Live with Your Heart Toward Heaven
1 Samuel 20:1-23
June 5-6, 2021
All right. We're picking up the story. Now, after David defeated the Philistine giant and a great victory was brought against the Philistines, the acclaim of David rose greatly in Israel and people loved him. It happened that after that great victory, that the women would come out of the cities of Israel to meet King Saul, singing and dancing with tambourines and joy, musical instruments, and they would sing a song. The words of the song were, "Saul has slain his thousands, but David, his ten thousands."
When Saul heard this, he became angry, that singing displeased him. He said, "No, they've ascribed to David ten thousands, but they've ascribed only thousands to me. Now, what more can he have accepted the kingdom?" From that moment on, Saul despised David, fear, anger, jealousy consuming him, and he literally wanted to kill David. He's the hero of Israel, he just brought a great victory. He wants to kill David.
Clearly, he is not operating by the Holy Spirit now. He was anointed. You remember the story, how the prophet poured oil on his head, there's a picture of it, anointed by the Spirit. God gave him everything, but no longer. Now the Spirit has departed and he's operating not in the Spirit, he's operating in the nature of man and it's ugly, and we're seeing all of it in its human nature, he's rejected God, so God rejected him as king. Now he's fighting against God, kicking against God, you can say. Desperately trying to hold on to his position as king and David is a threat. He is pursuing him relentlessly to take his life.
In fact, we're going to read in Chapter 20. David says something to his friend, Jonathan, who is Saul's son. David says, "There is hardly a step between me and death, so is Saul pursuing me. One step, I'm one step away from death." In reality, that's actually true of all of us. It's a perspective to understand. Saul was pursuing him relentlessly. He tried to pin him to the wall twice by throwing a javelin at him, but David escaped.
Then when he heard that his daughter, Michal loved David, he agreed to the marriage only because he thought it was an opportunity to bring about his death. Because he said, "Well, instead of a dowry, all I want is the life of a hundred of my enemies." He was thinking, "Let the enemy kill him. Let the Philistines do it," but that plot failed. David came back victorious after killing double, 200 Philistines. Everything is falling, everything is backfiring.
Now, Saul's own son is David's best friend, and now David is married to his daughter. This is not going the way Saul wanted, but he refuses to give up. He actually sent a kill squad to go and wait outside of David's house, and when he came out in the morning, he was going to have him killed, but his wife, Michal got word of it and led him out through a window, so he could escape. David was right. There's hardly a step between him and death, but in a sense, it's true of all of us. If we have the perspective of that, it will change how we live. If you see life from its bigger view, it will change how you live with whatever you have left now.
Let's read it, we're in 1 Samuel 20, David is still one step from death. Saul is hotly pursuing him, and so he comes to his friend, Jonathan, "What have I done?" He doesn't understand, "What is the sin? What have I done? Why do I deserve this? What did I do?" Now we pick it up, 1 Samuel 20:1, "David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said to Jonathan, what have I done? What is my iniquity? What is the sin? What is my sin before your father that he's seeking my life?"
Now, Jonathan doesn't believe it yet. He said, "Far from it. You won't die. Behold my father does nothing, either greater small without disclosing it to me. Why should my father hide this thing for me? No, it's not true." David vowed and said, "Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your sight, and so he has said, don't let Jonathan know this lest he be grieved, but truly as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death."
I. Live Like You’re Only a Step Away
One step. He is pursuing me so hotly, one step. Jonathan said to David, now he believes it, "Whatever you say, I will do it." David said to Jonathan, "Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I ought to sit down to eat with the king. But let me go, that I might hide myself in the field until the third evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, 'Oh, David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, because it's the yearly sacrifice there for the family.' If he says, 'Okay, this is good,' then you're servant is safe, but if he's angry, he has decided on evil. Therefore deal kindly with me, your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant."
They were so close. They made a covenant between them. It was a covenant of the Lord, to honor God in their life, "But if there would be iniquity in me, put me to death yourself. Why should you bring me to your father?" Jonathan said, "Far be it from you. For I should indeed learn. If I indeed learn that evil has been decided by my father, will I not tell it to you." David said to Jonathan, "Who will then tell me if your father answers harshly?" Jonathan said, "Come, let's go out to the field," so they went to the field.
Jonathan's then said to David, "The Lord, the God of Israel is witness. When I have sounded out my father about this time tomorrow or the third day, behold, if there's good feeling toward David, will I not send and make it known to you? If it please my father to do you harm, may the Lord do so to me, to Jonathan, and more so if I do not make it known to you and send you away, that you may go in safety, and may the Lord be with you as he has been with my father."
"If I'm still alive," In other words, he's going to risk this. "If I'm still alive, will you not show me the kindness of the Lord?" He believes that David is going to one day be king. "Will you not show kindness to me that I might not die, and that you should not cut off your loving kindness from my house. Not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth?" Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David saying, "May the Lord required it at hands of David's enemies." Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him because he loved him as he loved his own life."
Then Jonathan said, "Now tomorrow is the new moon, you will be missed because your seat is empty. When you have stayed for three days, you will go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself on that eventful day, and you shall remain by the stone Ezel. I will shoot three arrows to the side as though I shot at a target, and behold, I will send a lad and I'll say, "Go find the arrows." If I specifically say to the lad, "Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, get them," then come, there's safety for you, and there's not harm. If I say to the young man, "Behold, the arrows are beyond you." Then go, run, flee for the Lord has sent you away. As for the agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever." Their covenant is to serve God, he reconfirms it.
These are the verses that we want to look at. What a perspective David has. There is hardly a step between me and death, and it's true of all of us, and I think the point and application is if that is true, then live like it's true, live like you're only one step away, when you have eternity in your view. Many people see, do not. They live only for the life that they're having now, but when you see heaven in your heart, eternity in view, it changes your perspective. It changes how you see it. If you see it from that bigger view, there's no fear in death for you know that when you take that last step, it means walking into the presence of the living God, your savior. There is that hope. I don't know how time I got left, but I know that when I take that step, I take it into the presence of the Lord.
Now, Paul, when he was arrested and was waiting to see Caesar in Rome, he didn't know if he was going to live or die, but he gives a perspective that many have quoted because it is such a right way to see it. Philippians 1:20-21, "According to my earnest expectation and hope, Christ will even now as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."
A. Our days are ordained by God
Then he says this very famous statement that many have quoted, I've quoted it. He says, "For, to me." In other words, "How I see it, my view, my perspective, for to me, to live as Christ, and to die is gain. Either one, I'm good. Because if I die, I'm in the presence of the Lord, I'm good with that, but if I live, then I get to honor the Lord with the life that I have. I'm good with that. No matter what happens, whether I live or whether I die, I'm good.
Now, there's just something amazing about that. There's just something beautiful about that view. Because really what he's showing us is that our days are ordained by God, every one of them. Our days are ordained by the Lord. He says, from David's perspective, there's only one step between me and death, but he's not going to take that step and David knows it until it is ordained by the Lord.
Psalm 139 is really where we get this amazing insight. David writes Psalm 139. The whole of the Psalm is amazing but here in these verses, he gives this particular view. He says it this way, "In your book," he means the Lord now, "In your book, they were all written, the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them." In other words, before you were born, God put a number next to your name. The number of the days that were ordained for you.
When our daughter was killed seven years ago, this summer, she was 29 years old and I counted the number, 10,724, and it was very important for me to do that because it brought me to that verse, all the days that were ordained for me were written in a book before there was even one of them. Before she was born, God wrote a number next to her name.
Now, some say, well, she was so young. She was taken from us so young. She was very young, but God wrote a number and God ordained that number. I respect God and because I respect God, I respect that number. He ordained a particular number. If I respect God, then I must respect that number and it's true for all of us. We don't know how many days are ordained, but you can be sure that every one of them is ordained.
Now, when a person is young, they don't think of this. When a person is young, they often have a sense of immortality. I was young. I remember that you don't think about such things. You don't have a sense of immortality. You don't think about it. Then you get a little older and then you begin to realize that that's a reality. You come to middle age, whatever middle age is, and then you realize it's all downhill from there.
You become more and more aware of it and for some, it begins to strike fear. The idea, the thought, it strikes fear in their heart. In fact, Hebrews 2 speaks to it in verses 14 and 15 where he says, "Now, therefore, since the children of God, sharing flesh, and blood, he himself, Jesus, likewise partook of the same flesh and blood, that through death," meaning through his death, "He might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."
Some have been afraid all their lives of such a thing, and those who are afraid of death will die a thousand deaths, but he says he might set free those because of his death, we have hope, we have confidence. We have a view to eternity that changes how we see it, that we would change how we live our lives today.
Now, on the other hand, other people seem almost oblivious to the idea, almost oblivious to the possibility of death. For them, there is something exhilarating about living on the edge. These are the bungee jumping, base jumping, thrill-seeking people who live for thrill and excitement. Although there was an interesting article I read in Time Magazine that put it all in perspective. Again, quoting from Time Magazine. "The people who face the real danger are on the road. If you really want to live on the edge of life, just join the daily commute of thousands of cell phone-talking, coffee-drinking, texting, makeup-applying idiots, all driving over the speed limit. Now, there's a perspective.
B. Life is a gift, spend it well
Someone once sent me a quote, I don't know where it came from but the quote is good. Some people live as if they will never die and then they die as if they never lived, they don't know what living is. There's a right perspective, God gives it to us. When you see it, when you change your view of the thing. In other words, it's this, life is a gift. Life is a gift. God gave you a gift, and if God gave you that gift, then spend it well. Life is a gift, spend it well.
If there's just a step between you and death, and you don't know when that step will happen, and you don't, no one knows, then what do you do? Spend your life well. Whatever I got, I don't know how much time I got, but whatever it is, I want to honor you for it. I want to honor you in it. Spend your life well.
David wrote this in the Psalms. What a perspective. Psalm, 103:15-18. "As for man, his days are like grass. Like a flower of the field, so he flourishes, then when the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer, but the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting," take hold of that, and he says, "On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children to keep his covenant," what a helpful perspective and I love that phrase, it's place acknowledges it no more. In other words, your bank account, won't remember you. In other words, your car won't remember you, and for sure, you can believe that your golf clubs won't remember you.
Heaven will remember you though. Heaven does remember because how you live your life matters. You've been given a gift. It's a gift. Spend it well, it's a gift. Jesus gave us this perspective. Matthew 6:19-21, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal," and many do. This is the perspective that many, many have today. They're storing up for themselves, accumulating for themselves. "Moth and rust destroy these things, thieves break in and steal, but instead, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven."
It's a whole different view of life. "For there, neither moth nor rust destroy, thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart be also. "Have a different view of the thing. See it from God's view, from God's perspective and it will change how you live your life now. It's a gift. It's a gift. Spend it well.
Paul knew this. In fact, he wrote it this way in 2 Corinthians 12:15, he says, "I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, for your souls." Now, there's a perspective. That's how you spend. That's how you are spent for others, for others, and I love this view of it. He says, now 2 Timothy 4:6, he's near the end. He knows he's near the end and so he says, "I have already been poured out like a drink offering." Oh, I tell you. There's a deep thought there. You could write a book on that. It is amazingly deep what he just said. Like a drink offering, I'm poured out to the Lord, for the time of my departure has come."
Because too many spend their lives accumulating. It's all about them, it's what they can do for themselves. Their whole life is centered on what they can accumulate for themselves, but they forgot that they're supposed to be spending their lives, to be pouring out into the lives of those whom God has put in your life, to spend and be spent for the godly purpose, for meaning, that's living because if you spend your life accumulating for yourself and not spending your life for others, you may look back and wish you had chosen a different course.
In fact, Jesus gives a parable to teach that very thing, and it is a powerful parable, Luke 12:15-21, Jesus teaches, beware, beware for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions, so he told them a parable and he said, now the land of a rich man was very productive. He began reasoning to himself and he said, what shall I do since I have no place to store my crops? There's so many of them.
So then he said, I know, this is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and I'll build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and all of my goods. Then I will say to my soul, soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come, take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry, but God said to him, you fool, this very night, your soul is required of you, and now, who will own what you have prepared?
"So is the man who stores up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God." Now, that is a powerful parable. "So is the man," he gives this contrast, he says, "So is the man who accumulates, who stores up for himself treasures, but is not rich toward God." I love that phrase. To be rich toward God, not just because it's my name, "Rich."
By the way, I love meeting people whose names are in the Bible, "Oh, your is in the Bible." I like to highlight how their name's in the Bible. My granddaughter, Aviah, her name's in the Bible. Aviah, it's in the Bible. Ethan, my other grandson, his name is in the Bible. Ethan is in the Bible. It says, "Solomon was so wise, he was even wiser than Ethan," so you know he had to be wise. Them sometimes I'll say, "Oh, my name's in the Bible too." "Your name is Rich. That's not in the Bible." "Oh no, it is. Let the poor say, I am rich." It's in the Bible.
What does it mean to be rich toward God? That's what he's showing. What does it mean to be rich toward God? It means to be wealthy in the things of God. Oh, I'll tell you, there are so many people who can twist and turn that, they'll miss it. To be rich toward God. The treasure of God is the relationship that God gives. He is the joy, he is the fulfilling, he is the meaning, he brings purpose, spend your life, it's a gift, spend it well.
I remember reading a story about a surgeon who was trained in the United States and decided to practice medicine doing surgeries in Africa. They can't afford much and he wanted to go there and practice. Well, a friend of his, another doctor, another surgeon visited and was there watching him in his surgeries and was amazed at his amazing skill. He said, "Do you realize what acclaim you can have? Do you realize what money you can make in the States?" He says, "Well, I suppose so. I suppose so, but there's just one thing, man, this is really living. This is living and that is worth a whole lot more to me."
C. Live with eternity in your heart
It's just such a point. In other words, live with a different view, different perspective, live with eternity in your heart, see it differently because many people, they live for this life only. That's all they can see, that's their view. Jesus says, and this is John 10:10. We love quoting this verse. "I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly." In other words, the intent of God is that you would have life. He wants you to have life to the fullness.
What does it mean? What does it mean? Many people don't know what it means. To have a relationship to the living God, that's what it means. He will fill your life with purpose, with meaning, with joy, with peace, with love, with the abundance of overflowing Spirit. Jesus bought it for you. Jesus said in John 11:25 and 26, Jesus said, "I am the resurrection. I am the life." Because he is resurrected, you have life. You can now live the resurrected life. "He who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." Do you believe this? Because if you believe it, it'll change how you see it, it'll change your life, it'll change how you view it.
David understood it, David understood it well. You can see his heart for God, after God in many of the songs. He knew that only in God would he have true fullness of life. Notice, Psalm 16:11, "You will make known to me the path of life". You will make known to me. I know this, the path of life, for, in your presence, there is fullness of joy. I know this. It is your presence that brings the fullness of joy, and at your right hand, there are pleasures forevermore. There's the joy that is ever-lasting.
So many of the things on this earth will pass, but a joy that has everlasting, that's why David, wrote Psalm 27:4, the whole Psalm is amazing, but these words, this perspective, David says, "One thing I've asked from the Lord, and then I shall see. I just want one thing. I value one thing above all other things, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord. That's what I want." To see the beauty of the Lord.
If you could just see the beauty of the Lord, to change how you live, to meditate in his temple. See, when Jesus said that he's the resurrection and the life, he bought that for you, he purchased it, he proved it. When he was resurrected from the dead, he proved it. Buddha is still in the grave, Muhammad is still in the grave, Joseph Smith is still in the grave, but there's an empty tomb in Jerusalem that declares that Jesus is the life. Amen.
II. God is with You on the Journey
Then we see this, "God is with you on the journey." This is a journey, but when you see it from the bigger view of the thing, it's a journey, and God will be with you on this journey so that when you take that last step, you're just going to take that step right into his presence. It's a journey and this journey is filled with troubles. He's with us in it, but we're still living in a world that's filled with troubles and evil and all kinds of difficulties.
The storms in David's life are not going to get easier. This trial that he's encountering is going to last for 15 years, but God is making a king out of David, and the trials and the troubles and the difficulties, he's going to use to make a king out of David.
Now, this is important because many times people don't see things rightly and they see troubles and their difficulties and they think, "Oh God doesn't love me," but he's making a king out of David, and the trials and the troubles are things that God is going to use, but see, David has confidence, David has confidence in God. I'll tell you we would do well, we would do very well to learn from David's confidence because his confidence is in God and that's faith.
We would do well to have a confidence in God. Surely David knew it, he knew that God would be with him through every valley of trouble, and that was his confidence. He knew that God would walk with him through this journey. That was his confidence. In fact, Psalm 23, we love it, one of the greatest songs that David wrote, he says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil." He could have well written that song running one step from death. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil."
Why not? Because he's with me. Because he is with me. He is walking with me, and then he adds, "Surely, goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life." He doesn't mean by that that he's not going to have troubles. He's going to have more troubles than a man can account for. There's a lot of troubles in David's life, but he says, "I know this, God walks with me. He's walking with me through it all. Goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of Lord forever." That's his confidence. When I get to the end of this life, I'll just keep right on walking.
Psalm 27:1-3, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" You get a sense right away, David's given you some insight into his confidence. The Lord is my light. The Lord is my salvation. Should I be afraid? Whom should I fear? Should I be afraid of someone? If God is my light and God is my salvation, of who should I be afraid? The Lord is the defense of my life, whom shall I dread? Should I have dread? The Lord is my defense.
A. Faith is learning to rely on God alone
They might take your life, to die is gain, I'll keep on walking. "Though a host encamp against me," that means a large number. "Though a host encamp against me, my heart is not going to fear. The war arise against me. In spite of that, I will be confident in God." Because he has taught us something about faith, about how to walk on this journey with that kind of faith, because faith is learning to rely on God and God alone.
Everything that David could have relied upon has been taken. If you remember this story, he was taken from his family because Saul attached him to his army. All his family, he's very close to his family. "I'll take him." Then, Saul brought him into the palace only to try to kill him. He had to flee from there. Then Saul sent men to watch his home, to take his life there. He couldn't even stay in his house. He couldn't even be with his wife. He ran to the prophet, Samuel, and there Saul sent men, one after the other, groups of men to take his life, he had to run from there. He couldn't even have a counselor in Samuel.
Then he came back to Jonathan, his best and loyalest friend who also sent him away for his own safety. He lost everything that he could have relied upon, but there's a great lesson. Those things, which a person may rely on for support and strength may not be there, but you can be sure that God will be there. You can be sure that God will be there. That is faith.
In fact, Psalm 25, the secret counsel of the Lord, the intimacy, the nearness of God who speaks to my heart. The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear him, my eyes are continually toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, I am lonely and afflicted. Anyone who's ever been lonely and felt afflicted of heart can take great comfort in those words.
Many have experienced that loneliness, that affliction of heart. He says an answer, he gives hope to one who's lonely or afflicted. My eyes are toward the Lord. I continually have my eyes toward the Lord. I lift up mine eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author, and finisher of your faith.
My eyes are continually toward the Lord. I know he will be my help. He will be my hope. He'll pluck my feet out of the net. Paul knew this, Paul experienced it. He wrote this to the church in 2 Corinthians 12. God said to him, my grace is sufficient, it's enough. I'm enough. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. Therefore, Paul says, therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, troubles, distresses.
B. Storms strengthen faith
That's amazing, but see, he's come to understand, he says "So that the power of Christ may rest upon me, for I know when these troubles come, that God's power will be seen." Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong because I know that God will do it. When I'm in distress, when I'm weak, I know God will do it. I know God will answer.
I was thinking of an illustration and I was remembering a time back when I was in Bible college a few number of years ago. Many of you know my story, that God absolutely, miraculously, it is irrefutable that God provided for me to be able to go to Bible College University. It was amazing, miracle. God paid it all, absolutely amazing, but now, here I am in Bible college and going to school full time. I have a wife and some children, and just working part-time, and we had very little money, very little.
I remember one particular day, I'm at Bible college. I'm in the lunchroom, I'm eating lunch. We were out and I would, I had a sandwich that I'd brought in my sandwich bag, my lunch bag that I used over and over and over. I know.
Wrapped in aluminum foil that I reused over and over and over. I'm sitting there eating the sandwich and I realized, this is it. I have no more. There is no more food. I'm sitting there at lunch realizing this, and all of a sudden something happened. I cannot exactly explain it but something happened. I got excited. There was a joy that rose up in me. It's like, you know what this means? I'm out. I'm out of food, I'm out of money. Do you know what this means? This means that God is going to do something, that's what it means, and I can't wait to see what it's going to be. I don't know, something just rose up in me and God did.
I started praying, God, you're a God of provision. You're a God of amazing miracles. I know you're going to do something. I just started praying, God, show me. Then something occurred to me, wait a minute. We had done this thing in the church where we were helping people that needed help. I remember that there was this old woman in the church that wanted someone to chop her wood. I thought, "I wonder if anyone ever did that?"
I called her up and I said, her name was Mary. I said, "Mary, did anybody ever come over and chop that wood?" "No, no one ever did." I said, "Would you like me to come and do that for you?" "Oh, yes, dear. That would really be so good." I said, "Were you still going to pay $20?" "Oh, yes, absolutely. Yes, I would." I said, "I would love to chop your wood for you." I'll tell you what, you can buy a lot of groceries on $20 if you're careful, and God made another way, over and over and over.
Because really what we're seeing with the idea he's showing us is this, storms, troubles, difficulty, they strengthen faith. God uses them. All these storms strengthened David. All of these things, God is making a king out of David. Every rescue, every close call, every difficult situation that God brought David through would strengthen his faith. Every time he came through a close call, every time there was a rescue, every time he took that one step that got him out of that situation, every time, it strengthened David's faith.
Because every time he did it again and he did it again and he did it again and he did it again, then he did it again. Then the next challenge that you see, well, he's done it so many times, he'll do it again now. There's a faith that is strengthened when you're in such troubles. That's how God builds faith. I haven't been in situations anything like David, but I've had situations, I've had troubles. I've faced things and God has seen me through. I have been through many and God has never let me down. He's always seen me through.
I remember there was a time I went to Africa, the Congo in Kinshasa, the capital city, a city of 8 million-plus. We have many churches there, many of you know, and I went there to teach at a pastors conference. I don't normally travel alone, but they said they had pastors who would meet me and so I agreed. The pastors picked me up and they brought me to this hotel. Not a very good one, but it was a hotel. They said, "Now stay in the room and keep it locked. We'll bring you food and we'll pick you up when we need you to speak." "Really?" "Yes, that is the way it is now. We'll bring you food." "I feel like I'm in prison." "We'll come visit you. We'll bring you food. We'll pick you up when we need you."
I'm there in the room by myself right now. I've got my Bible, I've got my notes for the thing, and I've got my French lessons. I was trying to learn French because they speak French there. Several days, and finally, they came and they said, "Now we're going to go to this other place. It's the conference center, it's more like a camp. We're going to gather all the pastors together. We were going to go there, we've hired a van." I said, "Where'd you get a van?" "Oh, we just went down to the street, got a driver, and said drive us." "Okay"
We loaded up our things and started driving. It was so hot that day, 90, 95, no air conditioning, windows rolled down, driving through the city. Then we came into the dangerous part of the city. We had to drive through this dangerous-- It got real thick. They said, "You need to roll the windows up." "All the way up?" "All the way, very dangerous here." We rolled the windows all the way up. Ninety-something, no AC. We had to move our way slowly through this great crowd. Then one of the pastors said to the driver, "Pull over." "Why are we pulling over?" "Well, we need to get some water. We think there's going to be some water in this area. We're going to go out and find some to bring for the pastors who've traveled so far."
I looked back, they both got out. Of course, they need each other, but now, I'm in the van alone with this driver I've never met, and I sat there with the windows rolled all the way up and I'm thinking, "This is an interesting situation. I don't know this man, I have no cellphone there. He could just drive me anywhere he wants to go. He knows that I have quite a bit of money to pay for the conference and the pastors and whatnot. He knows I've got computers and things. He could take me anywhere he wants, I will not resist him because I'm not getting out."
Minutes go by, 12 minutes, 15 minutes. It's getting hot. Where are these pastors? I start thinking, "This guy is going to get real irritated," and so I thought, "Well, I'll entertain him," so I started speaking French. I went through all of my French in about two minutes. I thought, "Okay, now what? I'll give him candy bars, they're going to melt anyway," so I gave him candy bars. Still, they're gone.
You know, there are times when it may seem that there's nothing you can do. There is nothing I can do. I cant go get them, I don't know where they are. I have no phone. This man can take me anywhere. I have no help. Sometimes there's nothing you can, do but there is surely something you can do. You can look, you can fix your eyes on him. You can pray. You can wait and you can believe that God is walking with you through the journey of life. God will see you through. Isaiah 40:31, "Those who wait on the Lord." You wait, you'll gain new strength. Mounted with wings like eagles they will run and not get tired, they'll walk and not faint.
If you have a view, if you see it from God's view that he's with you, he'll walk with you. When you finish this journey, you take that step, you'll just keep on walking. Would you say to the Lord today, "I don't know how much time I got, I don't know when my day will be, but whatever I got, it's yours. Whatever I got left, I don't know how much, but whatever it is, it's yours. I want to live it for your glory. I want you to walk with me in this journey and I want to honor you in it."
If there's just one step between you and death then settle this matter, make sure that you got a rock to stand on. Make sure that you know with all confidence that he'll never leave you, that he'll walk with you on this journey. When you get done walking this journey, you'll just keep right on walking into the presence of the living God. Have that assurance, settle this matter.
Let's pray. Father thank you so much for showing us that you have given us such wonderful promises, that we can stand on those promises, it's a rock to build our lives upon. God, we don't know how much time we got left, we don't know. We don't know what day it will be, but whatever it is, however time it is, whatever we got left is yours. Church, how many would say that to the Lord today? I don't know how much time I got left, but whatever it is, it's yours. I give it to you, I want to honor you. I want to walk this journey out with you walking with me in it. That's my confidence, that's my hope. Whatever I got, it's yours.
Would you say that by just simply raising your hand to the Lord? Would you just lift your hand to him and just say, "I want to just say it, I want to just make it known to you God. Whatever I got, I don't know how much it is but whatever it is I give it to you. I want to honor you, I want to walk with you on this journey, thank you for being my hope. Thank you for being my help. I honor you and thank you in Jesus's powerful name, and everyone said-
- Sermon Notes
Live with Your Heart Toward Heaven
1 Samuel 20:1-23
June 5-6, 2021
After David defeated the Philistines giant, the people loved him. And it happened after that great victory, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and musical instruments, and the women sang as they played, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands.”
When Saul heard this, he became very angry, for this saying displeased him, and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” From that moment on Saul despised David. Fear, anger, and jealousy consumed him.
The Holy Spirit had left Saul, he was no longer moving by the anointing of the Holy Spirit on his life, he was living out his human nature in all its ugliness. God rejected him as king and he found himself fighting against God, kicking against the goads. He was trying desperately to hold on to his position as king of Israel and David was standing in his way.
In fact, in chapter 20, David says, “There is hardly a step between me and death.” David was surely right; Saul was relentless in his pursuit.
Saul tried to pin David to the wall by hurling a spear at him – twice. When he heard that his daughter, Michal, loved David, he agreed to the marriage, but only because he thought it could be an opportunity for his death. Instead of a dowry, Saul asked for the life of 100 of his enemies, the Philistines. “I will let the Philistines kill him,” Saul thought.
That plot failed. David came back victorious after killing 200 Philistines. Saul’s plots against David were backfiring. Instead of defeating David, his popularity in Israel was increasing. Saul’s son, Jonathan, was David’s best friend, and now David was married to his daughter.
But Saul refused to give up. He sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, to put him to death. But David’s wife let him down through a window and he fled and escaped.
David was right, there was hardly a step between him and death. And there is a sense in which this is true of every person; there is only a step between all of us and death, life is short, and no one knows how much time he has.
We need to live with our heart toward heaven, with eternity in view. Not only will it give peace and assurance, but it will also change how you live with whatever time you have left.
I. Live Like You’re Only a Step Away
- “As the Lord lives,” David said, “there is hardly a step between me and death.”
- But when you have eternity in view, when you have heaven in your heart, it changes your perspective; it changes how you see it.
- There is no fear in death for those who know that taking that one step means being in the presence of God, your Savior…
- When Paul was arrested and held in prison, waiting to stand in judgment of Caesar, not knowing if he would live or die, he wrote…
Philippians 1:20-21, According to my earnest expectation and hope… Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
A. Our days are ordained by God
- From David’s perspective there was only one step between him and death, but he wouldn’t take that step until it was ordained by God.
Psalm 139:16, In Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
Illus – When our daughter died, she was 29 years old. Before she was born, God wrote in His book next to her name, 10,724, the number of her days. I respect God, so I respect that number.
- When a person is young, they often have a sense of immortality; they don’t think much about death. But when you get older, you realize you’re getting closer.
- For some, that brings fear.
Hebrews 2:14-15, Therefore, since the children (of God) share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death, He … might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
- Other people seem almost oblivious to the possibility of death. For them, there is something exciting about living on the edge. These are the bungee jumping, base jumping, thrill seeking people who live for thrill and excitement.
- Although there was interesting article in Time Magazine about taking risks in life…
Illus – quoting from Time Magazine, “The people who face real danger are on the road. If you really want to live on the edge of life, just join the daily commute of thousands of cell phone talking, coffee drinking, texting, makeup applying idiots all driving over the speed limit.”
- Someone once sent me a great quote. I don’t remember its author, but here it is, “Some live as if they will never die, and then die as if they had never lived.”
B. Life is a gift, spend it well
- If there is just a step between you and death, and you don’t know when that step will happen, then you should spend your life well.
- David writes in the Psalms…
Psalm 103:15-18, As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer. But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children to those who keep His covenant.
- “The place knows it no more.” In other words, your bank account won’t remember you, your car won’t remember, and your golf clubs most certainly won’t remember you.
- But heaven will remember you, because how you live your life matters. We have been given a gift and we must spend it well.
Matthew 6:19-21, Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Paul knew very well how he would spend his life…
2 Corinthians 12:15, And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls.
2 Timothy 4:6, For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
- Too many people spend their lives accumulating stuff for themselves and forget that they’re supposed to be spending their lives with godly purpose and meaning.
- If you spend your life accumulating for yourself and not spending your life for others, you may one day look back and wish you chosen a different course…
Luke 12:15-21, “Beware, for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. He began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And then I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Illus – I remember reading about a US surgeon who decided to practice medicine in Africa. A visiting doctor was amazed at his skill and reminded him of what money and success he could have in the states….
C. Live with eternity in your heart
- Many people live for this life only.
- Jesus wants you to live life to the full. It was one of the reasons He came to this earth.
John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
- But what does it mean to live? Jesus came that you might have a personal relationship to Him because He is life; and when you have relationship with Him, you have life indeed!
John 11:25-26, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
- David understood this very well. You can see his heart after God in many of the psalms he wrote. He knew that only in God would he have true life.
Psalm 16:11, You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Psalm 27:4, One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.
- When Jesus said that He was the resurrection and the life and that he who believes in Him would never die, he gave an eternal truth.
Illus – Buddha is still in the grave, Muhammad is still in the grave, and Joseph Smith is still in the grave. But there is an empty tomb in Jerusalem that declares that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
II. God is with You on the Journey
- The storms in David’s life are not getting easier. This trial will continue for 15 long years.
- But God is making a king out of David and trials and difficulties are required. But David’s confidence is in the Lord, and he is convinced that God will walk with him through every valley of trouble.
Psalm 23:4, 6, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 27:1-3, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?… Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.
A. Faith is learning to rely on God alone
- Everything was taken out of David’s life that he might have relied upon.
- First, he was taken from his family and lost those in his family he was closest to.
- Then, Saul tried to kill him and the security of being in the palace was gone.
- Then, Saul sent men to his home, and he had to flee. He couldn’t stay with his wife.
- David ran to the prophet Samuel, but Saul sent men there, so he could no longer stay with Samuel. He then had no counselor to help.
- David then came to Jonathan, his best and most loyal friend, but he also had to send him away for his own safety. He lost his best friend.
- But this is where we can learn an important life lesson. Those things on which you rely for support and strength may not be there; you must rely on God and God alone. That is faith.
Psalm 25:14-16, The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him… My eyes are continually toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
- Paul also experienced this, which is why he wrote these words to the church at Corinth.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10, And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
B. Storms strengthen faith
- All these storms strengthened David to prepare him to become the king of Israel.
- Every rescue, every close call, every difficult situation that God brought David through strengthened David’s faith.
- That’s how God builds men of great faith.
Illus – I haven’t been in situations anything like David’s troubles, but I have been in my own situations and troubles and God has always seen me through.
On a trip to the DRC, I traveled alone, although met by some African pastor friends. One day we hired a driver to take us to the conference and had to drive through a dangerous part of the city…
- There are times when it may seem there is little you can do. But there is one thing you can surely do, you can pray, and you can wait, for those who wait in the Lord will gain new strength.
Isaiah 40:31, Yet those who wait for 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 become weary.
- When you live with a view toward eternity, with heaven in your heart, it gives meaning to your life right now.
- Would you say today to the Lord, “Whatever I got, whatever time I have left, I give to you. I’ll live it to your honor.”
- If there is only a step between you and death, then settle this matter between you and God today. God gave you your life as a gift, use it for His glory.
1 Samuel 20:1-23 NASB
1 Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and he came and said [a]to Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my life?” 2 He said to him, “Far from it, you shall not die! Behold, my father does nothing either great or small [b]without informing me. So why would my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!” 3 Yet David vowed again, [c]saying, “Your father is well aware that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, ‘Jonathan is not to know this, otherwise he will be worried.’ But indeed as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is [d]just a step between me and death.” 4 Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever [e]you say, I will do for you.” 5 So David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I am obligated to sit down to eat with the king. But let me go so that I may hide myself in the field until the third evening. 6 If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly requested leave of me to run to Bethlehem, his city, because it is the yearly sacrifice there for the whole family.’ 7 If he [f]says, ‘That is good,’ your servant will be safe; but if he is very angry, be aware that he has decided on evil. 8 So deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. But if [g]I am guilty of wrongdoing, kill me yourself; for why then should you bring me to your father?” 9 Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! For if I in fact learn that my father has decided [h]to inflict harm on you, would I not inform you?” 10 Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will inform me [i]if your father answers you harshly?” 11 Jonathan said to David, “Come, and let’s go out to the field.” So both of them went out to the field.
12 Then Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, is my witness! When I have sounded out my father about this time tomorrow or the third day, behold, if he has a good feeling toward [j]you, shall I not then send word to you and [k]inform you? 13 If it pleases my father to do you harm, may the Lord do so to [l]me and more so, if I fail to [m]inform you and send you away, so that you may go in safety. And may the Lord be with you as He has been with my father. 14 And if I am still alive, will you not show me the faithfulness of the Lord, so that I do not die? 15 And you shall never cut off your loyalty to my house, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord demand it from the hands of David’s enemies.” 17 And Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.
18 Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed since your seat will be empty. 19 When you have stayed for three days, you shall go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself on that eventful day, and you shall remain beside the stone Ezel. 20 And I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target. 21 Then behold, I will send the boy, telling him, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I specifically say to the boy, ‘Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, get them,’ then come, because it is safe for you and there is nothing to harm you, as the Lord lives. 22 But if I [n]say to the youth, ‘Behold, the arrows are beyond you,’ go, because the Lord has sent you away. 23 As for the [o]agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever.”