Morning. Hey for the last few weeks we’ve been talking about our desire to open up our building on February 7th.
With our construction just about done, we were ready to open, but we had a massive volunteer shortage due to many people temporarily stepping back last Fall.
However, I’m happy to announce that we DID get enough volunteers back, and we WILL be opening up on February 7th
Church, you have really risen up to the occasion
In the past 14 days, many of you have told your leaders you would serve double (which is amazing!)
And…EIGHTY-ONE volunteers are either returning or signed up for the first time.
Listen, we weren’t joking about the shortage ☺
We needed a move of God to open, and we got it!
SO…a HUGE thank you to all of you that responded.
So…we are READY to open on the 7th …in just 14 days!
Please be in prayer (don’t just think about it, prayer) about who you’re bringing with you on the 7th
Inviting someone to the opening of a new church building is one of the easiest invites you’ll ever have the opportunity to use as a Christian!
People want to see inside the building…
…and plus, at an Opening, they feel like they’re there on the ground-floor with you…rather than being invited into something you are already a part of (even though you are)
We really think God is going to move mightily as we start sharing the Gospel every week here for a period.
And we see God really moving in two waves.
Many of you will come now on the 7th and so will your friends.
While others of you will join us as things get better in the months to come…and many other visitors will come then as well.
It’s going to be an incredible year!
DON’T EVEN WALK WITH SINNERS
All right, let’s jump into our message.
It’s amazing how much people think about being happy
For many, maybe even most people, their highest aim is “to be happy” (or for their children to be happy)
So, let me ask you, “Are you happy?”
And what does it even mean to be happy?
And if one could be the right type of happy, how do you even go about doing that?
The Bible teaches that God does indeed care about your happiness.
Albeit, not in a pleasure-self-seeking sort of way like we Americans might define happiness.
But God does want us to find a level of happiness, joy, and contentment.
Although the Bible is quite clear on how and where and how you’ll find it.
Open up your Bible with me…as we wrap up our Psalms series today, I want to take us to the very first Psalm where we’ll see God’s Wisdom on how to find true happiness.
Let’s take a look at Psalm 1
(Psalm 1:1-6) – NIV
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
The Psalm starts by saying Blessed is the one.
Blessed, in this context (and in Hebrew) means “happy is the one”
Or you could insert “Content is the one” or “Fulfilled is the one WHO…”
Okay, I’m interested (I think we all are)… “The one who does WHAT?”
How do we find contentment and happiness?
This Psalm is going to give you some foundational advice.
The first piece of advice is this:
Be hyper-aware of the pull of sin.
Did you notice the pull and progression of sin that the Psalmist referred to? (look at verse 1)
It says don’t walk, don’t stand, don’t sit.
When you’re entertaining sin…
…we usually start with just that “entertaining it”
We’re walking along by it, thinking about it…
Then we stand with it, “We’re doing it (we’ve made our decision)
And before you know it, we’re sitting in it.
Often sitting in the filth of it.
But happy is the one who doesn’t even start walking near sin.
Do you fear sin like this Psalmist recommends?
If not, that could be leading to your unhappiness
DELIGHT IN THE WORD & YOU’LL BE LIKE A TREE
But, there is a way that leads to contentment and fulfillment (even happiness)
We’re told that happy is the one who delights in God’s Word
Who meditates on it night and day
To meditate on God’s Word is to dwell on it, think about it, study it, let it soak into you
And when you do that, you’re like a tree whose roots are reaching deep into the ground.
But it’s even deeper than that.
The Bible says you’re like a tree planted by streams of water
Any tree by a river has access to a continual source of water.
It’ll be healthy, it won’t wither or die.
And it’s fruit will come naturally and easily.
This Psalm is part of a larger connected theme in Scripture that we might call the two paths.
You see this often in the Bible.
You’ll find it in the law in Deuteronomy
In Psalms, certainly in Proverbs
And even in the words of Jesus.
(Matthew 7:13-14) – NIV
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
You are on a path right now with your life.
And the people you walk with every day strongly impact which path you’re on
So does what you listen to, what you watch with your eyes, how you spend your time.
The life we immerse ourselves in has an incredibly large impact on which road we’re walking on
But many of us are walking on the wrong road because we’ve failed to realize that the impact of how we spend our time is delayed.
This is part of the two paths teaching.
Jesus says it’s a road that LEADS to destruction.
And a road that LEADS to life
It’s not a road that results in instant destruction as soon as you sin.
I imagine these two roads (a road of obeying God and a road where you get to be in charge) as roads with gradual inclines…where you can’t quite see what’s coming far up a head, over the hill.
All we can do is trust what the Bible says and those who’ve walked the walk before us.
But the fact that we can’t fully see what’s coming, is something that is causing so many Christians today (in our modern impatience) to choose the wrong path
And recognize that each path has its own delayed impact
For one, you might be tempted to stop walking on God’s path because you’re not experiencing instant gratification in your walk with Him
Remember, the Bible usually describes the Christian experience as a walk, not a run or a sprint.
Discipleship, the act of becoming like Jesus, is what Eugene Peterson always called, “Long obedience in the same direction”
Think even of the metaphor that the Bible uses for the change you will see in your life while walking on this road.
If you plant an apple seed in hopes of one day having apples…how long will it be until you get to enjoy eating that fruit?
Not the next day.
Nor the next year.
Fruit requires time to grow.
It requires long obedience in the same direction.
Sunlight, watering, dedication.
So will your walk with God.
If you want your spiritual fruit to grow (more kindness in your life, patience, Godliness, holiness, you name it)
Realize that the root system will take time to grow, and also that roots don’t grow automatically.
We’re told in Psalm 1 that the root system grows deeper when we meditate and immerse ourselves in God’s Word and our walk with Him.
And yet I fear that so many of us have immersed ourselves in anything but that.
We’re immersed in work…or our families
Perhaps politics or the news media, or social media.
And putting your roots down there will not lead to happiness or fruit.
So, we have to remember that walking on God’s path, and putting roots down, will result in delayed happiness.
But walking on the other path…the path without God…also has a “delay” you need to be aware of.
If indeed you choose to try and find life away from God…and in the supposed pleasures of sin…or living as King or Queen of your own life.
That road will give you a rush of happiness at first, but it is rush that will most certainly evaporate.
I mentioned a month ago that I’m reading C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, the most famous of which is The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
Lewis eventually wrote a prequel to that book called “The Magician’s Nephew.”
And in that book Lewis creates a garden scene much like the Garden of Eden.
And he writes that if the main character eats of the fruit (which he was told not to by the Messiah figure), he will “find his heart’s desire and also despair”
And I think that’s one of the best definitions of sin I’ve ever read
That when we sin, “our hearts get what they desire…and they also get despair”
One of the failings that many Christian parents make is we just tell our kids that sin is bad.
We say, “Don’t do it! It’s bad!”
But we fail to tell them that they’ll probably like it
That the rush of sin is often, like Lewis wrote, getting what our hearts desired
We desired to punch that bully in the face…and it felt good.
We desired to look where we shouldn’t…and the rush was what our hearts wanted.
We desired to speak our mind before thinking…and boy those words felt good coming out…
But when you keep walking on the road of sin, and eventually you walk long enough to get over the hill, you will find, to your horror…
That while you may have temporality gotten what you desired, you also got despair…emptiness…hopelessness.
The thing you desired, although rich and tasty on the outside, was, in fact, poison on the inside.
Walking on the path away from God may feel good at first.
It may even give you what your heart desires.
But in time, it will only give you despair.
GOOD IN ALL SEASONS
But the walking with God will do no such thing.
Yes, the fruit takes time to develop…but the delay on his path leads to goodness and happiness…not despair and emptiness.
So walk with Jesus…trust in His Words.
Immerse yourself in the Word of God
And as you root yourself in God’s ways, you’ll find that those roots will grow to be tremendously strong.
There are no storms or difficult circumstances that can blow them over.
This is something that the modern, secular American is entirely in need of.
Think about this, from the moment you are born, most of us are trained to try and CREATE circumstances in our lives so that we can be happy.
We go to school so we can get a good job, so we can be happy
We’re taught to seek after money, so we can be happy
To find some sort of “soulmate,” so we can be happy.
We’re taught how to be healthy, so we can be happy.
And many of you, every day, think thoughts like:
Once I move, I’ll be happy
Once this virus this is over, I’ll be happy
Once I finish school, I’ll be happy.
In our culture, we’ve all been taught until we’re blue in the face about how to try and manufacture & change your circumstances so you can be happy.
But rarely does anyone teach you how to be happy when your circumstances or dreams don’t work out.
What part of life prepared you to still be happy even if you’re diagnosed with Chronic Pain?
What part of modern life was supposed to prepare us to be happy if our spouse dies at 35?
What part of the American Dream ever taught us to be happy when the American Dream turns into a nightmare of unemployment?
What part of secular society has prepared you to be happy in this “bliss of retirement” if you have no money to retire?
This is an enormous reason the depression rate is skyrocketing.
We were taught that we could somehow control life…
…like it was sort of clay, we could just mold it into circumstances that would make us happy!
I’m telling you right now, you were lied to.
99% of you are never going to find those perfect circumstances to make you happy.
Your health will fail, or a relationship will fail, or your career will falter.
Something isn’t going to work out (or for many of you, it hasn’t already)
Let me ask you a question:
If your life circumstances don’t change at all for you from this moment on:
You never get married
Your career never progresses
You never actually get healthy…
If your circumstances never improve, could you still be happy?
Because the odds are you’re never going to be able to create the circumstances you want.
And even the 1% that do, find that God didn’t create them to find life in created things, but the Creator.
No, you need your life to be rooted in something deeper than your circumstances.
You need your life to be planted in God himself.
You need to abide in his vine of Jesus (as John 15 says).
You need live in the truth that if you are one of his disciples, a believer in Him, that no matter what comes, you are His..
…His beloved child whom He cherishes and walks with…and loves you so much that He gave his life for you.
His Word tells us in verse 3 that if you do that, you abide in Him, you walk with Him, you will yield fruit.
And when the wind blows, and life gets hard, and the weather gets cold, your leaf will NOT wither…
Because your root goes deeper than your circumstances.
But if you don’t walk with God.
And you try and find life in the ways of this world
The Bible says you will be, not like a strong tree, but instead, like chaff (verse 4).
Chaff is the light “shell” around a kernel of grain, which must be stripped away before the kernel of grain can be ground into flour.
Chaff was light enough that it could be separated from the grain by throwing a scoopful of grain into the wind and letting the wind drive away the chaff.
You may feel like there is something solid to what you’re pursuing.
Maybe it’s money
Or life away from God, where you get to determine right and wrong for yourself….
But I assure you it is chaff.
God is not lying to you, the world is.
You can get all the money in the world, and it will just feel like chaff in your hands eventually.
You can get all the power and fame in the world, and even that will not be enough.
Verse 5 says the wicked will not stand in judgement
Verse 6 says the way of the wicked (even if it feels great at first) will lead to destruction
As Jesus says, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?”
What will it profit you…even if you get everything you want here on earth…
Your career goes great, your family turns out nice, but because you didn’t give your life to Christ, after death, you spend year after year, millennia after millennia in hell?
Will it have been worth it?
Of course not.
Do you see why walking apart from God is compared to chaff?
My friend, trust in God’s ways.
Remember, His fruit takes time to grow.
It is not instant like hollow desires of sin.
But it is good…and its goodness lasts forever.
Put your roots down deep in Him.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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