Thesis: Happiness, though it does not come naturally, is attainable.
1. Illust. A Russian woman lived with her husband & two children in a very small hut. Her husband's parents lost their home & she had to take them in. Unbearable. In desperation, she went to the village wise man, whom she knew had solved many, many problems. "What should I do?" she begged. "Do you have a COW?" asked the wise man. "Yes," she replied. Then bring her into the hut too. And come back and see me in a week," said the wise man. A week later she was back. "This is utterly unbearable" she said. "Do you have any CHICKENS?" asked wise man. "Yes," she replied. "What about them?" Bring them into the hut too, and come back and see me in another week." "Now you're utterly out of your mind," she said. Nevertheless, still awed by his reputation, she did as he asked. A week later she returned. "This is absolutely impossible," she said. "Our home is a mess." "All right," said the wise man, "take out the chickens." The next week she reported that without the chickens it was definitely better, but still a miserable situation. "All right," said the wise man, "now take out the cow. That will settle your problem." And it did. Without the chickens & cow, the woman, her husband, the children, and his two parents got along quite peacefully. Everything is relative! Sometimes we don't know how well off we really are!
2. A famous researcher once asked 2,264 Americans this question: "What do you most want out of life?"
a. The response was nearly unanimous--everyone wanted to be "happy."
b. Are you a happy person this morning? If not, why not?
I. THE COMMAND TO BE HAPPY.
A. Even though the Constitution guarantees it, even though we spend lots of time and money pursuing it, few of us ever truly become happy.
1. Matter is complicated for us when we realize that happiness is not an option for the Christian ... It is a command!
a. Phil. 4:4 ..... in the imperative mood!
b. Just as imperative as "Repent & be baptized" (Acts 2:38).
2. Is this an impossible command? Can we be really be happy?
B. To answer that question we want to turn to the life of the man who wrote Phil. 4:4 ..... the Apostle Paul.
II. PAUL'S HAPPINESS.
A. Paul's lousy circumstances:
1. In prison (1:7, 12).
2. Being bad-mouthed (1:14-18).
3. Facing a possible death sentence (1:19-21).
B. Why is Paul happy?
1. Answer is found in 4:10-13.
2. Read ..... not verse 13! ... This is the HOW, not WHY!
3. Look at verse 11.
a. Contentment does not come naturally, it must be learned!
b. It does not depend on perfect circumstances!
c. If we ever hope to be happy in this life we must learn to look beyond our circumstances.
d. How do you do that? (Not easy, but it is do-able!)
III. FOUR STEPS TOWARD BECOMING A HAPPY PERSON.
A. Learn to Act Better than you Feel.
1. Wouldn't it be great if we always felt like doing everything we need to do?
a. "Oh honey, the trash needs taking out, the laundry needs done, the dishes need washing and the lawn needs mowing."
b. "Oh good, that's exactly what I wanted to do!"