It is good to be back with you all once again. After being in South Dakota and then taking time off coming back tends to leave me feeling a bit out of touch with what is going on here and in each of your lives. I had planned on having a time this morning where the Lakota Journey team would be able to take the morning and share how they saw God moving on the Reservation and in the lives of their teammates however when I set the date out for the team a large number of them were going to be out of town this weekend so it became apparent that God had a different plan for us this morning.
In all honesty it was going to be quite an easy transition back into church life if the team were to be sharing this morning but mid week when I learned it wasn’t going to work out suddenly it became…”God, what in the world do you have for us? I don’t know what is going on within the lives of everyone, I don’t know the personal victories, I don’t know the personal struggles, God…what are you planning for this morning?” Waiting patiently on the Lord can be a pretty stressful thing to do when you know that time is ticking and a lot of people are going to be showing up on Sunday expecting to hear something.
As I found myself praying the words “Come into my presence” kept rolling through my mind. “Just come into my presence.” Coming into the presence of God is one of the most unnatural things for a man, woman, or child to do. Ever since the fall of Adam & Eve we have proven that our natural instinct is to run from the presence of God. When we run from His presence we are the god of our lives. When we run from His presence we are always in the right and never in the wrong. When we run from His presence we know what is best and don’t have to yield to anyone or anything. When we run from His presence vengeance is ours and we are the Judge, Jury, and executioner. We have proven track records of running from his presence. But: “Come into my presence” is always His call.
If you have your Bibles turn with me to Psalm 62. If you don’t have a Bible with you not a problem at all as the text will be overhead this morning. Psalm 62 was written around 3000 years ago by the famous king of Israel who was simply known as David. As I read this Psalm I am amazed at how God & life really never changes. God is always welcoming & calling humanity into his Presence and humanity always has the choice of: “Do I go or do I keep Him at arm’s length and face this situation my own way”. Look at Psalm 62 and we’ll start reading in verse 1…
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
I’m going to venture to say that in reading this 99% of us could say this is true theoretically but when speaking experientially that percentage is probably drastically lower than that number. In you and I admitting that we are so unlike David as he writes this it would be so easy to count ourselves as spiritual failures. Am I correct? Forgetting about the people sitting right next to you this morning focus on the reality of your life for a moment.
As David says “For God alone my soul waits in silence” do you relate to that statement? In the current era in which we live silence is nowhere to be found in our natural living conditions. Noise is everywhere. Audible noise is everywhere. Visual noise is everywhere. Noise comes in the form of television, movies, books, newspapers, signs & billboards, Internet, cell phones & texting, the car radio, and even in the form of human voices of those we live with. There are messages always coming at us and silence is never a part of our daily lives.
David also says that God alone is his rock…his fortress. He will not be shaken. If we were unfamiliar with the Psalms it would be easy for you and I to look at this and scoff. “David, you are the King of Israel. You say that God is your rock & fortress but come on buddy…you are sitting plush and comfortable in some castle up on high and what do you have to complain about?” If I lived on easy street I’d be able to say that too.
Life is hard David. Haven’t you ever read the words of Jesus in John 16:33 where he tells us to be prepared because in this world we will have trouble? But what would you know about that? You are a king!
But if we keep reading I believe we will see the Sovereign Grace of God intersecting the daily reality of mankind. Look at verse 3…
How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? 4 They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.
This point in time, as David is writing this Psalm, David is the king of Israel. Most of us are familiar with David’s life being in jeopardy before he was the King of Israel. We remember he is running from King Saul. We remember when spears are being thrown at him before we are on the throne. But usually what preoccupies our minds is all of the success David experienced. Remember the saying: “Saul has killed thousands…but David has killed the 10,000s.” We remember that though David wasn’t always morally upright he could still get whatever he wanted. If he sees a woman who is hot and wants to develop an intimate relationship with her…he goes ahead and does it. David, as King, defeats the Philistines, Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites.
But in Psalm 62:3-4 it doesn’t appear that David is experiencing a victorious moment does it? He says that he is being attacked and battered. These people plan to thrust him down from a high position. They are speaking lies about him. To his face they speak highly of him but in the secret places they slander him and plot his death.
While most of us haven’t had anyone plot our deaths we are familiar with difficult seasons of life aren’t we? Whether it is an unexpected car repair bill or someone who is causing relational difficulties in our lives we know difficult seasons don’t we? We are a people who know body aches, we know financial difficulties, and we know relational difficulties.
But take note that it is this difficult season of life that David communicates verses 1&2. It is in relational strife that he says he waits on the presence of God. It is in the midst of slander that he says his fortress is God. Meaning shoot fiery arrows at me…I don’t care a bit…God will protect me.
You and I live in a world where Evil & Pain & death exists. When you and I encounter those difficult seasons we have a clear choice as to whether we will come into the presence of God or if we will run. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? He allows it for our growth and refining and ultimately for His glory. Listen to what God says in Isaiah 48:10
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
You and I are refined in the furnace of affliction for the glory of God. He doesn’t do it for our sake. He doesn’t do it because he is sadistic. He does it because he is the supreme being of the universe and because of that will be glorified. He loves us…yes he does. But he also seeks his own glorification. I don’t know that there is a one of us who has ever heard anyone say: “I grew closest to God when my life was free from pain and suffering”. On the other hand, how many times have you heard a cancer survivor say: “It was during my battle with cancer that God proved himself to be real & faithful.”
See difficult times in life are granted by God to accomplish a purpose. Often times we choose not to allow God to use those times to work in us but instead we run from God. If it is relational strife we allow vengeance to become ours. If it is financial ruin we allow ourselves to be the savior as we pull up our bootstraps and dig ourselves out of the hole. But not David. In case we missed it he restates it…
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Some of you might be walking through something right now that you never imagined that you’d have to face. Not resisting & not fighting just seems so impossible. Not becoming bitter and angry seems so unfeasible. Not defending seems so backwards. Some of you are stuck in a season of life that you wonder if you’ll ever make your way out of it. It feels like a labyrinth that you have been groping your way through and you are about to give up on the whole process. So maybe you scoff at little rich boy King David.
In just reading this we don’t get the full picture of what is going on here in Psalm 62. Most Scholars believe that as David is writing this he is a maturing man. He isn’t a boy anymore. In fact he is old enough to have a son named Absalom who has gained quite a following in Israel at this time. The one pursuing David is not some foreign enemy…it is his own flesh and blood Absalom. The one trying to tear him off his throne isn’t some rogue renegade who knows very little about King David…it is his son who he shared the evening dinner table with. The one slandering him and speaking falsehoods about him isn’t the local tabloid newspaper…it is his son Absalom who David loved and poured his life into. The one who was flattering to the face and then plotting death behind his back wasn’t some dignitary…it was his son Absalom who he’d invested so many years into hoping to prepare him someday for the throne.
If anyone knows heart ache; If anyone knows betrayal; if anyone knows the loss of a dream it is King David. And rather than running from God so that he can control his pain and his future he actually goes into the presence of God because he knows, from past experience, that hope is found there. Safety is found there. Peace is found in the presence of God.
This morning, having been gone for quite some time, I wonder how many of us need to be found in the presence of God? If you’ve become bitter go to the presence of God. If your heart is aching go to the presence of God. If you are experiencing despair go to the presence of God. If you are living a life of fear go to the presence of God because He is a fortress! Whatever you have walked through in your past, or are currently walking through, you can either stiff arm God and keep him at a distance and as a result you’ll totally miss why He’s allowed you to walk the path he’s allowed you to walk. However, if you simply go to him, figuratively fall at His feet, He will be glorified and his Plan will be accomplished in your life.
This past week I read an article from Family Life Today. The article was about pain and heart ache and suffering. A lady who’s husband died of cancer wrote on the Glory of God through cancer. Listen to what she wrote:
One thing that I’ve become convinced of is that God has different definitions for words than I do. For example, He does work all things for my eternal good and His eternal glory. But his definition of good is different than mine. My “good” would never include cancer and young widowhood. My “good” would include healing and dying together in our sleep when we are in our nineties. But cancer was good because of what God did that He couldn’t do any other way. Cancer was, in fact, necessary to make Bob and me look more like Jesus. So in love, God allowed what was best for us … in light of eternity.
This morning I want to invite you into the presence of Jesus. During the next song or two you may need to sit and allow him to minister to your heart. You may need to stand and dance with a daddy who loves you. Or, you’ve been hiding and not allowed Him, or others, into your life and you are ready to come into His presence but you are not quite sure you can do it alone. Here in a moment I’m going to ask our deacons and their spouses to go into the prayer room off to the side of the multi-purpose room here and they will be waiting for you to come in there if you’d like someone to pray with you. Listen…God is always waiting for you to stop the resistance and come into his presence and receive what you need. What you need right now…that is everything that God wants to give to you.
See, David knew something. Yes, he knew that in this world we would have troubles. But he also knew the greatness of God. He knew the power of God. He knew the healing of God. As Jesus told his disciples to be prepared because in this world they would have troubles…he also ended it with:
“…but take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Robert could you and the band come forward? Deacons and spouses could you go into the prayer room? If you need to sit in silence and wait upon Jesus do that. If you need to stand and interact with God then you need to do that. If you would like someone to pray with you, or for you, I invite you to go into the prayer room and ask one of these couples to pray for you. The only thing they’ll ask is “How can we best pray for you.”