Joy & Happiness (part one)

Christians should be the happiest people. Many people stay away from Christianity because they think they will have to quit having fun, but I think Christians have the most real fun compared to other people. There is a lot of fun that is self-destructive like doing illegal drugs, immoral sex, drunkenness, bitterness, revenge, lack of forgiveness, complaining, gossip etc. These things don’t bring real happiness, only a temporary pleasure that ends up causing problems. I have known and read about many people who have ruined their lives with these things. On the other hand, I know many people who have a happy, victorious life because they have the discipline to avoid self-destructive habits.

Winter can be a hard time of year because the nights are long and we don’t have holidays to look forward to after Christmas.

Many years ago I lived in China. I had the privilege of visiting an underground church in Guangzhou led by a man named Pastor Lam. He had been in prison for 22 years because he shared his Christian faith with others. As I sat in the crowded room waiting for him to come out and preach, I wondered what he looked like. I knew he was very old, so I assumed he would be a tired, weary looking old man. When he came out to talk I was completely surprised. He looked young and happy. He was able to be happy even though he had been in jail for Christ all those years.

Joy and Happiness mean the same thing says Randy Alcorn. In his book Happiness, he makes this point very clear. We often hear that happiness depends on our circumstances and joy does not. That is a nice thought, but when you read the New Testament in Greek, it gives a different meaning. It shows that joy and happiness are the same thing. Every modern dictionary that I looked at says joy and happiness mean the same thing.

4000 times the word joy, happiness, blessed, etc are used in the Bible says Alcorn. Check the word blessed, it can mean the same as happiness in modern dictionaries and in the Greek New Testament. The word Happy is used 121 times in the NIRV; 137 times Living Bible. 20 times in NIV; 25 times in JKV. Joy is used 242 in NIV.

Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, happiness, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” This means that the closer you get to God, the more you obey him, the more you will have these things in your life.

Here are some questions to help you put these ideas into practice in your life.

  1. What things make you happy?
  2. What personal challenges threaten your ability to maintain a positive, happy attitude on a daily basis?
  3. How did Jesus exemplify the attitudes described in this Scripture? Hebrews 1:8,9 says that God anointed Jesus with great joy.
  4. What attitudes often stand in the way of living a life filled with joy?
  5. How does your choice of attitude at the beginning of the day affect the rest of the day?
  6. To live the kind of life described in Gal 5:22 what kind of choices would you have to make every day?
  7. Read Phil 4:4 Does the Bible command us to be happy? It commands us to rejoice, that means be happy.To be continued…. more on January 10, 2017.

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