How to Be Happy, No Matter What

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We have had an interesting couple of years here. First there was a virus we began to hear about and in almost no time, the world shut down. President Trump shut down the borders and had everyone stay home… we along with the rest of the world went into a 2 month lock down… some longer. The isolation from this along with news of so many people dying… many of our relatives or friends. The vaccine came out, Pastor Kathy and i got it and I’ll get the booster when it’s my time and we made great strides to eliminate the scourge of this worldwide pandemic. Then the latest surge happened which down here has lead to more hospitalizations and deaths (among unvaccinated) than before.
This thing hit us as we went into an election year, and unfortunately the disease became political. This has also caused a lot of emotional anguish among people. Imagine living life where you don’t trust anyone… that’s where a lot of people are.
Then, just a few weeks ago, a Cat 4 hurricane hits our area and decimates a lot of it, so ewe are kicked into recovery mode. Everyone was already somewhat emotionally wrung out… fighting anxiety… tempers… and fatigue before the storm.
I can’t control the weather, politics nor can I control the pandemic. But I still believe that God wants you and I to live an abundant life. IOW I believe God wants you and me to

Know Jesus

Find Freedom

Discover our Purpose

Make a Difference

If we do these, we can live an abundant life no matter what is going on around us. Our immediate focus may shift in an emergency, but our goal is for you to know Jesus, Find Freedom, Discover Your Purpose and Make a Difference.
So today, I want to talk about How to be Happy no matter what. Whenever you talk about happiness, you always go to the happy book… Philippians. Paul, more than most, knew how to be happy in horrible situations.
Philippians 1:27 NLT
27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.
Have you ever had a pity party? I have and it’s not fun. Some of you have thrown them as well and you know it’s not fun. You don’t feel good when you do… it doesn’t help you to feel better and you are certainly not happy when you throw a pity party.
It’s easy right now to throw one. You have pain, pressure, people and problems that all take away your joy or your happiness. We will look at how Paul handled all of these and in the process we will learn how to handle them.
We have to learn that God says Happiness is a Choice. Dr Paul Meier, the pioneer for Christian psychology many hears ago wrote a book by that title. Happiness is not based on circumstances it’s based on choices. You and I have to choose happiness. Happiness is not something you go looking for. You have to create happiness… to choose happiness. You may not like this, but You are as happy right now as you want to be.
You cannot blame anybody for your unhappiness… regardless of the pain they have caused, regardless of pressure they have put on you… regardless of other people… and regardless of the problems in your life… you are as happy as you choose to be. Now I know for some, chemistry impacts our ability to be happy - if that’s you, you may need to see a doctor.

One of the biggest mistakes we all make is when and then thinking.

This type of thinking says that when I get this, I’ll be happy. When I marry him, I’ll be happy… When I divorce him, I’ll be happy. When I get this new job, I’ll be happy. When I have kids I’ll be happy. When the kids move out on their won, I’ll be happy. This kind of thinking will never help you to be happy.
Now, let me give you a little background for our passage this morning. In the previous four years of Paul's life before he wrote this chapter we're going to look at today, in that last four years Paul had spent two years in jail in Caesarea on false charges. False charges, two years in jail. Then, he was shipwrecked while he was sailing to Rome for another trial under Nero, who was the Caesar at that time. Then, in that shipwreck, he was stranded on a desert island for a while and actually got bitten by a poisonous snake. Then when he finally got to Rome, he was imprisoned again in Rome for two years in a deep dank, dark dungeon with a 24-hour guard chained to him.
Paul had every reason to be discouraged, to be unhappy, to throw himself a pity party, even to be angry with God. Instead, while in this prison, Paul wrote the book of Philippians. In Philippians 1:12-30 Paul outlines four principles for being happy no matter what. This is a practical message so take good notes because it will help you.
Here are the four principles of choices that if we will make will help us to live a happy life no matter what.

1. You can be happy no matter what if you choose to remember that no matter what happens, God can bring good out of anything

We have to choose to remember that God can bring good out of anything. Look at
Romans 8:28 NLT
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Paul said we know… not we hope or we guess, but we know.
everything - good the bad and the ugly. Pandemic, storm… everything.
He does not say that everything is good. This pandemic is not good. The politics of it is not good. The storm is not good. You losing your homes is not good. There are bad things happening in our world and evil things happening in our world but Paul… God is saying that He will work good out of it.
Knowing that truth is why King David could say,
Psalm 34:1 The Living Bible
1 I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of his glories and grace.
Circle - I will. He made the choice to praise the Lord. David made that choice and so can we. How can you do that? How can you make the decision to praise the Lord when your house is gone, when there is a tree on top of your car? How do we do that? We have to learn to look at events from God’s perspective and not our own.
Say it again… The way you make this first choice is by learning to look at everything in your life from God's viewpoint, God's perspective, not my own. It's a life skill you're going to have to learn if you want to be happy no matter what happens in your life.
Happy people have a larger view of life than those who are unhappy. They see the big picture. They look past the pain, th4 people, the pressure and the problems to see that God is always working for good in our lives.
Paul’s example
Philippians 1:12 NLT
12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.
Instead of having a pity party, Paul says that everything that’s happened to him in the last 4 years… false accusations, shipwrecked, snake bit, and falsely imprisoned and now being chained to a Roman guard … He says that all of that has helped him spread the Good News about Jesus. Now that’s a different perspective.
Paul had dreamed of preaching in Rome, the center of the Empire and the world at that time. He probably thought that he would be holding crusades and seeing people saved. God’s idea was to make him a prisoner of Nero. Look what happened. He was chained to a place guard. These were the elite, handpicked security detail for Caesar. Paul was chained to them and guess what Paul did? He told them all about Jesus. Over two years with each one serving 4 hours per shift, Paul was chained to 4380 different guards… and each one of these were influential. Who do you think was the real prisoner? That’s right the guards were. Two awesome things happened because of this.
Phil 4 tells us that many of Nero’s on family had come to faith in Christ because Paul was chained to these palace guards. You oculd call this a chain reaction....
Secondly, while Paul was forced to sit in a prison cell instead of out preaching, he wrote most fo the New Testament. Over half of the NT are Pauls’ writings are letters to churches that Paul cold not go see because he was locked up.
If we want to be happy, realize that God brings good out of bad. we have to face every situation with faith not fear. We have to get a bigger perspective.
Pray this. God, help me to see this from your perspective. Help me to face this problem with faith … not fear.

Anytime you face problems with faith, it’s a witness to unbelievers

Philippians 1:13 The Living Bible
13 For everyone around here, including all the soldiers over at the barracks, knows that I am in chains simply because I am a Christian.
It’s a witness to unbelievers when you face your problems with faith and not fear.

Anytime you face problems with faith, it’s an encouragement to believers

Philippians 1:14 The Living Bible
14 And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here seem to have lost their fear of chains! Somehow my patience has encouraged them, and they have become more and more bold in telling others about Christ.
Any time we respond to pressures, problems, or people in our lives with God’s perspective it’s a witness to unbelievers but it also encourages believers to be more bold in their witness.

2. You can be happy no matter what if no matter what happens, never let others control your attitude

No one can control you unless you let them. Never let anyone control you with their words or by their actions. Don’t let them control your thoughts, your attitudes nor your actions.
In Phil 1:15-17 Paul describes four types of people that he had in his life and that we will haver in our lives. Three out of four of these will suck the happiness right out of you if you let them. He describes critics, companions, competitors, and challengers. You will have all four of these in your life, and if you don’t know how to deal with them, you will not be happy most of your life.

Critics Phil 1:15

Philippians 1:15 NLT
15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives.
Paul had people who were jealous of him and liked to argue with him. They loved to stir up conflict to try to make him look bad. They were contentious, divisive and critical of Paul and his teachings.
There are people who do that today. They use social media to stir things up and bait people into controversy. They will bait you by being critical of someone else or with controversial statements. They will do this to you often because, as Paul said, they are jealous of you or your influence.
Criticism can and will suck the joy out of your life, so I want you to learn this principle. You don’t need other people’s approval or permission to be happy. Happiness is a choice you make.

Companions people who care Phil 1:16

Philippians 1:15–16 NLT
15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News.
These are the good people in your life. The ones we should all have and depend on. You don’t need many of these, but you do need them. We want you to develop these here at River Church… might be around a table eating, working on an outreach like the Harvest Festival, in a small group… These people are a source of encouragement to you.
Next Paul talks about

Competitors Phil 1:17

Philippians 1:17 NLT
17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me.
You will have people who will compete with you. They are driven by ego and just want to beat you… to win. They will put you down and try to make you look bad so that they will look good.
Listen. Whether you're a businessperson or you're a teenager or you're a homemaker or whatever, competitors who look like they're trying to compete with you over what your house looks like or what your job is or who's your best friend at school, competitors will rob your happiness if you let them. But you can be happy because happiness is a choice.
Next Paul had

Challengers Phil 1:17

Philippians 1:17 GNB
17 The others do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison.
These are people who don’t like you. Believe or not, some people will not like you no matter what you do or don’t do. Paul had them and they were trying to make him feel even worse while he was down and out… in prison.
People actually want to stir up trouble for others. You may have someone like this in your life… maybe a neighbor who only seems to be happy when stirring up trouble for others. One of the main tools these people will use on you is GOSSIP.
You will have all four of these people in your life and some of them will drive you crazy and steal your happiness if you let them.
Look at Paul’s attitude.

Paul’s Attitude: Phil 1:18

Philippians 1:18 NCV
18 But it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that in every way, whether for right or wrong reasons, they are preaching about Christ. So I am happy, and I will continue to be happy.
Paul says that what other people do doesn’t matter, he says He is happy. circle that.
Paul is modeling for us that he will not let anyone, a critic, a competitor, or a challenger or a flat our enemy steal his happiness. He is modeling that not only can pain NOT take it away, people can’t take it away either.
The more blessed you are in life, the more you will be attacked. Don’t worry about what people think about you. They are not thinking of you, but only of themselves. So don’t worry about it.
People like to criticize Joel Osteen… Rick Warren… Andy Stanley… Chris Hodges… Steven Furtick… Billy Graham - why, because they have bigger churches or draw bigger crowds.
Don’t worry about what people think about you… they are not think about you but of themselves.
Look what Paul said next.
Philippians 1:28 NLT
28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself.
People may say mean things about you because you are a Jesus follower. They will call you a Bible Thumper… say you hate women because you are pro-life, might even call you a republican. People will say mean things. Jesus said that we are blessed when people persecute us because of Him. If we are persecuted for following Jesus, we are in good company.
Paul goes on to explain why we can be happy no matter what.
Philippians 1:29–30 NLT
29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.
Paul is writing this from prison. He is saying it’s a privilege to suffer with Jesus. That’s part of being a Christian, but he also says that we are in this fight together. That’s why it’s important to be involved in a local church… like River Church.
If you live for other’s approval… you get your happiness from the approval of others whether it’s likes on FB, or thumbs up on Instagram or whatever… if you live for the approval of others, you will die by their disapproval. You will not find happiness seeking the approval of others… never will. It won’t work.
You have to learn that you do not need other people’s approval to be happy. You are as happy as you choose to be.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 The Living Bible
18 No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Do you want to be in God’s will? The always be grateful … no matter what happens.
OK. First, we can be happy when we remember that God can bring good out of anything so that you stop looking at situations with fear but through faith… seeing the bigger picture.
Second, we never let others control our attitudes.

3. You can be happy no matter what if no matter what happens, you Trust God to always work things out

You will either face things with fear or faith… you will worry or you will worship… you will either panic or pray.
Philippians 1:18 NLT
18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.
Paul said he would continue to rejoice. He decided he would rejoice. How could he say that?
Philippians 1:19 NLT
19 For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.
Paul is speaking faith because he is in prison… he doesn’t see them praying for him but he has faith that they are. In these verses Paul gives 4 sources of strength. Circle them as I read them.
I Know - He has God’s perspective
He has people praying for him
He has the Holy Spirit helping him.
He has faith that God will work it out.
Because of this, he can choose to be happy… to rejoice.
When we trust God even when we don’t understand… when we cannot see how it turns out… trusting God gives you hope… courage… and it gives you happiness.
Philippians 1:20 ESV
20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
Paul tells us that although he doesn’t know how it’s going to turn out… executed… fed to lions… crucified… beheaded… fight a gladiator… He doesn’t know how this will end, but he trusts God.
Hebrews 10:35 The Living Bible
35 Do not let this happy trust in the Lord die away, no matter what happens. Remember your reward!
When you see the big picture… IOW you have a long term perspective, you see past the painful situations. IF all you see is the short term, you will only see problems, pressure, people and pain.
Don’t let your happy trust slip away. Happy and trust go together. You can’t be happy without trust in the Lord. You must choose to trust God just like you have to choose to he happy no matter what.
You can be happy when you remember God can bring good out of anything.
You can be happy if you do not let others control your attitude
You can be happy when you trust God to work things out.

4. You can be happy no matter what if no matter what happens, you focus on your purpose not your problem

Stay focused on your purpose, not your problems. Remember where Paul was when he wrote this… prison, chained to a soldier. He is chained to a soldier 24/7. No privacy… It’s awful conditions.
Philippians 1:22–25 GNB
22 But if by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. 23 I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; 24 but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. 25 I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith,
Paul was ready for heaven, but he also knew his purpose and he focused on this. He told them that the reason he was still alive was for their benefit. His purpose was add to their progress and joy.
Paul has a purpose to live and a purpose to die. His purpose to live was to help others grow in their faith in Christ. His purpose in dying was to spend eternity with Christ.
Happiness does not come from self-gratification, living for yourself. Happiness does not come from selfishness. It doesn't come from living a self-centered life, all about me. Happiness never comes from selfishness. Happiness doesn't come from self-gratification.
Happiness comes from self-sacrifice, living for the benefit of the glory of God and in order to serve others.
Paul sums it up in this verse… It’s one of the most famous verses in the Bible
Philippians 1:21 NIV
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul said that he would be with his Savior who loved him, who forgave him, who died for him, who created him and who gave him a purpose. He was not afraid to die.
Let me close by asking you to fill in the blank…

For me to live is

Is it a hobby, sports, more money, bigger house, get a house, approval of others, success, pleasure…
How you complete this sentence will determine your happiness
If you put the wrong thing in that blank, you will be miserable until you discover the right thing to put in that blank. There is only one answer that leads to happiness and you can settle that today then get on with the rest of your life… and make the rest of your life the best of your life.
Prayer time - repeat this prayer with me…
Dear Jesus, you know that I often let my circumstances determine my happiness. God, I've often allowed the happiness thieves of pain and problems and pressures and picky people to rob my happiness, but I don't want that to be true anymore. Starting today, I want to practice these four principles of how to be happy no matter what happens, secrets that Paul modeled. Help me to remember that you have a good plan even out of the bad things that happen in my life, that you can turn bad into good. Help me to remember that your viewpoint is the key. Help me to look at everything in my life from your perspective. I want to be a wise man, I want to be a wise woman, and I want to handle the situations that come into my life that in a way that is a witness to nonbelievers and is an encouragement to believers.
Father, help me to remember the what other people say and what other people do does not control my happiness unless I choose to allow it. Help me to remember that things that I don't understand and things I can't figure out, I don't have to have the answer to trust you. I want to trust you to work it all out for good. Help me to stay focused on your purpose for my life not my problems. I want to use the rest of my life in serving you by serving others, and then, I want to be with you in heaven for eternity.
From this day on, I'm going to fill in the blank, for me to live will be Christ. Just say that to him, "For the rest of my life, I want the answer be, for me to live is Christ." I know he is the ultimate source of happiness. I ask you, Jesus Christ, to take over every area of my life, guide me and lead me, protect me and use me. In your name, I pray. Amen
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