Summary: How to be truly happy

Intro: So, how did you make out Christmas morning? I wasn’t here last week. I hope it was a great morning for you. It’s a time that we look forward to for weeks. I know in our house we take the whole month before to look ahead to Christmas day. Now, Christmas is a day we think about gifts: the gift of Jesus, the gift of the Father’s love given to us. But sometimes the gifts we receive from others aren’t that well received.

So, what do you do with a Christmas that’s less than perfect? Often we think that Christmas needs to be picture-perfect to find enjoyment. If anything goes wrong, it spoils the whole mood of the day. I know for our family, things were less than ideal this year. Let me tell you a little about it.

Christmas Eve was a very nice night, and Ronda’s parents spent the night with us. We got up Christmas day, read the scriptures, opened gifts, ate together, and got ready to travel to Ronda’s brother’s house in Ohio. However, the girls went with Ronda’s parents, and we came after. As Ronda and I were driving later, we got talking about the book of Revelation, we missed our turn, and 40 miles later we realized we were in the wrong part of the state. That can easily ruin anyone’s day.

Or on Sunday, when we traveled to my family’s get-together in PA, our “Check Engine” light came on and stayed on from Pittsburg in to Harrisburg. We got it checked out on Tuesday, and $250 later the van was fine.

How about Monday, I woke up feeling like Ronda got out the rolling pin during the night and used it freely on my body. I spent the next two days lying around the house.

How about Tuesday, I went to the doctor, because I saw my tonsils were all swollen and had dozens of white ulcers on them. I thought I was going to have to have my tonsils taken out. Strep throat!

How about Wednesday. Jacqueline had some pimples on her face for a few days. We thought maybe she had oily skin. Wednesday we saw they were getting bigger and spreading. We went to the doctor again. After waiting a few hours to get in, we found the verdict: Impetigo - highly contagious. That meant making changes to our plans, and skipping visiting several friends in PA.

Do you begin to get the idea that our Christmas celebrations were less than ideal? That’s okay. This morning I would like us to realize that life does not have to be “rosy” and “hunky dory” for us to find enjoyment in it. Let’s think about this together.

Mary and Joseph - hardly had ideal conditions for their Christmas celebration. They had to travel on Christmas eve in heavy traffic. In fact, when they stopped for a motel, they were all full, and they had to settle for a bed and bone in a stable. That didn’t stop them from fulfilling God’s plans. In fact, it was all a part of God’s plan. He chose to have the King of Kings born in a humble setting. He chose to have the shepherds come and worship. It wasn’t a mistake. It was all part of God’s plan.

Think about Moses and the children of Israel traveling through the wilderness. Each day they got up and had manna to eat. They just had to go out and pick it off the ground. They could have complained -- and believe me, they did!-- but it was all part of God’s plan of teaching them to rely on his faithfulness.

Think about Joseph - taken to Egypt in slavery - serving in the house of Potiphar. When seduced by Potipar’s wife, Joseph resists and is thrown in jail. While in jail, it would be easy to think that God had forgotten, but even there God blesses him and lets him prosper. He is raised out of jail to be second in the land under Pharaoh. As his brothers come down to buy grain and Joseph reveals himself to them, they are fearful that he will take revenge. But Joseph tells them not to fear, but that God had taken what they meant to be evil and had turned it around to bring about good.

This morning, let’s ask ourselves the question, “Where do we find happiness?”

Let’s look together this morning at Ecclesiastes 2. The book right after the Psalms and Proverbs. Starting at 2:26. READ 2:26 - 3:14.

What do these verses tell us about happiness? First,

I. Happiness is a Gift from God - Far too often we try to achieve happiness. Yet the Bible never tells us to try to be happy. Happiness is not a goal to be achieved, but a blessing to be enjoyed.

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