Tag Archives: Happiness

Happiness

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Philemon 7, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

This phrase demands some of our attention, for Paul is in prison, he is chained, his physical movements are confined, his recreation is very limited, his pleasures are denied; in these circumstances, how can Paul make the statement that he is not just happy, but that he has much happiness?

Happiness is the situation of well being or general prosperity of mankind. It encompasses the circumstances of life and relationships. Happiness can run the gamut from tranquility to being intensely ecstatic and the term often used in scripture to describe happiness is blessedness. Blessedness relates happiness to God and His plan of grace.

Happiness has many different facets:

  1. Happiness related to prosperity is described in Psalm 128:1-4, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.
  2. I Peter 3:14 declares that believers may be happy even in suffering, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’
  3. Proverbs 3:13 says that true happiness is found through knowing God’s word, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.
  4. Proverbs 14:21 states that happiness may be gained from treating others with kindness and grace, “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
  5. Romans 14:22 says that a clear conscience produces a type of happiness, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
  6. Proverbs 29:18 states that happiness comes from obeying the laws of the land and that lawlessness and spiritual apostasy accompany each other, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.
  7. Psalm 144:13-15 states that happiness comes from living in a free and prosperous nation.

To fully understand the concept of happiness, we must understand the happiness of God. God’s happiness is unique in the sense that God’s happiness is absolute, perfect and unlimited. In other words, because God is perfect He has perfect happiness. God is eternal, so is His happiness; God’s happiness never ends and has never been diminished in the least and cannot be changed.

God is perfect and this means that He is perfect righteousness; thus God’s perfect happiness is directly connected to one simple fact: God is never wrong, has never been wrong and never will be wrong. This makes God happy. Additionally, since God is perfect He is also perfect justice; this means God is never inequitable, unfair or unjust. This makes God happy. Inasmuch as God is perfect, His love is perfect; this means that God loves the other members of the God head with a perfect love and that He loves Himself with a perfect love and that He loves His creatures with a perfect love; this ability to love perfectly, without bounds or mitigation, makes God happy. God is omnipotent, this gives Him an unlimited capacity to be happy. In His omniscience God’s very genius adds comprehension and sharpness to His happiness; in other words, God knows that He is happy.

Finally, in His sovereignty, in His reign, in His supremacy, God has determined that He will share His perfect happiness with mankind, for Psalm 43:4 says, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.” Psalm 97:12 tells how God shares his happiness with mankind, “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous , and praise his holy name.” Habakkuk 3:18 states that once the believer has God’s perfect righteousness given to him/her, then the believer may be given anything and everything by God, for God gives to His perfect righteousness (in the believer) from His perfect righteousness (in Himself).

The fact that God has determined to give His happiness to mankind and found a way to do it is called grace. God’s instrument of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ; thus true happiness begins at the point of belief in Christ. This is where happiness begins. From there, the more the believer knows about God and Christ, the greater the believer’s capacity for happiness becomes. Thus through spiritual growth the believer’s happiness may become as the happiness of God: without limit, without dependence on circumstances, events, people or any exterior influence. John 13:17 declares that once spiritual maturity is attained, the believer shares God’s perfect happiness, “Now that you know these things , you will be blessed if you do them.

God’s word is the source of the believer’s happiness, according to John 17:13, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

Sharing God’s perfect happiness should be the estate of every believer, according to Philippians 4:4, which states, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” I Peter 1:8 states, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Once the believer shares the perfect happiness of God, the believer’s happiness cannot be diminished by: circumstances, things or people, according to Philippians 4:11, 12 states, “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.” Hebrews 13:5 states, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 12:3 states, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Thus, even though mankind inhabits an imperfect world, mankind can have the perfect happiness of God. Jude 24 asserts that the happiness experienced by the believer in heaven is more intense than that on earth; this degree of intensity is related to the locale, heaven and not to any limits on the sharing of God’s perfect happiness.

Isaiah 35:1, 2 declares that in the future millennial reign of Christ happiness will be ubiquitous.

According to the following verses, II Samuel 1:19, 20, Ecclesiastes 9:9 and 11:8, 9, the happiness derived from the world, sin, evil and pleasure is temporary and inadequate. For the aesthetic age seeks satisfaction through the senses, physical beauty, erotic excitement and through success in any of its guises. True inner happiness cannot be found through the senses or being a celebrity.

Ultimately, the truly happy person, the believer who shares the perfect happiness of God, provides happiness for, and is a ministry of refreshment to, other believers and unbelievers. This concept is found in Philippians 2:28, 29 and II Corinthians 7:13, and our verse, Philemon 7, which says, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

Paul’s use of the term brother, adelphos, indicates that Philemon is not only a fellow believer, a member of the royal priest/family of God along with Paul, but that Paul is about to discuss a family matter.

The Greek term for refreshed is anapauo; and this concept was briefly discussed in the above dissertation on happiness. However, the idea commands more attention and more detail, as refreshment is an attribute of those believers that have attained spiritual maturity. Thus we might say that the ministry of refreshment is the realization and function of the spiritually mature.

Paul calls Philemon a refreshment. This means that Philemon is a vivifying and soothing personality to all that interrelate with him. Spiritually and soulishly, Philemon provides refreshment to others. He is a pleasure to be with and around; others seek out his company so that they might be restored by his calm faith in God, by his virtue love toward others, by his real compassion and by his doctrinal perspective toward life.

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Joy without happiness – is this possible?

you rejoice (1 Peter 1:8)

Peter uses this word “rejoice” in chapter 4, verse 13. In ancient Greek the word “rejoice” meant to plume oneself in the sense of joyful pride.

Joy is the inner animation of the soul. Biblical joy is not happiness. Happiness depends on circumstances. If we have good circumstances we are happy; if not, we are unhappy. Joy, however, is independent of circumstances. Joy depends on our present relationship to God. Revelation 19:7 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

We rejoice when we look to God’s saving work in Christ. I John 1:3-4 “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”

Principle

Present joy depends on our present relationship to Jesus Christ.

Application

Present joy depends on our present relationship to Jesus Christ. Yesterday’s faith will not contribute to today’s joy. Yesterday’s meals will not satisfy today’s hunger. Present joy depends on present trust in Christ. It springs from our sense of forgiveness, our appreciation for the cross.

Joy does not depend on whether Caesar stops persecuting Christians; it depends on our relationship to Jesus Christ. What is your relationship to Jesus Christ like at this moment?

Has your faith grown lukewarm? Are you existing rather than living? Maybe you are going through deep trouble as you read this devotional. Is it unbearable? The key issue is how you resolve the problem. Are you merely bearing up under the pain? Are you experiencing the joy of God?

Someone asked J. D. Rockefeller, “How much money would it take to make a person happy?” He answered, “Just a little bit more.” All of us have known the staleness of excess and intemperate indulgence. Indulgence is fleeting enjoyment based on things, circumstances and people. These things do not ultimately satisfy.

The Bible has a different system for the possession of joy. We find joy in fellowship with a person.

Joy is not an end in itself, but a result. Joy comes from the fact that we are daily in a right relationship with God through faith in Christ.  “Very well,” you say, “I know that my joy comes from God. That is not my trouble. What happens when I lose my joy?” Joy does not rest on us but God. If God planned it and initiated it, He will see it to fruition in our souls. Many failures in the Christian life originate right here. People say, “I’m through, I’ve failed, I cannot live the Christian life.” Nothing could be truer. We cannot live the Christian life. We cannot produce or maintain the Christian life.

God must empower us or we will indeed fail. Joy is strictly contemporaneous with faith. If we tear away an electric cord from its source of energy, the light goes out. The same is true in the Christian life. If we separate ourselves from the person of Christ, we lose the source of our joy. He is our source of power. If we do not plug into Him, we cut off fellowship with him; we cut off our source of joy.

The joyous Christian is not necessarily the one with the least trouble. Often, he is the one with the greatest trouble. He has found the truth that Christ is with him in his difficulty. Nowhere does God promise us an easy path of roses. Anyone can glory in prosperity. To say with Job, “though he slays me, yet will I trust him” is true Christian living.

Did you ever notice that Jesus sang before He went to the garden of Gethsemane? Matthew 26:30 “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” On His way to the cross He was singing! He knew that the cross led to the empty tomb and victory over sin. He knew His Father was with Him. These principles transcended circumstances.

Why wait till we get to heaven to receive true joy? We can find joy as we travel along. It is foolish to wait for the heights before we enjoy the scenery.

Yesterday’s meals will not satisfy today’s hunger.

Neither will yesterday’s faith satisfy today’s joy.

Present joy depends on present faith.

with joy inexpressible

There are two qualifications that describe joy. These qualifications will help you determine whether you have joy.

Qualification number 1 – “joy inexpressible”

Qualification number 2 – “and full of glory”

The first qualification of this joy is the word “inexpressible.” Biblical joy is beyond description.

Joy is found in the “whom” of this verse. Joy is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is the object and ground of the believer’s joy.

“Inexpressible” means unable to tell out. Our joy surpasses our ability to describe it. We cannot express properly our joy in God. It passes all human speech. All attempts to circumscribe it will end in frustration. Still water runs deep. This goes beyond personality and psyche. This is not psychology but spirituality!

We can count a poor man’s wealth. Often, extraordinarily rich people cannot count their wealth. They have their riches in many forms: stocks, banks, businesses. We cannot count our riches in Christ. He is a limitless resource to our spirituality.

We can cram shallow emotions into the limits of human vocabulary. However, deep emotions cannot be fully expressed. How can we explain the love for our spouse or child? We can broach the subject but we can never fully describe that kind of love. It is impossible to describe to others precisely how much and what kind of love we have for them. In shallow streams, we can see pebbles below the water, but in the ocean there are depths that have never been searched by men. So it is with Christ. “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him,” (I Corinthians. 2:9).

Are you thinking on the things God has prepared for you? The joy of your life depends on the character of your thoughts.

Joy is not an end in itself, but a result of our faith. We reside in right relation to God through faith. We cannot live the Christian life; we need to trust God to empower us to live it.

Principle

Joy is the flag of the heart that shows the King is in residence.

Application

If we fly high enough, we will get into clear skies. The joy of our lives depends on the character of our thoughts. Joy does not depend upon circumstances, so joy is not happiness.

Happiness depends upon what happens to us. “Do I have good health? Do I have congenial company? Am I financially set? Do I have pleasant circumstances?” Happiness then is not joy.

A person may have joy when he does not have happiness. It is possible to lay on a hospital bed with joy. We can have physical affliction and rejoice in it. Happiness and unhappiness do not exist together but joy and sorrow can exist together.

The Lord was called “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” (Isaiah 53:3), yet we read that he held both joy and pain at the same time, Hebrews 12:2 says “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Another example is Paul. Paul was in prison. This is not a very happy situation, but he sang praises to God there. As a result the Philippian jailer came to Christ. It is foolish to wait until we have reached the heights before we view the scenery.

We find joy in a person, not circumstances. Do you remember when you first came to Christ? You could not hold your joy. It burst forth everywhere. You were full and running over. Somewhere along the way it leaked out.

Christian joy is an exulting joy. This is the joy of the prisoner on the day of his release from prison. We breathe out the joy from within. This joy spreads throughout our soul like a newly broken bottle of poignant perfume. The aroma penetrates our proximity until its fragrance moves everywhere we go.

Do you have personal joy? What is your view of Christ and His provisions for you?

and full of glory

The second qualification of our joy is the phrase “full of glory.”

There are many ordinary joys of men. For example, “The Yankees won the pennant!!” This kind of joy is fragile and hollow. It is like bubble that breaks on its own accord. This is not the “glory” of this verse.

The phrase “full of glory” means glorified. This phrase should be translated “having received glory.” The Christian’s body is not yet glorified but his joy can be. Joy depends on our mental attitude toward Christ not on our external resources. This would be an obvious platitude were it not for the fact that 99% of Christians do not believe it!

Principle

The joy that Christians have receives glory when they orient to the Lord.

Application

Christians can radiate with the glory of heaven. The believer is not yet glorified but his joy is if he enters into fellowship with the Lord.

This is not the glory of clapping hands or some overt emotional activity. This is the inner mental joy that comes from exposure to the glory of God. This is the glory of Christ. If we dislodge love for the Lord Jesus Christ based on the Word of God, then inner glory will leave us.

Glory is something we receive. We receive glory only in conjunction with joy in God. This is the glory of inner orientation to God, no matter what circumstance may come our way. God gives glory to everyone who experiences joy in him.

Glory is an overt word. When we come to grips with what Jesus has done for us, then we enter into glory. This is all inside. As a result, God gives us a glory or glamour. Glory and glamour are often synonymous terms that describe the manifestation of genuine Christian living.

“Glory” does not mean to scream and holler and jump around. It is a command to inner animation. We can only experience glory by fellowship with God. A person in fellowship with the Lord is free from attitudinal sins.

If we have a day when things are not going right, glory liberates us from attitude sins. Mental attitude sins produce misery. Envy, jealousy, bitterness, pride, vindictiveness all produce self-induced misery. All this bile will come to the surface at a time we least expect it. When we experience the glory of fellowship with the Lord, it will expel attitude sins.

A Grace Notes study of 1 Peter

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