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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - The Art of Living Well

Robert Jeffress - The Art of Living Well


Robert Jeffress - The Art of Living Well
Robert Jeffress - The Art of Living Well
TOPICS: The Solomon Secrets, Wealth, Success, Prosperity, Lifestyle

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Success is a wonderful thing, but most of the time we feel frustrated by our inability to achieve it. Well, in Solomon's ancient book of Proverbs, we find pearls of wisdom for success in every realm of life. And over the next several weeks, we'll discuss some counterintuitive principles on topics like managing our finances, dealing with personal failure, controlling our temper and more. This new series is called "The Solomon Secrets". And my message is titled, "The Art of Living Well" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

When I say the phrase "Living well", what images come to your mind? For you, what does living well, living really well mean? For some people that praise would conjure up images of weekend, jaunts to Paris, and month-long vacations in the Caribbean, or a garage filled with luxury automobiles, or a bulging portfolio of stocks and bonds. So much money, you never have to work again. And you can tell your boss what you really think of him. For many people that would be living well. Other people say, well, no, when I think about living well, I don't think about materialistic things. I think about rising to the top of my company that I'm working in, or I think about accumulating enough assets so I could take off work for a year and work as a missionary in a third world country. To me, that's what living well would be. Other people would say, well, when I think about living well, I don't think of that vocational success, or material success. I think about relationships. For me living well means having two or three friends I can enjoy, and I know love me unconditionally. Or living well for me means having a satisfying, fulfilling relationship with my mate and my children.

Regardless of how you define living well, I have some good news and some bad news for you this morning. Which would you like to hear first? Let me tell you the bad news, and get that out of the way. The bad news is you're probably not going to acquire all of the material possessions, experience all the vocational success, enjoy all the relationship success that you've ever dreamed of. That's the bad news. The good news is you can have more than you have right now. You don't have to occupy the same rut you're existing in for the rest of your life. In fact, I want to make our money back guarantee to you this morning, as we begin a brand new series that you can take to the bank. And here's the guarantee. If you discover and apply the 10 secrets for success that we're going to talk about over these next 10 weeks, I absolutely promise you that you will experience greater financial stability than you ever thought possible. You'll enjoy more fulfilling relationships than you ever dreamed of. You will realize more of your goals than you ever thought possible in your life.

How can I make such a guarantee? Because the principles for success we're going to talk about in this series is not based on my wisdom, or even on the collected wisdom of the ages. These success secrets come straight from the Word of God. If you have your Bibles this morning, I want you to turn to the book of Proverbs as we begin this brand new series entitled, "The Solomon Secrets: 10 Keys For Extraordinary Success in Life".

Now I realized whenever I start using the word success, and God in the same sentence, some of you start to get very nervous. The idea of success, and God kind of conjures up images of the televangelists from the 1980s, with the big hair, remember them and the prosperity Gospel that they espouse that said it is God's will for every Christian to be healthy and wealthy and free of problems. Of course, those evangelists were discredited for their teaching, but that teaching hasn't stopped. You find the same heresy today, different heretics, but the same heresy, the prosperity Gospel. But you know the proponents of the prosperity Gospel were not only guilty of bilking their followers out of millions of dollars, but they also stole from us an important truth that we need to reclaim and rediscover. And that truth is God does want you to be successful. Did you know that? God wants you to be successful in every part of your life? He wants you to experience success with your finances. He wants you to experience success in your relationships, in your works and in your goals.

You said, now pastor, how do you know that? Because I read the Bible. Well, let me point you to a few places in scripture where God clearly says he wants you to experience success. He wants you to experience prosperity. Listen, in the Old Testament to Deuteronomy 29:9, God said, "So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may what? Prosper in all that you do". Or Joshua 1:8, "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you can be careful to do according to all that is written in it, for then you will make your way prosperous. And then you will have, there it is again, success". Or in Psalm 1:3, the Psalmist is talking about the godly person. And it says, "He will be like a tree firmly planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season. And its leaf does not wither and in whatever he does, he what? Prospers". You're starting to get the picture? Prosper, prosper, prosper, success.

In the New Testament 3 John, for example, verse 2, listen to what John the apostle said, 3 John 2, he was talking to his friend Gaius, and he said, "Beloved, I pray that in all respects, you may, there it is, prosper and be in good health just as your soul prospers". Jesus said in John 10:10, "For I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly". Eternal life is not just a quantity of life. It is a quality of life that comes to those who follow God's principles for living. And that brings me to a definition of what I mean by living well. I want you to write this down on your outlines. Don't just stare at me, write this down. What do we mean by living well? Living well means experiencing God's best for every area of my life. Living well is experiencing God's best for every area of my life. Wisdom is the key that unlocks the door to experiencing God's best in every area of our life. Know what the word wisdom literally means. It comes from an Old Testament word or Hebrew word hokmah. And literally it refers to a skill.

Wisdom is a skill. Just like tipto had to have a skill in order to receive his needed water, we need skill in order to learn how to live life. In fact, it's interesting when you look at that word hokmah, wisdom in the Old Testament. It originally referred to the skill that the weavers had to waive the garments for the Old Testament high priest, Aaron. And in fact, in Exodus 28:3, we find these words, "And you shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with a spirit of wisdom that they may make errands garments to consecrate him. And that he may minister as a priest to me". God said to these weavers, now, I want Aaron's garments, his high priestly garments, to follow this precise pattern. And the reason that was so important was Aaron was a representative of Jesus Christ, the true high priest who was going to come. So God had some very elaborate and detailed patterns that these weavers had to follow. And their ability to follow God's pattern was called wisdom.

That's why somebody has defined wisdom as the skill to follow God's pattern for every area of life. You know that's what wisdom is? Living life according to God's pattern. If you're a wise person, you are one who patterns your life, your marriage, your finances, your relationships, your career, after the pattern that is given in God's word. Now, let me say several things about this wisdom that God says is essential for living well. Notice a couple of truths here. First of all, jot this down, wisdom is opposite our natural inclinations. The skill that God offers us for every area of our life is often opposite our natural inclinations.

Haddon Robinson tells the story of one time working on his garage door, one Saturday morning, and he was trying to loosen a screw. So he was turning the screw counter-clockwise. As he turned it counterclockwise, however, the screw tightened instead of being loosened. He got frustrated. A neighbor came over to help him. And he said, well, Haddon, don't you realize that's a left-threaded screw, it's a reverse screw. It goes opposite the direction you would think. Haddon said, I've spent 50 years learning how to work a screw, and now somebody goes and changes the rules? And yet he says, the Bible is just like that. The Bible is kind of a reverse screw. Its wisdom is often opposite our natural inclinations. Second truth about wisdom. Not only is wisdom opposite our natural inclination, but notice that wisdom requires effort. Since this skill doesn't come naturally to us, since it goes opposite our natural inclinations, we have to search for it. It doesn't come naturally.

Many years ago, I visited the Billy Graham museum at Wheaton college. And while I was walking through the library there, there was a display case. And in that display case, there was a Bible, an old worn Bible that had been given to Albert Einstein. And on the fly leaf of that Bible, I read these words. In fact, I jotted them down. They made such an impression on me. The word said, straws on the surface flow, but he who would search for pearls must dive below. Whoever gave this Bible to Einstein was simply saying, as great of an intellect as you are, Albert, you cannot discover God's truth with just a surface study of the Bible. It requires going deep in order to appropriate the truth of God's word. That's the truth about wisdom. The Bible says acquiring wisdom is like going on a treasure hunt for great riches. For example, jot down Proverbs 2:4-5. We read a portion of this just a few moments ago. And the writer says, "If you seek her, that is wisdom, as silver and search for her as hidden treasures, then you will discover the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God".

Or turn over one page to Proverbs 3:13-15. "How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding, for its profit is better than the profit of silver, and its gain more than fine gold. Wisdom is more precious than Jewels, and nothing you desire compares with her". What we're going to look at over the next 10 weeks are 10 pieces, not of common sense, but of uncommon sense that promise extraordinary success. Let me close today by sharing with you three important principles about living well, because that's what Proverbs is about. It's about how to live well. How to experience God's best in every area of your life. Principle, number one, the measure of living well is not money. That's true. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about money. But even though the book of Proverbs has a lot to say about money, life is more than just about earning, saving and investing money.

You know, I read one wall street Tycoon who said money is the best way to keep score in life. Jesus said, no, it's not. Because even when your life consists of an abundance, that doesn't define who you are. You know what the word death means? The word death, vanitas, means separation. Death is a separation of our spirit from our physical body. It's a separation from the earth. And at the moment of your death, you are going to be separated from all of your money. You're going to leave everything behind. And that's why Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, "What will a man be profited if he gains the whole world, and he forfeits his soul"?

Second truth about living well, living well does not us from problems in life. When I talk about living well, being prosperous, being successful, I'm not talking about being exempt from problems. I have people ask me all the time, "Pastor, why do we as Christians go through problems' and suffering in this life"? And you know, behind that question is the assumption that somehow becoming a Christian is like kind of a get-out-of-jail free card, that it exempts you from any suffering in life. That's just not true. We all know, and we've seen in other series that God's plan for you and me as a Christian is that we go through difficult times. It is in those difficulties, those times of suffering, that we learn more about God, that our faith is strengthened. Remember Hebrews 5:8, that talks about the Lord Jesus Christ. It says, even though he was the Son of God, he learned obedience by the things that he suffered. You know of God's plan for his own son, even included difficulties, suffering.

Why are you and I surprised when suffering comes into our life? You know being a Christian, living well does not mean an exemption from problems. In fact, did you know that becoming a Christian, probably intensifies your problems you're going to have in this world? It doesn't take them away. It intensifies them, at least in the short term.

The Quaker philosopher, Elton Trueblood wrote, "In many areas of the Gospel, instead of taking away people's burdens, the Gospel actually adds to them. Occasionally we talk about our Christianity as something that solves problems. And there's a sense in which it does. But long before it does so however, it increases both the number and the intensity of the problems". One thing I love about the Bible is how true it is. It doesn't try to gloss over hard truth. Jesus said in John 16:33, "In this world, you will have tribulation". You're going to have problems. But then he went on to say, "Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world". Living well doesn't exempt us from problems.

Thirdly, the purpose of living well is to glorify God. The purpose of living well is to glorify God. What is God's overriding purpose in the world today? Do you know God has one ultimate purpose? It's to bring glory to himself. It's to cause men and women, boys and girls, angels and demons all to fall down, and say that he alone is worthy of worship. In Romans 11:36, Paul writes, "For from him, and through him and to him are all things to him be the glory forever. Amen". What does this great theological statement mean to us? What does it mean to say God's purpose is to bring glory to himself? How does that relate living well? Listen to me. The reason God wants you and me to live well, experience his best for every area of our life is so that other people looking at our lives will be motivated to become God followers as well. And that's exactly what God said to the Israelites. God said in the Old Testament, I'm giving you these prescriptions for living, my reason for doing so, is that the other nations of the world, when they look at you and see you following me, they will say not what a great people you are, but what a great God they serve.

Listen to Deuteronomy 4:5-7. Moses said, "See, I have taught you statutes, and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me that you should do thus in the land when you were entering to possess it. So keep and do them, that is these commandments, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'surely, this great nation is wise and understanding. For what great nation is there that has a God so near to it as the Lord our God, whenever we call on him". What God was saying to the Israelites, when you follow my commandments, my statutes, people are going to want to know about the God you serve. The God who can bless you in such an extraordinary way. The same thing is true for us. You know, when we follow God's wisdom for living as found in the Bible, it's really a win-win situation when you think about it. We get the benefits and God gets the glory.

The ultimate purpose of living well is to glorify God. John Piper said, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. A few years ago, a Missouri physician named Gary Hamlin became what he called a self-professed fool for Christ. On that April fool's day, a few years ago, Gary Hamlin said that he was going to start living in a different way. For the first 40 years of his life, he said he had been living for himself, but now that 40 years had passed, he decided he was going to start living for Christ. And that meant that he was going to start doing some things that seem to be foolish to other people. For example, he was going to invest a large amount of money in building a homeless shelter for troubled teenagers. He said he was going to start donating his services as a physician to a battered women's facility. He said that he was making a plan over the next 10 years to work himself out of a job so that he would no longer work for pay, but he would be able to devote himself as a missionary in Haiti.

What happened as a result of making what many people thought was a foolish decision, Hamlin said as a result of that decision to do just opposite of what people expected me to, materialism has lost its value. Before I went on my first mission trip to Haiti, I carried a lot of fears in my life. A fear of dying, fear of financial hardship. But after a while, the fears begin to dissipate. God was weaning me from the world's attractions. He was showing me his vision for my life, to be a fool for him every day, but realize how very rich I am. You see Gary Hamlin discovered the secret about living well. He realized that living well was more than just about his own immediate satisfaction. It was following and living out God's plan for his life. And because he learned that, he's experiencing satisfaction in this life, but also he'll experience eternal dividends in the next life.

So let me point out something to you. Would Gary Hamlin have been free to discover God's purpose for his life? Would he have been free to live well if he was in so much debt that he could never walk away from his job? Would he be free to live well if he had lost his Christian witness because of infidelity in his marriage relationship? Would he have been free to live well, if he didn't know how to set short-term goals so he'd accomplished his long-term goal of being a full-time missionary? What I'm saying to you is that to live well, to experience God's best in your life, there's some skills for living you have to learn. Nuggets of uncommon wisdom that are found in the book of Proverbs. And over these next 10 weeks, we're going to discover 10 of those success secrets so that you can truly live well. And let me remind you again, when you live well, when you appropriate God's wisdom for every part of your life, it is a win-win situation. You get the benefits, God gets the glory.
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