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Happiness: What It Is & How to Have It, Part 1: Finding Answers in God's Word

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
July 28, 2021 3:00 am

Happiness: What It Is & How to Have It, Part 1: Finding Answers in God's Word

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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July 28, 2021 3:00 am

A GPS device needs to first know where you are before it can tell you how to get where you’re going. On a spiritual level, the Bible helps us understand where we are so we can find our way along the straight and narrow path of righteousness. It helps us see our need, then it helps us meet our need.

And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us examine some of the most foundational passages in helping us gain our bearings. Glad you’re along for the start of a brand new series we think you’ll really enjoy.

View and subscribe to Pastor Greg’s weekly notes.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.

If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.

You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. The Bible gives us help in finding happiness. Coming up today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie leads us in a practical look at the Lord's Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Now what does that mean?

This is not about your bank account. It's to see your spiritual poverty. To recognize the simple fact that apart from the Lord, you're lost, you're helpless, and you're hopeless.

Apart from Christ, everyone is spiritually destitute. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace how sweet the sound. Again you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day when life begins.

A GPS device needs to first know where you are before it can tell you how to get where you're going. On a spiritual level, the Bible helps us understand where we are so we can find our way along the straight and narrow path of righteousness. It helps us see our need, then it helps us meet our need. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us examine some of the most foundational passages in helping us gain our bearings. Glad you're along for the start of a brand new series we think you'll really enjoy. Well let's turn in our Bibles to Matthew chapter 5. We're going to do a series in the Sermon on the Mount.

And I'm calling this series Salt and Light. And we're all called to be salt and light and our culture. But the title of the message is happiness what it is and how to have it. Matthew chapter 5. Why don't we start with prayer. Father we ask you to bless now as we open your word. Speak to our hearts and help us to understand how it is you want us to live. How we can find the happiness that often eludes us. How we can be people walking in the center of your will. So we commit this time of Bible study to you now. In Jesus' name we pray.

Amen. Did you happen to read the story of the young Swedish DJ superstar Avicii? He was at the top of his game making millions of dollars. And he had what most young people dream of today. Fame and money. He appeared in jam packed arenas.

He was in constant demand. But that fame took its toll on Avicii's life. And at the age of 28 he committed suicide. And the question is asked why would you do this?

Why would you end your life at such a young age? And his family gave the answer. And I quote. They said he really struggled with thoughts about meaning, life, and happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace. End quote. I wish I could have sat down with this young kid and said, buddy I have got the answers. And you are not going to find them out there in that culture you are in or that world you are in.

It is in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And Avicii he is just one of many people that have found this out the hard way. I saw a documentary the other day on the life of Elvis Presley.

Thank you very much. And Elvis you know was an amazing person. He was raised in abject poverty. He loved to sing in the church. He loved to sing gospel music. He had an incredible voice.

And of course he became globally famous and had what many people dream of. But you know he once said that his life to him was miserable. And he said, I feel that I am sick and tired of my life.

I need a long rest. And then he ended up dying of a prescription drug overdose. And in this documentary that his widow was a part of she said that she thinks Elvis actually committed suicide. Ok. That's Elvis. That's a long time ago.

But just then fast forward now into the 60s. Rock icons Janis Joplin, Jim Morris, and Jimi Hendrix all died of drug overdoses at the age of 27. Fast forward to present day Michael Jackson, Prince, and many others join the list. Tom Petty who ironically was one of the narrators in the documentary film about Elvis died not long after because of a prescription drug overdose. And Tom Petty as it turns out was a heroin addict in the 90s. I am just thinking all these people.

They have it all. And yet they turn to drugs and some of them end their lives intentionally. And it just goes on and on. And what are people going to learn? That the answers are not in those things. But look this desire for happiness it is deeply within us. We are hard wired to be happy.

So here is the question. Where do we find this happiness? Well let me first say well you don't find it. You won't find it in this world because a lot of it is based on well how things are going. If things are going reasonably well, well we are happy. If things are not going so well, well then we are unhappy.

Someone put it this way. There are two sources of unhappiness in life. One is not getting what you want and the other is getting it. See if you don't get it you will say well if I just had this then I would be happy. But when you get everything. When you have all of your dreams fulfilled. When you reach all of those goals and maybe even surpass them and you find out how empty it is then you realize it is not in these things at all. Well maybe money will give happiness.

No actually it won't. Money can buy some things but not the most important things. Money can buy you a bed but it can't buy you a good night's sleep. Money can buy you books but not brains. It can buy you a house but not a home.

It can buy you medicine but not health. It can buy you amusement but not happiness. So how do you find happiness? Well studies have been done on this subject and one study done by Gallup found that spiritually committed people are twice as likely to report being very happy than the least spiritually committed people. So we are on to something now. Spiritually minded people are happier than those that are not spiritually minded.

And I will take that a step further. Godly people will be the happiest people. So the more godly we become the more we chase after the Lord we will find the happiness that has eluded us for so long. Not from chasing after it but from following after him because the Bible says happy are the people whose God is the Lord.

C.S. Lewis put it this way and I quote, God designed the human machine to run on himself. He himself is the fuel for our spirits. We're designed to burn the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about faith.

Lewis concludes God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself because it's not there. There is no such thing. End quote. So there it is. It's in God.

And here's something you need to know. God wants you to be happy. God wants you to be happy. Is that good news?

It is. Now you might say well Greg you're wrong. God doesn't want you to be happy.

No way. Actually he does. And I can make a biblical case for it.

And here it is. I know he wants us to be happy because he tells us that in Scripture. He tells us that over and over again that this happiness is something that he wants us to experience in a relationship with us.

Why? Because the word blessed is another word for happy. They are interchangeable words. So when we use the word blessed as we will use in a moment in the Beatitudes you can just take that word out and put in the word happy. So really the theme of the Beatitudes which is the point of entry into the Sermon on the Mount is happiness.

How you can be happy if you will do these things. In the opening chapter of Genesis we read these words. Genesis 1 27. God created man in his own image.

In the image of God he created them. And then it says and the Lord blessed them. Bless them. There is that word blessing. Blessedness or true happiness is something God wants all of us to have. So I think it is good news to know that God wants me to be happy. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment.

Hey everybody Greg Laurie here. You know my uncle Fred Jordan had one of the first Christian TV programs out there. It was called Church in the Home.

I remember watching it as a little boy when I was living with my grandparents. Well we have Church in the Home for you every weekend. It is called Harvest at Home and you can find it at Harvest.org. We have worship and a message from God's word. So join us this weekend for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well we are digging into the subject of happiness today as Pastor Greg launches a study series in the Sermon on the Mount.

Let's continue. You are going to find a biblical world view obviously by studying scripture. But really by zeroing in on the Sermon on the Mount. Who gave the Sermon on the Mount? If you have a red letter Bible all your pages are red right now aren't they?

You are in red letter country. Now all scripture is given by inspiration of God. You know sometimes people say I just go with the red letters. Well I go with the whole Bible.

Thank you. Because it is all inspired by God. But someone had the bright idea of taking the words of Jesus and putting them in red. So we are in the red letters here as Jesus is really giving to us His world view if you will. Do you want to know how Jesus thinks? Study the Sermon on the Mount.

Do you want to know how His heart beats? Study the Sermon. Do you want to know what He feels about living and about life in general? Again study the Sermon. This Sermon, the Sermon on the Mount is His official manifesto.

The manifesto of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It begins with the words in Matthew 5 2, He opened His mouth. That is a very interesting phrase. It is a phrase that is used to describe some solemn, grave, or weighty statement.

And I want you to notice something. These words are delivered not to the multitudes but to His disciples. Sometimes people think that Jesus preaches sermon to the multitudes. The Bible doesn't say that. As the multitudes gathered He called His disciples to Him and to them He said. And then we will read the words that He said.

Why do I say that? Because these words of Christ cannot be lived out by non-believers. Sometimes people will say I will just live by the Sermon on the Mount.

No you don't. No one can live by the Sermon on the Mount without the help of God. These words are for believers only. They are not just mere principles to employ.

These are for godly people. And it starts with what we call the beatitudes. Another person described them as the beautiful attitudes. Or attitudes that should be. By the way the first four beatitudes deal with our relationship with God.

The second four deal with our relationships with people. And the word blessed is used. Again remember the words blessed and happy are interchangeable.

So if you want to be happy in the best sense of that word you must be and do the following. Let's read Matthew 5 starting in verse 2. Then He opened His mouth and taught them.

Who? His disciples. Saying blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven for so they persecuted the prophets that were before you. So blessed are these people. Now how different the beatitudes are from modern culture.

If the beatitudes are rewritten for culture today they would go along these lines. Blessed are the beautiful for they shall be admired. Blessed are the wealthy for they will have it all. Blessed are the popular for they will be loved. Blessed are the famous for they shall be followed. But that is not what Jesus says.

He starts with a bombshell. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Let me say it another way. Happy are the poor in spirit.

Now what does that mean. There is a lot of misunderstanding about this. He did not say blessed are the poor. He said blessed are the poor in spirit. There is no blessedness in being rich or poor in and of itself. The Bible does not commend poverty nor does it condemn wealth.

The Bible says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Listen I have met wealthy people who are happy. I have met poor people who are miserable. I have met poor people who are happy and wealthy people who are miserable. This is not about your bank account. This is about your spiritual state before God. It says poor in spirit.

So if you want to be a happy person. If you want to receive God's blessing you must first be poor in spirit. Now what does that mean. Actually the word poor comes from a verb meaning to shrink, cower, or cringe. To shrink, cower, or cringe. This is what beggars often did in this day. Listen to be poor in spirit is to recognize one's spiritual poverty apart from God. It is to see your spiritual poverty. To recognize the simple fact that apart from the Lord you are lost, you are helpless, and you are hopeless. Apart from Christ everyone is spiritually destitute regardless of their education, wealth, accomplishments, or even religious knowledge. To be poor in spirit means you admit that you are spiritually bankrupt. Some people have a hard time admitting this. You know they think they are all that and a bag of chips right.

They have a hard time admitting they are a sinner because they are so accomplished or they are so talented or they are so attractive or they are so wealthy or whatever it is they are. It reminds me of the General Neiman. Remember him. He was a powerful leader in Syria.

But he had a problem underneath that gleaming armor that he strutted around in. Neiman was a leper and he had found no cure. It was an incurable disease. Someone told him there was a prophet in Israel named Elijah who prayed for people and miracles happened. They said why don't you go visit Elijah. So Neiman did. So he showed up at Elijah's house.

Probably had a big entourage came in. You know there he is. His beautiful armor. His gorgeous horses.

His chariot. And he was probably thinking the prophet would come out and bow before him and give him a meal. And Elijah doesn't even answer the door. He just sends a survey and says go tell him to immerse himself in the Jordan River seven times. So here is Neiman in his chariot and door opens. I will watch this guy named Gehizah.

Hey how is it going? I am speaking for Elijah here. Go immerse yourself in the Jordan River seven times. You will be healed. Thank you.

God bless. Door shuts. Neiman is like what?

Does he know who I am? I am Neiman. I am powerful. I am awesome.

I am amazing. And he is going on home back to Syria because we have better rivers back there. Why should I go in there? Muddy river. When we were in Jerusalem recently we had the privilege of being flown around in a helicopter.

And boy you really see how small Israel is when you see it in the air. And as we are flying over the Jordan River I just said to my wife, it really is muddy isn't it? It is just sort of a muddy river. It is not a beautiful river at all.

And that is what Neiman thought. I don't want to go in that dirty old river. Then one of his friends said, well what have you got to lose?

I mean you have come all this way. Why don't you try it? Can't do that. You know why Neiman did not want to go in the Jordan River? Because he had to peel off his armor and reveal his condition. But he decided to do it so he took off his helmet. He took off his breastplate. And some of his soldiers were probably a little horrified to see the disfigurement of leprosy on his face. On his body.

It would sort of eat away at your flesh. It was horrible. And as he tore off all of his armor and walked down into the river he had to humble himself. He didn't want to do that. But he immersed himself one time. Nothing happened. Two times.

Same thing. Three. Four. Five. Six times. He is still covered in leprosy. He goes down seven times.

The last time seven. He comes up. His flesh is like that of a baby. Have you ever looked at the skin of a baby? If you are wearing glasses you look at a baby's skin. You go look at that skin. It is flawless. Then you look in a magnifying mirror at your skin and you almost have a heart attack. Right? The skin of a baby.

It is so beautiful. Now he had the skin of a baby again. I mean he was like restored.

But what did he have to do? He had to take off all of his armor. And we have armor that we hide behind as well. And we don't want to admit our need for God.

But he took his armor off. So here is what the Bible is saying. You want to be happy. Admit that you are a sinner.

You want to be happy. Admit your true spiritual state. C. H. Spurgeon the great preacher said, quote, the way to rise in the kingdom is to sink in yourselves. Again the way to rise in the kingdom is sink in yourselves. That is the opposite of culture. Culture says assert yourself. Demand your rights.

You deserve it. God says see yourself as you really are. And admit your weakness. And that is the beginning of true happiness. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed is the person that sees himself as they really are.

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Pastor Greg Laurie is presenting the foundational message in his new series based on the Sermon on the Mount, a series called Salt and Light. Pastor Greg will have more from this message next time here on A New Beginning. It's a presentation called Happiness, What It Is, and How to Have It, Part 1.

But if you missed any of today's insight, you can get a replay instantly by going to harvest.org or inside our Harvest app. Pastor Greg, we're excited about making available a couple of warm-hearted resources from our good friend author Sally Lloyd-Jones. Sally's a good friend of yours and Kathy's, and I know as you've thumbed your way through these new resources, they really touched your heart as well.

Absolutely, Dave. You know, they're just, what is the right word? They're just charming.

They're adorable. They're biblical, and yet they're done so beautifully, well, so a child can understand them. You know, it's been said that the objective of a preacher is to get the cookies on the lower shelf so the children can get to them, and I think that Sally Lloyd-Jones does an amazing job with the project she works on from the Jesus Storybook Bible to this special resource we're offering right now that is simply called NEAR, and she always brings it home in a way a child can understand.

So she works with this very talented artist named Jago, and this is beautifully illustrated, and as a graphic artist, I really appreciate his design sensibilities and his attention to detail, and this is based on some 139. So this is something I want to put in the hands of the folks out there, especially you that have young children or you that have grandchildren. You give them this little book, and they're going to want to open it and look at the pictures and read it, or you can read it to them, but I promise you they're going to want to open this and check it out because this is so well done. Otherwise, why would we offer it to you? We're very intentional on what we choose to bring to your attention here at Harvest because we want to provide you with the finest spiritual resources so you can reach your family, both young and old. Well, you've got a copy of it right there in front of you. Maybe you could read just a little bit of the book for us.

Sure. So Dave, if I was going to read this to my grandkids, I would read it along these lines. God is my father who made everything, and I'm a little explorer of the wide world. He is near me, and he protects me. He sees me, and he knows me. He is strong, and he looks after me. He is with me always.

However far I go, he's always near me. I could climb the highest mountain. I could fly to the highest star. I could dive into the deepest sea. I could sail far, far away to the North Pole, and God would still be there. I could trek through jungles. I could ride through deserts.

I could zoom as fast as light. God would still be there even in the dark at night. He's still with me there.

He stays close to me, and he won't ever leave me because I'm his little child, and he loves me. Isn't that great? Those are the words of Sally Lloyd-Jones from her children's book, Near. And we've added a little bit of enhancement ourselves, but you know, you can add your own creativity as you read this wonderful story to your children or grandchildren.

The sky's the limit. And by the way, we'll also include Sally's resource called Babies Carry Along Bible, an adorable little board book with 10 Bible stories told in rhyme. We'll send both resources, Near and Babies Carry Along Bible, to thank you for your donation right now. And time is running out.

We can only mention this a short time longer. So get in touch today at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to Harvest.org. Well, we're just getting started in our study of the Beatitudes. Next time, Pastor Greg brings more insight on what it means to be blessed or happy. Be sure to join us here on A New Beginning with Pastor Greg Laurie. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a Harvest Partner at Harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-19 10:55:00 / 2023-09-19 11:04:36 / 10

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