even at age 12, when his parents found him in the temple, listening and asking questions. He explained what he was doing by saying, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).
Later statements by Jesus demonstrate this same commitment: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 4:34); “I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). Even his prayers reflected this desire: “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
He had great respect for the word of God.
He responded to the temptations of Satan with these familiar words: “it is written” (Matthew 4:1-11). How could He do what Satan said, when God’s word taught otherwise? When presented with controversial religious questions, Jesus settled them with the word of God (see Matthew 19:3-6; 22:29). Rather than give the popular answer, He gave the right one, the one taught in the Scriptures. That’s what someone does when his life is focused on God.
He felt a kinship to those like-minded.
“For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50). Jesus was committed to doing the Father’s will and He felt close to those who had the same commitment.
His philosophy of life was also focused on the needs of others.
His disciples were indeed surprised, when Jesus, their Lord and Teacher (John 13:14), girded Himself with a towel, poured water into a basin and began to wash their feet (John 13:4-5). Jesus taught His disciples that serving others was the path to greatness, and He offered Himself as an example: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Mark 10:42-45). His entire reason for coming to this earth was to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He knew this would involve His own death, but as the Good Shepherd, He was more than willing to lay down His life for His sheep (John 10:15).
So, do you have the same philosophy of life that Jesus had? Are you committed to obeying the Father’s will? Is that your whole purpose in life? If so, it will be seen in the respect you have for God’s word and the affection you feel for those like-minded. Are you committed to the needs of others? How low are you willing to stoop to serve those around you? Do you care about their physical needs, enough to provide them whatever they need? More importantly, do you care about their soul? How much effort will you make to save the souls of those who are lost? Are you truly a disciple of Jesus?
Profile of a Faithful Christian: Some Basic Character Traits
by Bryan Gibson
He loves the Lord, because the Lord first loved him (1 John 4:19). “The Lord loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20) is more than just a memory verse to him. He deeply appreciates what Jesus did for him as his Savior, and what he continues to do as his High Priest (Hebrews 2:16-18; 4:14-16; 1 John 1:8-2:2). He is not like the nine clean lepers who went on about their business; he is the one who returned to say thank you (Luke 17:11-19). His new purpose in life can be summed up by the words of a familiar hymn, “Thou hast bled and died for me; I will henceforth live for Thee” (Jesus Loves Me; see also 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). He is prepared to do whatever the Lord may ask, and to do it cheerfully. Others may find the commandments of the Lord burdensome, but not this man (1 John 5:3).
He fears the Lord, because he knows Him well. He knows that He is perfectly holy, and therefore despises sin (Revelation 15:4; Habakkuk 1:13). He knows Him as the Almighty (Revelation 4:8), as the One who created all things by the “breath of His mouth” (Psalms 33:6). He understands both the goodness and severity of the Lord (Romans 11:22). He is still motivated by love, but his service is also marked by reverence, by trembling and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28; Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Peter 1:17). Because He is in awe of God (Psalms 33:8-9), he is also in awe of God’s word (Psalms 119:61), and so he treats every commandment with the greatest respect (Matthew 5:19). Every warning—every “take heed” or “beware”—issued by the Lord is taken very seriously (Hebrews 11:7). He knows for a fact that the Lord does not make idle threats.
He is humble—for many reasons. When he compares his life to that of his Savior (Ephesians 4:13), he knows he’s got a long way to go. He is further humbled by the knowledge that everything good in His life comes from God (James 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:17), that it is only by the grace of God that he can even draw his next breath (Acts 17:25, 28). Too, he understands that his soul’s salvation was purchased by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19; Acts 20:28). He knows that Jesus paid the debt he was unable to pay, and he knows he didn’t do a thing to deserve it. This man refuses to glory, except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14).
He has faith in God, which is what you would expect from a man of true humility. He realizes how dependent he is on the grace of God, having already being cleansed from his sins when he was buried with Christ in baptism (Colossians 2:11-13). He knows that the grace of God is manifold (1 Peter 4:10), that everything he needs to make his calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10-11) has been provided. He knows he cannot live without the “word of His grace” (Acts 20:32; Matthew 4:4), that he must go daily before the “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), that every time he sins he must go to the “fountain” of grace (Zechariah 13:1; 1 John 1:8-2:2), that he must look forward to the “grace that will be brought to him at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). He is sincere when he sings, “I need Thee every hour”, and, “twas grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.”
He is unselfish. How can he be anything else with what he knows? He has learned from the Lord to deny himself, to put the Father’s will before His own (Matthew 16:24; 26:39). He bears his cross daily, willing to endure whatever hardships may be necessary to follow Jesus and be of service to others (Luke 9:23; 2 Timothy 2:3, 10). He does not indulge in self-pity (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), or in self-glorification (James 3:14; Matthew 23:12), because he has crucified himself. While he may not have it perfected, his aim is to say with Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
He loves others and is deeply concerned about them. Because he is not preoccupied with himself, he is able to give some attention to the needs and interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). His “heart’s desire and prayer” (Romans 10:1) is that all men be saved. He has compassion on the lost, because he sees them as Jesus does—sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
He is also concerned about his brethren, his family in the Lord. Knowing that Jesus laid down His life for him, he is willing to do the same for his brethren (1 John 3:16-18). He wants to help them in any way he can (Galatians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14), but he understands that he needs them as much as they need him (Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25).
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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