*I want to talk to you this morning about living life on a higher level.
This past Tuesday (Oct.
14, 2008) the Times Daily reported on a recent U. S. Census estimate of the Shoals area.
They began by declaring
If you’re like most of us in the Shoals, you live in a home, have at least a couple of vehicles outside, drive to work alone and possess a high school diploma.
If you’re a prototypical local resident, you’re also 40 years old, among 2.4 people in your home and have a median household income of $36,967.
Just within these few sentences, they mention 3 levels of life: our educational level, our age level, and our economic level.
Each of these levels can make a big difference.
For instance, if you are a recent high school dropout, chances are you’re facing some challenges a high school graduate may not have to deal with.
A generation ago a diploma may not have hindered you much in the workplace, but today it is a little more important.
A diploma doesn’t make life a piece of cake, but it often determines what jobs or wages are available.
Your economic level makes a difference in how you live.
If you work a low paying job, you’re probably not driving a Cadillac.
If you’re making the big bucks (and you know who you are) you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to buying a car or home.
Even our age level can affect our lives in many important ways.
You can’t vote in the USA until you’re 18 years old.
You can’t be president of the USA until you’re at least 35 years old.
We all live on certain levels of life, whether it be age, education, economic, or social.
The really great thing is you can almost always climb to a higher level.
You reach a higher age level just by staying alive a little longer; you go to school, or back to school, or to a college or trade school and climb the education ladder; in our land of opportunity, you can even improve your economic level.
This morning I want to call your attention to life on a much higher level than any of these.
It is a level of life available to everyone in this room, regardless of your age, your education, or you economic status.
You don’t need an act of Congress to get there; you don’t have to wait to see who will win the Presidency to reach this level of life.
God’s Word tells us how to live life on a higher level in *Psalm 15*.
I invite you to join me in exploring how as we begin in *vs.
* *You and I were created to live life on a higher level.
How can you live life on a higher level?
This psalm begins by locating this higher level for us.
The highest level of life for the Hebrews was to live life in the presence of God and in fellowship with God, both of which were connected to the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) and on the holy hill of Mt Zion in Jerusalem.
It was the Tabernacle~/Temple on Zion which was the focus of God’s presence on earth among His people.
In their mind, this was the source for the highest level of life.
They went so far as to express it in their everyday language.
You never went /down /to Jerusalem; you always went /up /Jerusalem.
When you left Jerusalem, you always went /down /to everywhere else.
Most pilgrims who went /up /to the Tabernacle~/Temple of Jerusalem would sing songs—probably some of the psalms in the Bible.
There are some scholars who believe this particular psalm was like a call and response, and some even say it was kind of a ritual call and response between the priests and the people who come to worship.
The priest would call out the words of *vs.
1*, and the worshipper would repeat the words of the rest of the psalm.
Whatever the case, *vs.
1* gives us a description of what a higher level of life is like.
/Lord, who may *abide* in Your Tabernacle? /The Tabernacle represents the presence of God.
This is a question of who is invited to enjoy both the presence of God and invited to enjoy fellowship (close friendship) with God.
/Who is fit to live life on the highest level?
Our first clue to the answer to this question is wrapped up in this word /abide= sojourn; /
/carries the idea of a guest or resident alien who is invited to stay not because of their rights, but because of the grace of the owner.*[i]*/
/ /In other words, the psalmist is hinting the only people who may abide with God and dwell in His holy hill come not because they earn it, but because they are invited.
There is a principle here: */The highest level of life is living in fellowship with God by His grace.
Living life on a higher level is a little different that living life on other levels.
With a little business savvy and luck, you can climb the corporate ladder all the way to the top.
If you study hard and learn a lot, you can reach up the rungs of the educational ladder.
You can scrimp and save and raise your economic status But when it comes to the highest level of life, you cannot earn it—you can only receive it as a gift.
/Who may live life at the highest level?
Those who say “yes” to God’s invitation.
*Ac 3:19* /Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…/
/ /Think for a moment about what it means to live on this level of life.
It means enjoying access to the God Who rules everything.
It means your history is completely taken care of.
Your past has been forgiven; your present is under God’s provision and protection; your future is secure and certain in heaven.
It means you can walk and talk with God, the way Adam and Eve once did in the beginning.
It means never being alone again.
*Heb 13:5* /…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”/
/ /On this level of life, there is no need you have He cannot supply, no sin He will not forgive, no problem you face that He cannot handle.
/This is the highest level of life, and it is all yours for the asking.
/ /*Ro 5:1-2* /1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God./
If you want to step up to a higher level of living, you have to look up and trust Christ as your Lord and Savior.
A house painter was at work atop a tall ladder that leaned against the second-story gable of a house.
A small boy playing about the yard discovered the ladder, and as is natural for small boys, he began to climb it.
His mother, checking on her child, was shocked to find that he was more than half way to the top of the ladder.
As the woman stifled a scream of panic, the man at the top looked down, saw the child, and instantly perceived the danger.
Signaling the mother to be silent, he calmly said to the child, “Look up, sonny, look up here to me, and keep climbing.”
Rung by rung, he coaxed the child ever higher: “Come on now, keep looking up, keep coming.”
At last, the child safe in his arms, the painter carried him safely to the ground.
Each of us is somewhere on a ladder.
If we look down, we may be terrified.
God is saying, “Look up to me; keep looking up, and I will raise you up to enjoy My presence and fellowship with Me.
God calls you to step up by His grace and your faith in Christ to a higher level of living, a level of God’s grace and forgiveness.
But as they say on those infomercials /but wait!
/You enter this higher level of life through grace, but then if you want to enjoy the presence of God and fellowship with God, you’ve got to walk a higher pathway.
One of America’s most miserly millionaires was John G. Wendel, who died in 1915 at his home in New York City.
Seeking to keep their inherited fortune in the family, Wendel and five of his six sisters remained unmarried.
He instilled such frugality in his sisters that when the last one died in 1931, it was found that although her estate amounted to more than $100 million, she never had a telephone, electricity, or an automobile.
Her only dress was one she had made herself and worn for nearly 25 years.
Economically, this family was at the highest level, and yet they chose to live on the lowest level.
There are Christians who live that way: they’ve received the riches of God’s grace, but they live like lost people.
They never enjoy a close fellowship with God.
They often feel like He is a million miles away.
The reason why is that they’re not walking on the highest level of life.
How do you walk in this highest level of life?
I want to answer that question by dividing the rest of this psalm into 3 areas: living right, talking right, and treating other people right.
First of all, if you’re going to walk on a higher level of life, you’ve got to *live right*.
Your relationship with God is based on His grace, not your works, but it is a grace that overflows into a righteous way of living.
*Tit 2:11-12* /11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age…/
/ / The psalmist describes living right as living /uprightly=blameless, with integrity as opposed to hypocrisy /and living /righteous= in line with the character of God; holy, godly.
/ /That only seems right, doesn’t it?
We have to remember that God isn’t like everybody else.