Man Of Sorrows

Psalm 22:7-8, Holman

Everyone who sees Me mocks Me; they sneer and shake their heads:
8 “He relies on the Lord; let Him rescue him; let the Lord deliver Him, since He takes pleasure in him.”

Introduction

By way of a reminder: [1] we are using Psalm 22 this year in our COMMUNION services and today we will be on verses 7-8. [2] I also want to remind you that Psalm 22 was written by David 1,000 years before Christ and 600 years before crucifixion became a form of capitol punishment. [3] I remind you also that Peter refers to David as a PROPHET in Acts 2:30. No one can explain how David described the crucifixion in detail when he had never seen or heard of such a death. There is only one answer: God inspired him.

Of the seven recorded sayings on the cross; the first three reveal that Jesus was concerned with others more than Himself–which to me is incredible. As a matter of fact, Luke records [23:28] Jesus saying to the women, as He was carrying His cross up to Golgotha,

“Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.

Then after being brutally nailed to the cross; Jesus uttered this prayer…

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. [Luke 23:34]

Then He gave aid and comfort to the thief…Today you will be with Me in paradise.

Next He said to His Mother, “Woman, behold your Son,” speaking of John. He wanted to make sure His mother was provided for…Amazing.

Absolutely amazing…If I were dying such a death, I would be focused on my pain but even in the torment of a crucifixion, Jesus was thinking of others.

Isaiah said [53:3]…

He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

Look at Psalm 22:7-8 again…

Everyone who sees me mocks me; they sneer and shake their heads:He relies on the Lord; let Him rescue him; let the Lord deliver him, since He takes pleasure in him.”

Compare this to Matthew’s account…

39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

Look at Luke’s account…

The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 

Your heart is probably registering a protest right this moment: I would never spit in Jesus face, beat him with whip, mock or make fun of Him or drive nails in his hands. I know what your heart is saying because mine says the same thing but indifference and apathy caused His death as much as anything. How do we fare when it comes to indifference?

I found this poem at the young age of 20 and I want to share it…

When Jesus Came To My Home Town

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.


When Jesus came to my home town, they simply passed Him by.
They would not think of hurting him, or causing Him to die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They simply passed Him by and left Him shivering in the rain.


Still Jesus cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do, ‘
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.


G. A. Studdert-Kennedy

Ridicule can be brutal but so can indifference. Today as we observe communion, let us be reminded of how much He cared for us so that we may be challenged to care for others for He Himself said…

‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

I am currently reading the MESSAGE and yesterday I was reading Mark 4 where Mark tells us that JESUS WAS NEVER WITHOUT A STORY WHEN HE SPOKE.

Sometimes I tell too many but I’ve been convicted that I need at least one. This story comes from Max Lucado’s… A GENTLE THUNDER… Hearing God in the storm. A man was in Disney World in Orlando; he was standing outside of Cinderella’s Castle where the kids were waiting on Cinderella to come out and greet them. As he observed this rather large crowd of children and watched them move rapidly toward the beautiful Cinderella, he noticed two children who did not move, they stayed back. One was tall and the other short and he figured they must have been brothers. The little short fellow had a disfigured face. It looked like the scaring caused my some birth defect, surgery or maybe a burn. He knew in his heart why the little boy and his brother did not approach. The child was self-conscious about his appearance and he did not want the beautiful Cinderella to see his ugly face.

The man’s heart felt compassion for the little fellow. He thought to himself, “Wouldn’t it be great if Cinderella went over and spoke kindly to the little boy.” In just a little while Cinderella did look up and she saw the child; she began to move in his direction. He and his brother were entranced by her beauty: they were frozen in their tracks and could not move. Cinderella went up to the child, bent down and spoke kindly to him and then she put her beautiful lips on his disfigured face kissing him gently.

At this moment the man heard God’s gentle thunder. This is what Jesus did for us: He lift the glories of heaven, came to this sin cursed world and spoke kindly to us, then kissing us with the lips of his righteousness.

Of course, are the little lad with the disfigured face. Sin has messed up but Jesus came to heal us, to restore us and that process is in the works.

I put myself in that little fellows shoes for a moment: I am willing to bet that he was so captivated by Cinderella’s beauty that he forgot about his face.

Psalm 33

Psalm 33 New International Version (NIV)

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. [Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful] NKJV
Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.

The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; He puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.
For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place He watches all who live on earth—
15 He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Introduction

Verses 1-3 introduce this Psalm and there is no question: the theme is PRAISE. In reading the Psalm this time, I noticed something I had not noticed previously. Eugene Peterson begins this Psalm with… Good people cheer God. I am not fond of the word cheer but he has a point, good people praise the LORD. Rebellious sinners do not praise God; nor do back sliders. The NRSV reads…Praise befits the upright. The Holman bible reads…Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous ones; praise from the upright is beautiful.

Last Monday I attended the Pastor’s Conference and our numbers were up: the singing was unbelievable. I don’t know if you are aware of it or not, but preachers sing. Joy flooded my soul just hearing them. I sang just like I always do, wide open but I could not hear myself.

I’m not saying that preachers are better than you but most of them are making a conscious effort to live for Jesus and praise fits them like a glove. I don’t think they are more talented, although there are exceptions; it is their spirit, their enthusiasm that makes the difference. It could also explain why a small crowd on Wednesday can out sing a larger crowd on Sunday morning.

Transition

What do we have to praise HIM for? This is where the Psalms are so helpful. If you are like me and you struggle with praise…Psalms is a gold mine. There is more here than I can mention, I assure you but lets look at three things highlighted in this Psalm. We can PRAISE HIM FOR

[1] His Powerful WORD

Verse 4~For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all he does.

I met with an old college friend last week: we both attended a Methodist school on ministerial scholarships. Actually my friend had two–he was the manager for the basketball team. We had a professor who did not believe the bible was inspired. He believed it was inspired in spots and he was inspired to pick out the spots. We had to make a decision if we were going to preach: believe him or the bible. That’s when I made a commitment to BELIEVE THE BIBLE even when I could not explain or understand what it was saying. I have never regretted that decision. MAKE A COMMITMENT TO BELIEVE THE BIBLE.

Verse 6 ~By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

The word of God is not only TRUE, it is POWERFUL. Look also at verse 9…

For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.

God spoke the stars into existence: that is powerful…The writer of Hebrews said in 11:3…

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

[2] His Eternal PLAN

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

First of all, the LORD has a plan, an ETERNAL PLAN or long range plan. We all have times when our minds are disturbed or some event discourages us. For John the Baptist, it was being locked up. In the dungeon, he doubted so he sent his disciples to see Jesus. Jesus basically told John’s disciples, “Go tell John that everything is going according to the plan. God’s word is being fulfilled. John did his part and now I must do mine.” Adrian Rogers paraphrase–“You be John and I will be God.”

A second thing: God can foil our plans but we can’t foil his…The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

No one, not even powerful nations are going to thwart God’s plan: HIS PLAN IS FIRM OR FIXED.

[3] His Watchful EYE

Note: verses 12-15…

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place He watches all who live on earth—He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

Also verse 18…

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.

Psalm 34:15 is one of my favorites…

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry
.

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…Verse 21

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.”