Posted by: pastortomvabeach | February 4, 2015

Thought For The Week February 8, 2015

Does God want you to be happy? Pastor David Owens writes, “In our modern, American culture, happiness is paramount.” He says that this idea leads to two flawed approaches to living with and serving God.

The first is the notion that when we trust in Christ God will bless us with everything we want, everything will work out, and we will always be happy. Since God wants you to be happy, He only has good things in store for you. This mindset reduces God to a celestial Santa Claus or cosmic Coke machine. We put in our spiritual quarters, say our little prayer, and choose what we want by pressing the button, and we expect God to deliver. If what we pray for doesn’t come out of the slot, then we blame God, because there’s something wrong if God wants me happy, and I’m not.

The second notion is that since God wants me to be happy I can justify doing whatever I want to do, even if it is called sin in God’s Word because, “God wants me to be happy.” A husband moves in with a woman who is not his wife saying, “She makes me happy and God wants me to be happy.” A parent neglects their child in pursuit of their career or recreation and says, “This makes me happy, and God wants me to be happy.” A young adult is caught up in sexual activity with the girlfriend or boyfriend, and justifies with, “I love them, and they make me happy, and God wants me to be happy.” A big justification today for same sex relationships includes the reasoning, “They love each other, and make each other happy, so what could be wrong with that?” Saying that God wants me to be happy as an excuse to do whatever I think will make me happy, is just wrong and sinful.

But the question is still there? Does God want you to be happy? Jesus said, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23) Paul wrote, If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13) and Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24). It almost sounds like God wants to kill us, not make us happy.

But Pastor Owens answers the question, Does God want you to be happy this way: “Yes, God wants you to be happy, but real happiness is the result of being right with God.  God wants us to be happy in the way that He defines happiness, pursuing happiness in the ways that He permits and commands, not by pursuing happiness into the realms of sin,” because that doesn’t lead to real happiness in the end.

The word happy or blessed is found many times in the Old Testament and is the operative word Jesus mentions in the beatitudes in Matthew 5. Pastor Owens says, “A survey of those texts reveals that happiness, as viewed by God, always has to do with spiritual things and spiritual attitudes. Happiness involves service to God that embodies an eternal hope.” Some examples include: Happy are the people whose God is the LORD! (Psalm 144:15); Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2); Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. (Proverbs 3:13); Blessed are those who hunger and thirst, for 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. (Matthew 5:6-8).

Pastor Owens lists some things we think will make us happy, but in the end don’t. “We think that things, pleasure-seeking, revenge (revenge is sweet, right) will make us happy.” We could add a whole list of other ways we think we’ll be happy: the perfect wife or husband; good health; a successful career; the championship for our favorite team; etc. The problem is that whatever happiness might be attained by any of these things is only temporary. New things (even new spouses) get old. Pleasure is momentary and we find ourselves always going after something that seems to slip through our fingers just when we think we have it and that leaves us wanting more so we can finally be truly happy!

According to Pastor Owens (and I agree), “God’s definition of happiness is so different from ours. The happiness of God is not like the highly elusive emotion we often chase. It is not grounded in physical and material things. In the end, only the God who made us and knows us, can bring us to a place of true happiness. Psalm 68:3 reads, Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. The happiness that God gives is an underlying joy that is an anchor and is not based on circumstances. True happiness lies in being content in God’s plan for our life. When we thank God for life’s simple pleasures and blessings, we stop focusing on what we don’t have and find happiness in the things we do have. God doesn’t want us to seek the phony, fleeting happiness of the world. Rather He wants us to experience true happiness that is a lasting joy that only He can give. Real happiness comes from being right with God. Any other kind of happiness is not real happiness, but is only a temporary substitute. Happy are the people whose God is the Lord! (Psalm144:15)”

And contrary to our understanding, it is in dying to ourselves, to our notions of happiness, to our self-centered wants that true happiness will emerge. In taking up the cross, we find the ultimate source of joy that will not fade and cannot be taken away. So let me ask you – are you happy? God wants you to be happy but it involves a cross. Selah (think on these things).

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