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True Happiness Is Not A Secret

By Henry Nelson



  Colossians 1:10 to, “Live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”  If the mythical man or woman in the street was asked what he or she longed for most, I expect the answer, in many cases, would be “happiness”. Jesus had something to say about this in His Sermon on the Mount when He said in Matthew 5:3-5, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek the merciful and the pure in heart”. Theirs is the secret of true happiness. Amen!The Bible has only one message. It’s repeated over and over again. Like the old preacher said: “First I tell them what I’m going to tell them, then I tell them, I tell them what I’ve told them.” Repetition is a great teaching aid. The message is told in a variety of ways in the history of nations, the personal stories of men and women, in poetry and parable. It uses pictures, illustrations anything to bring the truth home to us. But when it is all summed up, there is really only one theme. {{more}}What is true happiness? It is the relationship of humanity to God and what God has done about us and for our salvation. It teaches a definite philosophy, a view of life we can either accept or reject. The whole story of civilization is a quest for happiness and fulfillment. There are many prescriptions on offer for this Utopia but they are doomed to failure if they leave out the most important factor and that’s God in your life. There are so many that have taken this route in life and it ends in tragedy and cynicism. Shakespeare got it right when one of his characters asked “What is life? It is nothing but, “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying – nothing!”’ Biographies of great personalities at the end of their lives often reveal sadness and disillusionment as they face an unknown future if they have no assurance of peace with God. How sad! In a few well-chosen words the First Psalm sketches out two sharply contrasting pictures. The first is of a happy and blessed man. The second is of a man whose life ends in dismal failure. It presents a fundamental choice in the search for happiness. It puts it like this: “You are confronted by two alternatives and only two. There is the way of God and the way of Satan.” Here in this Psalm there’s a good man, a godly man, a righteous man. And then there’s the ungodly, the wicked. There’s a right way and a wrong way, the positive and the negative. The strange thing in life is that if you seek happiness as an end in itself you will never find it; it will always escape you. It is like a child catching a soap bubble he thinks he has got it, then it bursts and it is gone and there is nothing left. It is also like a traveler in a desert seeing a mirage of an oasis he travels towards it only to find it disappears! True happiness the Bible says,, depends upon two things only. The first is our relationship with God, and the second depends on what we really are, not what happens to us. That is the secret. Christian are not exempt from temptation and must constantly be on guard against the subtle snares of the evil one. It is so easy to slip up and let our Lord down in thought, word or deed. Then there are those who “sit in the seat of mockers.” They are people who laugh at religion, who joke over the sacred, who scoff at morality and decency. People enjoy it and are entertained by it instead of becoming ashamed and convicted. The world finds this very clever and witty but it is a symptom of those who have rejected the law of God as the guiding principle of life.There seems to be a downward progression in what the Psalmist portrays. The ungodly, he says, start “walking with the wicked”, then become more identified with them, “standing with sinners” but now totally involved “sitting with the scoffers.” It is a picture of the increasing grip that sin has, until a person becomes utterly paralyzed by evil. This is not a popular doctrine, but one that Jesus taught. He made it clear that within the soil of every man’s heart there lie buried the ugly seeds of every conceivable sin. It is what we read about in the newspapers every day. It does not say actually do them but are not you guilty of thinking them? These “evil things” come out of the heart of every man. This is Jesus Christ’s estimate of fallen human nature. What a sad picture! “The ungodly are like the chaff that the wind blows away.” God does not judge by appearance; it’s not what a person does, it’s what he or she is. The Apostle Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 5:17 it’s becoming “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come in.” Amen! It’s a picture of mankind.   Knowledge has increased by leaps and bounds in harnessing the resources of creation. But there’s one thing that has not changed and that is the heart of man. Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town, said famously, “When missionaries came to South Africa, they had the Bible and the Africans had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land!” What a dark sketch of mankind in a state of unforgiven sin! A person becomes a Christian by faith in Jesus, trusting in His atoning sacrifice on the Cross. Just as a tree cannot plant itself, so a person becomes a Christian, not by doing good or trying to improve oneself, but by God’s action of planting His Spirit in us as we come to Him in repentance and faith. It’s a positive action by both God and the believer.What is the function of a tree? It is to bring forth fruit. A tree has got the potential for productivity. When you are converted to Christ, born again of His Spirit, you are restored, you are renewed, to what God intended human beings to be. It is now our responsibility under God to live a life governed by truth, a life based on His revealed standards. It is not what label we give ourselves, but what we are in God’s sight. Mere religion, as opposed to Christianity, can often lead to a change in behavior, working from the outside in. True Christian discipleship works from the inside out. Jesus taught that true disciples as opposed to the false would be recognized by their fruit.” This is often evidenced by deeds of kindness, mercy and compassion. The Psalms also refers to what the godly person holds dear and is high on their list of priorities: “his delight is in the law of the Lord.” The Scriptures must ever be our resource for finding how we should live in the light of God’s standards. The Psalmist says the secret of true happiness is a daily experience “day and night” of fellowship with God. The biblical writer all had an urgent message, whether to nations or individuals. The Psalmist, like Jesus many years later, tells us: The obtaining of true happiness is not only for this life; it goes on even into the next world. It is a happiness that can survive meeting the last enemy. The Bible proclaims that death is not the end. This is only a temporary world and after our journey here is over, there is a day of reckoning with our Maker. One of Shakespeare’s characters speaks of the dread that the ungodly have: “… the undiscovered country from which no traveler returns.” The Psalmist is convinced that the only person, who is truly blessed and happy, is the one who has catered for this life and what lies beyond it: “For the Lord watches over the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Here we have two starkly contrasted destinies. The Christian, who trusts in nothing but salvation through faith in Jesus, is pictured as an evergreen tree planted by rivers of water. This is truly a happy person. It is a picture of vitality, fruitfulness and eternal life. On the other hand, there is the ungodly who discovers that instead of standing secure like a tree planted by streams of water at the end of life, he or she is like chaff, spiritually dead, insecure and without hope at the last day. The choice is yours. Now you know that true happiness is only found in Jesus. Amen!  

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