Amazing Grace

Scripture: Psalm 146

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD ; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. 
2 Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. 
3 My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. 
4 I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. 
5 I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. 
6 I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Interlude 
7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. 
8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. 
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD ; I run to you to hide me. 
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. 
11 For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. 
12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

Introduction

This is a Psalm of David, written while he was hiding from Saul in either the cave at Adullam or the one at En Gedi. David is being forced to live like a fugitive, like a criminal who has broken the law. He is in a dark place. He feels lonely, depressed and at times paralyzed with fear. Our of the darkness of this experience, he writes this beautiful Psalm that has blessed millions. I am absolutely amazed at the incredible things God did through this flawed man. What a Psalm!

Transition

We have divided the Psalm into four sections:

I. DAVID’S CONFESSION

[v.1-2] Hear my prayer, O LORD ; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you
  • This is the seventh and last of the penitential psalms [6,32,38,51,102,130]
  • David’s confession here is brief [v.2] Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. It is an acknowledgement that David, like all men, has fallen short of the glory of God. David was a sinner and he knew it.
  • The GOOD NEWS is that God loves sinners and He uses them. Elisebeth Elliot says, “Who else does he have, since all are sinners.”
  • Secondly, David confesses the basis of his faith, of his relationship with God. David prayed, “Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.” The priviledge of prayer come via the righteousness of Christ. Paul said in Epheisans 2… But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ…For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 
     
    • Prayer is based on the righteousness of Christ
    • Salavation is based on the righteousness of Christ

II. DAVID’S CIRCUMSTANCES

David’s circumstances were not ideal to say the least. He is was living in a dark musty damp cave.

 [v.3] My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.  I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. 
I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. 
  • David was in a fix due to Saul’s anger and hatred: David was innocent. He had not done anything deserving of death.
  • David had been knocked down to the ground: Saul had taken his rank and his riches. David had nothing. 
  • Saul forced David to live this way: this is not a choice for David. If David does not hide from Saul, he will be killed.
  • God uses difficult situation and people to hone and polish us. God uses people. He has always used people: [1] Imperfect people [2] Hateful people [Saul] [3] Crazy people [Saul] and [4] obedient people.
  • One way are the other, God is going to use you for His glory but it is best for you to be obedient. God will get glory either way but you will benefit more by being obedient. Your happiness is directly linked to your obedience.

III. DAVID’S CRY

6 I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. 
7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. 
  • Desperate circumstances call for desperate prayer. David is crying out to God like a dry thirsty land cries out for rain.
  • David feels like he is in a life threatening situation. If God does not come through for David, he is history.
  • David is depressed and he feels that his depression is getting worse: he cries out for help and hope.
  • All of God’s servants get depressed from time to time. Job, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah and even John the Baptist all got depressed. The only people who do not get depressed are those who never do anything. We have an entire population of professing believers who have never fired a shot. Like Saul, they are hiding among the baggage. They are passive, do-nothing Christians who live in the saftey of their comfort zone. There is not much danger of getting wounded when you stay in retreat mode.

 IV. DAVID’S CONCLUSION

8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. 
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD ; I run to you to hide me. 
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. 
11 For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. 
12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.
  • The thing that kept David going was God’s grace, [v.8] His unconditional love. God’s love is based on His character, who He is not what we are or what we have done. God’s love is 100% Grace.
  • These dark and desperate moments force us to put our trust in God. David was in a jam, a tight place, a pickle, between a rock and a hard place and he could see no way out. Thus he prays, “Show me where to walk.” [these situations are a time for us to learn. They teach us that God is our refuge and our hope]
  • David believed that God would vindicate him because he was God’s servant. David was right. I don’t worry about my enemies, God will take care of them in due time.
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Feeling and Foes

Scripture: Psalm 142, NLT

1 I cry out to the LORD ; I plead for the LORD ’s mercy. 
2 I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him all my troubles. 
3 When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me. 
4 I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me. 
5 Then I pray to you, O LORD . I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. 
6 Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. 
7 Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me.”

INTRODUCTION

This is a Psalm of David written while he was fleeing from Saul. He was hiding in a cave, either at Adullam or En Gedi. He was feeling down, alone, trapped, overwhelmed, afraid, unloved and unappreciated. Do you ever get to feeling down, alone, afraid, overwhelmed, trapped, unloved and unappreciated? I think most of us have spent at least one night in the cave a Adullam. Our emotions are strong and they play a big part in our life. We all have feelings and they are important to us but our feelings are not alway reliable. Feeling are fickle, they play to the circumstances. If the circumstances are good, they are good but if the circumstances go sour, they go sour also.

TRANSITION

Tonight we are going to talk about feelings and foes. Both are real and both can become a problem. The key to victory, to overcoming our foes and our feelings is TRUTH. Truth liberates us, it sets us free from the power of both foe and feelings. We sing the song “Always” a lot and it begins like this....”Our Foes are many, they rise against us, but I will hold my ground?”

So, I want to share with you some truths that will help you hold your ground but before I do, I want to share one story…

When Steve Tanner was at Shepherd’s in Atlanta, I visited him one evening just before sundown. When I came out of the clinic to get into my little Honda Civic, it was dark and foggy. Visibility was less than a hundred yards. One of the attendants had shared with me a way to get to I-75 without driving four miles down the ever busy Peach Tree Street. I followed my instructions to a T but there was some turning and twisting and my gyroscope got all out of wack. Those who know me know that I have a good sense of direction most of the time but when I got to the I-75 ramp the signs were wrong. South was North and North was South. I said to myself, “Either someone got these signs wrong or else they have moved down town Atlanta.” I had a decison to make,“Do I go with my feelings or do I go with the signs.” I remembered what Herman Griffin taught us in aerospace about flying a plane, “Always go by your instrument, never trust your feelings.” So I followed the signs and turned right but my feelings continued to screem, “You are wrong, you are going North.” The fog was so thick that I could not see the down town skiscrappers and my feeling continued to protest even after I turned West on to I-20. It was not until I passed the Six Flags exits that my gyroscope flipped back around and suddenly everything was where it was supposed to be.

The moral of the story: your feeling will betray you, don’t follow them. The word of God is our instrument: it sets our course and direction. We follow the word and our emotions will eventually catch up.

I. YOU ARE NEVER ALONE

Matthew 28:20…“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 14:16…And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

Hebrews 13:5-6… Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

We may be alone, even separated from those we love; we may be alone in a lonely place but we are not really alone, it just seems that way. The LORD is always with a believer. This is exactly what Jesus said, “I will be with you always.”

II. YOU ARE NEVER UNLOVED

John 3:16….For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

I John 2:2….He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Jesus died for everyone on the planet and that certainly includes you.

The very heart and soul of the gospel is that God so loved the world, or He loved the world so much that He gave His son. I can, with full assurance and a good conscience, look any person in the eye and say, “God loves you, Jesus died for you.” You may not matter to anyone else, but YOU MATTER to Him.

Close to 30 years ago, we had a child in WEE Care by the name of Beth. Beth was a pistol. She acted out daily. The teachers were getting so frustrated with Beth that they asks me to speak with her. When I talked to Beth, she was unresponsive at first but as I continued to probe, I found the root of the problem: Beth was eaten up with insecurity. She was living in constant fear. Her father had abandoned her mom and her brother when Beth was six and now she was eight her little brother was four or five. Beths mom was lonely and she had been inviting men over to their trailor. She was not a prositute, she did not invite men randomly, but she had gone through two or three boyfriends in the space of a year. Beth picked up on the fact that these men did not care for her or her brother but saw them as extra baggage. She said, “I am afraid that I will wake up one day and my mother will be gone just like my daddy.” First of all, no child should have to live with this fear but her mom did not leave the impression that she was that stable and I was afraid for Beth and her brother myself but I did not let on. Beth was acting out in front of her mother just as she was in Child Care and that wasn’t helping. What was I going to tell this eight year old? “Yeah, your mom worries me too, I am afraid she may run off with one of these men and abandon you and your brother.” Although that is what I felt, it is not what I said. I said, “Beth look at me straight in the eye. I want to tell you something. There is someone who I know loves you very much and His name is Jesus.”

Beth was despisable. She acted so bad that no one wanted to be around her and I knew the workers were having trouble loving Beth and I had serious doubts about her mom but I knew at least one person loved Beth and that was Jesus.

I want you to understand that you and I are Beth, we are eaten up with insecurities. Yes, we put on a proud front but they are there lurking in the shadows of our soul but I can tell you for a fact, Jesus loves you in spite of your fears and flaws. His love is unconditional. It cannot be earned. It is a gift of grace.

III. FEELING ARE FICKLE, THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED

I did not say that feelings are unreal, they are very real and they are important. We all want to feel good. I don’t know of anyone who wants to get over feeling good, do you? But there is a problem: feelings are not reliable and we cannot allow them to become our spiritual barometer.

Jeremiah 17:9…The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 

AV…The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?

NIV…The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

NASB…“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

If you allow your heart to call the shots, you are in a heap of trouble. First of all your emotional life will become a roller coaster ride, up and down, up and down. When the circumstances are bad, you will feel bad. Our emotions are not the Engine, they are the caboose. The Engine is the FACT OF GOD’S WORD.

No only will following the heart get you into trouble emotionally, it will get you into trouble morally. Eve followed her heart, so did Sarah and look where it got them. The heart is going to take the easy route, the supposed short cut. God wants you to be happy. Jesus died so you could be happy but the way to happiness is not to follow the heart. The way to happiness is to follow Jesus. You can’t be happy a part from Him or a part from holiness and He is the only one who can make you holy.