It Starts With A Joyful Heart

Happiness is really determined by our perspective in life not by our circumstances. If we learn to be grateful despite our circumstances it will greatly improve our happiness. Billy Sunday said, “The trouble with many men is that they have got just enough religion to make them miserable.”

Do you know how the apostle Paul began most of his letters in the Bible? To the church in Rome he wrote. “First, I thank my God for all of you.” (Romans 1:8) To the church in Corinth. “I always thank God for you (1 Corinthians 1:4).To the church in Ephesus, “I have not stopped giving thanks for you; remembering you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:16). To the church in Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3). To the church in Colossi, “I always thank God when I pray for you.” (Colossians 1:3).

However, he asked the grumpy Christians of Galatia: “What has happened to all your joy…” Some Christians have to ask themselves that question today: What has happened to all my joy? A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms, and nothing in all religious history has done Christianity more harm than Christians acting like fallen angels, like Adam and Eve after their fall in the Garden of Eden.

Paul wrote the happiest book In the New Testament the Book of Philippians while he was in prison. In other words he did not let his circumstances steal his joy. Instead of seeing the thorns among the roses he saw the roses amongst the thorns. He saw the cup half full rather than half empty.

A recent study by the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine says laughter is good for cardiovascular health. According to the School of Medicine’s website, the study included 20 non-smoking, healthy volunteers, who were shown parts of two movies “at the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum.” When watching a movie like Saving Private Ryan, researchers discovered that blood flow from the heart of the study’s participants was restricted. Just the opposite occurred when volunteers watched a comedy and experienced lots of laughter.

The study confirms previous research that mental stress actually narrows the blood vessels. But it also confirms a great biblical truth of old, which says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

My experience is that people don’t complain because they have a lot of problems, they have problems because they complain.  Whining becomes a chronic habit if you don’t keep it in check. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.” Complaining makes us miserable. Psalm 77:3 says, “I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.”

I challenge you to try to quit complaining for a whole month. Just try it. When you feel tempted to complain, instead of voicing your complaint, praise God for something good in your life. It will change your life. Philippians 2:13 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

Don’t complain about those dirty dishes, thank God you have dishes. Dirty dishes mean you have food in your house. Millions of people will be glad if they have one meal today. Don’t complain about having to paying the rent; it means that you have a roof over your head.  Think of the millions who don’t have clean, running water. If you awoke this morning feeling fairly healthy you’re more blessed than the thousands of people in the hospitals you drive by every day. If you have twenty dollars in your pocket and a place to sleep tonight you are richer than 75 percent of the world. Think of the thousands in prison for their faith or political convictions.   As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

A life lived without joy and laughter is like living in a land devoid of sunshine and rainbows and blue skies and lakes and streams.  A joyless world is a desert where nothing grows.  “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”  We can rejoice because regardless of what befalls us He is in control. “Glory, Glory Hallelujah His Truth Is Marching On.”

When I first discovered Zephaniah 3:17, I had to read it several times because it was such an illumination to me. It seemed so laughable; I can remember falling back in my chair and gave myself one of those ‘shoulda  had a V-8’ thumps.  Is this how God feels about His children, you? “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Rejoice over me / you!

Rejoice over me / you  with singing!

Does not such love do your heart good like a medicine?

Does not love so amazing, so divine, demand you soul, your life your all?

God delights in you and breaks out into song when He thinks about you! It’s hard to fathom, it’s hard to take it all in.  I love how the Living Bible paraphrases this verse: “Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song.”  Ahhh-maazing!

In closing ponder on the words of the prophet Habakkuk: – (Habakkuk 3:17-19) “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

The words “I will” tell us that Habakkuk made a choice not to become a whiner, an ole-grouch. He did not deny the awful circumstances that surrounded him but chose instead not to sink into despair but to rejoice in God’s presence and power. His decision to rejoice wasn’t a denial of hardship or sorrow. We will have times of sorrow and grief. Even Jesus wept. But he knew that weeping may endure for the night but JOY comes in the morning.

The Best Is Yet To Be!

Pastor Bryant