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Greg Laurie - Happiness: Where To Find It?

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    Greg Laurie - Happiness: Where To Find It?
TOPICS: Happiness

The title of my message is "Happiness: Where to Find It. Philippians Chapter 1". Let me ask you a question. Have you ever met someone who has said, "I really don't want to be happy. Happiness may be good for some people, but it's not really good for me". Now, you won't find many people like that. Most people deep down inside want to be happy. My goodness, it's even in our declaration of independence. That we want to be happy in the United States of America. And to the point, even those who say they don't want to be happy but rather they want to be unhappy find a certain happiness in their unhappiness. A case in point, have you ever seen a Woody Allen movie? It's sort of like celebrating misery and making it funny too. Well, that's because deep down inside we all want to be happy. It's been said, quote, "There are two things that are true of every person. We all want to be happy and we're all going to die". By the way, you may be surprised to know that God wired you that way, and this goes back for centuries.

Augustine in A.D. 397 said, quote, "Everyone, whatever his condition, desires to be happy," end quote. Nearly 13 centuries later, French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote, "All men seek happiness. This is without exception". I read in the newspaper a while back the lead singer of one of the most well-known rock bands in the world, and he was quoted to say this: "You ask me if I'm happy. Listen, I bought myself a Rolls Royce, I'm part of the biggest band in the world, and I'm about to move into a luxurious mansion. Am I happy with that? No, I am not. I want more". See, some things never really change. When comedian Dave Chappelle was making millions of dollars, he found he was not happy, and he was quoted to say, "The higher up I go, the less happy I am". So is happiness a lost cause?

Marilyn Manson said, quote, "Anyone who thinks they're happy should really go see a doctor because there's no reason to be happy," end quote. Milton Berle, the comedian, said, quote, "A man doesn't know what true happiness is until he gets married, then it's too late". So only I would quote Marilyn Manson, Dave Chappelle, and Milton Berle in the same sermon right, okay, but I'm just trying to show you this spectrum of opinions on the topic. George Burns, another comedian from years gone by, he said, "Happiness it's having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city". Okay, so there was always a punch line with those guys, but listen, despite what all these people tell us, according to the Bible, you can be happy, according to the Bible, you should be happy, and you just need to look for it in the right place. And the problem is far too many people look in the wrong place and then they conclude, if they don't find it there, that happiness cannot be found. Before I tell you what happiness is and where to find it, let me tell you where you will not find happiness.

Number one, being beautiful or handsome will not bring personal happiness. Let me say that again. Being beautiful or handsome will not bring you personal happiness. I know this from experience. That wasn't a joke. That kind of hurt a little bit, honestly. I mean, to be laughed at in the face. No, I meant it as a joke. You know, because I think people think, you know, "If I was as beautiful as the girls I see in the magazines and the ads or if I was as handsome as the movie stars, et cetera, I'd be happy". Eighty-five percent of women over 40 say they're not as attractive as the average woman, and that's why last year Americans spent $11.4 billion on cosmetic surgeon fees.

And that was Newport Beach alone. I've seen some, and I'm thinking, "Really"? You say, "Well, I want to look like the model in the magazine". Newsflash, the model doesn't even look like the model in the magazine. Haven't you ever heard of Photoshop, little airbrushing? The 2014 Annual Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery survey blamed the rise of the selfie. They said we're taking so many photos of our self more than ever before. We use Photoshop, Instagram filters, and other enhancements to look our best, and they say plastic surgery is the next logical step. You're always going to find someone more beautiful than you. Beauty and handsomeness, physical attractiveness will not make you happy.

Number two, personal possessions will not bring personal happiness. They can improve your life, make your life more comfortable, but they will not bring the real happiness you're searching for. There was an article in Time magazine that had the title of the real truth about money, and it said, quote, "Clinical depression is three to ten times as common today than two generations ago. Money jingles in our wallets and purses as never before, but we are no happier for it. In fact, for many, more money leads to more depression". Maybe that's why Proverb 27:20 says, "Hell and destruction are never full, and so is the heart of man never satisfied".

Having relationships will not make you happy. Now look, you're wired for relationship. You're wired to have someone that you will love and marry one day. That's not a bad thing, but if you say marriage is going to make you happy, you're going to be in for a big shock maybe even before the honeymoon is over, and, you know, because we're asking a person to do something a person simply cannot do. And we as a person can't meet all the needs of another person because people let us down. Parents let down children. Children let down parents. Husbands let down wives. Wives let down husbands. Cats always let down their owners. Dogs do better.

Number four, pursuing pleasure will never bring personal happiness. Pursuing pleasure. I didn't say you can't have happiness in pleasure. There are many fine pleasures in life that are good. You know, a nice meal, a beautiful sunset, time with people you love, those are good pleasures, but then there are perversed pleasures, are pleasures that are sinful. And the Bible even says there can be a little fun in the pleasure for a time, but then comes the repercussions of it. And, you know, you think, "Well, if I just, you know, try this drug, or if I drank a little bit more, or I had this experience". No, none of those things in and of them self will make you happy because after the rush and excitement wear off, the deadness kicks in. That's why the Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:6, "She that lives for pleasure is dead while she's living". You want to be a real zombie, not like you see on TV but a walking dead person, be a person that lives for pleasure. It'll never make you happy. In fact, living for pleasure is one of the most unpleasurable things you can do. It's been said the best cure for hedonism is an attempt to practice it.

Hey, everybody. Let me just say a few things about contentment. Listen to this. What you have in Christ is far greater than what you don't have in life. Conventional wisdom is, "If I get this thing or this promotion," or whatever it is you think will make you content, you'll be happy, but studies have shown clearly that these things do not bring contentment. Listen to this. Contentment does not come from what you have. It comes from who you know. The Book of Hebrews says, "Be content with the things that you have. For he has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.'" It's knowing that Christ is in my life and he's forgiven me of my sins that will bring the ultimate contentment. Things come and go. We come into this world with nothing, we leave with nothing, but our relationship with God is everything. So find your contentment in Christ.

All right, happiness doesn't come from those things. And where does it come from? Where do you find personal happiness? Simple answer, the only place to find real, lasting happiness is in a relationship with God. The people that know God are the happiest people. One of the world's foremost experts on the topic of happiness made this statement: "I don't have a religious or spiritual bone in my body, yet I have to admit that the study show that people with faith in God are happier". And why is that? Well, when you have faith, you have hope because you know life is not just a span on this earth. You know there's an afterlife, and if you put your faith in Christ, you have the hope of heaven.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will by nature be a forgiving person. You see? It's been said, "The first to apologize is the bravest, the first to forgive is the strongest, the first to forget is the happiest," end quote. And that's true. When you forgive and you forget, that will bring you happiness. So because we have hope, because we forgive, because we have faith, it gives us a happier state. So I just need to get right with God, I need to forgive those that have wronged me, and I need to start thinking biblically, and then I will discover true and lasting happiness. So it starts with getting right with the Lord. And then you have to begin there. So let's dig in. That was the introduction, by the way.

Now let's have a Bible study. Grab your Bible, or your phone, or your tablet device, or if the person sitting in front of you has Philippians 1 tattooed on their head, you can read that. Philippians 1, and we're going to read verses 1 to 6, "Paul and Timothy, bond servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine, making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ".

We'll stop there. Let's start with verse 1, "To the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi". You know, it's very easy when we read epistles to sort of skip over the opening statements as though they have no relevance to us, but we don't want to do that because really, Paul gives us the door to the life of happiness. You must be one of the saints. So if you want to be happy, be a saint. "Well, that leads me out. I'm not Mother Teresa, you know. I'm a sinner". Y'all, I know that. We're all sinners, but you have to understand what the word saint means. It's an interchangeable word with the word believer. How many of you are believers in Jesus Christ? Raise your hand up. They're therefore, saint, all of you.

See, but I didn't even need to do that. You're already saints. If you're a believer, you're a saint. If you're a saint, you're a believer. In fact, we read when the Lord told Ananias to go pray for the newly converted Saul of Tarsus, later to become the apostle Paul, Ananias responded, "Lord, I've heard how much harm this man did to your saints in Jerusalem". Remember Paul would chase down Christians and arrest them and sometimes even murder them. He presided over the death of the first martyr of the church, Stephen. But the reference is to the saints. So if you're in Christ Jesus, you are a saint, but notice it's a saint in Christ Jesus, in Christ Jesus. Believers are not saints because they're perfect. Believers are saints because they're in Christ, and Jesus imputes his righteousness to them as a result.

Listen to me. I'm a righteous man. "Well, I don't know, Greg, I've seen you drive". Yeah. Listen, I'm not righteous because of what I do. I'm righteous because of what he has done for me. And he's put his righteousness into my spiritual bank account, so to speak. That's called being justified. I'm positionally righteous. Now, living it out, that's another story. That's where the word sanctification comes in. You ever heard that word? Sanctification is living out justification. And those are sort of words that we may not understand, but justified is being made right with God; I'm in a right standing with God, but sanctification is living that out day-to-day in a practical way. But I am righteous and I am a saint.

Now, you don't have to call me Saint Gregory if you don't want to, but I might call you saint something. And why am I a saint? Because I'm in Christ. A Buddhist does not speak of himself as being in Buddha, nor does a Muslim speak of himself as being in Mohammed, nor does a Mormon speak of himself as being in Joseph Smith. They may try to follow the teachings of these people, but they're not in them, but a Christian is a saint because he's in Christ, in Christ. The Bible says, "If any man be in Christ, he is an altogether different kind of person. Old things have passed away. Everything becomes fresh and new". So I bring this up for this reason. The Book of Philippians and for that to the point the rest of the New Testament has nothing to say to the world that does not believe in Jesus Christ. Here's what God says to the world, "Repent and believe in Jesus". That's our message to the world. "Come to Jesus".

And so when people say, "Oh, I found the Bible is just the greatest self-help book ever written and it tells you how to have a better marriage and how to have a happier life," no, that's actually not accurate 'cause the Bible is not given to non-believers to take the principles and try to live by them. No. The Bible is given to God's people. It's come to show us we need God. The point of entry is your admission of your sin and your need for God, and then it results in you putting your faith in Christ.

And 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us what the Bible's for. It's here to teach us what is true, to make us realize what's wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. So this is who it is written to, to saints. So you must be a saint or, another way to put it, you must be a believer. So who in particular is Paul offering these principles of happiness to? He's offering to those who have believed in Jesus.

Now, I want you to notice a wonderful promise that is given to the saint. Verse 6, "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ". God always finishes what he begins. Greg does not always finish what he begins. Greg starts projects and doesn't always finish projects. Maybe you're the same way, but God always completes what he has started. With men you have unfinished books, unfinished songs, unfinished buildings. And why? Well, maybe it's a lack of resources or power, but more often than not it's just a lack of desire. You lose interest in it. You have marriages falling apart, "Well, I just lost interest in it". You have something else falling apart, "Well, I just didn't care anymore". God always finishes what he starts because God, he has unlimited resources, he has unlimited power, and listen to this, he has unlimited interest in you.

See, he loves you and he sees the finished work. He sees the finished painting. He sees the finished sculptor. He sees the finished you. He sees the ultimate you, who you will become one day. You just see the flaws. You just see there are shortcomings. You ever look in one of those magnify mirrors? Oh, I hate those. They're just horrible because they expose your flaws and they magnify your flaws, right, but God sees your flaws. He knows everything about you. He knows your flaws better than you know your flaws, trust me, but he also sees your potential, and he sees his plan, and he sees the end game that he has for each of you. He's going to bring what he started in your life to completion.

Hebrews 12 says we are to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. So I have good news. You're going to make it. You're going to make it to the end. Isn't that good news? Go ahead and clap for that. Because maybe you say, "Oh, this world is such a horrible place and the devil is so powerful. I might just fall away". Well, really? Do you want to fall away? "Well, no". Do you want to continue on as a follower of Jesus? "Well, yes". Well, then you will because as we read, it is God that works in us both to will and do of his good pleasure. God wants to do it. If you want to do it, friend, we have a game plan.

Now, if you're sabotaging what God is doing, if you're resisting what God is doing, if you're fighting with God, even then he won't give up on you, even then he will patiently bring you along, but if you're determined to rebel against his plan, well, yeah, you can end it, but that's not God's fault. That's your fault, but listen, the bottom line is you're going to make it if you want to make it. If you're willing to desire and to go forward as a Christian, then you will. It is God that works in you.

And I want you to also notice that he's working in you to will and do of his good pleasure; Philippians 2:13. Good pleasure. God's plan for you is good. The last time I taught this series was in January of 2008. So I keep all of my notes on my computer, and I go back and review old notes, and then I'll rebuild the messages, and sometimes I'll pull elements from the last time I gave the message. And this is very interesting because I'm looking at this whole section that I wrote on all things working together for good, and we don't know our future, and we need to trust God, and I even wrote in my notes, you know, sometimes that seem like they are bad will ultimately turn out to be good. And I thought, "When did I write this"? And I saw oh, wow, January 2008. And I wish I could just say to Greg of 2008, "Greg, you have no idea what's ahead of you, buddy". Because that same year is the year our son died in an automobile accident.

So I went back over my old notes, and I thought, "Do I still agree with the old Greg. Was Greg right when he wrote these things? Are these things actually theologically true, and are they also true practically? I mean, have I known these things to be true"? And I had to look back and see, "You know what? I don't disagree with anything I said". And it's not because I said it. It's not because I wrote it. It's because it's in the Bible. And, you know, when you're going through a bad thing, and someone here listening to me is going through a bad thing right now. I just know it. Really bad thing. You've lost a loved one. You found out you have cancer. You have some big trauma that's happened in your life. Your husband or your wife told you they want to divorce you. Something's happened with your kids. Just all kinds of things. I know something bad has happened. And you think, "Okay, this is it. This doesn't make sense". Some even say, "I'm starting to lose my faith over this".

Listen, the faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. Your faith is going to be tested and bad things are going to happen in your life that are inexplicable, but that doesn't mean God is not good and that does not mean that God still does not work all things together for good. What it does mean is bad things happen to good people, and more to the point, bad things happen to godly people. And that should not shake your faith because God never promised you a pain-free life. God never promised you a trauma-free life. In fact, he promised you this, "In this world, you will have tribulation". But then he went on to say, "But be of good cheer. I've overcome the world".
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