Chapter 13—Rejoicing in the Lord

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The children of God are called upon to represent Christ and to show the goodness and mercy of the Lord. As Jesus has shown us the true character of the Father, so we are to show Christ to a world that does not know His kind love. Jesus prayed to His Father, “I sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world.” “I in them and you in me, … in order that the world may know that you sent me.” John 17:18, 23.

Someday the gates of heaven will be thrown open to welcome God’s children. From the lips of the King of glory will fall a blessing like rich music: “Come, you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world.” Matthew 25:34.

The apostle Paul wrote to the disciples of Jesus, “You yourselves are the letter we have, … for everyone to know and read.” 2 Corinthians 3:2. All Christ’s children are like letters to the world. If we are Christ’s followers, He sends us as a letter to our family. He sends us to the village and to the street where we live.

Jesus, living in us, wants to speak to the hearts of those who do not know Him. Perhaps they do not read the Bible or hear the voice that speaks to them in its pages. They do not see the love of God through His works. But if we truly represent Jesus, people may be led through us to see Him. They may understand something of His goodness and be won to love and serve Him.

Christians are light bearers along the way to heaven. They are to give to the world the light that shines upon them from Christ. Their lives and characters will show others what Christ is like and what it means to serve Him.

When we represent Christ, we show to others that it is a pleasure to work for Him. Christians know that this is really true. Christians who complain and are unhappy give others a wrong idea of God and the Christian life. They make people think that God is not pleased to have His children happy. This is too bad, for they are telling something about their heavenly Father that is not true.

Satan is pleased when he can lead the children of God into doubt and unhappiness. He delights to see us mistrust God. He wants us to doubt God’s willingness and power to save us. He loves to have us feel that God will lead us into harm.

Satan wants us to feel that the Lord does not have pity for us. But he is not telling the truth. He fills our minds with false ideas about God. He tries to make us think about these wrong ideas instead of God’s goodness. He wants us to distrust God and complain about the way He leads us.

Satan tries to make the Christian life seem dark and unhappy. He wants it to appear hard and unpleasant; and some Christians may, by the way they act, make people think that serving God is hard. This makes it seem that they agree with Satan.

Many people, walking along the path of life, think and talk about their mistakes. They talk about how they have failed, and their hearts are filled with sorrow. A woman who had been doing this wrote to me while I was in Europe. She was very unhappy and asked me for some words of hope. The night after I read her letter I dreamed I was in a garden. The one who seemed to be the owner of the garden was leading me along its paths.

I was gathering the flowers and enjoying their sweet smell. Then this woman, who had been walking by my side, called me to look at the ugly thorns that were in her way. There she was, sadly crying. She was not walking in the path or following the guide, but she was walking among the thorns.

“Oh,” she cried, “what a pity that this beautiful garden is spoiled with thorns.”

Then the guide said, “Let the thorns alone, for they will only wound you. Gather the roses, the lilies, and the pinks.”

We should think of the good times in our lives. Have we had precious hours when our hearts were filled with joy as the Spirit of God spoke to us? When we look back over our lives, do we see many pleasant times? Are God’s promises like the sweet flowers growing beside our path? Can we let their beauty and sweetness fill our hearts with joy?

Thorns will only wound us and make us sad. If we gather thorns and give them to other people, we are turning from God’s goodness. We are keeping people around us from walking in the path of life.

We should not try to remember all the unpleasant things that have happened to us in the past. We should not talk of our sins and sorrow over them. We would soon be overcome and feel that we had no hope. A person without hope sees only darkness. He is shutting out the light of God from himself, and throwing a shadow across the path of others.

We may thank God for the bright pictures He presents to us. Let us bring together God’s wonderful promises so that we may look at them often. The Son of God left His Father’s throne and covered His divine nature with human flesh. He became a man so that He could save people from the power of Satan. He won the battle with evil for us and opened heaven to show us its glory.

Let us study how people are lifted from the pit of sin. Let us learn how they are again brought close to God. Picture in your mind how we, through faith in our Redeemer, are clothed with Christ’s righteousness. We are lifted by faith to His throne. God wants us to think about all these things.

We do not honor God and we sadden His Holy Spirit when we seem to doubt God’s love and His promises. How would a mother feel if her children were always talking against her? How would she feel if they acted as though she wanted them to suffer? Her whole life’s work has been to bring comfort to them. It would break her heart if they doubted her love. How would parents feel if they were treated in this way by their children?

What can our heavenly Father think of us if we do not trust His love? This love has led Him to give His own Son that we might have life. The apostle wrote, “He gave us his Son—will he not also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32. And yet how many people by their acts, if not by their words, turn from His love. They say, “The Lord does not mean this for me. Perhaps He loves others, but He does not love me.”

These thoughts are harmful, for every word of doubt invites Satan to tempt us. Our own doubts are strengthened, and we turn the holy angels away from us. We should not speak a word of doubt when Satan tempts us. If we choose to open the door to him, our minds will be filled with doubts and questions. Speaking in a doubting way is not only bad for us, but it plants a seed that will grow and bear fruit in the lives of others. It may be impossible to stop the influence of our words.

We ourselves may be able to turn away from the time of doubting and from Satan’s leading. But others who have heard and believed us may not be able to forget our words. How important it is that we speak only those things that will give spiritual strength and life!

Angels are listening to hear what kind of report we are giving to the world about our heavenly Master. Let our thoughts and words be of Him who stands before His Father. When we take the hand of a friend, let praise to God be on our lips and in our hearts. This will turn our friend’s thoughts to Jesus.

Everyone has trials, sorrows, and temptations. We must not tell our troubles to people, but take everything to God in prayer. We should make it a rule never to speak a word of doubt. We can do much to brighten the lives of others. Our words of hope and holy cheer will make them stronger.

Satan is tempting many brave people to do wrong. They are almost ready to faint in the battle with self and the powers of evil. We should not make it harder for such people. We may cheer them with brave, hopeful words that will help them along the way. Thus Christ’s light shines from us. “We do not live for ourselves only.” Romans 14:7. We may be helping others by our words and acts without knowing it. Or we may be causing people to lose hope and to turn away from Christ and the truth.

Many people have a wrong idea of the life and character of Christ. They do not think that He was friendly and happy. They think He was cold, severe, and without joy. They let this idea of Christ darken their lives.

It is often said that Jesus shed tears but never smiled. Our Savior was indeed a Man of sorrows. He knew what sadness was, for He opened His heart to all the sorrows of the people. His life was shadowed with pain and cares, but His spirit was never broken. His face wore a look of peace and joy. Happiness flowed from His heart. Wherever He went He brought rest and peace, joy and gladness.

Our Savior was deeply thoughtful but never gloomy. The lives of those who follow Him will be like His. Christ’s followers know they have a great work to do for Him. They will not be foolish, rough, and loud. They will not repeat coarse jokes. The faith of Jesus will give them a peace that will flow like a river. His peace will make the light of joy shine. It will bring true happiness, cheer, and smiles. Christ did not come to be waited on. He came to help people. When His love is in our heart, we will follow His example.

If we keep thinking of the unkind and unfair acts of other people, we will not be able to love them as Christ loves us. But if we think of Christ’s wonderful love and pity for us, this same spirit will flow out to others. We should love and respect one another even though we cannot help seeing their faults. We should be humble and not trust ourselves. If we are patient with the faults of others, we will become less selfish, and more kindhearted and generous.

David wrote, “Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land and be safe.” Psalm 37:3.

“Trust in the Lord.” Each day has its cares and problems. When we meet our friends we are ready to talk about our troubles. We talk and worry because we are afraid hard times will come. A person might think that we had no pitying, loving Savior waiting to hear our prayers. We do not speak as if He is ready to help us in every time of need.

Some people are always afraid and expecting trouble. Every day God’s love is around them, but they do not see His blessings. Their minds are filled with fear of something unpleasant which might come, or they worry about some real, small problem that they have. Worry keeps them from seeing many things for which they could be thankful. Problems should make them turn to God, who is their Helper. Instead, they allow hard experiences to separate them from Him.

Should we doubt God? Should we distrust Him? Jesus is our friend. All heaven is interested in what happens to us. We should not let our daily worries make us afraid. If we do, we shall always have something to make us unhappy. Worry does not help us bear our trials.

We may be worried about our business. The future looks darker and darker. We are afraid we shall lose what we have. But we must not give up hope. We may lay all our cares upon God. We may ask Him to show us how to care for our business so that we will not suffer loss. Then we must do all we can to bring about the best results. Jesus has promised His help, but He expects us to do what we can. When we have done all we can with God’s help, we may accept the results cheerfully.

God does not want His people to be weighed down with care. But our Lord does not try to mislead us. He does not say to us, “Do not fear; there are no dangers in your path.” He knows there are problems and dangers, and He tells us so. He does not say He will take His people out of this world of sin and evil, but He points us to a never-failing place of safety.

Jesus’ prayer for His disciples was “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One.” John 17:15. Jesus said, “The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world.” John 16:33.

In His sermon on the mount, Christ taught His disciples precious lessons about their need to trust in God. These lessons were also to help all of God’s children. They have come down to our time to bring us help and comfort.

The Savior spoke of the birds of the air. He said that the birds sing their songs of praise without worrying about their needs. “They do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them.” The Savior asked, “Aren’t you worth much more than birds?” Matthew 6:26.

The great Father opens His hands and gives enough for the needs of all His creatures. The birds of the air are always in His thoughts. He does not drop food into their bills, but He provides for all their needs. They must gather the grain He has scattered for them. They must find what they need to build their nests and feed their young.

The birds sing as they hunt for their food. They sing because our “Father in heaven takes care of them.” Are not we who are able to worship God of more value than the birds of the air? Will not our Creator, the One who keeps us alive, also care for us? He who made us will give us everything we need if we trust Him.

Christ spoke of the flowers of the field. The heavenly Father made the beautiful flowers to show His love for His earthly children. Christ said, “Look how the wild flowers grow!” The simple beauty of these wildflowers was more attractive than the splendid robes of King Solomon. The most beautiful clothes that people can make cannot compare with the grace and shining beauty of the flowers of God’s creation.

Jesus said, “It is God who clothes the wild grass—grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won’t he be all the more sure to clothe you? What little faith you have!” Matthew 6:30.

God, the divine Artist, gives the simple flowers their many colors. Some of these flowers live for only a day, yet He makes them beautiful and perfect. How much greater care will He have for people He has created in His own likeness! Christ gave us this lesson to teach us not to worry. We are not to doubt or lose our faith.

The Lord wants all His sons and daughters to be happy and to have peace. He wants them to trust and obey. Jesus said, “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 14:27; 15:11.

Happiness that is gotten from being selfish soon passes away. This happiness leaves a person lonely and filled with sorrow. But there is real, lasting joy in the service of God. Christians have a Guide to lead them. They need not be sad over things they have done. They may miss some pleasures in this world, but they can be happy as they think of the joys they will have in heaven.

Even in this world Christians have the joy of knowing they can walk and talk with Christ. They may have the light of His love and the comfort of knowing that He is with them. Every step in life may bring them closer to Jesus and make them know more of His love. Every step may bring them nearer to the blessed home of peace.

Then let us hold to our faith in God. Let us have a hope that is stronger than ever. “The Lord has helped us all the way” (1 Samuel 7:12), and He will help us to the end.

Let us remember what the Lord has done to comfort us and to save us from Satan, our enemy. Let us keep fresh in our minds all the tender mercies God has shown us. Think of the tears He has wiped away, and the pain He has helped us bear. He has taken away our fears and worries, and has given us everything we need. These blessings from God should make us strong to bear the trials during the rest of our life journey.

We cannot help thinking about the trials and tests we will face before the end of the world. But we can look back as well as forward and say, “The Lord has helped us all the way.” “As your days, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25, RSV. The trials will not be greater than the strength God will give us. So let us take up our work where we find it, believing we will be strong enough to meet whatever comes.

Someday the gates of heaven will be thrown open to welcome God’s children. From the lips of the King of glory will fall a blessing like rich music: “Come, you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world.” Matthew 25:34.

The redeemed will be welcomed to the home that Jesus is preparing for them. In heaven there will be no wicked people. The friends of the redeemed will be people who have overcome Satan through divine grace and have formed perfect characters. Every desire to sin will have been taken away by the blood of Christ. The redeemed will shine with Christ’s glory, which is much brighter than the sun. And what is more, the beauty of His character will also shine out through them. They will stand without fault before God and will have the same blessings as the angels.

A beautiful heavenly home is ready for the redeemed. “Will you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life?” Matthew 16:26. A person may be poor now, but in the gift of eternal life he owns greater wealth than the world can ever give. A person redeemed by Jesus, made clean from all sin, and serving God is of more value than the whole world. There is joy in heaven before God over every person that is redeemed. This joy makes the heavenly angels sing holy songs of victory.

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