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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Happiness

Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Happiness


Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Happiness
Robert Jeffress - Straight Talk About Your Happiness
TOPICS: 18 Minutes with Jesus, Happiness

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Let me begin today with a question: do you think Jesus really cares about your happiness, or is the pursuit of happiness too self-indulgent? Well, here's the truth. When we understand and apply what Jesus taught in his famous sermon on the mount, we can experience genuine joy in this life and unending happiness in the next life. My message is titled "Straight talk about your happiness" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

You probably are very familiar with the movie and the book on which the movie is based, "The Wizard of Oz". Now, if you're as old as I am, you remember when the only time you could see "The Wizard of Oz," no DVDs, no DVRs. It was telecast one time a year on a Sunday night close to Easter, and if you were like me and had to come to Sunday night church, you remember what happened. You'd watch 20 minutes of the movie, when you heard the words, "Turn off that tv. It's time to get in the car and go to church". I was an adult before I even knew there was a part of the movie that was in color. I thought it was all in black and white during that time.

But if you're familiar with the story, you know it's about Dorothy and her dog Toto and her three new friends, the cowardly lion, the scarecrow, and the tin man, and they're all prancing down the yellow brick road on the way to meet the wizard, and they each have their own request of what they're going to ask the wizard for. The cowardly lion wants courage. But the scarecrow said, "I shall ask for brains instead of a heart, for a fool would not know what to do with a heart, if he had one". But the tin man had a different perspective. He said, "I shall take the heart, for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world".

Is that true? Is happiness really the best thing in the world? Yes, as long as you understand happiness the way Jesus understood it, and that's what we're going to talk about today. If you have your Bibles, turn to Matthew chapter five as we look at some straight talk from the Savior about our happiness, and over and over again in these verses, he's going to say, "Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those who are persecuted for their faith". Blessed, blessed, blessed. And that's what we're going to look at. These verses, what we often call the beatitudes, are really a summary of Jesus' entire teaching of the sermon on the mount. You know, we need to understand what Jesus means when he says blessed. The word blessed is a translation of the Greek word makarios and makarios literally can be defined as happy. Happy are those who are poor in spirit. Happy are those who are persecuted.

Now, happiness is an acceptable translation, but it's not a complete translation, because frankly, my happiness depends upon my happenings, what's going on around me. Jesus is talking about something more than that. He's talking about an inward joy, not a giddiness, but an inward assurance that comes from following God. In fact, this word makarios in Greek means to enjoy a place of special privilege. A believer who obeys Christ can be joyful, if not giddy, over the fact that he knows he is approved by God. And Jesus is saying happy, blessed, joyful are those who know they are approved by God. As Dallas Willard notes, Jesus takes the eight characteristics of people in this world that are the least likely to be thought to be in a place of privilege, and shows how they are actually in a better place of privilege than those who are not in this situation.

Let's have an overview of these blessed attitudes. This entire sermon on the mount, remember, is a constitution for how Christians are to live both now and in the future. There is a coming Kingdom of God, the millennium, when everybody will live according to these principles and enjoy the benefits of doing so. But right now, the Kingdom of God is within us. If you're a believer, you have the ability right now to submit to the kingdom rule of Jesus Christ, and when you submit to him in the areas we're about to talk about, you're going to experience a genuine joy, not a superficial giddiness, but a genuine joy in this life and unending happiness in the next life.

Now, I want you to notice each of what we call the beatitudes. Each of these eight are a paradox. As G.K. Chesterton said, a paradox is truth standing on her head to get our attention. In fact, Jesus takes our expectations and turns them upside down about who is really blessed and approved by God. Let's look at these eight paradoxes. First of all, he begins by talking about the riches of poverty. Verse three. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".

Now, he doesn't say blessed are the poor. There's nothing about having no money that makes you happy. You're not righteous if you have no money. That's not what he's saying. I know poor people who are miserable and poor people who are happy. The same about rich people. Has nothing to do with how much money you have or don't have. He's not talking about material possessions. He's talking about the poor in spirit. That Greek word poor means to cower, to cringe, to crouch like a beggar. When he talks about poor in spirit, he's talking about joyful are those who realize their spiritual bankruptcy, that they are lacking in spirituality. We have to begin there.

In Isaiah 64:6, Isaiah says the best we can do, our righteousness is like a filthy rag to God. The apostle Paul said in Romans 3:10 and 23, "For there is none righteous among us, no, not even one, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". The beginning place for experiencing God's blessings is to understand your spiritual bankruptcy. One commentator translated it this way. Blessed are the spiritual zeros. Do you ever feel like a spiritual zero? You feel like you're unworthy of God's blessing in your life?

I'm not going to re-preach my message, but remember from Luke 18, the story of the two men who went up to the temple to pray. The first one was the pharisee, and his prayer, so to speak, was just a self-congratulatory speech reminding God of how lucky God was to be in his presence, but the publican, the tax collector, all he could utter were those seven words, "Lord, be merciful to me, the sinner, the chief sinner". Realizing your spiritual poverty is the beginning place of blessing. Secondly, he talks about the paradox of mourning. The comfort of mourning. Verse four. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". That Greek word translated mourn, pentheo, means to feel anguish over a distressing situation.

Have you ever done something that was so horrendous that it even surprised you that you could do such a thing? You mourn over your situation. He said you shall be comforted. There is a way to be comforted now, not just in heaven when you're mourning over your sin. It starts with asking for God's forgiveness, by trusting in Christ as your Savior. You know, there are two kinds of sorrow for sin. 2 Corinthians 7 says there's a sorrow that just leads nowhere except to death. If you're just constantly wallowing in self-pity over your unrighteousness, that leads nowhere, but Paul said in 2 Corinthians 7:10, "The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation".

Psalm 32, David talked about, he knew firsthand the comfort that comes from confessing your sins and receiving God's forgiveness. In Psalm 32, he said, "How blessed, how happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity". There is no relief that can match the relief of knowing your sins have been forgiven, that God no longer imputes them, he no longer holds them against you. How blessed is that person. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". And then in verse five, Jesus talks about the strength of meekness. Remember, this is a paradox, the strength of meekness. In classical Greek, the word translated meek means power under control. It actually was used in classical Greek to refer to a powerful animal that had been broken, that had been harnessed.

"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth". That's an interesting verse, because throughout the scripture, the ultimate destiny of the righteous is inheriting the earth. Psalm 37:11. "They shall inherit the earth. The humble will inherit the earth, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity". Our final destination as believers is not up there floating around some place on some other planet. It's right here on this earth, this recreated earth. God made us for this earth, and this will be our ultimate inheritance. "Blessed are those who are gentle, for they shall inherit the earth," Jesus said. And then in verse six, he talks about a fourth paradox, the fullness of hunger. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied".

Wouldn't you like to live in a world that's characterized by justice? Don't you want to live in a world where you don't have to lock your doors at night? Don't you want to live in a world where there's no more war or terrorist activities? Wouldn't you like to live in a world where good always, not sometimes, always triumphs over evil? A world in which good things no longer happen to bad people, and bad things no longer happen to good people? We all have a hunger to live in that kind of world. We crave justice because we're made in the image of God, who is a God of justice. The Bible promises those who hunger and thirst for that will ultimately be satisfied when the Lord rules again. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness".

And then he talks about in verse seven, as we talk about our relationships with other people, the reward for mercy. Verse seven. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy". A lot of people don't understand the difference between grace and mercy. Here's the difference. Grace is giving somebody what they don't deserve. Mercy is not giving people what they do deserve. Grace, giving people what they don't deserve, forgiveness. Mercy, not giving people what they do deserve, justice. When you refuse to give mercy and insist on justice, you are robbing yourself of the joy the subtle state that comes from forgiveness. You rob yourself of a blessing in this life, and you are in danger of robbing yourself of forgiveness in all eternity.

Jesus said it very clearly in Matthew 6:14 and 15. "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your father will not forgive your transgressions". Somebody once said he who refuses to forgive destroys the bridge over which he must one day pass. "Blessed, happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy". And then in verse eight, he talks about the clarity of purity. You know, we all tend to see whatever we want to see. There's an old saying. To a Hammer, everything looks like a nail. What's in our heart determines what we see. The Bible says blessed are the pure in heart, for they're the ones who will see God. What does it mean to be pure? Literally a pure heart is an undivided heart. "Who may ascend to the hill of the Lord"? Psalm 24 asks, "And who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood".

To have a pure heart means to have that undivided heart. For example, if I say I love my wife with all of my heart, that means there is no place in my heart to love somebody else's wife. I love my wife with all of my heart. To love God, to have a pure heart means there is no love, there is no competition for devotion to him. And then verse nine, he talks about the paternity test of peace. This is interesting. Verse nine. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God". True peace means reconciliation. It's not just laying down weapons for a little while and reloading. It is reconciliation. It's reconciliation like God made between us. Listen to me. If you have really experienced that peace with God, peace is a part of your DNA. It runs through your veins, and you will do everything you can to be at peace with other people.

Now, it's not always possible to be at peace with other people, even if you desire it. Sometimes, especially when it comes to matters of faith, we don't have a choice. In Matthew 10, verses 34 to 36, Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth: I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies will be the members of his household". Have you ever seen those verses on a Christmas card before? I don't know one person. "Don't think I came to bring peace, but a sword". What was Jesus saying? He's saying sometimes truth divides people.

Now, I'm not talking about your little opinions about something. I'm talking about God's truth revealed in his word. Sometimes that divides people, and you can't help that. But Romans 12:18 says, "If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men". You know, honestly, as pastor of this church, I could divide this church right down the middle, if I wanted to, over a half a dozen different issues. Predestination, end times, vaccines. I could choose a million different things and divide the church, but that's not God's will. God's will is to be a peacemaker where at all possible.

I was the oldest of three children, as you know, and whenever I would have to referee between my brother and sister, they tell the story a little differently, but when I would referee between them, I remember my parents used to say to me all the time, "Robert, remember, blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they should be called the sons of God". That's running in my mind all of the time. If we are truly living according to Christ's standard, we'll seek peace, and then finally he talks about the joy of persecution. The joy of persecution. Talk about a paradox. He says in verse 10, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted," underline this, "For the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely accuse you and say all kinds of evil against you because of me".

Now, there are a lot of Christians right now who are being persecuted, but they're being persecuted for their own stupidity. They're persecuted for their personal opinions. They're persecuted for all kind of reasons. There's no reward for that. No, he's talking about Christians who are persecuted for righteousness, because of the name of Christ. In 1 Peter 4, Peter said, "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers because you're a murderer, or a thief, or evildoer, or troublesome meddler, but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but it is to the glory in his name".

There's not necessarily a giddiness when you're going through persecution, but there is a genuine joy, the calm assurance that because you are approved of God, ultimately, you're going to be blessed and rewarded by God. Blessed are you when you are persecuted, for yours will be the kingdom of heaven. You know, I feel like I've preached eight sermons this morning looking at these beatitudes, but I want to remind you again of the theme. Those who model their actions, attitudes, and affections after Jesus Christ will receive genuine joy in this life and unending happiness in the next life. That's what Jesus is promising here. He said when you live your life according to the way Christ lived his life, there's an immediate payoff. There's a genuine joy, but that genuine joy now is just a prelude to something better and more long-lasting.
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