Mercy

Psalm 41 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.
The Lord protects them and keeps them alive.
He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies.

The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.

“O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. “How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask.
They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.
All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst.
8 “He has some fatal disease,” they say. “He will never get out of that bed!”
Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.

10 Lord, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back!
11 I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me.
12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever.

13 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!

Introduction

Psalm 41 is a PRAYER OF MERCY written by David, who is a type of Christ, but not a perfect type. David was fully human as we will see in this Psalm.

Before we get into the Psalm itself, I want to give you some historical context: We cannot be certain, but most scholars believe David wrote this prayer for mercy during the rebellion of Absalom. David is besieged with problems.

[1] He is physically ill. No one knows what was ailing David but it seems that he is never fully healthy after his affair with Bathsheba. Some of his sickness may be related to anxiety and guilt but whatever it was–it was life threatening. Many folks, including his enemies, thought David would die from this illness. [David’s enemies were praying for the sickness to kill him]

[2] David was also heart sick. He had experience betrayal from a trusted friend. Betrayal is a heavy burden to bear. Jesus quoted part of verse 9 in reference to Judas but Jesus only quoted, “The one who eats my food has turned against me.” He did not quote the “the One I trusted completely.” Jesus never trusted Judas. It is the trust factor that gives betrayal it’s sting. This is why adultery has such a deep sting.

[3] The third major problem that David is facing is a political coup. The nation has rebelled and the rebellion is lead by Absalom, David’s son. David’s position as king is not all that is being threatened, his life is being threatened and the threat is real, not imagined. David’s son and one of his best friends are leading the rebellion.

Transition

What do we do when life begins to collapse and we are caught under the debris? I think it would be wise to follow David’s example.

I. HUMBLES OURSELVES AND ACKNOWLEDGE OUR POVERTY.

David said, Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.

The word poor in Hebrew is dal and it means literally, the lean, the weak, the helpless. It comes from a word that means to dangle, to be hanging on a thread so to speak. He describes our wretched condition. Before men, David was not poor, he had great wealth but before God, it was poor indeed. The first beatitude comes to mind, ‘BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT.”

Every prayer needs to begin with a spirit of wretchedness and humility. In Luke 18, the Pharisee prayed… ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ This is most certainly not the way to begin a prayer. The tax collector prayed…  ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 

If you are not willing to begin your prayer with this spirit of humility and wretchedness, you need not bother to pray.

II. WE PRAY FOR MERCY, Always!

Look at verse 4 and 10…simple prayer, HAVE MERCY ON ME!

David was not perfect but he did understand the LORD’s love for the poor and you see this in verses 1-5. Perhaps, more than any of Israel’s kings–David showed mercy to the poor for he was once poor himself.

Personally I would not say that David was a paragon or champion of MERCY but he did show mercy to the poor, to Saul and to one of Saul’s grandsons. He showed no mercy to the Moabites and they were his relatives. He did understand the principle: “BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL FOR THEY SHALL RECEIVE MERCY.”

James 2:17, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercymercy triumphs over judgment.”

If we have any hope of receiving mercy, we better grant it to others. God will reward the merciful….

  1. Save them…verse 1
  2. Protect and keep them…verse 2
  3. Deliver them from their enemies…verse 2
  4. Restore them…verse

III. WE MUST BE HONEST ABOUT OUR SIN

Go back to verse 4…“O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

Note first, David said: “I have sinned.” Folks we cannot be saved until we can utter these words from our heart, neither can we expect God to take our prayers seriously when we refuse to confess our sins. I know that the proper way to pray is to begin with adoration for the FATHER but sometimes I have to begin with my wretched condition.

Perhaps, as important is to note what he says next: I have sinned against You. Because God is holy, all sin is personally against HIM. Yes, the consequences of sin are bad but the worse thing about sin is that it is against God.

I was reading Psalm 22 this am in my QT and I had to stop at verse 8 and pray…thinking about what my sin cost Jesus disturbed me and I had to pray for forgiveness.

IV. WE COMMIT TO SHOWING MERCY

I want you to look at verse 10…Lord, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back!

Remember what I said in the introduction…DAVID WAS A TYPE OF CHRIST, BUT NOT A PERFECT TYPE. I get amused at those who try to make David perfect. Dr. Wiersbe said, “David was not vindictive, he was simply looking out for the future of the dynasty.” I love Dr. Wiersbe and he has helped me in a lot of ways but he is wrong here. All you have to do is read the last chapter of David’s life and you will see his desire to get even with his enemies. Folks, we preach JESUS not David. David hated his enemies but Jesus taught us to love our enemies. I would never dream of being one of David’s enemies.

We must be pro-active and intentional about showing mercy to others.

Amazing Grace

Ephesians 2 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

From Death to Life

2 You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

 BUT God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Introduction

Rarely will I recommend a movie BUT if you have never seen the 2006 film AMAZING GRACE based on the life and work of William Wilberforce, you need to see it. It was not a box office smash; the film barely made enough to cover expenses but it is a classic and it contains several scenes with John Newton the author of the hymn Amazing Grace.

Since seeing this movie, and getting to know John Newton a little better, I have tried to come up with a better adjective than ‘Amazing’ to describe God incredible grace and I cannot.

To organize my thoughts in a presentable way: I have come up with an outline and I first want to talk about…

I. OUR NEED FOR GRACE

Paul highlights our desperate need for GRACE in verses 1-3…We were born dead. We inherited from Adam a body prone to decay and corruption and along with that, a ‘spirit’ that was dead toward God. It is our faith is Christ that made us alive…gave us a spiritual birth that eventually dominates the physical. Jesus talked about this birth to Nicodemus when He told him, “You have to be born again.”

Our spiritual deadness manifest itself in three ways:

[1] We follow the course of the world {Verse 2}

[2] We follow the prince of the air {Verse 2}

[3] We follow the desires of our flesh {Verse 3}

In verse 3, Paul makes it clear that ALL OF US are in need of His Grace…

All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

When It comes to sin, disobedience and depravity: some are worse than others or if you prefer, better than others but it is a mute point because it takes on one sin to make us a sinner.

Lets say we have to jump the Tennessee river to go to heaven and it is over a quarter of a mile wide. So we line up on the bank and we start jumping. So I jump first and I go 7-8 feet, then comes Too Tall with those long legs and younger body and he jumps 15 feet, then along comes one of these youngsters and they jump 20 feet. Remember the river is over 1300 feet wide. This means we all came exceeding short, we all got wet, what difference does it make who jumped the furtherest.

We all need grace: the moralist, the Pharisee needs grace as much as a criminal: there is no one so good that they do not need grace and no one so bad that they can’t be saved by grace if they put their trust in Jesus.

[2] GOD’S PLAN IS GRACE

I want you to listen to me…pay attention. I have many doubts, I am neither a paragon of virtue or faith but I tell you today, I have no doubt that SALVATION IS BY GRACE.

[1] First of all, it is the only way we can be eternally secure. [any salvation based on our efforts is in jeopardy] We humans are too flawed to save ourselves or to keep ourselves saved.

[2] Second: if Salvation is not solely of Grace AND a work of Christ, then Jesus is not our SAVIOR. He is more of a partner, a co-plot. If He can’t keep us saved, then He cannot be called a Savior.

[3] Third, Salvation involves a NEW BIRTH, which is from above and a gift. This destroys the argument that we Baptist believe you can make a profession of faith, be baptized and then live like the devil and still go to heaven. NO, my friend, if you made a profession of faith and was baptized but never born again, you are in a heap of trouble. {How do you know?} In Adam, you inherited a spirit of disobedience: in Christ you inherit a spirit of obedience. If you are still living the way you please and have no desire to obey Christ, you have never been saved.

[4] Every thing is scripture and history is about JESUS. I’m just telling, GOD LOVES HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN and He created the world through HIM and for HIM and it is His purpose for Jesus to get the glory.

Revelation 5:12….“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

Conclusion

I see two kinds of church members [did not say believers] [1] Those created in Christ Jesus for good works…operate out of an overflow of grace [2] And those who work for favor…trying to obtain God’s grace by their own performance. THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT GRACE CANNOT BE EARNED.

I don’t care how many Sunday school lessons you have taught…

How many sermons you have preached…

How many you have baptized or lead to faith in Christ…

How many times you have read the bible through…

How many nursing homes you have visited…

It is the fact that you are keeping track of what you are doing that disturbed me. It is the fact that you think you are morally superior to others that bothers me.

GOD created you with two hands for a reason: one is for giving and the other for receiving. Sometimes there can be pride and a sense of superiority in giving and for the proud, receiving can be more of a problem. We have to humble ourselves to receive, to acknowledge that the gift is undeserved.

The Peace Speaker

Mark 4:35-41

Jesus Stills a Storm

35 On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was. Other boats were with Him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Introduction

In a moment we are going to share with you another story involving storms. We’ve talked about Peter walking on the water during a horrific storm, then Jesus commanded His disciples to go into a storm so that He could test them and today we are going to talk about Jesus calming a storm.

Zechariah the prophet said more than 500 years before the birth of Christ…[Quoted in Luke 1:78-78]

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

I believe there are a lot of people sitting in the dark today…many sitting in the shadow of death. Since the threat of the Coronavirus hit some 6 weeks ago, I have seen a lot of fear and even panic. There is no doubt that DEATH DOES CAST A SHADOW. We can make light of the shadows as many preachers have done over the years but death is real. There can be no shadow unless there is something real to cast the shadow.

The disciples were Galilean fishermen for the most part; they were flawed and frail human being just like you and I and they constantly battled their fear and insecurity.

If you study the gospel of John; you will see that Jesus meet with them three times after the Crucifixion and before His ascension. Each time He began with these four words…PEACE BE UNTO YOU.

Question

Why did Jesus constantly confer peace on His disciples? Because PEACE is what they needed most. Solomon was given a blank check…”Ask for anything you want,” the LORD said and he ask for Wisdom. The LORD was pleased that he didn’t ask for great wealth which is what most would ask for. I personally would ask for PEACE.

Why Peace?

Because life is filled with storms…one after the other. The Coronavirus will not be our last storm, others are coming. PEACE is what we need to weather the storms. Money will not be your savior or your comfort: there are billionaires and millionaires who are scared to death of this virus. They are afraid of leaving their money.

The Gift

Jesus said in John 14…Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Now Lets read the Text

[Mark 4:35-41]

So here we have this fantastic story of Jesus calming the storm. He simply stood on the bow of the boat and spoke to the elements…He told them to hush, to be quiet. He called for silence and there was silence. The disciples were awe struck. It was a wow!!! moment.

Understand…

Jesus is God and He has the power to speak PEACE to your storm. I know, He has spoken peace to my storms.

Testimony

Thirty-five years ago, half my present age, my life came unraveled what seemed like over night. I had just returned from Christmas vacation [three days at my parents] and two of the deacons called and set up a meeting. They said we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that a group of people are circulating a petition to get rid of you and the good news is: they are not having much success. We just felt like you ought to know what is going on and they both assured me that they would support me in whatever the LORD lead me to do.

I was devastated; more than shocked, I was wiped out. It was a crushing blow to my ego and it punched a big hole in my confidence. My confidence began to erode and within weeks, I was a basket case. When the petition failed, a second party tried to do their way. They came to my house and asked me to resign. Again, I was taken back but had enough presence of mind to ask for a hearing with all the deacons. They granted me an audience and the meeting went well but the problem would not go away and I was beginning to have doubts as to whether or not I could stand before them and preach. It was the first time and only time I’ve ever been afraid of losing my mind. My mind was terrible disturbed, my confidence at an all time low and I was on the verse of being dysfunctional. Meanwhile, I had a wife and four children and my wife did not work outside the home and most of my income came from the church. The fear and the uncertainty tormented me every waking moment.

Finally in desperation, I went to our bedroom, shut the door and got down on my knees. I was at wits end and I poured my heart out to God and He graciously heard my prayer. Somewhere in that prayer meeting, I must have given the whole situation to Jesus because I felt an incredible peace flood my soul. Never had anything like it before or since. Then the LORD began to speak so clearly that I called for a time out so I could get paper and pencil and get it down. He gave me clear instructions on what to do and I made a list. I didn’t keep it, I wish now that I had because I can only remember one thing on that list. I promised Him I would obey and got up feeling like a new person. I think this was on a Monday or Tuesday, I made and announcement about my intentions on Wednesday night which was to have a vote of confidence on Sunday. I worked with my father on a construction job in Huntsville on Thursday and Friday and had perfect peace. I had a visitor on Saturday and another one on Sunday morning: trying to get me to change my mind. I told them I couldn’t…that I was following the LORD’s instructions. One of the very people who told I was making a mistake became one of my best friends on this earth. This man was not against me, he simply thought I was going about things the wrong way. I told him point blank…I am doing what the LORD told me to do…and time will tell.

GOD saw me through that storm. It was after this storm that the church began to grow and our friendships began to deepen. Looking back I am so glad I did not give into the fear and doubt, and jump ship.

So I know for a fact that Jesus can speak peace to your storm. We, in this life, will never be perfectly free of fear and doubt but we do not have to become it’s slave. It is a horrible way to live and I am here to tell you today, there is a better way and HIS NAME IS JESUS.

HE WILL GIVE YOU HIS PEACE IF YOU GIVE HIM YOUR LIFE.

Two Things We Cannot Do

Psalm 40:6-8, NLT

You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand—you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
Then I said, “Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures:
I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”

Introduction

Last week, we dealt with the HISTORICAL ASPECTS of Psalm 40 which have to do with David’s life and today we are going to look at the PROPHETIC ASPECTS which have to do with JESUS. Timothy Keller has a devotional book entitled “The Songs of Jesus.” There is no doubt in my mind that Keller is right–The Psalms are about Jesus and this is one of the Psalms they refer to as a MESSIANIC PSALM. This is not a stretch. If we go to Hebrews 10, we find these inspired words…

But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God— as is written about Me in the Scriptures.’”

First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. 10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Jesus and Disciple On the Road to Emmaus

Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

In John 5:39, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! [you are studying a book that is about Me and I am standing right here in front of you and you don’t see me in scripture or in life]

SO, make no bones about it…Psalm 40 is about Jesus.

Jesus did two things that David could not do: two things that you and I cannot do. [1] He lived a perfect life and [2] He died an atoning death. Yes, the two are connected. Had He not lived a perfect life, His death would have not been atoning.

Today we are going to take them in reverse order and talk first about the Atoning Death, or the SACRIFICE.

The first sacrifice took place after Adam and Eve sinned and we don’t have the details but it was a horrible object lesson for our parents as they watched an innocent animal die in their place. I think it was a lamb because nothing is more innocent than a lamb. The blood of that lamb had no atoning power, that lamb and all the other lambs to follow were point to Jesus, THE LAMB OF GOD.

The Jews made the mistake of worshiping the type instead of the reality that the type personified. They worshiped the SHADOW and rejected the SUBSTANCE, the real thing which was Jesus.

Producing multiple sacrifices had no power to cleanse them of their sins not to satisfy God’s wrath on sin. They even drifted into pagan practices and ideology; they believed their sacrifice appeased God which was never the case. Sacrifice was a part of all pagan worship but once the sacrifice was made and the god appeased, the pagan did as they pleased. After fulfilling their vows to their pagan gods, they were morally free to do what they pleased. We see this in religion today: go to church, take the sacraments and then do as you please.

YOU AND I CANNOT APPEASE GOD with any sacrifice. This is what all religions are about…appeasing their deity but with Yahweh, the one true God there is no appeasement. There is no offering from us that He will accept. Cain thought differently: he brought God the fruit of his own labor and God rejected it. Cain is the father of self-will and religion: MAN’S EFFORT TO APPEASE GOD.

IMPOSSIBLE! You cannot appease God and neither can I. You can join every church in Morgan County, you can donate your life’s saving to the church but you cannot appease God.

THERE IS ONLY ONE PERSON WHO CAN…Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice, the one true sacrifice that all other sacrifices pointed to….Listen, if you think it is about Judaism {religion}—you have missed it just like the Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees. If you think it is about your good works…you have missed it a country mile. God will never accept the fruit of your labor.

SECOND THINGS–Related to the first…

You cannot live a sinless life…Jesus did, you can’t. Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

The Greek word translated come short means to MISS THE MARK. Picture the glory of God, the Perfection we see in Jesus as the bulls eye. You and I can not hit that bulls eye. It is the picture of an archer. Two things are important for the archer: [1] Strength and [2] Aim. You and I may want to be perfect but we lack the strength. Try being perfect for just one day. Not only do we lack the strength, we don’t have the right motivation. Our aim is off. Some of us would like to be perfect but for who’s glory?

Jesus passion, His ultimate desire was to please the Father. He came to this earth to do His Father’s will.

When the disciples are trying to get Jesus to eat at Jacob’s well; Jesus said,  “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.”

John 5:30…“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of Him who sent me.

Conclusion

Listen dear friends; I am a Type-A personality, I am heavily driven, task oriented. I wake up with a to-do list in my head everyday. I have heard people say they are bored by the shut-down…I’m not I just want to get caught up and I can’t seem to do it. BUT I acknowledge, I confess there are things I CANNOT DO. I can’t please a perfect God with a perfect life. Are you kidding me! I’m 70 years old and still doing stupid stuff: perfection is not even in the debate. If any man needs Jesus, it is me but the truth is: EVERY MAN NEEDS JESUS. I do beg you in His name: don’t put your trust in anything or anyone other than JESUS.

A Leaky Cup

Psalm 40 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.
O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

11 Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles surround me— too many to count!
My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.

13 Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
14 May those who try to destroy me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace.
15 Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”

16 But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”
17 As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay.

Introduction

FIRST: When I read the Psalm and began my prep, I knew it was too much for one sermon. Actually, I think I could do a series from this Psalm. The middle portion of the Psalm is about Jesus and we will come back to it next week: today, LORD willing, we are going to talk about David’s need for Jesus.

SECOND: David wrote over 70 Psalms that are recorded in the bible, most of these Psalms come from the backdrop of a trial, a difficulty or even what we might call a low moment. This Psalm was written in one of those low moments: David felt like he was in a pit.

THIRD: Figuratively, in the bible, a pit is a place, or a hopeless situation that we cannot get out of without intervention. Joseph was literally put into a pit and so was Jeremiah. There was a dungeon underneath Caiaphas mansion in Jerusalem; shaped like a light bulb or inverted funnel. They lowered prisoners into this hole that was chiseled out of solid rock. I stood in the bottom of this hole when I was in Jerusalem in 1990. It is twenty feet to the hole above and there is no way out other than intervention.

FOURTH: David’s pit was despair and he had lost his courage…verse 12, “I have lost all courage.” The irony is: David is known for his great courage. Courage is like water in a earthen vessel, a cracked pot so to speak, it will leak away.

Transition

Since I want this to be an uplifting sermon, I am going to us the tiny preposition UP! How do you define ‘up’? Well, it is the opposite of down; right.

I want you to note the Lord’s activity in getting David out of the pit.

[1] Verse 1…THE LORD LISTENED UP

David said, I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.

The Revised English Bible reads, “He bent down to me and listened to my cry.”

It is comforting to know, there is no pit too deep for the LORD to hear our cry.

How many people have listened to you today? I am willing to bet, not many if any. We humans are terrible listeners.

When I took SEVEN HABITS and we got to the part about listening; I thought it would merely take my concentration but you have to listen, then repeat what the other person said…by saying...”If I understood you correctly, this is what you meant”...Guess what I failed again and again. Hearing and listening are two different things. Good communication assumes nothing. BUT God is a perfect listener because He also sees our hearts. Folks, you can’t imagine what a comfort it is to me to know that God listens.

[2] Verse 2…HE LIFTED UP

David said, He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.

The thing about a pit, it there is no way to get yourself out. Pits do not come with steps, ladders or elevators. Once you get into a pit, you have to have help getting out–you cannot do it by yourself.

David said, Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.

David looked neither toward men or religion to save him: He knew his salvation was from the LORD.

[3] Verse 2…HE STOOD ME UP

David said, He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.

Most translations read, “He set my feet upon a ROCK, making my steps secure.”

Of course the ROCK is not literally a rock it is THE ROCK, that is emphatic, the ROCK IS JESUS. He is the solid ground. That what Edward Mote had in mind when he wrote them hymn…Oh Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.

I love Kenneth Taylor’s paraphrase…He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along

[4] Verse 3…HE TUNED ME UP

David said, He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.

God in his marvelous grace lifted David from the pit of despair to the pinnacle of praise. God can tune us up and there is nothing like some time alone with Him in the morning and just soaking in His wonderful word.

Conclusion

Again, I want to close with some personal testimony. I got up last Saturday morning feeling depressed: it was the first time I had felt this way in a long time. I didn’t take the Coronavirus that seriously and I was not talking precautions until June got a little upset with me. I had acted recklessly which I know shocks no one. I also said some things that I shouldn’t have said. Long story short, it all descended on me like a black cloud last Friday night. For the first time during this ordeal, I got worried. I could feel the anxiety building and I did not like what I was feeling. I had preached to others about fear and now I felt in closing in on me. I went to my office early Saturday morning and opened a little book that contains Psalms and Proverbs in the Living Bible and I started reading Psalm 40 before I got to verse 3, I could literally feel the cloud lifting.

Then when I got to verse…For troubles surround me— too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage...I felt a huge sense of peace and relief. Like David, my COURAGE had leaked away so I went back to the SOURCE…Jesus. In Divine fashion, He renewed my courage. He restored my joy and gladness.

Man Overboard

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning. Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt Me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Introduction

Today, we are going to talk about Peter’s exciting walk on the water but before we do, I want to set the story up with a little background. The evening before, Jesus has feed the 5,000 with five hush puppies and two fish. That is a MIRACLE and it got everyone excited; so much so, that they were talking about making Jesus their KING. The Disciples may well have incited or encouraged this conversation because Jesus makes them get into a boat and leave. Then Jesus dismisses the crowd and goes up on the high ground alone to pray.

Jesus prays all night or at least into the wee hours of early morn: mean while on the tiny sea of Galilee, the disciples are getting no where. They should have been able to row all the way across the lake and back by this time but at 3:00 in the morning, they are not making any progress, the wind keeps pushing them back. Jesus knows they are caught in a storm and so He moves toward them and when He gets to the lake, He walks on the water. I don’t know how He did it but He did it!

The disciples are already afraid, Jews don’t like water, they have never been a seafaring people: they are superb at agriculture, medicine, science, and commerce but they hate sailing. So they are already frighted by the storm and the high waves and then they see a Ghost walking on the water coming in their direction: this brings them to a state of panic. They are terrified. Jesus knows they are afraid so He speaks to them, literally He said, “I AM, take heart, be not afraid.” They are thrilled to hear his voice and Peter immediately makes a request; “LORD, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said, “Come,” so Peter got out of the boat, starting walking on the water and came toward Jesus.

Questions

[1] How many disciples are in the boat? Peter is not in the boat, he went overboard, he is out there with Jesus so how many are in the boat? Eleven, right!

[2] Why are they still in the boat? If Jesus can enable one disciple to walk on water, why not all twelve?

Answer

The eleven are still in the boat because they are boat people; not boat rockers and not water walkers. They are still in the boat because their fear is greater than their faith. They hands are glued to the gunnels and their but to the seats, they aren’t going anywhere.

[1] First of all, they had never walked on water, nor seen anyone else walk on water. They were not about to try something new. BOAT PEOPLE always play it safe: they always oppose anything new or unprecedented.

[2] BOAT PEOPLE are not risk takers.They are thinking: it is wet and deep out there and I am not about to take a chance. THERE FEAR HINDERS THEM FROM ACTING IN FAITH.

[3] BOAT PEOPLE want a guarantee, how is this going to work out? Preacher, are you sure? Do you know for sure that this will work?

Peter

Make fun of impetuous Peter all you want: impetuous people sometimes act before they think but BOAT PEOPLE spend all their time thinking and they never ACT.

[1] For a brief time, Peter entered into Jesus miraculous walk on the water. I don’t know how many steps Peter took but it had to be several; he was closer to Jesus than the boat. Had he been right by the boat, he would simply have grabbed the boat.

[2] Peter did get a miracle out of the experience: Jesus reached down and saved him from the deep. Peter had a daring faith, he put himself in a position where if Jesus did not come through–he was a goner.

[3] Peter experienced the saving power of Jesus: he had a testimony the others did not have.

This I know; God responds to faith, even impetuous faith.

Testimony

I graduated college in August of 1971, got married a few days after graduation and then left for seminary in New Orleans in October of that same year. I preached my last sermon at Salem Springs Baptist Church on a Sunday night: we already had the U-haul trailer behind our little Chevy II. We didn’t have any idea they were going to do but the church took up and offering and gave us a $184 which looking back was a life saver. We had just a few dollars; a little over $200 if you put it all together. We spent the night with my grandmother and left at 5:00 a.m. for New Orleans but we ran out of gas just South of Meridian, Mississippi and by the time we got to the campus, it was twenty minutes until 5:00. The Seminary office closes at 5:00. I rushed in, announced by presence, told them who I was and that I was there to attend Seminary. They said, “Do you have an apartment reserved?”I said, “No, should I have done this in advance?” They tried to turn me away but I pleaded for mercy. Long story short, they worked it out so that we could stay in an efficiency apartment: ones they no longer used. By the time we got checked in, paid our matriculation fee and rent, we had $11 dollars left and neither of us had a job. Is that impetuous faith or what!

Within a week we both had found jobs but we had to work two weeks before we got paid. The $11 dollars had shrunk to less than $7: by the end of the first week we had less than a dollar. June got her last pay check in on Saturday morning and we were thrilled: we headed to the grocery store! Mistake: no one would cash the check and it was on the State of Alabama.

Folks, I admit that I am impetuous: Peter and I have a lot in common–we only stop taking to change feet. But I am here to tell you a truth: God is not going to get you out of something you don’t have the faith to get into.

It is time for bold, daring, reckless faith. I am a boat rocker, always have been but in my old age I am tempted more than ever to play it safe…One problem…The LORD will not let me. I like the way we were doing church before this crisis began: I am a people person and I like to see faces when I preach. This On-line stuff is new to me. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone. Maybe that is a good thing.

Conclusion

Let me ask you a question: who are you in this story. I’ve already told you, I am Peter, I go overboard, I take risk which means I fail a lot. I get wet while others stay dry but it is more exciting to be with Jesus on the water than to be in the dull confines of the boat. NOW, you are not Jesus. I am not Jesus–you are not Jesus. No one can be Jesus other than Jesus. So who are you? Are you one of the BOAT PEOPLE? Afraid to attempt anything new or unprecedented. You don’t operate by faith, you operate by sight. You don’t dare step further than your own understanding.

Challenge!

Get out of the boat! Do something different! Do something daring! Put God to the test–put yourself in a situation where if He don’t come through, you are sunk.