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Choose friends wisely
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 Do you want real happiness? Not the momentary fleeting pleasure that so many mistake for happiness, but real, deep seated happiness that can't be touched?

 Psalm 1 tells us how to obtain it: "Happy are those who reject the advice of evil people, who do not follow the example of sinners or join those who have no use for God.

 Instead, they find joy in obeying the law of the Lord, and they study it day and night. They are like trees that grow beside a stream, that bear fruit at the right time, and whose leaves do not dry up. They succeed in everything they do. But evil people are not like this at all; they are like straw that the wind blows away.

 Sinners will be condemned by God and kept apart from God's own people. The righteous are guided and protected by the Lord, but the evil are on the way to their doom," (Psalm 1:1-6 TEV).

The first step to happiness is to watch your associates. I am alarmed at the number of professed believers who constantly seek out unsaved friends for counsel and advice. How can they help you?

 "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV).

 My personal opinion is that the only reason a believer might seek the advice of an unbeliever is because that believer is looking for justification to do something he or she already knows they ought not do.

 Just a thought, but that thought is based on years of experience and observation. What is not my opinion are the words of this Psalm, "Happy are those who reject the advice of evil people." The Bible warns, "Don't fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you," (1 Corinthians 15:33, CEV).

 As much as I like modern translations, there is still great value in the older, more traditional translations.

 When I memorized these verses I did so in the King James Version (which my son is convinced was the newest translation of my youth): "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."

 Did you catch the downward spiral of this verse? First the individual walks with the unbeliever. The concept here is that this is where he or she finds their direction; where they go for advice and comfort. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates this portion of this Psalm, "How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked."

 The believer who seeks the advice of unbelievers as they walk through life soon begins to settle in and find comfort in these wrong associations and in wrong actions. They take their stand with and begin even to support issues they recognize as wrong. Yet they experience not the slightest twinge of conscious. Why? They have lost their spiritual sensitivity.

 The final step downward is the person walks in the company and counsel of the ungodly, then they take their stand with them, finally they are setting down in fellowship with "those who have no use for God."

 The question before us is, if you are a believer, where are you looking for happiness? Where are you looking for fulfillment? Where do you turn when you need advice and guidance? Look in the wrong places and you will go down the wrong path to your own doom. Look to God and you will be firmly established.

 If you are not a believer, let me state categorically that there is no true, lasting happiness apart from God. You might find fleeting moments of pleasure, but you will not find true happiness until you discover God's love and forgiveness for yourself.

 One final thing. This has nothing to do with experience. Experience and feelings will mislead you again and again.

 We need to seek guidance in what Dr. Francis Schaeffer called, "True truth." The absolute, infallible, inerrant word of God.

 Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA 30016. Or e-mail him at For more information, visit the Gateway Web site at