Beth Moore - Taking Happy Back
I wonder where your heart is as we meet in this place. I wonder how many of us in this room have the guts to come completely, honestly before the Lord Jesus because that's the only way that the Word lands is the spirit of truth. We come to him, whatever our circumstances, whatever state that we're in, but we come to him gut-level honest so he can get down to the real life quick of what we're going through. And I wonder if you would do something for me. All over the room, I wonder if you have a smartphone, would you get it out?
I want to ask you a couple of questions. And you answer as honestly as you know how, are you ready? Number one, you would say, "I consistently have a happy heart". Could I see your lights in the air? So thankful for you, so thankful for you. And you know what? We don't want anybody to be mad at you that came with you, particularly if they're going like, "I had no idea". If they're looking at you with a lot of shock, that's another area that we really need to work through. But that's a beautiful thing. How many of you in this room would say, "I could stand to have a happier heart"? Okay that, now we're talking. Now we're talking.
Now, I want somebody to be really gutsy here because let me tell you something I've learned about Jesus. Somebody's already holding, "I know where this is going. I know where this is going". I'm gonna tell you something I know about him. When we're desperate for him, he's coming for us. It's just his way. When we need him, that's part of what the Beatitudes are all about. Blessed is this one, blessed is that one, but and we're looking at all thinking, why would they be blessed? Because blessed are you if you need me because I'm gonna be there for you. I'm gonna come through. But here's the third one, what on the earth is a happy heart, anybody? Aha, now we're talking. Now we're talking.
Now, I have an agree or disagree question for you. I'm gonna make a statement, rather, and then I want you to just either you agree with it or disagree. And I'll ask for all the agrees to hold their light up, and then I'll ask for all the disagrees. The body of Christ has a reputation for being a happy people. If you agree with that, may I please see your lights? Mm-hmm, yes. If you disagree with that, may I please see your lights? Uh-huh, so let me tell you what's gonna be worrisome right now. If somebody is already sad because we're going to study happy, that's how you know you are exactly the place that you need to be sitting. And I'm gonna tell you what started this with me.
Last week I was just, you know, I'm social. I love social media. I like to watch conversations. I like to keep up with what's going on. I like to know the climate, or the social climate, sociology and people kinds of issues in our part of the world and on the globe, but I'm particularly interested in what has impact over the church. That's my whole life and many, many others in this room would say the same thing. That's what we're called to, so I have great interest in this. And I just, I sat back and said out loud, we are just getting more and more miserable, and maybe that doesn't startle you, but it startled me because I gotta tell you something, I have not been a miserable person. Just misery is not one of those things, but I just can't tell you that I've ever felt at risk of catching a climate of church misery until just here recently.
And you know how you have a revelation all of a sudden that you think, uh-uh, I'm not doing that. I'm not gonna get miserable with you people. Anybody? I need to hear somebody, anybody? And you know what? I want you to be able to say that to me, people. I want you to, "Listen, Beth, I'm not gonna get miserable with you". We've had so much divisiveness and, you know, here's the thing, I don't think anybody's happy in any, I think the church is in such, I say that, let me back that up. I'm generally speaking here, but I'm saying I don't know of any pockets that I would just tell you are thriving in their joy right now. I just don't see it. I don't see it. I just see so much fighting, so much division, and so, so much meanness.
Listen, I'm not talking about the world. I'm talking about us. We're getting meaner than snakes. We're supposed to be sheep among wolves, and we become wolves among sheep. And at some point, we gotta raise up our hand and go uh-uh, no, you know what? I'm not, I'm not doing this. I'm not doing this. I'm not taking part in this. You and I are gonna study the theology of happiness, Taking Happy Back. And I hope that you will see, and I'm ready, I'm ready. In other words, I've come prepared for someone I love so much and am so thankful to serve that is already going, it is not biblical to be happy. I'm ready for because some of you may not be given to that. But honestly, many of us were raised in a part of the body of Christ where it, listen, to be happy, would admit you're in some kind of sin and if you're happy and you know it, repent. There'll be no clapping your hands, repent.
So, is that sound theology or not? We're gonna study that through. Here's what we're gonna launch. I want you to get two different portions of the Scripture in your hand right now. Go to Isaiah 52, and then I want you to go to Luke 2, and so I want to look at them back and forth. We're gonna look at Isaiah 52, then Luke 2, then back to Isaiah 52 to make the point. So, I want you to look at these two places. Isaiah 52, verse 7 says this, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns'".
I want you to turn with me now to Luke. Don't let go of Isaiah 52 because I'm coming right back to it. Luke chapter 2, 8 through 11. "And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear". Verse 10: "And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people'".
Would you go back with me one more time to Isaiah 52:7 let's let it land. It says this, "How beautiful upon the mountains or the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness". Let's just put it really bluntly: happy is not bad in the Bible. I gotta tell you something, one of our expectations in a verse like that, when I threw out that wording in the NASB, Isaiah 52:7, good news of happiness. You and I would not have looked up so quickly had it said, "Good news of holiness". We'd have been ready for that and it seems to us that's what it ought to say because that we're comfortable with.
Good news of happiness, what does that mean? Because we so seldom will throw that word into a sound presentation of the Scriptures, unless somehow we're gonna try to refute it as even being on the list of things we want to think about pursuing in Christ. I want to challenge that based on his Word, but what we're gonna find out as we study together, because holiness is huge. We have been set apart in him. "You be holy", the Word of God says in 1 Peter 1, "because He is holy". There is a happiness to holiness, and there's a holiness to happiness when it is in Christ.
Let me tell you, if we equate licentiousness with happiness, we have got a skewed view of holiness. Honestly, if we don't think, in our minds, that we could be set apart and holy at the same time that we could have a happy heart, we want to have a stronghold of legalism broken off of us because that is not sound theology, and I hope to prove it to you.
Do you realize that we have set parts of our entire systematic theologies on five or less verses, built whole entire doctrines around a couple of verses. I'm not even challenging that. I'm just saying by the time you have a concept that is mentioned 1700 times in the Scripture, we might want to look up and give it some thought because I'm telling you what I'm throwing out is that right now, we could use a message on the happy heart, anybody? Because what I'm here to tell you is that I think from where I'm sitting and from where a whole lot of other people are sitting, it looks like the church is getting nothing but unhappier day by day, week by week, and fight by fight.
I'mma tell you this, life gives us ample grounds, every single one of us, to be unhappy, every one of us. So, we've earned the right, if we want to be unhappy people, we've earned the right so we can go right ahead, just if we want to give way to that or not and that's the way we want to live because naturally speaking, we've all had things that have happened. But what we'd be shocked to know, if we don't already know it, is that people who are happy and have a happy heart have not had all happy circumstances. It will be very rare that you find someone that you can just say, "You know what? You just, you really honestly, you seem to be a happy person". That they're gonna return back to you in earnest, if you've got time for real conversation, "You know what? I've never had anything bad happen. It just, it just doesn't happen". That's not the way it goes.
Are there seasons and times that are extremely sad and tragic, when grief is not only appropriate, but needful that we wouldn't have a healthy heart if we didn't work through it. But you have the biblical right and responsibility to fight for a happy heart in Christ. I'm serious about being happy in Jesus, anybody else? I mean, I'm serious that I'm not letting anyone take that from me. I'm not. That is something I have had as a gift in my heart for most of my life, and I am not letting it go.
Now listen carefully 'cause I want to throw something at you that I think can be an issue in our churches when we want to have, you know, when we want to be conservative about the Scriptures, and I do, I do. What can happen to us sometimes is that in our appropriate resistance, listen carefully, appropriate resistance to what 2 Timothy 4, verse 3 says, there will come a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching, instead following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things. And they will turn away from hearing the truth but instead, they will turn to myths.
And so, we are so, so vigilant to make sure that's not happening, that sometimes we'll shut down a Word before we even know it's sound because here's what we think, this is what we are risking when we want to be really, really, really taught, and we do, in the way we're interpreting the Scriptures. Because what can happen is that we can get in the mindset, we can twist that until what it means to us is that if it sounds like good news, it could not possibly be scriptural. And do you realize how absurd that sounds? Because the gospel, the word "gospel" means good news. And so, in our hypervigilance to guard carefully our sound doctrine, and I want that. I want you to hold me to that. I want to hold you to that. I want my pastor to be held to that. I want our leaders to be held to that, I want that.
But let's be careful that we don't immediately assume that it's got to be our itching ears that want to hear something that happens to be good, that if everything we thought we were getting until we get to heaven is just find a way to suffer well, if that's it, and we have to find a way to suffer well, but I mean, is that it? Is that all there is to it? Because we can get where we think, you know, because I liked it, it cannot be sound. It cannot be sound. I object and I'm closing down. But what if we went to the Scriptures, checked it out to see is it so or not? We've got a gospel responsibility to rebel against our misery. Good news falls on deaf ears coming from miserable people.
I've said it so many times that it's just like nothing new but it, it just it means nothing to share the good news in a bad mood, it doesn't work. It doesn't work. Nobody wants it. Nobody wants it. Here lately, I've just had to look in the mirror at home and go does someone want what you have? Because that's imperative 'cause we'll just be meaner than snakes or we're just joyless and we're gonna share the gospel with someone, "Let me tell you the secret that I found to my happy life", and they're going like... Our witness is at stake, and I want to push a step further than that.
I've read this and reread this in my notes, and I think this is sound. For us to teach the world and the church to associate Christianity with misery is its own brand of heresy. I believe it, that when we teach the world and we teach one another through the church to associate Christianity with misery, it's its own brand of heresy. I truly believe that it is. I believe it counts. Would you go with me to Romans 12:1 and 2 and let me show you something? "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship". Verse 2: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect". "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind".
Look at the state of our world. Can you imagine how much light we could carry as this part of the world gets more and more miserable for us not to be conformed to them? And that's what's happening, we're catching it from them. Instead of them catching our joy, we're catching their misery and it literally is invading through the body of Christ and through the doors of the church. And we want to hold our hands up and say, "I'm not gonna be any part of that". There is nothing about our calling that remotely suggests, in this part of the free world, that we're to blend in. Even in parts of the world where we can't own up openly and in the marketplace to our faith, something about us is meant to so shine, has such a brilliance to it that it draws the attention of those around us to wonder what is the hope that is in us. Our lens is the gospel. We look at the world through the lens of the gospel, not at the gospel through the lens of the world. Happiness is not cluelessness.
I'm gonna tell you this. I want to just be straight out with this. I am not one wit encouraged by aphorisms that come from people who have their heads in the sand. That means nothing to me, nothing. So, when I hear people, when we're all posting our great sayings, but it's people that don't even know what's going on, it doesn't mean anything to me, maybe it should. I'm just saying it doesn't. What means something to me is when somebody that is awake and aware of the turmoil that our world is in. This is when I start listening, when somebody then starts speaking faith, and hope, and love, and light, and forgiveness, and turning the other cheek. When we start talking this in our day-to-day relationships, when I start seeing this of somebody who's aware, then all of a sudden, this changes everything and I'm listening 'cause this is not somebody just doing the like head in the sand thing.
There's somebody that's watching and still says, "Despite what is going on around us, this is the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ, good news of happiness". Did you know that right here in Romans, you're right by it. Turn to Romans 10. I mean, you're right next to it. Just flip back a page, Romans 10, and I want to read you verses 14 through 17. Remember back in Isaiah 52:7 when it said that we, that beautiful are the feet of those that bring good news of, what? Somebody tell me. Tell me again. Good news of happiness. Listen what happens right here.
Romans 10:14 through 17. "How then will they call on him and whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they've never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written", here he's gonna quote it out of Isaiah 52, this portion of it. "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?' So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ".
So beautiful and powerful. The point is that in Romans, the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, now says remember that verse back in Isaiah 52:7? Of course, ultimately in is Jesus Christ, the complete consummation of that coming of the good news in the flesh to give his life and to be resurrected from the dead. And that every bit of that, every bit of that is applied to every believer who receives it. But right here in Romans chapter 10, the Apostle Paul is saying it's now our job and we're the bearers of the good news. We're the bearers of it. We remember from Isaiah 52:7, it's good news of happiness.
Here's the thing, it is undeniably innate in the human being to yearn to be happy. Is it everything to us? No, no. But I am saying that when we figure out that our heart is getting more and more miserable, there comes a time to go, "You know what? I have a biblical right and responsibility to fight for a happy heart. I really, really do. I really, really do". Because it's fruitless that somehow we're gonna get through to the world that there is absolutely no merit whatsoever in wondering, what is it that would bring my heart some joy? I gotta tell you something. Jesus has made me happy. I mean he just like makes me happy, and that gets to show in us. That gets to show because we really do have something that people are yearning for, we really do.
If you and I do not find, at least in a default fashion in between heartbreaks some kind of happiness in Jesus Christ, we are going to migrate in the faith (if we're in the faith), we're gonna migrate one of two directions - we're either gonna become carnal or we are going to become curmudgeons. Which one do you want to be, because neither one is a good option? So this is the Christian: if the Christian in Christ does not know anything of a happy heart in Jesus, what's gonna happen if that's off-limits to us or we just like never even known to seek it in him? What's going to happen is that we are either going to migrate toward becoming carnal or we are going to migrate toward becoming curmudgeons.
Don't think I'm not gonna have you a Webster's definition of a curmudgeon, in just a moment. Anybody tired of the curmudgeons taking all the press lately? Anybody know what I'm talking about? Am I missing anything or it's just like, "I say, I wish some happier people every now and then we're representing the faith". Would it just be terrible in our workplace for someone to like us, would it, would just be terrible. Must we be the most miserable people in the place, I don't think so, I just don't think that's the way it's meant to be. So, here's what I mean, if you want to jot that down do with the diagram, but here's that thinking of that draw to carnality.
Thomas Aquinas, and this is 1225-1274, he said this and I'm quoting, "No one can live without delight and that is why a man deprived of spiritual joy goes over to carnal pleasures". Now, I don't know if you believe that or not, because this is a thing. See, we're either going to migrate toward carnality or toward a curmudgeon, but I believe that to my bones, I believe it to my bones, I believe that in his presence there's pleasures forevermore, I believe that there is a joy in Christ that this world cannot touch. In the midst of sorrows, in the midst of my disappointments, in the midst of my broken heart and in the midst of yours. That there is something we have access to, that this world cannot touch. But if we don't access ourselves to it, then we are drawn to carnal pleasures. Do you even know? Do do I know? How long did it take for me to figure it out, that Jesus Christ is meant to be the greatest pleasure of our lives, of our lives?
Now, I want to show you the definition of curmudgeon, because there's a part of it, I'm just dying for you to see. You're gonna pretty well know what it means, a curmudgeon, there's two definitions for it: crusty, ill-tempered and, I'm sorry gentlemen, but usually an old man. I didn't come on... Am I Merriam-Webster? No, no. Archaic, what does that word right there? Miser, you see it? Miser. I looked that up, because when I stared at that word, that whoa, whoa, whoa... I love word origins and I'm... Give me the word miser and I'm gonna see that we're at miserable. And I thought, I wonder if there's any connection between the word miser and miserable? And sure enough, as you would imagine, there is. I looked at miser, and really its original meaning back in the 1540s, "Miserable person, a wretch, unhappy, pitiable, in distress". And it says, "Original sense now obsolete".
You know that huge differentiation until about the huge one, not the small one, huge differentiation that it's made in spiritual or religious circles between joy and happiness. You know, I mean we've all heard it, like no happiness is not that's often talk, joy, joy is much much better than happiness, and that there's this huge, huge difference between the two. We're not getting that from the Bible... Listen, I want you to go study it and see if it's so, because we are making distinctions between joy and happiness, that often extend further than the scripture is taking those two words. I'll show it to you right here, but the primary basic Greek word, the lexical for you Greek nerds, the lexical word that most often is translated into joy in the scriptures, that word is "Chara". It's a word that is associated with charis which is grace.
For instance in John 15:11, I think it is when he says, "That my joy would be in you", this is Jesus talking to his disciples, "That my joy would be in you and your joy would be complete". In English we make the distinction between the two: between happy and joy, because in our English, and this is correct, in our English that word happy that H-A-P, is the same word from which so we get the word HAPpens or HAPpening. It's something haphazard, it's something that just happens, a circumstance. And so we say happiness is always circumstantial, it always is about what has happened, and joy is something that can be more pervasive in our everyday lives.
That's a beautiful thing and has some merit in English, but here's what I want to throw back at you, even if we settle with that and we go, "Okay, I cannot get past that, that's what I'm gonna believe to the death". They don't want to ask you this question, then has Jesus not changed our circumstances? If happiness is only associated with circumstantial, have our circumstances not been changed? Because I just made a little less, a little less, we've been made citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), our sins have been removed as far as the east west (Psalm 103:12), we're seated in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6), we're sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), we're no longer walking in darkness (Ephesians 4:8), we're no longer living in futility (Ephesians 4:17) and none of our suffering ever has to be in vain (2 Timothy 2:11).
I would say he's changed some of our circumstances, anybody? My name is written in the Book of Life, and so it's yours - that's pretty big. So, I mean, am I saying that happiness is equated with joy? I'm not saying that, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that this huge difference that we're drawing between the two, we're not gonna see that drawn in the same way in the scriptures. Here's what I decided to do: I want to throw you a working definition of the word happy, because if I were you, because I think continually, I'm a classroom person, and I think continually, if I were sitting where you're sitting what would I want to ask? If I were in a classroom of 25 and the teacher said "Any questions", what would I ask? This is what I would hold up my hand and ask, "How would you define happiness"? All right, I like that, I like that.
So, I want to throw you out what I believe at the end of the day, happiness is for the person in Christ, "Happiness is pervasive, persuasive awaken-ness to Christ's presence and his promises". In other words we're awakening to the fact that our Christ is alive and with us, and that his promises will bear truth and that he has given us the favor of divine grace through the power of the cross - that is pretty fabulous news, but it's that news becoming persuasive to us, and pervasive to us. In other words it is taking root and it's getting in us through and through. Do you know? Well, you do know this, that studies across the board, at least I think, there may be some that defy this, but I haven't read them. So I'll say virtually across-the-board are showing survey after survey, that there is a direct ratio between "More screentime-less happiness", more screentime-less happiness.
There's a recent article out about teenagers, that is so disturbing about how purely unhappy they are getting. I believe it was in the Atlantic, I was the title was something to the effect of "Are we losing a generation", it's talking about screens and it's talking about how they're being cut off from real live relationships, because it's becoming the isolation of a screen. And it feels like it pretends to be real life relationship and real life interaction, but it's getting less and less and less happy. It's so phrased in James 5:13 says, "Is anybody happy"? James says, "Let him sing praise".
I found a really fun quote, "Jesus promised his disciples three things: that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble". But would it make any difference to you to know, that God is not unhappy? Anybody? When you and I try to lock down how we see God, do we see him in our minds, God's angry a lot, he's probably in a terrible mood, I mean look at all of what he has to see and surely he is so disappointed. This point really doesn't carry much weight, because disappointment means you had an expectation that is not met, he already knows everything. So he can be unhappy with us, but disappointed - he knew exactly what you were gonna do and exactly what I was gonna do, and he sent his son to the cross anyway and he loved us anyway. What I mean, what's his disposition like, would it make any difference?
I love this, Randy Alcorn writes this, I love this quoting word-for-word, "The logic is that since people are full of sin, God must be full of unhappiness. But this logic begins in the wrong place - with ourselves. We flatter ourselves", this was so humbling for me to read, "We flatter ourselves by imagining we are the primary source of God's happiness, tilting him one way or the other by what we think, say, or do". Is that a revelation to anybody but me? He said, you know, actually when you think that you just make, that all of us are just making God happy, you flatter yourselves, he says, because we're assuming that we have the power to dictate his disposition. I don't know about you, but I can't even express the gladness I have in knowing, that I am not responsible for God's mood. I don't even know what to do is my own mood half the time, if I have to be responsible for God's mood, I don't know what to do with that, I just don't know what to do with that.
I want you to turn with me to 1 Timothy, this is going to be the last set of scriptures we'll look at this evening, but I want you to go with me there, if you would please. 1 Timothy 1:11 and 6:15. 1:11, "In accordance with the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted". The blessed God, what odd terminology. Paul is calling God "The blessed God" here. Go and look with me at first Timothy 6:15, "Which he will display at the proper time - he who is the blessed and only sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the blessed God". What does it mean that God has called in 1 Timothy 1:11 and 1 Timothy 6:15, he is called "The blessed God"? What on earth does that mean?
In the Greek that's translated into that blessed, that word, that lexical form of that Greek word is "Makarios" (μακάριος). It is a beautiful, beautiful word, and it's one you would see translated many many times in the New Testament scriptures as "Blessed", and here it is used in reference to God himself. So, this won't matter to some people, but it's going to matter a lot to other people, I want you to see, I pulled out five different definitions in five different Greek dictionaries or theology books, I have brought you five of them, I want to show you the definitions of the word "Makarios", that translates "Blessed" and "Bless" many many times in the New Testament and right here for "Blessed God", I'm in both of those scriptures. Do you see it? "Happy, blessed, happy", do you see that on the third one? "Blessed, happy, fortunate", then the fourth one, "Blessed, happy" and the fifth, "Characterized by happiness and being highly favored (as by divine grace)".
Now I want you to hear this, because this is about to be John piper talking, and it's gonna be marvelous. Dr. John Piper writes in his book, "The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God" - is that the best title you have ever heard? "God's Delight in Being God". He writes this, "There is a beautiful phrase in 1 Timothy 1:11 buried beneath the too familiar surface of Bible buzzwords. Before we dig it up, it sounds like this: 'the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God'. But after we dig it up, it sounds like this 'the good news of the glory of the happy God'". Oh, I mean that just can't be, he can't be happy, I mean he can't really be like happy or is he? My proposition to you this weekend is, that as Christ's people regenerated by his very Holy Spirit, through the power of the cross and resurrection, is it not also true, that we were meant to have a happy default?
I said something at the last LPL, that God brought back to my remembrance over the last few days, I thought it for years and I really felt like the Holy Spirit challenged me and my heart was, is that accurate? I said just clear as a bell, I don't even remember what my context was, but I said, you know, I think it was because it was Saturday morning, and you know, I just sort of, I said, "You know, I kind of wake up in a good mood". I said, "I'm just had a fairly happy disposition", but the Lord reminded me, when I was a child I did not. No, I didn't. I was full of anxiety, I had timidity, tons and tons of fear, I wanted to hide behind my mother's skirt, this was my little childhood. And I thought, like a revelation it hit me, I mean it's like a lightning bolt going down through my heart, it hit me - when I look back on the course of my life, the thing that has given me happiness has been Jesus all along. The reason why I can look back and I can think, "Well, no, I've been pretty happy for a lot of years", is because fairly early on I went, if I don't getting alive by you, I'm gonna eat my own life alive and I'm gonna self-destruct, and probably be successful doing it.
And I realized all that time, you know, I was thinking, I think I just have a happy personality - no, I don't. No, I don't. No, no, obviously. I don't know if y'all know who bob golfs is, but he is honestly, honestly he is one of the happiest people I've ever known in my entire life. And somebody on Twitter here recently compared the two of us, and often, "Oh, I'm not bob, I'm bob when he's in a bad mood", because I get worked up about stuff. I'm one of those, I qualify for the third one, I'm in constant trouble, in constant trouble. I get it in every way, in constant trouble, but I'm just asking, I'm just asking you: if his disposition is joyful and happy, and we have the Holy Spirit in us, is it not possible, that even if you have been unhappy for 45 years, that you might have an outbreak of a happy heart?
You remember when Jesus, remember when I said earlier, I'm about John 15:8-11, this is when he says to his disciples, "It is to my father's glory that you bear much fruit and show yourselves to be my disciples", and he says, "As my father has loved me, so I've loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, just as I've kept my father's commandments abide in his love. These things I was spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full", and he's telling them you know as servants of mine, go out there produce much fruit and do it joyfully.
Do you want to hear something shocking, shocking? This is back in Deuteronomy 28:47-48, I'm not applying it to us, I'm only drawing the concept, because this is about the children of Israel back in the days of when they were going into the Promised Land. I want you to listen, jot that down if you want to look up that address later, Deuteronomy 28:47-48, listen to this, listen to the premium God places on joyful servants, "Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies". So, he's saying, "If you don't serve with a good, I mean a glad and joyful heart, because you did not serve the Lord your God", it's being said prophetically in this one, "Because you do not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies".
And see, I think there's a parallel there, because I think, when we look around they thought the other nations were happier than they were, that's ultimately what happened in the Promised Land. When they had the very one, who is the giver of the abundance of joy. This is Matthew 25:23 out of the NIV, I want you to hear it with me, this is in the parable of the talents, when they've been entrusted with God's property and they've taken it and done with it, and brought him back interest on it. "His master replied, 'well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things: I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness".
We're on our way to happily ever after. We could know, and we could live our lives like I am on my way to happily ever after, that I can tell you that where I'm going, I'm gonna live happily ever after, and the more I believe it, the more I borrow on that account, is anybody talking to me this weekend? The more I believe that I am on my way... Do you honestly believe... Or do you just prefer heaven to hell? Or do you really believe, that where you have coming, that this life will have been this long, and where you have coming, where I have coming, we will live happily ever after, and there's something about knowing it's coming, there's something about knowing, there's something about knowing. The more we anticipate it, the more we're able to look around us in our struggles and in our heartbreaks, and think "This is so short, oh, this is so short", because I'm gonna tell you something, "Blessed, happy is the heart that is on its way in pilgrimage".
That's what Psalm 84 says, and I'm on a pilgrimage here. I need you to know, I'm here for a very very short time, because I'm on my way to happily ever after, that's where I'm going. I'm on my way to happily ever after, that's where I'm heading. And somehow that anticipation then I know, a couple of years ago the team and I were in Orlando, and we had a an event there that weekend. And so you know, we came in a little bit early, because what do you do, I mean you go to Disney World, but we didn't only have fun riding the rides, we had fun standing in line, because we were just, "All right, it's gonna be so fun". I mean, I was just like, look at my good Buddy Travis, and going, my hair's gonna get wet on the lawn rod, it's gonna be so fun, I think, I think. But honestly, we were all about the anticipation, because there's something about knowing, it's gonna be fun. It's gonna be fun.
Okay, so let's go through them. I want to hear point number one. Tell me about happy. "Happy's just not bad in the Bible". And number two, I hope this landed with somebody, "we've got a gospel responsibility to rebel against our misery". So, when we realize, I'm not talking about sadness, we're gonna we're going to talk about that today. I'm talking about misery, just talking about misery. Who in the room knows the difference between just being sad or even being heartbroken about something and just being miserable? Has anybody ever been miserable besides me where you just go, "You know what, you are one miserable soul"?
I want you to raise up your hand if you've ever been miserable because I know every one of you have. We know what that's like where you think, you know what? It doesn't matter, that this, all these things happened to you anymore. What has happened now is you have turned so on yourself, that you have made your own self miserable. And that was really, really an eye opener to me as I had to confront that at times in my own life. Number three, we are on our way to happily ever after.
Now, I gotta tell you something because this is so important. You know what message by and large, at least in the west, you know what message we're giving to the world and to a lot of the church? That we are on our way to crappily ever after. That's what it looks like. That's what it looks like. And it looks like we're making progress. Can I talk to somebody about it? But I mean, honestly, that's the message we're giving them. It's not happily ever after that we're on our way. No, no, we're on our way to crappily ever after. We have to be the ones to defy that.
For some of us in this room, it's gonna take more faith for us to believe that we could get over our misery and we could have a happy heart in Jesus, than it would take for us to believe that he could heal us from the top of our heads to the tip of our toes. We would even have more faith to believe that he could transform us and deliver us from sin, than he could just speak in to our cranky, irritable hearts, constantly aggravated, easily anxious hearts, and speak in a little joy and happiness. We're on our way to happily ever after.
Now, we've been talking about that this is anticipatory joy, that part of our present joy, particularly when it's running dry here, is that we look forward and we know that we're on our way somewhere where we're gonna live happily ever after and that in that moment, we can reach forward and we can literally withdraw from that account, that my hope toward it, my faith in what Jesus has for me, is my means of reaching out that hand of hope into that future inheritance of happily ever after. And somehow in even know it's coming, I am withdrawing from that account.
Here's the beautiful part is that it's not a debit that you're doing. You're doing nothing to subtract from the balance that is waiting for you. Whatever happiness you withdraw from that account, you are not gonna have less of it when you get there because this ain't no debit. This is cross credit. This is the cross of Jesus Christ crediting us with something we did not earn and we did not deserve. Does anybody in the house want to be happy? I'm just asking you a question.
You know, I am a dyed in the wool traveler. I truly do have wanderlust. I have a little bit of an adrenaline rush when a plane takes off and I phone, I don't have no idea how many times, and why would I after all these years? I cannot even express to you how many delays I've been through, how many aggravating cancellations I've been through, my bags not getting there, having to spend the night in some city where I know nobody, only I can't get my suitcase off the plane because of what happened and now I'm gonna have to sleep in my clothes and then I'm gonna wear those clothes home the next day. I've lived all of that, all of that, where everything you need was in that suitcase, all of that. I've been exhausted. I've gotten in at 12:30 and 1 in the morning when it was supposed to land at 8:30 p.m. the evening before. I've done all of that. Why do I keep doing it? Because I want to go where I'm going.
So, I keep putting up with what it takes to travel because I want to go where I'm going, where I'm going. My husband is not a traveler. He wants to travel. I take that back, but he wants it to be in his truck. He wants it to be in his pickup truck and he is road warrior. And I love, love, love taking a road trip with him, but he used to do a little bit of international traveling with me and a little bit of domestic traveling with me. He does not do that by plane anymore.
And so, I was talking to one of my daughters who said, "You know, I could almost get like that", because she said, "I'm not really you that I", she said, "That's not", she said, "I have to put up with the plane to get where I'm going". She said, "That could almost be me". I said, "I get it. I get it in every way". I said, "But you know what? It'll keep you from getting to go where you want to go if you get into that". See, sometimes, y'all, we really can make a decision, "I could really go here with this, I believe I won't". I believe I'm gonna choose to keep some adventure in my spirit because we protect ourselves out of our own happiness. So often, we just protect ourselves out of our own happiness. Am I the only one in the house today? I don't think so. I don't think so.
I love Psalm 84:5, "Happy are the people whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage". That's us. We're putting up with some of the travel pains because we are very anxious to get where we are going because we are on our way to happily ever after. Here is our definition, our working definition, and I want you to say it aloud with me. Let's get it on the screen. "Happiness is pervasive, persuasive, awaken-ness to Christ's presence and His promises". In other words, we're defining happy as Christ himself, that he himself has joy, that Jesus is happy being Jesus, that right there can change your life, that Jesus enjoys being Jesus. Melissa has a dog by the name of Shadow Facts. I've never ever in my life, known a happier dog. It does not matter how mad we are at her, she is ecstatic about everything. She's the naughtiest dog you have ever seen in your life.
Now, please take this apart from what I was just saying about Jesus. This is over here in the fleshly, sinful realm here, but we constantly say about Shadow Facts, Shadow Facts loves being Shadow Facts. She loves it, enjoys it. Jesus loves being Jesus. It's not like, "Man, I wish I'd been someone else". And his Spirit literally, when we receive him as Savior, his Spirit dwells in us. We can literally say, "I have it in me to be happy". I'm gonna say that again. We literally can biblically say, "I have it in me to be happy". Can I hear it? Because we're thinking, "You know, but the thing about it is I've never really had a happy personality".
Do you have Jesus Christ? Because you have it in you to be happy. I just would somebody just like point right here toward your heart and go, "I have it in me to be happy". Say it again, "I have it in me to be happy". When somebody says, "You know, you just don't have it in you". Oh, yes I do. Oh, yes I do because the Spirit of Christ dwells in me. Jesus is happy. That's just everything to us. Now, I want to say one more thing in review. Being created in the image of God, there is in every single person on the planet, I'll say virtually just to give myself a little bit of an out, this human desire to find happiness. And we just like, we keep shooting that down, but we really do have biblical grounds to say, well, you know, for a lot of us how we found happiness deep in this heart, not in our all our circumstances, deep in this heart is Jesus himself, but we talked about that when we don't find our delight in him, that we're gonna migrate to one of two directions.
And what was that first one, anybody remember? Carnal, and then what was the other one? Yeah, see this what we're gonna reject because neither one of those routes turn out well. So, here's where we are. "Many obstructions to happiness are ours to move", that way if we would identify them, okay, this is part of my holdup right here and so I have the power in Jesus's name. And by obedience to him, we'll see that every one of these will be obedience to Jesus. We literally would have the power to move those, and they're out of our way when we leave because there's some things we can't move. Let's move what we can. Let's move what we can. Look at somebody go, "Let's move what we can". I mean, why would we not move what we could? And so, that's what we're gonna do.
But here's a very important thing I want to say before we go there. I want to say this to you, some obstructions don't need moving, they need ministry, and then they will move. I want to say that very clearly, and this is for someone who is in the throes of suffering right now from a very recent grief. And I want you to hear the Scripture affirm where you are right now and that your grief is appropriate and needs to be worked through with Jesus. Does anybody need to see that before we get set out with our message of happiness? What are we to do in our tragedies?
And so, we need to look at that. So, there's no better place to look at this kind of a theme than in the Book of Lamentations. So, take your time, if it's new to you. I have a brand-new Bible and so, that means I've already marked Lamentations. I would not have found it till next week. So, sometimes we're just like one new Bible from revival because it has been so thrilling to me because nothing was marked. It was just like wide open for fresh words, and I loved every second of it. All right, number four remind me, "Many obstructions to happiness", but some of them don't need moving, they need what? They need some ministry and boy, are we gonna see one right here.
So, the Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. He had, and his circumstances, had earned him the right to weep. And we're in Lamentations 3, and this so powerful. I don't know how many of your other formal translations say it the way that the ESV is gonna say it here, but this just, this just grabs my heart. Look at 17, Lamentations 3:17, I'm gonna read through 25. "My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is". I'm gonna read the rest of in just a minute, but I can hardly get past that without crying because some of you are there right now. You're just like, I don't remember what it is. I don't remember the last time I felt it. "My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, 'My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.' Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me".
Isn't that what happens? Can't we relate with him? When we're broken like that, when we're bereft of peace, when it seems like I don't even know what happiness is anymore, that we can't quit thinking about it. Our mind can't let it go because we're just completely obsessed with what it was the came and mauled our happiness. This wild thing happens in 21. "But this I call to mind", sometimes, I don't know, I'm just gonna be kind of, you know, I'm a visual thinker so just go with me. Sometimes we call some to mind. Come to mind. I'm gonna say that again. Sometimes we call it to mind. Come on to mind 'cause it's really not in there. This is not what I have been thinking about so I'm gonna call it to mind. Please come to mind. Please, please words from the Scripture, come, come, come to my mind. "This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion', says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him'. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him".
Do you see what's happening there? Because this is so weighty and so beautiful. I'm gonna come down to the floor so I can see if I can illustrate it to you. Sometimes if you kind of see somebody act something out, it will land a little better. I want you to watch his process. I want you to know that the way ministry begins is always the same way when we're in Christ. I am loved. I am loved. Now, I don't know why this happened, and I don't know why it seems like he has forgotten me, and I don't know why it seemed like I had, for the first time in my life, had something that was really working and now this has happened. Has anybody felt any of this? "I don't know why this brokenheartedness came to our family. I don't know why this happened". And we lament and one reason, if I could just throw this out to you and just food for thought, think about it.
Truly, I think one reason why we have lost a lot of our joy is because we have lost the practice of lament. You get to lament. You're a child of God. You get to lament, you get to say, "Why did this happen"? You get to ask questions, you really do because he knows anyway that that's what's on your heart. When we get to voice them, for me the longer I keep something in, this is where bitterness. When I'm pushing that down, this is where, to me, it gets cancerous and bitter right here. But when I begin to voice it, so often in the process of voicing it, I will come to tears and I'll realize at the end of it, please, I hope this doesn't offend anybody. But sometimes at the end of it what will come out in my tears is you hurt my feelings. You hurt my feelings. I love you. Why did this happen? You hurt my feelings. Anybody?
So, he can't, he just can't get over it. He can't get over it. He calls to mind, he watch this, he's gonna call something to mind and that thing that he's calling to mind is gonna bring in hope. So, what does he call to mind? Steadfast love. God's love for me is never changed. In my highest day when everything was going it's best, he did not love me one ounce more then than he loves me right now. He cannot possibly love me more. I am completely loved by God. Whatever is going on here, it is not because I'm not loved. Can somebody say amen? Can somebody say amen? And so, here's what begins to happen when hope starts coming in. Because did you know somebody is having a revelation today because you did not know that that gorgeous hymn that your grandmother sang, that hymn that you may have sung, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" is in this same chapter as wormwood and gall. He is brokenhearted and lamenting and out of that lament, he bridges over by calling to mind.
Now, let me talk to you about this. Okay, say this is where anticipatory happiness comes in. Say that right here, say that right here is my eternal inheritance of happily ever after. And here I am in my sorrows and in my brokenheartedness. What hope does is that hope just stretches forth an arm just for a handful, just for a handful. Very often when I'm this brokenhearted, when I'm in this state, when you just lost your husband yesterday, maybe the expectation is not that today you're just gonna be all like, maybe what was very important in your journey with God is that you worked it through. You knew how to lament, how your tears are kept in a bottle, and how he binds up the brokenhearted, and binding gives that picture of process. But you see, to anticipate happiness, there's something about just knowing to be able to say to yourself when you look in the mirror, "You will not be unhappy forever".
Maybe to a lot of you today that seems like the most ridiculous thing. Say, "Who would say that"? Just have your heart broken because when you're in the middle of having your heart broken and you've been betrayed, or you've been forsaken, or somebody's walked out on you, you feel like you'll never be happy again. But yes you will because you know you will on the other side of this life and this life's gonna go like this. You know you will but leaning into that, having hope. Hope is the hand that reaches forward. Sometimes, girls, listen to me, it's just a little palm full at the time, just enough to get through that moment, just enough.
Have you ever had that where you're just going through such a time of darkness and just this little glimmer of light, just this, this feeling. This is gonna sound so ridiculous but for me, it could be something as silly when I've been in true heartbrokenness and despair, it could be something as ridiculous as just staring at a hummingbird on a butterfly bush. It's just like that's so wild. That's so wild. Had a green frog that was stuck to my glass door, just stuck like suction cups. I just stood on the other side of him and stared at him, and he stared at me and I said, yeah, been exactly where you are, you, me. I don't know, I felt a little happy and I felt like the frog did too.
And then what happens is if you'll let him minister just a little bit at a time, you'll find that just then it comes this day where, I don't know, you got the strength, unless out of loyalty to who you lost, you refuse to ever be happy again. You can do that, talk about an obstruction. But then with a little bit of strength, you come to your knees and okay, now you're really leaning in. And handful by handful, just the knowledge that you're gonna be happy again one day, all of a sudden, starts making you happier. The ways of the Lord are so perfect and beautiful because if it, y'all listen, what he's after is relationship. He's not just after fixing us. He wants us to know him and he searches us and wants us to search him. He enjoys us. He's not just out to fix you. He's out to bring you into relationship.
Lament, reach forward for a little handful of hope and then you'll get strength just ounce by ounce to get back up. And then when your full joy is restored, and you must insist upon it, you must insist upon it, somewhere along the way somebody's gonna say, honestly, "You are the happiest person I know. What is it that's gone right for you"? And you got a chance to say, "You cannot imagine the lament that I have known. And my God gave me a happy heart one tiny handful of joy at a time". Just hope, anybody? Just hope.
So, we needed to talk about, before we get into obstructions, and these obstructions are going to go like this... boom, boom, boom... these are going to be obstructions you're going to need to study on your own, because there are enough of them that we can't just land on. There's some place else I want to land in our lesson today. So, some of the obstructions, we'll look at some. We'll just mention where you can land in the Scriptures to study them. But you're going to go like this with it.
And, so, we had to talk first about that some obstructions don't need moving, they need, tell me again, they need ministry. It begins to be hope, then, that moves them. The reminder that I'm completely loved, that I am completely loved. Somebody asked me not very long ago, it was at a "Living Proof Live", in a Q&A and I just loved the question. She said, "What is the knot in your robe"? And, I thought, "That's one of the best questions I have ever heard". What keeps you from just dropping off, just sliding off the end of it when life is hard?
And, I thought, "I know what it is, I know what it is", because it's in John chapter 15. I believe it's verse 9, but I'm not positive. Verse 9, I think, where he says, "As the Father has loved me, so I love you. Now you abide in my love". I had to tell him this morning again, "You know what, Jesus? You love me the way the Father loves you". I mean, that's something y'all. That's no small thing. That's the knot in my robe. I know I'm loved. I am loved. Okay, so, here we go. Obstructions to happiness: we are all addicted to pain killers. Certainly, pill form, legal and illegal, liquid form, grass form. But also, just insulating ourselves with constant self-comforts. We don't even give the Lord time to bring us true divine comfort, because we're going to comfort ourselves. We know how to do that. For me, it's going to be usually food.
Listen, I love the fact that we're given food to enjoy the taste. I love all of that. We're blessed of God. It's sanctified by our thanksgiving. I love that. And, I'm just saying, that sometimes, when we're all up in something, we're going to immediately go get some kind of comfort from something, be it sex or we're going to put ourselves immediately, we're going to lose ourselves in front of a screen. We're so quick to self-comfort, we don't even know what divine comfort is. We're doing it ourselves. It's not working. But we're doing it ourselves. Here's the thing about all of our addictions to all of our pain killers, is that I don't know if you've ever experienced this phenomenon, but the same pain killer that kills pain, kills ecstatic joys. It's just right here. It's just right here.
So, it's the oddest thing, because in all that pain killing, what we ended up doing, was we also killed that feeling of elation when something wonderful happens. Many of us perhaps can't remember the last time, when was the last time you jumped up and down for joy over something? And, if it's like, "Beth, I'm 80 years old, when do I"... Well, then, jump with the upper half. Find that elation again, that excitement, that exhilaration, again. Some of what dulls the pain also dulls the joy because it dulls the feelings. Another one is this, we've appointed ourselves spiritual sheriffs. Anybody? We're self-appointed sheriffs. So, we're constantly pulling people over. We love to run our Christian siren, don't we? I pull over. We love arresting people. A citizen's arrest. Citizens of heaven making citizen's arrest. You sinned. You said it wrong. You did it wrong. We just can't wait.
Listen, if you're just staring at somebody, I'm telling you, I'm telling you we can do this. We can just watch for someone to do something wrong, just watch for them to. Listen, you will especially be tempted to do this with your rivals. Whoever your rivals are, you cannot wait for them to get it wrong. You cannot wait. And, you cannot wait to tell someone how they got it wrong, because that's how you keep your rival down, is because, I've got to find something wrong with them. I've got to find a wrong way that they do it. It's so miserable to be the one that feels the need to pull everybody over. It really is miserable. We are so completely fixated on the speck in someone's eye, that we cannot see the log in our own.
I'm going to remind you, turn with me in Lamentations... go with me to John. This is where I'm going to start flipping fast. Go with me to John chapter 8, and I want to remind you of this passage. These are gotcha Christians. They just love to go, "Gotcha. I gotcha". Man, are they out there. Man, are they all over social media. Bless the hearts of young writers, young speakers, and young teachers, because your age is getting raised up in a culture of tomato throwers. Thank God, I get in enough trouble with things that were in the last ten years. But thank God nobody was recording my first couple of years of teaching Sunday School. There's no telling, because you know what, I was just learning. I was just learning. But the least little mistake, the least little way of saying it wrong, and it's never forgiven, never. It doesn't matter how much someone improves.
I know somebody who really used to teach a prosperity gospel. She'd completely turn, and, I mean the kind that says that God wants us all to be wealthy, and that we'll always, it's like a machine you put money in, you'll always get what you're asking. You're asking for what you've ordered. I'm talking about that kind. And, she turned from it. She was like, upon deeper study, that's not sound. It's the way she was raised to believe. It came to the point where she believed it was not sound. She stopped teaching it. She's still charged with that same thing continually. Continually. Because, you know what, actually nobody is even reading her work, they're just saying what they already believe to be true. Is anybody... I just hope... What would be fabulous, not only would the rest of us be happier, but you'd be happier. I'd be happier, if we were not the ones picking on everybody.
Now, listen, there have to be people watching doctrine and discerning. Have to be. But you know what happened in Acts chapter 18, Priscilla and Aquila got to hear the very, very gifted Apollos preach. And, he preached so well, and he was very, very impressive. Very, very great with speech. And, it says that he did not know the full way. And, so, they took him aside and taught it to him. They didn't go to social media and go, "He's such a heretic". Is anybody stepping in this with me? And, so, it's making our young teachers and speakers, I'm too old to quit. But it's making our young teachers and speakers and writers afraid. And I want to speak this over you, you can't be. You've got to just hang in there. And, also, if you made a mistake, then just say, "Man, I made a mistake. I thought that was the way I was supposed to say it". Just own it. Just own it.
Then, John chapter 8, you already know this scene. You'll know it well. They went each to his own house, "But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placed her in their midst. 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery'". See, caught, caught, caught. We are miserable people when we just can't wait to catch people in their sins. I've caught them. It's miserable. And, Jesus just gets down, starts writing in the sin. None of us have any idea when he's writing. I love that part of the mystery. And, he says, "Okay, you have no sin, cast the first stone".
Here that woman stands, no telling what she's wearing or not wearing, because she's been caught and dragged out where everybody can see her. And, then, there's just this glorious sound of stones dropping with a thud to the ground. And, it says... you'll so relate, if you're older like I am, it was the older ones that went first, because they lived long enough to know they had certainly not been without sin. Happiness is getting to lean over to somebody who has been in the worst of it, getting to her by the hands and going, "Do you realize that there is a Savior that completely cleanses and forgets, and throws those sins into the deepest sea, and never, ever fishes for them again? Do you know that there is a Savior that does not condemn you, but has come to save you and give your dignity back"?
That is good news. Another one. We're talking about obstructions to happiness. We are imprisoned by our own unforgiveness. Imprisoned by our own unforgiveness. I want you to use the word imprisoned. I started to use the word "jail", because it would go better with the context. I want you to jot down Matthew chapter 18, beside it so that you can read it. Many of you may be familiar with the text that tells us about the servant who owes a huge debt to his master, an enormous debt to his master, and he begs for his mercy, to be let out his debt. And, so, the master gives him mercy. But, then, the servant goes out and he grabs hold, literally grabs hold of someone who owes him something much less and he demands it out of him.
So, the master comes back to him and says, "You wicked servant. I let you out of your debt. But you're going to hold that debt against them". And, it says that they jailed him. And, I thought, sometimes we don't know why we're in a jail. We just know we're caught. And, we feel backed into a corner, that we feel like we're stuck. And, sometimes, what's got us in that prison, is because we just can't bring ourselves to the point of going, "You know what? I forgive you. I'm just forgiving the debt". Even if they don't want it forgiven. Even if they never asked for it. Even if I can never talk to them about it. You know what? It's too much. It's too much. It's too much of a burden on me to carry this unforgiveness.
What if we left that here today? What if you just left it? What if you just let God deal with them? I come from a background of childhood abuse, and it was devastating to me. It was devastating. It marked so many of my decisions, so many disastrous relationships. And, you just want somebody to pay. And, I know you've heard this a million times, but it still has weight with me. You just go, "But it's not okay. I don't want to forgive, because Lord it's not okay". It's not okay. I'm not going to ever say it's okay. It's not okay. I live with repercussion of it. it's not okay. But when we understand the grace of Jesus, we begin to get through our heads that forgiveness makes us okay, not it, not it. He can deal. Let Jesus have it. He can deal with it. But we need to let it go, because it's a huge obstruction to our happiness.
When we understand the grace of Jesus, we begin to get through our heads that forgiveness makes us okay, not it, not it. He can deal. Let Jesus have it. He can deal with it, but we need to let it go, because it's a huge obstruction to our happiness. Put it as the most expensive offering you've ever placed on the altar. Put it there. Put it there. I can't think of a more depressing saying than, "A mother is only as happy as her saddest child". I know that in the natural realm that has a lot of credence. I'm just going to say to you, we've got some women that have five kids. And, at what point is not one of them sad? I'm going to challenge you on something and I think it's one of the hardest things we'll talk about today. I'm just going to ask you pray it through. Just pray it through. I'm going to leave it with you in Jesus.
But remember the verse that says in Proverbs 31:28, "Her children rise up and call her blessed". That's a beautiful, beautiful thing. But that original word is a very, very wonderful word. It's a word that correlates to the name Asher, Asher, A-S-H-E-R. And, it is a biblical word, a Bible word, rather. A Hebrew word that means happy, happy. You can write this down, because this isn't just me giving you a contemporary translation. This is a very, very solid, scholarly translation. This is out of Word Biblical Commentary that does their own translations of whatever the commentary is on. And, they translate Proverbs 31:28, "Her children will rise up and call her happy".
Okay, stay with me a second here. As hard as it is, and, of course, we have deep compassion and deep empathy. There are times we even weep with our children. How many times do we weep for our children? But one of the most important things that can ever happen to us is that you and I still default to a happy heart, because the best thing we can do for them is to let them see someone who really does have some joy. At the biggest favor we could do them that when all is said and done, what a blessed child it is that can rise up and say, you know what? My mom, she honestly was so flawed. She did not do everything right and she admitted it, but I had a happy mother. I had a happy mother. Is that resonating with anybody in the house? Work that out with Jesus. Work that out with Jesus.
What does that look like? What does that look like? I'm just going to say, we're so tempted to hand over our really unhappy kids all of our happiness, when what they also needed to see is that we would enter in with them. And, that we would hold them in our arms. I even rocked my big kids when they were bigger than me. I would still say, "Sit right here". I'd hold them, I'd hold them, and I'd rub their little heads and rub their little shoulders, but pretty soon I'd have to say something silly. I'd have to. Like, "You're breaking my legs". Or I'd have to whisper, "You've got three more minutes to get in a better mood, because that's all I'm giving you". There has got to be some of that.
Okay, I want you to go to number five and there's a place we're going to land this lesson that I just can't wait to go with you. Oh, I just prayed this morning that you'd so get it, and I'd so get it. And, he would just be unforgettable to us. When you really get something, it's unforgettable. So, I'm praying that's going to happen today. Number five is this: no happiness on earth is like the happiness of God and man when the feeling's mutual. When he rejoices over you, and you rejoice over him. And, there's this mutual joy in one another. Nothing on earth, nothing in the human experience, nothing can touch that. Nothing can touch it.
I want you to turn with me to Zephaniah 3. You're going to land on 14, and I'm going to start reading it in just a second. Now, let's set some context first, so that we understand what does apply to us and what does not. Because, it probably even says in a caption over this portion of the Scriptures that this is about Israel's future restoration. It's prophetic. But what I want to say to you is this, and, I'm going to prove this I hope, in just a moment. But what I'm going to say to you is, this same God is our God. He is immutable. That's a word that means he never changes. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our God is completely unchanging. There's no shifting of shadows where he is concerned. So, same exact God, and we've got verses in the New Testament that show us.
I'm thinking of one in Luke chapter 10, where Jesus just rejoices in the Holy Spirit and it's very, very strong word. It's Agalliao in the Greek. And, it's a word that means that he just like, that if it was to take a physical form, it'd leaping and spinning with joy over the disciples that returned to him and said, "It happened just like you said. We were able to do just what you told us we could do". So, same God we have. Same desire to rejoice over his people. Calling his people to rejoice over him.
So, this is verses 14 through 20, "Sing aloud, o daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exalt with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, and you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: 'Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one, you hero, who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach'", 19 and 20: "Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors".
I cannot tell you, I really had not landed on this verse solidly before this week, because I was looking at these other passages that led me here. And, this just killed me. This just killed me. Just look at it. "And I will save the lame, and I will gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise". He has removed our shame from us and give us a double portion of joy for all that shame. "'And, he will turn that shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes', says the Lord".
I want you to look at verses 14 and 17 side by side. If they're on the same page in your Bible, if you like to write in your Bible, this is a great time to do it, because I want you to look at the mutual joy going on here. Look at 14 right next to 17. "Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem"! Now, watch God respond, "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing". Do you see what's going on here? Look at that "Sing aloud", and that "loud singing". Look at that "Rejoice" and that "rejoice". Look at that "exult" and that "exult". You are looking in the face of the most ecstatic, glorious experience in all of human kind, when we exult, and we rejoice, and, we sing at the top of our lungs, in praise and gratitude, and a pure outbreak of happiness over our God. And, our God does the same over us.
I'm gonna need you to get out every one of your points so far 'cause I need to hear them. Number one is what? Happy is not bad in the Bible. And so, next time you hear someone act like it is, then you're able to, in the sweetest way possible, in the most winsome way possible, sprinkled with salt, letting your words be gracious, you're able to say, "I gotta tell you something, there really is a place for happy in the Bible and really one element of joy is even that it is quite alright to feel quite happy in the Lord Jesus". Happy's not bad in the Bible.
Number two, we've got a gospel responsibility to rebel against our misery. I want to know something, when misery creeps up on us and we say to ourselves, "You know what? That's not my birthright. Misery is not my birthright in Christ. My birthright is joy, and nobody gets to take my joy". 2 Corinthians chapter 6 talks about this paradox that believers, that followers of Jesus, are, and it's the most wonderful thing because it says, "Through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as imposters, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed". Listen to this, "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing". This strange dichotomy that even in our sorrows, that there is this alien rejoicing that can overtake our heart, that our God is glorious, and that these are momentary struggles and momentary pains and harms, and we will be delivered from these bodies that sometimes turn on us and feel like they are betraying us. And we will be free, and whole, and complete, and perfect. And we will get to know as we've been known.
Number three, we're on our way, where? Would you just read this right here? I'm what on my way? To happily ever after. One more time. I'm on my way to happily ever after. Now, I'mma tell you, you would not break my heart if some of you, over the next week or two, happen to make yourself a shirt that says something like this, and then you send it to me on Twitter. I would not cry about it. I'd be so... and I want to see you in it. Don't hold, put the thing on, and I want to see you in it. It would thrill me to no end because we're on our way to happily ever after. You know want? I want someone to ask me about it. I'm going back to the airport like this and somebody's gonna ask me why I'm on my way to happily ever after, and I cannot wait to descend on them like a vulture. Whoosh. Oh, it's gonna be good. It's gonna be good. I'm probably gonna have to pay them. I don't mind paying people to listen. I'm gonna have to pay them, but I'm gonna tell them. I'm gonna tell them.
Number four, let's remember this. Number four, many obstructions to happiness are ours to move. So, let's remember that when we feel an obstruction to our happiness in Jesus, let's identify what it is. Is it something we can move? Is it something we can move? Let's do it. Let's do it. If it's something that somebody else needs to move, in other words, it's a person that needs moving and we can't really move them, but we can pray for God to move them. We can pray for God to move them in their hearts and if we're not married to them and they don't live under our roof, we might ask God to move them altogether to a better place, to a better place.
And then that brings us to number five. You know, this is my very favorite. Well, no, it's not because I think number three is my very favorite. Well, then I love that love, love, love, love number one, but I love number five. Number five, I want to really hear it. No happiness on earth is like the happiness of God and man when the feeling's mutual. Listen, if you don't think when we're singing, "Shine, Jesus, Shine", when was the last time you sang that song? When we're singing that if he's not delighted. He delights in us when we rejoice and we jump up and down and we're free. You know, one of the things about knowing the joy of obedience is that you get all your humor back, but it's clean. It's not damaging and nobody's hurt by it. It's the most terrible thing that a lot of people think that Christians don't have fun because it's not true. It's not true.
I laughed so hard with my staff that I can't even sit up half the time we go to lunch because they're just the funniest people I know. My family members are just funny, funny people. We have lots and lots of joy that testifies to the freedom of holiness, the happiness of holiness. Okay, I want to hear one last time, the review of our definition to happiness. Happiness is pervasive, persuasive awaken-ness to Christ's presence and his promises. I want to tell you a quote, it's sort of what started all this happy madness. It's George Mueller, and this is an excerpt of something that he says, and I love it because I do some form of this, and many of you do too. But this is just like a wonderful permission to do it.
"I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord". I want to challenge you with this. I didn't know if I was gonna have guts enough to say this to you or not, but I feel like I do if you promise me that you will not take it out of context. So, if you're gonna tell somebody I said it, you have to really honestly teach them the whole lesson because it really only fits in the context of what we studied together. I want to challenge you to do something. I'm gonna tell you something, I'm gonna be just brash with you here because this is what I'm doing.
I want you to have guts enough, with all that we studied, knowing the biblical angle of it, the courage enough to say to Jesus, "Make me so happy. Make me so happy. Would you make me so happy"? I want you to hear that exact wording, "would you", not would you give me circumstances, not what you give me everything that I pray for? Would you, Jesus, would you, Jesus, become my happy? Would you? Would you? Would you so exhilarate me in you so captivate me with you, so delight me with your wonder, so sustain me by your steadfast love that I can endure just about anything? Would you have the courage, the guts enough? It's a little of love what George Mueller is saying that we would attend to the happiness of our own souls in the morning. Does that make any sense?
Because let me tell you, this world is going to invest a whole lot of misery in us. Either what they're gonna invest in us is the world's idea of what happiness is, which we know will lead us to lose our lives instead of find them. We're told by Christ himself, "If you will lose your life in me, you will find your life". That's the blessed and divine paradox. He said, "You risk it all on me and I'm telling you, you will find a life you could not have dreamed up if you had to and not by way of circumstances, but because you have something money cannot buy, the joy of Jesus Christ in your heart, and the joy of the Lord is your strength". Attend to that.
I'm gonna tell you something because we want to really, really push back against legalism, but I love what a friend of mine says who is a speaker. She often reminds people over and over, it's Christine Caine, she'll remind people, you know what? Don't call what is obedience legalism. Call what's legalism legalism, but don't call what's obedience legalism. Don't make something bad of it. And I bring this up to say to you, I really do encourage you, get up in the morning and spend a few minutes with Jesus because you're gonna, the rest of the world is just gonna pound on us, either with their definition of what's gonna make us happy, which is a lie, or they're gonna pound on us with their misery.
Somebody's gonna insult us, somebody may slander us. We might not have gotten chosen for that job promotion at work, things happen, difficulties happen. Somebody may really, really say something about us that hurts our feelings. Whatever it may be, whatever darkness we might encounter, to get the day ready with him, to attend, to attend to your joy. I'll tell you something that helps me a lot, when I get up in the morning, the first thing I do when I come before Jesus is that I pour out. You know, I'll praise him and say good morning to him, but then I just like pour stuff out. That's what I'm gonna tell him on somebody. That's, you know, that's when I'm gonna say or I'm gonna say, I'm really having a hard time.
Did you see what happened yesterday? And just, you know, all this and that's what I'm gonna, if I just feel irritable or just wrong, just, I just am not in a good mood, I'm sleepy, I'll tell him, "I'm gonna tell you something. You're gonna need to wake me up with your Word this morning because I can hardly keep my eyes open". Just talk, talk, talk. So, that's what I pour it out, pour it out, pour it out. And so, that's what I'm gonna say, "I'm really upset about so and so". It's also when I'm gonna confess my sins. And because that doesn't make me feel, there are people that think, "Well, you know, I don't, that if he's already forgiven us".
So 1 John 1:9, we confess our sins. Yes, I mean, the cross of Christ has paid the full penalty for our sins. But I gotta tell you, when I've acted like an idiot, I like to be able to go, I really, really messed up and I ask you to forgive me. And I really want to do it differently today. That sets me free, and I get up clean. He purifies us from all unrighteousness. So, that's gonna be the pouring out part, but then I'm gonna ask him to pour it in, "Pour in your Spirit, Lord. I don't want to just work, because I'm gonna be gonna work that day, and I don't want to just work for you, I want you to work through me. I want you to give me creative. I want accurate, biblical, sound teaching to come forth. But would you give me creative kinds of illustrations?
Would you, Father, just stir us up in a way that we could stimulate the part of the body we get to serve to love in good works? This kind of thing, this kind of thing. And would you just be my joy? Would you give me joy today"? Attend to your happiness in the Lord. And then we go out and then when somebody tries to steal from us, we come back to him, "You know what? I just, I need to really reached forward on that again", all day long. Do it as often as you want to, talk to him. Talk to him in the car. Say to him, "Did you just see that, Lord"? I mean, I just love, because of course he did. But there's something about it. What would you do if, do you know he's there, that your hero was in your midst right there with you?
I challenge you get up in the morning, get in a few minutes of the Scriptures, and pray like you would pray if he suddenly showed up in your den in all of his majesty, in all of his glory and just said, "Don't let me just disturb you. Go on ahead. What were you saying"? How would you pray if you knew Jesus were listening? I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. Psalm 126. "When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue was shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them'. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy". The ESV says, "And we are glad". Verses 4 through 6: "Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb. Those who sow in tears shall reap was shouts of joy"!
Do you see that? Because it's promise. That's promise language there. Those who do this will get this. "Those who sow in their tears shall reap with shouts of joy. He goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him". You know one reason why I love this psalm so much? Because it's the wide spread broad spectrum of the emotions brought before God, the laughter and the tears. See, sometimes we don't even know the the levity of that free hearted, throw your head back and laugh over something God has done for us until we've also known what it's like to bear sorrow with him. It's the most beautiful picture.
And now, it's just something I think about. There are some lessons that stick with me forever, and this is one of them. Then what to me, I set Psalm 126 about sowing the seed in tears. I set it beside Luke 8 with the sower and the seed, scattering the seed. And here's how I picture it that if in my time of tears, if I am still willing to take the Word of God, I don't shut my Bible. I don't shut my Bible. Even if I cry all the way through my Bible reading, I'm not, when I'm upset and I don't, God, I feel disappointed, I feel like the Lord wanted me to let that come through, all these things that make you want to turn your back on him. No, you keep your Bible wide open, wide open and you still remember, "Okay, I'm gonna take God at his Word. I don't know why this has happened, but I'm gonna take God at his Word".
And so, right there on your knees because get the picture of sowing in tears. And I just want you to picture that you're taking in the soil, in the soil of your journey in the soil of your path. You're just like taking the seed of God's Word, man, you're putting it in there and you don't see anything coming from it yet, but you're gonna believe him. You're gonna put it in there, you're gonna put it in there. And he says, you just keep sowing that seed in your tears and you're watering it with your tears, watering the seed of God's Word with your tears. And he said if you do that, you will bear a harvest of joy, it just takes a while.
There's time between seed and harvest, takes a while, but you will look back and you will look on that path and there will be sheaves that start coming out of that ground, tiny little greens sheaves. At first you lean down think, could that be what I think it is? Is that a weed or is that a sheave? And then those things start coming up. And you pull out that first fruits and you wave it with everything you've got because at the first sign of joy, you claim the whole harvest and that is what it means to live by faith. I want to say the simplest thing in the world to you, but I believe it with every single cell in my body, your God is gonna be so good to you. Your God is going be so good to you. I promise you based on the authority of the Scriptures, your God is going to be so good to you. He's going to take care of you. And when you see him face to face, the Word of God says in Romans 8:18, "For the sufferings of this present time won't even be worthy to compare with the glory that he shall reveal in us".
Point number six is this: A heart predisposed to happiness knows how to cry and how to laugh. Sometimes I like crying. Men don't understand that, women, but sometimes I like it and sometimes I do it because I'm happy about something. Half the time I cry is 'cause I'm happy about something. A heart predisposed to happiness knows how to cry and how to laugh, how to laugh. I hope somebody came this weekend that would be able to say to me, "You know what? I'm really just not a laugher". I'm praying God's gonna turn you into one. I love laughers. I just love to laugh. And I love that the context of Psalm 126 is it's what God is doing that is making us laugh. And when he does something for us, it seems so ridiculously wonderful. I can't believe you did that.
I'm gonna tell you something simple because this is what works for me. If we'll start responding to the smaller things, start noticing fun things that God is doing, let the world call them coincidence. Imagine that we're gonna get to heaven and he's gonna go, "You know what? Really, that wasn't me. But I really do, I hold it against you that you praised me for it. I really do. And so, that's a debit from your rewards because you credited me with something that really wasn't me at all". I think that's the worst thing that can happen. You know, can you picture that? Can you picture that? Let's say this ridiculous, this ridiculous thing, two LPLs in a row, two LPLs in a row, thousands of people in the room just like this.
At that point in the third session, I was going up in the audience to just do some Q and A. Two times in a row, I walked up and I stood in that room, I just randomly walked up and stood right like this. And I said, okay, I need to know where so and so, so and so is in this room because I would have had their name down for some reason. Two times in a row, I was standing right by the woman that went, "I'm right here". I mean, Chuck and I were like, when he did it the first time, we were okay like that wow, God. The second time we were like, who are you? Who are you that you even think that's fun, that you would think it was fun to fool with us like that, that you would shock us like that? Do you remember the laughter of Sarah in that scene in Genesis where the visitors come one literally as this theophany, probably pre-incarnate appearance of Christ himself. But I mean, it's the Lord visiting them and saying, "In a year, you will have a child".
And, of course, Sarah laughs because it seems so ridiculous. In my old age, and have you seen him? I mean, talk about a curmudgeon. And they have that child, and God's already told them what to name it, laughter, throw their heads back and laugh. How could you be so ridiculously good? How on earth, in this flawed, broken planet, could you be so ridiculously good? Throw your head back and laugh, and let him place an Isaac in your sweet believing arms. I want to say one more thing to you. Do you see that part of the psalm that says that the nation said the Lord has been good to them. And then it says that they say, "The Lord has been good to us, and we're filled with joy".
I want to make a point of this because when was the last time... there's nothing more frustrating this. Mothers around the room, you'll be able to so relate with what I'm about to say. When you're trying to say to somebody, it could be your best friend, it could be your sibling, it could be somebody at your church that you mentor. When you're leaning into them and you're trying to get them to understand the Lord has been so good to you, but they're not glad. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? Like they don't even get it. You know, like, I've hardly ever known anyone as gifted as you in my life.
The Lord's given you so much favor it's just ridiculous, but they don't even know. It's the most beautiful thing on earth when somebody is able to say to you, "The Lord has been good to you", and you can go, "He really has and I'm glad. I'm glad. I'm glad". This is a beautiful, beautiful verse in Psalm 92 that says, "You, O Lord, have made me glad by your works". Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of", what? Do you remember the word? "Happiness, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns'". Good news. But you know how we know that we really have gotten the good news? We're glad. Good is what it is, glad is us knowing that it's good.