Sunday, August 23, 2009

Psummer Psalm Pseries: Psalm 56 - Trust

Psalm 56
Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.
My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid
What can mere man do to me?
All day long they distort my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They attack, they lurk,
They watch my steps,
As they have waited to take my life.
Because of wickedness, cast them forth,
In anger put down the peoples, O God!
You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle
Are they not in Your book?
Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call;
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
In the LORD, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
Your vows are binding upon me, O God;
I will render thank offerings to You.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
Indeed my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God
In the light of the living.

I was standing there last night doing some laundry. I was folding some towels and sheets when I came to one of those fitted sheets. The ladies know, but do you guys know what those things are? They are the sheets that go on the bed first when the bed-making fairies change the sheets. They are related to the fairies who change the empty rolls of toilet paper, bit I digress. Fitted sheets have elastic in the hem, so they stay on the mattress. How many people have tried to fold fitted sheets? How many succeeded? By succeeded I don’t mean a lump of clothe squished flat because you sat on it while you folded towels. I don’t know how my mom did it, but she somehow got the fitted sheets folded to the exact same size and shape as the flat sheets. I was sitting there wrestling with the thing, wondering where to grab what and what to fold together. I eventually just packed it really tight so it looked kind of square. Struggling with our emotions is like that. Nothing seems to fit or match or is square to something else and we eventually just pack it as tight as we can and sit on it. In the midst of all this wrestling and problems, the juncture comes up to trust God, to pray and leave it with Him and then we are promised peace. Whether it be fear or sadness or shame we think it is something that is human and so it is part of us. Yes and no. Those things can jump us, but believe me when I tell you our God is bigger than those emotions

The Story of the Missionary
Over 20 years ago a missionary couple is travelling down an isolated country road in Belize, South America. The car is stopped at gunpoint by “banditos”. Often people were just outright killed if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The banditos pulled the man out who was driving and sped down the road with his wife. He immediately dropped to his knees and started praying, asking for protection and calling God’s grace down on his wife. A few hundred meters down the road the car suddenly stopped and the wife was pushed out. The robbers then continued on down the road.

The Story of David (1 Samuel 21:10-14)
David was on the run from Saul. He was alone and made a quick decision. The Bible says he kept on running from Saul until he came to Gath. Gath was a Philistine town and the Philistines were his enemies, though Saul was his enemy too. There’s that phrase “Out of the frying pan and into the fire”. It’s like one of those movies were someone is really scared and so they run - they run without thinking, without care for direction because they are running AWAY from something. There is the thought that “anywhere would be better than here!” Often, that is simply not true. So David escapes from Saul, and then finds himself in Gath where the officers around the King have heard of David’s reputation. The reputation that says, “Saul has killed a thousand enemies; David has killed 10,000 enemies! He is in deep trouble, and it is this Psalm that he writes. David is afraid and quickly comes up with a plan: Act crazy, and maybe they will let me go - for it was crazy that I came here in the first place. I expect David was in Gath for several days for the Philistines indeed had time to see he was crazy.
Have you ever run from something, only to find that were you ended up is as bad or worse than where you left? Often we do it without thinking - and that is part of the problem right there. Sometimes we do it in the midst of intense emotional and social pressure and we aren’t thinking straight. That is where we need close friends who can help us. Friends who will stick by us when we are at our ugliest. These are the friends who are allowed to tell us we are wrong because we trust them. And when we yell at them and throw a tantrum because we don’t like what they said, they still stand with us. I hope 2 things for each of you. The first is that you have a friend or two that will stand by you through thick or thin. That friend needs to be close to God so you are getting not just their wisdom, but God’s through them. The second is that you are that kind of friend to one or two others. You can’t just be the recipient of all things good - you need to give good things to others. Do you know people well enough to stand by them when they blow it? What if their decisions are life changing and they have to live with that altered reality? Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners… and He stands with us in the darkest of times. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

The Fear
So David finds himself in Gath, with enemies threatening to kill him. His very life is in danger. He has lost his wife, Michal. He has lost the prestige he had in killing Goliath. He has lost his position as the son in law of the king. Have you been hit financially? Relationally? The loss of a job? Poor health for you or someone close to you? Fear waits in the shadows and jumps us at these times. This fear is almost never based on what has happened, but what will happen. Fear by definition is about the future and what it holds for us. David may have feared before that the king would try to kill him. When that happened fear turned into some other nasty emotion like depression or anger.
Understand that fear is not natural to man. Fear came with sin. Back in the Garden Adam and Eve hid because sin made them afraid and ashamed. There is fear of pain, of ill health, of failing finances, of death, of people and judgement, of water and spiders. I finally went to the dentist this week. I should have gone months ago when I noticed a cavity developing in a back tooth. I put it off and off because I don’t like dentists. It’s not personal, and I don’t mind them to meet them on the street. It is when I am in a reclining chair and they show up. My older brother Paul had to have a lot of work done last year. At one point he fainted in the dentist chair. The dentist did something and there was a funny noise in his mouth and out he went like a light. Maybe it is genetic. Fear is a reaction to a situation. It can jump us quite quickly when we are not expecting it. There is a famous pastor who sometimes is physically sick to his stomach because of the stress of preaching. I personally think it is better to have someone throw up before I preach than throw up when I am done - it doesn’t reflect on me then…
2 Timothy 1:7 says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. That word fear is connected to timidity.Listen to the first 4 paragraphs Ed Silvoso’s Prayer Evangelism:

“Nothing is more extraordinary than being born again - that instant when we turned from darkness to light and saw Jesus with His arms extended to ward us. We all remember the moment when we crossed the threshold from death to life, when we learned that our names had been written in the Book of Life by God Himself. All other events in life pale in comparison.
Once we have experienced this rebirth, we want everybody else to have the same experience. We want to see our loved ones come to Jesus. We want strangers who live in foreign lands to know Him. The Holy Spirit of God who now dwells within us has put this desire in our hearts.
Paradoxically, most of us are paralyzed by the mer thought of witnessing to others, especially strangers. We want to tell them about Jesus so that they will experience the miracle of the new birth; but when we go to speak, our lips seemed to be glued together and our voices desert us at the crucial moment. We have tried and failed so many times that we feel as though we will never be able to do it.
This realization pains us deeply because Jesus told us to do it and we do want to please Him. Worse, we are tortured by the two-edged pain of letting Him down and the certainty that people within our circle of influence are going to hell.”

We all face moments of fear. But listen to the transition in this Psalm in verses 3-4:

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid what can mere man do to me?

David was afraid, but then he made a choice. And in that choice he found there was no fear.

The Choice
What was that choice? Did he decide to not be afraid? No. I have learned it is very difficult if not impossible for most people to just shut off or change emotions. There is a lion in front of you, and I come along and say, “Don’t be afraid.” That is a bit ridiculous. What you need to hear and what I need to believe, is what David’s choice was, and that is God is in control. You have to come to the point where you trust unquestioningly that God has your back. I think that is at the heart of entire sanctification. We believe that God can do the miraculous thing of changing our future spiritually from death to life, that He who created the universe also knows us intimately. Yet in a moment of fear, what do we do? Throw yourself at God’s grace for He has promised to be there. My dad sat in church one time and had a pastor talk about fear. After the service my dad asked him about it. What are we afraid of? Do we think man can do something to us without God’s knowledge? All through the Bible we see people put in very challenging positions because of their faith:
Noah was called to build an ark.
Abraham called to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
Gideon was called to deliver Israel.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were challenged with a fiery furnace.
David had his lions’ den.
Paul had shipwrecks, beatings, stoning, threats and the list goes on. What is of note is the faith of these people. People who have gone through much more than us, and had a strong faith to the end. They made a choice because they were following God with all there heart, soul, and mind… just as we should be doing.
These were real people in real places - been in a place like one of those? Make the commitment now to follow jesu with all you got, and as you go through life you will find that even though Fear tries to jump you, you give it to God and you get peace instead.

The Peace
David has peace because he knows God is in control. He knows God is watching him. Even David’s tears are recorded - God has his back. Do you see that progression? David fears, puts His trust in God, the fear is gone and he worships God! The great struggle in trust is emotion. Emotion runs away with us sometimes, even when it is flying in the face of truth. When that happens we don’t trust God. As God changes us more and more into His likeness, our emotions will align more and more with the heart of God. Bonnie and I were discussing Psalm 37:4 where it says if we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us the desires of our heart. That verse is talking about that change the Holy Spirit wroughts in our hearts. Our desires will come from Him, so that our hearts will be after God’s. David was called a man after God’s heart, in spite of his public and private sins. God is bigger than any situation you may find yourselves in, now or ever. Trust in Him. Rest in Him. Let the fear go and praise the lord. Jesus is calling you now with the words,

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

4 comments:

pj said...

its interesting how one might 'fear' giving up all the control over to God and yet then find peace in that same thing if they succeed in doing so.
pj

Steve G said...

It is kinda funny how many paradoxes there are in the Christian life (die to live, First shall be last, Give all to get). We are all works in progress, too. Thanks for stopping by.

pj said...

wondering... Are most of the people in your congregation born again/raised Christian? Or do you get lots of non christians attending too?
pj

Steve G said...

We have a small, mostly senior congregation with most people being Christians for decades. Some became Christians as adults, but most have a multi generational heritage in the church.
My prayer is that whether young or old in our faith, we live that out in our day to day life. Salvation is about following Jesus with all we got, and we all need to be encouraged in that!
Thanks for joining us in that journey.