Summary: God knows best what will lead to our happiness. In this sermon I share a secular article that reveals research that proves that God knows best.
A. What is your secret to living a long, happy life?
B. The story is told of a woman walked up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch.
1. She said, “I couldn’t help noticing how happy you look, what’s your secret for a long happy life?”
2. The man said, “I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day, I also drink a case of whiskey a week, eat fatty foods, and never exercise.”
3. “That’s amazing,” the woman said. “How old are you?”
4. He said, “Twenty-six.”
C. I’m assuming that every one of us want to be happy.
1. We want to live a life that is satisfying and successful.
2. And there is nothing wrong with that desire.
3. When the founders of our country wrote the Declaration of Independence, they wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
D. I’ve borrowed today’s sermon title from a movie by the same name that came out in 2006.
1. How many of you saw the movie? In my opinion it was quite good.
2. Will Smith stars in this moving tale inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman struggling to build a future for himself and his 5 year-old son, Christopher..
a. When his girlfriend Linda walks out, Chris is left to raise Christopher on his own.
b. Chris’ determination finally pays off when he lands an unpaid internship in a brutally competitive stockbroker-training program where only one in 20 interns will get a job.
c. But without a salary, Chris and his son are evicted from their apartment and are forced to sleep on the streets, in homeless shelters and even behind the locked doors of a metro station bathroom.
d. With self-confidence and the love and trust of his son, Chris Gardner rises above his obstacles to become a Wall Street legend.
e. Chris Gardner started his own brokerage firm in 1987, and then sold it in a multi-million dollar deal in 2006.
3. The film’s title is obviously derived from the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence; but the misspelling of "happiness" comes from a mural decorating the exterior of the son’s day care center run by foreigners.
E. How can we not only spell “happiness,” but achieve it?
1. Throughout time, people have come up with lots of theories for happiness.
2. But in the end, only the God who made us and knows us, can bring us to a place of happiness.
3. Psalm 68:3 reads, “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”
F. The rest of today’s sermon is based on an article from last month’s edition of Reader’s Digest.
1. The article’s author is Dr. Arthur Brooks, PhD, who is a professor of business and government policy at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
2. The article’s title is “Why We’re Happy” and the subtitle reads, “Turns out, happiness has a lot to do with values – and it’s key to our prosperity as a nation.”
3. The article in Reader’s Digest is adapted from Brook’s book Gross National Happiness.
4. When I read the article I was so impressed, because here was a secular researcher and professor basically saying, “God is right – religious values are what make us happy.”
G. Let me read a few paragraphs from the article, “In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders didn’t treat happiness as some fuzzy concept; they believed that people wanted happiness and had the right to pursue it. Along with life and liberty, happiness was the connection between the Creator and our nation’s destiny, and the ability of its citizens to pursue and achieve happiness was a measure of the effectiveness and morality of the state.
But today’s leaders and policymakers seem to have forgotten this. To hear politicians talk about gross domestic product, health-care reform, and Social Security, you’d think that this nation’s Founding Fathers held as self-evident that we are endowed by our Creator with the ability to purchase new, high-quality consumer durables each and every year, or to enjoy healthy economic growth with low inflation and full employment. The Founders didn’t talk about these matters, not because they’re unimportant, but because they believed happiness went deeper.
As a professor of business and government policy, I’ve long been interested in the pursuit of happiness as a national concept. According to hundreds of reliable surveys of thousands of people across the land, happy people increase our prosperity and strengthen our communities. They make better citizens - and better citizens are vital to making our nation healthy and strong. Happiness, in other words, is important for America. So when I chanced upon data a couple of years ago saying that certain Americans were living in a manner that facilitated happiness - while others were not - I jumped on it.