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Sunday, March 13, 2016 pm

 

“I THINK GOD WANTS ME TO BE HAPPY”

 

Perhaps you have heard the above statement being made.  Usually, it is made while seeking to justify some behavior that is known to be sinful.  For example, the spouse that chooses to leave a husband/wife because they no longer love them.  They seek companionship elsewhere and end up divorcing.  Or someone who desires to live a homosexual lifestyle, even though they have been shown in scripture that it is contrary to God’s will.    A teenager or college aged student begins to explore life to find fulfillment.  He/she shows little restraint in their conduct.  It might be used to justify lying or finding a church that is more appealing to what one wants than expects us to follow all of what God wants as taught in His word.  It is a mantra of the “health & wealth gospel” that says God wants you to have whatever you want. 

Numerous other examples similar to these could be mentioned.  The mantra seems to become more and more common around us.  But is this statement true?  Tonight, let us consider what the Bible teaches about statements like this.

 I.                     God DOES want us to be happy

a.       The challenge of the sentiment in our title is that depending on what you mean determines how you respond.   There is a very real sense in which God wants us to be happy.

b.       Obeying the gospel ought to produce joy in our lives.  In Acts 8:39 – the Eunuch went on his way rejoicing. 

c.        He calls for us to rejoice and live with joy - 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – rejoice always
Romans 14:17 – the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy
Galatians 5:22 – joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
Philippians 4:4 – rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice.
James 5:13 – if anyone is cheerful, let him sing.

d.       “Blessed” implies a degree of happiness – Matt. 5:4-10 describes the “beatitudes” and those who are blessed as they possess the qualities described. 
James 1:12 – blessed is the man who endures temptation, etc.

e.       Eccl. 2:24 – Solomon in his quest for meaning in life, noted,Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

Eccl.  3:11-13 – he realized life is to be enjoyed. Vs. 22 – rejoice in one’s work

f.         1 Pet 3:10 gives a prescription for loving life and seeing good days

g.       3 John 2 finds John praying for Gaius that he prospers in all things and be in good health.

h.       Does God want us to suffer?  Not just so that we are miserable.   But suffering can strengthen us.

i.         BUT, this happiness is qualified!  Is this the happiness of the statement in our introduction?  No! 

 II.                   Mankind’s pursuit of happiness

a.       The above description of happiness is NOT what man has in mind when he makes the statement we are discussing tonight.  The way this statement is made is often a product of selfishness – one wants to do what he wants to do more than what is right.

b.       He makes God in his image instead of following God.  Romans 1:22-23.  Philippians 3:18-19 speaks of many who walk as enemies of the cross of Christ, “whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.”

c.        It is NOT found in the quests of this life.

                                                   i.      The prodigal son – Luke 15:13, 17.  Could the pursuit of happiness have been the motivation for his demand for his inheritance prematurely?

                                                 ii.      Ecclesiastes – the book is about Solomon’s quest for the meaning of life.  He sought to find meaning in wealth, power, knowledge, fame, wine, women, great achievements, gardens, etc.  Consider Ecclesiastes 2:1-3.  His conclusion – All is vanity (Eccl. 1:2).

d.       The reality of one reasoning, “God wants me to be happy” is that such is not the real truth. 

                                                   i.      It is the attitude that says I want to have my way and I demand that God accept it.   Isn’t that behind the mantra, “God will accept you the way you are”?   And we are not addressing one coming to God as a broken sinner, but one who comes to God with no intention of breaking his sinful conduct!

                                                 ii.      It is a desire to serve God and mammon – Matthew 6:24

                                                iii.      It is a way of pride and selfishness.

                                                iv.      It is the way of discontent and ingratitude.

                                                  v.      It is often the way of rebellion

e.       The consequences of such an attitude:

                                                   i.      Rarely does it only affect you – it often results in broken families, spiritual families being hurt, and depending on the behavior the various results.

                                                 ii.      Rarely does such a pursuit bring true happiness.  For example: If one desires to abandon his family for a younger “model” what happens when she gets older?  If she is willing to cheat with you, what’s to keep her from cheating with someone else? 
The problem with the pursuits of the selfish is that they are – SELFISH!  Which means they never have enough.  It is only a matter of time before they will again be unhappy.

                                                iii.      Usually, the one making such a statement really knows better.  He knows the truth but doesn’t want to address it.  This is the spirit of rebellion.  

                                                iv.      In the end, one who lives this way will face the wrath of God in judgment.  2 Peter 2:20-22

 III.                 How is true happiness found?

a.       Realize that God’s ways are not our ways – it is not in man to direct his own steps.   Jeremiah 10:23.  
We need to let God define what happiness is.  Here is the answer to the contrast of our previous points.  After all, He created us and He knows what is best!   Proverbs 13:15, “Good understanding gains favor, But the way of the unfaithful is hard.”

b.       God demands repentance and obedience.  Acts 17:30-31 – Paul said that unless we repent, we will perish.  Acts 3:19 calls for us to “repent and be converted.”

What was Solomon’s conclusion in his quest for meaning?  It was not the pursuits of this life that bring true happiness.  In fact, Solomon concludes his discourse noting our conclusion is to fear God and keep His commandments – Eccl. 12:13-14 – this is man’s all (“the whole duty of man” – KJV, “this applies to every person” – NASB).  THIS is what brings true happiness - Ecclesiastes 2:26

c.        What are you willing to give up?  True contentment and gratification is found in one willing to surrender and sacrifice his selfishness for something greater than himself.

                                                   i.      Moses – gave up the passing pleasures of sin – Heb. 11:23-26

                                                 ii.      Paul gave up his prestige and much more – Phil. 3:4-8 to gain Christ.

When you surrender yourself to God, it will bring a sense of calm and consolation.  I think of the invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30.

d.       Delight in His law – Psalm 119:92-93, “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life.
Psalm 1:1-2 – his delight is in the law of the Lord…
This delight is more than merely knowing His word, it is doing it.   (Matt. 7:21)

e.       Rejoicing in suffering – Time will not permit a discourse on how suffering can make us better, but it can.  It depends on our mindset.   Difficult times and challenges can make us better. 

                                                   i.      Jas. 1:2-4 - count it joy when you fall into various trials… the testing of your faith produces patience and can make you perfect and complete

                                                 ii.      1 Peter 4:1-2 – he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin…

                                                iii.      1 Peter 1:6-9 – for now we are grieved with trials, that the genuineness of our faith may be tested and in the end result in our salvation.

                                                iv.      1 Peter 4:13 – rejoice that you can partake in the sufferings of Christ - Acts 5:41,16:25

f.         True happiness is found in holiness – this is what God desires of us.   2 Cor. 7:1 – we are to cleanse ourselves, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 
Eph. 1:3-4 – the blessings He provides for us bless us in Him – so that we should be holy and without blame.
Heb. 12:10 tells us that the chastening of God leads to our being partakers of His holiness.

g.       We rejoice in hope firm to the end -  Heb. 3:6

h.       Finally, consider Luke 10:20 – rejoice that your name is written in heaven. 

 

Yes God wants us to be happy.  But that happiness is determined by Him who knows what is best, both for this life and that which is to come.  Jesus said, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Matt. 16:26)  Let us resolve to ensure that our happiness correlates with His will.    Think about it!