The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life
1 Corinthians 16:13-14, 1 John 4:7-16, John 15:1-17
Do you have Scriptures that make you dizzy? Hopefully you do! And hopefully after this lesson you’ll have a few more! Our main text is, “Do everything in love.” What does that mean, and look like in action? Join Patrick Morley and learn, or be reminded, how a deeper understanding of God’s message of love can empower you to really, truly, fully, and finally find the Christian’s secret of a happy life.
Rock Solid Men
The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life
Good morning, men. Please turn in your Bibles to 1 John chapter four. Listen, the new book, The Christian Man, has come out on audio as well now. I just got author copies in the mail. It’s two versions. There’s the regular five discs that you play in your car, and then there’s the mp3 version of it as well, which is on one disc. They sent me two copies of each, so I thought that I would… Well, we only need one copy of each just for archives. I thought I would give these away. Is there anybody here who loves Pat Morley? All right. Keep your hands up. Of all those you who love Pat Morley, how many of you have a car? All right. Keep your hands up. Of those of you who have a car, how many of you have a CD player in your car? All right.
Then, I’m thinking of a number between one and 25. Yell out your number right now. Yell it out. Who was closest to three? Did anybody say three? We got a three back there. Vic gets the… There we go. Then, we have this mp3. You got to be technically savvy in order to use the mp3 one. Right? How many of you who love Pat Morley are technically savvy? Let me see your hands. Now, I’m thinking of a number between one and 25. Say it out loud. Who said seven? There you go. That’s the way it works. Thanks for the love. I need the love. We’re going to talk about love today. We’re in the series Rock Solid Men. As usual, we’re going to start with a couple of shout outs. The first one goes to Tarwater Men, a group of men who meet at Tarwater Farm and Home Supply, family owned and operated since 1978. Got a great rating on Google.
They meet at Friday mornings at 6:45. Kevin Sowards, who was here a couple weeks ago, a new area director with Man in the Mirror, is leading the group. They meet in Topeka, Kansas. “We’re a group looking to engage with each other with the purpose of drawing closer to Jesus Christ.” Then, secondly we have a shout out for Gary Maynard, area director near Dayton, Ohio in the Beavercreek area. Gary says, “My passion is reaching men caught up in a wrong worldview like I once was. I want to equip men with the vision, values, and character to reach others beyond my own generation.” I wonder if you would join me in giving a very warm and rousing welcome to Gary and to Tarwater Men. Yeah. One, two, three, hoorah. Welcome, men. We’re so honored to know you and to have you in our lives and to be with us today.
Session five in Rock Solid Men, the Christian Secret of a Happy Life. There’s a book. Some of you may have seen it. It was written in 1875. Some of you probably were alive when it was written, Hannah Whitall Smith and part of the Holiness Movement. My wife, when I was a young Christian, was wearing this book out. In fact, she was so into it that I asked her if I could borrow it. I ended up wearing it out too. This is actually a second copy. The original copy we had got worn out. On the back cover, Mrs. Smith, who had seven children, only three of whom lived to adulthood. It was that time of… A keen observer once said to me, “You Christians seem to have a religion that makes you miserable. You are like a man with a headache. He does not want to get rid of his head, but it hurts him to keep it. You can not expect outsiders to seek earnestly for anything so uncomfortable.” That was the quote.
She goes on, “Then for the first time, I saw that the religion of Christ ought to be and was meant to be something that would make its possessors happy, not miserable. I began then and there to ask the Lord to show me the secret of a happy Christian life.” That’s what we’re going to be talking about today. As usual, we have a survey of what we’ll be looking at. The verse for today is the same verse, but we’re going to be emphasizing the “do everything in love” part of this verse. We will be looking at five different things, three in the message and a couple during your time. First, we’ll have a key passage that we’ll take a look at. Second, we will come up with a Rock Solid tool for you to consider and then a Rock Solid challenge. Then, you’ll talk about it and be presented with an activity idea.
First up, Do Everything in Love. What does do everything in love mean Biblically and practically? We’re going to begin at 1 John chapter four. What did I say, seven? I didn’t say seven but seven. 1 John chapter four verse seven. Biblically, what do we mean when we start talking about love and particularly Christian love? John writes, “Dear friends, let us love one another.” I just want to again say thank you for all the love I got this morning. I really appreciate that. “For love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.” Lewis Hamilton is my hero in terms of race car drivers. He is unquestionably the greatest race car driver who has ever lived. He’s a young black man from, well, he’s English.
He has ripped up all of Michael Schumacher’s Formula One records except the total number of wins, and he’s well on his way to that as well. Lewis Hamilton is a believer. In fact, he has a compass. He has tattoos all over his body. One is a compass. He has that on his body because when he goes to church, he feels like that gets him recentered. The compass reminds him of his relationship with God that way. On his neck, and every time he gets interviewed, right over here on this side, on this left side, every time he gets interviewed, you see the most visible of all of his tattoos. It says, anybody know? “God is love.” Who said that? Yeah. “God is love.” “Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.”
Verse nine, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us and gave his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, so also we ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.” Do you see how easy that is to make the transition? If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, of course, that involves believing, faith, repentance, and so forth, but in that acknowledgement, God lives in them and they in God.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” We know and we rely on the love God has for us. “God is love.” My calling is to take God’s message of love to a broken generation. When I received that calling, I instantly knew what the broken generation was all about because we see it all around us. It was not revealed to me what is God’s message of love. For a decade, I continued to pray like every day. I’d say, “God, I understand that my calling is to take God’s message of love, your message of love, to a broken generation. I know where the broken generation is. I see it all the time. God, what is this message of love that you want me to take to this broken generation? How stupid and dull can one man be?”
I realized, when it finally came to me, that God had, for some reason, wanted to raise the stakes, heighten the anticipation, build the anticipation, drive it home, make it important, seal it to my mind, make sure I would never, ever forget what his message of love was because one day, after a decade of pleading with him to show me his message of love, he showed me 1 John chapter four, which I had probably read a dozen or more times during those 10 years. He showed it to me in a way, one day, that Jesus Christ is God’s message of love. You get it? God is love. Jesus Christ is God’s message of love. Men, it made me dizzy. Reading those texts made me dizzy, overwhelmed by this Spirit that the text itself talks about that we have in us. The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are sons of the most high God.
Do you have scriptures that make you dizzy? Most of us do, I hope. Hopefully by the end of today, you’re going to have some more scriptures that will make you dizzy. We’ve looked at 1 John chapter four verses seven and on. Our text for the day is the Do Everything in Love. Here’s some other verses on the right. We’re going to do a little bit of a dive into yesterday. All right. Jesus Christ is God’s message of love. Yesterday, I was reading, just in my regular daily devotions, John chapter 15. Just yesterday morning, in fact, Wednesday morning and all day Wednesday, I was asking, “Lord, what is it that you want me to say to your men on Friday morning?” This is like 48 hours ago. Nothing. Nothing all day long. I was so emotionally exhausted by the end of Wednesday that I think I went to bed about 6:30. Yesterday morning, just 24 hours later, just 24 hours ago, I get up. I start reading my normal devotion, and it was like a machine gun going off in my head.
The verses were so overwhelming to me. I’ve read these many times as well. Probably you have as well. They made me dizzy. I hope they’re going to make you dizzy. I hope that they make you dizzy too because God’s love is the central message. Can he say that, that one thing is the central message? Yes. God’s love is the central message of the gospel. If you think about it, there is no other attribute of God that even can come close to remotely explaining why God would care about us. His greatness, his omnipotence, his omniscience, his omnipresence, his transcendence, can you think of any attribute of God that even comes remotely close to explaining why he would care about you? He loves you. He loves me. He loves me a little bit more. That’s a different message for a different day. Nowhere is this message of love and its implications more adequately covered than in John chapter 15.
Let’s take a look together at John chapter 15. I didn’t say it’s the only place, but no place more is the linkage between love and what happens next more beautifully portrayed than in John chapter 15. This is the Christian secret of the happy life. Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit…” Are you bearing fruit? “Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” You’re producing fruit, and your back goes out. You have to have surgery. You’re producing fruit, and your son is having a drug problem. This is the way it is. I don’t like it, but this is the way it is. I hope you don’t like it either. The fall, as our son-in-law said at his own mother’s funeral, she died at a very young age, 61. At his mother’s funeral, he talked about how death is an obscenity because of the fall.
“You are already clean because of the word I spoke unto you. Remain in me and I also remain in you.” A few weeks ago, we had a guest speaker, Ed Kobel, who talked about abiding in Christ. Some of your versions will say, “Abide in me and I also will abide in you.” This is abiding. Very appropriate timing, “Remain in me and I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit,” your service, the effectiveness of your service. “Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me. Abiding in me, I’m the vine. You’re the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” If we’re not abiding in him, we may bear some fruit, but where’s the passion? Where’s the joy? It’s not that we… What did the text say? It’s not that we loved him, but he loved us.
Verse five, “I am the vine. You are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch thrown away that withers. The branch is picked up, thrown in the fire, burned.” Seven, “If you remain in me, if you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you,” the answers of prayer. Verse eight, “This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit,” that you serve, “because it is the proof of your discipleship, showing yourself to be my disciples.” Then, this is almost I need smelling salts for this one, “As the has Father loved me, so have I loved you.” In other words, with the same totality, with the same eternality, with the same height, breadth, depth, whatever of love with which the Father loves Jesus, and that’s got to be a lot of love.
Jesus goes on to say, “In the same way that the Father loves me, so have I loved you.” That’s a lot of love. Where are those smelling salts when you need them? He goes on, “Now abide in my love.” The first commandment, love God. The second commandment, love your neighbor as yourself. The a priori, A-P-R-I-O-R-I, before all of that, is that he has loved us. Then he goes on in verse 10, “If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and abide in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” What is that command? “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Do everything in love. A greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”
Drop to verse 16 because I’m taking too long, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. Do everything in love.” Here it is. We abide in Jesus. He abides in us. We bear much fruit. Our prayers are answered. The Father is glorified. We prove we’re his disciples. We abide in his love. We keep his commandment in love. Our fruit will last, and our joy is made full or, said differently, we’ll be happy Christians. There’s this cluster. Call it the joy cluster or the abundant life cluster or the happiness cluster, whatever you want to call it. There’s this cluster, this whole series of ideas that are all wrapped up in the love of Jesus Christ for us, passing onto you and to me the love that he himself receives from the Father.
Practically speaking, Biblically… Probably already out of time, almost. Practically speaking then, when it says do everything in love, what is everything? Everything means when you get a robo call, how you respond. When someone cuts in on you on the interstate highway, weaving in and out, how you react to that is part of everything. Changing a dirty diaper is part of everything. Trying to reason with a 15-year-old is part of everything. When someone says something of a political nature and you disagree with it, that’s part of everything, your response to that person. If your TV has food stains on it, this message is for you. When you have a friend let you down, that’s part of everything. I’ve said it here before. The most unpredictable part of my career has been basically who’s going to do what they say they will do. It’s all right.
I have about 10 or 12 people that have made promises to me. Honestly, I have no idea which of those promises will be followed through on. For me, because if I tell you I’m going to do something, now, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t made mistakes. If I tell you I’m going to do something, because that’s my personality type. If I tell you I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. I just can’t understand when people don’t do what they say they’re going to do. It just baffles me. It is clearly the most unpredictable part of my career. That’s my everything. In other words, to meet those people who don’t do what they say with the love of Jesus Christ, the grace to forgive. That doesn’t mean that people don’t do wrong things. We’re not talking about that.
We’re talking about how we handle people when they do right or wrong, when they agree or disagree, how we handle it. This is the practical side. With that said, here is the Big Idea for today. The Christian’s secret of a happy life is to love out of the overflow of Jesus loving us. This is another way of saying abide and then do whatever you want. Abide in Christ because when we really are abiding in Jesus loving us as the Father has loved him, then we fill up in our relationship with him so that we do have this joy. Out of the overflow of this, we basically love it out. We love it out. That doesn’t mean you’re not suspicious of robo callers. That doesn’t mean you’re not angry at people who cut in on you and all these things, but it’s what you do next. It’s the second reaction that we’re talking about here.
If you are not overflowing with the love of Jesus Christ, then the second reaction is probably going to be more like the first, but when we are abiding in Christ, we have the first reaction out of our human nature, and the second reaction is out of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Am I just dreaming here? Is this a pipe dream? Absolutely not. Is it something that will work every single time? Absolutely not. Will it work bell curve distribution most of the time? Absolutely. What does the overflow of Jesus loving us look like in action? This is our Rock Solid challenge. It’s to serve, to bear much fruit. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit. That’s how you show you’re my disciples.” The verse for today, it’s in your book. You can read it. We won’t read it here.
I have to tell you a funny story, an instructive story. On Wednesday, when I’m getting nothing, nothing, nothing, and I’m wrung out, end of the day, about 4:00, the doorbell rings. This, of course, is after a neighbor has walked through the yard two times. Every time, the dog goes crazy. I mean, the dog runs back and forth from window to window. The rug gets all flipped up. I have to go straighten it out. There have already been two or three of those incidents. Anyway, about 4:00, the doorbell rings. I said, “That’s it. I’m not getting it,” and so I didn’t. Then, eventually, I felt guilty. I got up, and I went. There were two teenagers selling candy. How many of you had teenagers selling candy come to your house? Quite a few.
I said, “I just don’t have the emotional bandwidth to handle this right now. I just don’t.” I went back and sat down. Unfortunately, the chair I sat in is towards the back of the house. It’s hard to describe, but you can see into where I was sitting from the side road along our house. Here come these two teenage girls walking down the road. They look over in the direction of our house. I know that they can’t see inside my house. I know that, but what if they could? What is the message that I’m sending? I said, “Okay, Lord. Okay.” I got up, and I went outside, and I tracked down those two girls. I spent $10 with them so that they could go out to Disney World or wherever it is they’re going to go. As it talks about in your book, sometimes serving others is a sacrifice.
Often, it’s a sacrifice to love others the way that we’ve been loved. Jesus certainly loved us sacrificially. Sometimes, often, maybe always, maybe most of the time, not always, our service to others is going to look like the sacrificial kind of service that Jesus had for others. That’s just the way it is. What does the overflow of Jesus loving us look like in action? Sometimes it means you can’t do it because you just don’t have anything left to give, but it looks like neighbor love when you have been abiding in Christ. Sometimes it looks sacrificial. I will say this. There is no greater feeling in the world. You know this. There is no greater feeling in the world than for a Christian to bear much fruit. There’s just no greater feeling in the world.
Final up and the Big Idea again. The Christian’s secret to a happy life is to love out of this overflow of Jesus loving us or the overflow of abiding in Jesus, the love he has for us. The Rock Solid challenge. I’m just stuck on this idea of how important it’s going to be to coach, mentor, disciple, however you want to say it, the next generation of Christian men. I’m just stuck on this idea of how important it is for us to coach the next generation of Christian men. You might find yourself in one of four possible scenarios this morning. If you don’t have enough in your tank to love me, then let me love you. If I don’t have enough in my tank to love you, then you love me. If neither of us has enough in our tanks to love each other, let’s find somebody else who will love us, somebody that does have a full tank. Finally, if both of us have tanks that are full, who needs some love? Where can we go? Who can we help? Who can we love?
One way to do that is with the idea, and there’s no systematic organized thing necessary. In your book today, it says, the top of page 13 second paragraph, “This week, look for these opportunities. They’re all around you. Cover a shift for a coworker who needs to visit a sick family member. Water plants for an elderly neighbor. Give a ride to someone whose car has broken down. Leave a generous tip for the barista who makes you coffee in the morning. Help your nephew complete the science project.” All these things, or find a more inexperienced Christian man who you know would really benefit in his marriage, in his work, with his children, if you were to coach him into Biblical manhood. That’s if you have the love. If you need the love, then maybe it’s for you is to find a more experienced Christian guy and ask him to help you answer the big questions about the Christian life.
I’m going to do something this morning. Guys online, I’m sorry. This is just for the local guys. You can, if you’re online or local, you can go to ChristianManBook.com and download this guide, but we have had a few copies, and, Jim, maybe you could have some men begin to hand these out. We have had a few copies of this coaching guide saddle stitched with a cover put on it. This is probably something that you’d have to pay 10 bucks for if you were to buy it. We’re going to give each of you this morning a copy of this coaching guide. Why? Because I’m just stuck on this idea that what we need to do is coach a new generation of men in our community how to love Jesus, how to abide in him, how to do John 15, how to get dizzy with some scriptures of their own. I hope that you will make a profitable use of this. If you’re online, I hope you’ll download this and make a profitable use.
This is the Rock Solid challenge, a specific application of that for you to go and do something out of the overflow of Jesus loving you. Again, the Big Idea today is the Christian’s secret of a happy life is to love out of the overflow of Jesus loving us. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, our dearest Father, holy as you are, it is today your love that we are particularly grateful for. I pray that we’d all just be dizzy, overwhelmed, swooning because of your love for us, and that we would want to do all the things that are talked about in John 15, abiding in you, loving one another, bearing much fruit, bringing glory to you, seeing our prayers answered, all because of the overflow of you, Jesus, loving us, not us loving you. This is not about us loving you. This is about you loving us. We make our prayer in your name, Jesus, and for your glory. Amen.