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1362. Discovering True Happiness

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
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October 18, 2022 7:00 pm

1362. Discovering True Happiness

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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October 18, 2022 7:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues a chapel series entitled “Encountering God,” with a message from Psalm 1.

The post 1362. Discovering True Happiness appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit is continuing a study series entitled, Encountering God, which is a study of select chapters in the book of Psalms. Let's listen to today's message, where Steve will show how to discover true happiness from Psalm 1. Well, I'm going to ask you to take your Bibles this morning, please, and turn with me to the book of Psalms, Psalms chapter 1. Today, I'd like us to begin with the very first Psalm. And of course, our theme this semester is Encountering God, and that is through the Psalms, we actually enter into a very combination of emotional and spiritual and intellectual understanding of God.

It's like the Psalms meets us right where we are. It's the book we go to when we are convicted. It's the book we go to when we are discouraged. It's the book that we go to when we want to rejoice.

It's all of life's experiences found in the book of Psalms. And so we're going to look at a number of them. We'll look at actually nine over the semester. I had originally thought about calling this the top 10 Psalms, but that's a problem because what about the other 140?

So that's not very good. But these are going to be 10 select Psalms or nine select Psalms that we'll study. Some of them will be very familiar, others will not. Psalm 1 is one that is very familiar, because not only is it the first Psalm, but it is also one that is very important for a life of a young person. So let's look at Psalm 1 beginning in verse 1. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season.

His leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. Psalm 1 has been called the preamble to the book of Psalms.

What does that mean? It simply means that it is the introduction to the rest of the Psalms. So what is written here in Psalm 1 is actually foundational for everything else that is in the rest of the book of Psalms. It's called a Wisdom Psalm.

It gives us understanding about life, and in particular about the choices that we make about our life. Charles Spurgeon viewed Psalm 1 in this way. He said, and I quote, The matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon in some respects as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms makes up a sermon.

It's like when you read the text and then the sermon is preached. Psalm 1 is basically the text for the rest of the book of Psalms. So we see then the Psalm, this Psalm, as the introduction to the rest. And when we look at this, we are immediately surprised to discover that David addresses in the very first word of the book, the deepest desire of the human heart.

And what is that desire? Notice what he says in verse one is the desire to be happy. Blessed is the man.

That is the word blessed means happy. He appeals to us. He understands us.

We are made in his image. And he says, here is the way to be happy. By the way, how important is it to be happy? Aristotle believed that happiness is the ultimate end and purpose of human existence. He advocated a strong liberal arts education that stressed the education of the whole man as necessary to produce a society of happy and productive people. How important is it to be happy?

It is so important that the founding fathers of the United States of America wrote that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights to everyone who is here. How important is it to be happy? It is important to the book publishing industry. In the year 2000, 50 books were published on happiness. In the year 2008, 4000 books in that year were published on happiness.

And currently, Amazon holds 66000 books on the subject of happiness. Yet according to one poll called the Harris Poll, only one in three Americans consider themselves to be very happy. And yet the Bible says happy is the man.

Maybe you think this morning. Does God really want me to be happy? And not only does God want you to be happy, God wants you to be happy perpetually. For the word blessed here is not in the singular, it's in the plural.

That is, it can mean perpetually blessed or it can be read blessed-nesses or happinesses. So it is saying that I can be happy, happy, happy. That's what he opens up the Psalms with and the pathway to true happiness and life. So David starts out, blessed is the man, and then what does he establish as the basis of our happiness? And he says in a practical way, the basis of our happiness is based on making right choices. That's what the Psalm is all about.

It's a wisdom Psalm where choices have to be in alignment to God's way to happiness. There's God's way and there's man's way. There are really only two ways in life. You could say it this way. There are two directions that lead to two destinies that are based upon two decisions. One way leads to happiness, the right way, and the other way leads to misery, the wrong way.

Look at what he says in verse 6, for the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. So the Psalm is about the kind of choices you make. I have four children.

They range in age from 25 to 39. Over and over, I have said to them, ultimately, your life is based on your choices. Your mother and father love you.

We've tried to give you the best education and the best home possible. But none of those things can actually resolve the fact that you have to make your own choices. You are the result of the choices that you make in your life.

You are responsible. If you are happy, it's because you made right choices. If you are miserable, it's because you've made wrong choices. In essence, this is what David is saying. So let's look this morning at, first of all, the right way he speaks about, the way to happiness, and then we'll look at the way to misery. Psalm 1 captures, as we mentioned, a fundamental teaching in both the Old and New Testament that your choices determine the direction and the outcome of your life. We see this in the Old Testament. Listen to Deuteronomy 30, verse 19.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live. We come to the New Testament, and what is Jesus' message to the crowd? He said, enter in at the straight gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in there at, because straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it. It should be no surprise that David shows us the way here to happiness, and that happiness, if I could say, actually has two sides to it.

It's like a battery with two poles, a negative and a positive. And so the way to happiness is, first of all, avoiding a negative way, and secondly, it's following a positive way. What is the negative way that we are to avoid?

It's what he says in verse 1. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. David starts with a warning that there are serious threats to the health of your happiness, and these dangers are always in the realm of personal relationships.

Let me say it again. The danger that is set forth, the threat in your life is always in the realm of personal relationships. Happiness cannot be separated from the people that influence you. And according to what David is saying here in Psalm 1, there are people that we should avoid, people that are toxic. What does he say? Blessed is the man that walks not, stands not, and sits not.

Who are these threats? Fundamentally, they are people whose life pursuit, that is their desire for happiness, is without God. That's the fundamental truth. They're going this direction.

You're going this direction. You see it in the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis chapters 3 and 4 and 5 where you have Cain and you have Abel, and then eventually you had Cain and you had Seth, and you had the line of Seth that sought the Lord, and the line of Cain that went after the world. They both sought happiness, but they went in different directions. And the way of the ungodly is essentially life that is being satisfied and fulfilled through self-centered dreams and desires. It is without regards to God. Their ways, God's ways are ignored. God's ways are scorned. God's ways are held in contempt. The laws of God are treated as outdated, irrelevant, and unintelligent. But the way of the godly understands that it is the way that God has laid out in his word.

David calls these people ungodly, sinners, and scornful. And their influence is not only toxic, but is insidious. What does that mean? It starts and it grows over time. And notice how he explains it. He says it starts out with a simple walk. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the way of the ungodly. What does it mean to walk? It means your friend group who you hang out with. You do a lot of walking here at Bob Jones, especially the guys, because they have to come from this side to this side to be able to eat.

It's a long haul. Now, most people don't walk alone. When you go in the dining common, you don't normally eat alone. You have a friend group. And what he's saying here is you're walking with people. And by the way, they're going to influence you. They're going to rub off on you. And they're going to affect you and your values and your life's purpose and your morality. He says you walk with those who are ungodly.

Then secondly, it leads to standing. You now begin to associate and identify with them. You are becoming like them. It's impossible to have friends in your life who do not influence you. You cannot control how people will influence you, but you can control who influences you. That's the point he's making here. And then finally, you become one of them by joining them and sitting with them.

You then become the influencers. And what he's saying here is that friendships have a dangerous slippery slope that can lead in a spiral downward towards destruction. And the irony of those who pursue happiness without God is that they never find it.

It's an elusive dream like a mirage in the desert. So the psalmist is saying that the way to happiness is by decisively avoiding negative toxic relationships and influences in your life. I read the story about a man who dialed a wrong phone number one day and he got the following recording. I am not available right now, but I thank you for caring enough to call. I'm making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep and if I do not return your call, you will know that you are one of the changes.

Well, what is he saying? One of the happiest... And by the way, it is a happy decision. One of the happiest and most freeing decisions in your life is when you decide to have a friend group that is walking in the way of the godly.

Who is your community? Who are you allowing to influence you? So there's the negative side, but then notice the positive side. He said happiness here is based upon nurturing a particular relationship. And that is a deep relationship with God's Word.

Look at what he says in verse 2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night. A happy man has discovered something.

It's like a treasure that he has found that is hidden. And that is that the Bible is a continual and perpetual source of real pleasure. His delight. What do you delight in? A bowl of ice cream? What do you delight in? Sleeping in on Saturday morning? What do you delight in?

Going out with friends to eat at a restaurant? What is it that you have found in your life that is spiritually delighting to you? What David is saying is he has discovered that the law of the Lord, that's referring to the Torah, that's the Old Testament, and particularly the first five books of the Old Testament. David said that he has found that the Word of God is the source of his pleasure, so much so that he calls it honey. You know, back in biblical times they didn't have the kind of sweets that we have. But they had the natural sweet of honey.

That's what he called the Word of God. Back in 1998 I had the privilege of going on a missions trip to Kenya, Africa with evangelist Tom Farrell. We had a trip one day where we drove two and a half hours on a back road as far as the road could go back into the bush of Africa and we hiked down an escarpment into a valley where we had been invited to come into a village of people, a tribal group called the Maasai. They are very primitive. They wear loincloths. They carry big spears. They are known as the lion hunters.

They are fearless people. And we were invited to come into their village as a missionary and also we were the first white people to ever enter into their village. And we came in and spent time with them and we gathered them all together. The men sat under one tree and the women and children sat under another tree and so we preached a sermon to them.

It started out in English and then it was translated into Swahili and then it was translated into Maasai. We actually had two interpreters. And Tom Farrell started out by preaching Genesis 1, 2, and 3, Creation and the Fall. And then he turned it over to me and we went from Genesis 3 to John 3.

And how God provided a way of salvation from the fall, our redemption in Jesus. We gave an invitation that day and there were six adult men who received Jesus as their savior. And a Baptist church, a local church was established right there in that village. But I'll never forget what one of the Maasai elders said to us as we were leaving. He said, please send another missionary to speak the word of God because we now have the taste of honey in our mouths and we don't want it to spoil.

They had never heard the Bible preached. And yet for them, they had tasted and they had seen that the Lord is good. When the living Lord bursts his flavor in your spiritual mouths through his written word, you have tasted the source of pleasure and delight. So how is it that we delight in the Lord? Well he tells us, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night. What is meditation?

Meditation is, well it's almost better to try to use illustrations. For example, it's the difference between swimming on the top of the water and taking goggles and a snorkel and going below the surface. Have you ever snorkeled before in places that you have clear water and all kinds of life teeming underneath the water?

My wife and I, a number of years ago, I think it was like our 35th wedding anniversary and we went to Hawaii and one of the things we love to do is to snorkel. And so we found a spot that we could go and we got in the water. Yeah, all you do is you just see the water.

Obviously it's kind of pretty, but after a while it's kind of boring. But when we dropped below the water, we started laughing under the water. Because as soon as we dropped down, we saw this massive sea turtle.

And you start swimming around and you just start discovering life, teeming life underneath the water. For me, that's what meditation is. It's looking deeper into the scripture. Most people have a very shallow relationship with the Bible.

But it is not until you mentally, with time, engage in reading and thinking and praying over the Word of God. Some have compared meditation to a cow chewing his cud. Cows have one stomach with four compartments. They chew a clump of grass, they swallowed it, and it drops into the first stomach. Then they bring it back up for seconds. And they swallow it and it drops into the second compartment. They repeat the process and it goes back into the third stomach, or third compartment, and then the fourth compartment. And then you end up drinking the leftovers.

It's called milk. What is meditation? It's constant chewing over the scriptures day and night.

It's like a person who has gum in their mouth and they're always chomping. How do you know if you delight in the law of the Lord? Well, let me ask you a question. What is your mental default mode during the course of a day? What do you do with your free thoughts?

What do you do to preoccupy your thoughts? For most people today, the default mode is technology. It's your cell phone. I mean, let's be honest.

That's what it is. Texts, Instagram, email, Snapchat, DMs, downloads, Google searches, YouTube, etc. Games. But technology has become the modern source of meditation. And I want to say this is to the peril of the happiness of your own soul.

And you know that because we know for a fact that social media is a source of anxiety. It affects your mental health if you want strong mental health that is delightful and happy. Where is it found? It is found in the law of the Lord.

And what is the result of meditation? Well, the Bible says it is always growth. He says you are like a tree planted by the rivers of water. And this planted by the rivers of water is not referring to a natural tree growing by a natural stream. But it is a planted tree that is being cultivated by water that is being brought to the tree by a channel or what we call irrigation.

It's more like an apple orchard or an orange grove or a vineyard of grapes. And the soul is being cultivated through intentional times in the word. And this perpetual flow is an abundant supply that will sustain and satisfy you even in the most difficult times of life. Where valleys can be turned into wells and hard times for the believer can become productive times. Two things he says, right friends, time in the Word of God. Those were the two most important decisions I made after I became a believer at 19 years old between my sophomore and senior year of college. It was right choices about friends and it is learning in discovering the delightful experience of being in the Word of God.

So I want to ask you a question, are you a happy person? And then very quickly, he gives us the wrong way. The way not of happiness, but the way of misery. For he tells us in verse 4, the ungodly are not so. Spurgeon makes a powerful point when he notes that the Hebrew proposes a double negative.

Not so the ungodly, not so. What is he saying? He's saying the way of the ungodly will never, never prosper. And he is showing here what is prosperity. Because there is a prosperity for the believer and that comes through relationships in the Word of God.

But what is he saying here? The ungodly will not prosper. They are like chaff, meaningless, purposeless, lifeless. And the end of a life is without God. They will not pass God's judgment. They will not be found in the congregation of the righteous in heaven. And the ultimate happiness he is saying here is that we will live eternally in the presence of God.

And the ultimate misery is to spend eternity without God. So the end of the Psalm, before we go any further into the Psalms, we have to make a choice. And that is, which way are you going to go?

No question. There are only two kinds of people in this room. Only two kinds of people. You're one or you're the other. Your choices are leading you on the way to the righteous or with the righteous. Or your choices are following the way of the ungodly.

And so let me say it again. It's dogmatic. You are on one of those two ways.

There's only two kinds of people in this room. Which way are you on? Would you bow your head with me as we pray? Father, I pray this morning that the sober reality of this beginning Psalm that really lays out for us the way to be happy is neglected by many.

And it is received by many. And Father, I pray for every person in this room. And as we have been praying as a student body at large, Lord, I pray that there would be many who would choose the way of the godly. And I pray that they will make right choices about friendships and relationships. And in particular, that they will learn to discover delighting in the word of God.

That they will actually take to invest time in meditation and study of the scriptures. Father, be merciful to us because you are merciful. And be gracious to us because you are full of grace. In Jesus' name, Amen. You've been listening to a sermon from Dr. Steve Pettit, President of Bob Jones University from the study series, Encountering God, which is a study from the book of Psalms. Thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we continue this study of Psalms here on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-23 00:54:31 / 2022-11-23 01:04:10 / 10

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