TITLE: I THINK MYSELF HAPPY
SCRIPTURE: ACTS 26:1-3
Happiness is a state of Mind. It differs greatly from Joy. We as believers understand Joy comes from God and God alone. Joy is the state not predicated upon your Circumstance. Man cannot give you Joy and man cannot take it away. No matter what besets you, Joy is ever present. Even in the midst of Bereavement, when our hearts are yet broken and heavy, we are told WEEPING MAY ENDURE FOR A NIGHT BUT JOY COMETH IN THE MORNING.
• Scripture does not say Happiness Cometh in the Morning
• But it says “Joy”
• We know to be absent in the flesh is to be ever present with the Lord
• That is Joy Unspeakable
God’s Spirit moves within His people and triggers that mechanism called “Joy.” This is why David said – THY WORD HAVE I HID IN MY HEART THAT I MIGHT NOT SIN AGAINST THEE. Without the Word of God on the inside, there can be no real Joy.
• Man cannot mess with Gods Joy
• That’s how in the midst of problems – we can still have Joy
• That’s how in the midst of folks being up in your face – we can still have Joy
• When we are under spiritual attack – we can still have Joy
• When folks stop talking when you enter the room (and we know why conversation ceased) – we can still have Joy
In our text, Paul says – I Think Myself Happy – therefore; we must conclude happiness differs from joy. Happiness is determined by our Surroundings.
• When there is money in our Pocket - We are Happy
• When our money is funny - No Longer Happy
• When it is payday – We are Happy
• Three days later – No Longer Happy
• Riding up and down highway – We are Happy
• Car breaks down – No Longer Happy
• Bought a new car – We are Happy
• First payment due – No Longer Happy
Many of us are confused when it comes to understanding the difference between Joy and Happiness. The two words are not interchangeable. We as Christians should properly understand the message that Paul has delivered to us. Paul has given us a message that Joy reigns on the inside. ST. JOHN 15:11 “THESE THINGS I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU, THAT MY JOY MAY REMAIN IN YOU, AND THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL.”
• Our Joy remains in us
• Our Joy springs Eternal
• Our Joy is Full because it is connected to the Lord
• The Lord’s Joy is placed in us “remains” in us and it is full because it is not based upon what we have or don’t have
Have you ever seen Christians in the Church and it seems as though they never smile? You ever seen Christians in the community seems like they are always frowning?
• Can I tell you, they are Saved
• They are in the Church
• They support few things within the life of the Church
• They give and support financially
• But they never seem to smile
• Problem is not found in their Joy
• The Problem resides in their Happiness
There is a difference between worldly happiness and joy. Happiness has its roots in desire – pleasure – self beneficial situations.
• To sum it up, it’s rooted in worldly things or situations
• Whereas joy is rooted in gratefulness to God
• Joy and Happiness come from two different power sources
Let’s examine the Text for a few minutes. Put yourself in Paul’s sandals - You’ve been arrested for doing nothing more than praying as a Jew in the Jewish Temple. You have been charged with a capital offense of which you are completely innocent, and now you have been unjustly imprisoned for two long years! At last you have a chance to tell your side of the story. Would the first words out of your mouth be, “I think myself happy” - I suspect we might be more prone to say something like –
• I think myself Sad
• I think myself Mad!
• I think myself Mistreated!
• I think myself a victim of scurrilous liars and cruel misfortunes of fate
But not Paul. His confession wasn’t that he was sad – mad – mistreated – victim of any kind. His confession was, I Think Myself Happy! He is found standing before King Agrippa and the Governor, Felix. He is facing further imprisonment simply because he chose to “Hold Up the Blood Stained Banner.”
• Standing before King Agrippa who has the power to set him free
• Council is found speaking amongst themselves
• They are trying to properly understand the crime he has been accused
• Text tells us King Agrippa and Governor Felix come to same conclusion and find Paul is not guilty
• They choose for the sake of the angry mob not to set Paul free
Paul has the opportunity to begin his opening statement – present the facts of his case – wrongfully imprisoned – incarcerated for two years with no hearing until now. His opening Statement is – I Think Myself Happy!
I Love that! I want to be like that. Paul knew a secret that few people know. He knew the secret to happiness. Most people think that happiness is what happens to you when good things happen in your life. But the Bible says something else. The Bible teaches that good things come from within and are released by the words we speak. Therefore our happiness is our choice.
• It’s not what happens to you that determines your happiness
• It’s your answer to what happens to you that determines your happiness!
Here is Paul before the council. The King looks upon the Apostle and allows Paul the opportunity to defend himself. King Agrippa states “THOU ART PERMITED TO SPEAK FOR THYSELF.” Paul, in chains, having already lost somewhat of his freedom. He opens his mouth and firstly says – I Think Myself Happy! Now wait a minute – has Paul gone mad! – Has he taken leave of his senses! - Has he forgotten he is facing more prison time if he does not respond appropriately? How can he stand there after already being falsely accused and say boldly – I Think Myself Happy?
When King Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself” the first thing out of Paul’s mouth was, “I Think Myself Happy.” And he was.
• Paul didn’t allow circumstances to dictate to him whether or not he would have the joy of the Lord
• Paul spoke a word of faith and he had what he said!
• Too often we allow our circumstance to dictate our Posture
• We make the conscience choice to not be Happy
• Instead of reaching in internally – tap into our Joy
• We reach externally – look for things or proper surroundings to make us Happy
• Paul looked beyond his predicament
• Understood the Lord is always with him
Paul understood the Words of Jesus – ST. MATTHEW 28:20 “…LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD, AMEN.” If we do not believe in that internal promise, we will never find external Happiness. Paul knew every step of the journey called life, the Lord promised to always be there with us. That’s the center of the joy we have on the inside, knowing there is nothing that can happen in this life were God is not aware.
• Ever notice the verse ends with a powerful Word?
• Does not say “..end of the world” and there we find a period placed
• The scripture ends with Jesus saying Amen
• Amen, means we “Agree” “Faithful” “To Support” or “Confirm”
• Jesus concluded the text by saying “Amen”
• That means we can take that Promise to the Bank
• The promise Jesus will be right there with us even unto the end of the World, Amen!
• That kind of Joy is the Springboard to our Happiness
++++Paul says something else really significant here in our text that helps him, and us, understand the importance of being happy. PHILIPPIANS 4:11 “…FOR I HAVE LEARNED, IN WHATSOEVER STATE I AM, THEREWITH TO BE CONTENT.”
• Now “Content” is a very interesting word
• Paul says – I had to Learn this
• Just like we had to learn to Read & Write
• Just like we had to learn to do Mathematics
• Just like we had to learn to Drive
• Paul says we must also Learn to be Content
• Many in the Church have never learned this
Paul says, He Learned to be Content.
• He’s growing old
• He doesn’t have any money
• He once was Wealthy
• His health is beginning to decline
• He once was strong
• He’s in prison
• He once was free
• Yet he says, “I have learned the secret of being content”
• Yes, he learned another Secret
Most of us have spent the vast majority of our life with our heart displaced or discontented for one reason or another.
• We were discontented because we did not have a Spouse
• We may be discontented with the Spouse we do have
• We were discontent with our Job
• We are discontent with our Friends
• We are discontent with our Bank Account
• We are discontent with our Children’s Spouse
• We are discontent with the Pastor or Deacon
• The list can go on and on
Can I admit to you this morning I am still on my way to learning what Paul is talking about in this statement? I am still on my way to learning, by God’s Grace. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. I don’t think I even need to be a Prophet to know that the vast majority of us are struggling deeply with being content.
• I can tell because of the Frown we wear every now and then
• I can tell because of our Unhappiness every now and then
• I can tell because of our refusal to Smile as we interact with one another
• I can tell because our Smile too often is turned upside down
I believe what Paul is saying is in fact Learning is a form of “Nurtured.” Therefore, contentment has to be nurtured.
• It’s not just going to happen
• You’re not going to stumble into it
• It has to be contended for and cultivated
• So I just want to encourage you to cultivate it
• Contend for it – it is there we find how to be Happy
No matter what goes on in my life, I will contend for happiness. Therefore in the midst of the most difficult circumstance, whatever I am faced it, may be uncomfortable but it does not shake my joy. Whenever I feel the adversary trying to steal my joy, I must find and Content for my Happiness. In the midst of the Storm or Adversity I begin to think on –
• Roof over my head
• Clothes in the Closet
• Food to Eat
• Reasonable portion of Health
• Loving Wife and Family
• Go to the faucet and have a cup of water
• Friends I can talk to
• I have grandbabies that love their Pop Pop
• I have a Church family where I can laugh and even cry sometimes
• I content for my Happiness
• But Joy is always there
It should encourage you, the Apostle Paul says this, because it means he didn’t learn to be content overnight. It didn’t happen to him as soon as he was converted on that dusty road in Damascus. It was a process by which the Spirit of God with the help of the Church taught him to be content. So he can stand before this counsel, even in the midst of being in Stocks and Bonds, Freedom lost and able to look at them and begin his discourse by saying – I Think Myself Happy!
I am so glad today Happiness is not just an Emotion – It is a Choice, it is an Attitude Towards Life. Paul did not look at himself and his predicament. He is always looking to God, and trusting Him to lead him and provide for him.
• You can look at a half-filled cup and thank God that you have some water to drink
• Or lament why you have only half a cup and not a full cup
• You can choose to think always about your weakness, about what you do not have
• Or you can choose to thank God for what He has given us
• Don’t see the thorns among the roses
• Rather be thankful that among the thorns there are beautiful roses
Had Paul been entrapped in the snare of wanting to feel good, his circumstance could probably have robbed him of it.
• If he had reacted to his situation based on the actual facts, he would have missed it
• His charges were trumped up
• He was an innocent man
• He could have spent his time arguing and fussing over why he was in court to begin with
• Instead he saw an evangelistic opportunity and he would not miss it
• He was therefore Happy
--Oftentimes we don’t feed the right thing
--We must make sure we feed the spirit man
--We must be found in the Word of God
--We spend too much time feeding the Natural Man
--Not enough time Feeding the Spiritual
--We should be participating in the Life of the Church all week long
--A Native Christian elder who described life’s struggle with a young man:
"It feels like there are two dogs fighting inside of me."
The young man asked, "Which dog wins?"
The older man replied, "Which ever one I feed."
If we feed our soul with the best and good thoughts, we grow stronger and fitter.
Feed on the Word of God!
Then we will be like Paul and be able to say in the midst of my surroundings
I THINK MYSELF HAPPY
--DANIEL found in the Lions Den – I Think Myself Happy
--Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego – Lions Den – I Think Myself Happy
--Jeremiah, thrown in a Mud Pit – I Think Myself Happy
--John the Baptist would be Beheaded – I Think Myself Happy
--Let me make this personal
--When I am faced with Trials and Tribulations – I Think Myself Happy
--When I am down to my last dime - I Think Myself Happy
--When I am stressed and don’t know what to do – I Think Myself Happy
Well Rev. How do I think myself happy when all this is going on around me
The writers of old said –
WE ARE TROUBLED ON EVERY SIDE, YET NOT DISTRESSED; WE ARE PREPLEXED, BUT NOT IN DESPAIR; PERSECUTED, BUT NOT FORSAKEN; CAST DOWN, BUT NOT DESTROYED
I Think Myself Happy