Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. A Spurgeon, 19th century, great English preacher said, my dear brothers and sisters, if anyone in the world ought to be happy, we are the people. We should be happy.
When I was reading that about Spurgeon, he said something else. He was teaching a bunch of students how to preach because he was about the best. And he said, you know, when you talk about heaven, your face should just light up. There should be a tremendous amount of happiness and joy in your face when you talk about heaven.
And then whenever you guys talk about hell, your normal face will do just fine. His observation is that, are we happy? See, that's my question is my question for you. Are you happy? I mean, really happy. Sometimes, like I said, we almost feel like a shame. We should be happy.
But I'm telling you this. What I want to say this morning is simple. God is happy.
And he wants you to be happy, too. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry, a fellowship Bible church located in Metairie, Louisiana. Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's word meets our world. This past summer, as I was studying for the Bible study, the greatest life ever lived out of the Gospels, I came across the Sermon on the Mount once again and was reading in the beginning of the sermon the Beatitudes. And, you know, the Beatitudes would be blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they that mourn, et cetera, et cetera. And each time I've always read those, I've always been just a little bit bothered by reading them because it's the word blessed.
You see, it says blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor. But if you look the word up, it doesn't mean that. In fact, if you look up the word blessed, you'll see the word markios in Greek.
And it's never blessed. The word is. And I decided, well, maybe I haven't investigated thoroughly enough, so I looked at a lot of different Greek lexicons that I have.
The same definition came up for every one of them. Happy. The word is simply happy. Not blessed. And I started wondering about that, so I went to the Old Testament then I thought, I'll look in the Old Testament where the word blessed is.
And I did. And it turns out the word, the Hebrew word that's used for blessed is the word asker. And so I looked up in a Hebrew lexicon what asker means.
And to my not my shock and surprise, guess what it means? Happy. Just means happy.
So I began to. Wonder about that, why in the world will we use the word blessed? I mean, just think of the word doesn't have a religious connotation to it. Blessed, she sounds like a holy blessed blessing class. These are that's a religious word, right?
That it is. In fact, Webster says the word blessed means hallowed, sacred, sanctified or to consecrate. That's very religious. But if you go back in a dictionary, 200 years. To a Webster dictionary 200 years ago, guess what it says for blessed? To make happy.
Enjoyment. Extolled. Somehow it's got changed into this idea of blessed. And the question comes down to why don't we use the word happy that the Bible clearly teaches is the word happy? And I think it's because happy has become kind of a dangerous word now. And it's more dangerous around evangelical Christians than anyone. It's a word that we're uncomfortable with.
And I think we should never be. You may have heard this. I've heard it many times. I've read it many times. God doesn't want you happy. He wants you holy.
That's what you read. So you're not going to be happy, but you're going to be. Just think of that thought. OK, I'm going to I'm going to be holy. And apparently it's at the exclusion of being happy.
All right. But it's clear that God wants us to be. That's another word we've ruined by the word holy. There's nothing holy about the word holy.
Nothing. It just means set apart to God. Now, we've made it holy as though it's something else. But God wants us holy, but he wants us to be happy just as much as he wants us to be holy.
Then then there's the idea. And I think I perpetrated this a little myself. We shouldn't be happy. We we should be joyful. We should have joy, but not happiness.
And that's become kind of and you read a lot of stuff about it in the last 20 years. Joy, sort of the antithesis in some ways of happiness. Happiness is a feeling. Joy is a state of being. Happiness is circumstantial, but joy is internal. Happiness is an emotion, but joy is a choice. So you and I should be joyful. But not happy. But the truth of the matter is joy and happiness and words like delight and gladness, they're all synonyms.
They're all synonyms. But we somehow have said, no, no, you're not to be happy. You're to be just joyful.
John Piper says this. He said, if you have a if you have nice little categories for joy is what the Christians have. And happiness is what the world has. You can scrap those when you go to the Bible, because the Bible is indiscriminate when it uses the language of happiness and joy and contentment and satisfaction.
It's always the same. The big he jumped for joy. Oh, this little guy's my pride and joy. Oh, I wept for joy.
There's no difference. Let me show you from the scriptural point of view. Isaiah fifty to seven says this. I bring you good news of happiness. That's the translation. I bring you good news of happiness.
Now, what about Luke? Chapter two, when the angels say, I bring you good news of great joy. There's a difference between joy and happiness.
See, I don't think so at all. Now, there's no doubt that happiness can be a fleshly word. There's no doubt about that. And there is a fleshly happiness.
And we'll address that a little bit, maybe done in the series a little later. But if God uses the word happy to define what we should be. Then why can't we just be happy? You see. If you walk up to someone and say, look, if you get your relationship right with God.
You're going to be blessed. OK, it doesn't stir a lot for people. If you say to someone, if you get your relationship right with God, you're going to be happy. Who doesn't want to be happy?
See, think about this. We have very few things in common, but I can tell you one thing we all have in common. We all pursue happiness every day.
Every one of us all day long. Almost every choice we make is a happy choice. People universally want to be happy everywhere. Augustine said this in about 400 A.D., he said, every man whatsoever is conditioned desires to be happy. No exception. Thirteen hundred years later, French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal said, all men seek happiness.
This is without exception. Scottish churchman Thomas Boston in the 17th century said, consider what man is. He's a creature that desires happiness and cannot but deserve it. The desire of happiness is woven into his very nature.
It can't be eradicated. It is as natural for him to desire happiness as it is to breathe. George Whitfield, the great American evangelist, said it is the end of our religion to make men happy. And he said, and is it not everyone's privilege to be as happy as he possibly can? Charles Spurgeon, 19th century great English preacher, said, my dear brothers and sisters, if anyone in the world ought to be happy, we are the people.
We should be happy. And I was reading that about Spurgeon. He said something else. He was teaching a bunch of students how to preach because he was about the best. And he said, you know, when you talk about heaven, your face should just light up. There should be a tremendous amount of happiness and joy in your face when you talk about heaven.
And then whenever you guys talk about hell, your normal face will do just fine. His observation is that are we happy? See, that's my question. Is my question for you. Are you happy? I mean, really happy. Sometimes, like I said, we almost feel like a shame. We should be happy.
But I'm telling you this. What I want to say this morning is simple. God is happy.
And he wants you to be happy, too. Open your Bibles to Isaiah chapter 42, verse one. Isaiah 42, verse one.
It's a great chapter. It's a prophetic chapter about the Messiah who is going to come 700 years later. It's referring to Jesus Christ, obviously.
But I want to look at just that first verse. God is speaking through Isaiah. He says, Behold, my servant whom I uphold. My chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have put my spirit upon him and he will bring forth justice to the nations. He's referring to the Messiah. But he's not just introducing the Messiah.
He says something else there. My chosen one in whom my soul delights. That word delights is the word ratzah in Hebrew. And guess what it means? Happily pleased.
It means to take pleasure in, to enjoy, to be happily pleased. God says, You know what? I just delight in him.
I'm happy in him. Do you remember in the life of Christ when he was baptized by John the Baptist to begin his ministry? And all of a sudden out of heaven, the father spoke. This is my beloved son. Remember when he said that? This is my beloved son, he said, in whom I am well pleased.
I'm happy. And then at the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James and John got to see Jesus for who he really was. The deified Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. And the same thing is said by God again to the three of them.
Exactly the same thing. He says, This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. God is happy.
And he's happy in the sun because he's a happy God. Now, go with me to First Timothy, Chapter one. First Timothy, Chapter one. And verse 11. Paul's writing the young Timothy here. And from verse three to verse 11, the whole thing is a warning about false teaching and false doctrine, false false belief systems. But when he gets to verse 11, he says something interesting. He says, according to the glorious gospel.
Now, what is gospel? Good news, right? It's good news.
Now, I want you to think about that for a moment. When you tell someone good news, how do you do it? Hey, Rob, I've got some really good news for you. It's great.
It's just great. No, when you have good news, how do you say it? When you have good news, it's you always say it happily, don't you?
It's good news. That's what the gospel is. He says, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, he said, with which I've been entrusted. Notice the nice religious word again. Blessed.
It's marcheos. It's happy. I want to give you good news from the happy God. See, it sounds different than blessed God.
It should be happy. Not talking about the blessed God. He's talking about the happy God. Spurgeon translated this and said the gospel is the gospel of happiness. It is the glorious gospel of our happy God. Do you think of God as happy?
I mean, you should, but do you? No, I don't think everything is very somber. Yep. They're sharing the good news with someone. Yep. Check it off.
Looks like they're in. I mean, that's not the way God is. That's not how he operates. Go to the end of Timothy to 1 Timothy 615. And here, Paul's ending it up, but he's now talking about the Lord Jesus Christ.
And notice what he says. I'll start in verse 13. He said, I charge you in the presence of God who gives life to all things and Christ Jesus, who has testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. And then he says this, which he will bring about at the proper time. Christ is coming back.
OK, fine. Then he says he who is blessed, the only sovereign, the king of kings and the Lord of Lords. Now, we always say Jesus, the king of kings and Lord of Lords. And he's and he's sovereign.
It also says here. Blessed Mark, he has happy. He's happy. And he's sovereign.
And he's the king of kings and Lord of Lords. You see, that changes your whole perspective of who Jesus is and what he's accomplished. God is happy. He wants his people to be happy. We always say that it's important that a person becomes conformed to the image of Christ, that we want to grow in godliness, mature as believers. We want to become more and more godly. Well, if if that's true, then God, if he's happy, what should we become more and more of? Happy. If you're a growing Christian, you should be more happy.
That's the point. God's happy. You want to be more like him, be happy like he is. Go with me to Luke 15. Now, Luke 15. We've seen this before, but Jesus is going to teach in three parables. And what he wants to talk about is he doesn't want to just talk about lost things being found.
That's part of it. But what he really wants to talk about is what does God think about it when something that is lost is found? And he uses three different pictures to do it.
Three completely different pictures. The first one is the lost sheep. So he says in verse four, what man among you, if he has 100 sheep and has lost one, does not, he said, leave the 99, he said, in the open pasture and go after the one which was lost until he finds it. And when he has found it, he lays his own lays it on his shoulders. And what's the next word? Rejoicing. Happy. He's rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, rejoice with me. For I have found my sheep, which was lost. So what happens to God when something that is lost is found? He's happy.
He goes on or what woman, if she has 10 silver coins and loses one of them, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it. And when she found that, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost. In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over a sinner who repents.
Everybody's happy. Now, you might say, maybe he means just the angels are happy. God isn't happy. OK, but the next one has to do with a prodigal son. And in the prodigal son, as we know the story well, we have to deal with the father. What is the father like? That's clearly God.
So look at Don to verse 20 after he's come back. It said he got up and he came to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, felt compassion for him. And he ran to him and he embraced him and kissed him. Now, would you call that a sad scene or a happy scene?
I mean, I'm just off the top of my head. What do you think? What are you doing home? No, he's happy.
Now watch. And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his slaves, quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand, sandals on his feet, and bring the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again. He was lost and fine and they began to celebrate. And the father with them because they're all happy. Then the oldest son comes in, says, You never gave me the fatted calf.
You've never been that great for me. And I didn't leave that thing. But notice how the father ends at verse 32. But we had to celebrate and rejoice for this brother of yours was dead. And as he said, has begun to live, he was lost and he was found. That's the nature of God. God is happy. He's especially happy when that which is lost is found.
I mean, do you ever think about that? The day you came to Christ. It made God happy. Now, it made you happy, I hope it made me happy, but it made God happy. He said, all of heaven rejoices. There's happiness here. I'm a happy God.
You see, that's the way this works. Now, this picture of God. Go with me back to Psalm two, the Book of Psalms, Psalm two.
The Psalmist is writing and he's writing about something that's very important in this whole subject matter. Most human beings don't care for God. They don't like them and they don't want them in their lives. They just don't.
And they'll do anything to avoid. They'll invent their own religions and they'll have their own religion and say, I don't have to deal with God. I don't have to deal with any of that. I'll just make up my own religion. And then I'll believe in that religion and everything will be fine. Or they'll say, I'm agnostic or atheistic. I don't know if there is a God exist or I don't think there is a God at all.
So I don't have anything to do with God. That's man. That's what man does. He rebels against God.
That's the way it works for man. So that's the context here. And it says, why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his annoyed in saying, let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us. Look, if I don't want to do with God, I don't have to have anything to do with God there.
Notice the next verse. He who sits in the heavens laughs. Well, what's so funny? So they're going to be able to do it. They won't have to deal with me. They can avoid me forever. Really? I don't have to have any part of God.
Really? He laughs. It's an interesting thing from that point of view. The Lord scoffs at them. He said he will speak to them in his anger and he said and terrify them in his fury.
You can't avoid me, he said. But here's the other thing. I think that's funny. God says, I think that's funny that you think you can deal without me.
I think that's just a funny thing. That's the nature of God. Now, notice when you get to the end of this, I love the way it ends. He said, do homage, in verse 12, do homage to the son that he not become angry and that you perish in the way. For his wrath may soon be kindled.
And then it says this. How blessed are those who take refuge in him? Asher.
Asher, happiness. How happy are those who take refuge in him? You can't avoid God. You ultimately either know God as your savior or as your judge, but you'll know him one way or the other. New Testament says every knee will bow, every tongue confess to Jesus Christ as Lord.
You're not going to avoid him. But if you put your faith in him, how happy are those who take refuge in him? See, a happy God wants us to be a happy people. That's oneplace.com and you can listen to Fellowship in the Word online. At that website, you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one time gift. Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word, 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, fbcnola.org.
That's fbcnola.org. At our website, you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is fbcnola.org. For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word.
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