Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Psalm 37- Sermon Notes

Psalm 37 A Psalm of David
Sermon Notes
Fret Not
March 15, 2015
Lynchburg, Virginia

         The Lord continually exhorts and encourages us to trust in Him. The sort of encouragement must come from the Lord because we tend to grow fearful and doubt. This is nothing new. Peter was a bold man and quick to seek Jesus. But he also could be distracted, take his eyes off of Jesus, growing fretful and fearful.
         We, too, walk after Jesus. Amidst the waves of the world, we boldly come to Him by peril of boat or sea. But the waves are distracting. The danger seems imminent. Our eyes of faith grow dim. Like Peter, though, if we call out to Jesus, He will save us. He will neither leave us nor forsake us.
         As we grow up in the faith, we should train ourselves to look upon Jesus with faith. Before we grow fretful, look to the Lord, believing what He has done for us, knowing that He will be faithful in the future as He has been in the past.
         It is immaturity and lack of discipline that keeps us from walking in bold faith. But the Lord would have us grow up and He has supplied us with His Spirit to combat the world, the flesh and the devil.
We, who are in Christ, truly have nothing to fear. And yet, we do fear and this fact reminds us that we have room to grow, that we have a need to be strengthened with might in the inner man.
This Psalm is an exhortation to faith. It teaches us that God is faithful, that He marks the wicked and the righteous and keeps track of them for cursing or for blessing.

Psalm 37:1   Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.  2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 
Fret not because of evildoers. This is a good exhortation. We generally do a lot of fretting over evildoers. There are evil doers in the news regularly. They include politicians, various criminals, agenda driven media moguls, religious shysters, athletes and movie stars.
They are paraded before us as those who seem to have immunity from consequences. They do evil but continue to prosper. How long, O Lord, shall the wicked prosper?
We are not to envy their prosperity. Some Christians do envy such wicked men and fall because of it. They wish they could sin with impunity and their hearts grow far from God. But God tells us not to envy the wicked. The wicked will have a day of reckoning and their fall shall be great.
They shall be cut down like grass and wither like the green herb. This is to say that their days in the glory shall be short. In just a little while, there will be no reason to envy because their pride will be cut low.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.  4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 
The Psalmist presents the contrast of the attitude of the righteous.
1. Trust in the Lord- The wicked trusts in himself and in his devices. But the righteous trusts in God. He submits God’s advancement of the wicked and his own humble state to God’s divine decree and Providence. He rests in God. Such a man will also rest in the land and rest in God’s provision. You shall dwell in the land and eat
2. Delight in the Lord- The wicked man delights in his own fulfilled desires. He fills up the flesh, either through sensual living, power, or wealth or all of the above. He measures his advancement by how much he has accomplished in his own strength. But his blessing, even if only temporary is also form the Lord. The wicked man will not admit that this is true.
But a godly man desire to please God. God Him will give such a man the desires of his heart. First, if he desires God, then God gives the righteous Himself. God’s Spirit abides with the righteous. The wicked cannot even comprehend this. They do desire peace and rest but they are never able to obtain what they desire.
But a good man knows that to have the Lord is to have all. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all of these things shall be added unto you
Desire God first and the Lord will bless you with the bounty of the world. Desire the bounty of the world and even that which you have will be taken away from you. You lose God in the process and eventually, you lose everything.
3. Commit to the Lord- Commit and believe and He shall bring it to pass. What is the ‘it’ that the Lord will bring to pass? It is the way that you have committed unto Him. The wicked cut corners. They lie, cheat and steal, so that they can spend their increase on themselves. But the righteous do not do this. They commit their ways to the Lord. They will work to advance God’s good name and will not do so in a way that dishonors God’s name. God takes note of these things. And though the wicked prosper for a day, the same sun the grows the kingdom of the righteous, scorches the plans of the wicked.
4. Rest in the Lord- Don’t be agitated by wicked. Wait patiently. It is difficult for us to learn to wait patiently. As I have grown older, I have learned the great wisdom in waiting. Hasty judgments are almost always ill advised. Give it time. The Lord will work it out. Most problems, with family, or enemies, or struggles, are worked out by God without you having to work them out through machinations.
This rest in the Lord is not given to you merely AFTER you have seen God work. Of course, there is rest then. That sort of rest does not take faith. But the Psalmist is calling us to faith. Rest in God before you have rest. How can you do that? Because God is faithful and so you must grow up and learn this. Be at peace as you wait patiently for God to sort things out. Rest now, rejoice then.

8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.  9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.  10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.  11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. 
Be different than the wicked. Do not do evil even in the face of evil. Wait on the Lord’s inheritance. Do not grasp for your own advancement.
But the Lord does give an inheritance. And since the inheritance is from the Lord, it is vast.

12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.  13 The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.  14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.  15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.  16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.  17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.  18 The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.  19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.  20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
The reason we should trust and rest in the Lord is because He is taking everything into account. We get all agitated by the wicked thinking that the wicked man will get ahead, that he will thwart God’s people or even God, Himself. But we must not do this. We must learn to be more like God. We must take the long view, understanding that the Lord is merely waiting to act. God laughs at the devices of the wicked. Even when the wicked gnashes his teeth at the righteous, the Lord laughs. Why? Because He knows that He is going to fight the wicked man and the wicked shall certainly not prevail against Him.

21   The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.  22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.  23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. 
A wicked man’s borrowing is theft. He does not intend to repay. His wicked ways shall be cut off by the Lord. But a righteous man will be  upheld by the Lord.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Note that a good man, walking in the ordered steps of the Lord, may still fall. He stumbles, he trips, he sins, he fails, but he is not forsake of God, he is not utterly cast down. He stumbles but the Lord holds him up. This is not a call to perfectionism, at all. It is a call to lean heavily on Jesus.

25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.  26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed. 
The wicked man borrows and does not intend repay. At some point, he uses up any good will that is extended towards him.
A righteous man lends without the expectation of repayment. He is generous. Such a man always finds those who will support him.
He is watched over by God but not only by God. Because he is generous, he and his seed find favor both with God and with men.
You reap what you sow.
Do the righteous beg? Are they starving? Pastor Tana Singaraja illustration. He was pleased to find it was true. Even in the midst of want of jobs and food, the brothers were provided for with both.

27 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.  28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved forever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.  29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.  30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.  31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.  32 The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.  33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged. 34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. 
The righteous are concerned with the law of God. They are not flatterers seeking the approval of man. Thus, they have a standard and are content for God to keep track. They speak wisdom and seek justice. Such men inherit the land. They take dominion through God’s gracious providence.
The wicked watch this and also take note. They cannot inherit so they seek to usurp. They seek to harm the righteous and so receive their inheritance but it shall not be so. When the wicked act, their nature is revealed that they are not sons of the living God. Thus, they shall not inherit.
They shall be cut off.
But the righteous shall inherit. Wait on the Lord, keep His way. He will repay. He is the judge and will repay both the righteous and the wicked.

35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.  36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. 
Though the wicked flourish for a time, they will not see the harvest.

37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. 
Contrast this with the perfect man, the upright man. Though he see chaos and suffering for a time, in due time, he will receive the harvest of peace and rest.

38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. 

         Glory Be to God!- This really is about the glory. Our chief end is to glorify God. When God exalts the lowly and humbles the proud, He glorifies Himself. This could not happen except by the hand of God.
         In a worldly system without God, the wicked would be exalted and none could stop them. But God marks them and brings judgment.
         The righteous understand this and know that God has acted. This is one reason why the righteous are called to live by faith. Our eyes see injustice victorious in the short term. But our faith calls us to believe that God also notices and will act in due time.
         At just the right time, Christ died for sinners. Thus, God will act, at just the right time. But we do not always have to ‘merely’ have faith. We see God act. But we do always have to have faith for the future. We know that God will be faithful, so our faith is made strong.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.  40 And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.
         Who is he that trusts in the Lord? The same as shall be saved. The Lord is our strength in time of trouble.
         What sort of trouble? All sorts.

The Meek Shall Inherit

What does it mean to be meek? We sometimes think of meek as passive or weak. But the Scriptures have a different definition, for Moses was meek. He was neither passive nor weak. He was a strong man who constantly sought refuge in the Lord. Even when the Lord was about to act with wrath on His people, Moses was bold to fall on His face before the Lord.
         Meekness has to do with submission to God. The meek man is the one who will honor God as God and submit to His will. These are the true sons and are those who inherit as sons.
         The meek are those who are honest about who God is and who they are, gladly acknowledging that all that they are and all that they possess is only by the grace of God.

         Here you are, gathered at the Table at the death of Jesus to hear the Father announce the reading of His testament, the listing of the heirs. Dear saints, you are His children, you have received a full share in Jesus Christ. So, let us rejoice and be glad.

The Steadying Hand of the Lord

Psalm 37: 23-24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand

We are not preaching salvation by perfectionism. The good man, the upright man, the righteous man, is not the sinless man. All men are sinners. Even saints are sinners. The judgment of a man’s worth is not whether he sins, or not. Worthy men sin. As one wise man said, “Men at their best are men at best.”

The measure of a man is what he does with his sin. Does he confess? Does he repent? Does he receive forgiveness? A man fallen and cast down by sin can be forgiven and raised from his calamity, for the Lord shall uphold him with His own right hand, His own dear Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior. If we cast ourselves on Jesus, He will not leave us in the state of despair. He will forgive our sins. He will take our hand and raise us up and bring us into the presence of His Father. Glory be to God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Psalm 36

Psalm 36
Sermon Notes
The Worst Flatterer
March 8, 2015
Lynchburg, Virginia

            Flattery is always a dangerous game. The flatterer spends compliments to purchase favor. He may not really believe his words but he does believe in his benefits.
To flatter and to be flattered are both dangerous occupations. The flatterer is insincere but the flattered is also potentially deceived. What he thinks is a legitimate compliment may be nothing of the sort. His adoring fan may have convinced him that he is wise, or bold, or benevolent when he is may, in fact,  be none of these things. He may be foolish, fearful and greedy.
To flatter is to lie. To be flattered is to love to hear lies. The anti-dote is honesty before the Lord. Our concern must be what God thinks of us not what man says he thinks. God always gives us an honest evaluation. He speaks the truth in love.
As we learn to think God’s thoughts after Him, we, too, learn to speak the truth in love. We do not flatter but we do seek to encourage. Encouragement sometimes requires hard words, even words that will not earn us favor. This is why we must be a people of faith. If we do what God calls us to do, then we can trust that He will take note and will reward us accordingly. We are not concerned with man’s rewards and so we do not seek to cultivate favor through flattery.
No man is in a worse position than when he flatters himself. If you tell yourself lies to justify your views and actions, you will soon prove to be convincing. You will build yourself up in your deceits until you believe them so strongly you cannot be made to see the lie. This is what happens to a man when there is no fear of God before his eyes.

Psalm 36 To the Chief Musician
A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD.

Psalm 36:1 The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. 
No fear of God is a bad place to be. This is tantamount to an atheistic view. He does not fear God because he does not believe that God takes note and keeps count. If he believes in God at all, he does not believe that God is omniscient and all-powerful. Namely, he denies God’s sovereignty over men. The Psalmist declares that this is a bad position.
Keep in mind that it is not merely the wicked man that says this. A wicked man may say that he has the fear of God in mind. He may claim that he does what he does with God in mind. But his transgression speaks differently. A wicked man deceives himself and others but his actions speak clearly.
If he says that he love God but hates his brother, then he is a liar. He does not really love God. If he says that he loves God but is living in open scandalous sin, drunkenness, pornography, adultery, homosexuality, fornication, then he does not love God. He is a liar. His transgression reveals the lie.
He says that he loves God but his transgression reveals that he does not fear God. He says by his actions that God does not take note. He is not concerned whether God knows or not, because he seeks to fulfill his own desire rather than seeking to glorify God.

2 For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. 
It is bad enough to flatter others. A flatterer has an agenda. His comments are not necessarily heartfelt. They are given to earn the other’s favor. Flattery is dishonesty in relationship.
But how much more wicked is a man who flatters himself? He compliments himself on his behavior so that he can earn favor from himself? He tells himself that he is wise or benevolent or cunning or smart and then he believe the lie that he tells himself. He gets caught in his own deceit.
Eventually, his iniquity is found hateful. What he says is love, what he says is wisdom, what he says is smarts, eventually crashes down on his own head. He would not submit himself to true wisdom and consequently reaps foolishness. But he does not really see that he is the fool. He thinks that he is playing others for the fool at just the moment that he is about to take his biggest fall.
We understand this sort of story. It plays out for us in the movies. It plays out for us in real life. Just when you think you are wise in your own eyes and have pulled one over on somebody, your sin is revealed and the truth is shocking.
Children, you understand this, right? The Bible calls you to tell the truth. But if you tell a lie and then get caught in it, you might be tempted to tell another lie and another until you actually believe your own lies. Just when you think you’ve got away scot free, the lies unravel, including your own self-deceit and you are humbled before God and your parents. So, do not get too high-minded. Stay humble in your own eyes. Listen to counsel and not to your own self-flattery.

3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. 
Iniquity and deceit go together. The Lord calls us to be men, women and children of our word. But a man, woman or child who begins to deceive will certainly fall into iniquity. He thinks he is being wise or cunning but he is not. He has left off being wise and has become a fool.
Seeking to do himself good, he deceives himself that his actions are good. But they are not. They are bad.

4 He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.
Where does your mind run to as you lie in bed? Do you devise plans of evil? I guess it depends on how you define evil? But do you deliver speeches to your parents, or pastor or friends, defending your actions against their remonstrances? Do you seek to put them in their place? Do you secretly hope or even plan their demise? Do not be deceived. As a man thinketh, so is he. You are what you set your mind on. The hands follow the heart.
We have all had moments when our thoughts got away from us. We have imagined a vain thing. We have imagined harm to our neighbor rather than love to our neighbor. I do not call you wicked for committing such a sin. We are all sinners. But what do you do with that sort of sin? Do you confess, repent and seek to set your mind on whatsoever things are good, and honorable and beyond reproach? Or, do you feed the evil imagination with iniquities? That is the difference. Do you flatter yourself in your vain imaginations or do you condemn such thoughts to a deserving death?
Are you set in a good way, a good path, or a bad one? What is your trajectory? Where are you going?
Do you abhor evil? Like God, do you hate those men who love their sin? Do you hate your own sins? If you do not hate evil, then you might make friends with the devil. Christian, do not do that. Cultivate a divine mortification of sin.

Psa. 36:5   Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. 
Here is a great encouragement for confession. The Lord’s mercy is in the heavens. That is a way of saying that the Lord’s mercy is as high as the stars. His faithfulness to forgive sins and receives sinners is in the clouds.
The heavens and the clouds are important symbols. The heavens is the place where the Lord is said to reside. Of course, we know that He is omnipresent but His special abode is in the heavens. Jesus even ascended up into the heavens to be seated at the right hand of the Father.
The clouds are a symbol of God’s glory. It redounds to God’s glory to be merciful and forgive sinners. He blesses such sinners, no doubt, but He delights in mercy. This reveals an essential aspect of God’s character. He glorifies Himself when He forgives sin.
Given this truth, it would be foolish to cover up and justify our sins. If we do so, then God does get to glorify Himself by revealing His mercy. But when you confess sins you do reveal the glory of God.

6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast. 
The Lord’s righteousness is like a great mountain. It is big and looms over all. He is the One who does right and always does right. When our actions are set against His, they are revealed for what they are. This is why the wicked flatterer is such a farce. He imagines that he justifies himself. But when his actions are weighed against the great mountain of God’s righteousness, they are mere ant hills to be swept away in God’s judgment.
If even or good actions are wanting in the light of God’s righteousness, how much more so the acts of the wicked. With all his flattering, he cannot must an argument that will stand against God, the One who always does that which is right.
God as judge is a good thing. Many of us have been taught to fear God the Judge. But the Bible teaches us to go to Him and plead for mercy. God, the Judge, is merciful to those who seek out His mercy. But His wrath is against all those who justify themselves. Thus, as Judge, He reveals both wrath and mercy; wrath to those who justify themselves, mercy to those who are justified in Jesus.
The wicked man does not flee to God for preservation. He seeks to save himself. 
(Illustration- Interstallar). Although this was sort of a 'cool' movie, it was one of the most unChristian movies I have ever seen. The bottom line was that we do not need anyone to save us, not even a ghost, not even the Holy Ghost. We are perfectly capable of saving ourselves. What a lie!
The righteous man understands that God is his only hope.

7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.  8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. 
God’s lovingkindness is excellent. The Bible says that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. We know that our kind God will forgive us, grant us mercy and cover us with His loving wings. If God covers us, we are safe.
God provides all food, the fatness of His house and all that is good, the river of His pleasures.  God actually desires our happiness because they flow from His happiness.

9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.  10 O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart. 
The fountain of life is to be found in God. The wicked man is seeking pleasure in anything but God. He cannot escape God because all good comes from God. Even wicked pleasures are simply God’s good things turned inside out. The wicked wants the pleasure of God’s world without God’s rules. But the righteous recognizes that all good things come from God for God is goodness. Once we see this truth, then we can rejoice in all of the goodness of life. It is like a fountain which ever bubbles up the glory of God. If we would only see.
Our ability to see light is only from light. We are moons. Our light is from Christ. To this extent, we ought not to be proud of our light. We see but we see by mercy. We see by grace. So, our pray is that God would continue to bless us in His light and that His light would shine through us to others, enabling them to see the source of the light.
To know God is to know His loving kindness. May God continue to show us this and His righteousness.

11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.  12 There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.
It is good to pray for protection from the prideful and the wicked. We do not fight the wicked based upon their rules. We have a dramatically unfair advantage. We fight with spiritual weapons, prayer, praise, thanksgiving. And when we fight this way, God fights for us.
Were we to knock down our enemy, surely he would rise with redoubled vengeance. But were God to smite him for us, he will not rise. Thus, the workers of iniquity will fall and will not rise.

Where are you going?
            The Lord is interested in culture. He desires to bring the powers under the authority of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the authority but we do not yet see all things in submission to Him. So, in our lives, we should desire to work in such a way as to glorify the authority, the reign of Jesus.
            Thus, we are pleased when the Lord raises up godly leaders, pastors, civil magistrates of various sorts, police chiefs, fire chiefs, mayors, council members, state political representatives, governors, congressman, judges, supreme courts justices and even presidents.
            And it seems that many have chosen the means of rising to position of power through less than honorable means. They want the places of power and are willing to do whatever it takes to get there and stay there.
What’s more, this way of doing business seems to work. We were all told as children ‘cheaters never prosper.’ But the reality is that cheaters do prosper. Cheaters sometimes attain the highest level of commerce or political power. Lying, back door deals, pedaling influence, do in fact get people to the top.
But we are to be a people who know that getting to the top God’s way looks very different. We want to get to the top but we want to get there by God’s means.
When the wicked climb to the top, the Lord holds them in derision and laughs. Like Haman, being high up means there is a long way to fall, a lot of rope to hang one’s self. And this passage tells us that when the wicked fall, they do not rise up again.
It is good for us to pray that the foot of the prideful not be stumble the righteous. We pray that their hand is not raised up against the righteous and that they are caught in their own schemes in such a way that their fall is an utter calamity.
But the righteous, the man of integrity is raised in such a way that he is not cast down. If you are faithful in the little things and refuse to play by worldly standards, then any slanders against you are just that slanders. Lies to bring you down. And the slanderer is one with the flatterer. He will be caught in his own trap.