Bible Verse: Psalm 90:12
Full Sermon Transcript
Pastor Chris Paavola:
Well everybody, good morning. Good, good, good to be with you guys today as we are celebrating, well, 18,258 days, 50 years and eight days from the day that this sanctuary was built and everything that’s happened here since. We used last week to celebrate 50 years and to just have a great day. It was awesome to be here and to talk about the legacy of faith of the builders and we looked at their legacy of faith. Then during the service we kind of turned and considered our own legacy of faith for the next 50 years. What are we going to leave behind? We talked about an opportunity. We need to renovate our campus. We’re a growing church and there’s just a lot of needs on this campus that we need to update. We talked about how we’re entering the design phase of construction, everything like that.
If you guys would like to give towards the design phase, we’ve got envelopes on the table out in the lobby on both tables and the tables by the photo books out there as well. You can make a contribution towards that. I guess that presupposes though that you would decide to make a contribution to a legacy of faith or you would decide that you actually want to leave a legacy of faith. That brings into the conversation this whole idea about decision-making and what processes we use to make decisions. They’ve done studies actually and found that there are about 35,000 decisions that you make in a course of a day. I’m exhausted even thinking about that. 35,000 decisions in the course of a day. When you make a decision, you are taking into consideration your moral code, your upbringing, your culture, your ethics, your goals and aspirations, your relationships.
You’re taking all these things as data points to consider what decision you’re going to make. Then you factor into it also your feelings and your emotions in that moment. All of these are at play and being considered when you make any decision. When you make a decision of what kind of socks you are or aren’t going to wear. When you make a decision of who you are or aren’t going to marry. When you make a decision of whether or not you’re going to root for Notre Dame or not. All of these data points and are working together to help you make a decision like some kind of big algorithm in your brain.
When scripture talks about making decisions, when God wants you to think about the decisions that you make, he actually gives you one more data point to consider when making a decision. Just think about whatever the decisions are facing you right now, whatever’s causing you anxiety, whatever you’re going back and forth on, waffling on, whatever’s making you worry, whatever decision is facing you, I don’t know what decisions are in front of you, but whatever decision is in front of you, scripture wants you to consider one more data point before you make that decision. It’s something we normally don’t think about and we actually heard it in our reading from Psalm 90. We’re going to talk about this this morning, but we’re going to look at Psalm 90 a little bit more in depth.
The Book of Psalms is in the middle of your Bible and it is full of poetry and songs about God and the Lord. Most of those psalms are written by a man named David, King David. But one of them happens to be written by a man named Moses, like you’ve maybe heard the name Moses before. Moses Moses, like burning bush Moses, parting the Red Sea Moses, that guy. Moses wrote a psalm as he was reflecting on his life and all that he had seen God do. He wrote a psalm that’s called Psalm 90. It’s in your Bible. It’s going to be, again, as we read this, we’re going to get a data point for us to consider when we make decisions.
Starting with Psalm 90:1, take a look at how it starts out. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” Now that’s colored for us. Like, “Oh, that’s interesting. This is Moses writing this. Dwelling places, he’s seen a lot.” Even if you don’t know much about Moses, he grew up in the palace of Pharaoh, spent some time living in his in-laws’ spare bedroom, and then wandered in the desert for 40 years living in a tent as his dwelling place.
When he says dwelling place, he’s thinking of the palace to the tent and everything in between. He’s thinking about all of this and he’s like, “You know what? No matter where I’ve been, you’ve been with me, God.” That’s a neat thought. “God, you’ve always been with me and you’ve been with all generations of people, everybody. You have been my dwelling place for my entire life. But you’ve been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” And you can kind of hear him pause for a moment and he starts to think, zooming out a little bit more about how God is over all generations.
He says in verse two, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” You could just feel him zooming out. He’s like, “It’s not just my life, it’s not just the generations that I know. All of it, you are over all of it, God, from beginning to the ends, you’re from everlasting to everlasting, the alpha, the omega, you’re over it all.”
Then this happens all the time in scripture, all the time. When people consider the holiness of God, they’re immediately made aware of how unholy they are. Or, when they consider the power of God, they’re immediately made aware of how weak they are. Here Moses considers the eternal qualities of God, how he’s from everlasting to everlasting, he’s eternal, and he’s immediately made aware of his mortality. This takes a little bit of a dark turn like, geez, Moses kind of depressing. Verse three, he compares it to his own mortality. “You turn people back to dust, saying ‘return to dust you mortals.'” If you’ve ever been to a funeral where they say ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Or Ash Wednesday services where people say that. That’s a reference to this. We believe that God made man out of the dust of the Earth and Moses is like, “I’m going to die someday and eventually after a few thousand years, I’m going to be nothing except dust.” But not you God, because a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by or a watch in the night.
The apostle Peter later on would talk about how a thousand years in the Lord’s sight is like a day and a day is a thousand years, it’s in reference to this. Then he kind of concludes the thought. “Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death. They’re like the new grass of the morning.” In the morning, this arid desert grass, morning it springs up new, but by evening and it’s dried and withered. We would probably in our context talk about weeds growing up in the cracks of the sidewalk and then withering. That’s our life. Then in verse 12, he gives us such a powerful thought and new data point to consider when we’re making decisions, something we don’t think about. Verse 12, Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Teach us, as in we don’t normally think about this. This is not in our normal framework. Teach us to number our days because we live our days as if every day day’s guaranteed and the next day’s getting guaranteed and we’re just spending the days, they’re all coming, an infinite supply of days. That’s how we live. We don’t like thinking about our mortality. It’s not a fun thought. Teach us to number our days that we may gain not just a mind but a heart of wisdom. Scripture talks about how it is the wise who considers their ways, the foolish gives no thought. Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. This suddenly introduces for us a new thought in any of the decisions facing us. Whatever decision is facing you right now, you suddenly have a new thought to consider.
I saw this illustration years ago and I never stopped thinking about it. I thought, “You know what? This is perfect for what we’re talking about today.” I got here a rope and I want you to imagine this entire rope as a timeline of your life. This is a rope. It’s just a timeline of your life. You’re born and then it just kind of goes on your whole life, everything that you’re ever going to do right here and here. Nate, can I have you take this? I want you to stretch this out towards the front doors as much as you can if you don’t mind and just kind of keep going. Okay, here you go. Thank you brother.
Really, really long rope. But up here, this little red part, this is your time on earth. This little red part is your time on earth. You’re born, you live, you die, but the rope goes on forever. Imagine this rope just goes out the door, down highway 94, to Detroit, cross the state of New York, hits the Atlantic Ocean, goes all the way across, goes to Portugal, just keeps wrapping around the planet forever. That’s eternity. Moses is saying, teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. You are an eternal creature. You will live forever.
And we don’t think about this. Right here, this is when Mount Everest erodes. Then right here, this is when the stars burn out. CS Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia said, “After the stars and nebula have burned out, you and I will still remain.” You’re eternal. You go on forever. Yet, we live as if this little red part up here is all that matters. We live as if this is all there is. We are so worked. Think of all of your anxieties, all of your concerns are condensed into this little bitty part right here. Then you go on forever. Some of you are working really, really, really hard scratching, clawing, saving, working 60-hour weeks so you can enjoy this little part right here called retirement and then this last little part where you live in a home.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have an IRA, I’m not saying you shouldn’t max out your retirement, but I am saying you should hold it in perspective. The Apostle Paul says, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” When you hold this in perspective and you look at this, you’re like, “Man, it is silly that I’m arguing about politics all the time.” Look at this. It is silly that I get so worked up about whether my team wins or loses. It is silly the quarrel I have with my family members. Look at this. This is a whole new data point for us to consider in making decisions.
Now, I’m going to do a quick detour off of this, but Jesus talks about this. He talks about this with such certainty. He says, “Living your life as if this is all there is like building your house on sand. But if you live with this in mind, it’s like building your house on rock.” There’s a parable he tell. One time. A guy is talking about money and he’s like, “You fool, this very night your life will be demanded of you. You’re right here. Then what will become of all these things that you work so hard to gain?” We don’t talk about this very much, but heaven is a gift. Newsflash, you can’t earn your way to heaven. It’s a gift. It’s a gift from God through faith in Christ. Heaven is a gift. But Jesus talks about how in heaven there are rewards. In the gift of heaven that you don’t earn, there are rewards and treasures that you do earn. Like he says, how you handle and give your money here stores up treasures here. What? I don’t understand it.
Matthew 6:19-20. When you do good deeds to others, when you serve and you care for your community, when you give of yourself and think of others before yourself, you are storing up rewards in heaven. When you forgive, you are storing up rewards in heaven. I don’t understand how it works, I just know what he says. I don’t know where you are in this little timeline my friends, but it’s nothing in comparison to this. This dramatically changes the way we think about our decisions when we think about God is forever. His word is forever. His kingdom is forever. His goodness is forever. But I am forever. I asked you earlier, how do you make decisions? Whatever decision is causing you? Anxiety, keeping you up at night. How do you make decisions? This is what we asked earlier. Now I want to put an addendum onto that. With eternity in mind, how do you make decisions? I don’t know how it would change things, but I know it definitely changes things for me.
Live today with forever in mind. Live today with forever in mind and watch what it does to the way you handle everything from your money to your relationships. Suddenly you’re not as worried about your kids making the travel team. You’re worried about your kids making it here. Suddenly you’re not as worried about who gets elected. Live today with forever in mind. With that, whatever decision you’ve got in front of you, my friends, just let this heart be in you, this heart of wisdom. With eternity in mind, how do you make decisions?
FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS
Now, as I was wrapping up this message, I started realizing that after the message we’re going to celebrate communion. I thought, you know what? This is a good chance as any to just really share the gospel because I was thinking about this and God, who’s outside of the scope of time, he looks at it like a rope. He’s like out of it. God looked at eternity without you and thought, “I don’t want that. I want eternity with you. I want forever with you.” And he’s looking at eternity without you. He’s like, “I’m willing to do whatever it takes. I’m willing even to send my own son to die your death in your place that you might live his life in his place.”
Wow, we hear this all the time, but it just goes right over our head. In the words of Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death, you’re a rebel. You’re born under the curse of sin. The wages of sin is death. But, the gift of God is eternal life. We hear that word eternal so much. When we read the Bible, we don’t think about what it’s saying. It’s saying this, eternal life is yours. God came into this and was made man and died that you might have eternal life. What I want you to do today as we celebrate communion, is I’m going to leave this rope here in the middle of the aisle if you promise me you won’t trip over it. Okay? Don’t trip over this. Dead serious. Make it a little more taut. Yeah. Thank you.
I want you to walk down the timeline of eternity as you approach the altar today, as you come forward for communion. Just take in the gravity and magnitude of what God has done for you. All of this is yours because of what you’re about to receive, his body and blood broken and shed for you on the cross. You’re going to receive communion and receive eternal life that he promises. Wow. Then as you leave and you go back to your seat and sit down, let this heart of wisdom resonate. As you think about whatever decisions you’re thinking about, whatever’s in front of you. With eternity secured, how do I make decisions? Let me pray for you.
Heavenly Father, we confess that we do not think about forever. We don’t think about eternity. We are so myopic, so head down, just walking through life. God, we join Moses in requesting today, in this moment, this hour, teach me to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.