Chapter Seven - Smile, You're On God's Camera
Sometimes, when persons are aware that they are being observed, they change their appearance. If a "camera bug" is around, people generally try to appear happy, or at least, more congenial. If we do this for people we see, how much more should we be "on our guard" and present the "showing of the teeth," or the "elevation of the lip," for God, Who sees all at all times.
His recording is constant. Now, true it is He knows the heart, but the smile, the state of being happy, is something that is contagious, The chances are that if you smile at someone (even someone you do not know), the person will return it. In fact, people have said their whole day was changed by a smile reflected from someone else.
Since we have so much about which to be happy, let us look at what happiness is. Jesus came into the world to be a Saviour. Two questions are: ]..) A Saviour of whom? and 2.) A Saviour from what? He came to save. but when we ask the question, "A Saviour from what?" many are so steeped in tradition that they say, "To save us from our sins," relating to the sin of unbelief. While this is the primary objective of the Christ's coining into the world, there is more to it than just being saved from unbelief.
For, when one changes his way of living to become identified with God through His Son, there is more involved than the saving of the soul, There is the saving of the whole person--the whole being. 1Ihile our soul is saved (and once saved, always saved), other aspects of our living are not "always saved."
Jesus came into the world that we might be happy - besides being saved from our sinfulness. We want to be happy. This is part of the Gospel. If some one is not happy, he cannot perform at his peak. There are Christians knocking on "four of life's cylinders," instead of running on eight, as they should. Some of the things that contribute to this lack of peak performance are failure to read the Bible, to pray--and the list goes on and on. If we are not happy, then we are not at our best for the Lord. We were created to praise God.
While everyone wants to be happy, there are sad individuals, unhappy families, grief-stricken cities, sin-sick nations, and a troubled world at large. All tell us that a dread disease, a dread pollution is upon us. People are looking for happiness in "things," instead of in the Christ. Like a cat, which is interested only in things, some people become so interested in things that the main purpose for living becomes secondary.
There are people today who are happy; yet all outward circumstances should cause them to be unhappy. I am referring to that bed-ridden saint who lived on the fourth floor. She was once singing, although confined to a bed. As the window. was open, a passer-by happened to hear her beautiful voice. He walked into the apartment building; found his way up the stairway, four flights, to the room from which the music was coming. He knocked on the door. He was ushered into the room of this "saint" (one of the people whom God is keeping, polishing up, for something really important). She was singing. She was happy, yet her surroundings would indicate something else.
John Burroughs said that years ago in England, he was walking home and heard a bird singing, like unto which he had never heard before. He said to himself that he just had to see the bird which was producing these lovely notes. He followed the sound to a bush. When he got to the bush, the sounds stopped. He was sad, because he wanted to hear some more, and above all, he wanted to see the bird. The music had stopped. Not thinking, he reached down and grabbed a small stone and hurled it into the large bush. Immediately the music started. In fact, it was more lovely than before. Beautiful notes — hurried chirps, trills, calls — persistently they filled the darkness around him. He later said, "I do believe that the more the bird thought it was being persecuted, the more and louder it sang."
As Christian people, if we find ourselves being "persecuted" - if we think the world has gone against us - if we think everything is wrong (it may even be), out of this can come some of the songs in the night that only God can give. God is the source of our happiness. (Note:)
I. God Is The Source Of All Happiness
Let the Bible speak: "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth. Happy is that people whose God is the Lord," or further, "He that has mercy on the poor, happy is he," or again, "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help."
If we have God as our helper today, then we cannot help being happy, regardless of what happens, even if our house burns down. A number of years ago, when a Chinese family had their home burn down, they, on the lawn, started Singing, "Joy to the World, the Lord Has Come!" They then went to the small chapel and worshipped God. When the missionary arrived, he found them praying and singing. It was somewhat a mystery to him - yet not really! From all outward appearances, these people had every reason to bemoan their fate. But they were singing praises to God. These were not ordinary people; these were PEAL Christian people. They had placed primarily in their living - God. He was the source of their smiling through it all. It seemed like a mockery, the missionary said, but there was a note of cheer and happiness amid. the desolation.
Joy comes from God. It is an attribute of God.. In heaven, we are told, the angels rejoice; they are as happy as they can be, when someone is saved. When our loved ones have passed on - answering the trumpet's call - they are happy when they see the progress we make in our living.
The world in which we live is a sin—sick, tossed world. Still, there is an air of happiness among Christians - people who have a faith in God. We are like those who were on board an ocean vessel; for two days they had had no contact with land. They were being buffeted back and forth by the gigantic waves, which were engulfing their little vessel. The persons were alarmed; some were getting quite frightened. One person braved the elements, going up to the pilot house. e got by those nearby, somehow, and took one look (just one look) and saw a SMILE on the face of the Captain. He went straight down below to those who were pacing the floors and who were sore afraid-- thinking they would never see land or their loved ones again. This one who had seen the Captain said: "Have peace, I have seen the Captain, and THERE IS A SMILE UPON HIS FACE; all is going to be well."
"Weeping may abound for the night, but joy comes in the morning." God has come and has intended for us to be happy. We must not walk around with long faces, with our religion. This is not the religion of Jesus, the Christ. His religion is a religion of happiness.Let me tell you:
II. Those Who Have Been Happy
In the past. I think of Moses. I think of Elisabeth and the visit with Mary. I think of the shepherds when they saw the Baby Jesus. I think of the prodigal son and his return - his father was so happy. I think of the disciples in Jerusalem when Peter told them of the conversion of Cornelius and his house. I think of the early Christians who believed in Jesus, for which belief many of them were persecuted. We have no persecution like that. Oh, you may think you are being persecuted - and perhaps you are--by the one in your office, shop, or place of work; but it does not compare with losing your life. We read accounts of those who were martyred in the Coliseum--many died with smiles on their faces, we are told. Even amid persecution, they smiled - they knew God was watching them, and God was proud of them; thus, in spite of their state, they were happy.
Let us be a smiling people. In fact, right now, let God record your smile. Right now! Come on, bigger than that...smile - you are on God's camera! You really have so much for which to be thankful. In fact, if you would just stop reading for a moment and look over to your right (that's right) ...farther - you will see something for which you should be happy.
A number of years ago in New Orleans, I stopped for a traffic light. I looked over to my right and saw in the driver's seat a person with a long face. I mean it was long - the saddest, I think, I have ever seen. I thought to myself, "Why not try an experiment?" So I tooted my horn, got his attention, and then shot him one — a smile! Yep, he smiled, and he turned to the other in the car and smiled, and that one smiled. The light changed - they drove off down "Happiness Lane," at least for a moment!
I thought to myself, "If the ones in the car, by chance, turned and smiled to the woman waiting for a bus on the other side of their car; and that one smiled to someone else, My! One smile could have gone around the world! And the original smile came from one who, at the time, was not feeling too well!
This is part of the Gospel. It is living Christianity. It is helping people who need help. Happiness is giving to other people. Someone wrote:"A smile costs absolutely nothing, but it creates much. It happens in a flash, and the memory sometimes lasts forever. A smile cannot be bought; it cannot be begged, borrowed, nor can it be stolen. It is something that is of no earthly good until it is given away." We can be happy, as those of the past as recorded in the Bible have been happy.
Then, would you notice
III. Those Who Are Not Happy
Wicked people are not, as a general rule, happy. However, this is not always the case. Some wicked people are happy. Now, we are not standing in judgment on any one; but, by observation, I am sure you can think of someone who is 'wicked," in the common terminology of the day. The person is not a professing Christian; he does no good. . .yet, seemingly, he is happy. What about an account of this? I think of some who fall into this category.
I read in Psalms 73:3, "1 was envious of the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Further along in the chapter, God tells us of the wicked and their prosperity, which is not long at all. Sometimes God allows us to see the end result of their so-called happiness.
The Psalmist said: "I do not understand all this - until I went in to the Sanctuary of God, and then I understood their end. Surely You did set them in slippery places; You cast them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. My heart was grieved. I was pricked in my reins, so foolish was I, and ignorant. I am with you, says God."
The happiness of the wicked is for the moment - it will soon fade away.
IV. Smiling Is the Gateway to Happiness
It can turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones, regardless of our condition. That which you think right now is a hindrance to your happiness, in your profession, In your Church, in your family, in your play, can really become, not a stumbling block,but a stepping stone.
Helen Keller, as a case in point, was blind from birth, yet she became one of the most radiant Christians in all the world -- happy. Alex Templeton, familiar in the radio of years gone by, was blind. We are told in Philippians 4:11 and 13, "Not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned in whatever state I am, therein to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound, every where and in all things, I am instructed both to be full......I can do all things through the Christ Who gives me strength." To be happy in whatever state we find ourselves--like so many in the past and in the present, who have great handicaps, yet realize happiness in making others happy, and in overcoming handicaps.
Our obligation as Christians is to make disciples; and of the disciples, to give happiness. One lady was asked why so many came into the downtown mission when she stood at the door. Her reply was, "I smile them in." She smiled them in -- right into the church services.
The world is made up of two types of people, in the Christian context——the leaners and the lifters. We ought to produce more than we consume. We need to be happy; we need to laugh more; we need to realize that there is good therapy in laughing.
Notice what one doctor said: "Let me encourage you to make provision in your family to make your children happy. Let them laugh aloud. Because a good laugh expands the chest, makes the blood bound merrily along. A good laugh will sound right through the house - it will not only do your child good, but it will benefit all who hear. It is an important means of driving away the blues from every dwelling. Merriment is very catching. It spreads in a remarkable manner, few being able to resist the contagion. A hearty laugh is delightful harmony; it is the best of music."
There is a benefit to laughter. So in
let me ask you wherein is your happiness? As a Christian now, where is your happiness; better yet, in what is your happiness? If you are not a Christian, your happiness cannot be in unbelief. Happiness is not in money. Jay Gould, the millionaire, had plenty of that. However, when he was dying, he said, "I suppose I am the most miserable devil on earth." Happiness is not in money.
It is not in position, and it is not in fame. Many in such categories have complained, at death's door, of their unhappy spirits. It is not in pleasure. Many who have reveled all their days have come to the end saying that in all of the pleasure, they have not been led to the Tree of Happiness.
It is not in power either. Napoleon is a name which comes into our minds with regard to power. Yet he said, while a prisoner, "Others have founded great empires, but how did they do this? By force." Yet Jesus founded His upon love. And today there are millions who would die for Him. Happiness is not in power.
Where, then, is happiness to be found? Jesus said it — "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man shall take from you." The answer is in the inner man, with Jesus alone. For the Christian to become completely absorbed in what makes the Church tick can produce happiness. The main Scripture for this chapter comes from I Peter 4:13:
"But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy"
This is the joy which He wants everyone to have today. "If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, let Jesus come into your heart. Your night He'll turn to day; your sins He'll wash away. Your life? He'll make i-b over again. If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, let Jesus come into your heart."
God wants you to be happy. Psalm 35:9, "My soul shall be joyful in the Lord." This is what happiness is - it is God in you I found this clipping, written by an unknown author years ago on: "How To Keep Happy"
"Think of all the good things you know about people and quit looking for things they do which don't suit you.
"Look upon every day as God's day, and not the devil's. Then you will serve God. and not another. Get it out of your system that you are right, and that every body else is wrong. Because it is not so. Don't listen to the man who tells you that everything is going to pieces. This world was here at least six thousand years before you were born. It is still standing. God isn't dead.
Remember the prescription of Jesus. Lose your life if you would save it. Don't forget this: True riches belong to the heart, rather than to the bank vault. Store up wealth in your heart, and you will be happy. Store up wealth in the bank vaults, and you will be miserable.
"If you want to be happy, keep company with God. He promises to give peace. The devil lends only, and collects on short time, with compound interest. You may not believe this, but it is so. Some have found out when it was too late.
God wants you to be happy. Therefore - do right, work hard, give generously, be friendly, have faith, keep on going on. Happiness is knowing you are on God's Camera.
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