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Living the Good Life

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 25, 2022 12:00 am

Living the Good Life

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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October 25, 2022 12:00 am

Jesus promised gifts like abundant life, peace that passes understanding, and rest for weary hearts, but He never said these would come easy. The paradox of Christian living is that God’s free gifts are only realized when we pursue them at all costs.

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Nobody fell into sin, right? We choose to sin. We make an appointment for sin. We leave our business card out and invite sin. We lock the door and make a phone call to sin. We open the computer and click to sin. Or we turn on the television and watch sin. Peter says find out in which direction it normally comes into your life and then swerve out of the way.

Make every possible evasive action. What do you think of when you hear the phrase I'm living the good life? It's usually tied to wealth and comfort. Someone feels like they have it made.

They have all the money they need and all the comforts of life. God doesn't want us to shy away from living the good life. But what God does is redefine what that means. Thanks for joining us today here on Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davy is working through a series called Christianity 101. We're learning some of the basics of living as Christians. Today's lesson is entitled Living the Good Life. Author Dave Freeman popularized the expression you've heard, the bucket list, and it was from his bestselling book entitled 100 Things to Do Before You Die.

It was rather tragic to learn that following an accident, he passed away at the age of 47, a rather untimely death. His book begins with the words, and I quote, life is a short journey. So how can you make sure you fill it up with the most fun, that you visit all the coolest places on earth before you pack those bags for the very last time? In his own personal bucket list, he included things like attending the Academy Awards ceremony, running with the bulls in Spain. This is how he intended to live the good life. According to comments from his father, Dave had only made it halfway through his bucket list before dying. You ask the average person on the planet out there what it is that makes life fulfilling and meaningful and brings you the most happiness, and you're going to get a variety of answers, but it's all going to circle back to basically the same things.

It'll have something to do with doing something fun or exciting, experiencing some kind of wonderful visit to a lot of places around the world. Maybe it's all the above. This is what makes for a good life.

So write at your list and go for it. If you ask the average Christian, what does the Bible say about living the good life? They'll probably think you're unspiritual to ask such a question, or maybe you're reading a bit too much prosperity theology. We don't talk about life in terms of the good life. The more educated in Scripture will be quick to tell you. The Bible talks about holiness, not happiness, right? It's true in a way. The Bible, though that doesn't tell you how to live the good life, it will tell you how to live a godly life.

That's true. We'll all say to those a hearty amen. But in this next installment in our series of studies through the letter of 1 Peter, we're calling it Christianity 101, Peter, the apostolic professor, goes to the chalkboard and essentially says, now our lesson for today is how to live the good life.

And it's interesting that those words would appear in the original language translated a number of different ways into English, and he's deadly serious. So turn with me, if you would, in your Bibles. Let's go to that formula that he gives us in 1 Peter 3 and where we left off in our study last Lord's Day. We'll begin with the opening line for the time being at verse 10. He writes, for the one who desires life to love and see good days, stop there for the moment. You could translate this as the ESV does, which I prefer here. Whoever desires to love life, whoever desires to love life and see good days, live a good life and love life while you're at it.

Then he goes on. One paraphrase renders it, whoever wants to embrace life and see the day filled up with good. Another reads, if you want a good life, here's what to do.

Really? I mean, the Bible actually talks like that. The Bible actually uses the phrase here, but of course, notice, as we will, that in this lesson, Peter doesn't refer to the good life as a trouble free life or a pain free life or a distressing free life.

He'll talk about the good life. Now, what he's about to do, and you might notice in your translation that it's a quotation. We're not going to take the time to go to its original source, but he's going to quote from Psalm chapter 34. And if you do go back and study that Psalm, you'll discover that David, young David, is writing this Psalm, hiding out in a cave. He's going to refer to living the good life and it's, wait a second, he's where? He's running for his life.

In fact, he's just finished an episode of absolute spiritual failure and he had to act like an insane man to get out of the clutches of a pagan king. Now he's in this cave waiting for his friends to gather around him and he writes, and in that Psalm where he talks about the fact that he's living the good life, he begins with the opening phrase, I will bless the Lord at all times. Even in this cave, it can be a good life.

How? Well, you notice again, Peter begins his quotation, for the one who desires, you could render it to love life. In other words, the good life is predicated by a decision, by a mindset.

You could translate it, the one who wills, the one who makes up his mind. This is referring to a mindset of faith that sees the best that God might be doing in every situation, no matter how difficult, even when you're hiding out in a cave. He's referring to a person who is choosing, willing, by faith, to view life as something to embrace, something that's worth loving and living, which is the opposite, by the way, of Solomon's perspective when he said, therefore, I hated life. I hate my life.

Why, Solomon? He adds, it is meaningless and it is filled with vexation of spirit. So right away, the scriptures describe different perspectives you can choose to hate your life or love your life, and it's going to depend a lot on your bucket list. Now, the word life that appears in the text in verse 10 comes from the Greek word zoan, which describes all the experiences and richness of living life to the fullest.

We've taken that word zoan and we've sort of transliterated it and turned it around a bit to come up with the word zest, to live with zest. He isn't talking about the length of life. He's talking about the quality of life, the perspective of the mindset in life. And the one desiring, Peter writes, to love life, to live life with purpose and meaning is going to depend a lot on the perspective and trust. He's going to give us, as he writes on the board, so to speak, a list of pursuits. We'll turn them into principles.

Some are negative, some are positive, but they're going to lead us into living the good life. For the sake of an outline, I've broken down Peter's comments in this quotation into six principles. Principle number one, simply put, put a muzzle on your mouth. Oh, I know.

What an encouraging place to start. Put a muzzle on your mouth. Look at verse nine. The one who decides to love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil. This is a command. It's an imperative.

One Greek scholar writes, it implies in the word energetic restraint. In other words, it's going to take a lot out of you to muzzle your mouth. It isn't easy.

You've got to put a lot of energy into it. Muzzle your mouth in regards to evil. Evil is a general word that includes any kind of profane or slanderous or inflammatory or impure or degrading speech.

In other words, if you want to live the good life, clean up your vocabulary. Muzzle your mouth in regards to evil. How many of you knew before Peter would ever say, this is how you ought to live the good life, that he would say something about what we say?

We knew it. Because even before we read this command, we already know that most of our problems are the result of our mouths. But even deeper still, this command has to do with the heart though, right?

It's a matter of the heart. Jesus said in Matthew 1234, the mouth speaks the things that are in the heart. So if we have bitterness in our heart, bitterness comes out of our mouths. If we have pride in our hearts, prideful things come out of our mouths. If we have lust and anger in our hearts, lustful and angry things are going to come out of our mouths. Words happen to be windows into our heart. So when Peter says to muzzle your mouth in order to live the good life, he's effectively telling us to live a life that confesses the sin in our hearts.

We deal with things like that in private long before ever anything becomes public. And with daily determination and great energy, the principle number one states it this way, muzzle your mouth. Now the second principle, Peter's going to make a parallel statement but he's going to focus the lens on one particular part of speech. Notice, you must keep your tongue from evil and specifically your lips from telling lies. So principle number two, never defend dishonesty.

Never defend dishonesty. My father used to tell his boys when we were growing up that it was always so much easier to tell the truth because you wouldn't have to remember what you said. I'm sure you've heard similar things because when you tell a lie, you got to remember what you said because you might have to tell another lie to cover up the first lie and then you're going to forget what you said the first time and the second time around you're going to contradict the first one. It's a whole lot easier to tell the truth.

You want to live a good life? Don't allow your lips to speak lies. Don't defend then dishonesty. There's no such thing as a little white lie.

It sets on course the direction of your life. Be committed to telling the truth. Couldn't help but laugh at this illustration I came across recently about a pastor who was determined to tell the truth and that's a good thing. There were two brothers that had basically terrorized this little town for decades causing trouble, abuse of the people, acoustic verbally with others, dishonest in business. Everybody in this little town knew it had nothing to do with either one of these two brothers or they were going to get scammed or abused or ripped off or insulted. The younger brother died unexpectedly and the surviving brother went to the pastor of this town's local church and said I want you to conduct my brother's funeral to which the pastor agreed. Then the older brother added listen it's important to me that during the service somewhere in there you tell everyone my brother was a saint. The pastor said he was anything but a saint. I won't do it.

I can't do it. This wealthy older brother pulled out his checkbook and said Reverend if you promise me you'll say my brother was a saint I know you're a man of your word and I'll write you out a check right now for $100,000 for your church building program. The pastor agreed and accepted the check. Word got around. The funeral home was packed with nearly the entire town. They couldn't believe what they were going to hear. The pastor began his eulogy by saying everybody here knows that the deceased man was a wicked man. A swindler, ungodly, evil. He caused so much trouble in this town. He mistreated his employees. He cheated on his taxes.

You could hear a pin drop. Then he added but as evil and sinful as this man was compared to his older brother he was a saint. I'm going to remember that by the way and use it whenever you get the chance. I think it's wonderfully ironic by the way that Peter happens to be the inspired apostle to deliver such a forceful command.

Why? Because Peter will always be in our minds as the guy who lied and he told the worst of lies. They're in the garden where Jesus had been arrested. Now standing in that mock trial at midnight Peter's out in the courtyard warming his hands. He at least got that close by the way. And then he was asked about his association with Jesus and he began to swear.

Isn't that interesting? He pulled words out of his past. I'll prove to you I'm nothing like one of that man's disciples and he swore. And then three times of course as he was questioned about knowing Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times he told a lie and it was the worst of lies. I know nothing about Jesus.

I have nothing to do with that man. The gospel records that after his third lie a rooster crowed reminding him of the prophetic warning that Jesus said, you're going to lie three times and denying me. The rooster is going to crow and he heard that animal sound and he rushed out of the courtyard and wept bitterly.

Luke 22 62. Peter knew what it was like to have the direction of his life altered and ruined and grieved because of lying. He knew what it was like to leave the good life. And by the way the good life for him was in that courtyard. That was the best life at that moment in fellowship and in association with his Savior.

And he ran from it. So you know when I read this text I don't know about you but first Peter 3 10 is a testimony of grace and growth in this man's life. This foul mouthed fisherman who had gotten converted, who lied under pressure though, but he wasn't kicked to the curb by Jesus Christ. Peter repented and Jesus Christ forgave him and later on recommissioned him into the work of his name.

And the man who now writes this letter no doubt still very aware of his failure and sin perhaps with even greater clarity than ever writes it this way. Whatever you do if you don't want to make a wrong turn, if you if you don't want to end up in the ditch, if you want to live a life worth living, the good life will have nothing to do with dishonesty. Tell the truth and when you don't confess it as quickly as you can. The third principle involved in pursuing this good life or celebrity must turn away from evil.

Let me put it in principle form this way. Principle number three, steer as far away from sin as possible. Turn away from evil.

Now that sounds obvious, doesn't it? It's going to involve evasive action in order to limit temptation. If you're not alert, you see it coming, you're going to have a collision with sin. The verb also carries the idea of swerving to avoid that kind of collision.

You've got to swerve out of the way. Now Peter is implying here that we can see most of it coming. We see it. I think we fool ourselves when we use expressions like yeah, he fell into sin. She stumbled into sin. Nobody fell into sin.

No, no, no. We run into sin. We choose to sin. We make an appointment for sin. We leave our business card out and invite sin. We lock the door and make a phone call to sin.

We open the computer and click to sin or we turn on the television and watch sin. Peter says find out in which direction it normally comes into your life and then swerve out of the way. Make every possible evasive action, lest you have a collision and lose the good life. Now the good life is not only pursued in what you resist but in that which you persist. Notice the last part of that phrase in verse 11. He must turn away from evil and do good. Frankly, engaging in goodness is an effective method for avoiding badness. And would you notice that Peter then doesn't just say to stop something.

He tells us to start something. Resisting isn't enough. Replacing what you're resisting with the right things is the biblical model of pursuing the good life. So Christianity isn't just no, no, no to things. It's yes, yes, yes to other things. It isn't just negative.

It's positive. Let me put it this way. Principle number four, make as many positive memories as you possibly can. You're here to do good to others. So make as many positive, constructive, self-sacrificing memories as you can. This is what it means to pursue the good life.

And the world out there is, by the way, going to say, no, no, no, you got it wrong. The good life is when other people do good things to you. Now Peter in Christianity 101 reverses that logic and says, no, the good life is when you do good things to others. The model, of course, is Jesus, our Lord, who didn't sin, 1 Peter 2.22, but also went about doing good.

I love that expression, Acts chapter 10, verse 38. And so here in this text you have these same twin principles for us to imitate though imperfectly. But as we follow and pursue the same that we've seen in him, we turn away from evil and we look for something good to do, to say, to offer. Have you ever thought about the fact that one of the most significant things you can do with your life is to make as many positive memories in the lives of others as you can and in doing good deeds in the lives of other people, including those in here, in your family, in your neighborhood, in your world, you're living a life that is fulfilling and rewarding and enriching and you're thinking, yes, Stephen, and tiring.

Yeah, you're right. And get ready to expend even more energy, beloved. The fourth principle is this, chase after peace, chase after peace at every chance. You're going to run away from something evil. You're running away from it, part of verse 11. Now at the last part of verse 11, you're running towards something. Peter writes, notice, seek peace and pursue it. Chase it down.

Hunt it down. Some of you guys think that the good life is up there in that deer stand or tracking some animal. You love to hunt. That's the world from which this comes.

Peter uses intense verbs for tracking, for hunting down, for diligently seeking. And what is that which you are hunting? It is peace. So far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men. Again, this is within the context of having peace with those out there. Christians should be known in the world as peacemakers, peacemakers. Jesus said, blessed are the peacemakers. Matthew 5, 9, he didn't say, blessed are the peaceful.

Blessed are the undisturbed. Blessed are the peace lovers. No, blessed are the peacemakers. Peacemakers often have their own peace interrupted. Jesus Christ is the greatest peacemaker in history. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans chapter 5 verse 1, did Jesus live an undisturbed life?

Far from it. He made peace through his blood shed on the cross. Colossians 1, 9, he was a peacemaker and what did it cost him? Everything. Pursuing peace with those who do not believe.

It just might cost you something. Let me give you one practical illustration. I came across this recently. The author writes, Tom Wiles served as the university chaplain at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. A few years ago, he picked me up at the Phoenix airport in his brand new pickup and he whisked me away to a keynote leadership conference where I was speaking. Since I was still mourning the trade-in of my old pickup truck, I kind of commiserated with him and we talked about trucks. A few days later, I climbed back in his truck. Before I did, I noticed huge dents and scrapes on his passenger door.

I'll just read it for the sake of time. What happened? I asked. My neighbor's basketball goal fell over on my driveway and made those dents and all those scars. You're kidding. How awful I commiserated. Your truck is so brand new. Tom added, what's even worse is my unbelieving neighbor refuses to take any responsibility for the damage. He's not going to give me a nickel.

Rising to my newfound friend's defense, I said, he's wrong. Did you contact your insurance company? What about contacting an attorney? How are you going to prove you're in the right and make your neighbor pay for all the damages?

Tom replied, you know, frankly, this week has been a huge spiritual challenge for me. But after a lot of soul searching and praying, discussion with my wife about hiring an attorney, it finally came down to this. I can either be in the right or I can be in a relationship with my non-Christian neighbor.

And since my neighbor is going to last a lot longer than my truck, I decided I needed to be in a relationship with him much more than I needed to prove I was in the right. I wonder if there would be more peace in our lives as Christians in our un-Christian, unbelieving world if we were more willing to be in a relationship with the lost around us than taking every opportunity to prove to them that we are right. Now it's as if Peter anticipates the reaction of many in the first century church. They're going to be thinking, oh my goodness, Peter, what if we want peace but the rest of the world wants to start a fight?

I mean, what happens now that culture is marginalizing us and it's getting more difficult? Principle number five, with this we close here very quickly. Remember, you are never ever alone. Verse 12, for the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous. His eyes are open. He sees you. His ears attend to their prayers, literally into their prayer. It pictures God bowing down to catch the faintest whisper of a prayer. He catches every word. It's as if Peter says it might not seem like God is aware of what you're going through, but he sees everything and he's heard every prayer. He's even aware of those who are against you, notice, but the face of the Lord is against those who are evil. Don't forget your future and don't forget theirs. He doesn't miss anything in the meantime. Because of that, you are, even if right now you're in a cave surrounded by trouble, you're actually in the middle of living the good life.

How? It is the fulfilling, meaningful life in association with fellowship, with the Savior you trust, and by faith saying with David, who opened his psalm by writing, I will bless the Lord at all times. I am living the good life. I hope the six principles Stephen shared with you today are helpful. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Would you be interested in receiving occasional text messages from Stephen? We'd like to be able to communicate with you by text from time to time. Of course, once you've signed up, you'd be able to send us text messages as well.

We'd enjoy hearing from you. So grab your phone because signing up is very easy. Send a text to 833-676-4051. Your message to us should just be the word wisdom. Again, our text number is 833-676-4051 and your first text to us needs to just be the word wisdom. Please do that. Then join us next time for more Wisdom for the Hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-12 16:36:12 / 2022-11-12 16:46:51 / 11

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