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Fight for Your Happiness Part 8

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted July 1, 2015

RELIGION – We continue this week where we left off with our study about how hope increases our happiness. 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.” We noted last week the many benefits of hope, but now it is time to look and see how it we obtain this ever-powerful hope.

We will be learning how to obtain hope from David Murrary’s Book “The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World”.
So how do we develop and build Christian hope so that we are more oriented to the future than the past and so that we are moving forward in faith rather than living in the past and in unbelief?

First, Murray notes that we are to develop self-awareness. When you speak, how much time do you spend looking back at the past and rehashing last weeks, months, or years hurts and disappointments? Do you ever speak of what you hope by God’s grace the future holds? Ask your spouse or a friend and they will be a big help in developing this self-awareness.

Second, if you realize how much you are looking backward, wrestle your mind into a more forward-facing posture. Take a look at Psalm 42 and challenge yourself, as the Psalmist does and ask “Why am I dredging up the past? Why am I living in past bitterness?  Then as the Psalmist writes confess that I “Trust in God, I shall yet praise Him.” List the things you will yet do by God’s grace rather than mourn over what you did or did not do.

Third, fill your mind with God’s promises: promises to you, to the church, to the world. Use past fulfillments to assure you of future fulfillments. This means being in your Bible and digging to find them and hold them dear to you!

Fourth, practice baby-step hope. Murray notes that “Scientists distinguish little optimism and big optimism. Little optimism is specific and short term (e.g., my work will go well today). Big optimism is longer term and more general (I will enjoy eternal life with Jesus in heaven).” Sonja Lyubomirsky explained, “Little optimism predisposes people to behave in constructive, healthy ways in specific situations (e.g., completing the next project at the office), whereas big optimism produces an overall feeling of vigor; it makes you feel resilient, strong, and energetic.” (The How of Happiness New York: Penguin, 2007, 102).  Take the baby steps each time you face a trial and don’t be pessimistic and say “I can’t do it!” But instead, by God’s grace, know that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” (Phil 4:13)

Fifth, surround yourself with hopeful people. As a pastor, I visit and sit with many hopeless people, many Christians are who have fallen into dark despair and bitterness about the past. It can be draining. While I want to be there for them, I know I need some positive interaction after I do so.  Know the effects of other people on yourself and try to be around more positive people than negative.

Sixth, share your hope by speaking of it to others. We just got back from Camp McCall. I had a great weekend with my son and the men and boys from our church and others in our community as well. Each time Cason and I talked about camp, we got more and more excited! The more you speak of hope and joy, the more joyful you will become!

So get hopeful and live joyful!

Pastor Phillip

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