We’ll it’s true, we’ve had quite a time getting together with each other. I’ve been in this place many, many times, and I’m glad to be back. As you’ll discover, I’m a layman, I’m not a minister, so I won’t be preaching sermons, but I will chat with you. I’m a psychologist by profession, and my specialty is counseling with Christians. Miserable, Christians.
You know, that‘s a good business. I also discovered that it’s a repeat business. Well, you know, those two words don’t even fit very well, do they? Miserable, Christians. Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing for a long time, so I’ve learned a lot about what people do to make life difficult for themselves. I’ve learned also what you can do to straighten your life out, and that’s what I want to talk to you while I’m here this week, and tonight my subject has to do with enjoying the day, every day. I came across this thought a long time ago when I was a young Christian, and I started reading the Bible, and I read something in Psalm 1 that I’ve experiment with for a long, long time, for many years, and I want to share that with you.
It’s one of the most important things I’ve learned about being a Christian, and the first word in Psalm 1 is blessed. Blessed: satisfied, content, comfortable, at ease. Aren’t those nice words? That beats being miserable, and grumpy, and crabby, and sassy, and snippy, doesn’t it? I mean, which ones do you fit? Blessed. I want to be blessed, that is, part of the time, at least. Well, who’s blessed? Well, “blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.”
We don’t take our counsel from ungodly people. I spent eight years in graduate school, and during that time, I studied under some of the finest, most dedicated, committed people who care about this world, and who care about the people in this world. The finest people I’ve ever met, but they were ungodly. They weren’t bad people, they were good people. Now what do I mean by ungodly? I mean, they didn’t take God into consideration. You know, when I was in graduate school, I didn’t have any professors knocking the scriptures.
They didn’t even mention ‘em. They just ruled ‘em out. No, the idea here is you want to be careful about taking your advice from people who don’t take God into consideration. A lot of brilliant people that don’t do that. Committed and dedicated, ungodly. We want to make sure that we’re not ungodly people.
Well, it says that this blessed person does not stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scornful. I think what he’s saying here, you wanna be careful who you associate with. You don’t want to be best friends with gripers and complainers, and scornful. Obviously we could talk a long time about that, but that’s not what I want to talk about tonight. The next verse is what I’m interested in. His delight, this blessed person, his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in his law, does he meditate day and night, now you take that seriously, do you take the scriptures seriously?
I meant to take them seriously, and the first question I had was: “How can you meditate in the scriptures day and night?” I mean, that’s really not possible. We have other things to do, don’t we? We have our families to look after, we’ve got business to do, we’ve got work to do. How are ya gonna meditate on the scriptures day and night? Oh, I wondered about that. I’m serious about being a Christian, but how am I gonna do that? Then I got to thinking….I like basketball. I read about basketball, talk about basketball, I watch basketball, I use to play basketball.
I follow the careers of basketball people; I memorize the basketball rule book. Do you get the idea that I like basketball? You know, basketball is in the back of my mind. I got to thinking, maybe that’s the idea here is. You want to get the scriptures in the back of your mind, and really, if you wanna know something about basketball, you want to understand it, you have to have the rules in your head, not in your pocket, in your head. So I got to thinking, I guess maybe what I need to do is to get some scripture into my head.
Well, I’m not that great at memorization, so I began looking for some scripture, and I found me a nice verse that I started out with. This one I could handle and I want to share it with you today. This has been a very important verse in my life. It’s in 1st Thessalonians chapter 5, and it’s verse 16. And there are two words. That’s my speed. Can you manage two words, do you think? The two words are…”Rejoice always. Can you say those? Let me hear you say those. Group in unison: Rejoice always. Let’s do it again, once more. This time with a little gusto. Group response: Rejoice always!
You’re kidding. Who wants to be that happy? I’ve had folks say, “If my family thought I was that happy, they’d never behave.” I mean, people got to know that you’re unhappy, don’t they?” I mean, I’ve had folks say, “Can’t you see that I’m unhappy. In case you overlooked it, I want to call it to your attention, I am unhappy.” And we don’t mind talking about our miseries, do we? We really let people know. We swop sad stories, and miserable stories, and we share with one another how upset we are, isn’t that true? Well, then what are you gonna do with the verse, “Rejoice always?”
Are you sure, did that fellow that wrote those verses understand what 1989 was gonna be like? Did he know what you’re going through right now? Do you think he knew the people that you have to live with? I’m supposed to be happy with the people that I live with? I’ve had parents say of preschool children telling me of how difficult it is to be with preschool children. You know it’s amazing to assign the responsibility for your mental health to three preschool children. I mean, do you have to wait until the children get into school before you’re gonna be happy again?
You know, I’m not talking about part of the day; I’m talking about the whole day. Anyway, I decided that I was gonna experiment with the verse for a couple of weeks, and I tucked it into my little mind, Rejoice always. Say it again. Group in unison. Rejoice always. I’m trying to get that into your head so you can’t get it out of your head, and then you’ll be comparing how you’re doing with that verse. Really, I decided I was gonna spend two weeks on that verse. You know what, in two weeks time, I never made it once. You know what? One day I woke up mad, I was still in bed.
Have you ever awakened and said to yourself, “Oh, no, I woke up?” Do I have to get out of this bed, and meet and face those people? Just think….Rejoice always. Oh my, that’s quite a responsibility, that’s quite a task. I just challenge ya. You tuck that verse into your head, and watch and see if you can get through the rest of this day that way. Just enjoying the rest of this day would be an accomplishment, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it? And all day long tomorrow. What a bunch of happy people we’re gonna have around this place.
You know, one day, I added another verse to my list, after a while, and that was in 1st Thessalonians, chapter 5:17 and that’s got three words. I’m pushing myself here a little bit here. Those three words are. “Pray without ceasing.” Say those. Let’s hear you. Group response: “Pray without ceasing.” How are you gonna do that? Well, I got to thinking about that. Well, what I decided was what you can do is commit your day to the Lord, and just watch Him work, and I find that the Lord does some of the strangest things in a day.
Have you ever committed your day to the Lord, and told the Lord how you want the day to turn out, and watch to see whether it turns out that way? You know, there’s a verse that says “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are my ways your ways”, and that’s sure enough true with me, 'cause I can’t figure the Lord out. Over and over again, the things I ask Him to do, He doesn’t do. One of us is out of tune.
Well, anyway. One day I was in Atlanta, and I was telling the fellow about my experience, and this was 4:00 O’clock in the afternoon, and he was going to take me to the airport, and I was just telling him, you know, this was the best I’ve done since I can remember that I enjoyed the day from the time I woke up until now, and this is 4 O’clock. That’s the best I could do. That’s the best day I ever had. My best record. You know, I found out that if you’re gonna rejoice always it’s got to be a miracle. That’s not humanly possible. You’re gonna have to have some outside help if you’re gonna act like that.
If you’re gonna respond like that, there’s gotta be something supernatural gonna have to happen to you. Well the question is: “Would you want that to happen even if you could?” There are times when if I would have known where to get some joy, that’s the last place I would have gone because I simply didn’t want any. I’ve had people come to me because they’re unhappy, and I told them, “I can help you get happy.” They got mad at me because I said that they could get happy. “Happy! Why should I be happy?” “Well look, I’m not trying to talk you out of your misery, I’m just simply saying that according to that verse, there’s a possibility it seems of living that way."
Well, we got to the airport, and we sat and chatted a while. I looked at my clock, and we had plenty of time. Pretty soon I said good-bye to this gentleman, and I went into the airport. I was going to Ashville North Carolina, it was a half hour flight, and I’m gonna speak there tonight, and I present my ticket to the lady at the desk, and she said, “I’m sorry mister, but that plane has left.” “Left? I got plenty of time.” You know my clock had stopped. I committed this day unto the Lord and my clock stopped. I said, “Lord, why did you stop my clock?” You know what the Lord said? Nothing. You know that was the last flight to Ashville and I’m speaking there tonight.
I very quickly ran to the telephone and I called them. It was a place like this. So I called the Director and told him that I wasn’t going to be there because I missed my plane. He said, “Oh. The fellow that went to pick you up 60 miles down the road has left already.” That fellow’s gonna need some joy when he gets there, isn’t he? This Program Director is going to have to have something happen to him ‘cause he’s not gonna have a speaker tonight. Anyway, I had to spend the night in Atlanta. I didn’t want to spend the night in Atlanta. You know I asked the Lord to help me enjoy this day. I made it all the way through the day.
You see the day didn’t turn out the way I planned. Many, many of my days don’t turn out the way I’ve planned. In fact, many days don’t make any sense. Looking into the future is very difficult to understand. The only thing that makes any sense to me is looking back and seeing how God has worked in my life. Well the next morning I want to reassure you I was there on time to get on that airplane and we got on that plane and it took off, and I tell ya, that was a wonderful feeling. A half hour later it started down, and that was a relief ‘cause I’m gonna speak there in the morning. Then I felt it go up.
Then this speaker comes on in the airplane and said, “This is the Captain speaking. We regret to inform you that we’re not gonna land in Ashville this morning because there’s fog in Ashville, and we’re going to Johnson City.” You know there were these nice looking people well dressed on the airplane, and you could just hear the murmuring rise in that airplane. “gr, gr, gr.” These nicely dressed people, and I’m memorizing my verses. You see, if I’m going to enjoy this morning, it’s gonna be in this airplane on the way to Johnson City.
Well we got off the plane at Johnson City and everybody, all these grumpy looking, well-dressed people ran into the terminal, and this poor fellow had to get 200 people back to Ashville. I tell ya, they were really giving him a hard time. I felt sorry for him. I walked up to him and said, “You know mister, I’m on that plane, too, and I tell you what, you take care of everybody else first, take care of me last, and I’ll sit back here and give you some morale support, how do you like that?” He looked at me like I was drunk. Hey, what’s this contented guy doing in this place? I quick ran to the telelephone to call Ashville because I wasn’t going to be there.
They said, “Oh, the fellow that went to get you last night is on his way to get you.” I don’t know what you folks are laughing at, this is a sad story. This poor Program Director doesn’t have a speaker two times in a row. Wouldn’t it be great if we could enjoy things as much as we think about them? If we could just enjoy experiencing like that? You know, after a while he had all these people, he had to get a whole bunch of Volkswagen microbuses and six at a time, these grumpy looking people sitting in there would take off. Pretty soon he’d beckoned me and he’d say, “I’m sorry mister, I’m all out of microbuses, but I’ve got a Limousine out there, and if you don’t mind, I’ll send you to Ashville in a Limousine.”
I said, “No, I don’t mind.” I went out there and there was this big, black Chrysler Limousine. I get in the backseat and close the door and tell the Chauffer to “Go.” We passed the first microbus, I waved. You know some things turn out okay most days. Most days something goes wrong, doesn’t it? Most days some things turn out okay. That’s the way it was with me. Some things turn out okay, some things don’t, but there is one thing we can depend on. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And if you’re going to rejoice always, something supernatural has to happen to you. Would you like that to happen to you? Just imagine, quit being grumpy and crabby and mean.
Well that’s a possibility, and that’s what I want to talk with you folks about this week so that whatever level of Christian living that we’ve attained, that we’ll at least rise it a little bit before the week is over. You know, we have a source of supply that is supernatural. That there are some qualifications, and we want to talk about those this week. All I want to do tonight; after all we’re tired and getting settled. I just want to wet your appetite a little bit. I trust we’ve done that, and I trust that we’ve generated a little bit of hunger in your heart to pay a little bit more attention to what God can do for us. I’d just like to test myself before I quit.
I wonder if I got those verses through to you. What was the first one? Response: “Rejoice always.” You’re kidding? What about the next one? Response: “Pray without ceasing.” Now if you could just remember to work on that just this week, tell the Lord what you’d like to see happen during the day and see if it happens. Just watch Him work and ask Him to do something in your heart, and take the meanness and the nastiness and the grumpiness and the crabbiness out of it. Anybody need that to happen?
You know, for some of us that’s our best tool. I’ve heard folks say, “Yes I have a temper.” That’s not a confession, that’s a warning. What would you do without it? Really, I think that’s what the Christian life is all about. Cheerful, content, satisfied people taking on whatever comes along during the day. Some of it is pleasant, some of it is not, and letting the Lord control our hearts, and trusting the Lord to control your day. Let’s pray. “Lord, I just pray that the business of the day would not take these thoughts away from us, but that we might ponder them, and I pray that this might be a week that in the quietness of our own souls we will draw closer to you. We pray it in Jesus’ name, Amen.”