Joel Osteen - Choosing To Be Happy
I want to talk to you today about Choosing To Be Happy. When we wake up in the morning we get to choose how we're going to live that day. We can choose to live in faith, happy, expecting favor. Or we can choose to live discouraged, defeated, focused on our problems. Happiness doesn't automatically happen - it's a choice we have to make. You can't wait to see what kind of day it's going to be, you have to decide what kind of day it's going to be. First thing in the morning you need to make up your mind, "I'm going to live this day happy. I'm going to see the good, I'm going to be grateful, I'm going to love my family, I'm going to enjoy this day". If you don't decide how you're going to live - circumstances will decide for you. You'll see every problem, how it's not going to work out. You'll think, "I don't feel like going to work, I can't believe this traffic, I never get any good breaks". When you dwell on those thoughts, you may not realize it, but you're choosing to live discouraged, you're choosing to have a lousy day.
The scripture says (Psalm 30:5), "Joy comes in the morning". Every morning God sends you a fresh supply of joy. You can dismiss it, think "This is not for me, I have too much coming against me", or you can receive it and say, "Things may not be perfect in my life, but I know God's on the throne, he's ordering my steps, his plans for me are for good, so I'm going to enjoy this day".
This is what David did. He had all kinds of opposition, armies coming against him, people slandering him, his family looked down on him, but in the middle of all that he said (Psalm 118:24), "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it". His circumstances said he should be discouraged, afraid, lonely, bitter. If he was reporting on the situation, he would have said, "This is the day the Lord has made, and I'm really discouraged, I've got a lot of problems", that would have been the truth. But he wasn't reporting, he was making a declaration of faith. He was saying, "Despite the opposition I will be happy. Despite people lying about me I will be happy. Despite my family not believing in me I'm going to live this day happy".
If you're going to be happy you have to be happy on purpose, because there will be people, betrayals, delays, all kinds of things that can cause you to live sour. You have to put your foot down and say, "That's it! I'm not letting other people steal my joy! I'm not letting what's not working out cause me to be sour! I'm not letting this problem at work keep me from enjoying my life! I will rejoice! I will be glad! I will live this day happy". See your will is more powerful than how you feel. David didn't feel happy when he wrote this, he felt betrayed, discouraged, lonely, but he declared, "I will rejoice". Don't wait to feel happy before you decide to be happy. You have to decide first, then the happiness will come.
Like David you may feel discouraged, you have a good reason, things weren't fair, went through a loss, nothing looks promising in your future. The enemy would love for you to never get your hopes up, to think that it's always going to be this way, just drag through the day. No, you have to kick your will into gear, "I will be happy. I will enjoy this day. I will focus on the goodness of God". Your will is going to override how you feel. Now Mark of maturity is when you can be happy even when things aren't going your way. That your joy is not based on your circumstances. "Well, Joel, when the pandemic is over I'll get my joy back. When I finish school I'll be happy. When the Texans win I'll be in a good mood". Maybe a little while, y'all... "When I get married I'll be happy", or "If I wasn't married I'd be happy". If you're putting off your happiness, there will always be some reason to not be happy. Why don't you make a decision that you're going to be happy today? Not when it clears up, not when your boss changes, not when you lose 20 pounds, not when you get the promotion - this is the day the Lord has made.
And I've learned: if you don't get happy where you are, you probably won't get to where you want to be. "I can't stand this job, I don't like going to work here". Try a different approach, "God, I'm happy that I have a job. Help me to not let these people steal my joy". If you'll have a good attitude where you are, that's a seed God will use to change things. But if you're sour at that job, and God gave you a better job, when someone does you wrong there, you'll be sour at that place too. You have to get happy where you are. "Not in my dream house yet, but I'm happy in this apartment. Not married yet, but I'm happy being single. This health issue hasn't turned around yet, but God, I'm going to be happy while you're changing things". You control your happiness. It's not up to anyone else, you're as happy as you want to be.
I played basketball with a young man. He was always in a good mood, so friendly, and so upbeat. One day after the game I asked if he wanted to go get something to eat, he said, "No, I have to go up to the clinic, I'm taking chemotherapy". He had been fighting cancer for three years. I was so surprised, I couldn't tell anything was wrong. I said, "I'm so sorry to hear this". He said, "Don't feel sorry for me. Life is good, I'm blessed, have a beautiful wife, a new son, I'm grateful to be alive". He could have been depressed, "Why me? This isn't fair", sitting around in self-pity. Instead he made the choice to be happy where he was. I asked him how he had such a great attitude? He said, "When I wake up in the morning, I ask myself: do you want to live depressed or do you want to live happy? I choose to live happy".
I wonder how much more we would enjoy life if we would do like him, and start choosing to be happy? We can't get away from negative circumstances, I can't tell you that having faith will keep you from trouble, bad breaks, people that do you wrong. But I can tell you: those things don't have to take your joy. You're in control of your happiness.
David said in Psalm 144:15, "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord". Sometimes when we look at our circumstances, there's nothing to be happy аbout: fighting cancer, going through a pandemic, having trouble at work - there's nothing good about that. Well, the reason we can be happy is our God is on the throne, he controls the universe, he's our provider, he's our healer, he's our vindicator, he's our waymaker. We can be happy that the most powerful force in the universe is on our side. We can be happy that what was meant for harm, he's turning to our advantage. We can be happy that he's promised to work out his plan for our life. No person can stop him, no bad break, no sickness, no addiction - all the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has ordained for you.
It's significant that David started off by saying, "This is the day the Lord has made". He could have just started, "I'm going to be glad today. I'm going to rejoice". He was saying, "God, I recognize that you not only made this day, but you've allowed me to be alive. You chose me before I could choose you. You formed me in my mother's womb. I'm not going to waste this day living negative, focused on my problems, dwelling on my hurts. I'm going to live this day to the full". You and I are not here by accident. God could have chosen anyone to be alive today - there are billions of people that have lived and died, but God handpicked you to be here at this time. He woke you up this morning, he gave you strength to get out of bed, he's crowned you with favor, he put seeds of greatness in you, he calls you "More than a conqueror, the head and not the tail".
One way we honor God is by living happy. He didn't create you to drag through the day, overcome by problems, discouraged by disappointments. No, this day is a gift from God. We should feel a responsibility to live it in faith, happy, joyful, good natured. Once this day is over, we can never give it back. We don't have time to waste another minute being negative, discouraged, focused on what didn't work out, complaining over who did us wrong. Get your joy back. "Well, Joel I'd be happier, but I've been through hurts. People have done me wrong". I say this respectfully, but everyone's been hurt. "Well, I've had disappointments, bad breaks, loss". We all have. You can use that as an excuse, and let it sour the rest of your life. Or you can say, "Father, thank you for entrusting me with another day. I'm not going to take it for granted. I recognize, it's a day that you have made. I'm going to choose to be happy. I'm going to choose to enjoy this day. I'm going to live it to the full". When you have that kind of attitude, God will give you beauty for ashes, he'll make up for the wrongs.
A few months ago there were some birds right outside our bedroom window. At five o'clock in the morning they started chirping, and chirping, so loudly that they woke me up. This went on for over an hour. All this singing, different sounds, melodies, one would chirp real loud, there'd be a pause, then another would answer. At times they'd all chirp together, sounded like a symphony. I would have enjoyed it, but it was a five o'clock in the morning, I wanted to sleep. The next morning five o'clock, same thing. Again and again.
One morning it was raining, thundering, I thought there's no way those birds are gonna sing today, no way they're gonna be happy: cold, rainy, lightning. Five o'clock, right on cue, here came the birds louder than ever. I wanted to say to those birds: why are you so happy? Don't you know we're in a pandemic? Haven't you read the news, there are problems in the world, the price of gas is high, the supply chain is messed up, how can you be singing? What if you don't get your worms tomorrow?
It's interesting how God put something in those birds to start the day off singing. They're saying in effect, "Life is good. We're happy. We're going to enjoy this day". What would happen if we would have that song of praise every morning? Like these birds, not moved by our circumstances, but sing in the dark when things aren't going our way. Sing in the rain, when circumstances are against us. Sing in the cold, when we don't feel like it. We could be discouraged, complaining, instead we're making that choice that we're going to live this day happy.
One reason those birds are happy is they haven't watched the news. They haven't read the paper, they're not on social media, nobody has told them they're supposed to be worried, afraid, upset. They believe their Heavenly Father is in control. They've seen him take care of them in the past, they believe he'll take care of them in the future. If you're going to live happier, you may have to tune some things out. You can't take in negative all the time and stay in faith. The scripture says, "Think on things that are of a good report, things that are positive, hopeful". Our thinking has a lot to do with our happiness.
The apostle Paul went through a lot of bad breaks. Second Corinthians 11, it lists some of these difficulties. Five times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, three times he'd been shipwrecked. He was bitten by a poisonous snake. He'd faced angry mobs, fought off bandits, survived flooded rivers. He'd gone without food, proper clothing, sleepless nights. Nobody had more come against them than Paul. After being in prison for two years, he was brought before king Agrippa for his trial. When he stood up to give his defense, the first thing he said was (Acts 26:2), "King Agrippa, I think myself happy". You would think he would see himself as a victim, be bitter, angry, have a chip on his shoulder. But he shows us a secret of how to overcome all that. He said, "I think myself happy".
You can think yourself depressed, you can think yourself into a bad mood, you can think yourself a victim. Or you can do like Paul and say, "I've had a lot of difficulties, I could be sour, but I'm gonna think myself happy". As long as you're thinking about your hurts, what you didn't get, how you were left out, you're going to be discouraged. Why don't you start thinking happy thoughts? Happy thoughts are, "I have a bright future. Something good is going to happen to me. My latter days will be better than my former days". I'm not saying to deny the negative, I'm saying don't dwell on it. Don't relive what didn't work out, don't replay the loss, the disappointment, the failure. You can't move forward if you're looking back. You can't enjoy today if you're focused on yesterday. You may have had disappointments, things that are not fair - you need to do like Paul and start thinking yourself happy.
I get up every morning and tell Victoria, "Today is going to be a great day". You know what I'm doing? Thinking myself happy, getting my mind going in the right direction. It's easy to get up and think yourself sad, think yourself into self-pity, "Why did I come down with this illness? My friends are all married, why am I still single? These people at work are not fair, it's never going to work out". You're thinking yourself defeated. You have to change what you're thinking. "Yes, I came down with this illness, but father I want to thank you that you're restoring health back unto me, that I will live and not die, that my best days are still in front of me". "Oh, yes, these people at work are not treating me right, but I'm not a victim, I know I'm a victor. God, you've always cause me to triumph". Happy thoughts are, "God, I'm grateful to be alive. I'm excited about my future. I believe you're taking me from glory to glory, that I haven't seen or imagined the great things you have in store". When you think happy thoughts, it not only lifts your spirit, but that attitude of faith is what allows God to do amazing things.
After Paul gave this great speech to king Agrippa, he was sent back to prison. His prayer wasn't answered. You would think now surely he'd be discouraged, surely he'd be complaining. No, in prison he wrote (Philippians 4:4), "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice". He was telling us, "Even when it doesn't go your way, just keep thinking happy thoughts, keep giving God praise, keep thanking him that he's working in your life, keep being grateful when you could be complaining, keep thinking victory even when you're seeing defeat". Happiness is not dependent on what's going on around you, it's dependent on what's going on in you. What kind of thoughts are you thinking? "I'll never get well, I've had this too long" - you're thinking yourself discouraged. "I can't break this addiction, it's been in my family for years" - you're thinking yourself limited. "I can't be happy, Joel, I've been through a lot of loss, a lot of heartache" - that is not how your story ends.
But here's the key: you have to give yourself permission to be happy. Sometimes we bought into the lie that we're not supposed to be happy, we've been through too much, we've made too many mistakes. If we're happy, people may not understand. Can I tell you? You're supposed to be happy! God created you to enjoy your life, to laugh, to smile. Happiness starts on the inside. Give God something to work with. Every morning you need to say to yourself, "I'm happy, I'm grateful, I'm blessed". You can't receive happiness if you're thinking sadness. Joy is coming every morning: some people have been bypassing it year after year because of their thoughts. You will live happier if you'll start thinking happier.
While Paul was sitting in prison he wrote in first Thessalonians, "Be happy in the faith, glad-hearted, continually". He was telling us again: "Think happy thoughts. Be glad-hearted". He didn't say anything about our circumstances. "Be" happy if people treat you good. Be happy if your plans work out. Be happy if you don't have disappointments". He was saying, "Get in a habit of thinking happy thoughts. Don't let the negative circumstances talk you out of living happy".
I was driving down the road the other day in a hurry to get to an appointment. There was a car in front of me, going 20 miles an hour in a 45 mile an hour zone. It was a one lane street, you couldn't pass, wasn't a school zone, the driver wasn't elderly, I couldn't understand why they wouldn't go. At one point I had to make up my mind that I was going to think happy thoughts, because the thoughts that were coming were not happy. My first thought was "Blow the horn, call them a name, get out of my way". I was about to think myself upset. I did what I'm asking you to do, "God, I know you're in control, you're ordering my steps. I think that it's a good day. I'm healthy, I'm blessed, I have a bright future". I just switched over to happy thoughts. Not long after that they turned, I hold my horn and went on.
But in the scripture, Habakkuk put it this way (Habakkuk 3:17), "Though the fig tree does not blossom, though there be no fruit on the vine, though the olive crops fell and there are no cattles in the stalls"... Everything was going wrong for Habakkuk: business was down, crops weren't producing, his income was limited. If he'd have stopped there, he'd been depressed, discouraged, dragged through the day. He went on to say (Habakkuk 3:18), "Yet, will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation". He was saying: even when I'm not seeing increase, even when things aren't going my way, slow drivers, delays, the medical report hasn't improved, I'm not going to fall apart, I'm still going to think happy thoughts, I'm still going to thank God that I'm alive, that I have purpose, that good things are in store. Are you thinking yourself sad? Thinking yourself discouraged? Thinking yourself a victim? It's time to start thinking happy thoughts!
A lady I know is very joyful, always has a smile. Every time I'm around her, she's so good-natured and so fun. And she's had difficulties in life, it hasn't been easy, but she's learned this secret to think happy thoughts. She was at a store, she went up to the counter to purchase something. The man at the register asked how she was doing? She said with a big smile, very enthusiastically, "I'm blessed, just grateful to be alive". He looked at her and said, "Do you go to Lakewood"? She said, "I do". He said, "I should have known it. Everyone that comes in here like you goes to Lakewood".
I believe we should be the happiest people on earth. There should be a difference between us and people that don't honor God. When you go to work everyone may be complaining, discouraged, talking defeat - don't fall into that trap. Stay full of joy, keep a smile on your face, keep thinking happy thoughts. This world needs more happy people, we need more joy in the world. There's so much sadness, gloom, despair. If we're not careful, we'll let what's happening around us to get in us. That's why every morning you have to choose to be happy. Not "I feel", but "I will rejoice, I will be happy, I will enjoy this day".
When you think about the best day of your life, what day would it be? The day you were married? The day your child was born? The day you found out you were cancer-free? The day you moved into that new house? Those are all great days, we look back with fond memories. But do you know what I believe the best day of your life is? Today! God has given us another day to be alive, another day to enjoy your family, another day to see the sunrise, another day of possibilities, to pursue your dreams, to go after your goals. Sometimes we let the pressures of life, traffic, what somebody said, a challenge at work, to keep us from enjoying the day. We think it's just another ordinary day. But there's no such thing as an ordinary day. Every day is a gift from God.
He scripture says (James 4:14), "Our life is like a vapor". We're here for a minute, then we're gone. 100 years from now we'll all be finished. If we really understood how valuable each day is, I think we'd live it happier. It's easy to take it for granted, just get up, go through the motions, deal with the challenges, the day is gone. But if you'll have a new perspective, and start seeing every day as your best day, then you won't let little things upset you. You'll take time to enjoy the people God's given you to love. You'll stop by and say "Hello" to that neighbor that's lonely, you'll think more happy thoughts, you'll live more grateful, you'll make the most of each day.
A pastor, friend of mine, went to visit a 35 year old mother in the hospital. She had cancer, wasn't supposed to make it through the night. He walked in, took her hand, told her that he loved her, that he was praying for her. She smiled, ever so warmly, and said in a faint voice, "Pastor, this is the best day of my life". He seemed kind of puzzled, thinking "This doesn't seem like a very good day for you at all", and she laid there very frail, no hair. She said, "You see, I didn't know if I was going to wake up this morning. Now, God has blessed me with another day to see my children, another day to spend with my family". She went on to say, "If I make it to today, tonight I'm gonna look out the window, and look up at the stars, enjoy the moonlight".
You may have some difficulties, things you could be sour about, things that could take your joy, but if you'll keep it in the right perspective, recognizing that this day is a gift from God, that really it's the best day of your life, then it's easier to live it happy. Not be sidetracked by all the worries, what didn't work out, who cut you off in traffic.
Hen Paul came to the end of his life he said (Acts 20:24), "I want to finish my course with joy". We're all going to go to be with the Lord at some point. I don't want to go discouraged, feeling like a victim, "Look what I've been through, why did this happen". Let's go full of joy, seeing each day as the best day, getting up each morning and choosing to be happy, saying with David, "It's not about how I feel, I will rejoice, I will be glad". Like Paul, let's get in the habit of thinking happy thoughts. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: you're going to live happier, you're going to enjoy your life more. Forces that have held you back are being broken right now. God is releasing you into new levels of joy, freedom, favor, fulfillment. You will finish your course with joy, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen? Amen!