Optimism: Happiness and Healing

Optimism: Happiness and Healing

Scripture: Lamentations 3:21-23, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, Proverbs 17:22
Date: 06/12/2010  Lesson: 11
Many of life's problems can be better handled by keeping a positive attitude and remaining optimistic despite negative circumstances.

Clean: Seven Steps to Freedom (PB) by Rich Kollenberg

Clean: Seven Steps to Freedom (PB) by Rich Kollenberg
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome this morning to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church for our study hour this morning with Pastor Doug. A special welcome to those that are joining us right here in our sanctuary.

We have guests from all over the--from all over the United States. And also a very special welcome to you that are joining us from--live on the radio, on the internet, however you're joining us from across the country and around the world, welcome. And we know that you will receive a blessing with us this morning. Our first hymn we're gonna sing this morning is hymn number 162, what "wondrous love." And this comes as a request from sneha in guyana, katherine in Hawaii, kelvyn, myriam, janice and aurelie in mauritius, vinod in New York and susannah in Wisconsin. Hymn number 162, and we're gonna sing all 3 verses.

[Music] If you have a favorite hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, I invite you to go to our website at saccentral.org. And there you can click on the "contact us" link. And you can request any hymn in our hymnal, and we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn we're gonna sing is hymn number 198, "and can it be?" And this comes as a request from merilyn, Moses and sokula in australia, birdie and ralph in the bahamas, cleonice in brazil, bernadine in camaroon, alistair, betty, dudz, and ternal in Canada, florence, oceane and alfredo in florida, kwabena in ghana, deonne in grenada, janet in guam, jonathan in guatemala, sam in Idaho, dever and Virginia in india, lois in Indiana, Danielle, loris, marcia and taneisha in jamaica kondwani in malawi, wayne in Minnesota, seth in Nebraska, irma in the netherlands, beth, jasmine, Mark in New York, sati in nigeria, vern and sandie in North Carolina, richard in papua new guinea, carleen, chelsea in the saint vincent and the grenadines, curlin, gail, kimly, kurt, kerecia and kerrell in trinidad and tobago, viviene in united kingdom and ana in Washington. And I just wanted to say I'm sorry if I don't pronounce your names correctly, but someday when we're in heaven, you can tell me your names, but by then you'll have a new name.

And you'll have to tell me that one too. So, hymn number 198, and we are gonna sing all 4 verses this morning for jennifer's wedding gift. Hymn number 198. [Music] Let's pray. Our Father in Heaven, we thank you so much, that you emptied all of heaven to save us.

"How can it be?" We stand in awe and wonder how much you love us. So Lord, please just help us to in our hearts understand that love better as we open Your Word today, that we can understand how much you gave and that we can go forth and share with others your love, your hope and your grace and mercy. We love you, Lord. We just ask you to please be with Pastor Doug now as he brings us Your Words, Lord. Forgive us where we have failed you.

We just thank you for that gift. And Lord, just help us to live like you're coming soon. And we know you are and we cannot wait to see you. We pray these things in your precious, holy name. Amen.

Our study this morning will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you for the music, musicians. Morning everyone. Happy Sabbath. Good to see each of you here.

And I'm looking forward to studying our lesson today. Want to welcome our friends on our extended class. Many of them are members of this church. They're all scattered around the world. And there's no local congregation they can worship with.

And they're part of our Sacramento central family. We welcome you as well. It was fun meeting some of those people. I think I've told you since I've been back from argentina, just had a delightful time down there visiting with some of our friends and seeing how God's people are connected all over the world like this was really an exciting experience. We have a free study guide for today we'd like to share with you.

And if you'd like a copy of this, this is the book, "steps to Christ." And we'll send it to you for free. All you need to do is ask for it. And this is something we think that will help enhance the lesson. Our lesson today is talking about joy and happiness. And there's a lesson in here talking about, "rejoicing in the Lord," in this book, "steps to Christ.

" If you want a copy of that, it's offer number 736. And you just call -study-more. That's 866-788-3966. We will be happy to send that to you. Our lesson today is--we're on lesson number 11 dealing with the subject of "health and healing.

" And today's lesson is talking about "optimism, happiness and healing." And this I hope will be a fun lesson because we've got some exciting things to talk about. We're really gonna do a little bit of contrast between happiness and some of the unhappiness or depression in the world today and talk about how the right attitude can make a difference in your health and being healthy can make a difference in your happiness as well. We're gonna look at a number of verses. But we have a memory verse. And the memory verse is Lamentations 3:21.

You're gonna say this with me? And by the way, I'm reading it from the new international version which is what they've got here in the lesson. You ready? "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness." That says, "great is your faithfulness," but I know it from The Song, "great is thy faithfulness." It's one of my favorite songs. His mercies are new every morning. And that's why we're not consumed.

You know it shares an illustration here about two men in prison that looked out of the bars and had an opposite perspective. There's a poem that goes along with that. And it says, "two men looked out of prison bars, one saw mud and one saw stars." It depends on whether you're looking up or you're looking down. In the world, especially this time of year in the northern hemisphere, spring, you can see a couple of different birds flying around the countryside. Same exact countryside, one of those birds is looking for something dead and the other one is looking for something blooming and bright.

One is a buzzard, and one is a hummingbird. Same countryside, two different birds. What are you looking for? People typically find what they look for. Some are always looking for anything that is wrong or negative--or you know, a vulture, when it's flying down the road, does it look for the flowers or does it look for the raccoon that got run over. It's just, it's nature to look for something dead.

And I understand that they've got this incredible--i think I did an amazing fact on it one time. An eagle can see 3 miles; a buzzard can smell 10 miles. I mean they're like the sharks of the air. They have an incredible sense of smell. And they sniff anything that's putrefying, and they're attracted to it.

Hummingbirds, on the other hand, they're always smelling for the fragrance and the nectar and looking for anything bright. Depending on which spirit you have makes a difference what kind of bird you are. And even Abraham lincoln with all the problems that he had in his life, and if you read his history he had a lot of challenges, he said a person can be about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Now we're gonna talk in just a moment here about depression and despair. There's some examples of that in the Bible.

Before I get to that, a few Amazing Facts for you on that subject. Anti-depressants have become the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. Now you would think that with the recent downturn in the economy and since the pharmaceutical companies can't spend as much on Marketing and sales as they used to, that sales would begin to go down. No. It says, "in spite of that," in spite of the less--the lower amount of money they're investing in Marketing, "antidepressant brands of prescription have jumped 15% in 2009.

" Catch this. "In the united kingdom, there were 36 million prescriptions issued for antidepressant drugs. That's nearly one for every adult in the population." Now some I think are not taking any, and some are getting several prescriptions. And that's probably how you can explain that. But and I'm not here to criticize any that might be enjoying the benefits of some form of antidepressant.

But I think to some extent, we may be over-medicated. And to some extent, we may be trying to deal with a pill that the Lord could deal with through the Holy Spirit, in some cases. I want to be careful not to make any blanket statements here. Now there is a book, cnn reported this, "doctor ronald dworkin tells a story of a woman who didn't like the way her husband was handling the family finances. She wanted to start keeping the books herself, but didn't want to hurt her husband's feelings.

The doctor suggested that she deals with this stress that she felt by giving her an antidepressant to help her feel better. 'She got the antidepressant and she did feel better,' said the doctor. Dr. Dworkin is a Maryland anesthesiologist and a senior fellow at Washington's hudson institute." He told the story in his book. The book is called, "artificial unhappiness: the dark side of the new happy.

" "But in the meantime, while she was feeling much better in her circumstances, the woman's husband left the family in financial ruin. But she felt much better about it. 'Doctors are now medicating unhappiness,' said dworkin, 'too many people take drugs when they really need to be making changes in their lives.'" Now again, I've gotta, you know, want to always keep issuing these disclaimers when you talk about medication. Someone doesn't go off their antidepressant and do something terrible and then sue the pastor. So you know, you need to see your doctor about these things.

But there's a whole lot of people that are on a variety of medications to deal with things that the Gospel could resolve. Let me ask. If you're lost and you're facing eternal ruin, should you take antidepressants so you can feel better about it? [Laughs] yeah, I know I'm doomed to hell, but I feel pretty good. If your future is bleak, and you are doomed to destruction, I don't want you to feel better about it. You ought to be a little depressed.

And then you come to Jesus and he can give you real joy. Now there may be some people who, they're doing the right thing spiritually, but because there is some chemical imbalance, and you know, some people because of heredity or maybe something in their diet, they may be lacking something. I know some people that just have a terrible lack of b12 they found out and they couldn't figure out what the problem was. And others were terribly deficient in vitamin d. And there are actual just simple vitamins sometimes you can take and you really do feel better.

So it's a chemical issue. And you know, I know there are cases of that. But a lot of people I think are depressed and discouraged because they've lost faith and they've lost hope. And the Lord and the Holy Spirit can make a big difference in their lives. We don't want artificial happiness.

You know, the devil is prescribing for a lost world: feel good on your way to destruction. Should we have that? The Bible talks about don't laugh and sing to those who are of a sorrowful heart because it's like vinegar on their teeth. I heard about this town in appledore, england, they had a plague of mosquitoes. And so they heard there was the--this breed of hungarian laughing frogs that just ate up mosquitoes. And so they brought in 12 of these laughing frogs where these hungarian frogs really thrived there in england.

They not only ate up a whole lot of the mosquitoes, they ate up all the other little frogs and crickets and multiplied like rabbits, and so they're just all over the place now. And at night the people can't sleep, 'cause they hear these [laughing noise] these laughing frogs out there at night. And they just have to put pillows over their head. And it's driving the people crazy. They miss the mosquitoes.

And so, you know, we sometimes look for these artificial fixes to our misery, and it actually ends up making things worse. Now back onto that section, "depression and despair." In psalm 42, did David ever struggle with depression? You read some of the Psalms, and you know, and he had some reason. He was hunted. I mean they had his poster all over Israel that said, "most wanted, reward," from the King. And he hadn't done anything wrong.

And here he had been living happily in the fields taking care of sheep. Got a little bit of fame from killing the giant. The next thing he knows he's living in stinking caves with a bunch of men, hiding. And David writes in psalm 42:11, "why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God for I shall yet praise him, the help of my countenance and my God." How did David deal with his depression? He'd think about: why am I discouraged? Find your faith. Find your hope in God.

And that would often turn the tide for him. A lot of the Bible heroes grappled with depression, not only David, you've got Elijah. And that's our next verse, Kings 19:4. Okay. "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree.

And he prayed that he might die, and said, 'it is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!'" Here you think about one of the great old testament prophets, you think of Elijah. I mean here is a man of prayer. He's held forth even in the new testament as a man of great faith and prayer. He prays; it does not rain for /2 years. He prays; fire comes down from heaven.

He prays; the rain comes down from heaven. I mean Elijah was an incredible man of faith. Did he grapple with depression and discouragement? So if you do go through fits or spells where you get discouraged, does that mean that you didn't have an experience with the Lord? Did Elijah have a great experience with the Lord? Oh yeah. He was on the mountains and in the valleys. He had experience with the Lord.

God fed him with birds from heaven. God fed him miraculously from this widow's barrel. And he just had seen incredible power of God. But he grappled with discouragement because he thought he had a revival going. The next thing he knows jezebel's hunting his life.

And he said, "oh Lord, I just want to die." And have you ever been tired of life? You know, it's normal because this is not God's plan. The misery and the sickness and the discouragement and the things of evil in this world was not God's original plan. And something within us says this is not right. Why do we have death, and why do we have the heartache and why do we have the problems? And sometimes you wonder, "is life worth living? I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up." By the way, antidepressants are the number one prescription. Number two is sleep aids, because people are stressed.

They can't sleep. And I think after that comes antacid or somewhere in a close second. So there's a lot of people that are discouraged. And even among God's people those things happen. Moses, did he grapple with discouragement? Numbers 11:14, I am not able to bear all these people alone, because it's too heavy for me.

And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of thy hand, if I have found favor in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness." Wow, that's Moses. Talk about a man of faith. And he's saying, "Lord, oh just take my life." Job. Now if you went through what job went through you'd be asking for sleeping pills too. I mean he really got broadsided with a blitzkrieg of diabolical attacks all at one time.

And he set forth in history, few people in history next to Jesus had such an asSault of bad fortune all at one time and had everybody turn on 'em. Job says in chapter 6:8, and there's a lot of verses you could read in job about how he was faced with discouragement. He never lost faith, but he was faced with terrible discouragement. "Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!" These are great men of faith you're gonna see in heaven. And they faced with discouragement.

Also women, didn't hannah pray with weeping at the temple? She just couldn't even eat she was so discouraged. And did God turn things around for her? Next time she came to the temple she was singing praises. Alright, let's read Jonah. Jonah 4:3, here's a prophet of God. Now Jonah sort of God what he deserved.

He shouldn't have lost faith. Go ahead. "Therefore now, o Lord, please take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." Have you ever thought that before? "Better for me to die than to live. I'm just gonna park the car here in the garage, shut the garage door and let the engine keep running and go to sleep." I shouldn't tease about that, 'cause you and I probably both know people that have done that. They got discouraged, and they just said, "I want to go to sleep and never wake up.

" What's the answer for that kind of discouragement? How did the Lord encourage these different characters? Was it always their circumstances that changed that brought them joy? No. Someone said that, you know, happiness might be controlled by the circumstances around you. The joy of the Lord is something that runs through you, that cannot be taken away because of circumstances. I think we've all seen examples of that in our lives where a person might be discouraged because of something that's happened. But the inner joy that comes from the relationship with Jesus, it doesn't need to be controlled by circumstances.

After the disciples were whipped and put in jail for preaching about Jesus after they'd been told not to, what did they do? Doesn't Jesus say, "rejoice. Blessed are you when you are persecuted for righteousness sake?" You can rejoice and--they rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer for Jesus. That's that inner joy that they had. You know, one reason I think that we get discouraged is if you focus on something that is going wrong, especially if you're a person that wants everything a bit of a perfectionist. You want everything to fit.

You want everything to be right. I'm a little like that, my friends remind me. And when something doesn't go right, you can fixate on that one thing that's wrong and completely ignore all the wonderful things that are going right. And your happiness is destroyed because of that one little--you know, I wash my windshield, I wash my car, and it all looks clean. And I'm driving down the road, and I hit a big yellow bug.

And it hits the windshield, and I can still see out the windshield, but all I can think about now--the whole car is clean except the spot that big--and all I can think about is, "oh that bug, it's right--" and I've got it so bad, I'll pull over and wash it, 'cause I just think, you know I'm just not enjoying life anymore. I gotta get rid of that thing. Am I the only one who's like that, you feel that way? I'm the only one. That's why I'm your pastor. That's why the Lord chose me to be your pastor.

I heard about a pastor one time that had one of these big, white Marking boards and he held it up in front of everybody. And he took a black Marker and he drew a little dot on the board. And he said, "what do you see?" And they all looked, and they said, "a dot." He says, "is that what you see?" And some said, "well, it looks a little like a period." And someone will say, "well, it looks like a spot." He says, "is that all you see?" He said, "what about the board?" Don't you see that big, white board?" No. All they could focus on was the one spot. And let's face it, sometimes we're unhappy because we're not counting our blessings, but we're looking at what's gone wrong.

Next section, "the cares of life." There are priorities in life the Lord wants us to focus on. One of course is, "seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness," there in Matthew. But in Micah 6:8, he says, "he has shown you, o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?" You know, sometimes we want so many other things to find our happiness. And we really need to focus on the priorities. There's a risk that we can become distracted with other things in this life.

And that leads us to our next verse. Luke 8:14, go ahead, jolyne. "And the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches and pleasures of life and bring no fruit to maturity." You know, in order for us to have that joy and that healthiness, we need to keep the priority of God in our lives. Jesus is referring to this parable where the sower goes and out and he's throwing the seed, and they used to broadcast by hand back then. And you know, it's not as precise.

And sometimes some of it would fall. He'd--you'd want to get where the ground was tilled right up to the road. They'd till the ground. They'd plow it up. And so you'd be throwing the seed.

And some of it would, you know, go over and land on the hard packed ground. Or some might land on the stony ground that surrounded the field. They'd clear all the stones out. And it might initially spring up. But because it doesn't have any depth of root, it's eventually choked.

And some falls among the thorns that are on the edge of the field. And it says, "they're choked with the cares and the riches and the pleasures of life. And they bring no fruit to maturity." Any of you doing any planting in your yards now? Some tomatoes or some vegetables. I want to thank poncho. He helped us plant a bunch of tomatoes in our yard this year.

Well, you don't plant your tomatoes right there among the thorns. You don't even plant them among the roses. You want to plant them where they really get to put their roots down all by themselves and they don't compete with anything else. And what happens is the devil can distract us with the others cares of life that compete for our attention so that we don't have time for our devotions. We don't have time for witnessing.

We don't have the time for the priorities of seeking first God's kingdom. And so we don't bear the fruits of the Spirit. It's being choked out by the cares of this life. You know, I'm often reminded by my friends and my wife and family, there's always work to do. You know, I never sit down at the end of the day and say, "I got all my work done.

" There's just too much. I never--i don't anticipate in this life I'm ever gonna do that. Matter of fact, sometimes it's nice when I go out of town and you get away from the office and you're up on an airplane, and you think, you know, I've done everything I can do now. I almost feel like I can relax for a little bit. You know what they've done now? Now they've got the internet on airplanes.

And so I'm real tempted to get online and keep working. And there's like nowhere you can run where you say, "I'm done with my work." The devil will always have a distraction for you. Some people say, "well, I'm gonna commit myself to the Lord when I get this worked out and when I get that worked out. There's this problem, you know. And you know, the devil will make sure that you never get it all worked out.

There'll always be some distraction. There'll always be something additional to do. You just gotta serve the Lord while you're there. So focus on what's good. Don't be choked by the cares of this life is one key.

Luke 10 is another verse in our lesson, verse 41-42. Was Martha, the sister of mary, was she enjoying the presence of Jesus? Or was she so busy serving Jesus, she didn't really get to listen to him? You know the story. This is that, we believe, as they're preparing for that dinner that they're going to have in bethany, it's the dinner at Simon's house. And you know, there's some guests in the house. And Jesus is sitting there and he's teaching.

And mary, just her life's been changed by Jesus. And she's sitting at his feet and she's just drinking in the things that Jesus is saying. But Martha realizes, hey, you know, there's a lot of people here. And Jesus' apostles have got voracious appetites. They're young men.

And a lot of food to prepare. And you know, we'll have to listen to Jesus later. We gotta get the food ready now. And she's just rip-snorting around the kitchen. And she's cooking and going to the well and pulling out the water and stoking the fire.

And mary's just sitting there, her younger sister, you know the younger ones are usually more irresponsible. I was the baby. And Martha stops and says, "oh," she's exasperated, "Jesus, can you please tell my sister to help me? Don't you see that there's a lot of work to do and you're just sitting here teaching her. And she's gonna sit there as long as you talk. Can you tell her to help me?" And what does Jesus say? "Martha, Martha," you can almost hear him going.

.. "You are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed." One thing is needed. It's that extra loaf of bread you're gonna bake. That's the one thing that's gonna make the difference in eternity.

One thing is needed. It's that extra casserole you're gonna cook. What's that one thing? The one thing is that connection with Jesus that mary had. You remember what Jesus said to the rich young ruler when he said, "go sell everything you have, give it to the poor, follow me. Your riches are a distraction for you.

Give it away and follow me." He said, "there's one thing you lack," is what Jesus said to him, "one thing." It's keeping Jesus as the priority. That's that one thing. "And mary has chosen that good part, that will not be taken from her." She's making a conscious choice to make time for devotions. Now if you're like a lot of people, when your feet hit the ground in the morning, you've got a thousand things to do. And you've got to get ready for work or get the kids out the door for school or there's just sometimes a lot of stress.

And you're so tired from the night before. The devil keeps this generation busier than ever. If ever there was a generation that needed their quality time with God, it's this generation. But he keeps us busier than ever so we don't have that time. That time for God is not gonna be found accidentally.

You're not gonna stumble upon your devotion time one day when you get everything done. You'll never find it. It's not found; it's made. You need to really schedule it and make it a priority. Like Daniel, how busy was the prime minister of medo-persia? Daniel, three times a day he had in his schedule book, stop, pray, praise the Lord, part of it was thanking God.

Isn't that right? Even when he knew he was gonna go to the lions, it says he knelt and gave thanks. Thanks? Gratitude, happy heart? You're about to be kitty food? What's wrong with that? So he had scheduled that time for God. If Daniel can do that, and that's why Daniel's in the Bible, that's why he was a great man is 'cause he scheduled that time for God; we can do it too. God ultimately wants his people to be happy. How does Jesus begin his ministry? He gives the beatitudes.

What's that mean? It means be-happy attitude. Beatitudes means blessed, happy, "happy are they," "happy are they," "happy are they." Why does Jesus want us to be happy? Can you be a good witness if you're not happy? If you say you're a Christian and you're unhappy, what kind of witness are you? You're bad advertising. When you're being negative, don't tell people you're a Christian please, because you're not being very attractive. You're not doing good Marketing for Christ. Even though there's self-denial in the Christian life, you can do it with a positive attitude.

Yes, you need to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. And you'll have a joy while you're doing it. It is--doesn't Jesus say, "take my yoke upon you. Learn of me, for you'll find rest. My yoke is easy, my burden light.

" The greatest joy, you only get two choices, yoke up to the devil or yoke up to Jesus. And so we should be the happiest people in the world. What did the angels say when Jesus came? "Joy, glory, happiness for men. Peace on earth," they came to say. So the Gospel begins by offering this blessing.

Do we have temptation? Should that make us sad? Or does James say in chapter 1:12, "blessed, happy is the man who endures temptation." That inner joy, that happiness abides with those who do fight the good fight of faith. Happiness doesn't come from earthly treasure. Then there's one more parable that's given. In Luke 12:16, you know the fool who built the bigger barns? "The ground of a certain man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'what shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'ah, this is what I'll do: I'll pull down my barns--" I've only got so much land so I've gotta use this land.

I'll have to pull down my small barns and build bigger barns on the same acre, "and there I'll store all my crops and my goods. And then I'll say to my soul--" now you can be really happy. You wanted happiness, now you can be happy, 'cause you don't need to worry about the future anymore. "Soul, you've got many goods laid up for many years--" you've got security. You can just enjoy your retirement.

You've got many goods laid up for many years, "take your ease; eat, drink, and be happy." Isn't that what the world says? Get enough money in the bank. Go on that cruise and be happy. Now I'm not saying there's something wrong with having some savings or taking a vacation. But is that where Christian happiness comes from? God said to him, "you fool! This night your soul will be required of you." He was gonna maybe have a stroke or an aneurism. He was gonna die.

"Then whose will those things be for which you have provided? So is he that lays up treasure for himself, but he's not rich toward God." Happiness does not come from the abundance of things you possess or seeing how much you can acquire, seeing if you can carefully plan your retirement so you've got everything lined up and you've got some years where you still got your health and you can just do your own thing and enjoy life with no stress. Happiness comes from doing God's will to the end. You know, some of the best blessed experiences that I've ever had in my life is when I took the family and we went on some missionary endeavor. We went to do a series of meetings somewhere, australia or new guinea or korea or one of these many places that we've been. And we took the family to work for God.

We always found some time to vacation while we were in these foreign countries. And we had a blast. And so some of our best experiences--a couple years ago we went to belize. That was great. We did a revival there and did soul-winning there.

And we did some scuba diving there. We went looked and the mayan ruins. And we had a great time. And when you--when we combined doing God's will as a priority with doing some fun things, that's when we had the greatest time. And so you know, I think that that's just a key for life is just if your life revolves around, "I'm gonna serve God.

I'm gonna be a missionary." And don't make your happiness the priority, you'll end up finding your happiness. Make serving God the priority and the Lord just--he'll make your cup run over. And on the other hand, sometimes we schedule the vacations where you said, "this is just a vacation. We're just gonna do this for ourselves." And again, I'm not condemning those that do it. And I remember one time, we said, "you know, let's go somewhere--" Karen says, "you're always preaching wherever you go.

" She says, "you always gotta, you know, there's always some other responsibility. Let's go and just have a vacation." So, alright. We scheduled a vacation. We went to Hawaii, just gonna go to Hawaii, play on the beach. That was the week that Hawaii experienced its record rains in the history of the country.

And it rained 40 days and nights in Hawaii in oahu. [Laughs] and I heard a little voice. Anyway, that's just something between me and the Lord. Romans 8:31-32, "what shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" I mean if God gave us his son to buy us eternity and to buy us eternal joy, by the way, the Bible says in psalm 16, "at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore." I mean eternity is gonna be bliss. Heaven is gonna be wonderful.

God does want us to be happy. But our happiness does not come through seeking it in an end to itself. Our happiness comes from seeking to love God and our fellow man. That's where your blessing comes from. It's more blessed to give than receive.

If you live your life to give, you will then receive the happiness. Okay, gene, what did I say? Thessalonians 5:16-18. "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." You know, the Bible says to pray without ceasing. It's also telling us to rejoice without ceasing right there. "Rejoice evermore.

" What's the shortest verse in the Bible? "Jesus wept." Actually that's the shortest in english. But I understand in the Greek this is the shortest, "rejoice evermore." And the Lord is telling us to always be happy. Now did Paul--he must have just had one continual carnival cruise. His life was just, you know, a lot of fun. Have you read about Paul's life? Did Paul know what he was talking about when he said for us to learn how to be content even through trial? Paul, prisoner, shipwrecked, stoned, beaten in Philippi, prison several times, spent years in jail.

And here he's saying, "rejoice all the time." He's not a person who's just, you know, living in another world that is surrounded with contentment who's telling everybody struggling in the real life to be happy. Paul knew what struggle was, and he told us that we can rejoice in spite of that. I think that's encouraging. John 3:1. Here's another reason for us to cheer up.

"Behold what manner of love The Father has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world doesn't know us, because it did not know him." Here John now has lived a long life and he says--he can't even find words to tell you how wonderful it is. I'm just saying behold it. "Behold what manner of love." Father is calling us his sons. We're adopted into the heavenly family. How wonderful that is.

And then in Revelation, what is God's will for us? Revelation 21:4, "and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow--" what's the opposite of sorrow? Joy. He doesn't want the sorrow, no more sorrow-- "nor crying. Neither will be there anymore pain, for the former things are passed away." You know, the key to having that kind of joy and happiness is in allowing God to use your life as a channel. When we do not share Jesus with others, when we just keep him to ourselves, we lose the joy. When you share Christ, it keeps it alive.

It's like your heart. We always think about the heart and love. If your heart is constantly taking and not giving, you have a heart attack. If it's not pumping in and pumping out at the same time. It's gotta have that flow, just like your lungs breathing.

You just can't breathe in and hold it all. You're gonna pass out. You gotta breathe in, you gotta breathe out, you gotta breathe in, you gotta breathe out. Your life needs to be one where you've got this rhythm of not only receiving the blessings of God, but then passing them on to others as well. Receiving and sharing.

"Laughter and healing," now this is a very important part of the lesson here, "laughter and healing." Corinthians 12:9-10, Jesus said to Paul, "my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." "Therefore," Paul said, "most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in the reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distress, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." You know, if you are on your way to heaven, and the doctor says, "you realize you're traveling to a foreign country and you need to get a shot before you go. And after you get this series of inoculations, you're gonna be in heaven," would you be able to smile through those shots? Sure. Right? I know that's a crude illustration, but when you think about the trials that God allows to come into our life, we say, "Lord, whatever you want to send me, whatever you've gotta do to me to prepare me for eternity, I willingly, I eagerly receive whatever your hand wants to deal me, because I've surrendered to your will and I know you are inoculating me, you're immunizing me for eternity.

I can take it." And you can take it joyfully. That's what Paul was saying. Whatever that thorn is that comes from satan, I can take it joyfully 'cause I know that you're preparing me for eternity. Alright, Proverbs 15:15. We got that? "All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.

" "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." "He who has a merry heart has a continual feast." You know I read a book about-- by a man, norman cousins. He was the editor for "the New York times" for many years. And the paper did its greatest growing under his leadership. He came down with a terrible disease that was very painful. And matter of fact, many people didn't recover from this.

He was told that his recovery was unlikely. He began to take mega doses of vitamin c. And he believed that a positive attitude would make a big difference. He tried to fill his mind with things that had to do with love, faith, hope and especially laughter. Someone gave him a bunch of marx brother tapes that he would watch.

And he just spent 10 minutes every day laughing. Well, he completely recovered. And at first he found out that he got--he was able to get two hours of pain free sleep. I guess from these endorphins that laughter releases. Now again, I'm not suggesting that we just laugh for the sake of laughing.

We don't want to laugh on our way to destruction. But Christians ought to be happy people. Amen? "A merry heart: practical optimism." Job 8:21. It says, "he will fill your mouth with laughing and your lips with rejoicing." You know, one of the most common letters that I get, and I probably deserve it a lot, is people say, "Pastor Doug, you joke too much." And you know, the Bible does say, and it's true, and I try to find that balance, that we should avoid foolish jesting. And the word there "foolish" also takes on the meaning of "coarse or inappropriate.

" And you know, it is inappropriate, it's out of place for Christians to be telling crude jokes. And you know, sometimes a lot of people will get around the water cooler in the office and they'll tell these off-color jokes. Christians should have nothing to do with that. But I don't think humor is forbidden for Christians. If you're dealing with the subject that is, you know, serious.

Some subjects are more serious. They're dealing with something that is sacred. And you gotta, you know, know what's appropriate. But it's not wrong to laugh. And Christians ought to be happy people.

Even Jesus said, Matthew chapter--I'm sorry Luke 6:21, "blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh." The Bible even says God laughs. And so Christians ought to be happy. What's that verse I gave out? Proverbs 17:22, why don't you go ahead and read that. "A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." You know, sometimes I think that we--we rob people of their happiness. Christians should not, as you've heard me say, look like they've been baptized in vinegar.

And we ought to be a joyful people that have, as they say, pep in the step and zip in the hip. And I mean don't you want to be around people that are positive? You become like the people that you hang out with. And so Christians ought to be an encouraging people. We ought to be a joyful people. We ought to be happy people.

Sometimes I see pictures of myself, people are taking pictures, and I didn't know that they had the camera. I just came back from the university and there were ,000 students down. And I think about 3,000 of them wanted a picture with me. And so I'm in all these pictures and I'm...you know, you got that cheesy smile. Okay, one-two-three.

..smile. But some took pictures when I didn't know they were. And I saw myself. I said, "boy, doug, you don't look very happy." And I thought, you know, you ought to try and have a permanent smile or at least a pleasant expression on your face all the time. Someone asked me, "Pastor Doug, is it hard for you to smile? I mean does your mouth get sore after people take ,000 pictures like that?" And I thought, no, it doesn't hurt one bit.

I ought to do it more often. It doesn't hurt. And so we ought to smile, be more happy. And Isaiah 26:3-4, it says, "you will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in jehovah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

" Christians will have a joy, they'll have a perfect peace. D.l. Moody said, "happiness is caused by things that happen around you, and circumstances can mar it; but joy flows right on through trouble. It flows through the dark. Joy flows all through persecution and opposition.

It is an unceasing fountain, bubbling up in the heart, a secret spring the world cannot see and does not know anything about. the Lord gives his people a perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to him." Now God does not expect you to, you know, Jesus is not offering through this counterfeit faith some antidepressant that's gonna make you happy even if you still are lost. If you have rebelled against the Lord, if you have not surrendered to the Lord, if you're on your way to destruction, we all hope you're miserable. Because the worst thing that could happen is for you to be like Jonah, asleep when the boat's about to go down. "You need to wake up," as that captain said, "and cry to your God that you perish not.

" Then it says you "humble yourself in the sight of God." Yes, there's a time to repent and to afflict yourself. Humble yourself in the sight of God. Why? That he might lift you up. That's the best antidepressant, friends, is when you surrender your life to the Lord and Jesus and the Holy Spirit come into your heart. God promises to lift you up and to give you that joy, that peace that passes understanding.

Well, you know, we are out of time for today's study. And I want to remind our friends who are watching. We have a free offer. The offer is called "steps to Christ." And there is a chapter in here. This is one of my favorite books.

It talks about rejoicing in the Lord. We especially recommend this. Call the toll-free number, -study-more. That number is 866-788-3966. Ask for offer number 736.

It's free. We'll send it to you. You can have joy for free. That's why Jesus came. And also, don't forget to send in your hymns.

If you'd like to know more about that, you can go to saccentral.org. And God willing, we'll see you again next Sabbath. Virtually everyone on the earth, regardless of religion or nationality recognize that there is some form of battle raging in the world around us between the forces of good and evil, a colossal struggle between light and darkness, truth and error, oppression and freedom, right and wrong, and ultimately life and death. Journey back through time to the center of the universe, discover how a perfect angel transformed into satan, the arch villain, the birth of evil, a rebellion in heaven, a mutiny that moved to earth. Behold the creation of a beautiful, new planet and the first humans.

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As disciples of Christ, we here at Amazing Facts have accepted the great commission challenge, to spread the good news throughout the world. What began as a 15-minute radio program has been blessed by God to grow into a multifaceted international media ministry. These are truly exciting times, yet we cannot do any of this without your continued partnership. The Amazing Facts has been a huge cornerstone in my whole conversion experience and my walk with Christ. Investing in Amazing Facts is a no-brainer.

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