INTRO.- I will watch my ways. Why would we ever want to watch our ways in life? One of the things my dad used to say to me was, “Pay attention to what you’re doing.”
It pays to pay attention to whatever you are doing and especially, when you are driving an automobile. We have multitudes of crazy drivers around here that do not stop, do not yield the right of way when they are suppose to, and do not use their turn signals. Failing to do these things will cause a wreck. And to me, it’s a matter of not paying attention to your driving habits.
ILL.- In July of 2009 my friend, Mike Rathbone, who preached at the First Christian Church of Murfeesboro, AR, passed away suddenly with a heart attack. He was 63 years old. Ron Hoyer from Hardy, AR, called and wanted to attended his funeral which was on Thursday, July 23rd. I planned to go so Ron met me here in Jonesboro and we went to the funeral. On the way home that afternoon we were traveling I 67 North out of Little Rock and was suddenly passed by a woman who had her left hand in the air and I couldn’t believe what I saw. I said to Ron, “Is she doing what I think she’s doing?” (I wasn’t sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me or what). He said, “She sure is.” SHE WAS TEXTING WHILE DRIVING AND PASSING US! That woman didn’t wreck her car, at least, not at that time, but I was shocked to think that she would be texting while driving.
It pays to pay attention while you’re driving. Here are some facts about texting, etc. while driving.
FACT #1 Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field. FACT #2 A texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver.
It also pays to pay attention to everything we do in life: marriage, family, work, relationships, etc.
ILL.- I remember when I first went to Iowa to preach. One of the church board members greeted me by shaking hands with no fingers on his right hand. What happened? He was involved in an accident with a corn picker, I was told, and lost those four fingers. It pays to pay attention to your work, especially, when you’re doing something that could be dangerous.
It pays to pay attention. When it comes to all of life, we must pay attention to what we are doing.
ILL.- A little boy saw his father use a square to see if a board he was planing was straight. “Why are you so careful, Daddy?” asked the boy. “We can’t guess in carpenter work,” his dad said. “You have to be just right. People guess at too many things. God does not like that way of living.”
“I guess there are no squares for living by,” said the boy. “Yes, there are squares to live by, and you will find them in the Bible. Test all that you do by them, and you go straight in life, my boy.”
How can we watch our lives to make sure we do right, live right and please the Lord? We go by the Word of God!
Psalm 119:11 “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”
Psalm 119:9 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”
PROP.- The Psalmist gives us a list of what we are to watch over in this life.
1- I will watch my mouth
2- I will watch my days
3- I will watch my hope
I. I WILL WATCH MY MOUTH
1 I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.”
ILL.- Two elderly women boarded a jet plane. On the plane, one said to the other, “Do you know this plane travels faster than sound?” The other was quite alarmed about this and when they were settled she said to the captain: “I beg your pardon, sir, but does this plane travel faster than sound?”
Proudly he said, “Yes, ma’am, we fly faster than sound.” “Well,” replied the lady, “please slow it down a little, for my friend and I want to talk.” Yes, most people want to talk but not always the way they should.
Psalm 5:9 “Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit.”
Psalm 10:7 “His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.”
Psalm 17:10 “They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.” A mouth that speaks deceit, curses, lies, threats, arrogance, etc. I’m not sure a mouth could get much worse than that.
ILL.- R. G. LeTourneau was for many years an outstanding Christian businessman—heading a company that manufactured large earthmoving equipment. He once remarked, “We used to make a scraper known as ‘Model G.’”
One day somebody asked our salesman what the ‘G’ stood for. The man, who was pretty quick on the trigger, immediately replied, “I’ll tell you. The ‘G’ stands for gossip because like a talebearer this machine moves a lot of dirt and moves it fast!”
Gossip does move dirt fast. And it’s a big fault that many people have. But often we try to justify it.
ILL.- In a small village in which there was only one church that almost every member of the community attended, one woman made life difficult, often, by her constant prying into the affairs of her neighbors.
One day when the pastor of the church was trying to show the woman the harm she was doing, she said: “Oh well, just prying into my neighbors’ affairs isn’t as bad as what Mrs. So and So does. She gets drunk.” “Madam,” replied the pastor, “Your sin is classed with murder and stealing, in God’s Word.” (Romans 1:29)
We humans like to justify our sin by saying, “Well, I’m not as bad as so and so. Look what he did or she did!” The sin of the mouth can often be as evil as anything.
Matthew 12:34 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Our speaking is a matter of the heart. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks. If anyone has a mean mouth then it’s because they have a mean heart! I believe Jesus!
Psalm 17:3 “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.”
That would be a great resolution for us all to make!
1 I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth." We must watch our mouths or our speaking. We must keep from sinning by what we say.
II. I WILL WATCH MY DAYS
4 “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. 6 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
ILL.- Dr. Charles Mayo met an ancient lady who claimed it was her 108th birthday. The famed surgeon was skeptical but, as ever, cordial. “Well, congratulations,” he said. “I hope I’ll see you on your 109th birthday.” “You will,” the old gal cackled contentedly. “I will?” he asked. “Sure,” she said. “Very few people die between 108 and 109. Look it up.”
Show me the number of my days. There is an internet site called livingtobe100.com that will give you an idea. You’ll answer all kinds of questions about your health, daily habits, diet, family history, etc. and it will supposedly give you an idea of how long you’ll live.
I took the test and it said that I might live to be 93, but I think that’s doubtful, however, not impossible. I think most of us feel the same way. How do we feel? We don’t mind living to be a ripe old age as long as we can function well in life, otherwise, we’d rather pass on.
Of course, we all need to remember that our hope for a better life is not in this life! The better life is on the other side. It’s in the next life and we are in the process of preparing for that life.
Let me know how fleeting is my life. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.
Boy, I wish all people would realize how fleeting life is! Many people act and think like they will never die, but they should know better. This life is just a preparation for the next life which is forever. And if we don’t make it right here and now, it won’t be right in the next life! And there is only one way to make a person’s life right on earth and that is in Christ who is the way, the truth and the life!
If there is one truth I’d like to drive home to people, it’s this truth. That life is short and we’d better be making preparation for the next life. We need Christ and we need to live for Christ.
Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Paul was saying that life on earth meant living for Christ and living like Christ. Otherwise, death was gain because he would be with Christ.
Many people are wasting their lives on all kinds of frivolous junk when they should be focusing on Christ.
Colossians 3:1-3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
James 4:14-15 “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
The Lord’s will needs to be a priority in our lives and every day of our lives and no matter where we are, etc.
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. This says it well. And this is why we must live for the Lord while we still can. We must make hay while the sun shines. Only one life. Twill soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last.
III. I WILL WATCH MY HOPE
7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. 8 Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools.
ILL.- A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, "Eighteen to nothing--we're behind."
"Boy," said the spectator, "I'll bet you're discouraged." "Why should I be discouraged?" replied the little boy. "We haven't even gotten up to bat yet!"
That’s the spirit, but most people don’t have it. Most people feel like there is little hope in this world or little to hope for in this world what with the poor economy, low morality, etc. However, we know that our hope is not to be found in this world or anything that world offers.
I will watch my hope. To watch our hope means to walk in hope and there’s only one way to do that! And that is to keep our eyes on the Lord! We must continually look up! We must walk by faith like the saints of old!
- David before the giant Goliath: I Samuel 17:45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”
- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace: Daniel 3:16-18 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ”
- Daniel in the lions’ den: Daniel 6:22 “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”
ILL.- Someone said: “Think of what we could do today with what we have if we had what they had!” And what did they have? They had faith. They walked by faith. They trusted God more than they trusted themselves! They believed God!
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Not through me who gives me strength!
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding....”
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength...”
Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Isaiah 40:31 “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
ILL.- Dr. James Boice who passed away in 2000 said, “We do not have a strong church today nor do we have many strong Christians. We can trace the cause to an acute lack of sound spiritual knowledge. Why is the church weak? Why are individual Christians weak? It’s because they have allowed their minds to become conformed to the spirit of this age, with its mechanistic, godless thinking. They have forgotten what God is like and what He promises to do for those who trust Him. Ask an average Christian to talk about God. After getting past the expected answers you will find that his god is a little god of vacillating sentiments. He is a god who would like to save the world but who cannot. He would like to restrain evil, but somehow he finds it beyond his power. So he has withdrawn into semi-retirement, being willing to give good advice in a grandfatherly sort of way, but for the most part he has left his children to fend for themselves in a dangerous environment.
“Such a god is not the GOD of the Bible. The God of the Bible is not weak. He is strong. He is all-mighty. Nothing happens without His permission or apart from His purposes - even evil. Nothing disturbs Him or puzzles Him. His purposes are always accomplished. Therefore those who know Him rightly act with boldness, assured that God is with them to accomplish His own desirable purposes in their lives.” AMEN!
7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Our hope is in the Lord. We must always look to Him. And we must always point others to Him.
ILL.- When Queen Victoria was a child, she didn't know she was in line for the throne of England. Her instructors, trying to prepare her for the future, were frustrated because they couldn't motivate her. She just didn't take her studies seriously. Finally, her teachers decided to tell her that one day she would become the queen of England. Upon hearing this, Victoria quietly said, "Then I will be good." The realization that she had inherited this high calling gave her a sense of responsibility that profoundly affected her conduct from then on.
Because we’re children of the king and because we are heading to heaven, it should motivate us to be responsible Christians in this world. Let us:
- Watch our mouths, the way we talk.
- Watch our days and realize our time is short.
- Watch our hope that we have in Jesus and cling to Him always.
Steve Shepherd, Jonesboro Christian Church, AR