Experiencing Happiness in Christ, Even Through Depression and Sorrow

Experiencing Happiness in Christ,
Even Through Depression and Sorrow

By Randy Alcorn

The following is a recent interview I did on the topic of happiness. I appreciated being able to address how someone who is depressed can still move toward experiencing a deep happiness and joy in Christ, which is a question I’ve been asked about frequently since my book was released.

Question:  When you look at happiness, is there a distinction between joy and happiness?

Randy: Interestingly, this has been taught as if it were fact for many years, and there have been many sermons that say joy and happiness are two different things. But we get them both wrong, because people end up saying things like “Joy is not an emotion” and “Joy is not really based on anything; it‘s some transcendental, vague sort of thing. But don‘t seek happiness, because that‘s from the world, and involves sin.”

Well, a lot of people do seek happiness in sin, just like they seek joy in sin. But God is the true source of happiness, delight, and joy. In my study for Happiness, I went back to the Hebrew and Greek words and saw how there are many of them that are translated in various versions as “joy,” “gladness,” “merriment,” “happiness,” “delight,” “pleasure.” These words all have overlapping meanings. Ninety percent of a Hebrew word that‘s translated “joy” overlaps with one that‘s translated “gladness” or “happiness.” (I’m including here a diagram from Happiness, illustrating this.)

There’s been a false and negative distinction that‘s been made between joy and happiness. Unfortunately, the message we send to those both inside and outside the church is, “Seeking happiness is superficial and shallow. Go out and get it in the world, but you won’t find happiness in God.” But all people seek happiness, and because they do, we’re basically telling them, “Stop seeking what God Himself wired you to seek.” What we should be saying is, “Seek your happiness in the right place—in God Himself.”

Read the rest here.


Shared by permission of Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, 39085 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 206, Sandy, OR 97055, 503-668-5200, www.epm.org

Mourning Yet Praising

Today’s post is taken from one of Today in the Word’s devotionals by Moody Bible Institute. I think this pairs well with my Prayer When Struggling With Depression post. 

Is it really possible to be depressed or in mourning and still be praising God? This might sound like a paradox but it is indeed possible. We can mourn or be depressed about a situation and yet praise God because of who He is and how He is always with us. If we have trusted Him in the past we can trust Him again and again because we know that He will see us through this particular storm. And because He has been faithful to us before, we can count on that faithfulness every single day.

Beloved, please read on. I believe you will be blessed by this as much as I am.

Mourning yet Praising

StreamWaterfall-www.todayintheword.org

Read Psalm 42 

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. 
—Psalm 42:6 

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Ten years ago, Chuck and Lynette’s daughter Joy died of complications from epilepsy. She was 28 years old. Joy was a vibrant Christian who had lived up to her name—everyone who knew her testified to her sweet spirit. “I miss her so much every day,” Lynette said. “We used to sing together in church, and I have so many special memories of singing and laughing together. When I sing those songs today, sometimes I cry instead of laugh, but I know that one day we’ll be reunited at the feet of Jesus.”

Lynette’s statement beautifully captures the paradoxical tension within biblical lament. We can feel loss and hope at the same time. We can sing hymns of praise even while we weep and mourn.Our reading for today, Psalm 42, concludes our focus this month on lament. Unlike some of the other lament psalms, this one does not move in a straight line from lament over circumstances to trust in God’s character. Throughout the psalm, the poet describes how desperation and faith wrestle with one another.

In the first four verses, the psalmist articulates his loneliness, torment, grief, and longing. The opening image of the deer panting for water vividly conveys the psalmist’s desperate yearning. Verses 5 and 6 serve as both a summary of the psalm and a hinge between its two sections. The psalmist indicates that he is both downcast and trusting God. He has hope that the time for praise will come.

But the psalm doesn’t end there. Expressions of trust in God don’t end the experience of suffering and sorrow. The psalmist experiences God’s love (v. 8) and also feels abandoned by God (v. 9). The psalmist persists in biblical lament—he is downcast and disturbed, but he also trusts in God and looks forward to praise (v. 11).

Apply the Word

Biblical lament defies our cultural expectations to process grief in certain ways or to just get on with things. You don’t have to feel better before you praise God. Coming to Him with your desperation and suffering is itself an act of trust. Make verse 11 your own personal prayer and statement of faith that you will one day praise God at the feet of Jesus.

http://www.todayintheword.org/titw_devotion.aspx?id=142179

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At Christ’s Table

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At Christ’s Table

Adapted from Till He Come by Charles Spurgeon

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
as though some strange thing happened to you;  

13 but REJOICE to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings,
that when His glory is revealed,
you may also be glad with exceeding JOY. 

14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ,
blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 

15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer,
or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 

16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian,
let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter,

17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God;
and if it begins with us first,
what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 

18 Now
“If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God
commit their souls to Him in doing good,
as to a faithful Creator.

—1 Peter 4:12-19

At the Last Supper, Christ brought all His disciples as table-companions, a prophecy that applies to all of His people forever. In heaven, there cannot be less of a privilege than on earth. It cannot be that believers will be degraded from what they have been below. The disciples were companions at Christ’s table here below, and they will still be table-companions in heaven above. Blessed is he that will eat bread in the kingdom of God. “Many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,” and the Lord Jesus will be at the head of the table (Matt. 8:11).

What will His table of JOY be like? What will be His celebration when His reward is seated around Him and His triumph is all achieved? Whatever it is, you will share in it. For you poor, working woman, what a change to sit among princes and near to your Lord Jesus, with all your hard work and poverty ended forever. And you, sad child of suffering, will not have pain there, and you will be forever with the Lord. The JOY of Christ will be your JOY forever and ever! In the anticipation of the JOY that will be yours, forget your current troubles. Rise above today’s difficulties, and if you cannot REJOICE because of the present, REJOICE for the future that will soon be yours.

Here is the way of salvation: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. To believe in Him is to trust Him; it is leaning on Him, resting on Him. Rest your whole weight on Christ in a spiritual sense. You have a load of sin; lean on Him, sin and all. You are unworthy, weak, and perhaps miserable. Cast on Him the weakness, the unworthiness, the misery and all. Take Him to be all in all to you, and when you have trusted Him, you will have become His follower. Go on by humility to be His disciple, by obedience to be His servant, by love to be His friend, and by communion to be His table-companion.

All emphasis is mine

Sunday Praise and Worship: #Victorious

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Beloved, today let’s sing and shout for JOY and praise to our victorious King Jesus. Let’s also never forget to thank Him for the victory over death that He claimed on our behalf. If He had not been resurrected from death, we would not have that glorious hope of everlasting life with Him in heaven.  

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
—1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Our ultimate Hope is only in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ and no one or nothing else. As you listen to the song “Victorious” sung by Third Dayponder the words of David as he praised our victorious Lord:

Psalm 20

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
    and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
    and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for JOY over your victory
    and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
    Answer us when we call!

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV ® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Guide to the four Gospels

From Overview Bible.

Guide to the four Gospels

By Jeffrey Kranz

The first four books of the New Testament are known as the Gospels. These books tell us about the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are named for their authors: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Each Gospel is about the same character and the same general narrative, and so they all share several elements:

The story of Jesus from four perspectives

However, the Gospels are written by different individuals for different audiences with different purposes

Read the rest here.

Sunday Praise and Worship: #Victorious

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Life can be hard. That’s nothing new. We can sometimes feel that the world is changing for the worst too fast. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Stop the world, I want to get off!”

Beloved, if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, you also know the assurance of the hope we have for a better life after we die. We will enjoy everlasting life with Jesus Christ in our new, imperishable bodies!

The song “Victorious” by Third Day is a wonderful praise to our Messiah, who willingly took upon Himself the punishment for our sins at Calvary.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;

43 
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;

44 
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

45 So it is written:
“The first man Adam became a living being”;
the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.

46 
The spiritual did not come first,
but the natural, and after that the spiritual.

47 
The first man was of the dust of the earth;
the second man is of heaven.

48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth;
and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.
49 
And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man,
so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.  

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters,
that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,
nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery:
We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound,
the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality.
54 
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

57 
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

—1 Corinthians 15:42-57

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

The Infinite Value of #Redemption

Another good one from John MacArthur’s Grace to You site. 

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The Infinite Value of Redemption

1 Peter 1:18 and 19, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” Two very wonderful verses; a glorious statement about being redeemed.

Redeemed used to be a very popular word in the evangelical vocabulary; I don’t hear it much anymore. It was a part of many, many hymns and gospel songs. There were even songs, many of them, and hymns with the word “redeemed” in the title. Reference was often made to Christ as the Redeemer. Don’t hear that very much anymore, and I think we may have lost an understanding of this most wonderful reality of what it means to be redeemed, and so we’re going to look at that in a little bit. But I want to give you some context.

As Peter writes, he is writing to some believers who are scattered around the Roman world. He describes them in verse 1 as aliens. They are aliens in the sense that they are part of God’s kingdom and so they are aliens in the world. They’re scattered throughout many of the countries and provinces: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But they are God’s chosen. They are those who are being sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit, those who obey Jesus Christ, those who have been sprinkled with His blood, and Peter is addressing this wonderful letter to them.

The circumstances are dire for them. Obviously, they are a first-generation church. No church existed before the Day of Pentecost. Here are these believers in the Gentile world made up of some Jews and Gentiles. They are definitely alienated from the paganism that literally dominates the world, and life has become very difficult for them. I’ll tell you why specifically.

Read the rest here.