Live Large

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Standard;Pr 3:1 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands;
 2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.
 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart,
 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

I have always been troubled by the verses of Scripture that promise “long life” for believers.  Troubled, because I just don't see it as a guarantee.  Look at this promise here:

“Do not forget my Law, (the idea being don't become oblivious to it, don't live your life as if God's Law doesn't matter,. Don't let His love letter gather dust on the shelf of your heart. ) Rather let your heart keep my commands.

Interesting that a heart can keep God's commands. How can a heart, which is the seat of our emotions keep God's commands?  Hands can keep but not a heart. And again we see the idea of keeping commands in Scripture is to treasure them.  When the heart truly treasures, the hands and feet and the rest of the Body will follow.

But guaranteed long life? I just don't see it!  C'mon think about it. Keith Green “Oh Lord Your Beautiful) dies at the age of 28 in a plane crash.  Rich Mullins (Awesome God) at the age of 41.  Jim Eliott, Nate Saint and the others martyred in the jungle of Ecuador (At the End of A Spear)  all between the ages of 27 and 32.  5 year old Maria Sue Chapman, the adopted daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman recently killed in a tragic accident in their driveway.

What? Were they not people who treasured God's Word?  Was Maria Chapman disobedient and dishonoring her parents? Is that why her life was shortened?

 Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
 2 "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise:
 3 "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."

Well she didn't live long on the earth and neither did the others I mentioned.  What could be meant then by these passages promising long life that are scattered throughout scripture.  Let me give you some of them.

 De 5:33 "You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.
 De 11:18 "Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
 19 "You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
 20 "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,
 21 "that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.
 1Ki 3:14 "So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days."
  Pr 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
 11 For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.
 Pr 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs days,

And do you see the conditions of the promise.  Do you see what our part is? “Fear of the Lord, walking in His ways, treasuring His Word. These things are supposed to bring long life and length of years. You have known people who have sought to do these things and yet they have died at an early age due to cancer, or a heart attack, or an accident.

So something else must be meant here. And I would propose to you that God doesn't measure by the mere length of our days but by their breadth....their depth. God's not so much about linear measurement. He doesn't measure our lives in years, days, hours or minutes, rather He measures them in their fullness. And by that I mean, a life lived in the fulfilling of God's purposes for it.  

Length of days and long lives are those which have been used by God and filled with the things of God, and in this sense, even a child such as 5 year old Maria Chapman can have a longer life than a 90 year old atheist.

Live large! Live in God's fullness. Live according to God's Word in His mercy and truth.

Take a measuring cup. If you were to measure a line from the counter to the 1/8 cup mark and then a measure a line from the counter to the 2 cup mark, which line would be lengthier? So it is with those who fear the Lord, walk in His ways, and treasure His Word.   They have length of days, fullness of cup, no matter their chronological age.

The good don't die young, they die full. Age has nothing to do with it. They die with cups running over (Ps 23:5) because the Lord is their shepherd....their Savior and Guide.

Beloved do not be oblivious to God's law! Treasure His Word and allow it to break out in trust and obedience, that your cup may be filled!  Jesus said in  Joh 10:10 " I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (With more breadth).

He lengthens our days, gives us an abundance of life, fills our cup  because as we trust in Him, as we believe in Him and are baptized, He makes us fit vessels for the Holy Spirit who brings with Him a love for God's Word that causes us to treasure it.  This “Word” is the personification of Jesus as stated in Jn 1: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and was with God....

 1Co 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed,  (Jesus IS the Word!) and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

 Do you want a meaningful, measurable life apart from the linear measurement of time and thru eternity? Then don't be oblivious to God's Word,,,,,,treasure it!
 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Mercy and truth are found in God's Word. Thet are given to us so that we might dispense them to others. Mercy for salvation and truth for day to day living. They are like helium balloons, they can depart from you. We must strive to hold onto them lest they slowly drift away

Since mercy and truth are found in God's Word, strive to hold on to your “devo” time. Strive to put those things which God teaches you in His Word into practice.  Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart,
 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Living in God's mercy and truth enlarges your life in the eyes of God and men, and in the sense that we have been talking about, “lengthens” it..

 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;  (As I observe Grandpa Bengs using his walker around the house. He constantly leans into it. In fact, he leans into everything that has a firm foundation, whenever he is on his feet.

Simply washing his hands, he leans into the solid foundation of the vanity lest he fall backward. He gives new meaning to the term all is vanity, because if the vanity wouldn't be there, he would fall.

This is how we should travel in this life, leaning on God and His understanding, rather than our own.

 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Follow God's Word. Don't rely on your own ideas for living. Acknowledge Him. Tip your hat to Him. It's you Lord, not me. You're the One. Your ways not mine. When you do that He promises to direct your life. Lives led by God are lives lived with fuller cups.  

Oh the testimonies that some of you young people have already because you leaned on God and allowed Him to direct your path. And there is so much more fullness He wishes to add, but don't get ahead of Him. Let Him be in charge of that. Don't try to figure it out, just keep pouring more of Him in. as you trust and obey what He has given you.
 Lu 8:18 "Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him."

 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.

Do you know what this verse is saying? It is saying that it is evil to be in awe of yourself. Oh look what I've done! Look how many people I've led to Christ. Look at that great sermon I preached. Look how helpful I am to others. That's evil.

Be in awe of God! And you depart from evil.  And when you do.........

 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.
Again, the promise of a robust spiritual life to those who fear the Lord!

Some of you are starting to get this. Having received His merciful forgiveness, I know that you are daily in God's Word, searching, exploring  His truth. Seeking His face. I know that you are treasuring His Word and it is breaking out in trust and action. ....and your days are being lengthened, stretched your cup is being filled with the fullness of God and the abundant life that Jesus intends for you.
You arer handing mercy and truth baloons to others!

It's never too late to start or restart your devo time,  and it's never to early. Our very first lesson in confirmation has this quote in our workbook. Parents pay attention, because this is the kind of stuff we are wanting to teach your children.

“ The Bible is totally and completely  the word of God  and is my greatest treasure. I am to love it and study it every day, especially since it teaches me the way of salvation  by faith in Jesus Christ. This is why I am in confirmation class. My faith in Jesus will be “confirmed” or strengthened. When this happens, my life will change for the better and I will be living out of thankfulness to Jesus  and what He has done for me. My prayer is that God will truly  bless me as I hear and keep His Word.

This is a prayer that God will be pleased to answer. It is the thrust of this portion of Proverbs. This is the length of days and long life that He desires for all His children. It is living the life that God has fully laid out before you in His word. May He give it to you as you cease being oblivious to His Word and start treasuring it for all it is!  

In a little while, we will invite you to the Lord's table. This is an opportunity to clean the cup. What will you do with that cup when you leave here this morning? What will you seek to fill it with in the days ahead? Choose to live large. Open yourself up to Jesus and His Word that your days will be lengthened and your cup will run over.