“Wisdom to Live Life to the Full” (Psalm 39) (John MacDiarmid)

Talk given by John MacDiarmid at Poole High School for  PCF on Sunday morning 2 October 2016

Listen to this talk (or download – right-click here and ‘Save as’):

 

We continue our series in the Psalms under the heading “Songs in the Key of life”

It is interesting to note that David seemed to have quite a lot of bad days! He is, once again, in a situation where he is suffering according to God’s purposes for him. We can take heart if we go through difficult days, that God’s men and women have never had it easy, and that God is working out His purposes through the dark days.

It has been suggested that this may have been written at a time when David was mourning the loss of a friend. Certainly v 4-6 make this a possibility, and today, rather than go verse by verse through the Psalm. This will be a reflection on those verses.

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

The fact is – we don’t have long! Whatever stage of life we are at, we know that we need wisdom to life our lives in such a way as to count – in such a way as to make sure that we do what God has for us.

As we go through life, we have particular responsibilities, privileges and opportunities. From our school days through to retirement and the end of life, there are children, careers, grandchildren and hobbies that come our way. That is well and good. What  can I give myself to throughout my life that will last into eternity?

In the light of the fleetingness of life, what should I be giving myself to that will make a difference.

Today’s talk is about what God has shown me over the years that He wants me to give myself to, and over 37 years as Christian my record has been patchy. I don’t know what God has called you to do, but I am thinking that it won’t be light years away from what I have here.

So here are the three things that God has laid on my heart, that I want to give my life to.

1. My Relationship with God

Great men and women of God have always prized their relationship with their God above all else.

As Jesus prayed in John 17

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

The whole nature of eternal life is that we have a relationship with God

David in Psalm 16:

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;

Asaph in Psalm 73

Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

The Apostle Paul in Philippians

I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

So the first thing that God wants to me to give myself to is to love Him, obeying Him and becoming more like Him.

2. God’s Church

When we reach the end of the Bible  – Jesus is with His church for eternity. He said: “I will build my church”. Jesus’ church is a priority to Him  and it needs to be to us as well.

What does that mean in practical terms? Surely it means that the welfare of the local church is right at the top of our agenda. Our faith is not an individual sport, not a spectator sport, but a team sport. John Wesley said: “There is nothing more unchristian than the solitary Christian” Yet we often find it hard to function as a part of the community that God has put us in.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Nothing ever can or will replace the gathering together of the local church for fellowship, prayer, the word, worship, eating together….it is the utmost priority for us as we seek to follow Jesus, and as we seek to serve Him.

But it goes way beyond being here: what contribution can I make to God’s church to make it function better, form practical matters like giving and serving, to praying a becoming involved with various spheres of service.

And, as we move into the third priority – the impact of the church is felt most strongly:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The most evangelistic tool in the world is the local church, the community of God’s people who love each other, and that means, time together, meals together, talking together…being together. Am I committed to that?

3. God’s World

And thirdly, what time I have left to serve God, I need to give to what is on God’s heart – reaching the world with the good news of Jesus. It can’t be done in isolation from the other two, and in fact it is the natural consequence of Loving Jesus and loving his church.

As Jesus said:

As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Jesus mission to seek and to save the lost now becomes our mission. Your can not be a lover of Jesus or his church, without  giving yourself to this mission.

So as a church and as individuals we are those who have a joint task – to see others come into the same salvation that we have.

So what does God want me to give the remainder of my days to:

“Love Jesus….love his church….love his world”

What about you?

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