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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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GOD IS THE HIGHEST GOOD

God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. (Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733)

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CHRISTIAN, REJOICE!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4 ESV)

cranky christianHave you ever meet a cranky Christian? Of course you have. These are Christians who have allowed circumstances to rob them of their joy. Paul tells us that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

You should not confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is created by what happens to us. It is a product of circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is the result of our covenant relationship with God. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 ESV) Christian joy is impossible without a loving relationship with God:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. This is why a Christian can have eternal joy. We should not worry about circumstances or what we have or don’t have in this world. Take joy in the eternal pleasure of knowing God and being one of His family. If you have been saved from your sins in order to spend eternity in His household, do you not have sufficient reason to be full of Joy?

HAPPINESS IN CHRIST

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

“The happiness promised us in Christ does not consist in outward advantages–such as leading a joyous and peaceful life, having rich possessions, being safe from all harm, and abounding with delights such as the flesh commonly longs after. No, our happiness belongs to the heavenly life!”(Institutes , 2, 15, 4).

FINDING SUPREME JOY

Samuel A CainFor the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17 ESV)

Joy is a gift from God, but it also a gift for which we must take responsibility for cultivating on a daily basis. When we receive salvation, the Holy Spirit also imparts joy into our lives. The great blessing of such joy is in learning to live life according to God’s Will. Our joy grows as we increasingly realize that Jesus Christ is our greatest treasure. The Westminster Shorter Catechism affirms this by saying, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

The essence of true Christianity is to know peace with God through Jesus Christ. Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit are produced in a relationship with Jesus Christ where we submit to Him as our Lord and Savior. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one may approach God except through Jesus. (John 14:6 ESV) Continue reading

Living With Joy and Happiness

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1 ESV)

Is it possible to find true happiness? In our culture there are many who claim to be bored, unhappy, depressed, and stressed out. When I feel out of sorts I always find much relief in the Psalms. Let’s take a look at Psalm I and see what we can find out about joy and happiness.

In verses 1 and 2 we are taught that a blessed or happy man “walks not in the counsel of the wicked”. In other words, he does not listen to sinners about how to live his life. He “stands [not] in the way of sinners”. He avoids places where sinners gather. He does not sit “in the seat of scoffers”. He does not ridicule those who try to live to the glory of God. The blessed man delights “in the law of the Lord”. He finds happiness in the Word of God. Therefore, “on his law he meditates day and night”. Think of a man reading and re-reading with a consistent focused interest. This is a habit; something he makes time for each day.

In verse 3 we are told that the happy man “is like a tree planted by streams of water”. We find here a beautiful description of the life of a man rooted in God’s Word. Such a tree “ yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither”. For, truly, the blessed man’s life is one of fruitfulness that brings blessings to him and others. Because his life is rooted in the Word of God, he is not much affected by the seasons of drought which bring unfavorable conditions to his life. “In all that he does, he prospers.”

We all know this is a general rule with exceptions according to God’s plans and purpose. We may not understand all that God is doing, but we must accept His Providence. In general, however, the holy life is a blessed life; a life accompanied by joy and happiness.

In verses 4 – 6, we find the present condition and future estate of the wicked: “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. . . .” Is not the representation of the unrighteous as “chaff that the wind drives away” also a good description of the “bored, unhappy, depressed, and stressed out” life that I have mentioned above; a life with no purpose or direction but lusting for self-gratification.

The joyful and happy life is the consequence of focused meditation on the Word of God and heeding the counsel of the Lord. If you wish to lead a joyful and happy life in God’s world, then you must live it in God’s way.

Happiness

Jonathan Edwards

From the pen of Jonathan Edwards:

Another part of God’s fullness which He communicates, is His happiness. This happiness consists in enjoying and rejoicing in Himself; and so does also the creature’s happiness. It is a participation of what is in God; and God and His glory are the objective ground of it. The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God; by which also God is magnified and exalted. (Edwards, Works, 101)

1822 New Hampshire Proclamation Of Thanksgiving

October 28, 1822

State of New Hampshire.

By the Governor,

A Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving.

Gratitude to God, whose power upholds, and whose bounty surrounds us with innumerable sources of enjoyment and of happiness, is our obvious duty as intelligent and dependent beings.

That opportunity may be afforded us publicly and united to cultivate dispositions of heart correspondent to our obligations to the Divine Goodness; to render to our Supreme Benefactor an affectionate tribute of thanks and praise; to acknowledge our past ingratitude, humbly implore the pardon of our sins and the continuance of His parental kindness; it has been thought fit to appoint, and with the advice of the Council, I do hereby appoint, Thursday the twenty-eighth day of November next, to be observed as a day of prayer and thanksgiving throughout this State.

I recommend to the ministers and people of every religious persuasion to assemble on that day in their respective places of public worship and unite in devout and humble acknowledgments to Almighty God for the many favors, personal, civil, and religious, which we enjoy from His Goodness; That the past year has been peculiarly distinguished by His Mercy and Beneficence; That health has diffused its blessing generally throughout the State; That the earth has repaid the labors of husbandry with an abundant increase; That all the pursuits of our industry have been favored with success; and that Providence has bountifully bestowed and continued to us all that variety of good, which is adapted to sustain and extend our individual and social happiness; That a free and enlightened Government continues to afford the most perfect security to our civil and religious rights; and that with the enjoyment of liberty we possess the means of knowledge and the inestimable instructions of divine Revelation, which clearly communicate our duty to God and man, and disclose to us the path to temporal felicity and future happiness.

Whilst we render thanks to our Heavenly Father for his mercies, let us penitently confess our sins, seek his compassion and forgiveness, and humbly pray, that He would direct us in the performance of our duties; That He would guide all men to the knowledge of the truth, and cause the religion of the Gospel to be every where known and obeyed; That its benign and holy doctrines may so influence the hearts of men as to restrain every vicious inclination, and unfold and strengthen every virtuous and pious affection; That ignorance and vice, tyranny and superstition may ever where give place to knowledge and virtue, to liberty and pure religion; That he would prosper our seminaries of learning, and all our means of education; give success to our laudable pursuits, and continue to us the enjoyment of health and prosperity; That He would beneficently regard the Government of our State and Nation, and direct them to such measures, as may preserve the purity of our institutions, and continue to our remotest posterity the blessings which flow from liberty connected with knowledge, virtue and piety.

The people of this State are requested to abstain from all unnecessary labor, and from recreation unbecoming the occasion.

Given at the Council Chamber at Concord, this twenty-eighth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the forty-seventh.

Samuel Bell.

By His Excellency’s Command, with Advice of Council.

[signed] Richard Bartlett

Deputy Secretary

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