Victorious Living

"I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me."

  This song is a song of faith. In reality every song is a song of faith. Faith is the basis of happiness. It is the inspiration of song. We return to the theme of faith here because faith is central and vital. Christian faith is what makes the Christian life so joyous. There are many who call themselves Christians who are not joyous. That is because they do not have an active faith. Paul was radiantly joyful solely because he was a man of deep and settled faith and had the assurance that comes from such a faith. Again we quote his words, "The life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God."

  To Paul, Christ was real. His relations with him were real. On that stormy sea journey that ended in shipwreck Paul could say to those in danger with him that all would be well, that not a life would be lost. He could speak confidently because the angel of the Lord had stood by him and had given him the assurance of faith.

  God promised, "My presence shall go with thee." That promise has been a comfort and consolation to God's people for three thousand years. We need to cultivate a sense of God's presence. He has said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." His presence with us is real whether or not we can realize its reality. We need not try to create a sense of its reality in our imagination. It is a fact, not a thing of fancy. We have only to sense the fact and to treat it as a fact. We may say that God is everywhere. True, but it is not his presence everywhere that counts for us; it is only that part of everywhere where we are. God is just as real in that little part of everywhere where you and I now are as he is in heaven on his throne. It is his presence where we are that really counts for us. Therefore it is the sense of the reality of his presence with us that makes him real to us.

  The Psalmist said, "Thou art with me." To be able to say this means much. First of all it means safety. The story of how one of God's children came to realize her safety in the abiding presence of God is told by Mrs. Pearsall Smith: "I was attending a prayermeeting when a poor woman rose to speak and I looked at her wondering what she could say, little thinking she was to bring a message to my soul. She said she had great difficulty in living the life of faith on account of the second causes that seem to control nearly everything that concerned her. Her perplexity became so great that she began to ask God whether he was in everything or not.

  "After praying for a few days she had what she described as a vision. She thought she was in a perfectly dark place and that there advanced toward her from a distance a body of light which gradually surrounded and enveloped her and everything about her. As it approached a voice seemed to say, 'This is the presence of God.' While surrounded with this presence all the great and awful things of life seemed to pass before her —fighting armies, wicked men, raging beasts, storms and pestilences, sin, and suffering of every kind.

  "She shrank back at first in terror but she soon saw that the presence of God so surrounded and enveloped each one of these that not a lion could reach out his paw nor a bullet fly through the air except as his presence moved out of the way to permit it and she saw that let there be ever so thin a sheet as it were of this glorious presence between herself and the most terrible violence not a hair of her head would be ruffled nor anything touch her unless the presence divided to let the evil through. It was so also with the small and annoying things of life. Her difficulty vanished. Her question was answered forever. God was in everything and the angel and his presence saved her."

  We shall not all have such experiences to cause us to realize the presence of God and our safety therein. God has other ways of bringing this about. We may greatly help by continually assuring ourselves that God is with us. If we should say to ourselves in our times of difficulty or danger, "God is with me; I am safe," we would presently come to feel safe no matter what the circumstances. If we should repeat over and over to ourselves in our times of need, "God is with me; God will help me," it would come to be a reality with us. It is real whether or not we realize it, but it profits us in our consciousness only when we realize it.

  We need the sense of God most when we need his help and sustaining grace. It is in the times of storm tha we appreciate shelter. So we need to realize the sheltering presence of God in life's storms. We can do much toward cultivating a state of mind that recognizes God presence in our darkest times. We must not wait for t! dark times to begin this development. We should develop it under favorable circumstances, then bring the consciousness of God's presence into the unfavorable time until it becomes as real in the unfavorable time in the more favorable time.

  The sense of God's presence sometimes comes from our emotions. This is only in the favorable season In the unfavorable seasons it can come to us only through faith. Therefore the need of cultivating a sense of his presence through our faith. Our faith will be tested with respect to this as with other things. The more faith is tested and tried when it meets and endures, the more it grows.

  We need to learn to use our faith. We should form the habit of daily accomplishing something by our faith. We should pray every day the prayer of faith for some definite thing. We cannot do this if we scatter our prayers too much. We cannot concentrate faith on many things at one time. We can have a general faith that takes in all our needs and this we can exercise daily, but we need a particular exercise of faith to receive particular things, particular help, and particular grace. We should pray for many things, but there are so things on which we should specialize. We should make them a special object of prayer. We should choose something that we feel to be the will of God for us.

  Then we should pray for that thing until it is granted, until faith grasps its object and makes it a reality.

  When we pray for many things and do not exercise definite faith for definite answers we weaken rather than strengthen our faith. It tends to make our faith ineffective. We should use faith nob only in prayer but in both the little things and in the greater things of life. There are many opportunities every day to exercise faith. Little acts of faith build character, and bring success and happiness. It is by the exercise of definite faith or acting out faith in our lives and holding the attitude of faith that develops faith and prepares us for the difficulties that may come.

  Every exercise of faith prepares us the more easily to exercise it next time. Every recognition of the working power of faith in our lives and the things accomplished by it make UB more capable of using faith. The use of faith in this way in the little things of life gives us a sense of God's partnership with us, of his continuous help. Sometimes we realize very greatly our need of help. Do we realize his willingness to give that help and do we act upon such a realization? It has been said that God helps those that help themselves, but I think God loves best to help those who cannot help themselves. I think that those who are faint and weak with the toils of life and those whose courage falters may more than any others have cause to believe that God will help them. God is not looking for opportunities to help those who need no help. His help is for those who stand in need of it and who must have it. To such it is freely given when they trust him.

"I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me."

  So many say, "Oh, if I knew how to have faith." One thing that may help is this, "Never let what you do know be weakened by what you don't know. Stick to what you do know." Always remember that the things you do know whatever they are, are facts. Nothing can change them. The things you don't know but only fear and are uncertain of never can change the facts that you do know. So settle down on the things you do know. Do not doubt them. Do not question them. Rely upon them. Then base your attitude toward the things you do not know upon your attitude toward the things you do know. This will always give you certainty up to a certain point and will indicate what must lie beyond that point. So make facts your foundation. Stand upon the known while you face the unknown.

  James said we should show our faith by our works. If we believe in God we ought to act like it. "He thinks he believes it but he doesn't," said a woman of a man who had been professing his faith in the gospel. "If he really thought he had a friend like that, rich enough and strong enough to help him in every trouble and willing to do it, too, somebody that is sending him blessings all the while he is here and getting a beautiful home prepared for him to use afterward—do you suppose he would go about so gloomy and discouraged like all the time?" Assuredly not. When we really believe a thing our conduct is in harmony with our belief. So, if we really believe God's promises we shall be joyful Christians.

  We should truly believe and have the will to put that belief into our deportment. We should have the will to be cheerful, bright, and pleasant. We should keep our troubles out of our eyes, out of our voice, and out of our movements. We should not advertise that we have trouble. The more we allow our physical attitude, the tone of our voice, and the look in our eyes to depict discouragement, defeat, or uncertainty, the more we shall have within to overcome. God meant us to be victorious, so let us adopt the attitude of victory and say, "Since God meant me to be victorious I mean to be victorious. It is my right to be victorious. Through God's help I will be victorious. I am victorious." This attitude will go far toward making us victorious and toward making us realize our victoriousness.

  There are times when our faith grows weary, when we find it difficult to exercise. As many have said, we may say after long efforts, "My faith is worn out." At such times we may find it difficult to pray. At such times people are inclined to mistrust their own experiences and question whether they are right with God or what is the matter with them. Alice E. Worcester tells what she does under such circumstances in the following lines,

"When I am very weary I do not try to pray,
I only shut my eyes, and wait
To hear what God will say."

  There are times in life when we can only hold still and wait. At such times that is all God requires of us. That is all that is necessary. If God does not speak when we wait to hear him speak we may be sure that he will speak when it is needful for him to speak, and when he speaks he will cause our hearts to rejoice. In these times of weariness we should not let down our faith. We should rest in faith.

  We have said that faith brings joy. Over in far off Africa on the Congo River stands a native village. Formerly its inhabitants were sunk in ignorance and lived in mud huts that abounded in filth. A missionary went to the town and proclaimed to them the gospel message. They heard, believed, and accepted it and were saved. They were transformed and set about the transformation of their town. To celebrate the great change that had come they changed the name of the town and now it is known as Joy Town. Christ can make our town, any town, Joy Town to us.

  Let us not forget that what life is depends upon what we are, and what we see depends upon how we look. The Sunday-School Times tells an old fable, "A cold firebrand and a burning lamp started out one day to see what they could find. The firebrand came back and wrote in its journal that the whole world was dark. It did not find a place wherever it went in which there was light. The lamp came back and wrote in its journal, 'wherever I went it was light.' What was the difference? The lamp carried its light with it and illuminated everything. The dead firebrand had no light and everywhere it went everything was dark."

  To sum up our thoughts, the secret of the singing heart consists in learning to be what we ought to be and to hold the attitude we ought to hold toward life. It consists in learning to adjust ourselves to our circumstances and to be happy in those circumstances. It means to take advantage of those favorable things that come in life, to make the best of the here and now and to look forward to the future with confident expectation of success and with determination to have success. It consists in walking with God, believing in him, and acting out that belief day by day. Doing this we shall be ever blessed and ever happy. We shall have joy and happiness, and "sorrow and sighing shall flee away."



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