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Fight for Your Happiness Part 7

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted June 24, 2015

RELIGION – I am back from vacation and feeling great! I have another short vacation coming up in a few weeks as well!  I love having something on the horizon to look forward to. In general, this is why youth is such a happy time for most people. David Murray notes that “We start out in life with so many varied paths and exciting possibilities in front of us: places to go, people to meet, pleasures to experience.

It is so hope filled and hopeful.” Then as we get older, the future shrinks and we spend more time looking backward that forward and for many, our happiness decreases. But it does not have to be this way for the Christian. By the way this whole series comes from my reading and study of David Murrary’s Book “The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World” 

One thing that impedes us in our journey for Christian happiness is how we handle the past and how we look to the future. Whenever I think about the past I remember something I read a while back. When Australia was a new nation, its leaders established a crest to represent their country. Two animals—the kangaroo and the emu—stand one on each side of the crest.  These two animals were chosen because of a unique common characteristic—while kangaroos and emus turn their heads to glance backward to get their bearing, they always move forward.  Though each animal is very swift afoot, neither is able to walk backwards.  The founders of Australia wanted their country represented by what moved forward, never backward. In others words, kangaroos and emus look back and leap forward.

This is very true for us as well. Looking on the past can be pleasant remembering past joys, but for many people the look back hurts.  We spend too much time looking back at past sins. We should learn from past failures, but we must be careful that we do not let Satan smear our face in our failures. When we do look back at past sin, we must quickly look to Jesus and our future deliverance in heaven from all sins.

David Murray notes that “Christian hope is a realistic expectation of and joyful longing for future good and glory based on the reliable Word of God.” He further adds that “Without denying that there may well be hard things and painful experiences in our future, Christian hope lasers in on the good that is in our future:

• God will guide our lives. (Jer 29:11)
• God will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
• God will work all things together for our good. (Rom 8:28)
• God will produce gold from our dross. (Malachi 3:3)
• God will sustain and provide in our weakness and helplessness. (Matt 11:28-30)
• God will get us ready for heavenly glory. (John 14:1-4)
• God will utterly defeat death, sin, and Satan. (Rev 12:11, 1 John 5:4)
• God will provide a new body in a new heaven and a new earth. (Rev. 21-22)

Christian Hope can change our mind and body: Using new brain imagery techniques, scientists “are uncovering a host of biological mechanisms that can turn a thought, belief or desire into an agent of change in cells, tissues and organs. They are learning that much of human perception is based not on information flowing into the brain from the outside world but what the brain, based on previous experience, expects to happen next.”( Julian L. Simon,The State of Humanity p.7)

Christian Hope is infectious:  Just as we can drag others down by our recriminations and moping, so we can inspire and motivate through our inspirational hoping. It not only encourages other sagging Christians, but it also affects depressed unbelievers who cannot help but ask a reason for the hope they see in us.

Christian Hope bring healing: Depression hurts our body and soul in all forms. Depression is in a sense that things are bad and they will not get any better. So grasping hope in Christ will not only help bring light to the darkness of depression, but also positively affect our physical bodies as well. The Mayo Clinic website links high levels of negativity and pessimism with increases in mortality, depression, stress, and heart disease.

Christian Hope is action: Murray notes that “When we hope for better days for the church, we serve the church. When we hope for the conversion of our children, we are motivated to share the gospel with them. When we hope for God’s blessing on His Word, we listen to it much more avidly. Hope produces action.

Christian Hope keeps your mind open: Negative emotions narrow people’s outlook, potential, and possibilities. But, positive emotion like hope broadens people’s minds and especially the range of possible actions they can conceive of in any particular situation. Scientists have found that students infused with a positive emotion such as hope literally see more; their peripheral vision is wider and sharper. (B. L. Fredrickson and C. Branigan, “Positive Emotions Broaden the Scope of Attention and Thought Action Repertoires,” Cognition and Emotion 19 (2005): 313–32.)

Christian Hope stabilizes the storm: Researchers have discovered that optimists “cope better in high stress situations and are better able to maintain high levels of well-being during times of hardship.” Optimistic people seem to experience less pain and stress than their pessimistic peers and also tend to gain and grow more from trials. (Winifred Gallagher, Rapt (New York: Penguin, 2009)

Next week we will look more at how we gain hope. Until then, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Rom 15:13)

Pastor Phillip

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