Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I said “Happiness is holidays”. Well, that’s what the noticeboard outside a primary school said, not far from where I live. I talked about the fact that many people think the holidays themselves are going to be a wonderful time.
But the surveys have shown that the preparation – planning for the holidays – is actually what provides the greatest sense of satisfaction that people get. So holidays don’t necessarily going to make you happy. Max Lucado said that they don’t compare with the happiness that lies ahead when we meet God in Heaven.
If we are going to find happiness, we must focus on God’s grace, not our own goodness.
In Ephesians 2:8-9 we read:
“For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing.” (The Voice translation)
A man died and went to heaven. Of course, St Peter met him at the Pearly Gates. Peter said, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”
- “Okay,” the man said, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years.”
- “That’s wonderful,” said St Peter, “that’s worth three points.”
- “Three points, is that all?” he said. He went on, “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service.”
- “Terrific,” said St Peter. “That’s certainly worth a point.”
- “One point?” He continued, “I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”
- “Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” he said. “Two points?” Exasperated, the man cried out, “At this rate the only way I’ll get into heaven is by the grace of God!”
- “Now you got it, that’s worth 100 points! Come on in!”
Being good is not good enough
As one writer said, “When it comes to God, being good is not good enough.”
It’s what Jesus Christ has done for us, by giving us salvation and a way through to heaven, not by patting ourselves on the back or working hard for the church, or donating a lot of money to the church. We must depend on and trust in the grace of God.
It was David the Psalmist who wrote in Psalm 16:11, “Instead, You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.”
Happiness comes not from our achievements
Rick Warren is the pastor of the large Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He and his wife began that church in their home in 1980. Now the church runs anywhere from 16,000 to 20,000 every weekend. It’s been named the fastest growing Baptist Church in history.
In the past seven years about 10,000 people have been baptised. The church has also started 34 daughter churches, and sent over 4,000 of its members on mission projects around the world. Rick Warren is also the author of the book, The Purpose Driven Life, which is a best-seller and has sold millions of copies and has helped many people to get their lives in tune with the Lord and on track in life.
One man wrote:
“I am 45 years old and have never felt like a grownup until after reading The Purpose Driven Life. I have always had responsibilities and didn’t want them. I only wanted to play and enjoy life for the moment. I never really thought about tomorrow, and I always lived in the past, remembering the things I wish I could change. I lived in fear and was afraid of the future. I was never the father or the husband I really wanted to be. I didn’t even want to own the business that I owned.”
It would be really easy for Rick Warren to get caught up in Rick Warren, but I don’t think he is. He realises very well that his worth is nothing compared to God’s work.
It is God who is at work in us to do good things in life. He alone is the author of all good in our lives. When we learn this and get our eyes off ourselves and more on Him we will experience greater happiness and contentment in life.
Most of us think that our happiness is determined by our circumstances. But joy comes from praising the Lord, not in being self-absorbed.