Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God. Psalm 146:5.
Your only safety and happiness are in making Christ your constant counselor. You can be happy in Him if you had not another friend in the wide world. Your feelings of unrest and homesickness or loneliness may be for your good. Your heavenly Father means to teach you to find in Him the friendship and love and consolation that will satisfy your most earnest hopes and desires….
Do not be overanxious about anything. Go quietly about your duty which the day brings you. Do the best you can; ask God to be your helper…. Feel every day, “I am doing my work for God. I am not living for myself, to glorify myself, but to glorify God.” Oh, trust in Jesus and not in your own heart! Cast your burden and yourself upon Him. If you feel no joy, no consolation, do not be discouraged. Hope and believe. You may have a precious experience in the things of God. Wrestle with your discouragements and doubts until you gain the victory over them in Jesus’ name. Do not encourage grief, despondency, and darkness…. Repose in the broad, sure promises of God. Rest in these promises, without a doubt.
I have seen that those who live for a purpose, seeking to benefit and bless their fellow men and to honor and glorify their Redeemer, are the truly happy ones on the earth, while the man who is restless, discontented, and seeking this and testing that, hoping to find happiness, is always complaining of disappointment. He is always in want, never satisfied, because he lives for himself alone. Let it be your aim to do good, to act your part in life faithfully.
Find time to comfort some other heart, to bless with a kind, cheering word someone who is battling with temptation and maybe with affliction. In thus blessing another with cheering, hopeful words, pointing him to the Burden Bearer, you may unexpectedly find peace, happiness, and consolation yourself.
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness. Psalm 30:11.
Many who are seeking for happiness will be disappointed in their hopes, because they seek it amiss. True happiness is not to be found in selfish gratification, but in the path of duty. God desires man to be happy, and for this reason He gave him the precepts of His law, that in obeying these he might have joy at home and abroad. While he stands in his moral integrity, true to principle, having the control of all his powers, he cannot be miserable. With its tendrils entwined about God, the soul will flourish amid unbelief and depravity. But many who are constantly looking forward for happiness fail to receive it, because, by neglecting to discharge the little duties and observe the little courtesies of life, they violate the principles upon which happiness depends.
The currents of spiritual life must not become stagnant. The water of the living fountain should be in us, a well of water springing up into everlasting life, and sweeping away the selfishness of the natural heart…. Many build up barriers between themselves and Jesus so that His love cannot flow into their hearts, and then they complain that they do not see the Sun of Righteousness. Let them forget self and live for Jesus, and the light of Heaven will bring gladness to their souls….
The fact that Jesus died to bring happiness and heaven within our reach should be a theme for constant gratitude. The beauty spread before us in God’s created works, as an expression of His love, should bring gladness to our hearts. We open to ourselves the floodgates of woe or joy. If we permit our thoughts to be engrossed with the troubles and trifles of earth, our hearts will be filled with unbelief, gloom, and foreboding. If we set our affections on things above, the voice of Jesus will speak peace to our souls; murmurings will cease; vexing thoughts will be lost in praise to our Redeemer. Those who dwell upon God’s great mercies, and are not unmindful of His lesser gifts, will put on the girdle of gladness, and make melody in their hearts to the Lord.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. Hosea 6:3.
We may think we understand something about the truth and the Bible, but the revelation of truth is much beyond anything that our finite vision can comprehend. Christ leads us. When we are caught up to meet Him, and enter through the pearly gates into the city of God, He leads us by the living waters, and all the time He is educating and talking with us about things that He would have opened to our understanding upon the earth if we could have borne it. But we do not walk fast enough. We take too many back steps. We do not advance heavenward; therefore the light that would have come in glorious rays, could not come to us because we were not prepared for it. We take a step back into the world, to the gratifications of earth, and then we take a step toward heaven, and then we take a step back, and then we take a step toward heaven.
If you follow on to know the Lord, you shall know that His goings forth are prepared as the morning. You know the morning light first breaks upon us in a very dim light, and then increases and increases in brightness until the king of the day marches in the heavens in all his glory, in all his beauty…. Now if God’s glory were to shine first upon us as He wants to let it shine, we could not endure it…. That is just why Christ came in humanity. We could not have borne Him if He had come in all His glory….
Now if we will follow on, and if we will not backslide a step or two every now and then, and have to gather up our forces and go on—it is better to gather up our forces than to remain in a backslidden condition and keep on backsliding, but I wish that we did not lose so much time and so much strength—we may know more of God and more of heaven, and become better acquainted with the precious truth and the rich blessings that God has for us if we will only comprehend them. He has prepared wonderful things for us
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3.
To comprehend and enjoy God is the highest exercise of the powers of man. This may be attained only when our affections are sanctified and ennobled by the grace of Christ…. In Christ was the brightness of His Father’s glory, the express image of His person. Said our Saviour, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” John 14:9. In Christ is the life of the soul. In the outgoings of our hearts to Him, in our earnest, affectionate yearnings for His excellence, in our eager searching into His glory, we find life. In communion with Him we eat the bread of life.
When we allow objects of minor importance to absorb our attention, to the forgetfulness of Christ, turning away from Him to accept other companionship, we set our feet in a path which leads away from God and from heaven. Christ must be the central object of our affections, and then we shall live in Him, then we shall have His spirit….
What constitutes the brightness of heaven? In what will consist the happiness of the redeemed? Christ is all in all. They will gaze with rapture unutterable upon the Lamb of God. They will pour out their songs of grateful praise and adoration to Him whom they loved and worshiped here. That song they learned and began to sing on earth. They learned to put their trust in Jesus while they were forming characters for heaven. Their hearts were attuned to His will here. Their joy in Christ will be proportioned to the love and trust which they learned to repose in Him here.
God must be ever in our thoughts. We must hold converse with Him while we walk by the way, and while our hands are engaged in labor. In all the purposes and pursuits of life we must inquire, What will the Lord have me to do? How shall I please Him who has given His life a ransom for me? Thus may we walk with God, as did Enoch of old; and ours may be the testimony which he received, that he pleased God.
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:1.
What a grand theme this is for contemplation—the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ! Contemplating Christ and His righteousness leaves no room for self-righteousness, for the glorifying of self. In this chapter there is no standstill. There is continual advancement in every stage in the knowledge of Christ….
In God we are to glory. The prophet says, “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth.” Jeremiah 9:23, 24….
We have been called to the knowledge of Christ, and that is to the knowledge of glory and virtue. It is a knowledge of the perfection of the divine character, manifested to us in Jesus Christ, that opens up to us communion with God…. Scarcely can the human mind comprehend what is the breadth and depth and height of the spiritual attainments that can be reached by becoming partakers of the divine nature.
I long to address the young men and women who are so willing to reach only cheap standards. O that the Lord might influence their minds to see what perfection of character is! O that they might know the faith that works by love, and purifies the soul! We are living in days of peril. Christ alone can help us and give us the victory. Christ must be all in all to us; He must dwell in the heart; His life must circulate through us, as the blood circulates through the veins. His Spirit must be a vitalizing power that will cause us to influence others to become Christlike and holy.
If our youth would take heed to the rules laid down in this chapter, and practice them, what an influence they would exert on the side of right!
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. Hebrews 7:26.
The character of Christ was one of unexampled excellence, embracing everything pure, true, lovely, and of good report. We have no knowledge of His ever visiting a party of pleasure or a dance hall, and yet He was the perfection of grace and courtly bearing. Christ was no novice; He was distinguished for the high intellectual powers He possessed even in the morning of His life. His youth was not wasted in indolence, neither was it wasted in sensual pleasure, self-indulgence, or frittered away in things of no profit. Not one of His hours from childhood to manhood was misspent, none were misappropriated….
Jesus was sinless and had no dread of the consequences of sin. With this exception His condition was as yours. You have not a difficulty that did not press with equal weight upon Him, not a sorrow that His heart has not experienced. His feelings could be hurt with neglect, with indifference of professed friends, as easily as yours. Is your path thorny? Christ’s was so in a tenfold sense. Are you distressed? So was He. How well fitted was Christ to be an example! …
The Inspired Record says of Him: “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:52. As He grew in years He grew in knowledge. He lived temperately; His precious hours were not wasted in dissipating pleasures. He had a truly healthy body and true powers of mind. The physical and mental powers could be expanded and developed as yours or any other youth’s. The Word of God was His study, as it should be yours.
Take Jesus as your standard. Imitate His life. Fall in love with His character. Walk as Christ walked. A new spring will be given to your intellectual faculties, a large scope to your thoughts, when you bring your powers into vigorous contact with eternal things which are intrinsically grand and great.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Looking unto Jesus, dwelling upon His virtues, mercies, and purity will create in the soul an utter abhorrence for that which is sinful, and an intense longing and thirsting for righteousness. The more closely we discern Jesus, the more will we see our own defects of character: then confess these things to Jesus and with true contrition of soul co-operate with the divine power, the Holy Spirit, to put these things away.
It is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, which Jesus said He would send into the world, that changes our character into the image of Christ; and when this is accomplished, we reflect, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord. That is, the character of the one who thus beholds Christ is so like His, that one looking at him sees Christ’s own character shining out as from a mirror. Imperceptibly to ourselves we are changed day by day from our own ways and will into the ways and will of Christ, into the loveliness of His character. Thus we grow up into Christ, and unconsciously reflect His image.
It is not by looking away from Him that we imitate the life of Jesus, but by talking of Him, by dwelling upon His perfections, by seeking to refine the taste and elevate the character, by trying, through faith and love, and by earnest, persevering effort, to approach the perfect Pattern. By having a knowledge of Christ—His words, His habits and His lessons of instruction—we borrow the virtues of the character we have so closely studied, and become imbued with the spirit we have so much admired. Jesus becomes to us “the chiefest among ten thousand,” the One “altogether lovely.”
When the soul is brought into close relationship with the great Author of light and truth, impressions are made upon it revealing its true position before God. Then self will die, pride will be laid low, and Christ will draw His own image in deeper lines upon the soul.
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Hebrews 3:1.
I present before you the great Exemplar…. As really did He meet and resist the temptations of Satan as any of the children of humanity. In this sense alone could He be a perfect example for man. He subjected Himself to humanity to become acquainted with all the temptations wherewith man is beset. He took upon Him the infirmities and bore the sorrows of the sons of Adam.
He was “made like unto his brethren.” Hebrews 2:17. He felt both joy and grief as they feel. His body was susceptible to weariness, as yours. His mind, like yours, could be harassed and perplexed. If you have hardships, so did He. Satan could tempt Him. His enemies could annoy Him. The ruling powers could torture His body; the soldiers could crucify Him; and they can do no more to us. Jesus was exposed to hardships, to conflict and temptation, as a man. He became the Captain of our Salvation through suffering. He could bear His burden better than we, for He bore it without complaint, without impatience, without unbelief, without repining; but this is no evidence He felt it less than any of the suffering sons of Adam….
The period of His childhood and youth was one of comparative obscurity, but of the highest importance. He was in this obscurity laying the foundation of a sound constitution and vigorous mind. He “grew, and waxed strong in spirit.” Luke 1:80. It is not as a man bending under the pressure of age that Jesus is revealed to us traversing the hills of Judea. He was in the strength of His manhood. Jesus once stood in age just where you now stand. [This extract is from a letter to a young man.] Your circumstances, your cogitations at this period of your life, Jesus has had. He cannot overlook you at this critical period. He sees your dangers. He is acquainted with your temptations. He invites you to follow His example.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. Matthew 14:27.
I think of the disciples in that sore tempest; the boat labored with strong winds and heavy gales. They have given up their efforts as hopeless, and while the hungry waves talk with death, amid the storm a light form is seen walking upon the foam-capped billows…. A voice is heard amid the roar of the tempest, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”
Oh, how many in this time of peril, are making a hard pull against a head sea! The moon and stars seem to be hidden by storm clouds, and in despondency and despair, many of us say, “It is no use; our efforts are as nothing. We shall perish. We have toiled at the oars, but without any success”…. Jesus is just as near to us amid scenes of tempest and trial as He was to His followers who were tossed on the Sea of Galilee. We must have calm, steady, firm, unwavering trust in God…. We must now have an individual experience in holding fast unto God. Christ is on board the vessel. Believe that Christ is our Captain, that He will take care, not only of us, but of the ship….
That night in that boat was to the disciples a school where they were to receive their education for the great work which was to be done afterwards. The dark hours of trial are to come to every one as a part of his education for higher work, for more devoted, consecrated effort. The storm was not sent upon the disciples to shipwreck them, but to test and prove them, individually….
The time of our educating will soon be over. We have no time to lose in walking through clouds of doubt and uncertainty…. We may stand close to the side of Jesus. Let none … shirk one hard lesson or lose the blessing of one hard discipline….
Whatever be our condition in life, our business, we have a sure Guide. Whatever be our condition, He is our counselor. Whatever be our loneliness, He is our friend in whom we may ever trust.
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24.
How few are constantly beholding the unseen Guest, realizing that He is at their right hand! How many ignore His presence! Did we treat others as we treat Jesus, what discourtesy it would be thought!
Suppose a friend were with us, and we should meet an acquaintance on the way and direct our whole attention to our new-found acquaintance, ignoring the presence of our friend, what opinion would men have of our loyalty to our friend, of our degree of respect to him? And yet this is the way we treat Jesus. We forget that He is our companion. We engage in conversation, and never mention His name…. We talk of worldly business matters, and where it does not bruise the soul, where it is essential, we do not dishonor Jesus, but we do dishonor Him when we fail to mention Him in our intercourse with our friends and associates. He is our best friend, and we should seek for opportunities to speak of Him…. We should ever keep Him in view. Our conversation should be of a character that would be of no offense to God.
I know that in many hearts the inquiry arises, “Where shall I find Jesus?” There are many who want His presence, want His love and His light; but they know not where to look for Him for whom their hearts yearn. And yet Jesus does not hide Himself away; no one need search for Him in vain. “Behold,” He says, “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20. Jesus invites us to accept His presence; we are to open the door of the heart, and let Him in. But He will not share a divided heart. If it be given to the service of mammon, if selfishness and pride fill its chambers, there will be no room for the heavenly Guest; He will not take up His abode with us until the soul-temple has been emptied and cleansed. Yet there is no need of making a failure in the Christian life. Jesus is waiting to do a great work for us, and all heaven is interested in our salvation.