Conclusion to Psalms Series

By December 18, 2016Sermon Notes

 Intro: That was Harper Ritchie teaching us about the need for ongoing reorientation.

*Of course, candy canes are delicious so I don’t fault Harper for being reminded of them rather than the love of God…by a colorful, candy cane shaped craft.

*There are many things that can divert our attention away from what is most valuable and ultimately true.

*There are many things that could remind us of the reality of God, but our minds go elsewhere.

*We have been in Psalms for an entire year.

*Its not just been a year long study in ancient Hebrew Poetry…we have dealt with virtually every major theological issue, personal, relational, emotional, volitional issue.

*The book of Psalms really is a “mini-bible.”

*The over arching theme has been “re-orientation.”

*Life is inherently disorientating.

*It is enormously difficult to maintain good perspective and a corresponding good life direction.

*There are many factors working to disorient us…the three biggies in the scripture are:

  1. The world (a system of human cultures that is bent away from God)
  2. The flesh (our own sinful natures)
  3. The devil (the malevolent being who hates God and us)

*These axis powers have millions of tactics that vary in their approach but are similar in their effect…they disorient us from what is real (true) about us, God, life.

*Your TV, your computer, a billboard, workplace, classroom, your thought life…all this is potentially disorienting.

*The solution is not to run and hide…because you can’t run and hide from yourself.

*The solution is to continually reorient to what is real.

*Life is disorienting (the Psalmist demonstrates this) so we find ourselves always needing to get back on track…be reoriented.

*The Psalmist offers his deep disorienting thoughts and feelings…but over and over concludes with…”I feel this way…but I know this to be true about God.”

*So the fact that we need constant reorientation is not unusual…its life here, now.

*NT version: Eph. 5:18…”Don’t get drunk on wine…instead be filled with the Spirit.”

*Two things here that reveal the need for ongoing reorientation:

  1. Contrast become getting drunk and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

-When you are drunk you are under the influence… alcohol

-To be filled with the Spirit means you live your life under the influence of God.

*The realm of his power in our lives is the realm of his will for our lives…his path is where we experience his power.

2.”Be filled” is literally “keep on being filled.”

-It is ongoing, we leak…he continues to fill us…because we continue to leak.

*So here too, is the need for the ongoing help of God to stay connected to God.

*This reorientation is not a mere human discipline…it is the gracious work of God in our lives.

*But his gracious work does not imply human discipline is unnecessary or unimportant…another thing we have heard this year is “Grace is not opposed to effort but earning.”

*We do not exert effort in order to earn God’s favor, but because of the gospel we have it already.

*But let’s go back to Psalms and Imagine life as a road with rumble strips and beyond them the ditch on either side.

*Some spend their lives in the ditch…perpetually disoriented from what is real and valuable.

*Others travel from “ditch to ditch.”

*They realize they are off the road…disoriented…drive out of the ditch…briefly travel the road…then veer into the opposite ditch.

*In the best case scenario we live between the rumble strips…staying in the lane through ongoing course corrections…sometimes being alerted to the need for reorientation by the jarring noise and vibration of those annoying but helpful bumps that keep us from the ditch.

*The road is the path of wisdom, God’s path for us…the rumble strips are God’s provision of various means of reorientation.

*His Word, His Spirit, His People.

*Of course we can roll right over the strips …and into the ditch.

*Either because we are not paying attention, or I suppose…just don’t really care.

*More likely its because we are not paying attention or have fallen asleep…a very severe form of not paying attention while driving.

*Today we conclude our time in Psalms…a year-long investment as a church comes to an end.

*That is no small thing…our church has spent about 13,000 man hours on Sunday mornings on this…if you count worship not just sermon time…26,000 man hours.

*If I asked you to quote individual messages or points from messages…maybe you could…its likely you couldn’t.

*I haven’t found it to be that important that we remember an individual message or point…I have to think to remember what I spoke on last week…even though I spent a number of hours working on it.

*I have found that what is most important is that over time we are becoming people who live “re-orienting” lives…we are seeing life as it is.

*That we have increasingly integrated lives…single story lives…where this stuff is real in every corner of our existence…thoughts, words, work, relationships, values.

*We spent the year in Psalms so that we would be, increasingly over time, people who both know and love God’s good path for our lives…and that reorientation would become reflexive through repetition and training.

*We want to hit the rumble strips…less and less…because we are learning how to say on his good path…and why to stay on that path…its the GOOD path!

*So we want to stay on the path not just because the ditch is bad…but because the path is good.

*That is no small distinction…it can look like “I can travel this road of restriction(the realm of God’s will for my life) or drive into the ditch…so the good path simple becomes the lesser of two bads.”

*But the good path of God is the path of freedom…is not simple better than the ditch…it is life as God designed it to be lived.

*His law is “good” not just because of the trouble that comes from breaking it…but because the life that is experienced living in the realm of his will is the “good” life.

*When we do hit the rumble strips…and even the most mature among us…will hit them…we are living our lives in a way where we can do something about it…reorient…without entering the ditch.

*The rumble strips…serve their purpose…they keep us out of the ditch.

*So a key theme from Psalms…is ongoing reorientation.

*For about 2 years I missed one nights sleep every week commuting to FW.

*I found several things useful for staying out of the literal ditch…when you drive all night long.

*First: Don’t drive all night.

*But if you must…Make choices to stay awake. Sunflower seeds till my mouth was raw and my stomach hurt.

*Most helpful…have someone ride with you…who stays awake with you…didn’t do it often, but it was most effective.

*This is the second key theme from our time in Psalms…life on the path is meant to be lived together in community.

*Psalms is a book of community worship…not written initially for private devotional life…but written for a community in worship.

*We need each other to stay “awake” to what matters most…to stay within the rumble strips and out of the ditch.

*A life of reorientation is not a life of “me and God”…it is a life of “we and God”

*To miss this is to miss the point of this year, the Psalms…and the good path God has for us to travel on.

*I was looking at my notes from January 3 of this year.

*I mentioned that fact that the holidays are common times to get off track in terms of habits and disciplines…diet, QT, exercise.

*While New Year is a time when people try to engage new resolve to get back on track.

*When we started…we had emerged from the Holiday season and we were thinking of getting back…here we are at the end of this year…back again in the middle of the Holiday season (we are in the process of disorientation…throwing off diets, habits, etc.)

*In every human venture…physical disciplines, combat, or staying alert and healthy spiritual…having people walking alongside us is essential.

*If you embark on a New Years resolution that is difficult for you…it is unlikely to be successful unless it includes help from someone else.

*We are not designed to thrive by ourselves…you can survive…but no one thrives without help, community…it is a part of our design.

*So we are presented with a life of continual “reorientation” to the good path of God…a journey that requires ongoing individual choice, but is lived in relationship with others.

*We started this year in Ps 1…it has been called the doorkeeper to the book…today we will end there.

Let’s stand, and read this together.

Psa. 1:1   Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does 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 will perish.

  1. This is about two distinct paths of living.

*The doorkeeper stands guard and asks “what do you want?”

*Do you want God?…enter here.

*Do you want something else…you won’t find satisfaction walking this way.

*Ed Freidman wrote “The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change.”

*Jesus called it casting pearls before swine…offering truth to people with no interest in changing.

*Truth is an invitation to change…some see it as an insult.

*Jesus didn’t say this because he thought some people are pigs…but because if you throw something valuable like a pearl to a pig it will not see it as valuable…throw it some garbage…now that’s useful to a pig.

*The doorkeeper to Psalms asks…if you want to value what is valuable…walk this way.

*If not…you will find nothing that appeals to you here.

*Then he goes on to tell us “here is what is valuable for a human.”

  1. To journey the path of God is experience the blessed life.

*We don’t use “blessed” that much…when we do it doesn’t necessarily resonate with everyday life.

*”Bless you” after a sneeze.

*To be Blessed is fine…but given the choice…we’d rather be happy.

*Some want to be blessed…Everybody wants to be happy.

But the word “Blessed” in the OT (Hebrew) and NT (Greek) are words that mean “happy”…living in very favorable (happy) circumstances.

*So the doorkeeper asks “want to be (blessed) happy?” (who doesn’t?)…then delight in God’s law.

  1. The Psalms are about…Learning to delight in what is delightful.

*His delight is in the law of the Lord.

*I can understand, believing the law, trying to obey the law, even fearing the law…but delighting in it?

*We delight in our kids, ice cream…but the law?

*I thought Christians were free from the curse of the law…why should we want to delight in it?

*Delighting in the law here is not trying to work our way to salvation…which is the curse we are free from.

*It is delighting in what God has said…which is equivalent to delighting in God.

*Think of your deepest questions, needs…What really matter in life? Do I matter? Is this a valuable way to spend my life? Will this make me happy? Can I have better relationships with others? Can I get rid of this destructive thinking and living? Can I know God? Does God know me? What happens when I die?

*The Law of God here is all that God has said to instruct, guide, teach us…is it the understanding of what the good life is, how to live on that path.

My story: As a young man I was bored and disinterested in the “law of the Lord”…the Bible seemed to be a dusty, rusty book…irrelevant except for an end of life emergency…which for me was far off.

*I was also deeply insecure, self-serving, valuing what was not valuable…if I had kept on that path, it would have been disastrous for me…not just eternally…in life outcomes.

*Christ encountered me one summer and I looked around at a different world…

*It was like I was standing here…looking at myself over there and thinking “how could you think that is valuable, or important, or necessary?”

*I still largely didn’t understand what God had said (the Bible was hard to understand)…but I began to love (delight) in what he had said.

*It was “his” word to me…he was telling me things I needed to know but I could not know unless he told them to me…this was “delightful” information…very useful, important….

*The most useful, important information.

*As I learned to delight in him…of course I would delight in what he had to say about himself, my life…the life he wanted for me.

*How do we learn to delight in what is delightful?…value what is valuable?

*Is delight something that happens to us…or something we can pursue?

*Let’s go back to January 3 again…we talked about the fact that we are not “brains on a stick.”

*We are fundamentally “lovers”…we think, we know…but we are designed to love.

*Most of our choices flow what we have come to love.

*This is why really, really smart people who know better and admit they know better…can make really dumb choices.

*Its why we don’t often choose houses, or cars or clothes based entirely on “facts” but on other factors…given the opportunity…we choose because we love.

*We desire what is for us the “Good life”…this vision of what we believe to be the good life trumps almost everything we do.

*Essentially…we all do what makes sense to us…what makes sense to us to do is more a component of what we have learned to love than anything else.

*We will organize our lives to obtain what we have learned to love…we will give up things to get what we really want.

*But what if what we have learned to want…what we have come to love…is contrary to the actual good life?

*What if what makes sense to us…is not real, not true?

*We are made by God to love God…to long for him and his path.

*The effect of sin and brokenness has not been for us to become non-lovers but rather for us to become broken-lovers.

2Tim. 3 People will be lovers of themselves…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God

*There are clearly two paths…two loves…two life orientations.

*Psalms sets before us two competing visions of the good life…one truly is good.

*If we want God…this is the path…if we want to want God…this is the path.

*You can decide who you will love…you can choose your delight.

*We determine our affection (our delight, our love) by choosing our investments.

*I tell couples in weddings…”You are here because of the investments you have made.”

*No magic wind blew you here…if you believe it did…then what if it stops blowing or blows in a different direction.

*What brought you here (love and commitment) will keep you here…what brought you here is investment, not magic.

*Love is amazing…but it is not magical…it is the outcome of investment.

*Your love for anyone or anything grows…through ongoing investment.

*So we do choose our delight…by choosing our key investments…our affections follow our investments.

*Investments, what does that mean?   Time, energy, money, thought, choice, effort, grace, forgiveness, self-sacrifice…investment.

*We must be careful to make our investments in what is truly valuable…because our hearts will follow those investments.

*If we invest in what is not valuable…we will learn to delight in what is not delightful.

*This past year as we gathered in worship and experienced the Word together…we have continued to habitualize some of what is essential to knowing God…we are making investments…in this case, hundreds of hours in the Psalms.

*You do not necessarily “feel” like you have been shaped every Sunday by worshipping in community…but over time you are…just as those who stay home are shaped by that choice.

*Reading the Bible everyday…whether you “feel like it” or not…shapes us at the heart level…it is habitualizing the reality of God.

*If habitualize sounds cold, unspiritual, unloving, unrelational…think again.

*Most of what you do day-to-day is not the result of conscious deliberation.

*The estimate I read was about 5% is conscious deliberation…95% is habit, subconscious.

*Driving, brushing teeth, typing on a computer, breathing…we have habitualized them.

*Good thing…life would be impossible cumbersome if we have to deliberate every single thing we did.

*When you first learn to drive or play basketball or piano…every action is conscious and deliberate.

*Meaning clumsy, difficult.

*After years of driving…you can arrive home and not remember how you got there.

*What if reorientation, walking his path became reflexive for us?

*What if the orientation of our lives became more automatically towards God?

*Don’t misunderstand me…not going through the motions…that would not to be making love for God reflexive…it would be making faking love for God reflexive.

*I mean what if we, over time were becoming people who lived between the rumble strips…not just staying out of the ditch but making small course corrections, rarely needing the jarring of the warning strips?

*The reason we spent a year in psalms is because we are responsible to choose what we will desire, what will love.

*We want to live continually reoriented lives…staying out of the ditch…off the rumble strips as much as we can.

*We live in a culture that believes you cannot choose what or who you love…it just happens to you.

*So we have no real responsibility or power to choose what we delight in…nonsense.

*If you do not love your spouse or children or friends or God as much as you love yourself or your hobbies…it’s because you made investments in yourself and your hobbies that trumped your investments in others.

*Here’s the fact of the matter…we are all, all the time…automating responses…choosing our loves.

*What we are doing, reading, watching, thinking, listening to…are orientating us to a certain version of the “good life”

*Our practices are not merely things we are doing…they are doing things to us.

*There is no neutral space out there…everywhere you go…the car, the web, the mall, the mountains…has the potential to further develop a vision of the “good life”…to draw your heart to “love” to “want”

*I am not suggesting you run from malls or computers (unless you should)…but we all must understand…we all practice what we love and what we practice will become what we love.

*Everywhere you go…there is competition for your affection…even if you go to bed and close your eyes…there is competition in your own mind for your affections.

*This is what the Psalms have been telling us.

*Do you want to live the God-blessed life?

*Habitualize walking in God’s path…make it reflexive or move in that direction.

*Simple question: What do you want? What do you want to want?

*Do you want to love God? Do you want to live a life where you experience him more fully and deeply?

*Scrutinize what you are habitualizing…reorient.

*If you grew in faith and love for God and others this year…it wasn’t like flipping a coin…you cooperated with God’s spirit and made deliberate choices…so you grew.

*If you didn’t grow…it was because you didn’t make some deliberate choices.

*That may sound harsh and judgmental…but it is actually super encouraging.

*Here why…growth is not outside your control…its not merely wishing for something…that isn’t likely to happen.

*It is not one of those things in life you may want but you cannot choose to have…because the outcome depends on factors outside of your will and choices.

*Not so with growth in faith and love…not so in learning to delight in God…you can change, grow.

*God is all for it…now we must become all for it.

*We can and we must decide.

1.Cry out to God for help.

  1. Enlist help from others.
  1. If you mess up, fess up, move on.

*Do not believe you live in neutral space and time…you do not.

*The world around us is charged with competition for our affection…

*Ps 1 says we can be blown by the winds like chaff…or rooted like a tree.

*Chaff has no habitual location…its only habit it is to be blown by the random winds.

*A tree has habitualized its location…this Psalm 1 tree is a in a great location…planted by streams of water.

*One final thought on blessing:

*My friend Mohommed asked me…”Does a tree ever eat its own fruit?”

*”No, others eat of the fruit.”

*The planted, fruitful tree…bears fruit because of its location…near the life giving waters.

*But it bears fruit not for itself but for others.

*As we have meditated on “blessing and prosperity” this year…we have seen that the reason we are blessed is to be a blessing.

*”Bless me, bless me…so I will be blessed”…is a path to discontent, and unhappiness…there is no blessing there.

*It is not the path that Christ walked…his joy was in giving his life away.

*The blessed tree…the prosperous tree…yields fruit for others to be blessed by it.

*Of course the great truth of church community is that we are grove of fruit trees…blessing each other with the fruit of God in our lives.

*This is why the great commandment, that Jesus said summarized the “law of God”…Is love God with all of your being and love others as you love yourself.

*Selfishness is a universally failed method for happiness (blessing)

*Sacrifice is the Christ proven method for happiness (blessing)

*Jamin has painted and summarized for us all year…so we can engage parts of our minds and hearts that words alone don’t always touch.

*We are going to finish our year in Psalms…and this morning…with a final video that beautifully summarizes our year together.

Leave a Reply