Success in Godliness
How many of you have made a New Year's resolution? What was it? Maybe your resolution was to lose weight, maybe it was to gain weight, maybe it was to be nicer to your, (you fill in the blank.) Every year millions of people across the world actually resolve to make themselves better or change something about themselves in the coming year. On this list of top 10 Resolutions there is one resolution missing, it is a resolution that should be very high especially in the Church, it is the resolution to be Successful in Godliness.
Every year people resolve to make some sort of improvement in the New Year. Hear is a list of the top ten New Year's resolutions of 2016.
1. Lose Weight
2. Getting Organized
3. Spend Less, Save More
4. Enjoy life to the Fullest
5. Staying Fit and Healthy
6. Learn Something New
7. Quit Smoking
8. Help others with Their Dreams
9. Fall in Love
10. Spend More Time with Family
Although this list has things on here which are considered self improvements and still there is one thing missing on this list that would truly help people to be successful and maybe not even worry about the things that are on this list. The one resolution that is missing and one that everyone in this rooms should have on the top of their list is the resolution to be more Successful in Godliness. There is only one way to do this and we will look at how we can achieve Success in Godliness, Success in Godliness comes from seeking to be like God by knowing God to the fullest. It involves His Word and knowing His Word and being an active participant in our relationship with Him.
This morning I want to look take a look at a portion of the longest Psalm ever penned. It is Psalm 119. It has 176 and of all these verses only two verses do not mention God's Word in someway. This Psalm revolves around the psalmists desire to know, and obey God's word. He is seeking to be blessed or happy and he knows the only way to truly be happy to truly be blessed and to truly make it through life is to know God and to follow His Word, His Law, His precepts, His judgments, His way. The psalmist understands that living a godly life doesn't happen in a vacuum and he knows he needs to work at it, but it is a work he delights in and he and wants to work hard for.
Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem in its original Hebrew. The first eight verses or stanzas all begin with the Hebrew letter aleph, the second set of verses with a beth and so on. Of course in the English we lose that but we still have here a rich psalm from an author who seeks to truly know God and live for Him.
Let's go ahead and look at Psalm 119:1-8.
How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways. You have ordained Your precepts, That we should keep them diligently. Oh that my ways may be established To keep Your statutes! Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments. I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments. I shall keep Your statutes; Do not forsake me utterly!
This psalm is so rich and so deep and yet it is so simple. As you can see from the first two verse the psalmist is looking for one thing, he is looking to be blessed. This is a formal introduction to this psalm. The man is looking around at others, he is looking at how other men are living godly lives and he recognizes something very important that these men are successful in life and that their success didn't just happen in a vacuum. Their success happened because they put in effort.
Success in Godliness takes Effort
Success in Godliness takes Effort
Look with me at verses 1 and 2,
How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.
Notice here the psalmist mentions the blessed man walks and he seeks. The blessed man walks in the Law of the Lord and he seeks Him with all their heart. The blessed man, the happy man, the successful man doesn't become this way become this way doing his own thing. The blessed man is blessed, happy or successful because of his own work in knowing God's law and seeking after God with all his heart. It takes effort to be this way, it is positive effort.
The blessed man's focus is not on himself or doing his own thing the blessed man's focus is God's ways. The blessed man doesn't just focus on himself, the blessed man doesn't seek worldly counsel. He doesn't learn how to follow God and be godly by watching programs that are written by godless men and women who don't know God. They don't learn how to living for God by reading books written by some shyster who wants us to Live our Best Life Now and is all about self improvement and how the world owes you. No that will only lead you away from God not lead you to Him and not lead you in a true success in Godliness.
The only way to truly know God and to be truly successful in a life of Godliness is to know God's Word. God has told His people when He provided His law to them in the book of Leviticus "Be Holy for I am Holy." God has separated His people from all the other nations and He wants them to live for Him and to live differently then all other nations. So He provides His Law, His Statutes for them. He didn't write it down as a suggestion He wrote it down for the benefit of His people to have it, to read it, to listen to it and to follow it. In following what He has written people can have true success in this life and true success in this life isn't becoming wealthy or have great power or be famous. True success in this life is just what the psalmist says here it is having your way blameless.
Jesus even says the same thing in Luke 11. Look with me at Luke 11:27-28;
While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
See here a woman in the crowd was elevating His mother but Jesus corrects her and says the one who is blessed in life is the one "who hears the word of God and observes it." It is two fold hears it and observes it, it is not just listening to the word but also taking action and doing what God has asked to do.
James tells the church something very similar in James 1:19-25; look at this, he spells it out for us a little more.
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
See what James tells the church to put aside the things of this world and to look at the Word and not only look at the Word but to allow the Word to transform you, change you. It doesn't just happen it takes effort. It is about looking at the Word of God reading what it says examining your own life and seeing what is in your life that needs to be changed. Looking at what the Word says is there that doesn't belong and looking to see what does belong and changing it.
The Christian's goal is to live a life that is blameless. It is to live a life so that others do not hold anything against you. The psalmist sees this is what is true success and he knows this can only come from God because God is the only One who is Holy and the only One who brings about Holiness in the heart of the individual.
We see in verse 2 of this psalm also that the person is to observe His testimonies and he is to seek Him with all their heart. This is the person who not only knows God's word but also observes it, or guards it. This observation, this guarding is emphasized in the second half of this verse. God's testimonies, which is a reference to His Word, is observed or guarded in the heart of the One who seeks God.
God spells this out for us in the book of Deuteronomy where God says in Deuteronomy 4:29;
“But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
Jeremiah also says this in Jeremiah 29:13
‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
A life of Godliness can only happen when you are fully seeking after God, putting forth the effort it takes to not only know what His word says but also looking at how you life should be transformed in light of what it says and guarding what God's Word says in your hearts. It is more than just knowing it in your head, it is knowing it in your heart which is when it takes action.
Success in Godliness takes Effort,
Success in Godliness is Provided By God
Success in Godliness is Provided By God
Let's continue to look at Psalm 119:3-6
They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways. You have ordained Your precepts, That we should keep them diligently. Oh that my ways may be established To keep Your statutes! Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments.
As we continue to look at this passage we continue to see the man's efforts in godliness but it is God's way he is seeking to walk and it is God's precepts he wants to keep diligently.
I love how this passage is all about the one who obeys God and His Word is the one who is blessed, happy, successful in this life. This is all Old Testament truths that can still be applied today. What is even more is the only way to be blessed revolves around God and His Word. It doesn't talk about psychology, sociology, marketing concepts, community organizing it all revolves around knowing God and His Word, His ways His precepts, His statutes, His commandments, His righteous judgments. This is what God Has said and the one who follows His word is the one who is blessed. This is not about Legalism, that is doing something which makes you look spiritual. This is about knowing God and taking Him at His Word and following His Word.
When God says do this you do it, when God says don't do that you don't do it. If God says follow Him even when all looks lost, follow Him. That is what He is saying.
God is the one who provides for the one who follows Him righteousness. Listen this doesn't mean we act in righteousness we can't God is the One who provides that for us. We are seen as righteous because we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, once we paced our faith in Him God looks at us and sees us as righteous. We did nothing. It is the same for the Psalmist here. He did nothing but believe in God and His word. God provides for Him righteousness.
It is about being rooted in what God has provided look with me at what Paul tells the Colossian church;
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
See for those who have recieved Christ for those who believe in Him they are to walk in Him, they are firmly rooted, meaning nothing can take them down and it is not us it is not you who does this it is God who has done this for us.
God has provided for us the blueprint of how we are to live. They are His precepts His rules, His Laws, His ways, and we are to follow them no matter how hard it seems. God didn't provide this for nothing, He provided it so we can know how to live a righteous life.
Look with me at what Paul tells the Philippian church in Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Listen we can't know these things like truth, honor, righteousness, purity, loveliness, good repute and excellence without knowing the One who provides all this. God is the provider of His Word and He is the provider of all spiritual things in life. We do need to practice it but without God we don't know it. God provides for us these facets of life that are His character and which are separate from the world, and just as the psalmist tells us in verse 5 God is the One who will establish this in us and He is the One who provides for us the strength in keeping this. It is somewhat like a synergistic or symbiotic relationship. God provides His strength in us to walk in His ways and we work through this relationship by spend time with Him in His word. God doesn't need us to be in His word to use us, but He doesn't want us to know Him and He has gone through a lot of work and through a lot of people to provide for us His Word. He has preserved it for us for thousands of years so we can have the unveiling of His character before us. His has provided so much for us and all He would like in return is for us to be in His Word and looking to His Character. When we put fourth the effort He provides the strength.
I love what the psalmist says in verse 6 concerning shame. He says, "then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments." Do you know what brings shame, shame comes from sinning against God. When we sin against God our first reaction is to hide from God. Just like Adam and Eve in the Garden. When they heard the sound of God in the garden they hid themselves because they were naked. They were ashamed. When we are in God's Word and when we are learning about Him and about His gracious and glorious character we see that what God really wants from us to be Holy and separate, meaning He wants us to follow His Word. But because of His Grace and mercy we also know that if we do sin He provides for us a safe place to go and confess our sins to Him. He doesn't want us to run and hide He wants us to come to Him and confess our sins.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God through Jesus has provided for us the forgiveness of sin and we do not need to be ashamed to come to Him. Also the more we know His word the more He provides transforming power within our hearts and lives so when we do come to Him we don't come in shame because He is working on our hearts as we are giving our hearts to Him.
So we have looked at Success in Godliness takes Effort, Success in Godliness is Provided by God, and finally Success in Godliness must be Attributed to God.
The last two verse we are going to look at today say this,
I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments. I shall keep Your statutes; Do not forsake me utterly!
Notice here who the psalmist thanks, He thanks God, He looks to God as the One who is the provider of what He is learning. He knows it will take work. He doesn't say I thank you for having taught me this no he says when I learn. He knows there is still more to learn, he knows he is not at the end of the road and he knows God will provide lesson and strength and he is grateful to God for it.
The psalmist has the right idea, he is looking to God with thanksgiving because God is the One who not only teaches me His ways but keeps me on them and His ways are always just and righteous. There is one fear the psalmist has that I do not have, God will never leave me or forsake me. I stand secure in knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior. I no longer live under the Law but under grace which means I must still obey God and walk in His word but because of the blood of Christ and because of the Holy Spirit sealing me I have eternal life. That being said, I still have a lot to learn. I am a disciples of Jesus Christ and my walk with Him is dependent on my knowing Him. The more I know Jesus, the more I know God the more I understand who they are and what they have done through out history. My future in Christ is sealed, my success in this word is contingent on knowing Him more. Jesus will change me as I know Him. I will know when He is carrying me by knowing who He is. I will know when I am carrying myself by knowing who He is. The more I know Him the more I see that when I am carrying myself I am not walking with Him.
The psalmist knew what true success in life is and he worked hard to attain it and he also know who was the One who provided it and he was grateful for His strengthening. He did all that he could to know the Word of God. At this point all the psalmist had was Pentateuch or the first five book of Moses. There may have been some of the writing but regardless of whether he had those or not doesn't matter because his wording in this psalm points to the first five books.
We have an advantage in our day and age we have His Word in its entirety and it is readily available to us in many forms and in many ways. We have it in print in more than a dozen different translations. We have it in audio form, straight readings and even dramatic readings. We have it digitally. There are so many ways we can be taking in the Word of God. There are many wonderful authors out there some present some who have been with the Lord for centuries who have written great insights on what God has provided to them. They are wonderful supplementary readings but you can learn so much more about God by just reading what He has written for you.
Our resolution for this next year should be to read His Word more, to walk in His way, to delight in His Law, to seek Him with all of our hearts. We should be committing time to being in His Word on a daily basis. One of the greatest ways to do this is to have accountability. So we are going to provide that. For the next men's breakfast we will be looking at Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, each day for the next few weeks I will post a reading in on faithlife and facebook a chapter a day. Today begins with Ecclesiastes 1. The chapter shouldn't take more than five minutes to read, but take the time through each chapter to write down questions and even some observation about the passage. When we come together we will talk about them. Also feel free to write your questions on Faithlife and Facebook so we can even write about it there. We need to be more diligent in our walk and what better time to do this then in the beginning of the year.