How Can We Be Happy in the Lord? #303
Happy Lord’s Day to you, dear friends! As I do on Sunday, please indulge me and allow me to invite you to join our online church gathering Sunday at 11am Pacific. We will be covering today’s reading in 2nd Kings – Elisha opening the eyes of the King of Israel to the spiritual world that is around him. We will seek to have our eyes opened as to what the Bible teaches about the spiritual realm – so join us at VBC Salinas on Facebook live, and let us know you are listening/watching -whether live or later. Our Bible readings today are 2nd Kings 6, Psalms 119:1-24 (our focus), Daniel 10 and 1 Timothy 3.
Today we are focused on being happy in the Lord, and we are going to hear from one of my absolute heroes in the faith, George Muller – the mighty man of faith and a mighty man of prayer. If you’ve never read his diaries, I would say go out and find a copy, and just start reading. The diaries/journals of George Muller and David Brainerd are both some of the best and most encouraging things I’ve ever read. George Muller was a pastor and writer who lived an extraordinary life, founding the first orphanages in England, caring for over 10,000 orphans through the orphanages, travelling as a missionary all over the world, and pastoring churches – all while never asking for a cent of money from people – no fundraising, no campaigns, nothing. When he or the church or the orphanages had needs, he simply made them a matter of persistent prayer, and God answered those prayers, and his journals are full of thousands of those answered prayers. I love that Muller talks much about happiness and the importance of happiness. Not many Christians talk about happiness, instead speaking more of joy, as if joy was a more noble and spiritual thing to attain to. (I find that the Bible actually uses happiness and joy in a sort of synonymous way.) Some people have this image of Christians as cosmic killjoys, and I can understand that to a degree, because some of us act like somberness is a fruit of the Spirit. Muller was not that way, …he exhorted Christians to the importance of walking in happiness, saying:
WE have through the Lord’s goodness been permitted to enter upon another year, and the minds of many amongst us will no doubt be occupied with plans for the future, and the various spheres of service in which, if our lives be spared, we shall be engaged. The welfare of our families, the prosperity of our business, our work and service for the Lord, may be considered the most important matters to be attended to; but, according to my judgment, the most important point to be attended to is this: Above all things, see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you; the Lord’s work even may have urgent claims upon your attention; but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek, above all other things, to have your souls truly happy in God Himself. Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled conviction for the last five-and-thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance; but now, after much experience, I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ. The secret of all true effectual service is,—joy in God, and having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself.
George Müller, Jehovah Magnified: Addresses (Bristol, England: The Bible and Tract Depot of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, 1876), 40–41.
Great quote, and it is easy to encourage somebody to be happy, but perhaps another thing entirely to actually BE HAPPY. Never fear, however, because Muller found the secret of deep and abiding happiness, and he is going to share it with us today:
While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost,…I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was, to give myself to the reading of the word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the word of God whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord. I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon his precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication: so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the word may lead to it; but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened, and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that, which either very soon after, or at a later time, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man….
The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer, except when I felt my soul to be more than usually barren, in which case I read the word of God for food, or for refreshment, or for a revival and renewal of my inner man, before I gave myself to prayer. But what was the result. I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that he has brought before me in his precious word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as any thing, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is, to obtain food for his inner man. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time, except we take food; and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning; so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now what is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the word of God; and here again not the simple reading of the word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.
George Müller, A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealings with George Müller, vol. 1 (London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1860), 406–407.