Rich Jones – 202-01-16 2 Kings 2:1-15

Elijah and the Humbling of Ahab
1 Kings 21:1-29                                 
January 8-9, 2022     

1 King 21 is the story of the despicable, but more than that, it’s the fact that even the despicable live before the eyes of God. This backstory is this, Israel is divided now, north and south. In the north, there is a king who is the worst of Kings, at this point in their history, Ahab. He was the most evilest king. At this point, he had followed the gods of the world, Baal, Asherah and then if that wasn’t enough, he then went and served them and worshiped them.

Then it says, and if that was a trivial thing, he went and married that woman, that wicked woman. You got to say it like that. He married that woman Jezebel. Now, when people hear the name Jezebel, they immediately recognize the essence of evil, even in the name. I used to think that no one would actually name their daughter Jezebel, but I’ve then looked it up. There are some people who named their daughters Jezebel. On the list of most popular baby names for girls, it’s listed 3843rd.

The percentage of people who named their daughters Jezebel is something like 0.000666%.

I added that last part, but you know what I’m saying. The story is not just about the nature of evil, but it’s about how God responds. That’s the key to the story, reveals a great truth that Paul spoke of to the philosophers in Athens. When he said this, this we find is in Acts 17, “God made the world and all things in it. He Himself gives to all people, life and breath, and all things that they might seek God. Though He is not far from each of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being. There is a great truth.

Everyone lives before the eyes of the Lord. 1 Kings 21 is a story centered on a vineyard in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The story is that King Ahab had a palace there. Next to his palace was a vineyard. It was owned by a man named Naboth. Ahab would see this beautiful vineyard there next to the palace. Every day he would see it and he wanted it. It would be such a wonderful place for a vegetable garden, he said, and he wanted that vineyard. Ahab offered to exchange to give him another plot of land, another vineyard in exchange for, or if he preferred, he would give him the value of it in money.

Now so far, no problem. This is all good. It’s reasonable. It’s fair, but what Ahab had not counted on was that Naboth was a man of principle, biblical principle. There were few left that followed the way of Jehovah, the God of Israel. In the north, there were few left, but Naboth was one of them, a man of integrity, man of character, a man of faith who would not sell the land on principle. God gave this land to me, to my family and I will not sell the inheritance of God. What happens next? When Ahab here’s the refusal, what happens next in the story is nothing short of deplorable despicable.

I.  Discontent is the Root of Unhappiness 

It’s a story that’s filled with life lessons. There are many who must hear the lessons that God would reveal in the story. Let’s read it. We can read the whole of the chapter because the plot is thick and we want to reveal what God does in the story. Chapter 21:1, Came about after these things that Naboth, the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab spoke to Naboth and he said, “Give me your vineyard that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house.

I would give you a better vineyard, and not it, or if you prefer, if you like, I will give you the price of it in money,” but Naboth said to Ahab, “God forbid.” Now actually he uses the name of the God of Israel here, Jehovah. “The Lord Jehovah forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He refuses on principle. Now when Naboth hears this, says Ahab came into his house sullen and vexed because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite has spoken to him for he said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

He laid down on his bed. He turned his face to the wall and he ate no food. In other words, he is soaking. He is pouting, we might say. Then, Jezebel, his wife came to him and he says, “How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you’re not eating any food, what is going on with you?” Still pouting, he said to her, “It’s because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite. I said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or if it pleases you I’ll give you a vineyard in its place,’ but he said, ‘No.’ He said, no, he won’t do it. ‘I will give you my vineyard.’ I want that vineyard.”

Jezebel his wife said to him, “Really?”

That’s in the Hebrew there somewhere. I’m sure. “Really, are you still the king of Israel? Get up, stop your whining.” That’s the idea. “Get up, stop your pouting, eat some bread. Let your heart be joyful. I’ll get you that vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. What next follows is nothing short of evil. She wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, sent letters to the elders and the nobles. I say so-called Nobles who were living in Naboth in his city. She wrote in his letters and she said, “Proclaim a fast, seat Naboth at the head of the people.

Seat two worthless men– In the Hebrew, it’s Belial. Two men of Belial, which is a tremendous spiritual, dark word. “Two worthless men before him, let them testify against him saying, ‘You cursed God in the king, man.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” The men of the city, elders and the nobles who lived in that city did it. They did as Jezebel had sent word to them in the letter. They proclaimed a fast. Verse 12, “They seated Naboth at the head of the people. Then the two worthless fellows came in, sat before him and the two worthless men testified against him, even against Naboth before the people.

They said, ‘Naboth cursed both God and the king.’ They took him outside the city, stone him with stones to death. Then they sent word to Jezebel saying Naboth has been stoned and he’s dead. It came about that when Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, ‘Get up, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money for Naboth is not alive, he is dead.’ It came about that when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab arose went down to the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite to take possession of it.”

You can see here. Imagine here’s Ahab standing in his vineyard, looking at his new possession that he obtained by evil. Then it says that the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. The word of the Lord came to Elijah, “Arise and go down and meet Ahab king of Israel who is in Samaria. Behold, he is even now in the vineyard of Naboth where he has gone to take possession of it. You shall speak thusly to him. You say, “Thus says the Lord have you murdered and also taken possession?”

You shall say to him, “Thus says the Lord in the place where the dogs licked up, the blood of Naboth, the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.” Now, Ahab, there he is in the vineyard. You can see. Imagine now, here He sees Elijah approaching him. He knows Elijah. He’s a man of power. He can call down fire from heaven. He sees Elijah coming. Notice it’s says– Ahab, Verse 20, said to Elijah, “Oh, have you found me, oh my enemy?” Elijah answered, “I have found you because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord.”

This is powerful. I have found you because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring evil upon you and will utterly sweep you away. We’ll cut you off. Cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel. I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam, son of Nebat,” which is powerful word against him. “I will make your house like the house of Baasha, son of Ahijah because of the provocation with which you have provoked me to anger.”

To provoke God is a deep word. You have made Israel to sin and of Jezebel. It’s like, I’m not done and of Jezebel, the Lord has spoken thus, ‘The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.’ The one belonging to Ahab, who dies in the city, the dogs will eat. The one who dies in the field, the birds of heaven will eat. Surely– Now a commentary is added. Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the side of the Lord. Here is that phrase again, “because Jezebel his wife incited him”. She was the inciter.

She was the instigator of evil, but I tell you that God holds him responsible for his action and he holds her responsible. He acted very abominably in following these idols according to all that the Amorites had done whom the Lord had cast out before the sons of Israel. Now, verse 27, the story takes a most unexpected turn. It’s quite interesting and surprising what then comes. It says in verse 27, “It came about that when Ahab heard these words, it struck him.” Something happened there. He tore his clothes, which is a demonstration of tremendous grief.

If someone hears word that their son had died, for example, he would take hold of his clothes and carry them. He took hold of his clothes and he tore them then he put on sackcloth which is a demonstration of humility. Sackcloth is literally the material from which sacks were made. You would cut a hole for the neck and for the arms and pull it over as a demonstration of complete humility. For a king to do such, is quite something. Then it says, “and then he fasted. Then he lay in his sackcloth and he went about despondently.

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, the Tishbite, and said, ‘Do you see this? Do see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me?’ Before the eyes of the Lord, Ahab has humbled himself. This is quite an amazing thing. An evil man, such as this, and because he has humbled himself before me I will not bring the evil in his days. I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days, who will do plenty of evil on their own. It’s a tremendous story with tremendous insight and tremendous application.

Here’s Naboth who wants this vineyard and he can’t have it and he is vexed it says, discontented, conflicted. Therefore there’s a great lesson, discontent is the root of much unhappiness, discontent. He won’t sell his vineyard becomes vexed, sullen, and pouting. Do you know what’s worse than a spoiled child? A spoiled adult. Anybody agree with me? He didn’t get what he wanted and he’s most unhappy. I want what I want and I want it now. This is the thing, many people have this very same perspective. They want what they want.

They don’t care who pays the price. They don’t care of the consequences; they want what they want. It touches on the very core of a person’s being. Life lessons from seeing what’s happening in Ahab and Jezebel, but before we look at Ahab and Jezebel, I want us to look at Naboth. There are great lessons from a man like this. A principle of character of integrity. He refused to sell his inheritance because his inheritance came from God. This is tremendous. I tell you that there is a modern equivalent today for you have an inheritance in Christ to recognize the value of what you have in Christ is very important.

A.  You have an inheritance in Christ

He refused to sell his property on principle. God gave us this land, “and it should not be sold,” God said to his people. Now there were not many in Israel that still took God at His word, who would hold onto biblical principles. There were not many left in the Northern kingdom, but wouldn’t you know it, but that God would place someone like Naboth right next to Ahab. He was a good man, a man of faith and integrity. He valued the land, but I suggest to you that it wasn’t just the land, it was the favor of God that came with the land.

It was the blessing of God in the inheritance that he valued, and it had everything to do with, then how you live on that land. There’s the blessing that God brings. Notice Leviticus 25, He speaks to it. Verses 17 and 19, where God says and He’s going to connect it to the land, He says, “You shall not wrong one another,” like how you treat the people around you. How you relate to the people. Don’t wrong people, but fear the Lord, your God for I am the Lord, your God. Then the land, see, it’s not just the land. It’s how you live on the land.

It’s not just the land, it’s the favor of God within it. Then the land will yield its produce and then you will eat your fill and live securely on it. Naboth was content because God gave it to him. Ahab promised him a better vineyard. There’s nothing better than the inheritance of God. I’ll tell you there’s a great example for believers. The inheritance that we have in Christ is of inestimable value if only you could see it. In fact, Ephesians 1:18-19, Ephesians you know has several amazing powerful prayers, but there’s one of them.

It has everything to do with the inheritance of God that He gives to those who believe. Notice Ephesians 1, “I pray that the eyes of your heart would be enlightened.” It means open the eyes, your spiritual eyes to see that you would know the hope of His calling and the riches of His inheritance in the saints. Oh, the riches, the depth of the riches of the inheritance that you have in Christ. That’s what He wants you to see. Know this, see this, open your eyes to the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe in accordance with the working of the strength of his might.

B.  Coveting is the root of being discontent

In other words, do who you are? Do what you have? I suggest to you that many do not. If they could only see the value you of what God would give them in Christ, they would value it greatly. Great life lessons from Naboth, but I want us to now look at the nature of Ahab and Jezebel and see great life lessons. He’s discontented, there’s conflict within him. If discontent is the root of unhappiness, then coveting is the root of being discontent. Seeing what someone else has and being discontented because you want what they have.

In other words, it was like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. By the way, did you know, side note, it’s scientifically proven that the grass is actually greener on the other side of the fence? I will give you the scientific proof for it right now. It’s scientifically proven the grass is greener on the other side of the fence because when you look at the grass on the other side of the fence you are looking at the grass from an angle. You are seeing all the blades of the grass line up next to each other and therefore it’s all green.

When you’re looking at your grass, you’re looking straight down on it and you’re seeing all the flaws and the dirt and the clods and all the problems, but when you look at your neighbor’s grass it’s all green. Scientifically proven that grass is greener on the other side. I call it the Facebook grass problem of life-because you look at other people’s life on Facebook and you say, “Look at their life it’s greener than mine. Their children are always happy. Their children are always behaving. Look at there. They’re always taking wonderful adventures and their life is exciting. My life is dull and boring because you’re looking straight down in your life. You’re looking at their life from the side and you’re discontented because you see your flaws, but you don’t see theirs. I suggest to you that if you went over there and looked straight down on their flaws, you’d see they got problems too.

Anybody agree with me? See this, He says it wasn’t as if Ahab didn’t have enough. He certainly had more than Naboth. In fact, it tells us in Chronicles that he had palaces of ivory. He had hundreds of servants. He had storehouses of silver and gold. He’s the king of Israel, but he didn’t have that vineyard. See, he wasn’t enough to have all those things. It comes from the nature of flesh. There’s never enough because the flesh is never satisfied. In fact, the modern world of advertising is based entirely upon that notion.

The modern world of advertising is based entirely upon the notion that the flesh is never satisfied. I remember reading the story of the construction of the Panama Canal. I enjoy reading history. There was an interesting dilemma that came early on in the project. They had hired many of the locals to work in the project. The problem came when they received their first paycheck, and it was more than most of them had earned in a year. They thought, “Well, why do we need to keep working for–” and they all summarily quit.

The construction managers are like, what are we going to do about this? Somebody came up with the idea, I know what let’s do. They ordered a boxcar full of Sears and Roebucks catalogs. Now, if you don’t know what Sears and Roebuck’s catalogs are, ask your parents. I know all about it. I read about it in history books. They ordered these thousands and thousands of Sears and Roebucks catalogs and distributed them to all the workers. As soon as they saw all of the stuff in the catalogs, then they all decided we got to go back to work so that we can get the stuff.

To quote from the famous American philosopher Dennis the Menace, this catalog’s got toys I didn’t even know I wanted. It’s the nature of the flesh he’s speaking to. In fact, Jesus spoke directly to it in the book of Luke 12:15, where Jesus said to them, beware. Be on your guard. Be careful. Beware of every form of creed for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions? Life does not come from possessions. You may have an abundance of possessions. There’s no life that comes from possessions.

Ecclesiastes 5 speaks to it also verses 10 to 11. Whoever loves money, never has enough money. Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. It’s never enough. This too is meaningless. Whereas goods increase, so do those who consume them. What benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes upon them? He’s discontented. He’s unhappy. He’s conflicted. I suggest to you then unhappiness comes from the condition of the heart. It comes from the heart. It’s interesting that God spoke directly to this in the commandments that He gave to Israel through Moses.

C.  Unhappiness comes from the heart

He gave this command. He said, “Do not covet. Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife. Don’t covet your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s field, your neighbor’s servants, your neighbor’s ox, your neighbor’s Audi. I added that part there, but that’s the idea. Nothing. Now the law is spiritual. It speaks to the heart. Righteousness is not about what a person does, it’s about what they are in their heart that makes them do what they do. It’s the condition of the heart. Many in Jesus’ day, many teachers in Jesus’ day tried to express that the law, they said, only has to do with the outward action.

Only has to do with the outward, what happens inside does not matter. Jesus said, “Oh, no, this is not so.” He taught that the heart, what happens in the soul is the most important part of a man. Matthew 12:33-35, Jesus is teaching. The tree is known by its fruit and life is known by its fruit, for the mouth speaks. In other words, the life is lived from that which fills the heart. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart will bring forth what is good. In other words, this is how to live. Jesus is giving us a principle of how to live, do this, this is right, desire this.

Out of the good treasure of your heart, bring forth what’s good. Live this way. It’s good, but have good treasure in your heart and then live out of that good treasure. Then He warns, the evil man brings out of the evil treasure that which is evil. The condition of the soul within is very, very important. There are many people who take into their soul that which is poison. There are many people who are sick within themselves, and they bring forth out of that great troubles in their life. Jesus in another place said, “You have heard it said, you shall not murder, but I say to you don’t even have anger in your heart towards your brother.”

The Apostle Paul wrote this in Roman 7:7-8, I would not have known about coveting if the law had said, you shall not covet, but then sin taking opportunity through the commandment produced in me, coveting of every kind. In other words, when the flesh is told that it can’t have something, that becomes the very thing it wants the most. That’s the nature of the flesh within. As soon as it’s told it can’t have something, that’s the very thing it wants the most. All you get to do is diet and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Here’s the thing. Here we are at the January of the beginning of the year. Many people make new year’s resolutions that have to do with dieting. We’re going to eat better. Here’s the problem about dieting in January. You’ve been eating Christmas stuff all December. Cookies, pie, apple pie, all that whipped cream, and everything. Then all of a sudden January, “I’m going to go on a diet,” and the flesh goes, “No, me wants cookies.” The very thing it wants. It’s interesting because in Roman 7, later in the chapter, Paul gives this insight.

I would like us to consider it for it is a deep word that touches on the very aspect of the human soul. Roman chapter 7, Paul is representing a conflict and he says, what am I doing? I don’t understand. For I am doing the very thing that I hate now. Many relate to this. I don’t understand this. There is a conflict within me. I don’t understand it. I’m doing the very thing that I hate. The good that I want to do, I don’t do. I practice the very evil that I don’t want. I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law at working the members of my body.

Waging war against the law of my mind, making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members, in my flesh. He culminates it by saying, “wretched man that I am, who will set me free from this body of death?” Then he gives the answer. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” which brings him right to Roman 8, perhaps one of the greatest chapters of the Bible. There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus for the law of the spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do weak as it was to the flesh God did by sending his own son.

Thanks be to God; Jesus is the answer. There is victory and it’s found in his name. Amen.

II.  When God Finds You, it’s Always Good

Back to the story then of Ahab. I would like to take hold of a great life lesson. When God finds you, it’s always good. “Have you found me, oh my enemy?” When God finds you, it’s always good. Elijah answered, “I have found you because you sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord.” Two parts of that I would like us to take hold of. You sold yourself in the sight of the Lord. The beginning, you sold yourself. Well, what did you gain? See, this speaks directly to the nature of men. It speaks to the value of the soul.

A.  Know the value of your soul

To know the value of the soul is tremendously important. “Have you found me?” “I’ve found you because you sold yourself.” “Have you found me, oh my enemy?” He’s the enemy. He’s the prophet of God. God is the enemy. Ahab could not have been more wrong. I submit that Elijah was the only one there that was for him. Clearly, Jezebel wasn’t for him, she’s inciting him to do evil. The elders and the nobles who went along with his evil plot, they weren’t for him. These two sons of Belial who lied against Naboth, they went for him.

I submit that Elijah was the only one that was for him because if God has found you, it’s always good because God is for you. Permit me to give a deep illustration. I was asked one time, many years ago to confront a man who was having an affair. I had gathered the evidence and confronted him with the evidence. We had long conversations. He denied all of it, but in the course of the conversation at one point, he said, “What would you do if it turns out that all of this is false?”

I said, “Then I am for you in every way.” He said, “Thank you.” Then he said, “I got one more question. What will you do if it turns out to be true?” To which I said, “Then I will be for you in every way. I am for you, and if you would humble yourself and take hold of this great opportunity to turn your life around, God will do good things.” If God has found you, it’s always good. When a person comes to the point where they come to their senses, and they see it, and they turn their life around, that is a good day. We have a word for it. It’s called repentance.

I don’t know why some people don’t like the word repentance. It’s a great word. It’s a wonderful word. For the day that someone turns their life and starts walking towards the things of God, that’s a good day. Can we give the Lord praise?

Amen. You sold yourself. At what gain? What did he gain? Only gained a vineyard. At what price? What did it cost? By all appearances, it costs nothing. He didn’t have to even pay for it now. He got an even better deal. I submit to you that he paid a great price. He sold his soul. He sold his integrity. He sold his character. These are of great value. Character is worth your soul. What is it worth? What is the value of integrity? The gain is little the price is high. Reminds me of what Paul wrote in Romans 6 where he said, “What benefit did I gain from the things that which I am now ashamed?”

I remember when I was a young man and I was memorizing chapters in the Bible, and I was memorizing Roman 6. When you memorize verses, you say it over and over and over in your mind. I was repeating this. When you’re just trying to memorize it, you’re just doing the words. What benefit did I gain, what benefit did I gain from the things that which I am now ashamed? What benefit did I gain? Then at some point, you stop repeating the words and the point of it hits you. What benefit did I gain from the things of which I am now ashamed? I gained nothing.

As a matter of fact, it cost me, tremendously. Jesus said this in Matthew 16: 26, “What would it profit a man if he gained the whole world and forfeited his soul?” Do you not know the value of your soul if you were offered the whole world in exchange? It would not be a right exchange what a man give in exchange for a soul? In other words, what’s the value? Many people do not understand their value, and they discount themselves. They discount their lives. If you could only see the value.

B.  Live before the eyes of God

God says, “I made you in My image. You are precious in My sight. I call you son. I call you My daughter. I sent My own Son to die on the cross that you might have redemption, forgiveness of sin. That you might be drawn into a relationship with Me as your everlasting Father. Do you not see how much I value you? You are precious,” He says. Now, what’s interesting is that when Ahab saw the price was high, higher than he could ever imagine, he humbled himself. Oh, you going to love this part of the story.

When he saw it, when he came to the realization, he opened his eyes. Ah, it’s a beautiful thing, and you see the tremendous grace of God. You see the tremendous grace. God sent His Son to find sinners and to bring them home. When those sinners recognize the condition of their soul and accept that offer of life, it’s a beautiful thing. Then lastly, we’ll close with this. Live before the eyes of God. You sold yourself to do evil before the eyes of the Lord. It reveals a great truth. Before God, we all live and move and have our being.

In other words, one day, we’ll all give an accounting of our lives. All of us, we’ll give an accounting of our lives. What did you do with the life I gave you? God gave you life. That’s what Paul was saying to the philosophers there in Athens. God breathed life. God gave men their life. God gave all things that they might seek God, though he’s not far. For in Him, we live and move and have our being. God gave you life. It’s a gift. It’s precious and valuable. The question is, what do you do with the life that He gave?

I suggest that the best way to spend your life is by having your soul satisfied in God by living in Him. In Him, you live. In Him, you move. In Him, you have your being, your life. It has everything to do with how you spend your life. When you see the value of your soul, how do you spend it? How do you sow it, you might say. How do you spend it because how you spend it has everything to do with what you reap from it. I want you to have life and life to the full. It reminds me of Galatians 6:8, “The Principle of the Harvest.

He actually begins that section by saying, “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked.” That’s a powerful introduction to any verse. “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked.” Then he continues, “That which a man sows, he’ll also reap. For the one who sows to his flesh, will from the flesh reap.” What do you reap? If you sow to the flesh, what is it you are going to reap? You’re sowing to the flesh, so you’re going to reap from the flesh corruption because it is corrupt. Then He adds this tremendous promise, “Those who sow to the Spirit, will from the Spirit reap life.”

This is what God wants for you. I want you to have life. I want you to have life to the full, life abundantly. How are you going to live? It has everything to do with how you spend it. In Him, you live. In Him, you move. In Him, you have your being. How many would say, “Here I am, Lord, you found me”? He sent His son to seek and to save that which was lost. That He would go and pursue, find sinners, bring them home, to give them life, to give them hope. To give them a relationship with the Living God. There’s where life is found.

How many would say, “Here I am Lord? You found me. I choose to follow you. I choose to find my life in you, to move in you, to have my being in you”? It’s like this. This is what Paul said in Philippians 4: 11-13, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along in humble means. Also, how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled or going hungry, of having abundance or suffering need. It’s this, I do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Has to do with how you live your life. In Him, you live. In Him, you move. In Him, you have your being. Here I am Lord. You found me. I choose to follow you. Let’s pray. Lord, we are very thankful for this tremendous powerful word that You give to us through this story. You show us the value of the soul and how we must live. Church, how many today would say to the Lord, “Here I am, here I am Lord, You found me. I choose You. I choose to follow You. I want to live my life in You. In You, I will live and move. In You, I have my being. I want a soul, I want to spend my life in you. choose to follow you”?

Church, how many would say that to the Lord? Make that declaration to the Lord by simply just raising your hand to Him. Be bold in the Lord. Would you just say it to the Lord, “Here I am. You found me. I want to live my life in You. In You, I find the life that my soul desires”? Just raise your hand to the Lord. Would you do that? God bless you. Make God truly meet you here in this place and pour His life upon you. Oh Lord, we thank you so much for how You move by your spirit and how You show us your very heart.

We honor You for it now in Jesus’ powerful name and everyone said– Can we give the Lord praise and glory and honor?

Elijah and God’s Still, Small Voice
1 Kings 18:41 to 19:8

December 4-5, 2021

Elijah, one of perhaps the greatest prophet in the Old Testament is just coming from what we would call a mountaintop, amazing, victorious experience on Mount Carmel there when he defeated these 450 prophets of Baal, Baʽal. You know sometimes it’s an interesting thing. Sometimes the greatest lows come right after the greatest highs. Coming off a great victory is often when the enemy spiritually attacks. Many people have experienced this. This we see in the story of Elijah.

Then you want to talk about a mountaintop experience, what had happened was this, if you remember the story, Ahab is now the king of the northern kingdom. Israel is divided north and south. Ahab is not a good king. Is a very wrongful king, is married to that wicked woman, Jezebel. He built altars to Baal, Baʽal, and Ashtoreth, these gods of the nations around them that were gods of fertility, you can understand what that means, and rain. In other words, the fertility of the produce of the land and rain.

God says, “You’ve turned your back on God, the God of Israel who brought you out of Egypt, who sustained you with His mighty hand? You’re turning your back on Him to go after the god of rain of Baal? Fine, there will be no rain. Let him bring rain.” He sent Elijah to declare that to Ahab. “There will be no rain. Until I give the word, there will be no rain.” Three years six months, there’s no rain. That is a famine. That is a drought. There’s hardship that comes. “You trusted Baal, let him bring rain.”

Now we come to the three and a half year mark where God said to Elijah, “Go show yourself to Ahab, I will surely bring rain, but first, there will be this epic showdown.” Elijah meets Ahab and he says, “Bring 450 prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel, bring 400 prophets of Ashtoreth, and bring all the people of Israel.” All the people gathered there, and then Elijah put forth this great challenge. “How long are you going to waver between two opinions? How long are you going to waver? If Jehovah is God, then follow Him. If Baal is God, fine, follow him. Let’s do this.”

He said, “Let’s have the prophets of Baal set forth an altar, and they can put a bullock upon it, and then they can call out to Baal and ask that god to bring fire and to consume the altar. I will do the same. I will set a bullock on an altar, I’ll call out on the God of heaven. The God who answers by fire, that is truly God.” Now the people, thousands of people gathered and said, “This is a good thing. This is a good idea.” I think the 450 prophets of Baal did not think it was a good idea, but now, the thousands of people are saying, “Yes, let’s do this. Yes, let us see who is God. Let’s do this.”

Elijah says to the 450 prophets, “You have 450, you have more, you go first.” They set up the bullock, the altar, and then they start calling out, “Oh, Baal, hear us. Oh, god. Oh, Baal, answer,” but there was no voice. Nothing happened. This went on for hours. All morning long, this went on. Finally, midday, Elijah starts to mock them, which we thought was humorous. He’s like, “Call louder. Surely he’s there. Call louder. Maybe he’s taking a nap. Maybe you need to wake him up. Call louder. Maybe he’s on a trip. He could be on a trip or something. Yell louder.

I know what it is. Maybe he’s in the bathroom. You need to really yell louder.” He’s just mocking them. They yell louder. They get out swords and lances and start cutting themselves, which is interesting. There’s a modern equivalent to that today. Then this goes on all day long. Finally, the time of the evening sacrifice. They’ve been calling out to Baal hours, all day long.

I. Pray the Promises of God

Finally, at the end of the day, the evening, they have given up. Then Elijah sets the stones, the 12 stones, puts wood upon those, builds an altar, sets the bullock on the wood, and then he says, “Bring water, barrels of water.” He drenches it. He has the people drench it with water, which is typically not the way you want to light a fire. Then he says, “Do it again.” They bring more barrels of water, dump it on the altar of sacrifice. Then he says, “Do it again.” The third time they poured water over it to the point that there’s a great trench filled with water.

Then he prays a simple prayer. One of the great lessons from this story is that a simple prayer said in faith is very powerful. A simple prayer said in faith is very powerful. “Oh God Jehovah, God of Israel, answer with fire that these people will know that You truly are the God of Israel.” God answered with fire, consumed the bullock, the wood, even the stones. The water was all consumed. The people then yelled out, “The Lord Jehovah, He is God. The Lord He is God.” Then Elijah yells out, “Quickly cease the prophets of Baal, let none of them escape.”

You want to talk about a mountaintop experience. Then he says to Ahab, “Go up now, eat and drink for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” He goes to the top of Carmel, and he begins to pray. Perhaps it is at this point that Elijah thought maybe even Ahab will recognize that Jehovah is God of Israel, but Ahab is married to a controlling wife. He’s married to that wicked woman, Jezebel, and she was calling the shots. She was telling Ahab what to do. She sent a messenger to Elijah.

When she heard about all this, when she heard all that he had done, that the 450 prophets of Baal had been slain and that fire was called down from heaven, she became furious. She sent a messenger to Elijah, “By this time tomorrow, you will be a dead man.” This disturbs in spirit. He went from a tremendous high to an extreme low in one day. This disturbed him. She’s threatening him. She’s threatening his well-being. This is where great life lessons because there are things that will threaten your well-being in your life.

If they disturb your spirit, it could bring despair, it could bring depression, anxiety. It can upset your stability, your bearing. This is why there are tremendous life lessons for us to take hold of in this story. Now, we’re going to read it in two sections. There’s a part of 18 we’re going to read first, and then later, we’ll do a part of 19.

Let’s begin in verse 41 of chapter 18, “Now Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower,” he is saying this knowing and understanding that God has made a promise and that God will do exactly what He said, “Ahab went up to eat and drink, but Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, he crouched down on the earth, and put his face between his knees,” this is the posture of deep-focused concentrated prayer, just quite focused prayer, “Then he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea,” now I’ve been on Carmel many times.

You can see this scene unfolding because from Carmel, you can look to the west and there is the Mediterranean Sea. You can see very clearly. Look to the east, you can see the Jezreel Valley. This is the place where the battle of Armageddon will take place. You can see all the way. In a clear day, you can see all the way over even to the valley of Jordan, “He said to his servant, “Go up now and look to the sea.” So he went up and he looked, and his servant came back and he said, “There is nothing.”

He said to his servant, “Then go back.” His servant went back again and looked, and he came to Elijah the second time and he said, “There is nothing.” “Then go back.” The third time he went up and he looked, and he came back and he said, “There is nothing.” Seven times he sent him back.

On the seventh time, verse 44, came about that, “Behold,” he said, “there is a cloud as small as a man’s fist coming up from the sea,” and Elijah responded, “Go up, now quickly say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.”‘ It came about in a little while that the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel.” This is a distance of some 18 miles. It’s the value of Jezreel but the town the village of Jezreel 18 miles.

Then it says an interesting thing in verse 46 that “The hand the Lord was on Elijah, he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel.” What does it mean it girded up his loins? Well, it’s very common for men to wear, what we would think of as a long garment and so to grid up your loins, you reach down and grab the garment and pull it up and tuck it in your waistband, and now you can run and that was the idea.

He girded up his loins and he ran and he outran Ahab. I don’t know, I just love imagining scenes unfolding in my mind’s eye, and here’s Ahab he’s got the horse, he got the chariot, he’s got a driver, and he’s sitting in the back of the chariot, and he’s moving along, and then he looks over and there’s Elijah passing him running past him 18 miles, 18 miles, he ran on the strength of God’s hand on his leg.

A. Believe God’s promises when you pray them

Now, this is the verses I want to begin to look at and understand some things out of the story. Starting with this, this example of his praying, he prays the promises, God has promised rain is really an example of prayer, pray the promises of God is a right understanding. God has decided, this is how those things will move on the air. He will use the prayers of His people. This is what God has decided, he will use the prayers of His people. Elijah prays he’s praying the promises of what God is instructed him to pray. He’s praying.

Notice James, chapter five, verses 17 to 18. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours and he wants us to be able to understand and to relate. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. That period of time, by the way, is very significant I mentioned it last time. “He prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” He’s praying the promises this is what God has said and he’s praying according to what God has said. God uses the prayers of His people. It should compel prayer, there should be something in us that arises that says, well, in that case, I want to pray. I recognize what God is saying here. God uses prayers of His people. In that case, I want to pray.

In fact, James chapter four, verse two says, You have not because you ask not. I don’t know about you but that’s compelling. Well, then I want to ask. In fact, he says in another place, “Then seek, knock, ask.” I’m saying to you, ask, I’m saying to you seek and keep seeking, knocking, keep knocking. “You have not because you ask not.” Notice James 5:16, “The effective prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.” That’s compelling. I love the picture of that. You want an effective, powerful life, the effective prayer of a righteous man accomplished as much but would you notice this understanding, believe God’s promises when you pray them.

See, praying the promises of God is a right understanding of prayer but can we add this aspect, then believe God’s promises when you pray them? “Go up, eat and drink. There is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” Hasn’t happened yet, but he knows and believes that if God’s said it, God will do it. He goes up to eat and drink. Elijah goes up to Carmel, crosses down any prays, and he’s praying this prayer, “God, show your hand again.” Then he says to His servant, go up now and look to the sea and the servant says, “There is nothing.” Yet Elijah had said, “There is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” He knew what God said. He believed what God said.

When the servant went and looked, there is nothing. There is nothing. It’s an interesting thing. Time of drought, calling out to God there is nothing, it’s very interesting. How many times have people heard that phrase, there is nothing. There is nothing, there is nothing in your life. There is nothing God is doing nothing. You are nothing, I say to you that if God is in you, if faith is rising in you, God is building hope and purpose in your life if that is the case, you are not nothing. He calls you His own. If He calls you His own, you are His son, you are His daughter and that is not nothing.

He is the one who can make something out of nothing. What do you see? I see nothing. He is the one who can make something out of nothing. I cannot tell you how many times people looked at my life, when I was young. When I was young, I experienced this very same thing, they looked at the dysfunction of my family. They looked at my alcoholic father, they looked at our extreme poverty, and essentially said the same thing. That boy will be nothing. He is nothing but I’d say God did something in me when I was young.

From an early age, something arose in me that I knew then that I would not be defined by what other people think about me. I will be defined by what God says about me regardless of what people say, I choose what God says about me. This is important. I’ve always believed that God is able to take that which is nothing and do something and He will do it for you too. Amen. Can we give the Lord praise?

Fact, it gives God great glory to take nothing’s, nobody’s and do something with them. You look at the scriptures, you will see it’s a theme. God loves to take nobody’s nothings, and do something with them. I suggest to you that we got a whole room full of nobodies and that’s an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed. God loves to take nobody’s God has purpose. He’s the one who gives purpose and meaning to your life. Listen to that. Let me say this word he says, the servant says, “There is nothing.” The question I have is this, was there nothing?

See, before there can be rain, there must be clouds but before there can be clouds, something must be arising from the sea. Where did clouds come from? Something must be arising off of the sea, you cannot see but there is something that’s rising off of the sea. Was there nothing? No, there was something you just couldn’t see it. This is important. Faith Believes that God works in ways you cannot see. Now there is something rising, you just can’t see it.

Hebrews 11, Verse one actually defines faith in that way. Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is defined as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Would you notice, by the way also, now when the servant came back, and he said, “There is nothing,” that Elijah said to him well, then go back and look again? I think a lot of people need to hear this because I think many people would have given up right at that point. There is nothing. What do you mean, there’s nothing? No, there’s nothing. I think a lot of people would have just given up right there well, I guess God is not in this thing. I guess God’s not going to do this thing. Ahab, really sorry about those 450 brothers on Baal there.

No, he said, “Then you go back and look again,” and he comes back the second time, “There is nothing,” “Then you go and look again.” The third time, “There is nothing,” “Then you go back and you look again.” The fourth time, “There is nothing,” “Then you go back and look again.” This is a very important thing because so many people, they quit on God to give up on God. How many times did they walk around Jericho? God says, “Keep walking, keep believing, keep marching. Look again,” you may think you’re starting with nothing but if God is in it, He’s working in ways you cannot see. Keep watching.

B. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings

When we started the church, we started with nothing, but God was doing something. See, God was working. God was arising, I’ve come to understand that the only thing you may have is vision of God and the promise of His word, but I tell you, if God is in it, He will build it, to believe. See Psalm 127, verses one to two, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain to build it.” If God is in it, He’ll build it.

The watchmen, “Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.” If God is watching it, it is watched. “For it is vain to rise up early to eat, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors for it is He who gives to His beloved even while he sleeps. Like you can’t see you’re even sleeping you don’t know but God is rising, God is moving. Then we see this out of the story. Very important, don’t despise the day of small beginnings. On the seventh time, the servant came back, “Behold, a cloud as small as the man’s hand coming up from the sea.” A cloud as small as the man’s hands? That’s it, `that’s all you got? That’s all you got, a small cloud that’s size of a man’s fist. That’s it? That’s all you got, Lord?

Elijah knew exactly what that meant. So much so that he sent his servant to Ahab, “You tell Ahab he better get in that chariot and he better get that chariot to Jezreel before this rain stops him,” because he knew exactly what that meant. “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.” The cloud. See, what is that saying? Little is much when God is in it. When Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000, and that’s just counting the men, a great vast crowd of people, He fed with five small loaves and two fish. God delights to take small beginnings and to do great things.

This actually comes out of Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” What happened was this. Israel had been exiled, they had turned their back on God, they were defeated by Babylon. They were exiled to the city of Babylon and they were there for 70 years. You want to talk about a time of drought. 70 years, a spiritual time of drought as they were there in Babylon 70 years. At the end of which, according to the Word and promise of God, who named by name, who would send them back to come to Jerusalem, that city that God had placed His name, that city that He had promised to His people, Jerusalem, to rebuild and restore Jerusalem, to rebuild and restore the temple of God.

When the people came back, what did they see? A mountain of rubble. Though they became so discouraged, they were given that word, “Rebuild, restore.” They begin the work but they saw it as nothing. The work that they did was so insignificant, so small, this is nothing. They began to be very discouraged. God said this word, it becomes one of the most famous words in the Old Testament, oftentimes quoted, Zechariah 4:4-7 and Verse 9, leading up to it. He says, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel,” who was the governor of the people, and it says this, “It is not by might, it is not by power. It’s by My Spirit.”

God will do it. “It’s not by might, it’s not by power, it’s by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts. What are you, oh great mountain?” He’s talking about the mountain of rubble, mountain of troubles. It’s a great word for people who have faced that mountain of troubles. “What are you, oh great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you will become a plane. And he will bring forth the top stone, the capstone, the finishing stone. He will bring forth the top stone which shouts of grace.”

It was God’s grace that did this thing. “The hands of Zerubbabel had laid the foundation of this house and his hands will finish it.” “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” You see it as nothing. You see it as just a small insignificant thing. God sees it as what it will become. Oh, there is the sound of a heavy shower. You tell Ahab he better get to Jezreel now. Let’s look at the next section because it’s very, very important. Elijah goes from this mountaintop experience into this extreme defeat of lowness. Notice Chapter 19, Verse 1. “Ahab came, told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.”

Jezebel, when she heard this, she became furious. She sent a messenger to Elijah and she said, “So may the gods do to me and even more if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by tomorrow, this time.” Elijah, by this time, tomorrow, you’re a dead man.” He was afraid, and he arose, and he ran for his life. He came to Beersheba, which is way in the South. I’ve been there. It’s way in the desert in the South, in Judah, which just means he’s safe here.

He left his servant there with Beersheba. He himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came and he sat down under a juniper tree. Then he requested– This is a point of low. Notice how low, how depressed, what despair. He gets to the point where he wants to die. This is the lowest point. He requested to die. He said this, “Enough.” Many people understand this point. Enough, I cannot take anymore. Enough. Lord, take my life, I am no better than my fathers. He lay down and he slept under this juniper tree.

Then behold, an angel, touching him, said, “Arise, eat.” He looked, and behold, there at his head, a bread cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. He ate and he drank and then he laid down again. God is going to minister to Elijah. He’s going to begin with rest. Just sleep. So many people can relate to this point of being so burnt, physically worn, at the end, he just needs to sleep. He starts there and feeds him. Then he wakes up again. It says in Verse 7, “The angel came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great.”

He arose and he ate and he drank, and he went in the strength of that food for 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, Mountain of God. This is the same mountain that God met Moses. This is the same mountain by which God gave the Law, the commandments of the Old Testament to Israel, there in that mountain. This is that mountain where God met Moses in a cloud. He dwelt for 40 days. There was fire. Oh, that’s a powerful mountain. 40 days, it took him to go there on the strength of that food. Again, the sustaining, miraculous, intervening Hand of God.

Then he came to the cave there in that mountain and the Lord’s there. Behold, the Word of the Lord came to him. He said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He’s drawing it out. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He says, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts, but the sons of Israel have forsaken your covenant. They’ve torn down your altars and they’ve killed your prophets with a sword, and I alone am the only one left, and they seek now my life to take it away.”

The Lord said, “Go forth, stand on the mountain before the Lord.” Behold, the Lord was passing by. Great and strong wind was running the mountains and breaking in pieces, the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, the sound of a gentle blowing wind. [wafts] When he heard that, it came about that Elijah wrapped his face in his cloak.

He went out, stood in the entrance of the cave, and behold, that still gentle voice, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He says it again, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts, but the sons of Israel have forsaken your covenant, tore down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword, I alone am left. Now they seek my life to take it away.” The Lord said to him, in that gentle way, “Go return on your way. Go to the wilderness of Damascus,” which is way north of Israel. “When you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram. Then you will anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi. You shall anoint him king over Israel,” which is to say Ahab is not going to be king very much longer.

II. Don’t Run; Stand Firm in Troubles   

“Then you will anoint Elisha, son of Shephat of Abel Meholah. You shall anoint him to be prophet in your place.” These are the verses I want us to see. Very important lessons out of these verses, starting with this, don’t run, stand firm in troubles. Don’t run, stand firm in the troubles. After it began rain, Ahab is told to go back to Jezreel before the rain stops him. Elijah girded up his loins and ran 18 miles. When Ahab tells Jezebel all that happened in Carmel, she’s furious. She sent a messenger, “You, by this time tomorrow, will be dead.”

That’s when Elijah hits bottom and you read words that you never would think would describe Elijah. “He was afraid and he ran.” What happened? This is the same Elijah that called fire from heaven on Mount Carmel. This is the same Elijah who defeated four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. It says in the book of James, I read before that, it says that Elijah was a man like us. Well, there you can see it. Perhaps he was, because he allowed Jezebel to intimidate him. He allowed her words to disturb his spirit to get into his head.

A. Learn to hear the right voice

In other words, it’s a great life lesson. Learn to hear the right voice. Learn to hear. Her voice got into him. Her voice disturbed him, her voice intimidated him. Her voice threatened him. Here he had been in confrontation with the prophets of Baal that run eighteen miles and instead of national revival he’s got Jezebel’s wrath. We can relate to being tired and burned out. God does not hide the failure and humanity of the people in the Bible. It lays it out just as they were.

Reminds me of a great quote by CH Spurgeon, who said, “the best men are at their best just men”. The truth is we’re made in the image of God, but we’re made from the dust of the earth, Psalm 103 versus 13-14, “The Lord has compassion on those who fear because he knows our frame mindful that we are but dust.” In other words, Elijah wasn’t part of heart. He wasn’t rebellious. He wasn’t stubborn. He was tired.

He was tired and he was burned out and he is come to the end. He’s physically exhausted. Now he’s got this threat. See, this is when you are burned out, tired out, physically worn out, that’s no time to make life decisions. That is not the time to be making major decisions. See people can understand this point. In times are trouble if you’re in the midst of a tremendous time of trouble, many people, they just want it to end. They just want it over. They’re looking for a way out. They’re just looking for the quickest way out of the thing. They just want it over and they want to run.

If you don’t run, if you stay in it, and if you discern what is happening and you discern the voice that you are listening to, then you can see what others cannot see. If you don’t run, if you stay and discern. I would like us to look at this and understand something important. Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah with this threatening word. Would you notice something important? She sent a messenger. She sent a messenger, not messengers. She didn’t send soldiers. I submit to you that she is the one who’s got reason to fear him.

She’s got reason to be afraid of him. If she really wanted to kill him, couldn’t she have sent soldiers to have arrested him? If she really wanted to kill him, couldn’t she have done that? I suggest to you that she is the one who’s got reason to fear him. He’s the one who just called down fire from heaven. He’s the one who just defeated four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and had them all slain. I submit that she is the one who’s got reason to be afraid of him.

In other words, who should be afraid of whom? This is the ultimate question that we need to understand who should be afraid of whom the scripture says, “The gates of hell will not prevail against the church.” Curses against you cannot alight when the blessing of God and the favor of God is on you. The curses of the enemy cannot alight when the blessing of God is on your life, amen. Can we give the Lord praise for that understanding?

B. God’s answer is better than self-doubt

She is the one who had every reason to be afraid. She tries to intimidate him, and it worked. He listened to her threats. He listened to her voice and it disturbed his spirit and he ran, which is to say, don’t run, don’t run when you have nothing to fear. Don’t run from the trouble. Don’t run from the problem. Many people, they just want this thing to end and they run from it. No, stand in it, stand. Stand in it because God will stand with you in it. God will give you discernment. God will show you because listen, God’s answer is better than self-doubt. God has an answer and God’s answer is better than self doubt.

See notice in chapter 19:4, Elijah prays he’s come to the end. You want to talk about despair? He’s come to the point where he wants his life to end. “Enough, I cannot take this anymore. Enough, God, take my life. I’m no better than my father’s.” See, in other words, not only did Elijah listen to Jezebel, he also listened to himself. He listened to his own self-doubt. See, here’s my point. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself and you’re talking to yourself, you’re probably going to discourage yourself. This is very important to recognize. Now was Elijah feeling sorry for himself? Oh, there’s no question. I have been very zealous. I alone. I’m the only one.

Later God says I have seven thousand. I have seven thousand who have not bowed to Baal. I have seven thousand who have not kissed him. You’re not alone Elijah, but he’s feeling sorry for himself. It’s a very important thing because this is the condition that many find themselves in. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself and you’re talking to yourself, you’re going to disturb yourself. To discern the voice that you listen to is a very important aspect of life. God then speaks to Elijah. That’s the voice you need to hear. That’s the voice. Don’t listen to those who are against you.

Don’t listen to those who are trying to intimidate you. Don’t listen to those who are trying to threaten you or belittle you. Don’t listen to your own self-doubt. Listen to what God has to say. That will change your entire perspective because what God has to say is a word of life of encouragement to the soul. God is calling that self-doubt and fear out of Elijah. What are you doing here, Elijah? Say it, speak it. What are you doing here? He’s calling out that self-doubt and that fear, what are you doing here?

Self-doubt and insecurity is a condition of which everyone is born. I suggest to you, every person is born into the condition of man. The condition of man is that of self-doubt and insecurity. God has a better word. Something must happen. That which must happen is faith to arise that you would hear the voice of the one who would speak in that still small voice, who would speak a word to you to encourage you in your self-doubt.

What are you doing here? And then the words of a self-doubt come forth and then God answers. “I say to you go forth into the purpose and the anointing of your calling. Go, anoint kings and prophets. That’s what I called you to do. Go. Go even to the far north, I’ll go with you. I called you to anoint kings and prophets go. Go forth in what I called you to do”.

This is important to recognize, go, in that still small voice calling out his insufficiency, go forth in the purpose in calling and anointing of God.

God is calling many people today out of their self-doubt. God is calling many people out to send them forth in the purpose of their calling and the purpose for their lives. The question is whose voice you going to hear. Whose voice you’re going to hear.

Don’t listen to those who are against you, to those who are trying to intimidate you, to those who are trying to belittle you. Don’t even listen to your own self-doubt. We must hear from God. We must hear what God has to say because God will change your whole entire perspective of this trouble. Amen.

Father thank You so much for showing us that Your voice is the voice we need to hear. God, I pray for everyone in this room now, that we would say it clearly, boldly, “Yours is the voice I want to hear. I will take hold of your word. I will take hold of Your heart for me. I will build my life on that which You speak forth into my life.” Church, how many would say that to the Lord today. It’s a declaration that you would say to the Lord. Yours is the voice. That’s what I want to hear. I’ll build my life on Your word, Your voice that speaks into my heart and into my life.

I’ll build my life on it. Send forth Your purpose and calling on my life. I’ll take hold of Your word. I’ll build my life on that. Church, how many would say that to the Lord. Would you just say it by just raising your hand to the Lord? I just want to declare it. I just want to say it. Yours is the voice I want to hear. I’ll build my life on this. God change my view of this trouble. Help me to see Your heart. That you’re always with me. You’ll never forsake. You’ll be with me even to the end of the age. You’re the one who sends forth purpose and calling on my life. I’ll build my life on that, in Jesus’ powerful name, and everyone said.

Standing on the Promises
1 Kings 8:54-61

October 21-22, 2021

All right, we have come to what I would consider perhaps the high point of the history of Israel. If you remember, David when he was king of Israel, brought peace with all of the nations because he defeated the nations around them. They’re all paying homage and tribute to Israel. The dominion of Israel went from the River Euphrates, all the way over to the Mediterranean, down to the borders of Egypt, all the way to the desert. This was absolutely amazing, peace all around. Then he established his son, Solomon, to be king in his place.

First thing that Solomon wanted to do was to build a house for the Lord. The temple of the living God that he built was so glorious, so magnificent that it became one of the wonders of the world. Words are insufficient to describe this temple. It gives us a little idea earlier in the chapter where it describes its construction built entirely– made of stone. Interestingly, the dimensions of the main room would be almost identical to the room that we’re in now, this sanctuary, little narrower. Although the height of the walls was 45 feet, these are 30, so 45 feet.
The entire inside was paneled with cedar from Lebanon, the floors were covered, the rocks were covered with cypress. All of the boards were ornately designed, but then they overlaid everything with gold. All the cedar boards overlaid with gold, all the cypress on the floor overlaid with gold. When you entered into the sanctuary, everything was gold. It was absolutely spectacular. Then there were porches and porticos, and then there were rooms on the other side. Then there was the Holy of Holies on this side.

The Holy of Holies, that place that represented the very throne room of God entirely made of gold, with a massive curtain, six inches thick separating it from the holy place with chains of gold. Then they brought the Ark of the Covenant, the priests brought this Ark of the Covenant also made of gold. Inside the ark were the tablets of Moses. If you remember, of course, when God gave them the law on these tablets, that was inside, and the poles carried by the priests, carrying it, all of gold.

Then when they set it in place, then they establish the angels, the seraphim expanding their wings all of gold. Then when they set it forth, the priests set it down in the Holy of Holies, an amazing thing then happened, a cloud. The presence of the living God was seen in this cloud. So thick was this cloud that appeared in the house that the priests could not even stand and minister within it. So thick and it represented the Shekainah glory of the presence of God.

This is truly the high point of Israel’s history, peace all around, promises fulfilled, glorious temple built in Jerusalem, cloud of God’s glory so thick the priest could not stand in His presence. Then Solomon assembled all the elders, all the households, leaders of the fathers, and all of the men of Israel, great crowd of people. Solomon stood before them, knelt down on his knees, lifted his arms to heaven, and gave Solomon’s prayer. The prayer of Solomon is famous. There are many famous prayers. This is surely one of them.

We will look at the words of that prayer on Wednesday at our verse by verse service, but afterwards he stood before the people, turned to them, and gave this speech that we’re going to look at and read today in these verses. In this speech, he causes them to look back and to see all that God has done, and then calling them to revival, calling them to be wholly devoted to God of Israel for all the great things that He has done. What a high point.

Look, not one word has failed of all the good words that God has spoken, peace all around, peace within, glorious temple, Shekainah glory of God. “Give thanks to God and be wholly devoted for all the great things that God has done.”

When I think about that, I think about a praise song that we used to sing many, many years ago that just really captured that idea, the joy of it, the joy of thinking and considering all that God has done. It’s a real simple joy-filled song. Maybe some of you remember it. [singing] The Lord has done great things for us. You could just worship with it. He has filled our mouths with laughter, filled our tongues with singing. The Lord has done great things for us, and we’re glad. Then the women repeat, and we– I could do that in the women’s voice if I had a better voice.

We’re so glad. See, it’s a call to whole devotion. This word, this call of Solomon is filled with life lessons for all of us. Let’s read it. We are in 1 Kings 8, we begin in verse 54, “It came about that when Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven.

Then he stood and he blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice,” and this is what he said, “Blessed be the Lord,” using the name of the God of Israel here, Yahweh, Jehovah. “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised, and not one word has failed of all His good promises, which He promised through Moses His servant.” Not one word has failed.

“May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers, may He not leave us nor forsake us, that He may incline our hearts toward Himself, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. And now, may these words of mine, which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord God Jehovah, God of Israel is the Lord, is God and that there is none else.”

There is none else. Grand summation, grand conclusion, “Let your heart, therefore, be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as it is this day.”

I. All God’s Promises Will Stand

What a tremendous and inspiring speech filled with great insights for us to take hold of? Starting with this, “He declares all God’s promises will stand, not one word has failed.” If all God’s promises will stand, then you can stand on those promises. They are a foundation on which you can build your life. When it comes to the promises of God, there is both a looking back and a looking forward. Solomon calls them, “Look back and see all of God’s promises stand, not one has failed of all of His good promises. Look back you’ll see.”

Now, this is the right thing to do, and it’s good for you and I to do the same thing. When you look back on your life, could you say the same? Could you say, in looking at what God has done in your life, how many would say, “All my life you have been faithful, all my life you’ve been so, so good?” You think back, I do. I look back on my life, all the troubles and difficulties, and I see that God has been with me through all of them. Not one word has failed. “Oh, you have been so faithful all my life, you’ve been so good to me.” How many people would say that to the Lord?

It’s an amazing thing. Look back, see it. Then Solomon also called them to look forward. If God’s promises stand, if not one word has failed of all His good promises, then how should you therefore live? See, everyone must choose the course, how are you going to live this life? He’s calling them to whole devotion, to stand, build your life on this foundation, for revival is the beginning of a faithful walking and a standing on the promises.

A. God promises you rest

He reminds them of what it means, starting with this, God promises you rest.

Notice verse 56, “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to His people, Israel, according to all that He promised.” Now, the word rest is a fascinating word. In fact, I suggest if you did a study of it, you would see that there are layers of meaning, practical, prophetic, spiritual in implication. The theme of it runs through the entire Bible, from Genesis all the way to Revelation. You could do a deep study on it. It’s quite amazing.

Here’s Adam walking with God in the cool of the evening. Peace, rest, no striving, beautiful, and then the sin of Adam and Eve brought forth the striving, the curse on the ground, the trouble, the difficulty, the hardness, the trouble, the diseases, the difficulties of life all came. Then Noah, the name Noah means rest. Then you look forward, the Sabbath day that he gave to Israelites, the mark of his covenant with them, a day, one week of rest. Then he gave them a Sabbath year. Every seven years, they would have a sabbatical year of rest. How about that? That’s glorious. A whole sabbatical year?

It’s interesting, modern companies do the same thing today. In fact, this local company of Intel gives a sabbatical every seven years. How biblical is that? They even call it a sabbatical. That’s a biblical word. Every seven years, they get seven weeks of a sabbatical. That’s a glorious thing, but here’s the thing. It wasn’t just for the purpose of rest. It was for the renewing and the refreshing of a relationship to God because there’s more needed than just rest.

There’s the strengthening of faith for when they learn to trust God fully, they will learn to rest on his promises and stop striving in the flesh. When you trust God fully, faith is established and He’ll give rest. To them, He refers rest from without, peace with those around. No wars, no battles, peace within, peace with God, beautiful rest, but it’s also prophetic. In fact, it is fulfilled the whole principle, idea, the concept, the promise is found in Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of it. Ultimately, there’s beautiful rest when we think of eternity with God himself.
Oh, the curse has been destroyed and we’re walking in life and peace and rest. It’s the beautiful picture, but it’s prophetic because it speaks of the promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel. In fact, Jesus says that He is Lord of the Sabbath. He is the fulfillment of the promise. Notice in Hebrews 4:8-10, where the writer says, “Now, if Joshua had given them rest,” He’s speaking here of Joshua leading the people into the land. “Then he would not have spoken of another day after that for there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,” which He says there’s a prophetic fulfilling.

“Therefore the one who has entered into his rest has himself rested from his works as God did from His.” You’re resting on the work that God did in your behalf. It’s not you, it’s not your reliance upon self. See, resting from your own works means you’ve given up on self-reliance. You’ve given up on self-sufficiency, instead, you rely on the sufficiency of Christ. That’s what it means to rest. To stand on those promises. To rely on him. In fact, Paul speaks of it as what we would call Paul’s spiritual secret.

Did Paul have a spiritual secret? Yes. He reveals it to us in Philippians 4:11-13 where– it’s very famous. He writes it this way, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along in humble means.” In other words, in poverty. In difficulty. With little. I know I can be content in that, in poverty, with little. “I know how to get along. I know how to live in prosperity,” which many do not. In any, and every circumstance, I have learned the secret. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled or going hungry, of having an abundance or suffering need.

It’s this, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” No self-reliance. No self-sufficiency. God is the strength of my heart. God is the strength of my life. It’s the spiritual secret of Paul. I think most people would see Paul’s spiritual effectiveness, but then there’s others that we could see also, Hudson Taylor, famous missionary to China. Many perhaps have read about him in church history, accomplished so very much.

In fact, there’s a book called Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, but it’s very much like Paul’s and this is what he wrote, “We are made powerful and effective, not by our striving, but by our resting.” This is just right understanding. We are made powerful. We are made effective, not by striving, but by resting, not resting in our own self-sufficiency, but resting in Him. Relying on His promise to abide with you. For when the very presence of God is abiding in you, the resources of heaven and the strength of God is in your life.

B. God’s Word does not fail

That’s the understanding that he speaks to, but then notice what he goes to next in this great speech. He reminds him, “God’s word does not fail. Not one word of all the good words have failed.” These words that Solomon gives to them are almost the same as what Joshua told the people at the end of his life. Remember at the end of his life, he drew the people of Israel together, gave that famous challenge, “Choose you this day, who you’ll serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” You remember this great challenge.

As part of that same speech, he said this, Joshua 23:14, “Behold, you know, in all your heart and all your souls, that not one word of all the good words, which the Lord, your God spoke concerning you has failed.” See how it’s so close. All have been fulfilled for you. Not one of them has failed. See, in other words, the blessings of God do not fail because the word of God does not fail. It’s also true that calamity and trouble come upon those who turn away from God. This is also God’s word, and God’s word does not fail.

Wise is the one who knows this when he is young. We have to decide the course. We have to decide how you’re going to live. Some people have the thought that they will live worldly. They’ll do the world thing and they will do that as long as possible, but then just before they die, then they’ll get things right with God. I submit that the person who decides such will have no delight in that decision, they will have no delight for they have misunderstood the very meaning of life. They’ve misunderstood what it means for the soul to be alive.

There’s an interesting aspect of rest that comes into this. You know that the flesh, this troublesome human condition in which we were all born is such a trouble to many, many people. This is not news. You are very familiar with this idea. This flesh of ours gives such fit, such trouble because this flesh of ours wants to be the master. It wants what it wants. Without any concern for the consequence, it simply wants. Me Want. Me want me. Me want woman. You give me want. That’s the idea. It wants to be the master. It wants to tell you how to live, but the soul wants something different. The soul wants life. The soul wants joy. The soul wants peace. The soul wants to be right with God, and so there’s a conflict.

What’s interesting is this, you might call it a continuum, a spectrum. There are those where truly the flesh is the master. It is the master. The flesh says what it wants. Me want, and you give. Clearly, the flesh is the master. When you move down, there are others where there’s a battle within. There’s a fight within, and it’s truly a battle, but then you go farther down and there are others where the spirit has brought the flesh under its control. That flesh is not the master, but the spirit within controls the flesh.

Is that possible? Is it possible for the spirit within to master over the flesh? I’m not suggesting that anyone’s perfect. There’s no one perfect among us, but is it possible for the spirit within to master the flesh? I suggest to you that it’s very much possible for when you stand on the promises of God, when you rely in the provision of God within you, that is in fact what God wants to do you in your life. I suggest to you that when you are resting on His promises and standing in his reliance and his sufficiency, that there is rest because the battle has come to an end. Because the spirit has brought the flesh under its control. It is a beautiful, beautiful picture.

Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” In other words, wise is the one who knows this while he is young. Before the evil days come and the years draw near when you say, “I have no delight in them.” You walk in the course of this world, you will have no delight, but God wants peace. God wants joy. Know in your heart and in your soul, that not one word of all the good words will fail because God is faithful to his word.

When I come to the end of my life, I’m sure there’ll be things I regret, but one thing I know for certain, I will never regret trusting Christ. It is the most beautiful aspect of my life. Anybody agree with that? Let’s give the Lord praise and glory. Amen.

In other words, choose the life of blessing. Stay in the course, fight the fight, run the race well, look back and you’ll see all the great promises we’ve got, not one word of all the good promises have failed. You can stand on those promises and you can build your life on those promises because those promises are not just for the past, they are for the future. Therefore standing and living your life upon. God promises you life to the full. He promises peace that passes understanding.

I’m just going to give you a list of promises here. He promises to give you the desires of your heart. He promises that if you wait on the Lord, you’ll gain new strength and rise up as wings on wings like Eagles. He promises that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, that he will do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that you asked or even think. He promises to surround you with songs of deliverance, that He will make your feet like hinds feet. You will walk in high places.

That He will make you more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus, that you can ask and you’ll receive, that you seek and you’ll find, that if you knock, the door will be open to you. He promises that if you seek the kingdom of God, all these things will be added unto you. He promises that the prayers of a righteous man will be very effective. You can have a powerfully effective life. These are the promises of God. Amen. Let’s just give him praise for the promises of God fulfilled in your life.

II. May God Incline Your Heart to Himself

Would you notice where Solomon goes next in this speech because it’s a very powerful understanding. May God incline your heart to himself. Notice verses 57 and 58, “May the Lord our God be with us as He was with our fathers, that He may incline our hearts to Himself.” In other words, God is moving upon your heart. God is drawing you. His Holy Spirit is moving upon your spirit, to incline your heart to Him. Even right now, God, by his Holy Spirit is drawing you.

The conviction of the spirit, the confirming of the spirit within you, the drawing of the spirit, you can right now understand that He is drawing right now. Here’s the beautiful thing. When they brought the Ark of the covenant into the Holy of Holies, the cloud of God’s presence filled the house so thick, so thick was this cloud of God’s presence that the priest could not stand and minister within it because it was so thick within. Here’s the thing, here’s my point I’ll bring up.

That’s the Shekainah glory of God. The powerful presence of God was so thick in that place, the priest could not even stand and minister within it. Here’s my point. That is the presence of the living God. When Moses was on the mountain, he dwelt with God in the thick cloud, it says. When God led Moses through Israel, a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, it is the presence of God. It is the Shekainah glory of God. Here’s my point. When you receive Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and savior, that very same Shekainah glory is within you because you are now the temple of the living God.

Now here’s the great understanding. Is there a temple today in Jerusalem? Is there a temple of God in Jerusalem today? No, there’s the Temple of Mount, but there’s no temple there. Is there a temple of the living God anywhere on this earth? I suggest to you that there is, and you don’t have to go very far to find it. For it is in this very room. This is the temple of the living God and I don’t mean the walls, the concrete, or the wood, I mean the people. For the presence of the living God is contained in the presence of the souls of men and women today. It’s the same glory.

Notice this, 1Corinthians 3:16-17. “Do you not know?” Which is to say, you must know this. You ought to know this. “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you?” Notice where it goes with this next, “For the temple of God is holy and that is what you are.” This is a deep understanding. “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the spirit dwells in you, for the temple of God is holy and that is what you are.”

Now you might say, “Pastor, you don’t understand. I have sinned in my life.” I do understand, I understand that we have this flesh. I understand that there are troubles and difficulties. We were born in this but I also understand this, that when you open your heart to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the very presence of the living God takes resident up in your heart and your soul and you are the temple of the living God and the temple of God is holy. That is what you are.

Therefore, the spirit within you is inclining your heart, is drawing you, is moving upon your spirit, is calling you, moving, drawing you, inclining you to God. John 16:13. “When He, the spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all of the truth.” Calling you, moving you, inclining you. Isaiah 30 is an amazing word, 21-22, “Your ears will hear a word behind you.” This is a picture of the spirit speaking to the heart. “Your ears will hear a word behind you. ‘This is the way of God, walk in it.’ Whenever you turn to the right or to the left–“

Would you notice the greater context of this verse? We love this verse but notice the greater context. “Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way of God, walk in it.’ When you turn to the right or to the left, and then you will say to this impure thing, you’ll say to them, ‘Be gone.'” I want nothing to do with you because the spirit of the living God is in my soul. That’s where life is found. “Then you speak to that impure thing and you say, ‘Be gone,'” I want life.

Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” In other words, He will incline your heart to walk in His ways. Notice verse 58, “That he may incline your hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His ordinances.” Why? Because it’s the way of greatest blessing. The way of God is the way of greatest blessing. Now, why would God want for you to walk in the way of greatest blessing? Because He loves you. That’s why He wants you to walk in the way of greatest blessing. He loves you.

A. He will incline your heart to walk in His ways

Why would He want you to avoid, keep from the path of trouble? Why would God want to keep you from the path of trouble? Because He loves you. As a father would say to his son, I want the best for you. I want to keep you from the distresses of life, because if you wonder, if you turn your heart away, surely distresses will come. Surely difficulties will come but if you do wonder, the Holy Spirit will not quit, it will continue pursuing you. It will continue drawing you. God will never give up on you. He will keep drawing you to come back.

Notice, in this famous prayer, this prayer of Solomon, earlier in this chapter. We’ll look at it more on Wednesday, but just some of the verses. Notice verses 33, 35, and 37. Famous prayer. He’s on his knees, hands lifted to heaven. “When your people, Israel, are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against you. When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you.

If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there’s blight or mildew, locusts or grasshopper, if their enemy be seizures them in the land of their cities, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, if they turn to you again and confess your name and pray to you in this house, hear from heaven, forgive their sin and bring them back. Indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk, send rain, send rain on your land which you have given your people for an inheritance.”

Rain is a picture of the blessing of God upon the land. We in Oregon are very blessed. Rain upon the land is a blessing. You go to Israel and you can see how rock and brown and dirt and dust, you can see that rain would be a tremendous blessing. Here’s the interesting thing. Today, the abundance, they have taken the desert and made it boom. Rows and rows of trees and groves of fruit.

It was very interesting. When I was in Israel, I think it was two or three times back, we had an opportunity to go all the way to the north and see the border between Israel and Lebanon, particularly where Hezbollah, the terrorist organization. We can actually see Hezbollah. There, our buses were on this Ridge and he said do you see that black car and that car? That’s Hezbollah, they’re watching us. He said, “Take no concern, they will not attack us. That’s too much of an incident, all is well.” He said, “I want you to see this. Look this way, notice Israel, the land, what do you see?” Rows and rows of fruits, vegetables, pineapples, bananas.

Just abundance, row upon row, and then you look this way, there’s a line and then you see across. What do you see? Barrenness, rock, a people committed to hatred and destruction. What a difference? “God send rain.” The abundance of your blessing upon your land for when you wander away, troubles and distresses will come. If you do wander away, know this, he will not quit. He will keep pursuing you and he will draw you. He will continue speaking life to draw you back to himself and when he brings you back, he will welcome you. God always welcomes his children home.

One of the best pictures of this, I think, has to be the story of the prodigal son. It’s a parable that Jesus thought in Luke 15. It’s the story of a young man who receives a vast inheritance early, goes into the city with his great fortune and he spends it all. He spends it all on wild living, parties, women, all of it, you understand. He spent it all and when he came to the end of his money, now he needs a job, but he can’t find a job for a famine has hit the land. Finally, he finds the worst possible job for a Jew, feeding pigs on a farm, swine.

You say, oh, he’s coming to the lowest point. Not quite. There is still one point lower and that’s when he becomes jealous of the pigs for they have food and he does not. Then it says, “When he came to his senses–” I love that point in that story. For when a person comes to their senses, it is a glorious, holy moment. When he came to his senses, he said to himself, “My father’s servants are treated better than this. I will go to my father and I will say to him, father, I have sinned. I am no longer worthy to be a son. Take me as one of your hired men. I just need a job.”
Luke 15: 20-24, the story continues. He got up, came to his father, and while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him. I love this story and I love this point of this story. Many people when they hear the story, they think, oh, this is a story about the son. No, this is a story about the father. The son, we all can connect to. We all relate to the story of the son, born in the human condition. We’re seeing the tragedy of it but the point is the father.

He comes to his senses and the boy decides, “I’ll go to my father.” The father sees him, looks down the road a long way off. He sees a man walking. “Is that my son?” Bedraggled hair, dirty clothes, smells like swine, but something stirs, a compassion, his heart stirs with him. I understand this one. A father’s heart to his son. It reminds me of when our oldest son was deployed to Afghanistan. He was in special forces and Marines and his first deployment, he had come back. I went to California to meet him and we had arranged to meet at a certain place.

I’m waiting and waiting and waiting. Finally, he comes around the corner and as soon as I see him, something happens in me. I just start crying. He sees me crying there and he just comes in and he just holds me. I understand this part of the story. The father, something stirs in his heart and he sees his son. When he sees this son and he’s stirred in his heart, he begins to run. The father runs, embraces his son, kisses him, and then the son, he’s got a speech ready. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called a son.”
Before he can ask for the job, the father interrupts and he says to his servants, “Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on my son. Put that best robe on my son. My son put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again. This son of mine was lost but has been found.” If a person wanders and the troubles and the distresses that follow destroy the life, God does not quit. God has not given up. He continues to draw, he continues to call, and he’ll welcome any sinner who comes home.

B. Let your heart be wholly devoted

Then lastly, the great conclusion of his speech, “Let your heart be wholly devoted.” In considering all this, notice verses 59-61, where he says, “May these words of mine be near to the Lord our God day and night that he may maintain the cause of his people Israel as each day requires so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord Jehovah, He is God, there is none else.” Grand conclusion, “Therefore, let your heart be wholly devoted to the Lord our God.”

Wholly devoted. In contrast to partly devoted, it’s the greatest and foremost of all this God has ever said for. To be wholly devoted to the Lord your God is to love him with all your heart and with all your soul. To be wholly devoted to the Lord means that you have found what you were searching for and that you are satisfied that God is the answer to the desire of the heart. You are satisfied that your searching is over and that your soul is satisfied in him and him alone. God wants sinners to come to seek him with all their hearts because they’ve been searching for all the wrong things.

I can quote that song, “They’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places” because they have been looking for love. There is a great-searching in the human soul. There’s a great longing. Many people understand what I’m saying. There’s a deep, deep searching in the soul. What is the soul searching for? What does the soul want? Love. The soul is seeking love, family, to belong, searching for joy, searching for meaning of life, searching for purpose, searching, longing, searching, searching.

God put that searching into you because he wants you to search for him. Search for him with all your heart and when you find him, you will find that he was pursuing you all along. 1st Corinthians 28:9, “As for you, my son, Solomon, know the God of your father, serve him with a whole heart and a willing mind.” You can do a message just on that right there. “Serve him with a whole heart and a willing mind,” which is to say, I want this. That’s what a willing mind says. I want this. This is my desire. This is what I want.

For the Lord searches our hearts and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek him, he will let you find him. You will find that he was calling you. In John 4, there’s this beautiful story about a woman, a woman from Sychar. She is a Samaritan. The Jews looked down on Samaritans for they considered them half-breeds because they had intermarried with Gentiles. Jews rejected them, would have nothing to do with them but John 4, the chapter begins by saying that Jesus had to go through Samaria. He needed to go. Not just because it was the shortest distance, but because he was seeking a lost sheep, he had to go.

Jesus comes and he sits by a well. This woman from Sychar, the Samaritan woman comes to the well. Jesus asked, “Woman, please get me a drink.” The Samaritan woman responds, “How is it that you being a Jew ask for me a drink since I am a Samaritan?” How is that? He said, “If you knew who is speaking to you, you would ask him and he would give you a drink, a drink of living water.” She says, “Sir, give me this living water.” He says, “Go call your husband.” He’s going to give her living water, but he’s going to speak to her soul.

“Go call your husband.” She said, “Sir, I have no husband.” He answers, “You have answered right when you say that you have no husband for, in fact, you’ve had five husbands and the man you are now with is not your husband.” She said, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will declare all things.”

Was she searching? Was she searching for God? Was this the day when hope would come? “I know when Messiah comes, he will tell us all things.” He will have the answers, but where is Messiah? Is this the one? There are many like this woman, her life is a mess. She’s had five failed marriages. She’s given up even trying that now. You can imagine this woman in her despair, in her brokenness, going out into the night alone, amongst the stars crying, what’s wrong with me?

I failed. Every relationship I’ve ever had has failed. I’m despised, hated by everyone. I’m lonely. I’m lost. Everything I touch fails but I know that Messiah, when He comes, He will have the answers. But where is this Messiah? It says that Jesus had to go through Samaria. Why? Because he was seeking this woman, to draw her, to call her. He so radically changes her that she goes into the village and brings back everyone to meet this one who can seek and save that which was lost. Was he not calling the whole village to himself?

There’s a worship song. I love the words because it so captures this beautiful heart of God. It’s, O, Come to the Altar. Let me just read some of the words.
Are you hurting and broken within?
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling
Jesus is calling the hurting, the broken, the overwhelmed
Have you come to the end of yourself?
Jesus is calling
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling
O, come, come to the altar
For the father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ
Oh, what a savior
Isn’t He wonderful?
Sing Hallelujah, Christ is risen.

It’s a beautiful picture of the calling. He is moving upon hearts. He is drawing you to come to the altar, come and build your life on a foundation. Come and stand on the promises. He will walk with you through the course of this life. He wants to do something beautiful. Oh, come, but when you come, come wholly devoted. That’s the way to live. That’s the way to have the beautiful life that He desires. Come with a whole heart, wholly devoted, stand on all of his promises and you will live well.

Oh, come, let’s pray. Lord, we do thank you so much for these promises. Oh, what a great word. We can build our lives on these promises. How you never give up. You draw us to yourself, how you have shown it to us. Not one word of all the good words that you have ever spoken have failed. We can stand. We can build our lives on these promises. Thank you for calling me.

Church how many would say that to the Lord today? You can sense the Lord is calling, drawing you to himself. How many would say to the Lord, “I choose to follow you? I want to follow you with a whole heart of whole devotion to you. I want to build my life on these principles. I want to build my life on these promises. I want you to walk with me in the courts of this life. I want that which is beautiful. That which you do in my life. God, I want to live wholly devoted.” Church how many would say that to the Lord?

Would you say it to him by simply raising your hand to him and make that declaration? Raise your hand to the Lord. “I just want it to be known. God, I want to live in whole devotion to you, to honor you, to stand on the promises and to walk with you in the course of this life.”

Father, thank you for everyone who is stirred, drawn by the Holy Spirit. We stand on your promise today in Jesus’s name and everyone said?
Congregation: Amen.

David Comes to His Census
2 Samuel 24:8-25
October 8-9, 2021

There are certain key decisions that become hinge points in your life. You look back on your life and you will see there have been certain key decisions that your life is turned on those decisions. However, there are other decisions that are so significant that not only do they impact your life, they impact lives around you as well. So significant is it.

That’s the story. That’s what happens to David in 2 Samuel 24. David makes a decision that is so critical in importance. Not only does it impact his life, not only does it impact the nation of Israel, but it impacts us even to this very day, and it has everything to do with the prophetic fulfillment of the latter days. Significant is what we are going to study in this chapter now. It is critical to understand David in this decision. Now, David makes an error. He begins with a critical error, but what he does, how he responds reverberates all the way through prophetic fulfillment of scripture. It’s quite amazing.

The backstory is this. At some point in David’s life, there is peace all around. He has conquered all of the nations around them, but David decided that he wanted to number the people of Israel, particularly the valiant men who could bear a sword. In other words, he wants to know how strong of an army he can put together. He wants this census to be taken. Census, you see, that’s the title. No specific reason is given for David’s desire to do this counting of the people but when you study the chapter, the reasons become clear.

Joab who was the commander of the forces really saw that this was not a good thing. This was not a good decision. This is interesting because Joab is most certainly not a saint himself and yet he understands, David, don’t do this thing. In fact, the commanders of the armies tried to dissuade David, don’t do this thing. David will not relent. He is persisting, goes against all counsel. He wants this census taken and he would not change his mind. It becomes a critical error.

Again, in this time of history in Israel, they were strong, successful nations. In fact, so much so that other nations around were paying tribute to Israel because he had conquered them. Just how strong was Israel? Just how strong was David? There’s only one way to know, take a census and number all those who draw a sword. This isn’t about how great God is. This is about how great David is but great things come from the story and let’s read it.

We’ll begin in verse eight. Yes, David comes to his senses when it comes to the census and great things come out of the story. Chapter 24:8, “When they had gone about through the whole land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of 9 months, 20 days.” This is how long it took to do this census. It tells us that they did a circuitous route. They went down from Jerusalem, went to the east, went down to the Jordan onto the other side, and they would count the men.

Now you say, “Well, how would they count the men?” They come to a village, a town, a city and then they blow the shofar. They blow the trumpet of the Lord in a particular military call. Then people would gather, the fighting men who had experience would come to be counted. They would go from village to village, to town to town, starting over there in the east, going to Gilead, up the north all the way up to Dan. Far north, all the way to the Mediterranean and then down the coast all the way through the planes down to Beersheba, then back up to Jerusalem. Took 9 months, 20 days.

It tells us that at the end of that, verse nine, Joab then gave the number of the registration of the people to the king and there were in Israel, 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword. In other words, they had experience in battle. 800,000 and the men of Judah were 500,000. This is 1.3 million. This is a massive fighting force. In fact, they are a world power. At this point in the history of the world, they are one of the great world powers.

As soon as David heard that number, his heart troubled him. Immediately, when he heard that number, he knew it was wrong. David’s heart troubled him after he numbered the people. David said to the Lord– Notice, he runs now to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done, but now, oh Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant. I have acted very foolishly.”

When David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and speak thusly to David and say, ‘Thus says the Lord, I am offering you three things, choose for yourself one of them which I might do to you.'” Remember also, it mentions earlier in this chapter that God was angry with Israel at this time. We don’t know exactly why, it may well be because they sided with Absalom in the betrayal against David, we don’t know.

Nevertheless, Gad came to David and said, “Choose then one of these: shall seven years of famine come to you in your land or will you flee from three months before your enemies while they pursue you or shall there be three days of pestilence in the land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the Lord for his mercies are great but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

The Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time. 70,000 men of the people of Dan to Beersheba fell. When the angel stretched out his hand against Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “Enough, relax your hand.” The angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. This is a very critical, important place. The threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

What is a Jebusite? It’s a person from Jebus. You might remember that before Jerusalem was Jerusalem, it was called Jebus. David defeated it, named it Jerusalem. This is a leader of the Jebusites who remained, Araunah is his title, his named proper is Ornan. David then spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking down the people. He said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned. It’s I who have done wrong, but the sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and my father’s house.” Gad came to David that day and said, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

David went up according to the word of God, just as the Lord had commanded. The Araunah looked down and saw the king and the servants crossing over toward him. Now, by the way, hope you have an opportunity to go to Israel sometime because I tell you, when you go to Jerusalem and stand in the city of David, all of this will come very clear in your mind’s eye. I’ve been there many times. You stand in the city of David and you look to the north and you’ll see that there’s a bit of a decline. Then it arises up to this very site. This very exact site can be seen.
Araunah then saw David coming up. Now I say up because from the city of David, you look up, and there it is, the Temple Mount. The very place in which the temple was built there.

Araunah saw the king coming, crossing over. He went out and bowed his face to the ground before the king and Araunah said, “Why has my Lord, the king, come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you in order to build an altar to the Lord that the plague may be held back from the people.”
This next set of conversation is very important. Araunah said to David, “Let my Lord, the king, take it.” In other words, I give it to you, take it and offer up what’s good in his sight. “Look, here are oxen for the burnt offering. Here are the threshing sledges and the yokes of oxen for the wood. Everything, oh, king, Araunah gives you my king.” Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.”

However, very famous answer, the king said to Araunah, “No, he would not take it. He would not receive it for free. No, I will buy it from you full price for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord, my God, which cost me nothing.” This is a very famous thing. “I will not offer for to the Lord that which cost me nothing.” David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for 50 shekels of silver. In 1 Chronicles 21, we read he bought the whole entire site for 600 shekels of gold.

David built an altar there to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Each of these, by the way, have deep meanings which we do not have time to delve into but they’re important. Thus, you see he had the wood, he had the auction, he set it on fire. 1 Chronicles 21 tells us that fire from heaven came and consumed the altar, that which David offered unto the Lord. Generations have come and have not seen fire from heaven. This is a monumental day in the history of Israel. Thus the Lord was moved by entreaty for the land and the plague was held back.

I. Never Stop Relying on God

All right, this is a tremendous story, great lessons for us to apply, starting with this, never stop relying on God. David had been relying on God all his life. Now all of a sudden he wants to number the valiant men of Israel. All his life, David was famous for this. It took Joab 9 months and 20 days to complete the census. That’s a long time for David to consider what he has done and as soon as Joab gave the number of the valiant men who drew their sword, David’s heart– I love the King James. It says, “It smote him.” That’s a great way of saying the Holy Spirit convicted him. “I have sinned greatly.” David knew immediately that Joab was right when Joab didn’t want to do it. The commanders were right.

What was David beginning to understand as soon as he heard the number? Can you imagine David– I just imagined him saying to himself, “Why did I do that? Why did I have to know that number? Why did I need to know how strong the forces of Israel’s army is? Why did I need to know this?” Have you ever done that where you just did something, you know that you shouldn’t have done it and then you immediately say to yourself, “Why did I do that?” Before you did the thing, you thought it was the right thing to do, but as soon as you do it, you know it’s not the right thing to do and then you say to yourself, “Why did I do that?” Let’s not do a show of hands.

I will raise my hand to represent all of us because I think we understand this, and I think we understand perfectly well what’s happened here. Why did I do this thing? Why did I have to know this number? To search one’s own heart is a good thing. To understand why you did it, it’s a good thing. No one can search your own heart but you and the holy spirit. To understand why, to help you to see it, help you to see it in the light, because it’ll help you to change. Why did I do this thing?

A. Let God always be your confidence

The great lesson that comes out of the story is this, let God always be your confidence. David, since he was young, God had been his confidence. That’s one of the amazing things about David. Remember, we read about it in Psalm 71:5-7 where David wrote it that we could all see it, “You are my hope. Oh, Lord God, you are my confidence since my youth.” David understood something when he was young that most people don’t understand all their lives.

Here’s the thing, great men and women of faith are not self-confident. Say, “Really, they’re not?” No. Great men and women of faith are not self-confident. They are God-confident, and that’s a whole different thing because if you are self-confident, your confidence, by definition, is in self but if you are God-confident, by definition, your faith is in God, your confidence is in the Lord. It’s a whole different thing. You cannot be a great man and woman of faith and be self-confident. There’s no such thing. It does not work because there is no such thing.

David knew from his youth. He’d always been God-confident but now, he wants to number of the people. He wants to know how great of a fighting force does he have. In whom is David’s confidence? Maybe now David’s own words are starting to come back to him. David is the one who wrote Psalm 32:7, “You are my hiding place. You preserve me from trouble. You surround me with songs of deliverance,” or Psalm 3:5-6, “I lay down and I slept and then I woke for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.”

David wrote those words. These are great words of a person who has confidence in the Lord, but see, he wrote those when he was in trouble. He wrote those when he was encountering trouble upon trouble upon trouble. Now everything’s good, success, all the nations around are at peace. It’s a whole different thing when you got success. Now tell you why this is such an important word for us because we live in America. This is the most successful country this world has ever seen in the history of the world.

I’ll tell you what, I’ve been to Africa many times and I’ve seen the abject poverty of Africa. It’s in stark contrast, but I’ll tell you what I’ve also seen in Africa, joy. I’ve seen faith. I’ve seen a delight in the Lord. I’ve seen the faith and the trust. It is such an important lesson. See the question is, where do you place your confidence? It’s an essential question of faith.

It’s easier to misplace your confidence. It’s easy to misplace your security, whether you’re young or in the middle or old. See when you’re young, it’s easy to put your confidence and your security in youth itself. I was once young. I know exactly that you may not have any money, but you got your youth, you got vitality, you got strength, the whole future is ahead of you, time is on your side. You may not have much, but you’ve got youth.

I always think of an illustration. When Jordy and I were first starting our relationship, and we were very young, I literally had nothing and so much so was this true. I tell you how bad things were. I had such a bad car. My car was so bad. How bad was it? It was so bad that from driving from Hillsboro to Beaverton to take her home, it burned a quart of oil, and then to go from Beaverton back home again, that’s another quart of oil. I know.

I didn’t have money, didn’t have anything, but I had youth, vitality. I’ll tell you what, it’s a mistake to trust in oneself. Then when you’re older, maybe you don’t have the strength and vitality of youth, but now you’ve got successes. You’ve got more in the bank account. You’ve got some history of success. You got stuff in the retirement account. You got some stuff going on now. It’s easy to put your confidence in such things, but it’s a mistake to trust in oneself whether you’re young or in the middle or old.

Maybe you’ve heard the story of the old man who didn’t trust banks, so he stuffed all his money in his mattress. It gave him a lot of security knowing that he was sleeping on all that money, and he was miserly. He’s had collected money all his life. Then he comes to his deathbed and so on his deathbed he asked his wife to put all his money in the coffin. She said, “Sure.” She wrote a check.

“He can cash it when he gets there,” she said to her friends. David understood something when he was young that most people don’t understand all their lives, where to put your confidence. Then what happened? Why number the people now? David had always said this, Psalm 20:7, “Some boasts in chariots, some boasts in horses, we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.” There’s our David.

B. Leave faith as your legacy

Now, it comes to this. Great application. Leave faith as your legacy. Is this the way David is going to be remembered? David, you were famous for faith. That’s why these men were drawn to you. Your reliance on God, your confidence in him. Oh, it always been such. It’s important to also know, in that time, in that culture, particularly, that taking a census of the fighting men would have sent waves of fear through the entire nation.

If they went through every village in town, it would have sent waves of fear, and here’s why. The only reason to number the fighting men is if you’re preparing for a battle, if you’re preparing for war, and they’re like, “Well, we’ve already conquered all the nations around us. What are you doing?” Is this the way David will be remembered? This would have been unnecessarily disturbing to the very people that David was asked to shepherd. Is this the way David would leave his legacy? Where’s the man of faith, they would say, where’s David of old? What is the legacy that you leave? It’s a good question. What is the legacy? When you get older, you start thinking about that a little more. What is a legacy? What does he leave behind? How do you want to be known? It means more to you as you get older. I tell you what, I want to be known as a man who trusted God. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to leave this place a little better than I found it. Anybody else want to join me in this? Do something with my life. Leave a legacy.

I tell you what, faith is a tremendous legacy. Let it be known, he trusted God all his life, he never relented, he never quit, he never gave up. I fought the good fight, I finished the course, I have run the race set before me. That’s the legacy to leave. David, all his life he had never, he didn’t rely on the strength of an army.

This is the same David who faced the challenges of his life by relying on the strength of God. He confronted a bear and the lion that attacked the sheep when he was shepherding. He took on Goliath with the strength of his faith. By faith, he faced Saul and the entire Philistine army. This is the same David who took the renegade men of Israel, men who were indebted and bitter, discontented and made them mighty men. Same David.

Faith is the best legacy you can leave because faith is the issue of the day. Faith is the crisis of the day. There is a crisis of faith. In fact, Luke 18:8, he writes, “When the son of man comes at the end of the age, will he find faith on the earth?” Great question. Then here’s another life lesson that comes to us from this story. When you fail, run to the Lord. This is a tremendous story. David is called a man after God’s own heart. It’s not because he never sinned. Clearly, we know that he made critical errors, but you see David’s heart here, first because his heart troubled him.

See, as soon as he heard that number immediately, he was smote of heart. It troubled him. I tell you what. A troubled soul can be a good thing. God can use that. Troubled soul means that it matters. See, if it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t have trouble at all. The fact you have a troubled soul means it matters.

I was thinking of an illustration. When I was going to Bible college, I was given an opportunity to speak in this small church and it was one of my first ever sermons, not in a class, but in a real church with real people in a real sanctuary. I was so nervous and I was so bad. How bad was it? Yes, I’ll tell you how bad it was. It was so bad. I can still remember to this day what I spoke on. That’s how bad it was. It’s indelibly marked in my memory.

About two-thirds or so, half, two-thirds the way through the message, I started having a conversation with myself. I’m still trying to teach, I’m still trying to do the thing, but I’m having this conversation with myself and the conversation with myself when something like this, “This is bad, this is really bad. This is bad.”

Remember never that scene where Peter, he asked to come out to walk on the water, and then as soon as he saw the waves and the wind, he got afraid and started to sink? Yes, that’s me. I took my eyes off the Lord, I started sinking right there. Two-thirds of the way through. It was so bad, I stopped the message. I’m sinking here. I didn’t say that, but I’m like, I’m sinking here, I knew. Two-thirds the way through, I stopped the message, and so as to make some spiritual look at the thing, I said, “You know what I think we need to do? Let’s gather in small groups and pray, and pray for me while you’re at it.”

By the way, if I ever stop by message and ask us to pray, yes, you’ll know why now. After the thing, after we prayed and all that, I just felt so bad. Jordy is there in the front. I took Jordy, grabbed her, and we went to this back room and I just held onto her, and I just started crying. I’m just balling. It was that bad.

Afterward, a friend called me and he said, “How are you doing?” I said, “Oh, it was bad.” He said, “I was there.” I said, “It was bad and I took Jordy to the back and I cried.” He said, “I’m glad you cried. You know why? Because it means that mattered to you. I’m glad it mattered. God can use that. May it always matter.” That’s a good friend because some people are so hard of heart that their soul is never troubled. Nothing bothers them.

1 Timothy 4:2, “Having their conscience seared as with a hot iron.” Some people are like that. It’s a life lesson that we can learn from David. When he sinned, remember earlier, when he sinned with Bathsheba and Uriah, he tried to hide his sin. In fact, he tells us this in Psalm 32:3-4, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me.” Yes, because he was hiding. Now, David has learned something. His heart smote him. The conviction of the holy spirit was hard on him and he immediately ran to the Lord.

C. When you fail, run to the Lord

He come, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower.” He came running to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I had done.” That’s a great life lesson. If you’ve ever done anything, where you just, you blew it, you made a terrible decision, it was a critical error, whatever and the conviction immediately, you recognize that it was the wrong thing. A great lesson learned. Don’t hide it. Run, run, run to the Lord. “Lord, I’ve sinned greatly in what I’ve done. Please remove the iniquity of your servant,” as David said it.

You got to love David. He ran, he threw himself completely in the mercy of God. Hebrews 12:5, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by him.” Don’t be discouraged, that’s a good thing. Some people, when they’re disciplined by the Lord or someone else, frankly, they have a bitter heart about it. They get all bristly. It’s a great lesson.

II. Count the Cost of Discipleship

The next part of the story is very important. Very important what follows next and the lesson is equally as important. Count the cost. Count the cost of discipleship. The Lord sent pestilence upon Israel, as we read. The angel of the Lord approached Jerusalem to lift a sword of destruction against it. The Lord relented, it’s enough. Angel was standing by the threshing floor of Araunah. Gad, the prophet, came to David, “Go and erect an altar to the Lord on that threshing floor of Araunah.”

David came to by that threshing floor, offered Araunah, offered to give it to him. “Let my Lord, the king have it. I offer everything. Here are oxen, here are the sledges and the yokes of oxygen for the wood. Everything I give to you, oh, my king. It’s yours, I give it.” David responded, very famous, “No. I will buy it for the full price. I will not offer that which cost me nothing.” It’s a very famous, very famous line. It’s a very famous life lesson.

Consider the cost. I will not offer that which cost me nothing. Consider the cost, consider the cost of discipleship. Consider the cost of forgiveness, consider the cost of grace, and offer God that which cost you something. This is a very important and deep lesson, offer God that which cost you something. David knew it wasn’t right to receive these things for free and then to offer them, it cost him nothing. David immediately knew that no, this is not right.

In fact, it’s interesting, there’s something similar that happens later on in the history of Israel. In fact, later on in their history, they made only a pretense of offering something, of giving something of an offering to the Lord. If there was a lamb that was sick or a lamb that was lame, who’s going to die anyway, “We need to give something, we need to give an offering to the Lord. That lamb is lame, give that to the Lord. He’s going to die anyway, or that one’s sick. He’s going to make others sick. Give that to the Lord.” You’re going to give a lame, sick, blind? Is that what you– Yes, it’s going to die anyway give it to the Lord.

A. Offer God that which cost you something

In fact, God confronted it. This is Malachai, one of the last prophets of the old vestment Malachai 1:8-9 where he said– This is the Lord speaking to the prophet, “When you present the lame and the sick, is this not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased? Would he receive you kindly, says the Lord of hosts? Will you entreat God’s favor was such an offering? Would he receive any of you kindly, says the Lord of hosts?” You know what’s interesting? Jesus said something similar. This is in Luke chapter 14. It has to do with counting the cost. It’s not often quoted, but it is very important.

Luke 14:27-33, Jesus said, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Now, right there, that is a big word. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the costs to see if he has enough to complete it?” Count the cost, consider. “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with 10,000 men to encounter the one coming against him with 20,000.” Count the cost consider.

“Then none of you can be my disciple who does not give up all of his own possessions.” It’s all under your name God, it’s all under you. It’s all under your covering. It’s all yours. In other words, count the cost of being a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. Does forgiveness come with the cost? Oh, dearly. It cost Jesus his life. He paid it all and he paid it all in full by the sacrifice of his own life on the cross. How great was the cost? How great was the price?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “You are not your own. You have been bought with a price, a higher price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” The price was high. The price of forgiveness that God paid was high, but here’s the question. Does forgiveness have a cost for you? He gives it freely, but does it have a cost for you? Yes. Yes, it does. The cost of forgiveness is repentance. That’s your part. That’s what you offer. God freely pays for the forgiveness of sin, but you offer repentance.

As the scripture says, “Should a dog turned to his vomit? Should a swine return to his wallowing in the mud? Should a sinner return to the sinful life from which he was just saved?” Consider the cost. It’s a deep question. David’s words ring true. I will not offer that which cost me nothing. What is God asking you to give? What is God asking you to give? Jesus was asked the very question. What is the highest foremost of all that God has ever spoken? Jesus said, “The greatest, the foremost of all that God has directed is this, you shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart.” That’s what you give.

God loves you. God loves you so much that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever would believe in him would not perish, but have everlasting life. God loves you so much that he sent his own son to seek and save that which was lost. He sent his own son to die on the cross as payment for sin in full. That’s how much God loves. What does he want from you? He wants you to love with all of your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind.

Romans 12:1, he continues. “Therefore, I urge you, brethren. By the mercies of God, I urge you.” Now that’s a strong way of saying it, isn’t it? I’m urging you. Oh, let me add, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice. That’s what you give. That’s what you offer. How much does that cost? Well, that costs a lot. I’m giving my physical being. You present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice for you are not your own, you’ve been bought with a price, a very high price. What do you give? My love?

B. God answers fire with fire

I love you, God, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Offer your body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Then lastly, and we’ll close with this. God answers fire with fire. It’s a great part of the story. David purchased this threshing floor of Araunah, they auctioned the wood for 50 shekels of silver. We know later, the entire area for 600 shekels of gold. He built an altar there, offered up on the wood, the burnt offerings, the peace offerings, and fire from heaven.

1 Chronicles 21-26. “David built an altar to the Lord there, offered burnt offerings, peace offerings, and he called to the Lord and he answered him with fire.” I just love this scene because it’s been generations before. They haven’t seen fire from heaven for many generations but now David, fire from heaven on the altar burnt offering. See, it’s a beautiful thing, that which David offered, the burnt offering, the peace offering, it represents his worship, his offering, his heart, what he’s giving, and then God answers with fire from heaven. It’s a beautiful picture.

You give God your heart. Love is a picture of the heart, the soul that’s ignited. Love ignites the soul, doesn’t it? Love ignites the soul. When your heart, your soul is ignited, you give that to the Lord and he’ll answer with fire from heaven. He’ll ignite something from heaven, it’s a powerful picture.

When David purchased that threshing floor of Araunah, I suggest to you that he purchased the most precious land on the face of the earth. He purchased the most valuable land on the face of the earth for it would be the very site that Solomon would build the temple. It is on that very site, on that temple, that the offerings would go, the prayers, the incense, the bread offered. It would be this very site that Jesus would enter into when he descended from the Mount of Olives, “This is my father’s house,” he said.

It would be this very site that Jesus will enter it at the end of the age. When he comes, sets foot on the Mount of Olives, enters Jerusalem, and he will rule and reign the nations from this very site. Then it says, “In that latter day, when he rules and reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that the nations will come and he will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff.” That’s an interesting analogy. What is a threshing floor for? What is a purpose of a threshing floor? Is it not to separate the wheat from the chaff?

The wheat is the kernel of the wheat that contains life. The seed, the kernel has life. The chaff, no, it does not have life. It’s blown away and burnt up. On a threshing floor, they would throw everything, the wheat and the chaff up into the air. The wind would blow through. The wind, I’ll tell you, this is a very powerful picture. The wind would blow through and blow the chaff but the wheat, that which contains life, that is what would remain, separating the wheat from the chaff.

Notice what John the Baptist said in Matthew 3, this amongst many places. Matthew 3:11-12. He said this, “I baptize you with water for repentance. For he who is coming after me is mightier than I” referring to Jesus. “He will baptize you with the holy spirit and with fire for his winnowing fork is in his hands. He will thoroughly clear his threshing floor and he will gather his wheat into the barn and he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” It’s a powerful picture and it’s a call. It’s an invitation to have life. For there is a day in which he will separate. Seek the Lord while he may be found, seek the son.

God is pursuing relationship with you and he’s offering life. What does He want from you? He’s giving so much. The great price that was paid. He’s offering forgiveness, He’s offering life, He’s offering eternal hope, He’s offering the promise that He will be your father. What does He want from you? He wants you to love Him with all your heart. He wants you to repent from the life that He saved you from. “I saved you from that. Do not return to it. Instead, keep walking. Keep walking in grace, keep walking toward victory, keep walking in that and love the Lord, your God, as you walk, and I’ll walk with you. You pour the fire of your heart and I’ll pour the fire of the Holy Spirit.”

Let’s pray. Father, we are so thankful for your word that shows your desire to bless, to save, to strengthen, to give hope. God, what great lessons are found in the story? God, we see now the great price that was paid. We want to offer to you that which costs something. We want to give you our very heart, our very being, for we see how much you’ve loved. We see the great price that you’ve paid and we love you. God, answer by fire. Answer by fire. Ignite the soul, ignite our heart.

Church, how many would say to the Lord today, “I offer to you. God, I give to you my heart ignited because I love you. I see the price, I see what you’ve done, I see how much of love you’ve poured out. God, I want to say this to you. I give to you my heart, ignite it.” Then I ask God that you would pour your Holy Spirit. Ignite me, ignite something in me. Church, how many would say that to the Lord? Would you say it by just lifting your hand to the Lord? Just raise your hand to the Lord and just say that. “I offer to you my soul ignited. Meet me, God. Pour out your Holy Spirit. Ignite my heart. God, pour out your Holy Spirit upon my life.”

Father, thank you so much for the love that you have revealed, the love that you have shown. We honor you and thank you. In Jesus’ name. Everyone said?
Congregation: Amen.

How to Walk on High Places
2 Samuel 22:1-7, 26-37

September 18-19, 2021

Of course, the Psalms are just so, they’re just so amazing how they minister to the soul. Many people in their devotions, for example, will read at least a Psalm, maybe one of the Proverbs, and then somewhere else also but the Psalms are like a regular diet of just speaking life.

The Psalms, many of them were written by David. Here in many of the Psalms that he writes, he’s revealing his heart after God. He writes these Psalms, Psalms are actually songs. You might not know that, right? They’re actually songs to be sung. David was a musician and he wrote many of his psalms as songs to be sung.

Many of you might not know this but I was a songwriter when I was young. When I was young, I was very– a musician and a singer and had a band and used to write songs, and it was a very, it’s a way of pouring out your heart. I wrote a song for a friend called Hello, Old Friend, ain’t that creative, and I wrote a song for my dad. Many of you know, of course, he was a non-believer for most of his life. He didn’t come to faith till he was 75. He was an abusive alcoholic.

I wrote a song. It was a prayer. It was a song that was praying for my dad. That was one. Then, of course, I would write songs. Some woman broke up with me, I’d write a song.
[sympathy].  I know. Exactly. See? You just pour out your heart. David, he wrote psalms. All his life did he write psalms. Starting when he was just a shepherd out watching the sheep when he was a teen. He would write many songs, playing, singing them to the Lord and to the sheep, but to the Lord. All through his life at those monumental key points in his life, you know there are key points in all of our lives, David would often write a psalm at those key points.

When Saul was pursuing him relentlessly and God’s saved him over and over and over, he would write a psalm. When he sinned with Bathsheba, he wrote a psalm in the grief that he was carrying, the agony of his own sin, he wrote a psalm. When Absalom came to take the kingdom out of his hand and he was fleeing, he wrote a psalm.

Here in 2 Samuel 22, in the story of David, we have one of those psalms written right here in 2 Samuel 22. It’s a song that speaks of God’s help. It’s a song that honors God for the help that God is at deliverer. When you look at David’s life, one of the key aspects is that David had so many troubles and God saved, God delivered over and over.
Some epic problems, troubles, and God was that deliverer. All manner of troubles. I mentioned running from Saul’s wrath and jealousy, the Philistine, the enemy, enemies all around, fleeing Jerusalem, on and on. All of these troubles and yet God saved over and over. He was that deliverer.

Today, we have those psalms and when we read them, they’re very encouraging. They minister to us because we can relate to them because many people have troubles. Many people have difficulties and when those psalms that speak that God is a deliverer, it literally ministers really because we relate to the psalm because the psalm relates to us. It relates to where we are. It’s like the songs.

The popular songs that we hear on the radio. The reason why we listened to them is because we relate to them People listen to love songs when they’re in love. People listen to breakup songs when they’re breaking up. People listen to sad songs when they’re sad. [sings] Hello, darkness, my old friend. I feel sad. You feel like, oh, I want to hear that sad song.

When David faced troubles, he called out to God and God delivered over and over. David would write these psalms of deliverance to honor God for it. When we read these psalms, we are encouraged in our faith as well. Let’s read it. 2Samuel. I’m not going to read all of it because we’ll do that at the Wednesday verse by verse service but I want to read the key aspects of it.
We’ll start in verse 1 of 2 Samuel 22, and David spoke the words of this psalm to the Lord. Would you notice, it’s to the Lord in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from Saul. He said this, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in Whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my Savior, You save me from violence and I call upon the Lord Who is worthy to be praised and I am saved from my enemies. For the waves of death encompassed me.”

David, waves of death encompassed me, torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of Sheol, you might know that. It’s the Hebrew word for the place of the dead. The cords of Sheol surrounded me, the snares of death confronted me and in my distress, I called upon the Lord. Yes, I cried to my God, and from His temple, He heard my voice and my cry for help came to His ears.

Now moved to verse 26, if you would. With the kind, You show Yourself kind. With the blameless, You show Yourself blameless. With the pure, You show Yourself pure. With the perverted, You show Yourself astute. You see very well.

You save an afflicted people but Your eyes are on the haughty, whom you abase. For You are my lamp, oh, Lord, and the Lord illumines my darkness. For by You, I can run upon a troop. By my God, I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless, the Word of the Lord is tested. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him for who is God besides the Lord, and who is a rock, besides our God? God is my strong fortress and He sets the blameless in His way. He makes my feet like hinds feet, the feet of a deer. He sets me on high places. That’s where I got the title of the message. He sets me on the high places.

He trains my hands for battle so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. That takes some serious strength. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation and Your help makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me and my feet have not slipped. All right.

Those are the verses I want us to see. Again, we’ll look at the other verses at the Wednesday service but there’s so much to take hold of and to apply to our lives because what we see here in this song is the heart that David has for his Lord. That’s where we can take hold of some great lessons for our life starting with this understanding.

I. Make God Your Confidence

Make God your confidence because that’s what David did. Make God your confidence. One of the strongest keys to David’s spiritual strength was the confidence he had in God. Now, you can look at David and say, “Now there’s a man with confidence.” Truly, and I would have to say, yes, that’s right. You look at David. Here’s the king, one of the greatest kings of Israel, great warrior, mighty man. Here’s a man of confidence. That’s right, but his confidence was not self. Confidence was not in self. Confidence was in God.

See, Psalm 71:3, 5, and 7, I love this one where he writes it this way to the Lord. Be to me a rock of habitation. Habitation is a place to dwell. I can come to this rock, be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come. Now, he’s giving us an insight into the relationship that he has with God. Be a rock of habitation to which I may continually come. Now, there’s a good word. You have given commandment to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress. You are my hope oh Lord God. This word here is great. You are my confidence. From my youth, you have been my confidence.

Fascinating. David has learned something when he was young that many people don’t learn all their lives. I’ll tell you what, you learn that great truth when you are young, it will serve you well all your life, it will serve you well. You are my confidence. From my youth, this is true, and I have become a marvel to many. See, it is once such in David’s life that many people look at David’s life and say, “You’re amazing. David, you are a marvel.” Then God says yes because God is my help, God is my confidence.

A fascinating study could be done on the names of God. Even more fascinating to understand that each of the names of God is actually personal. When you see the personal aspect of the names of God, God means it that way, God means His relationship to us to be that, to be personal. In other words, God is not just Jehovah-Jireh, God, the provider, He is God, my provider, you got to make it personal. That’s when it changes the thing.

A. You need a Rock to stand on

It’s not just an intellectual assent anymore, now it’s the hope that you have to hold on to. See, one of the great keys to David’s spiritual life, he knew his God, he knew that God was for him. Here’s the point that we really need to see, you need a rock to stand on. In this troubled, turbulent world that’s constantly shifting and changing, man, we need a rock. When you get a rock to stand on, in the midst of the storms all around, there is a confidence that comes when you know you got a rock to stand on.

Now, if you ever get an opportunity to go to Israel, and I surely hope you do, it’s one of the bucket list on many– I really want to go to Israel. When you go there, one of the things you’ll notice is that in Israel, there are a lot of rocks. Of course, everyone takes a lot of pictures when they’re in Israel, and I did that like the old days. You take a picture when you’re in Israel. Now it’s actually like this now, but when you get home, you start looking at your pictures, you think rocks, rocks, rocks, so many rocks, so that’s why David could relate to it, God is my rock.
There were many times when David would stay in a cave in the mountains, that’s when God was his rock. It’s personal. A cave is like a cleft, it’s a hiding place in the mountain, a place of safety, of protection, of fortress. You can imagine David writing a psalm in that cave, in that rock. You’re my fortress, you’re my rock.

Another aspect of a rock, of course, is that it doesn’t move. It’s a great picture of God because David knew that God could be trusted, could be stood on. The promises of God are sure, you can depend on that because you look at David and God, David and God had a history, and this is really important for us. David and God had a history.

God proved Himself to David when he was young. Over and over and over, did God prove Himself to David, they had a long history, and that the longer the history of walking with God, the stronger the foundation is in your life. Walk with God, a long history will come. I’ll tell you what, I’m getting old. I know, I’m going to admit it. I’m getting old, and I have a long history with God, God has saved over and over. God has delivered, God has been my provision.

I had my own testimony. God and I have a long history, He’s never let me down. God has always been my great provider and my help in time of need. Anybody else want to say the same? God’s always been a great rock. a history. You need a history of walking with God because He’s a rock you can stand on and depend on. The long your walk with God, the more you can depend on Him.

Let me give you some great verses.  Luke 6, where Jesus taught this, everyone who comes to me and hears my words and acts on them. I had that emphasis because there are many people who hear the words of Christ but they don’t act on them, they don’t do anything with the words, but Jesus said this, everyone who comes to me and here’s my words and acts on them or lives by them in other words, I will show you whom he’s like, I will show you whom he’s like. He is like a man building a house, who dug deep, laid a foundation on a rock, and then when the flood occurred and that torrent burst against that house, it could not shake it because it had been well built. I will show you what that man is like, the one who hears my words and lives by those words and has a history with those words is like a man who built the house on the strong foundation.

Psalm 40:2, he brought me up out of the pit of destruction. He brought me up out of the miry clay, and He set my feet on a rock, making my footsteps firm. See, there’s a confidence when your footsteps are firm, there’s a confidence.

Psalm 62:6, He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, I shall not be shaken. See, there’s a confidence that comes when you take hold of such great truths.

B. Learn to call out to the Lord… more

Then you look at this Psalm of David’s in 2 Samuel 22, and you hear this, in his heart with the Lord, you hear this. Learn to call out to the Lord more. This is what we see, verse 7, in my distress, I called upon the Lord. Yes, I cried out. I cried out. I lifted my voice, I cried out to God, but he did this because he knew that God would hear his voice, that God would hear his cry for help. He knew with all confidence that God’s ear would hear when David cried. Calling out to Him, even in calling out to Him is like one of the aspects of David’s relationship that we could see is a tremendous example.

I remember when I was in eighth grade or ninth grade or somewhere, those are really troublesome years for a lot of people. It was for me, and my dad, living in a home with an alcoholic father and all the trauma, just it was very, very difficult. I remember, we lived way out in the country and I could walk out to the backwoods and walk for miles and never hit a house.
I would just go out in the backwoods, and I remember this one time, I would just– I was yelling out not to the Lord, I was just calling for help. God hear my heart, I’m literally yelling, because I’m out in the woods, no one can hear me. I’m just pouring it out, yelling it out. Something happened there that day, it was quite something. Something happened to me that day, something changed in me that day, something between me and God changed that day. God did help, God did save, and God has rescued me many, many times from trouble.

Sometimes some people expect that when they call out to God, that He will move to rescue and to save, and it will be immediately done at the word of His command. That’s what many people expect. If I cry out to God, if I call out, they expect God to move immediately to save. Yes, I have seen God move very quickly. I will tell you, I can tell you many examples, nothing short of miraculous, clearly irrefutable miraculous intervention of God, irrefutable that God has done quickly, but there are other times where it was a long journey, God walking with me on a long journey out of the trouble.

I think that there’s much to learn when the journey is long. That steadfastness, walking in a steadfastness, believing that God is walking with you, and will bring you through to the other side of this thing. There is something that happens when the journey is long.

Psalm 121:1-2, David writes, I lift up my eyes to the hills. This is one of the famous ones. I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. What a declaration. I lift up my eyes. I know where my help comes from, I will look and I will look to Him and Him alone.

Now some people feel hypocritical when they call out to God in distress because they weren’t calling out to God before the distress, and so they feel I don’t know if I– I’m not really– I really shouldn’t, I’m not qualified, I don’t deserve to call out to Him for help in distress because I wasn’t– Oh, I’m only doing it now because I’m in trouble.

I’ve heard this many, many times, and I got to tell you, my answer is always the same thing. Hey, if you’re in trouble, if you’re in distress, you call out to God even if you weren’t calling out to God before. You start now. At least you’re calling out to God, at least you know where help comes from, call out to God. Just don’t forget to thank Him. When He moves, when He helps when He walks with you through it, when He encourages you through it all, don’t forget to thank Him, don’t forget to praise Him, don’t forget to honor Him for all that He’s done to be your help in times of trouble. In fact, isn’t that what David is doing?

That is the reason he wrote this psalm. To honor, to thank the Lord. “You are amazing and I want to write this, I want this to be sung in Your honor. You are amazing.” Be thankful. Keep calling out to God. That is such an important thing. David was saying thank You and by the way, David calls out to God, here’s an interesting factoid, even the Holy Spirit joins in the interceding. Do you know the Holy Spirit will intercede also in your behalf?

Listen, here’s some amazing verses. Romans 8, very famous chapter Verse 26-28, “In the same way, the Spirit helps our weakness. The Spirit, the Holy Spirit helps our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we should.” The Spirit Himself is interceding for us with groanings too deep for words.

See, this is a famous verse right next to it, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The interceding of the Holy Spirit brings forth God causing all things to work together for good. Really it’s amazing. Here’s another one. 1 John 2:1-1, listen to this great word. “If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father.”

Now that’s an amazing word right there. If anyone sins, we have an advocate. Jesus Christ, the righteous is your advocate. If anyone sins, you have an advocate. Another word for advocate might be a lawyer even. Someone to represent you before the Father. Now, this is an important verse. This is a very, very important verse. I mention this because many people as I said before, misunderstand God. If someone sins, many people assume that God is pushing them away, God is offended at the sin so He pushes them away.

“Begone, I’m done with thee, because you have offended through your sin.” Many people assume that this is what God does, but in fact, let me show you this verse because it’s in fact quite the opposite. If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous comes to your defense you might say to aid in the help. He says He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours but for those of the whole world. This is the magnanimous verse right there.

We need to call out to the Lord more because He hears, and He’ll– Something happens in you, this is the point that David is showing us. Something happens in you when you call out to God, you can be sure that God hears. That’s right but something happens in you also. This is what happens, David understood that. He also was transformed by it. Something happens to you, it strengthens your faith, strengthens your confidence. How could you not be comforted and strengthened when you hear words like this?

He’s another set of verses out of Romans 8:35-39. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distresses, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword? No”. He says “In all these things, we overwhelmingly conquer through Him, through Him, through Him who loved us, for I am convinced,” I love that word, I am convinced, I am persuaded, this thing is settled with me. I know, I am persuaded, I am convinced. You don’t have to convince me, I’m convinced.  I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus our Lord.

C. God rescues because He delights in you

How could you not be encouraged with words like that? It strengthens the soul to be reminded again of who God is and His heart after you. Then notice this because it’s a great word. I didn’t read it but it’s in Verse 20 Where David wrote, “He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

See, I love this word. God rescues because He delights in you. Now, it’s difficult for many people to believe that God delights in them because they’re very much aware that they are sinners. How can God delight me when I am a sinner? Well, first of all, He made you in His image, He loved you so much that He sent His only begotten Son, that you might be saved, that you might have eternal life that you might have a relationship to God is your Father. He loves you. That’s why He sent, He delighted in you, that’s why He sent His son to save you. To seek and to save, to draw you into a relationship to himself. God delights. It’s a great word.

By the way, in any relationship it’s beautiful when it goes both ways. David delighted in God and that’s one of the things that God loved about David. David delighted in God. It’d be great if in a relationship it goes both ways. In other words, if a husband delights in his wife, it’d be awesome if the wife delighted in her husband or the wife delighted in the husband, it’d be awesome if the husband delighted in the wife. That’s what a relationship is. It’s both. David delighted in God, God delighted in David. What a picture is this.

We love our own children, who are very imperfect, how much more does God love? Luke 11:11 and 13 Jesus says this. “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish. Dad, I’m hungry, can I have a fish?” It was very common in those days to have some dried fish or smoked fish or something. “I am hungry. Dad, can I have a fish?” Now, suppose one of your fathers is asked by his son for a fish, he wouldn’t give him a snake instead of a fish, now would he? No, that’s the idea. No.

If you then being evil or of the world know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit of a living God to those who ask Him, which is the highest, greatest thing you could ever ask for? How much more would God delight to give you that?
Or how about this one, 1 John 3:1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us?” Don’t you like that we’re lavished? It just sounds so lavish. “Oh, how great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God and that is what we are?”

Now, you’re supposed to be amazed at that, that’s amazing. Zephaniah 3:17, another great word. “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love and he will rejoice over you with singing.”

II. God Strengthens Those Who Trust in Him

Oh, you could just spend hours contemplating the truth of that verse and then, next, go back to 2 Samuel 22 here’s another great lesson out of this song that David wrote. It says, “God strengthens those who trust in Him.” This is a great truth. God strengthens you. God strengthens those who trust in Him.

Starting from verse 30 through 37, I love those verses right there. David looked to God to be the strength of his life. His confidence is not only that God would rescue and save, but that God would strengthen his life when he called out to God to save. See David’s confidence was God Himself and he let it be known that God is the one who gave him strength. “By my God, I can run upon a troop.” In other words, I will not be afraid if 10,000 set themselves against me roundabout for the Lord is my help, the Lord is my strength.

A. Strength of faith brings strength of life

That’s confidence, that is just confidence. Here’s the point, strength of faith brings strength of life. Here, that this is important. Strength of faith brings strength of life, strength of faith brings strength of life. David accomplished great things, he was a marvel to many, surviving deep deep troubles even against terrible odds, but those victories were accomplished by God’s strength. “By my God, I can run up a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall.” You don’t have to be strong in your own might. You and I need to be strong in His might, in Him. That’s where God promised that when you walk with Him and trust in Him, He will strengthen you. This is what Joshua said to Israel at the end of his life. This is Joshua 23. “One of your men puts a thousand to flight, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised. Take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God.” That’s one of the great keys to the whole point. God strengthens those who trust in Him.

Take diligent heed yourself to love the Lord your God, to delight in Him because God is greater than the troubles. God is greater than all the trials. When David faced Goliath, he knew that God was greater than a man, even a giant of a man. That’s why when he came out to face Goliath, David was just a young man. His confidence in the Lord was so clear, even when he was a young man.

1 Samuel 17, this is what David said when he faced Goliath. “This day, the Lord will deliver you-” speaking to Goliath, “-into my hands and I will strike you down, and all the earth will know that there is a God in Israel,” because He’s the one who will do it. “All that are in this assembly may know that the Lord is not delivered by sword or by spear, for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will do it, He will give you into our hands.”

B. He makes your feet like hinds’ feet

Next, we see this in David’s psalm and I love this where he says, “He makes your feet like hind’s feet.” He paints this beautiful picture that God makes his feet like hind’s feet and sets them on high places. By the way, do you know what a hind is? It’s very important that you understand what is a hind? A hind is a doe, a deer, a female deer. I just thought out that way.

It was just true, a female deer that is known for being sure-footed in difficult terrain. That was their thing, difficult rocks. Then you look at this deer, she just climbs right up the face of that rock. That’s amazing. They had this reputation for being sure-footed in difficult terrain, difficult trouble, difficult challenging, sure-footed. He makes my feet like hind’s feet, and he sets me on high places. Look at that deer. She’s climbed right up the high places. That’s the point exactly.

God makes you sure-footed in difficulty, gives you confidence that He is your help, your deliverer. That surefootedness will cause you to walk in high places. Now, the idea, what does it mean to walk in high places? Well, it means that you walk higher than the world. This world is filled with that which is quite low, walk higher, victoriously. The reason God wants you to walk higher is because His ways are higher.

Notice Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts then your thoughts.” Higher, He sets me in higher places. He sets me in higher places. You can see it in character. You can see it in faith, higher character, higher faith. The change that comes upon a man is because he is set on higher places. It’s the transformed life, higher places.

David wrote in verse 35 that, “By my God, I can bend a bow of bronze.” I suggest, yes, it takes tremendous strength to bend a bow of bronze, but I also suggest that it takes greater strength to know when to withhold the arrow, when to not send the arrow.

We read this last week when Shimei was throwing insults, David is feeling Jerusalem, fleeing for his life as Absalom comes to take the throne. Shimei is throwing stones, throwing rocks and insults at him and Abishai one of his generals says, “Give the word, sir and I will dispatch him.” David says, “No, let him curse. Let him insult. Perhaps God will look upon my affliction.”
Later on, as we were seeing this on Wednesday, when David is restored, Absalom is defeated and David is restored back to his position as king, here comes Shimei, here comes Shimei to apologize.

Humbly apologizing now. “Oh, may the Lord, my King, forgive the words that I spoke that day.” Abishai was right next to him and Abishai says, “Why should this man live? After what he said to you, why should this man live?”

I love David’s answer. “There’s been enough dying today.” He said, “No, you will live. I forgive you.” That is a higher place to live. That is a higher place to live, to walk in high places. That’s what you were called to do. Walk on higher places. You need strength. I remember reading the story of Corrie ten Boom.

Corrie ten Boom asked her father if she would have the strength to face the troubles surrounding them in Germany as they were rescuing Jews, and hiding them from the Nazis. She’s asking her father, “Will I have the strength to face this?” Her father said, “God will give you the strength when you need it. God will give you the strength. You can do what God asked you to do. He’ll strengthen you to do it. Walk on higher places.”

A few years ago, I was at a conference in Washington DC. This was a conference for those who stand with and support Israel, which I do. The evening guest speaker was a very famous Jewish speaker, addressing a large crowd of Christians. This Jewish man said an interesting thing. I had never heard this before.

This Jewish speaker said this. “When a Jew meets a Christian, he asks himself a question. When a Jew meets a Christian, he asks himself a question.” This is a Jew relating the story. “A Jew will ask himself if something like the Holocaust happens again, and Jews fear for their lives, would this Christian hide me?” When a Jew meets Christian, he asks himself this question, would this one hide me?”

Then the Jewish man said to this stadium full of Christians. He said, “I know in my heart of hearts, that every person in this room would hide me.” Tears flowed as the crowd stood on their feet, gave this man a standing ovation. It was like, “What a holy moment was that?” Because what he was saying was, “I know in my heart that every one of you walks on higher places.” God has done a work. See God changes the character of a man and makes him walk on the higher places because there’s something of God’s high and holy character at work in him.

Let there be something of God’s high and holy character at work in you, desire that which is high and holy, that which is good and righteous, that which is filled with honor and justice. Something is right about a man who desires such things as this. It’s a higher way to live. It’s the transformed life. It comes from a relationship to the living God. You delight in Him and He’ll delight in you and He will pour out His strength and He will transform you, because I’ll tell you what, I’d rather live that way than any other way. Amen.

Father, thank You so much. We love You for the pouring out of Your hope and Your life upon us, your church. God, we hear these words, and it stirs us up because we want to have that kind of faith where we can say You are my confidence. You’re my help. You’re my deliverer. God, set my feet on higher places. I want to walk with that transformed heart and that transformed life. I want faith to be strengthened. I want to walk on higher places. How many tonight would say that to the Lord?

“I want to walk in higher places. I want to transform life. I want that kind of faith where You are my confidence, where I delight in You and You delight in me. Oh God, set my feet on higher places.” How many would say that? Would you just raise your hand to the Lord and just say it by raising your hand to the Lord. “I want to walk on higher places. I want to transform life. I want to faith renewed and strengthened. Father, thank You for everyone who desires you.” Let there be confidence in You because of the relationship that You desire.
Lord, move in us now. Draw as to Yourself now. Help us to have that which is high and holy at work in our lives, transforming the very soul within us. We love You, Lord and we honor You now, in Jesus name and everyone said?

Beautiful Reconciliation
2 Samuel 14:1-33
September 4-5, 2021

One of the things we do appreciate about the word is that it is very open and honest about the characters of the Bible. It doesn’t gloss over. It doesn’t gloss over their failures. It shows their victories, but it shows their defeats and their faults. David is no exception as we’ve been looking at the life of David, his faults and failures are epiccastrophic, but God gives us a portrait of David you might say words at all.

Now, by the way, that’s an interesting phrase. Actually, it’s a famous phrase. It comes to us out of the 1600s, and it comes from Oliver Cromwell, who was Lord protector of England in the 1,600s. He hired the King’s artist, Lely, to paint a portrait of him. Now, back in those days, of course, they had no photography. If you wanted to be remembered in history, you had to hire an artist to paint your portrait.

It was very calm in practice at the time for an artist to let’s say, flatter, the one being painted. Royalty, especially expected portraits of them to be showing them in the best possible light. Even if the artist has to be fanciful in their rendering of it, you get what I’m saying, right? It’s like the glamor shots of the day. Do they have that thing still glamor shots? You know what I’m talking about? Where everything’s looking like, “Oh my goodness, that looks like a slice of heaven right there.”

Famously when Crowell sat down for his portrait, he said, “Now, Mr. Lely, I desire that you would use all of your skill to paint my portrait truly like me. Do not flatter me at all. Remark all of these roughnesses these words, these flaws, everything just as you see it, or I will not pay you a thing for it.” He wanted him himself to be depicted accurately flaws, warts, and all.

Now, that is an interesting thing. Today, when you look at Facebook and Instagram and you see the portraits of other people’s lives and the renderings of what everybody else does, it looks like everybody’s got a perfect life. Their kids are perfect. They do great things. They’re always doing fun things. My life isn’t. It’s important to see that God’s portrait, He paints the portraits of characters accurately because we need to see the fact that our flaws are real.

God deals with us in the reality of who we are. As the king of Israel, David’s flaws and his failures become inextricably linked to his reign as king. He had committed adultery as we saw last week. He arranged for her husband to be killed in battle when he instructed that he be put in the front lines and the men draw away from him, then he took this woman as his wife.

Now, as we saw, yes, God would forgive him, but there would be consequences. God forgives, but there are still consequences. Now, see that right there is a life lesson. It’s important to recognize. Now, many of you know my story, many of you know are very well aware that at the trial for the murder of our daughter, that my wife and I forgave the man who killed her. Yet, we also asked the Jury to give him a sentence of life in prison.

Afterward, a reporter asked, “How could this be? How can both things be true?” I responded, “I forgave him. That is between him and me. He owes me no debt.” However, there is a breach of trust here, women are not safe around this man. There must still be consequences. It is a life lesson. When we ask God to forgive because we have sinned, God surely forgives.

He forgives because the condemnation for that sin fell upon His son when He died on the cross at Calvary and took our sins upon Himself, but there are still consequences. There’s still the need to, to rebuild the life. There’s still the need to restore that which was broken. The good news is that God will walk with you in the rebuilding.

God will walk with you in the restoring. He’s a good, good father. Like a good, good father, He will never leave you, He’ll never forsake you, He’ll never cast you off. He will stand with you no matter what you have done. Can we just give the Lord praise for this?

The consequences of David’s tragic decisions are gonna be seen in his life for years. His life and the life of his children. Now, the backdrop or background of 2nd Samuel 14, is that one of David’s sons, Amnon was his name, had a wrongful desire for his half-sister. He had a sexual desire for his half-sister. He pretended to be sick as a ruse to get her to come into his room.

Then when she was there, he forced himself upon her against her strong request. Afterward, he despised her and sent her way in disgrace. When Absalom, her brother found out what had happened, he brought Tamar into his care and waited for David to settle the matter, but David did not settle the matter. David took no action. David, the great man of action did nothing. Why? It’s an important part of the story.

Finally, after two years, Absalom took matters into his own hands and had Amnon killed. Afterward, he fled to Gesher, home of his mother’s family, and there he remained banished for three years. Estranged. Now, there’s a great chasm, but this is a story of reconciliation. This the story of beautiful reconciliation.

Let’s read it, 2nd Samuel 14, we begin in verse one. Now, Joab, remember he is the commander of the forces of Israel and very near to David. Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the King’s heart was inclined toward Absalom. In other words, he could see David loved his son Absolum. They are estranged, there’s a great chasm. David, you could see long for Absalom. Joab came up with a scheme, a plan.

He sent Tekoa brought a wise woman from there and he said this to her, “Now, please pretend to be a mourner. Put on morning garments now, don’t anoint yourself with oil,” in other words, don’t look good, but rather look like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for many days. Look all disheveled and let your makeup run and all that kind of stuff, then go to the king, speak to him in this manner. Joab put words in her mouth.

Now, when the woman of Tekoa spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, prostrated herself and this is what she said, “Help, oh, king help.” The king said to her, “What is the trouble?” She answered, “Truly I’m a widow, my husband is dead, your maidservant had two sons, but the two of them struggled together in the field and there was no one to separate so one struck the other and killed him.”

“Now, behold, the whole family has risen up against me, your maidservant, and they say hand over the one who struck his brother that we may put him to the death for the life of his brother whom he killed and destroy the heir.” Thus, they will extinguish my coal, which is left so as to leave my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.” Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your house, I will give orders concerning you,” but she pressed it again.

The woman Tekoa said to her king, “Oh my Lord, the king, the inequity is on me and my father’s house, but the king and his throne are guiltless.” David presses as his answer, “Whoever speaks to you, bring him to me, he’s not gonna touch you anymore.” Still, the third time she presses, then she says, “Oh, please let the king, remember the Lord or God so that the avenger blood may not continue to destroy lest they destroy my son.”

David says, “Adamantly no, as the Lord lives, not one hair of your shall fall to the ground.” Then the woman said, “Please let your maidservant speak a word to my Lord, the king.” He said, “Speak.” The woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in speaking this word, the king is the one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring back the one who is banished.”

Then she says, “This speech, this is an amazing speech, for we shall all surely die and we are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one may not be cast out from Him. That is an amazing, that’s like the gospel of The Old Testament, that is amazing. Jump down with me to verse 18. The king answered and said to the woman, “Please don’t hide anything from me that I’m about to ask you.” The woman said, “Let the Lord the king speak.” The king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?” Very insightful king and the woman answered and said, “As your soul lives, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything that my lord the king has spoken.”

“Indeed, yes, it was your servant Joab who commanded me, and it was he who put all these words in the mouth of your maidservant. In order to change the appearance of things, your servant Joab has done this thing, but my lord is wise, like the wisdom of the angel of God, to know all that’s in the earth.” Then the king said to Joab, “Behold, I will surely do this thing. Go, therefore, bring back the young man, Absalom.”

Verse 23, “Joab arose and went to Geshur and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. However,” verse 24, the king said, “Let him turn to his own house and let him not see my face.'” Well, that’s not really reconciliation. Absalom turned to his own house and did not see the king’s face. Jump down to verse 28. “Now, Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem and did not see the king’s face. Absalom sent for Joab to send him to the king, but he would not come to him.

He sent a second time and Joab still will not come. Therefore, he said to his servants, “See Joab’s field, it’s right next to mine. He’s got barley there. Go set it on fire. That will surely get his attention.” Absalom servants set the field on fire. Then Joab arose, came to Absalom at his house and he said, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?”
Absalom answered, “Because I sent for you, saying, “Come here that I may send you to the king to say this. Why did I even come from Geshur? It would be better for me to still be there. Now, let me see the king’s face. If there’s iniquity, let him put me to death.” Joab came to the king, told him all his words. He called, David called for Absalom. Thus he came to the king, prostrated himself with his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom.”

I. Don’t Stay Spiritually Weakened

Of course, in that time and culture, it was a tremendous sign of affection, and closeness, and beautiful reconciliation. These are the words that we wanted to look at and understand the insights and the life lessons that we can apply to our lives, starting with David. What is happening in David that he took no action? I suggest you this, this is a tremendous, important insight.
We can summarize it this way. Don’t stay spiritually weakened. David was spiritually weakened because we know that his moral authority was diminished. Sin has that effect. He has no moral authority, you might say. In other words, something had to be done to break David from his spiritual slumber, but why was David taking no action? Because David was paralyzed. Here’s why, because sin weakens the soul.

Now, we know this is true. Anyone who has ever done anything tragic in their lives know this is true. It weakens the soul. You have no moral authority. You can’t stand in authority when there’s such in your own life. It weakens the soul. David is guilty of adultery. He even murdered because he arranged for the death of Uriah. How can David take action against his own son when he’s guilty himself?

Psalm 38:3 speaks to that very thing. “There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation. There is no health in my bones because of my sin.” We know this is true. Anyone who’s done tragic things can relate. They understand this. Psalm 40:12, “My iniquities have overtaken me so I’m not able to see. They are more numerous than the hairs on my head and my heart has failed me.”

A. Sin weakens the soul

Sometimes parents struggle with this very thing. Sometimes parents fail to discipline their children because they did wrongful things themselves. Like, “How can I say anything to them when I did the same thing? I was a difficult child. I was a rebellious child. I did some things. I did things. How can I discipline my child for doing the same thing that I did?” They think.
I suggest to you, that’s even more reason because now you know the consequences. You know the hurt. You know the shame. You know the pain. Spare your children because you know that it is going to bring consequences to their lives. You have now a mandate from God. Raise up your children in the fear and instruction of the Lord and let them have a foundation on which to build their lives. Amen? Yes.

David was paralyzed because of his own sin. He had no moral authority, no ground to stand on. Or did he? I suggest he did because he should have treated his son, Amnon, the same way that God treated him. David understood God forgave his sin. Habakkuk 3:2, “Lord, I’ve heard the report about you and I fear. Lord, revive your work in the midst of the years. In the midst of years, make it known, but in wrath, remember mercy.”

We love this about the Lord. David knows this mercy of God. Ephesians 4:30-32, “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and slander be put away because these things grieve the Holy Spirit, but be kind to one another, be tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” In other words, has not God forgiven you so much? Then can you not forgive others based on the fact that you have received so much forgiveness?

In other words, David should have confronted the problem. He should have confronted the problem straightforwardly and then brought mercy because that’s what God did to David. David then should have brought consequences because that’s what God did to David. He would have been the righteous and just king because that’s what God did to David.

Hebrews 12:6-7 is true, “Those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines.” That’s one of the ways you know that you’re a son. It says, “God deals with you as with sons.” What son is there whom his father does not discipline? That’s how you know that God loves you because He disciplines for the purpose of restoring and rebuilding and bringing the needed correction, that you might be blessed in the receiving of it.

B. God desires mercy more than sacrifice

What we see then, the heart of God reveal to us in this story, God desires mercy more than sacrifice. God desires mercy. David took no action regarding his son Amnon for two years. Absalom waited and waited and waited. David did nothing. Meanwhile, Absalom, his heart is growing bitter. Finally, he couldn’t wait no more, took matters into his own hands, arranged for Amnon’s death then fled to Geshur.

Here, again, David, now estranged from his son, spiritually weakened, a man of inaction. As the king, he wanted to uphold the just demands of the law, but he loved his son. He’s in a dilemma. He loves his son, his heart longs for him, but he’s in a dilemma. There are many today that are in a very similar place. Perhaps, they’ve been hurt by someone. Someone is offended in some way. Their heart longs for that reconciliation, but they insist, “No, there’s not going to be a reconciliation until there’s justice.”

I submit that God is in the same dilemma. He is the king that stands for righteousness and justice, but he’s also the father who longs for relationship. Jesus demonstrates this so beautifully. His example speaks volumes as to how God deals with us, and then how we should relate to others.

Comes to us out of Matthew 9. I love this story. Verses 9 to 13, it tells us that, “Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting in the tax collectors booth.” Now, you might know tax collectors were despised by the Jews. They were considered betrayers of Israel because they were taking up taxes in behalf of the Romans. They were the hated, despised. The only friends they had were other tax collectors.

II. God Heart is for Reconciliation

“Jesus saw this man sitting in the tax collector’s booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” He got up and he followed him. I love that too. He just walked away from everything. “Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table of his house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and his disciples.” Matthew brought all his sinner friends to come and be with Jesus.

Now, we love this scene. Here is Jesus sitting with these tax collectors and all these sinner friends. We love this because we can relate. We’re part of the sinner friends. “When the Pharisees saw this, they said to the disciples, ‘Why is your teacher eating with tax collectors and sinners?” You can just see them wagging their fingers. “Jesus when he heard this, he said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” This is right out of the old Testament. This is right out of the word of God. These are teachers of the law. You go and learn what this means. They knew the word of the law, but they did not know the heart of the law. They didn’t know the heart of God. “You go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice. I didn’t come to call the righteous, I’ve come to call sinners to be reconciled.”

God sent his son to seek and to save that which was lost because sin has brought a great chasm. He sent his son that many would be reconciled because God’s heart is for reconciliation. Brings us back to 2nd Samuel 14 and the message that this woman of Tekoa brought to David. David promised mercy for the woman’s supposed son, “As the Lord lives not a hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”

A. Life is short, value relationships

Then she brought it right back to David, “Why is it then that the king does not bring back the banished one.” In other words, you show mercy to someone else, you show mercy to someone you don’t know, but you also show mercy to your own son. Then she says, this amazing speech in verse 14. The point of it is this, life is short, value relationships. Life is short. They say, “you can’t take it with you”. That’s a very true statement, but I suggest that there are some things you can take with you. Relationships is one of them.

“Life is short,” the woman is saying. “Our lives are like water poured out that cannot be taken up again.” Psalm 39:4-5, “Lord, make me to know my end and the number of my days, let me know how fleeting life is. When you’re young, you think you got all kinds of time. You’ve got all these years. It is never going to end. You think when you’re young that way, but when you get older, you stop thinking that way.

When you get older, you realize life is fleeting. You got to make every everyday count. It means a sense of urgency about it. Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” When you number your days and you realize life is short, you value right things. There are so many people with broken relationships, but relationships are a great treasure. What a waste, not to seek reconciliation.

I love quoting Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men.” I’m very thankful that it certainly put in the words if possible because some people are impossible. When it says, “So far as it depends on you,” means that you make sure that you’ve gone as far as you can go. Make sure that you oppressed it as far as you can press it.
Now, many, many families have divisions. Many have their own stories of family divisions. Well, one of those family divisions came to my wife’s family many, many years ago, and we were the ones being banished. I say, “How could that be? Pastor Rich, you’re such a wonderful guy. How is that even possible?” I know. I wondered the same thing. How does that even happen? Well, I’ll tell you how it happened.

Someone in the family was offended with someone else and so the person that was offended decided we’re going to rally the family together and banish that person. Well, my wife and I were on vacation at the time. We came back to this. We came back to all these, all this family drama and then they said, “Yes, we’re all going to banish so-and-so so you join us in the banishing,” to which we said, “I’m sorry, we don’t banish. I’m not a banisher.” Is that a word? It ought to be?

“I’m not a banisher. I’m sorry, I can’t do this thing. I’m not going to join you in this banishing, I’m not a banisher. We were on vacation, we come back to this. No, I can’t banish.” “Well, if you cannot manage, then you, yourself will also be banished.” Okay, I guess we’re banished. They even convinced the father to banish us. For seven years this went on. Our children had no grandparents at the time.

Our response, my wife and I and our kids, we decided, “You know what? We’re not banishing them, they’re banishing us.” We bought their Christmas presents every year and their birthday and all of that stuff and we’d drive into their house, leaving on their porch and, of course, they wouldn’t come out. We’d leave it there and move on next year, bring this stuff seven years until dad got cancer, my wife’s father, cancer of the throat. They’re going to put in a tracheotomy, a hole. He would never speak again.

I said to my wife, “This is traumatic. He is going to be going through such a major life change. To not speak, to have a tracheotomy, this is so difficult. He needs some support. He needs some love. I want to go and I’m going to stay with him in the hospital. I’m taking some days off of work and I’m going to just be with him all the time he’s in the hospital, all the days he’s there.”

He’s old, old, old. The family is going to be a very offended. Well, I’m already banished, what more can I do? That’s their problem. Your dad needs that love. I packed some stuff and I went to the hospital and I stood at the door and, “All right, George, I’m your new roommate? I’m moving in.” He starts crying. I shaved him. I brought him a white board with the thing so we could start writing to his doctors.

I knew it was hard, so I interceded for him with the doctors and we were there days. When he got out, I helped him find his device. It’s electronic device you can hold it up to your throat and then press a button and you can speak this way and practice with them and get them to learn how to speak. A couple of months later, I brought him this bowl of clam chowder. I love cooking. Clam chowder was one of the things I was into at the day.

I brought him a thing of Clam chowder and he said, “Can I talk to you?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “I misjudged you. I listened to others and I should never listened. I’m so sorry. Would you forgive me?” Oh, I forgive you. He stood up and kissed me. Beautiful reconciliation. Love wins the day. Can we give the Lord praise for that.

Love wins today. We often think in terms of justice. I will not reconcile until there’s justice. The problem is that God desires mercy. One day I was driving one of our missionaries to the airport and we were, intently chatting as we were going on. We came up to the exit for deed off of the airport and I saw there was a car there, so I sped up a little and then the car sped up. I slowed down and he slowed down and I realized, he’s doing this on purpose. He’s trying to stop me from taking my exit.

I could not believe it. I really slowed down and let some other car get in between us and then I moved over and I kept on talking. The missionary said, “Wait, why doesn’t that bother you?” I said, “Because I’m getting old.” I learned my lesson, just because he’s having a bad day doesn’t mean I should have a bad day. Just because he has a bad heart doesn’t mean I should have a bad heart.

Many times we think of justice, but God desires mercy. Notice this part of the story, I love the speech that the woman gives because it really comes down to this great truth. “God has made a way for you to come home.” It’s a powerful line the woman says, one of the best gospel texts of the old Testament, “We will surely all die and we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.”

God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him. That is a great speech. God has a plan for those who are far from God to be reconciled to him because God’s heart is reconciliation. That plan is found in Christ Jesus. 2nd Corinthians 5:19-20, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them.” God desires mercy and He then has committed to us the word of reconciliation. God has committed to us the word of reconciliation, therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ. In other words, God has commissioned you to be an ambassador of reconciliation. Isn’t that a great idea, great concept? God’s heart is to reconcile.

He has sent His Son to reconcile the world to Himself, and then He has commissioned you and me. He’s empowered you and me, given us a mission that we would be called ambassadors of reconciliation. It is as though God were making an appeal through us, therefore, we beg you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. This is God’s heart.

Many years ago, there was a fellow in the church who was witnessing to a friend in his living room. They got stuck at some point and he asked if I could come. I said, “Sure.” I came and I got to meet this fellow. I said, “Tell me the trouble. What is the objection?” He said, “My objection is this. I think God put my name on the wrong list.” “God put your name on the wrong list?” “Yes, he’s put me on the list of those whom he has rejected.”

I said, “That’s way too much theology for someone who doesn’t believe yet.” I said, “Let me just say something to you. I have a word from God to you.” He give me that look like, “Oh really? Are you going to be one of those weird ones?” I said, “No, really? I have a word from God to you.” He said, “Really? What is it?” “God’s word that he sent me to speak to you is this, I beg you in the name of Jesus Christ to be reconciled to God.” That is God’s heart to you. That is what God is saying to you. That is God’s word to you.

Now, let me show it to you, I read it right out of the word to him. I’m here to report, amen, came to faith in Jesus Christ. His friend got to lead him to Christ. He’s walking with the Lord today. God’s heart is reconciliation because God’s story of redemption is all the way through the Bible. From Genesis to revelation, it is the grandest story of the Bible.

Man was banished from God’s presence because of the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden, which they might not eat from the tree of life, then you go all the way to Revelation. I tell you, the story of redemption is all through the Bible. You go to Revelation and you see the relationship. You see the reconciliation and you can see the tree of life.

Revelation 22:1-2, “He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal coming from the throne of God and from the lamb in the middle of a street, it was. On either side of the river was the tree of life, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nation. God wants people to be reconciled and He’ll use so many ways to try to get them to open their eyes. He’ll use the word of God. The word of God reveals God’s heart using it to draw people to himself.

Isaiah 55:11, “So will my word be, which goes forth from my mouth. It will not return to me empty without accomplishing what I desire without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For He sends it in power to reveal His heart of reconciliation.” God sent His son to seek and to save that, which was lost, that they might be reconciled.

The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 was reading Isaiah 53, one of the most amazing chapters of the Old Testament that shows Jesus revealed as the suffering Messiah of Israel. Many today, when they read Isaiah 53, you know that many Jews don’t even read Isaiah 53, but when they start to read Isaiah 53, and then they see the story of Jesus, many Jews today are coming to faith that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel because he’ll use the word of God to do it.

He’ll use all manner of things. He can use hardships. God uses all manner of things and God’s plan is loving and just. He takes our sins upon himself, pays the penalty for that sin on the cross of Calvary. That is justice, but He does it as a demonstration of his great love.

Then lastly, we’ll close with this. “Let those who are reconciled draw near.” See, David agreed to bring absolute home to Jerusalem. That sounded like reconciliation, but he couldn’t see his face. That’s not reconciliation. He waited two more years. Finally, he appealed to Joab for help. God reconciled us to himself in full reconciliation. To see His face, meaning to draw near.
The whole point is for reconciliation, for relationship Absalom said, “Why did he even come if it’s for full reconciliation?” The point is when God draws you, He draws you into full reconciliation for the purpose of a relationship. Not that you must be brought back partway, but that you’d be brought back all the way for the nearness of God is the heart of God in it.
One of the best stories of this has to be found in the book of Luke 15, the Story of the Prodigal Son. Many of you know this story. Young man asked his father for his inheritance, went to the city, spent it all in wild living, parties, women, you know, all of the things. He spent it all. Then when he had nothing left, tragedy struck, famine, hit the land. He had no money, had no job. Finally, he found the worst job a Jew could ever have, feeding swine.

When day it occurs to him, he’s jealous of the pigs for they have food and he does not. Then it says, Luke 15:17, “When he came to his senses, ” love that line right there. That was a glorious line. When someone comes to the senses, that moment when someone opens their eyes, that moment when the light dawns, it’s a glorious, holy moment.

He came to his senses and he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread? I’m dying here with hunger. I will get up and I will go to my father and I will say to him this, father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.” Catch this part. “I am no longer worthy to be called your son, I just need a job. Take me as one of your hired men. I’m not worthy. I’ve done shameful things. I don’t want to even tell you what I did. I’m ashamed of myself. I’m not worthy of being a son. I just need a job. Take me as one of the hired men.”
He got up and he came to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him, felt compassion for him and ran. Oh, don’t you love this part of this story, reveals to us, this is God in this story. This is the heart of God. He sees his son, dirty bedraggled son coming down the road, just asking for a job. He sees him a long way off. The father runs down the road and fell compassion, braised him, kissed him.

Then, of course, we know the son gave his speech, but then the father said to his servants, “Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on my son. Put a ring on his hand, sandals on his feet, bring the fattened calf, let us eat and celebrate for this son of mine was dead, but has come to life again. This son of mine was lost and has been found.” The whole point of reconciliation is that you would draw near. God draws you to be a son or a daughter. Here’s my point. God doesn’t have hired. God doesn’t have employees. God has sons. God has daughters. God does not have employees. God does not take you as a hired man. He takes you as a son or not at all. It’s all with God. Draw nearer. Too many people, they stay too far away. “You don’t understand. You don’t understand. I have so much shame in my life. You don’t know what I’ve done.”

Well, God knows it all and He’s the one who draws you and says, “You come home, but you come home all the way and you be my son. Because I’ll tell you what, you keep staying out there and you’re not going to rebuild your life. You come near to me. I’m the one who will rebuild your life. I’ll restore your life because I am your father and I’ll never leave you nor first take you. I’ll never cast you off. You come near to me and you come nearer to me, and you come nearer to me. Look, I know all about the shame and I still love you and I will pay for it all. Don’t be far. Don’t be far. Come, draw nearer.”

Father, thank you so much. It’s beautiful, beautiful to see your heart, and so God we today say to you, thank you for speaking life, for drawing us to yourself, for showing us your heart is for full reconciliation. Church today, how many would say to the Lord, “I want to walk nearer to you as my father. I’ve been too far. I’ve been walking too far. I ask that I could walk near to you.
Be my father. Be my father. Walk with me through this. I need you today. I want to be fully reconciled because I want to walk nearer to you as my father.” Would you say that to God? Is God speaking that to your heart? Would you just raise your hand to the Lord and say it to the Lord? “That’s your desire. That’s my very heart. That’s the very thing I’m asking. God, I want to draw near to you.”

Just raise your hand to the Lord. Be bold in the Lord. Father, thank you. Thank you for everyone. As the spirit is drawing us, as the spirit is drawing us, thank you for moving upon us, showing us your heart. We loved you and honor you for all, in Jesus’ name. Everyone said–
Congregation: Amen.


Pleasing God is the Key to Victory
2 Samuel 11:1-15                               
August 28-29, 2021

One of the things we ought to really appreciate about the Bible is that it is very honest and open about the people in the Bible. In other words, it doesn’t just highlight the strengths and the victories. No, it also reveals their faults in their defeats. That brings us to the point of David. Up to this part of the story, David has been amazing. He’s like a hero, a highlight of the Old Testament in many ways. What faith as he took on the Philistine giant, as he became king of Israel, as he brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. On and on, he’s been the hero, but that all comes to the edge of the cliff right here in this chapter.

David is going to plunge headlong over that cliff for David’s failures in this story are catastrophic. I’m convinced that God is open and honest about the strengths and the weaknesses of the characters of the Bible so that we could, A, learn from their victories, learn from their faith but also we can learn from their failures. The idea is don’t do that. Let’s understand that God will equip us, but he also shows us that when we see failures of characters in the Bible, it becomes an opportunity not only to learn how not to fail but also to know how to respond if a person does fail because God’s heart is to rescue.

We’re going to see that God’s heart is to rescue people from the failures and from the defeats of life. His heart is also then to redeem and to restore. He loves you and he doesn’t quit loving you when a person fails. This is very important because many people think that God does stop loving them when they fail. It’s very important to understand that God does not give up. God does not quit. He will not forsake you. He will not leave you. God will stay with you. If there is a failure, he will redeem. It’s one of the life lessons of the story. What we understand as we look at these figures, as we look at David, is that there are let’s say certain immutable, spiritual loss in scripture.

That’s one of the things we like to take hold of. There are certain immutable spiritual laws. These immutable spiritual laws really predict the outcome of life decisions. If a person chooses this road, we can predict the outcome. There are immutable spiritual laws just like there are immutable physics laws, laws of physics. For example, the law of gravity. Defy that lodge your own peril and many have done that. I remember when, a number of years ago, we visited the Grand Canyon and I was amazed at how many risks people were taking as they’re getting as close as they can to the edge for the epic picture.

I went home and did some research how many people I see die at the Grand Canyon trying to take these epic pictures. On average, something like 12 people a year that are apparently trying to defy the physics of the whole thing. There are certain immutable laws. Murphy’s law is an immutable law. Murphy’s law, whatever can go wrong will go wrong. I have another one. I made up another one. That is the law of driving irritations. If there are two lanes and the one I choose is the left one, it’s invariably going to be the slow one. If I choose the right one, that’s the one that’s going to be the slow one, It is the law of driving irritations. I made it up. Anybody experienced what I’m talking about here?

There are certain immutable laws, but spiritually, we can say that there is a law of sowing and reaping. There is the spiritual law of sowing ripping. This comes to us out of Galatians 6. “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. That which a man sows he shall also reap.” It’s an immutable law. If a man sows to his flesh, he will of his flesh reap corruption. It’s also positive. If a person will reap to the spirit, he will from the spirit reap life. You can predict the outcomes in the sowing and the reaping of life. It’s very important that we understand that God makes a way for us. God gives us a way for victory. He wants us to live well to be victorious and shows us the insights of how not to shipwreck your life.

A number of years ago, I enjoy reading, and I was reading about the history of the United States’ first exploring expedition. First expedition to explore, this was like 1838, they sent a fleet of seven ships down the coast of South America and Arctica surveying and mapping and all this, Australia. Then they came up the coast and they came to the mouth of the Columbia, which I found very fascinating. The boats were anchored waiting for pilots. In those days, the Indian people showed them the way to navigate because you might not know this, but the Columbia River bar is one of the most treacherous bars in the world. Still today. It’s number five of treacherous bars in the world today.

Here’s this sailing ship fleet at anchor, but one of them comes late. Instead of waiting for the pilot, comes charging into the waves and the outcome is predictable. It dashes the ship on the rocks and everything is lost, et cetera. It’s a great tragedy. It’s a lesson of epic proportions because the prevailing winds of the flesh will wreck anyone’s life but God gives the pilot that we can know the way through the treacherous waters of life. I love the picture of it. Here we go back to 2 Samuel chapter 11, and now we’re going to read about David’s really greatest failure.

2, Samuel 11:1. “Then it happened in the spring at the time when kings go out to battle that David sent Joab and his servants with him.” Joab was the commander of his army. David doesn’t have to go now to lead his army. He has a commander and servants go with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Amman and seized robber. David stayed In Jerusalem. Now that should give us a hint that there’s something amiss. “Now when evening came, David arose from his bed. He had a nice afternoon nap on the roof of his home,” which is very common in the Middle East. Most homes are flat in the middle east. People would set up chairs in couches and such and that would be a place for the breezes and such.

David, when the evening arose, he arose from his bed, walked around on the roof of the king’s house. “From the roof, he saw a woman washing. The woman was beautiful in appearance. David sent and inquired about the woman. One said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite?'”. I suggest to you that when David inquired and he had this answer given back to him, that ought end the whole thing right there. Anybody agree with me? That should have just ended the whole thing right there on several reasons.

First of all, Eliam was the daughter of Eliam. Eliam was one of his high counselors, his good friend and she’s married to Uriah. That should have ended it but David sent messengers and took her. When she came to him, he lay with her. When she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. An epic failure of catastrophic proportions but now the troubles are only going to get worse. “The woman conceived. She sent and told David, and said, ‘I am pregnant.’ Then David sent to Joab, the commander, and he said, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ Joab sent Uriah to David.”

“When Uriah came to David, David asked concerning the welfare of Joab and the people and the state of the war.” He doesn’t want to let on. “David then said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house, wash your feet.'” You can see that this is an attempt at a cover-up. “Uriah went out of the king’s house and then a present from the king was sent out after him, but Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his Lord and did not go down to his house.” When they told David, said, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David then said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” Then Uriah says to David and listen to this amazing honorable speech.

Uriah then said to David, “The Ark, and Israel, and Judah are staying in temporary shelters and my lord, Joab, and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do such a thing. Oh, this man’s got some honor. Then David said to Uriah, “Stay here today also and tomorrow I will let you go.” Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. David’s got to think of another place. David hatches another plan. David calls him, ate and drunk before him, and made him drunk thinking that perhaps if he could get him drunk, then his honor, he might compromise.

In the evening, he went out to lie on his bed with his Lord servants and he did not go down to his own house. This man has got character even when he’s drunk. Then it came about in the morning that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. David is going to now make another catastrophically failing decision. He wrote in the letter saying, “Place Uriah in the frontline of the fiercest battles and withdraw from him so that he may be struck down and die.” He’s revealing now a wrongful motive to his commander.

It was that as Joab kept watch on the city that he put Uriah at the place where he knew there were valiant men and the men of the city went out and fought against Joab and some of the people among David’s servants fell and Uriah the Hittite also died. Joab sent and reported to David all the events of the war. He charged the messenger saying, “When you have finished telling all of the events of the war to David, and it happens that the king’s wrath rises and he says, “Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall?”

Then he’ll say, “Who struck down a bimbo like the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall that he died at Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?” Then you shall say, “Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead,” and he’ll know what to say. This is just a tragedy. We’ll look at the other verses around this on Wednesday, but this is just a tragedy of epic proportions, but there are lessons for us to take hold of. For at the end of the story in verse 27, there’s an insight where it says at the end of this same chapter 12 rather, in chapter 12, it says that this thing that David did displeased the Lord.

I.  Make it Your Ambition to Please God

This thing that David did was very displeasing and thereby we gain a tremendous insight into victory. Pleasing God is the key to victory. Therefore, make it your ambition to please God. This is one of the great keys to victory. Make it your ambition, live your life with that desire that your ambition would be to please God. We can understand failure but a person’s life gets off track, we can predict that it will end in failure, but how can you prevent it? How can you keep from falling? Is it inevitable that a person falls? I submit to you that it is not inevitable, that God gives the resources and the provisions that we might prevail. That God wants us to be victorious and he makes it very possible that we can be victorious.

God gives tremendous insight in his word for the victory that he desires, the power of God that comes from walking near to him. The key to keep you from falling. The story also by the way is going to give hope to those who have fallen, because it speaks to the heart of God to rescue, to restore, to redeem. This is the key to victory. Make it your ambition to please God, to understand that it is before God that we live and move and have our being because you can be sure that there are many things in this world that God finds displeasing. Would anybody agree with me? There are many things in this world that God finds displeasing.

I love this verse in 2 Corinthians 5:7-9 where Paul writes it this way, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” Tremendous chapter. We walk by faith. This is another key. Walk by faith, man. Live the life that you are going to live by walking in faith and by faith. Notice what he says, “We walk by faith and not by sight. Therefore we have as our ambition to be pleasing to the Lord.” I just love that phrase. By the way, the word ambition, I find it an interesting word. In the English, it means someone who’s ambitious is someone who has an aim, goal. They’re diligently pursuing a goal. That’s what we mean when we say ambitious. That’s actually not what it means in the Greek.

I was very intrigued by this word and I wanted to know what it means in the original language. In the original language, this word means to love honor. I love that right there. We need a good word in English to love honor. Make it your ambition. Love honor. There is something right about living with honor in your life. When you look in the mirror and know that God is doing something of honor in your life, make it your ambition to please him. It’s very interesting. David lost sight of that honor. How did he lose sight of it? It was the desire of the flesh. These become life lessons.

A.  Be on the front edge of God’s purpose

Here we go. Great life lessons starting with this, being on the front edge of God’s purpose. This is a great life lesson. Stay on the front edge of God’s purpose. Notice verse one it gives us insight into what’s happening here in David’s heart and life. It says, “In the spring at the time when kings go out to war now.” First of all, why does it say in the spring when kings go out to war? Because it was a very common thing in those days that they would take the winters off from warning and battles because it was muddy. It was too hard to bring horses and chariots through the mud so all the armies all took the winter off.

They all understood it so they all just stopped fighting. In the spring, everyone started to fight. By the way, interestingly, my son who was in the Marines for nine years, and my son-in-law as well, when they were deployed to Afghanistan reported to me the same thing. In the wintertime, the fighting would stop and wait for the spring. Very interesting. In the spring when kings go out to war. If this is the time when kings go out to war, why isn’t David going out to war? It’s not rest. That’s not the issue. David had taken the whole winter off. David has got to a commander now. He’s got someone else who can fight the battles for him now.

Things are looking good for David. He’s got an army. Things are good in life now. It’s an interesting thing. It’s a dangerous place when everything’s working out pretty well in a person’s life. Bills are being paid, things you’re okay. Got some stuff putting away for retirement. Things are good. That’s a very dangerous place to be. Sitting back, resting a little bit more. I cannot tell you how many people have gotten into trouble because they were bored. The lesson is this, be on the front edge of what God is asking you to do, be on the front edge. If God fills you with Godly purpose, that is what will satisfy the thirst of the soul.

I remember when our middle daughter after she graduated from high school, she came to us one day and she asked if she could spend two years serving at an orphanage in Mexico. Our first response was, “Yes, we think this is a great idea. Take two years of your life and serve in an orphanage in Mexico.” We are Christian of course, and we knew that this would be setting her life on a path of pursuing God’s purpose and establishing a foundation of God’s purpose in her life. We were so excited that she wanted to do that and she did it. We visited her. It was remarkable what God did in her life. Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for right things for they shall be satisfied.”

I got to tell you, I have come to see how important it is to have a mission and a purpose and a calling in your life. Something that you are excited and about. God would have you have a mission, a purpose, a calling, something that you can be excited to pursue. I got to tell you, I’ve been pastoring this church for 31 years, I was in ministry for 5 years before that. I am more excited today about what God is doing than at any time in my life. There is such purpose, such calling. God is doing such amazing things. I am more excited today for what God is doing. We need purpose.

B.  Don’t stay where you don’t belong

We need mission and that is one of the ways that we will stay in a place of being victorious is when a person sits back and stops because everything’s good now. They’ve reached a place where it’s all good, bills are paid, life’s good now. Very dangerous. Always pursue, always press forward. Never relent. Always pressed forward with God’s purpose. Here’s another life lesson, don’t stay where you don’t belong. First David was in Jerusalem when he should have been out with the war. Secondly, David goes to the edge of the roof and from there, he could see a beautiful woman. That would have been the time to step away from the edge. Instead of stepping away, David pursued.

Can I give you a principle that I think is a really important principle for life? If God didn’t give it to you then it’s not yours to have. This is a very important principle. Please hear this principle. It is a life principle. If God didn’t give it to you, it’s not yours to have. This is not David’s. This is not his to have. She’s not his. This is not something that God gave him. If God didn’t give it to you, it’s not yours to have. Anything I have, I want God to give it to me. Amen. This is a very important principle. I tell you, you think deeply about this principle, it will tremendously guide you and your life. Let God give it to you because if God gave it to you, it’ll bless your life. If God didn’t give it to you, it’s not yours to have.

The scripture says that there’s a time to flee. 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee, run from youthful lust.” Chase after is the word, pursue means to chase after. Pursue what? Pursue righteousness, man. Pursue faith, pursue love, pursue peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. What a great word. Flee from those things that will get you into great trouble and pursue the things that God will use to establish good things in your life for He gives us a warning. He says in James 1:15-16, “When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin.” This is an interesting thing, isn’t it? He’s using conception and birth. Interesting, isn’t it? He’s using sin as this analogy.

When lust has conceived, it’ll give birth to sin and when sin has grown up or accomplished, it will bring forth death. Don’t be deceived my beloved brethren. What a great word is this? It’s a life lesson. It’s a wisdom of life that James is giving there. I think one of the best biblical illustrations in this regard of a person who walks victoriously, that’s why it’s a great example, it’s got to be that of Joseph. Young Joseph, you remember, one of the 12 sons of Jacob. He’s been given this amazing vision of God that he’s going to arise in stature and be a great leader one day. His brothers, you remember the story, are jealous of him and sell him into slavery in Egypt but God is with him.

He’s purchased as a slave by an Egyptian named Potiphar, a very powerful man. He’s blessed of God in Potiphar’s house. That’s when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. He knew that thing would not please God. Here’s the interesting thing. He’s away from family, he’s away from accountability. His parents aren’t there, his brothers aren’t there. There’s nobody there but God and that’s enough. He wants to live his life in such a way that it pleases God. To live his life in such a way that it pleases God. Genesis 39:79. “It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph and she said, ‘Lie with me.’ He refused and he said, ‘How can I do this great evil and sin against God?'”

I love this Victoria’s answer. Later on, she takes hold of him when no one else is there and he flees, he runs from the place. Tremendous example. Can I give you this great lesson? If you’re in a place where you don’t belong, run as fast as you can because if God is not pleased with where you are, don’t stay there. It’s a life lesson. God wants you to be victorious. God wants you to fulfill the purpose and mission and calling of your life. God loves you, man. He wants that which is going to be glorious in your life. Therefore, if you’re in a place of danger that something is going to inhibit and hinder the work of God in your life, get out of there, run, turn the thing off, go.

There’s a great scripture that helps us to understand, that God makes a way of escape. 1 Corinthians 10:13, great scripture dream member. “No temptation has overtaken you but such is common to man.” This is important first. “God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will provide the way of escape that you will be able to endure it.” Step away, run. You can endure it, he says, because I made a provision, I made a way. Instead of stepping away, David got closer. He inquired who she was.

C.  Beware the slippery slope

Then when he found out that she was the wife of Uriah, that should have put an end to it but no, he pursued even further. He got closer to the edge. He sent servants to go and get her. Therefore, another life lesson comes to us from the story, beware the slippery slope. I’ve heard many times people categorize sin as a mistake. A person made a mistake. I suggest to you that a mistake is if you go into the women’s restroom thinking it’s a men’s restroom, that’s a mistake. This is not a mistake. I was going to think of a time when funny mistakes.

I remember one time I was at Wendy’s with my family ordering a healthy dinner, of course. You know how it works at Wendy’s, right? When you’re at Wendy’s, you order and then you stand there at the counter while they assemble your dinner. They were putting the fries down and we’re just standing there waiting and I’m looking at those fries and I’m thinking, “Okay, I’m just going to nibble on a few fries.” I’m just standing there and I take one fry and I nibble. We’re still waiting so okay, there’s still more time. I take another fry and I’m nibbling right in and then more time so take another fry and then nibbling.

Then a guy walks up next to me, takes his order and he looks at me like, “No, those aren’t your fries.” That’s what you call a mistake. I was thinking of another time. One time we were doing some project around the church here, and I needed some small thing at Home Depot. I grabbed the white church van, and I ran to Home Depot. I knew I just needed one thing, so I left the van unlocked so I could just run in and jump right in the van and come right back. I got my one thing, came out, jumped in the van, put the key in ignition, and it wouldn’t turn. I thought, “What is this?” Then I started looking around the van. Wait a minute. This is not the church van.

I got out of the van just in time for the real owner of the van to becoming out, “What are you doing to my van?” I said, “The Lord has need of it.” No, I didn’t say that. I say, “It looks just like mine.” I get in the church van. He follows me just to make sure anyway. That’s what you call a mistake. This is not a mistake. David didn’t just fall into a mistake. There were warning signs along the way. There were warning signs along the way. He inquired, “Who is this?” First of all, when he saw a woman, and then he inquires, and he finds out she’s married, that should have put her into it, but he pursues further. There’s warnings along the way. I suggest to you that something has been building in his life for some time.

David at this point had more than eight wives and several concubines. Probably had other wives that are not even listed in scripture. I suggest that’s a mistake. That can never work well as we will soon discover as we look further into David’s life. In fact, God gave a warning to Israel in advance. When you come to the day when you’ll have a king, make sure– This is Deuteronomy 17:14-17. Moses is warning, “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and then you say, ‘I will set a king over me like the nations around me,-‘” it gives this warning, “-he shall not multiply horses, he shall not multiply wives lest his heart turn away nor shall he greatly increase in silver or gold.”

II.  Strengthen the Inner Man

This is an interesting factoid. You would think that having several wives would cause David to not have any problems in the area of sexual desire, but that’s not true. It’s actually quite the opposite. It only made it worse. That I suggest to you as a life lesson in itself. You look at the story and you realize God gives great keys for victory. God wants us to be victorious, and He gives the provision by His word and by His spirit.

A.  Let the Spirit reign over the flesh

For example, great life lesson is this, to strengthen the inner man is one of the great keys to the thing. To strengthen the inner man, to strengthen the soul within you is one of the greatest keys of life.

Draw near to God, He will draw near to you. You draw near to God and His spirit will empower your life. He will strengthen you in the inner man is one of the great lessons of life. We need to be strengthened with power by the Holy Spirit residing and strengthening the soul within us. It’s interesting that when David tried to hide his sin by bringing Uriah up from the war, it failed miserably because Uriah has got character. This is very interesting thing because Uriah has got character. I suggest that God is rebuking David showing Uriah’s character. That he’s a better man right here than David. Something wrong with the inner man. There’s something wrong. Something is very wrong in the soul.

That’s where trouble begins and there must be rebuilt the inner man. I’ll tell you, I’ve been in ministry a long-time, and I see many, many people get in trouble in their lives, and I can tell you the answer. The answer is strengthen the soul within you. Begin to strengthen the soul. This is the answer. Strengthen the soul, strengthen the inner man. Let your soul be alive, let your soul be near to God. Let it be filled with the healthiness of a live spirit. Strengthen. In other words, let the spirit reign over the flesh. That’s what happens when the inner man is strengthened within. Let’s the spirit reign and it will reign over the flesh.

First of all, no one should be surprised at flesh. We’re all born with flesh, and we’re going to die with flesh, but it does not have to master you. God does not want that to master you. 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” Don’t love that verse right there? They’re just something bold, “I will not be mastered by anything.” There’s just a bold declaration, nothing, “I will not be mastered by anything that I might be mastered by Christ.” That’s his point. He is my captain. He is my commander. He is my master. I will not let anything master me, because Jesus is my captain. Jesus is my master. He is my commander.

May I suggest to you, this is a great key to life. It’s a great key to life. 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I discipline my body. I’ll make it my slave.” This is a great word right here, “I’ll discipline my body. I’ll make it my slave.” This thing is not going to master me. I’m going to make it my slave. I’m going to tell them what to do, so that after I have preached to others, I myself may not be disqualified. What a great warning. This is just such a great word. “I will not be mastered by anything.” No, no. Oh, this flesh is going to be my slave. We need to strengthen the man within us that the spirit then can reign over the flesh.

Galatians 5:22 is this declaration that the result of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit means the result of the Holy Spirit in your life, the proof and evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life is love and joy. This is proof. This is evidence that the spirit of the living God is within you. Love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness. Then he says, “Self-control, that is a fruit of the spirit of the living God.” Is it possible to have self-control? Yes, because the strengthening of the inner man by the spirit reigns. Paul’s got some epic prayers in Ephesians.

Ephesians 3:16 Paul says, “I pray for you that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” This is a great prayer. Paul says, “I’m praying for you that you would be strengthened with power according to the riches of His glory.” I’ll tell you, this is a deep word here, according to the riches of His glory that you would be strengthened with power in or through His Spirit in the inner man. The very power of the living God, because where the spirit of the Lord is, there is power. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is transforming power.

B.  Love the Lord with all your mind

Notice this also great life lesson, “Love the Lord with all your mind.” Remember the greatest word that God has ever spoken. Jesus was asked, “What is the highest foremost of all that God’s ever said?” Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Love the Lord with all your mind. When David is confronted later, the Prophet Nathan is going to confront David over this, what God told David was that he did not esteem the word of God. You despised the word of God. You did not esteem it. You did not hold it in your mind in a place of esteem.

See, this is a really good word. How do you see the word of God? How do you see it? I suggest to you that there’s different ways to see the word of God. One of the ways to see the word of God is that it is authority. It has authority in your life. That it is the heart of God and the authority of God, and you see it very high. You esteem it. You see, it has authority. That’s one way. Another way is where it’s more like a peer, an equal. “I will take an under advisement.” I see what the word of God says, “I will take it under advisement. I will consider it perhaps,” or someone can even look down on it, “That means nothing to me.”

“You say it says that, that means nothing to me.” You look down on it. How do you see it? Isn’t that the application of the thing? How do you see it? When God confronts David, he says, “You didn’t esteem it.” That was what happened. When you esteem it, when it’s high, when it has authority, you realize that it comes from the very heart of God. God is concerned how you think, how you see it because he knows that how you think determines how you live. How you think will determine how you live because it will determine who you become. Let me give you one of my favorite verses to quote. Luke 6:45. “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart will bring forth what’s good.”

See, strengthen the inner man within you. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart will bring forth what’s good. Let there be that good treasure. Let that be good treasure. Your word have I treasured in my heart, it is more precious to me than silver or gold. It is sweeter to me than more than honey, even than the honeycomb. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart will bring forth what’s good. Of course, the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what’s evil. You see, how do you get that in your heart? You put it in there. You put that treasure in there. You either put that which is good or you put that which is evil.

There’s a lot of stuff that people are putting into their hearts today that are not edifying their soul. Anybody want to agree with me? There’s a lot of things that people are putting into their soul that’s not edifying them at all. There are others, there are many who put that in their soul. They treasure that in their soul. Your word, oh Lord, have I treasured. Treasure means to value highly. I have treasured your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Your word is sweeter to me than even honey from a honeycomb. It’s more precious to me than silver or gold. It’s a great word.

I tell you, he’s giving us a word that will guide our lives. If I could write a book about every person who followed the way of sin and it worked out great for them, [laughs] that book would be full of blank pages because it doesn’t work out. It never works out. It doesn’t work out. It never works out. Let me just be honest. The problem with sin is it doesn’t think about working out. It doesn’t think about the consequences. It doesn’t think about tomorrow. It thinks about right now me. Me want, me see, me want now without concern for tomorrow. The one who is wise the soul within him thinks, “What fruit will this bear? What would this bring? What good will this do?”

The one who is wise thinks about tomorrow, about the investment of the life because I tell you, the immutable law of the spirit is unchangeable. When you sow to the spirit, you will reap life. When David did this, we know from the Psalms that his soul was in anguish, His soul within him was in anguish. Psalm 32:3-4, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was drained with the fever heat of summer.”

C.  God’s grace is still amazing

If you’ve ever been there and I would not dare ask for a show of hands, but I suggest to you that there are many I think here who understand the anguish that comes when the soul is carrying such a heavy thing. God would rescue that. God will rescue that. That’s what God’s going to do to David. God’s going to send Nathan to rescue him, to rescue him from his grief, to rescue him from his anguish, and to rebuild his life, to restore because that’s the same psalm where David writes, “You are my hiding place.” Would you listen to this? It’s such a good word. Notice he starts out the psalm when I kept silent about my sin, in other words when I was hiding it, I was groaning all day long in my spirit.

Later in that same psalm is where he writes, “You are my hiding place.” Oh, this is a good word. “You are my hiding place. I can hide myself in you and you are the one who surrounds me with songs of deliverance.” Oh, great word. You surround me with songs of deliverance. We’re running over. Lastly, we’ll close with this, God’s grace is still amazing. That’s one of the things about this story. God’s grace is still amazing. The story would not be complete until we understood firstly, that David fully repented truly. God forgave him truly. God’s grace was so amazing.

Listen how amazing God’s grace is. God’s grace is so amazing that the son who had come forth from David and rule over Israel would come through Bathsheba. Not this one. She’s pregnant, not this one. That one will die. Another one will come and his name is Solomon, a great ruler of Israel through Bathsheba. In fact, God gave another name. David named him Solomon. Shalom Amman, a man of peace. God says, “I want to give him another name. I’m going to give him also a name. I want to name him Jedidiah. Give him that name too. Jedidiah means beloved of the Lord. This is grace. This is nothing short of amazing grace.

This is a good word for us because if anyone has ever failed or faltered, they need to know a God’s grace is still amazing and God will not quit, God will not relent. He will pursue that he might rescue and then he will redeem and God will restore because God’s grace is still amazing. Let’s pray. Father, thank you so much. How beautiful is your grace? How wonderful is your heart? Thank you, God, for revealing to us such amazing lessons for life, lessons for victory, and to have your heart be made so clear to us that you desire greatness of victory in our lives. We want you, we want to fulfill your purpose, and calling, and mission. God, we want to be victorious in this life. We want to walk with you in a way of victory.

Church, how many tonight would say that to the Lord? I want to walk with you and I want to walk with you victoriously in this life? God, that’s my prayer. That’s my heart. I know it comes from you, it’s you in my life so I’m just saying right now, God, I want to walk with you and I want to walk victoriously. Would you just raise your hand to the Lord? See, declare it by raising your hand to him.

I’m just saying it, God, I want to walk with you and I want to walk victoriously. God, thank you for never quitting. Thank you for never relenting. Thank you for never giving up on me. I love you for that. God, thank you that your grace is so amazing. We give you thanks and glory and honor in Jesus’s name and everyone say amen and amen. Let’s give the Lord praise and glory and honor. Amen.

I Want to Do Something for God
2 Samuel 7:1-29
July 31-Aug 1, 2021

Have you ever stepped back, taken a look at your life, and then realize how much God has done for you? And then say to the Lord in response, “You have been so amazing in my life. I want to do something for you. You have blessed me. You have done so much. I want to do something for you.” Now that is a right heart for sure. This is exactly where David is when it comes to 2nd Samuel 7. He looks back, he sees and he’s amazed at what God has done and he wants to do something. What he wants to do, he wants to build a temple. He wants to build the house of the Lord because the Ark of the Covenant is in curtain tents and so he’s like, “I want to build a temple.”

This is his desire. Why does he have this? Because he looks back on his life. God has promised him since he was a teenager that he would be anointed king of Israel. Now he is. God has been with him through every distress. He looks back. He sees, “God has saved me from every distress.” I’ll tell you this is a very important thing to recognize. I look back. I’ve lived enough years now, and I’ve seen enough distresses that I can tell you that God has been with me in every distress. I know many would say the same. Now, it’s so wonderful to see what’s going on in David’s life. God has been with David in every battle, given him peace on every side, given him the city of Jerusalem, also called the city of David, as a throne to reign over Israel.

Another amazing blessing. The king of Tyre, this is just north of Israel on the coast there. The king of Tyre sent David massive cedar trees, craftsmen, stonemasons, and they gave David, built David a beautiful house of cedar. And so David, now sitting in this beautiful house of cedar then says, “I’m in a house of stone and cedar and God’s Ark of the Covenant is in the tent. I want to build the temple, a house for God.”

He tells Nathan the prophet this. Nathan at first says, “Hey, God is with you. Anything you want to do, do it.” Then the word of the Lord came to him that night, “No, the answer is no, David. You are not the one who will build a house for me.” Now, that’s a very important thing, it’s no correction. David’s heart is right and he knows David’s heart is right. In fact, he says, “You want to build a house for me. You’re not the one who will do it, but I’ll tell you what David, I will do even yet more for you.” And then he gives him a word, a prophetic word. “You want to build a house for me? I will build a house for you. I will give you an eternal house. In other words, a son of yours will sit on the throne in Jerusalem forever.”

Jesus is all over this chapter. It is absolutely beautiful when we see God’s, response to David’s heart. Let’s read it, 2nd Samuel 7, starting in verse one. ‘Now it came about when the king lived in his house,’ this is the one built by the stonemasons and the carpenters by all these cedars, ‘and the Lord had given him rest on every side from his enemies. That the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See, now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the Ark of God dwells in tent curtains.” And Nathan, at first, said to the king, “Go, do all that’s in your mind. The Lord is with you,”.’ Nathan knows God has been with David from the beginning. Anything that’s in your heart David’s got to be good.

‘But it came about that same night that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, “You go and you say to my servant, David, thus says, the Lord, “Are you the one who will build a house for me to dwell in? I have not dwelled in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day. But I have been moving about in a tent, even in the tabernacle. Wherever I’ve gone with all the sons of Israel, did I ever speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel and commanded my people of Israel saying, “Why have you not built a house for me of cedar?” Have I ever said that?

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, “Thus says the Lord of hosts,’ and listen to this speech. “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep that you should be ruler over my people, Israel, and I have been with you wherever you have gone. I have cut off all your enemies from before you, and not only that. I will make your name. I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth. You will have one of the greatest names of all the men who’ve ever lived on the earth.” You want to bless me. No, I’m going to bless you.

“I will appoint a place for my people, Israel, and I will plant them that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed, nor will the wicked afflict them anymore like formerly.” By the way, this promise has everything to do with the modern Palestinian problem by the way. We’ll get to that at that class. ‘”Even from the day I commanded judges to be ruled over my people, Israel, I will give you rest through your enemies.”

Then it says this, ”The Lord declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you who will come forth from you and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for my name and I will establish the throne of my kingdom forever. I will be a father to him. He will be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the son’s men, but my love and kindness shall not depart from him as I took it away from Saul whom. I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever,” Jesus is the fulfillment of that, “for your throne shall be established forever.”

In accordance with all these words and all this vision, Nathan spoke to David. Now David,’ I love this scene right here. David, when he hears this word, David wants to do something amazing for God because God has done so much for him. The word of the Lord is, “No, you may not build my house, but I will do even more for you.” ‘David, then when he hears this,’ verse 18, ‘He went in and he sat before the Lord.’ I love this scene right here. ‘He sat before the Lord and he said, “Who am I? Oh, Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me this far? Even this was insignificant because Lord, you have spoken now of the house of your servant concerning the distant future. This is the custom of man, oh Lord God.

Again, what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, oh Lord God. For the sake of your word and according to your heart, you have done all of this greatness to let your servant know. For this reason,” verse 22, “For this reason, you are a great God. You are great, oh Lord God. There is none like you. There is no God besides you according to all that we’ve heard with our ears.” In other words, I have heard of your fame and you have done it, “And what nation on the earth is like your people, Israel,” great question, “whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for himself, and to do a great thing for you and awesome things for your land before your people whom you have redeemed for yourself, from Egypt, from nations, and from their gods.

For you have established for yourself, your people, Israel, as your own people forever, and you, oh Lord, have become their God. Great promises that endure to this day. Now, therefore, oh Lord God, the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and his house, do it, confirm it, confirm it forever, and do it just as you have spoken that your name may be magnified forever. By saying the Lord of hosts is God over Israel and may the house of your servant David be established before you.

For you, oh Lord of hosts, God of Israel, have made a revelation to your servant saying, “I will build you a house.” Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer, and now oh Lord God, you are God and your words are true and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now, therefore, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for you, oh Lord God, have spoken and with your blessing, may the house of your servant be blessed forever.” This is an amazing speech.

I. Never Forget What God has Done

All right, these are the verses that I want us to capture and look at and apply to our lives. Starting with this perspective, never forget what God has done. This is such a right perspective because if you ever take it for granted, that’s when faith begins to falter, but when you always see that perspective and that view of things, it makes you always so thankful, very, very grateful. That’s a very important perspective to have.

I can look back on my life and I’ll tell you what, I’m very, very thankful. I have been so blessed of God and He has saved me from so many distresses. I stand in awe of his hand on my life. In fact, I did this last night and I want to do it again. Show of hands, how many people would even say, “If it wasn’t for the intervening of God, if it wasn’t for God in my life, I don’t know that I would even be alive today.” Show of hands. Isn’t that amazing? I don’t even know I would be alive except for God’s hand in my life. Every service I’ve ever asked that question, so many hands are raised. When you step back and see that, it makes you so thankful.

One of the worship songs I love, we have many great ones but one of my favorites is a worship song called Goodness of God. Let me just quote some of the words, “I love you, Lord”. Now, that’s a great start right there to any worship song. I love you, Lord. For your mercy never fails me. All my days, I’ve been held in your hands. From the moment I wake up until I lay my head, I will sing of the goodness of God. Then the great chorus, “All my life you have been faithful.” I just love singing that because it makes you reflect, it makes you look back on your life.

All my life,
All my life, you have been faithful.
All my life you have been so, so good.
With every breath that I’m able, I will sing of the goodness of God.

Next verse:

I love your voice.
You have led me through the fire, in the darkest night.
You are close like no other.
I’ve known you as a father, I’ve known you as a friend,
And I have lived in the goodness of God.

In all my life, you have been faithful.
In all my life, you have been so good.
With every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God.

A. God blesses first

Never forget, never forget, always have that thankful heart to appreciate. Step back and see because one of the things you’ll see is that God is the one who blesses first. God pursues you. He is the one who initiates. See, notice verse eight, God says to David, “I took you from the pasture, from following sheep, and I made you ruler over my people, Israel.” God blesses first, and then that’s what David is doing now. He’s looking back at all of that, that God has done, and wants to do something in response.

In other words, if God hadn’t done that. If God hasn’t reached out to you, God did not initiate, God did not knock on the door of your heart, you would still be in your sins. Me too. I don’t know about you. I would rather have God’s mercy. I would rather have all that God has for me than to stay in the condition that I was in. Ephesians 2:12-13. “Remember, remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise and having no hope and without God in the world.” Never forget. “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were formerly far off, have been brought near, and you’ve been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Oh, I’d rather have that. I would rather have that.

Many scriptures reveal that God is the one who wants to give that to you. He’s the one who initiates, he pursues, he reaches out. Jesus was sent, the son of the living God, to seek out, His scripture says, “God sent his son to seek out.” Isn’t that amazing? God sent his son to seek sinners. The holy righteous God of heaven was sending his son to find sinners. I just find that amazing. Go find sinners, draw them to, reconcile them to the living God.

Revelation 3:20, Jesus said to the church in Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door then I knock”. I love this verse. “If anyone hears my voice,” because he’s been calling, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him, dine with him, and he with me.” I want relationship, and I’m the one knocking, I’m the one calling. Open your heart.

1st John 4:19. “We love him because he first loved us.” That’s a great perspective. It’s an important theme that runs through the entire scriptures. God takes the initiative, God pursues. It’s not the other way around. Therefore, when you worship, you are worshiping God because of what he has done because he’s pursued you because he’s blessed you. In other words, you are responding to the fact that he is the one who blessed you. You don’t worship to obtain his favor, you worship because he has poured out his favor.

It’s like the idea of giving God the first fruits, that means there’s been a wonderful harvest, so you give God out of the first fruits because he’s already blessed your harvest. It’s been a theme on Christian television. I don’t know, do they still have Christian television? I don’t watch Christian. I don’t watch TV so I don’t know. Back in the day, back in the day, when I used to watch TV, there was these Christian stations and oftentimes you would hear these, what I would see are people trying to manipulate and say, “Hey, if you would give God, he’ll give back to you tenfold.” It’s like you’re using the wrong motivation. No, the idea is God has already blessed you so amazingly. God has done so much in your life you want to do something in response. That’s the idea.

B. God says ‘no’ for a reason

Then you see this. Notice this. 2nd Samuel 7, David sees all that God has done, and in response, he wants to do something amazing for God. He wants to build the temple, the house of God, and God says, “No.” It’s not a corrective no. God loves his heart. Are you the one? He loves his heart. Here’s my point. If God says, “No,” God says no for a reason. God says no for a reason. David’s heart was in the right place. He wanted to do something to honor God. It’s hard to understand when God says no when your heart is right.

Notice this, it’s in fact 2nd Chronicles 6:8-9, this is the word of Solomon, David’s son who did build the temple, “But the Lord said to my father, David, because it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, you will not build my house.” God gave the reason for it in another place because this is what David did. David received that word, “No, you are not the one, it will be your son who will build my house”. David then said, “If I can’t build the house, I’m going to do everything to prepare for the building of the house. He set out stonemasons, he set out to get more cedars, and all the gold and all the lavishness, he assembled it all, had the architects build the plans and he gave it all to his son, Solomon, all the materials, all the plans, all the outbuildings, everything. He gave it all to his son, Solomon.

He did this in a famous speech. This is in 1st Chronicles 28:2-3, David’s speech. “Listen to me, my brethren, and my people. I had intended to build a house for the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, and the footstool of our God, so I made preparations to build it, and God said, “You shall not build a house for my name because,” and here’s the because, if God says, no, it’s for a reason, here’s the because, “Because you are a man of war and you have shed blood. No, it will be house, my house will be built by a man of peace, for this will be called a house of prayer, and it will not be built by a man of war. It will be built by a man of peace.” Jesus, when he entered the temple in his day, he said, “This my father’s house, and this house is a house of prayer, and so it will be built by a man of peace.”

C. If God says no, He has something better

David accepted God’s answer. David accepted the no without complaint. Now, you got to love David. He didn’t have a fit, he didn’t argue, he didn’t dispute. He accepted God’s answer. That shows also faith and maturity. No, it wasn’t God’s only answer. He loved David’s heart. No, you will not be the one who builds a house for me, but I love your heart. I want to do even more. Here’s the thing. It’s actually a scriptural principle. If God says, no, he has something better. If God says no, it’s because he has something better. I love that. It’s a principle of the scriptures. Remember for our own maturity and in faith and encouragement for God does say no, there’s always a reason, but the reason is he has something better. I remember back when I was in Bible college, I was so excited because God had called me to be into the ministry, called me to be a pastor. I was so excited. I’m now going to Bible college at Multnomah University and studying theology and the word and studying languages and I’m all excited. One day, a captain from a mercy ship, named Doulas, that’s the name of the mercy ship, came to campus and spoke to the students and talked about all the things that they were doing city to city, going and giving mercy and there were those who were teaching the word on the ship to those, gospel was being given as we’re giving mercy, and I thought, “This is amazing. I would love to serve on the mercy ship.”

The captain was going to be there for a few days. I made an appointment to have lunch with him, and I said to him, “I want to serve. I want to be on this mercy ship. He said, “Well, let’s talk.” We talked a long time. He asked me a lot of questions. And at the end of it, he says, “No, I don’t want you to be on the ship”. I go, “What? I don’t understand. I want to serve. I’m telling you, I want to serve. I want to give my life to ministry into this.” He said, “No.” We’re talking to me here. He said, “No.”

I said, “I don’t understand.” He said, “Here’s why. Because you came to this school because you believed that God called you to be a senior pastor, then don’t change direction. In fact, I’m convinced, hearing your heart, that God will use you more for missions as a senior pastor than you ever would be as a missionary. God wants you to be a senior pastor, and God wants you to have a heart for missions and you’re going to do more for missions as a senior pastor. That’s what God is saying to you.” “Okay. I accept. Thank you.” Then I found out later that I get seasick. Praise God. God knew. God has something better. That’s for sure better.

I remember also, many of you know my story that when God called me to be a senior pastor, we felt like, “Hey, I need a good solid education, but how to pay for it is the question. I had no way to pay for it.” I came up with an idea. I was going to build this. I was going to sell that. I was going to come up with all this because I needed a lot of money. I came up with this thing, I pursued it and I said, “Okay, God, I got it all thought out, I got it all figured out. I need you to bless my plan.” It all fell apart on one day. In other words, “I’m not going to bless your plan.” You’re not going to bless my– it all fell apart on. I remember the day of the week, it was a Friday evening, I heard the news, the plans, no. It’s as if the Lord is saying, “I’m not going to bless your plan.”

Lord, I felt like a punch in the gut. You know what I’m saying? Just like, “Lord, I can’t afford. I don’t understand. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I have no idea. I am out of ideas. I don’t know.” And so all day, Saturday, that was a Friday night, all day Saturday, I’m saying, “God, I don’t know what to do. I’m asking for help. I’m asking for a miracle because I’m out of ideas.” Sunday morning, Friday night, Saturday I’m praying. Sunday morning, I’m at church. I’m literally 10 steps in the door when a fellow stepped in front of me and went like this and he says, “Stop, I got to tell you something. God has put it on my heart this week that I was supposed to pay your way through Bible college. “I thought, “God, your way is way better than mine.”

If God says no, he has something better.

By the way, on a side note, when God did that, and that man meant every word of that, by the way, he meant every word of that. All the way through the Bible centers, into the seminary years, years, years, all of it, every single one. Every dollar. Here I am in Bible college now. God has made amazing miraculous provision. Here’s my response. It’s like if God is going to do that for me, I started sitting in the front row, and then I realized that the professor looks over my head, so I went back a few rows so I could look at him, and I’m going to take notes. I’m going to pour everything I got. Everything I got I’m going to pour it into this. If God’s going to do that for me, then I’m going to pour everything I got into this. Amen.

Now, I ended up being the valedictorian, but not because I was trying, I just wanted to honor God. I just wanted to thank God for all that you’ve done. I love this perspective. God has something better. You want to build the house for me? No, I got something better. What God was promising David, is that he was put a son of David on the throne forever. That’s why Jesus is famously called the son of David and as much to say when Jesus is called the son of David.

The one of the first times, in fact, I think it is the first time the scripture has ever called son of David, is when there was a blind man outside the Jericho and he heard commotion, and he said, “What’s happening? What’s happening?”, and someone said, “Jesus is coming by.” And so he yelled, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” They quieted him down, “You be quiet, and he yelled out even louder, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”

There’s Jesus in this crowd, turmoiled in commotion but he hears this small voice, “Jesus, son of David,” and Jesus said, “Bring that man to me.” They went to him and said, “The master calls for you.” And so they brought him in and he stood before Jesus. Here now in front of Jesus is this blind man who has recognized something that the leaders of Israel did not recognize because he knew when the Messiah comes, he will be the son of David. The Messiah, when he comes, will give sight to the blind. He said, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy.” There was the man standing in front of Jesus.

Can you just imagine what joy in Jesus’ heart as this man stand in front of him? Jesus said to him, “What can I do for you?” The man says, “I want my sight,” and you shall have it, and he gave him his– What a scene the first time, the son of David, what a promise, what a promise made. It is for you and for me, all of us. We wouldn’t even be in this place had it not been for that promise made to David and the fulfillment of that in Jesus Christ.

Notice Isaiah 9, we read it every Christmas, “A child will be born to us. A son will be given. The government will rest on his shoulders and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, and there will be no end to the increase of his government or of peace on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish it, and uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forever more.” To establish it and to uphold it from then on and forevermore. I love this last phrase, “and the zeal of a lot of hosts will accomplish this.” I love the zeal of the Lord.

Luke 1, prophetic word to Mary, “Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear son. You shall call his name Iesus, Yehshua, Jesus. He will be great. He’ll be called the son of the most high, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David. Back to 2nd Samuel 7, notice this next scene that unfold because it’s a beautiful picture. Upon hearing this amazing prophetic word of fulfilling, “You want to do something for me? No, you will not be the one who does it, but I got something amazing for you.” David, hearing this, he goes into the tabernacle and he sits down in the presence of God. I love this scene.

II. Draw Near to God and be Seated

Here’s my point, draw near to God and be seated. Sit down. Now, it means David was in no hurry. He just sat down because he has some things he wants to say in response of this. He hears this amazing word and he sits down. I just want you to imagine this for a moment. This is a very deep, deep moment. David comes to the tabernacle and he just sits down. There, the Ark of God resided. The Shekinah Glory of God. Clearly, he knew that he was in the presence of the living God and he just simply sat down. “Lord, who am I that you would do such a thing?” It’s such an amazing thing.

A. See God from the right perspective

When I think of this, it reminds me of what Moses said to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 33:27. Moses said this, “The eternal God is a dwelling place.” Now, think of this. This is beautiful because I tell you we need more dwelling, we need more sitting in the presence of the living God because there, he says, there is a dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Remember Moses as he led the people of Israel, he sent up a tent outside the camp and he called it the tent of meeting. Now, that’s just a great word for the tabernacle. A tent of meeting, a place to meet God. We need to meet God, we need to have more meetings with God. We need to sit in the presence of God more because something amazing happens in your soul when you just sit in the presence of God. The tent of meeting Moses set up, don’t you have to wonder how many actually did it? Moses said, “Anyone who wants to meet with God can go and sit. Anyone who wants to go can go out to the tent of meeting.”

We need more meeting. We need more dwelling. We need more sitting. Sometimes, the only meeting people have is to come to Jesus’ meeting. Well, we need a come to Jesus’ meeting for sure but we need more meeting than that. We need more dwelling than that, we need more residing than that. When you do that, you’re going to see God from a whole different perspective. When you sit and dwell there, the eternal God is a dwelling place, you will see God from a different view. Notice to see God from the right perspective is exactly what happened for David, verse 22. “For this reason, you are a great God. Oh Lord, you are great. There is none like you. There is no God besides you. All that we ever heard with our years, you’ve done it.”

Here’s my point, David because his view of God is so right, he has no desire for the so-called gods of the world. The idols of the world mean nothing to David. So many people at that time were so drawn. Many times, the people in Israel were drawn to these idols. There was no desire in David. Why? Because God was enough. You’re the great God over all the earth. All that we’ve heard with our ears, you’ve done it. In other words, is there something lacking in God that people must search for something else? Something lacking in God, something missing, perhaps?

What is missing is this. God does not satisfy the flesh. That’s what’s missing. God will not satisfy the flesh that desire of the flesh. God says, “Yes, I’m not going to satisfy the desires of your flesh because I got something better. I got something better for you than that. I’ll fill your soul with the joy of the Lord. I’ll put my hand on your life. I’ll fill my–” That’s way better. There is nothing that this world has that compares to what God has. That’s why David was not drawn to these idols.

Here’s an interesting scene that unfolds. I mentioned this at the Wednesday service. When the Philistines heard that David was anointed king of Israel, they were very upset. “Is this the same David that was living with us? We thought he was the betrayer in Israel. No, this whole time he was planning to become the king.” They called David and they rallied their troops. We’re going to face David down. David inquired of the Lord, “Should I go up against them?’ God says, “Yes, go up against them. I’ll get them into your hand.” He did, and David defeated the Philistines there at [unintelligible 00:35:27] but it tells us that they fled.

In being defeated, they fled and they abandoned their idols there. They brought their idols into the camp. Now, you might not know this, but the idols of the world at that time were very sexual in nature. Their idols were very graphic. You get me on that. It says that David and his men, finding these idols, carried them away. On the first reading of that, you think, “Oh no, say it isn’t so. Say it isn’t so.”

There’s a parallel account of this in 1st Chronicles 14:12, parallel accounts. In fact, if you have a pen, may I suggest that you write in the column of your Bible, 1st Chronicles 14:12, because it says, “They abandoned their idols there,” same account. “David gave the order and they burned them with fire.” I love that verse right there. Now, there’s my David. There’s my David. He as a leader knows had nothing to do with these things. Something’s missing in God, he wants nothing to do with them. Burn them.

B. See yourself from the right perspective

I tell you what, that’s a great word for everyone because there’s a lot of stuff in the world that God says, “Burn it, get it out of your life. I got something better for you than that. I got something way better. Don’t let that stuff remain in your life because what I got for you is way better.” Lastly, we’ll close with this. You draw near to God and be seated. Not only will you see God from a right perspective, you’ll see yourself from the right perspective. You’ll see yourself.

Notice, David came in and sat before the Lord. He says, “Who am I God that you have brought me this far? Yet still, even this was insignificant, for you have now spoken to your servant concerning the distant future. Who am I?” Because David knew that God was right. “I took it from being a shepherd, from following the sheep. I made you ruler.” David knew God was right. David was just a simple shepherd. It was God that caused him to accomplish much. It was God in him that caused him to accomplish much.

When he was anointed that day by Samuel, it says the spirit came upon him mightily from that day forward. Same spirit that anointed David is the same spirit, same holy spirit. The same holy spirit when you ask Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and savior, the holy spirit comes upon you mightily. It’s what I call the god’s factor. The Holy Spirit impact. David is just a simple shepherd, but it’s God in him that accomplishes much.

I love this perspective. I look back on my life, I was just a simple farm boy. If you know my life, my story, I was just a simple farm boy with an alcoholic father. How can you do anything with a poor farm boy, with an alcoholic father? Well, there’s this, the God factor. God in me is the hope of glory. God Has a mission, God has a purpose. God is the one, His presence makes all the difference. 2nd Samuel 22, “You are my lamp, oh Lord,” David says. “You illumine my darkness. By you, I can run upon the troop. By my God, I can leap over a wall.”

What’d you notice what David is not saying, there’s no bragging here. “Do you know that I can leap over a wall? Did you know that I can run upon a troop? Do you know who I am? Do you know who I am? I can run upon the troop. I’m a man of war, I can accomplish much.” No, that’s not David. David comes and sits in the presence of God.” Who am I? Who am I? I’m just a simple shepherd. I’m just a farm boy, but you make all the difference. Oh my God, I can leap over a wall. Your help makes me great. You enlarge my steps and my feet have not slipped.” It’s the God factor. It’s the Holy Spirit impact. It’s everything.

I’m just a simple farm boy but because of the holy spirit, because of the impact of God, I was able to lead my father, alcoholic, abusive father, to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and got the baptize him with my own hands, that’s a God impact right there.

Psalm 34, “The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all the troubles. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him from them all.” Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” because of the God factor, “because you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Who am I? Is a great question. Who are you? I’m just a simple farm boy with an alcoholic father. Who are you?

I think most people in this room would say, “I’m just a simple. I’m just simple me.” But then there’s this, the God in me factor. It changes everything. James 5:16-18, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective and accomplishes much. Then it says, “Now Elijah was a man with a nature like yours and mine.” In other words, he’s just a man, like you and me, but the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective and accomplishes much. That’s the God factor. The God in me changes everything because I’m just a simple farm boy. Elijah, he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produces fruit.

I’m just a simple me and you’re just a simple you but God in you will accomplish much. He has purpose. He has mission. He has that what he wants to accomplish in your life, that nothing stand in the way because God is enough. God is enough. He will fill your soul even to overflowing. I want that. Father, thank you so much for showing us your desire to bless our lives. Thank you for showing us that you are enough. You are enough, God, and everything you have, the mission, the purpose, the calling. That which you want to accomplish, well, God, that’s what I want.

Church, how many today would say that very same thing. That’s what I’m asking. You’re enough. You’re enough for me God. I’m asking that you would fill my life with more of you because you are more than enough. I am asking that you, it’s the God in me that changes everything you accomplish. You make my life effective. You do that what you want to do in my life. You do it, Lord. We’ve heard of your great fame. Do it again. Church, how many would say that? Will you just raise your hand and say it to the Lord, “You are more than enough. Do what you want to do. Your mission, your purpose, accomplish it in my life. It’s you in me that I’ve asked you for.

Father, thank you for everyone who has stirred up the Lord and says, “Yes, God, you are enough.” Pour out your life, your spirit, and do all that you would do in us. We ask that in Jesus’s name and everyone said Amen.

Congregation: Amen.

Pastor: Can we give the Lord praise and glory and honor, Amen.

[applause]

Pastor: Amen.

[00:44:41] [END OF AUDIO]

The Path of God’s Promises
2 Samuel 2:1-11
July 17-18, 2021

All right. We come now to that place where David finally after waiting for, we presume maybe 12 years, is going to be anointed the king of Israel. Starting with the anointing as king over the house of Judah and then seven years later or so finally over all of Israel. If you remember now he’s been waiting, he’s been anointed and given this promise many years before this, when he was just a teenager. We presume maybe 16, 17 years old. If you remember Samuel, the prophet, came to his father’s house, Jesse, to anoint the future king. Samuel comes into the house and he sees Eliab, the oldest, he was quite tall and he thought to himself, surely this is the Lord’s anointed. Then that word famous really, famous word of the Lord that came to him.

“Don’t look at his appearance. Don’t look at the height of his stature. Man looks at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart.” One of the great insights of the significance of the heart and the soul that God wants to establish in a person’s life. He wasn’t the one and then seven other. In other words, seven sons pass before Samuel and the Lord has not chosen any of these. He says, “Is this all of them?” Jesse says, “Well, there is one more, the least, but he’s out watching the sheep.” He says, “Well, then send and call for him for we will not sit down until he comes.” Then David arrives and instantly Samuel recognized here is the anointed of the Lord, poured the oil on him, which a picture of the holy spirit and it says, “From that moment forward, the spirit came upon him mightily.” This is important to remember.

It’s the same holy spirit that anointed David that is in your life and mine. When you ask the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, God takes up residence in your heart and in your life, by the anointing and the filling of the very presence of the living God in your life, the holy spirit. That promise was given to David when he was in his late teens and then all manner of trouble comes in his life for the next 12 some years waiting for that promise, but David never wavered in the belief that God was sure to fulfill what He had promised David. He believed that God would in fact give him the kingship as he had promised. David believed unwaveringly in spite of all of the troubles, you want to talk about troubles, epic troubles, but David believed, David knew how the story would end. This is important because we live in times of epic troubles and yet we know how this story ends. When you look at all of the troubles in this world, I’ll tell you what, it is an encouragement to know how this story ends.

The Lord Jesus Christ is going to come at the end of the age. He’ll set foot on the Mount of olives. He’ll enter Jerusalem to rule and reign the nations. He will set this world right because this world is a broken, messed up world, and we know how the story ends and it’s a glorious, glorious description. We know our own story. God has made promises to us. His crown of righteousness awaiting us in glory. All that He has promised us. There’s a faith that believes I know how this story is in spite of the fact that there’s a lot of epic troubles on the path. We believe God’s promise. We know how this story ends. I was thinking of an illustration, at the end of the Super Bowl, the winning team, it’s always fun to watch the jubilation as they’re jumping and shouting and literally tears of joy and exhilaration. “We won. We won. We won.” Then you look closely and you realize, look at them. They’re all these shouting and dancing, but they’re bruised. They’re battered, grass in their helmets.

I. Persevere – Don’t Grow Weary

They’ve been through a battle. They’ve been through an epic battle, but they are filled with jubilation now. To me, it’s a tremendous picture because we know how this story ends. We know it’s going to end in jubilation. We know there’s going to be dancing and shouting. We know that the glory of God has been promised, but there’s a battle along the way. There’s really the lessons from David’s life. There are many lessons from the story of David that we can take and apply to our own life for while you are walking that path of God’s promise, awaiting for the fulfillment of what God has promised, how do you walk the path of God’s promise? This is where we have tremendous lesson from David’s life. Let’s read it. We’re in 2nd Samuel 2:1. David has just heard that Saul has died. Saul and his son, Jonathan, and two other sons died in a battle with the Philistines and so David, it says chapter two, it came about afterward that David then inquired of the Lord, having heard that Saul had died in battle.

He inquired of the Lord, shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah? Remember this point when this is spoken he was in the land of the Philistines. He was squarely in the camp of the Philistines and that’s a story unto itself. Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah and the Lord said to him, “Yes, go up.” Then David inquired further, “Where? Where should I go?” He said, “To Hebron.” Now there’s a lot of history. There’s a lot of significance. Time does not give us opportunity to describe it, but this is a famous city of Abraham and there’s a lot of history there. “Go to Hebron.” By the way, one of the last trips I went to Israel, I wanted to go to Hebron because there’s so much history there. Abraham buried his wife there and there’s so many things. I made the request, can we go to Hebron?

They said, “No, it is a Palestinian place and it is not safe. You are not bringing buses of people from America to Hebron.” I said, “Oh, man.” Hebron, wow. The significance. Go to Hebron. David went up there with his two wives. The Jezreelitess Abigail, the widow of Nabal, the Carmelite, and David also brought up his men who were with him. Each with his household and they lived in the cities of Hebron. Then the men of Judah came and there they anointed David King over the house of Judah, chapter five he will be anointed over all of Israel. They told David and they said it was the men of Jabesh Gilead who buried Saul. Now this touched David deeply. If you remember this story, the men of Jabesh Gilead, this is a city on the other side of the Jordan.

When they heard that Saul was killed in battle with his son, Jonathan, and that the Philistines had hung the bodies of Saul and Johnathan on the wall of Beth Shan, something arose in them and they marched all night, broke through the Philistine lines, went into Beth Shan, took the bodies of Saul, gave it a proper burial and gave him honor. When David heard this, he’s deeply touched. It says David then sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead. He said, “May you be blessed of the Lord because you have shown this kindness to Saul your Lord and have buried him. Now may the Lord show loving kindness and truth to you.” God will repay you for what you have done, this honor that you have brought. I also will show this goodness to you because you have done this thing. Now therefore, let your hands be strong, be valiant for Saul your Lord is dead. Also the house of Judah I have you know has anointed me king over them, but then it mentioned some intrigue.

It says that Abner, the son of Ner commander of Saul’s army, by the way, who knew full well that David had been the anointed to be the next king of Israel. I’m intrigued. He took Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, the fourth son, and brought him over to Mahanaim and he made him king over Gilead, Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, all over Israel. Now Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was 40 years old when he became king over Israel. He was king for two years only. The house of Judah, however, followed David. At that time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years, and six months. Before we get to chapter five and there David is anointed over all the house of Israel.

There’s a line in the story that we want to read. Remember, of course at the Wednesday service that’s where we go verse by verse and do all the chapters around these. Then we dive into something deeper on the weekend. I want us to look at these verses and take hold and apply many things starting with this great lesson from David’s life to pursue and don’t grow weary. It tells us in verse one, “Then it came about afterward.” There’s a lot of history in that one phrase right there. Then it came about after what? It came about after David grew weary from running from Saul. Remember that Saul saw that David, in fact, was going to be the next king. He could see it. David was rising in Israel, and he became fearful, insecure, jealous.
He spent the vast majority of his time as king of Israel in the pursuit of David. David says to himself, “I will perish one day at the hand of Saul, and there’s nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. There, Saul will despair searching for me, and I will escape from his hand.” David pursued relentlessly. Trouble on his heels, he says, “I am one step away from death.” In his weariness decides to go squarely into the camp of the Philistines. Now, there are many who can relate to the relentlessness of life’s struggles. We live in a broken, messed up, trouble-filled world.

By the way, Jesus said that there would be troubles. This is important to recognize because many times I think when troubles arise– God has made such wonderful promises, and then troubles arise in people’s lives and then many people respond by saying, “God, I thought you had wonderful promises for me. Why all these troubles?” Then in some people, it causes their faith to be in doubt. It’s like Jesus said, “In this world, you will have many troubles, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” Many can relate to the relentlessness. There’s an old thing, I don’t remember where I saw it, but I remember when I first saw it or heard it, I thought, “Now there’s the truth.”

The saying is this, “It’s not the mountains ahead that wear you down, it’s the pebble in your shoe.” That’s the trouble, a constant sea of every step, that pebble that just irritates constantly. Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary in doing good.” Don’t grow weary. In due time, we will reap if we do not grow weary.” David, in his being pursued relentlessly, squarely went over to the camp of the Philistines, but things got bad. In fact, things got so bad there in the camp of the Philistines. At one point when David and his men were out and about, the invaders came and burned the village to the ground.

The village that he had there in the land of Philistines, burned it to the ground, women and children taken captive. Then to make matters even worse, David’s men spoke of stoning David, blaming him for all of this tragedy that’s come on their life. It’s a life lesson for those who have grown weary. To rebuild your soul is the key. You need to strengthen the inner man in the times of those troubles. 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore do not lose heart.” That’s a tremendous and important word to hear because in times of relentlessness, of trouble, many can get discouraged and lose heart.

A. Strengthen yourself in the Lord

During the pandemic, it was on and on and on as many people– the hardship of economic difficulties in people’s lives. Many lost their jobs, many inconveniences, of course, many troubles that came. It says, “Do not lose heart for though the outer man is decaying–” In other words, this whole body of ours is a broken old body. The older you get, you know that’s true. The inner man, that’s a whole different thing. The inner man is being renewed day by day. You can be old and your body is getting old and worn out, but your soul can be alive, renewed, refreshed in the Lord.

Then he says this interesting thing, “Momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal way to glory.” Momentary light affliction? You know Paul’s story. How can he call that, all that Paul endured shipwrecks, beatings, stoning, shipwrecked in the sea twice? This is momentary light affliction? That’s an interesting definition. Paul says, “Well, that’s because I see it in view of eternity.” That’s a whole different view. See, when you put it in the view of eternity, yes, it’s a momentary light affliction, and it is producing for us an eternal way to glory, far beyond comparison.

For the things which you’re seeing, these are just temporal. These things are temporal. These things will all burn. We’re going to walk out of this old place, and we’re going to walk into the presence of the living God. For the things which you’re not seeing, those are eternal. That’s where I got my hope. Those are the promises I’m looking forward to. That’s where I’ve fixed my heart because this is the lesson from David. When he got to the deepest, darkest hour of his life is one of the grand lessons of David. He strengthened himself in the Lord, it says.

It’s the right word. Strengthening yourself in the Lord is something we all need to take hold of because this is what separated David from everyone else there. All of them, they were all weeping over the loss of their– their wives and their children are all taken captive and their city burned to the ground. They’re all weeping. David was weeping, but this is what separated David from everyone else. David did something that no one else did. He strengthened himself in the Lord. He knew that the strength of the inner man was the key to getting now for what God would do next.

There’s several places in the Bible that speak to it. This is like a biblical principle. “When you get to that darkest, deepest hour, there you turn, and the Lord will meet you in that place, will strengthen the inner man within you.” I think one of the most beautiful pictures of this comes from one of Paul’s missionary journeys he was with Silas at Philippi. It tells us at one point they were arrested, falsely accused, beaten, thrown into prison. This all comes to us out of Acts 16:22-25. It describes it this way, “The crowd rose up together against them. The chief magistrates tore the robes off of them, proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods.”

Beaten with rods as thick as a man’s finger. Can you just imagine for a moment being beaten with rods? That has got to– You want to talk about suffering. Then it says, “When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into the prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely, and he having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, fastened their feet in the stocks.” Then this, “About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to this.” They’re in the inner prison in stocks.

That is the most dangerous. The most despicable prisoners are there in the center. The prisoners are hearing them praying and singing praises to God because there’s something happening. They’re in their darkest hour. I just imagine the scene, Paul, in that midnight hour says to Silas, “Silas, how are you doing? I’m hurt. I’m hurt bad.” “Me too. I’m hurt.” “Remember that hymn? Let’s sing it.” [sings] “Great is thy faithfulness, oh, God, my Father. There is no shadow of turning with thee. Thou changes not. Thy compassions, they fail not. As thou hast been, forever will be. Great is thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see.” “Let us pray, Silas. Let’s pray.” “Yes, let’s pray.”

They’re the prisoners. What men? What men? The Spirit is touching, the Spirit is filling, in their darkest hour, strengthening them. It’s one of the lessons of life. It’s one of the lessons of Scripture. Even if you brought yourself to a dark hour by your own undoing, it’s a life lesson. I remember when I was in my young 20s. I’ll be open. I’ll be vulnerable here. In my young 20s, very young 20s, there was a time I was quite worldly, and it bothered my soul. It troubled me. I didn’t like the sickness of my soul. I had walked with the Lord when I was in my teens. In my teens, I used to lead worship at church. I knew. I had tasted of the good things, and now, in my early 20s, I’m sick. I wanted it to be right. It just troubled me.

In fact, one night, I remember this very, very well, one night, in middle of the night, I couldn’t sleep. My soul was so troubled. I went and got my Bible. I brought it back to the bedroom, and I put the Bible on the floor. I just laid in bed reading the Psalms and something happened there. There are certain hinge points of life. There are certain turning points that will alter the course, and that was a hinge point. That was a turning point. God began something there of return, me returning, of strengthening the inner man. It is a principle of the Lord.

Even if the darkest hour is brought about by our own undoing, you turn to the Lord and it’s a hinge point of turning in your life. Isaiah 40:29-31, “It is He who gives strength to the weary. And to him who lacks might, He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who will wait on the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not faint.” It’s a tremendous promise and encouragement to the soul.

B. Speak life to your own soul

Now, back to David’s story. Here’s another life lesson out of David’s story and it’s this, speak life to your own soul. This is important, speak life to your own soul. In other words, the words that you speak to your own self are either the way of defeat or the key to victory. Now everyone speaks to themselves. I know. “He’s talking to himself.” That’s normal. Everyone talks to themselves. I will be the first to admit it. In fact, I read an article once. I read this article on the internet so you know it’s true, that those who speak to themselves it’s a sign of greater intelligence.

There you go. Okay, there you go. Would you notice something, those words that you speak can also deceit you. Notice 1 Samuel 27:1, David said to himself, “I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There’s nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines.” These are the thoughts of someone who’s become wearied and worried and anxious and discouraged. Strengthening yourself in the Lord must include confronting your own thoughts of defeat and discouragement and despair.

You must confront your own thoughts when those thoughts are words that will defeat you. They didn’t come from God. Those words didn’t come from God. 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Those things didn’t come from God. Here’s another great example out of Psalm 42:5, “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior, and my God.”

Here’s my question, who is he speaking to there? Who is he talking to? He’s talking to his own soul. “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed? Why such despair? Hope in God, man.” He’s speaking to himself. He’s speaking to his own– Now that’s the word that comes from God. “Hope in God, man. I will yet praise Him,” which is to say victory is still coming. Victory is still mine. Promises of God are sure. If your soul has grown weary, you need your faith to increase. This means you need words that come from Him, you need words that come from His heart.

You need words that come from His word, you need His word in your heart because Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” That’s what you need because those words of despair and defeat and discouragement they ruminate in the heart, and they will bring about a self-fulfilling prophecy you might say. When we have the words of the Lord and the promises of His word, now you got something to stand on.

Jesus said something very similar when He spoke to those who had believed in Him. This is John 8:32, “If you continue in my word,” and that word, continues, not as deep I think as it ought to be, “If you abide in my word, if you dwell in my word, if you stay in a place of nearness, if you continue in my word, then you’re truly disciples of mine, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” The truth. You need God’s word. The truth of God’s heart, that’s what will make you free.

C. Live by looking to God

Now if we did a show of hands, I think there would be a lot of people who would say that they’re disciples of Christ. How many people believe that they’re disciples of Christ? I think many people say, “Oh, I am. I’m a disciple of Christ.” He said that, “If you’re truly my disciples, then abide in my word. Let my word abide in you, and then you’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free. That’s what will set you free.”

Then here’s another life lesson from the life of David. Notice this, it’s a tremendous important lesson, live by looking to God. Would you notice what was missing when David said to himself, “I will perish one day by the hand of Saul,”? Would you notice what’s missing there? He did not inquire of the Lord. He didn’t ask the Lord, “Hey, is this a good thing for me to do, to go over and set up camp in the Philistines?” He had inquired of the Lord before, and of course, the result of this decision was to bring him to the darkest hour he had yet faced.

What’s interesting is that when he got to that darkest hour, the first thing he did when he strengthened himself in the Lord, the very next thing he did was to inquire of the Lord. Now being established in the Lord, strengthening himself again in the Lord, the first thing he did, to inquire, to ask, “What should I do? What should I go? How should I move?”

Notice 1 Samuel 30:6-8, this is where the story unfolds. “David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for the people were embittered. But David,” this is what separates David, “But David strengthened himself in the Lord. Then,” there’s a lot that’s packed into that verse. He first, he strengthened himself in the Lord, “Then, David said to the priest, ‘Please bring me the ephod,'” now this is the manner by which they would inquire.

The priest would have this ephod. Abiathar brought the ephod to David, and David inquired,” the first thing he did, “Shall I pursue this band?” These invaders, they burned the village and took them captive, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them? The Lord said, ‘Pursue, and you shall surely overtake them and you shall surely rescue all.'” The word of the Lord. You see there is something about knowing the direction, there is something about knowing the path that just encourages.

When you’re in a time of turbulence and turmoil and you don’t know what to do like, “What do I do, Lord? This is the tragedy of epic proportions, what do I do?” Then you pray and you ask God to direct your steps. The scripture says, “If anyone lacks the wisdom, let him ask of God.” If you lack wisdom, ask of God. He will give to you generously. He will not rebuke you for asking. Ask. There is something about having that word of the Lord and then having a path set before you, having I know what God wants me to do. There is just something so encouraging to the soul.

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” I tell you there’s a lot of ways to make your path crooked. There’s a lot of ways to destroy the path. I want my path straight. I want the steps that I take to be ordained of God. You lead me, God, you make my path straight, I need your leading in my life. Then inquire, ask, ask and it will be given, seek and you’ll find, knock and the door will be open. God says I want you to ask, I want you to seek. I want you to knock. I want you to enquire.

II. Have Honor and Admire Honor

There’s something right. Your heart is settled. You come to a place of just being open to the Lord. It really is important because the troubled soul needs to be in the place of saying to the Lord, “Speak, your servant listens.” Now, back to David’s story, the tremendous life lesson from David’s story, have honor and admire honor. You see this in David’s life, he knows the promises are sure, he knows that what God has done to anoint him as king. He knows how this story is going to end. God’s apparently in no hurry to get them there because it’s going to be 12 years plus but how he walked on that path.

Even in all of the trouble and the turbulence and the difficulty, David walked with honor on that path of God’s promise. He’s so relentlessly pursuing. Saul is embittered against David, but David, he will not raise a hand against him. Honor, this is important. David respected God. He respected what God had done in anointing Saul. It’s like a very important life lesson to respect God is to respect what God does, even if you don’t understand it. To respect what God does, even if you don’t understand it. One of the great– you want to talk about suffering, one of the greatest stories of suffering has to be that Job, but there’s this one scene that unfolds that brings to us an insight.

Job chapter two 2:9-10, Job’s wife, remember after all of the tragedies, after all of the suffering, after all that Job had gone through, Job’s wife finally comes to him after all, I mean, it is epic what Job endured. Job’s wife comes to him after this and says, “After all this do you still hold on to your integrity?” After all that’s been against you, after all that you’ve suffered. After all that’s been happening, you’re like, really? Okay, that’s the modern way of saying it. Really. You still hold on to your integrity after this? Curse God and die, man. A lot of people would, by the way, a lot of people would.

I know many people who have been through troubles of epic proportions and then they blame God. You say you love me but now look at these troubles in my life. You say you love me then why, why did you allow this in my life? What they’re doing is they’re blaming God, it’s a way of cursing God you might say. Really, you got to still hold on to your integrity after all this? Curse God and die, man. Job said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks, shall we indeed accept good from God and not adversity?” In other words, Job respects God, even though he doesn’t understand. Now remember, of course, he later says, I want to ask God some questions.

I got some questions, and then later on to the book, God says you got some questions because, at the end of the book, Job has an opportunity, “You got some questions, go ahead, but I got some questions of you.” It’s too much to go into, but it’s a tremendous thing, shall we accept good from God and not adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips. He respects God, even though he doesn’t understand. When our daughter was killed, it was a tragedy of epic proportions but there was a truth that came to my mind. Psalm 139 says that, “The days that were ordained for me were written in His book before there was yet even one of them.

A. Keep your heart from bitterness

The days that were ordained for me were written in his book before there was yet even one of them,” and then it hit me. God wrote a number next to her name. God wrote the number 10,724. That is the exact number of days that she lived, and then it just hit me. I respect God so I respect that number. I have to respect that number. He didn’t write 10,725, he wrote 10,724. I have to respect that number. When you respect God, you honor him. Even if you don’t understand because it will do this, it will keep your heart from bitterness. It’s one of the life lessons of David, keep your heart from bitterness.

Relentlessly, year after year, David has been pursued. I’m one step away from death, one day he’s going to take my life but there’s no bitterness, would you notice this? There’s no bitterness in David’s heart. Though Saul was clearly embittered against him. There’s no bitterness in his heart. He will not lift a hand, he will not take a hand against him. He has kept his heart from bitterness. He’s kept his heart free. He’s kept his heart clear of bitterness. You keep bitterness out of your life, your soul is free. Let God, that was David’s perspective, “God, you anointed him, you put him there, you’re going to have to be the one taking him out.”

Your heart is free when you let God settle the matter. This is important because there’s so much trouble in people’s lives when they take the troubles upon themselves and they become embittered in their soul. There’s a faith that says God, I entrust that trouble to you, I entrust that troublesome person to you. Keep your heart for a minute and say Hebrews chapter 12:14-15, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” I would suggest to you that bitterness is a hindrance to sanctification. That growing of the righteousness and holiness of God in one’s life.

Bitterness kind of hinders it. Pursue peace and pursue the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord and see to it. See to it, make sure of it, that no one comes short of the grace of God. That no root of bitterness springing up, because it’s trouble, because it will. A root of bitterness springing up, if you hold on to a hurt, an offense, a difficult person, it will cause trouble. Ephesians 4:31, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away,” put it off, put it away, take it off, along with malice, because David respects God, he honors God. David admires honor when he sees it. He knows honor. David is a man of honor and he knows honor when he sees it.

B. Be still and wait on the Lord

David is told, the men of Jabesh Gilead, they’re the ones who came in the no doubt told him the story, they marched all night. They broke through the Philistine ranks. They took the body off the wall of Bashan and they gave him an honorable and proper burial. David sent messengers, may you be blessed of the Lord. David’s not celebrating that Saul has died. He’s grieving the death of the Lord’s anointed. Then these men of honor, may you be blessed of the Lord because you have done this thing. David knows honor and he admires it. He’s drawn to people that have faith and honor and character. That’s a great life for you, but you’d be the same, you and me both, be drawn to people with honor in their lives.

How do you walk in the path? You know that God’s made great promises but there’s troubles along the way. well, how do you walk? Well walk with honor and admire honor when you see it. Encourage people with honor. You see someone who’s got honor in their life, encourage them. That is honor, men. Then lastly, we’ll close with this. It’s a great lesson, “Be still and wait on the Lord.” God was in no hurry to make David king. He would fulfill His promises. David believed it. He was sure of it. In spite of all of the troubles. Seven and a half years, he’s anointed here in this chapter as king over the house of Judah, but he’s going to wait another seven and a half years before he’s anointed king over all of Israel. There will be intrigue along the way.

People are oftentimes, they’re in such a hurry that they run ahead of God instead of waiting. God will do it. God will do what He says. God fulfills His promises. Psalm 46:7 and 10, “The Lord of hosts is with us.” That’s a statement of faith. “The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Therefore-” Verse 10, “-cease the striving.” It’s the same place where we read, “Be still and know that I am God.” Cease striving means stop it. Stop, stop. Stop the striving. Rest in the assurance of who He is and that His promises are sure. To cease striving, to be still, and to know that he is God does not mean that you do nothing. It means that you trust God and you wait for His timing.

While you wait, you cultivate faithfulness, you do good, you strengthen yourself in the Lord, you build the honor into your life, into your character, you strengthen the inner man while you wait. Psalm 37, “Trust in the Lord. Do good. Dwell in the land. Cultivate faithfulness.” That’s a deep word. Cultivate faithfulness. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him. He’ll do it. He’ll do it. Let us pray. Lord, thank you so much for showing us such tremendous application and life lessons because God we can still relate. We know the promises of God are sure, but the troubles, oh, the troubles, God help us to see that we can wait and be strengthened.

To walk in this path that You would set forth in our lives, help us to walk as You would have us to walk on this path to God’s promises. With honor, with integrity, with character, with faith strengthened in the inner man, trusting God to order your way. Church today, would you say that to the Lord? I trust You. You set my paths straight. You ordain my way. I trust Your word. I trust Your promises, but oh, God, is there a lot of trouble around me. I need You in my life. I need You to order the way. Tell me you would say that to the Lord. Would you just say that by raising your hand to Him?

It’s a statement of faith to say, “You order my steps. You honor Your name. God,” I’m asking that You do this. Father, thank You for everyone who says yes. Spirit of the Lord, mood of God, thank You for your amazing truth that shows us the way. We honor You now and in Jesus name, everyone said. Can we give the Lord praise and glory and honor? Amen. Amen. Amen.

Victory in Spiritual Warfare
1 Samuel 28:3-20

July 10-11, 2021

The focus of the message is in fact, the spiritual realm. Now, of course, we know there’s the physical that which we can see and feel, and touch but there’s often a spiritual reality, a spiritual battle even behind that which you see in the physical realm. In fact, those with spiritual discernment can understand that there are spiritual forces at work in the world today. We can sense that in the world in what is happening in the nations, there are tectonic shifts happening in the world that will lead to cataclysmic events of the latter days as we are drawing near and nearer to those days.

Paul describes that spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6, where he says “Our battle is not against flesh and blood that which we can see and feel and hear but it’s against rulers against powers that gives world forces of darkness against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.” Having said that, however, we also need to recognize that Jesus is preparing the church for spiritual victory. That’s the very intent of the Lord that we be victorious spiritually for he then says in that same chapter, “Be strong in the Lord, be strong in the strength of his mind. Put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” That’s what we’re going to understand as we look at these verses.

It’s important to see that though Satan is strongly influencing the world. When you look at what’s happening, you see as strong influence of the enemy on it but we also need to see that he’s a defeated foe. Now you might say, well then why does he still fight? If he’s defeated? I think one of the best illustrations of that would be this. On June 6th, 1944, when 155,000 allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy. It was the single greatest invasion in world history. From that moment forward, Hitler knew that the war would be lost but he refused to acknowledge defeat and kept fighting even to the bitter end.

It’s a picture of this spiritual battle for the enemy knows that he will be defeated. He knows the scriptures as well and he knows that he will be defeated but he will fight to the bitter end, destroying as many as possible in the process. He is in fact, destroying many lives. One of the great trues of scripture, and we will see it in the verses that we’re looking at today is that God is master over the spiritual realm. By the authority of Jesus. We saw this in the gospels by the authority of Jesus. He cast out at one point a legion of demons. By that same authority, Jesus will return at the end of the age and he will set things right for this is a messed up world.

At the end of the age, Jesus comes, he will set foot on the Mount of Olives. You’ll enter Jerusalem to shepherd the nations with a rod of iron. He will set things right because I tell you, there is so much that’s wrong in this world. Amen. There’s so much, here’s, what’s interesting. There’s so much wrong in this world. That the thing that the world thinks is good. In fact, the scripture describes woe to those. This is actually out of Isaiah 5:20. Woe to those who call evil good. That’s actually the very thing that’s happening today. Woe to those who call good evil, who substitute darkness for light and life for darkness who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.

Things are turned around. Things are upside down. Things are messed up. I was thinking of a lighthearted example. Today’s modern world. The young generation has their own slang. I’m sure you know, every generation has their own slang. The younger generation has their own slang today. When I was growing up, we had our slang too, but our slang made sense.

Words like ‘Hunky Dory’, that makes sense. We understand what that means. ‘Gee whiz’, ‘Holy smoke’, ‘Groovy’. That makes sense. ‘Far out’. It makes total sense. Today the modern slang doesn’t make sense. See if something is good, it’s ‘wicked’. That doesn’t make sense to me. If something is good, it’s ‘killer’, it’s ‘sick’, it’s ‘bad’. If something is cool, it’s hot. Things are messed up. My point is, that’s just a humorous example. The point is Jesus will set things. The world system as we know it now will be destroyed. In fact, one of the ways I like to say it is this, when Jesus returns at the end of the age, the world will be under new management. I’ll tell you what, that’s a glorious day. Amen.

We also have to see how personal it is when Paul wrote that there are spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. He then made it personal. He made the application, be strong in the Lord in the strength of his might take up the full armor of God. He’s speaking to those who would be victorious, take out the full armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day. Then he says having done everything to stand firm, therefore that’s what God wants. That’s spiritual victory.

Now in the story that we’re reading in first Samuel, the enemy of Israel, the Philistines have gathered in mass in battle array to attack Israel in the Jezreel valley. Interestingly, it isn’t a very valley, the very same, in which the battle of Armageddon will take place in the latter days. Now, when king saw that the camp of the Philistines had gathered, he was afraid. His heart tremendously trembled within him he had no strength, he had no courage, and he had no faith. He had no faith because he had not been walking with God for a long time.

He turns to the witch of Endor. Now, this is very important in the story is filled with insight for the spiritual victory that God wants in our lives, because it comes down to this, the soul within you. It comes down to the soul within you. It must be strengthened in the Lord to be able to stand firm in that evil day. Let’s read the account of it. Fascinating story. First, Samuel 28, we begin in verse three and he begins with, you might call the back story.

Now Samuel was dead. This is important for where he’s going with this story. Samuel was a prophet, very highly regarded, tremendously respected, but he’s dead now. All Israel lamented him, buried him in Ramah in his own city and Saul had removed from the land those who are mediums and spiritists, this is also important backstory. Now the unfolding of the story is this. The Philistines gathered together came and camped in Shunaam, the northwest of the Jezreel valley. Saul gathered all Israel together and they camped at Gilboa and the Southeast of the Jezreel valley. Now when Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.

When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. Saul then said to his servants, “Seek for me, a woman who is a witch, who is a medium. I may go to her and inquire of her.” He wants to go to a witch. His servant said to him, “Behold, we know where there is a witch.” There is a woman who is the witch of Endor.

Saul disguised himself by putting on other clothes and went he and two other men with him. They came to the woman by night. Saul said, “Conjure up for me, please, and bring up for me who I shall name.” The woman said, “Behold, you know what Saul has done. How he has cut off those who are mediums and spirits his from the land. Why are you then laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?” This is amazing. Saul vowed to her by the Lord, by the name of the Jehovah, the God of Israel. He says, “As the Lord Jehovah lives, there shall be no punishment. Come upon you for doing this thing.” The woman said “Fine, whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”

Between verse 11 and verse 12. We don’t know all that happened. She did some séance things. Something that you would is a method of trying to connect and reach out to the dead. Whatever it was, it tells us in verse 12, that when the woman saw Samuel, she shrieked. She didn’t expect to actually see the actual Samuel. When she saw Samuel, she shrieked, cried out with a loud voice. The woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are in fact, Saul.” She immediately connected them to understand what was what’s happening. The King said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Tell me what you see.” The woman said this, “I see a divine being.” Literally is I see a powerful man of God coming up out of the earth. He said to her what form and she said, “An old man is coming up and he is wrapped with a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage.

Then the Samuel and we believe this is the very voice of Samuel. This is an amazing thing. We’re going to understand this. Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” This is an amazing thing. Saul answered. “I am greatly distressed. The Philistines are waging war against me. God has departed from me and answers me no more either through prophets or by dreams. Therefore, I have called you that you may make known to me what I should do. What should I do?”

Samuel said, “Why did you ask me? Since the Lord has departed from you and has become your adversary?” It’s a very tragic day when the Lord is your adversary. Samuel continues, “The Lord has done accordingly as he spoke through me. For the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David. As you did not obey the Lord.” this is a very important understanding of why this is all happened. HE didn’t obey the Lord. He wouldn’t listen to his voice. He rebelled against him.

Interestingly, he said earlier, when he made this declaration, several chapters back rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft. I find that fascinating. You didn’t have to listen to the word of the Lord. You would not obey the Lord. You did not execute his fierce wrath on Amalek as he said so the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the Lord will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, and therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with him. By this time tomorrow, you will be dead. As we know, several chapters later, Saul does die. He and his sons in this great battle.

Indeed, the Lord will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines. Now, Saul immediately fell full length upon the ground and was afraid because of the words of Samuel. There was no strength left in him for he had eaten no food all day and all night. There’s more to the story but these are the verses I want us to see and understand because there’s much to apply to our lives. Starting with this understanding, looking at the bigger picture of the thing you need Jesus as the strong man because here’s the point, this whole séance thing and this is all demonic. This is the realm of Satan. When a person gets involved in the realm of Satan the enemy is in fact a great enemy, a great adversary, a strong man. You might say, Jesus is going to explain this, therefore you need Jesus. It’s very important.

I. You Need Jesus as the Strong Man

When the witch of Endor conjured up Samuel, she shrieked. I submit because she was shocked to see Samuel. She wasn’t expecting Samuel. She was expecting the mnemonic imitation that she was used to seeing. By the way, mediums and spiritualists were outlawed in Israel because God forbade such things. God, forbade things because these things are of the realm of darkness and God wants his people to have nothing to do with these things.

Notice a couple of scriptures, Isaiah 8:8-19. When they say to you consult mediums and spiritualists who whispered mutter should not have people consult their God. Should they consult the dead on the behalf of the living? Now, this all comes to us from Moses in Deuteronomy 18, where he said this to Israel. Now, when you enter the land which the Lord, your God gives you,” the land Israel, which we know today, “When you enter that land, which the Lord, your God gives you, you shall not imitate the detestable things of those nations.” Now, today, that is a tremendously important insight for us today, as a matter of fact, and is a very powerful thing to see what God calls detestable.

He says, for example, there shall not be found among you. Anyone who uses divination or practices, witchcraft who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritualist, or anyone who calls up the dead. Now, today, there are testable things in the world today that God says not to imitate this. This is not true. Look at this world around us. There are many things that are in the world that God calls detestable. Anybody agree with me?

I’ll tell you, what’s interesting is that the very things that the world highly values, highly esteems, highly desires, are the very things that God calls detestable. Notice what Jesus said in Luke 16:15, Jesus said to them, you justify yourselves in the sight of men but God knows your hearts. Now that’s a great lead into any point. You justify yourselves. It’s a very common thing that people do. You justify yourselves in the sight of men but God knows your hearts. For that, which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. For the enemy is strongly influencing those things. That’s the point.

A. The enemy is a roaring lion seeking to devour

The enemy is strongly influencing those things. Have nothing to do with those things, which the enemy is strongly influencing because you are in the kingdom of God now. See he’s using that world system to destroy many lives and many are held in his grip for here’s the point. The enemy is a roaring lion seeking to devour. That’s right out of the scriptures. The enemy is a roaring lion seeking to devour. The very purpose of the enemy is to destroy. Jesus said as much when he said, “The enemy, the thief comes to steal to kill and destroy but I have come that you have life.” I want you to have life and I want you to have life abundantly life to the full that’s God’s desire. The enemy’s desire is to destroy and so he looks for the weak, the vulnerable to attack.

He looks for those whose souls are sick. For those whose souls are sick, are those who are weak and vulnerable known as second or first, Peter 5:8-9. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert, which is to say, keep your soul in a place of watchfulness for your adversary. The devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour but resist him being firm in your faith. Now that’s the spiritual victory that he’s speaking of when your soul is alive. See Saul’s soul was sick. He had allowed his heart to be filled with jealousy, envy insecurity, fear. For many years, he had not sought the Lord. He had not worshiped the Lord. He didn’t have faith and now at his darkest hour, he has nowhere to turn. In desperation, he seeks for a witch, a medium.

Now the enemy knows that it’s difficult to defeat someone whose soul is strong. The enemy knows very well. If someone is strong in faith and their soul is strong in the Lord, very hard to defeat. Therefore, he looks for those that are weak and vulnerable. Since he brings up lions when lions are on the hunt, they prowl about looking for those that are separated from the group, those that are weak, they are the ones most vulnerable. See the enemy knows that if he can separate you if he can make you alone and lonely and discouraged, then he can keep you in the darkness away from the light that then he can have a grip on your soul.

See it shows the importance of why we need each other, why we need to be together. We need to be strengthening one another. We need to gather, we need prayer. We need worship. There’s a tremendous importance to what is happening. This last week I was asked to be on the Georgine rice show and she wanted to talk about the state of the church in general.

I used an illustration and I said it’s like this. If you take the embers of a fire and you spread them out the whole thing is going to cool off pretty fast but if you bring those embers together and you bring them tighter and tighter, there’s an intensity that happens and that’s the church. During the pandemic, I’ll tell you it was a tremendous thing that we had live streaming because of course, we couldn’t even gather and all the social distancing and everything that we had to do. We couldn’t have anybody in the church and I’m very thankful that we had live streaming was a great thing that the word of God could go forth, that we could still continue to teach but it was difficult because there’s nobody here. In fact, we brought the cameras close, just real close and they can feel a little more intimate but there’s nobody in the room. There’s nobody laughing at my jokes.

I know, I was lonely but the whole church was impacted. It’s great that we could continue but the church was impacted because the embers are spread out, you might say. We need one another. There’s something that happens when the church is drawn when the embers are drawn together, when we can encourage one another when we can pray for one another. There’s something that happens when we worship together. This is a very important to understanding.

B. Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah

The church needs to strengthen each other. For when we are strengthened, what we have come to understand is this, though, the enemy is a lion seeking to devour, Jesus is the lion from the tribe of Judah. This is the point. Now, this comes to us in many places but one of the most powerful scenes of this is in the book of Revelation, where the writer, John is given a view into heaven itself. He said, “I saw a sea of glass like crystal and in the center was the throne and then the right hand of him who sat on the throne was a scroll sealed with seven seals and then a strong angel proclaiming in a loud voice who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?”

No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the book or look into it. John writes that he hearing this began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book. Then one of the elders said, stop weeping for the lion from the tribe of Judah has overcome. As to open the book and to break its seven seals. John then says, “I looked and I saw a lamb as though slain”. This is one of the great scenes out of the book of Revelation, stop weeping for the lion, the great lion from the tribe of Judah has overcome. I looked expecting to see a lion but there was the lamb as though slain.

It’s one of the great understandings of the gospel. Jesus is the lion who conquered death and defeated the enemy because he was the lamb who gave his own life as a sacrifice, as payment in full, as payment for all of the sins that held us in the grip of the enemy all those years. Therefore Jesus is the lion, you invite him into your life. Jesus, here’s the point, Jesus is the strong man in your life now. He is a strong man who will strengthen your life. He is a strong man who will strengthen. Saul was weak spiritually. He had not been walking with the Lord. His heart was filled with fear and anger and insecurity. In desperation, he seeks for a witch to conjure up help by calling for Samuel the witch of Endor shrieks, when she sees Samuel. I see a powerful man of God coming out of the earth.

She’s shocked because this is actually Samuel. My point is, God has overtaken the whole thing. Demons no longer controlled this because that is their realm but God has overtaken the whole thing because God is greater than all of them. He desired for his purpose, he used it for the purpose of speaking to Saul that final word. For the point is this, greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. God has overcome them. That’s the point, Amen. It’s the fundamental understanding of spiritual warfare.

Let’s look at the bigger picture. When God sees the condition, the lostness, the brokenness. He sent his son to seek and to save that, which was lost and so it tells us that Jesus then pursued sinners. He knocked on the door of their heart, he called out their name. When you open the door of your heart and invite him in, he takes residence in your life, in your heart, and in your soul.

When you invite Jesus into your life, you have invited the lion from the tribe of Judah. He is the one who has now taken up residence in your life. He is the strong man in your life now. When he comes in, he doesn’t come in as a guest, he’s a lion. He comes in to change, he comes in to transform, he’s the master of the house. When you invite him in, you’ve invited him to be the master. 1 John 4:4, you are from God, little children, and have overcome them because greater is he who is in you than he was in the world. By the way, while we’re on this, this is the reason we believe that Christians cannot be possessed by a demon. You may be greatly troubled or distressed or tempted by the enemy but Jesus is greater. Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.

Now Jesus gave a deep understanding of this and it came about on an occasion when Jesus was casting out demons and the Jewish leaders saw Jesus casting out these demons and they were very concerned because the crowd was amazed at this. They saw the authority that Jesus had over that spiritual realm. They were very concerned because the crowd was very amazed and they were beginning to move toward Jesus. The Jewish leaders, seeing him cast out demons said, “Ha. He cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub Lord of the flies is another name for Satan. He cast out demons, but he’s using the power of Satan to do it.”

Jesus responded to this. This is Luke 11, it’s also found in Matthew 12. It’s a very important answer and a very important and understanding. What Jesus basically said in response was that does not even make sense. Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste. A house divided against itself falls. Of course, we know this was a great principle, it’s quoted very often. He goes on to explain, if Satan is divided against himself, then how will his kingdom stand? Since you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebub. If I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Then he gives this interesting insight. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. Now, this we accept. This is a principle that we all get. If a strong man, fully armed guards, his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. Is like this, if somebody breaks into my house in the middle of the night. I’m going to encounter whatever invader has come into my house, I’m going to deal with that invader. I am the strong man in the house. I’m going to deal with whatever has come in. You’re going to have to overcome me, if you want to take this house. Everybody knows this. This is a great principle.

The idea he’s explaining here, is that when a person has a demon in their life, Satan is in fact that strong man of the house. Therefore, he goes onto explain but when someone’s stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him, all the armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. That is what Jesus is explaining, this is how he cast out demons because he binds the strong man in that person’s life.

He binds Satan and then he cast out the demons for the purpose, of course, that they would be filled with the presence of the living God, but he giving a principle. He’s explaining the nature of spiritual warfare. By the way, it’s important to understand if a person has a demonic influence in their lives, Satan is the strong man of that person but when a person opens the door of their heart to Jesus Christ, you have invited the lion from the tribe of Judah into your life.

II. Jesus is the Strong Man who Strengthens

I asked you this question, who’s the strong man in your life now? I suggest to you that Jesus is in fact, the strong man of your life because he is the lion from the tribe of Judah that you just invited in your life.

Who is the strong man now? Is Jesus. Who’s going overpower him? Who’s going to overcome him? A demon? I suggest not. That’s why this is a deep understanding. Revelation 3:20, behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with me. Now notice he’s giving a picture of the relationship that follows. You open your door, you invite Jesus into your life. He’s the strong man of your life now for he is the strong man who strengthens because those whom he loves, he strengthens.
Jesus says if I cast out demons by the finger of God then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Hey, if the kingdom of God has come upon you, then it’s come upon you for good. To give you a future. To give you hope. To pour God’s favor. To pour God’s blessing on your life. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that you have life. It’s the very intent of God. He is the strong man who strengthens.

You’re not just inviting a guest into your house. He’s the one who will transform your life because he is the lion from the tribe of Judah and He will strengthen your soul because I tell you if your soul has been taken up by worldly things. Strongly influenced by worldly things, your soul is sick. It’s very important. I tell you, there are many people today whose souls are sick. They need to be strengthened in the Lord.

If your life has been heavily influenced by that which is darkness, you can be sure that you need to be strengthened spiritually but that’s the very intent of God. That’s the very thing he desires to do for he when you invite him in your life is the strong man who will strengthen. When Saul was at his darkest hour, he sought for a witch but God used that. God overtook the whole séance to declare to solve that the end had come. By that time the next day he would be dead.

I mentioned this on Wednesday and it bears repeating. You look at the whole of Saul’s time, his rule as king. He spent the vast majority of his rule as king in pursuit of David. Filled with insecurity and fear and anger, he pursued David. That was his legacy. Let me just say something. That’s not much of a legacy. When you look back on your life, don’t you want to know that your life mattered, that you made a difference, that you left a legacy that you have meaning and purpose to your life? It comes from a soul that’s alive. It comes from being strengthened in the Lord. What God wants to do.

In contrast, here’s an interesting contrast, David. He comes to his darkest hour, two chapters later. What a difference? What a contrast in David’s darkest hour. He turns to the Lord and he strengthens himself in the Lord. This is one of the highlight points of the entire book. 1 Samuel 30:3-6 is a huge backstory but let’s just read it as it is. ”When David and his men came to their city, behold, it was burned with fire. While he and the men were out, the Amalekites came, destroyed, burned it with fire, their wives and their sons and their daughters were taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep.”

Now you say, this is disaster. This is the lowest, this is the darkest. Oh, no. It gets worse. Moreover, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him for the people were embittered. Each one because of his sons and his daughters, they were blaming David, you did this. You let us into this. We’ve got to kill David. This is the darkest hour. 1 Samuel 30:6 David and here’s the difference? Here’s the contrast but David strengthened himself in the Lord. David strengthened himself in the Lord. This is a tremendous insight this is the key to spiritual victory it’s the key to spiritual warfare. To strengthen your soul in the Lord your God for there is so much in this world that will make your soul sick.

A. Greater is He who is in you

There are many people today held in the grip of worldly forces and their soul is sick. I know many people today and I’ll tell you I have never seen spiritual warfare like I’m seeing today. So many people are held in the grip of such darkness, but he says, you open your heart. You invite the one who is the lion from the tribe of Judah into your life and he will strengthen your soul.
How does a person strengthen their soul? It has everything to do with what you put into your soul and has everything to do with what you put into your soul for there are many things that you can put into your soul that will make you sick. There are also things that come from the living God, that will make your soul alive. That which comes from God is beautiful. It’s joyful, it’s peace, it’s love, it’s honorable. That which comes from God will transform your life.

Walk with Him, dwell in the shadow of the almighty. Be near to Him. You’re going to spend eternity in the presence of the living God. Might as well as spend your time on earth with the living God. You’re going to be enjoying his presence for eternity. You might as well enjoy his presence now. You’re going to be worshiping God for eternity, you might as well worship God now. You’re going to be filled with his presence in eternity, you might as well be filled with his presence now. Why wait? Why not start now? He’s offering you the opportunity to have the living God in your heart and in your life. When God moves, he does that which is beautiful and joyful and honorable and good.

He’ll strengthen your soul. You dwell in the shadow of the almighty and the nearness of God is your good. When you receive his word, your soul is being strengthened. Your soul is being strengthened right now because his word is going forth. When his word goes forth, it goes forth with power. It does not return void without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent to them. The purpose for which he sent it is to transform your life. For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. Right now, your soul is being strengthened.
When you worship and your heart is open wide you are in fact being strengthened because he inhabits the praises of his people.

God is in this he plays. When you worship, he transforms he strengthens, he touches he does that, which is beautiful. Strengthen yourself in the Lord. Open your heart, invite Jesus to be the lion in your life. He will be with you and he will walk with you on this journey. You invite him and he will walk with you the rest of this journey. When you get to the end and you breathe your last breath, you’re just going to keep on walking right into the living God.

He’ll speak to you on the way. He’ll speak life he’ll speak joy he’ll encourage, he’ll edify, he’ll build, he’ll do that which is beautiful, he’ll strengthen. ‘Cause if your soul is sick, God’s not done. He can make all the difference that you need. Open your heart. Let the lion of the tribe of Judah, strengthen your soul and do that which is beautiful. Let’s pray. Father, thank you so much for showing us that greater is he who is in us than he was in the world. That the very intent of the heart of God is to bring life and life to the full. How many today would say, “I want my soul to be alive. I’m on my soul to be strengthened in the Lord.”

I’m asking God, I know that you are the one who can transform and strengthen my soul. I’m asking. That’s my desire. Do that in me God strengthened my soul. Make me alive. I want my soul to be alive. If you would ask that of God, if you would say that to the Lord. You just simply say it by raising your hand to the Lord. Just raise your hand and say, “God, I’m saying to you now by raising my hand that I want my soul to be alive. I want you to strengthen the inner man within me. I want that, which is beautiful. That comes from your hand. Do that in me God do that in me.”

Father, thank you for everyone who desires, who longs for the things of God in their life, strengthen everyone who says, yes, that’s the heart of desire. Do it, Lord, in all of us, we pray in Jesus’ name and everyone said–
Congregation: Amen.