THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date – 1-23-11

LESSON TITLE: “LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE: CHEERFULNESS”

WELCOME

“So then my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath,” James 1:19. I hope we are all ready to be “swift to hear” the Word of God on this wondrous Lord’s Day. And what a privilege we have at this time to do so!

Let me also say, how wonderful it is to know that you have chosen to put God first this day and to assemble for this time of worship before His Mighty Throne! We are glad that you have chosen to be with us to hear God’s Living Word!

As always, it will be our privilege to offer sacrifices to God this morning, with the fruit of our lips and the obedience of our actions, may we all be encouraged on this the Lord’s day. However, may we each do our part so that ultimately we will offer praise to God according to His truth as is found in His Precious Will. So as we begin our focus on the Creator, will you bow with me in prayer?

(PRAYER)

What greater thought can we have today than our promise of eternal life from our almighty God and Father! This morning we want to begin with a song that reminds us of what a great and loving Savior we serve. So, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “My Jesus, I Love Thee?”

(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

This morning we began with a verse in James which encourages us to be good listeners. That’s not always an easy thing is it? We probably all are guilty of not listening like we should, whether it is to our wife, a family member or friend. I know I have been guilty before of my wife telling me something and then asking me if I was listening, guess what - I wasn’t. Brethren and friends we need to learn to be better listeners, because it is the one who hears that has a great opportunity to learn and when we learn we grow, and when we grow how pleased our God is with us.

The next point the inspired James made was that we need to be “slow to speak.” Now this goes hand in hand with what we just talked about, because if we are good listeners, we are not going to be speaking all the time. Furthermore, notice that this idea would imply the fact that we need to slow down and think about what we say. When was the last time you said something quickly and later wished you hadn’t said it. Again, we all are guilty of this and probably more often than we would like to admit. So let’s all try to think more and speak less, so that when we do speak our words will be worth while and really cause people to listen.

Now the final connection this writer makes is to wrath. James says be “slow to wrath!” Notice that He did not say that we would never be provoked unto wrath, but that we should be slow to be wrathful. Even God was provoked unto wrath by the disobedience of the Israelites of Old! However, if we are good listeners, and slow to reply, hopefully that will give us time to control our emotions and even to avoid being angry. And when we learn to control our anger then we have a better chance of not allowing ourselves to be lead into a wrathful situation. So how about you, are you willing to obey God’s command and “be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.”

As far as our main study of the day, this morning we will be again focusing on our series from scripture which is entitled, “Let Your Light So Shine.” Our specific lesson of the day will deal with, “Cheerfulness.” So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will lead us in the main thoughts of the day. Now it’s time to join in our second song, the name of this hymn, “Nothing but the Blood.”

(SONG # 2)

LESSON

By Ray Sullins

In Ecclesiastes chapter 3 and verse 1 the Bible says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven.” Then in verse 4 he goes on to say, “A time to weep and a time to laugh.”

We’re so glad you continued with us today for the program and we now go to God’s Word and look at yet another important characteristic of a Christian as we consider the theme “Let Your Light So Shine.” You know there are so many ways that you and I as Christians can illuminate and exemplify Jesus Christ and the glory of God in what we do and what we say. So how wonderful it has been now for so many weeks to continue in this study about letting our light shine that we might be seen before others ultimately that we might glorify our Father in Heaven.

With that in mind then you might have noted what we already mentioned this morning from the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3. We find there the concept of being those who laugh. So our topic today is cheerfulness. Do we really see cheerfulness in those who love God?

No doubt there have been many times that I have heard from individuals who maybe are searching for the right church or looking for the right belief or truth or even religion and one of the things that they do mention from time to time about one group or another group is really about how happy they are or we might also say how unhappy they are. You know sometimes you might go to a church or a worship service with some group and it almost seems like you’re at a funeral rather than a praise to God. Well what are people supposed to see in us? Are they not supposed to see God? Yes! And in knowing that we have God and all the blessings that God has promised, would that not make one cheerful? Well it should and that should be shown on our face. I know a lot of Sundays that I am preaching I will look out and you’ll see a lot of little grim or even serious faces and I will just have to stop and say, “Everybody smile for a minute.” We need to be cheerful. We need to show that joy. After all, is it not cheerfulness that really talks about the state of gladness or even happiness that really is seen by others? It’s a work that we must do. It is something that we strive to accomplish if we are really to show forth how happy we are and content with what God has done for each and every one of us.

I like some of the synonyms that I found for the word “cheerful.” One was “chipper.” That’s not a very familiar word but we have certainly probably heard it before. But being “chipper, or happy again, lighthearted, optimistic, there the idea of being joyful or merry, jolly or gleeful.” You see that is something we all love to see in life. We all look for that person or that friend who is always happy and has a good, happy, joyful disposition and who is funny. You don’t normally find that person by themselves or alone, or as if someone doesn’t want to be around them. You generally find others with them. Why? Because we like to laugh. We like to be around those that make us happy. Again we might even ask the question: What could make us happier or more joyful or more cheerful than knowing what God has done and continues to do with each and every one of our lives as those who love Him and who strive to obey His Will.

And so as we think about these things this morning I would like us to look together then at several passages that will help us to begin to see the concept of happiness and the desire that God has for His people to be a happy people. We looked at Proverbs a moment ago but let’s turn back several books to the book of Psalm and we want to look specifically at Psalm 128. Here again the Psalmist, as he speaks of those things that make us happy, mentions in verse 1, “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His way.” Why? Look at verse 2. “When you eat the labor of your hands you shall be happy and it shall be well with you.”

What does it bring us when we sit down at the end of the day and we know that we’ve done an honest day’s work and we have got an honest day’s pay and we have those blessings and those possessions that we have acquired in this life? It brings us joy, peacefulness, and it brings us happiness because we know that we’re doing what we should. We know that we’re showing forth God’s glory in all things and we know that we are proving before Him what He wants and what He desires of those who will be faithful. But I want you also to notice in this text not only does it speak of the idea of those who shall be happy when they are doing what they should on a daily basis, but he also uses the word “blessed.” Some versions actually use the word “happy is he” as for the word “blessed is he.” Why? Because the concept of being blessed is one who has been showered with a gift from God that brings what? Joy! That brings what? Happiness! That makes one cheerful!

Look over in Proverbs now just between Psalms and also the book there of Ecclesiastes that we looked into. But there in Proverbs chapter 15 again here we would say that Solomon says in verse 13, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.” What does that tell us? It tells us about what is inside. It tells us about what we take in, what we maybe soak up in our lives is what comes out of our lives. In other words, you’re not going to be somebody who always is depressed or hanging around those who are depressed or those who are sour pusses, as we might say, and they never smile or anything, and then expect that we can be cheerful. We’re not going to hang around those who are always talking about their problems and their ailments and somehow always find ourselves cheerful. Why? Because it says here, “The merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.” We’ve got to have a merry heart, a merry heart that is focused on God, that is focused on what God has done here, what God has promised here.

Then I want you to notice it goes on in verse 13 to say, “The opposite is a sorrowful heart is of a broken spirit.” So then again what kind of heart do we want? What kind of spirit do we want to show forth? Hopefully, the spirit of Christ, the spirit of God.

Is that not again what we begin also to see when we go to the New Testament?

We want to now go to the book of Galatians. You might recall here in the book of Galatians that Paul, as he addresses the church here at Galatia and not just a single church but the churches, speaks there in chapter 5 of “those who walk in the spirit”, but then he says the other hand are “those who walk in the flesh.” And so what is it that really the spirit is all about? The walk of the spirit? Which obviously if the Spirit and the Father and the Son are One, then they are God, and we are talking about walking in Christ or being those who are finding that cheerfulness in Christ or in God also. But what does it mean to walk in the spirit?

I want you to notice with me in verse 22. Read with me in that text. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace…” It goes on to say, “Longsuffering, kindness, goodness, and even faithfulness.” He goes on to mention some other things in the next verse, but here we begin to see that what? That joy! What is joy? It is actually a fruit of the spirit. Think about that for a moment. When we think about fruit, what do we think about? We think about something that we might eat. But when we think about how fruit is produced, we think about maybe a tree or something that might produce a fruit like an apple, an apple tree. And so we say that if we find an apple tree, that tree is going to produce an apple fruit. So when we think about ourselves as a Christian, and when we think about ourselves as loving God, and we are in a sense a tree, what is it that we would produce? Fruit! But what kind of fruit comes out of us? Well hopefully fruit that is from the heart and not of a sorrowful nature, but of a cheerful or joyful nature, and also that which is according to the spirit of Christ. That’s the fruit that we bear. Is that not what the Bible says? Is that not what Jesus says there even in the “Sermon on the Mount” as well as in other places? He said there that, “We are known by our fruit.” That’s how people know who we are.

Now what is a “Fruit of the Spirit?” What is some type of fruit that will be born of one who is walking in the spirit? Well joy, cheerfulness. We begin to find it is not an option. We can’t say that, “I am a Christian, but I’m just a sad Christian.” We can’t say, “I’m a Christian, but I’m a sorrowful Christian. I don’t like life and I don’t like anything about it, and I don’t like people, and I don’t like…” On and on and on and on! We can’t talk about these things in such a depressing and morbid way and expect somehow that someone would believe that God means anything to us because we cannot help knowing the blessings of God and realizing thus the joy it would bring to one who truly comprehends them. Isn’t that what the Bible talks about? Is that not what we are challenged to see?

Now I want you to look with me at that very concept in Romans chapter 8. Here he begins to talk about what our God has done for us, how much He loves us, how much He cares for us. In verse 28 he actually says this, again in Romans chapter 8, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

What is it that happens to those who are faithful? Everything works out for good. God blesses and blesses and makes happy, makes happy, makes happy. Why? Because He cares for His children. The same way that you and I as fathers or mothers would care for a child and as you know and as I know, even a grandchild, that we might care for them and love them and give them everything within our means. Our Father loves us and He cares for us and He wants us to be happy. So what does He do? He says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about the food, the shelter, the raiment. I am going to provide. I am going to care. I am going to protect. I am going to guide you.” Our God loves us! How could you be sorrowful and sad and moping around all the time knowing how much God loves you and that He says everything He does is for your good and will be best for you? Now that’s a great Father! That’s a joyful thing!

Furthermore, what about the promises of this life? God says He is going to give and give and give. He says He is going to give an abundance. In fact, even more than we need or we feel that we need.

But then there is another element altogether where God says He is going to give us the eternal reward. How can you be sad and depressed knowing that a mansion awaits you in Heaven? If that doesn’t make you cheerful, nothing will. If you can’t find a cheerful attitude or disposition or a joy or happiness in that, then you are missing out on God. You’re missing out on being a true Christian because the two just do not go together.

Peter gave us an example of just how far joy should go or happiness should go and even to what extent in life we should be joyful even when things aren’t going our way or when we seem down. Look there in 1 Peter 4, that text tells us in verse 13 beginning, “But rejoice to the extent that we are partakers of (what?) Christ’s suffering.” Do what? Rejoice! God blesses us. Then he says this, “When His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

Verse 14 goes on to say, “And if you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed or happy are you.” What is it that he is talking about here? He is talking about the fact that even when we suffer for the sake of God, or we suffer in this life, knowing that God is there, then we are or we will be blessed. We will know that God never leaves us alone. Now that may not mean that I make as much money as I think I ought to make or I may not have that exact car that I picked out that I can’t afford, or it may not mean that I have the exact house that I would desire to have, but what it means is we can be content because God cares. God loves. God provides. And God will see us through every step of the way.

I like what he says later in that same verse there, 16, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian let him not be ashamed, but rather glorify God in this matter.” Glorify God when we suffer. Why? God is there. When we need God we turn to Him more. And when we turn to God more, guess what He has promised. That He is faithful to give us what we need.

So do you have that kind of confidence? Do you have that kind of belief?

Well we can find many examples in the Bible of those who are cheerful people, who are happy people. I always like the idea of Abraham and Sarah there. They even laughed and got maybe tickled when God said, “You’re going to have children at these old ages that you are.” Well you see they had some humor. They thought some things were funny even back in those days when we would say even during hard times they were laughing about different things that seemed funny to them.

I also think about men like Paul and Silas there in Acts 16. You might recall when they were actually in jail at Philippi. The Philippian jailor story is also found there in that same text. But do you remember what they were doing there as they were in prison? Were they moping, or weeping, or complaining or crying or complaining or saying, “Why has God done this?” or “Where is God now?” or “Where are the brethren to help us?” NO! They were praying and singing praises to God. And what does it say? It says the other prisoners were listening and they could hear them glorifying God even in their suffering. Cheerfulness! Joy! Happiness!

I want people to ever see Christ in me no matter what is going on in my life. Is that always true? No. Sometimes we are moping around. Sometimes we are all down and out. Sometimes we don’t have anything good to say or to do. How in the world do we think people are going to say, “Hey I want to know more about your God,”? “Hey I want to know more about where you go to church.” We have got to have the spirit of Christ.

You know I can just imagine those twelve chosen apostles being around the Lord and what a joy it must have been and how exciting it must have been to hear Him preach and to see Him smile and to see the love and compassion and to see the miracles and the joy and people that were jumping up and down and excited and happy! Jesus brought joy everywhere He went. Jesus spoke of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, “Blessed is he… Blessed is he…” He brought happiness and wanted happiness for everyone who would obey and believe His Will. And brethren, it is the same God we serve today who wants joy and happiness in our lives.

So brethren, I want to encourage us. Friends, I want to encourage us to be in Christ and to find the cheerful spirit, the cheerful spirit that will give us a better life today and a cheerful spirit that will give us a better life tomorrow because we know the faithful will someday receive eternal life in Heaven with God.

(SONG # 3 - “Peace, Perfect Peace.”)

CLOSING COMMENTS

Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I know our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!

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May we all strive to demonstrate the joyous spirit of Christ in our daily lives? For how will the world see and know Jesus through us, unless they observe the happiness and joy of those who follow Jesus Christ.

(Program closing)