The Blessed Life: The Secret of Happiness
By Chris Jordan
God’s desire is that we would experience the blessed life – to be happy, supremely blessed; and spiritually prosperous with life-joy and satisfaction.
Jesus said: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17).
The one universal thread that runs through everyone’s lives is the pursuit of happiness. This is one of the reasons why people turn to illicit sexual relationships, drugs, alcohol, looking for the higher high, trying to find satisfaction and fulfillment. But what is the secret of happiness?
Listen to this story, which sounds just wacky enough to be true: InNew York City, there are eight million cats and eleven million dogs.New Yorkis basically just concrete and steel, so if you have a pet inNew Yorkand it dies, you can’t just go out in the back yard and bury it. The city said that for $50 they would dispose of your deceased pet for you.
One lady was enterprising. She thought, I can render a service to people in the city and save them money. She placed an ad in the newspaper that said, “When your pet dies, I will come and take care of the carcass for you for $25.” This lady would go to the local Salvation Army and buy an old suitcase for two dollars. Then when someone would call about his or her pet, she would go to the home and put the deceased pet in the suitcase.
She would then take a ride on the subway, where there are thieves. She would set the suitcase down, and she would act like she wasn’t watching. A thief would come by and steal her suitcase. She’d look up and say, “Wait. Stop. Thief.” My guess is the people who stole those suitcases got a real surprise when they got home. Many of us are like those thieves; we grab at what we think will bring us happiness only to find that it just doesn’t quite deliver. (Scott Wenig, Preaching Today).
That story is a great illustration of so many people who, in their quest for happiness, are grabbing at the suitcase that the world offers, but when they open it up, they realize too late that those things don’t really satisfy. In this message, we are going to look at the teachings of Jesus in His sermon on the mount that give us the secret to happiness – living the blessed life.
What does it mean to be happy and blessed? There are many different ideas about what it means to have a blessed life. For some people, they think this means to be rich or famous, or successful in their jobs or families. What is happiness?
Pastor Barry Buzza says: “I define happiness simply as fulfillment and overflow.” (The Secret of Happiness). In Psalm 23, one of the most famous chapters in the Bible, David said, “You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over (overflows with blessings).” (Psalm 23:5).
“To the inspired psalmist, happiness was a fulfilled life, and his cup was full… The cup (represents) my life. When it’s full, I am fulfilled and therefore happy.” (Barry Buzza). I like the concept of the blessed life being overflow. Not just full, but overflowing and abundant. We’re talking about the blessed life here.
When David said, “My cup runs over,” he wasn’t just talking about a cup of coffee; he was talking about his life. He said, “My life overflows abundantly with the blessings of God.” What a great picture this is to understand happiness and fulfillment. This speaks of having so much of the blessings of God in our lives that we are living in the overflow. It’s no longer just me being blessed, but the rivers of God’s blessings are flowing out of my life and splashing onto the lives of others.
We’ve got to get rid of the ‘crumb mentality’ that we have in Christianity that says, “God just wants us to have the crumbs, just barely get by, hang on and let the devil beat your brains out until Jesus comes back.” That’s not God’s plan for us. God wants us to experience the blessed life – happy, satisfied and overflowing – here on the earth.
Pastor Barry Buzza says to picture your life as a tank that holds water, with an input valve at the top, and an outflow valve at the bottom. He says, “The tank is my life. The water inside is my current level of fulfillment. When it is up to the top, I feel great. When it is three quarters down, I feel tired and run-down. When it is half-full (or half-empty depending on my outlook) I feel sad, discouraged, depressed, angry or fearful; and when it is one quarter full, I feel overwhelmed. I begin to think that life doesn’t make sense, maybe even like I don’t want to live anymore. There is an input valve, which pours water into my tank. That input flows from God, a loving family and friends, career satisfaction. The outflow comes from the drain on my emotions, mind and body that flows from everyday life. I lose even more vitality and courage in times of consistent stress or crisis…when I am habitually sinning or in conflict with (someone).”
Our happiness is gone when there is too much outflow, or too little input in our lives. During those seasons of our lives, we need to fill up our cups again with the blessings of God, so that we can experience the abundant, blessed life that Jesus has promised to us.
In Matthew 5-7, we have recorded the Sermon on the Mount – the most amazing sermon that has ever been preached in the history of the church. In this message, Jesus gives us the secrets to the blessed life. For eight weeks atBeausejourCommunityChurch, we went verse by verse through this sermon, to see how these teachings apply to our lives today. At the climax of His teachings on the blessed life, Matthew records Jesus as having said these words:
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27).
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus clearly identifies two different groups of people. Take a look at your life and see which group you fit into. Jesus said the first group is those who hear His teachings and put them into practice, and these are the ones who are blessed. These are the ones who will have a rock solid foundation in their lives, so that no matter what storms come, they will not be moved or shaken. Jesus said the other group of people is those who hear His sayings, but don’t put them into practice. These are the people who go to church, hear the pastor preach His sermon, then walk away and neglect to put those teachings into practice. Jesus said that when the storms, winds and floods come into the lives of these people, they will be a mess.
Jesus never said that we would be free from storms in the Christian life. In fact, the opposite is true. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me, you may have peace. In this world, you WILL have tribulation (trouble), but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus said that even though we will have storms in life, we can overcome them. Many people have this wrong idea concerning victory in Jesus. They’ve heard that we are overcomers, more than conquerors, and they think that means we won’t have any trouble. Yet, every one of those images deals with conflict. There is a battle we fight, but we win. We fight, but we overcome. We fight, but we conquer. We fight, but there is victory in Jesus. A victor is someone who has fought and won. Don’t be surprised by the battle, don’t give up, lose heart, or lay down your weapons. If we fight, we will win.
Jesus says that storms will come, so where are you going to build your life? If you build your life on the teachings of Jesus, you will be blessed. Generally speaking, this statement is true of all of the Scriptures. When we obey God’s Word, we will be blessed. But the immediate context of what Jesus was saying here is that we will be blessed when we obey the teachings contained in the Sermon on the Mount. These are the keys to living the blessed life.
It’s not good enough to know the truth; we also need to obey the truth. Too many Christians are good at winning Bible Trivia contests, because they know the Bible truths, but they aren’t allowing those truths to transform their lives. I listened to a sermon podcast by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro once called, “How to Love the Unlovable.” Pastor Wayne related this story in his message:
“I was in a counseling appointment with a man and his wife, and their marriage was going down, and after listening to him, I said, “You have to stop arguing with everything she says.” He said, “Well, I know that.” We went a little further along, and I said, “You need to stop criticizing her, don’t do that so much.” He said, “Yeah, I know that.” So we went on a little bit more, and I said, “You should take her out on a date once a year at least or something.” He said, “Yeah, I know that.” I was getting mad at him, and I said, “Well, if you know all of that, then what are you doing here in this office you turkey?”
The point is this – it’s not good enough to just know these things, we need to put them into practice. The problem is not that Christians don’t know what they’re supposed to do. We know what God’s Word says. The problem lies in getting God’s truth from our heads into our hands. We need to be doers of the Word! That’s why so many people aren’t blessed. Jesus said, “If you know these things (what the Bible teaches), you are blessed IF you DO them!”
Someone said once: “Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain!” Too many people are so focused on just trying to survive the storms of life, but God wants us to get dancing, celebrating, and enjoying the abundant life that Jesus has made available to us. If we want to experience the blessed life, we need to build our lives on Jesus’ teachings, specifically His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.
Some of you might wonder why I preach Bible sermons at church on Sunday mornings. “Pastor Chris, we’ve heard that some churches don’t preach anymore. We’ve heard that in some churches, the pastor just sits up on a stool and reads stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul and quotes Oprah and Doctor Phil, and they don’t push the Bible on their people. Why aren’t we one of those kinds of churches?” Chicken Soup is not going to transform your life – God’s Word is. The Bible has the power to change your life, if you let it. That’s why we read, study, teach and preach from God’s Word.
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