There are lots of places people look for happiness. They look for happiness with things (possessions), money, relationships, fame, power, etc.
Think about famous people that everyone would think should be happy because they have no worries. Lots of these people are very unhappy. Many turn to drugs – some take their lives.
The Truth About True Happiness:
It Never Depends on Circumstances
It is Accessible to Everyone (If you accept God's truths and act on God's truths)
It is a Do It Yourself Job (If you are not happy it's your fault)
Happiness is a CHOICE!
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
God has a plan for your life. If you seek His will, it leads to Happiness. (Jesus Joy) Remember Romans 8:28:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
Remember: We are never beyond God's control and care!
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Life is hard and unfair. It is difficult for everyone. There are things we will never understand.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Don't feel sorry for yourself! You can't control what happens to you but you can control how you respond.
What possession do you have that you would hat the most to lose? (Can't be house, vehicle, person or pets)
What pressure does money (or lack of) put on your relationships with other people?
What pressure does money (or lack of) put on your relationship with God?
Let's read Mark 10: 17 – 31:
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.'
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
What was the rich man like?
We don't know a lot about him but he seems sincere in his attempt to obey God's law.
What was his assumption about the way to gain eternal life?
What did the young man's response to Jesus' challenge indicate about his priorities (vs. 22)?
He couldn't bring himself to part with his wealth. He was putting his faith in his wealth.
What evidence do you see that Jesus didn't promise His followers and easy life (vs. 25, 29-31)?
Note: Jesus is not saying that rich people cannot go to Heaven. There were many rich men in the Old Testament – Abraham, Job, David and Solomon are just a few.
Now read Matthew 6: 25 – 34:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
To think about:
What is the main thrust of this passage?
Why do we as Christians not need to worry about material things?
What worries can eclipse your focus on God?
What courage do these words bring to you?
What does it mean to seek first God's Kingdom?
What helps you put God first again?
Think about your spending habits. What are you likely to buy because of the materialistic expectations of your society and not because you need it?
Let's not worry about "keeping up with the Joneses".
What can you do this week to make materialism your slave and not your master?
Have you heard of an organizations called The Gideons?
I remember getting a little New Testament from The Gideons in elementary school and again in college. I didn't really know much about them. Last Sunday a representative visited our church and told us about what they do.
They distribute Bibles and New Testaments around the world. They are printed in more than 90 languages! The Bibles are either given to individuals or placed in selective public locations.
Gideons distribute Bibles personally to students in 5th grade and above, police, fire, medical and military personnel and prisoners. They also place Bibles in hotels and motels, prisons and jails, hospitals, convalescent homes, medical offices and domestic violence shelters.
How did this all get started?
In 1898, two businessmen were travelling and happened to meet at a crowded hotel. They wound up sharing a room and having Bible study together. They met again a year later and decided to create an organization of businessmen committed to evangelism.
When they held their initial organizational meeting only one other person was in attendance. These three men joined together and created the Gideons. Since virtually all Gideons were travelling men when the organization first started, they naturally thought of evangelism in hotels. This lead to the idea of placing Bibles in all hotel rooms.
Since 1908 the Gideons have distributed approximately 1.6 Billion Bibles and New Testaments. Many men and women are members of the Gideons and many lives have been affected.
How Can You Help?
You can pray and support them with monetary donations.
9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
What do we learn in the verses above? Not to be a stumbling block. But, what is a stumbling block?
According to the dictionary a stumbling block is an obstacle or problem in the way of a desired aim.
24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
26 “From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
Followers of Christ should not abuse their freedom and become a stumbling block to others.
Followers of Christ are to be different. We should relinquish our personal freedoms in the interest of others.
Followers of Christ are living recommendations for Christ.
Is there anyone you cannot face? Do you avoid them?
Is there anyone you want to see trouble come into their lives?
Is there anyone you cannot pray for to be successful?
Matthew 18: 21 – 35:
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
There are four responses to hurts:
Retaliate – get even
Rejection – ignore
Repression – hold it in
Restoration – forgiveness starts this
Relationships in life will not work without forgiveness.
Benefits To Forgiving
It takes it out of your hands and puts it into His hands. (Trust God to handle it!) God is in control and He will settle all accounts.
It forces us to depend upon God. (Forgiveness is not easy!)
Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
God is working in our lives.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
It restores us to usefulness. God expects us to pass on forgiveness. (like He forgives us!)
It brings inward peace and happiness. Unlimited forgiveness must characterize the true believer.