Well, I don’t know about you, but I used to be a bit of a partier (that’s an understatement) and I drank a lot. I went out a lot and I had relations with different women.
And I thought that I was happy for a long time. But the truth is, I wasn’t. I wasn’t happy at all. I was using alcohol and relationships to fill a hole in my life.
That hole was a hole where God should have been, but I didn’t know it at the time; I just thought that I was being happy and having a good time.
But you’re not having a good time if the next morning you question what you did the night before. Or you question who you might have been with the night before. Or if they’re questioning who they were with the night before, and you’re helping them go down that road.
We think that happiness is having a lot of money, and so we try to make more and more money. But making more money doesn’t make us happier, It really doesn’t.
You can’t buy friends and you can’t buy love. You could buy people to be around you and you can buy relationships, but that doesn’t buy love.
Material happiness is very fleeting; it’s here today and gone tomorrow. A lot of people who make a lot of money very quickly find that out, especially in places like Hollywood and Las Vegas. You start winning big at the at the gambling tables, or making it big in the movies, and all of a sudden everybody’s your friend. Then, you start losing and nobody’s your friend.
Money, relationships and stuff, for lack of a better word, only makes us temporarily happy.
when we’re out drinking, and “having a good time,” we’re not growing as people; we’re stagnating. And God wants us to grow.
We even equate happiness with health. But Jesus didn’t say that he came to help the healthy but the sick. That’s in Luke 5:31-32. God isn’t even worried about how healthy we are; he’s more concerned with how we spread his word in His Kingdom.
And he tells us that he has riches for us far greater than anything in this world. And I’ve got a I’ve got
Ephesians 2:7-10. In order that in the coming ages, he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves. It’s a gift from God, not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
And I talked about joy before. But I really wanted to talk about:
Because I saw this on the internet and I had someone ask me a question similar to that too. And that’s why I’m doing this today.
Think of this. There’s a video with Rob Bell (he also did the Nooma videos. You can download many of their videos from their web site and Amazon) that I saw I think on TBN once I’ve never found this video again so if you’ve seen this video before and you remember what it is called, send me a message. Anyway, he talks about this family that goes to Hawaii for the first time and they go with their eight year old daughter.
And when they get there, they’re walking through the hotel and the daughter sees the pool. And if you’ve ever been to Hawaii, some of the hotels have amazing pools. So this little girl runs into the hotel room, tears through her suitcase to find her bathing suit, gets it on, runs out into the pool, and stays in that pool the rest of the day. She would barely even come out to eat or drink anything, or to get more suntan lotion put on.
Finally, the pool closes and she has to get out. But the next morning she’s at the gate when the pool opens. But her parents warn her that she’s only going to be able to go into the pool for a little while because they have plans for that day. There was shopping that needed to be done and then they’re going to go to the beach.
Oh, but this little girl is not happy about that. Her parents come to get her about an hour later and she is just sad that she has to leave the pool. She’s just dejected. Her parents are drying her off and getting her clothes on and tears just start pouring down in her face and she starts crying and sobbing because she just wants to be in that pool is so much.
Her and her parents go, and they run their errands and they’re heading back. They get to the beach and the girl is in the back seat, and she’s still just so sad that it’s taking so long to get back to that pool.
Her parents get out of the car and they open the back door. She gets out and looks up.
The pool is Earth.We think that we have such a great life, and we think that we have so much joy and so much to look forward to in this life. And we think that whatever it is that we might think about this life that keeps us here, but we’re just in a pool.
Just like that girl: She’d never seen an ocean before. But one look at that ocean opened up a whole new world for her. She can make sandcastles, she can play in the water, she can boogie board. And there’s so many things that you can do that you can’t do in a pool. But she didn’t know that until she got to the ocean.
But God gives us little bits of gifts because when I quit drinking, my life started getting better. In fact, when I used to drink a lot, I was always afraid of quitting because I thought I would be bored. And I was afraid of what I would do with my time.
It wasn’t until I quit drinking that I realized how bored I was when I drank. You can’t drink and drive, so you can’t really go anywhere once you start drinking. And you can’t be around people that aren’t drinking because they don’t understand you (the truth is they don’t want to deal with a drunk person). And you don’t really want to go into stores because you buy really stupid things when you’ve been drinking and you go into a store. Trust me that happened to me way too many times.
But it never dawned on me how bored I was while I was drinking until I stopped drinking. And it never dawned on me how many things that couldn’t do or didn’t do because I was drinking.
It’s very difficult to drink alcohol when you go hiking. I tried it once, it didn’t work out very well. So when I quit drinking, my life started getting better.
I actually quit drinking the day I was baptized. God took my alcoholism away from me. I believe that he knew that I wouldn’t be able to get rid of that on my own, so he got rid of it for me.
To me, that was a gift that he gave me. And that really helped push my faith in God. When we have faith in God, when we have faith in Jesus, and everything that they’ve done for us, we start getting little hints of this glorious kingdom, even here on Earth.
But we have to be careful, because we don’t really understand Heaven until we get there. In fact, Isaiah 55:8, God says,
My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways, my ways.
It because we don’t understand the greatness of God. And not just that video I just told you about, but think about this also: Trying to understand God is like explaining a complex idea to a three year old kid. now a three year old kid can talk. In fact, sometimes three year old kids talk way too much. But try to explain to a three year old kid puts and calls in the stock market.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t even understand puts in calls in the stock market much and I’ve tried to figure it out before. It’s very confusing to me.
But a three year old kid would have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. And to me, that’s the same thing about God talking to us. I think a lot of things in the Bible, especially the things that some people push against, like how it says a God created the world in six days. I think that God gave us that timeline so that it was something we understood, because God doesn’t live in time.
So for him, time is nothing. He could make one day last a million years if he wanted to. This is his creation, he can do anything he wants with it.
It’s like us molding a piece of clay: we could make it a bowl, and then we could change it to a cup. And then we could change it to a vase if we wanted to. We can change it to whatever we want. And he can do whatever he wants to with this world. I think he chose six days simply so that it was it was something that we would understand in our limited capacity. And who knows, maybe he did do it all in six of our days.
But he does give us hints to the greatness of Heaven. Look at Joseph. To me, the story of Joseph is amazing. Job is another good one because Job had faith in God. And even though the devil tried to do all these things to make Job, curse God and die (I think is what his wife said), Job, still had faith in God, and God blessed him tenfold more, when everything was done.
And Joseph is kind of the same. The story of Joseph spans Genesis books 37 through 50: There’s a whole lot of information about Joseph. Basically, Joseph was the youngest son of Jacob. And Jacob loved Joseph, maybe too much. Jacob treated Joseph differently than he did his brothers. Joseph was given that coat of many colors that we all hear about, and he was treated better. His brothers would all be out in the field and yet Joseph wouldn’t be in the field doing any of the work.
I get the feeling that his brothers were a little bit jealous of him. And maybe I don’t blame them a little bit in some respects. But his brothers sold Joseph into slavery.
But from that, he became the head of the Master’s household until the Master’s wife falsely accused him. Then he got put into jail for no good reason, simply because she lied.
But even in jail, he excelled and became the head of all the slaves in jail and kind of ran the jail. And then he became the second most powerful person in all of Egypt, all because he had faith in God.
And it was because of that faith that God was able to show him pieces, just glimpses of the greatness of Heaven.
Let’s say, for instance, I’ve been getting into the stock market a little bit more. And I’ve been making some money, I actually got into the stock market when the COVID thing started and the stocks dropped a lot. I put some money in, and I’m up something like 132% right now on my stock investment. But another recession could hit, and all my stocks could drop, and I could have nothing in the next day, who knows?
On 9/11/2001, stocks dropped like crazy. We never know what’s going to happen. We weren’t expecting COVID to shut down the world, stop 80% of all production, and make the stock market crash. And yet, God gave me a little bit of a blessing in saying, ”Hey, here’s a little bit of money, put this in areas where I show you. I’ll line things up for you to be in just the right spot at the right time.”
And I’m making some money off the stock market. It’s not a lot, but it’s kind of fun to do it. But again, my concentration isn’t on the money and the stock market. I’m learning to concentrate on God in all things that I do. And I think that’s what he wants.
He hates the sinful things that make us happy. And there are a lot of sinful things that make us happy. And I think one of the worst is vanity. Vanity can hit anybody. And it’s hit many pastors that I’ve known in different ways, but it’s hit them. Some pastors, their vanity has come out when attractive women have hit on them. Some pastors, their vanity has come out when all of a sudden their congregation grows. And so they’ve got that pride of the congregation growing.
Pride isn’t a bad thing, but vanity is. Pride turns to vanity. I know other pastors whose vanity has grown when their coffers start getting more and more tithing in and they start thinking about that money being theirs rather than God’s. That’s vanity.
So we have to be careful of that. The story of Joseph to me shows a lot. There was more than one time that everything was taken away from Joseph: If you went to jail back 2000 years ago, literally everything you own is stripped from you, and you don’t get it back.
When you get out of jail, you have nothing. When he became a slave, everything he owned was stripped from him, he didn’t even have his coat of many colors. At that point. He had the clothes on his back, and that’s it.
But God blessed him even more than anything that he had before those things happened, because he kept his eyes where they were supposed to be: On God.
Happiness just happens when we keep our eyes on God. We don’t have to pursue it, God will give it to us. And that doesn’t mean that every day is going to be full of happiness, there are still going to be struggles. I have struggles every day. I’m not happy every day. But in general, I’m much happier now than I was when I was 20. When I was a teenager, and I’ve talked about this before, I lived on the streets, I was not happy at all. And I was not following God. In fact, I was pretty much against God at that time. Now I’m following God and my life has completely turned around. I’m much happier than I was when I was younger; life is just so much more full of joy, it’s so much more full of color and warmth than it was when I was younger.
To me, that’s just one of the small things that God shows us when we start turning our eyes to him for our happiness, rather than turning to relationships, or money, or alcohol or drugs or whatever it is the things that we think are going to make us happy.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Simple Christians podcast.