Published 1/13/2009

Paul's Epistle...
"Be Happy"

"Happy New Year!"

That's something you hear a lot this time of the year. Of all the things we could wish someone for the year ahead, we traditionally have chosen to wish them "happiness." We could wish them "healthy new year!" Or we could wish them a "blessed new year." Or we could wish them a "prosperous new year." But tradition has settled on the term "happy." And, actually, I guess that encompasses those other things anyway.

We all want to be happy. The founders of our country considered "happiness" to be one of the ultimate objectives of life. In fact, they included "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as among the "unalienable rights" of humanity in the Declaration of Independence. And, according to that document, where did these rights come from? No, not the government. Jefferson wrote that "all men" are "endowed" with them "by their Creator."

So.... our "happiness" comes from God. Let's see what He has to say about it in Scripture...

Psalms 144:15 tells us "happy is that people whose God is the Lord." Recent polls seem to confirm that. Christians always rank higher in the "happiness" category than do non-Christians.

Perhaps Psalms 146:5 explains why that's so. "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help..." So we can be happy because God is our helper 末 He helps us through whatever life can throw at us.

That same verse from Psalms says something else: "Happy is he....whose hope is in the Lord his God." Christians can have the kind of "hope" that no one else can have. That's why you see so much hopelessness around you among non-believers. But our "hope" is very real. And that includes what is referred to in Titus 2:13 as the Christian's "blessed hope" 末 the "glorious appearing" 末 the return of Christ for his own. (Maybe it'll happen in this new year!)

As I did a computer search of Scripture for the word "happy," only one instance came up in "red." You know what that means 末 they were words spoken by Christ. They're found in John, chapter 13. Jesus had called together His disciples for what we've come to call the "last supper." To the shock of some (especially Peter) Christ washed His disciples' feet, something never done by the honored guest. But He told them that if He (whom they had called "teacher and Lord") would do such a thing for the others, then so they should do such acts of humility for each other. Christ said he had given them an example, "that you should do as I have done to you."

And then He said it: "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them." (John 13:17.)

This reminded me of a list the late Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ) once gave. He called it "ten rules for happiness." Here they are:

  1. Give something away to someone (with no strings attached).
  2. Do a kindness to someone (and forget it).
  3. Spend a few minutes with the aged (their experience is a priceless guidance).
  4. Look intently into the face of a baby (and marvel).
  5. Laugh often (it is life's lubricant).
  6. Give thanks to the Lord (a thousand times a day is not enough).
  7. Pray (or you will lose the way).
  8. Work (with vim and vigor). ["Vim" means "robust energy and enthusiasm."]
  9. Plan as though you'll live forever (because you will).
  10. Live as though you'll die tomorrow (because your body will, on some tomorrow).

Who knows what lies ahead in 2009?

Will we 末 individually and collectively 末 make it through the year?

Will there be more terror attacks? The Biblical response to that one is in 1 Peter 3, dealing with the way we look at such things. The Scripture says, "the face of the Lord is against those who do evil... do not be afraid of their threats [KJV uses the word "terror"], nor be troubled."

Will there be more storms that devastate whole regions?

Will there be "storms" in our personal lives? A few years ago the Talley Trio had a very popular song that addressed this. Here are some of the lyrics:

Sometimes I feel like the storms of life
Are gonna blow me away.
But I don't despair, I just say a little prayer;
You make it a brighter day.

And the chorus says,

I'm Happy with you, Lord.... I hope you're happy with me.

As Christians we know we can be happy in the Lord. Our job 末 our goal 末 our pleasure 末 is to live our lives in such a way that the Lord is happy with us.

- Paul

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