Successful Guide for Living

Successful Guide for Living

Scripture: 1 John 1:4, John 13:17, John 10:10
Jesus came to give us an abundant life. The law breaker thinks he is living freely, but is really in bondage. Happiness comes from those who obediently seek to follow the words of Jesus.
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Preparation for New Years on Times Square is a revealing process. The plate glass windows are boarded over, police reinforcements are strategically placed, for intoxicated people and overcrowded conditions make the work of the pick-pocket quite successful. Hotels and bars are filled with pleasure bent humanity. Middle-aged men with receding hair lines, and women far too old for such nonsense, enter into the spirit of the occasion with balloons, horns, noisemakers, crazy hats, etc. Inhibitions removed, and blood fevered with alcohol, this is the way the majority meet the New Year in Times Square.

And yet there is an unchangeable law, "Whatever goes up, comes down" and how hard the bottom is the next morning! That miserable hangover, head like a balloon, and far too often unable to do anything but stay in bed. What fools we mortals be!

Today I wish to assure you that this is not God's idea of happiness, for His plan never leaves a dirty brown taste in your mouth, His plan does not leave you sick and miserable the next morning, neither does His plan leave you with a headache. And yet He does have a plan for you. I want you to remember that the Bible is an integral part of that plan, listen, "These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." 1 John 1:4. Within its pages you will find a reality of living, for there is found a way of life that brings happiness. No wonder Jesus said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." John 13:17. Never forget this vital truth, true happiness comes from right doing. The happy contented individual is the one who has learned these principles of right doing and is practicing them in his life.

Here is revealed one of the basic reasons why Jesus came. He wants you to find that life, He came to show it to you, and that you "might have it more abundantly." John 10:10. From the very beginning of His creation, He instituted certain basic, fundamental regulations to protect man's happiness. The same is true today. The happiest individual today is not the law-breaker, but the law-abiding citizen. Freedom comes with obedience, and it is the breaking of the law that leads to incarceration. The happy child is the child who has been taught obedience. Among such, delinquency has found no fertile ground in which to develop. Many times, life itself depends on how well the child learned obedience. Recently I heard the story of a little fellow who wandered from the parked car onto the busy highway as his parents were unloading it for a picnic. The father saw him just as cars were bearing down from opposite directions. He spoke just two words, "Charlie, stop" and little Charlie literally froze in the middle of that road as cars passed on both sides. He did not turn and say, "Why Daddy?" His obedience was immediate, and his life was saved.

I repeat the words of Jesus, "I come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10. He made us and therefore knows just how to give us the very best conditions for the more abundant life. We need some sort of a yardstick, something to measure ourselves by. Let us call it a standard of right-doing. And here He has not failed us. He has given us His standard of righteousness. Here it is, "For all Thy commandments are righteousness." Psalm 119:172. Here is our yardstick of that which is wrong and that which is right! In other words, to use a simple illustration, it is a mirror in which you can look and see wherein you need cleansing. Scripture uses this thought: "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed (doing)." James 1:25.

And now let us look at this, or "look into" this perfect law, to use the words of James. It stands before you as God's mirror. Do not be just a hearer (or looker) but an obedient doer, for the promise is that you "shall be blessed in your doing." This is one of the basic ways God has for bringing real happiness. One of the unchangeable laws of the universe is that disobedience has brought misery, pain, and death. God's particular name for this disobedience is sin. It is defined by Him as the "transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4. Therefore this mirror (law) as you look into it will reveal the blemishes, the "sin" in your own character, and thereby reveal just where the cleansing gospel of grace must be applied. It (sin) brings a terrible end. "The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23. In other words humanity is in death row. But God in His love, made provision whereby we need not stay there, for our text continues, "But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." He says, I paid the penalty, that you might leave death row and all you must do is accept it. In just a few words, my friend, this is how you pass from death to life! With what meaning we understand now, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:14.

Saved from death row by the grace of Christ, what a wonderful gift! No longer condemned, my sins are now washed away, and my conscience is free! What relief! What freedom from guilt! What love! Now the meaning of Christs words are sharp and clear, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

But wait, I have a very important question to ask you, Does the saving grace of Christ give you license to break His law from now on? Have you ever heard it said that once a person has been "saved by grace" he no longer needs to keep the law? I have heard this many times. God knew such would be taught in this time, so He inspired the writer of Romans to add that next verse 15, listen: "What then? shall we sin, (transgress or break the law) because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid!"

My friend, the grace of Christ takes a law-breaking, lost sinner, and makes him into a law-keeping, obedient child of God. And thus it is that law and grace meet at the cross! Oh what misery, sorrow and woe we are reaping today because man has turned his back on God's law, and thus turned away from the "more abundant" way of life! Here lies the root of our ills. In the words of Miss Charlotte Noland, headmistress of Foxcroft, "Morals have dropped at least 75%" during the years she has worked for girls. More than half her girls today come from broken homes. In her characteristic way she says, "It might be nice for a change to go back to the old idea of bringing children up, not down!" The only real guide to 20th Century living is God's guide! It works in this modern age equally as well as in any other age.

Let us look at these hearts of ours for a moment. I may think, Well, I am not such a bad fellow after all. I am just as good as any of my neighbors. I could go on patting myself on the back for a long time, it feels good! But I am brought up with a start when I remember, God says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9. Could it be that I do not know my own heart? Could it be that I am deceived? Yes! And the worst kind of deceit is, self deceit! And the moment that I realize this, and humbly pray with David, "Create in me a clean heart O God; and renew a right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10. That is the key, "a right spirit", then it is that I really pass from death unto life!

Once a wealthy and well-educated young man came to Jesus with the question, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" The Master answered, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Then this young ruler asked, "Which?" And the Master proceeded to quote from the ten commandments, "Thou shalt do no murder, nor steal, nor bear false witness, honor your parents," etc. Immediately came the rejoinder, "I've done all these things ... what lack I yet?" Oh, that young man with all of his wealth and all of his religion did not know his own heart! The Master did not call him a liar. No. But His next statement put the finger on the sore, the weak spot. There was something he loved more than God. Jesus said, "If you would be perfect, go sell what you have, give it to the poor, then come and follow me" (see Matthew 19). That young man went away sorrowful, for he had great wealth!

No, he did not know his own heart. He had lots of religion and outward form, but it was dead! Ask yourself, could it be that I don't know my own heart either? How deceptive it is! But never forget there is one who does know that heart of yours. He knows just what it needs. And that is the Master. He says: "Behold, 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. You may have never let Him in before, but I can promise you that when you do, things begin to happen! Out goes the evil and in come the good; out goes the sin, and in comes love; out goes that temper and in comes patience; out goes hate and in comes compassion; out goes suspicion and in comes warmth and happiness; out goes the feelings of guilt and in comes a clear conscience!

Thus it is that the very principles of God's law, up to this time written on cold stone, spring to life within your heart. This too was promised long ago: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws in their hearts, and in their minds will I write them." Hebrews 10:16. See now how it is that He "renews that right spirit within us?" It is a new spirit! Now "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8.

Then, and only then, will true happiness come into your life. With past sins forgiven the conscience no longer is heavy. With Him indwelling within you, and writing there in your life the very principles of happiness and obedience you can live a happy life each day. He is with you to help you over the rough spots as they come. But over and above that he has made provision for the future, and you can face that with a new feeling within you. Yes, "I delight to do thy will." The greatest happiness in the world comes from and is found in doing the will of God. My friend, have these ten golden words taken on new meaning for you this day? Then permit me this suggestion, turn to the twentieth chapter of Exodus and read them again, then remember the words of Christ, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." John 13:17. Here is the successful guide to happy 20th Century living. And may I add, it is the only road to real, lasting happiness not only in this life, but in the life to come. Let nothing hold you back from following Him all the way. n

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