Monday, April 20, 2015

My Feet Upon a Rock- Psalm 40 Sermon Notes

Psalm 40 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
My Feet Upon a Rock
April 19, 2015
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         We come to Psalm 40. These last few Psalms are full of David’s troubles and God’s deliverance. If King David had some troubles, we are bound to have trouble. But we should also take courage, that God notices the desperate cry. He hears and saves.
         There is a key point in this passage that we should all note. Others are watching our suffering. Some, no doubt, to use it against us. See, he trusted in God. Let God come and deliver him. The more you sink, the more they gloat. Former friends or even family members see your suffering as a proof that you are mistaken in your trust of God. Or, perhaps even in your particular views of God, or your practice of your faith, or the way you have chosen to raise your children. They have waited for you to fail so that it vindicates their views.
         Others look upon your suffering and wonder how it could be. Don’t you profess faith in God? Haven’t you spoken of His great salvation and mercy? If that is really true, and you are truly a disciple of Jesus, then why do you suffer so much? Maybe you are not what you say you are? Maybe God is revealing your false religion? Many are the confusing thoughts of trials and troubles.
         But God is doing a work in you for you and for the great congregation, the assembly of His people. And this work will shut the mouths of naysayers and will open the minds of those who cannot understand the sufferings of the righteous. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. This many will include both those who are glad to see your demise and those who doubted your faith because of your sufferings. God uses the very troubles you face to reveal His glory in you.  
        
EXEGESIS
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 
Waiting upon God in affliction is difficult. We want answers now. Waiting this way is not patient waiting. David says that he waiting patiently for the Lord.
Our troubles are no private affair. David has waited long for the deliverance of the Lord and he is not disappointed. He was cast down in a horrible pit, a place of miry clay, signifying a place from which he could not escape. From such a slippery, muddy mess, the Lord rescued him and made him to stand upon a rock. The Lord is his rock.
Many will see and fear. This fear has several dimensions. One might be a simple fear of God. Since He acted so decisively to save one who was desperate, it strikes reverence and awe in those who watch. Another might be the fear of knowing that God loved David and allowed him to undergo such terrors. Truly, this is a fearful thing as well. But if God is God, where will turn for help in time of need? This, too, is a fearful thing. Let us trust in God while He is a friend, lest we find Him opposed to us as enemies.
Once he was delivered, he sang praise to God. This brought both vindication to David and glory to God. Men saw from whence he came and they, too, put their trust in the Lord.
Do not despise your troubles. These are God’s means to reveal His glory. Men see your suffering and rescue and your explicit trust in God and it moves them to faith.

4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.  5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
Do you put your trust in the Lord or do you listen to the lies of the proud? In Psalm 39, we saw that proud men walk in a vain show. They appear to be strong. They appear to be powerful. But the wise man knows that strength and power are a gift from God and are therefore held by His grace and mercy alone. They are fleeting and thus can quickly flee away. The proud man does not see this. He thinks that his strength and riches are of his own doing and does not see calamity at the door.
The wise man does not put his trust in riches but in the Lord.  He recognizes that the manifold wonderful works of the Lord are all of grace. He gives honor where honor is due.
Can you count the Lord’s blessings to you? If you can, you are not being thankful enough. Count his many blessings, name them one by one. They are like the sand of the sea. You fill a bucket and start to count the grains but the sea washes in a million more. As soon as your start counting, you realize that the number of His blessings is virtually infinite. Can you count the starts? Can you count the sand? Can you count the Lord’s blessings? No, but it is good to name them and count a great many of them. Husband, wife, children, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, church, fellow saints, elders, deacons, pastor, house, car, job, clothes, dinner, flowers, rain, clouds, sun, sky and the list goes on and on and on. God’s blessings shine like the sun.

6   Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.  7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,  8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Did God desire sacrifice? He commanded the sacrifice of animals. What is David driving at? The entire sacrificial system was a means to draw God’s people near to God. Circumcise your hearts. To obey is better than sacrifice.
External religion, without the love of God, is a show. God wanted worshippers who loved Him and sought to obey based upon love.  For such sinners, the sacrifices were not a means of prideful access to God but a rendering of thanks for God’s kindness.
If one sacrifices but does not do the will of God in marriage, in parenting, in honest work dealings, then one is not doing the will of God. If you love me, keep my commandments.

9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.  10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
David declared these truths. He was not afraid to admit that it was not his sacrifice that earned him favor with God but rather, God’s grace and mercy extended to him through sacrifice. This represents our own death in the animal but God’s grace in overlooking us for wrath.
Once David is delivered, he takes no credit for it. He gives credit where it is due, to the Lord. Among his brothers in the great congregation, he speaks of the acts and deliverance of God. Many saw and put their trust in the Lord. Others, heard and put their trust in the Lord.
Be bold to speak of the deliverances of the Lord. He speaks of the righteousness of God. V10. This is important in this context because David has suffered greatly. He has suffered for his own sins and enemies have piled on. In the midst of this, David declares that God is righteous. God does right. It was right for David to be in distress and affliction and God delivered him at just the right time. The God of all the earth does righteousness.

11   Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.  12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.  13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.
David does not appeal to God through sacrifice or any merit of his own. He seeks God’s tender mercy. Mercy is undeserved kindness. God is merciful towards us when He does not carry out the full extent of justice. We deserve cursing but we get blessings. We deserve punishment but we get reward. We deserve wrath but we get mercy. We deserve the wages of sin but we get the free gift of eternal life. All of this is nothing but grace.
Tender Mercies- a womb, a place of nurture and life.
Lovingkindness
Truth
Innumberable Evils- sins as the number of my hairs. My heart fails.
         David is so discouraged by his sin that he loses heart. He is down but has not totally given up. He still has strength enough to cry out to God for deliverance. But it might be noted that he is nearly at his wits end. It is all he can do to cry out for help. It should also be noted that God hears such cries.

What is the only deliverance from this? Forgiveness through Jesus. Nothing else will do.

14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.  15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. 
You have heard it said that you should hate your enemies but I say, love those who persecute you, pray for those who spitefully use you. Return good for evil and a blessing for a curse.
David speaks a curse her, to some degree but he still leaves it in the Lord’s hands. He does not take justice into his own hands nor does he go out of his way to name those who are attacking him and attack them in return. He leaves room for the wrath of God.
David prays there would no reward for those who seek to entrap him.

16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.  17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
David is drawing attention to a distinction. He is miserable because his sins have overwhelmed him and his enemies have piled on. But he also knows that rejoicing is from the Lord. Those that seek God rejoice and are glad, even with difficult circumstances engulfing them.
It is not those who are healthy that need a savior but rather the sick. David did not hide his need. The fact that he is poor and needy means that God gets more glory when he is delivered. A man who is delivered from a very small thing, reveals small glory towards God. But a man who  is rescued from the edge of death and the depths of despair magnifies the Lord greatly.
David knows this but he does not seek to grow worse so that God gets more glory. He feels that he is at the end and therefore must be delivered now. He says that God is his help and deliverer and calls upon God to “make no tarrying.” It appears that God has already tarried. David has waited and the deliverance has not happened. This heightens the need.

EXHORTATION
         In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us not to worry about our food, drink or clothes.  He says that God highly values us and will therefore provide all of our needs according to His great abundance. He exhorts us to trust in the Lord because this is where our real security arises.
          He tells His disciples to ask, seek and knock, for our Heavenly Father knows our need and is waiting to hear us express it so that He can supply all of our needs.
         This is similar to the Lord’s Prayer, where we ask, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The Lord knows we need food and has promised to provide our food. However, Jesus taught us to pray and ask for the very thing God already promised to provide. It is important that we know where our help comes from. It is important that we acknowledge that God is the one who supplies our daily bread, even if we have bread in abundance. He wants us to ask for our daily bread daily.
         Finally, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, we are told to stand on the rock that never fails. Jesus has identified Himself as that rock. We have an intimation of this in David’s Psalm. God brought him up out of the miry clay and set his feet upon a rock.
         When we trust in riches, when we trust in our own wisdom, when we trust in anything other than Jesus, then we are standing on shifting sand. Our riches diminish and disappear. Our wisdom fails us in difficult circumstances. Our friends flee at the crucial moment when we need them most. Our clear ideals are not a sure foundation from which to build security and assurance, for our ideals are never as perfect as Jesus.The foundation of Christ is our sure foundation.

Poor and Needy

Dear saints, we are poor and needy but the Lord thinks upon us. David said he was poor and needy. How much more we who are much more poor and much more needy? But given the sentiment, the poorer and the needier, the more the Lord thinks upon us. It is no shame for us to be poor and needy. On the contrary, to admit this truth as we seek Jesus Christ, is to be rich and content in Christ.
         We are not seeking the wealth of the world or our own self-suffiency. Rather, we throw ourselves upon Christ, from whence comes our help. He fills us up. He makes us the possessors of all things. He makes us content in excess and content in want, for to have Christ is to have all. The poorer we are, the needier we are, the more we have of Christ to supply all our needs.

         This meal then is for the poor and needy, for the hungry and thirsty, for the sick and the dead, made alive in Christ. By faith, receive the living Christ offered in this meal.

The Hairs of My Head

In our Psalm today, David laments that his sins are as the number of the hairs upon his head. The thought is overwhelming.
Jesus says that the very hairs of your head are all numbered and He says this in the context of showing His watch care over His people. He knows us intimately.
If we put these two things together, we shall find rest for our souls. Our sins are many, as many as our hairs but the Lord knows them every one and fully forgives them, every one. He knows them all so He does not leave any sins left uncounted, undealt with, unpardoned, not cast away, nor remembered against us. He deals with them all.

So, do not get stuck in lament for your many sins but rather give thanks that through the death of Jesus and the grace there offered, God has forgiven every single one.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Private Religion

As I was reading through the Sermon on the Mount it occurred to me that Jesus is not talking about mere heart religion, as if the religion you profess in public is not heart religion. But He addresses this by talking about what you do in private or in secret. What you do privately does reveal your heart religion. So, maybe it would be better to ask not "!hat do I really believe in my heart?" but, rather, "What do I do in private, when no one is watching but God?" And whatever THAT is, reveals what is in your heart.

That strikes many of us as scary. It reveals lack. It reveals failure. It reveals immaturity. And it reveals truth.

The answer, like Sunday school, is Jesus. Turn to Him. Confess your sins, failings, immaturities. Ask Him to make you in private what you show in public. Ask Him to make you the sort of man in your home that you appear to be at church. Ask Him to renew and transform you so that you learn to love what He loves, and in such a particular way, that even in secret, you take no pleasure in the things He takes no pleasure in. And to God be the glory!

Barnabas

I was writing a note and thought of this simple application to serve one another in body life.

Just take a moment and write someone an encouraging note. You could do one a month in just a few moments. Or if you are really ambitious, one a week would only take 5 minutes and a stamp. Easy, peasy. The value far outweighs the effort.

If several of you did this, many of your folks in your church would regularly get an encouraging note. 

I recently got a couple of notes from a couple of our young saints and it really made my day, made feel important that someone was thinking about me and went to the effort to write a note. Your thoughts towards others will be a huge encouragement to them.

Prov. 25:11    A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. 

Be a Barnabas. Give some gold.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Psalm 39- Sermon Notes

Psalm 39:0 To the chief Musician,
even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.
A Mere Breath- Sermon Notes
April 12, 2015
Lynchburg, Virginia

Exhordium
There seems to be two drastically different things going on in this Psalm. David is again overwhelmed by his own sins and God’s rebuke of him for them. At the same time, David’s enemies take advantage of his weakened state and fall upon him.
In this situation, David seeks to be faithful to God on both fronts. He confesses his sins and he refuses to lash out in anger against his enemies.

Exegesis
Psalms 39:1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.  2 I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. 
He holds his tongue because he knows that while his enemies are real enemies, God is still in control. His enemies delivered a trial but God sent it. He will not return evil for evil.      
It is in the face of the wicked that your tongue would most likely be unbridled. We should learn David’s wisdom from his constraint. He knows that if he lets his tongue fly in such a situation that he will surely sin. But he determines not to do so. He says that he holds his peace, even from good. That is, he chooses not to attack the wicked or to defend himself. He remains dumb.
These statements remind us of Jesus. He held His peace when the High Priest brought false witnesses against Him. He did not rail at them nor did He defend Himself. Matt. 26.
When they take Him to Pilate, they further accuse Him and He answers them nothing. Pilate marveled at this. Matt. 27. Also, when Jesus is brought before Herod, he was asked many things but Jesus answered him nothing. Luke 22. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him.
It is true that Jesus had an end in mind. He was going to the cross for His people. He could have defended Himself ably and rightly. However, in such a circumstance, it would have prevailed Him nothing. The Jews had determined to kill Jesus and the truth or falsity of His defense had nothing to do with the outcome. In the face of vehement accusation, to hold one’s tongue is wise and prudent.

My sorrow was stirred
It is unclear why his anguish increases. The ESV says he held his peace to no avail and my distress grew worse. I think we can understand this both in David’s case and in Jesus’s case. He held his peace to keep from sinning but it didn’t matter. Whether he spoke or whether he kept silent the outcome was the same. The enemies would not back off, treat him fairly or justly or relieve his sorrow. It was their sole purpose to increase his sorrow.
Furthermore, he seems to have a clear indication that this is God’s plan. It is delivered by wicked men but it is still God’s plan. If it is God’s plan for one to suffer, then this is not really relief. In fact, it may increase sorrow because it is impossible to thwart the will of God.

3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, 
This another good lesson taught to us both by David and again by Jesus. David kept his peace in the presence of his enemies and accusers. Had he lashed out in anger, he would have said or done something that he regretted. Instead, he held his peace until it was burning inside him. Then he does exactly the right thing. He pours his heart out to God.
He held his peace and considered the situation and his own condition. Instead of lashing out as his enemies or of aiming bitterness at God, the reality of his condition burned within him. Thought his enemies accused him falsely, he knew that he could not stand guiltless before God.
The fact of his accusers and the control it took to not lash out at them helped David to realize that in the sight of God, he is also a sinner like him. This is a burning hot realization.

4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.  5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.  6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
The result of David’s silence and then also of David’s words, is to see himself the way he really is before God. He is a frail man with numbered days. In the sight of God, his days are but a few, like the width of a man’s hand.
Even an old man is no wizened man in the sight of God. Every man even at his best is simply vanity. “Every man at best is at best a man.” How true this is. It is a truth that every man would be best to know.
Man is completely vain, transitory. There is nothing permanent about his condition, position, wealth, fame, influence. If a man thinks he is great, it is merely a vain show. He knows himself to be merely a man. David reveals his true humility to confess this truth even while all the world thinks him a high king.
A vain man is but a breath. The word vanity is hebel, a breath, something that has no substance and disappears rapidly.
Man walks in vain show. They make a lot noise for nothing, again, hebel, a breath. His life is as fleeting as his show, a breath.
Even were a man to heap up riches, they too, are a breath. Who will take care of them when he dies? He does not know who will come after him, whether the heaping up will have been of any use at all. Then why all the tumult in the process? Vanity.

7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.  8 Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.
David does not wait for justice. He does not wait for his accusers to stop accusing. He does not trust in his riches. His only hope is in the Lord.
He asks for two things and he gets them in the right order.
1.   Deliver me from all my transgressions. David is beset by enemies but he does not aim at them first. God has got his attention and David is humbled befo
2.   Make me not the reproach of the foolish- This is a prayer for deliverance from his enemies. David knows that he must get right before God or he has no standing to expect God to deal with his enemies. He does that and then asks God to make a distinction. Deliver me from fools!

9 I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.  10 Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.  11 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah. 
David calls out to God and explains that he was mute before his enemies because he understood that God had sent the trouble to him. The enemies are wearing him down and the thought of his own sins is wearing him down, but he sees both as having come from God. He asks God to stop striking him. He says that God’s blows have consumed him. They have brought him to the end.
Even his beauty, his health is consumed away, like a garment that is eaten by a moth. If David knows this, surely every man is vanity, a breath, habel.

Exhortation
12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.  13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.
David is calling upon God to remember His promises. If you are suffering, either as a result of the consequences of your own sins or even as a result of persecution of enemies, remember to not return evil for evil. God is both capable and willing to deliver you. Take your concerns to Him.
Furthermore, David reminds God of the law of hospitality. If a man is a stranger dwelling in a foreign land, he is to given food and shelter. David reminds God that both he and his fathers before him were all strangers, sojourners with God. Thus, God was required to grant them hospitality. He could not look away from their tears or remain silent. He was required by the law of love to be a Good Samaritan.
The Good Samaritan took the stranger and healed him. He helped him recover strength so that he could continue on his journey. He needed to be saved, both spiritually, delivered from sins, and physically, delivered from enemies.
David calls upon God to not be silent to his entreaties, to his prayers. Jesus gave a similar encouragement to us.
         Luke 11:5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

The lesson is clear. God is waiting to act on our behalf. He does call us to call Him. Call upon expecting an answer because He cares for you. Though He may be silent for a season, He is not unaware of our need. It is our need that shows us that we are needy. God’s delay in answering our prayers for deliverance are hidden in His divine counsel.
In 2 Cor. 12, Paul had a messenger of Satan sent to buffet him. He asked to be delivered of it three times.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
We need to remember Paul’s lesson to take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake. And thus, all our struggles and infirmities are indeed for Christ’s sake, if we are in Him and He is in us.
It is our weakness that shows the strength of Christ in us. We are not strong of our own accord. In our flesh, we would either fail or if we succeeded, we would get all the glory. But those who are in Christ give God the glory for perseverance. This does indeed redound to God’s glory.
And that is our chief end, that is why we are here, that is why we are victorious and that is why we suffer, to give God glory.
So do not despise the shame of suffering. Do not turn away from this burden and privilege to enter into Christ’s suffering. Whether He gives you immediate relief or let’s you continue in your suffering, God’s grace is sufficient for you.

Psa. 90:12   So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.  13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.  14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.  16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.  17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.