Somebody has come up with some interesting statistics of how the average person will spend a lifetime of seventy years.
Sleep ……… 23 years ………….. 32.9%
Work ………. 16 years ………….. 22.8%
TV ………… 8 years …………… 11.4%
Eating …….. 6 years …………… 8.6%
Travel …….. 6 years …………… 8.6%
Leisure ….. 4.5 years …………… 6.5%
Illness ……. 4 years …………… 5.7%
Dressing …… 2 years …………… 2.8%
Religion …… 1/2 year …………… Less than one per cent.
It is true in every part of life that which direction you head in and the roads you choose to take, all depend on where you want to go and where you want to end up. So where do you want to go in life? Where do you want to end up in life?
Here is our question for tonight. What do you want most out of life? If I asked you to name three things – what would they be? A comfortable home? Good health? A happy family? Safety and security for the future? A successful job? Lots of friends? An exciting life – travel and see the world?
Where do you want to go in life? Where do you want to end up? What do you want most out of life? Psalm 37 verses 3 to 6 give us a wonderful promise from God for us all to claim every day in every part of our lives.
3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
KEY VERSE – verse 4:
4Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (NIV 2011)
4 Seek your happiness in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desire. (GOOD NEWS BIBLE)
There are so many things in the world promising happiness and satisfaction. Most of the world around look to those things for their happiness – whether it be in money or success or power or popularity or relationships. Some people turn to entertainment and others rely on alcohol or drugs or gambling for their happiness.
Think for a moment how much time and energy some people throw into advancing their careers. How much time and money some neighbours spend on getting their houses absolutely perfect. Think about how much some people give to their hobbies, to sport, to music, or maybe just to “having a good time”.
We truly live in a world where most people worship their work, work at their play and play at their worship!
But here is a challenge and an invitation for us all.
4 Take delight in the LORD (NIV)
4 Seek your happiness in the LORD, (GOOD NEWS BIBLE)
So many people are not doing this. When they seek happiness and satisfaction and fulfilment in other places they can end up being jealous of others who seem to have “more” than they do.
1 Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
It isn’t easy to stand up against the crowd. It’s much easier to just fit in. It’s so much easier to go with the flow – although mostly what goes with the flow is just dead fish!
7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.
It isn’t easy to stand out from the crowd or to go against the flow. It isn’t easy to go through the narrow gate and take the narrow path. When we stand up to do what is right, there may even be opposition. Even in times like that we must learn to stand firm and trust in God, to delight in God and seek our happiness in God and leave the ultimate outcome to the Lord.
So here is the promise and the challenge – Delight yourself in the Lord – Seek your happiness in the Lord! “Take delight in the Lord”. “Enjoy serving the Lord” (New Century Bible)
Put God first in everything. Spending time with Him in prayer and worship and Bible reading and fellowship with other Christians. Be sure to take time to enjoy God and your relationship with God.
The Westminster shorter catechism says – the chief end of man, our destiny, is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever! We need to practise enjoying God now! The apostle Paul had worked this out in His own life! What really matters is knowing God and enjoying our relationship with Him.
Philippians 3 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
As the New Living Translation puts it, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.”
“Knowing You, Jesus,
Knowing You, there is no greater thing.
You’re my all, You’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love You, Lord.”
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.”
As we delight in God, our desires will be purified. More and more we will want what God wants for us, what is good for us and not all those empty things the world around is chasing after.
As we come to know God better we will become more like Christ. Our worship will give more glory to God and we will become better witnesses for Christ.
3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
As we know God better we will trust in Him more. And we will experience more and more the joy and the peace of knowing that our safety and security rest in His eternal hands. And then we will learn to trust in Him to act in our lives instead of struggling and failing to achieve everything in our own strength.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
So as we take delight in the Lord, and seek our happiness in God, we will realise how true it is that all those other things the world is chasing after are just not worth the effort. They are rubbish! Empty. Pointless!
Paul realised that the only thing that matters in life is to know Christ. To experience the power of Christ’s resurrection in his own life, which is what eternal life is all about. And Paul realised that the only way to this was by sharing Christ’s cross too. By throwing everything else away for the rubbish that it is!
From time to time I reflect on the sacrifices missionaries make to serve God in faraway countries often in obscurity and discomfort and sometimes at risk of life and limb. They give up so many of the comforts and pleasures we take for granted. They know so much more about following Christ than I ever will.
I also sometimes think about the truth that it is better to give up things which keep us away from loving God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength and all our minds, before God in His wisdom and His grace takes those things away from us!
“All I want is to know Christ!” says Paul. What do you want most in life?
This time of lockdown has changed everybody’s priorities. It has taken some of our regular activities away from us –we may be missing some things very much but there may be other things which we are realising we don’t miss so much and we can easily do without. How will our priorities have changed when we are free to do whatever we like once again? What will we spend more of our time and money doing? What will we never do again?
All I want is to know Christ!” Says Paul. Where do you want to go in life? Where do you want to end up? What do you want most out of life?
Seek your happiness IN THE LORD – and He will give you the desires of your heart.