Get This for 2018!

Preached at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission on December 31, 2017:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?     How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,  and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

 But I trust in your unfailing love;    my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing the Lord’s praise,    for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13

These verses I read, like I said, are from the Psalms in the Bible; Psalm 13. If you’ve read the Pslams, you know that on the page it looks like poetry. The Psalms have verses like poetry. But this whole book of Psalms is really a songbook. This was the songs of worship that the people of Israel sang when they worshipped God. We don’t have the tunes for the Psalms but we have the lyrics, the words to the tunes.

And the thing is, we like a song on the radio if it it entertains us or gives people a temporary escape from the hard facts of life. You remember the Pharrell Williams song, “Happy”? That is a good song. It infects you with this happy feeling at least for a few minutes, and that’s all it has to do to be successful.

The Psalms are songs too, but they are a lot more than that. The Psalms are never there just to entertain us or to just to make us feel happy. They have something that the singer wants us to take away with us when we are done listening to them. They sing their song to give us something to take away from the experience.

And so what about this Psalm 13? What is the takeaway? What are we supposed to take away from this? There aren’t any words like “do this” or “do that”. David doesn’t tell you what to do, but he tells you what he is doing. He tells you how he looks at life. He tells you what he is beleiving.

But the reason why these words that were written about 3000 years ago may have something for us to hear is that they give us a way to look at life. They give us a way to process life, to think about life. And, they give us a pattern for what to believe about things. And I believe the David wrote this song because he wants you to understand, and to believe like He does in the Lord God, the God of Israel. He wants you to have his way of looking at things. The takeaway, the thing that we ought to carry away from the Psalms, is a viewpoint that  believes in God, that looks to God, that asks things of God, that lives life unto God. It wants to think about and maybe change what we believe and how we look at things.

So tonight, I want to strongly urge you to consider looking at things the way David does. And see if that viewpoint might be something you can agree with, something that you can get on board with.

There are three things I want to point out about this viewpoint I want to talk tonight about:

1. Living life with God ALWAYS with in the picture

2. Getting understanding from God

3. Living as a faithful son to a completely Good and Faithful Heavenly Father

The first thing is in verses 1 and 2. Here’s what it says there:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?     How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

The first thing I want you to see is how David lived his life before the face of God. That’s what I see here, and what I want to show to you. David apparently has some very hard things going on in his life. I can’t say what was going on here with David, exactly. Apparently David was in the middle of something very difficult. But, in the middle of all this difficult, where is David and what is David doing?

I’ll tell you what David is doing. He’s jawing with God. He’s talking to God. He’s engaging with God. How long, LORD he says. Will you forgot me forever? This is isn’t some casual conversation he is having with God. David is all steamed up. Do you ever get in a situatuon like this? At work, where I work, people do this thing we call “venting”. Letting off steam. They get all heated up about something, and then they just let it out. HaThe thing is we vent against somebody usually who is not even in the room.

But here in this Psalm, God is definitely in the room. In fact David takes this concern he has into the courtroom and he acts like God is on trial. What a strong thing to do! What a bold thing to do, to act like you are cross-examining the God of the universe! How long, Lord? Did you forget about me Lord?

Do you do that? When trouble comes, when the stresses of life press in on you, do you drown in your own thoughts, your own fears and worries…… or has it ever occurred to you to reach a hand up and a hand out to the Lord God?

There’s got to be some better way to handle my difficulties, my stress, my anxiety. I know, I’ll drink a little wine or beer. I’ll just find some way to act like the hard stuff is not really happening. But David, you see, is looking for an answer to his serious concerns, and takes that concern to the one person, the one being in the universe who can actually help him.

He is not doing what most of us do in so many of our troubles. It is easier for us to paint God out of the picture sometimes than to hold a serious conversation with the God of this universe.

One of the main impediments to getting God fully deployed in our lives is our reluctance to take seriously God’s pay grade. The job description of an Almighty God is very exacting. God is not a fumbling God. He is not ineptly going about the job of being a deity.

So here in this Psalm, David fully engages with the God who has revealed Himself to be the Lord over time, Lord over history, Lord over persons, over nations, over powers and principalities; with dominion over all things. And David asks God-sized questions. “How long, Lord? Are you paying attention Lord? How can all these things be happening to me if you’re really in control, if you are really God? Are you hiding from me God? Why did you make me this way? Why would you allow all this sin, and this suffering and this sorrow? And why do you allow evil to get the upper hand? Why do the evil range free in the wide open spaces while your followers are hunkered down in the trenches?

It is no crime against God to expect Him to do what He is capable of doing. It is certainly no crime against God to ask Him how and when and where He will fullfill what He has said He will do. This is no namby-pamby world, and God is no namby-pamby God, too weak to face our critique or our searching guestions.

So, what I’m asking of you for 2018 is that you really lay your hands on the Lord God. That you really come to Him with an expectation that the answer to your needs is in His direction and not in the oppositte direction from him.

I like the story of Jacob in the Old Testament. The Scriptures tell us that one night Jacob held a wrestling match with God. I don’t think Jacob necessarily wanted this to happen, but one night he found himself wrestling with God. It was the night before Jacob was to meet up with his brother Esau who wanted to kill him that last time he saw him. And right in this difficult moment where Jacob was scared to death about meeting his brother, the Scriptures tell us that someone, maybe an angel or maybe God himself engaged Jacob in a wrestling match.

And there is really no way to even do such a thing because God will always win that match. But Jacob got a really bright idea once God or the angel had him in a hip lock. He got this bright idea that he wouldn’t let go of God until God agreed to bless him. And then when God injured his hip, Jacob even had more reason to lean on God, to look to God for the answers. That is the tenacious, grasping hold of God that I’m talking about. It is the kind of tenacity that just won’t let go and to let everything depend on God. To stop looking for love in all the wrong places. To look instead, to Almighty God for answers, for hope.

We live our lives as if we have to please every single person that we come in contact with and the truth is that no one is up to that job. Carson Wentz, the quarterback for the Philidelphia Eagles has started a foundation called “Audience of One”. His idea is that we should live our lives with only God through Jesus Christ as our audience.

Is your life too complicated? Let me tell you one way to simplify it. Live your life with an audience of God only. If you do that, if you will submit yourself to the One true God you will find that love for Him will give you the power, and the ability to love the people in your life the way you should.

But there is a second thing in this Pslam that I think we can take away. It is in verses 3 and 4. Here David says to God:

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,  and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

The second thing we need to get is understanding. Give light to my eyes! Lord, I can manage all these problems if you will just give me some understanding, some way to process this, some way to cope with this!

David has decided that he will live before the face of God. He will always live with God in the picture. And now that He is living with God in the room, come to me, Oh God, and enlighten me. Give me understanding. Give me some tools! Give me a way to digest these horrible disconnects I see in my life and not have them digest me.

What if instead of the cares and worries of life continually weighing us down, what if instead we could plough through all of the stuff in life that confuses, everything that appears so contradictory, everything that stiffle or suffocates us. What if our ability to overcome, to process, to cut through all of the “garbage” that comes at us was like one of those industrial-strength blenders that could just chop through all of it and chop-chop-chop… all of it would just  immediately fit into place, and find a home within our spirits? Imagine that! All of the confusing and contradictory things that come at us. All of the vain thoughts of the world, all of the things that our senses pick up, the alienation we see in others and feel in ourselves. What if we had a way to just chop through it all? What if all the things we need to hold on to could all be recolciled together without any seeming effort.

God has given us that industrial-strength blender. It is called understanding. It is a precious gift of God’s Spirit. In John 14, Jesus talks about this. He says:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.

We have this in Christ. God has endowed his followers with understanding. And it is this understanding that allows to see the whole of what is going on in this universe. And God is the one who will give understanding. He will give give wisdom. In the book of James, James tells us , If anyone lacks wisdom let him ask of God. We need to get understanding, and in some cases when we are not getting it, we need to ask God for it.

How wonderful is understanding? This is what separates men from beasts. This is the very imprint of God, the image of God in men, that they can understand. Men and women are not captives to the primal, animal forces of emotions, of habits and traditions. They actually can reason things out.

Do you have the desire for understanding Christian? Do you ever cry like the Psalm-writer in Psalm 119 says, “Give me understanding according to your word?” Are you mere observer of the disconnectedness of life, or are you actually pursuing some spiritual understanding of it?

It’s great to have God in the picture. It is great to have understanding. But there is one more thing that is absolutely indispensable to living with God and with understanding. It is here in the final words of the Psalm:

 But I trust in your unfailing love;    my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing the Lord’s praise,    for he has been good to me.

The last thing we need to “get” is faith, and I by faith I mean something more than just seeing God in the picture, I really mean that we start to trust in God. We can actaully see God as he presents himself, as a good Father to those who submit themselves to him.

See how David’s mind has transitioned from living before the face of God to actaully seeking understanding from God, and now from seeking enlightenment to trusting in God. I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. Getting God in the room and getting enlightenment from God does not get us all the way there. It all ultimately must rest upon the view we have of God and his character.We must in the final analysis believe that He is reliable, that He is loving, that He is good, and that He has acted to secure salvation for us.

Christianity is certainly not a list of do and don’t and it is not a self-improvement program. It is a revealing of the person and character of God which is revealed in the Bible and in His works, especially in his work of saving us through Jesus Christ. And for this to all work it also involves a living, vital relationship of man with God. And faith is the ground rule of that relationship from our side of the equation.

David says “my heart rejoices in your salvation.” The Bible is a book about how made a way of salvation through Jesus Christ. God sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins and build a bridge of acceptance and salvation into God’s glorious eternal kindgom. If you havent discovered that friend it is all in here, in God’s word. I could preach more about that to you but it’s all in here. And God’s Holy Spirit will come to you to explain it to you in your spirit and you open yourself up to him.

David says, “I will sing then Lord’s praise for he has been good to me.” This is all about the person and Character of God. If a good and faithful and powerful God has made promises to men like are in this book, promises of salvation and eternal life, then we would be fools to not take this seriously.

I want to show you something that my wife got in a gift exchange Christmas Eve. We do what’s called a “White Elephant” Christmas, which is everybody exchanges gifts but nobody spends a lot of money  on it.

This gift is called a “Personal Water Filter”. Do you know what this thing will do? You can put this straw up to a muddy pool of water, a polluted stream of water, accroding to the claims that are made about it even up to sewer water and if you sip it through this straw it will come into your mouth as pure, drinkable, life-sustaining water. Can you imagine that? Im not messing with you on this. If you don’t believe me about this you come up and look at this after the service. This thing is nuts. If you’re out somewhere dying of thirst, you can use this straw and can drink things that would normally kill you but actaully have your thirst satisfied with it. This things actaully filters then water and makes it drinkable.

Now, there is part of me that wants to doubt that this straw will keep me safe, But I do trust that it will keep me safe. Even though all of my feeling might not feel safe, I am going to behave and believe that it will keep me safe

Let me leave you with this for 2018. There is a Personal Filter, a personal life filter that I want to recommend to you. I hold this filter in my hand. This is God’s revelation of Himself. That is what the Bible is. And in it God explain what this universe it all about. It explain what you all about as a person. It explains where the human race went wrong. It explains where you as a person have gone wrong. And it will tell you also of the gracious work of God to save men through Jesus Christ. And it will invite you to respond. It will challenge you, it will cause you to humble yourself. If you desire to submit yourself to it, I can tell you one thing for sure: it will be a filter that will allow you to make it through this poisonous world with hope for today and great hope for the future. This is a poison-filled world. This world is run amok with all kinds of poison and praise God that we has given enlightenment through his Word.

But understand friend, that this water source, this source of water for your spirit is a lviing person; a living God who made you and who wants to save you and establish a personal relationship with you. Make 2018 into something special by commiting your way unto Him.

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