Request and Release

We have a hard time staying happy. This week, I am sharing insight from Philippians 4:4-7 on how to stay happy all day. Here are the treasures of the text thus far.

  1. Rejoice and Repeat – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.” Repeated rejoicing deals with our negativity bias. We are wired to take more notice of negativity. Rejoicing in the Lord creates a mindset in which we seek God as our ultimate source of joy. In Him, joy is always available.
  2. Reasons Govern our Reactions – “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.” We are stressed, worried, and angry. How refreshing is it to see the unusual reaction of gentleness in our culture? You have great reasons to be happy. First and foremost, the Lord is at hand. Let that reason govern your reaction.
  3. Reject Anxiety – “Do not be anxious about anything.” You may have anxiety, but you don’t have to obey it. Create realistic expectations. One cause of anxiety is misplaced joy. 

All of this is helpful, but is there anything practical we can apply to a truly bad day? God provides for my happiness, but what is His plan to change the situation? The final two principles from the passage are practical applications for dealing with a bad day; request and release.

#4 – Request

“Let your reasonableness be made known to everyone.” Got it. In Christ, I have great reasons for more gentle reactions. Though my reactions are to be reasonably gentle, people are not. The chances of the “angry, stressed, worried” people I mentioned in Tuesday’s post praising me for a Christ-like reaction – ZERO! 

Let’s be honest. My reaction may be gentle, but apart from Christ, what I’m thinking in my mind is not reasonable. Well, at least it’s not Biblical. I have some things I’d like to say to the aforementioned “angry, stressed, worried” person. I have some things I’d like to do that do not fall into the “gentle” category in certain situations. But I read the Bible and Brian’s blog . . . (insert aggravated, angry, brain exploding emoji here). I need to be gentle, but I don’t want to be gentle because people are not reasonable! So what about them? How will God fix this and them?

I often say, “If you clam up, you blow up.” So who do I tell? Who can I tell how “non-gentle” this person or situation makes me feel? Who can I express my (or their) “unreasonableness” to? What gives? What changes? What fixes “this?” 

Notice a beautiful exchange in the passage. You let your reasonableness/gentleness be made known to everyone, but you, “Let your requests be made known to God.” 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Phillipians 4:4-7

Pray About It, or Not

Notice that passage doesn’t just say, “Pray about it.” That lady at church tells you to “pray about it.” Your pastor tells you to “pray about it.” You told someone, “I’ll pray for you.” But Paul doesn’t just say “pray about it,” he says, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

So imagine sitting next to Paul in Sunday School this week. “Hey Paul, I need you to pray about something.” And Paul replies, “With prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I’ll let your requests be made known to God.”

Ummmmmm. Thanks.

Sure it’s a little over the top for common, everyday language. Paul is not trying to wax Shakespearean, nor is he trying to overcomplicate prayer. Paul’s choice of words gives us great insight as to what prayer really is.

What is Prayer?

Prayer is communicating with God. It is the most general word used to describe the act of what we are about to do. It’s like saying, “I’m having surgery.” Surgery? In surgery, there’s a big difference in having a mole removed and a triple bypass. I need some specifics. 

Supplication. Supplication is a word that has varying degrees of meaning. It can mean simply “to ask” but it can become as intense as “to beg.” Supplication is one kind of praying. For instance, the Bible also mentions intercession (1 Tim. 2:1). Intercession is praying for someone. Supplication is praying about something. 

But he says to do it with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a word that is closely related to the word translated rejoice. It means that I am going to express gratitude. My day may be bad, but in prayer, my heart is glad – that God listens, He answers prayer, that I can bring this to Him. I am glad of what only He can do when everything else is so bad.

Finally, he mentions requests. Requests are the specifics. In its essence, prayer is asking. James 4:2-3 says that “you have not because you ask not.” I think one of the chief reasons we do not celebrate answered prayer is because we pray for nothing specific. We pray for a good day. OK. How do you measure that? “Today, I survived. That’s good enough. Thank you God!” I hear people often pray, “Lord, bless us.” Have you ever heard someone order food at Chick-Fil-A by saying, “Feed me. Just feed me. And may the feed be good.” That is probably the one time at Chick-Fil-A that the person behind the counter doesn’t say, “My pleasure.” They’ll probably say, “Are you OK?”

The problem with an order like that is it lacks any specific request. If you go to Chick-Fil-A you don’t say, “Feed me.” You say, “I’d like a #1 with no pickles and a half and half tea.” Both God and Chick-Fil-A need specifics. What is your request.

So let’s break it down like this.

  • Prayer is action, the general act of connecting and communicating with God.
  • Supplication is my passion in prayer. I am begging God.
  • Thanksgiving is my disposition in prayer. I have an attitude of gratitude. 
  • Requests are my organization in prayer. These are the specific, measurable things I am asking God for or to do. 

How Prayer Moves in Me

Personally, sometimes, my times of prayer (especially on a bad day) move from frustration to desperation to anticipation. I like to pray through Psalms. The Psalms often mention God as “my shield.” Recently I was really being attacked, and my prayer started in frustration. “God, your Word says you are my shield, but I don’t see it. Will you be my shield? I need you as my shield. If you are not my shield . . .” Praying in frustration is not great faith or great theology, but we have a great God. He listens. I then moved into desperation. “God, please be my shield.” And then it moved into anticipation/thanksgiving. “God, I thank you that you are my shield. I know that your promises are true and that you are faithful. God, I know that you are surrounding me . . .” You see this movement often in the Psalms as well. A Psalm will start in great darkness but end with an incredible affirmation of who God is. For instance, check out Psalm 42.

#5 – Release

The fifth way to stay happy all day from Philippians 4:4-7 is much like Elsa sings in Frozen, let it go! 

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

The translators of the English Bible also translate the word “guard” as “garrison.” The peace of God becomes like a garrison of soldiers surrounding the most critical elements of your being. The peace of God surrounds your heart (the way you feel) and your mind (the way you think). 

So explain this Mr. Christian, Pastor/Blogger.

I can’t.

It is the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. The Bible doesn’t even explain it. It simply says it exists.

The situation doesn’t warrant peace, but there is peace. There is no one in the situation that brings peace, but God brings peace. If it surpasses all understanding, there is no practical way to explain it, trigger it, or describe it. But God’s people experience it. And they can tell you, it just is. 

So you do what the Bible says. You are gentle to people and then you tell God what you would have done to them if it had not been for Him (amongst other things). Does that change the situation? It might. But most often, God changes you in the situation before he begins to change the situation. God may not fix a person as quickly as you want them fixed. But He can bring you peace – immediately. 

So How Do I Stay Happy All Day?

Ultimately the greatest way to stay happy all day is not to rest your happiness on people or situations. People cannot deliver God’s peace. Every day will not be good. Nor will every person. But every day can be a good day if we rejoice and repeat. If you govern your reactions with Biblical reasons, today will be different. Today may make me anxious, but I will reject anxiety and will not allow it to make decisions for me. I will react to you with gentleness. I will make my requests to God. Today is not going to be like yesterday. I am not the same.

There will be something different about this day as I release it to the Lord and He gives me only what He can give me. He gives me the peace of God the surpasses all understanding. His peace garrisons my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. 

Bible Study

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7.

  • List the commands that are to be obeyed (some commands may be mentioned, some may be implied).
  • List the promises to be believed (mentioned or implied).
  • List the principles to be applied.

Challenge

You may have to bite your tongue with someone today so you can demonstrate a reasonable, gentle reaction. But pray for them. You may have to “keep it together” today under stress for the sake of demonstrating a reasonable, gentle reaction. But pray for this. Write a prayer for someone or something today that has measurable, specific requests. Keep that prayer with you for 30 days and track how God answers that prayer.

Reject Anxiety

This week I am sharing 5 ways to stay happy all day. Our instruction for this comes from Philippians 4:4-7 and to this point, I have shared 2 of the 5 ways, let’s review. #1 – Rejoice and repeat. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Phil 4:4).” Because you and I are wired with a negativity bias we need to make repeated efforts to take joy and express it. Ultimately, we must seek the only source in which joy is always available, God Himself.

#2 – The right reasons lead to the right reactions. “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand (Phil. 4:5)” In such a high-pressure society, anger, stress, and worry seem natural, almost expected. But taking joy in the Lord leads to a reaction that is gentle, reasonable. “The Lord is at hand.” That in itself is sufficient reason to rejoice.

So now let’s digest the third way we can stay happy all day. Reject anxiety.

#3 – Reject Anxiety

Statistics show that anxiety is America’s most common mental illness. And yes, anxiety is classified as a mental illness. There are numerous causes of anxiety from brain chemistry, to diet, to having a difficult time dealing with life events. The good news is that while anxiety is very common, it is also highly treatable. The Bible agrees.

So let’s consider our passage again.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

“Do not be anxious about anything.” That’s quite a statement and it may seem a little simplistic, perhaps even offensive for those who truly suffer from anxiety. But let’s be careful to discern that statement. The statement is NOT saying:

  • If you have anxiety then you must not be a Christian.
  • If anxiety does not go away it is because of a lack of faith.
  • Nothing should cause you anxiety.
  • Anxiety is sin.

What the Bible IS saying is that you don’t have to obey anxiety.

A Biblical Definition of Anxiety

If I were going to build a definition of anxiety from the context of this passage, I would say that anxiety is misplaced joy. Anxiety is trying to draw joy from things that cannot possibly, consistently produce joy.

Notice the interplay of the words “anything” and “everything” in the passage. “Do not be anxious about anything.” Because anxiety won’t fix it, heal it, help it, or remove it. Jesus gave us a fantastic teaching on the failure of anxiety to produce desired results in Matthew 6:25-34. “But in everything by prayer . . .”

The Bible is not saying that you won’t have anxiety. The Bible is telling you what to do with anxiety. Reject it. Take your anxiety over “anything” and turn it over to God in prayer about “everything.”

Realize and Reject Anxiety

I stated previously that in the context of Philippians 4, anxiety is misplaced joy. It is trying to draw joy from things that cannot possibly, consistently, produce joy. I give a full treatment of this in my post entitled The Guarantee of a Good Day, but here are 5 realizations of misplaced expectations that will help you reject anxiety.

  • I don’t have to rely on others to make me happy.
  • I don’t need anything other than what I already have to make me happy.
  • I don’t have to be perfect to be happy.
  • I don’t have to understand everything to be happy.
  • I don’t have to sin to be happy.

If you rely on others to make you happy, you will have anxiety. If you need more, you’ll never have enough to make you happy. So you’re not perfect. We already knew that. But if you think you have to be mistake-free to be happy, you will have anxiety. If you think that life has to be fair, and when it isn’t you at least have to have it figured out; guess what – you’ll have anxiety. If you think that there is more pleasure in disobeying God than in obeying God, you’ll only find fleeting pleasure and high anxiety.

If you want to be happy all day, reject anxiety. You may have anxiety, but you don’t have to obey it.

Bible Study

Read Jesus’ teaching about the futility of anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34.

  • What commands are to be obeyed?
  • What promises are to be believed?
  • What principles are to be applied?

Challenge:

Over the next 5 days, prayerfully seek to identify the triggers of your anxiety. Prayerfully identify any unrealistic expectations or misplaced joy that may be the cause of that anxiety. Journal a daily prayer about those anxieties and record God’s answers to your prayer.

(Un)Reasonable Reaction

Since 2006 the folks at Gallup have been measuring America’s levels of anger, stress, and worry. I bet you can guess what I’m about to say. Our levels in all three categories are rising. We are not happy. When it comes to stress, Americans scored 20 points higher than the global average.

With so much going on in the news and with so much demand on our lives, it’s not surprising to hear that Americans are amongst the most stressed-out people in the world. We could probably each give some very good reasons as to why we are so worried. And when it comes to anger, we all feel a little on edge. Such a reaction from stressed out, worried people is not surprising. If anger, worry, and stress have become so natural in our culture, is it even reasonable to think we can be happy?

This week I am sharing 5 ways to stay happy all day. In my last post I introduced the topic and shared the first way; rejoice and repeat. With this post, I want to continue to explore Philippians 4:4-7 and share the second way we stay happy all day. To stay happy you have to a good reason for a happy reaction.

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Way #2 – The Right Reasons Lead to the Right Reactions

In Philippians 4:4 Paul instructed us to rejoice and repeat it. In Philippians 4:5 he calls on us to give reasons for such rejoicing. “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.” Some translations of the verse read, “Let your gentleness be known to all. The Lord is at hand.”

When you come across a verse in an English translation of the Bible in which you have two completely unrelated words like “reasonable” and “gentle” you wonder, “So, which is it?” Instead of the answer being one or the other, the answer is probably both.

Sometimes words are lost in translation. The seeming discrepancy simply means that we don’t quite have a word that captures the meaning of the original language. The jest of the word is that you exhibit a gentleness that is more than just a personality trait. You are gentle for good reason. You have learned some things. You believe some things. Your reactions are not a response to the situation, but a response to solid, foundational, Biblical reasons that undergird your joy.

Don’t Be a Happy Idiot

The Bible calls us to reasonable rejoicing. We reject any notion that the Bible would call us to be happy idiots. By happy idiot, I mean that person who is sappy and disconnected from reality. The Bible speaks to true human emotions like sorrow and discouragement. The Bible never endorses any behavior in which we would pretend that something bad is good. We are not to be out of touch with the situation, but we can have a much different reaction. To simply be “gentle” for the sake of gentleness is unreasonable. To pretend to be happy makes you look like an idiot.

A Great Reason

Instead of worry, stress, or anger overcoming us, we rest our joy on a very solid reason, “The Lord is at hand (Phil. 4:5b).” In every circumstance of life, the Lord is near. God is not aloof, uninterested, or disconnected. He has not forgotten me nor has He distanced Himself from me. The Lord is at hand.

His Word is available. His Spirit is personal. His promises are faithful.

When the Lord is your first reason to rejoice, joy is always available. You can rest assured that if the Lord has prepared “this” for you then He has prepared you for “this.”

You’re not to be a happy idiot. You always have a reason to rejoice. This reason governs your reactions. If you want reasons to stay happy all day, take some time to study God’s Word and write down reasons God has given us to rejoice. One of the foremost reasons we can rejoice is because of salvation. God reconciles the sinner to Himself through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ – and even Heaven rejoices (Luke 15:10)! What are some of the other reasons that the Bible gives us as reasons to rejoice?

Bible Study Questions:

Read Psalm 126. Pay particular attention to verse 11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

  • What emotions are expressed in Psalm 126?
  • In the beginning of the passage, David makes a statement that would lead us to believe that he is experiencing some sort of turmoil. What are the truths/reasons he cites throughout the passage that give him encouragement and joy?
  • What are the promises to be believed?
  • What are the commands to be obeyed (hint: there may not be a stated command in the passage, but there may be one that is implied or understood)?
  • What are the principles to be applied?

If you are looking for a book to help you bring about a better pace to your life, check out my book #TheWalk. One question answered every day will help you accomplish your greatest goals; not by doing more, but by doing less. Are you ready for #TheWalk?

How to Stay Happy All Day

If you are struggling to stay happy all day, you’re not alone. According to an analysis of 509 million tweets from 2.4 million users over a span of 3 years, we are our happiest early in the morning. Our mood begins to decline after 9 am and we are the least happy between 3 and 4 p.m.

Apparently life is ruining our day!

Unless you are retired or rich, the rest of us are supposed to be doing some pretty productive things between 9 am and 4 pm. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hate my day. I want to be happy whether at work or school. So how can we make sure that what we have to do doesn’t make us unhappy?

This week I will be sharing 5 ways to stay happy all day. If you want to follow this series of posts, subscribe to my website. As an added bonus, I’ll send you a FREE copy of the first chapter of my most recent book, Pulse.

Way #1 – Rejoice and Repeat

Philippians 4:4-7 gives us the formula for a guaranteed good day.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

There is no Biblical guarantee that nothing bad will happen to you during the day. No matter how much faith you have or how well you feel like you are living, truth is, it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Jesus said that great faith and right living can actually make life more difficult (John 15:18-25). The world will not celebrate you. In fact, some people will make it the aim of their day make you Twitter cuss by 3 o’clock.

And this is why Philippians 4:4-7 is so practical and not just idealistic jargon. Paul wrote this passage while imprisoned. Despite his circumstances, Paul pens a short, 4 chapter letter that mentions joy 15 times. 9 times, from prison, he tells us to rejoice. 5 times he uses the word joy. And once the man in chains commands us to “be glad.”

In Philippians 4:4-7 Paul not only commands us to rejoice, but he commands us to repeat it. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say, rejoice.”

That repeat is important. If you say something out of necessity, it may lack sincerity. It’s like when someone tells you to apologize.

“Say you’re sorry.”

“I’m sorry.” But you say it as if you are sucking on a lemon. And then you know what comes next.

“Now, say it like you mean it.”

This time, you take the lemon out of your mouth, reconstitute yourself morally and actually muster a decently sincere apology.

Your Negativity Bias

Another reason we need to rejoice and repeat is because we are hard-wired with a negativity bias. According to Psychology Today, you naturally take greater notice of negative things. This explains why politicians run negative campaign ads. Rather than tell you all the great solutions they have to offer, campaign managers know that you will pay more attention to criticism of the opponent.

Understanding the negativity bias is pretty important for happiness. You exercise your negativity bias in every relationship you have. And according to the anylisis of Twitter, it is fully operational by 3 pm!

Let’s take one very important relationship and demonstrate the power of your negativity bias, marriage. You can get to such a place in your marriage that you only notice the annoying things about your spouse no matter how many good things they do. Your spouse may have worked today to provide for the family. He or she may have picked up the kids from school and taken them to practice. Your spouse may have cooked dinner. But at 8 pm you asked if the TV could be turned down and by 11 pm you were sleeping in separate rooms and thinking about divorce.

How in the world do you sour so quickly? The answer, negativity bias.

According to the science of the negativity bias, your negative perception of your spouse will not be changed by doing one big positive thing for each other. Instead, it will take you noticing 5 positives to every 1 negative. This is why you can have a “makeup” date on Friday night for the fight you had on Thursday, but hate each other again by lunch on Saturday. The makeup date helps, but you also need to appreciate this 1, and this 2, and this 3, and this 4, and this 5 . . . Taking repeated notice of the good things is the only way you can curb your negativity bias.

Paul was WAY ahead of the research of the negativity bias. From a first-century Roman prison, the Apostle Paul told you that you need to rejoice and repeat. Rejoice. Now, say it again, but this time like you mean it. “Again, I say, rejoice.”

The repetition of rejoicing will help you find the good, even on a bad day. Repeated rejoicing helps you to broaden your vision rather than keeping your singularly focused on the most aggravating things throughout your day. Most importantly, the command to rejoice and repeat it will drive you to Christ. You will find that you don’t have enough “in yourself” to do this. You will need the Lord’s help. Pray that He will help you take greater notice of the good things. This will drive you to take greater notice of Him. When the Lord is at the top of the list of your reasons to rejoice, you will always have a reason for joy.

Read the related post, 5 Places Joy is Always Availablehttps://brianbranam.com/sermon-manuscripts/5-places-joy-is-always-available/

Bible Study Questions:

Read Philippians 1:3-11. This is Paul’s first mention of joy in the Book of Philippians. In this passage is there:

  • A promise to be believed?
  • A command to be obeyed?
  • A principle to be applied?

Challenge: Pray Philippians 1:3-11 over the most annoying person in your life for 5 days in a row. How does doing so change your perceptions of that person?

Check out the next post in this series.

What No High School Football Coach Will Say This Friday

If you are a high school football fan then you know that we are in that special part of the season in which there are only a handful of teams left competing for a state championship. The stakes are high as with each game there is a chance to advance. One team goes on. One team goes home. 

For the past 4 seasons, I have served the Christian Heritage Lions football team as a chaplain. I have watched our team go from 1-9 to now 9-1. It has been an exciting journey. But perhaps my favorite part is getting to be with the team in the locker room during pre-game and at halftime to hear the coach speeches.

I’ve heard a lot of things said in the locker room. But this week, I assure you, there will be some things you won’t hear said. I would go so far as to say, these things will never (or should never) be said by a high school football coach to his players. 

“Assume we will be given another opportunity.”

There is not a single high school coach who will this week tell his team that if they lose, it won’t matter. No coach of a playoff team is telling his players, “Don’t worry about it, they’ll give us another chance.”

There is no loser’s bracket in football. The other team is not going to feel sorry for you and give you another shot. There are no redos. There are no makeups. Your math teacher may give you extra credit, but the only thing “extra” in football comes after a touchdown, not a loss. In football even “extra” is earned. Once the clock hits zero the game is over. What’s done is done. If you lose, you go home. You get 1 shot. It is especially true this week; there is not a football coach on the planet that is telling his team that this game doesn’t matter.

“It’s about me, not we.”

There will be no locker room speeches about the importance of being an individual. There is not a coach who will suddenly decide that there really ought to be an “I” in “TEAM.” There is not a coach who will embrace his QB or star RB and look at the other players and say, “Hey fellas, it’s about this guy right here!”

There are no coaches who will counsel their players to scrap the playbook and just have fun. No coach will look at a 17-year-old and say, “I don’t know son, it’s 3rd and 1 and we are down by 6; just do what you feel like doing.” There is not a coach of a playoff football team that will tell his QB to look up in the stands and check with his dad for the next play call. No coach is going to pull his RB aside and say, “You know son, you’re so good, we really don’t even need an offensive line.”

Pulse by Brian Branam

My book Pulse originated from chapel talks given during the 2016 CHS Lions football season. Also available on Amazon.

“We don’t need anyone pushing through pain.”

If you are in the stands watching a playoff football game, you should appreciate the fact that just about every kid on that field is hurt. They may not be injured, but I guarantee you something on their body hurts. And if you don’t know the difference in hurt and injured, don’t Google or check WebMD, ask a high school football coach to explain the difference. He’d love to share with you some insight :)! All I ask is that you have someone video you asking him because what’s about to happen to you will be YouTube gold!

There will be no coaches, especially this week, asking which of his players “isn’t feeling it?” He won’t be asking, who needs a break? He won’t ask, “Who’s too tired to play tonight?” He’s not passing around a signup sheet for waterboy. There is not a single football coach that will draw the line at suffering.


When it comes to football, especially playoff football, those statements are ludicrous. Why? Because entitlement, self-centeredness, and an unwillingness to suffer are the key ingredients to a wasted opportunity. There is no player on a playoff team that has to be motivated about not wasting his opportunity. Every player knows the magnitude of this game. He knows what it takes. He knows he’s not entitled and that he will not be given another chance. He knows that it has to be a team effort and he’s counting on every other player to give it his all. Every player knows that he has to play through pain. If there was any semblance of these things in players at the beginning of the season, I assure you, for the elite teams that are still in it, those toxic attitudes are long gone.


Why do you have to be convinced not to waste your life?

If football players in the playoffs don’t have to be reminded not to waste the opportunity of “this” game, how much less should we have to be reminded not to waste our lives? But sadly, there will be so much more focus and discipline as players approach a playoff game than there will be to the rest of your life. As ludicrous as it is to think that a coach has to motivate his players not to waste an opportunity for a playoff game, isn’t it even more ludicrous for us to have to be convinced not to waste our lives? So just in case you didn’t get it – here’s a locker room speech for the rest of your life!

You’re one and done!

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

There is no team that makes the playoffs that wants it to be a “one and done” experience. If they haven’t already, playoff games are where you truly see players leave it all on the field.

But have we forgotten that our lives truly are a “one and done” experience? There are no redos. There are no retakes. We will not be given another one. Death seals our decisions. A life filled with fleeting pleasure but void of faith in Christ is a total waste. Eternal life does not come through entitlement but through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Your life matters, not your car. Your decisions matter, not dollars. In this life you need food and water, to have eternal life you need grace and forgiveness. In this life, people admire the words “I won a championship.” In eternity all that matters are the words “He made a difference.” When you’re one and done experience is over, where will you stand? You may be a great athlete, a good dad, a successful person, a talented individual; but if you don’t know Jesus you wasted your life.

Jesus explained it like this. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul (Mark 8:36)?” Don’t waste your one and done life.

Carry out the commands. This is not your turn to call a play.

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Luke 6:46-49

There is no coach who is going to look at his high school QB and say, “Forget the game plan, do it your way.” That would be a disaster, not a championship! But somehow we believe it to be the duty of God’s Son to be our Savior but not our Lord. Somehow we have come to believe that He gives us eternal life but then turns us loose to do the rest of it our way. If you call Jesus Savior, the rest of your life is not your opportunity to call a play.

If you don’t want to waste your life, obey Christ. His commands are not suggestions. Learning self-control is not an option. Mortifying the desires of the flesh is not for only a select few who follow Christ, it is the standard sanctifying process for His disciples. Christ is not something you “feel.” Jesus is someone you follow. The Bible is not a book merely to be read. It is God’s Word to be obeyed.

The rest of your life should be about finding out how to be a dad, in Christ. How am I to be a husband, in Christ? How do I make the next business decision, in Christ? Work the plan. Don’t waste your life.

You should expect suffering. Don’t avoid it.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

I haven’t met a single football player who likes practice. There are always some remarkably odd exceptions out there, but I don’t hang out with aliens. So, I know plenty of players who don’t like practice, but I don’t know any football players who don’t want to make it to the playoffs. Football is a game of suffering. Athletes know that suffering is necessary if they are to achieve their goals.

I want to be very careful in how I say this, because a vast majority of those who read this post may have been “frustrated” for Christ, but I’m not sure that we have ever truly “suffered” for Him – or ever truly will.

I have sat in a church in Egypt amongst saints who have truly suffered for Jesus. I have heard a pastor preach in Samara, Russia who spent most of his life in and out of prison under communism. I have met Romanians who were ostracized as children because their family was Christian. These brothers and sisters understand the meaning of suffering for Jesus. I am in awe of Jesus in them.

But in the American church the experience is much different. Our refrigerator goes on the fritz on a Sunday morning and the entire family stays home because we think that the “devil is attacking.”

We are ridiculous in our belittling of what it really means to suffer for Jesus.

If we do not resolve to be faithful and to follow Christ no matter the cost, we will waste our lives. The reason we get upset at Chick-fil-A is because we think that by eating a “Christian” chicken sandwich that we are making a difference. We have relegated a fast food restaurant to be our bastion of truth rather than the church. It is much easier to douse nuggets in Polynesian sauce and feel good about ourselves than it is to put on the whole armor of God and stand against the wiles of the devil. It is a lot easier to order a #1 and supersize the waffle fry than it is to do what it takes to truly crash the gates of Hell. Jesus said that He would build a church, NOT a CHICK-fil-A, that will stand on the rock of Christ against the gates of Hell. Jesus said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the church, not chicken.

So you don’t feel good enough to attend a 1 hour meeting we call a worship service this Sunday. You’re tired? Jesus told a man to let the dead bury the dead (Matthew 8:22).

So you’ve had a busy week? Jesus said that anyone having put his hand to the plow and turning back is not fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).

Oh, you need some “family time.” Jesus said that if you’re comparative love and dedication for Him doesn’t make it look at times as if you hate your family, then you cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:26).

How is it that football players are willing to suffer so that they can make it to the playoffs, but we as the people of God can hardly make it through a Sunday? We are wasting our lives.


Only one thing matters.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:44-46

Only Jesus matters. With the decisions in your life you are constantly assessing value. Football players do it every week of every season. They are constantly motivated by what is in front of them. They have an objective they are trying to reach. The pain of a workout is worth the playoffs. July is not too hot for November. The gassers on Monday are not even in your mind in the fourth quarter on Friday night. In football the joy that is set before them is the playoffs. And for that opportunity, they willingly, and joyfully suffer.

Your life is much bigger than a game. What is the joy that is set before you? If it isn’t Jesus, you are wasting your life. In the examples from Matthew 13 both the man and the merchant assessed the value of the treasure that was before them. There was not hesitation in giving all for something of such eternal worth. They realized that keeping what they had was a waste. They joyfully sold off all they had for something greater.

Don’t waste your life. You are “one and done.” Death seals your decisions. His commands are not options. You are either following Him or faking it. Expect to suffer. There are no valid excuses.

Not a single coach will stand before his players this Friday and try to convince them not to waste “this” game. Do you really need to be motivated not to waste your life? Don’t waste your life! Turn to Jesus!

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Joy is a Guaranteed Good Day (Video)

Studies show that we are struggling to stay happy. Why is this? One reason is because we have a negativity bias. But, the Bible also reveals that much of the anxiety that we suffer is due to unrealistic expectations placed on self, others, and on things to provide us with joy.

In this message I share with you several ways to guarantee a good day.

The Guarantee of a Good Day

What if you could guarantee yourself a good day? Imagine starting the day without dread. What would it be like to go through a day successfully handling situations rather than trying to deal with stress? Think about how much would change if you could guarantee that today would be a good day.

Apparently, we are NOT dealing very well with our day!

Livescience.com reports that two sociologists from Cornell University analyzed 509 million tweets from 2.4 million users in 84 countries and found that our moods fluctuate throughout the day. They found that the happiest tweets of the day occur between 6 AM and 9 AM. After 9 AM our mood begins to decline steadily, and the most unhappy tweets of the day occur from 3 PM to 4 PM.

On a side note, the happiest time of the week to tweet is Saturday morning. The most unhappy time of the week for Twitter users is Thursday night. The happiest Twiter state? Hawaii!

From the data, it would appear that life is ruining our day! If not for work and school (unless you live in Hawaii), today would have been a very good day. But you live where you live. You’ve got to do what you do. You can’t do without it, but it’s hard waking up every day dreading it!

Would you like a guarantee for a good day? Sign me up!

I have discovered five guarantees that will make every day a good day. Now, none of these are guarantees that nothing bad will happen. But I have found these Biblical principles to be so freeing that even when bad things happen, it’s still a good day. Today will be a good day IF:

I don’t have to rely on others to make me happy.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

The first way to guarantee a good day is to answer the question, who is going to make me happy? When we go through the day depending on others to make us happy, we are placing on them an expectation they cannot possibly meet. That kind of unrealistic expectation is a source of anxiety. People aren’t perfect. People can bring a lot of meaning and purpose into our lives, but truth is, God didn’t put them on earth for the sole purpose of making you happy.

When I put God at the top of my list as my ultimate source of happiness, joy is always available (5 Places Joy is Always Available) and He never fails. God invites us, in fact, he commands us, to place the expectation of our joy and happiness in Him. Start your day with Him. If people add pleasure to your day count it a blessing. If they try to ruin your day, you don’t have to let them. You can pray for them. You can let your requests be made known to God. Let Him deal with them! Disobey anxiety and express thanksgiving. Today is going to be a good day!

I don’t need anything other than what I already have to make me happy.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13

How much is enough? Only you can answer that question. Truth is, you probably already have “enough” the problem is that you just want more. If we rely on “stuff” to make us happy, that is an approach that is not affordable, sustainable, or practical.

Contentment is a hard lesson to learn, but it is a secret to success that pays dividends. When you begin your day with satisfaction, anything else that may come your way falls into the category of blessing. If you don’t have to have it, you don’t need to keep it. You suddenly discover the joy of generosity. If you lose it, you can praise the Lord because your happiness didn’t depend on it. Be thankful that you had it for the time that you did. You’re going to lose things, but a loss doesn’t have to ruin your day. Learn to be content. Today is going to be a good day!

I don’t have to be perfect to be happy.

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Ecclesiastes 7:20

So you’re not perfect. Yeah, we know!

I’m a driven person. I like for things to go well. Unfortunately, I am a big part of that equation and I do a lot of dumb things. I can be having a great day and in 15 seconds mess up the whole thing. When I get frustrated, I carry that frustration into everything else. I am the biggest threat to having a good day.

Forgive yourself. At some point, you and I have to realize that everyone else’s happiness does not depend on us. You and I aren’t God. You and I aren’t everyone else’s Holy Spirit. Last time I checked, God was doing just fine at being perfect. I think I would be way better off allowing God to be God and not behaving as if the whole world depends on me.

Be a perfectionist, but yourself a little grace. There’s nothing wrong with wanting it done right the first time, but having to “try it again” doesn’t have to ruin your day. Forgive yourself. Today is going to be a good day!

I don’t have to understand everything to make me happy.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Life isn’t fair and you probably don’t have it all figured out. Guess what. That’s OK. Truth is, we sometimes get what we don’t deserve. Sometimes you can’t fix it. There will be things that happen that you can’t change. Even still, that doesn’t have to be the end of a good day.

Notice that the verse doesn’t say everything is good. Bad things happen. The verse says that God works things together for good. How does He do it? I have no idea. And guess what, He doesn’t have to answer all of our questions or tell us why. If you read the Book of Job you will read the story of a guy who deserved an answer to “why?” But God didn’t answer Job. He only asked Job more questions.

God is God and I am not. He knows. I don’t have to understand it all. All I have to know is that He is good and He is working it for good. When I trust Him there is an overriding sense of joy that undergirds even the most difficult moments of our day. If I trust God, bad things can happen and it still be a good day.

Your good day doesn’t depend on others. You don’t need more to have a good day. Your good day doesn’t even depend on you (nor does anyone else’s good day). You don’t have to have it all figured out to have a good day. Embrace these four Biblical principles and I guarantee that today is going to be a good day.

I don’t have to sin to be happy.

choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Hebrews 11:25

The Bible acknowledges the pleasure of sin. It is alluring, enticing, tempting. There is something in sin that makes us believe that God is holding out on pleasure.

Sin seems to offer us a very good day, but what sin does not show us is consequence. Before you indulge think of the guilt. Instead of giving in think of the pain your choice may bring to yourself or to others. Sin feels like a good day, but as the Bible teaches, the pleasure is fleeting.

The Bible seems to speak of a paradox as it compares the choice of suffering with God’s people than enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. Suffering is better? Of course. Self-denial is not easy, self-indulgence feels good, but picking up the pieces of brokenness leads only to getting sliced continuously on the shards of mistrust, deep hurt, lost time, and severed relationships.

Not having a guilty conscience is a much better day! Seeking the greater pleasure that God offers is a much better day! Sin looks great, but its pleasures are fleeting. If you sin, it may feel good, but you won’t be happy – at least not for long! Stay close and clean to the Lord. Today is going to be a good day!

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