FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
True Happiness According to the Scriptures
Happy is the man who finds, and the man who gains understanding . . . . her ways are the ways of pleasantness, and all her ways are peace . . . .and happy are all who retain her. (see Proverbs 3: 13-18, NKJV.)
HAPPY NEW YEAR! But how do we make this really happen? Is there fail-proof formula? By what metric do we measure this specific happiness’ index? In what meaningful sense will 2018 really be new? How did we start it beginning New Year’s Eve, i.e., by sunset of January 31 of the 1017?
Was it “peaceful and quiet with family members,” as the pleasant pharmacy tech at Loma Linda Community Pharmacy told me yesterday or like the world celebrates with a super-boosted adrenaline trip from a sugar high and other popular boosters through to past midnight, winding up with a nasty headache and a downer “rainy days and Mondays” feeling —into the very first day of the New Year? “A journey of a thousand miles [or a year] begins with the first step.”
This is the first Preparation day Friday of 2018. I can’t let this opportunity pass—such as heightened moments of expectation (forecasting good or foreboding ill) that a new calendar year invariably presents at its outset—to share Scripture-based thoughts that might help shape our outlook and attitudes towards making 2018 happier than 2017, spiritually that is, thus a Christian reality, regardless of how antithetical to our brightest hopes and expectations the year may eventually pan out. We can have, or imagine having all the happiness that “the world and the things of this world” that Satan tempts us with, but not “the peace that passeth understanding” which Jesus alone can give. Evil is not the same as suffering sorrow, pain, or tribulation for righteousness’ sake. The former is a curse; the latter a great blessing as purifiers of the dross in our character perfection process that the gold may remain. The process ends when Christ’s image is perfectly reflected in the moral character.
Isn’t this what most everyone actually means and hopes for in the greeting, “Happy New Year?”
Such positive expectations are not hollow shells but are substantive and abiding, embodied and embedded in the universal principles of the real-world verities of growth, maturation, development, and process—over time, the lasting ones, over a lifetime such as sanctification. This lifetime metric can be anywhere for a year since our genuine conversion, or reconversion or threescore and ten and beyond, for a blessed few.
However, life and our individual worlds can change in an instant; our fortunes turn in a moment, both clichés yet never deteriorate into irrelevance. It happens in every generation and to everyone regardless of station in life. No matter how smartly and intensely we prepare for the future, focusing on the unexpected and emergency in nature such as man-made disasters, upheavals of nature—violent storms, devastating earthquakes, drought, tsunamis, pandemics, and even another “ice-age” caused by a giant meteorite crashing into earth, etc., (now relying more on the quantum advance of information by digital tech phenomenon, and, in overconfidence begin to believe we are—as finite mortals we can’t precisely predict what happens next, not even the next minute, much less the year year—already depleted by almost a week. Too fast!
Only the Infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Godhead and our invisible guardian angels, created as “ministering spirits.” Lest we forget: Jesus Christ’s mission on earth included revealing the invisible Father and His character to fallen man and his sin-corrupted mind and eyes. Only by eternally incarnating into human flesh and blood nature could Christ “through whom, by whom, and for whom” the world was created,” and “upholds the worlds by the word of His power,” “the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” the “express image of the Father” whom God the Father Himself addresses as God,” could do this. Man beheld God, His character glory and glimpses of His lumen glory, without dying for “God dwelleth in light unapproachable”and “God is a spirit” and “no man hath seen the Father but the Son of His bosom,” do this.
Angels assure our safety and happiness
In the past and even today the Scriptures as well as authenticated accounts of faithful and grateful people the world over, attest of these invisible angel-spirits that excel in strength, taking on the form of human beings, leading people to safety, accepting their offers of hospitality, preparing food for starving, plighted pilgrims, delivering them from certain death by overwhelming military might—all in accordance God’s divine specific will for His people at that time, place, and circumstance.
Yes, it takes only one mighty angel do the impossible. The Sacred Record says in one short night’s work: “The angel of the Lord God slew 145,000 “mighty men of valor and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria” (2 Chron. 32: 21) during Hezekiah’s reign as king of Judah—he of the double-miracle fame of a 15-year life-extension from a terminal disease, accompanied by the rationally-impossible 10-degree recession of the shadow on the sundial. And the inspired writer says God can dispatch a host of angels to deliver us from evil. Their work, particularly for the living saints during the “time of trouble such as never was” after the close of earth’s probation, will be to fulfill God’s promise that: “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up with their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Ps. 91: 11, 12, N.K.JV.
In His temptation in the Wilderness, Satan employed his greatest “subtility” to cause Jesus to fail the gospel plan by the second temptation of presumption by craftily leaving out the portion of the previous promise “to keep you in all your ways,” though he mentioned by whom—“the angels.” Matt. 4: 6, 7. But from childhood in His incarnated nature Jesus begun to learn the very Scripture He gave to the Bible writers from His mother, Mary, and then studying them on His own before beginning His ministry. We are never to grieve them away or do anything under the corrupted idea of “trusting brinkmanship” and locate ourselves where we cannot invite them to join us and protect us—even if we think such a place or person makes us “happy.” Such happiness is ephemeral, fleeting, and turns to dust and ashes. This is, as David says, “the transgression of presumption” (Ps. 19: 13). Nothing more quickly inspires faith than exercising faith but not presumption—the counterfeit of faith!
“If we would live a true Christian life [this year], the conscience must be quickened by constant contact with the Word of God. All the precious things which at infinite cost God has provided for us, will do us no good; they cannot strengthen us and produce spiritual growth [this new year] unless we appropriate them. We must eat the Word of God—make it a part of ourselves.” – E. G. White, Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 195.
This is what the strong-man Samson demanded of his poor father regarding his first Philistine wife: “Get her for me for she pleases me well.” Judges 14: 3. Read the rest the gripping story after story. As the poet says, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” If this be truly the case then there are many fools among us, in the world, especially in “the high places of the earth.”
God’s unfailing promises
All of the divine promises are conditional as each one comes as a complete package that includes promise-specific provisions—all preceded, empowered by and often referred to as God’s grace, truly making it amazing—so amazing that when understood as Paul defined it as “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1: 5, 16) and appropriated as they should, results in amazing transformations in the face of overwhelming odds—from nature or nurture or both! The greatest of all miracles is the transformation of the human heart. When this happens, all kinds of genuine miracles follow in its train, especially overcoming inherited tendencies to evil (which is not sin itself until yielded to and indulged by counterfeit justification), all sins from public, secret, and the unknown—the latter revealed in the sanctifying, most-holy-place experience spelled out in the sanctuary doctrine explaining in fine detail the plan of redemption. We are all sinners by nature. But not all are wicked. The repentant sinners are called “saints.” They are happy while the wicked have “happiness” but no peace!
Have you familiarized yourself with it? If not, 2018 is the “high time to awake out of sleep for now is our salvation nearer than we first believed” (Rom. 13: 11) and buckle down to “redeeming the time for the days are evil” (Eph. 5:6). How can we redeem time when we can’t bring back a second of earth-time that has passed on to eternity? By making the best of whatever remains! That’s how kind, merciful, and long-suffering our mighty Savior is! But it must be making the best, not the least, meaning, making Christ first, last and best in everything. This account to a large degree why many promises claimed “by faith” are not fulfilled: the claimants willfully choose to ignore or bypass the provisions for its accomplishment through “many human inventions” (Eccl. 7: 29)—none of which will pass muster and excuse such willful ignorance nor invalidate God’s expressed will regarding the matter. “He changeth not” as man do. Here’s a classic example of conditional angelic protection and deliverance (emphasis mine):
“The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him (the Lord) and delivereth them.” Ps 34: 7, K.J.V.
Who is this Lord? The only One who can give life, health, health, wealth, and happiness forevermore—“The Lord of the Sabbath,” Matt. 12: 8; Mark; 2: 27, 28; Luke 6: 5. Christ Himself is also reverently addressed as The Angel of His presence” (Isa. 63: 9); “Michael,” or “Archangel,” His title when referred to as Commander-in-chief of the angelic hosts (Dan. 10: 13, 21; Jude 9; Rev. 12: 7-9.The gospel-prophet introduces Him to all mankind, as: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father<The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isa. 9: 6.
Intemperance the enemy of health and true happiness
Paul admonishes us, for our own health and happiness: “Therefore, whether [whatsoever] you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10: 31. He lists temperance as the 9th of fruits of the Spirit. Gal. 5: 22, 23. Temperance is self-control. Its antonyms are intemperance; lack of or no control. The world’s definition is, “A little won’t hurt.” Reaaaally? What about cumulative effect? And development of habits? And the law of diminishing returns? And increasing thresholds of tolerance? And ascending, or descending ladders and stairs “one step at a time?” Or “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”? Or “Little leaks sink a ship”? Or “The little foxes that spoil the vine”? etc. You get the point. All it takes is a point, not points or pounds. Progressively losing weight one pound at a time, and waistline one inch at a time is far better than trying to lose 10 in a week. Abnormal.
“True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful, and to use judiciously that which is healthful.”- Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 562. A blessed, peaceful and spiritually progressive new year—is my wish and prayer to all the readers.
(Continued next week)