We live in a very confusing time. What is right? What’s wrong? Who can you trust? Who can you believe? Is there anything that lasts in life? Does anything endure? If nothing is worth dying for, then is life really worth living? Is there anything meaningful to gain from 70 years on the planet?

We are not the first generation to ask these important questions, but with the events that have been transpiring during our lifetime the questions seem to be escalating at a breakneck pace. We’ve already seen one President resign because of his twisting of the truth and his propensity to make up his own rules. Now we have another President who is on the ropes and struggling to stay in office. Other political leaders who were placed in office because of our confidence in them to make decisions that would bring peace and prosperity to our land and its people have been convicted of every sort of crime. We’ve seen preachers, who were commanded by God to bring Good News to people, abuse and take advantage of those they were supposed to bless. It is not as if these two offices are sullied and soiled while the rest of the world’s professions roll along as the embodiment of integrity and character. There are stories every night on the television of another teacher, doctor, lawyer, police officer, plumber, secretary, computer technician, accountant, pharmacist, carpenter, or coach who has gone astray and disgraced their family, friends, and co-workers with their lack of morality and failure of character.

Because of our aberrant behavior, our broken promises, and sin we have an entire generation who are growing up under our tutelage with absolutely no trust and no confidence in what we say or do. They are the great questioners of authority. Because they have seen us break our promises over and over again and concluded that we can’t be trusted on relied upon, they have been led to question everything. “Is there anything that I can bank on? Is there anyone that I can trust? Is there anything that I can hang my hat on as true and right and good? Can any promise hold water? Is there anything or anyone that is reliable?” These are great questions and the evidence shouts out to us – absolutely not!

I have come by here this morning to dispute the evidence and to give us hope. I want to share with all of us this morning, “The Survival Guide for Believers in a Wayward World.”

Before I share this guide with you I want you to understand that if we give up all hope, cease our search for truth, and conclude that nothing can be believed or trusted then we are the most pathetic of all people and the consequences that will be suffered will be great indeed.

H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw were brilliant men, outstanding authors, yet they rejected the idea that there was anything outside of themselves that they could count on and trust in life. They were so self-confident that they even rejected the message of Scripture. They placed their trust in their own systems of belief, which were based on human reason. Yet they could not find lasting inner peace, and they slowly lost confidence in what they believed. Wells’ final literary work, for example, has been aptly called “a scream of despair.” And shortly before Shaw died in 1950, he wrote.

The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established the millennium, have led directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.

In our own day Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, Chris Farley, and “Biggy” Smalls have all suffered the results of building their own system of belief. They laid aside the truths of God so that they could create their own private truth. They cast off all rules so that they could write their own rules. They would have never dreamed that the rules they created for their lives would bring about their demise, but it did. Their rules brought about their demise in different ways; Kurt committed suicide, Tupac and Biggy were murdered, and Chris died drugged out of his mind, but it can’t be disputed that their choice of how to live life had much to do with their deaths.

On a more philosophical note, in the context of the larger scene of history, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Kurt Cobain, Chris Farley, Tupac Shakur, and Biggy Smalls placed their trust in humanism. Humanism is the system of belief that we, as individuals are the captains of our own ship, the makers of our own rules, and the deciders of our own destiny. Before I share with you the Survival Guide let me share with you some of the basic tenets of humanism.

* Denies the deity of God, the inspiration of the Bible, and the divinity of Jesus Christ.

* Denies the existence of the soul, life after death, salvation and heaven, damnation and hell.

* Denies the biblical account of creation.

* Believes that there are no absolutes, no right, no wrong — that moral values are self-determined and situational. Do your own thing, “as long as it does not harm anyone else.”

* Believes in sexual freedom between consenting individuals, regardless of age, including premarital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, and incest.

* Believes in the right to abortion, euthanasia (mercy killing), and suicide.

* Believes in equal distribution of America’s wealth to reduce poverty and bring about equality.

* Believes in removal of American patriotism and the free enterprise system, disarmament and the creation of a one-world socialistic government.

Before you jump on the bandwagon and say, “Mike, you don’t know the hearts of these people that you have named. Chris, Tupac, and Biggy may have been Christians? They had their funerals in churches, they sang hymns just before the eulogy.” Let me share with you what Jesus said, “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Mark 7:6 NIV) Jesus wasn’t the originator of these words, they were first spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah in chapter 29. God said,

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. {14} Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” {15} Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” {16} You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”? (Isa 29:13-16 NIV)

We can claim all kinds of things with our mouths, but it is our life that testifies of our commitment to Christ or our repulsion of the things of God. You are right, I do not know what these confessed with their mouths, but I have seen and heard their work and it is a strong statement of their own self-indulgent philosophy of life.

Humanism has been around a long time, but its congregation is rapidly expanding today as its preachers continue to pound the pulpit of the sovereignty of man. I will assure you, my friend, that if allow yourself to be duped by the popular belief that everything is up for grabs, that you can make up your own rules for living, then you will be crushed by your choice. Those who are opposed to living according the Owner’s Manual and who embrace moral relativism will leave this life bankrupt of meaning and significance.

In the time that we have remaining, I want to share with you the “Survival Guide for Believers in a Wayward World.” Everything that I will share with you this morning has been taken from one chapter of God’s Word, Psalm 119. From Psalm 119 we can gather all of our necessities for not only surviving in a wayward world, but we can gain everything necessary for thriving in this wayward world in which we live. I have much to share with you, but each section will be short so stick with me.

The benefits of living life in relationship to Almighty God and in seeking to live according to His Word are:

* We will be blessed. Psalm 119:1-3 says, “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. (2) Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. (3) They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.”

The word blessed is difficult for us to get a handle on today because its meaning varies according to whom you are asking. The Hebrew word, ~ymiT’ (taw-meem’) means, “without blemish, perfect, upright, without spot, uprightly, whole, sincerely, complete, full, entire, sound, healthful, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity, what is complete or entirely in accord with truth and fact.”

The blessedness of God, this state of maintaining one’s innocence, having integrity, and living entirely in accord with God’s truth is not simply bestowed upon those who “wish” for it to happen. God says that blessedness comes to those who walk according to the law of the Lord, who seek Him with all of their heart. If we desire to experience the blessedness of God then you and I must seek God with all of our heart and commit ourselves to walking in accord with the law of the Lord. For us to walk, we first must learn. Commit your life to beginning where you are and then taking steps each day to learn the ways of God. There are so many opportunities for us to do just that my friend. We need to take advantage of the opportunities.

* We can avoid being overwhelmed with shame. In Psalm 119:5-7 we read, (5) “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! (6) Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. (7) I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.”

Blaise Pascal once said, “There is a God shaped void inside of us that only God can fill.” Folks we have been created for the primary purpose of relating to God, fellowshipping with the Father, and growing daily in our understanding and love of, and for, Him. When we try to fill that void with other things we are exposed for the needy people that we are. Things do not satisfy, people can’t fulfill our deepest needs, not even a husband or wife or children – God alone can satisfy and bring fulfillment.

We disregard God’s voice calling us to Himself and yet He keeps calling. Our lives spin out of control and we feel shame and guilt creep up on us because of what we have done. The voice of God keeps calling, “This is the way, walk in it.” We continue to disregard the voice of God just as those who have gone before did. In Jeremiah 6:16, God said, “This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16 NIV)

Some of us try to kill the still, small voice, but we can’t escape it. Some have not only tried to kill the still, small voice, but they have been so arrogant to believe that they could kill God. One such man was the self-proclaimed murderer of God. He was born in 1844 as the son of a Lutheran pastor. According to Sigmund Freud, this man – Friedrich Nietzsche – knew himself better than any other human being of the time. He was a passionate man, and the questions he posed in the parable entitled The Madman illustrate for us this desire to rid ourselves of God. Nietzsche sought to bring an end to God’s passionate pursuit of himself and he faced the cold nothingness that occurs when we divorce our self from the voice of God calling us, convicting us, drawing us to Himself. Nietzsche eventually lost the battle and ended up in an insane asylum where he died in 1900.

When we disregard the voice of God, the Word of God, calling us, correcting us when we are wrong, and convicting us of our sin, then we will experience shame and guilt. You may say that you never feel ashamed of your actions, attitudes, and thoughtless words, but God knows better.

When we submit our lives to living according to God’s Word then we can avoid the shame that arises when we live outside of God’s best for us. If you seek to be faithful to God’s command to love your neighbor then you will not experience shame concerning the way you treat folks. If you disregard God’s call and you take advantage of, belittle and beguile and brutalize folks, then shame and guilt will come knocking, constantly knocking on the door of your heart. Avoid shame by seeking to be steadfast in obeying God’s decrees.

* Young people can remain pure by living according to God’s Word. We read in Psalm 119:9, 9 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”

Society today is entrenched in a battle to find answers for why more and more of our young people are getting in trouble. From AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and out of wedlock births to rape, gang banging, stealing, cheating on test, and killing classmates, parents, and total strangers – more and more sociologist and juvenile authorities are alarmed at the trends. What will be the next great program to arrive on the scene making Messiah-like promises for our young people? “Just Say ‘No!'” “True Love Waits” What will the next program look like and how much will it cost?

There is nothing wrong with programs, but God breaks things down much more simply for those who want to live a sexually, morally, and spiritually pure life – Live according to God’s Word. If you and I were ask today, “What does it mean to be pure?’ We would come up with all kinds of answers because morality has been caught in a mudslide as we make up our own morals. God describes purity in another way. The Hebrew word, “hk;z” (zaw-kaw’) means “to be translucent; to be clean, be pure, be clear.” I love the meaning, “to be translucent.” There is nothing to muddy up the life, distort the life, or cloud the life of the young person who will live according to God’s Word.

Young people this is good news for you! You need to be excited that God has provided a way for you to preserve and polish your reputation. I can’t count the number of young girls that I have visited with and heard of who feel used up. They went through a difficult stage in their life where they made lots of bad decisions and went looking for love in the arms of every hormonally supercharged boy who would show them attention. Girls, God created you to be a princess, the daughter in whom He takes delight, but that is a lesson that many of you have not been taught. You’ve been taught that your body is yours to do as you please. To enjoy an explore are a natural part of being a young people. Folks began joining the sexual revolution more than thirty years ago and oceans of tears and broken hearts serve as a reminder that the legion is still growing. Some of you young women know what I am talking about. As a result of your lack of understanding regarding who you are in Christ, you’ve gone looking for approval elsewhere and you’ve been crushed.

If you’ve already blow it and you think that you will never get your reputation back then think again. God can restore you. He can make you a young woman of integrity and character and He can keep you sexually pure.

Young men, many in society today are calling you sexual predators. They say that you are out to get whatever you can from whomever you can and whenever you can. They are not all wrong. Young men, you are fathering babies and then falling by the wayside. Young men, you are so good at impressing the girls at school. Big, strong, athletic, smooth-walking, sweet-talking. You are tough and rough and won’t back down from a challenge because you are a man. Young men, you are more than willing to climb into bed or the backseat with the girl that you’ve impressed and duped into believing that you love, but as soon as she says that she’s pregnant you lose your backbone and run from the consequences of your actions. Or worse yet, you use your smooth talking skills to coax her into thinking that she would be better off without her baby and try and sway her into getting an abortion.

Young people, boys and girls, there are so many “cool” folks in society who bombard you every day with what it means to be “the man” or the girl that everyone wants to be around. They are lies, all lies. If you follow their prescriptions for popularity and drink and drug at all of the parties, buddy up with all of the beautiful people regardless of their character and reputation, talk like the crowd, and mock those that aren’t in your little clique then the beautiful life that God gave to you will become so twisted and contorted that you won’t even recognize yourself in a few years. Your life will become muddied and cloudy even though God’s desire for you is that your life be as clear as a translucent window with nothing to cloud it.

I know folks who, when they were young were full of life, hope, and enthusiasm. Over the course of time they have changed into cynical, snide, and depressed shadows of who they once were years ago. The fun they thought they were having by getting drunk or high and giving themselves to anyone who would whisper, “I love you,” has left them not even knowing how to spell fun. Their lives are a nightmare and they feel as if they are living in hell.

Young people, if you desire to live a pure life, a life that is free from wondering if they will find out, if you have a disease, if you are an alcoholic or addict, or if you will be caught in the lies you’ve told then I’ve got good news for you. You can live a pure life by living according to God’s Word.

The Psalmist is very specific about how one should approach the Word of God is one desires to live a pure life. The Hebrew word for “living according to,” is the word “rm;v'” (shaw-mar’). It means, “to keep, guard, observe, give heed, to be on one’s guard, take heed, take care, beware, to be kept, be guarded.” Young people we must be passionate about the Word of God, hungry for the Word of God. We must possess a disciplined desire to learn all that God has for us in His word.

Somebody may be thinking, “But Mike that’s not tangible enough. I need a plan.” Great. Do you know that right now there are eight young men and three young women, teenagers, who are going through a daily disciplined Bible study on character, family living, integrity as a lifestyle, and academic excellence five days a week? Each of those young people has an adult mentor who meets with them twice every month to talk about their lessons, pray for them, and encourage them to live a pure life. The invitation is open to you if you would like to learn how to live a pure life, a life that will bring honor to God and will help you sleep soundly at night not having to worry about what you have done.

There are many more lessons for those who desire to survive and thrive in a wayward world, but our time is short. We will pick up next week with the next set of lessons given to us by God. Before we stop for today let me share with you a story.

This past summer a friend of mine went to Yellowstone National Park with his family on vacation. While he was at the park there was a story circulating about two men who had ventured deep into the woods on a backpacking trip. While the men were walking one day they came to an open area and a huge grizzly bear was waiting on them. What do you do? The two men stood silent and still trying to figure out a way to avoid being lunch for the bear when one of the men slowly began to take off his backpack. He lowered it to the ground, slowly unzipped the zipper, and took out a pair of tennis shoes. He untied his hiking boots and slowly pulled on his running shoes. His buddy said, “What do you think you are doing? You can’t outrun that bear, he will kill you.” The man said, as he finished tying his shoes, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, all I have to do is outrun you.”

My friend, we don’t have to know everything there is to know in this world, we only have to know enough to survive. All that we need to know to make it in this world, to survive and thrive, is contained in the Word of God. I pray that today, if you’ve never asked Christ into your life and allowed Him to show you the riches of His Word, you will do that before you leave today.

Survival Guide For Believers In A Wayward World (Part 1)
Psalm 119
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