So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your Name. (Psalm 63:2–4—NKJV)

This psalm is traditionally known as a song sung at the beginning of worship in the early church. It is a psalm forged of lessons learned while David was in the wilderness of Judah. His experiences reduced him (verse 1), sharpened him (2–5), focused him (6–9), and winnowed him (10–11).

God walks all His believers along a similar track the longer they live with Him. The deserts of life sap native strength and produce thirsts of longing after the Lord. The evidences and lessons of God’s lovingkindnesses are the source of David’s meditations, and the conclusions of the loyalty of God are worthy to be told to others as he goes on worshipping his heavenly Father.

Life lessons come in many forms. Some are relearned year after year—I relearn every summer that a root beer float with vanilla ice cream is the closest flavor to heaven. Other lessons can only be learned by passing through life’s varying terrain. For instance, I have learned that thoughts of heaven have a sweeter taste with the passage of time (Revelation 22:20) and that uncertain times require steady steps (Psalm 37:23–24).

When I turned 40 in the Lord, I made a list of Christian life lessons that I had observed over four decades. I wish I had made it a habit to begin this record keeping at regular intervals earlier in my life. Perhaps you will start your list sooner than I. Five years have passed since my first list, and I would like to share some of the latest lessons learned in God’s school for my life.

It took me way too long to learn that my birthday is not really about me, but is to be given away for others; it certainly is more fun that way. Our Lord did say that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Faithful men, whom God brings into my life by His grace, must be treasured, and must be prayed for as much as I pray about the neediness of other men (Philippians 1:8–11).

Real riches are not countable in a ledger of mine alone. Real riches are deliverable to the safe deposit box in heaven. There is such a thing as real money which cannot be devalued in this life, but real wealth in the bank of heaven is where your wealth cannot be taken away (Matthew 6:19–21).

The pursuit, possession, and profession of truth must be more than a distraction of life; it must be your life (Proverbs 23:23). Truth must be your aim in order to surrender to it, for God is truth (John 14:6).

God’s trusty faithfulness must never be questioned or presumed, ignored or sought, augment or discounted. Instead, since God’s faithfulness is assured to me (1 Peter 4:19), my focus must be on the trustiness of my faithfulness to Him.

The sense of entitlement to “do as I please” comes from an allegiance to a lesser god instead of yielding all to the Perfect God. The reason so many “libertines,” liberals, and the left can get away with atrocious moral behavior and freely lie is because the Perfect God is not their cornerstone or their moral pattern. By the same token, the upright may not deviate one iota from moral living without doing severe damage to the testimony of his God (1 John 5:18). We do not do battle on a level playing field.

Finally, live so that your acquaintances have something to say at your funeral about what they learned about God because He let you live. Trust and obey.