In light of your mortality, what is the purpose of life? Why do we even bother struggling with it all if it's just going to pass so quickly and will be quickly forgotten in the end?
What is the point of that? In light of mortality and the relative brevity of life, where can we find true meaning and peace? Well, the Psalms offer the answer, and Pastor Don Green will take us there today on the Truth Pulpit.
Hi, I'm Bill Wright. We're beginning a series titled, Here You May Safely Dwell, and Don, this dwelling place is actually a person. You know, we live in a superficial culture, my friend, that is focused on the here and now, but the thoughtful person realizes the problem of our mortality. Our lives are brief and passing, and Scripture tells us to number our days so that we might present to God a heart of wisdom, but there is an answer to it all in Christ, and that's what we're going to see if you'll stay with us today on the Truth Pulpit. Thanks, Don, and friend, have your Bible open to Psalm 90 as we join our teacher now in the Truth Pulpit. Now, the overarching theme of Psalms 90 through 92 is that the Lord Most High is the dwelling place of His people, and it is so critical for us to see these connections.
There are verbal links that join these three Psalms together like a like a tightly constructed puzzle or like links in a chain that are that bind them together, and to help us see that their placement means that we are to understand them together and let them give us a fullness of interpretation rather than viewing them in isolation as is so easy to do. The overarching theme of these Psalms, I said, is that the Lord Most High is the dwelling place of His people. Let's see that, Psalm 90 verse 1. Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Notice the word dwelling there as being key. Look at the opening of Psalm 91 verse 1. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. And then in verse 9, you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.
And in Psalm 92 verse 1, the connection continues when it says it is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High, addressing God at the start of the Psalm by the same title that had been used in two different places in Psalm 91. And so we look at these Psalms and we see that it is declaring it an overarching theme that is to define the worldview of the believing person is that the Lord God, Yahweh, in New Testament times, the Lord Jesus Christ is our dwelling place. He is where we live and move and exist and have our being. He is where we find our comfort, our safety, and our refuge. That is the spirit in the context of these three Psalms.
Now here is the the key to to seeing these three Psalms and letting them inform and answer something very very critical for us. We saw the mortality of man and how Scripture repeatedly says that our lives are brief and subject to death at any time. That we grow like grass and then we wither like grass and we're gone. And that is the reality of the life of man on earth. We live in this world under a curse and it's there is a curse of death on this world ever since the the sin of Adam and in our mortality and in our humanness we cannot break out of that curse. We cannot escape it and no one can. No one can escape that curse of mortality.
And here's what Psalms 90, 91, and 92 taken together do for us is the truth that the Lord Most High is the dwelling place of his people. That truth is the answer to the suffocating reality of mortality. Mortality will suffocate a man who thinks about it rightly and properly. A man who sees the temporary nature of existence and how quickly we are we live and and die and are quickly forgotten in the big scheme of things. A man who understands that and understands that his own life is a is a wisp of smoke that is scattered in the wind.
A man who seriously thinks about that is a man that is going to come to the point where life starts to seem really futile and how do I get out from under this? And Psalms 90, 91, and 92 deal with that problem of mortality in very honest ways. There's five points today. Point number one is the problem of mortality. The problem of mortality. And remember that everything that we see today is going to be under that that broad umbrella of the Lord Most High is the dwelling place of his people. The Lord Most High himself is where people find shelter. And what is it that they're finding shelter from preeminently? They are finding shelter from this suffocating reality of the mortality of man.
Men. Especially the wicked, the unsaved. They are only temporary grass in their existence.
They are passing. They flourish for a short period of time, but then they are quickly gone. Psalm 90 verse 3, as this triad of Psalms opens up, Psalm 90 verse 3 says, you turn man back into dust and say, Return, O children of men, for a thousand years in your sight or like yesterday when it passes by or as a watch in the night. God is eternal and he lives beyond time.
But as for man, it's something completely different. Verse 5, you have swept them away like a flood. They fall asleep. In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew.
Toward evening it fades and withers away. The life of man, your life, my life, is like grass that's green in the morning that suffers under the noonday sun and is withered up by evening time. That is the perspective of mortality that Scripture teaches us.
A breath, a fleeting vapor, a dust in the wind. Look at verse 10 of Psalm 90. As for the days of our life, they contain 70 years, or if due to strength 80 years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, for soon it is gone and we fly away. In Psalm 92 verses 6 and 7 you see this theme repeated and these these interlocking themes are so important for you to see, to understand that these these three Psalms collectively teach us. Psalm 92 verse 6 says, a senseless man has no knowledge nor does a stupid man understand this, that when the wicked sprouted up like grass and all who did iniquity flourished it was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.
Man flourishes and quickly fades away. Just like the springtime flowers that we were enjoying a week or two or three weeks ago, where are they now? In their beauty we enjoyed them, but they're withered and they're shriveled up and they're already gone.
The early daffodils of spring here in our region. Now beloved, I want to tell you something really critical, something that has pressed on my mind for the past 30 years in a way that makes all of this that I have to say very refreshing to my own soul. Mortality is not just a problem. Mortality, your mortality, is a problem.
It is a problem. In light of mortality, in light of your mortality, what is the purpose of life? Why do we even bother struggling with it all if it's just going to pass so quickly and will be quickly forgotten in the end?
What is the point of that? What was the point of the people that were living in 1850 to just pick a year at random, and the millions of people that were living then? We know the names of maybe a handful of them if we read some pre-Civil War history. The rest of them are forgotten, even in our own family lines for most of us.
This is a very big problem. What then is the purpose of life if it is over so quickly and we go and we're forgotten? Charles Spurgeon said this, he says, as grass is green in the morning and turns to hay at night, so men are changed from health to corruption in a few hours.
We are not cedars or oaks, but only poor grass which is vigorous in the spring but lasts not a summer through. What is there upon earth more frail than we? As I said earlier, our existence is a vapor that passes and is quickly forgotten. And to just repeat myself, it's not just you and me that's like that, it's our loved ones as well.
For those that are closest to us, there is no lasting security, there is no lasting permanence to those relationships, and the more tightly we cling to them the sooner we will find out that we can't keep them in the end. Now no one, I understand, that no one likes to talk this way, but this is life, beloved, and this is the problem of mortality. And if that was all that we had to go on, if that was all that Scripture taught us about mortality, it would be very discouraging, it would be a very heavy thought. But, and here's the thing that I maybe have missed from time to time more than I care to admit over these past 30 years, is that the grasp of that mortality is the start of some spiritual maturity for you. It is the start of growing in Christ, it is the start of developing a philosophy of life that can actually stand the tests and the winds of time.
But it is only a start. The problem of mortality is not meant to be the place that you go to and you sit down and stop and you live and let that dominate your thinking. You must come to grips with it and come to grips with it earnestly, if for no other reason than the fact that Scripture tells us this repeatedly and would have us contemplate our mortality in such terms. But it is not an in and of itself if all that you did with mortality was to contemplate the brevity of life, you would soon become a morbid, introspective person who would be quite the pain in the neck to be around. And my friends could probably testify to that if they felt the freedom to be honest from time to time about me.
That's alright, we all have to grow. What is mortality supposed to do for you? Mortality and the reality of mortality, the problem of mortality, beloved, becomes an instructor for you. It becomes your teacher. It has something to teach you that you are to learn from. It is something of a biblical taskmaster, a biblical... a biblical tutor to lead you to something else. You can't really start to live life properly and you certainly don't have a proper worldview if you haven't recognized and somehow come to grips with the problem of mortality. However, these Psalms... these Psalms, oh they are so precious.
They are so precious. These Psalms come and take the trembling hand of the one who has been confronted with mortality and says, come follow me. Let me lead you out of the despair that mortality would naturally cause you.
Let me bring you to a different place. That's what these Psalms do. And what does the problem of mortality lead us to? Point number two here in these Psalms, what does mortality do? Number two, it brings us to the prayer in mortality. The prayer in mortality. A sober reflection on the brevity of life should lead any thinking person to flee to the God of the Bible. A sober reflection on the brevity of life should cause any thinking person to flee to the Lord Jesus Christ who is actually resurrected from the dead and say, somewhere in Christ, somewhere in the resurrection is the answer to this mortality. This one who has been raised from the dead has the answer to my mortality if only he will share it with me. A sober reflection on the brevity of life should cause you to flee to God in earnest prayer.
We pointed this out, look at Psalm 90 verse 12. In a prayer to God Moses prays, so teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom. Here's the sense, the essence of the prayer of the person that has realized the biblical reality of mortality. Lord I see that I am under a curse. I see that this life is under a curse from which I cannot escape. I do not have the power to burst out beyond the bonds of what this mortality places upon me. Lord your own word says that I am destined to die once and after this comes judgment. I am destined for the grave. This is what lies ahead of me, O God, and I don't have the power to overcome that on my own. I don't even have the power to process such a weighty burden of life in my own mortal flesh and in my own mortal mind. Who can bear up under such such an existence? An existence that is short, an existence that is difficult, and an existence that will soon enough be forgotten by those who come after me.
Now I'll say it one more time and then I'm done saying it. I realize that a lot of people including perhaps many of you don't like to think this way and you just as soon like to just get up and walk out. I get that, but to run away from it doesn't change the fact.
If a doctor tells you you have cancer it doesn't do any good to run out of his office with your fingers stuck in your ear saying blah blah blah I'm not gonna listen. This is the diagnosis of the Bible on life. So we have to listen, we have to deal with this earnestly, and the prayer of Psalm 90 verse 12 comes on bended knee on humbled spirit that says Lord I am mortal and I don't have the ability to solve this on my own. Oh God, oh God who has been the dwelling place of your people, teach me, teach me what to do with this mortal life so that I might have something to give back to you to show for it in the end. In Psalm 91 verse 2 you see a spirit of prayer as well.
Here from a more trusting, a more a more positive perspective you might say, but the spirit of prayer flowing on he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High verse 2 says I will say to the Lord my refuge and my fortress my God in whom I trust God teach me God I come to you as my refuge in the midst of this mortal life I flee to you for safety because I can't find it and keep it on my own. Charles Spurgeon says this and I quote, men are led by reflections upon the brevity of time to give their earnest attention to eternal things. They become humble as they look into the grave which is so soon to be their bed. Their passions cool in the presence of mortality. They yield themselves up to the dictates of unerring wisdom, end quote. In other words, the reality of the grave teaches a man and humbles a man.
It extinguishes his pride. How can I be proud of anything in life? How can I be boastful? How can I be arrogant when I know a hundred years from now no one's going to remember my name?
And probably in less time than that. What is there about my life that that endures? What is there about my life that will continue? People say well live on in my friends and in the hearts of those who survive me. Okay great. You can gag on that kind of sentimentality.
Fine enough. You know we've all seen movies like that and shows like that that talk in those sentimental terms. Okay you're gonna live on in the memories of your people. Let's assume that for argument's sake. Okay what's gonna happen to them? They're also mortal, right?
They're going to die also, right? And sooner or later the ripples of the pond reach the shore and then they stop going out. We're left with the fact that there's a sense in which our lives was like sticking a finger in a cup of water and you pull it out and there's no evidence that it was there at the end.
Now let me just remind you so that you don't check out and give up on me here. I said that these Psalms are taking us by the hand and leading us to a better place but we want to look at this stare it directly in the face and answer it and to come to an answer with this with this forbidding prospect of mortality in a way that settles it for us and helps us going forward so that it's chains are left behind and it's and it's fearful stony bony fingers can no longer grab us and and concern us and occupy our minds. There is an answer to this but the answer is only meaningful if we take it seriously. Now saw the problem of mortality and we see this prayer in mortality and here's the question. Why is prayer so essential in this meditation? Why is prayer so essential in the contemplation of the brutality of mortality?
There's a reality to it and there is a brutality to it. Well Charles Spurgeon says again he says that this meditation is only meaningful when the Lord himself is the teacher. He alone can teach to real and lasting profit a short life should be wisely spent in quote. In other words we come to the Lord and we humble ourselves before him.
We come as it were to the Holy Spirit and we say please be my teacher here. Please give me understanding that transcends what I'm capable of in my natural man and in my natural mind. Please help me to overcome the blinders that are on my eyes. I live by sight not by faith. I go by what I see. I live by my my passing feelings. I live by by desire rather than by truth when I'm left to myself and so the prayer comes to God and says God help me.
I am desperate here. This mortality would drive me to insanity but for your help in the midst of it. And so Psalm 90 closes as we've seen in a prayer. Look at Psalm 90 verse 13 where he says do return Oh Lord.
How long will it be? And be sorry for your servants. Oh God would you please have mercy on us. Look on us in our pitiable miserable condition.
We need your help. We cannot escape this circle of mortality on our own so be sorry for us and help us. Verse 14 oh satisfy us in the morning with your loving-kindness that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days you have afflicted us and the years we have seen evil. Let your work appear to your servants and your majesty to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us and confirm for us the work of our hands. Yes confirm the work of our hands. Now I'm speaking metaphorically here and in a word picture that may or may not be helpful but here we go. The psalmist here is praying from within the realm of mortality and as it were his hand reaches out and pierces through the bubble of mortality to grab hold of God and to bring him as it were into it and say God I invite you to come into my mortality and sort it out and make something useful out of this mess that I can't possibly do on my own. And he humbly prays God I am desperate here I am appealing to you for grace for mercy for help that I do not deserve I'm asking you to be gracious to me in this condition of mortality in which I find myself. Now all of that sobers us none of us I suppose really like to be brought to a face-to-face confrontation with our utter dependence and our utter spiritual bankruptcy to one degree or another we like to be in charge we like to have control of things and yet what Scripture is teaching us in this brutal reality of mortality is is that that's that's not the way that things really are and the sooner that we we see through that the quicker that we can get to an answer to that mortality but as long as we're clinging to this sense of autonomy and self-sufficiency by which we are all naturally partakers the longer that we cling to that the longer it is for us to get to an answer to it and you cling to it until the phone call comes in the night there's been an accident you cling to it until the doctor comes in and says there's nothing more that I can do here and then under the press of the circumstances you may not have the time to think through it in the way that you want to and so that's why that's why we come to God in prayer and we say God teach me now while I have strength while I have vitality while I have a clear mind teach me now so that I can live in a proper way with the rest of the days that I have which are going to be brief but let them be found for your glory the reality of our mortality presents a problem but also an opportunity for prayer pastor Don Green will bring three more points to your attention next time here on the truth pulpit as he takes us further into our series here you may safely dwell plan now to be with us right now though here's Don with news of a special resource well my friends as we wrap up today's broadcast I just want to say a quick word about the tremendous pressure that our culture is bringing against biblical morality even Christian leaders are starting to waffle on these most basic issues of biblical truth and righteousness but God's Word has not changed and I know that you if you're a familiar listener to this broadcast you want to stand firm on this issue just like I do well what we want to do is put into your hands our series titled the Bible and homosexuality it's available by CD or by free download and my friend bill is going to help you find it right now just visit us at the truth pulpit calm and click on radio offers to learn more that's the truth pulpit calm I'm Bill Wright inviting you back next time for more from the truth pulpit
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