Description: We want to organise life in a way that suits us, but obstacles bring us up short. Fulfilled living is daily walking with God beyond our expectations.
The Key to Fulfilled Living
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
There are probably 99 percent of the 3.5 billion of us here in the world that feel that when we come
down to breakfast in the morning. And yet it’s kind of interesting, you know, the words, “And when
I wake up in the morning with my hand down and my eyes and she says, ‘Hi.’ And I stumble to the
breakfast table while the kids are going off to school goodbye, and she reaches out takes my hand,
squeezes it and says, ‘How you feeling hun?’ And I look across at smiling lips and see my morning
sun.” And it’s interesting that probably all of us who listen to that this morning who aren’t
married say, “Ah, that would really be great.” And then probably those of us who are married say,
“Yeah, that sure would be great.”
And probably all of us you know, would love to kind of – we come down in the morning and we kind of
love to receive that tender love and affection that old Tennessee Ernie Ford was singing about. And
we dream of that and we think, “Yeah, that would be great.” And I often wonder how many marriages
have a real hard time and are looked upon as failures by their partners because they don’t seem to
be living up to those ideals that we all have formed in our minds for the marriage. And I think it
would be great but it’s kind of tough on the girl, isn’t it? I mean, that poor soul she has to be
up from four AM getting the old pancakes going, and getting the lipstick on, and looking good, and
practicing holding out her hand and squeezing ours. And it is hard, you know, we guys we’re such
big babies we think, “Yeah, yeah, that’s what we deserve. If she’s a real wife that’s the kind of
thing she should do.”
And it’s even tough you know, on the guy here who does receive that kind of treatment because it’s
very easy for him to kind of just waft out through the door on cloud seven, you know, and into the
car, and onto the freeway and just expect to waltz into the office and there the boss comes to him
on a pink cloud of euphoria, and stretches out his hand and squeezes it and says, “How you feeling
hun?” And when that doesn’t happen, when people don’t treat us the way we think they should treat
us, I don’t need to describe to you the resentment that comes up. I don’t need to describe to you
the hostility that you feel towards them. I don’t need to describe to you the whole critical
backlash that comes out from your heart when somebody doesn’t treat you the way you feel they should
And loved ones, that’s probably the way the greater part of the world lives, it really is. And I
don’t know how many of us here but I would dare to say probably the way the greater number of us
live here. And deep down as we kind of laugh at the thing, and smile, and kind of think, “Yeah,
well it would be great.” Yet deep down a lot of us live our lives looking to other people for the
support, and for the recognition, and for the encouragement, and for the affection that we feel we
need. And that is one way to live life, it really is.
It’s one way to live life. You can live life looking at every relationship, wife, roommate, friend,
looking at every experience, at your job, your home, your vacation, looking at everything that you
can get your hands on and you can look at those people, and those experiences, and those things, and
you can say, “I’m going to get from those the security, and the stability, and the sense of
recognition, and the sense of peace and happiness that I need. I’m going to get those things that I
need from those people,” and you can live your life that way, you really can.
And I would suspect that more of us here this morning do than care to admit. And you can live your
life depending on people. Really, what we’re trying to do you know, is get a good experience in
there. If we could only get a good experience of wholeness in our mind we think we’d be happy. If
we could see everything how it’s supposed to be, if we could get everything organized so that we
feel we have it under control, we feel we would be happy here and so we use our mind to try to get
all the things that would give us that kind of security in there. And it’s the same, you know,
we’re after a good experience in our emotions. We feel if we could only get a sense of oh just
happiness in there, that’s what our aim is and we ought to try to get that happiness through the
experiences that we pass through.
That’s why so often, you know, we’re after a different kind of vacation than last year. Maybe it
will do the trick, maybe it if were a little bit longer than last year we’d find more of the peace
that we needed. And it’s the same with our wills, you know, we want to have a sense of just the
will ruling, and the will being important, and us being significant, or gaining recognition from
other people and we use our will to try and get that from other people. And most of us loved ones,
I think, and you could disagree but I honestly believe that most of us are probably involved in that
kind of sucking life where we’re trying to get these good feelings in here, in what the Bible calls
our soul really, but it’s the psychological part of us, we’re trying to get them from people, and
from situations, and from things. And that is one way to live life. I mean, the greater part of
the world is living that way.
There is another way to live life, the best presents that you have ever received have come from
someone that you’ve never seen. Now those fingers are incredible, those fingers that you have on
both hands are incredible creations. When you think of all the things that those fingers are able
to do, and those were given to you free. Now you couldn’t buy fingers like that. It doesn’t matter
how much money you give, you couldn’t buy fingers like that. The best that we can do when you lose
your fingers is some kind of mechanical device that you know is hideously clumsily, and very, very
slow and there’s no sense of touch in it.
And that skin there, that’s the best self-sealing system that you could buy. In fact, you can’t buy
one like it. When it begins to leak it closes up again. The red stuff starts to come out, the old
body self-seals. Now that was given to you, you couldn’t buy that kind of thing. But then what
about all the little things that you’ve experienced that nobody else in this auditorium has? What
about the corny little butterfly, or the corny little insect, or the corny little dog that you
played with and you can remember that day that you played with it as a child and nobody else just
had the fun that you had out of that little thing. What about the sunset that you’ve looked at and
given your feeling inside that nothing else could give you?
Now loved ones, those are all presents to you from somebody who really loves you. From the Creator
who made you, he gave you those presents because he’s trying to say to you, “I am your Father. Just
as I was Jesus’ Father I am your Father. I want you to love me as your Father, and I want you to
get to know me. That’s why I gave you the presents. Not so you could worship the creation, or the
creature instead of the Creator, but so that you’d begin to see that I love you and that you’d see
that I am what you need. You don’t need the security, and the stability, and the peace, and the
sense of recognition and significance that my friendship gives you. You need me, myself. And when
you’re trying to take the qualities of my friendship and get them from other people, and things, and
experiences, you’re getting only the superficial shallow meaninglessness of me. What you really
need is me. That’s why I made you, so that you could be my friend, so that I could love you and you
could come to love me.” And that’s what Jesus says loved ones.
Jesus explained that that was exactly the situation. That most of us are involved in trying to get
from people, and experiences, and things security, stability, peace, happiness, sense of
recognition, sense of appreciation, sense of significance, from everything around us here in this
world and we’ll never get enough because what we really need is God himself who is our Father. We
really need to have a living personal relationship with him. And so loved ones, you do live one of
the two ways, you know. And I think a lot of you here this morning are quite clear about that. I
think a lot of you see, “Well yeah, I know that. I know that I’m trying to get from people the
reputation and the sense of worth that I’ll only have if I know the person who made me. I know
that. I know that I can’t keep wandering around this world of his avoiding him. I know that that’s
dumb. I know that he has some purpose in making me and it certainly wasn’t so that I would be
running away from him for years. I know that.
I know that I shouldn’t depend on others for my recognition or for my sense of worth. I know that I
shouldn’t depend on my friends and my peers for my sense of value. I know that, but there’s
something inside me that cannot depend on God. I don’t know what it is. I come to times when I
know I do something and I do it well, and I try to look up to God and I say, ‘Father, I know that
your approval alone matters in this.’ But everybody comes up to me and says what a good job I did
and before I know it my whole personality is sucking up all that praise that I’m getting from them.
And indeed it’s not long before I resent those who are not praising me.” And so I think many of us
here this morning, you know, would say, “Yeah, I agree I know that’s the way I should live but
there’s something in my personality here that will not work that way.”
In other words loved ones, you remember we shared it before, there’s something in us that should
receive all this from God, you know. We should receive all this security, all this happiness, all
this significance from our friendship with the Father. Really, it’s a deeper thing than friendship
because he calls us sons and daughters. But we’re meant to receive that really from God who made us
and yet many of us who have tried to operate that way find that our personality has got into such a
rut that it seems to operate only in one direction. And loved ones, that’s what you’re up against,
you know, when you have those moments.
You know you have them. At home when the loved ones doesn’t do what you think she should do, supper
isn’t on time. Or, he doesn’t do what you think he should do, he doesn’t show enough interest in
you, doesn’t show enough concern about the home or the family. Or, with roommates you know, they
just don’t take care of the place the way we take care of it. Now loved ones, at that moment we all
know that we shouldn’t depend on them to do everything to make us feel good. Apart from anything
else it makes our own security a very tentative thing utterly dependent on them. They can destroy
us in a moment by just not doing something we want them to do.
We know that but at that moment when you know you should love them whatever, don’t you find your
whole personality seems to work the other way. You want it to work from God down into you so that
you can love them but somehow it works back that way. You’ve got so used to taking from them to
taking from experiences, isn’t that true. When you have a bad day you know – God says, “Greet it as
pure joy when you enter into various trials.” You know what you feel like after a bad day. “How
was the day?” “Well, it was okay.” You know, boy no joy, you don’t greet it with joy, you’re just
worn out and it’s because your personality is used to depending on experiences to make it happy.
It’s used to depending on what people think of it to make it feel good. It’s used to depending on
how many things it receives to make it feel secure.
Now loved ones, everybody down through history has tried to change that personality. Including
Hitler – they were after that with the SS troops, with the ideal of the Arian man, with the ideal of
the Chinese society they were trying to change. Mohammad with the legalism was trying to change it.
All the great religious leaders have been trying to change that intractable, perverted, twisted
personality. All the psychologists with their theories, their self-help theories have been trying
to change it and no one has really succeeded.
Now loved ones, God alone has done something about that. God alone has taken that carnal nature of
yours, that’s what it is a carnal nature. A nature that has an attitude that depends on people
outside and around, and situations around for its happiness. God alone has taken that carnal nature
of yours, that twisted, perverted personality that insists on depending on people for your
reputation rather than God, on people for your sense of worth rather than God. He has taken that
and destroyed it in Jesus on Calvary.
That’s really what that verse means, you know. Romans 6:6 reads, “Our old self, that old self that
used to depend on people, that used to depend on things, that used to depend on experiences, that
has been crucified with Christ that we may no longer be enslaved to sin.” Now that’s what God did
on Calvary loved ones and that has been destroyed there and it’s finished with and if you are ready
to believe that and to accept it and then to begin to turn to God after the death, after dying with
Jesus to other people and their love of you, to other things and their effect on you, to other
experiences and their effect on you, after joining Jesus on the cross and saying with him, “Lord, it
doesn’t matter what these Roman soldiers are doing to me. I don’t care what the Jews think of me. I
don’t care if my own mother really is rejecting me. Lord, it is your approval that counts.”
After joining with him in his death to that, you’ll find that God gives you victory over that
selfish personality of yours and if you turn to God himself, you’ll begin to come into a new birth
experiences where you’ll begin to regard him as your dearest and closest friend and the person who
is closest and dearest to you and he’ll begin to flood into you a sense of his love and a sense of
his life, and there’ll be a Spirit of his will come into you loved ones. A different Spirit, just
a different Spirit will come into you, a Holy Spirit of his own life and you’ll begin to feel like
you’re a new person completely. Now that’s what it is to be born again, you see. It’s to have that
old twisted personality that depends on people, and things, and experiences for the security,
significance, and happiness that it needs, it’s to have that destroyed with Jesus. Absolutely
turned around and reversed and then begin to receive from God.
Now loved ones, just two very brief comments to some of you here who may want to do something about
this, because I think there are some of you who say, “Well, I do believe that. I’ve listened to it
for weeks and I do believe this is the way to go and I do want to change my life.” Loved ones, the
first step is joining Jesus in death to other people, and experiences, and things as the source of
your security, and your happiness, and your sense of significance. That’s the first step.
Now loved ones, that’s what the Bible calls repentance. It’s a Greek word “metanoia”,
“meta” is to turn and “noia” is mind. You’ve heard of [inaudible 19:24] and that kind of word in
psychology. “Metanoia” is changing your mind, that’s what repentance means. It means, “No longer
am I going to depend on other people, and other situations, and other things for my security, my
significance, and my happiness. I’m going to depend on you Lord.”
Now loved ones, that’s the first step and you can take that step. If it weren’t that your old self
was crucified with Christ you could never get rid of that twisted, practical, atheism that is built
into your personality, because it is, it’s a built in atheism, you know. It’s a built in practical
atheism that gets from the world what you should be getting from God. Now, you couldn’t change that
yourself. By all the autosuggestion in the world you couldn’t do it. But because God has destroyed
it in Jesus you are able to accept that and say, “Yes, I want that Lord,” and then the power of that
change that took place on Calvary works in your own life. Now the first step is to take that, make
Now loved ones, I’d encourage you to make it complete. Some of you have got into trouble because
you’ve continued to sip poison. That’s right, there are loved ones here who think of themselves as
Christians and they’re still sipping poison. Here’s what I mean, they still want the approval of
their peers, or they’re still all cast down if somebody doesn’t show the right kind of love to them,
or they’re all depressed if somebody is harsh or critical to them. Now loved ones, don’t you see
that means you’re – it’s as if you’re on the cross with Jesus and you’re saying, “But please
Centurion, please say something good about me. Say something good about me. Please, you who spat on
my Savior here, please praise me. I can’t be without your praise. I know my God loves me, approves
of me, but I want your praise.”
Loved ones, that’s what you’re doing and the new birth won’t be real if you continue to sip poison.
So, you know, today decide, “Father, you’re the only one that counts. All these loved ones in this
auditorium are going to be dead in 50 or 60 years.” Loved ones, even if they weren’t what does it
matter what they think of you? And say to God, “Lord, it’s your approval alone that counts. Lord
Jesus, I want to die to this sucking selfish personality that I have that is driving my wife crazy,
driving my friends crazy, driving everybody crazy because I can never get enough attention from
everybody. I can never get enough happiness from all the things that I’m doing. Lord, I’m willing
to die to that.” And loved ones, take a stand on that, you know.
Now you know the trouble spots in your own life. Different ones of you here have different
problems. Some of us guys, you know, we’re all caught up with our wives think we’re something
worthwhile and we’re great providers. Some of the others of us have pride in our jobs, you know,
and we’re all offended if somebody doesn’t approve of us. Some of you sisters, you’re in the same
kind of situation, you depend on what other people think of you for your happiness. Loved ones,
this morning take your place with Jesus on the cross, involve yourself in real repentance and say,
“Lord God, I’m finished with that life.” Now that’s the first step loved ones.
Now the second step is getting to know your own Maker. Getting to know your Maker. A lot of people
who think they’re Christians here this morning think that you receive the Holy Spirit from God by
some kind of autosuggestion. They do. They think, “Oh, God said he would give me the Holy Spirit
if I asked him. Okay, I’ll ask him, I ask you to give me the Holy Spirit. No? Did I ask him right?
Okay, I’ll ask him again. Okay, give me the Holy Spirit. Now I’ve asked him and he hasn’t give me
him. Yes he has, I have to take it by faith. Okay, take it by faith.”
Now loved ones, that’s dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. It’s not that kind of game. It’s not that kind of
game. I’m more like my wife now after 15 years of marriage than I was when I first married here.
She’s more like me. Any husband and wife after they’ve travelled together a little while rub off on
each other in some ways. That’s one of the beauties of marriage. Now, that’s how you allow the
spirit of God to begin to come into your own life, through companionship with God.
In other words, the first step this morning is, “Lord, I’m willing to turn from other people and
things for all those qualities that you alone can give me and that you alone know the meaning of.”
And the second step is, “Lord, I’m going to start believing you. God, you’ve seemed to me very far
off and distant. I’ve never actually spoken to you before but God I’m going to believe that you
are, that’s what the Bible says, ‘Anybody who comes to God must believe that he is a reward to them
that diligently seek after him.’” Say to God, “God, I’m going to believe that you’re there and I’m
going to start talking to you. Now, I don’t know how you talk back to me. I don’t care whether you
do it verbally, or through my thoughts, but Lord I’m going to step out on faith here. I’m going to
start treating you for real.” And do that, take that first step.
And then loved ones, tomorrow begin to get to know God, your God. This book here was written by men
who were moved by the Holy Spirit. That’s the Spirit that is going to come into your life and give
you the power of dynamite to live differently. This book was written by the Holy Spirit. Now as
you read this book, the Bible each day, the Holy Spirit of God is able to come through to you. Now
honestly it is a miraculous book loved ones. I can’t understand it fully myself but somehow as you
read about God in this book, the Holy Spirit through this book is able to make Him real to you.
Now that’s what I suggest you do, you know. I’m thinking loved ones, you who are old Christians,
and I hope you’re not really old Christians, but you who have been Christians, you have your own
funny little ways of doing this but I want to speak to those of you, those loved ones here who are
like me who never went to a Billy Graham crusade, who don’t quite know how to start this kind of
life. I’m talking to you loved ones, and I’d say the first step is ‘will’ this morning to stop
looking to people, and experiences, and situations for your security, significance, and happiness.
And then turn to God in faith.
Just inside you know, when we pray this morning – just close your eyes and just even mouth with your
lips, “God, I hardly even know you but I want to start and I want all this old personality that has
substituted everybody else for you, I want that destroyed and I accept that you’ve destroyed it and
now I want to get to know you.” Then tomorrow morning loved ones, begin a daily walk with God. And
if I were you, I’d take something like the gospel of John here – either Matthew, Mark, Luke, or
John, but John maybe is a good one and read maybe a chapter. You know, get up a half an hour
earlier than you normally do. Get up half an hour earlier and read a chapter of John and then just
think about it and think, “Is God really like that? What does this show me about God? What kind of
person does this seem to say he is?”
Then close your eyes and for about 10 minutes, you know, if you can take 10 minutes for about 10
minutes just start speaking to God as if he’s right there in the room with you. That’s what faith
is, it’s believing that God is what he says he is. And loved ones, you may say, “Ah, look that’s
kind of mumbo jumbo stuff. That’s silly.” But loved ones, God sees you doing it. God sees you
being real. He sees you diligently seeking after him and he will reward those who diligently seek
after him so do it, you know. And if you say, “Well, what do I do?” Well, I’d remember a verse
that you read in John and I’d repeat the verse once or twice, and then I would thank God for what he
has done for you in Jesus, and then I’d thank him for the other things in your life, and then spend
at least two or three minutes just enjoying the thought that he’s your Father. Just enjoying the
thought that the Creator of the universe is your Father and just looking at him just as you would
with somebody you love. And that gives Him a chance to speak through your thoughts back to you.
But loved ones, that’s what it means to be born of God. Now you know, there are lots of loved ones
here who say they’re Christians and they have no daily living relationship with God at all. Really.
They’ve given up Bible study and prayer long ago and they don’t really practice it, and they still
claim, you know, they’re Christians. Well, the life has almost squeezed right out of them. Loved
ones, you can’t be alive to God unless you have a living daily relationship with him and so that’s
what I wanted to stress today, you know, that it’s not just making a decision this morning that
you’re going to go this way but it’s changing your way of life daily and beginning to allow this
dear person to become your primary friend.
Now, I could help you in a few other ways loved ones. Some of you will find that it’s helpful to
have some – we call them Bible study guides, Bible study books that help to explain the Bible to
you. Though, I’d remind you, don’t get wrapped up in just an academic study. If you keep looking
to God and saying, “Lord, this is your word will you explain it to me?” Actually, you’ll get a lot
more out of it if you do treat it like that. But loved ones, there are some and I’ll just mention
two that I think are good. Search the Scriptures is really good for helping you if you’re just
beginning to read the Bible for the first time. Search the Scriptures and it covers the Bible in
three years. It covers maybe about 15 verses a day and has maybe about three questions on those
verses and they’re kind of stimulating questions, you know and they do motivate you to think about
the thing. And then there is another book that I use in the evening because it just has one verse
and then has an explanation of the verse and it’s called My Utmost for his Highest. And both those
books are in the bookstore and you can get them after the service. And then those of you who are
just beginning to learn how to pray, you know, and just hardly know how to start I would recommend
that book, it’s one of the simplest, and just one of the best, How to Pray by Torrey.
Now loved ones, that’s really the way to begin to turn your life around and it does involve a daily
commitment, you know, of half an hour preferably in the morning before you go out to work. And then
it involves a definite negative attitude towards getting anything more from people, you know. It’s
an attitude that says, “Lord, I’m willing to stop sucking from people, and experiences, and things
all my security, and significance, and happiness.”
Now loved ones, here’s the beauty of it, if you begin this you’ll find that other people become
dearer to you. You’ll find at last that you’re on the offering end of relationships instead of the
demand end. You’ll find that your marriage breaks into just a new richer experience. You’ll find
that your roommate relationships, your business relationships break into a new realm completely
where suddenly you find that these are rich dear people that you’re living with. Do you know why
this is? Because you’re no longer expecting from them superhuman things. You’re no longer looking
to them for what you should get from God who made you and you’re beginning to give to them. And
then some morning it will be beautiful, you’ll come down to the kitchen and you’ll be the one and
you will stretch out your hand and you’ll say it to the other person and that’s the beauty of it.
When you get a world filled with that, then that is a world that is like heaven and that’s God’s
will for your life and for mine. So, I’d encourage you, you know, to step into it this morning.
Let us pray.
Dear Father, I would pray for my brothers and sisters here who have never taken a step in becoming
related to you as a son or a daughter and yet who believe in you and believe all the things they
have heard about your Son Jesus and about you Lord Jesus being their Savior. Father, I’d pray for
them now that you’d make it clear to them the two steps to take, the one step onto that dear cross
with Jesus – dying to people, and experiences, and things for our security, our significance, and
our happiness. No longer looking for outside people and outside things for what we are to receive
from you alone.
And Lord, I’d pray that each loved one here, especially those who have been Christians and have been
sipping the poison and have wondered whether their life still is abundant, who have still been
depending on what others think of them, or how others treat them for their happiness. Lord, I’d ask
you to give them grace to take a strong stand this morning and accept what you did to us all on
Calvary, you destroyed us and destroyed our old selfish sucking personalities on Calvary. Thank you
Lord. Then I trust you to enable each loved one to take the second step of turning to you now Lord,
and speaking to you and telling you that we’re going to look upon you as our Father from this day
And then Father, I pray for each one tomorrow morning that we get up half an hour early and read a
piece of your word and speak to you for five or 10 minutes so that as we go to the office and as we
go to the classrooms tomorrow, we will go filled with peace and a sense of identity to give love to
others and no longer take from them. We ask this in Jesus’ name – Amen.