Why am I having such a hard time being happy when, as a follower of Christ, I’ve got so much to be thankful for? Yes, it’s true that we have so much to be thankful for. After all, God has given us salvation, forgiveness, love, and the promise of future paradise. Still, somewhere deep inside, is a nagging gloom and we wonder if our faith is weak because we aren’t happier with our lives.
Something To Talk About:
The challenge is to not let unhappiness and stress invade our hearts, but let us have joy because we know that far better things are in store for us. Consider these five ways to help keep your heart happy going forward:
- Remember you are not alone: God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. (Philippians 2:13) No matter what you’re going to face this next week, you’re not going to face it alone. God says He will give you the power you need, no matter what you’re facing. Not only is He in you, but He is also with you. The Bible says, “No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you… When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:18, 20). The Bible says Christ is in you. Not only is God with you and in you; God is also for you. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” So If God is with you, and God is in you, and God is for you, you are not alone.
- Be grateful and never grumble: Philippians 2:14 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” This has to be one of the most difficult scriptures in the Bible. It is impossible if we try to do it by ourselves. Only one person could – and that was Jesus. The reason this verse is not impossible today is that we have two very powerful helpers: God’s Word and His Spirit. God’s Spirit lives within you. God’s Word teaches us how to live. And God’s Spirit and His Word become the power within you that help and enable you to live this with joy and contentment. Philippians 4:13 says “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Without Christ, it is impossible to never complain, grumble or murmur. With Christ it is possible.
- Maintain a clear conscience: God gave everyone an internal sense of right and wrong. The conscience is a divine alarm system that warns us of oncoming danger or consequences. Its primary purpose is protection and guidance so it is critical that we have a clear conscience. Philippians 2:15 says, “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” You might say, “How do I keep my conscience clear if it’s not clear right now?” This means at the beginning and at the end of every day doing a spiritual inventory, where you talk to God about anything that is standing between you and Him, and you deal with the junk from your day.
- Renew your mind daily: The struggles may not be identical, but many Christians are caught up in major battles in their mind. The promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17 sounds great: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” But getting there is not always easy because the old way of thinking has not gone away. Many still struggle with temptations in their mind, bitterness, depression, fear, hopelessness, and frustrations. God’s solution to this battle is not simply to pray more. Prayer is important but we need to do more than pray. Romans 12:2 goes to the heart of the problem and offers God’s solution: ”Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
- Practice service and generosity Paul was a contented Christian. Yes, he put up with all kinds of things (good and bad), in Christ’s strength. Still, everyone needs a little help from friends now and then. The Philippians had helped Paul by supplying him with some money, and perhaps some food and clothing, on more than one occasion. That did not go unnoticed, and Paul did not pretend that he didn’t need the help, or that he would have been just fine without it. Paul admitted that it was kind and helpful of the Philippians to send their gifts to him. For Paul, generosity was clearly a part of the whole Jesus package. Living generous lives shows that we “get it” when it comes to the gospel. In response to God’s amazing grace, we give too. And Paul clearly wanted everyone to understand this—because getting Jesus right is the most important thing.
- How would you define happiness?
- As Christians, should we make it a goal to be happy? What are some ways Americans pursue happiness? Do you think these bring true happiness? Or problems?
- What gives us true happiness and contentment in life?
- Read Psalm 23: How does God seem in this passage? How does God want us to know His presence? List the benefits of God’s presence and leadership in our lives?
- Why is gratitude an important quality in the Christian life? In what ways do you struggle to be thankful?
- What are three ways you can actively show gratitude to God today? What does it look like to live a life of thankfulness in your heart to God?
- What does a clear conscience look/feel like? What do you need to talk to God about today so that you can clear your conscience?
- What do you feed your mind each day? Whom do you allow to influence your thinking?
- Renewing your mind requires change: In general, do you welcome change or are you resistant to it? How does understanding that transformation is a process change the way you look at renewing your mind?
- What excuses do people sometimes make for not being more generous with their resources (time, money, and energy) toward others? What excuses have you made?
- Identify one practical way you can be more generous in the weeks ahead.
- What can we do this week differently as a result of this message?
Take one thing home with you:
Everybody recognizes that what we eat affects our health. In the same way, what we feed our minds can and will affect our spiritual health because what we put into our minds affects our actions. In Romans 12:2, Paul says our spiritual transformation occurs through “the renewing of our minds.” Renewing means “the adjustment of our thinking to the mind of God, which is designed to have a transforming effect on our lives.” In other words what we put into our brains will impact our holiness. We will do what we think.
The Holy Spirit can transform us if we cooperate with His work by feeding our mind with truth. It is an ongoing process that takes time and commitment. The more we renew our thinking, the more clearly we will discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Since our thinking will start to line up with His, our minds will be set on what the Spirit desires and our lives will be pleasing to God.