The Happiest People!

Brief Bible Course for Teens and Youth.

Lesson 7. Blessed Are They That Do!

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Memory Verse: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 15:10, 11.

On our mission station in Burma there lived a very happy family. Enoch was eight years old; Sweet Sweet, a sister, was just a little older; Little Little, another sister, was about eleven; and Silver, the great, big sister that went away to the training school and only came home for summer vacations, was fifteen.

The younger children looked forward to the summer when Silver would come home, for they had such fun together. One day after playing hide-and-seek around the house and around the school, Enoch suddenly said, "Aye! I know, let's get through the fence and play hide-and-seek in the jungle behind the big trees and the bamboos."

"But mother says we mustn't play in the jungle," said Sweet Sweet.

"Oh, just once wouldn't matter," said Little Little. "But mother says there are snakes and there are tigers."

"Yes, mother's always trying to stop us from having fun," pouted Enoch.

"And Silver is big enough to chase the tigers away, aren't you, Silver?" said Little Little.

"Oh, come on," said Enoch.

"Just this once," said Little Little.

So the four children got through the fence and went to play in the jungle. It was fun! Suddenly, while hiding, Enoch saw a bird dart into a little hole in the side of a dead tree. "Sh-h!" he said, as he held up his finger to his three sisters. "Sh-h-h!"

They knew what he meant, and kept quiet while they watched him breathlessly creep up to the tree and cover the hole with his handkerchief.

"Come on, Silver," he shouted. "I saw a bird go in here, come and help me."

The girls ran up. Silver slid her hand in under the handkerchief, and pulled out not one bird but four little baby birds not full grown yet!

"Let's take them home and show mother," chorused the three younger children, and through the fence and past the school and up the bamboo ladder they went.

"Mother, Mother! Look!" they shouted.

"But where's the mother bird?" said mother sternly.

"We'll go back to the jungle at nighttime and get the mother bird," said Enoch excitedly, "and she will think some bad people are going to hurt her, and we'll bring her home and put her in the same box with her four babies!"

But mother said, "You mustn't go into the jungle to play, especially at night. There are snakes in the jungle and tigers too."

And I'm sorry to report that pouty lips moved to say, "We will go! We will go! Won't we!"

Just before dark the children slipped away and off they went, past the school, through the fence, into the jungle. Cautiously Enoch slipped up to the little hole in the side of the tree, covered it, and shouted, "Come on, Silver!"

Silver came, slid her hand in under the handkerchief, then screamed! For in that nest was a big black snake, and it had bitten Silver on the finger.

Oh, how it hurt!

"Oh, I wish we had obeyed mother," cried Silver. "Quick, Enoch, do something."

Enoch twisted his handkerchief around her wrist, and Sweet Sweet and Little Little took hold of her skirt and helped to lead her home.

"Mother, Mother, quick!" screamed Silver. "A snake has bitten me on the finger."

Poor mother! As if she did not have enough to worry about. But she rose to the occasion, and as she tied more handkerchiefs around the arm, she said, "Quick, Enoch, go for the nurse!"

The nurse was there in a few minutes, "Yes," she said, "I know what to do; I must cut it with a knife, and squeeze the blood and the poison out."

So she cut it with her lance, and Silver screamed, "My poor finger, first the snake bit it; now the knife has cut it!" And she cried so hard that the neighbor next door came running in.

"Oh," she said when she saw what the trouble was. "Maybe the poison isn't all out yet. Get a stick of wood from the fire with a red-hot coal on it and burn the place where the snake bite is."

So they took a piece of wood from the fire and burnt the poor finger with a red-hot coal, and Silver screamed, "My poor finger! First the snake bit it, then the knife cut it, and now the fire has burnt it!" And she cried so loud that another neighbor came running in.

"Oh," said the new neighbor when she saw what the trouble was, "maybe the poison isn't all out yet; dip the finger in some boiling water. That will make a big blister, and then the poison will all come out. So they put some water on the fire to boil, and when it was boiling, they dipped the poor finger in. And poor Silver screamed, "My poor finger! First the snake bit it, then the knife cut it, then the fire burnt it, and now the water cooked it. Oh, my poor finger!" And she cried and cried.

But the hot water did make a big blister, and little by little the pain became bearable.

"Oh, my dear children," said mother as she relaxed, "if you could only realize that when I say, `Don't play in the jungle,' I'm not trying to keep you from having fun, but I'm trying to keep you from having trouble and pain!"

A few days after this terrible experience I came back from a trip and saw that poor finger, and it took two long months to heal the place where the snake had bitten it, the knife had cut it, the fire had burned it, and the water had cooked it.

I wish we could all remember this fact. God never says "Thou shalt not" to rob us of any pleasure, but only to keep us from sorrow, disappointment, pain, and death. "Blessed are they that do his commandments," says John. "He that keepeth the law, happy is he," says Solomon. Proverbs 29:18.

Let us now see how keeping the Commandments lead to fullness of joy. There are people in this world who are unwilling to keep the fourth commandment, and in an attempt to excuse themselves they try to prove that the law is no longer binding, or that it is impossible to keep the law; and try to cover up their disobedience by talking loudly about being under grace and not under the law.

You will remember that the rich young ruler came to Jesus and said, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19:16, 17. Again a certain lawyer stood up and asked, "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered, "What is written in the law?" Then the lawyer quoted the two great commandments about love to God and love to man, and Jesus said, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." Luke 10:25-28.

Now, can you ever remember Jesus telling anybody to do something that was impossible? He told the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda to take up his bed and walk, and the man who had been unable to help himself for thirty-eight years took up his bed and walked. John 5:11. Jesus told the man with the withered hand to "stretch forth" his hand, "and he stretched it forth; and it was re­stored whole, like as the other." Matthew 12:13. When the multitude was hungry, for they had been listening to Jesus all day long, Jesus said to His disciples, "Give them to eat." All they could find was five loaves and two fishes, but "they did eat, and were filled." Matthew 14:20. That same night Jesus told Peter to come unto Him upon the water. How utterly impossible! But "when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water." Verse 29.

When Jesus commands, there is power for a sick man to take up his bed and walk, there is strength to stretch forth the withered hand, somehow there is enough food to feed the multitude, and there is firmness in the water so that Peter can walk upon it. So when Jesus says, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments," there must be a way, with His help, to keep these commandments.

Jesus certainly did not come to do away with the commandments. He came to magnify the law and make it honorable. (Isaiah 42:21.) He came not to destroy the law but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17.) Christ called hatred murder (verses 21, 22) and lustful thoughts adultery (verses 27, 28). Jesus so magnified the law that we tremble at the impossibility of keeping the commandments in our own strength. Yet Jesus said, "Keep the commandments," so there must be a way to obey.

"By faith and prayer all may meet the requirements of the gospel. No man can be forced to transgress." Messages to Young People, p. 67. I think I have discovered the secret of how we can keep the commandments. Turning again to Luke 10:27, we find the statement of the lawyer summarizing the keeping of the commandments. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind."

And Jesus said, "Thou hast answered right." Yes, there is the secret; the lawyer must keep the command­ments with all his heart and soul and strength. Peter must keep the commandments with all his heart and soul and strength, you and I with all our heart and soul and strength, and the juniors and children with all their heart and soul and strength. Oh, isn't God fair and just! I love to serve a God like that, don't you? He takes note of where each one was born, (Psalm 87:4), of how much light we have had, then does not require one bit more than all our heart and soul and strength. But God does require all our heart and soul and strength; He will not accept one bit less.

"The church of God is made up of vessels large and small. The Lord does not ask for anything unreasonable. He does not expect the smaller vessels to hold the contents of the larger ones. He looks for returns according to what a man has, not according to what he has not. Do your best, and God will accept your efforts. Take up the duty lying nearest you, and perform it with fidelity, and your work will be wholly acceptable to the Master." Messages to Young People, p. 96.

"Daddy, Daddy! I love you, Daddy!" called my little son Lenny one day as he came exploring into my office.

"You do?" I stopped work to chat a while.

"Yes, Daddy, I love you. You made me a motorcar didn't you, Daddy?"

"Yes, son. I do lots of things for you, don't I? Because I love you too, don't I? But you don't do very much for me, do you?"

"But, Daddy, I want to. Tell me what to do, and I'll do it," he assured me.

I thought quickly, then said, "Son, I'll tell you what to do. See that big green box in the other room? I need that right here, near my desk. Will you bring it in for me?"

"Yes, Daddy, I'll bring it in," he answered.

It was too heavy for him to move, and I knew it, but I just wanted to see what he would do. He caught hold of the handle and pulled and tugged and grunted for all he was worth; and when he found he couldn't move it he called, "Daddy, come and help me." And I went over, took the other handle, and together we pulled the big box into my office just where I wanted it.

"I did it, Daddy; didn't I, Daddy? I did it," he said triumphantly. And I took him on my knee and hugged him tight. "Of course you did it, son," I whispered.

And from my little boy I learned how we could keep the commandments of God by doing all we can for all we are worth. "If ye love me, keep my commandments," says Jesus. John 14:15. And when we have kept them with all our heart and soul and strength, we may have come far short, but there is a big difference between a shortcoming and a known sin.

On May 30, 1934, we landed at San Francisco on the Asama Maru. There happened to be a strike on among the wharf laborers, so after our suitcases and boxes had passed customs, we had to carry our own luggage to the cars and trailers that had come to meet us. J. E. Fulton, Mrs. Hare's father, was there with a big trailer to meet us, and in all I had something like forty boxes and bundles and suitcases. They were all neatly piled together under the letter H in the customs shed, and of course the luggage belonging to the other passengers whose names began with H were nearby also.

A number of friends offered to help, and soon our luggage was all packed into cars and the trailer, and we were off for Oakland just across the bay, where we were to live. In about an hour or so we were unloading our things when I noticed a strange suitcase, and another one! We looked at the label and recognized the name of one of our fellow passengers, and felt chagrined at the mistake we had made. "What shall we do?" I said to Mrs. Hare. "Have you any idea where she was going tonight?"

"No," said my wife, "but she will be ringing up the shipping company and the customs. Telephone right away and tell the shipping company we took the suitcases by mistake. Ask them to give us her address as soon as pos­sible, and we will deliver them at once."

So I rang up the shipping company and the customs shed, and it wasn't more than a half hour until they tele­phoned the address of the young woman whose suitcases we had. Within an hour the suitcases were safely de­livered to the rightful owner.

"Thank you so much," she said. She didn't put us in jail, didn't fine us, or do anything to us. She just said, "Thank you!" We had another person's luggage in our possession, but were we thieves? Of course not; it was just a slip, a mistake, a shortcoming.

And so with this plan that God has made for us. When we keep His commandments because we love Him with all our heart and soul and strength, although we may be imperfect and faulty, we can live without known and willful sin. Doesn't that make you glad!

"We have little idea of the strength that would be ours if we would connect with the source of all strength. We fall into sin again and again, and think it must always be so.... He has borne our sins in His own body on the tree; and through the power He has given us, we may resist the world, the flesh, and the devil. Then let us not talk of our weakness and inefficiency, but of Christ and His strength. ... When we talk of the power of the Mighty One, the enemy is driven back. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us." Messages to Young People, p. 105.

Love makes all things easy, love makes the burden light, love makes bearing the cross a privilege, and love makes keeping the commandments a joy.

One day six-year-old Lenny cried, "Daddy, will you get me a cornet so I can play in the band?"

"A cornet!" I said in surprise.

"Yes, Daddy, a cornet! I would like to play in the band like Tha Kin!"

"But Tha Kin is a big boy, son, and you're only a little boy."

"But I'm almost a big boy, Daddy," said Lenny, poking out his chest and standing up as tall as he possibly could. "And I'm strong, look here!" And he flexed his biceps.

Then suddenly an inspiration came to me, and I said quite seriously, "Strong? Ah, but I think a little boy who can't carry up his wood without being told two or three times isn't strong enough to blow a cornet in the band."

"But, Daddy, the splinters! How they poke!"

"And I think a little boy who can't keep the kitchen waterpot filled for his mother wouldn't have enough wind to play a cornet."

"It's so wet, Daddy!"

"I'll tell you what I'll do, son. I'll keep my eye on the wood box and the waterpot for three months, and if you are big and strong enough to keep them full, then I'll know you are big enough to play a cornet in the band, and I'll buy you a cornet."

"0 Daddy! Goody! Goody!" And off he ran to the woodpile. Somehow or other the splinters didn't bother him any more. Somehow or other the water wasn't wet and sloppy any more. He brought up so much wood that mother could hardly get into the kitchen, and we had to put a daily limit on him. Funny isn't it how easy it all is when we love something very much?

To be sure, he got his cornet and was playing in the band in a few more weeks, and ever since I've understood this verse so much better: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:2, 3.

Now let us look at some of the blessings that come with keeping the commandments. "Walk in my statutes,"

God says through the prophet Ezekiel, "and keep my judgments, and do them; and hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God." Ezekiel 20:19, 20.

Keeping the commandments, especially observing the seventh-day Sabbath, makes us stand out separate and distinct from all other people in the world. Peter uses the term "a peculiar people."

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” 1 Peter 2:9. There is a great blessing in being this kind of peculiar people.

I remember when the responsibility of the Karen Mission was first placed on my shoulders. Besides the mission family we had a total of two baptized members in our entire territory, and they lived sixty miles away. As I had never met these good brethren before, I decided to go in to visit them as soon as possible. I learned the name of the elder of the two members, Aung Baw, and found out that he used to be a prize fighter, was tall and cross-eyed. The name of his village, however, turned out to be the name of a locality in which were twenty or more villages. With an evangelist who was also new to the district I disembarked from the river steamer at the village nearest to the locality, hired a bullock cart, and started off. In the first village in the Doyin locality we visited with the head­man and asked whether he could direct us to Aung Baw.

"Aung Baw?" said the headman, "a prize fighter, and you say he's cross-eyed?"


"I'm sorry, I've never heard of him, but try the next village," he said.

To the next village we went, with the same result.

"Aung Baw? Aung Baw?" said the headman, trying to recall the cross-eyed prize fighter, "I don't know him. He doesn't live in this village."

We tried the next village and the next. We tried seven villages, but no one knew the cross-eyed prize fighter whose name was Aung Baw.

"But somebody must know him," I said at last desperately. "He lives somewhere around here. He belongs to our mission. He keeps the seventh day, he . . "

"Oh," blurted out the seventh headman, "you mean that seventh-day man! Why yes, everybody knows him; but we didn't know his name. We just call him `Uncle,' and we didn't know he used to be a prize fighter. Look, do you see that mountain with the little pagoda on the very tiptop of it? Well, straight down at the bottom of that cliff there's a village, and that seventh-day man lives there!"

Within an hour we had found our man. We could have spent the whole afternoon looking for Aung Baw, the cross-eyed prize fighter, because nobody knew him, but everybody knew the seventh-day man. And I think that's one of the blessings of keeping the commandments. It is a sign that we are God's people, and in that day when the angels are sent forth to gather the patient saints who "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelations 14:12), I want them to be able to find me easily. And in that day when there shall be trouble such as there never was since there was a nation upon the earth, and the angels are sent to deliver "every one that shall be found written in the book" (Daniel 12:1) , I want them to have no difficulty finding me. I want God's sign to be clear and shining bright upon me. Don't you?

Many are the stories we could tell of the joy and happiness that keeping the commandments of God brings to the children of God. There's the story of Corporal Desmond Doss, who kept the Sabbath, read his Bible, and prayed, no matter what others said or thought, but the day came when he stood before the President of the United States and had the highest honor bestowed upon him that the nation can give--the Congressional Medal of Honor. Was he happy? But that's only half of his joy; wait till we get to the new earth, and scores of other Seventh-day Adventist boys tell Desmond that he's helped them keep true to God; wait till we all get through thanking Desmond for what his courage and faithfulness did for the cause of God and for each of us individually. Happy? That's not a big enough word for the fullness of joy he's going to have then.

Many are the stories we could tell of the joy and happiness that comes when deliverance from destruction, fire, and death comes to those who keep His command­ments. There is that story about Stanley Ward, just twelve years old, and his two little sisters, who crawled into an old sewer pipe and sang "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" while a bomb blew away the stairs going up to their apartment. It killed six people who were still on the side­walk, yet when the all-clear sounded those children crawled out of the sewer pipe without a scratch or a wound on them anywhere. Happy? You should have heard them singing at Sabbath school on the next Sabbath:

"The Lord's our Rock, in Him we hide,
A shelter in the time of storm."

But there's another story I love to tell, a story told by Dr. Sherman A. Nagel in the Review and Herald, May 17, 1945.

It happened just after the first victorious thrusts of the Japanese Army in World War II, while the Army of Occupation was attempting to bring about a new order of things in the Philippines. In one town in the Cagoyan Valley on North Luzon Island the mayor of the town was doing his best to build up good will between the people and their conquerors by suggesting that the young women join in the dancing each evening at the market hall, a large building with concrete floor and open sides.

Now, in this town we had a sizable company of believers, and there were more than just a few Seventh-day Adventist young women in this group. They got together and said, "What shall we do?" At last they decided that mayor or no mayor, Army of Occupation or no Army of Occupation, Seventh-day Adventists did not dance, and they were not going to.

The mayor noticed their absence, and let it pass un­noticed for a short time, but at last he came to our young women and said, "Now, see here, nobody especially wants to dance, but everybody else is doing her best to make it easy for the community, and I expect every one of you to do her part at these community gatherings too."

"Well, we might join in the singing," suggested one as they talked it over together.

"Yes, but not dance," added another.

"No, not dance," they decided, "only join in the singing."

So the next Saturday night there they were, and they joined in the singing.

But it wasn't long before a Japanese officer asked one of them to dance with him. When the request was politely declined he became insulted and went away angry. Soon another and another and another was turned away, and they reported the insults to the mayor.

"What is the matter with you people anyway?" the mayor said angrily as he came over to our group of young women. "Why must you always be troublemakers? If you do not cooperate and enter into the spirit of this occasion, I shall report you to the ranking Japanese officer here this evening.

"Wish we hadn't come at all," whispered one girl to another, and all who heard nodded. They realized they had made a mistake in coming at all to such an occasion, and they set their faces not to compromise another step. Seeing he was not getting anywhere with them, the mayor strode off to save face, and soon returned with the ranking Japanese officer. He seemed an unusually good-natured man, and smiled as he kindly said, "Well, girls, what seems to be the matter?"

There was no choice of what to say now, so one girl spoke up respectfully and said, "Sir, we are Seventh-day Adventist young people, and Seventh-day Adventists don't dance."

He listened politely and then asked in a rather serious tone, "If you are Seventh-day Adventists, what are you doing here at all?"

Poor girls, how they wished they had not come. Now what could they say? But while they were searching their heart for words to reply, the Japanese officer smiled again and said, "Young ladies, be at ease. I think I appreciate your stand and the very difficult situation you have been placed in. You see, I, too, am a Seventh-day Adventist. Circumstances beyond my control often place me in difficult situations too."

The girls could hardly believe their ears; their faces brightened--this ranking officer a Seventh-day Adventist!

"How did you become a Seventh-day Adventist?" ventured one young woman. "Where did you go to school?" said another, and the officer told them he had been educated at Pacific Union College in California.

Of course the girls had heard of this college, some of their young men friends having attended it, and as they reminisced over the days gone by, the officer said, "There's one song we used to sing probably more than any other, 'Jesus Is Coming Again.' Oh, how we loved it."

"We know it, too," said the girls.

"Come on then, let's sing it," said the officer, and right there in the market place dance hall, with hilarity and frivolity all around them, they joined their voices, and sang:

"Lift up the trumpet and loud let it ring; Jesus is coming again!
Cheer up, ye pilgrims, be joyful and sing; Jesus is coming again!"

The dancing stopped, the civilians and military personnel gathered around, with astonishment on their faces. The mayor was so amazed that he was speechless. But the officer waved them away to their dancing again as he explained, "I've just found a group of my friends."

They spent the evening together recounting experiences of courage and fortitude among the Japanese Adventist young people, and when at last they broke up it was with the assurance that there would be no more trouble over future absences from these social occasions. Amid all the dancing, singing, and drinking that was there that evening, can you guess who were the happiest young people in that whole town? Surely "happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God." Psalm 146:5. And "blessed are they that do his commandments." Revelations 22:14.

Mrs. E. G. White says: "I wish I could portray the beauty of the Christian life. Beginning in the morning of life, controlled by the laws of nature and of God, the Christian moves steadily onward and upward, daily drawing nearer his heavenly home, where await for him a crown of life, and a new name, 'which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.' Constantly he grows in happiness, in holiness, in usefulness. The progress of each year exceeds that of the past year.

"God has given the youth a ladder to climb, a ladder that reaches from earth to heaven. Above this ladder is God, and on every round fall the bright beams of His glory. He is watching those who are climbing, ready, when the grasp relaxes and the steps falter, to send help. Yes, tell it in words full of cheer, that no one who perseveringly climbs the ladder will fail of gaining an entrance into the heavenly city." Messages to Young People, p. 95.

One day I went to see my head teacher, Thara Mgat Po. I found him just sitting down to dinner with his little three-year-old son Solomon by his side.

While I waited I saw the little boy fix his plate just like his father's. I saw him look into his father's face, and when his father looked down, his little face beamed, and he said, "I love you, Daddy."

Fathers love to hear their little sons talk like that, and the father smiled as he asked, "How much do you love daddy, Solomon?"

The little boy stretched his chubby arms as far apart as he could and said, "This big."

"Then," smiled his father, "if you love daddy that big, would you like to get daddy a drink of water?"

Solomon jumped to his little feet and ran over to the waterpot, but the waterpot was too high. For just a moment he looked at it and then looked at the tin cup that hung on a nail near the waterpot, but it was too high also. Then without a moment's hesitation he stood on very tiptoe, with his little stomach pressed flat against the post and his little arm reaching toward the cup. He could just touch it. But he did all he could for all he was worth, and while his little finger made the tin cup go tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, he called "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!"

And I saw the joy fill that father's face. He waited only a moment, enjoying the evidence of his little son's love, then hastily rose from the table, walked over to his little boy, and lifted him up in his arms till his little hand could reach the cup and dip the water. Then the father put him down on the floor again, and the boy ran with the water to the table. The water was half spilt by the time he got there, but I heard that father say, "That is the sweetest cup of water I've ever drunk in all my life."

That's the way it is with us and our Saviour. When we ask what we must do that we may have life eternal, He says, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the command­ments."

But they are too high and we are too weak. What then can we do? Serve the Lord with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy strength and call upon our heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus to empower us to do it. Jesus lifts us up, covers our shortcomings with His glorious righteousness, gives us the victory and we then stand complete in Him.

“Our Lord made it our duty, as well as our privilege, to connect our weakness, our ignorance, our need, with His strength, his wisdom, His righteousness. He unites his infinite power with the effort of finite beings, that they may be more than victors in the battle with the enemy of their souls.” Review and Herald, October 30, 1888.

"Nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness, and relies wholly on the merits of the Saviour. God would send every angel in heaven to the aid of such an one, rather than allow him to be overcome." Messages to Young People, p. 94.

"That's why I love Him,
That's why I love Him,
Because He first loved me;
When I'm tempted and tried,
He is close by my side,
That's why I love Him so."
Scott Lawrence.

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