The LORD Is My Light

Psalm 27

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?

When evil people come to devour me,
    when my enemies and foes attack me,
    they will stumble and fall.

Though a mighty army surrounds me,
    my heart will not be afraid.

Even if I am attacked,
    I will remain confident.

The one thing I ask of the Lord—
    the thing I seek most—

is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.

For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
    he will hide me in his sanctuary.
    He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

Then I will hold my head high
    above my enemies who surround me.

At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
    singing and praising the Lord with music.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
    Be merciful and answer me!

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Do not turn your back on me.
    Do not reject your servant in anger.
    You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
    O God of my salvation!

10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
    the Lord will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
    Lead me along the right path,
    for my enemies are waiting for me.

12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
    For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
    with every breath they threaten me with violence.

13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

INTRODUCTION

For some reason, I found it difficult to come up with a suitable outline. I like alteration when it fits but I don’t like to force the issue. The Holman commentary has an outline:

[1] David’s Confidence

[2] David’s Commitment

[3] David’s Cry

[4] David’s Courage

I want to begin with…

I. DAVID’S AFFIRMATION OF FAITH

The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?

This is the first time that LIGHT is used as a metaphor for the LORD. I am highly impressed with David’s keen theology–Wow, what a choice of words. Light is a symbol for truth, goodness, life, power, purity and in a sense security. Having an enemy lurking about is one thing but having them concealed in darkness is another. Light enabled us to track the movement of our enemies. Light is the perfect metaphor for the LORD who said during the incarnation, “I AM the light of the world.” Light cannot be contaminated. You can contaminate water, air and everything else except light. Light can touch impurity but impurity cannot touch light. We know there is energy or power in the sun and it is the life source of our solar system. So Jesus is all these things and more: He is LIFE, TRUTH, POWER, PURITY and GOODNESS. Jesus is our LIGHT and our SALVATION.

David’s confidence is not in himself, not in his gifts or his past success: his confidence is in the LORD and this is why he has courage in the face of his foes.

Was David a superman, was he above fear? Not at all: David battled fear constantly just like you and I. I heard a black preacher say this past week that life is a constant battle between FAITH and FEAR. Of course, the greater our faith, the less our fear. Jesus upbraided the disciples for their fear more than any other thing. Why? Because, man by nature is insecure and our biggest fear is the fear of trusting God.

What David is saying is: When are absolute faith is in the LORD, there is no reason to fear. Our future is firmly in the LORD’s hand. If you believe in His goodness and His incredible love for you, why should you fear? What can man do to you? He can kill the body but he can’t touch the soul. The ancient martyrs saw death as a release, an escape hatch to a better world.

Some Muslims stopped a missionary in North Africa and threatened to kill him if he continued to preach and distribute bibles. They put the gun to his head but he dared them to pull the trigger. He told them, “You can’t kill me, I’m already dead.” There is not stopping a man with that kind of faith. When I heard the story, I prayed “LORD, give me that kind of faith.”

II. DAVID’S FOES

When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.

One of the things that has amazed me over the years is the number of professing Christian who think it is awful to have enemies. They are under the illusion that if we are peace loving and good [Politically correct] we can live without enemies. This is bologna! No one was better than Jesus and he had all kinds of enemies. He did not die of old age, he was killed by people who hated Him.

David had foes, I have foes and you have foes. To be honest, people are not my greatest concern; there are enemies that are much closer like PRIDE, LUST and GREED. These are the things that destroy men.

III. DAVID’S PASSION

The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.

For He will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high Rock. {Jesus}
Then I will hold my head high  above my enemies who surround me. At His sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,  singing and praising the Lord with music.

I don’t think there is any question: David’s passion was WORSHIP. He loved the LORD’s sanctuary; he loved corporate worship, he loved the manifestation of God’s glory and presence that is so often associated with the sanctuary. He love praise and music. David was not a perfect man but he was a passionate man and the thing he was most passionate about was worship–being in the presence of the LORD and His people.

IV. DAVID’S PRAYER

Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on meDo not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
    Lead me along the right path,
    for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
    For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
    with every breath they threaten me with violence.

You can see David’s list: his petitions are obvious…

  • Hear my prayer
  • Do not turn your back on me
  • Do not abandon me
  • Teach me how to live
  • Lead me in the right path
  • Don’t let me fall into the hands of the enemy

V. DAVID’S ENCOURAGEMENT

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

What do we do with our enemies [problems] surround us?

[1] Remain CONFIDENT…don’t lose your courage… the enemy will pounce on weakness.

[2] WAIT patiently for the LORD…don’t get in a hurry, don’t panic

[3] Be BRAVE…trust the LORD to see you through…never give in to fear

I’m not going to pretend that leading a church is the most difficult job in the world but it is challenging. I would think that Trump’s position is many times more difficult BUT you cannot show fear and lead a church: you can’t show fear and lead anyone. You better know who you can trust and who you cannot and you never confess to the devil.

The Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12, NLT

12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

Jesus is nearing the end of this great Sermon and in verse 12 we have a capstone, a summary of all that has been said previously. Remember the Scribe who tried to entrap Jesus with a question about the law…He ask Jesus which law was most important and this is what Jesus said…

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37-40]

Then Paul tells us in Galatians …The whole law is fulfilled in one wordin the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” [Galatians 5:14]

Matthew 7:12 is known as the GOLDEN RULE and it sums us the teaching of Jesus. It is the most universally quoted statement that Jesus made. Like all of Jesus teachings, it was revolutionary, unheard of until Jesus teaches it here on the mount.

The Rabbis had a SILVER RULE which sounds similar but is very different. The SILVER RULE simply stated says: “Do do anything to anyone else that you would not want done to you.” Epictetus [ep-pi-tet-us]the Greek philosopher used the rule in fighting slavery. “Would you like to be another man’s slave? Then do not enslave another man.”

The Silver Rule is the basic law that governs all civilized men: Don’t murder me and I will not murder you. Another way of putting it is “You stay in your lane and I will stay in mine”. Driving would be impossible if we didn’t follow this law. We even practice this law in the social context: “You mind your business and I will mind mine.”

It is very civilized but it is not CHRISTIAN or Christ like.

The SILVER RULE is negative: we keep the rule by doing nothing. Don’t steal from your neighbor, don’t tell lies on your neighbor, don’t murder your neighbor, etc. The SILVER RULE is passive by nature. You might say it is a “do nothing” religion. You can actually keep the rule by doing absolutely nothing.

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A DO NOTHING RELIGION

It is very unfortunate that we have made it a DO NOTHING religion but this is a gross distortion of true Christianity. The GOLDEN RULE is not passive or negative. Jesus said, “Do to others what you would have them do for you.”

Our love for God should take an active form: we must express our love for God passionately in word and deed and we must love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. To love your neighbor is to do more than refusing to bring harm upon him.

Let me illustrate and then go to a story that will illustrated this point. If I am driving down the road and there is a pedestrian walking down the road, it is one thing for me to avoid running over him which is in keeping with the SILVER RULE but it is another for me to stop and give him a ride. The law of the state of Alabama regulates my speed or my hitting a pedestrian but there is no law that says I have to stop and help the person, even if it is obvious that they need help.

Do you see what Jesus is saying? He doesn’t want us to be governed by the law of survival but by love for those in need. We can do what is legal and yet fail to do what is right.

A perfect illustration is found in Luke 10 [Good Samaritan]. The Priest and the Levite did not do anything to break the law. What they did was perfectly legal. Jesus does not want our lives to be governed by the legal but by love. They should have stopped and helped the hurting man but they did nothing.

Christ and Christianity are governed by love. Love for God that expresses itself in love for man. To follow Christ is to become a servant to others.

I’m not much of a shopper: I’m a little too impatient and I can never find what I am looking for…I love it when a store clerk walks up to me and says, “Could I help you sir?”

This is the question that you and I need to ask each day: What can I do today to help someone else?

CONCLUSION

Some years ago a movie came out about a modern day man who was called upon to build an ark like the one Noah built. The one thing I remember from the movie was the acronym ARK, it stood for ACT of RANDOM KINDNESS.

I was already practicing what I had labeled in my daily planner as an AOK [Act of Kindness] and to be honest, I don’t like the word “random” so I changed it to REDEMPTIVE. Act of Redemptive Kindness; make it your goal to do one every day. Ask God to provide the opt for you to help someone.

Last Thursday Bill and Carol carried June and I out to eat and as we were going into the restaurant, a group of ladies were coming out so I held the door for them. The older one, the mother I think, smiled and said thank you. I said, “You are welcome, that is my act of kindness for the day.”

Some of you are probably thinking: “That is such a small thing, why did you even mention it?” Because God loves small acts of kindness.

I had a good friend who has gone on to be with Jesus but long before his departure, he lost a son basically because the boy didn’t get his medicine at the right time [diabetic]. The boys daddy had been so kind to my family that I felt indebted to him. It would take me hours to recount the many acts of kindness done for men and my family by this hurting family inside. As I pulled up to the church building where his COLS was being conducted and I looked at this huge edifice which was impressive is size and the thought crossed my mind...WILL I EVER PASTOR A BIG CHURCH THAT PAYS A BILL SALARY SO I CAN DRIVE A BIG CAR AND BE A BIG SHOT? The LORD, who knows our thoughts, interrupted my vain train of thought and I have never forgotten what He said to me that day…

JACK, ONE ACT OF KINDNESS MEANS MORE TO ME THAN BRICKS AND MORTAR: ONE ACT OF KINDNESS MEANS MORE TO ME THAN WORLDLY SUCCESS OR FAME. Jack, your eyes are focused on the wrong thing.

The LORD’s conversation with me that day changed my life and today I want to challenge you to ONE ACT OF KINDNESS EACH DAY.

Integrity

Psalm 26

A psalm of David.

Declare me innocent, O Lord,
    for I have acted with integrity;
    I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.

2 Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
    Test my motives and my heart.

For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
    and I have lived according to your truth.

I do not spend time with liars
    or go along with hypocrites.

5 I hate the gatherings of those who do evil,
    and I refuse to join in with the wicked.

I wash my hands to declare my innocence.
    I come to your altar, O Lord,

7 singing a song of thanksgiving
    and telling of all your wonders.

I love your sanctuary, Lord,
    the place where your glorious presence dwells.

Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners.
    Don’t condemn me along with murderers.

10 Their hands are dirty with evil schemes,
    and they constantly take bribes.

11 But I am not like that; I live with integrity.
    So redeem me and show me mercy.

12 Now I stand on solid ground,
    and I will publicly praise the Lord.

INTRODUCTION

This is a Psalm of David written during one of his life’s crisis, probably the rebellion of Absalom. It would be a mistake to think that Absalom pulled off his coop without a lot of help and I remind you that he had the support of the Elders {Israel’s congress}. David was not a politician. He was not good at kissing babies or rears or even kissing up. Over the years he had acquired a lot of enemies and many of them were not foreigners, they were folks who went to church with him.

It would also be a mistake to assume that David is implying that he is without sin or totally innocent. It takes some thorough study to see beneath the surface: David is declaring his innocence about the accusations these people are bringing against him. He is not saying that he has never sinned or that he does not sin. NO MAN IS SINLESS, other than Jesus of course. What is saying is that HIS INTEGRITY IS IN TACT and if it is not, he desperately wants God to show him what is wrong.

The word ‘integrity’ is used twice in the Psalm: verse 1 and then verse 11. The Hebrew word is ‘tome’ and it means complete. It is the word used to describe Job. It is a term that comes from the carpenter’s shop, it means to be well turned, like on a lathe. It means that there are not cracks or checks in the wood but that the wood is ONE SOLID PIECE.

There are areas in David’s life where He is rock solid and where he is an example we can follow.

I. THE FIRST IS DAVID’S FAITH

I’ll be the first to admit, David was no saint. He had a violent temper, he killed men that he didn’t have to kill. He shed too much blood. He was also a lust hound: he had too many wives and too many affairs. We are all aware of his deceit in the matter of Uriah the Hittite which is a little sickening. It was no doubt, David’s lowest moment but we have all had low moments.

The one thing we all have to admit about David was his incredible faith that he had since childhood. The story of Goliath illustrates this incredible faith. David trusted God with his very life. He put his life directly into God’s hands and there is no question: he was envied for his FAITH.

Look again at verses 1-3…

  I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2 Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
    Test my motives and my heart.

For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
    and I have lived according to your truth.

The word wavering means steadfast, sure, unfaltering, steady, not tottering or leaning or weak. David had an incredibly STRONG FAITH, for above average. David’s faith was not shaky.

David’s incredible faith was based on GOD’S FAITHFULNESS. The NLT reads…I have lived according to Your truth. The REB reads…I live by your faithfulness. David’s faith was strong because it was based on God’s TRUTH and FAITHFULNESS. {Remember the battle with Goliath: David recalled God’s faithfulness in the past: he helped me slay the lion and the bear…God delivered me from them and He will deliver me from you [Goliath].}

II. DAVID’S UNCOMPROMISING OPPOSITION TO EVIL

Look at verse 4-5…

I do not spend time with liars
    or go along with hypocrites.

5 I hate the gatherings of those who do evil,
    and I refuse to join in with the wicked.

As I stated earlier, David was not a politician. He was the Trump of his day. David was above the bribe. Not only did he refuse to join the wicked: He opposed them. David dislike liars and hypocrites…people who did not say what they meant but used duplicity to get their way.

Matter of fact, Steven J. Lawson says in the Holman Commentary [and this was written before Trump]…“False charges were calling into question David’s ability to lead the nation. They were even calling into question his fitness to enter the sanctuary in worship. These men were not only seeking his abdication, they were seeking his death. Their goal was to destroy David and bring him down.” History does repeat itself. Trump’s enemies are doing the same thing David’s enemies were doing, slandering, lying and all the while pretending to be something they are not.

David refused to take part in their wickedness and they hated him for it.

III. DAVID’S WORSHIP

Warts and all, David was an exceptional person and when it comes to worship and his ability to praise God, we all take a back seat. David worshiped in the TENT, the one he build to house the ARK OF THE COVENANT. The old Tent that Moses made was at Shiloh but the Israelites lost the ARK to the Philistines in battle and David is the one who brought the Ark to Jerusalem. Like Moses, David loved going to the tent, the place of worship. David organized the Levites into teams and he had Levites and Priest on duty at all times. You could worship day or night, 24/7. David didn’t wait until Wednesday night or Sunday morning. He went to church whenever he wanted to.

He loved corporate worship and he was totally uninhibited. He sang praises to God with choir and even dance before the LORD. There is no question, he played instruments in worship. The man loved worship.

I wash my hands to declare my innocence.
    I come to your altar, O Lord,

7 singing a song of thanksgiving
    and telling of all your wonders.

I love your sanctuary, Lord,
    the place where your glorious presence dwells.

So David was even hated for His worship. There have always been tares among the wheat, goats among the sheep. Jesus told us that He will sort them out when he returns but remember this, David enemies were worshiping with him inside the tent.

Verse 8 is prophetic… I love your sanctuary, Lord, the place where your glorious presence dwells. Jesus became God’s sanctuary where God’s glory dwelt. In other words, DAVID LOVED JESUS.

ONE OTHER THINGS PUTS DAVID ON SOLID GROUND

IV. DAVID’S PRAYER LIFE

You can find many faults with David, but you cannot separate his extraordinary success from his faith and prayer life. David never lost a battle but he never entered into a battle without praying for God’s will and wisdom.

Verse 9-11 is David’s Prayer…

Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners.
    Don’t condemn me along with murderers.

10 Their hands are dirty with evil schemes,
    and they constantly take bribes.

11 But I am not like that; I live with integrity.
    So redeem me and show me mercy.

David makes three petitions:

[1] Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners.

[2] Don’t condemn me along with murderers.

[3] Redeem me and show me mercy [11b]

DAVID’S CONCLUSION

Now I stand on solid ground, and I will publicly praise the Lord. David integrity gave him solid footing to stand and praise the God of heaven in public. How many have that kind of courage and integrity today.

Paul Finebaum is sports writer turned TV/Radio host. I would like to say I admire him but really I don’t. Ten years ago, he openly made fun of Tim Tebow and Mark Richt: both outstanding Christians who were unashamed of their faith in a culture which depreciates faith in Christ. I do not know what happened between Tebow and Finebaum but Finebaum changed his attitude. Now he admires Tebow and Richt. I think Tim overwhelmed Finebaum with love and kindness. David was a Tebow type personality: he was not ashamed of his love for Jesus. I have one word to say about that: HALLELUJAH!

People Are Crazy

Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Man

26 So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. 27 As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town.

28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.

30 Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. 31 The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit.

32 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs.

So Jesus gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. 35 People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 36 Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.

So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. 38 The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, 39 “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.

INTRODUCTION

Several years ago, Billy Currington came out with a country song that I was never fond of but my daughter listened to it and my innocent granddaughter knew the thing by heart. One night she got down by her bed and prayed…GOD IS GREAT, BEER IS GOOD AND PEOPLE ARE CRAZY. That is the title of Currington’s song. I realized immediately it would make a good sermon title for this passage. EXCEPT: I made an editorial change: GOD IS GREAT, JESUS IS GOOD AND PEOPLE ARE CRAZY.

Think about the setting of this story: Jesus and His disciples are coming in to the beach on the Eastern shore of the sea of Galilee. They are landing on a strip of beach that is Gentile territory. Two wild maniacs come running toward Jesus and they are buck naked. Not only did they not wear clothes, they sleep in tombs, that is when they were not hollowing and screaming. They were the local terrorist, everyone was scared of them. No one could control them. Chains would not even restrain them. The approach Jesus screaming…“Jesus, Son of the most high God, why have You come to torment us?”

You say, your right, these two guys are crazy: no, actually, they are not the crazy folks in this story–they are demon possessed and that is a problem but they are not crazy.

They know who Jesus is…

They know about Judgment and torment, the pit, hell…

They even have enough sense to pray

NO, they are not the crazy folks I am referring to…

I am referring to the Gerasenes, the owners of the swine and the folks that asks Jesus to leave…and there is documented proof of their insanity.

I. FIRST OF ALL: THEY ARE CRAZY FOR BELIEVING IN HUMANISTIC SOLUTIONS

The two demoniacs were a menace to the community. They terrorized the entire neighborhood. The answer was to restrain, to chain them, to enslave them but though they seems logical to man, it doesn’t fix anything. These wild men simply broke the chains. Adrian Rogers once said; Sin deformed us, education informs us, prisons reform us, the world conforms us but ONLY JESUS TRANSFORMS US.

JESUS DID IN LEST THAN AN HOUR WHAT THIS WHOLE COMMUNITY HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO DO IN A LIFE TIME.

We humans think we are pretty smart and the solution to everything is more money or more education. We think money and education will fix everything. Money is not working in education or drugs. We are losing ground because we throw money at every problem.

II. WE ARE CRAZY FOR PUTTING STOCK IN THE MATERIAL RATHER THAN THE SPIRITUAL: FOR VALUING PROPERTY OVER PEOPLE.

Wiersbe said, “We live in a THINGDOM, not a KINGDOM.” When will it sink in: what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?

JESUS transforms a man’s life: He tames a wild and dangerous man. A man that lived like a beast. In no time, Jesus has him dressed and carrying on a normal conversation. What is it about this transformation that does not impress you? WOW! Jesus not only saves the men from destructive behavior, He makes the community a better place to live and yet these Gentile brothers of our are more concerned about the price of pork than they are the soul of a man.

You may think Greed is not a problem in your church; GREED IS A PROBLEM IN EVERY CHURCH.

People are crazy…They love money more than Jesus, just like they love entertainment more than Jesus and their property more than Jesus.

III. ONE LAST REASON WHY I SAY PEOPLE ARE CRAZY: THEY SEND JESUS AWAY!

Jesus and what He did [His power] made them afraid. There is nothing wrong with fear as long as it is awe of His power but this was a superstitious and silly fear.

This fear may have been linked to their lack of understanding…How did Jesus do this?

Perhaps they were afraid of change…

Maybe they were afraid of losing control…

The only thing I know for sure is IT IS CRAZY TO REJECT JESUS.

The Law of Prayer

Ask, Seek, Knock

Ask and it will be given to youseek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!

INTRODUCTION

Practically all modern commentators believe this tiny passage on prayer is linked to verses 1-5. When and how are we to judge others and to whom do we correct? These are some of life’s most difficult questions and we need God’s wisdom. How do we get God’s wisdom, we ASK FOR IT…{James 1:5}…

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Brother Inman’s paraphrase of this verse was…“If you need wisdom, ask God for it and He will give it to you and will not fuss at you for asking.”

TRANSITION

Although the above may be true, there is much, much more to this passage. This short passage contains the LAW OF PRAYER or as Dr. Jack Taylor called it, the PRINCIPLE OF PRAYER. If you want to learn to prayer; you must learn to ask. [Ask the congregation if anyone has a $100 bill]

I. FIRST I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE PRINCIPLE OF PRAYER

I am not a Greek scholar or the son of a Greek scholar. There is a lot I do not know about English and I am much more ignorant when it comes to Greek but Matthew 7:7 is one of those verses that I remember from Seminary. The word for ask is aiteō {i-tay-o} and it is a verb…ASK, SEEK and KNOCK are all verbs in the present imperative tense.

Let me illustrate: this verb used in the aorist imperative tense would be “Shut the door behind you.” But the word Jesus uses is present tense, nor aorist and it would be “Always shut the door behind you.” The NLT has it right… “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

The present tense of the verb indicates continuous action…ASK AND KEEP ON ASKING

RECEIVE , FIND AND OPEN are also verbs that speak of a continuous action so that Jesus says…THOSE WHO KEEP ON ASKING, KEEP ON RECEIVING. Folks, I ask everyday and I receive everyday. James, the half brother to our LORD was a man of prayer and he had this thing figured out. He said in his epistle….

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

The Law of prayer is to ask, not to demand…

II. I ALSO WANT TO SPEAK TO OUR PASSION FOR PRAYER

Effectual Prayer must be seen in the context of relationships. Who do you enjoy talking to, conversing with? People you love, right! Jesus uses the FATHER/SON analogy. I might also point out that when the word aiteō {i-tay-o} is used, it conveys the idea of the lesser appealing to the greater:

A son to his father…

A subject to his king…

A servant to his master…

A mortal to God…

ASKING is basically a confession of need.

Look at what Jesus says“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!

I have one son and our three girls think that he is favored because I use him in a lot of illustrations. He calls me two or three times a week and generally {not always} to ask for something. Sometimes it is advice, sometimes he ask for instructions [how to get to fort Benning last Thursday] and he has in the past ask for money. He borrowed money from me to get Lori’s engagement ring. I’m not going to say that he and I have the best relationship in the world, that might be considered bragging and that will get me in trouble but I love him a lot and he loves me. I am not God, I am among the evil that Jesus mentions, the fallen creatures who do their best but still make lots of mistakes. BUT when he asks for something, I do my best to get him what he needs.

DO YOU SEE WHERE I AM GOING?

I do not have unlimited resources like God, nor do I have the wisdom to know for sure what my son needs and there may come a time when I cannot give my son what he really needs because I am human but HIS COMING TO ME AND MY GIVING centers around our relationship. Kay, Charles and Perry have sons and they have never ask me for anything–that is because they are not my sons. This doesn’t mean I would give them what they ask but because they have no relationship to me, they lack the confidence to ask.

THINK ABOUT IT!

What does my son or Charles Son or Perry’s son or Kay’s son build their confidence on? Why are they bold when it comes to asking?

My son thinks, he fully believes that I am a good man and that I love him more than life…don’t you tell him any different. {Trampoline}

GOD IS A GOOD, GOOD FATHER!

He is infinitely better as a FATHER than I am…no comparison. If my son ask for bread, I will not give him a rock. If he ask for a fish dinner, I’m not going to fry him a snake and try to make it look like a fish. If he ask for an scrambled egg, I am not going to fix him a poisoned omelet. Consciously, I will never give him anything that will hurt him.

In Jesus day, a sand stone looked like a loaf of bread and an ell was consider a fish of sorts but unclean and unfit and a scorpions were white and rolled up in a ball like an egg.

THE POINT: GOD IS NOT TRYING TO TRICK US OR DECEIVE US…HE LOVES US MORE THAN AN EARTHY FATHER COULD POSSIBLY LOVE US.

CONCLUSION

There is a lot more in the passage, I just scratched the surface but let me conclude by saying: God wants a relationship to YOU. He wants to talk with YOU daily. He wants to give you more than sunshine and rain; He longs to give you HIMSELF and He does that by giving us HIS SON.

Judging

Matthew 7 New International Version (NIV)

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Introduction

Our youngest grandchild Chloe has a bit of a weight problem and like her granddaddy, she wants to eat all the time. Her mom tries to make her more responsible. Chloe knows that she is not to eat between meals. The other day her aunt caught her unwrapping a Debbie cake of sorts and when Chloe caught her aunts stern look she said immediately, “Don’t judge me.” We are talking about a seven year old who has picked up the terminology of the world. The liberals favorite verse in the bible is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”

If you disagree with a liberal–that is judging. For example: lets say you repeat what the bible says about homosexuality: immediately they respond: [1] You are judging [2] You are condemning [3] You are a hater [4] You are a narrow minded bigot, [5] You are intolerant.

Liberals cannot carry on a rational or logically argument: you are not allowed to disagree. If you disagree with their view point, you are all the above. Disagreeing and condemning are two different things.

What’s amazing is that Liberals only know Matthew 7:1, they are not familiar with John 7…

21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Jesus is not teaching us to never make judgments: He is teaching us how to do it correctly…Look at Matthew 7:15-20…

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

We have to discern between good and evil, right and wrong. This is why verse 6 goes with this passage–we all have to make value judgments. You do not give a loaded pistol to a small child. BUT we do need to be cautious and there are scriptural guidelines to guide us.

I. ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND: YOU ARE THE ONE BEING JUDGED

James 2:12-13

12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

We will all be judged by the way we judge others which should keep us from being condemning in our judgment.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

II. REMEMBER: WE DO NOT HAVE ALL THE FACTS AND WE CANNOT SEE HEARTS

Remember what Jesus said in John 7, Stop judging by mere appearances. Things are seldom what they appear to be. You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover. Be very careful: take your time. Don’t be careless or reckless: we can do a lot of damage when we jump to conclusions.

III. RECOGNIZE AND CONFESS YOUR SINS BEFORE CONFRONTING SOMEONE ELSE WITH THEIR SIN

We cannot examine a man’s eye without getting close and the splinter in our eye will hurt him. Before you go trying to help someone else with their sin, you better be aware of your own.

The problem with the Pharisees was they could see the sins of others but could not see their own.

Years ago I was teaching a men’s class and I had one guy who was super critical of almost everyone. One Sunday our lesson was on Matthew 7 and judging. I was shocked when he spoke up and said, “The LORD has shown me through this lesson that my sin of judging others is much worse than the sin I am judging them for.”

My Mother was constantly telling me that the sins I saw in others were the very ones that I was guilty of myself. Back, way back, in my softball days we had a super competitive guy who played second base. One night he hit into a double play and he went bezerk; he threw his cap, screamed and hollowed at himself and came back to the dugout fuming. The dugout got really quiet: we were all too embarrassed to say anything. On the way home, I told June, “I don’t know if I want to continue to play with him with the attitude he has.” She said, “Did you get a good look at him? Did you see what he did?” I said, “Yes, that’s why I brought it up.” She said, “Well good, you were looking at yourself.” Then we argued the rest of the way home over who was worse, he or I. She said I was.

IV. ONE LAST THING: MOTIVE IS EVERYTHING

Don’t dare rebuke or reprove another until you have thoroughly examined your motives. For mutual benefit, for your friend to be helped and you be helped and the relationship strengthened, you have to love a person.

Look at verse 6 again… “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Not everyone can talk reproof or correction so your first judgment is whether or not the person is able to except your counsel.

Proverbs 9:8… Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.

Remember that ultimately its God responsibility to Judge…Paul said in Romans 14… Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

If I show up at Charles work site next week and chew one of his workers out: he is going to be upset with me. We don’t reprove another man’s servant. The LORD is a capable MASTER, He really doesn’t need our help.

CONCLUSION

While I was a young person, an older teenager. There was a family of five that were members of our community. The three children came to church but the parents never came. Both mom and dad were alcoholics and the kids had to defend for themselves. The oldest and youngest were girls and both were attractive, the younger one got pregnant and she was not even 16 years old. We were leaving church and my mother overhead a group of gossipers, they were talking about how horrible it was that this girl got pregnant: they were embroidering her Scarlet Letter life the Puritans. They were branding her as a slut. You would have to know my mother to believe this but she broke into their little gossip session with this rebuke: “If you ladies had been raised like these girls, the same thing might have happened to you.” Two things about Mother: she had a heart for the underdog and she never worried about popularity. As the Indians use to say, “Don’t judge a man till you walk in his moccasins.”

Overcoming Anxiety

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Introduction

One out of every five American’s suffer from anxiety, that is over 40,000,000 and only one third are on some sort of treatment plan. Anxiety is a big issue in today’s world but it was a big issue when Jesus stood on the mountain and preached this sermon. It is practically impossible for humans not to worry.

David confessed his anxiety in Psalm 139, Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

If you have ever read the book of Acts or 2 Corinthians, you know that Paul was a chronic worrier, he says in 2 Corinthians 11:28, “Apart from these external things [ship wrecks, beatings, exposure] there is the responsibility that weighs on me everyday, my anxious concern for all the churches.” You may not understand Paul’s concern, but every pastor knows exactly what he is talking about. If you love people dearly, like Paul did his churches, you are going to worry about their welfare.

Listen to Jesus confession in Luke 12… 49 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 

Have you ever had a difficult task assigned to you that caused dread and anxiety? It is human to dread suffering or to be anxious about it. This dread that Jesus had for the cross does not make Him a sinner, it only makes Him human.

It is not so much that you worry, the important thing is what you worry about.

If you look at verse 25, you have the list of things that Jesus mentioned… 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Do we worry about our LIFE, how long we are going to live?

Do we worry about life in terms of provisions–food and water?

Do we worry about our body? Aging, health, dressing it up or covering it up. If God gave you a choice between life itself and a new wardrobe, which would you choose. What good are new clothes if you don’t have a body to put them on?

NOTE: In the world that Jesus lived in, food, clothing and shelter were paramount. These people did not have pantries, closets, or kitchen cabinets filled with food goods. They had the clothes on their back, maybe an additional pair of under garments so they could wash their clothes now and then and they bought their food daily at the market. So don’t be too quick to find fault with them.

The KEY to the entire passage is verse 33…

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

The Key to a successful life is learning to distinguish between what is essential and what is not and then to distinguish between what matters and what matter most.

Food, water, shelter, clothing are all needed, they are essential, they matter but there is something that MATTER MORE. Mary figured it out way before the others.

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Dinner is important if we want to live but in this case, JESUS was more important. Both ladies are concerned: one is concerned with dinner be served on time and the other is concerned about Jesus and the cross that lay before Him. Martha was a good woman but her priorities were out of order.

As followers of Christ, our highest priority [WHAT MATTERS MOST] is HIS KINGDOM. Christ and His Kingdom must always be first. Not only do we seek His Kingdom first, we seek His RIGHTEOUSNESS. Herein lies our greatest concern: this is paramount.

Over the years my values have changed. I still have the same base convictions that I had from the start but God’s grace has been at work within me and my PRIORITIES have changed. I have always put CHURCH FIRST. You can ask my wife or my children or anyone who knows me. But the same could be said of any Pharisee.

Whereas it is true that I did not want to be a preacher, I did surrender to the LORD’s will but mostly out of fear of what He might do if I didn’t. When our children were growing up I made sure they understood that CHURCH was more important than anything else. BUT my own priorities were not right…over time God changed me from inside out.

Let me tell you what is most important to me today. I want my children to love Jesus with all their heart and to live Matthew 6:33, to incarnate this verse. None of our children are affluent; they have what they need but none of them can give you a loan…I don’t care about that…my concern is that they be faithful to Jesus.

When God called our son to preach, I did not respond in the right way: but I apologized immediately. I acted like an idiot but God was giving me the desire of my heart and I didn’t have enough sense to realize what He was doing.

Food and clothing are essential: I don’t want to go naked or hungry but JESUS is bigger than both: what good is food if you have no LIFE and Jesus is the LIFE. He is my PEARL of invaluable price and HE is the last thing I would surrender and that would be hell to do. If you are my age, you are running out of time...DON’T SACRIFICE WHAT MATTER MOST FOR WHAT MATTERS LEAST.

Notice verse 33 again… Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. DON’T SACRIFICE THE KING-DOM FOR A THING-DOM.

We are to love Jesus with all our heart and soul and our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. WE LOVE PERSONS AND WE USE THINGS. Don’t get that backwards which is what the great majority of Americans and Baptist do. THEY LOVE MONEY AND USE PEOPLE.

Conclusion

Some 30 years ago, I meet a businessman from Hattisburg, Mississippi. His first name was Charles and I have forgotten his last name. He became a millionaire by manufacturing women’s purses. During the depression, a woman didn’t need a purse but when Americans began to prosper in the 60’s, women fell in love with purses. Most of them have a purse for every outfit. Charles capitalized on this trend and made a fortune. He also became the SS teacher for the Middle Adult Men’s class at First Baptist Hattisburg. Every year at CHRISTMAS, his class would help a family. One year the class decided it was time to set some guidelines because they have never heard one thank you from folks they had helped. Charles let the men set the guidelines. Someone suggested they help a family that was faithful in worship attendance and Sunday School. Somebody else suggest that they tithe: Charles said, “That was ten years ago and we still have the gift, we can’t find a family that meets our qualifications that needs the money.”

Matthew 6:33 AT WORK…You put Jesus first and He will take care of YOU!

Navigating The Storms

Psalm 25 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 25

Of David.

1 In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust.

2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.

No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.

13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
    and their descendants will inherit the land.

14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.

15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.

17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.

18 Look on my affliction and my distress
    and take away all my sins.

19 See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. 22 Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!

Introduction

We know this is a Psalm of David but no one is sure of the background. What was going on when David wrote this Psalm. No question, it was a time of great difficulty and probably related to the rebellion of one of his sons: my guess would be Absalom. We do know that it was a dark and dangerous time for David.

The metaphor of the sea voyage is often used to describe or convey the volatility of life: some days are great, the water is slick, the skies are blue and a gentle breeze fills the sails. We are at the helm and we go as we please but then the storm hits, the blue skies turn black, the slick glassy sea becomes a monster with waves that are higher than vessel we are sailing in and we are tossed to and fro by the merciless wind and waves. Being at the helm is pointless: it is apparent that we have no control over the situation. With this storm–comes all the emotions that David felt…

16…Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted [depressed in mind and circumstances].
17 Relieve the troubles [tension, tightness] of my heart and free me from my anguish [narrowness].
18 Look on my affliction [poverty, misery] and my distress
    and take away all my sins.

19 See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!

Do you see what David is feeling here? Lonely, depressed, troubled, tense, anguish [in a bind], poor, miserable, guilty and afraid.

How can any human overcome such negative emotions? How can we weather such a storm?

I. FIRST: WE REALIZE OUR HUMAN LIMITATIONS

David understood clearly that he could not save himself. [1] David’s problem was bigger than he was and he acknowledged his need for greater wisdom and resources. David becomes very transparent, he has no guile or pretense, he needs help and he is not ashamed to confess it.

Have you heard of Bill Wilson and and Dr. Robert Smith…probably not but you may have heard of Bill W. and Dr. Bob. They are the co-founder’s of Alcoholic Anonymous. Bill was a stockbroker from New York and Bob was a surgeon in Akron, Ohio. Both were alcoholics who providentially meet in Akron at a hotel bar in 1935. Both had been sober for a while and were fighting the urge for a drink. Some how they recognized each others plight and decided to help each other and others like them. So they founded AA and have helps millions since.

Bill and Bob came up with TEN STEPS to recovery: would you like to guess what STEP ONE is? ADMIT I [YOU] NEED HELP!

Sometimes God allows problem to come into our lives that takes our hand off the rudder and puts our focus on HIM.

This brings us to the second point….

II. RECOGNIZE GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY

God is in control…we are not. God sees everything from beginning to end…He has infinite wisdom and knowledge…He knows what is going on and what He wants to accomplish.

So our prayer is found in verses 4-5….

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

We cannot see through the darkness: He can. We don’t know where we are going, He does.

David trusted God’s ability to guide and direct…

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

There are two basic ways: Right and Wrong or His way and Our Way. His way is always better.

III. RELY ON GOD FOR EVERY NEED

How do we overcome these negative emotions: anguish, fear, guilt, depression, shame [over regrets of past sins, v.7,11]? The same God who gives us our daily bread also forgives our sins. We must learn as David did, to put our absolute TRUST IN GOD and our HOPE IN CHRIST ALONE.

Verse 1…In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

Verse 2… I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.

Twice David affirms his hope…

Verse 5…Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.

Verse 21… May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in You.

Conclusion

F.B. Meyer was a noted 19th century preacher and author…THE EXCHANGED LIFE…he was on a ship from Ireland to England and the night was dark. He happened to be on bridge and so he asks the Captain how he could navigate and get into the harbor safely due to the darkness. The Captain pointed to three distant lights: one to the left, one to the right and one in the middle. He explained that he would move in until the three became one and then straight ahead.

Psalm 22…Why?

Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

Introduction

We are preaching through the Psalms on Wednesday night and when I began my preparation for Psalm 22 I knew it would take me weeks to preach through this Psalm, then it dawned on me that this would make a good series for our COMMUNION services. Today we are going to look at the first five verses and deal primarily with the one phrase that Jesus uttered on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

By way of introducing the Psalm itself: I do want to point out some fascinating things…things that Wiersbe says are inexplicable.

[1] This Psalm was written by David 1,000 years before Christ and it is a vivid description of a crucifixion. The intriguing thing here is that crucifixion as a form of execution had not been invented.

[2] David’s Psalm always relate to his personal life and experience but there is no experience in his life related to this Psalm: David was never God forsaken or given over to his enemies, so this Psalm is not about David at all.

[3] This Psalm in also not like David in the sense that there is no confession of sin.

[4] This Psalm is certainly not characteristic of David in the sense that there is no call for vindication. Some have called this Psalm, “The Gospel According To David.” David always prayed for vindication; he always invoked curses on his enemies.

By way of introducing today’s message and the phrase, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

[1] This is the fourth of Jesus seven recorded sayings while He was on the cross. [Some believe He may have quoted the entire Psalm]

[2] Jesus quoted this phrase during the three hour period of darkness.

[3] Jesus always began His prayers with FATHER and here it is “My God.”

[4] Jesus never questioned the presence of the Father nor complained on getting no answer to His prayers prior to the cross. In John 16:32, Jesus said, “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “

Transition

Tim Hughes wrote a song in December 2001 entitled HERE I AM TO WORSHIP in which these words appear in the chorus…I’LL NEVER KNOW HOW MUCH IT COST TO SEE MY SIN UPON THE CROSS. Tim Hughes was right, you and I will never know what Jesus suffered in our behalf on the cross.

Two scriptures state clearly that Jesus literally became sin while He was on the cross.

Isaiah 53:4-5… Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by his wounds we are healed.

2 Corinthians 5:21… God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Galatians 3:13… Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.

I John 2:2… He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Technically, God does not forgive sin, He judges sin and His judgment on sin is DEATH. Jesus literally became our sin while on the cross and God literally put our sin to death. The CROSS is God’s judgment on SIN.

God is holy and when Jesus became sin, God withdrew fellowship and Jesus suffered hell [separation] while on the cross. This explains His prayer…“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

If you look closely, you will see three questions…[1] Why have You forsaken me? [2] Why are You so far from saving me? [3] Why are You so far from heeding or hearing my groans?

Do you get upset when God doesn’t answer your prayers?Have you thought about the fact that He did not answer this particular prayer that Jesus prayed?

In order to save us, the Father could not save His only begotten because Jesus was the sacrifice to atone for our sins and if Jesus had not died for our sins, we would die in our sins and be separated eternally. Jesus suffered six hours of hell on the cross so that you and I would not have to spend an eternity in hell as a punishment for our sins. Jesus saved others by refusing to save Himself. He went to the cross voluntarily. They didn’t take His life, He laid it down.

He suffered hell in our behalf: the holy one was separated from the Father in our behalf and that is hell: it is the absence of God. When you have removed every vestige, every trace, every reminder of God, you have hell.

The LORD’s SUPPER is a memorial of His death. It is our constant reminder of what Jesus has done for us. He took our cross, our shame, our sin and our hell and bore it in His own body on the Tree. I cannot fathom such love. It is a river without a bottom: too deep to understand and too wide to comprehend.

Psalm 24

Psalm 24

Of David. A psalm. NIV

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;

for He founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in His holy place?

The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.

Such is the generation of those who seek Him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.

10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory.

Introduction

Warren W. Wiersbe sees a connection between Psalm 22-23-24: Jesus the SUFFERING SERVANT, Jesus the GOOD SHEPHERD and Jesus the KING OF GLORY.

Side Note: I do want to point out before we get into the message that Psalm 24:1 states clearly the PRINCIPLE OF DIVINE OWNERSHIP that we mentioned last Sunday. And I want you to know, it is not an isolated verse, there are others like it.

… Exodus 9:29–Moses replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the LORD. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the LORD’s.

…Leviticus 25:23–‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine’ and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.

…Deuteronomy 10:14– To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.

…Psalm 89:11– The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.

…Haggai 2:8– ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty.

…I Corinthians 10:26– “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

…I Chronicles 29:14–“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. “

…Psalm 50:9-12– I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.

The Theme of this Psalm is WORSHIP of the KING OF GLORY

I. THE POWER OF THE KING

Verses 1-2 speak of the Kings power…He is the earth’s founder. He is the creator of all that exist. We cannot fathom the power generated in a thunder storm or a hurricane, not to mention the power it takes to create a star or a universe.

II. THE PURITY AND PERFECTION OF THE KING

Who can approach HIM…Who can stand in His presence?

David’s answer– The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.

The hands speak of action or behavior and the heart speaks of motive. Remember, the KING is perfect, He is holy and He sees hearts. Yes, He hears words but He also sees hearts. Sometimes our prayer are designed to impress others but we can never impress God–He sees the heart.

Not only is this a test of MOTIVE, but of LOYALTIES. If we have another god, He knows it. Can we stand before Him when we have bowed to the gods of this world? This question sent shock waves through my body–we cannot pretend LOYALTY when standing before God.

Elton True blood pointed out the difference between singular and plural is one, just one. The difference in my marriage is one: one girl friend would do it or in June’s case, one boy friend: I want to be her husband exclusively. Now whether she had one or a dozen, it would make no difference.

You may have only one god other than Yahweh but that is one too many because He is a jealous God. You can stand before Him in good conscience if you have another god.

Now if we have clean hands, pure heart and we are wholly devoted in our worship, we will receive a blessing [v.5-6].

III. THE PRAISE DUE THE KING

How would you prepare to meet a KING?

Verses 7-10 are a doxology…Praise to the King has He enters the gates. I know that the proclamation of the word is important but I am telling you PRAISE is the key to worship; I’m talking about Pure Praise, not lip service. All of you have heard of Handel’s Messiah and the famous Hallelujah Chorus. It was very popular in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries and was often attended by Kings and Queens. George the II of England was the first to hear and he stood when they began the Hallelujah Chorus, thus it became a tradition to stand during the chorus but some thought it was ill fitting for kings and queens to stand so royal stayed seated during the chorus until Queen Victoria came to the throne. She was told to stay seated but she couldn’t, when it came to the climatic part of the chorus…KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS…she stood with her humble head bowed. This is the heart of worship, laying our crowns before Him.

Conclusion

The level of our living will never rise higher than our view of God. If you have a high and lofty view of God, you will do some high living but if you have a low or demeaning view of God, you will do some low living and worship will be out of the picture. You will never worship anyone you have a low view of.