|LESSON 10||*June 2 - 8|
|The Bible and Happiness|
Read for This Week's Study:
|Luke 21:36, John 8:32, 1 Cor. 10:13, Phil. 2:3, Col. 3:13, 1 Pet. 3:15, 4:12-14, 1 John 1:4.|
|"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10, NIV).|
|The Bible offers us answers for one of life's most elusive goals:
Everybody wants to be happy, yet, few know how to achieve it. The world offers all sorts of enticements that promise happiness but always prove in the end to be shallow, fleeting, and empty.
Can we find happiness in this sinful world? We can, but only by going back to the Source of all happiness: God. Pain, suffering, and unhappiness are the result of our separation from God; only to the degree, then, that we return to Him can we find the happiness that we all long for but that the world itself doesn't offer.
This week we'll look at some biblical principles regarding happiness. We'll also focus, at least for a few days, on the family unit itself, for here is where so much of our happiness or unhappiness originates. The Bible offers us wonderful principles that, if applied, can protect our families from so many things that all but guarantee misery and suffering. And regardless of the past, regardless of the mistakes made that have hurt us or that we have made that have hurt others, God, through His Word, offers us promises that can bring healing and happiness. "They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away" (Isa. 35:10, NIV).
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, June 9.
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
Read the above text. What is Jesus saying to us? How do we understand the idea of having life "more abundantly"? What do you think that includes? What does it not include?
At the foundation of all that we believe and hope for as Christians is the promise of eternal life (1 John 2:25). Without that, whatever else Jesus does for us, even now, is all in vain (1 Cor. 15:16-19).
Yet, the promises that God has given to us in the Bible aren't all other-worldly; they don't all pertain to life in a new heaven and a new earth without sin, suffering, and death. The Word of God promises us many things here and now, things that can greatly help us know now what Jesus means when He talked about giving us life "more abundantly.
Look up John 8:32, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Ephesians 2:8, 1 Peter 3:15, and 1 John 1:4. What promises are found in them? What do they offer us in this life, here and now?
God loves us; and because He loves us, He wants us to be happy. He wants what's best for us. Through His Word, God has revealed Himself to us and has shown us what He is willing to do for us if we will but allow Him to. How often we, ourselves, are the biggest hindrance to our own happiness.
|What things of your own doing stand in the way of your "more abundantly" enjoying life offered to us through Jesus? Once you admit what these things are, how can you get rid of them?|
Rejoice Before the Lord
"God created the earth to be the abode of holy, happy beings."Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home, p. 540. That happiness, of course, was disrupted by sin (Gen. 3:16-18); and not until sin is finally eradicated will we enjoy the full happiness that only sinless beings in a sinless world can enjoy.
Meanwhile, even in this sinful world, God has provided the means by which we can achieve a certain amount of happiness and contentment and joy in this life.
What promises did God make to Israel, provided, of course, they were obedient? Lev. 23:40; Deut. 12:7, 12 18; 16:11?
Study after study shows that in regard to the kinds of factors that give an indication of "happiness," those who have faith in God come out better than those who live with no faith. After all, as Christians, think about what the Word has revealed to us: that we have a loving, caring God who loved us so much that He came down to earth, took on human flesh (Rom. 8:3), and in that flesh died for our sin (Rom. 5:8), and that because of His death we have the promise of eternal life in a world made new (Rev. 21:1). We have the hope that this life isn't all that there is. Meanwhile, we have from Him many precious promises about Him being with us (Matt. 28:20), guiding us (John 16:13), helping us (Heb. 4:16), never leaving or forsaking us (Heb. 13:5), and so forth. No wonder we should be happier than those who know nothing about these promises.
Look up Exodus 20:1-12; Proverbs 3:5; Luke 21:36; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 3:13; 1 Peter 4:1, 2; and 2 John 1:5, and note the principles found in them. How would each one, in its own way, add to our happiness here if we were to obey what they say? Ask yourself, too: "How well am I seeking to follow the principles found in these texts?"
The Family Foundation: Part 1
The Bible says the world was created by the Word of God and that He created humankind in His own image (Gen. 1:26, 27). He designed man and woman, He blessed the first marriage, and He made marriage the foundation of the family. And, as we all know so well, a strong, stable family is a crucial component in creating happy lives. As the psalmist says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain" (Ps. 127:1, NIV). In the family we can experience love and happiness. It is for this reason that the Word clearly says, " 'Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate' " (Matt. 19:6, NIV). The Lord desires His children to understand that if they marry, they have made a covenant to be faithful to each other for as long as they live. The Word also explains how this marriage relationship can be strengthened: marry only another believer (2 Cor. 6:14-16), be completely loyal to each other (Heb. 13:4), and express love and appreciation for each other (Song of Sol. 7:1-9). The family that abides by the Word of God will experience the joy of His presence as they follow His commandments.
What principles for a strong family can be found in the following texts?
|How can you apply the principles stated in the above texts and strengthen your own family relationships? Meanwhile, what can you do to help heal the wounds from past family relationships that have gone sour?|
The Family Foundation: Part 2
The family is the foundation of everything human; destroy or even weaken that foundation, and so much else crumbles with it. How crucial, as Christians, that we do everything we can to protect the sanctity of our homes (and "home" includes everything from living by ourselves to being part of a large family).
Go back over the Ten Commandments. How many of those commandments are directly related to family concerns, and how are they related? Why would families be stronger and more secure if all these commands were followed?
|What are your own responsibilities in regard to your family? How well are you meeting those responsibilities? Are you doing anything that can damage the happiness and sanctity of your family? Which areas in your family relationships need improvement?|
"Not As the World Giveth"
As we've said all week, God loves us and wants us to be happy. At the same time, we must remember that we are in a world of sin, of death, of suffering, a world in the midst of a war between good and evil. And as in all wars, there are casualties. In fact, we all have suffered in this war, one way or another. Thus, despite the many promises that we have in the Bible, promises that offer us much comfort and hope, we are all destined to suffer in this life.
Think about the lives of Abraham, David, Jesus, and Paul. Would you characterize them as "happy"? Defend your answer.
Read Luke 10:20, John 14:27, Philippians 3:7-11, 4:6-13, and 1 Peter 4:12-14. What principles are found in these texts that can help us better understand what it means to be "happy" in this life, even amid inevitable suffering and sorrow? Also, as you read them, ask yourself, "How well am I applying these principles to my own life?"
|Ellen G. White, "Factors That Make for Success or Failure," pp.
77-96; "From the Marriage Altar," pp. 97-128 in The Adventist Home..
"This feeling of guiltiness must be laid at the foot of the cross of Calvary. The sense of sinfulness has poisoned the springs of life and true happiness. Now Jesus says, 'Lay it all on Me; I will take your sin, I will give you peace. Destroy no longer your self-respect, for I have bought you with the price of My own blood. You are Mine, your weakened will I will strengthen; your remorse for sin, I will remove.' Then turn your grateful heart, trembling with uncertainty, and lay hold upon the hope set before you. God accepts your broken contrite heart. He offers you free pardon. He offers to adopt you into His family with His grace to help your weakness, and the dear Jesus will lead you on step by step, if you will only put your hand in His and let Him guide you."Ellen G. White, This Day With God, p. 63.
"The children of God may rejoice in all things and at all times. When troubles and difficulties come, believing in the wise providences of God, you may rejoice. You need not wait for a happy flight of feeling, but by faith you may lay hold of the promises, and lift up a hymn of thanksgiving to God. When Satan tempts you, breathe not a word of doubt or darkness."Ellen G. White, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Feb. 11, 1890.
|As a class, talk about this whole idea of happiness. What are your definitions of happiness? Should we expect to be happy all the time? Is there something wrong with our walk with the Lord if we don't feel happy? How can happiness be used as a ploy by Satan to deceive us? At the same time, how can God use unhappiness as a means of reaching people?|
|I N S I D E Story|
|Holding Back Elephants and Rain
by ALAGAPPAN KATHAPERUMAL PILLAI
I must admit, I was dubious. I had been asked to conduct evangelistic meetings in a remote area of Sri Lanka, high in the hilly heart of this island nation. The region where we would hold the meetings was remote, without telephone or radio. How would we let people know of the meetings? Besides this, the meetings were scheduled for the rainy season, and we would meet outdoors. Finally, the pastor warned us that this area was home to a band of some twenty wild elephants, which are capable of killing people who get in their way.
My wife and I boarded a bus to take us into the hills. There we met our driver, who would take us to our destination. Along the roadside, our driver pointed to uprooted trees and bushes. "The elephants," he explained. "People in this area fear them and will not come to our meetings if the elephants are nearby. And if you see one, you must run and hide behind a large rock. If an elephant sees you in his path, he'll kill you." I prayed earnestly that God would send the elephants away.
When we arrived at our destination, we were told that the elephants had been seen leaving the area, but we still prayed that they would not come near our meetings and would not keep anyone from coming to the meetings.
Then there was the problem of rain. During the rainy season, we could expect it to rain all day and all night. Again we prayed that God would keep the rain away. The morning of our first meeting dawned rainy. Rain fell until mid-afternoon, then it stopped until the meetings ended. Not once during the meetings did it rain! And not once did we see an elephant! The one hundred or so people who came to the meetings noticed these miracles, and their faith was strengthened.
On the final Sabbath, we planned an all-day celebration. We met near a stream for Sabbath School and worship service, celebrated the baptism of 22 new believers, and had an afternoon praise service. Not once during this time did it rain, not even a drop. But about 7:00 P.M. it began raining and poured all night and most of the next day.
We thank God for keeping the rain and the elephants at bay so that His children could come and listen to God's precious truths without fear.
Your mission offerings help fund such evangelistic efforts and help pay for the Global Mission worker who is following up the interests and nurturing the new believers in this area. Thank God, and thank you.
ALAGAPPAN KATHAPERUMAL PILLAI is a pastor in Colombo, Sri Lanka
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