I love Father’s Day. I absolutely love Father’s Day, but it’s not because I need another tie or gift card or anything else for that matter. I don’t need a thing. I love Father’s Day because I love being a dad, and now a grandfather. Wow, does that sound weird! How can I be a grandfather when I am so young? Ha! There is another reason I love Father’s Day and it is because it gives me an excuse to talk to men. Ladies can listen in, but on Father’s Day I get the opportunity to share God’s Word exclusively with men.
Men, I want you to know that I believe that you are the single greatest untapped resource for the Kingdom of God today. I say “untapped” because, for the most part, our influence, passion, resources, skills, time, and efforts simply aren’t being used for Kingdom work today. We have chosen to invest ourselves in other ways and in other places.
The Church is a strange place for many men today. A place where we feel like we don’t belong. I know what I’m talking about because I use to feel the same way. When I first became a follower of Jesus, just before heading off to college, and began going to church, I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. I was uncomfortable. Everyone hugged each other, sang songs, and spoke a language that I didn’t recognize. I couldn’t sing a lick and I didn’t speak their Christianese. Therefore I felt so out of place. Another thing that made me feel uncomfortable was that there were so few people who were like me. I grew up playing sports, making fun of nerds, and hanging out with guys like me. (My world was pretty small back in those days!) At church I saw lots of older people, women and kids, and nerds, but I didn’t see hardly anyone who was like me. The church was an unfamiliar place to me. I went because I was told that I was supposed to go, but my passion was reserved for the football field. I was young, eighteen, and a freshman in college at the time, but the church didn’t appeal to me like sports did back then. On the field I was challenged. My coaches demanded everything of my teammates and me. No price was too great to pay. Sacrifices weren’t celebrated, they were expected. The message I heard from my coaches was so different from the messages I heard from the preacher.
Guys, does any of this ring a bell for you? Maybe you, like me, felt most alive on an athletic field while you were growing up. Now you may be too old to play on a team, but you still like the challenge of trying to hit the perfect golf shot, trying to steal second base on a softball field, or toughing it out in a tree stand in sub-freezing weather waiting for a big buck to come into range. Or maybe you get juiced by following your favorite team. Memories of how you use to be are stirred as you live vicariously through other young guys still in their prime. Maybe sports aren’t your thing. Your adrenaline starts pumping by busting your tail to make a deal in the arena of business. You are determined to make your first million, or to retire by the time you are forty, or to own your own business. Once you seal the deal your head is on a swivel looking for the next bigger deal.
I believe with all of my heart that men are looking for a challenge, we’re looking for something that stirs our soul, ignites our passion, and makes us feel alive. Most of us men are like Caleb. We want to feel like we’ve still got it, like we can still do it. We want a challenge that causes adrenaline to rush through our veins—not matter how old we are. You probably don’t know Caleb’s story, but let me give you the “Cliffs Notes” version.
Caleb was with Joshua when Moses sent them out with the other spies to check out the Promised Land. They came back with a great report. The land was more amazing than anything they could have ever imagined. The other spies didn’t see things like Joshua and Caleb did. They saw the obstacles while Joshua and Caleb saw the opportunities.
Years later, after Moses had died and Joshua had taken the reins of leadership for God’s people, Caleb reminded Joshua of a promise that Moses had made to him. Moses had promised Caleb a piece of land that the Anakites were occupying at the time. Caleb was forty years old when Moses made the promise and Caleb had never forgotten. The only problem was that Caleb was now 85 years old, far past his prime you would think, but Caleb had never forgotten the promise. One day he approached Joshua and reminded him of the promise. Caleb said,
10 “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” (Joshua 14:10-12 NIV)
Did you catch that men? Caleb may have been 85 years old, but in his mind he was still in his prime. He told Joshua, “I haven’t lost a step. I’m just as strong as I ever was. Let me at ‘em! I can take ‘em right now!” Now that’s the heart of a man! That’s a guy I could hang out with! Deep inside of us, we want to be challenged. We want to sacrifice for something bigger than us. We want to feel the rush of adrenaline running through our veins.
Far too often, when men have made a decision that something needed to change in their lives, they headed off to church. When they walked through the door we handed them a hymnal and told them to take their seat instead of encouraging them to change the world for the cause of Christ. Men, I want you to know that I’ve come here today to tell you that Jesus wants you to change your world. He wants us to reach out to those around us in our workplace, in our neighborhoods, and everywhere we go throughout the day.
I have learned that the challenge Jesus has laid on me is far greater than anything sports had to offer. I have friends in the business world who get it. I know men who are doctors, lawyers, plumbers, roofers, mechanics, construction workers, and maintenance workers who get it. They know that they have been given their abilities not to build their own kingdom, but to build His Kingdom. They are laying it all on the line for the cause of Christ!
Men, we can only live for one of two things: the building of our own kingdom or the building of God’s. I was riding in my buddy’s car last week and we were talking about life and stuff. He said, “Why is it that you hear about these guys who’ve worked their whole life to grab the brass rung on the ladder, they finally make it to the top, and then they commit suicide or they leave their family for some affair?” I told my friend that I believe this happens because what was promised was not what they experienced once they got there. They somehow became convinced that if they achieved success then they would be happy, feel fulfilled, and taste success. When they reached their goals they realized that “success,” as defined by the world, wasn’t what it was portrayed as.
Real success is not accumulating and acquiring, but giving it all away, beginning with our lives. The more we can give away for the cause of our Savior the more truly successful we will become. The more we can give of our time for the things that are on the heart of God the more fulfilled we will become. The more we begin to see this life as an opportunity to bring glory to God the more at peace we will become.
So how does this take place? How does this transformation come about in a man’s life? That’s a great question and I have an answer for you this morning. Turn with me to Psalm 1 and let’s begin.
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1 NIV)
The two diverse roads are illustrated for us in verses 1-2 as we see that the man who is blessed refuses the counsel of the wicked, he doesn’t stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. The Psalmist is describing what the “blessed” man of God refrains from in his daily life. To sum it up – he refuses the counsel and intimate company of the world. All that the world says is important—he flat out rejects. This is what he rules out of his life. These are the things that he refuses to allow to have an impact on his life.
I have the opportunity to speak at a lot of funerals. These opportunities have profoundly affected me. I’m very much aware of my own mortality. I know that my days are numbered and those numbers are growing shorter with each passing day. It has caused me to consider, “What is the one thing that I desire for people to say about me when I die?” I know what I want people to say. My life would be complete if, when I die, people say, “Mike was a man who sought the heart of God. He tried to bless others by the way he lived and he was passionate about one thing – bringing glory and honor to the name of his Savior.” If that is what is truly important to me then that gives me a grid to place over my life by which I can gauge every decision and opportunity that comes before me. That grid will give me a head start on dismissing anything that comes into my life that will distract me from my chief aim and goal in life.
The first verse of Psalm 1 gives us a similar grid. If we as men decide that we will not heed the counsel of those who are opposed to the ways of God nor will we pull up next to those who have embraced what the world values, then we will greatly diminish the power of the world to lead us astray.
I do need to say this: Do not draw from this verse that we are never to associate with those who do not know the Lord. That is contrary to Scripture. We are supposed to reach out to those who do not know the Lord in order that we may share with them the grace of God, the mercy of God, and the salvation that rests in Jesus Christ. We are to help comfort them in their sorrow, celebrate with them in their victories, and point them to Jesus. This is something totally and completely different than sharing their interests in what the world has to offer.
Men, we need the company of godly men, not perfect men, but men who are seeking the heart of God. If you do not have a small group of men whom you can share your struggles with, have pray for you, and with whom you can seek God on a regular basis then you are setting yourself up for a train wreck.
In verse 2, the Psalmist says, 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. I want to take the rest of our time to focus on this one passage of Scripture. I want us to understand the heart of a man who delights in the law of the Lord.
First let me give you a little Hebrew lesson. The Hebrew word that is translated, “delight,” is “hepes.“ The basic meaning is, “to feel great favor towards something” or “to feel emotional delight.” The word is used in many different ways. We see how the word is used to convey the idea of a man delighting in the love of a woman. Shechem had delight in Jacob’s daughter Dinah in Genesis 34. Men experience delight in other men as Saul was delighted with the prospects of David marrying his daughter Michal (1 Samuel 18). The word is also used in reference to activities that are done with delight such as the time that Joab wanted to know why David took delight in taking a census. The word is also used of God delighting in His people. In 2 Samuel 22, David said that the Lord rescued him when his enemies were pursuing him because God “delighted” in him. Listen to David’s words,
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. 20 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (2 Samuel 22:20 NIV)
In Isaiah 58, God instructed the people of Isaiah’s day and told them that if they did certain things then they would find their joy in the Lord. Listen to God’s instruction to the people.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’S holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13-14 NIV)
In Psalm 1, we read that the man of God will not find his delight in the company of sinners, mockers, or the ungodly, but his delight, his emotionally charged joy, is to be found in the law of the Lord. Men, don’t miss out on the emotion of the word we just studied. The Hebrew word is not a stoic, reserved, sit-on-your-hands-as-you-grin-and-bear-it kind of word. The word is charged with wide-eyed enthusiasm and overflowing joy.
I had the strangest thought this past week. You will have to forgive me for being so undignified and barbaric, but I long for the moment when the Word of God will be read and men will jump up out of their pews and begin to clap, whistle, and whoop and holler as if their favorite team had just won the world championship. For far too long we men have heard the Word of God and yawned as if we had just heard the most irrelevant bit of information on the planet. Men, wake up! Our delight, the exhilaration we have longed for, the lasting thrill that keeps eluding us is before us this very morning. Our soul’s delight will not be found in another exotic escape, erotic experience, or financial windfall used to try and invigorate our numbed minds and bodies. Our souls are crying out and longs to be satisfied and delighted! Delight yourself in the Lord.
The Psalmist says that the man who is blessed finds his delight in “the law of the Lord.” For so many people today they hear the word “law” and immediately run for cover. We despise rigid, cold rules that weigh us down and keep watch over us like a Warden as we try to live our lives. There is a good reason why we cringe at laws. Laws remind us that we can so easily run astray and become law breakers. They remind us that we fall short. Laws make it clear to us that we haven’t mastered this life. As a result of this reality we have seen many in our society throw off restraint and live by whatever desire they have at the moment. In actuality this new way of living is a law unto itself. The new law is “Do whatever you please.” We can try to throw off all moral guidance offered by God, but we will still submit to some philosophy of living. We will be guided by God, our own desires, or what others desire for us. The Psalmist found his delight in the teachings of the Lord and it brought him rest and peace, guidance and purpose in life. Take a look at these powerful examples from Psalm 119.
24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. (Psalm 119:24 NIV)
35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. 36Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. 37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. (Psalm 119:35-37 NIV)
45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. 46 I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, 47 for I delight in your commands because I love them. 48 I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees. (Psalm 119:45-48 NIV)
The Psalmist found great delight in the precepts, teachings, and commands of Almighty God. We too can find the same delight, joy, and peace in God’s teachings if we will turn to the Lord.
The Hebrew phrase used in verse 2 is “Betorath YHWH.” The root of the first word in the phrase is the word, “Torah.” The word means “teaching.” There are all kinds of teachings and all kinds of teachers that have set themselves up as authorities today. There has never been a day where people have had greater access to a wider variety of teachers than our day. You can watch teachers on television, pick up their books at super stores, read their lessons on the internet, and attend their conferences. Teaching has gained wide spread acclaim because people sense that something is wrong, they need something to change in their life, and so they are open to what others have to say.
Just because a person is a teacher or because something is labeled as a “New York Times Best Seller” doesn’t mean that it is relevant or rooted in godly wisdom. The teaching that the Psalmist is highlighting is a one-of-a-kind, supremely unique kind of teaching that can’t be attributed to human reason or intellect.
The Hebrew phrase that I shared earlier underscores the uniqueness of teaching that leads to a state of blessedness. Dr. Darnell pointed out to me that the ending of the word “torah,” in Hebrew, ends so as to demand a linking with the very next word. The next word is YHWH. It is probably translated “LORD” in your Bible. It is the personal name God has revealed to His servants.
The teaching that is the delight of a man of God is not the theorems or fantasies of this societies system, but it is the teaching of Almighty God. The man of God takes great delight in the teachings of the Lord because He knows that God’s purpose is to mold him into the image of His Son, to protect him from his own sinful drives, to bring him into His presence, and to save Him from eternal death and destruction. What a joy God’s teaching is for the man who yearns for God.
The Bible says in Psalm 34, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Once a man has tasted of God’s goodness and has drank deeply of the waters of life he can’t get enough. The man who has tasted of God’s goodness is never satisfied that he has taken in all that God has to offer – he wants to know God more and more. This is why the Psalmist says, “on his law he meditates day and night.”
The Hebrew word for meditate is “hawgah’“ and it means, “to utter, mutter, moan, meditate, devise, plot.” The man who is seeking his delight in the teaching of the Lord is the man who constantly turns the Lord’s teaching over and over in his mind and heart, he recites God’s instruction to himself, to ponders the thoughts of God day and night and he finds great delight.
God instructed Joshua to meditate upon His teaching so that he would be prosperous. God said,
8Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8 NIV)
The Psalmist asked that his words and the meditations of his heart would be pleasing to God when he said, in Psalm 19,
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NIV)
I told you that we as man can live one of two ways. We can either pour ourselves into building our own kingdom or we can pour ourselves into spreading the Word, building the Kingdom of God. If you desire to give yourself to something bigger than you then you must anchor yourself in God’s Word. There is no other way to sustain your commitment throughout your life. Look what we have learned just this morning from God’s Word. First, we have learned to refrain from giving ourselves to those whose ways run contrary to the ways of Almighty God. Second, we are to delight ourselves in the teachings of Almighty God. You will never know the sweetness of God’s teachings unless you invest yourself in drinking deep and long at the well of living waters. Third, we are to meditate on God’s teachings day and night. Turn them over in your mind and heart, apply them to your every move during the day. Think about them as you lay on your bed when you go to sleep at night. Then, and only then, will we find our steps leading us to the blessings of the Lord and the peace that only He can give.
Men, the greatest gift that you or I could ever receive on Father’s Day has nothing to do with things, but it is the gift of eternal life found in Jesus our Lord. If you have never received Jesus as Lord of your life then won’t you receive the gift this morning.
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
Oklahoma City, OK. 73114
June 21, 2009