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Happiness: Where to Find It | Genuine Relationship with God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
February 23, 2022 3:00 am

Happiness: Where to Find It | Genuine Relationship with God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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February 23, 2022 3:00 am

You can’t walk out your front door and say, “I’m gonna go find happiness.” You can’t get in your car and enter happiness as a destination in your GPS. No wonder so many people have a hard time finding it. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out happiness is a by-product, an after-effect. And today, we’ll see how happiness can be fleeting unless it’s the by-product of a genuine relationship with God. It’s a series called Happiness based in the book of Philippians.

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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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We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.

Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. The only place to find real lasting happiness is in a relationship with God. The people that know God are the happiest people. You can't walk out your front door and say, I'm going to go find happiness. You can't get in your car and enter happiness as the destination in your GPS.

No wonder so many people have a hard time finding it. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out happiness is a byproduct, an after effect. And today we'll see how happiness can be fleeting unless it's the byproduct of a genuine relationship with God. It's a series called Happiness, based in the book of Philippians.

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 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 A.D. 397 said, quote, everyone, whatever his condition, desires to be happy, end quote. 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 punch line with those guys. But listen, despite what all these people tell us, according to the Bible you can be happy. According to the Bible you should be happy and you just need to look for it in the right place. And the problem is far too many people look in the wrong place and then they conclude, if they don't find it there, that happiness cannot be found. Before I tell you what happiness is and where to find it, let me tell you where you will not find happiness. Number one, being beautiful or handsome will not bring personal happiness. Let me say that again, being beautiful or handsome will not bring you personal happiness.

I know this from experience. That wasn't a joke. That kind of hurt a little bit, honestly. I mean, to be laughed at in the face? No, I meant it as a joke. You know, because I think people think, you know, if I was as beautiful as the girls I see in the magazines and the ads or if I was as handsome as the movie stars, et cetera, I'd be happy. In fact, 94 percent 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. 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 percent of women over 40 say they're not as attractive as the average woman, and that's why last year Americans spent $11.4 billion on cosmetic surgeon fees.

And that was Newport Beach alone. You say, well, I want to look like the model in the magazine. News flash. 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 ten 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 themselves 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 will 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. How many passages in the Bible have to do with happiness, gladness, joy, and laughter?

Care to hazard a guess? Pastor Greg will have the answer in just a moment. If you'd like to send a note to us, email Pastor Greg, Greg at Harvest dot org.

Do it today, would you? Again, that's Greg at Harvest dot org. Well today, Pastor Greg is helping us find where real happiness comes from, as he launches a study in the book of Philippians.

And for an instant replay of today's message, go to Harvest dot org. 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. And 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 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. You ever look at the tiki gods in Hawaii?

You know, people like to collect them. They're 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? The 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, 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 even cover 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 mother 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. Pastor Greg Laurie, pointing out how encouraging it is that Paul found joy in the midst of unimaginable hardship. And there's more to come from this message here on A New Beginning, a study called Happiness, Where to Find It.

And then we're making available an encouraging book this month that offers encouragement for those who've suffered loss. Pastor Greg, let's talk to the friends and loved ones of someone who's just suffered a terrible loss. What are the right words to say to that person and what are the wrong words? Okay, well I would say, let me start with some of the wrong words and then I'll talk about some of the right words.

Wrong words. Are you over it yet? I actually had someone ask me this two weeks after my son died. Are you over it yet? Listen, when someone loses a loved one, especially a child, they'll never be over it. They'll get through it by God's grace but they don't get over it so don't ever ask them, are you over it? I had someone say to me, well, God picks his best flowers first.

What a ridiculous statement. First of all, your loved one is not a flower and that makes no sense at all. But then someone else might say, well, do you have other children? Well, at least you have them but listen, no one can take the place of the child or the loved one you lost. Sometimes people will try to compare it to their pain.

Oh, I know what it's like. For instance, if you lost a child, they'll say, I lost my grandmother. Look, I'm sorry you lost your grandmother but it's not the same as losing a child because you don't plan for that. So don't say those things. So what should you say?

Short answer, less is more. You know, Job went through the worst suffering imaginable. Some friends showed up and for the first few days, they said nothing. They just saw Job and his pain and misery and they wept for him. That was fantastic.

And you know, it's really when they started talking that the problems began. So choose your words carefully. As they said, less is more.

You could say something like, I'm really sorry. I'm praying for you. I love you.

Is there anything I can do for you? No, Greg, they need a sermon. You know, maybe they don't need a sermon.

Maybe they just need a friend. Remember when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane? He took Peter, James, and John with him and he said, stay here with me, watch and pray for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. And then he went and began to literally sweat blood, according to Dr. Luke, as the pressure of the impending crucifixion was coming and he returns to them and they're asleep. And he said, could you not stay awake with me?

Here's the point. Jesus didn't need sermons. He needed friends. He just needed someone to be with him and when someone has lost a loved one, just being there, the ministry of presence, if you will, can really be a big deal. Well, we're speaking about loss and that coincides with a resource we're making available to our listeners right now. It's a book by a family who suffered tremendous loss in the last couple of years, the Evans family.

Many of our listeners are familiar with Dr. Tony Evans and their family suffered the loss of eight different family members in the last few years. The book is called Divine Disruption and I know you highly recommend it. I do and not only do I recommend it, I want to put a copy of this book in your hands because this is a book that's going to be encouraging to you. It's subtitled Holding Onto Faith When Life Breaks Your Heart. Am I talking to somebody right now that has a broken heart?

Maybe you're having a hard time holding onto your faith? Then you need a copy of this book, Divine Disruption, that I will send to you for your gift of any size. Some of you may only be able to send a little bit but whatever you send will be invested in expanding this radio ministry. So please, whatever you can do, it's greatly appreciated and as our way of saying thanks, we'll send you your own copy of this brand new book by Tony Evans and his children titled Divine Disruption.

Yeah, that's right. All four of Dr. Evans' kids contributed their encouragement. Priscilla Shire, Crystal Evans Hurst, Jonathan Evans, and Anthony Evans.

It's rich encouragement from five different points of view. We hope you'll send a generous investment today and ask for the book Divine Disruption. And we'll only be mentioning this a short time longer so get in touch right away. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300 and we can take your call anytime 24-7.

That's 1-800-821-3300 or just go online to Harvest.org. 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's 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, next time, more insight from the kickoff message in Pastor Greg's new series in Philippians called Happiness. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story. Leave a review on your favorite podcast.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-01 03:57:39 / 2023-06-01 04:07:44 / 10

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