The opinions are many, but the results are always the same.
Recently, I began a series of sermons on what’s called "Jesus’ Sermon On the Mount" from the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7, in the Bible. Even a cursory reading of those 109 verses will leave you scratching your head—especially when you think of them as "The Secret to Joy and Peace-of-Mind."
The first part — Mt. 5:1-12 — also known as "The Beatitudes," lists the way Jesus says to be "blessed" or happy. But, when you read those verses … how you must be "poor-in-spirit, mourn, pure-in-heart, etc." … and how you should "rejoice and be exceedingly glad when you’re persecuted" … you’ll probably say "Ridiculous! Absurd!"
Why is that?
Because it sounds like happiness is dependent upon being miserable or a martyr!
The world’s recipe sounds much better:
Indulge yourself. Throw caution to the wind. "Grab for all the gusto you can get." Get more and more "stuff." Do what you must do to get ahead. Think positively.
While all of these things sound inviting, in reality the thrill of pursuing them is short-lived at best. Soon the adrenaline rush is over. That "bigger, better, faster" computer or car turns out to be a lemon, gets stolen or broken. Money can’t buy you happiness or a good night’s sleep.
No wonder more and more folks are disillusioned and hooked on drink, drugs (illegal or prescription), sex, daredevil feats, get-aways, etc. Their "dream world" turned out to be a nightmare, plunging them into depression and despair.
Are you one of them?
If so, keep on reading; if not, give this article to someone who is.
You see, Jesus never promised big houses, fast cars, six-digit bank accounts, designer clothes, etc., as a result of following Him. Instead, He basically said "Deny yourself, die to yourself and dedicate yourself to following Me" (Luke 9:23; Galatians 2:20).
"And, that’s the ‘Secret to Joy and Peace-of-Mind’?!?" someone sarcastically asks.
"Yes," He quietly replies.
Then, He goes on to explain that these two do not come from things, which always succumb to "rust, rot and robbers" (Mt. 6:19-21). They come from His abiding Presence and Promises in our lives.
When He suddenly appeared at the Jordan River that day, was baptized by John and said "Follow Me," He wasn’t establishing an earthly Kingdom or some type of Utopia. Neither was He preaching a "Health, Wealth and Prosperity" gospel that promised "the good life" to those who followed Him.
Again, He was a spiritual, "radical Revolutionary," Who specialized in regeneration, not reformation. He didn’t come to make good men better; He came to save us from our sins and transform us from the inside out.
He knew true Joy, unlike temporal happiness—which is dependent upon our circumstances—comes from Him. It comes from a right relationship with God through Him and knowing we’re forgiven and can have a new start in life.
The same is true with His peace-of-mind. When He’s our "Refuge and Strength — a very Present Help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1) and has promised to "never leave us or forsake us" (Hebrews 13:5b), we’ll never face a situation in life where He’s not present or unable to help.
Here’s hoping you know that, dear Reader. If not, He’s only a prayer away. Why not give Him a call right now? He’s waiting to hear from you.
To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled "Morning Manna," write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.