Let us pray: Dear Savior, how we long for happiness! How we eagerly desire to recapture the innocence of our youth and live our lives worry-free! How we long to escape from the hard-heartedness of this life and be surrounded by kindness, love, and tenderness! Lord, thank You for coming to win these blessings for us! Thank You for giving them to us through faith! Yes, thank You for giving us a respite from this evil filled world through our membership in Your holy Church! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT!
TEXT: Luke 6: 17-26
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
The oldest surviving veteran of WWI in the state of Massachusetts died this week at age 110. His name was Antonio Pierro. He got a brief write-up in the “Boston Globe” on Friday and outside of that few will remember him. Meanwhile, Anna Nicole Smith, former Playboy centerfold, immoral media celebrity, and the last woman on earth you’d want as your mother or sister died at age 39 in Florida. The internet reports are that she choked on her own vomit perhaps due to a drug induced stupor. Isn’t it sad that more people will remember her sorry life than that hero of WWI?
I’m glad I never met Anna Nicole Smith. If I had I probably would have wanted to take a shower afterward. I’m disappointed I never met that 110 year old hero. And I have no doubt at all in my mind as to which one was happier in life! I have no doubt as to which one made a much greater and more lasting imprint on humanity—and it wasn’t the bottle blonde—notwithstanding the media coverage! Which one of these two people do you think was happier in life? Which one was more fulfilled? Isn’t the answer obvious?
Genuine happiness in this life is an elusive commodity. Everyone tries to find it and achieve it, but o so few really make it their own. That’s because we cannot make it our own. We need God’s assistance to be happy. So today I want to lay out for you:
GOD’S PRESCRIPTION FOR HAPPINESS
The first step is: know yourself. A mirror may be useful in this task, but it only shows us on the outside, it never shows us what’s actually on the inside. That’s where the mirror of God’s Word comes in. It reveals the inner human being. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”
Throughout the Bible the superficial side of humans is described in great detail. Think of that rich young man who approached Christ wanting happiness. He had it all (superficially) but he wasn’t happy. Christ told him to give up his wealth and come and follow him. The man went away sorrowful because he loved his money more than God.—And happiness eluded him. Then there are the people who are filled with imagined images of their own self-worth and importance. The boastful Pharisee in the synagogue comes to mind. His attempts at happiness were self-delusional. We’re told in Ps. 73 that the children of this world laugh at God and mock His guidance. They eat, drink, and make merry. Everyone, especially the media, loves them. They appear to have it all. But if that were true, why do so many die young from drug, alcohol, or sex abuse? Why do so many end up taking their own lives? Do happy people really engage in self-destructive behavior?
Jesus sees a large crowd before Him. They’re excited at His presence because He has healed the sick, cured those troubled by evil spirits, and fed their souls with words of eternal life. He sees before Him people who knew and know the tough side of life. Who know hopelessness and seek hopefulness. And then He describes hopefulness with these words: “Blessed are you who are poor (in your own spirit and pridefulness), for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now (for Godly blessedness and innocence), for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now (over their own inability to achieve happiness on their own), for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. (That’s happening today as many say that Christianity makes people feel guilty and thus is a religion of “hate” instead of “tolerance.”) Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”
God’s prescription for happiness begins with knowing yourself and your own inner failings.—We call that repentance. And His prescription for happiness takes effect when we also come to know God’s grace.
Death is the great equalizer. Once you’re dead, you’re dead. There is no second chance. Once you’re dead it doesn’t matter how well-known you are or what your celebrity status has been. That rich man of poor Lazarus fame ended up in hell. Those who deny Christ are denied by Him before His Father in heaven.—That’s what Jesus says. Why? Because such folks don’t care about God’s grace and don’t want it. They’re too busy with themselves. However, the children of God’s kingdom both know God’s grace and benefit from it—forever! We may be poor in the bank account, but each of you is forgiven, loved by God and a recipient of the Spirit’s gifts. Each of you may long for richer and higher calorie earthly food as steak and lobster are outside your budget, but no matter. You’ll appreciate beans and hotdogs because you know they are blessings, too. Each one of you desires fulfillment in your job and, to be honest, you seldom find it. But no matter, for God provides little avenues every day to fulfillment when you show forth His caring kindness and other hurting souls respond.
Many years ago I knew a lady who mocked one of our members for having a “Leave It to Beaver” view of life. The fellow she mocked merely accepted God’s blessings through faith, lived them, appreciated them, and didn’t worry about all that stuff beyond his control. He trusted in the Lord and didn’t lean on his own understanding. And because of that he retained the innocence of his Christian childhood. In actuality she mocked him because she was jealous of him. He had what she had lost through her various forays into sex outside of marriage and the jaded view of life that those caused. Think about that. She mocked him because he had the happiness she didn’t possess. And the reason why he had it is that he knew and trusted in Christ as his Savior. He knew and trusted that because God’s Son had died for all his sins and risen from his grave nothing truly vital could or would be denied him from the hand of his gracious King! So, I suppose you could say that God’s Prescription for happiness is really believing and living Paul’s words: “All things work for good to those who love God.”
Today God holds out His hand to you and offers such happiness. Take Him up on that offer! After all, the only thing you have to lose is your unhappiness. Amen