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Happiness: Where to Find It | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
January 1, 2023 3:00 am

Happiness: Where to Find It | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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January 1, 2023 3:00 am

In this Sunday message, Pastor Greg Laurie gives us encouragement perfect for the New Year with a message titled, “Happiness: Where to Find It.”

Most people deep down inside want to be happy. It’s even in our Declaration of Independence that in the United States of America we want to be happy. Even those who say they don’t want to be happy, and want to be unhappy, find a certain happiness in their unhappiness. You may be surprised to know that God wired you to want to be happy, and according to the Bible, you can be happy—you should be happy. But you just need to look for it in the right place.

Here are a few places not to look for happiness.

  • Being beautiful or handsome will not bring personal happiness. Sometimes people think, “If I was as handsome or beautiful as the people that I see in magazines or as the movie stars, I’d be happy.” We’re always trying to look our best with surgery, airbrushing, Photoshop, Instagram filters, and other enhancements. But there will always be someone more attractive, and physical attractiveness will not make you happy.
  • Personal possessions will not bring personal happiness. Your life may improve or be more comfortable, but possessions will not bring the real happiness you’re searching for. For many, having more money leads to depression. Proverbs 27:20 says, “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied” (NKJV).
  • Having relationships will not make you happy. We are wired for a relationship. We are wired to have someone to love and marry one day. That’s not bad, but if you say marriage is going to make you happy, you are going to be in for a big shock. People let us down. Parents let down children. Children let down parents. Husbands let down wives. Wives let down husbands. 
  • Pursuing pleasure will never bring personal happiness. There are many fine pleasures in life that are good. A nice meal. A beautiful sunset. Time with people you love. Those are good pleasures, and then there are perverse pleasures that are sinful. The Bible even says these can be fun for a time, but there are repercussions. 1 Timothy 5:6 says that she “who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives” (NKJV).

Here’s the bottom line of Paul’s happiness, found in Philippians 4:4. He says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (NASB). That is the key. It is rejoicing in the Lord. It is not rejoicing in your condition, rejoicing in your circumstances, rejoicing in your current emotional state, or something else. It’s rejoicing in the Lord and filling your mind with the truth of God. It changes your outlook. I’m not talking about positive thinking. I’m talking about having a mind that is filled with God’s truth—having the mind of Christ.

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Hey there, thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you.

If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. 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 said, I really don't want to be happy? You know, happiness may be good.

Oh, thank you. 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.

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 AD 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'm 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 the spectrum of opinions on the topic. George Burns, another comedian from years gone by, said, happiness, it's having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.

Okay, so there was always a punchline 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. In fact, 94% of girls age 18 and under wish they were more beautiful.

Let me take a quick poll. How many of you girls wish you were more beautiful? Just be truthful.

You wish you were more beautiful. Raise your hand. There you go. Okay. Oh, wow. That's interesting. So having said that, how many of you think you're already beautiful?

Raise your hand. Okay. I don't disagree. I'm just interested. But most people always will say, well, you know, I'm okay, but, well, look at her. I'm all right, but look at him. 85% 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, a 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 ourself 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 The Real Truth About Money, and it said, clinical depression is three to 10 times as common today than two generations ago. Money jingles in our wallets and purses it never before, but we are no happier for it. In fact, for many, more money leads to more depression.

Maybe that's why Proverb 2720 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. 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 perverse pleasures, 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 tried this drug, or if I drank a little bit more, or I had this experience. No, none of those things in and of themself 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. So, alright, happiness doesn't come from those things.

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. And we'll establish that clearly in the book of Philippians.

C.S. Lewis, the great thinker and writer, put it this way, quote, God designed the human machine to run on himself. He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on.

There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, end quote, and that is so true. 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 studies 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.

And here's something that might surprise you. God wants you to be happy. Remember when the angels announced the birth of Jesus, they said we bring you great news of great joy, but it can be translated good news of great happiness.

And also we read in Luke 10, 20, Jesus said be happy that your names are written in heaven. So he's telling us to be a happy person. Now that doesn't mean if you're a Christian you won't have sadness. And sadness is not always a bad thing. You know, sadness has its place, especially when you're mourning someone you love that maybe is gone or something else. It's okay, it's a process that we have where we cry out to God and deal with these things. But even in the midst of sorrow, even in the midst of mourning, you can still have this deep-seated happiness. It doesn't come from what you have or don't have, it comes from who you know. By the way, there are 2,700 passages in the Bible containing words like joy, happiness, pleasure, laughter, gladness, feasting, and celebration.

Let me say that again, wrap your mind around this. There are 2,700 passages in the Bible containing words such as joy, happiness, pleasure, laughter, gladness, feasting, and celebration. So when you see someone that, you know, they never smile and they're never happy, you say, man, you need to read your Bible more because God wants you to be a happy person. And know this, even God himself is happy. Have you ever thought about that? You know, when you look at the false gods of this world, they're never happy.

Do you ever look at the tiki gods in Hawaii? You know, people like to collect them, the actual gods, and they're always mad. They have a big frown on their face, usually their tongue is sticking out. Buddha, he's not really happy.

He looks, for the most part, to be asleep. I've seen a couple with a slight little smile on his face, but, you know, these other gods are not happy, but we serve the happy God. In John 15, Jesus said, I've told you this to make you completely happy as I am. Jesus was happy, but Greg, wait. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. That's true, the Bible says that.

But he said, I want you to be happy like I'm happy. Do you think Jesus always went around crying and with a frown on his face? I think when that verse is telling us he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, it's describing the time when he was carrying the cross to Calvary and bearing the sins of the world. But I think Jesus was a happy savior, a smiling savior.

Do you think children would have wanted to be around Jesus if he wasn't approachable? I think it was that warmth that he had that drew them in, so we serve a happy God, and he wants us to be happy as well. In fact, Paul writes, the glorious news entrusted to me by the blessed God, or a better translation would be the good news from the happy God.

I like that, don't you? Happy God. And that is one of the main themes running through the book of Philippians. Yet, the fact of the matter is that circumstantially, the apostle Paul, the author of this book, had nothing to be happy about. He had nothing outwardly to rejoice about. He didn't write this from some ivory tower. He was writing this from a prison cell in Rome. And you know what, Paul knew a lot about personal hardship and discomfort. He suffered more than most people ever will. In 2 Corinthians 11, 24, here's what he says, I've worked harder, I've been put in jail more often, I've been whipped times without number, I've faced death again and again, five different times that Jews gave me 39 lashes, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, in love for dead I might add, three times I was shipwrecked, once I spent a whole night and day adrift at sea, I've traveled many weary miles, I've faced danger from flooded rivers and waters, I've faced danger from my own people, the Jews as well as the Gentiles, I've faced danger in the cities and the deserts and on the stormy seas, I've faced danger from those who claim to be Christians but are not, I've lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights, often I've been hungry and thirsty, and I've gone without food, often I've shivered with cold without enough clothing to keep me warm, and beside all of this I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along. Wow, so you think you have problems?

I was talking about a cold. It seems pretty silly compared to what the Apostle Paul went through. He wrote this book from Rome. Now when we think of Rome today, you know we think of a city of ruins, amazing pizza and pasta, scooters everywhere, the Treve Fountain, you know, things like that.

Maybe a romantic spot. Well, the Rome of Paul's day was a much different place. It was effectively the capital of the world. The Roman Empire had bludgeoned the planet into submission, and living in Rome at this time was a very dangerous thing because Caesar Nero was in power. He was probably the worst of the Caesars.

He instituted daily contests in the arena between the gladiators there in the great Colosseum, a good part of which is still standing in Rome today. And he became progressively more bloodthirsty and decadent. A contemporary of Nero, a Roman philosopher known as Seneca, wrote with dismay, saying, I felt as if I was living in a sewer, end quote. Nero is believed to be the one who set Rome on fire, and then he blamed it on the Christians. We know historically that Caesar Nero took a perverse pleasure in torturing and murdering followers of Jesus Christ. Stories are told of how he would cover them in animal skins and let them be attacked by dogs. He would crucify them.

He would uncover Christians in pitch and set them aflame to light his garden as he would ride around in his chariot. His mother was murdered by him. He murdered his wife and his mother Agrippina after his rise to power. And her last words tell something of how wicked Nero had become as the emperor. She said to the executioner, the good thing about my death is the womb that bore Nero is now dead.

Wow. This is one bad dude. And he was in power. And this is where Paul was.

And yet he's brimming with joy, and he's talking about happiness. He's chained to a Roman guard day and night. His case was coming up shortly, but Paul didn't know how it would turn out. He might be acquitted.

He might be beheaded. He originally wanted to preach in Rome, and he ends up here as a prisoner. And if this isn't bad enough, many of the believers were against him.

They were spreading lies about the great apostles. So he was under the most miserable circumstances imaginable, and yet here he is rejoicing. But he was immobilized.

You know, Paul was a kind of get the job done sort of guy. And for him to be chained up and not able to get out and move about was very hard for him. Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. You're immobilized.

Maybe you're unable to move physically, or perhaps in some other way. You're in a marriage that's tough sledding at the moment, a job you would love to get out of, a school you would like to transfer from, a neighborhood you would like to move from, or a sermon you don't want to hear anymore. That's time.

Throw that in. Here's what Paul is saying. Despite your circumstances, even if you're immobilized, you can have great happiness.

And that's what he says over and over again. In fact, of all the things that Paul wrote, this is probably the most buoyant, happy, joyful book of all. And let's try to figure out why he was so happy in this epistle. At least 19 times in these four chapters, Paul mentions joy, rejoicing, or gladness.

You might write these notations down. When he first thought of the Philippian believers, it brought a smile to his face. And in Philippians 1, 3 to 4, he says, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in prayer, making requests for you all with joy.

So Paul was southern. Make requests for y'all with joy. So when he would think about the believers there, it would bring a smile to his face. When he encouraged them to work together as Christians, he got joyful thinking about it.

In Philippians 2, he says, if there's any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit or affection and mercy, fulfill my joy and be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. You know, I was just doing an interview with my friend Frank Sontag, who is on KKLA, and we were there in the lobby of our church, the foyer. And we were just talking about different things, and people were starting to come in, and I just sort of sat there watching everybody as I'm talking to Frank, and I'm thinking, look at all these happy people. And they're here at church, and they've developed friendships, and there's a bond there, and I know people who've met each other in church and have gotten married and are getting married, and I just think this is a wonderful thing when the church works and we can have this fellowship and this joy together. So Paul said, man, that makes me happy. When we can work together, that brings me joy. You know, I'm thrilled at a crusade when I see people come forward, but I'm equally as thrilled when I see all y'all out there helping to get the job done. And I look down, and I recognize this usher, and I know this counselor and this person working in security and this other person helping tear down equipment or build the stage, and I look at all these folks, and I think they're all here serving the Lord and serving the Lord together, and that is a wonderful thing.

Listen to this. Even when he thought of his potential death, there was still this happiness and joy because Paul writes in Philippians 1 21, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I live in the flesh, this will mean more fruit for my labor, and what I'll choose, I can't tell, but I'm hard-pressed between the two. Having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better, nevertheless to remain in the flesh is needful for you, and being confident of this, I'll remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith. But here's the bottom line of Paul's happiness. It's found in Philippians 4 four, when he says, rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.

That's the key. It's rejoicing in the Lord. It's not rejoicing in your condition or rejoicing in your circumstances or rejoicing in your current emotional state or rejoicing in something else.

It's rejoice in the Lord. Now, having established this, a couple of questions come to mind. Number one, how could Paul be so positive, so happy, so jubilant in such adverse circumstances? And number two, is this something I can experience today, and if so, how?

Let me answer the second question first. Yes, you can experience this joy, but you must meet the criteria that is laid out in this book. And the secret to happiness is found in another word that is often repeated in the book of Philippians, and it is the word mind, M-I-N-D, mind. Paul uses the word mind 10 times. He uses the word think five times.

At the times, he uses the word remember, and that's 16 references to the mind. In other words, the secret of Christian happiness is found in the way a believer thinks. Notice I did not say the secret of Christian happiness is found in the way a believer feels. No, the way you think. You learn to think, right. You learn to think biblically. You fill your mind with the truth of God.

It changes your outlook. Now, I'm not talking about positive thinking or possibility thinking. I'm talking about having a mind that is filled with God's truth. I'm talking about having the mind of Christ. And Paul writes, let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. So it comes down to the way that you think.

And Paul filled his mind with God's truth, and he shows us how to live happily and in harmony with other people. And you know, we're a very divided people in America right now. You've probably noticed that. I don't know that we've ever been more divided, or if we have been, I don't know that it was much worse than it is today.

This is just incredible how many divisions there are. And Paul's telling us how to come together. Those barriers can be overcome in Jesus Christ as we love and pray and serve the Lord together. And the book of Philippians shows us how.

But first, we must learn how to think biblically. Because listen, you're always going to find someone or something to blame for your sour and bitter outlook on life. Well, the reason I'm the way that I am is because this person did this to me. That person did that. This boss did that. That pastor did that.

This other person said this. You know, there has to come a point where you realize you just have to stop blaming people. It comes down to this, the troubles between man and man, or man and woman, it's really the trouble within man himself.

The person who is in conflict with themselves generally is in conflict with everyone else. 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 you have to begin there. So let's dig in. 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 one tattooed on their head, you can read that. Philippians one, we're gonna read verses one to six.

Paul and Timothy, bondservants 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 requests for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing that who has begun a good work in you will complete it under the day of Jesus Christ.

We'll stop there. Let's start with verse one. 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 wanna do that because really Paul gives us the door to the life of happiness. You must be one of the saints. So if you wanna be happy, be a saint.

Oh, well that leads me out. I'm not Mother Teresa, you know. I'm a sinner, yeah, 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 if I, 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. 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 am 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 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. Because 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 six, he who has begun a good work in you will complete it under 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 man, 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 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 sculpture. He sees the finished you.

He sees the ultimate you. Who you will become one day, you just see the flaws. You just see the 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 endgame 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 gonna make it. You're gonna make it to the end. Isn't that good news?

Go ahead and clap for that. Now, because maybe you say, oh, this world's such a horrible place, and the devil's 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 determine 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 gonna make it if you want to make it. If you're willing and desiring to go forward as a Christian, then you will. But 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. One of my favorite passages is Jeremiah 29, 11 where God says, I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord. Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. So God is saying, I'm thinking about you and by the way, my thoughts are good and I have a future and a plan and a purpose for each of you. His thoughts are good. It's a good work that he wants to do.

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it under the day of Jesus Christ. Now some of you are maybe young and you're wondering about your future. You're still single. You're wondering, you know, am I gonna meet that right guy or that right girl? You're thinking about your career. What am I gonna do with my life?

You're thinking about other things. What will my health be like? How long will I live? Will I reach goals that I've set for myself? What's in my future?

You think about that a lot. Now as you get older, you're wondering, well, how much longer will I live and how will the end of my life be? Will my health still be good? Will it be failing? Will I be dependent on others? What's gonna happen in the end? You know, you have these thoughts. Well, God has your future all sorted out and all put together.

So the best thing is you need to just trust him. I don't know about you, but I like to know what's coming. You know, when I'm on the road driving, you know that driver that's in this lane and he's over in this lane and he's back in this lane and now he's up here? That's me.

That's me. Because when I look down a road, I have the next eight moves figured out and in those moves, I'm putting into play all the stupid moves other people will make and I'll tell you, you really do this a lot when you ride a motorcycle because I ride a bike and when you ride a motorcycle, you have to basically come to one conclusion. Everyone on the road is a moron.

They're gonna do the worst things possible. That guy's gonna pull right in front of you because he didn't notice you were there because he's on his cell phone and this guy's gonna swerve into your lane because he's eating a cheeseburger and this person over here isn't gonna see you because she's putting her makeup on, right, in her rear view mirror and this other person is drunk and this other person, whatever, but so you're like putting all these things in place. You're kind of going down the road. You ride very defensively and I don't like being behind a tall vehicle because I don't know what's ahead. You ever been in a fast lane, carpool lane and the vehicle in front of you is going very slow? Say, oh, the traffic is horrible and then you pull out and you realize this is the only person going slow but you couldn't see that because he blocked your view. Why do people go so slow in the carpool lane?

Why? I mean, they don't even go the speed limit. They go under the speed limit.

Snails are passing them. Anyway, feels good to get that all out. It really does. So we'd like to see ahead so we can plan. I'm gonna do this.

I'm gonna do that. Well, God doesn't always let us see ahead but he sees ahead. See, he's the one driving the car. He's the one in the cockpit. You don't want that God is my co-pilot sticker on your car anymore.

Rip it off. God's not your co-pilot. God doesn't even want you in the cockpit. He wants you to put your seatbelt on and have your seat in the upright position and your carry-on stowed away.

He's in charge and he's gonna get you to your destination so we have to trust him on these things. It's all good, we sometimes say. It's all good, man. It's all good. Don't panic. Don't panic, it's organic.

What do these things mean? It's all good. It's not always good. No, it's all good. Well, it's not good right now talking to you.

But in a way, that statement has some truth to it. It's all good. Now, I'm talking to a Christian, I'm talking to a saint, I'm talking to a believer. It's all good in the big picture. I didn't say there won't be some bad moments. I didn't say hard things will not happen to you. I didn't even say tragedy will not befall you. I just said it's all good. In that God will work all things together for good to those that love him and are called according to his purpose.

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 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 say you know what I don't just 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 is happening you think okay this is it this doesn't make sense somebody 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 gonna 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 here's what I'm saying yeah here's what I'm saying because you're saying I'm getting really depressed right now I mean like you know you're gonna give a message and happiness it says happiness on the screen behind you the pulpit says happiness with little faces it's yellow which is a happy color and you're like such a downer I'm just trying to be truthful yes you can have this happiness but let's see what it is and what it isn't it's not just the emotional high of some pleasure or experience it's a deep-seated faith and trust in God knowing that yeah it's all good because one day when I get to heaven and I look back on earth with an eternal perspective I'll realize that God was in control of everything that happened to me even the bad things that were allowed he ultimately used for his good because after Romans 8 28 the oft quoted verse comes Romans 8 29 you all know Romans 8 28 right let's say it together ready all things work together for good to those that love God and are the called according to his purpose came in now verse 29 continues on and by the way in the original verses when they were given there were no verse breaks it just went on all things work together for good to those that love God another call called according to his purpose for whom God did foreknow he also predestined to be conformed into the image of his own dear son there's your big picture it's all good man because ultimately God is going to make you more like Jesus and there are things in life that are not easy at the time but they'll make you more like Jesus he's going to complete what he started so don't worry about it just keep walking forward and start experiencing this joy and happiness that God offers because one day life will come to an end and all those things that this world promised would give happiness will not but you can have a deep seated happiness that will last for your life on this earth and right into eternity because the Bible says in his presence there is fullness of joy and on his right hand there are pleasures forevermore let me close with this in a moment we're going to pray and I'm going to extend an invitation to anyone here who has never asked Jesus to come into their life anyone here who is not sure that their sin is forgiven anyone here that wants to know they'll go to heaven when they die if that's your desire if you want Jesus to forgive you of your sin if you want your guilt taken away if you want to go to heaven when you die if you want to discover real happiness would you lift your hand up wherever you are and I'll pray for you just saying I want Jesus I want him in my life I want to go to heaven raise your hand up wherever you are and I'll pray for you God bless you lift your hand up let me pray for you God bless you God bless you lift it up high where I can see it you want his forgiveness raise your hand up let me pray for you God bless you you can have that fresh start in life you can start all over again no matter what you've done because Jesus paid the price for your sin but he won't force forgiveness you must ask for it anybody else you want Jesus in your life you want his forgiveness you want that fresh start raise your hand up and I'll pray for you God bless you anybody else raise your hand up high where I can see it God bless God bless you too God bless you as well there might be a few more of you this is your moment you want Jesus you want to know him in a personal way let me pray for you raise your hand up in this final moment anybody else God bless you God bless you God bless you now I'm going to ask that every one of you that just raised your hand saying you wanted Christ to come into your life saying you want your sin forgiven I want you to stand to your feet right now and I'm going to lead you in a prayer stand to your feet wherever you are we're going to pray together stand up you want his forgiveness you want to go to heaven when you die you want to find this happiness we've talked about stand to your feet even if you did not raise your hand but you want to make this commitment or recommitment of Jesus stand up now by the way others are standing so you won't be alone anybody else stand up now we're going to pray together God bless you that are standing there might be a few more stand up now and then we're going to pray together anybody else you want Christ in your life you want that new beginning stand up and we'll pray together God bless you anybody else I'll wait one more moment stand now all right now all of you that are standing and I want you to pray this prayer out loud after me this is a prayer of asking God to forgive you of your sin this is a prayer of asking Jesus to come into your life again as I pray this prayer pray it out loud right where you stand after me pray this now Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin I turn from that sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward as my savior and Lord as my God and friend thank you Lord in Jesus name I pray amen
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-01 04:44:50 / 2023-01-01 05:04:10 / 19

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