Psalm 1, and we're going to read in just a moment beginning in verse 1, and we'll be reading down through verse 3. Psalm 1:1-3. And if you are a guest with us, we have some notes that are in your bulletin, we hope you'll use those and maybe they'll be a blessing to you. There's a lot of verses on happiness today, and we're kind of just giving a general overview this morning. We're going to be in Psalm 1, but looking at a lot of different verses that will help us know about the happiness God wants us to know in Jesus Christ, and so those notes might help you.
Psalm 1:1, follow me as I read: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Let's pray together.
Father, we thank you for this time to come and open your word today. Thank you that we are a part of a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church. Now, Lord, we know that there are many today who in their lives need the joy that comes only from you. And even many Christians this morning who in their lives are not experiencing the nourishment of your word and of your Spirit that is available. So, help us to learn to grow, and help us to enjoy the Christian life. And we pray and ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. You may be seated.
Our culture today is increasingly characterized by anxiety, depression, scornfulness, argumentation, and often the society is worse with young people today in these particular categories. Numerous Christians this morning live with anger, anxiety, depression, loneliness, feeling as though life's never going to get better at all. And sometimes we lose joy over very small things, and those little things begin to add up. It might be the traffic on the way to work. It might be the price of something that goes up. It might be things not going the way you want them to go at work. And how many of you know that that stress tends to build, and then sometimes it begins to characterize the way that we live. And so, tension is in the air.
How many of you have noticed in our culture that tension seems to be mounting? Have you seen that? There's a lot of tension today. There's a lot of unhappiness today. So, here's the question this morning as we get started: "What makes you happy? What is it that can kind of hit that happy button and help you and encourage you along the way?"
And I was thinking about some kind of basic things. Now these aren't spiritual things. But, you know, one of the things that seems to make a lot of people happy is just a good old-fashioned In-N-Out hamburger. You know what I'm talking about? My grandkids sent me this picture last week and they had In-N-Out burgers at Lancaster Baptist School, and they were so excited and so happy about In-N-Out hamburgers. That kind of picked them up for a moment. Good Christian-owned company, great hamburger, and that makes a lot of people happy.
Then, the other day we were getting ready to come back from the trip on the Journeys of Paul, and we had seen the Roman Colosseum and the Pantheon and a lot of wonderful sites, and my wife said, "Honey, we cannot leave this city of Rome until I have some Nutella ice cream." She said, "That's" – I mean, we're looking at all these spiritual sites, so this is what makes Terrie happy is Nutella. So, I got her two one-gallon jugs. No, I did not let her bring them on the airplane, I just let her hold them for a minute and put them back. But I did get her some ice cream with Nutella in it because she loves Nutella. And how many of you men know happy wife, happy life, right? That's what I'm talking about. So, you've got to try to find out what makes them happy along the way.
There was a survey done of some of the happiest countries recently by the British Broadcasting Corporation, and they did a survey telling which countries were the happiest; and according to their article, and in this order, the countries were the happiest. Number one was Nigeria, number two was Mexico. See, there's a happy Nigerian here this morning. I don't hear any happy Mexicans. Come on, if we're going to get it going, let's get it going, right?
So, number three was happy Venezuelans. Now that may not be true right now, their country's in a lot of turmoil; but at that time. Number four was El Salvador, which is one of the poorest countries. Still happy; here they are, they're happy.
And the thing that struck me about this was that number sixteen was the United States of America. Now we're the richest country in the world, and yet on the happiness survey we were number sixteen; and that's going to be kind of important in this preaching we're going to study because we're going to find out that happiness is not linked to material possessions, it's not really about experiences. Happiness as we're going to learn this morning is all about our relationship with Jesus Christ. And so, here we see this morning the importance of understanding biblical happiness.
Now I heard about a professor that was teaching a psychology class, and as he was teaching about emotions he was asking the class some different questions. And so, he said to the class, he said, "Now what is the opposite of happy?" and one young lady raised her hand and she said, "Sad," and he said, "That's right. Very good. The opposite of happy is sad."
And then he said, "What is the opposite of depression?" and a man raised his hand and he said, "The opposite of depression is elation," and the teacher said, "Very, very good; that's a good answer." Then he said, "What is the opposite of woe?" and a young lady raised her hand and she said, "Giddy up." You know, she was doing her best. She was a Texan, and so that's kind of how she extrapolated that out. But she said that was her definition was giddy up.
So, we're not going to talk about happiness in that sense or on those levels over the next few weeks, but we want to learn how biblical joy and the presence of the Lord in our life can produce happiness irrespective of the circumstances that we may be going through in our life. And I want to just give, as I said a moment ago, a survey today on the doctrine of happiness. And so, we're going to begin with this, if you have your notes, "Happiness is the gift of God's grace. Happiness is a gift of God's grace."
Now the Bible says in verse 1, "Blessed is the man." The word "blessed" means happy or extremely happy, and in New Testament terminology we would say that a blessed man is a saved man, amen, that knows the Lord. The Bible says in Psalm 16:11, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at they right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
Now think about this: "In thy presence there is fulness of joy." Now I have seen people in church that did not have joy. I have seen people climbing steps and counting beads that did not have joy. I have seen people in various religious contexts that do not have joy, because it doesn't say in religion there is fulness of joy. The Bible says, "In the presence of the Lord there is fulness of joy."
And so, this morning we want to realize that it is the gift of God's grace that brings joy into our life, and there is no joy like gospel joy. There is no joy like the joy of knowing your sins are forgiven. There's no joy like the joy of knowing that you have a home in heaven. You see, it is God's grace that saves us. "For by grace are you saved through faith." Notice that, Letter A: "It is God's grace that saves us."
Now think of what the Christmas Story tells us about this. In Luke 2:10, the Bible says, "And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of' – what does it say? – 'great joy, which shall be to all people.'" The word "great" is the Greek word megas. And so, it says, "I'm bringing you mega joy because I'm bringing you the news of the Lord Jesus Christ." And so, it's wonderfully joyous to know that our sins are forgiven and that we have the hope of heaven in Jesus Christ.
Look in your notes there at Romans 10:15, "And how shall they preach, except they be sent? And as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!'" That's what we want to do next Sunday morning; we want to bring the glad tidings of the gospel to people who may have religion or may not have religion; but they need Christ as their Savior. The glad tidings of the gospel.
John Wesley once said, "Having plenty of things and in the midst of amiable friends, still I was not happy. The reason certainly was that I did not know God, the source of present as well as eternal happiness."
Think about that day when you prayed to accept Jesus as your Savior. Think about what happens when someone gets saved. Their sins are completely forgiven. The burden of sin is completely lifted. The Bible says in Psalm 32:1, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." The Bible says, "Without the shedding of the blood, there is no remission for sin."
When someone accepts Jesus as their Savior, their sins are completely covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. His grace saves us, and we have forgiveness which brings joy. And then it also brings a home in heaven. You know, there's joy in knowing that one day we have a home in heaven, that one day we will see Jesus Christ face to face.
The Bible says in Revelation 21:4, a verse I preach at almost every funeral service here at Lancaster Baptist Church, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be nor more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
You know, heaven is a real place. Heaven is a wonderful place. It's filled with God's glory and grace. And in heaven, there will be no death, there will be no sickness, there will be no sorrow, there will be no tears shed in heaven. There's great joy in knowing that we have a home in heaven someday. Oh, what a blessing to know that his grace saves us; and what happiness comes to the life of the man or woman who is saved by the grace of God. But, you know, his grace not only saves us, his grace also strengthens us. God says, "I want to give you strength for your journey.
Notice Nehemiah chapter 8. The children of Israel were complaining. The burden bearers of Judah had so many burdens as they were building that wall. And the Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10, "Then he said unto them, 'Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'"
Let's say that together: "The joy of the Lord is your strength." God says, "I want you to realize that I have a joy that's going to strengthen you." In fact, the Bible teaches us that joy brings strength into our life. In fact, it says that a joyful heart, a merry heart is like a medicine. And so, the joy of the Lord is our strength.
James 5:10, "Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering and affliction and patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure."
I don't know if you've ever observed this in your life, but I've seen that some of the people that smile the most at church have had the most difficulties. Some of the people that just aren't easily bothered in life have faced some pretty tough times. They've had different heart problems or cancer problems or problems with their family; but through it all they found God to be real, his grace to be sufficient; and because of that, happy are they that endure.
You know, we saw that just recently on this Journeys of Paul trip. The last stop there in the city of Rome, the thing that struck me the most was the prison where the apostle Paul was kept just before his death. It's called the Mamertine Prison. I had the privilege of preaching outside that prison to our group and to those that stopped and listened as they went by.
The apostle Paul was in this prison not far from the Roman Colosseum. I want you to see a picture of it. You can't see a lot here, but maybe 30 feet long, maybe 15 feet wide, a hole at the top where the prisoners were dropped in – a damp, dark place; a place preparing one for death. The only side sewer door that went out was for those dead bodies. You could not help as you stood there but think about the burden that he felt, and the fact that he was facing death. And yet, even in those final days of his life as he wrote to Timothy, he said, "Timothy, be strong in the grace that is in our Lord Jesus Christ." He had joy and hope in the fact that he had finished his course. He had kept the faith. He had fought a good fight, and soon he would see the Lord Jesus Christ. "Blessed are those who endure and are faithful to the Lord."
I think of the island of Crete and some things we learned there about the ministry of Titus, Titus. The Bible says in Titus 1:5, the apostle Paul said, "Titus, I want you to go to Crete and set in order the things that are wanting there." And what a thrill it was for me to see the Church of Titus built in around 300 AD. It was a direct evidence of what we have learned and preached for many years from the book of Titus, that as many were saved on the day of Pentecost – the Cretans they are called in Acts 2 – and as they had come home, God said to Titus, "Titus, I want you to find some men that can become leaders in these churches and who can know the doctrine of the word of God." And here was a testimony.
But, you know, beyond the ministry of Titus, the thing that touched me even more was to study while we were there in that little village of Gortyn there, the actual village that had been probably 2,000 years before Christ, a pagan village, that because of the ministry of Titus that there were raised up in this region some pastors. They're called the ten saints of Crete today, ten pastors. We know that they're saints if they're saved, they're not saints to be worshiped. But these ten men who were the spiritual descendants of Titus, they had such a testimony that when the Roman Emperor said, "Bow down to me and worship as a deity the Roman Emperor Decius," they said, "We will not do this. We will worship only the Lord Jesus Christ." For 30 days they were tortured. For 30 days they were beaten. And finally, one by one, these ten pastors, the descendants of Titus put their heads down on a chopping block and they were beheaded for their faith in Jesus Christ.
These are the tombs of the ten martyrs. We saw the tombs where they lay and the plaque indicating these martyrs of around 250 AD. But here's the amazing thing about these martyrs of the early Christian faith; that is that as they died, they were crying out, "Lord, forgive them. Lord, help them to see your wonderful grace. Lord, help them to be saved."
Now some of us who complain about laws in California and the difficulties of living in America need to get over it and realize that in every generation there must be men and women who will stand for Jesus Christ even in the midst of a difficult society, and the only way we will be able to stand and be happy as we stand is as we stand in the grace of Jesus Christ. In the middle of all of it, these men joyfully gave their lives for Jesus Christ. And what I'm saying this morning is that the same grace that saves us is the grace of God that will sustain us all along the way.
There's a song I used to sing when I was a boy in Sunday School, and this past month I read the history of the song. I like to read hymn histories. In 1974 there was a pastor named Ira Stanhill. He was driving down the road in Fort Worth, Texas, and he saw on the side of a bar a sign that said, "Happy Hour." And he turned on his radio and heard a commercial for "Happy Hour." And being the good man that he was, he said, "There's no happy hour when a man goes away from his family and drink boos." You can say amen to that.
Going to a bar is not a happy hour, it's a wicked hour, it's an ungodly hour. The Bible says we're not even to give strong drink to a friend. You say, "Well, preachers don't preach that way anymore." You just heard one preach that way just right now.
The preacher got to thinking about that term "Happy Hour." He said, "There's no happiness in a bar, there's no happiness in Happy Hour at a bar," and he began to write a little song, and the song goes something like this: "Happiness is to know the Savior living a life within his favor, having a change in my behavior. Happiness is the Lord." How many of you have heard that song before? Well, now you know the rest of the story, right?
Now, Brother Hopkins is going to come help us with that song, because I want you to sing it with me this morning. We'll probably sing it a few times over the next few months because what we're going to learn is that happiness is not found in a bottle, it's not found in a joint, it's not found in illicit sex. Happiness if found in Jesus Christ. And so, I want us to sing that together right now this morning. Sing it with me.
Singing: Happiness is to know the Savior, living a life within his favor, having a change in my behavior. Happiness is the Lord.
All right, let's sing it one more time. You did really good.
Singing: Happiness is to know the Savior, living a life within his favor, having a change in my behavior. Happiness is the Lord.
Thank you, Brother Hopkins. Happiness is the Lord. Let's say that together.
Congregation: Happiness is the Lord.
One more time.
Congregation: Happiness is the Lord.
So, happiness is a gift of God's grace. When God saved you, he forgave your sin, he gave you a home in heaven, he gave you his presence to guide and to help you through trials. As he guided the martyrs of old who died with the joy of the Lord. God's grace will strengthen us.
But notice, secondly, happiness is a decision that every believer must make. It's the decision of a believer.
Years ago I read a book entitled Happiness is a Choice. And it seems to me that there are some people that hold to their bitterness. They hold to things that happened 28 years ago; and if you'll let them, they'll take their bag of bad memories and dump it right down in your lap, and they'll tell you all about what happened years ago because they have made a choice to hold onto to those grudges and those problems. But did you know you don't have to do that? You don't have to live that way. Happiness is a choice. It's the decision of a believer.
Now, the Bible says in verse 1, "Blessed" – or happy – "is the man" – and notice the choices this man makes – "that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." Now, this happy man is, first of all, deciding against a worldly direction. He's deciding against a worldly direction. He will not love the world nor the things of the world. And the first aspect of this is the counsel of the ungodly. Here is a man who is deciding, "I will no longer take my counsel from the unsaved talk show host. I will no longer take my counsel from my old unsaved friends. I'm not going to let the ungodly lives direct the direction in my life.
Now, the counsel of the ungodly must be decided against. I want you to understand and hear this very clearly: you cannot separate happiness from holiness. I'm going to say that again: you cannot separate happiness from holiness. In other words, if you think that you can accept Jesus as your Savior and then go into the counsel of the ungodly and live a life of sin and be happy; it will never work. In fact, the most miserable people I've ever met are Christians who are living in sin.
You cannot separate happiness from holiness. One author said it this way: "Believers and unbelievers alike recognize that there's a negative form of happiness, which is all about self-gratification at another's expense." So the Bible says that we are to walk not in the counsel of the ungodly. Proverbs 1:15, "My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path."
Now some of you this morning may have a friend. You may have a relationship that as long as you continue with that relationship, as long as you take their counsel and follow their way, you will never be happy in the Christian life. There may be someone today from whom you need to turn in order to happily follow the Lord Jesus Christ, because all they're going to do is bring you down, all they're going to do is talk down the things of the Lord, all they're going to do is discourage you spiritually.
Now the world tells us that the only way to be happy is to follow our own intuition, and if it feels good do it. And the counsel of the ungodly is so varied and so mixed up at times. And we see today a world that's saying, "Hey, are you having some burdens? Try some marijuana." We see the signs, "The medicine doctor." What a joke. "Just call for some medicine," it says. The medicine man's speaking of marijuana.
By the way, can I tell you that these people that are selling drugs in this city of Lancaster, they're going to stand before an almighty God someday. Could I tell you, my friend, that the Bible says that we ought to have a mind that is pure and a mind that is upright and sound. And the idea that we can just go get drunk and have a bottle of Vodka or go smoke a joint, and that's the way to be happy, that is the lie of the devil, because as soon as that buzz goes away you're not happy anymore. There is pleasure in sin for a season, but the end thereof is going to be destruction for someone's life.
Do you understand that real happiness is not about a temporary fix? Real happiness is not about just finding a moment's pleasure. I read recently that 72 percent of all American men seek happiness by going to pornography at least once a week. Millions of men are addicted to pornography, just like others are addicted to OxyContin or some type of drug. Forty-one percent of Christian men go to pornography. Can I say the devil has a lot of ungodly counsel out there today? He has a lot of temporary substitutes. But the Bible says the joy of the Lord should be our strength. And I know the song written back in 1988, "Hey, don't worry, just be happy." Let me tell you something, friend, you're not going to find happiness in the prescription of the world. There is no happiness in the sin of this world. So, the Bible says in verse 1, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly." Let's say that together. Ready? Begin.
Congregation: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.
Say it again.
Congregation: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.
What's the ungodly say? "Hey, let's go watch a wicked movie." "No, I'm not walking with you." Come on, help me here. "Hey, let's have some marijuana." "No, I'm not walking with you."
"Let's go get drunk." "No, not walking with you." Listen, if you're going to be happy, you're going to make some right choices. You say, "Is this just moralistic teaching?" No, the Bible says, "If any man's in Christ he's a new creature." He wants to change your life from the inside out. He wants to give you a joy that the world can not ever offer to you. The counsel of the ungodly.
Notice, secondly, what it says. It says, "nor standeth in the way of sinners." Here we see the identification with sinners: standing in the way, just wanting to look like they look.
Look, teenagers, look right here. Some of you teenagers, you don't need to look like every other punk down at the mall. You don't need to pull your drawers down and walk around with some kind of a weird kind of look just trying to stand in the way of sinners and just kind of be accepted by sinners. It's okay if you stand out and look like a Christian. You're not going to be happy trying to get the acceptance of the crowd. You're not going to be happy joining the little gang. You're not going to be happy losing your purity. I'm just saying to you this morning that if you want to be happy in the Lord, you can't violate God's word and still have a happy life.
Everyone that I've ever pastored who's found their way into sin or drugs or immorality, it didn't bring happiness. You say, "Why do you preach a hard message like this this morning?" Because I'm preaching for happiness. I want you to know the joy of the Lord, and it's not found with a broken heart. It's not found when a parent calls me at 2:00 in the morning because their son's in jail. That's not a happy time when they got into the way of the sinners and the counsel of the ungodly. It's not a happy time when that happens. And so, we must decide against the counsel of the ungodly, the way of the sinner.
But now, notice this, thirdly. It says, "nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." Let's say that together.
Congregation: Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
The scorner's the one that mocks, "Ah, going to the church. Ha, I guess everybody needs a crutch." The scorner's the one that goes, "Yeah, I'm just going to have a good time with my friends down in hell. I don't need to go to heaven." "The fool hath said in his heart, 'There is no God.'"
The scorner is the one that is constantly causing trouble. The teacher in the class says, "Stand," he sits. The scorner. You may know somebody like that. God says don't let that person influence your life. Surely Proverbs says, "He scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace to the lowly." God says, "I'm looking for someone who will humble themselves, someone that I can bless."
You know what I've found in my own life? Sometimes the reason that I don't experience the joy that I should experience is because I think too highly of myself. And sometimes because of pride, we can set ourselves up for a discouragement, because we have an expectation, you know, "It should go this way, and I should be treated this way, and life should be this way." Then when it's not exactly like you thought it should be, your joy is gone. Let me tell you something: our joy should not hinge on circumstances, our joy should be found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me give you an illustration of this.
The American Journal of Medical Genetics documented the results of an amazing study of a particular group of people in America. They were a group of people that generally do not worry. Among those surveyed, 99 percent indicated that they were happy with their lives – think of that – 97 percent liked who they were, 96 percent liked how they look, 99 percent expressed that they loved their families, 97 percent liked their brothers and sisters. Who were these extraordinary people? The answer: those with Down's syndrome. Recent studies have shown that people with Down's syndrome have more happiness than us normal folks. Even happier than the rich, good-looking, intelligent people.
Wouldn't you suppose we'd want more people of any group characterized by such happiness to be around us? Tragically, studies show that mothers who receive a positive diagnosis of Down's syndrome during their prenatal period, 89-97 percent of the time choose to get an abortion. That means that the children most likely to be happy are the most likely to be killed before they're ever born.
Now I don't have time this morning to teach you that God recognizes life at conception. I don't have time to dive into the fact that abortion is murder; but it is. I don't care if you're a democrat, a republican, or whatever you are: abortion, according to the Bible, is sin and it's wrong.
But that's not why I shared that with you this morning. I shared that story with you to tell you that sometimes we're not happy because we're so smart that we think we know what we're supposed to have in this life; and because we have such expectations, we set ourselves up for discouragement and depression, and we begin to run all these sins and temptations because we're going to find happiness whether God gives it to us the way we want it or not, because we are rebellious and proudful. But the child with Down's syndrome, he doesn't expect anything; he's just glad for another day.
Some of us are too smart for our own good. Some of us aren't happy because we're filled with so much pride. And it's time that some of us stopped listening to the counsel of the ungodly, stop standing in the way of the sinner, and stop being influenced by the scorner, because when that happens, we get so filled with our own pride that we lose our joy. Decide against the world's direction; decide for the truth of God. You've got to get rid of the world's philosophy and then receive God's counsel.
Look at verse 2, "But his delight" – now we're talking about happiness this morning. "The delight of this happy man is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate both day and night." You see, Psalm 118:24 says it this way: "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." How many of you can say that with me? Let's try. Psalm 118:24. Ready, begin.
Congregation: This is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
My wife's a super godly lady, and years ago we were going through a real tough time. And so, one morning I got up, and she had taken this verse, "This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it," and she had taped it all over our house. I went to brush my teeth: "This is the day the Lord hath made; I will rejoice." I went to comb both of my hairs: "This is the day the Lord hath made." I went to eat my Cheerios: "This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice." Why? Because Terrie knew that happiness is a choice.
I can choose to hang around scorners and follow the way of the ungodly. I can choose to get an attitude against whatever, you know. Or, I can choose to delight in God's word. And it is delightful to come to the promises of God and to be filled with them, to decide to delight in the promises of God, to rejoice in the promises of God. Jeremiah said, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and they brought great joy and rejoicing of heart." John 13:17, "If you know these things, happy are ye if you do them."
Do you realize in 2008 there were 4,000 books written on happiness, 4,000 books in one year in the United States of America with the word "happiness" in the title. And I propose to you that if all of those books would be set aside and if you would come to the word of God and meditate in it day and night, that you would be a blessed man or a blessed woman who would find great joy in the word of God.
Joshua 1:8, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." The Bible says in Psalm 19:8, "The statues of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart."
I'm saying the statues of God's word cause our heart to rejoice. The law of the Lord is perfect, it causes our heart to rejoice. And so, happiness, it begins with the grace of God. It's the gift of the grace of God. But happiness only will build if I make right decisions as a believer. I must decide to turn away from the ungodly counsel and to receive the pure truth of the word of God. It begins with God's grace, it continues with right decisions. Now notice, thirdly, as we're done this morning: happiness is an expression of spiritual growth.
Now there are some people in our church – and I'm just going to say in their 80s – and these are people that when you get around them, they smile, they encourage, they have a godlike confidence. There's something sweet about them because they have grown through the years in grace. Now you're going to either to become a bitter old cranky complaining Baptist, or you're going to grow with the sweetness of the Lord.
And there are many people in our church that have that sweet spirit about them. It's an expression of the fact that they've continued to grow. They've grown spiritually. Now look at how that happens in verse 3. "And he," – the blessed happy man – "he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Now notice that we are, first of all, planted spiritually. God likens our lives to a tree that is planted spiritually. Water is a picture of the Bible; it also is a picture of the Holy Spirit's presence. Jesus said to the woman at the well, "I will give you water from which you'll never thirst again." And God says that a happy man is a man whose life is planted near the water of God's word, the water of God's Holy Spirit. And the tree, as a living organism, must be filled with that water to produce fruit; and we must be filled with God's Spirit in order to produce spiritual fruit. We must be yielded to his Spirit.
So, we are planted spiritually so that we can bear fruit spiritually. We are to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Notice that on Letter B: "God has called us to bear fruit." Now, notice what it says there in verse 3. It says that, "We are like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither."
Now let me tell you something. It's a tragic thing when drought comes to a farm. Our family farm back in Colorado, my uncle's farming the farm now, and it's a dry land farm; and what that means is they're dependent upon rains to come in the late spring and the early summer. There's no irrigation. If they don't have the rains at just the right time, there have been times when my uncle will plant thousands of acres and not make enough money to pay for the seed that he put into the ground because the rain did not set the beans or the wheat up on time.
There's nothing worse than looking out over a big field and just seeing a bunch of dead beans laying over on the ground. But let me tell you something, something that's even worse. Getting around a Christian that's dried up, they're cracked and parched and fruitless, and they're no longer vibrant like they once were. They've come to this place in their life where they are not prospering, they're withered up, and God says, "That's not my will for your life." God says, "I want you, first of all, to bear the fruit of the Spirit."
There's two kinds of fruit that we can bear. There's the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5, but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, faith – you know the verse. And God says, "The only way to have joy in the midst of a difficult situation is that my Spirit is bearing fruit through you, that you are able to show forth the work that I'm doing inside of you, and it coming, and it's being shown outside." Spurgeon said something wonderful. He said, "There is nothing that more tends to the strengthening of the faith of a young believer than to hear the veteran Christian covered with scars from the battle testifying that the service of his Master is a happy service, and that if he could have served only any other master, he would not have done so; for his service is pleasant, and his reward, everlasting joy."
Now listen to me this morning. There's some young couples in this auditorium that are 27 and 28 years old and just getting married, there's some single adults considering the Christian faith or maybe just newly saved, and what they need to hear and see from some of us who've been saved a while longer is they need to hear us say, "It's a good thing to be saved. God's grace is sufficient. I don't know how we would have made it without the Lord. Taste and see that the Lord, he is good. My God is a good God."
And what we find in some churches are those that are cracked and parched and experiencing a drought; and when the young Christian sees them, it's very discouraging to them. Why in the world would anybody want to be a Christian if that's what being a Christian is like? And Spurgeon says when that fruit is so evident, when the sweet smell of God's grace is so present, it makes the Christian life an attractive place.
You know what I'm praying? I'm praying next Sunday that every one of you are going to have a guest with you in church; that's my prayer. I pray to have several myself. And I'm praying that as we have guests next week, that they come into this church and that they smell the sweet presence of God. You say, "How do you smell it?" You just smell, you just know it. It's like a rose, it's beautiful, that they see the joy of the Lord, that they see in you something they don't see at the bar, something they don't see with their friends at work, and that your life is attractive for the gospel's sake, and that they're drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ because of the fruit that they see.
But not only do we want to bear the fruit of the Spirit, notice, finally, we want to bear the fruit of lost souls. You see, when it says in verse 3 that "they bear their fruit in his season," I think also of the fruit of souls. Psalm 126:6, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
You know, this week as we've been challenged to have my one, to find one person, we ought to say, "Lord, help me to go out and reach out to the one that needs you, that guy, that gal at work that's not saved. Help me, Lord, to bear fruit. Help me to see that this is someone that can come to the Savior, and help me to bring forth the fruit of lost souls this week." And I believe if you take an attractive testimony filled with the Spirit and a powerful witness for Jesus Christ that that is something powerful in the hands of God to use in the lives of others.
I want you to notice in one verse – I want you to turn there as we close this morning – Psalm 146:5, Psalm 146:5. Just take a moment to turn there. And I'd like to ask you to stand with me as we prepare for our closing prayer, but also to read this verse, if you'd stand, please, Psalm 146:5.
And I want you to read it with me. Let's read it together, Psalm 146:5. Ready, begin.
Congregation: Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.
All right, let's read it again. Lift up the volume just a little bit. Ready, begin.
Congregation: Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.
Isn't it a wonderful thing to have the Lord God of Jacob – of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as your Lord God? And what does it say? "Happy is he."
There is a world that's trying to find happiness in every other place; but happiness is to know the Savior, living a life within his favor. Happiness is the Lord. It's a gift of grace that he gives to us. Then we must make right decisions to stay in that grace. Then there's an expression that's shown as we're planted by the tree of living life, as the water of the Holy Spirit flows through us. We're going to bear the fruit that this world needs to see. We're going to share the truth of the gospel that they need to hear.
Happiness is the Lord. Happiness is growing in the Lord. May God give us this week a happy week. May tomorrow morning people see us at work and see, "He's got something I don't have. He's got a joy that I don't have. She's got a joy that I don't have." May the Lord take your testimony and your verbal witness and combine it to impact others' lives for his glory this week.
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