1. A few years ago one of the biggest movies of the year was "Forest Gump." Actor Tom Hanks played the role of a handicapped man whose mother believed in him to the extent that he was willing to try anything. He would often quote one of his mother’s favorite lines. "My mother says life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get."
2. You probably noticed that this morning’s sermon is entitled, "Life is Like a Box of Chocolates." However, I want to suggest that life is like a box of chocolates not because you never know what you’re going to get, though that’s true, but for another reason altogether. Have you ever noticed how foods that no one in the family likes don’t get eaten very quickly. When you open candy around my house, it’s going to be gone pretty quickly. However, you could open a can of hominy and it would last a long time because no one is eager to eat it. That’s sort of the lesson that I want us to focus on this morning. Life is like a box of chocolates in that it never lasts very long.
When we’re young we rarely ever consider the fact
that we will someday " Die."
3. When you’re young it looks like life is will last forever. One pastor illustrated it like this. Talk about death to a child and she says, "Die? What’s that?" To a teenager, and he says, "Yeah right, not in my lifetime."" The twenty something says, ""Sure, some day." The forty something crowd says, "Not yet but, I’m already at half way there." By the time people get to sixty there’s much more peace for those with faith, they say, "That’s OK, I can still live with purpose." When you’re old and your body is failing you may say, "With faith in God, death is my friend." Vance Havner once said, "The hope of dying is the only thing that keeps me alive."
4. When it comes right down to it we all know that unless Christ returns first we are going to die one day. There’s actually a sight on the internet that will help you figure out about how long you are going to live. You put in your date of birth, how fit you are & it will the date of your death.
The site on the internet that will estimate how much longer you will live is www.deathclock.com.
5. However, the place that will help us best get some perspective on life and death is the scriptures. This morning we will focus our attention on the 90th Psalm. Let me give you a few basic facts about this psalm that make it special.
Psalm 90 was written by Moses. It is one of the oldest psalms.
6. You may remember that the Jews were supposed to enter the promised land after they left Egypt. However, because of their lack of faith in God they instead wandered in the wilderness for 40 years while everyone twenty years old and up died. One person did the math and figured that if there were a million people above the age of twenty at the time that they would have had an average of nearly 70 funerals every day during those years. As the nation’s leader Moses had probably participated in more funerals than he cared to think about. Perhaps this psalm came out of a time when he was doing some personal soul searching. We don’t know the details, but the message it contains has some great lessons to teach us. With that in mind, this is where we will focus our attention this morning.
Gaining an Accurate View of Life’s Big Picture
Psalm 90:1-17 NASB
1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth & the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
3 You turn man back into dust & say, "Return, O children of men."
4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.
5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
6 In the morning it flourishes & sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades & withers away.
7 For we have been consumed by Your anger & by Your wrath we have been dismayed.
8 You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
9 For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh.
10 As for the days of our life, they contain 70 years, Or if due to strength, 80 years, Yet their pride is but labor & sorrow; For soon it is gone & we fly away.
11 Who understands the power of Your anger & Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
13 Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants.
14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy & be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, & the years we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants & Your majesty to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; & confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.
TS-- This is a great scripture and here is where I want us to begin with the goal of Gaining an Accurate View of Life’s Big Picture.
I. The Eternal Nature of God 1-9
1. Moses says, "Lord you’ve been our dwelling place in all generations." I want to deal with the somewhat secondary point to begin with. Moses speaks from personal experience of how he has found God faithful during the crises which were so much a part of his life as the one leading the Israelites out of Egypt. 1
God wants to be our Dwelling place or our Refuge.
2. Let me ask a very basic question. What do we call our "dwelling place?" Where do you go for refuge? Where can let your hair down & recharge your batteries? We call it home. 1
3. However the real focus of these early verses of Psalm 90 is the point made at the end of the first verse. Moses points out that God is the God who has been faithful to him in "all generations." His point was that God’s faithfulness wasn’t something new that he had never experienced before. It was something which he & those who had gone before him had each experienced. There had not been a generation which didn’t find God faithful.
4. Look carefully at the words of verse two. Moses takes God’s faithfulness back beyond creation. God had been faithful to His people before they even existed as a people. Before God created the mountains, God had been faithful. Before He made the death He was already being faithful to His people. Then he paints a dramatic picture for them of how far back God’s faithfulness extends when he says, "Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." It’s a great statement about God in the English, but it’s far more dramatic in the Hebrew text. 2
Moses literally says, "From vanishing point
to vanishing point God.
5. The point is that there has never been a time in the past and there will never be a time in the future when God will not be there as our faithful God. It doesn’t matter how far you go in the past or how far you go into the future, there will never be a time when God won’t be there. In fact, our English translations all say something to the extent, "From everlasting to everlasting you are God." However, the Hebrew just says it more dramatically, "From vanishing point to vanishing point God." God is the emphasis. God is there every moment of eternity. 2
6. Let’s move to verse four. As an eternal God, His view of time is very different than our own. Moses gives us God’s perspective on 1000 years. He says 1000 years is like yesterday after it passes.
We see 1000 years as 1000 years. However,
God sees 1000 years as a day or as a night watch.
7. In other words, 1000 years is no more significant to God than yesterday is to us. It’s a small segment of time. It’s no more than a "watch in the night." That’s a 3 or 4 hour shift that a guard would have walked sentry duty. Moses says, 1000 years to God is no bigger deal than that. So what does scripture mean when it talks about how God views time?
The point is that since time is an unlimited commodity
to God, time doesn’t matter to Him.
8. As one pastor put it, think of the resurrection of Jesus using God’s timing. By using a day being equal to a thousand years, Jesus died a little less than 2 days ago. What Moses is trying to say is that while we are trapped in time, God is above time.
II. The Shortness of Our Lives 10-12
1. How long do people live today? According to this verse and our own experience we know that most people will die somewhere around 80 years old. That’s quite a while to live. It’s much longer than people lived in the early days of this country. However, and this is the real point I believe Moses was trying to communicate to his readers something bigger. . . 10
In contrast to God’s eternal perspective,
our life lasts 70 or 80 years.
2. Even the 70 or 80 years we have here on earth is full of challenges and struggles isn’t it? Life doesn’t always move along smoothly here. We frequently find ourselves in less than perfect situations. Even loving God and serving Him we often deal with challenging situations. Our lives here are full of problems and if we are fortunate we only live 70 or 80 years. What is Moses point? What is he trying to teach us? He says to us that life is full of trials and it flies by quickly. 10
3. A number of years ago a woman living in a nursing home in Scotland wrote the following little piece that wasn’t found until after her death. However, it demonstrated the reality that life flies by even if you live to a ripe old age. I think you will be touched as I was. It’s entitled, "Crabby Old Woman."
What do you see, nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking When you’re looking at me?
A crabby old woman, Not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, With faraway eyes?
Who dribbles her food And makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you’d try!"
Who seems not to notice The things that you do,
And forever is losing A stocking or shoe?
Who, resisting or not, Lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, You’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, As I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten With a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, Who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen With wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now A lover she’ll meet.
A bride soon at twenty, My heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows That I promised to keep
At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide And a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other With ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons Have grown and are gone,
But my man’s beside me To see I don’t mourn.
At fifty once more, Babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, My husband is dead,
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing Young of their own,
And I think of the years And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old woman And nature is cruel;
’Tis jest to make old age Look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, Grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone Where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass A young girl still dwells,
And now and again, My battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living Life over again.
I think of the years All too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact That nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people, Open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; Look closer . . . see ME!! 5
3. I don’t believe I’ve every heard it put more eloquently. How should this knowledge that life is full of troubles and doesn’t last long affect us? Should it make us give up, and go through life depressed? The answer to that question is obviously, NO. But if that’s not what we are supposed to do, then what? I believe the answer is found in verse 12 where he makes a very interesting statement that gives us the perspective we need. He says, "
We are to number our days. This is a term
that means to add them up.
4. Here is what he is saying to us. We need to live with the perspective that life before heaven isn’t going to be perfect, and it’s not going to last too long either. This means we are to live with a realistic view of life on earth. We are to invest our lives because they don’t last very long. I must spend the few days I have in a way that these limited days I have will make a difference.
5. "In a song written by Tim McGraw for his dying father, the country music superstar describes how his death caused him to reevaluate his life. After learning the bad news, he "went sky divin’, went Rocky Mountain climbing, went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu. I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying, and he said someday I hope you get to live like you were dying." (from "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw)
6. Is that what this psalm is all about? I think the answer is still no, there is more to learn. I think this psalm is progressive. That is each lesson builds on the back of the lesson taught before it. The shortness of our life takes on new meaning in light of the eternal nature of God. Which in turn leads us to the final point of this morning’s sermon.
III. A New Perspective About Life 13-17
1. Look closely at verse 13 because at first glance it’s not quite what we expect the passage to say next. He asks the Lord to feel sorry for His servants. What does he mean by that? Is He inviting God to a pity party? No, in essence He asks God to help us His servants. Since life is short and the challenges are many, the point he’s making here is really a very logical one. We need God’s help with this life. 13
2. I believe the point here is that we are going to find the truest meaning in this life in our relationship with God. Notice the prayer Moses says. He asks, "O satisfy us in the morning with your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." It’s a request that acknowledges that real meaning in this life comes from our relationship with our God. 14
3. Giovanni Pico, a fifteenth century writer, put it this way: "God created the earth for beast to inhabit, the sea for fishes, the air for fowls, and the heavens for angels and stars, so that man hath no place to dwell and abide in but God alone."
4. Let me return for a moment to Moses prayer. I want to zero in on the word which I believe is the central word of his prayer. It’s the word "satisfy." He prays that God will satisfy us. The Hebrew is interesting it’s the word, SABA, it means "to be filled or even overfilled with food." We all know what it’s like to be filled up with a delicious meal where you don’t need any more. Moses asks God to give him that kind of satisfaction with life. 14
Moses in essence prays that God will make his life fulfilling.
5. He has come to realize that the only place he is going to find true meaning and satisfaction in life is in God. But, he’s still not finished. Moses takes us another step farther in verse 16. He makes a very interesting statement that frankly I wouldn’t quite expect, yet, it makes perfect sense in the context of what He’s been saying.
He prays not that God will work, that’s assumed,
he prays that God will help him See His work.
6. I believe Moses has been building toward the point he’s making here since the beginning of the psalm. It’s only as we realize that God is eternal and we’re not that we can finally see that even in this life God is doing something that has eternal value. The things which will give true meaning in this life are the things which go beyond the temporary nature of life here on earth. C. S. Lewis said it this way, "Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home."
7. But he’s not quite finished yet. He takes the point a step farther. The deepest meaning in this life doesn’t come from merely from watching what God is doing. There is something else that gives meaning to this life. Notice that Moses continues his prayer with a special request. In the NIV he prays for God to, "establish the work of our hands."
He wants God to "establish" the work of our hands.
He says this twice. As we rely upon God He is
the One who can make our lives count.
8. The idea is that Moses wants our feeble efforts to amount to something beyond ourselves. He prays, Lord be pleased with us, make our lives count. Now let me ask, isn’t that what all of us really want? Don’t we all want our lives to amount to something. That’s what church is ultimately all about. It’s about being a part of something that’s bigger than we are. It’s about making a true difference in this world with God’s help.
9. When we leave God out of our lives, we may think we are making an eternal difference, but I don’t think it can work. It’s not that no one who doesn’t do anything good. However, it’s only as God blesses our efforts that what we do really gains eternal significance. We may think our efforts are enough, but they aren’t. Let me illustrate with a story about a man who worked at a factory. One of his main jobs was to blow the factory whistle at 5:00 PM each day to indicate that the end of the workday. He walked to work each day and passed a jewelry store where a beautiful grandfather clock was on display in the window. Every morning, he stopped and set his pocket watch to match the time on that beautiful grandfather clock. One morning the store owner was out front sweeping the sidewalk and the factory worker asked him how the grandfather clock kept such accurate time. The jeweler said, "Oh, I set it every afternoon when the factory whistle blows at 5:00." We must have a highest measuring stick than our own perspective. When we ask for God’s blessing and commit ourselves to making a difference, we will.
1. There is rarely a week that goes by without me making a hospital visit. Because I visit the hospital so frequently, I will admit that after a few weeks have passed most hospital visits sort of fade from my memory. However, I want to finish up this morning by telling you about a hospital visit I made over 20 years ago that I remember well. I went to the Veterans Hospital in Poplar Bluff to visit my Uncle Luther. He was a rough old guy. He was more likely to cuss at you than he was to say something nice. So, when I walked into his room that day I was totally unprepared for what I encountered. He was crying. I’ll never forget his words as long as I have my mind. He said, "Tim, I’ve wasted my life & now it’s too late to do anything about it. I’m a bitter old man. I’ve been bitter about things that really don’t matter at this point." Uncle Luther had accepted the Lord just before this, but when he looked back at his life, he had wasted it. He hadn’t lived well & he knew it. I made a commitment to God that day after I left that with His help, I wouldn’t live a life that would be that empty when it came my time to die. Though more than twenty years have passed since that time, I have never forgotten. Uncle Luther waited too long to live his life differently, but his experience can challenge us to live differently today.
2. Will you join me in making a commitment to do that this morning? You can always find some good reasons to wait, but why? Now is your opportunity to make this commitment. I’m going to give you a few moments for silent prayer. If you want God to use you and will commit yourself to being used by Him right now. Let’s pray. Prayer
3. If you are here this morning & don’t know Christ would you ask Him into your heart this morning? He can bring more meaning into your life than you’ve ever experienced. Will you let Him?
1) Clarence Peters, Make Your Life Count, (Sermoncentral.com, Waldheim Missionary Baptist Church) 8-2004.
2) Jefferson Williams, What Is Your Expiration Date?, (Sermoncentral.com, Pontiac Bible Church, Pontiac MI:
3) Jerry Shirley, It’s About Time, (Sermoncentral.com, Grace Baptist Church) May, 2005.
4) Larry Jacobs, How Many Days Do You Have Left? (Sermoncentral.com, Central Baptist Church) September, 2004.
5) Pat Moore, Disguised, (PP 165-167)
6) John Brug, People’s Bible Commentary: Psalms II, (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House) 1989.
This sermon is significantly revised from a sermon I preached in 1996 by the same title.