Qualities of Happiness, Pt. 3
Study Guide, October 18, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
So how about a little ‘blast from the past’, thinking about some good old candy snacks that used to be around? Do you remember the Mallo Cup…a combination of chocolate with a creamy filling? It was the first candy in America in the shape of a ‘cup’. Then, there was the Clark Bar. This was the first combination candy bar in America, with crispy peanut butter, caramel, and chocolate. Here’s the neat thing about his bar…it was so popular during WWII that millions of Clark Bars were sent to the troops. The government called them ‘essential to our war effort.’ That’s the power of chocolate right there. How Screaming Yellow Zonkers? With a name like that, this candy glazed popcorn was just essential fun! And then you’ve got to love Pop Rocks. How can you go wrong with exploding candy, right? But my all time favorite was Fizzies! Those are the times I probably drank more water than at anytime in my life, because we were obsessed with dropping the Fizzies in the water and watching it boil…drink it and do it again.
Yeah, happy times. But we say that loosely because recently we started to explore the striking differences between Circumstantial Happiness and Intentional Happiness. And we discovered right away is that there is quite a difference between them, as the first is a temporal happiness, while the other has an eternal quality about it. However, the surprising thing about this intentional happiness, as opposed to the circumstantial happiness, is that it can bless us both in the temporal and in the eternal.
So let’s explore further: To help us clearly identify the qualities of genuine and lasting happiness, God outlined a plan for us to follow in our walk with Him. So we return to the helps of the blessed Beatitudes. So we now come to Matt 5:5- “Blessed (Happy) are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” KJV This statement by Jesus is both one of the most magnanimous and misunderstood concepts in the Scriptures. It is magnanimous in how wonderfully generous God’s pronouncement is to His followers who choose to walk this path of ‘meekness’, and it is misunderstood in how completely counterintuitive it is in relation to how the world understands power and possessions. Here’s what we mean.
Do you remember some of the similar concepts that Jesus said about how life really works? How about this one? Matt 16:25- “Any of you who try to save the life you have will lose it. But you who give up your life for Me will find true life.” ERV And of course, the context has to do with repentance toward God, in order to receive eternal life. But the attitude of repentance, this ‘giving up of our life to God’ is to then become our daily attitude for all of life. Why? Because, as we have often stated, the way to experience ‘real gain’ in the real world, the genuine world of reality, is through losing yourself…or giving yourself up to God’s rule. But the way to experience actual loss in the real world, is to try to hold onto yourself…or to rule your world yourself. And mark it down, the problem is that by nature, our sin nature, giving up ruling the world ourselves is not natural. The sin nature is all about ‘self-rule’.
The other night as I was watching a show, a commercial came on, and I hear this music to it that I recognized as a song that came out in the 1980’s by an English band. And the name of the song was, oddly enough, a perfect commentary on the human heart. The song is called: ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’. Boom! That’s the problem in a nutshell! That’s pretty much the human condition right there, you know? Now, it’s actually a really catchy tune…if you’re not careful it’s hard to get out of your head…still has a really good sound to it though…but the point is this: this pronouncement of Jesus of how to experience this genuine and blessed happiness in life is directly contrary to world’s constant promotion of the self and people’s obsession with appearances and power and possessions.
But now, here is where what Jesus said is so astounding, because of all that His promise includes. Notice again, because it’s often overlooked: Jesus says that as His people practice this blessed virtue of meekness, which is also gentleness, humility, mercy…which we well explore later…but, He said, the reward of growing in this virtue is not only a greater share in present happiness, but also a greater inheritance of something really big! The meek will inherit – the what? The Earth! That’s pretty big! You talk about capital gain! The Earth? Now, that’s some serious real estate! That’s some serious property and some serious rulership power. And to think that this kind of promise is made by the Owner of the Earth to those who exercise the right attitude toward Him and toward others while they live out their lives upon the Earth. And yet, now do you see just how important your attitude is toward God and others? It directly affects your part, or portion, in and of the coming inheritance and rulership of the coming New Earth!
Inheritance privileges of the actual coming New Earth was a common theme of the Lord’s teaching about His coming Kingdom, but it somehow has not been commonly taught, nor commonly understood. Let’s connect this Beatitude about inheriting the Earth with one of Jesus’ parables. Luke 19:11-19- “As the crowd listened to what he was saying, Jesus went on to tell a story. He was now near Jerusalem and knew that the people thought it was almost time for God’s kingdom to come. So he said, “A very important man was preparing to go to a country far away to be made a king. Then he planned to return home and rule his people. So he called ten of his servants together. He gave a bag of money to each servant. He said, ‘Do business with this money until I come back.’ But the people in the kingdom hated the man. They sent a group to follow him to the other country. There they said, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ But the man was made king. When he came home, he said, ‘Call those servants who have my money. I want to know how much more money they earned with it.’ The first servant came and said, ‘Sir, I earned ten bags of money with the one bag you gave me.’ The king said to him, ‘That’s great! You are a good servant. I see that I can trust you with small things. So now I will let you rule over ten of my cities.’ The second servant said, ‘Sir, with your one bag of money I earned five bags.’ The king said to this servant, ‘You can rule over five cities.’” ERV
And Jesus told a similar parable in Matthew of ‘the talents’, which was in relation to the faithful use of their abilities also. And we know there was another servant that was disobedient altogether; and received his due consequences. And we often focus on the disobedient servant, but what is overlooked in these parables is the absolutely astonishing revelation, that Jesus was making about His coming Kingdom; that our present behavior affects our future ruling privileges…ruling in and ruling over His coming Kingdom…or having dominion over the New Earth. Sound familiar?
Remember what we pointed out about one of the key strategies of the enemy of our souls? Satan takes genuine things and then he counterfeits them. He even takes God-implanted godly desires and he twists them into becoming self-serving desires. Meaning what? When we hear the title of a song like “Everybody Wants to Rule the World’, we go, ‘Like yeah, that’s pretty much it!’ But have you ever wonder why that is? Why does everybody want to rule the world? Where did that desire come from? Could it be that God actually wants people to rule the world that He has made? Could it have something to do with the fact that God created human beings with the intention that they would rule this world that He created for them? Gen 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion (and rule) over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” NKJV Of course, we know that ‘rule’ and ‘dominion’ are equal to ‘stewardship’ and ‘management’ of God’s creation.
One of the most exciting revelations in the Scriptures is learning that God not only wants His people, His family, to rule the Earth, to lovingly and joyfully manage His Earth, but He created them with that holy desire within them to do this; to rule the Earth. Ruling over His creation and ruling over His created order is one of the eternal vocations God created His new human family to do! What He didn’t create them to do is to rule over themselves, or to have dominion over themselves!
And so what did the Devil do? Well, that is what the Devil pounced upon and then counterfeited in the garden. Remember, he so twisted God’s words and twisted their reasoning in such a way that our first parents thought that their real happiness would be found when they could not only rule the Earth, but they could even rule themselves. They could be their own ruler. Remember Satan’s distorted lie? “You will be like God, knowing good and evil”. But when he said they would be ‘like God’ he deceived them again, for what would really happen is that they would be counterfeit gods, they would be like ‘a god’, not knowing good and evil, but now choosing what they think is good and what they think is evil. And, of course, we know that this attitude is what describes the history of mankind, and is the central problem of mankind from that time on…people acting like their own god and choosing what they think is good and evil. But our point is this: when they acted on ‘self rule’ they replaced God with self. But God will not have any other gods before Him. You see, Satan could not stop them from ruling the Earth; for that was what God had given to them to do as their holy gift and privilege. But he could push them too far…push them into ‘ruling themselves’. And in doing so he pushed them into idolatry, into self-rule, acting like a god.
So the poison of it all, and in it all, is this sin-sick desire for people to rule over themselves. We were not created to rule our own life…only God’s world. We were created to live in a worshipful surrender to our God, and to be ruled only by our only God and only Ruler, Jesus Christ, and to then, faithfully and carefully rule His beautiful world.
That’s why when the Bible calls unsaved people to repent toward God and to trust in Jesus as their Savior, the picture is really like going back to the Garden. Fortunately, Adam and Eve did repent of trying to be their own god…they each gave the throne of their life back to God, and then received the covering of a slain animal as a symbol of their forgiveness of their sin against God. We pray that each of you have repented of living like your own god, ruling over yourself…that you have given the throne of your life back to only the rightful King and Ruler of your life…and have received the covering of the forgiveness of the Lamb of God, to pardon you from your sin. If you have any doubt about that, don’t put that conversation with God off any longer. You were not created to rule yourself…there is only room in your life for one God. Choose you this day, whom you will serve, and talk to God about it. And then tell others about your choice of having given the rule over your life back to God alone, and having received the covering of the Lamb of God, of Jesus’ forgiveness and new life, and have become born again! It’s the greatest story you have to tell, anyone, ever.
But again, how surprising it is that there is really nothing inherently wrong with mankind’s desire to have dominion over a little bit of property and over, say, some garden-like parts of a home and business and possessions and such. And next time we’ll reveal a surprising passage about that from Isaiah, which even influenced the Founders thinking about private property and the free market…so stay tuned. But remember, who we are: We are each sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, who have been created to rule over the creation of our God. Think about it: A central part of the whole episode of the Israelites and the Promised Land was to symbolize how God wanted to grant great portions of the Earth as inheritance rewards and privileges to His people as they obeyed His rightful rule as Lord and God of their lives. And when they didn’t, what happened? Just like Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden, the Israelites were removed from the Promised Land. The Promised Land lessons were like expanded Garden of Eden lessons, and were like preview pictures of the coming inheritance rewards and privileges of the coming New Earth.
Now, don’t confuse the Promised Land with Heaven. The Promised Land was not meant to symbolize Heaven. Remember, Heaven is a gift based upon God’s grace and Jesus’ works for our salvation. Whereas the Promised Land symbolized privileges and inheritance rewards based upon God’s children’s obedience. And we can expand further on that later, and we have taught much on that at the Chapel through the years. But, you see, It’s a great help to remember to connect everything in the Bible in one age or stage with everything else in previous ages and future ages to come. That’s why we call the Bible the ‘whole revelation’ of God; the Bible is the great ‘unveiling’ of His plan, from one age and stage to the next age and stage.
For a major example of that, catch this: In the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, the Apostle records a new song he hears from Heaven, and notice what the words are to the song that he hears: Rev. 5:9-10- “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” NASU
What does the Apostle hear that God’s people about to do on the newly designed New Earth? Yup, they are going to be reigning…to be ruling – they are having dominion over God’s creation! Here it is again, from Genesis to Revelation, it’s the same theme: The song that the Apostle hears is about how the people of God have now come full circle to where they can now fulfill the design that our Creator revealed in Genesis for His family to have dominion, and to rule, and to reign over the earth, while they themselves look to their God to rule over them forever and ever. The Creator is ruling over God’s people and God’s people are now ruling over God’s creation…just as He originally planned for them to do! What an amazing God we serve!
And this is the bigger picture of this unfolding plan of God’s that is happening all around us as people go about their day to day lives and activities of working and playing and planning and such. This is the drumbeat of God’s will working out slowly and surely, that those who have ears to hear can hear. And soon, Jesus will step back into the scene, and this earth will become His Kingdom, and then things will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.