One of the common mistakes we all make is we fall into the trap of what I call “When & Then” thinking. “When such and such happens, then I’ll be happy.” “When I get into college…” “When I get married…” “When we have a baby…” “When I get a job…” “When my kids go to school…” “When my kids leave the house…”

In Philippians 1 vs 12-30, Paul talks about all how to be happy no matter what’s going on in your life.  I want to remind you that Paul, when he writes this book he’s in prison. He has every reason to be bitter. He has every reason to be unhappy. Instead he writes this book on happiness and on joy.

Phil. 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

So we’re going to look at how to be happy no matter what happens. Paul models four habits.  

1. I look at every problem from God’s viewpoint.

Phil 1:12 “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”

I want you to think of a problem that you’re facing right now in your life. Now, for just a few moments, bow your head and I want you to say these words in your heart, “God, help me to see this problem from your perspective. Help me to see this problem with eyes of faith. Amen.”

Anytime you have a problem and it’s starting to get you down, you’re starting to be unhappy, you need to do what Paul does – learn to see it from God’s point of view. What is God doing here?  What’s the bigger picture? What’s the bigger perspective?

2. I never let others control my attitude.

This is a good example Paul gives right here in this passage. I can be happy no matter what happens in my life if I never let others control my attitude. I don’t let them decide whether I’m going to be happy or not.  

3. I always trust God to work things out.  

I don’t try to work it out myself. When things are falling apart, I don’t try to put them back together. I just let God put them back together.

When we’re going through a problem we’ve got two options. We can worship or we can worry. We can pray or we can panic.

Philippians 1:18b-19 “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, [“I will.” Will – that’s an act of the will.  It is your choice to rejoice. I don’t care how bad things are in your life right now, it’s your choice to rejoice; it’s an act of will.  He says I will continue to rejoice in spite of all the things that are going on that are bad.]  19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance

4. I stay focused on my purpose, not my problem.

God’s purpose for my life. If I stay focused on my purpose, not my problem, I can be happy even when life seems to be falling apart.

Phil 1:22-25 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [Remember he’s old and he’s in prison.  He’s awaiting execution. If I continue to live I can do more worthwhile work for Christ. So I’m not sure what I should choose.]   23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. [Notice Paul’s saying I’m staying alive not for my sake but for your sake.] 25 Convinced of this, [that for your sake it’s more important that I remain alive] I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,

Here’s the amazing thing. Paul’s such an amazing man. He doesn’t just have a purpose for living.  He’s got a purpose for dying. He says, “when I‘m alive my purpose is simply to serve Christ by serving people. When I die my purpose is to be with Christ. Either way I win.”

Phil 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ [that’s a pretty simple purpose] and to die is gain.”

Let me ask you this: For me to live is Christ. If somebody came up to you today and asked you to fill in the blank, what word would you use? For me to live is … entertainment.  For me to live is … sports – golf, baseball, football. For me to live is … my family. There could be a lot of good things, but nothing deserves the place of, for me to live is… except the one who created you and gave you your life. Jesus Christ. For me to live is Christ. I want to say this:

How YOU fill in the blank will determine your happiness:  
For me to live is _______________

If you say, “for me to live is money,” you are going to be unhappy a lot of your life. “For me to live is success.” You’re not going to be happy a lot of your life. “For me to live is fame, pleasure, possession, position, power, prestige.”

There’s nothing wrong with those things. They just don’t deserve first place in your life. God has a far greater purpose for your life. For me to live is Christ. There is only one answer that leads to happiness.