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Why Am I Not Happy?, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
August 30, 2023 9:00 am

Why Am I Not Happy?, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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August 30, 2023 9:00 am

If there’s one thing that everyone wants in life, it’s happiness. And yet, for so many people, happiness seems like a pipe dream. We either spend our whole lives chasing the next thrill, never completely satisfied, or we end up settling for comfort and trying to drown out the nagging sense that we’re meant for more.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Psalm 16 11, in your presence is the fullness of joy, and your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Fullness of joy means joy that could not be greater. Pleasures forevermore means joy that could not last longer. The greatest joy that lasts the longest time is found in God. I know that because I've tasted just a smidgen of it, not even that much, but I know where it's found and I know that the only way you're ever going to get it is when you go all in with Him. Hey, thanks for joining us today on Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Okay, if there's one thing that everyone wants in life, it's happiness, right? And yet for so many people, happiness seems like an impossible dream. We either spend our whole lives chasing the next thrill, never completely satisfied, or we end up settling for comfort and we try to drown out the nagging sense that we are meant for so much more.

So what's the solution here? Where can we find answers? Pastor J.D.

Greer addresses those questions today on Summit Life as he continues our teaching series called Question Everything. He called this message from Psalm 1, Why am I not happy? Are you happy? Right now in this situation and where you are in life, are you happy? Maybe you're the kind of person that goes up and down. You're happy one moment, one season, then you're unhappy the next.

Let me ask the question a different way. If life did not change at all for you, can you be happy with life? The entire book of Psalms opens with the word happy. In fact, if you haven't done so already, take out, if you have a Bible, open it up to the book of Psalms. Find Psalm chapter 1 because Psalms opens with the word happy. Psalms 1, 1.

Blessed is the man. Blessed in the Hebrew language is the word ashrei, which literally means happy. That's what Psalm 1 is about.

And scholars say that because this Psalm is the opening to the whole book of Psalms, they're putting it there because it captures one of the dominant themes of the book of Psalms. Twenty-six times in the book of Psalms, the writers are going to deal with the question of can we be happy, truly happy, and if so, how? Psalm chapter 1 explains that happiness is neither inevitable nor unattainable.

It is possible, right? Psalm 1, verse 1. Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on that law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season.

Its leaf does not wither and in all that he does, he prospers. The ungodly are not so. The ungodly are like the chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore, the ungodly will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly will perish. The Psalmist uses this metaphor of a tree and chaff to show you why those who know God can be happy in a way that those who do not know God cannot be happy. He identifies two things that people usually look to to make them happy that cannot in fact make them happy at all, right? So if you're taking notes, write this down.

Here's letter A. You won't be happy, he says, when your happiness is based on circumstances. You see how the Psalmist in verse 3 seems to assume that your life goes through seasons? You have spring and summer seasons where the environment is favorable. Then you've got winter seasons that threaten to kill you. You will have drought seasons that threaten to starve you.

You cannot cut out the drought and winter seasons from life. And if your happiness is dependent on you being in a spring season, happiness will always be elusive to you. Because our culture's approach to happiness is built on the idea that we get the word happy from. I told you that happy in the English language comes from the root word we get the word happening from. So you are happy when what you want to happen happens.

When what you don't want to happen happens, you're not happy. What the Psalmist is talking about is joy, which is different. Joy goes deeper than the circumstances and your happenings because it has a source of joy that is not dependent on your happenings. Later in the Psalms, King David would say this, Psalm 4-7, you have put more joy in my heart than they, the ungodly have, when their grain and wine abounds. In other words, I got more joy in God than people have when their wine and grain overflow. And when I'm in a season where my grain and wine don't abound, I still have God and he's a better source of joy than when I do have grain and wine. Listen to this, for the Christian seasons of drought can actually deepen your joy, which is totally counterintuitive to people. But seasons of drought can deepen your joy because it's in those seasons that you learn to drive your roots deeper into Christ. And in those seasons where Christ is all that you have, you find indeed that he is all that you need. And so when you go through a season of drought or winter and you drive your roots deep into the gospel, into God, then you find that when your wine and grain come back, your real joy is not in them anyway. And like David, you say, I got more joy in God than I do in grain and wine.

So when the grain and wine is here, great. When it's not great, because I've got God, he never changes. Let her be.

Let her be. He says, you won't be happy when you have no anchor point outside of yourself. You're not going to be happy if you have no anchor point outside of yourself. See verses four and five. The happy man, he says, is like a tree with deep roots that anchor him.

This attacks one of our culture's most cherished myths. That myth is the belief that happiness comes from complete freedom. You'll be happy, the myth goes, when you answer to no one. When you're free to make all your own rules, to define your own meaning. When you're like a room without a roof, that's when you're happy.

No. That will work for a while when you're young and naive. But as you begin to get older, you will have to start fighting off this suffocating futility that begins to press in on you. If your life has no anchor outside of itself, it's chaff. It has no real permanence. Every pleasure is fleeting.

This almost goes on. Verse five, the ungodly will not survive the judgment. In other words, not only is life here meaningless, even worse, at the end of a meaningless life, you stand under judgment. You see, the Bible says it is appointed unto man once to die. And after that, the judgment, which means that one day you will stand before the almighty God at his throne, and you will give an answer for your life, and you will hear one of two words, forgiven or condemned.

What's it going to be like for you in that moment? What is it like if you gained everything that you wanted in life? What if you did manage to keep yourself in a summer season to stand before the throne of God and hear that one word verdict on your life, condemned? What would it profit, Jesus said, a man for him to gain the whole world and lose his soul? What would you give in exchange for your soul?

Think about his logic, right? What dream that you obtained on earth, what house, what pleasure, what possession, what relationship are you going to say is worth the trade of your soul for eternity? The psalmist could not have been more clear in laying out two very distinct ways to live, could he? This is a theme that's going to appear over and over in the book of Psalms. There are two ways to live, and you've got to choose one of the two. The man who knows God lives with an abundant, never-ceasing source of joy that endures throughout all the seasons of his life, and when he dies, he is received into eternal glory. The ungodly live with an increasingly suffocating sense of futility. Every pleasure is fleeting.

They have no recourse in pain. They find no deeper meaning in suffering, and when they die, they go into judgment. There are two ways to live.

Which of these two ways will you choose to live? Now, the psalmist does one other thing in this psalm, and I want to take a few minutes to show it to you before we close, because he reveals to you the secret to really being happy. It's not enough to simply be a Christian or try Jesus or go to church or let go and let God or whatever you want to say. Now, he gives you the secret. It's in verse one.

Watch this. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. Counsel's how you, it's about how you think, right? Nor stands in the way of sinners. Way of sinners is how you live. Nor sits in the seat of scoffers. In those days, where you sat is where you thought you belonged. The young sat with the young, the rich sat with the rich, the old sat with the old. So in other words, he's saying where you choose to find your identity, how you think, how you live, where you base your identity.

Here's what he's saying. Let your mind, your behaviors, and your identity be shaped by the word of God. It's not enough to come to church. It's not enough to be a Christian.

It's not enough to be religious or even be saved. You have to drive the roots of your soul deep into the gospel so that your thinking, your actions, and your identity are all shaped by the gospel. The gospel must become an anchor for your soul with roots that go so deep that whatever seasons you pass through, whether a winter of loneliness, a drought of depression, a storm of temptation, whatever season, you have an anchor that keeps your soul steadfast.

Write this down. The secret to happiness is driving your roots deep into the gospel. The secret to happiness is not knowing the gospel. It's not going to church. It's not being a Christian.

It's driving your roots, the roots of your soul, deep into the gospel so that drought and winter cannot kill you. And in light of that, some of you need to get a lot more serious about two things in your life. You need to get a lot more serious about two things.

Here they are. Number one, you've got to get a lot more serious about the word of God. See where he says, verse two, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on that law he meditates day and night. You know why he meditates on it day and night? Because his delight is in it. Because when you delight in something, you don't have to be told to think about it all the time. You just do it naturally.

Right? When I first fell in love with Veronica, I thought about her all the time. At any given point in the day, you could say, what are you smiling about?

I would say, it's Veronica. When she would write me a letter, I would read it five, six, 700 times. I would meditate on her day and night because she brought my soul delight. The idea is that the word of God is that the word of God becomes such a delight to you that it frees you from the seductions of the world. That you escape the pleasures of the world because you got a greater pleasure in the word. It's because you turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in his wonderful faith that then the things of earth begin to go strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

And here's the tragedy. Some of you have never experienced that with the word of God. The word is just a religious duty to you.

It's just something you put on a checklist. Yet another thing for you to feel guilty about. I don't read the Bible enough.

I don't listen to podcasts when I work out instead of music. I don't memorize enough scripture. And it's something that you feel guilty about.

And you're like, I got to get better at doing that. But there's no delight in it. And because of that, your Christianity has no joy. It has no permanence.

It has no endurance. Listen to Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards, listen to this. Sometimes only mentioning a single word of the gospel will cause my heart to burn within me. Only seeing the name of Christ or hearing some attribute of God suddenly makes my heart burst into flames. And in that moment, God appears glorious to me, making me have the most exalting thoughts of him. When I enjoy this sweetness, it seems to carry me above the thoughts of my own estate. It seems that at such times I'm at a loss that I cannot bear it.

And I cannot even bring myself to take my eye away from this glorious, beautiful object and bring it back to myself or my own boring interests. Can I ask you a question? Have you ever experienced anything like that with God?

Just be honest, because it's not going to help anybody sitting here faking. Have you ever experienced that kind of desire with God? You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer.

For more information and free resources, please visit And while you're there, I want to remind you about a valuable resource that's available to you. It's the Ask Me Anything podcast. Each week, Pastor J.D. answers your toughest questions on topics ranging from theology and biblical interpretation to practical questions on the Christian life. With new episodes dropping every Monday, this podcast is a great way to deepen your understanding of the Christian faith and get quick answers to real questions. You can access the Ask Me Anything podcast by visiting slash podcast or subscribe on your favorite podcast app.

You don't want to miss a single episode. And don't forget our entire teaching library is also available free of charge on our website. So visit today. It's all thanks to the generosity of our Summit Life family. So thank you. Now let's get back to today's teaching with Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. Brother Lawrence, maybe that is, 16th century monk, was a dishwasher at his monastery with one little short book called The Practice of the Presence of God. In my copy of that book, I have one section underlined.

It is this section. I find myself attached to God with greater sweetness and delight than an infant suckling at his mother's breast. I have at times such delicious thoughts on God that I am ashamed to mention them. Now that's taken it to a whole new level, isn't it?

And that level is called the land of awkward, right? But if you can get past the imagery there, do you have anything like that in your experience with God? The reason many of you struggle spiritually is that you don't know anything about joy in God. And I'm telling you, you will only escape the pleasures of the world when you have found a greater pleasure in the word. Look at that last verse, verse 6. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous.

See, that's the Psalmist's trump card. That word know is a Hebrew word yada. And it's a word that means experiential knowledge. It's used for romantic knowledge, even sexual knowledge. It's a euphemism in the Old Testament for when a man and his wife consummate their marriage. And Adam yada his wife Eve. They got married, yada yada.

That's what you're talking about, right? And what the Psalmist says is, God, my greatest joy is that I know you and that you know me. You are intimately tied to my soul.

You are my joy. And it is in light of you that all the rest of the things of the world begin to fade in their significance. I've told you that on my wedding day, I think I told you this a few months ago, on my wedding day, 14 years ago, when we turned around and they just pronounced us man and wife, looking at this audience that was there to see us get married, there were a couple of girls in that audience that I think that at some point I've been interested in. I think I'd even been out with one of them at one point, but I can promise you on that day, I was not going, Whoa, man, I can't believe she got away.

Oh man, she is so good looking. No, I wouldn't even think about the ones I missed because I was enraptured with the one I had. And it was in light of my delight in her that the attractions of other girls lost all their power over me. The Psalmist is like that with God. Some of you have never gotten to that. And that's why you struggle so much spiritually. That's why your Christian life is cold and it's dead. You say, well, JD, I would love to feel that way about God. I'd love to be like a suckling baby at my mother's breast, but I wouldn't say it like that, but I just don't.

I don't. So what do I do? What do I do? The first thing you gotta do is you just confess your cold, dead heart to God. Can I tell you something I've learned after two decades of being a Christian? Our Lord Jesus never turns away a sick person who comes to Him for healing, not once. And when you bring your cold, sick, dead heart and you say, what's wrong with my sick, dead heart? There is a Savior who will never turn you away. And you come to Him and say, God, my heart is broken.

It desires so many things besides you. Some of you have never gotten the healing from Jesus because you've never been honest with Him. You want to keep pretending that your heart is okay.

It's not okay. That's why Jesus had to die for it. And so you bring that dead heart to God and you say, would you sprinkle your blood upon this heart and make it new?

There is a prayer that I have prayed over the years. It's written by a guy named A.W. Tozer in a book called The Pursuit of God.

And what A.W. Tozer says in this thing is he says, he said, Lord Jesus, I have tasted your goodness and it has both satisfied me and left me thirsty for more. I am painfully aware of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire for you. O God, I want to want you. O God, I long to be filled with longing. O God, I am thirsty to be made thirstier still. God, call me out of this desert wasteland that I prefer to live in into the luscious pastures of your presence. I pray that prayer because my heart is not what it should be. And my heart will very quickly get reattached to the pleasures of the world. And I bring my sick dead heart to God over and over again. And I say, God, will you please heal it?

Because God doesn't turn away those who bring dead things to him. So after you confess that to him, that's where some of you start, then you need to do what he says in verse 2. You begin to meditate on the word.

You see it? On this law he meditates day and night. That Hebrew word for meditate literally means mumble to yourself.

That's what it means in Hebrew. It means you become like one of those crazy people walking around talking to yourself all the time. People are like, what are you doing?

You're like, I'm just repeating the gospel to myself. You're mumbling to yourself. I've heard one scholar compare this to how a cow chews the cud. You know how this works? So a cow gets up in the morning, eats a bunch of grass, lays down to take a nap.

Pretty awesome life, he asks me. Eat, take a nap. He gets up two hours later and he throws up the grass that he ate. He regurgitates it. It's called the cud. And he chews on it for a little while longer, sucking more nutrients out of it.

Then he swallows it again, takes another nap, gets out two hours later, throws it back up, chews it, does this four or five times until he's sucked out every bit of nutrient out of that grass. And the psalmist is saying that's how you got to approach the word of God. Write this down. Read your Bible like a cow. You have never heard another sermon application that ended with like the cow, have you?

That's a first. Read your Bible like a cow. Meditate on it. Review it. Throw it up. Regurgitate it. Suck every bit of it that you can get out of it because you will only delight in the word when you meditate on it and it saturates your soul.

That's why you got to get a lot more serious about the word of God. You got to read it. You got to memorize it.

You got to study it in small groups. You got to meditate on it. When life cuts you, it's got to be flowing in your veins so that you bleed God's word.

It's got to be so close to the surface that when life shakes you, that's what comes out. That's why I'm telling you to get serious about it. Hearing a sermon once a week from a guy who does know the word might inspire you but it's not going to put joy in your soul when you go through the winter and when you go through the drought. You see, you got to get a lot more serious about the word which leads you to number two. You got to get a lot more serious about the church. See where he says don't stand on the way of sinners or find your place among the scoffers? You want to know why he says that?

Because he knows that sermons can inspire you but it's your community that shapes you. A friend of mine says it this way, your friends are your future you. Your friends are your future you.

You want to know what you're going to look like in the future? Look at your friends in the present. So coming in here once a week and hearing me give a religious pep talk might inspire you but you want to know what you're going to be like in two years? Look at the friends that you're around and you got to have a community that shapes you and that community is the people of God.

Parents, your kids' friends are the future them. I'm going to tell you, listen, hearing a religious pep talk once a week from an awesome youth pastor is not going to make a difference for them spiritually. It's when the church and the people of God become their community.

The church should not be an event that you and your family attend occasionally on the weekend. It should be your community. It should be where you stand. It should be where you sit. You should walk in the way of the people of God. You should find your seat among the people that know God.

Your best and your deepest relationships should be here. You say, well how do I do that? You could begin to volunteer. That's a great way for you to get to know other people and we could actually use the help. You could volunteer here. You could join the church.

That's a novel concept, isn't it? Right? You could actually join the church. We call some of you common law members because you shack up with us on the weekend but you've never actually made it official. You need to join the church and become a part of this community.

Right? You could get involved in a small group and get to know people studying the Word. You can get your kids involved in the student ministry. Do you want to be happy? Do you want to be happy and devote yourself to the Word of God and the people of God?

You see, here's what I know. Psalm 16 11, in your presence is the fullness of joy and your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Fullness of joy means joy that could not be greater. Pleasures forevermore means joy that could not last longer. The greatest joy that lasts the longest time is found in God. I know that because I've tasted just a smidgen of it.

Not even that much but I know where it's found and I know that the only way you're ever going to get it is when you go all in with Him. Charles Spurgeon said the most miserable unhappy person in the world, listen to this, most miserable unhappy person in the world is the half-committed Christian because he is just enough into the presence of God that he's miserable in the world and just enough in the world that he's miserable in the presence of God. So I will say to you what he said to his congregation. You want to go with Jesus? Go all the way.

Go deep or go home. Drive your roots deep in the Word of God and the people of God or just take your toys and go somewhere else because you're just miserable coming to hear me once a week. You're miserable because that's not what walking with God is. You cannot be serious about a relationship with God if you don't have a deep commitment to the Word of God and the people of God. And I know that's getting all up in some of your face but it's the gospel truth.

You are not serious about your relationship with God if you do not have a deep commitment to the Word of God and the people of God. You want to be happy? Go big.

Go deep. If not, go home. He puts before us two ways to live. Which way are you living? You want to be happy? You want to be happy? Drive your roots of your soul deep in the gospel.

That's the only way to true happiness. Driving our roots deep into the gospel and that's our mission every day here on Summit Life. J.D., in this teaching series we'll be working our way through the Psalms and soon we'll launch into another teaching series specifically on Psalm 23, one of the most famous and well-known chapters in the whole Bible.

So can you tell us a little bit about what to expect in the coming weeks? Yeah, Molly, you know most of us know how to think about God's goodness in the past. You know at the cross we see how good God was when He died for our sins and we believe in God's goodness in the future. When Jesus returns and He takes the dark and makes it light and He takes the wrongs and makes them right.

But you know we can believe in it in the past and the future but what about right now? How do I experience the goodness of God right now in the midst of my disappointment and my pain? The question Psalm 23 presents is what would it look like if we trusted God, not just based on what He did in the past and not just for what He'll do in the future but we trust it in His goodness right here in the middle.

We have a great little companion resource to go along with it that is titled Goodness in the Middle. Reach out to us today through to order your copy so that you can get started working verse by verse through this short but very significant piece of the Bible and the most famous worship song ever written. We're looking forward to the next series on Psalm 23 but in the meantime we'd love to send you a copy of our study through that famous Psalm called Goodness in the Middle with your gift of $35 or more. To give just give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or you can give online right now at

I'm Molly Vinovich inviting you to join us tomorrow when we'll be looking at the biblical answer to the question, is something wrong with me? Listen Thursday to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-30 10:28:13 / 2023-08-30 10:39:27 / 11

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