When All Is Said And Done

The Wise and Foolish Builders…7:24-29 NIV

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Introduction

This is the conclusion of the SERMON ON THE MOUNT. Jesus concluded His famous sermon with four illustrations involving two things: [1] Two Gates–Broad and Narrow. [2] Two Voices urging us to into the gates–True prophets into the narrow and false prophets are leading people into the broad that leads to destruction. [3] Two kinds of people: those whom Jesus knows and those He does not know and last [4] Two responses to Jesus words–Obedience and disobedience.

Transition

Today we look at the two responses to Jesus teaching, to His word…

Interaction

Today, I want to do something different; I want to make you a part of the sermon: ARE YOU READY? Listen carefully…Stand up! {wait for reaction} Two aspects of obedience: “Hearing” and “Doing”. To hear only is not to obey: we must hear and do what we were commanded to do.

Let’s say you get a new toy or gadget that has to be put together. It comes in a box with a set of instruction. Let’s say you read the instructions then lay them aside and never open the box. Doesn’t make sense does it?

Lets say you have a physical problem and you go to a doctor. He examines you thoroughly, writes you a prescription and gives you instructions as to what to do. You walk out of his office, you never fill the prescription nor do you follow his instructions. What good does it do to go to a doctor and then ignore what he tells you?

Neither will it do you any good to hear what Jesus has to say if you have no intention of doing it.

Transition

Now, please allow me to share three insights with you quickly:

[1] Although Jesus was a carpenter: He is not talking about building a house.

Jesus is talking about building a life on HIM, He is the ROCK you build on. The song writer said it beautifully, “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

[2] Every life is going to be tested–Sooner or later–here and now or in Judgment

I use this passage in wedding. You want to build a good marriage, build it on Jesus and when the storms come, it will stand the test. Jesus talks about wind, rain and floods–that is pressure from above, without and below. Every marriage will be tested and so will every life.

Paul: I Corinthians 3:10-15

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

[3] Christ has the authority to make any claim He chooses on your life.

Look at verses 28-29…

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

It is not enough to be astonished at Jesus teaching. It is not enough to be amazed at His words or impressed with His wisdom and authority. He demands obedience. Look back at verse…

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

A Happy Man

Psalm 32 NRSV

The Joy of Forgiveness

Psalm Of David. A Maskil. The second of seven penitential Psalms

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Introduction

I know we are all familiar with David’s illicit affair with Bathsheba. Dr. Wiersbe believes that David was around 50 years old when this happened. Bathsheba was the granddaughter of one of David’s chief counselors, Ahithophel. Her father, Eliam, was one of David’s thirty mighty men (2 Samuel 11:3 & 23:34). This suggests that Bathsheba was a lot younger than David. He was probably about the age of her father because he was twelve years younger than her grandfather. This also means that Solomon was a teenager when he was anointed king.

A man by the name of James Jordan researched all the events in David’s life and put together a chronological time table. I read his findings in preparing this sermon and I think he is right on the money, give and take a year or so. David was 49-50 when he had the affair; he was 62 when Absalom revolted. Ahithophel was 12 years older than David. Bathsheba was either a late teen or in her early 20’s. The bible does not tell us but many believe that Ahithophel despised David for seducing his granddaughter. On the other hand, there is no evidence in scripture that Bathsheba protested in any way, form or fashion. She may have been the one who seduced the king. She may have intended for the king to see her bathing.

Its all immaterial in a way, David made a horrible mistake in taking another man’s wife and then taking his life to cover the sin added to his guilt. What we know for sure is that the sin made David sick {verse 3-4}. David lost his strength and his vitality. His guilt was getting heavier every day.

William Shakespeare illustrated the horrific damage that guilt can do to a human in his play MACBETH. Macbeth was a Scottish warrior who became a hero in the battle with the Danes [a David like story]. He was so lauded and praised that he began eyeing the throne. When his wife’s strong encouragement, he murdered a man to get the crown. The guilt of their deceitful sin drove Lady Macbeth to commit suicide and it drove Macbeth to madness. Human are not built or designed to handle guilt.

So Psalm 32, like 51 is David’s commentary on his repentance and forgiveness.

Transition

In this message, we are going to look at the four Hebrew words that David uses for SIN. [there is a lot more in the Psalm but we will limit our comments to these four words]

All four words are found in verses 1-2…

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

THE FIRST WORD IS TRANSGRESSION

Transgression {pesha`} is an act of rebellion. It is stepping over the boundary. Like wet paint, do not touch. It is a willful act of defiance against God’s authority and a declaration of independence on our part. It is literally our way against God’s way. It is a battle that we will never win. A transgression often involves the rights of others but it is always a sin against God’s ultimate rule because it is a violation of His LAW. The commandment states: You shall not steal. To takes something that belongs to my neighbor is a sin against my neighbor but it is primarily against God because He gave the law–You shall not steal. To steal is to defy His law.

THE SECOND WORD IS SIN

Sin {chata’ah} means to miss the mark. It is an archer’s term. Sin is missing the target, the bulls eye in the center. It takes two things to be a good archer; Strength and sight. You have to lock the elbow which requires strength and than you have to hit the target which is your aim. If you hand is quivering or you sight is off, you will miss the target, usually coming short. This is the word that Paul uses in Romans 3:23, All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The glory of God is the perfection we see in Jesus and we all come exceedingly short of that perfection.

THE THIRD WORD IS INIQUITY

Iniquity {ä·vōn’} means to corrupt, twist, to bend, to pervert or make crooked. God created art but man perverted it and made it pornography. God created sex but man perverted and twisted it making it fornication. God also created work, recreation and pleasure. These are not creations of the devil, the only thing he creates is havoc: all these things were good until man perverted them. It is a form of idolatry when we make our work our god, or pleasure our god. David knew that adultery was wrong but he twisted the law by making himself an exception. In twisting the law, he twisted his own character and he became a misguided fowled up person.

THE LAST WORD IS DECEIT

Deceit {rem·ē·yä’} is a deception. The AV and the ASV translates it ‘guile.’ Guile is sly or cunning intelligence. It is the act of deceiving another. It is a very devilish thing: because we have our interest at heart, not the interest of the person being deceived. David tried to deceive God, Uriah, the nation and the church {Nathan}. The major problem is that NO ONE CAN DECEIVE GOD! Galatians 6:7, He cannot be mocked or deceived: it is impossible because He is omniscience, He knows everything, He is aware of everything; not just deeds but even thoughts.

Conclusion

Man has a perversion, a remedy for every form of sin but all are unacceptable to God.

[1] When we transgress– we try to hide it or cover it up {fig leaves}

[2] When we miss the mark–we rationalize or make excuses {The serpent deceived me}

[3] When we pervert–we blame others {the woman You gave me}

[4] When we deceive–we try to justify our actions

The solution to sin is to confess it, admit you are wrong and God is right. Agree with God that you sin is against Him. Why play games when He knows the truth?

Two Kinds Of People

Matthew 7:21-23, NASB

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Introduction

Jesus is concluding His famous SERMON ON THE MOUNT and He does so with four illustrations: Two Gates, Two kinds of prophets [true and false] and today two kinds of people: THOSE WHOM JESUS KNOWS and those that He does not know. So, in essence, we are talking about two RELATIONSHIPS. The simple truth is: You either have a relationship with Jesus or you down.

One preacher referred to these verses as “The most frightening words Jesus ever spoke.” Let’s think about this for a moment: what is frightening about these words?

Note the text: ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Here is the problem, these people standing before Jesus in Judgment profess to know HIM but the problem is–He doesn’t know them. So evidently, they are self-deceived. They came before thinking they were saved when in reality, they were lost.

One thing is certain: this passage should sober us up and make us think. Paul said the the Corinthians–Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, of course, you fail the test.

So I think what we need to do today is have a TEST. The Test is never for the teacher, the TEACHER knows the correct answers; the test is for the student.

Test Questions

[1] Are you trusting Jesus and only Jesus for your Salvation?

In other words, have you come to understand your wretched condition? Do you understand that you are depraved and incapable of producing any righteousness that God will accept. Have you come to that place where you realize that “Your way” is the wrong way and that only Jesus can save you from not only sin but from your self. {Prodigal would be a good example}

Church attendance is good but it will not save you: neither will baptism. As a matter of fact, the people Jesus is referring to, here in the sermon, had prophesied in Jesus name…they had exorcised demons…they had done mighty deeds in Jesus name. I would love to tell you that my assurance is based on the fact that I preach the gospel but that is not true. We get no assurance from our deeds, even those done in Jesus name.

I have struggled with assurance since I was a boy; I am by nature or default a “Doubting Thomas.” I can tell you for a fact, you are going to get no assurance from being a preacher, or a deacon or a Sunday School teacher. There is no doubt, many know scripture, know the right answers and they know Jesus from a knowledge standpoint but they have no personal intimate relationship with HIM and furthermore, Jesus doesn’t know them and that is the bottom line.

Sorry folks but I have to confess the truth: my greatest fear is that you don’t understand GRACE. It is not what we do for HIM but what He does for us that saves us. It is not knowing about HIM, it is knowing HIM. I know a lot about Tim Tebow, but I don’t know him personally and I assure you, he does not know me.

[2] Is God’s Grace becoming more amazing each day?

Are you growing in GRACE? Is your awareness of your sins becoming more and more evident each day? People who are self-deceived are always aware of the sins of others but they never see their own sin. DO YOU SEE YOUR SIN? Do you see God at work in you. Paul reminded the Philippians, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. J.B. Philips says it like this…For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.

My desire to please God is growing, it is more evident every day. My desire to study, read the bible and pray is stronger now than ever before. Is this me or is this God working in me. Did I initiate this or is it a God thing? My love for the world is on the decline…Is this just me or God working in me?

[3] Do we have a desire to do God’s will?

Jesus makes it clear that only those who do the FATHER’S WILL will be accepted. Isn’t this bring us back to works? No, I do not think so.

I Timothy 2:3-4…This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

John 3:16-18…“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

The first step in doing the will of God is to BELIEVE IN JESUS. We are not talking about intellectual faith, simply believing that Jesus was, or even that he died for our sin. We are talking about a LIFE COMMITMENT. We are talking about YOU surrendering YOUR WILL to Him. There is no way that JESUS CAN BE IN YOU without HIM exerting His authority and Lordship. He is going to give you a desire to do His will and it is going to upset you when you don’t do His will.

It is true that we have to be perfect to enter heaven but it is Jesus who will make us perfect BUT even now, in our imperfect state, we by grace should have the desire to be perfect. If we love and enjoy sin, if we call our own signals…something is wrong.

STORY

This story is going to sound unbelievable and I did not get it from a book: this happened to me. I really don’t know exactly what year it was, it was in the 90’s and that about as close as I can get. A man walks into my office, he was a bi-vocational minister who pastored a small church in Winston County. He said to me, “I am going to divorce my wife. I have found someone else.” Of course I reacted immediately: “Are you mad? Have you lost your mind? You are pastoring a church, you cannot divorce your wife.” He said without a moments hesitation, “I have thought about that and God forgave David for adultery and He will forgive me.” I really blew my cork when he said that…I don’t remember all I said but I do remember one thing…“You better go back and reread your bible because David never recovered from his little roll in the hay.” He didn’t give one thought to the WILL OF GOD. The only thing he was concerned with was having what he wanted and saving face. Do I believe that this man is saved? NO! If you have been saved, you will have a desire to please God.

In Trouble Again

Psalm 31 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me, for You do what is right.
Turn your ear to listen to me; rescue me quickly.
Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe.

You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.
Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in You alone.
5 I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, Lord, for you are a faithful God.

I hate those who worship worthless idols. I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for You have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.
You have not handed me over to my enemies but have set me in a safe place.

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. Tears blur my eyes. My body and soul are withering away.
10 I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.

11 I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors—even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street, they run the other way.

12 I am ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot.
13 I have heard the many rumors about me, and I am surrounded by terror. My enemies conspire against me, plotting to take my life.

14 But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, “You are my God!”
15 My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
16 Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me.
17 Don’t let me be disgraced, O Lord, for I call out to you for help. Let the wicked be disgraced; let them lie silent in the grave.

18 Silence their lying lips—those proud and arrogant lips that accuse the godly.

19 How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.
20 You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.

21 Praise the Lord, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack.
22 In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the Lord!”
But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.

23 Love the Lord, all you godly ones! For the Lord protects those who are loyal to Him, but He harshly punishes the arrogant.
24 So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!

Introduction

There is a verse in 1 Corinthians that comes to mind: Paul was discussing with the Corinthians the history of the Israelites and how they rebelled against God in the wilderness. Paul said, These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. God has gracious, for our benefit, recorded the deeds and misdeeds of people like David so that we can learn from their experience. Actually, I have never been drunk but I have seen enough drunks to know what alcohol can do. Wise people observe and learn from the mistakes of others. David’s mistakes are recorded for our benefit not his.

Transition

This is a long Psalm and there is far too much to cover in one sermon so I want to hit the high spots if the Spirit permits. I see three simple lessons that we can learn from David’s experience.

I. WHEN TROUBLE STRIKES–TURN TO THE LORD

Let’s begin reading is verse 6 and read through verse 13. Did you notice those words, TROUBLES, ANGUISH, DISTRESS, SCORNED, DESPISED and IGNORED. It all likely hood David wrote this Psalm from Mahaniam, his mountain retreat on the East side of Jordan.

As you read this Psalm, you can sense the emotional anguish. David is hurting. David confesses, Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.[verse 10]

I have faced hardships, I have been in some tight places and some were of my own making but I can’t say that I’ve been where David was because his own son and best friend were trying to kill him. When Absalom and Ahithophel meet to discuss strategy, Ahitophel said, “I shall kill no one but the king. It is only one man’s like that we are seeking; the rest of the people will be unharmed.” To my knowledge, my life has never been threatened and certainly not by my son. I would be heart broken if my son despised me but I would be devastated if he wanted me dead.

So David is under attack; he is actually in retreat. His life and future are in jeopardy. He is outnumbered and has lost the support of the Elders of Israel. His situation does not look good. So what did David do? Verse one tells us…O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me, for You do what is right.

RULE # 1–When trouble strikes, turn to the LORD. Go to Him in prayer. Make HIM your SAFE PLACE. [Verses 2,8]

David constantly reaffirmed the fact that the LORD was his REFUGE, SAFE PLACE or HIDING PLACE. So establish RULE #1 and make the LORD Jesus your hiding place.

II. PUT YOUR ABSOLUTE TRUST IN THE LORD

This is an area in which David excelled: he was man of incredible faith. Note verse 5, I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, Lord, for you are a faithful God. This is the verse Jesus quoted from the cross, “In to thy hands, I commit my Spirit.” The term commit is a banking term, it means to deposit.

Also verses 14-15…But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.

Things were absolutely out of control in David’s life. It was one of those times when he had more questions than answers but one thing he knew…His faithful God was in control and David believed in God’s unfailing love, His mercy, grace and goodness. When all was said and done, David put his faith in God. He trusted HIM without reservation. It is one thing to say you believe, it is another to put your faith into action.

III. CELEBRATE GOD’S POWER TO PRESERVE

As the song writer said, “Jesus saves and keeps me and He is the one I am living for.” If He could keep us saved, we couldn’t call Him Savior. God saved David! Not just from his sin [which He did of course] but God saved David’s job, his life, his family. God preserved what David had. God kept him safe from the storm.

This is where verses 21-24 come in….

21 Praise the Lord, for he has shown me the wonders of His unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack.
22 In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the Lord!”
But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.

23 Love the Lord, all you godly ones! For the Lord protects those who are loyal to Him, but He harshly punishes the arrogant.
24 So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!

I can fail, I can get sick, I can even die but I cannot be damned: I am safe in the arms of Jesus. He has the power to protect me from the evil one. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?

Paul said, And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Believe it and be blessed!

Two Trees

The Tree and Its Fruit…Matthew 7:15-20

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 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.

Introduction

Jesus is concluding His famous sermon and He does it with four illustrations: each of the four involves two things:

[1] Two Gates–One Narrow and the other Broad.

[2] Two Trees–One producing good fruit and the other not

[3] Two Relationships–One known and one unknown

[4] Two Foundations–One Solid Rock and the other Sinking Sand

Transition

Today we want to talk for a moment about these two trees. I think it was Charles Spurgeon who said there are two trees in everyone garden. The tree of self and the tree of Christ. If we choose to serve ourselves, we serve Satan by default. Every morning, we had to decide which tree we will take our fruit from. But the two TREES here in the Sermon on the mount have to do with TRUE and FALSE Prophets.

Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.” The NASB says, You will know them by their fruits, which is better than the NLT because all false prophets are good actors. Acting is what they do best. The bible has a lot to say about false prophets and there are some common sense things that you can look for.

[1] All FALSE PROPHETS PRACTICE DECEPTION

Jesus said in Matthew 24:11… And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.

Again in Matthew 24:24… For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.

What you must understand is that these false prophets are very gifted communicators; they may even be eloquent. Many of them are word-smiths: they have deception down to a fine art. They tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. Paul warned Titus that a time would come…

...when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

False prophets always play to the audience: they work to placate and appease the listener but there base motive is to deceive. This is why the health and wealth preachers draw the big crowds. They have highlighted the positive and upbeat passages and promises but they are not telling you the whole truth: committed Christians get sick, they suffer and they die. Things do not get easier once you are inside the narrow gate. Prosperity is not a sign of God’s blessings and poverty is not a curse. That would be like saying Michael Bloomberg is blessed and I am cursed. It none sense, hog wash, horse features and balderdash.

[2] ALL FALSE PROPHETS ARE GIFTED MANIPULATORS

Peter said, Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words. [2 Peter 2:2, NASB]

I’m going to tell you the truth: Times have changed since I was a boy back in the 1950’s. They have changed since I was a young preacher back in the 1970’s. Most local pastors are not in it for the money. Things are much better now but 40 years ago, churches starved preachers to death. I went to school for 19 straight years and the last seven was to prepare for the ministry: trust me, you don’t recover those years financially in a rural Baptist church BUT there are Charleston’s out there and many of them are on TV. When a preacher is wearing a $300 dollar silk tie and and a $3,000 suit, something is wrong. When he has gold on every finger and around his neck, something is wrong. When He has his own yacht and jet, something may not be right.

Jesus compared false prophets to wolves. It was not a compliment. Wolves are sly creature who prey on the weak and helpless. They are greedy carnivores who will rip the flesh right off of your body. They care for only one thing: their appetite. The very first thing you look for in a preacher is: DOES HE TITHE? I did not come here to prosper at your expense. I have enough on my conscience as it is and I don’t need to add exploitation to the list. I am one flawed and messed up human being but you have my word that I will not exploit you. I will challenge you but only for the KINGDOM OF GOD, not to feather my own nest.

[3] FALSE PROPHETS LOVE PRAISE

Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.”

Some churches have cult-like characteristics…their pastor is infallible, they praise him more than they praise JESUS. This is an error on the part of the church and the pastor.

When Peter got to Cornelius house…. Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” {“Stay up man, you are going to get us both in trouble: you for worshiping a mere mortal and me for allowing it.”}

The good sheep follow the shepherd who follows the CHIEF SHEPHERD. You have to use your brain and your bible: you have make the determination…Is Bro. Jack following Jesus? If I am following Jesus than it is safe for you to follow me. If I am pursuing my own agenda, then you should not follow me at all.

Even Great Men Fail

Psalm 30 New Living Translation (NLT)

A psalm of David. A song for the dedication of the Temple.

I will exalt You, Lord, for you rescued me.
    You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.

O Lord my God, I cried to You for help,
    and You restored my health.

You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.
    You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
    Praise his holy name.

For His anger lasts only a moment,
    but His favor lasts a lifetime!

Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

When I was prosperous, I said,
    “Nothing can stop me now!”

Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.
    Then You turned away from me, and I was shattered.

I cried out to You, O Lord.
    I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,

“What will You gain if I die,
    if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
    Can it tell of your faithfulness?

10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
    Help me, O Lord.”

11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

12 that I might sing praises to You and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!

Introduction

Psalm 30, a Psalm of David, begins with a confession and ends with praise and thanksgiving. We are not positive about the setting of this Psalm. I believe David wrote this Psalm in connection with the census. You can find the history of this incident in 1 Chronicles 21.

For some strange reason, David decided to take a census. Actually the bible says in I Chronicles 21:1, “Now Satan, setting himself against Israel, incited David to make a census of the people.” The Hebrew word translated ‘incite’ means to incite, allure, instigate, or entice. Satan is the master of enticement. Based on what David says in verse 6; it was David’s pride that blinded him to Satan’s devices.

Long story short, 70,000 Israelites died due to David’s blunder and this explains why he cried all night. To my knowledge and only by the grace of God, I do not have a life on my conscious, that is a physical life. One of my fears is to cause the death of another person. The other night June and I were driving into Hartselle right after dark and I was in heavy traffic. June asked me, “Did you see that guy you almost hit, walking right beside the road?” In horror, I said, “No, I didn’t.” Had I hit him, it would have been a accident but my sensitive conscious would still be tormented. David had 70,000 innocent Israelites on his conscience.

Transition

There are three lesson we can learn from this Psalm and David’s experience: let’s look at them for a moment…

[1] PRIDE IS A PERPETUAL PEST

I have talked with the LORD about this many times and received no answer other than the one He gave Paul. Our pride is deeply rooted in our flesh and we will have to deal with this enemy from within until we draw our last breath.

YES, it is humiliating to confess but pride is my number one enemy. I worry about my pride more than any sin I see in others. Here is a verse we all need to memorize; it is Proverbs 16:8, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Not all proverbs are laws but this one is an exception. Inspired by God, Solomon spoke the truth…PRIDE ALWAYS PROCEEDS A FALL. I have failed many times, too many to count but in every major failure, after the fact, God has shown me that PRIDE was the cause. Paul said, “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” [I Corinthians 10:12] Just when you think you have it all together, look out!

Quote

Pride is like a sly dog that stays on your heels, the moment you take your eye off of him, he bits. Great men are not exceptions.

[2] GOD DISCIPLINES THOSE HE LOVES

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
[Proverbs 3:11-12]

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 

If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.

Not only do GREAT MEN like David make mistakes, CHRISTIANS, Children of God make mistakes.

Quote

Being a Child of God does not mean that you cannot sin; it simply means you cannot enjoy sin.

David sinned but he got no pleasure from sin. His sin always produced sorrow. Adrian Rogers once said, “I can sin all I want but the truth is, I don’t want to sin.” This is exactly what Paul talks about in Romans 7…  I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

I am not sinless but I would like to be!

[3] EVEN GREAT MEN FAIL

David was highly favored: it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out, God’s hand was on David. There is nothing ordinary about David. You cannot say that about me or the people I hang with. I have never been exceptional in anything. I was an average student, an average athlete and I became an average husband and preacher. June says that if there is an area were I am above average, it is at been a GRANDDADDY.

David was an extraordinary LEADER, MUSICIAN, POET, SONG WRITER, SCHOLAR, and THEOLOGIAN. He was less than average as a father. Moses, Joseph, and Job were outstanding men but there is actually no one like David when it comes to the variation of gifts. But great as He was, he did something stupid and it resulted in the loss of human life.

Quote

SUCCESS DOES NOT MAKE US IMMUNE TO FAILURE

Conclusion

Due to the fact that PRIDE is deeply rooted in our flesh: SUCCESS is more difficult to manage than failure. Chuck Swindoll says, “For every fifty who can handle adversity, only one can handle success.”

Christmas And Giving

Isaiah 9:6, NIV

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Introduction

Last week we talked about CHRISTMAS WORDS in Isaiah and specifically-LIGHT, JOY and PEACE. Today we want to talk about the word we didn’t have time to get to last week–the word is GIFT“To us a Son is given.”

What would Christmas be like without GIFTS?

Christmas began with a GIFT, the GREATEST GIFT ever given…John 3:16 states it clearly…For God so loved He gave His only begotten Son. No giving, no Christmas–You cannot divorce GIVING from CHRISTMAS.

Matthew tells us the wonderful story of the WISE MEN. After Jesus was born, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” These wise men were no doubt influenced by the writings of Daniel and they were sincere in their search for the Christ Child. A star guided them and the bible says, When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The giving of gifts is a long tradition that goes all they way back to the first Christmas. A lot of people don’t like this tradition and they cry “Commercialism.” Bah humbug, this is the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge, all miserly people hate Christmas–the extravagant giving drives them crazy. They have the spirit of Judah, “Why all this waste, this could have been given to the poor.” But Judas wasn’t really concerned about the poor: He was greedy. {John 12:6}

Three Good Reasons To Give

[1] Giving Is An Act of Worship

The wise men came to worship; they came to adore the Christ Child. You cannot divorce worship from giving. Adoration is as much a part of worship as praise and when you love someone, you cannot restrain yourself from giving.

YOU CAN GIVE WITHOUT LOVING BUT YOU CANNOT LOVE WITHOUT GIVING

I have meet people, know people who professed to love Jesus but did not give; never gave. I’ve heard every excuse in the book: God is infinitely wealthy–He doesn’t need my money. I give in time and talent–that’s more important than money. [try paying the light bill with time and talent]. If a husband or father came to me and said, “I love my wife and children,” and yet I knew that he did not live with them nor support them financially, I would laugh in his face. LOVE GIVES–IT DOES SO BY NATURE–YOU CANNOT STOP LOVE FROM GIVING.

[2] Giving Is A Great Investment

Remember the story of the RICH YOUNG RULER…

Jesus said to him, “If you are really sincere about following Me, go sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.”

This young man was given a once in a life time opportunity to invest in the Ministry of Jesus, the KINGDOM OF GOD…by, of all things, giving to the poor. But he foolishly declined and decided to hold on to his wealth? Who has his wealth today? Can you hold on to your wealth?

[3] Giving is a Joy

Luke quotes Jesus as saying [Acts 20:35}, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Folks, in a nutshell, it is much more fun to give than to receive. Some of you have learned this truth and others just can’t believe it. THERE IS GREATER JOY IN GIVING THAN RECEIVING. Seriously, how man of you want to go back and be a little child with no responsibility? You just get up Christmas morning and their are toys everywhere and you didn’t do anything to deserve them. I am not saying that it was not fun getting toys…what I am saying is there is a greater joy. Adults, you must read between the lines but I had rather be the giver than to be the receiver.

Conclusion

The Wise Men gave out of their treasures–they gave material gifts. Many believe the Gold they gave funded the trip that Joseph took to Egypt to evade Herod’s tyranny.

Mary gave herself, she devoted her life to God…she was a poor peasant, she had no money.

Your money is not the issue, it is your heart…GIVE YOUR HEART TO JESUS and the money will take care of itself.

Christmas Words In Isaiah

[Before I read the scripture: I want you to listen for three Christmas words or you might hear four]

Isaiah 9 New International Version (NIV)

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

The Three words are light, joy, and peace.

I. THE FIRST WORD IS LIGHT

If you read chapters 7-8 of Isaiah, you will see the prophet talking about Judgment and dark days for Israel. The Assyrians are going to invade the North [Galilee region] and they are going to displace or enslave the Israelites. Darkness has always been a symbol of bad things: ignorance, depression, bondage, storms, lostness, tribulation, trials, suffering. Light is always a symbol of good things: knowledge, understanding, guidance, direction, warmth, joy, celebration. No one other than demons celebrate in he darkness. Evil loves darkness.

Of course you understand that the GREAT LIGHT that Isaiah is referencing is JESUS. Remember the scripture we quoted last week…John 1…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankindThe light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The song writer said, “The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin…The LIGHT of the world is Jesus. Like sunshine at noonday, His glory shone in; The Light of the world is Jesus!

JESUS WAS BORN INTO A DARK WORLD and His very birth lit up the skies at Bethlehem. Our problem today is that we have so much light, we do not appreciate light the way the ancients did–they literally lived in a world of darkness. They did not have street light, flash lights, head lights–they had the moon and stars on clear nights and candles, oil lamps and torches. If you do not appreciate light: there is a chance that you don’t understand darkness. We are celebrating the coming of light: Jesus brightened this world.

I know preachers who hate Christmas lights, trees and decorations: Why? Christmas is a celebration of LIGHT.

II. THE SECOND WORD IS JOY

Isaiah said in verse 3, the birth of this promised child will bring joy and rejoicing. Do you know any of the Killjoys, they have negative genes and they love to rain on parades. CHRISTMAS is a time of JOY.

Look at verse 3… You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.

This joy is like the joy that accompanies the harvest or a victory in battle. Most of us do not know the joy of winning a battle, at least not in the military sense but many of us can relate to the joy of the harvest. Of course in ancient times the harvest was their life. If there crops did not produce, they starved. Famine was a real problem in the ancient world--before herbicides and pesticides. Even I can relate to the joy of the harvest: there was some money at harvest time, not much but some.

Christmas was a time of great joy for me as a child. I had a grandmother who loved Christmas and of course there were family get togethers with eating and playing with my cousins. I can’t lie, it was the one time of year that we got at least one toy. I was always excited about Christmas for the wrong reason–getting a toy. Over the years the reason for my joy has changed. I understand now that CHRISTMAS is a celebration of the incarnation. A celebration of Christ coming to this earth. When the wise men saw His star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. If you find no JOY in Christmas, it’s because you do not understand what it is about. It is not about eating, parties, presents: these are the manifestations of our JOY [things happy people do] but not the source. Happy people like to party, eat, sing and give but all these things are by-products of JOY. The source of our JOY is JESUS!

Go back to verse one: I think the key is here:

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The LORD does not want us to walk in gloom and distress: He does not want us to live in the PAST. Isaiah knows that the Jews are going to have some dark days ahead but he points them to the distant future–to the coming of Christ to the birth of a child, to the gift of a Son.

What was future to Isaiah and the Jews is history to us. They never saw the birth of the child but they had the promise. Faith rejoices in the promise. We know the CHILD was born and the Son was given–this is what we are celebrating.

We must look to the future!

This brings us to our THIRD CHRISTMAS WORD…

III. THE THIRD WORD IS PEACE

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

There are exceptions to the rule which is why we have war but most of us want peace.

John Lennon of the Beatles wrote a Song that has become a Christmas classic…So This Is Christmas

So this is Christmas and what have you done?
Another year over and a new one just begun.
And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one the old and the young.

A very Merry Christmas and a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

And so this is Christmas for weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones, the world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas for black and for white
For yellow and red one let’s stop all the fight.

A very Merry Christmas and a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

On the second stanza you hear the voice of children singing in the back ground. They are singing…WAR IS OVER…IF YOU WANT IT…WAR IS OVER…NOW?

I agree with Lennon on one thing: war is a horrible thing and I took would like to see world peace but the root cause of war is sin and the only solution to sin is Jesus. The first step to peace is to make peace with the PRINCE OF PEACE.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was living during the days of the war of civil war, one of the most brutal and unnecessary wars in America History. Longfellow lost his wife to a fatal accident in 1861 and on Christmas Day of 1863, he was standing outside his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts when he heard the church bells playing a familiar Christmas tune. His oldest son, Charles, had been wounded in combat and narrowly escaped death. In his grief and under the dark cloud of civil war and unrest, he wrote “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

I heard the bells on Christmas day, Their old familiar carols play; In music sweet the tones repeat, “There’s peace on earth, good will to men.”

I thought how, as the day had come, the belfries of all Christendom had rolled along th’ unbroken song…Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, A chant sublime of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said; “For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Look at verse 7 one more time… Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Conclusion

Christmas is a celebration of the past {Birth of Christ} and the future, the reign of Christ as KING of Kings and LORD of lords. But the real celebration doesn’t begin until you in humility and faith accept Him as your Savior and LORD.

The Voice of The LORD

Psalm 29 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 29

A psalm of David.

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
    Sirion [Mount Herman] like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord strikes
    with flashes of lightning.

The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
    the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord is enthroned as King forever.

11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

Introduction

This is a Psalm of David who had apparently witness the devastating power of a thunder storm. The storm started over the Mediterranean Sea and hit land in Lebanon, them moved South down the mountain ridge to Judea and ended in the dessert just South of Jerusalem.

Some would have been frightened by this powerful storm but David was awed by the storm. The storm invoked worship on David’s part and he saw in the storm the awesome power of God. I’ve never heard thunder over water but I am told, it makes an awesome sound. I have seen lightening. Globably, there are 100 lightening strikes per second: each bolt can contain up to ONE MILLION volts of electricity.

You may be questioning the LORD’s wisdom in creating the LIGHTENING but without, everything on earth would die. The pure nitrogen in the upper atmosphere is to potent for earth. Plants need nitrogen and nothing is better for wheat than good snow because it is filled with nitrogen but this nitrogen that comes through rain and snow has been diluted by lightening. The lightening breaks it down so that it is not harmful when it gets to earth.

THE POINT I want to make is that the THUNDER STORM is awesome in power and David talks about the power of the storm. The lighten bolts can split a tree in half. The cedars of Lebanon are not like our cedars. These trees are not small, they can grow 150 feet high or better {why they were an ancient symbol for pride} with a diameter of 9 feet. The thunder and lightening could shake mountains and split holes in the dessert floor.

As you look at this Psalm you see that some words are repeated often. The word LORD [YHWH] is used 18. You see glory three times in the first three verses but the one refrain that I want you to notice tonight and it is repeated seven times is: THE VOICE OF THE LORD.

God spoke to DAVID through the thunder storm. So tonight for just a few minutes, I want us to think about the VOICE OF THE LORD.

I. FIRST: THE LORD HAS A VOICE

The book of Hebrews begins with these words…

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

What are the VARIOUS WAYS in which God speaks?

One

He certainly speaks through the bible which is His word… All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Two

He speaks through others…Prophets, teachers and even children…Remember God spoke to Balaam through his donkey. Don’t underestimate what God can do.

Three

God speaks intuitively: this probably how He spoke to Samuel. Samuel heard the voice, Eli did not. God speak through a still small voice. He can speak audibly. There are at least three times in the bible where He does speak audibly but I personally have never heard and audible voice.

Four

He speaks through the natural world. The natural world is a reflection of the spiritual world. Actually, the natural world is only a shadow of the real but it is laden with spiritual truth. Jesus taught by using the natural world as an example. God spoke to David through the storm. God can speak to us through nature, circumstances and events.

The problem is not that God is mute: the problem is–we are not listening. Jesus said, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

God can speak to us in a crowd, in a den of noise but are we going to hear Him? God speaks to me in various or many ways but most often through His word and prayer. A lot of my blogs come from my prayers. I begin talking to God and then He talks to me. I’ve been in deacons meetings which were prayer meetings and the LORD would speak to me while someone else was praying.

II. THE VOICE OF THE LORD IS POWERFUL

David said, the voice of the LORD is powerful; majestic, it breaks the cedars; The voice of the Lord can strike like a lightening bolt, it can shake deserts and mountains; it can twist a giant oak.

My mentor was Calvin C. Inman, he was a man of the word and he taught me to preach the word. He reminded me often to always read a good text to insure that the people got something. He also said, “I’ve never heard a bible sermon that I didn’t get something out of but I have had a few narrow escapes.

The LORD said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

Rocks are hard. My son in law and I were taking down a porch the other day and the post were set in concrete. I lifted them out with the tractor and than I took a sledge hammer and broke the concrete off the wood. It takes several licks. The concrete is hard and it has been there for awhile but just keep pounding and it will break.

So, I just keep preaching the word. He will do its work. It will accomplish God’s purpose: I do not labor in vain. The word is powerful.

I just keep reminding myself: it is HIS WORD that is powerful, not mine. [Story of the prodigal daughter]

III. THE VOICE OF THE LORD IS A BLESSING

Are you not glad, thankful that the LORD speaks? I am, I am so glad God speaks to me. I may get my daughter voices mixed up for a moment but I know the voices of those near me because I talk to them often. The LORD is not the only one who speaks and so sometimes it gets confusing: you don’t know if it is His voice, our your own intuition or the voice of the enemy. I been confused before. The devil is slick but there are some guides to go by…

[1] When God speaks to us about our sin, He convicts…the devil condemns.

[2] God speaks confidence…the devil speaks fear…the ten spies {the devil is a terrorist, a fear monger}

[3] God speaks assurance…the devil speaks doubt

[4] God always encourages, even when He rebukes…the devil speaks discouragement.

[5] God’s voice will still us…Satan’s voice will rush us

[6] God speaks in detail about specific things…the devil speaks in generalities leaving you confused and bewildered.

[7] God speaks comfort and the devil speaks worry.

[8] God’s voice leads us, the devil pushes us.

Conclusion

When did God last speak to you? When did you last seek to be alone with Him so you could hear Him speak?

Psalm 28 "My Rock"

Psalm 28 New Living Translation (NLT)

A Psalm of David.

I pray to you, O Lord, my rock.
    Do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you are silent,
    I might as well give up and die.

Listen to my prayer for mercy
    as I cry out to you for help,
    as I lift my hands toward your holy sanctuary.

Do not drag me away with the wicked—
    with those who do evil—
those who speak friendly words to their neighbors
    while planning evil in their hearts.
Give them the punishment they so richly deserve!
    Measure it out in proportion to their wickedness.
Pay them back for all their evil deeds!
    Give them a taste of what they have done to others.
They care nothing for what the Lord has done
    or for what his hands have made.

So he will tear them down,
    and they will never be rebuilt!

Praise the Lord!
    For he has heard my cry for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and shield.
    I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

The Lord gives his people strength.
    He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.

Save your people!
    Bless Israel, your special possession
.
Lead them like a shepherd,
    and carry them in your arms forever.

INTRODUCTION

We know this Psalm was written by David but we do not know the occasion. Our best guest would be during the rebellion of Absalom. Verse 3 might be a reference to Ahitophel, David’s life long friend and counselor. Ahitophel was a part of the conspiracy and David didn’t know this until the day they leave Jerusalem. Some of his aids told him while David was on his way out of town.

Ahitophel was the grandfather of Bathsheba. Someone has suggested that he was not happy with David over the affair with his granddaughter or the murder of her husband. Obviously he repressed his anger but he was waiting for an opportunity to make David pay.

TWO MOODS

The Psalm begins with a DESPERATE PRAYER [verses 1-5] and then shifts to JOYFUL PRAISE [verses 6-9].

Quote

“Never was a faithful prayer lost. Some prayers have a longer voyage than others, but then they return with a richer cargo so that the praying soul gains a greater return by waiting.”

~William Gurnall

I. The Desperate Plea

I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die.

David uses four metaphors in this Psalm to describe God: Rock, Shield, Strength [fortress] and Shepherd. Rock refers to God’s faithfulness, His dependability, His steadfastness, His unchanging nature and His stability. David confesses in verse 1 that if God does not answer his prayer, he is as good as dead. David understands, the LORD is his strength, his life: apart from God, David has no life and no hope.

It is no uncommon for men to pray when they are desperate but David prayed all the time, not just when his back was against the wall. His pleas or supplications can be listed:

[1] Listen to my prayer, my cry for HELP

[2] Do not drag me away with the wicked

[3] Give them the punishment they deserve! Pay them back, give them a taste of their own medicine.

II. A Distant Prophecy

They care nothing for what the Lord has done or for what His hands have made. So he will tear them down, and they will never be rebuilt!

Believers have hope! No one is perfect and we have made a lot of mistakes but God via His mercy and grace is going to rebuild us. We are going to get back all that Adam lost plus some.

Lettie Cowman in Streams in the Desert tells the story of a little boy who worked all day on a toy boat. He did the very best he could do but at the end of the day, he knew it was not enough and his boat was not ready for the water. He left his unfinished boat on the kitchen table and went to bed. His dad came it and saw the boat; rather than retiring, he took the boat to his shop and fixed it, made it complete and ready to sail. Then he put it back on the table. When his son got up and walked into the kitchen, he could not believe his eyes: his boat was complete, finished and perfect.

We call this process sanctification: God is at work fixing us and someday we will be complete but that happens in the next phase and the unrepentant will not have any hope of being remade or rebuilt. Those who do not repent, those who fight against God’s work have no future.

It is discouraging with the Gay lobby wins and we lose. The Chick-Fil-A debacle is disturbing. We are going to lose some battles here and I confess, my own life is messed up and very incomplete but one of these days, I will lay down and when I wake up, I will be made whole.

III. Triumphant Praise

Praise the Lord!  For He has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. The Lord gives his people strength. He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.
Save your people! Bless Israel, your special possession.
Lead them like a shepherd, and carry them in your arms forever.

There is no indication that the circumstances changed but David’s attitude certainly changed: dramatically, remarkably, it changed from night to day. It is the MIRACLE OF PRAYER, I’ve seen it time and time again. You begin with a heavy heart, a burden in the course of your prayer, the burden is lifted. Prayer meeting can start with sobs and end with shouts.

I am reminded of I John 4:5… For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Encamped along the hills of light, Ye Christian soldiers rise, and press the battle ere the night shall veil the glowing skies; Against the foe in vales below let all our strength be hurled; Faith is the victory, we know, that overcomes the world.

Hannah is a good example:

12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!” 15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” 17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.” 18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.

What made the difference? Eli assured Hannah that they LORD had heard her prayer. The moment she believed, the victory was hers.