People are chasing happiness and yet so many are never finding it.
Here's why. Happiness is never found by direct pursuit. Happiness is a byproduct of another pursuit. When you pursue Him, when you pursue holiness, happiness tags along. Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to you. Too often we try to look for happiness in material things or even in people.
But all those things eventually come up short. Connect with Skip Heitzig today as he begins a series in the Psalms called Playlist and reveals how you can experience true happiness today. But before we begin, I want to invite you to join me on a tour of Israel in 2022. Thank you, Skip.
Now, let's get into today's teaching. We're in the first Psalm as we begin our study with Skip Heitzig. One of the most successful songs is the song that you have heard over the introduction to this message. It's a song called Happy by Pharrell Williams. Unless you've been in a coma for a year, that song has been everywhere. Not only in this country, number one in this country, number one in the United Kingdom, number one in Ireland, number one in Australia, number one in New Zealand, and number one in 19 other countries. On YouTube, the music video has garnered 325 million views. Very popular. It's a very simple song that invites people to be happy in the midst of bad news or whatever their life's doing, to be lifted higher.
And I reckon, isn't that a great word? I reckon that it's a popular song because it reflects what everybody wants at the core of their hearts. If you ask anybody, what do you really want out of life? They would say, I want to be happy.
And yet, according to USA Today that cited the Gallup Poll, 70% of Americans are unhappy with their jobs, and another New York research team said most Americans are unhappy with their lives. Everybody has a picture of what would bring them happiness, some idea. So when the person says, all I want is to be happy, follow-up question is, what do you have to do to get there? And so people have a picture of what would bring them happiness. For some, it's owning something. Man, if I had like that car, I'd be happy. If I could make that much money, that income stream, I'd be a happy person. Or if I could marry that person, I would be happy.
Or if I wouldn't have married that person, I could be happy. There were three guys standing around talking about this. One was from England, one was French, and the other was Russian. And the Englishman said, happiness is when you come home after a long day and your slippers are warmed by the fire. And the Frenchman said, oh, you English have no romance. Happiness is a fine meal at a fine restaurant with your wife. And the Russian said, you're both wrong. Happiness is when you are at home in bed, you get knock on the door, it's secret police, and they say, Ivan Ivanovich, you are under arrest.
And you say, oh, Ivan Ivanovich, he lives next door. It's all a matter of perspective, is it not? Well, God has a lot to say about happiness.
And it's all the things the world will not tell you. And so we come to the book of Psalms, the very first psalm on God's playlist, the psalm, the happy psalm. And I take the title happy from the first word I want you to notice in it. It's the word blessed. Blessed is the man that is like this, the psalm says. The word blessed, ashrei in Hebrew, means literally happy. Oh, how happy. And it's written in the plural in this psalm, so it could better be translated, oh, the joys, or the happinesses, or oh, how very happy is this person. This is God's way of being happy. We have in our Declaration of Independence in the second paragraph, those famous words, we hold these truths, it says, to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
And they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of what? Happiness. Our Constitution guarantees you can pursue happiness, never promises you'll find it.
But you can chase it. And people are chasing happiness, and yet so many are never finding it, and here's why. Happiness is never found by direct pursuit. Happiness is a byproduct of another pursuit. When you pursue Him, and when you pursue holiness, happiness tags along.
Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to you. So we're going to get into this psalm, only six verses, and we're going to take it phrase by phrase and verse by verse. Simply it is a description of the happy man, the happy woman, the happy person. And the happy person is described first by what he declines or says no to.
Look at the opening phrase of the psalm. Oh how happy, blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. So far everything's negative, right?
It's all no. It's as if he is saying happy is the person who is marked by what he does not do, the people he does not hang out with, the places he does not go. Now before you think, boy the Bible is surely negative, understand that the positive comes after the negative. And there's a lot of power in negative thinking. Happy is the person who understands that no is the first step many times to yes.
Just ask an athlete who has to say no to doing certain things and certain lifestyle and restrict his or her intake so that he or she can become a great athlete. So 10 o'clock at night rolls around and that quart of ice cream in the freezer, no. Even though that sounds really good, no. What does he just say no to? First of all, bad advice. He does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Be careful who you listen to. Be careful what you listen to.
Two quick ways to disaster. Take no one's advice, take everyone's advice. There are some people, you know them, who are isolated. They take no one's advice. No, don't tell me what to do. No, I won't ask your advice.
No, I'll figure this out on my own. Not a healthy place to be. But the second is also disastrous when you take everyone's advice. There are some people that process every single choice to everyone else's opinion.
And you know what? Everyone has an opinion on how you should live. And it's not always the best opinion. It's not always godly counsel. It might be well-intentioned counsel. It might even be from your own family, but it is not necessarily godly counsel. There's an old Danish proverb that says, he who builds according to every man's advice will have a crooked house and a crooked life to go with it.
The second thing the happy person says no to is bad associations. The next phrase says, nor does he stand in the path of sinners. So first you're walking and now you're standing.
The word stand means to linger, to stay a while, to loiter. Let me put it to you this way. If you walk in the footsteps of bad advice, you will soon stand among those who give it.
You're slowing down. You've got to be careful who you hang with. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, bad company corrupts good character.
Now I want to say a word that looks at this from the other side. It is not bad to make friends with unbelievers. And that psalm that we just read is not saying this. Even Jesus Christ himself was called the friend of publicans, the friend of sinners. He hung out with the unrighteous, but he didn't hang out with them in order to become like them.
He hung out with them in hopes that he could raise them up by his life, by his example, so that they would want to become like him. And Christians who move the world are those people who don't let the world move them. That's why we need to be careful in what we listen to and whose advice and who we hang with. The third thing we say no to is bad actions.
Look at it yourself. Blessed is the man. Oh, how happy is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor, here it is, sits in the seat of the scornful, or the mockers.
This is a very popular seat to take these days. If you sit in the seat of the scorner, the mocker, especially mocking all things God, you will be very popular. It's popular to say, oh, those unintelligent people who actually believe in the Bible. Didn't you see your latest PBS documentary?
We know the things in the Bible can't be true. And so we find ourself in a unique position today. We are the enemy. We are the ones, at least many of them say, who say, yeah, those religious, crazy, right-wing nuts, they're the ones that are preventing real progress to happen in this country. So once again, just notice the slowing.
Walking at first, slow down to a standstill, and eventually you take a seat. And this is a position of influence. You have something to say. You have something to say that's not good.
You are mocking. Let me submit to you that Peter took this route. Peter was once walking, following, pursuing Christ. Jesus got arrested. Peter that night found himself in a courtyard standing among people who were not sympathetic toward the cause of Christ. Eventually he himself sat down and denied that he even knew Jesus.
Walking, standing, and sitting. So the happy person is described by what he declines. Second, the happy person is described in what he delights. Verse 2, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night. So now the psalmist moves from all the don'ts to all the dos. A lot of people brag about what they don't do.
It's a negative righteousness. I don't listen to music. I don't watch movies. I don't smoke and I don't chew and I don't go with girls that do.
Well yippee for you. What do you do? Not just what you don't do, but what do you do? A lot of people have enough of God to make them decent, but not enough to make them dynamic. So the psalmist moves from what he doesn't do to what he does. And notice what his attitude is toward the Bible. His delight is in the law of the Lord. It does not say his duty is to read your Bible every day. His drudgery is picking up the book and opening it up. His delight is in the law of the Lord. One translation says he finds his greatest pleasure in the law of the Lord. He looks forward to it.
Why? Because this book is the means toward an end. And the end is an encounter with the living God. So I want to know the word of God so that I can get to know the God of the word. I want an encounter with him. And this book does that for me.
Let me give you an example. A young woman has a boyfriend. She can't always be with him, but she can carry, and she does in her purse, a photograph of him. A photograph is a reminder. It speaks to her of him.
So when she's away from him, when nobody's looking, she'll pull it out and she'll look at it longingly and maybe even give a surreptitious kiss toward it. Now the picture is in him. It's a substitute of him.
And not even a great substitute. But it reminds her of him and speaks to her of him. And so does the Bible to us. It reminds us of him. It speaks to us of him. It gets us in touch with him and we encounter him. Now here's what's even more amazing.
I want you to consider this. When David wrote Psalm 1 and he talked about the happy person delighting in the law of God, the only Bible he had were the first five books of Moses. He was talking literally about Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. His delight is in that. How many people do you know today that would say, my delight is that?
There's only one group I know, and that's you. I mean, Wednesday nights come you're going, hot diggity dog, we're in Leviticus, Numbers. We, however, have 66 books. We have the whole Bible. We have a treasure trove of truth.
And concerning the laws of God, it was David who wrote, and we will see it in Psalm 19, More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey in the honeycomb. Let me tell you my story. A few months ago I was on an airplane, a Southwest flight to be exact, and I was next to a man who had a book. He was devoted to his book. It was a book of crossword puzzles. His head was in it, his head was down, he's writing and he's thinking.
He didn't come up for air except maybe like when we were about to land and, you know, he like took a breath and had a swig of water so it was like, it was my opening. So I said, so? You like crossword puzzles, do you? And he goes, oh, I love crossword puzzles. He goes, I have a knack for them because I can see patterns in a maze of letters. And I don't know if this is fast or not, but he said, my record is 33 words in nine minutes. Now having, I don't know anything about it, but I thought, wow, that's good.
I'm hoping it's good because I really don't know, but I'm just going along in the conversation. And then he said this, this is what I want to share with you. He said, the first thing I do when I pack my suitcase is get a book of crossword puzzles. He said, it takes my mind off flying.
And the reason that made an impact on me is I thought, is this the first thing I think to pack when I pack my suitcase? Am I delighting in the law of the Lord as much as Mr. Crossword Puzzle is delighting in that book of his? I mean, you could say his delight is in the crossword puzzle, and in the crossword puzzle, does he meditate day and night.
He was all about that. Look at the word meditate in that verse, by the way. He meditates day and night. What does meditation mean? Well, it's not talking about transcendental meditation, where one disengages the mind and kind of goes nowhere. Biblical meditation is exactly the opposite. It means you consciously engage the mind, and you focus it upon revealed truth, in this case, the Word of God, the Scripture. But the word, the Hebrew word meditate is the word hegah, which means to coo, to mutter, to moan, to read in an undertone, or to talk to oneself about.
The root meaning of this word is the low moaning of an animal, especially when he chews its cud. Can you picture it? You and I do that sometimes when we eat.
Oh, that's so good. You're talking to yourself about it. You're reacting to what you're eating.
The picture then of meditation is that you just don't read the Scripture, but you feed on the Scripture. You slow down long enough to hear each word, to emphasize a different word, to say it out loud back to yourself to get an impression. You slow down. I have a problem when I eat, and that is I eat fast.
I always have. My wife has told me over the years to slow down. Echoes of my mom, who used to tell me growing up, slow down.
Let me explain to you, just to get you on my side a little bit, why I eat so fast. I grew up with three older brothers. I'm the youngest. I'm the baby of four. So when it was mealtime, they were serious.
It wasn't a little bit of banter back and forth. It's like whoever gets the food first wins. And I was sometimes last.
I'm the smallest. So I learned to eat very fast. Well, that's dangerous if you go to an expensive restaurant.
It's like five bucks a bite. It's like slow down. So can I suggest that when you read the Scripture, when you have your devotional time, that you will slow down and consider it carefully and more slowly. Meditation is the link between theory and action. You ask yourself, is this a command? Is this a promise?
Am I to do something in following this up? Why did he say that word? What if I emphasize that word? And meditation is that link between theory and action.
It forms your worldview and it will determine your behavior. So here's the happy person so far, described by what he declines, by what he delights in. Third, he's described by what he depicts. Look at verse three. He shall be like a tree. He shall be like a tree. Doesn't say he shall be like a stump of a tree.
Or he shall be like a twig lying on the ground or like a two by four. No, but something alive and something growing, something flourishing. You know, growth is a normal part of life. You expect growth to happen if there's a living thing.
If you have a seed, you plant it in the ground and you water it, you expect to see results. You expect growth. When a baby is born, you expect the baby to grow up. That's the normal, natural expectation of parents.
If the child's 35 or turns to be 35 years old and still in diapers, you know you got a big problem. No growth. Well, when you see a believer, a Christian, somebody who's been born again who has spiritual life, they're just sort of always at the same level.
You think, something's wrong. There ought to be growth. And as much as I love evangelism and love to call people to follow Jesus, Christianity is more than obstetrics. It includes pediatrics.
It includes some emergency room visits and should go all the way to the geriatric old age stage. So the tree depicts progress. It also depicts permanence, for you'll notice it says, he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. Can you picture a tree with its roots going deep down into the soil, deriving the nutrients, anchoring itself and becoming a permanent fixture of the landscape? I have a tree in my backyard I want to tell you about. It's an unusual tree. It's only seven years old. It is no joke at least 50 or 60 feet high.
It has had enormous growth. All my neighbors have said, so what's up with that tree? It's like Jack and the Beanstalk tree because all the other trees in the neighborhood are not like that tree, even the ones that have been around a while. So here's the deal I found out.
I wanted to find out. My tree is planted next to a pond. I have to fill the pond by hand with a hose and I'll fill it one day.
It will be down the next. And it's just a little pond that has a pump with a hole and a rock and it bubbles and it makes a nice sound. But I got to fill it all the time, especially in the summer. And so somebody came to my yard one day and goes, you've got a tear in the liner of your pond. You're going to have to rip that out and fix. There's something wrong with your liner. So pulled up all the rocks. Liner was perfect. Not a tear, not a cut, not a hole.
Intact. But we discovered the tree is a very smart tree. The roots not only go down, but some of the roots have gone up just above the liner and back down into the pond and it's like getting mainline water.
You turn on the hoses going. And that tree's roots extend into the yard and it has become this massive permanent fixture. The idea here is permanence planted, not potted, planted by rivers of water. Same word Jesus used or thought of, the same idea when he said abide in me. Remember that word? Good New Testament word. Abide in me means remain in me.
That's Skip Heite with a message from the series Playlist. Now, here's a resource that gives you more insight into God's character and nature by immersing you in his word every day. 2022 is almost here. Plan now for your spiritual menu starting in January. This month, we're offering Skip's daily God book devotional containing strong thoughts for each day of the year.
Here's a sample from January 1st. Martin Luther once said, The Bible is alive. It speaks to me. It has feet.
It runs after me. As you read each day, listen each day and prepare for the greatest adventure of your life. That's an excerpt of the direction found in Skip's daily God book that you'll receive in hard cover when you give $35 or more today to help keep this Bible teaching ministry growing. We'll also include Playlist, eight messages by Skip on key psalms delivered on CD as our thank you. Here's a sample of the wisdom you'll hear in the Playlist series.
If you're going to spend energy in life, and we all do, make sure it's about people that you're building up, not just projects that you're building up. To give and receive this month's resource package, visit connectwithskip.com or call 800-922-1888. You can stay updated on the latest from this ministry and from Skip. Get encouragement from Skip and important announcements on social media. Just follow Skip on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
That's at Skip Heitzig, at Skip, H-E-I-T-Z-I-G. And come back tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares why there's only one place where you can find true happiness. Be sure to join us. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection. Connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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