As some of you already know, Heralds of Hope is celebrating our 50th Anniversary in 2018. As we look back over those 50 years we can clearly see the hand of God’s blessing on the ministry. On the other hand, as we look ahead, we have many questions about the future. Our Board of Directors is looking to God for wisdom and direction as they actively plan for the next 50 years of ministry for Heralds of Hope.
The future can be exciting; it can also be scary. There’s so much in the future you and I can’t know, and sometimes the unknown is frightening. You and I have fears of bad things happening to us. Maybe fears of where or when the next terrorist strike will come. Or perhaps a fear of meeting with an accident of some kind. An accident that will leave us unable to care for ourselves. Or maybe the dreaded word, cancer, is a real fear for you.
But let me remind you, those kinds of fears don’t come from God. No, those kinds of fears come from the devil. He wants to use those fears to discourage you, distract you, and defeat you. He wants to do the same to me. So, he sends all kinds of fears; real or imaginary.
In contrast to the doubt and fear the devil brings to us, God gives us peace. Now that doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen to us. But it does mean that whatever we face in life, God is with us. Romans 8:28 tells us; “And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose.” That is a promise we can count on!
Today, I have some words of HOPE for you from the Holy Scriptures. If you are a follower of Christ, these words will bring comfort to you. If you are not a follower of Christ, this message should strike fear into your heart. And I pray that fear will motivate you to become a follower of Christ. Nothing would bring me more joy than to have you become a child of God. And God spells out for you in His Word how you can learn to know Him in a personal way.
I want to take you to the book of Psalms for a message of encouragement. I’ve titled the message, “How to Live a Godly Life.” Listen carefully as I read the First Psalm.
Looking at this Psalm I want you to see three DIFFERENCES between the godly and the wicked that will help you know “How to Live a Godly Life.”
The first Difference is:
EXPRESS A DIFFERENT DELIGHT
Notice the contrast in verses one and two. The ungodly person accepts the advice of the wicked. When he has a decision to make, he seeks the advice of those who will tell him what he wants to hear. He approves of the behavior of those who regularly disobey God. He holds them in high regard as his friends. And he delights in those who mock God and His laws.
But if you’re a godly person, you’re different. You shun the advice of the ungodly; their wickedness is a grief to you. And you have only pity for the scornful because you know their end. Your delight is in God’s law, that’s God’s Word. That delight puts you on a completely different path than the wicked. In God’s Word, you find direction for the choices that life offers to all of us.
Let’s think about some of these differences. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 57:20, “the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” They have no peace because they’re always seeking some new form of wickedness to delight in. Sin never satisfies the longing of the human heart; the longing for peace, joy, and acceptance.
Wicked people delight in each other’s company. They urge each other on, each one trying to outdo the other. And when there are no immediate consequences from civil authorities or from God, they scoff at the thought of judgment. Ecclesiastes 11:8 says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” We can clearly see the results of this in our society.
You know, we expect wicked people to show contempt for God’s law. But what really grieves me is, we find contempt for God’s law even among those who profess to follow Christ. So many leaders in organized religion are stumbling over one another in their haste to accept all forms of behavior as acceptable to God. And anyone who attempts to call them back to God’s standard of righteousness is accused of being harsh or unloving.
But as I said earlier, the godly person is different. He delights in God’s law. He knows that following the desires of his own flesh is not freedom, but slavery. He knows the commands God has given for living are for the blessing of mankind, not for his destruction. He knows that the physical life is only a moment in comparison to eternity. He understands that the choices he makes now have eternal consequences. He ponders the truth of God’s Word and asks the Holy Spirit to reveal areas in his life where he needs cleansing and growth. His delight is in becoming more like his heavenly Father.
Which of these persons represents you, my friend? Have you identified yourself with the ungodly? Do you mock God and those who choose to follow in His way? Or maybe you appear on the outside to be a follower of Christ, yet secretly delight in the ways of the wicked? I hope and pray that doesn’t describe you. Because if it does, you’re only fooling yourself. God can see right into the core of your heart and mind. He knows your thoughts. You can’t hide anything from Him. If what I just said describes you, I hope you’ll keep listening to the end of the message, so you can learn what fate awaits you.
Or do you delight in God’s law and use it as a guide for daily living? I hope that’s your choice. Do you make it your goal to please Jesus in everything you do? Do you cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He performs His work of transforming your desires? Are you developing a spirit of wanting to do what’s right? If that’s your experience, there are great things ahead for you. You are learning to express a different delight. That delight will teach you how to live a godly life.
The Second Difference is:
EXPECT A DIFFERENT DEVELOPMENT
The next contrast between the godly and the wicked is found in verses three and four. The godly person, the one who delights in God’s law and lives by its commands, is described as a tree, planted by the river. He or she is nourished by the waters of the river. Their roots sink deep into the fertile soil gathering the nutrients that bring stability, growth, and fruitfulness. They’re not easily swayed by the winds of life because they’re anchored in the truth.
Their fruitfulness is perpetual, it doesn’t end. Their leaves do not wither because there is continual life flowing through their inner being. Their delight in the Lord sustains them when all around is drying up from lack of water. And whatever they do moves them toward the goal, their reason for living; to be more like the Heavenly Father. Does this describe you?