Pastor Randy’s Top 66 – Luke
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name”….(But Jesus said) “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17, 20
Everybody wants to be happy. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” Our nation’s Declaration of Independence says that the pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right of being an American. George Burns said that ‘Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city’. Yes, everybody wants to be happy, but unfortunately, what most people don’t realize is that happiness is based on good or positive ‘happenings’. You watch a funny movie and it makes you happy. You laugh about it an hour later, but then someone runs a red light and smashes into your car and you break your wrist trying to brace yourself. So much for your happiness.
Jesus is teaching the disciples – and you and I, if we want to listen – a wonderful lesson – not about happiness, which again is fleeting, temporary, and subjective – but about what REALLY matters – what we REALLY are looking for, but just don’t know it.
Let me back up and set the stage for the reasoning behind this brief conversation between the disciples and Jesus. At the beginning of this tenth chapter, Jesus sent out 70-72 (depending on your version) of his followers into the surrounding villages and there – two-by-two – they were to love people, share the Gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and/or whatever was appropriate for them to do to help the people. As Jesus’ followers were returning they were ‘rejoicing’ – they were filled with joy – they were happy – and why were they happy? Verse seventeen tells us,
“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
The disciples were pumped up because of a powerful, exciting, and joyful ‘happening’ – the demons fled their presence because they came in the Name of Jesus Christ. I think I’d be pretty excited and happy about that too, wouldn’t you?
In verses eighteen and nineteen Jesus tells the disciples about seeing the devil fall from Heaven, and about the authority He has given to His followers to defeat the devil and his demons. But then Jesus says the clincher. He tells them what real ‘happiness’ is, and it isn’t even happiness, which once again, is temporary and fleeting. What does Jesus tell them? Verse twenty says,
“…rejoice (filled with real JOY – CONTENTMENT) that your names are written in Heaven”.
In other words, ever-lasting contentment, true joy – even in the toughest situations that any of us may experience – is found in knowing deep in your heart that you belong to Jesus! As Romans 8:31 reminds us, “If the Lord is for us, who can be against us?” If we know Christ, then the Lord is for us, so no one can defeat us or more importantly (because we may loose a battle, get sick, die, etc.) no one can steal our everlasting joy or snatch us out of Jesus’ or the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29).
So Jesus tells his temporarily happy disciples where real JOY – real PEACE – real SATISFACTION – real CONTENTMENT comes from. And yes, THAT’S what we really want – CONTENTMENT. Contentment is the attitude, feeling, belief, thought, or life-style in which you are at peace, find inner joy, and satisfaction in life and in your current situation, whether it is good or bad.
St. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he had ‘learned to be content in whatever state or situation he was in’, and at the time of writing this Letter he was in prison! Prison isn’t the happiest place to be! But Paul knew whom he was in Christ and that his God was sovereign over his life and situation, so he was going to make the best of his situation. And he did. He shared the Gospel with many, and wrote the amazing biblical Letters of Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon all during this time! Gee, something – many things – good came from this rough and unpleasant ‘happening’.
Hey, no one loves a good laugh and a ‘happy happening’ more than me. I’m all for laughing it up (sometimes in places where I shouldn’t be laughing!), but my greatest JOY – the PEACE that covers over me in my darkest times – the CONTENTMENT I sense deep in my soul when life deals me a tough hand – is knowing as I lay my head down at night, although I still sin and fall short of the glory of God, and still have a long way to travel in my Christian maturity, that I am at peace with the Creator of the Universe, and because of His Son’s sacrifice for me – because of the grace and mercy extended to me through Christ’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit into my life that transformed me – I possess a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and that one day I WILL see Jesus face to face.
And I’ll see Him face to face, not because I’ve been a good boy; not because I’m a preacher and pastor; not because I don’t do certain things; and not because I am, as the Lord is, a Tampa Bay Rays fan. I will see Him and be with Him forever and ever all because of His amazing grace alone. Strive to be content in Christ, not happy in the world. If you strive to be content in Christ, then you’ll be amazed at how many more ‘happy happenings’ you just may experience!