Summary: Our perspective on life's difficult events - seeing a positive meaning and purpose in them - can determine whether we view God and life positively. It is our choice whether we are positive or negative. Paul chose to be positive.
I THINK MYSELF HAPPY
1. A lady from the big city of Philadelphia came to Texas. She wanted to go on a horseback ride in the Guadalupe Mountains. She said to the cowboy guide, "Can you get me a nice gentle pony?"
2. "Shore," said the cowboy. "What kind of a saddle do you want, English or Western?" "What's the difference?" asked the lady. "The western saddle has a horn on it," said the cowboy.
3. She looked disgusted. "If the traffic’s so thick here in these mountains that I need a horn on my saddle, I don't believe I want to ride!"
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: 2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews” Acts 26:1-2.
C. A SHOCKING ADMISSION TO AGRIPPA
1. Paul said the marvelous words (in the KJV) in Acts 26:1-2, “I think myself happy…”
2. Now I realize this was just his introduction for his speech before Agrippa, yet these words capture a great truth, and his perspective on life.
3. This is a remarkable perspective since Paul had lately been imprisoned for two years and was walking around in chains, like a criminal, though he had done nothing wrong.
4. This was the same Paul who’d been scourged 5X by the Jews, 3X beaten with rods, once stoned, 3X shipwrecked. These don’t include the hate, threats, and riots he often experienced, or the beatings he received from the Roman Government, such as the severe beating he and Silas got at Philippi (Acts 16).
5. Despite the horrible treatment and betrayals Paul experienced, he could still say, “I think myself happy!”
I. WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
A. WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
1. Have you ever heard the singing Bass, “Don't worry, Be happy.” Everybody thinks that's good advice. That's terrible advice. Friend, you're not going to be happy all of the time.
2. Happiness depends upon what happens. That’s why we call it “happiness,” because it depends on what “happens.” 3. If your day is good, you're happy. If your day is bad, you're unhappy. But if you put your trust in happiness, then you're going to be a victim of circumstances, because they will change.
4. But you see, God never changes. The Bible doesn't tell us to rejoice in circumstances. The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord.”
5. It’s not the things of this world that make you happy. The man who makes his first million isn’t happy with it for long. Some people crave power, others pleasure.
B. SOLOMON’S DISCOVERY
1. If anyone should have been happy, it was Solomon. Eccles. 1:1-2 “All is Vanity” – “disappointing, misery, vexing.
2. WHAT DIDN’T WORK?
a. Wisdom and knowledge didn’t make him happy (1:17).
b. Wine didn’t make him happy (2:3)
c. Business successes didn’t (2:4-)
d. Wealth didn’t make him happy (2:7). He had more gold than we can imagine.
e. Relationships. “Whatever my eyes desired” (2:10). But he ended up saying, “I hate life!” (7:17).
3. Then look at Paul who lost all, was treated terribly, yet he had satisfaction and joy so that even Agrippa said, “Almost you persuade me to become a Christian.”
C. ILLUS.: A PLACE WITH NO TROUBLES.
1. Norman Vincent Peale once had a meeting in New York with a very successful business man.
2. The man told Peale about his troubles at work, then about his troubles in his home life, then about his troubles in his societal life. He concluded, “I’d give $1,000 to you if you’d take me somewhere where people have no troubles!”
3. Peale flagged down a taxi, gave the cabbie the address, and said, “Ok, I’m going to take you someplace where the people there have no troubles!” The man was intrigued.
4. They arrived at a cemetery. Peale said, “The only people in this fallen world who don’t have troubles, are in the cemeteries! Is that where you want to be?”
5. The man said, “No.” Peale continued, “Then thank God you’re alive and accept your troubles as part of life! God will give you the strength to rise above your troubles, if you depend on Him!”
II. MASTERING OUR THOUGHTS
A. IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE
1. Americans are the most privileged and prosperous people who have ever lived on the face of the earth, and yet many Americans are not happy.
2. Chuck Colson reported that:
a. Life expectancy has nearly doubled.
b. The average per-capita income has doubled since 1960.
c. Price of food and many durable goods keeps falling.
d. Our standard of living has risen to levels our great-grandparents couldn’t have imagined.