Letters to Myself: Do You Want to Be Happy?

Posted: December 14, 2018 by keystoneyouth in Letters to Myself
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Introduction:

  • We start a new series tonight called Letters to Myself. Here is the simple idea behind this series: I asked several youth workers, if you could go back to your middle/high school version of you, what would you say to yourself?
  • Work out more? Don’t ask Mary out on that date? Eat more Sourpatch kids?
  • No, I told them to share something that they wished they would have known or believed as a teenager. Something that they think would have changed how they live.
  • And so, I’m up first.

Attention Funnel:What is something that makes you happy? What is something you get excited about? I found something last week that made my day. Someone had the brilliant idea:

  • Show pictures of dogs about to catch a treat.

Big Idea: God wants you to be happy.

  • This is a truth that comes up again and again throughout the bible. From the times where God commands joy in the NT to the Psalms where people sign about the joy God gives them. (Psalm 16:11)
  • When I say that statement, “God wants you to be happy.” I wonder what you think. Do you brush it off because you’ve heard it before? Do you think that sounds too good to be true? Or do you think that sounds too self-centered? I probably would lean towards the last one.
  • But here is the deal… God knows the only thing or person that will make you truly deeply and forever happy is himself.

Main Points:

  • Only God can make you truly, deeply, and forever happy.
  • We can be content with what we have.
  • Knowing and obeying God leads to greater happiness.
  • Jesus gave up his life to make you happy.

Only God can make you truly, deeply, and forever happy.

  • Everything else you gain in this world will only provide a brief and dissolving happiness. It will be like snow that lays on the ground for a day or two and then melts and evaporates.
  • Let me tell you about some of the things and people I’ve gained along the way in the past 15 years…I’ve owned 2 houses, 3 cars, 6 cell phones, and to many clothes to count. I’ve had 9 jobs, thousands of dollars pass through my bank account, and two dogs. I’ve taken countless beach vacations, ski trips, and traveled to Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, Ireland, Israel, and Quarryville (southern Lancaster county is pretty much like another countryJ). And I’ve gained some incredible friends along with an amazing wife along the way.
  • And here’s the reality… while each of those things brought anticipation, excitement, and happiness… it didn’t last.
  • The first 2 cars… rotting somewhere in a junkyard. The first 5 cell phones, same. The clothes, either someone else is wearing, or more likely they are also in a junkyard because no one would want to put them on their body anymore. The money I got from the first 8 jobs… spent on who knows what. The trips… provided some great memories, along with pictures that I never look at. The dogs… one is dead, and while I love the second one, sometimes she really gets on my nerves… like when she pees on the carpet out of spite because I didn’t take her for a run. The wife… I’m probably supposed to say something romantic like “she completes me,” but that’s just not true. She brings lots of joy into my life, but marriage is also really difficult at times and brings frustrations and complications.
  • See each of the things I have gained or experienced along the way was good, but none of those things made me truly, deeply, and forever happy.
  • Bible: David recognizes this truth in Psalm 16 when he says, “I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
  • Really? No Good at all?? David would become King… he would experience a lot of good things in his life. How can he possibly say he has no good apart from God?
  • He’s saying the good he experiences doesn’t compare with God. And in fact if God doesn’t exist and David doesn’t know him, then all those good things are only distractions on the way to death.
    • They are like reading funny text or snap from a friend as you drive head on into a tractor trailer. It’s funny, and makes you laugh, but it only distracted you from seeing what’s coming.
    • If God doesn’t exist, all the things that make us happy are like that.
  • See only God can make us truly, deeply, and forever happy.

We can be content with what we have.

  • In your life, there is always going to be more out there for you to accomplish.
  • More out there for you to gain. More out there for you to do.
  • And you can make the mistake of thinking happiness is in the more. It’s in the next thing I buy, next person I get to like me, next report card of straight A’s.
  • If you do this, you will never be content because you’ll always be focused on what you don’t have rather than being satisfied with what you do have.
  • As David looks out over all the things he could have or could have more of, he says, “God you are my chosen portion. You are the only one that satisfies me.”
    • I picture someone standing on the Kickball or soccer field. They are team captain and so they are assigned with picking teams. They look out over the field of players to access who is the best, and who will bring them the best chance of winning the game. And then they make their choice.
    • As we look out over the field of life and see all the things we could have and gain… can we say, “God you are my portion. You are my choice. You are my first and last pick.” Or does God fall somewhere towards the last pick… after we have the phone, clothes, girlfriend or boyfriend, good grades, friends, etc.
  • Because David chooses God as the one who gives him happiness, he can also say, “I have a good life.” That’s my paraphrase of vs. 5-6.
  • When God is the one who makes us happy… we can look at every other thing we have in this life and see it as a gift from him, which only gives us one more reason to celebrate God.
  • And we can look at everything we don’t have and say, that doesn’t matter, only God makes me happy.
  • Would that change how you view the phone your parents haven’t give you yet? The girl who refuses to notice you? The clothes you don’t have and everybody else does? The list of things you are asking for Christmas that you think you need??
  • ABSOLUTELY IT WOULD.

Knowing and obeying God leads to greater happiness.

  • See there is a way to know God and obey him that I would argue actually dishonors Him. In other words, there is a way for us to know and obey God that God doesn’t actually like (Jeremiah 6:20).
  • We can obey God simply out of obligation…
  • We try to be good, because that what we should do. We go to church, because our parents say that we have to. We pray and read our bibles because we know that’s what Christians are supposed to do.
  • If when you think of God you only think of what you “should do” that doesn’t honor God.
  • Think of it like this…
    • Imagine you have a friend over (What do you like to do when you have friends over to your house?). So they come over but they are clearly miserable the whole time, they are constantly checking their watch, and they just seem to mope around without any smile, excitement, or happiness. At some point, you are going to ask, “What’s wrong??” And if they say, “I’m just here because I know I’m supposed to be a good friend to you and because my parents told me I should hang out with you.” What would your response be? GO HOME THEN. Don’t just be here because you have to be here.
  • Isn’t this exactly how we approach God often (supposed to _________, have to _________, was told to ____________).
  • LOOK, I’m not saying we never have times where we should obey God by going against what we are feeling in the moment. Absolutely we should.
    • There are times I don’t want to pray or read my bible, but I choose too.
    • Times I don’t want to obey God, but I choose too.
    • And it will be the same for you.
  • But I’m saying if your relationship with God is defined by “Supposed to do this for him” and “my parents told me I need to do this” then it won’t last.
  • Only if you love God, enjoy Him, and are happy because of Him, will a relationship with him last.
  • And if that is the case, then his commands will seem good to you.
  • Psalm 16:7 and Psalm 119:47
  • God is concerned with your happiness. That’s why he gives you commands. Those commands help you to better enjoy Him and to be happier.
  • In fact, God is so concerned with your happiness that he killed his son to make it possible.

Jesus gave up his life to make you happy.

  • What would you think about someone who risked their life to make you happy? How would you feel about someone who gave their life so you could be happy?
  • Jesus died to make you happy in knowing and worshipping God.
  • And he died so that ultimately nothing can steal this happiness away from you.
  • See what is the one thing that threatens to destroy all our happiness and to take away everything good from us?Hint: The Answer is not school. Answer… Death
  • Look at Psalm 16 again with me.
  • David continues praising and rejoicing in God in verse 9 and then tells us why… because even death can’t touch David.
    • But David definitely died. So what is he saying?
    • He’s saying that even through Death God will be with him, he’ll have reason to be happy, and whatever is waiting for him on the other side, God won’t abandon him.
    • What’s interesting is this is a verse that Peter uses to talk about Jesus after Jesus he died and came back to life in Acts 2:27
    • Jesus died, and yet God did not abandon him in death, but instead raised him back to life.
  • What’s this saying? Why is it important?
  • When we face death, it will only serve to increase our happiness. Why? Because death means we get to now see God face to face. We get to see the one we were most happy in all along.
    • Last Christmas I got an Amazon Echo for Christmas. Any of you have that? Amazon Echoes are meant to make our lives easier. They can tell us the weather, tell us a joke, play music for us, entertain us, and on and on. They are meant to be our servants.
    • Death in Jesus’ hands becomes our servant. It serves to make us happier then ever before. This is why the apostle paul can honestly say, “To Die is gain.”
    • Jesus died to make us happy in God, and death becomes just one more thing he uses to make us happy in God.
    • That’s crazy.

So here is what I would tell 13-18 year-old Kyle:

  • God wants you to be happy. And if you want to be truly, deeply, and forever happy then look at him as the source of your happiness.
  • That can change the way you approach and view God.
  • That can change the way you look at this life.
  • That can change the way you obey God.
  • And that can change the way you look at suffering and death.

Are you happy in God? Or is God just one thing in a long list of things you need to make you happy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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