Would you like to experience true happiness?
When it comes to happiness, most of us have the same questions. Why can’t I be consistently happy? Is it wrong to be happy when there’s so much pain and suffering in the world? And perhaps the biggest one: How can I be happier? Some Christians make an artificial contrast between joy and happiness, while others claim God wants us to be holy, but not happy. In fact, he wants us to be both, and the two go hand in hand!
In 60 Days of Happiness, noted theologian and New York Times bestselling author Randy Alcorn shares sixty timeless devotions demonstrating that God not only wants us to be happy in him and enjoy his gifts, he commands and empowers us to do so.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
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60 Days of Happiness
Discover God's Promise of Relentless Joy
By Randy Alcorn, Stephanie Rische
Tyndale House PublishersCopyright © 2016 Randy Alcorn
All rights reserved.
Why do we all want happiness?
The people the Lord has freed will return and enter Jerusalem with joy. Their happiness will last forever. They will have joy and gladness, and all sadness and sorrow will be gone far away. ISAIAH 51:11, NCV
While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life's joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world's sorrows, tasting the comingjoy. TIMOTHY KELLER
* * *
THE FEVERISH PURSUIT of happiness in our culture might lead us to believe it's a passing fad, the worldview equivalent of bell-bottoms or Beanie Babies. Not so. The desire for happiness isn't, as many suppose, the child of modern self-obsession. The thirst for happiness is deeply embedded in all people, in every culture, and even in God's Word.
The Shawshank Redemption contains a poignant scene in which a prisoner, Andy, locks himself into a restricted area and plays a record featuring opera singers.
Beautiful music pours through the public address system while prisoners and guards stare upward, transfixed.
Another prisoner, Red, played by Morgan Freeman, narrates:
I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. ... I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.
The music liberated those prisoners, stirring feelings of a better reality and instilling hope that true beauty exists. We, too, though living in a fallen world, dare to hope for a transcendent happiness that's out there ... somewhere.
I have fond memories of my childhood and the idealistic dreams of my early life. But by the time I was a teenager, I was disillusioned and empty — though most who knew me wouldn't have guessed.
In junior high I got good grades, won awards, played quarterback, was named team captain, and was elected student body president, but I wasn't happy. I had brief tastes of happiness, but I spent far more time seeking and longing for happiness than experiencing it. I bought comic books by the hundreds, subscribed to fantasy and science fiction magazines, and spent nights gazing through my telescope, pondering the universe, longing for something better.
The night sky filled me with awe — and a small taste of happiness. I yearned for something bigger than myself. (Since I knew nothing of God, aliens were the primary candidates — somehow I knew that this world by itself didn't have enough for me.) One unforgettable night, I gazed at the great galaxy of Andromeda, 2.5 million light-years away, with its trillion stars. I longed to explore it someday, to lose myself in its immensity.
But my wonder was trumped by an unbearable sense of loneliness and separation. I wept that night because I felt so incredibly small. Unknown to me, God was using the marvels of his universe to draw me to himself. Through God's creation, I was seeing "his invisible attributes ... his eternal power and divine nature" (Romans 1:20).
When I first read the Bible, it was new, intriguing, and utterly disorienting. I opened it and discovered these words: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). Then I read the greatest understatement ever: "He made the stars also" (Genesis 1:16, KJV). Countless stars in a universe one hundred billion light-years across are a mere add-on: "also."
I realized that this book was about a person who made the universe, including Andromeda and Earth — and me.
Because I had no reference points when I read the Bible, it wasn't just Leviticus that confused me. But when I reached the Gospels, something changed. I was fascinated by Jesus. Everything about him had the ring of truth, and soon I came to believe he was real. Then, by a miracle of grace, he transformed me — and the single most noticeable difference was my newfound happiness.
My father, angry that I'd turned to a belief he disdained, predicted I would "outgrow" my conversion. I'm grateful that forty-five years later, I haven't. (I'm also grateful that at age eighty-five, four years before his death, my dad trusted Christ.)
Like everyone else, I've experienced suffering and heartaches in my life. Still, every day I find happiness in the one who reached out to me with his grace decades ago — and continues to do so whenever I call out to him. I hope you'll join me in this journey and that together we will experience the life-changing happiness of God.
* * *
Lord, we live in a world that sells false happiness at newsstands, stores, and websites. Thank you for offering us authentic happiness in Jesus. Help us to remember that our desire for true happiness comes from you and can only be fulfilled by you, the happy God.
What does "being happy in Jesus" mean?
Be happy and full of joy, because the Lord has done a wonderful thing. JOEL 2:21, NCV
In him the day-spring from on high has visited the world; and happy are we, forever happy, if that day-star arise in our hearts. MATTHEW HENRY
* * *
MOST CHRIST-FOLLOWERS I've known experienced a newfound gladness after their conversions. Sure, life was still difficult, but they had "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). Perhaps that is your story. Or maybe your happiness as a Christian has been reduced to an oasis here and there as you struggle to walk what seems to be an endless desert.
As is the case for many people who are raised in unbelieving homes, the happiness I found in Jesus was a dramatic change.
I first heard about Christ as a teenager, when I visited a church youth group. Initially, Bible stories seemed to me like the Greek mythology and comics I loved. Then I read the Gospels, and I came to believe that Jesus was real and superheroes are his shadows. I felt a profound happiness I'd never known.
My heartfelt gladness was the result of being born again, forgiven, and indwelt by God's Spirit. This happiness stood in stark contrast to the emptiness I'd felt before hearing the gospel's "good news of happiness" (Isaiah 52:7). My parents immediately noticed the change. (Mom liked it; Dad didn't.)
Sure, I needed to make some changes, but I never considered the things I gave up to follow Christ as sacrifices — mainly because they hadn't brought me real happiness. My worst days as a believer seemed better than my best days before knowing Christ. Jesus meant everything to me. I wasn't attempting to be happy; I simply was happy.
Even today, four and a half decades later, I've never forgotten that infectious experience of happiness, which I believe was part of my "first love" for Jesus (Revelation 2:4, NASB). Sometimes regaining that initial passion involves repentance and calling upon God's grace and empowerment. David prayed, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me" (Psalm 51:12, NIV). He recognized that he couldn't make himself full of joy. Rather, he needed to ask God to restore his gladness and draw his spirit to want to delight in God. I don't think that was a one-time prayer for David — nor should it be for us.
Notice that David, talking to God, called his salvation "your salvation." If we're to discover or rediscover the joy of a relationship with God, we need to start by recognizing that it's centered on what God does, not what we do. We didn't rescue ourselves; God rescued us. So this book isn't about working hard to try to be happy but about asking God to move our hearts to enter into his happiness.
Don't misunderstand. I'm no stranger to unhappiness — in this world under the curse of evil and suffering, something would be wrong if I were. I've studied the Holocaust, walked through the Killing Fields of Cambodia, written at length on persecution and the problem of evil and suffering, and walked alongside people who have experienced profound tragedy and grief. I've experienced illness, adversity, loss, depression, and discouragement. I'm not naturally sanguine, perky, or bubbly. But by God's grace, as the years have passed, I've experienced a more consistent heartfelt gladness and delight in Christ.
True happiness, the kind God wants for us, is not pasting on a false smile in the midst of heartache. It's discovering a reasonable, attainable delight in Christ that transcends difficult circumstances. This desire is obtainable because it's built on God's all-encompassing sovereignty, love, goodness, grace, gladness, and redemptive purposes in our lives.
Until Christ completely cures us and this world, our happiness will be punctuated by times of great sorrow. But that doesn't mean we can't be predominantly happy in Christ. Our happiness can and should be solidly grounded not on pretense or indifference to suffering or on wishful thinking but on what is absolutely true! It's based on solid facts: God secured our eternal happiness through a cross and an empty tomb, and he grants us lives of purpose, meaning, and eternal significance. He is with us and in us right this moment. He tells us to be happy in him — and he never commands us to do anything without giving us his power to obey.
* * *
God, you of all people know how much we crave happiness — you're the one who designed us to crave it! Thank you for giving us both the means and the opportunity to attain it, despite this world's heartaches. Thank you especially for your provision of salvation in Jesus. Remind us daily that by our Savior's redemptive death for us, you've secured for us an eternity free from pain and sorrow, where we'll forever be truly happy. Help us live today in light of that truth.
Is happiness unspiritual?
They come with happiness and joy; they enter the king's palace. PSALM 45:15, NCV
All your security, freedom, rest, peace, and happiness consist in the goodness and love of your Maker towards you. WILHELMUS À BRAKEL
* * *
I'VE WATCHED PEOPLE in several countries view the JESUS film for the first time. They beam as Jesus befriends children and performs miracles, groan and weep at his crucifixion, and smile or cry out with delight when they witness his resurrection. The reality of who Jesus is overwhelms them. (I'm told that at one showing, tribal warriors spontaneously jumped to their feet and riddled the screen with blowgun darts in an attempt to stop the soldiers from nailing Jesus to the cross.)
I've also watched videos of tribal groups hearing about eternal life in Jesus for the first time. People repent, turn to Jesus, break out in joyful shouts, and dance for hours.
A video of the Kimyal tribe in Indonesia conveys the overwhelming happiness of those receiving the first Bible in their own language. The occasion, marked by joyful tears, broad smiles, and spontaneous dancing, demonstrates the contagious happiness of people who delight in reading God's words in their heart language.
The Bible is a vast reservoir containing not dozens but hundreds of passages conveying happiness. God says, "My word that goes out from my mouth ... will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11, NIV). (That promise is for his words, not mine or yours, which is why this book contains so much Scripture.)
What God says differs radically from what many people — unbelievers and believers alike — assume.
If we don't explore the happiness-related words God put in the Bible, we'll miss the richness of happiness in Christ lying beneath the surface of Scripture. While no treatment of joy and happiness should deny or minimize texts of lamentation, a truly biblical doctrine of joy and happiness fully recognizes and embraces the realities of suffering in this present age. Happiness in Scripture is all the deeper and richer because it doesn't require denial or pretense. We can experience it even in the midst of severe difficulty.
Some argue that the word happy is too unspiritual for Christians to use. But those who have studied the Hebrew word asher and the Greek word makarios, which are frequently used in Scripture, know that those words definitely convey happiness.
Unfortunately, both words are most often translated "blessed" in the most widely read translations (though many other translations render them "happy"). In 1611, when the King James Version was translated, blessed was a synonym for happy. So whether or not we recognize it, the Bible has talked about being happy all along.
Growing up in an unbelieving home, I never heard the word blessed. After I came to Christ I heard the word countless times. I didn't know what it meant; I just knew it sounded holy and spiritual. It was "white noise" — one of many church words whose meanings are masked due to constant use.
Years later, I heard someone say that in passages such as Psalm 1 and the beatitudes of Matthew 5 and Luke 6, blessed means "happy." My response was, "Huh?"
Because of what I'd read and been taught, I was certain this must be wrong. In passing years, I've dug for the truth, and my search has yielded rich and surprising discoveries — including that there are more than twenty different Hebrew words and fifteen Greek words in Scripture that are happiness synonyms. The Bible is full of references to happiness.
Excerpted from 60 Days of Happiness by Randy Alcorn, Stephanie Rische. Copyright © 2016 Randy Alcorn. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
DAY 1 Why Do We All Want Happiness?, 1,
DAY 2 What Does "Being Happy in Jesus" Mean?, 5,
DAY 3 Is Happiness Unspiritual?, 9,
DAY 4 Where Did Our Desire for Happiness Originate?, 14,
DAY 5 Can Happiness Be Consistent and Enduring?, 18,
DAY 6 What Is True Happiness Based On?, 22,
DAY 7 How Can We Be Happy in Such a Sad World?, 26,
DAY 8 Does God Want Us to Be Happy or Holy?, 30,
DAY 9 What Do Homesickness and Happiness Have in Common?, 35,
DAY 10 Is It Possible to Separate Happiness from God?, 40,
DAY 11 What's the Difference between Joy and Happiness?, 45,
DAY 12 If Happiness Isn't Joy, What Is?, 49,
DAY 13 Is Happiness the World's Imitation of Joy?, 53,
DAY 14 Is God Happy?, 57,
DAY 15 How Does Understanding God's Happiness Change Lives?, 62,
DAY 16 What Is God's Promise for Our Future Happiness?, 67,
DAY 17 Does Obeying God Mean Sacrificing Our Happiness?, 71,
DAY 18 Why Aren't Christians Known for Their Happiness?, 76,
DAY 19 Must We Choose between Our Happiness and God's Glory?, 80,
DAY 20 If Christians Shouldn't Be Happy, Who Should Be?, 84,
DAY 21 Are Humankind's Desires Sinful?, 88,
DAY 22 What's So Good about the Good News?, 92,
DAY 23 Is Seeking Happiness Unspiritual?, 97,
DAY 24 Is Physical Pleasure Evil?, 102,
DAY 25 Can the Search for Happiness Become an Idol?, 106,
DAY 26 How Does Seeing God Accurately Promote Lasting Happiness?, 110,
DAY 27 Who or What Is Our Primary Source of Happiness?, 115,
DAY 28 How Can Pleasure Point Us to God?, 120,
DAY 29 How Can Enjoying Happiness in God's Creation Draw Us to God?, 125,
DAY 30 When Are Good Things Wrong, and When Are They Right?, 129,
DAY 31 How Does Creation Demonstrate God's Happiness?, 134,
DAY 32 What Makes Our Father Happy?, 139,
DAY 33 Is Calling God Happy Blasphemous ... or at Least Disrespectful?, 143,
DAY 34 When Did Happiness Begin?, 148,
DAY 35 Can God's Creatures Tap into His Triune Happiness?, 152,
DAY 36 Is God's Happiness Confined to Heaven?, 156,
DAY 37 Is God's Happiness a New Thought?, 161,
DAY 38 Why Were So Many People Attracted to Jesus?, 165,
DAY 39 Is Jesus Happy?, 169,
DAY 40 Did Jesus Have a Sense of Humor?, 173,
DAY 41 Can Happiness Really Be Spiritual?, 178,
DAY 42 What Role Do Our Attitudes Play in Our Happiness?, 183,
DAY 43 How Do Our Actions Affect Our Happiness?, 188,
DAY 44 Why Not Make Happiness a Habit?, 193,
DAY 45 What Can We Do to Cultivate Happiness?, 198,
DAY 46 What Choice Do We Have When It Comes to Happiness?, 202,
DAY 47 Why Should We Care about Making Others Happy?, 207,
DAY 48 Can Feasts and Celebrations Please God?, 212,
DAY 49 How Can Reading God's Word Promote Lasting Happiness?, 218,
DAY 50 Are Health and Wealth Essential to Happiness?, 223,
DAY 51 How Does Forgiveness Relate to Our Happiness?, 228,
DAY 52 Must We Choose between Holiness and Happiness?, 233,
DAY 53 Is Seeking Happiness Selfish?, 238,
DAY 54 Can Self-Forgetfulness Make Us Happier?, 243,
DAY 55 What Does Thankfulness Have to Do with Happiness?, 248,
DAY 56 Do We Have a Right to Expect Happiness in a World of Worry?, 253,
DAY 57 What Does God Promise Us about Eternal Happiness?, 258,
DAY 58 What Happiness Can We Anticipate on the New Earth?, 263,
DAY 59 Is Unending Happiness Too Good to Be True?, 268,
DAY 60 Will We Really Live Happily Ever After?, 272,
About the Author, 287,