Keys to Happiness


How can we find true happiness? Is it found in heavenly thoughts?


Let us understand where true happiness comes from.

Sermon Plan

We will look at the beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12, keys to happiness.
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them. 3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. 6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. 7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. 9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. 10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Matthew 5:1-12 More than Happy

What is more than happy? Being blessed is more than happy! After Jesus gave the Beatitudes during his sermon on the mount, it was written down in Greek using a word that is usually translated as blessed in English. However, it has also been translated as happy at times. A discussion among translators has been whether happy or blessed is a more accurate translation. Most translators seem to have come to the same conclusion, that happiness can be fleeting, but blessedness remains. The beatitudes are not keys to a fleeting emotion, but a core inner condition. So, the word blessed was chosen, because yes, we can be more than happy.

Matthew 5:3 Poor in Spirit

What does “poor in spirit” really mean? Poor people are dispossessed and abandoned, and have a deep sense that the world has failed them. Can a wealthy person be poor in spirit? Wealth deceives us into thinking that we are more important than the “little people.” Has the world provided for us or has the world in reality failed us? Jesus did not say “poor in possessions” but “poor in spirit.” The description is independent of this material world. The blessed of God rely on God not this world’s possessions, but boldly face the truth of our abject spiritual poverty. We are blessed people when heaven rules us, not material possessions.
Being poor in spirit is not the same as being in poor spirits. The word poor here means someone so destitute that they don’t even have food. How can that be blessed? Let’s take the opposite extreme, someone who believes they are spiritually filled and in need of nothing. This attitude makes someone obnoxious, self-satisfied, shallow and unpleasant to be around. Such people may constantly judge us as inferior and compare us with their so-called higher level of spirituality. They are in fact deluded by spiritual fools gold. Being poor in spirit is simply facing up to the facts. We are all desperately poor and in need of God’s merciful provision.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” not will be but is. Why does being poor in spirit guarantee heaven here and now? The kingdom of heaven is future and now. True Christianity is not among the spiritually arrogant, the deluded, but those who know they are neither filled nor satisfied, but spiritually destitute. When we are not deceived, but know our spiritual poverty, we become the Church, those whose only hope is heaven. Then we taste heaven on earth. We understand real instead of counterfeit Christianity. Spiritual junk and all counterfeit kingdoms are swept away leaving room for the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:4 Mourning

Why does Jesus say blessed are they that mourn? There is a time to mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Mourning is part of the process of repentance. It prepares for a change of heart. Fasting is associated with mourning, a short period of abstinence from foods in order to pray. We need to mourn and humble ourselves before God (James 4:7-10), cleansing our hands of dirty deeds and purifying our hearts of wrongful thoughts. If we find no joy in our mistakes, or evils of this world, then there is hope for a change of heart. If we then turn to God to save us, he will bless and comfort us.
How is mourning a blessing? Let’s contemplate the opposite. What if we never learn from our mistakes or cared about world problems? When would we ever change for the better? When would we ever want to make a better world? A careless attitude that never mourns for the evils of our world, never mourns for personal mistakes is a dangerous attitude. Mourning helps us change. Mourning means we are processing things, learning a lesson. Mourning means there is hope for better decisions next time and a better future. If we don’t mourn our mistakes, we will never be comforted. So yes, blessed are those that mourn, for THEY will be comforted.

Matthew 5:5 Meekness

Why does Jesus in Matthew 5:5 promote meekness? The opposite of meekness is self-importance. Pride fights and creates strife whereas humility makes peace. Arrogance seeks vengeance while meekness forgives. Ego boasts great things, but purity is unpretentious. Hardheadedness makes life difficult, whereas a pliant spirit smooths the way. Inheriting the land can be a metaphor for God’s provision. Who is more likely to be given a job or considered for a promotion, the arrogant misfit or the humble team player? Humility is a great secret of the universe that is ignored by the proud to their own hurt. Surely, the meek are blessed and inherit all the good things of life.
Meekness is not weakness but real strength. That is why Jesus said blessed are the meek (Matthew 5:5). Weak people try to cover their failures by boasting, shameless acts, violence, pretentiousness, pride and conceit. Meek people don’t need to pretend. They are strong enough face the truth, that we are but dust of the earth, and that human life is a mere vapor. Humble people are a pleasure to be around. Arrogant people are not. They are too repulsive to be around. History shows that crude, overbearing buffoons do not last long. Gentle and considerate people are loved by all and inherit the land after spineless bullies are long forgotten.

Matthew 5:6 Righteousness

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness? What is righteousness? We mourn evil and desire justice. When we don’t mourn for our own sins we become arrogant and self-righteous instead of humble. Mourning for sin means we sincerely pray, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we are praying for God’s righteousness on earth. Some argue that it is impossible for human thoughts to attain this high standard completely and they are probably correct. Yet, the Holy Spirit patiently works with us and pricks our consciences to do right. Jesus’ promise is that if we crave justice and what is right, we will be filled.
Righteousness seems so strangely out of fashion. Our world craves to do wrong, yet there is an emptiness that can only be filled by righteousness. Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Those who do, find an incredible sense of happiness beyond words, a blessing directly from heaven. It is a transcendent happiness that is beyond the fleeting thrills and hilarity of this world, but is otherworldly, eternal. Why? What is right about right? Wrong produces pleasure for a night, a headache tomorrow and grinding burdens for life. The secret is that righteousness may be difficult, but it leaves unspoiled happiness for this life and the next.

Matthew 5:7 Mercy

Jesus said blessed are the merciful? Jesus mercifully healed the sick and befriended sinners. Our world is the opposite: cruel, intolerant, indifferent, tyrannical, disdainful, accusatory, punishing, and totally lacking mercy. Few people seem to care about the sick or sinners, unless they can make money through high medical costs or isolate the worst sinners in prisons not designed for hope of reform. Some people show compassion without a dollar sign attached. There are some tender-hearted souls who work with sinners to guide them towards a better life. Jesus promised that if we show mercy towards the poor and the guilty, we too will be shown mercy. Surely we all need it.
We want justice. When people criticize us, we are offended by their lack of mercy. We want justice served on others, but we want mercy for ourselves. Why is there so little mercy? A merciless atmosphere makes us walk on eggshells. Mercy creates an atmosphere of trust. Lack of mercy creates a police-state-like atmosphere of secrecy and distrust. Mercy creates a warm, affirming atmosphere. Without mercy, we tend to cover up problems and leave them unresolved. In an atmosphere of mercy, we are not afraid to admit mistakes and they can be worked on. As Jesus taught, be merciful and when we need it, mercy will be shown to us.

Matthew 5:8 Pure-Heartedness

When Jesus said blessed are the pure in heart, he was not talking about being naive and foolish. The Greek for pure is used elsewhere to mean clean after bathing (John 13:10). The Pharisees thought that they were righteous if they were clean on the outside (Matthew 23:26). Being clean or pure in the eyes of God begins on the inside. It has nothing to do with naivety and everything to do with innocence, being wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Their intent is for good and without pretense. They carry no malice or dishonesty in their hearts. How can the real world survive without such blessed people!
How can we have a pure heart, free from evil motives? What results from an impure heart? The Pharisees thought they were clean, but their hearts were not pure. How do we get a pure heart? Old Testament laws regarding being ritually clean or unclean point to this purity of heart. It only comes from God (Ezekiel 36:25-27). It comes with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that those who have a pure heart will see God. Is that because they see the hand of God behind things? Do those with pure motives look for God in everything and thus see Him? Are our hearts contaminated or pure?

Matthew 5:9 Peacemakers

Is making peace a foolish waste of time? It has never worked in international politics for very long. Why did Jesus call the peacemakers blessed? Imagine a world where nobody tried to referee between sides. It would descend into complete anarchy. Humanity exists in a constant state of hostility. Animosity between people and God, between nations, between governments and their people, within churches and families are an ongoing fact of life. Peacemakers bring a measure of calm to a potentially escalating situation often at great personal sacrifice. While some men love a good fight and look to create strife, only peacemakers are blessed to be called the children of God.
Jesus said blessed are the peace-MAKERS, not the peace-attempters. Making peace requires sacrifice, compromise. Each side must be willing to give up something. Negotiations must be a win-win for all sides. Making peace can be very hard. Reconciliation can take a long time. If peacemakers are blessed, are peace-breakers cursed? Surely those who stir up trouble, make war and sow discord are loathsome and contemptible people. Nobody likes a troublemaker. History blackens their name and they are despised by all. Pride may prevent us making peace, but necessity demands it. Living in freedom must also include freedom from strife and warfare. Peace does not just happen. It has to be made.

Matthew 5:10-12 Persecution for Righteousness

Persecution means to pursue or chase away. It can be mild or bad enough to flee town (Matthew 20:23). Why did Jesus call the persecuted blessed? How can harassment be blessed? Perhaps 60% of Christians today live in countries with heavy restrictions on religious freedom and a quarter suffer severe mistreatment. How is that blessed? If that abuse is because of righteousness, then we identify with Jesus. If we cherish what is right, if we love God, if we love his Church, we will be hated. We are either on Jesus’ side or not. Persecution for righteousness tells us clearly that we are blessed because we are on God’s side.
Why are we harassed if we do the right thing, like keeping the speed limit, supporting the boss at work or avoiding dirty jokes? Jesus said blessed are those who are persecuted for doing right. If we do the right thing, we will be insulted and vilified. It is a badge of honor to be abused for doing right. It confirms that we are on God’s side. In that sense it is a blessing. The opposite is also true. If everyone loves us and we are never mistreated, maybe we are doing something wrong. Sometimes we are at fault. However, when harassment comes because we were righteous, it is a blessing.

Outro/Take Home

Happiness is heavenly thinking. Humility, mourning, meekness, right living, mercy, clean-heartedness, making peace and being harassed for doing what is right. Happiness is being more heavenly minded than earthy. Let us allow ourselves to be happy.

Who do we Follow?


When the light of God came into the world it began to shine in a small fishing village and from there would spread to the whole world. Some were willing to receive that light immediately changing their entire lives. What about us?


I pray that the beginnings of Christian discipleship encourage us to also be bold disciples.


We will look at Matthew 4:12-23, the place where discipleship began, and how ready those first disciples were to drop everything to follow the Light of the world.
Matthew 4:12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 13 He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.”
17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Matthew 4:13 Capernaum

Jesus “moved to Capernaum” and spent most of his ministry near there, the Hebrew hamlet of “Nahumville” on the north shore of Lake Galilee. There were no paved streets, or public restrooms and the synagogue, reputedly built by the Roman centurion whose servant Jesus healed, was the community center. It was a small fishing village on a main road. Peter and his wife owned a house there. Homes were stone with thatched roofs. A paralyzed man was lowered through such a roof and Jesus healed him there. Perhaps Jesus chose this town on a major trade route as a center of his early ministry because his first disciples would come from there.

Matthew 4:15-16 Darkness and Death

As we read the words, “people who sat in darkness” and “those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,” do we understand the burdens we all carry as a result of bad decisions? Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride all have consequences. A prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-4 spoke of one who would shatter the yoke that burdens. If our western democracies are really free then we don’t need Jesus. But the truth is, only Jesus can give us true freedom. That Old Testament prophecy began to be fulfilled exactly where it was predicted to be, in Capernaum along the border of Zebulun and Naphtali.

Matthew 4:15-16 A Light has Shined

In a dark world where is the light? Diplomats try to stop wars and death but have failed. America has been involved in a hundred armed conflicts since its founding. Legislators try to shine a light on things but our land remains in darkness. America has fallen to 20th in one freedom index. Jesus’ message is considered to be foolishness outside of Christianity (1 Corinthians 1:10-18). David sang “the Lord is my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1-9). Beginning at Capernaum “a light has shined” into this dark world of death. Jesus announced the kingdom of heaven. Most of Capernaum refused that message. Have we seen this “great light”?

Matthew 4:17 Repent

Many people listened to the newcomer, a hillbilly from the backwoods of Nazareth with radical ideas. “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” Some were angered. Others thought it was foolishness. Yet, a few devotees walked off their jobs to follow him. Are we lost, without hope and desperately in need of this ancient message from Capernaum? Repentance is the primary message (Matthew 4:17; Luke 24:47). It begins like the Greek word suggests, as a change of heart. In the beginning God said, let there be light, and in the beginning of the new creation, God sheds light into our hearts.

Matthew 4:17 What Jesus wants Preached

What is a central theme of Jesus’ preaching? He began preaching repentance and the kingdom of heaven. He concluded his ministry preaching repentance and forgiveness (Luke 24:47). He instructed this same theme be preached in all the world (Matthew 28:19-20). Repentance is a continual life-changing experience beginning as a change of heart and progresses towards an ever changing life of becoming more like God in every way. When we submit to God, we are forgiven all our past wrongdoings and come under the protection of his spiritual kingdom. We grow less interested in the useless pursuits of this world and more interested in living the way of real joy.

Matthew 4:20-22 Intuitive Decisions

Proverbs suggest not making snap judgments (Proverbs 18:13, Proverbs 19:2, Proverbs 29:20). Are quick decisions always wrong? We make intuitive spur-of-the-moment decisions every day, sometimes long term. We also see people make impulsive decisions which they don’t stick with, like the parable of the seed sown on stony ground that quickly springs up but has no root and no staying power. The disciples also made a sudden decision to follow Jesus. It is appropriate to make some choices speedily, even decisions with lifelong consequences. Going with our instincts can be the right choice. If we trust that Jesus will lead us to green pastures, why delay following him?


Do we see really Jesus as the Light in a dark world? What hinders us from following Christ more fully?

Come and See


What are we here for? What is the purpose of the church?


Let’s understand how important pointing to Jesus is.


We will look at John 1:29-42 and John the Baptist’s example of pointing to the Lamb of God.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33 I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”
35 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.
38 Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them.
They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).
42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).
[Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.]
And that’s the Gospel of our Lord. Thanks be to God!

John 1:29 The Lamb of God (Ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ)

John the Baptist’s words are profound, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Revelation reveals the Lamb standing at God’s throne (5:6-13), opening the seven seals (6:1-16; 8:1), as shepherd of the nations (7:9-17), those who triumphed in his blood (12:11), his book of life (13:8), standing with the pure (14:1-10), singing Moses’ song (15:3), the Lamb’s victory (17:14), his wedding (19:7-9; 21:9), his city (21:22-27), his river of the water of life (22:1-3). Jesus is the Lamb of God (Latin: Agnus Dei), the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:1-28; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
(Revelation 5:6-13, Revelation 6:1-16, Revelation 8:1, Revelation 7:9-17, Revelation 12:11, Revelation 13:8, Revelation 14:1-10, Revelation 15:3, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:7-9, Revelation 21:9, Revelation 21:22-27, Revelation 22:1-3, Exodus 12:1-28, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

John 1:29 The Sin of the World (τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου)

John saw Jesus coming towards him. Do we see Jesus in the heart of a fellow Christian, in the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, or prisoner? Why is Jesus called the Lamb of God? The blood of an unblemished lamb on the door posts signaled the death angel to “pass over” the houses of the Israelites. Passover also commemorates Jewish liberation from slavery to sinful Egypt. The unblemished lamb pictures the sinless nature of Christ. Only the sacrifice of the sinless God-man could take away the sin of the world. Why “sin” and not “sins”? Could this mean all the wickedness of the world is one great burden or plague?1
1Plummer, Alfred. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. John. Cambridge University Press. 1902.

John 1:30 He it Is (οὗτός ἐστιν)

This is He. He is the one. Not one of us is the Messiah. Yet, so many have a Messiah complex, delusions of grandeur, an inflated sense of self-importance? Why do so many leaders, politicians and preachers burden ourselves with the delusion that we must “save the world”? Like John the Baptist we should point to another who is the Messiah. Like a light on a hill we don’t illuminate ourselves but God. We are all appointed missionaries, sent by God to tell the story of Jesus and his love. John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus. Yet, Jesus was not just prefered before John. He was before him.

John 1:31-37 Look, the Lamb of God (Ἴδε ὁ Ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ)

Apparently even though John was Jesus’ cousin, he had not recognized him as being the Messiah. Often within families, greatness is not recognized except by outsiders. “Oh that’s just cousin Joshua!” Well, John was a humble man. He testified that he saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus, verifying that Jesus was the Son of God, the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Again the next day he pointed his own disciples to Jesus the Lamb of God. From other passages, we deduce that these two disciples were probably Andrew and John. Every pastor is called to be so selfless and point disciples away from themselves and to Jesus?

John 1:38-39 Come and See (Ἔρχεσθε καὶ ὄψεσθε)

Jesus asked the two disciples of John what they were looking for. What are we looking for? Have we found it in the Babylon of this world? The two disciples said Rabbi, meaning teacher? Are we in church to teach others our opinions or to be taught by Jesus? Jesus’ first invitation was to come and see. Yet, what do we see in churches, faulty people or Jesus and His Spirit at work in those faulty people? This event was so important to John, that he even remembered the time of day it occurred. Is there a deeper meaning, that if we begin to follow Jesus, we will eventually truly see?

John 1:40-41 Christ (Χριστός)

Messiah is Hebrew for Christ. Both words mean the anointed one. It refers to a male anointed by divine command as king, high priest or patriarch.1 John calls Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, God’s Son. Andrew announces him as the Messiah. Jesus is who they say his is, Savior of the world. Andrew’s reaction is an example for us. He does not argue with his brother, but simply announces. It is up to Simon to choose what to do. When truth fills our hearts, we don’t wait around for others to come to us but go, telling them what we have found.
1Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Unabridged, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

John 1:42 Peter (Πέτρος)

Simon’s name is Shimon in Hebrew, meaning doubtful, offspring of a hyena or wolf.2 It would be changed to Peter, meaning a rock.3 This would indicate the change in character that Peter would experience with the teaching of the Holy Spirit. He would be changed from a person of variableness and doubtful mood to foundation strong, a person of rock solid character. An ancient Christian custom continued in some churches, is to give a new name at baptism. More importantly is the change that comes with conversion. These foundational leaders of the Christian faith without visible support, only faith and Jesus as their teacher, pioneered what we enjoy today.
2Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Unabridged, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
3THAYER'S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database.  Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Let’s continue pointing to Jesus, because only there will we and others find the answers to life.