Sunday 5.5.19 (the happy life)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at Luke 6:17-26, where Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount, and we’ll see what it means to life a happy (blessed) life through Jesus. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Why? Video Study by Chip Ingram in the youth room

Sermon Notes
The Happy Life ~ Luke 6:17-26

The sermon in one sentence: True happiness flows from Christ, not the riches, pleasures, or acceptance of the world.

  • Jesus healed many in a large, diverse crowd and than began to teach on the subject of happiness (being “blessed”; 6:17-20)
  • Happiness comes from being rich in Christ, not from being rich in the world (6:20, 24)
  • Happiness comes from finding satisfaction in Christ, not from feasting on the banquets of kings (6:21, 25)
  • Happiness comes from finding pleasure in Christ, not from chasing lesser joys without Christ (6:21, 25)
  • Happiness comes from acceptance in Christ, not from the applause of the world (6:22-23, 26)

Songs for Worship
I Stand Amazed in the Presence
Give Thanks to God
Satisfied
My Worth Is Not in What I Own
I’d Rather Have Jesus

Luke

Image used and modified with permission from: https://pixabay.com/en/milky-way-night-landscape-1669986/

Good Reads 10.05.16 (on: happiness, singleness, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On happiness: God Wants You to Find Your Happy Place (an interview with Randy Alcorn)

Something would be terribly wrong if we weren’t grieving for this world and those who suffer. But is it okay to be happy when we live in a world of hurt? And beyond that, is it actually God’s calling? Because if God commands us to rejoice, he must empower us to rejoice. He must want us to be happy. That’s what got me interested in God’s happiness. Is God happy? Can he be happy when he sees so much sin in the world, when he knows what his Son endured on his behalf, when he sees the persecution of his people? Can we? Clearly, the answer is yes. (click here to read more)

On singleness and prayer: Nine Prayers for the Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal

Singleness can be a long, lonely, and confusing road, especially when it’s unwanted. Through most of my twenties, I felt like I was born wanting to be married. God finally gave me a wife a little more than a year ago, but not before walking with me through a winding decade of temptation and sometimes failure, of waiting, wanting, and wondering why not yet. (click here to read more)

On adoption: Adoption: God’s Glorious “Plan A” by Laura Wifler

The longer I’ve known Christ, the more I’ve seen the ugliness of my sin. As I study and learn from him, the more holy, sacred and perfect he becomes— and the more I understand my desperate need for a Savior. And as his righteousness is revealed, I become more broken in sorrow yet overflowing with insatiable joy for what he has done for me. That he would make me — a flawed, undeserving, rebellious, unattractive human — his daughter with all the same rights and inheritance as his Son, is, well, just plain mind-boggling to me. There is no reason God should have loved me, but he did. He redeemed me. He reconciled me to himself and restored me to be a part of his family.

And that, my very own story of redemption, right there — that is adoption. And the day I fully grasped this, was the day we began the process to adopt two children from Eastern Europe. (click here to read more)

On church attendance and membership: 3 Quick Questions Before Quitting Your Church by Tim Challies

Here’s the first question: Have you been praying for the people of this church? Your love for others grows in direction proportion to your prayer for them. As you pray for people, you find that you love them. You are called to pray for your enemies in the hope that they will become your brothers and sisters and for strangers in the hope that they will become your friends. How much more, then, are you to pray for your fellow church members? (click here to read more)

Good Reads 03.02.16 (on: fighting sin, loving enemies, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On happily and humbly relating to others: The Gospel Frees You to Be Happy for Someone Else by Michael Kelley

Very practical stuff here. Practical, but difficult, and not just because your personality might not be emotional. It’s difficult to truly rejoice with those who rejoice, and to truly weep with those who weep. A big part of the reason it’s so hard is because way in the back of our hearts, behind all the congratulatory smiles and the consolatory tears there lurks that little thought we’re too ashamed to own up to. (click here to read more)

On reconciliation and the Gospel: That Part of Gospel-Centeredness We Avoid by Ray Ortlund

If we are unwilling to seek reconciliation with an ex-friend through preemptive forgiveness in our hearts and conditional forgiveness in the relationship, then let’s stop talking about gospel-centeredness. We don’t really mean it. But if we are willing to take up “the ministry of reconciliation” as our lifestyle together, pressing through the awkwardness with gentle courage, trusting the Lord, then our movement might indeed grow into historic revival. (click here to read more)

On responding to evil with love: Why Love, not Hate, Should Be the Christian’s Response to Evil by David Qaoud

Our sinful nature wants to repay evil with evil. When your spouse is short with you, you reply the same. When your boss belittles you, you cut corners at work. When your friends let you down, you ignore them in response. “That’ll teach ’em!” you think. You think that if you don’t retaliate, they’ll never learn their lesson. If you hurt the person in the way they’ve hurt you, they’ll stop. Is that true? Maybe. But that’s not Paul’s command. (click here to read more)

On fighting against sin in our lives: Rightly Handling Our Sinful Failures by Matt Moore

Sin is deceitful, friends. Every “stumble” into it has the potential to evolve into a spiritually catastrophic situation if we don’t deal with it seriously and immediately. If we aren’t sowing to the Spirit every single day, the flesh—even if seemingly quiet—grows stronger and will eventually rear its ugly head. If we aren’t walking in community with other believers and allowing them to spur us on (and us spur them on) in pursuit of Jesus, it’s only a matter of time before our sin will get the best of us. So let’s fight! Let’s fight to apply the gospel to our failures and to let grace pick us up and keep us going! Let’s fight to subdue the flesh by filling up on the Spirit! Let’s fight this fight of faith with one another and for one another! (click here to read more)

Do what you want! But… (a meditation)

Do what you want! Do what makes you happy!—these seem to be modern mantras for many people. Life is short, don’t waste your time doing a bunch of things that make you miserable, and enjoy being happy while you can.

In a way, the Bible agrees. But in the pages of scripture we also find a fence drawn around this idea—a boundary to help guard one’s heart from destructive things that will ruin a life and an eternal soul.

Throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote about his experiences. He tested various pleasures and withheld nothing from himself that he desired. Yet, with time, it all proved fruitless. Meaningless he called it. Drawing on these experiences and with the wisdom given him by God, Solomon wrote to his son hoping to spare him the same measure of grief.

Near the end, Solomon said, “Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in.” This sounds good to the pull of pleasure we feel in our hearts: enjoy life and do what you want. Yet Solomon added another line: “But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do” (11:9).

Then Solomon described the aging process and how doing what you want becomes more difficult when you’re old, so honor your Creator in your youth (12:1). There’s the fence: Do what you want, do what makes you happy, but make sure what you do honors God.

There have been those in history who have tried to live out the Christian faith in a cold, emotionless way. And many times in pop culture Christians have been painted as brute, mean, crass, and/or ignorant hypocrites (which does, sadly, accurately describe some who try to wear the name of Christ). Yet this is not the Christian faith the Bible presents.

Instead we find people given new hearts and indwelt by the Holy Spirit to be people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-26). We find our Savior-King sounding forth the call of command to major in loving God and loving neighbors (Matthew 22:37-39). We also find this same Lord speaking in a single breath about experiencing suffering yet also the fullness of joy (John 17:13-14).

So, yes, we are to enjoy life and to do what makes us happy. But our hearts are being transformed in Jesus so that what makes us happy and what we desire is that which honors him and does good to those around us.

Under the term of Christian hedonism, John Piper described such a life as “being happy in God” and reminded us that “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him.”[1]

Yes, sin has its pleasures, its momentary joys; but these are passing pleasures with sin the reason for death (Hebrews 11:25, Romans 6:23). So here we find the “but”—do what you want! But… Yes, God wants us to be happy and to take pleasure in him and in life. But God has also warned of the destructive consequences, both now and eternally, that are brought by sin (anything that dishonors or disobeys God).

His desire for us is to avoid the great consequences of that which only brings pleasure for a moment; and instead grow eternally happy by doing what we want through that which honors him.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

[1] See: John Piper, Desiring God.

Ecclesiastes 11_9

The Source of Happiness (a meditation on discovering true joy)

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2 But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. ~ Psalm 1:1-2 (NLT)

happy faceEveryone wants to be happy. Well, most everyone. There are some curmudgeons who seem to take delight in complaining and making everyone miserable. But most people want to be happy in a more self-adjusted manner. But we often wonder how we get there.

The Psalms is a book of collected ancient songs and prayers. Each, in some way or another, stands as a meditation on God and his word. Fitting, then, that the first Psalm deals with that very thing: what we gain from meditation on God’s word and thus on God himself.

Many English versions translate the first word as blessed. It’s a good word, but it’s a bit of a churchy word. If we have breathed in the realities of Christ through his word and church for any length of time, then it is likely a word we have heard over and over. Yet blessed is almost one of those words that needs a translation all of its own. And, really, we don’t have a good English equivalent.

Blessed speaks of a sense of happiness, a happiness that comes from a state of wellbeing, and a state of wellbeing that comes from God. Perhaps then God-centered happiness is the best way to briefly define it, of which the New Living Translation uses the word joy. And that works when we consider the source and cause for joy throughout the Bible: God and his wondrous deeds, especially in his delight to save his people through Jesus.

God is the God of joy and God delights in sharing his joy with us. After all, Jesus said, “These things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13). If you keep reading Jesus’ John 17 prayer, you see that the word Jesus speaks causes us to be different (sanctified—like Jesus), and gives us a mission (sent into the world as the Father sent the Son), but brings potential hardship and persecution. Yet even in the midst of possible hardship and persecution because of our trust in Jesus and reliance upon his word, Jesus spoke of a full joy.

So God has told us, “I want you to be truly happy in me and the best way to achieve this is to be different from the world and to relish my word.”

This is how Psalm 1 opens. We reject the ways, the “wisdom,” and the words of sinners. We follow the trail against the grain of the world that Jesus blazed for us. We live different, bearing fruit in the proper time (1:3), probably a reference to godly character that Paul later described as the fruit of the Spirit which includes joy.

And all of this comes from delighting in God’s word and meditating on it day and night.

David Murray wrote in his book The Happy Christian, “If I think about loss, I’ll be sad. If I think about sin, I’ll feel guilty. If I think I’m too thin or too fat, I’ll feel embarrassed. But if I think about God’s gifts, I’ll be thankful; if I think about God’s beauty, I’ll be inspired; if I think about God’s sovereignty, I’ll feel peaceful.”[1] In other words, to experience more joy, dwell on God.

And the best way to dwell on God is to dwell on the book about him that he has given to us. Meditate. Think deeply. Bask in the light of scripture. Fill your heart and mind with the truths of God. Contemplate the finished work of Jesus in bringing salvation through the cross. Ponder the Gift and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Oh, the joys…

This post is part of our continuing journey through the Bible as a church.

[1] David Murray, The Happy Christian (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2015), 15.