Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons



Everyone wants to be happy. And while there is an element of truth in Emerson's observation that “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well”, it is at the same time true that "The fruit of the spirit is joy" (Galatians 5:22) and God wants a people who want to "love life and see good days" (1 Peter 3:10). It becomes evident then, that while we are not to jettison our usefulness, honor, compassion and good influence in an attempt to grab at temporary happiness, God, our Heavenly Father, wants us to be happy, just as we want our own children to be happy.

In the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin the author wrote, “The words of the writer Colette had haunted me for years: ‘What a wonderful life I’ve had!  I only wished I’d realized it sooner’. I didn’t want to look back, at the end of my life or after some great catastrophe, and think, ‘How happy I used to be then, if only I’d realized it” (p. 2). Am I wasting opportunities to experience joy in my life and failing to feel grateful for just an ordinary day? Am I settling for an unnecessarily low level of happiness?  Is my level of happiness something I can change? According to some research, genetics accounts for about 50 percent of our happiness; life circumstances such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation, and religion account for about 10 to 20 percent. Life is short, so why not do all we can to think and act in ways that maximizes the 30-40% that remains within our own control. What elements are often in the lives of happy people? According to one source they include:

  • Making good friends
  • Actively pursuing goals
  • Doing what one is good at — often
  • Giving
  • Not chasing "stuff"
  • Living the life one desires to live

Lists, like the one above, are very useful. Benjamin Franklin designed his own virtues chart, which included temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. Every day he would score himself in each category. Many have found similar charts useful, for they daily remind us of goals that we value and what we are trying to achieve. Both Franklin's list, and the preceding list sound familiar, for each of the above elements God's word already said, thousands of years ago, are good for our souls.

Making Good Friends

The Bible helps us determine what a “good” friend truly is. These are not friends who simply exist to rubber-stamp our decisions or reinforce and make us feel good about selfish or unwise choices, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin” (Proverbs 18:24). You'd fare much better to have the friend who sticks closer than a brother (18:24). Many an NBA star could agree with the proverb that “Wealth adds many friends” (Proverbs 19:4) — by contrast the friendships that lead to happiness are friendships which are spiritually uplifting and which offer real improvement of character, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). These are friendship in which you gain wisdom, character, inspiration, courage, and purity — friendships in which such virtues are only reinforced. Jesus spoke of such friendship when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). So what is my attitude about friendship? Do I want to gather people in my life who will not hold me accountable, people not as gifted or "together" as I am so I can be the focus of the group? Or, do I want to surround myself with people more wise and more mature than myself so that I can be inspired to reach my full potential?

Actively Expressing Gratitude

  •  “And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
  • “Singing with thankfulness in your hearts of God” (Colossians 3:16).
  • “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).
  • “But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
  • “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).

Grateful people never lose sight of all their blessings. And just what should we count as a blessing? If something, though pleasurable, is moving us away from God, then it is a temptation, not a blessing, and if something uncomfortable, or even painful, is moving us toward God, then that is indeed a blessing. In addition, do not forget all the seemingly small daily blessings that we receive. Thank God for all of them. Finally, Paul told Timothy to pray and express thanksgivings on behalf of all men. Let's determine to openly and consistently communicate to the  people, such as spouses, parents, and fellow Christians, how thankful we are that they are in our lives. 

Actively Pursue Goals

The key word here is “actively” — for many people do a lot of dreaming and talking about their goals but they never actively take any real steps to make those goals a reality. Which goals are wise and worth our time?  Paul warned that the goal of getting rich quick or all at costs — was a goal to avoid (1 Timothy 6:9). Each day of our lives we need to be aware that we are working on both an earthly and an eternal future. We are either building for ourselves a happy future or undermining the possibility of a happy future. Don't actively pursue wise goals, and you'll end up feeling sorry for yourself, envious of others, regretting the past, complaining, and finding companionship with others who complain. Rather than attempting to achieve various goals the easy way or through some short cut like playing the lottery, take small daily steps in the direction of your goals and prayerfully watch for the results.

Do What You Are Good At…Often

The Bible, on the one hand, mandates the use our talents (Romans 12:6-9). But there is much more:

  • Use your natural skills to further the kingdom of God, making sure that you are active in what God would call “good works” (Titus 3:1).
  • Learn to do other the other things in which you may not YET be skilled, expanding your abilities, and developing other talents.
  • Be willing to try new things.
  • Appreciate and give encouragement to those who are skilled in other areas.


The Scriptures often link wonderful blessings with generosity:

  • Proverbs 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself."
  • Proverbs 22:9 "He who has a bountiful eye will be blessed for he gives his bread to the poor."
  • Acts 20:35 "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
  • Luke 6:38 "Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."

In this life I have the choice of either being a giver or a taker:



I want to do the right thing—even if I don’t get my way.

I will help you—and I don’t expect anything in return.

How can I help you?

I come prepared to offer something positive to Bible study or worship.

“I want God to be glorified”

“Whatever it takes to be good”

I want it my way.

I will only do something for you if you do something for me.

How can I use you as a stepping-stone.

I will be your friend as long as you are useful to me.

“I don’t get anything out of going to church”

“How does this make me look?”

“Whatever it takes to be popular”


Jesus, long ago, taught that the mindset behind a taker is what will prevent them from ever finding real happiness. The more they grasp and take for themselves, the further they will be from happiness (Matthew 16:25).

Living the Life You Want

Such a goal could be very selfish and some would say that only the sinner actually lives the life they want. I would disagree. The longer I live, the more I see unbelievers as being anything but free.  There is tremendous pressure in the world to conform (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 4:4; Proverbs 29:25). I see a world full of people bound by human tradition, strange family rules or codes, political correctness, wanting the praise of men, or to be popular. By contrast, everything Jesus offers, to be a good spouse, parent, neighbor, friend, citizen — and to be good and courageous — is a life filled with a deep happiness, and is the life I want for myself. I hope you do as well.

Mark Dunagan |
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017