,
 

 
“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence
stedfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14).
 
To know the mind of the Spirit in our text, we must see the context in which it
is written. The context teaches the contrast of the unbelief of the children of
Israel in the wilderness, who began well, but perished in the end.
 
A person can take a text like this anywhere. Unless we keep this scripture in
the context in which it was spoken, we do not really keep it in the mind of the
Spirit at the time it was spoken.
 
The chapter begins with: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly
calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.”
 
Then he compares Christ with Moses. Verse 2 says: “Who was faithful to him that
appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.” Moses is being
distinguished from the children of Israel.

 
Now look at the last two verses of the chapter. We read in verses 18 and 19:
“And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that
believed not? 
So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
 
I want to show you how Moses is an example of faith, and that the children of
Israel who followed were examples of unbelief, yet they walked together
throughout the wilderness journey.
 
We read in verses 8 to 10: “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in
the day of temptation in the wilderness: 
When your fathers tempted me, proved
me, and saw my works forty years. 
Wherefore I was grieved with that generation,
and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.”
 
I want you to remember: Moses and the children of Israel went through the Red
Sea. Moses went through by faith, but the Israelites followed him in unbelief.
 
It is important that we learn to understand the distinction here. This message
is to help us examine the beginning of our confidence. The children of Israel in
many instances had great confidence. We must examine where their confidence
began and where it ended. Where does our confidence begin, and where does it
end? If we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, we are
partakers of Christ.
 
To know the mind of the Spirit we must see the context in which our text is
written. The context teaches the contrast of the unbelief of the children of
Israel in the wilderness, who began well but perished in the end.
 
If you follow the history of the Israelites through the wilderness it will seem
like they really acted by faith many times, so we must distinguish what faith is
in contrast to unbelief.
 
We must examine where the beginning of our faith is so we can see how it is to
kept steadfast to the end.
 
FOR OUR FIRST POINT, let us consider the source and beginning of our
confidence.
 
FOR OUR SECOND POINT, let us consider why our confidence fails.
 
FOR OUR THIRD POINT, let us consider the admonition to hold the beginning of our
confidence steadfast unto the end if we are to be made partakers in Christ.
 
First, let us consider the source and beginning of our confidence.
 
The children of Israel were in a hopeless predicament. The Red Sea was before
them. The mountains were on the right and the left, and Pharaoh with his iron
chariots were closing in from the rear. They were in a dilemma. They were
cornered with no place to go.
 
God in His providence had led them to where they were helplessly trapped. This
is how we are by nature. We are trapped by our corrupt nature. We are trapped by
the world. We are trapped with no place to go outside of Christ.
 
God’s ways are always so much higher than our ways. In His wise counsel God was
teaching Israel their first real lesson of faith. The Lord was beginning a 40
year tour for them through the wilderness to humble them, to prove them, to know
what was in their hearts, whether they would obey His commandments or not.
 
The children of Israel were about to experience their first real deliverance by
a wonder-working God. We may be able to talk of many deliverances we have
experienced. Is this the beginning of our confidence? Is this where we are
learning to walk by faith?

 
See the first effect the trial had in the hearts of God’s people. We read in
Exodus 14:10: “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up
their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore
afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.”
 
The natural reaction of unbelievers is that when human reason fails, there is
panic in the heart.
 
I want you to see the difference between faith and human reasoning. When we come
into a crisis, human reasoning will panic, but faith remains steadfast and looks
to the Lord.
 
As they encountered this first severe trial, the Lord was teaching His church
that they could trust Him, and that they must live by faith and not by sight.
 
Why did the Lord bring them by the way of the Red Sea instead of taking the
shortcut to Canaan? If we are going to understand faith, the first good lesson
we are going to learn is that we can trust the Lord. It is not by walking by
sight, where we can see all the answers up front, and therefore we have the
solutions figured out, and we can go forward. The Lord brings us to where we can
trust Him in total, absolute impossibility, and this is where He brought the
children of Israel.
 
I want you to see Exodus 14:13-14: “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not,
stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to
day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more
for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” When they
cried to the Lord, He answered, and He sent Moses with this message.
 
The second lesson we learn from this trial is that the Lord commands us to go
forward in the face of human impossibilities. We read in verse 15: “And the LORD
said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of
Israel, that they go forward.”
 
It was not until their feet began to step into the water that the water started
to disappear in front of them. They had to go forward by faith into the water.
As they began to step forward, the waters divided before them, and they went
across on dry ground.
 
When they were across they looked back. We read in Exodus 14:31: “And Israel saw
that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the
LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.” When they had experienced
deliverance, they believed. Before they entered the water, they cried against
Moses.
 
Our text says, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the
beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.”
 
They had no confidence until after they had crossed the water and could look
back. Moses had confidence before He crossed the water.
 
Now let us see the beginning of their confidence. We see this in Exodus 15:1-3:
“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake,
saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse
and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and
he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation;
my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his
name.”
 
The heart of the message is in Exodus 14:31-15:1: “And Israel saw that great
work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians.... Then sang Moses and the children
of Israel this song unto the LORD.”
 
They could not sing the song of deliverance until after they could look by sight
and see that the Lord had done it. Until then they murmured against Moses. They
could not believe until it had happened. The old saying is, Seeing is believing.
That is not faith.
 
Faith is believing then seeing. Their problem was that their beginning was not
until after they had seen. You and I must believe, and the beginning of our
confidence we must hold steadfast until we have seen.

 
FOR OUR SECOND POINT, let us consider why our confidence fails.
 
The children of Israel walked by sight, not by faith. It was not until they saw
that they believed.
 
It was not until after they saw God’s deliverance they could sing as Miriam and
her maidens danced saying: “The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall
take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. Then the dukes of Edom shall be
amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the
inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away” (Exodus 15:14-15).
 
Look at the confidence they had when they could look back and see the Egyptians
on the shore. Their confidence seemed so strong in the beginning, but they
walked by sight, not by faith. They could not believe until they saw.
 
Our text says, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of
our confidence stedfast unto the end.” Our confidence must be before we see and
before we receive, not when we can look back and walk by sight, and see and then
believe.
 
Israel did not hold the beginning of their confidence unto the end because they
had already failed before their victory. Before their victory they murmured
against Moses and the Lord. In the beginning they had no confidence.

 
I want you to see this in Exodus 14:11-12: “And they said unto Moses, Because
there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?
wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not
this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us

alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to
serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”
 
This is the lack of faith they had before they saw. That is the content of their
faith. Moses, however, believed before he saw. The children of Israel murmured
against the Lord and against Moses.
 
The evidence of their lack of faith was revealed just three days later at the
waters of Marah. We read in Exodus 15:24: “And the people murmured against
Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”
 
Moses acted by faith as we see in the next verse: “And he cried unto the LORD;
and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the
waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and
there he proved them.”
 
See the difference between what Moses did and what the children of Israel did.
The Lord brought them through these circumstances. Three days after this great
deliverance through the Red Sea they murmured against the Lord because the
circumstances the Lord brought them into again brought forth what was in their
hearts. Through these circumstances, He again proved them, that they had no
faith, that they were acting by unbelief.
 
God’s purpose for leading His people into these trials is to try their faith. It
is to prove them. It is to try their hearts and to see what is in their hearts.
He found their hearts to be just as they were before they crossed the Red Sea.
They could not believe until they saw.
 
The Lord tries our faith to prove whether we are walking by sight or by faith,
that we may “hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” In
other words, are we partakers of Christ? Can we lay hold of Him by faith and
believe before we see?
 
When we question whether the Lord is among us, we are tempting Him. When we
question whether we have grace or whether the Lord is with us, we are tempting
the Lord.
 
We see this in Exodus 17:7: “And he called the name of the place Massah, and
Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they
tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?”
 
How could they question whether the Lord was among them, when He had already
allowed them to cross the Red Sea through unbelief and let them see after the
fact that He was with them? By this unbelief they tempted the Lord.
 
Living in doubt and fear and what some call holy depression and holiness tempts
the Lord. The Lord says we are to hold our confidence steadfast unto the end.

 
Do you question whether there ever was a time when the Lord was with you? Could
the children of Israel question that the Lord was with them when they crossed
the Red Sea?
 
Our text is in context with the admonition to remember the example of Israel in
their unbelief.
 
We read in Hebrews 3:13-15: “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To
day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are
made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast
unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not
your hearts, as in the provocation.”
 
The Lord is saying not to tempt Him by questioning whether He is among us or
not. Faith lays hold on the fact that the Lord is with us, and we believe before
we see. The Lord was grieved that they did not hold the beginning of their
faith, of their confidence, steadfast to the end. It was grievous to the Lord
that in the first trial of their faith they again failed. They did not have
faith. They perished because of unbelief. That is the distinction. They could
always believe after they saw. They could not believe without seeing first.
 
They had such confidence when they saw His deliverance at the Red Sea. They saw
the healing of the waters of Marah. They saw the water flow from the rock on
Mount Horeb. They ate manna that came from heaven, yet they could question
whether the Lord was among them. They could not remain steadfast. They had no
confidence to look forward. After seeing all His mighty works, they still
tempted the Lord asking whether He was among them. This is the distinction we
must understand between faith and unbelief.
 
Our text says, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of
our confidence steadfast unto the end,” but the children of Israel did not have
faith to enter the Promised Land. After the Lord had led them through all these
years in the wilderness, and He had showed them deliverance after deliverance
and all these mighty works, they still questioned whether the Lord was among
them. That was their unbelief, and that is what made them perish in the
wilderness.
 
Ten of the 12 spies brought an evil report saying: “We be not able to go up
against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil
report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying,
The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the
inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great
stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the
giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their
sight” (Numbers 13:31-33).
 
After all these years and all these deliverances they would not trust that the
Lord was with them, and that He would deliver them. They still murmured against
the Lord.
 
FOR OUR THIRD POINT, let us consider the admonition to hold the beginning of our
confidence steadfast unto the end.
 
These things are written to admonish us against tempting Christ, saying, Is the
Lord among us or not?”
 
I want you to see in 1 Corinthians 10:9: “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some
of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.”
 
He is bringing this into the gospel sense. We must see the distinction between
faith and unbelief. Are we willing and able to trust that Christ is among us or
will we give that sigh, as if depression were godliness, and feed on unbelief,
and the deeper we are in unbelief the deeper we experience the work of grace.
This is such mockery. This is not scriptural.

 
The Israelites tempted God by asking whether He was among them. They did this by
feeding unbelief instead of having the faith and the confidence to stretch
forward and lay hold upon Christ.
 
Continuing in verses 10 to 12 we read: “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also
murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened
unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the
ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take
heed lest he fall.”
 
We are told not to fall into that form of unbelief—that we have to wait until we
see before we can believe. The confidence we have to be partakers in Christ is
that we believe before we see.
 
All the trials and deliverances through which the Lord leads His people are to
build faith and steadfast trust in Him. When the Lord brought the children of
Israel to the Red Sea, He wanted them to trust Him.
 
The Lord brings us into circumstances to try our faith. Will we have confidence
in the beginning, before we see, or do we walk by sight?
 
When the people murmured against Moses and the Lord for bringing them out of
Egypt, after the evil report, we read in Numbers 14:5 and 11: “Then Moses and
Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the
children of Israel…. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people
provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which
I have shewed among them?”
 
How often they had seen, but nothing changed. Their problem was that they were
still going to believe after they saw, and now the Lord says no. Now if they
refuse to believe they will not enter the Promised Land.

 
I want you to see where faith and unbelief separate. By faith they should have
gone forward in obedience. By faith they should have taken up their arms as the
Lord commanded and gone in and taken possession of the Promised Land. However,
they murmured and disobeyed.

 
You do not separate faith from unbelief merely by a state of mind. The one is
action in obedience, and the other is action in disobedience. You cannot
separate faith from action. Faith is acting upon what you believe. Unbelief is
acting in the way of disobedience, and that is what the children of Israel did.
They disobeyed. The Lord said, Up, go forward, but they murmured and rebelled,
and did not go forward.
 
Moses believed, and he started forward, and as he started forward, they
followed. Moses had faith.
 
The Lord showed signs and wonders to the children of Israel for 40 years in the
wilderness. This was through their whole lives. Can you talk of any person in
Holy Writ who lived to see more experiences than the children of Israel? They
saw the 10 plagues on Egypt. They saw the Egyptians lying on the shore. They saw
water flow out of a rock. They saw the Rock that followed them, which was
Christ. For 40 years they ate manna in the wilderness.

 
They had many experiences, but how much salvation was in these experiences? I am
not against experiences because, believe me, I have had many rich experiences.
 
We see this in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5: “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye
should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all
passed through the sea; 
And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in
the sea; 
And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 
And did all drink the same
spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and
that Rock was Christ.”
 
However, if experiences become the foundation of our hope, we could be living by
sight and not by faith, and still not be able to retain our confidence from the
beginning because we had no confidence in the beginning. This is where the
children of Israel failed. They had no confidence until after they saw—and they
disobeyed, in spite of all their experiences.

 
This is where the Lord was grieved. He had given them all these rich
experiences, and they still refused to believe Him. They refused to go forward
and stop asking whether God was with them.
 
Faith looks back on past deliverances to “hold the beginning of our confidence
stedfast unto the end.”
 
I want to show you the other side of this principle. Let us see how faith is
exercised and how faith works. We will see a man who calls past experiences to
memory—in faith. I am not against experiences, because they can become the
foundation of our hope and the faith we need to stand the next trial. The
difference is that we believe before we see.
 
We read in 1 Samuel 17:37: “David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out
of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out
of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be
with thee.”
 
I want you to see the difference between David and the children of Israel. When
David took on that bear, he believed beforehand, or he would not have dared to
take the bear on. When he went to deliver a lamb out of the paw of a lion, he
believed God was going to deliver him before he did it. He had his confidence
before he saw that lamb delivered. If he had not, he would not have done it.
 
See how these two instances of deliverance become the foundation of his faith
for a greater deliverance. He knew that that same God was still with him and
would deliver him from Goliath. He looked back to these experiences for proof
that the Lord was still with him. This was evidence that he could fight Goliath.
Now we start to see where experiences have their proper place.
 
The opposite was true with the children of Israel. They were still concerned
whether their army could defeat the army of the Canaanites, who were bigger than
them. Yet, Goliath was bigger than David. Goliath had a coat of armor, a sword
and an armor bearer. David was a little stripling. All he had was his staff, a
sling and stones, yet he knew the Lord was with him.
 
We must take on Goliath because he is a type of the old man of sin. We must take
him on in the name of the Lord. Can we question whether the Lord is with us, and
then be able to fight Goliath? No. That is why it is so important that we
understand the difference between faith and unbelief. If we are going to fight
old Goliath with nothing more than a sling and a stone, and in the name of the
Lord, then we cannot question whether the Lord is with us. Now we must go
forward by faith. We must believe before we see, and then watch old Goliath
fall, and roll and tumble as we go. Now we can see that power of sin broken,
because we go in the name of the Lord.
 
After David had been anointed to be king, the Lord tried his faith to the end.
He was made to flee for his life until he sought refuge in the land of the
Philistines.
 
Faith endures the sharpest trial. Under no circumstances does faith give way to
not trust the Lord. When Ziklag was burned with fire, we read in 1 Samuel 30:6:
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because
the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his
daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”
 
These people who spoke of stoning David were the 600 men who followed him. They
followed him and lost their families. David did not plead for his life. Though
his heart was just as vexed as theirs, he encouraged himself in the Lord as he
remembered past incidences where the Lord delivered him. This was at a time when
all human reasoning came against him.
 
When we walk by faith, we trust the Lord and can sing His praises before the
deliverance.
 
Our text says, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of
our confidence stedfast unto the end.”
 
I want to go with you to 1 Samuel 30:6-7 and show you something the Lord used to
bless my soul. “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of
stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his
sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me
hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.”
 
David did not move until the Lord told him what to do. We see in verse 8: “And
David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I
overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them,
and without fail recover all.”
 
Verses 9 and 10 tell us: “So David went, he and the six hundred men that were
with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.
But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which
were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.”
 
They wept until they had no more power to weep. They were so tired that 200 men
could not even cross the brook.

 
Continuing in verses11 to 19 we read: “And they found an Egyptian in the field,
and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him
drink water; 
And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of
raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten
no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. And David said unto
him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man
of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days
agone I fell sick. 
We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and
upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we
burned Ziklag with fire. 
And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to
this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me,
nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this
company. 
And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon
all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil
that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of
Judah. 
And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next
day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which
rode upon camels, and fled. 
And David recovered all that the Amalekites had
carried away: and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to
them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor
any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.”


This was 36 hours of hand to hand combat. Look at the supernatural strength the
Lord gave David and those 400 men.
 
The Lord gave me such encouragement in these verses, showing me that He would
give me supernatural strength to be able to bear what He had laid upon me.
 
David encouraged himself in the Lord before he saw the deliverance. When we walk
by faith we can sing the songs of deliverance before we are delivered.
 
How could the children of Israel lose their confidence just three days after
they sang: “The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the
inhabitants of Palestina. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men
of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan
shall melt away”? (Exodus 15:14-15).
 
They walked by sight, not by faith. When they saw they sang, but when a trial
came they murmured.

 
When unbelief is harbored in your heart, murmuring and complaining is the sad
result.
 
Have you ever hear people murmur? Have you ever heard people murmur against the
Lord, complaining, wondering if the Lord is with them?

 
Unbelief must be rooted out. It cannot simply be suppressed. It must be pulled
out by the roots. Unbelief is disobedience. Faith is obedience. The root of the
matter is to walk by faith, not by sight. It is as far apart as east is from the
west. Faith is believing and doing. Unbelief is murmuring and disobeying. You
cannot suppress unbelief and put faith on top of it.
 
We cannot “hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” if we had
no confidence from the beginning, so it is important to examine our beginning.
 
David could believe the Lord because he remembered all the signs the Lord had
given him. He remembered he had been anointed king, and he knew that what the
Lord promised He was able to perform. He knew he was going to be delivered, and
he acted upon it.
 
God’s Word tells us in James 1:6-7: “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”
 
Do not think that you will receive anything of the Lord when you do not believe
you are going to receive what you asked for. When you ask in unbelief and are
only reciting words, it is not going to happen.
 
I want you to turn with me to Hebrews 11, and we will see what faith is. Verse 6
tells us: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh
to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that
diligently seek him.”
 
David not only believed, but he turned to the Lord for the reward.
 
We read in Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our
faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the
shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
 
Jesus endured the cross before He was seated at the right hand of the Father.
That is faith. He obeyed before receiving the reward.
 
Faith is believing and trusting before we see.
 
After the Apostle Paul had suffered the loss of all things that he might win
Christ, he said in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I
live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the
flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for
me.”
 
I am not going to twist that to say “by faith in the Son of God,” as some
commentators have the gall to do. It is that imputed faith of Christ that makes
our faith saving faith.
 
Our text says in Hebrews 3:14: “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold
the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.”
 
The beginning of our confidence has to be that we trust the Lord before we see.
He wants us not only to obey Him, but He wants us to trust Him. That is what He
will prove by the circumstances He will bring us into, whether or not we are
willing to trust Him.
 
The grievousness was that after He had given the Israelites so many rich
experiences, and they had seen evidence so many times that the Lord was among
them, yet they would not trust Him.
 
I have heard the saying, Unless you have unbelief, you do not have the work of
grace. Well, I cannot find it in my Bible, and I will tell you something, The
poor man who is saying this does not understand what unbelief is, because it
would be hard to believe that anyone would say, Well, unless you disobey the
Lord you do not have grace.
 
Unbelief is absolute defiant, rebellion against God, and this is why the Lord
was grieved with the children of Israel. They rebelled when they were told to go
forward after they had seen all these different proofs that He was among them.
 
When David saw evidence that the Lord was with him, he did not need to see
before he could believe. David went forward with supernatural determination and
strength.


 
 
MATTHEW 23:11

“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”

When I was a teenager, I remember telling my father that I wanted to be a successful businessman when I grew up. He asked me what type of business I wanted to work in, and I told him I didn’t know, I just wanted to be a businessman. Looking back, I was seeing myself as somebody others would look up to. Not a good reason to do anything in life!

So much for the detailed thinking of a teenage boy! But I remember my father gave me two pieces of information, and both have proven themselves to be true and of great worth.

He said, “A great man is always willing to live in the shadows of his success,” and then he followed that bit of wisdom up with, “The most difficult secret for a person to keep is the opinion he has of himself.”

I have found in my life that I have gained the most success during those times I did not care who got the credit. By staying in the shadows I was able to keep my focus on the job at hand, instead of being distracted by taking the bows. I have also found, especially as I have gotten older, that I am not nearly as great as I used to think I was. In other words, my self-opinion had to be grounded in reality, and not be self-delusional.

Okay, so what does all this father-son wisdom of yesterday have to do with my being a Christian today? It has everything to do with it if I truly want to be the best Christian I can be. For me, or for you, to be a good Christian we must have a humble heart. We cannot put too much importance on ourselves lest we get puffed up with self-righteousness. When we do that, we automatically put ourselves above others, and Christians are not supposed to do that. So we must be humble of heart.

But to do it right, we must understand what the word “humble” really means. With the wrong idea of humility, we could end up putting ourselves down, thinking we are less than we really are. We could end up with downcast eyes and refusing to look up. As believers, we need to know that being humble is nothing more than faithful obedience unto an Almighty God: To be fully reliant upon the Word and the Spirit of our Lord.

We can be humble and still go forward with the knowledge that we are doing a good work for Christ. We can have the confidence that what we do is making a wonderful difference for God. The difference is that one puts the focus on us and the other puts the focus on God. And if we are putting the focus on God, we will be obedient to Him.

The Lord Jesus, our beloved Savior was obedient to God, even to the point of dying on the cross. And through His humble obedience, salvation came into a dark and evil world. Humility brings about the will of God, and to help us understand this complex issue, let us begin by asking a simple question.


1. IS IT WRONG TO WANT WANT PERSONAL RECOGNITION?

Have you ever noticed how we like to award ourselves? I am always amazed at how the Hollywood crowd all gathers together once a year to give themselves awards based upon how well they did in a particular film. They make it seem that they should be worshiped for being so good at what they do.

But it isn’t just the Hollywood crowd that seeks to award themselves. It goes all the way down the line from athletes to little league baseball players and everyone in between. We all love to be esteemed and adored, don’t we? I believe it is these awards that feed our insecure need for attention.

I am reminded of the difference between a dog’s heart and a cat’s heart. One is humble and the other is not. The owner reached down to pet his dog and the dog thought, “Wow! He is such a God!” The owner then reached down to pet his cat and the cat thought, “Wow! I must be a God!” The problem with humans is that we all have a corner of our minds where we have this perverse tendency to think as the cat thinks.

Satan uses the oldest marketing trick in the world against us, and that trick is to make us think we are so good we deserve to be rewarded. So, as Christians, should we indulge in the act of self-rewarding? If we do good things and end up being recognized for them, should we not also be receptive to being honored for our achievements? Let’s take a look and see what Jesus says about this.

In LUKE 14 Jesus stopped for a Sabbath day dinner at the home of an unnamed Pharisee, an important religious leader in the community. Of course, by reading the entire passage, we find that this was not a case of loving hospitality, but that the Pharisee was testing Jesus. Two years earlier, Jesus had challenged the Pharisees on two major issues.

Jesus had come across Levi, and had told him to leave everything behind and follow Him. Now Levi was an influential and wealthy tax collector. Then Scripture tells us what happened then.

LUKE 5:30

“Then, Levi hosted a grand banquet for Jesus at his house. Now there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were guests with them. But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

The religious leaders in that day were all about self-rewarding. The Pharisees loved to walk down the street in their fine arraignment and have people call them by their titles. They looked down on others, saying such things as, “Thank you God for not letting me like that man!”

Jesus was showing that He came for everyone, and in His eyes, everyone deserved recognition and attention; that no one was “lower” than anyone else. This caused the Pharisees to feel threatened and they began to hate Him all the more. Since Jesus cared more for people than He did about tradition, the Pharisees saw Him as one who was careless in the observing the Sabbath: A rabble rouser, so to speak.

The religious leaders did not have humble hearts and they viewed themselves as better than others. And our natural tendency is to do the same thing; however, we can get past that if we really try to turn the focus away from ourselves and on to someone else. There is another question we need to ask ourselves:


2. CAN WE LEARN HUMILITY THROUGH OBSERVATION?

I often refer back to my father and the things he taught me as I was growing up. Most of the things he handed down to me were technique, not words. By that, I mean that I learned by simply watching him and how he handled situations.

For instance, we shared a driveway with our next door neighbor. That drive way had some pretty rough places in it and my father had our part resurfaced. The neighbor got very angry at my father and I remember my father telling him that he fully understood how the man felt. He said he had tried to contact him about it, but the neighbor was a traveling salesman and was out of town most of the time so my dad couldn’t make contact.

The neighbor was still angry and my dad listened to every word he said – but he didn’t “just” listen; he acted interested in what the neighbor was saying! Having gotten all the problems off his chest, the neighbor finally agreed that it was a good idea to resurface the entire driveway, so he had his part done, too. My dad later explained to me that, even though he knew he was right, he felt an obligation to listen to the neighbor as the neighbor’s feelings were very real and very “right” to the neighbor.

By watching how my dad handled that situation, I learned that rather than defend what you did and end up arguing about it, it is much better to listen and acknowledge that the other person has some legitimate complaints, too. This showed that my dad did not elevate himself over the other man.

LUKE 14:1 says,

“One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, He was being carefully watched.”

People are watching everything you do and everything you say; especially if you profess to be a Christian. In the above passage, Luke lets the reader know that this get-together was not held to hear Jesus teach or to even honor Him. It was a contrived situation orchestrated by the Pharisees so they could scrutinize everything Jesus said and did so they could find blame in Him.

But instead of being able to find blame, they were about to learn a very powerful lesson by Jesus in humility.

In VV. 7-9, we read;

“When Jesus noticed how the guests had picked the places of honor at the table, He told them this parable; When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited, too. If so, the host who invited both of you will have to come to you and say, ‘Give this mean your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.”

Here is the hard lesson in humility they learned. In their tradition, the place of highest honor was where the host sat; at the very head of the table. The place of next highest honor was to the host’s right. And every other place of honor was in direct correlation to the distance the seat was from the host: The farther away, the least important the guest. So these people always scrambled to sit in the places of highest honor – to fulfill their evil and insecure hearts. They did this because they always viewed others as less important than they were. This is in direct opposition to what Jesus’ ministry was all about.

In JOHN 3:17, we are told that Jesus did not come to condemn this world, but to save it. We can all understand that for Jesus to have done that, He would have had to have a heart that was humbled in love for other people, not a heart that considered everyone else as something below Him.

Just as my father taught me the lesson of humility in the way he patiently handled his angry neighbor, Jesus is teaching the Pharisees about humility by patiently explaining to them that if they insisted on taking the seat of high honor, they could be publically asked to move to make room for someone of more importance. And this would have caused them great embarrassment. The moral for them was; it is better to show humility at first rather than feel embarrassment later.

What is that thing called that keeps us from being humble? It is called “pride.” We all have it and we all use it. It is a very hard thing to keep that trait hidden, isn’t it? We feel pride in what we have done and we want recognition for it! Even preachers fall prey to this sin. I know that I have on occasion felt that I gave a “really, really good” sermon. And it feels good when someone compliments me on it. But I have to remind myself that it isn’t me that comes up with these sermons – it is God. It isn’t me who presents them in a good way – it is the Holy Spirit. All I am is a lowly worker for God; I write His material and then I vocalize His words. It is as simple as that. I have heard other pastors confess to the same things.

In VV. 10-11 it reads,

“But when you are invited, take it upon yourself to select the lowest place, so tat when your host comes in, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus’ teaching on how having humility can save us from great embarrassment was excellent. They understood that in the worldly sense, however. They could understand what it would feel like to have that happen. But they missed the Godly implication. If we are humbled to God, we will want to let others take all the bows, and in so doing, it will be God who exalts us, not other men.

We can learn how to be humble by watching others who are humble. We can watch what they say and how they handle different situations. But there is something we need to learn how to do, and that is to:


3. PUT WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED INTO ACTUAL PRACTICE

Moses taught Israel that the one who exalts himself only does so by forgetting God. (DEUTERONOMY 8:11-14). If praise and honor are due anyone, it is due God and not us. God will shame the one who steals the praise and honor for himself at God’s expense. There is nothing wrong about having others acknowledge your work, but when that happens, you are not to take credit for the finished result. You are to give that credit to God – even in front of an audience.

In short, there is no need to be proud or ourselves or toot our own horns, as God will be proud of us and He will exalt us when we bless Him with humbled hearts.

There is a story of two Civil War Generals: George A. Custer and Ulysses S. Grant. Both graduated from West Point – Gen. Grant, being the oldest, graduated in the 1840’s and Gen. Custer in 1861. Grant fought in several wars and was a field General in every sense of the word. In 1865, he was the one who forced Robert E. Lee to surrender to the north.

At the surrendering ceremony, Grant wore a mud-splattered uniform of a private, with general shoulder pads sewed on. He was the picture of a man who was a worker and had just finished a job. He said he took no glory in the surrender of a fellow general. Gen. Grant was a humble man and an excellent leader.

When Gen. Custer graduated West Point, he went from 2nd Lieutenant to Brigadier General in less than two years. When he assumed command of his brigade in 1863, he wore a black velveteen uniform with gold braid from the elbows to the cuffs of his sleeves, and a golden feather in the hatband of his dress hat. He was known to have the brashest of attitudes and a personality that one newspaper columnist of the time described as “the personality of a childish upstart.”

Gen. Grant listened to his advisers and led his troops into victory, winning nearly every battle he fought. Gen. Custer led his troops into a deathly defeat at the Battle of Little Big Horn. He had been given advice to detour and go to another front, but the general “knew best” and rejected the advice of his second in command. He ordered a full attack. The only living survivor of that brigade was one horse.

Custer dressed to impress, Grant dressed for work. Custer wanted to be noticed. Grant wanted to win. I wonder, if they had both been sitting at the dinner in the days of Jesus parable, which one would have quickly taken the seat of high honor and which one would have gladly taken the seat of less honor? Like my father said to me, “A great man is always willing to live in the shadows of his success.” And of course, which general had the greatest success in what he did?

We certainly make many choices in our daily lives, and it is in these choices that we can learn how to apply the lessons we have learned about humility. Custer made a choice to ignore his advisor, because he thought he alone knew best. His ended up riding his pride into the grave because he was not humble enough to accept another point of view.

I think one of the best ways to learn what humility is and what is can do for you is through service to others. Jesus set the example at the Last Supper when He, the Creator of all, stooped down to wash His disciples’ feet. Such an act of humility has never been displayed prior to that event.

In VV. 13-14, Jesus gave us another very valuable lesson in humility.

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Why would Jesus say that? Certainly, He knew that no Pharisee of any social standing would ever invite such a ragtag group of physical and social misfits to a real banquet! There would be no point in that, because these banquets were like Gen. Custer’s uniform; they were to impress, not accomplish.

The point Jesus was making was that we cannot consider ourselves being truly humble if we only do things for people who can pay us back. True Godly humility is doing things for somebody who has no way of ever paying you back. Why is that? Because you are doing it for the sole reason of helping them when they could not have any means to do it themselves. And God sees that as a fresh aroma of righteousness.

The notion of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” is a worldly idea that puts you as the focal point of receiving good things. When you help others who are maybe below you on the social ladder; those who are less fortunate than you are; and those who might be handicapped in such a way as to never have something unless you give it to them, you are acting like Jesus. He came to serve, not to served. And it is vital to our very salvation that we learn to do the same.

I read about a very rich man in Tulsa, Oklahoma who gave up one afternoon a week to go down to a hospital and read stories to the blind patients. He never advertised this act of humility, nor did he ever gain anything worldly from it. But he did elevate himself in God’s eyes because this man’s heart really cared about others enough to give of himself to help them.

May I ask you today if your heart could do the same? Would you be willing to seek out the homeless and take them coffee a couple times a week while you share Jesus with them? Would you be willing to offer elderly people a lift to and from the doctor once a month? If your spirit is humble enough to bend down to serve those who cannot serve themselves, it is humble enough to simply accept the Lord Jesus as the Savior of your life and the leader of your life.

After all, since he humbled Himself enough to sacrifice His very life for you, don’t you think you should now humble yourself enough to try and live for Him?
 
HIS HANDS 04/23/2011
 

 
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are
continually before me.” ISA 49:16.
 
God had created man in the image of God for the purpose of reflecting God’s
righteousness and holiness.  Due to Adam’s fall, this heritage of the Lord was
empty.  This chapter reveals the Father’s call, gathering His people together,
that the heritage of God should be inhabited.  The image of God may again be
reflected in our human nature through the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
In ISA 49:11-12 we read, “And I will make all my mountains a way, and my
highways shall be exalted.  Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these
from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.”  The Lord
Jesus Christ made a king’s highway, not merely a footpath.  He made a way where
there was no way. 

 
This chapter reveals the joy there is in heaven because of Christ’s victory over
sin, death, and the grave.  We read in ISA 49:13, “Sing, O heavens; and be
joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath
comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” 

 
The Lord has made a way whereby comfort can be brought to His afflicted ones. 
The angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who comes to repentance, and here
is a way open for the comfort of all His people.  There is joy in the
proclamation of the one and only way of salvation to comfort His afflicted ones.
 
Christ’s victory over Satan and sin, delivering His church from eternal death
and hell, is the great wonder of eternity, but is not understood by most men. 
Natural man does not understand how God’s grace has purchased salvation for His
enemies who have turned their backs upon Him.  He has worked reconciliation
through the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to mediate between two offended parties:
God, the Father, (whose justice was offended) and man (who has rebelled in utter
rejection of the Lord).  The Lord Jesus Christ is the mediator who can break the
barriers and bring salvation for fallen man.
 
To men of modern religion, salvation is a decision of the human intellect
whereby they appease their consciences and expect to escape the consequences of
sin, but salvation is so much greater than that.  Salvation is to be delivered
from sin, restored to the image of God, and returned to oneness with God. 
Atonement means “at one ment” or “reconciliation.”  The atonement of the Lord
Jesus Christ restored the oneness between God and man.
 
To every sinner who knows the deceitfulness of his own heart, the work of
redemption is the greatest work God has accomplished for fallen man.  All
eternity will not be long enough to explain the wonder of the atonement, which
redeemed fallen man from sin.
 
Our text begins with, “Behold”!  Nothing is mere filler in the Scriptures.  I
would like to deal with this text word by word without overlooking the
continuity of the sentence.  “Behold” is there to attract particular attention
to something significant that follows.  “Behold, I have graven thee upon the
palms of my hands.” 

 
The declaration “Behold, I” directs our attention to who that Divine Artist is
who did the engraving.  Jesus taught in JOH 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I
have chosen you.”  The Lord Jesus Christ was the engraver.  He is drawing
special attention to this declaration: “I have graven thee upon the palms of my
hands.”
 
It is not through our merit, choosing, prayers, repentance, or faith that we are
engraved upon the palms of His hands.  The declaration is to behold that He is
the Engraver by His eternal, electing love.  This divine art of engraving
springs from the eternal love of the Father, whereby He chose His own and
engraved them in “the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
world,” REV 13:8.  That engraving has been done from the foundation of the
world.  It did not happen because of something we have done.  If our hands were
on the door of heaven yet there was one thing still left for us to do, we would
perish eternally.  Salvation is of the Lord.
 
This engraving is not to be done upon any contingencies of our will or
acceptance, but has already been done. “Behold, Ihave graven thee upon the palms
of my hands.”  There is nothing that we must do before He will engrave our
names.  This was written many years before the coming of Christ, yet He says, “I
have graven thee” in the past tense!  1JO 4:10 says, “Herein is love, not that
we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for
our sins.” 

 
Our text says, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.”  This
means every individual person.  He has already personally engraved your name on
the palm of His hand, and not just your name, nor a mere sketch or outline, but
a full picture of you: all of your shortcomings, all of your failures, all of
your forgetfulness, and all that pertains to you.
 
On the palms of those crucified hands is engraved our every infirmity, not just
some letters of the alphabet.  HEB 4:15-16 says, “For we have not an high priest
which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all
points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in
time of need.”  He ever remembers and understands our every infirmity because He
was there. 

 
You might know sheep, another might know cattle, and yet another might
understand farming.  You can intimately relate to someone of a similar
background.  The Lord Jesus Christ is familiar with our every infirmity because
He was there.  That is such an encouragement to us not to despair or think that
our case is something special, because He understands it all.  Every infirmity,
every need, and every want is engraved upon the palms of His hands.
 
Our spiritual death is one of those infirmities.  EPH 2:4-6 says, “But God, who
is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us [such that He
engraved us upon the palms of His hands], Even when we were dead in sins, hath
quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us
up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  If
our souls are dead and dark and we feel that there is no place for God in our
hearts, all we need to do is confess it to the Lord and ask Him to quicken us by
His grace, because He understands so well. 

 
Our love for sin is one of those infirmities that are engraved on the palms of
His hands.  Our love for sin led Him to pay the price for our sin.  He
understands it so well, because He was tempted with that love of sin.  There is
not one trick that Satan can pull on you and me that he did not try to pull on
Christ. 

 
In ACT 5:31 we read, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince
and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”  We
can preach repentance, but only Christ can give repentance.
 
Our hatred and enmity against God and His ordained way is another one of those
infirmities.  Do you know people who rebel against the Word of God?  They do not
want to follow the Lord because it leads to the cross; it is the way of
humility.  Rebellion is born in the heart of man as a result of the fall of
Adam.  This infirmity is written on the palms of His hands, because He died for
that rebellion. 

 
PSA 110:3 says, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the
beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy
youth.”  By nature, we are not willing.  By nature, we have no desire to know
His ways.  By nature, we hate God, but He makes us willing in the day of His
power.  The Lord will never coerce us or compel us to serve Him.  His Spirit
makes us willing by convicting our hearts of sin.  We see the price that Christ
had to pay for sin and then we desire to serve Him.  As He works grace in our
hearts, we see the beauty of holiness and become willing.
 
A lack of faith is another one of the infirmities that God has ever before Him. 
Before our text was spoken, Zion (which is the church) said, “The LORD hath
forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me,” ISA 49:14.  Did the Lord forsake
Zion?  No, Zion forsook the Lord.  One of Satan’s key tricks is to twist the
truth 180 degrees.  He wants us to blame God instead of ourselves. 

 
“My Lord hath forgotten me” expresses a very solemn experience known only by a
child of God, because only a child of God knows His presence.  A person who has
never felt the Lord’s presence will never feel the Lord’s absence.  He cannot
feel forsaken or forgotten.  If the Lord withdraws His comfort, secret support,
heavenly light, and the nearness and fellowship of His Spirit, then His people
feel His absence, because they have experienced His presence.
 
God’s dear children often find their hearts crying out with David in PSA 28:1,
“Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be
silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.”  David knew that if
the Lord was silent and withdrew His presence, he would become a godless and
spiritually dead man. 

 
When a child of God feels that the Lord has withdrawn, he always has a sense of
sin as its cause.  PSA 106:4-6 says, “Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that
thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; That I may see the
good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may
glory with thine inheritance.  We have sinned with our fathers, we have
committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.”  The psalmist understood that the
Lord had withdrawn because of his sin and he cried out for the Lord to come
again with His love and restore the salvation of his soul as he confessed his
sin.
 
The Lord withdraws Himself and does not answer prayer if we cherish sin in our
heart.  The psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not
hear me,” PSA 66:18.  That word regard in the Hebrew means “cherish.”  We read
in ISA 59:1-2, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;
neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated
between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will
not hear.”  When the Lord has withdrawn, we need to search our hearts: wherein
have we forsaken the Lord?  The Lord does not forsake His people, but His people
forsake Him when they sin. 

 
When the Lord withdraws His presence, He returns unto His mercy seat and waits
until His people feel His absence, confess their sin, and return to Him, but by
nature, we will not feel His absence.  HOS 5:15 says, “I will go and return to
my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their
affliction they will seek me early.”  The Lord will not restore His love and
nearness until we acknowledge our iniquity.  We will not even feel His absence
until He puts His finger upon us.  Then in our affliction we will seek Him.
 
This is what forces the cry out of a believer’s heart.  PSA 27:8-10 says, “When
thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I
seek.  Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou
hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. 
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”  The
psalmist recognized that the Lord had been near and precious to him.  He knew
the presence and help of the Lord, but the Lord withdrew Himself because of
sin.  Yet he had faith to return and confess his iniquity, knowing that the Lord
was still faithful and would take him up.
 
The Lord asks in the verse before our text if it is possible for a father or
mother to forget.  ISA 49:15 asks, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that
she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet
will I not forget thee.”  The Lord is showing the beauty of the engravings upon
the palms of His hands that have been there from eternity.  He will never
forget!  Even though a woman may forget the baby at her breast, “yet will I not
forget.”
 
The Lord Jesus Christ expresses the impossibility of forgetting His dear bride,
whatever she is guilty of or wherever she may have strayed.  We may have
forsaken the Lord as the lost sheep.  I have not found a place in the Bible
where the Lord Jesus went out to seek the lost goat.  He went to seek and to
save His lost sheep, which are those within the fold.  They are not goats or
swine, but sheep who have strayed away and become lost because they have
forsaken the Lord. 

 
This gospel teaches us one of the most blessed assurances Christ’s church has
for its eternal security.  If it depended upon us following the Lord, then we
could fall away, but it is not possible because He has engraved us upon the
palms of His hands for eternity.
 
When Jesus departed from this world to return to His Father, He left His
disciples with the assurance of our text.  LUK 24:50-51 tells us, “And he led
them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 
And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried
up into heaven.”  First, He blessed them; then as He was being parted from them
He “lifted up his hands.”  They saw themselves engraved upon His palms.  They
saw the scars.  They saw the wounds of the cross.  He placed their eternal
security before their physical eyes as He left.
 
Christ’s disciples were filled with amazement and doubt at the news of His
resurrection.  When they heard that He had risen from the grave, their hearts
were filled with anxiety, fear, and unbelief.  Peter’s faith made him so strong
that he could boldly say in LUK 22:33, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both
into prison, and to death.”  But we know the history!  Peter cursed and swore
and denied his Lord.  “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter…And Peter went
out, and wept bitterly,” LUK 22:61-62.  That was the last time Peter saw the
Lord before He was crucified, and Peter was left for three days to mourn in
bitterness over his sin. 

 
Peter’s sin in denying his Lord very well qualified him to understand the words
of ISA 49:14; “But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath
forgotten me.”  His Lord was in the grave and he had turned his back upon Him,
cursing, swearing, and denying that he knew Him.  Look at the bitterness in his
soul.  When he heard that the Lord Jesus had come out of the grave, he was so
filled with anxiety that he could not believe it.
 
Yet Peter, in his pride, presumption, and the agony of his soul over his sin,
was engraved in the palms of Jesus’ hands and not forgotten.  The blessed,
tenderhearted Saviour remembered Peter’s agony.  The angel gave a specific
command to tell Peter that the Lord was risen.  We read in MAR 16:7, “But go
your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee:
there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”  Peter was not forgotten, though
he had forgotten his Lord. 

 
As the disciples were gathered together, “Jesus himself stood in the midst of
them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you,” LUK 24:36.  They were frightened
and filled with doubt.  They believed not for joy when Jesus showed them that
their names were engraved in His hands, which He used to bring them out of their
distress and to give them security for eternity.  LUK 24:38-40 tells us, “And he
said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a
spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.  And when he had thus
spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.”
 
He showed them.  He told them to put their fingers in the holes of His hands and
thrust their hands in His side.  Jesus showed His disciples those scars in His
hands and feet to strengthen their faith when they had thought they would never
see Him again.  Those scars in our Saviour’s hands are His pledge to His church
that He will not forget one of us. A woman may forget her suckling child, “yet
will I not forget thee.  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;
thy walls are continually before me.” 

 
Oh, beloved, it was those crucified hands that Jesus lifted up before His
disciples to see once more while He was “carried up into heaven.”  Just before
He departed, Jesus promised His disciples that He would send them the Holy
Spirit because they would never again see with their physical eyes those
crucified hands.  But the Holy Spirit, by faith, reveals unto us those precious
things of Christ, in which we have security. 

 
We read in ACT 1:4-5, “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them
that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the
Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.  For John truly baptized with
water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”  They
had only a short time from when they physically saw with their eyes those
crucified hands to the time that they had the witness and the seal of the Holy
Spirit who came to show them the precious things of Christ and to reveal the
true meaning of His coming.
 
Jesus’ disciples had to return to Jerusalem, where their Saviour was crucified
and where persecution would surround them on every side while they waited for
the great commission to go forth with the trumpet of the gospel. 

 
Jesus gives us the consolation that we are covered under the shadow of His
crucified hands throughout our lives.  ISA 51:16 says, “And I have put my words
in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand.”  Our names
are engraved – we are engraved – on His hands, and every trial and every
struggle is understood.  The scars on Jesus’ hands are reminders of His pledge
that He will never forget one for whom He has suffered. 

 
Jesus assures us that His crucified hands are His pleading ground as He stands
at the right hand of His Father, interceding for us.  He presents His hands to
show that He has fulfilled the law and paid the penalty of our debt.
 
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are
continually before me.”  The ever-watchful eye of our blessed Redeemer is on His
own continually.  We read in PSA 121:3-4, “He will not suffer thy foot to be
moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.  Behold, he that keepeth Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep.”  He never slumbers nor sleeps.  His eye is
always upon His church.
 
“Thy walls are continually before me” means “thy salvation is ever before me.” 
He has purchased our salvation with His blood, which is ever before Him.  ISA
26:1 says, “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a
strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.”  Those walls
are our salvation, which are continually before Him, because He purchased it and
engraved us upon the palms of His hands so that it cannot be forgotten. 

 
In the midst of His deepest agony, Jesus’ eyes were ever on the joy of our
salvation, which was continually before Him.  Now that He has ascended and taken
His place at the right hand of the Father, He certainly will not forget what He
did not forget in Gethsemane or on the cross. 

 
We read in HEB 12:2, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 
That joy was in the marriage of the Lamb.  The salvation of His church was ever
before Him while He was in the deepest valley of humiliation, and He endured it
for the joy of having His bride joined to Him.  Jesus waited, “expecting till
his enemies be made his footstool,” HEB 10:13, but that was not the greatest joy
that was set before Him.  We see His greatest joy in REV 19:7-8; “Let us be glad
and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and
his wife hath made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be
arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness
of saints.”  The marriage of the Lamb, the salvation of His church, was ever
before Him.
 
God’s electing love, sovereign grace, almighty power, and divine compassion are
the foundation for these walls.  Nothing will melt a hard and stony heart like a
faith view of our blessed Redeemer’s work of engraving us on His hands.  If your
heart is not melted over the love and sacrifice of Christ, then no thunder of
the law of Mount Sinai will affect you.  His redeeming love, engraving us upon
the palms of His hands and seeking to save those who are lost, melts our hard
and stony hearts.
 
Amen.  

 
 

 
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall
not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith
the LORD that hath mercy on thee (Isaiah 54:10). 

 
Our text speaks of the certainty God’s people have in the  uncertainties that
seem to surround us. We read in scripture how that in the last days that men’s
hearts shall fail them for fear of seeing the things that are coming on the face
of the earth. Among all these fears, and among all these anxieties that the
world is going through, God’s people have a certainty. They have a foundation,
and they have a covenant of His peace that shall not be removed.
 
The circumstances do not alter, but we have perfect tranquility and peace in the
circumstances. In these tribulations, God’s people will have perfect peace.
 
Change and decay seem to be closing in on the uncertain times in which we live.
Satan seems to be turned loose, and we see those who used to have secret sins
such as sodomy boldly proclaiming that they are sodomites.

 
Those who murder the innocent seed of their womb proclaim that they have rights
to do these things. They are no longer ashamed. We see so many things coming on
the face of the earth that cause our hearts to fear.
 
I want you to see what we read here in Luke 17:26-27: “And as it was in the days
of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they
drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe
entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.”
 
This is what we see in our day as we see Satan going out as a roaring lion.
Where have you ever seen a greater craving for entertainment? When man lost the
image of God, it created a vacuum in the heart that will never again be
satisfied except by the renewing of the image of God. 

 
People try to fill this vacuum by heaping up riches. By nature we will try to
fill it with the things of this life. They try to constantly occupy their minds
with television even if it is the most vain things that could pass before their
eyes. People turn it on to kill time and try to kill that vacuum that can only
be filled rightly by the image of God.

 
There is no sure foundation nor security in the entertainment of this world. We
can fill the vacuum temporarily it seems, and then when the entertainment is
over the vacuum appears to have become greater. People try to fill this vacuum
with the vanities of this life by acquiring things they have absolutely no use
for. It is all an attempt to fill that empty place.
 
To those who fear the Lord our text says: “For the mountains shall depart, and
the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall
the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee”
(Isaiah 54:10). That peace is the only thing that will ever satisfy and will
ever fill that vacuum.
 
This reference to mercy denotes undeserved favor as we see in the context of our
text. This peace, this love, this oneness that we again have with the Lord, is
undeserved. It is something we have no right nor title to, nor can we merit it
by anything we do.
 
It is so important if we want to unfold a scripture that we see the context in
which it lies. Let us take a look at verses 7 and 8: “For a small moment have I
forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I
hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have
mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.”
 
We deserve to be forsaken. We could rightly and justly be forsaken for all
eternity. We get a glimpse of what we have done and the gulf we have made with
sin, yet the Lord will not forget His covenant of peace. 

 
We may think that God is really pouring out His wrath upon us because we have
certain trials and afflictions, but it is just a little wrath. It is just a
glimpse of what we deserve.

 
This is speaking of the blessed, redeeming love of the Lord Jesus Christ. That
is where we have that covenant of peace. This redeeming love is a forgiving love
as we see in Genesis 8:21: “And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD
said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake;
for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again
smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” 

 
Will we understand the forgiveness of sin until we understand the sinfulness of
sin, until we acknowledge that we have forfeited all?
 
The sweet savour is the burnt offering of Noah after he came out of the ark. The
Lord smelled that sweet savour that pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. That
blessed atonement of Christ is such a sweet savour in the nostrils of the Lord.
 
The Lord has a tender and loving heart for His people. He understands our frame.
He understands that we have a wicked imagination because of the fall. Now He
grants pardon. Now we are talking about the redeeming love of Christ. Now we are
talking about mercy, and wherever we find mercy it is in that sweet-smelling
savour. It is in that precious atonement of His dear Son.
 
That is what God was referring to when He said in the verse preceding our text.
We read in verse 9: “For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have
sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn
that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.”
 
The Lord sent justice and destroyed the entire earth with water, but now He says
that He will never do that again. What did we see in the waters of Noah? We saw
the just condemnation of God upon all sin, but in His mercy He spared Noah and
His children.

 
When we see the context of our text we see that this certainty is for those who
fear the Lord and keep His holy will. It is for those who tremble at His Word
and hate sin. This certainty and covenant of peace is not for the unclean. 

 
I want you to see this with me in Psalm 103:13: “Like as a father pitieth his
children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.” We do not see this loving
pity on those who walk in unbelief, who walk in rebellion against God’s will.
 
Continuing in verse 14 we read: “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that
we are dust.” He remembers that we have these evil imaginations in our hearts.
He forgives us because He sees our fallen nature. He looks on the desire of
hearts. Is it our heart’s desire to do His will? We fall so far short. No man on
the face of the earth is going to keep His will with perfection.
 
The Apostle Paul said that he loved the law after the inner man. The things I
would I do not, and the things would not, those I do (Romans 7:15). In the inner
man, he said, I love your law. The Lord is looking at what we cherish.  

 
Verse 15 says: “As for man, his days are as grass [there is no certainty in the
flesh]: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.”
 
Nothing in us gives us any foundation for security. 
 
Continuing in verses 16 to 18 we read: “For the wind passeth over it, and it is
gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is
from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness
unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that
remember his commandments to do them.”
 
These verses sort out and identify and isolate those who have these eternal
blessings.

 
To those who fear the Lord, He does display His displeasure upon their sin, but
He never forgets His covenant of peace with them. Even those who fear the Lord
are weak and prone to evil. Hatred and bitterness want to stick up their ugly
heads. Have you ever had to battle pride? If you understand the ways of the Lord
then you know that that ugly monster I is your worst enemy. That is what
happened in Paradise—I became exalted.
 
Now we are told to take up our cross daily and follow Him. We must daily crucify
that ugly monster I. God’s dear people also have to fight this internal sin, and
they do things that displease Him, yet He never forgets His covenant of peace
with them. That is what we see in Isaiah 54:7-8: “For a small moment have I
forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I
hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have
mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.”
 
He comes with His chastening hand. You and I are to walk in the fear of God, and
it is to be our whole heart’s desire to do His will, yet in our weakness we do
things that are against His will. Then for a small moment He forsakes us. He
does this because if we have truly the fear of God in our hearts, then it will
cause us to cry out as Job did: I looked to the right hand and to the left, and
I could not find Him (Job 23:9).

Then our hearts and souls begin hungering and thirsting after God. With His
chastening hand, He brings us back to Him. It was not an eternal separation, but
the Lord withheld Himself for a moment.

 
It is the Lord thy Redeemer. Note the personal pronoun. It is a personal
salvation.
 
Our Redeemer did not come only to save us from hell. What is salvation to you
and me? Is it just to be saved from the consequences of sin? No, that is the
salvation of Satan’s gospel. Churches today tell you how to get justified so you
can go to heaven, but salvation is from sin.
 
I want to read to you in Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God that bringeth
salvation hath appeared to all men.” I want you to listen carefully to the next
verse to see what salvation is. Is it to escape hell? Is Christ no more than a
fire escape for us? That is no salvation at all. “Teaching us that, denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly,
in this present world.” That is salvation.

 
Continuing in verses 13 and 14 we read: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the
glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave
himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto
himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
 
What does He redeem us from? It does not say He came to redeem us from hell. I
want you to see what the Bible says. He redeems us from all iniquity. Salvation
is to be saved and redeemed from the power of sin. This is what the Bible calls
salvation.
 
How many people today want to be purified in their hearts? How many people want
to be saved from their worldly lusts? Identify a worldly lust to someone and
tell them, You should be saved from that, and watch your friendship disappear.
 
It is grace when you and I can come before the Lord like David and say, Lord,
search my heart and try my reins and see if there is an evil way in me because I
want to have it identified that I can have it purged away (Psalm 26:2).
 
We read in John 3:19-21: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into
the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were
evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the
light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the
light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
 
If you have the work of grace in your heart, then you come to the light. You
want the light to shine on your heart, and you want to identify every sin of
your heart that you might bring it to the light and be cleansed from it. You do
this that you might be redeemed from that iniquity.

 
Is this a duty religion? This is the Bible. I am quoting this from the
Scriptures. That is salvation.

 
God ever has been and will forever be wroth with sin, but the certainty we have
assured in our text is that He will redeem us from all iniquity. That is the
covenant He made with us.
 
We see the new covenant in Hebrews 8:10: “For this is the covenant that I will
make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my
laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a
God, and they shall be to me a people.”


The covenant of peace is when the law of God is written in our hearts, and it
becomes the thought process and traffic of our heart.
 
We read in Hebrews 12:5: “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh
unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord,
nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.”
 
Little children, do we understand that when our parents punish us, that they
love us? They chasten us because they love us. We read in Proverbs 13:24: “He
that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him
betimes.”
 
The Lord loves us, and we are the children of God. The Lord is talking to us in
this verse as unto little children.
 
When the Lord says, “In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment
[this does not shake our foundation of security, this was in love for our soul
to chasten us for our waywardness, because He goes on to say]; but with
everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.”
 
When we realize we have strayed from the Lord, and that He is chastening us out
of love, that does not shake our security, but it makes us start pleading His
mercy.

 
The Lord so blessedly reveals the fruit He is looking for from His chastening in
Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but
grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of
righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
 
If we as parents punish a child, what are we trying to accomplish? We want
rebellion broken, and we want the child in submission. That is what we are
after. The fruit of chastening should be submission. The Lord says not to forget
that He is treating us as a Father treats His child. He chastens us because we
need correction, and He corrects us because He loves us.
 
I have seen my mother weep grievously while she was correcting me. It hurt her
more than it did me, but the purpose of it was to break my rebellion. Then we
see those peaceable fruits of righteousness, and I could sit on my mother’s lap
and embrace her because I love her. Her heart and my heart could then join
together in the love that results from chastening.
 
The Lord takes those who are rebellious, and those who are walking wayward, and
He chastens them until their hearts come in total surrender to Him. Then they
have those peaceable fruits of righteousness, which is that the hearts become
reconciled. 

 
Is it not true that sometimes we begin to wonder if we will live to see that
“afterward”? The Lord knows what we can bear. The Lord knows what we need, and
the Lord knows how far it has to go because He will not stop until there is an
unconditional surrender.
 
Sometimes we have to realize that the Lord’s ways are higher than our ways, yet
our text is for those who despair of ever reaping that blessed harvest that
yields “the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised
thereby.” 

 
In the first instance, we must look at the meaning of “the mountains shall
depart, and the hills be removed” literally as we read in 2 Peter 3:10: “But the
day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens
shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent
heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
 
Even when this happens, the covenant of peace is everlasting, and so is His
mercy. When time ends, this covenant of peace endures. 

 
In the second place, these mountains are the symbol of our places of false
security, and they will depart. I want you to take notice with me what we read
in Psalm 30:6-7: “And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. LORD, by
thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face,
and I was troubled.”
 
In his prosperity he began to be strong in himself, and that was going to be
removed. Sometimes we do not understand why it seems as if the Lord has come
against us, but He is removing that false security. He is removing all sense of
security that we have in anything outside of Christ.

 
Peter had his mountain also that made him stand strong as we see in Matthew
26:33: “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended
because of thee, yet will I never be offended.”
 
See how strong Peter was in himself. The Lord loves His children, and when we
begin to have a mountain we have strength in outside of Christ that becomes our
sense of security, then the Lord puts His finger on it, and those mountains are
removed.
 
Sometimes we wonder what happened to our prosperity. Sometimes we wonder what
happened to these things we felt so secure in, and they just disappeared. 

 
When Peter’s mountain was removed he found the truth of our text, “My kindness
shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed,
saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.”
 
That mountain will be removed, but we will learn to see that it was in God’s
love that He did it. It was in His everlasting love that He removed that sure
mountain of Peter, and brought him down to where he became as a little child.  

 
I want you to see where Peter was when he had his mountain removed. We read in
Matthew 26:74-75: “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the
man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus,
which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he
went out, and wept bitterly.”
 
Peter was so strong in himself, but the Lord was so faithful to Peter. He did
not forget to let that cock crow. While Peter cursed and swore and denied that
he ever knew Him, the Lord Jesus told His messenger, Now, send him the message.
The cock crowed, and Peter remembered the word of Jesus.
 
The Lord forsook Peter for a little while and allowed him to fall because
Peter’s mountain had to be removed. Peter stood so firm in his own strength.
 
Do we not see David’s security in God’s faithfulness when his mountain was
removed? We see that in 2 Samuel 12:13: “And David said unto Nathan, I have
sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away
thy sin; thou shalt not die.” The covenant of God’s peace did not alter.
 
David had just told Nathan: Who is the man? He shall surely die. He pronounced
judgment upon himself. Nathan replied, You are the man. Even though David
deserved to be slain or to be rejected, God’s kindness was not removed. His
mountain was removed. His security in himself was removed, but the tender love
and mercy of God was not removed.
 
God will remove all our mountains and then show His love to us as He works
repentance after a godly sort. The Lord brought Peter down to become as a little
child where he could strengthen his brothers. That is what the Lord does this
for. He wants us to know what it is to sorrow over sin. We have bitterness in
our hearts because of sin because our mountains have been removed and we have
received the tender love and mercy of God.
 
We read in 2 Corinthians 7:10: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation
not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
 
There is a repentance not to salvation. Cain repented. He had much remorse over
his sin, but it was only because of the consequences of his sin. Godly sorrow,
however, is remorse over having sinned against the love of God. The world has
sorrow too, but it works death.
 
When God has shaken us out of every refuge outside of Christ’s blood and
righteousness, then we will understand the words of our text: “For the mountains
shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from
thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that
hath mercy on thee.”
 
These strongholds and places of false security are everything we build upon that
is not the blood and righteousness of Christ, and they can include our most
blessed experiences. Sometimes the Lord will even remove those because we start
building upon them, and they become our mountains of security.

 
The Lord is jealous, and the next thing you know, it is the gift instead of the
Giver that becomes the object of our affections and of our security. I have seen
many a time that people will say, If you have experienced thus and such, you
know you are saved. No, then we are building on experiences. Those experiences
can be so blessed, but they are not the mountain that we build upon. We build
upon the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ, and these experiences may not come in
between because the Lord is jealous even of His own gifts.  

 
This covenant of peace is not a covenant with the flesh. It does not mean we
will not have trials and struggles in the flesh, but that we shall have peace in
those trials. We will be at peace with God. We will be able to see that the Lord
sent the trial for our good.
 
The account of the woman whom the Lord granted a son at the word of Elisha, and
then the son died, gives a beautiful account of such peace. We read in 2 Kings
4:25-26: “So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came
to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his
servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite: Run now, I pray thee, to meet her,
and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well
with the child? And she answered, It is well.”
 
The child was dead. Did that change the circumstances? No. Did that take away
the grief? No, but that tells us she was at peace with God in the circumstances.
She was not complaining. She was not murmuring against God. She was yet within
the covenant of peace.

 
To human reason, everything was wrong. How could she say it was well when her
son just died? The exercise of saving faith laid hold on the words of our text:
“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall
not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith
the LORD that hath mercy on thee.”
 
In those circumstances she was still at peace with God. Can you say in the midst
of your trial today, “It is well”? Can we say we are at peace in the
circumstances and that we are in total surrender to the will of God? 

 
Can we say with Job in Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him”?
That is the work of grace. Can we say this as everything upon which we have any
foundation that we can trust in is being removed? We have the consolation that
God’s kindness and covenant of peace will not depart from us.
 
Job’s peace of mind and security were in the faithfulness of the God he served,
not in his present circumstances. Job did not find his security in the flesh. We
read in Job 23:8-10: “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward,
but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot
behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he
knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
 
Job by faith lays hold on that covenant of peace even when the Lord had
seemingly forsaken him.  

 
Unbelief would tell you there will be no afterward, but faith realizes as we see
in Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but
grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of
righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
 
Job understood this. Job had lost his children, his property and his animals. He
has lost everything, and his wife said, Curse God and die. The God he loved and
the God he served had withdrawn Himself, but by faith Job was able to look
beyond the present circumstances and lay hold on that blessed covenant of
peace. 

 
The peace spoken of in our text, which comes after those mountains of
self-security have been removed, is like that which we read of in Isaiah 66:12:
“For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river.”
 
I am not a stranger to this. When such peace comes to us like a river it comes
to us from the mountains and through the valleys and it goes into the sea. Peace
does not go in the other direction. Peace flows to us like a river. As we enter
into and go through the valley of humiliation, then we understand what that
peace is.

 
Isaiah 66:12-13 goes on to say, “Then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her
sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will
I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
 
This is how God comforts us. This is the covenant of peace, but this is
afterward, after we have been chastened and that rebellion has been broken, when
submission has been obtained, when the humiliation has been obtained.
 
The Lord Jesus Christ humbled Himself and became obedient. When the Holy Father
works His grace in our hearts, and when He comes with His chastening hand, and
He humbles us, we become obedient. Then afterward we have the peaceable fruits
of righteousness, and He comforts us in that holy Jerusalem.  

 
After those mountains of rebellion, pride and self-security are removed, we
begin to understand “the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are
exercised thereby.” 

 
When we go through these exercises, we understand the humiliating work of grace,
following Him daily in the way of the cross.

 
We may become concerned over one who seems so wayward, a Manasseh who has
departed from the Lord, maybe someone in our family. Is that a hindrance to the
Lord’s mercy? No, because if the Lord loves him, He will chasten him.
 
See what God says to His people who have forsaken Him. See how He will chasten
them, but He has thoughts of peace. We read in Jeremiah 29:10: “For thus saith
the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you,
and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” 

 
Israel had forsaken the Lord. Israel had sinned grievously, and the Lord sent
them into captivity, but He did not forget them there. He never forsook the
covenant of His peace.
 
Continuing in verse 11 we read: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward
you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected
end.”
 
This end is reconciliation with God, that we can come back into oneness with
God. The road He brings us through is sometimes much different than we would
ever expect. 

 
We read in verses 12 and 13: “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and
pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” 

 
This is after our hearts have been reconciled. The Lord will never accept a
divided heart. He does not want us to serve the flesh and to serve Him at the
same time.
 
Verse 14 says: “And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away
your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the
places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again
into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” 

 
All of their mountains and all of their hills were removed, and they were
carried away captive into Babylon, but the Lord did not forget His covenant of
peace.
 
Oh bless His Holy Name, that peace is a covenant peace, that is, peace through
the blood and righteousness of our blessed Redeemer. That is the fountain of
this peace. That is the only source of peace. We not only need the blood to
satisfy and atone for our sins, but we need His righteousness. We need His
perfect obedience imparted to us that we might be able to stand righteous before
God in the perfect righteousness of Christ.

 
We read in Colossians 1:19-20: “For it pleased the Father that in him should all
fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to
reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in
earth, or things in heaven.”
 
That peace runs to us as a river, but do not forget that those rivers run from
Emmanuel’s veins. That peace, that covenant of peace, all flow from His veins.
It is all from that precious atonement and sanctification by the blood of
Christ. 

 
Our text says in Isaiah 54:10: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be
removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant
of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.”
 
What a blessing that we might believe and that we have been brought into that
covenant of peace. As we see all the insecurities of this life and sin
multiplying around us and that it seems that Satan is literally turned loose,
yet our hearts do not fear.

 
What a consolation that it is all in the Lord’s hands, and that He has made with
us that everlasting covenant.


 
 

 
Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes (Psalm 119:68). 
 
Psalm 106 begins: “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is
good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” The first 12 verses of this psalm recall
the goodness of the Lord as we look upon His deeds.
 
As wesurvey the context of our text, we find the same blessed principle taught
in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus.”
 
I want you to see the harmonious rhythm in those who serve the Lord.
 
The threeverses preceding our text are a blessed harmony of prayer and
thanksgiving. Look at Psalm 119:65-67: “Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O
LORD, according unto thy word [which harmonizes with the prayer]. Teach me good
judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments [this leads to a
confession of his wayward nature]. Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now
have I kept thy word.”
 
In our text David bursts forth with praises to God for His faithfulness in
dealing with him as a son, with a chastening hand. The Lord chastens those He
loves. “Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes” (Psalm 119:68).
Our tendency is to go astray, but God with His afflicting hand brings us back
into His service.
 
David sees the tender love of God in His chastening hand.
 
Our textraises three distinct issues for consideration.
 
The first is the nature of God: “Thou art good.”
 
The second ishow His goodness is made manifest: “and doest good.”
 
The third is the effect of God’s goodness on a quickened soul: “Teach me thy
statutes.”
 
When you learn the goodness of God, His love in His afflicting hand, the fruit
is a desire to know His will.

 
In the firstplace, David bursts forth to praise the blessedness of God’s nature:
“Thou art good.”
 
See howthe scriptural record reveals how God’s people find their wills in
perfect harmony in their extreme trials. Many times, as the trial begins, as the
Lord begins to bring affliction, we squirm a little, but when the trial reaches
its extremity, we come to ourselves and realize that our wills must be in
harmony with God’s will and that we must come into His service. We desire to be
purged.

 
It was in his affliction that David exclaimed in Psalm 31:19-21: “Oh how great
is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou
hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide
them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them
secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the LORD: for he
hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.”
 
Do you realize what an outgoing battle it is to suffer from the strife of
tongues? People contended with Christ for what He said. After defending myself
for 30 years in a corrupt court system, I understand the strife of tongues. I
understand how Satan will take truths out of context and make a lie. It is a
continual striving against words.

 
During this strife of tongues, we can only find refuge in Christ. In these times
of trial, we find refuge in the Lord. In these times of trial, we learn to
understand that the Lord is good. Even the trial He brings about to purge us and
bring us into perfect submission to His will is of His goodness. It is a token
of His love.

 
Howevermuch it comes against our flesh, we will find as David did, that when God
sanctifies our afflictions unto us, it is a far greater mercy than to merely be
delivered out of it. When the Lord begins to bring a trial upon us, our first
desire is to be delivered from it, thinking that it would be quite merciful for
the Lord to deliver us from the trial.

 
Yet, when we have profited from this trial, we can say with David that it was
good for me to have been afflicted. The trial sanctifies us in a way that we
profit by it. We see much more mercy in that than in the mere act of being
delivered from the trial.
 
I have seen many times when the Lord leads me into a trial that when the trial
is sanctified, when I have come to the point where I can see that it was of the
Lord’s sending the trial and the purpose of the trial, then immediately the
trial is over. The mercy is that we see Jesus in the trial and that He becomes
the captain of our salvation.
 
When the Lord sanctifies our afflictions, no matter how much it comes against
our flesh, it is a far greater mercy than the fact of being delivered itself. 

 
Look what we read in Psalm 31:22-24: “For I said in my haste, I am cut off from
before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when
I cried unto thee. O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth
the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and
he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”
 
Now the issue is not so much of the trial being taken away but being
strengthened in the trial.

 
Have we not found that God is good to those who fear His Name, if they will ask?
The Lord wants us to come to Him with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.
We read in Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall
find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh
receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be
opened.” Our problem is that we do not ask, but then the Lord brings a set of
circumstances against our flesh that causes us to ask.

 
If the prodigal son had prospered in his riotous living, would he have ever
desired to come back into His Father’s service? If we can go on serving the
flesh, and if the flesh serves us well, would we ever ask?
 
The problem does not lay in the fact that we knock and it does not open. The
problem lies with the fact that we are not willing to knock. We are not willing
to ask. We do not seek by nature, and that is why David could say in Psalm
119:67, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”
 
David thanked the Lord for bringing the means whereby he became an asker. David
began asking and knocking, and found that the door opened to him. Through
afflictions, he began to ask.

 
The verynature of God is love. Notice 1 John 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one
another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and
knoweth God.”
 
The natureof God is goodness itself. Our Saviour made this plain to the rich
young ruler in Mark 10:18: “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good?
there is none good but one, that is, God.”
 
It is only as we become conformed to that blessed image of Christ that there is
any good in us. I want you to notice 2 Peter 1:4: “Whereby are given unto us
exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of
the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through
lust.” That divine nature cannot have any part of our corrupt nature.

 
It isonly as we begin to partake of His blessed divine nature, that is, as
Christ is formed in us, that we escape “the corruption that is in the world
through lust.”
 
We read in Psalm 25:8-10: “Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach
sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he
teach his way. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep
his covenant and his testimonies.”
 
The Lord teaches us by the example and teaching of Jesus Christ, who reveals to
us the true character of God. If you are going to teach anybody anything, you
must begin with your example. Jesus teaches us with His self-sacrificial love.

 
Jesus said in Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am
meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
 
How do we know true meekness except by the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, His
condescension from His throne to become a servant? He came to show us what
service we owe to the Father.
 
Where is the evidence that we have God’s grace in our hearts, that He has given
us the grace to keep His covenant and His testimonies, in other words, to keep
His Word, to walk in the ways He has taught?
 
When Moseswas in a great strait after the children of Israel had so grievously
sinned against the Lord, Moses pleaded to see God’s glory. What did the Lord
answer him? How did He reveal His glory? Look at Exodus 33:18-19: “And he said,
I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass
before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be
gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew
mercy.” Here we see the glory of God revealed in His goodness.

 
Yesterday we had one of our little grandchildren with us, and she came to me and
said, “Grandpa, come downstairs with me.” So, I took her hand, and we went
downstairs. We got to the foot of the stairs, and I drew a circle on the floor,
and asked her, “Did you know that years ago you were sitting right there, and
the Lord miraculously saved your life?” She asked, “How was that Grandpa?”

 
I explained to her when we moved into the house she was 2 years old. I had a
four by eight table tennis table with metal all around it. I was bringing it
downstairs, and as I set it on the stairway, it slipped out of my hands and slid
down the stairs. When the wood was about two feet from her, the toy she had
slipped out of her hand, and she leaned forward and stood up to reach it. That
board did not miss her by half an inch. It tore a hole in the rug where she was
sitting.

 
I told her I was going to preach about the goodness of God, and told her the
Lord was very good to her. He spared your life at that point. She said,
“Grandpa, that was not the only time” and went on to explain that maybe a year
or so ago, she was floating in a tube down a river. She was wearing a life
jacket, but when the tube got close to a tree, the current was so strong it
pulled the tube through the tree and she lost the tube. Her father came running,
and saw her one hand sticking up out of the water. If he had been two seconds
later, she would have been caught in an under current and drowned.

 
She went on to explain that on another occasion they were crossing a railroad
track. They heard the train whistle blow, and she saw the train, and her mom
stepped on the gas, and the train barely missed their car. If she had not seen
the train and hollered to her mother, they would have been hit by the train.
 
It is a tremendous thing for a little child to recognize the Lord’s goodness.
 
Once when I was sick, the Lord reminded me how that when I was a child, He had
spared me at various times and in various circumstances, and told me, Now you
will see my great salvation. His goodness passes before us. Do we see the Lord’s
glory in these things and how good He is?
 
Can you imagine how grieved I would have been if that wood had killed that
child? The Lord spared her and me. The goodness of God leads us to repentance.
We see it in His nature and in His character. Sometimes it is such a humbling
thing as we start to understand how good He is. Let us not forget how important
God’s goodness is. The Lord spares us in many circumstances.

 
Second,our text declares how God’s goodness is made manifest. He “doest good.”
By His actions, God reveals His goodness.

 
In thefirst instance, we must never slight God’s goodness in what He has done
for us in our creation. Have you ever really marveled over what God did for man
in His creation?
 
Look at Genesis 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl
of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping
thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Think of God’s goodness in how He put Adam
in such a station that he had dominion over all these things.

 
Even afterman’s rebellion, who can refrain from blessing and praising His
wonderful name for what He has done in giving His only begotten Son to redeem us
from all iniquity?
 
We read in Titus 3:3-6: “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish,
disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and
envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of
God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration,
and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus
Christ our Saviour.”
 
Look what God has done. He is good and does good. See what love the Father has.
While we were yet sinners, He gave His Son, and He instills a new nature in us.

 
Think ofthe goodness of God in what He has done in sending His only begotten Son
to reveal godliness in the flesh. You and I are fallen creatures, and we are
subject to sin, yet Christ revealed perfection in the flesh.

 
Look at what we see in 1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the
mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received
up into glory.”
 
If we have a glimpse of the goodness of God, how could we respond with a heart
of unbelief?
 
Our wonder-working God does good also in providence. He is mindful of all His
works. Look at Psalm 145:8-10: “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion;
slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender
mercies are over all his works. All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy
saints shall bless thee.”
 
Our Godis not only good to His saints, or even just to mankind. He is good to
those who have forfeited His goodness, those who have sinned against Him, those
who have rebelled against Him. He has not dealt with any of us according to our
sins.
 
We read in Psalm 147:7-9: “Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise
upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth
rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to
the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.” The Lord feeds the
unclean birds, which gives us encouragement if we feel that by our uncleanness
we have forfeited all His blessings.
 
These commonmercies portray a good God who gives them, though it is not always a
good people who receive them. What basis is there for rebellion against God?
There is none. He is not only a good God, but He is a good-giving God.

 
We read in Matthew 5:44-45: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them
that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your
Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the
good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
 
We are not just to do good to the household of faith, but also to our enemies.
We are to follow God’s example. He gives rain to the evil and to the good.
 
However thereare special areas where those who fear Him and walk in His favor
find special reason to say, “Thou art good, and doest good.”
 
There are common graces and common mercies that God sends upon the evil and on
the good, but He sends special mercies and graces to those who fear Him. Look at
Lamentations 3:25: “The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul
that seeketh him.” This is more than just common mercy. He will honor those who
honor Him.
 
We read in Psalm 86:5: “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and
plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”
 
For thiskind of goodness, there is a necessary qualification in the receiver. We
are getting into special graces and special mercies. Satan would tell you God is
good, but he never includes the contingencies, that is, God is good to those who
fear and love His name, and wait upon Him. These arethe recipients of spiritual
blessings, that is, pardoning grace. These are for God’s children only.
 
Look at Isaiah 55:7: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man
his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him;
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” We cannot continue in sin that
grace may abound. The Lord pardons those who return to Him and walk in His ways.
 
This principlebrings us to our third consideration, that is, the effect of God’s
goodness on a quickened soul, “Teach me thy statutes.”
 
The effectof God’s goodness on a quickened soul is a holy reverence for His
will. We read in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12: “Wherefore also we pray always for
you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the
good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to
the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
 
Those who are counted worthy of this calling are those who return to the Lord
with their whole hearts. Those who turn back to the Lord as the giver of all
good and perfect gifts see that the goodness of God leads them to a change of
mind, a change of attitude. Their rebellion is broken.

 
The quickenedsoul soon learns to see how contingent God’s special graces are
upon their attitude toward His law of love. Look at Psalm 84:10-12: “For a day
in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the
house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a
sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he
withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that
trusteth in thee.”
 
He is not talking about those who continue to walk in sin. The quickenedsouls
who have learned the sweetness of their Bridegroom’s blessed nearness will be
always meditating upon His blessed will, that they may not interrupt His visits
of love. If you understand the nearness of Christ, and to have His love revealed
in your soul, you will find time in bed, when your loved ones are asleep, that
you will meditate upon His will.

 
If you have experienced this like I have, you will find that many times you will
meditate on how often you have offended Him. Many times you will marvel that He
comes to show such love to one who has so often offended against such love. We
meditate on His will so we will not interrupt His visits of love.

 
Look with me at Ephesians 3:17-21: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by
faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend
with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to
know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with
all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto
him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without
end. Amen.”
 
If we have experienced such love poured into our hearts, then our hearts will
meditate on His will.
 
See theconnection the Apostle Paul makes between such special nearness of our
blessed Saviour, and our attitude toward God’s will, which reveals itself in our
walk of life. Notice what we read in the next chapter, in Ephesians 4:1-3: “I
therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the
vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with
longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of
the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
 
Paul had become a bondservant of the Lord. That meekness, longsuffering and
forbearance reflects the law of love. The love of Christ must be reflected in
how we treat our fellow man.

 
Davidwas no stranger to the connection between holiness and his blessed
fellowship with God. This is why he says in our text, “Thou art good, and doest
good; teach me thy statutes” (Psalm 119:68).
 
When you and I learn to understand the harmony between knowing the will of God
and experiencing His nearness and love, then we will understand why David
repeatedly asks the Lord to teach him His will. He does not want any
interruption in the love of Christ being shed abroad in his heart.

 
It isby the knowledge of His statutes that we learn to understand our
iniquities, which need to be pardoned. I can talk to you about the letter of the
law. I can tell you which actions are sin, and we can make a big checklist—all
under the letter of the law—but there is no conviction in it. However, when we
have experienced the blessed nearness of Christ, and our conscience begins
making a checklist showing us how we have sinned against His love, we respond,
Oh, what a wonder that He still loves me.

 
Through the experiencing of His love, we start to understand His precepts. We
understand the sinful nature of sin. We get a glimpse of how displeasing our sin
is before the Lord. He shows us His precious love, and our response should be:
Show me your statutes. Help me to understand your perfect will so I may not
offend against it.
 
Then webecome proper candidates to show forth His praises for the wonder of His
goodness in the gift of His only begotten Son. Now our hearts are in tune to
sing in harmony with the saints in light.

 
Look at what we read in Psalm 65:1-4: “Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion:
and unto thee shall the vow be performed. O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee
shall all flesh come. Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions,
thou shalt purge them away. Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest
to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied
with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.”
 
We learn to understand our iniquities, and then we learn to understand what true
praise is. When we learn to understand the nature of sin, and how grievous it is
in the eyes of the Lord, then we can sing forth His praises. Then the goodness
of the Father in giving His Son becomes such an unspeakable gift. Then the love
of the Son that is shed abroad in our hearts becomes past understanding. How can
we understand the love of Christ that He would love such a person who has
committed such grievous violations of His law?
 
It is only as we grow in the knowledge of God’s precepts that we learn to know
the goodness of God in His longsuffering mercy toward us.
 
We read in Micah 7:18-19: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity,
and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth
not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he
will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast
all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
 
One time the Lord really laid on my heart that I had violated a principle.  The
sermon that really charged my heart concluded with the words, “but I have
forgiven him.” The next day or two I was laying this before the Lord, and it was
just as if He rebuked me like never before. He stopped me cold. He said: “I have
put your sins in the depth of the sea. Do not reach behind my back and put them
back in my face.” It is quite a thought, is it not? He said: I forgave you. Do
not ever mention it again.
 
Have you ever had a quarrel with someone, and then get together and put it
behind you? Do not ever mention it again. When the Lord has taken His blood and
covered your sin, He does not want those sins laid back in His face.

 
When welearn through growing in the knowledge of God’s precepts how justly we
have deserved His wrath, then we can learn what it means for mercy to rejoice
against judgment.
 
We read in Psalm 34:7-10: “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that
fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is
the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no
want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they
that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.”
 
What a blessed promise it is when we learn to feast on that heavenly manna, when
we learn to feast on His love that is beyond all understanding, when we learn to
feast on that precious bread of life, that meat that endures forever.

 
 

 
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes
(Psalm 119:71). 

 
Held in its context, our text is speaking of afflictions that are occasioned by
persecution. I want to read verses 69 and 70: “The proud have forged a lie
against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as
fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.”
 
This is David speaking, the man after God’s own heart. This is a man who fully
understood afflictions we live through in this life. He is saying that the
forging of lies against him has been for his own profit. David sees that the
Lord is using this to remove his wrong attitudes, and he stops begrudging those
who seemingly prosper in their way.

 
It becomessuch a paradox to our human rationale at times to see how those who
have forged lies against us seem to prosper, while our afflictions seem to
continue while we strive to please the Lord. Those who live wickedly seem to
prosper in their ways, yet we live in afflictions.

 
Look at what we read in Psalm 37:7: “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for
him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the
man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.”
 
I want you to see what the Lord is teaching. He has a school He is bringing His
people through. We come through this school that we might be partakers of His
holiness.

 
When theLord places us in the furnace, it is to purge away our dross, our wrong
attitudes and sinful deeds. The fire purges the dross away from the precious
metal. The dross is lighter and rises to the top, and the refiner skims it off.

 
Look at what we read in Psalm 37:8-10: “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath:
fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but
those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little
while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his
place, and it shall not be.”
 
Anger is our immediate, natural response to lying tongues. The Lord is teaching
us the Spirit of Christ. He is teaching us what it means to suffer wrongfully
and to take it patiently. The evildoers may seemingly prosper, but in the day of
judgment, the Lord will cut them off. The Lord will cut off the one who forges
lies against you, and the Lord will deliver you.
 
Afterthe Lord has accomplished His purpose in afflicting us, then see what shall
be our reward after we have been purged from our sin as we read in Psalm 37:5-6:
“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the
noonday.”

 
Our right attitude will become apparent to the world. It will be as obvious as
the sun in the sky. Everyone will learn to see that even though that person has
done many things against us, and we still show a godly spirit toward him,
praying for him and speaking well of him, doing what we can to help him if he is
in trouble. This is where God the Father is glorified, when we show praise to
His name by the spirit of righteousness.

 
Our textsays, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted [but then it also
tells us wherein it is good]; that I might learn thy statutes.” Through
suffering wrongfully, we learn the law of love. We learn to respond with love.

 
Job knewwhat it was to live as it seemed in God’s favor while in his prosperity,
yet see what he says about God’s correction in his affliction.
 
We read in Job 1:8: “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my
servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright
man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”
 
The Lord had put a hedge about him so Satan could not touch him.
 
Job suffered much affliction, and in this affliction we read in Job5:17:
“Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the
chastening of the Almighty.” Job was going through the purging process. Even
though in his own mind, Job lived a righteous life, the Lord saw
self-righteousness in Job, which Job himself did not see. Job was righteous in
his works, but he did not understand his need for the righteousness of Christ.

 
When Job came to the conclusion of his trial, he saw the Lord and said, “I have
heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore
I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
 
After Job was brought to the point where he understood the righteousness of God,
he then understood that his best righteousness was filthy rags in the eyes of
God. The only way Job was acceptable before God was in the righteousness of
Christ.

 
Job said, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? Behold, I am vile; what
shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but
I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further. Then answered the
LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Gird up thy loins now like a man:
I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me” (Job 40:4-7). He saw that in
his best righteousness, he could not attain the righteousness of God.
 
 “Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing,
and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel
without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too
wonderful for me, which I knew not” (Job 42:1-3).
 
In Job’s own righteousness there was no salvation. The Father gave His Son to
keep the law with perfect obedience on behalf of His people, and in the way of
obedience He lay down His life for His people. He paid the penalty of their
sins, which we cannot pay ourselves. He thereby redeems us from all iniquity.
Through the chastening of the Lord, Job was brought to see this.

 
Job alsoknew the sting of a lashing tongue, but he saw it all as sent by the
Lord. We read in Job 5:18-21: “For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth,
and his hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven
there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and
in war from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the
tongue:neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.”
 
In our text, David spoke of those who forged lies against him, and the Lord
allows that. The Lord allows people to do these things against us so we will
flee to the Lord to be hid under the shadow of His wings.

 
God’s Worddoes so blessedly teach us that all these trials in the furnace of
affliction are to try our hearts, and to keep us from building upon anything but
Christ. You and I are headed for a never-ending eternity. We will stand before a
holy and a righteous God. Job, a man whom the Lord Himself said to Satan that
there was none like him, yet Job saw that his own righteousness was not a
foundation for his salvation. He needed the perfect righteousness of Christ. We
cannot build upon our own good life and good works. We can only build upon
Christ and His perfect righteousness.

 
I want to read this to you from 1 Corinthians 3:11-13: “For other foundation can
no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon
this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s
work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be
revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
 
These firesof affliction are sent not only to remove the wood, hay and stubble,
but to purify the gold, silver and precious stones. The precious stone is the
foundation, Jesus Christ. Job’s foundation was built on his own righteousness,
and this was taken away by the fire of affliction.

 
Look at what we read in Hosea 5:15: “I will go and return to my place, till they
acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek
me early.” The context speaks of how the Lord sent His trials upon Ephraim. “For
I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I,
even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him”
(verse 14).
 
By ourselves we like to believe that we are righteous. We do not want to confess
that we are sinners and deserving of hell. “My place” is the mercy seat, where
the blood of Christ makes atonement for sin.

 
The furnace of affliction is to take away our false securities outside of Christ
so we will acknowledge our iniquities and come to Christ for a pardon for our
sins.

 
Our textteaches us, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might
learn thy statutes,” in other words, that I might learn that law of love, that
is,that our afflictions are sent “for our profit, that we might be partakers of
his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).
 
Our afflictions are sent by the Lord for our profit that we might be partakers
of His holiness, that He would purge away our sins and the false foundations we
rest upon.
 
We can“be partakers of his holiness,” only after we have had our dross of hay,
wood and stubble removed in the furnace. The anger we have against our fellow
man, those wrong attitudes, that wrong conduct, those wrong principles, must be
taken away.

 
Malachi 3:3 talks about when the Messiah will come. We read: “And he shall sit
as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and
purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in
righteousness.”
 
The furnace of affliction prevents sin as well as it purges from sin. I want you
to see what we read about the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7: “And lest I
should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there
was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest
I should be exalted above measure.” The Lord sent these afflictions to keep Paul
from rising up in pride.
 
The afflictions also purge out the dross of our old evil nature. We see this in
Isaiah 27:9: “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this
is all the fruit to take away his sin.” If we are living in a wrong attitude,
the Lord sends afflictions to teach us that our attitudes toward our brother
should not be hatred and malice and distrust, that we must pray for that
neighbor. We must love that neighbor where he is. We have to realize that if he
has been taken in a fault, it is because the seeds of evil are in his nature as
well as ours. Just because God has spared us, this does not mean we are to
become exalted above measure and stand above our neighbor. We must try to win
that neighbor by placing coals of love upon his head.
 
When weare left to ourselves in prosperity, we will abuse it in pride and
leisure. This is our human nature. Look at Psalm 30:6-7: “And in my prosperity I
said, I shall never be moved. LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to
stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.”
 
David saw that when he was prosperous, he started trusting in his prosperity.
When the Lord hid His face, David’s prosperity was of no help. We have to see
that our prosperity or anything else the Lord gives us in this life is not a
basis on which we can trust.

 
Luxuryand leisure tend to lead us away from the Lord. Look at Deuteronomy 32:15:
“But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick,
thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly
esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” He did not think he needed the Lord. This
is what the Lord does for His people. In the furnace of affliction, He keeps us
needy before Him.
 
David’sheart was so tender when he was being afflicted by the hand of Saul.
David was being pursued by King Saul and slandered by him. King Saul was trying
to kill him even though David was totally innocent. King Saul and his army came
into the same cave where David was hiding, and King Saul lay down and went to
sleep. David’s men wanted him to kill Saul, but David refused to do so because
Saul was anointed by God to be king. However, David cut off the skirt of Saul’s
garment.

 
Notice 1 Samuel 24:5: “And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote
him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.” It even bothered David’s conscience
that he cut off this small piece of cloth. See how David’s heart was so tender
under persecution.
 
See thecontrast when David lived in Jerusalem. His conscience was benumbed until
it was awakened by the prophet Nathan. David committed adultery with Bathsheba,
the wife of Uriah, and got her pregnant. David tried to get the man to come home
from battle and sleep with his wife, but Uriah refused to sleep with her while
his fellow soldiers were in the field. David sent messengers to have Uriah slain
in battle.

 
We read in 2 Samuel 12:13: “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against
the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou
shalt not die.”

 
While David was under affliction, the Lord spared him from such heinous sins.
 
David first tried to defend himself, but when Nathan confronted him, David
confessed that he had sinned. The Lord caused David to live the rest of his life
in grievous affliction. The Lord rewarded him according to his sin. The sword
would not depart from David’s house. One of David’s own sons raped his sister.
The Lord let David see adultery in his own children.

 
The Lord allowed David’s own son Absalom to murder the son who had committed
adultery with his sister. Then the Lord allowed Absalom to have sexual relations
publicly with David’s wives. How humbling and humiliating that must have been
for David. Then the Lord allowed Absalom to take the kingdom away from David.
 
The Lord spared David, and Absalom was slain, but David grieved his son’s death
and cried out: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died
for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!”David saw and understood that this
affliction was for his sin. David, the man after God’s own heart, was yet such a
grievous sinner, when his sins were truly revealed. It was only in Christ that
David could stand righteous before God, and it is only in Christ that you and I
can stand righteous before God.

 
Without chastening, we are rebellious, proud and corrupt, but it is by
continuous discipline that we are made “meet to be partakers of the inheritance
of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). We come to where we see we need the
salvation that is in Christ.

 
We cannot point a finger at David. A true biography tells the whole story, and
it does not just say what a wonderful man David was. It tells who he was. The
Bible is a true biography. In David we see a mirror of who you and I are. We
have rebellion seated in our hearts by the fall of Adam.

 
It is agreat judgment from God to be left over to our own ways. If you and I are
left over to our own ways, if we have not been brought under the afflicting hand
of God, and if we are not being purged and cleansed, it is a great judgment from
God. Look at what we read in Hosea 4:17: “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him
alone.” In other words, let him go and destroy himself.

 
See whata blessing it is when we have learned to see the profit in our
afflictions spoken of in our text, “that I might learn thy statutes.” In other
words, that we might learn a holy reverence for the will of God.

 
Look at Psalm 81:11-12: “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel
would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked
in their own counsels.”
 
What is a more grievous judgment than if we by our rebellion quench the Holy
Spirit and God says, Let him go. God let them destroy themselves by doing their
own pleasure.

 
It is good for us to be afflicted, because when we are left to our “own hearts’
lust . . . [to walk in our] own counsels,” we shall not see the salvation of the
Lord. We will never see the salvation of the Lord if the Lord leaves us to walk
in our own counsel.
 
Look what we read in Psalm 81:13-15: “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me,
and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and
turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have
submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.”
This would have happened if they had listened to God, and if they had been
purged in that furnace of affliction.
 
Thereis infinitely more pleasure in holiness than there can be pain in
affliction. When the Lord has purged away our sin and removed the affliction,
the joy of holiness so far outweighs all the pain.

 
Look at Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous,
but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of
righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
 
The Lord often compares His family and His children to us and our children. If
you have raised children, you know there are times when the children need to be
disciplined. If we do not, we do not love them. Have you ever had a time when a
child was rebellious, and you disciplined that child, and the end result was
that the child came and put his arm around you and hugged you?

 
When the Lord disciplines us, and our rebellion is broken, then we return to the
Lord and we can embrace him with our whole hearts because we know that He did so
in love. We know that He would not allow us to go out and destroy ourselves.

 
See whatthose peaceable fruits of righteousness all include under the law of
love. We read in verses 12 and 13: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down,
and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is
lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”
 
The first thing it does is it causes us to go out and find those who need help.
Do not let the lame fall and be turned out of the way, but heal them.
 
Continuing in verses 14 and 15 we read: “Follow peace with all men, and
holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any
man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble
you, and thereby many be defiled.”
 
We must watch our hearts carefully so no root of bitterness springs up in our
hearts against any man.

 
As wego through this furnace, the precious metals shall be revealed. We read in
1 Corinthians 3:13: “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall
declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every
man’s work of what sort it is.” The gold, the silver, the precious stones will
endure the chastening. They become purified, but the wood, hay and stubble will
be burned up.
 
As thedross is removed, we can say with David in our text, “It is good for me
that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” That is when the
gold is revealed. This happens when you have learned by affliction that your
anger is removed, that your wrong attitudes are gone, that you have the Spirit
of Christ, that you have that spirit of love.
 
I want you to see what 1 Peter 1:7-9says: “That the trial of your faith, being
much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire,
might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus
Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet
believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end
of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
 
Our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is being purified. The image of Christ is
being instilled in our hearts. This is Christ formed in us.

 
The blessedeffect of the furnace of affliction is revealed in Hosea 6:1-3:
“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us;
he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in
the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we
know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the
morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain
unto the earth.”
 
The Lord will come with His refreshing and with His love. He will restore our
souls when we acknowledge our transgressions and we come to Him for a pardon.
 
Earlier we sawin Hosea 5:15: “I will go and return to my place, till they
acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek
me early.”
 
The wholechapter of Psalm 119 reveals the blessed effect of the furnace.
 
Verse 133 says: “Order my steps in thy Word: and let not iniquity have dominion
over me.”
 
Do you see how the heart of David has been refreshed? He now desires that the
Word of God will be the order of his steps.
 
Look at verse 165: “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall
offend them.”
 
This happens when the dross has been purged and we learn to understand His law
of love.

 
The blessedeffect is to become renewed in the spirit of our minds as we read in
Romans 7:22: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” This does
not mean the dos and don’ts in a legalistic way to earn salvation, but that with
the spirit of the law of love in the heart, we desire to know and to do His
will. Our inner desire is to know and to do His will.

 
Isaiah 26:3tells us: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed
on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Even in the most difficult affliction, we
have perfect peace. It does not change the circumstances, but we have peace in
our hearts in those circumstances. We cannot run from circumstances. We need to
find peace with God in those circumstances.

 
The stirring of the ore separates the precious metals from the dross. There are
probably at least 100 pounds of dross for every one pound of precious metal.
When the ore is brought up to temperature, the precious metals begin to melt,
and the ore is stirred, and the dross comes to the surface and is purged off. 

 
We see in Proverbs 17:3: “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for
gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.”
 
As the Lord begins to stir, whata blessing when our heart begins to melt, when
itis stirred by some dropping in of God’s Spirit. Have you ever had a time when
the Holy Spirit comes into your heart, and He comes with a portion of God’s Holy
Word and Christ is lifted up before your eyes? Sometimes the heartis stirred by
some portion of God’s Word, which feeds your soul. 

 
Sometimes our hearts are stirred by some revelation of our Saviour, and how His
dying love paid the penalty of our sins and that our names are engraved in the
palms of His hands. It was our sins that nailed Him to the cross. He takes that
name of ours that is engraved into His hand, and raises that hand before His
Father, and says, I have paid a ransom. He comes before the courts of heaven as
our Advocate, and He pleads our cause. He gets our pardon. When we come before
the court of heaven, all we can do is plead guilty, but He pays the debt, and
justice demands a pardon, as much as justice demanded our damnation because of
our sins.

 
How often does it stir our hearts when some dross is removed, when the Lord
opens our eyes to show us a sin we have lived in all our lives, and the Lord
delivers us from that sin? This melts our hearts before the Lord. 

 
How often do we see our hearts melting whensome rebellion is broken, and we can
give everything over into the hands of our heavenly Father?

 
In Psalm 66:10-12we read: “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us,
as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon
our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and
through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.”
 
He tries us in the furnace of affliction. When that happens and the dross is
removed, the Refiner looks into the molten metal and sees the reflection of His
blessed image. When ourhearts are melted before our lovely Saviour, we have
those peaceable fruits of righteousness.
 
The fieryfurnace is Christ’s workhouse. The most excellent vessels of honor and
praise have been formed there. Look at Isaiah 48:10-11: “Behold, I have refined
thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For
mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be
polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.”
 
The Lord will not share His glory with another.
 
Manasseh,Paul and the jailer were all chosen in the fire, God uses the furnace
to melt them, and stamps them with the image of Christ.
 
Manasseh served idols and was an ungodly man until the Lord put him in prison,
and there the Lord removed his dross. When Manasseh was restored to the kingdom,
he was a godly king. Then Manasseh served the Lord.

 
The Apostle Paul was a persecutor. He took the children of God to jail and
killed them. However, in the furnace of affliction, the Apostle Paul learned
what it was to walk in the ways of the Lord.

 
The jailer had put Paul and Silas in stocks in the inner prison, but he was
removed from a wrong attitude. He was brought through an earthquake, and was at
the point of killing himself, but the gospel was brought to his ears.

 
The image of Christ was stamped on them in that furnace, and now therefiner can
see His own image in that molten metal, in each one of them.
 
All thosewho are refined to become partakers of His blessed image will be able
to say with David, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might
learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71).

 
 


1Sa 17:1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle and were assembled at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah in Ephes-dammim.
1Sa 17:2 Saul and the men of Israel were encamped in the Valley of Elah and drew up in battle array against the Philistines.
1Sa 17:4 And a champion went out of the camp of the Philistines named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span [almost ten feet].
1Sa 17:32 David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine; your servant will go out and fight with him.

WHAT ARE THE GIANTS THAT YOU ARE FACING TODAY?

• UNEMPLOYMENT
• DEBT
• DESEASES
• DEPRESSION
• DANGER
• ABANDONMENT
• ABUSE
• TRAGEDY
• BILLS
• WEAKNESSES
• REJECTION
• BROKEN RELATIONSHIP
• INABILITY
• ADDICTION
• HABBITS
• TEMPTATIONS
• DISCRIMINATION
• FEAR
• PAST FAILURES
• DISCOURAGEMENT
• ANGER

DO YOU HEAR YOUR GIANTS SHOUTING?

• You are not qualified for that job!
• You are not good enough!
• You can’t pay your bills!
• You can’t save your marriage!
• You are losing your kids!
• You cannot stop your vices!
• you can’t refuse pornography!
• You can’t stop your forbidden relationship
• You can’t shake your past failures
• You don’t have a bright future!
• Your life is a mistake!

Stand up now and face your giants by the same tactics that God has given to David!

David taught us how to face our own giants. Now, are you ready?????

• To say goodbye to defeat and start victorious life with God? Are you ready?????
• To discover on how to face the giant challenges that we are facing today? Are you ready????
• To know the weapons that God prepares for us and claim the victory? Are you ready???
• To join the battlefield called life and be confident of God’s presence? Are you ready???
• To cut off the enemies head and overcome totally all the deception of the devil in your lives? Are you ready????

I. PLUG IN TO THE SOURCE OF POWER – v 37
1Sa 17:37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. Saul said to David, Go, and the LORD be with you.

David did not say the he delivered his flocks from the lion and bear. But he Said, “THE LORD WHO DELIVERED ME”. The Lord is the source of David’s power. All our electronics appliances will be useless unless connected to the source of electrical power. Our life is also useless if not connected to the source of our power no other than God.

God’s people in the bible had been empowered by God through the outpouring of his anointing power

THE EMPOWERMENT OF SAUL:

1Sa 10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?

1Sa 10:6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.

Later, this anointing power of God to Saul had been forfeited due to deliberate commission of sin against God.

1Sa 16:1 The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?

1Sa 16:14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.

THE EMPOWERMENT OF DAVID:

1Sa 16:13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power…

1Sa 18:14 In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him.

THE EMPOWERMENT OF CHRISTIANS:

Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Paul testified:
1Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man’s
wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1Co 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.


II. CHOOSE THE RIGHT WEAPONS – vs 38-40

1. The Stone of The Past

1Sa 17:37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.

1Ch 16:12 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,


2. The Stone of Prayer

1Sa 30:6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.

Psa 57:1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

Psa 59:16 But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you…”

Transition: Invite God’s help. Pick up the stone of prayer. And don’t neglect…

3. The Stone of Priority

1Sa 17:46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand…., that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

1Sa 17:47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’S, and He will give you into our hands."

Remember your highest priority: God’s reputation. David saw Goliath as a chance for God to show off! Did David know he would exit the battle alive? No. But he was willing to give his life for the reputation of God.

Your cancer is God’s chance to show His healing power. Your sin is God’s opportunity to showcase His grace. Your struggling marriage can billboard God’s power.

See your struggle as God’s canvas. On it he will paint his multicolored supremacy.

Transition: Announce God’s name and then reach for…

4. The Stone of PASSION

1Sa 17:32 And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine

1Sa 17:48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

Who bet on David? Who put money on the kid from Bethlehem? Not the Philistines. Not the Hebrews. Not David’s siblings or David’s king. But God did.

David ran toward his giant. Do the same!

Transition: Remember; take up the stone of passion. There remains one more stone. It is the …

5. The Stone of Persistence

Why did David picked up 5 stones? Could it be because Goliath had four relatives the size of Kingkong. Imitate him. Never give up. One prayer might not be enough. One apology might not do it. You may get knocked down a time or two…but don’t quit. Keep loading the rocks. Keep swinging the sling.

Gen 32:26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let you go, except you bless me. (Jacob)

III. KEEP YOUR EYES ON FOCUS– vs 41-47

1Sa 17:47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.

• Do not be disturbed by the giant

1Sa 17:26 David asked the men standing near him,….Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?

1Sa 17:32 David said to Saul, Let no-one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.

1Sa 17:45 David said to the Philistine, You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

• Do not be discouraged by the detractors

1Sa 17:28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he
burned with anger at him and asked, Why have you come down here? And with whom
did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how
wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.


1Sa 17:30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before.

1Sa 17:33 Saul replied, You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.

1Sa 17:36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.

• Focus on God

1Sa 17:37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine….

1Sa 17:46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me….and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.

1Sa 17:47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.

Listing hurts won’t heal them. Itemizing problems won’t solve them. Categorizing rejections won’t remove them. David removed the giant because he emphasized the Lord.

IV. SEIZE DIVINE OPPORTUNITY – vs 48-50
1Sa 17:48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly towards the
battle line to meet him.

1Sa 17:49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

Why these list of would be volunteer did not fight Goliath?
1. Eliab - David was not even included to the enlisted men when he killed Goliath. God can use un-ordained layman to do great things for God if He will trust God.
2. Saul - Leaders by position will hide when problem comes. But anointed leaders will see giant problem as an opportunity to show the power of God.
3. Saul - When you grieve God and you cause Him to leave, you cannot fight the enemies easily like what you did before.
4. Jonathan – There is wisdom in keeping silent and waiting for God to move than to make a haste-fight without God’s leading
5. David – The outcome of the battle always depend onwhose side God is belong. One plus God will surely become the winner.


V. CUT OFF THE ENEMY’S HEAD –v 51

1Sa 17:51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.
• Cut off evil communications
• Cut off elicit relationship
• Cut off bad habits and vices
• Cut off pornography
• Cut off drug addiction
• Cut off alcoholism
• Cut off dishonesty
• Cut off adultery and infidelity

The next time the giants shout, you know what to do
1. Plug in to the source of power
2. Choose the right weapons
3. Keep your eyes on the right focus
4. Seize God’s moment
5. Cut off the enemy’s head
 
The Money Pit 02/28/2011
 
Why are so many families over-extended financially?
• Are you in a position where things are really tight financially, or are you about to drown in financial debt?
• Does it seem as though your paycheck is getting dumped into a big bottomless pit?
• You are you are not alone.
• According to Money-zine.com Americans carried approximately $886 billion in credit card debt, and that number is expected to grow to a projected $1,177 billion by the end of 2010. This works out to over $5,100 in credit card debt per cardholder (not household) and that number is expected to increase to over $6,500 by the end of 2010.
• That is only CREDIT CARD DEBT, not cars or other issues.
• Statistics also tell us that the average new car loan is over $27,600,http://www.money-zine.com/Financial-Planning/Debt-Consolidation/Consumer-Debt-Statistics/
• The question gets to be “how much is enough?” How much would does it take to make a person happy?
• Life has become a money pit for many. When you have an insatiable appetite for things, you will NEVER be happy no matter how much or little you have.
• Our life becomes about trying to pay for all the stuff our appetite demands.
• Why do you thing many if not most families up to their eyeballs in debt? They are missing something!
• Let’s get personal for a minute.
• How many of you like being in debt up to your eyeballs?
• What if through God’s Word you can transform life from one of being a worry infested money pit to a life with less stress and more joy filled?
• Would it be nice to have less financial stress and to have the ability to more deeply participate in taking care of the needs of others along with being able to participate in furthering the ministry of God’s Kingdom?
• Today turn in your bibles to Philippians 4:11-15
• SLIDE #2
• Philippians 4:11(ESV) 11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
• If we want life to stop being a money pit we need to:
• SLIDE #3
SERMON
I. Learn how to be content with your life. (11)
• Paul had some very rough times AFTER he became a Christian.
• Before he was a Christian he was a Pharisee with an excellent pedigreed.
• He most likely was doing pretty well from a material standpoint.
• People looked up to him, they envied him, and they wanted to be like him.
• As a Christian, Paul did not always have it easy, shipwrecked, beaten, and let out of town in a basket among other things.
• In the previous passage Paul speaks of being blessed by the fact that Philippian Christians were concerned about him especially since he was in prison at the time.
• Throughout it all Paul learned something very important. He learned how to be content with whatever he has and whatever circumstance he was in.
• The word “content” in original text means “self-sufficient” and independent of others.
• As a matter of fact, this word is only used in the place in the New Testament.
• In the ancient Greek world the word was used to describe the independence that WISDOM brought, however; this is not what Paul had in mind with this word.
• He gives it a new meaning. It now gives the idea of independence of dependence on Jesus.
• In other words being content biblically is knowing your sufficiency comes from being in Christ. Being content is like being Jesus-sufficient instead of self.
• Remember how last week we examined the fact that Jesus will take care of us if we put Him first.
• When we lack contentment, we are never satisfied.
• We see life in the wrong light. The chief end of man is not to have all his needs and desires filled, but rather it is to glorify God.
• Solomon was a man who seemed to have it all, wealth, power prestige. He had the ability and means to do anything he wanted. AND by the WAY HE DID.
• SLIDE #4
• Ecclesiastes 12:13(ESV) 13The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
• Notice that Paul says he LEARNED to be content. Why did he have to learn it? Because contentment is not natural for us.
• If we do not learn to be content with God and what He is blessed us with, we will never be at peace, nothing we do; nothing we buy will fill the void in our heart.
• Does being content mean that we do not desire some things? Not necessarily.
• Just because we may desire things does not mean we are not content. It boils down to; are we joyful and blessed over what we have from God NOW?
• I have had times in my life when I did not know what contentment meant. I would want something to the point that I felt cheated with what I had at the time.
• I would love to have some of the money and resources I threw down the money pit in my life because I was not content with my current blessings.
• Let’s look at verse 12
• SLIDE #5
• Philippians 4:12(ESV) 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
• SLIDE #6
II. Learn how to live above your life circumstances. (12)
• How many of us are victims of circumstances. We allow circumstances to control our emotions, relationships, faith, and our finances.
• Paul knew how to live with little as well as lot.
• He even experienced living life in hunger.
• It is so easy to feel blessed when all is well, but how easy is it when you just lost your job or just had your house foreclosed on.
• True contentment transcends circumstances. Contentment does not mean you LOVE losing your job and your house, but it means that you know God is still in control, that He is still your Lord.
• There is an art to being able to do this, notice again this word LEARNED is used.
• Who wants to be hungry? Even during lean times we can be content.
• The word “abound” means to overflow.
• Now, as hard as it can be to be content when we have little, have an overflowing abundance can also present challenges. (AS FOR ME, I THINK I WOULD RATHER…) 
• When we do not know how to live with little, all we will be able to think about it getting more, we will be discontent with God and we will spend what we have foolishly on items we cannot afford.
• When we do not know how to live with much, we will not be satisfied until we have more and more and more.
• SLIDE #7
• Luke 12:15(ESV) 15And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
• Are you discontented because you don’t have what you want? Learn to rely on God’s promises and Christ’s power to help you be content.
• If you always want more, ask God to remove that desire and teach you contentment in every circumstance. He will supply all your needs, but in a way that he knows is best for you. (Life Application BIBLE)
• Let me tell you something from personal experience. Until I learned to be content with what I had and where I was, I did not experience peace.
• When I finally started to get a grip on contentment, it really changed how I saw things.
• The desire for more and more was under control, I was no longer willing to put my family at financial risk for stuff.
• Let’s see what we gather from verse 13
• SLIDE #8
• Philippians 4:13(ESV) 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
• Slide #9
III. Learn where your strength really comes from. (13)
• Paul’s contentment was not gained through self-discipline. Instead, it was through Christ alone, literally “the one empowering me”
• In context, the all things refers to the list in 4:11-12. In every possible circumstance, Paul could truly be content because he did not let outward circumstances determine his attitude.
• This verse is not about saying I can do ANYTHING I WANT; it is about being able to accomplish all things for Him through Christ and His power.
• Think of the issue of forgiveness. When YOU do not think YOU can do it, you can do it through CHRIST who strengthens you.
• What seems impossible, contentment in all circumstances can be done through Christ who strengthens us!
• This happens when we are in Christ.
• SLIDE #10
• Galatians 2:20(ESV) 20I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
• When we really get into a relationship with Jesus you will be amazed at what God can do through you, you will be amazed at what can change in your life through Christ.
• Many times we fall short because we rely on our own strength to get through issues we were not meant to deal with on our own.
• Contentment can be achieved through your relationship with Christ!
• Let’s look at our final thought in verses 14-15
• SLIDE #11
• Philippians 4:14-15(ESV) 14Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.
• SLIDE #12
IV. Learn to be a blessing to others. (14-15)
• When we start to be content in life, we will realize that God put us here to also be a blessing to others.
• When we are not throwing our finances down the money pit of discontent, we will have more finances to help others and to be more involved in the advancement of the kingdom.
• The Philippian Christians were a blessing to Paul and his ministry. Then were one of the first to support him.
• Imagine where we might be today if there were not folks who could finance the work Paul did on behalf of Jesus.
• When we are not so focused on self, we will be able to be a blessing to others. When we are content with what we have been blessed with, when we are thankful for what we have been blessed with, we will be more generous with what we have.
CONCLUSION
• Contentment will keep us from throwing our finance and ourselves down the dark, lonely money pit.
• This is one lesson that if we will prayerfully implement into our lives, it will change our lives and how we see life.
• A lot of the stresses we face will disappear over time!

 
 

 
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). 

 
Exhort means to share with others a loving spirit with a loving hand to hold
them from drifting in sin.
 
The song we just sang, “Throw Out the Lifeline,” is an exhortation to you and
me. We have friends, we have brothers, we have sisters who do not have the grace
of God, who are not saved. We must exhort them. We must reach out with a loving
spirit to win them, to bring them to serving the Lord, to bring them out from
under the power of sin. It is our duty.
 
Let us look at the verses before and after our text. Verse 12 says: “Take heed,
brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing
from the living God.”
 
We must be so careful about this for ourselves. We must also exhort one another,
our friends, our brothers, our sisters who are departing from the living God. If
they are departing from the authority of God’s Word, we must exhort them. We
must exhort one another daily. We must do it with urgency.
 
Sin is so deceitful, and sin has such power over the human mind. If we see
someone taken under the power of sin, we must exhort them daily. 

 
We are so responsible to our brethren for their soul’s sake to exhort them if we
see them departing from the living God through an evil heart of unbelief. When
we see this in our brethren we must exhort them. We must lovingly reach out to
them and try to draw them in.
 
Let us see how responsible we are. Turn with me to Ezekiel 33:12: “Therefore,
thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the
righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the
wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth
from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his
righteousness in the day that he sinneth.” 

 
If we see someone who professes to be a Christian beginning to turn cold with a
heart of unbelief, and they are beginning to depart from God, then we must
remind them that what they have done right will not save them when they turn to
do what is wrong.
 
Watch verse 13: “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live;
if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his
righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath
committed, he shall die for it.”
 
If he looks back and says, Well, I have lived a good life, therefore, now I can
start to do evil, all of his righteousness will not be remembered. We must
exhort one another daily that we do not depart from walking where it is right.  

 
We must realize the urgency of our responsibility to “exhort one another daily,
while it is called To day.” I want you to see Ezekiel 33:8: “When I say unto the
wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the
wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood
will I require at thine hand.”
 
It is our duty. We must warn them. If we do not, the Lord will require their
blood at our hand. Do you see how important it is that we exhort one another
daily? The Word of God commands us to do this, and if we do not, then their sin
is on our head. 

 
Watch verse 9: “Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from
it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast
delivered thy soul.”
 
You have warned him. He did not turn from his wicked way, but you are clear. His
blood is not on you, but it is our duty to warn him. 

 
As the direct result of our neglect in exhortation, the heart is “hardened
through the deceitfulness of sin.” If we walk in sin, then we become hardened
against sin. Then our hearts are no longer tender, and sin no longer bothers us.
We must exhort each other daily lest we let them walk in sin and they become
hardened and no longer desire to walk with God. 

 
God’s clear command is to plead with and “exhort one another daily, while it is
called To day,” saying as we see in Ezekiel 33:11: “Say unto them, As I live,
saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the
wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why
will ye die, O house of Israel?”
 
This is the message you and I are responsible to take to our brother, sister,
friend or fellow man. 

 
When we see one of our brethren with “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing
from the living God,” we are exhorted in Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, if a man be
overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit
of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

 
If I come to someone as a proud man, and say, Look, you cannot do this as if he
was sinning against me, I am wrong. I must come to him in a spirit of meekness.

 
We must plead with and “exhort one another daily, while it is called To day” for
them to hear God’s voice. I want you to turn with me now to Hebrews 3:15: “While
it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the
provocation.” It is the voice of God that we must hear. It is not my voice when
I come to exhort my brethren. It is the voice of God, because I come with the
word of God. That is why I must exhort them to hear the voice of God. 

 
To hear God’s voice and do His will is to exercise faith, but to harden the
heart in rebellion is “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living
God.” When I hear His voice and do His will, that is faith. When I hear His
voice and do not do His will, that is unbelief.
 
Watch what we see in Luke 6:46: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the
things which I say?”
 
Salvation is in that we hear and do. In verses 47 and 48 we read, “Whosoever
cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he
is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the
foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon
that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.”
 
Whose house was founded on a rock? It is those who hear and do. That is building
on the rock.

 
Watch verse 49: “But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without
a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat
vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”
 
This man heard, but he did not do. These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How can Jesus be our Lord and King, if we do not do what He says?
 
If you come before the Lord and say, Lord, would you do this and that for me,
why should He do that when you do not do what He says? If you disobey the Lord,
why would the Lord answer your prayers? He will not.
 
Turn with me to John 15:7: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye
shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
 
God says, If you do what I say, ask what you want, and I will do it for you. If
our prayers are not being answered, sometimes we can understand why. It is
because we do not do the things He says.
 
This is why “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God [is the
first, and greatest occasion to] exhort one another daily [that is, frequently]
while it is called To day; [that is, without delay] lest any of you be hardened
through the deceitfulness of sin.”
 
If you see someone who is not doing what God’s Word says, it is the greatest
occasion to exhort them because they will not have God’s blessing. God will not
hear their prayers. If you are walking in rebellion against God, He will not
answer your prayers.
 
We must exhort today. Do not wait until tomorrow. If I see someone doing
something, maybe telling a white lie, and do not say anything, he gets in the
habit of it, and the next thing you know, it becomes his character, and he does
it without even knowing it. He becomes hardened in it. I must reprove. I must
exhort. I must caution him not to do this.
 
I want you to see how the necessity is so great. It is so urgent. See what the
Apostle Paul says in Galatians 4:19: “My little children, of whom I travail in
birth again until Christ be formed in you.”
 
When a woman is in travail, something must give. Either a child must be born or
the mother is going to die. This is how urgent it is when we pray and beseech
and exhort our fellow man. His soul is at stake.

 
Paul wanted to see that spiritual birth. He wanted to see them born again. He
had no rest. He could not take it easy and say, Well, the Lord will take care of
them, or someone else will talk to them. He could not do that. It becomes
urgent. It becomes as if you are in travail until Christ is formed in them. That
is how urgent it is to exhort one another.
 
Now see the urgency in Paul’s exhortation to the church at Philippi for what
appears to him as their “evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living
God.”
 
We read in Philippians 3:17-19: “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark
them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have
told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the
cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose
glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)” 

 
See how this exhortation was prompted by their lack of the mind or Spirit of
Christ, which was revealed by their conversation. See how urgent it was. He had
no rest.

 
I do not care what their profession is, if their walk of life is against the
will of God, they are enemies of the cross of Christ.
 
Watch verses 20 and 21: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we
look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall change our vile body,
that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working
whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
 
We want to be changed. We want to be fashioned into that glorious image of
Christ. We do not want to spend our time in the conversation of the world. Our
hearts and desires are in heaven. We want all of our evil inclinations subdued
unto Him. 

 
We must exhort one another, and exhortation is not pleasing to the flesh. It is
not easy to go to a friend and exhort him and tell him, Look, you should not do
that. When we see that never-dieing souls are working out their eternal
damnation and  becoming “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,” then it
becomes more urgent than if their house was on fire. If your friend’s house was
on fire, would you not call him immediately and tell him? That is not as
important as if you see his soul is on fire for eternity.

 
We must learn to see what we read in Ezekiel 33:13: “When I shall say to the
righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness [that
is, in his experience], and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not
be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for
it.”
 
Even though he may claim to be a Christian, if he is walking in sin, all of his
past righteousness is of no value because he has departed from the living God by
an evil heart of unbelief. This is what we must exhort for.  

 
Many people claim their salvation in their experience. They feel that God has
blessed them in that experience, and now they think they have salvation. Then
they turn away from God.

 
Balaam was very rich in experience. He was widely known as a prophet of the
Lord.
 
Turn with me to Numbers 23:5: “And the LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and
said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak.” The Lord spoke to Balaam.
Balaam was a messenger of the Lord, but that did not mean he was saved.
 
We read in Numbers 24:2-5: “And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel
abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon
him. And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and
the man whose eyes are open hath said: He hath said, which heard the words of
God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his
eyes open: How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!”
 
See the rich experience of Balaam. See how close he was to the Lord. He saw the
beauty of the righteous. He saw the beauty of serving God. He saw how precious
it was for those who die in Christ. Look at Numbers 23:10: “Who can count the
dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death
of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!”
 
Balaam was a man rich in experience, but he was not saved.
 
We see in Revelation 2:14 that the Lord Jesus Christ is warning against the
doctrines of Balaam. “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast
there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a
stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto
idols, and to commit fornication.”
 
He is warning us against making a religion out of our experience and not walking
with the Lord. Balaam was guilty of gross sin in spite of how close he walked
with the Lord, and in spite of how much it appeared that he was a God-fearing
man. 

 
The danger of the doctrine of Balaam was not a lack of experience, but it was
his “evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” as we see in 2
Peter 2:14-17: “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin;
beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices;
cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray,
following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of
unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with
man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water,
clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved
for ever.”

 
This was why Balaam was not saved. He forsook the right way. He knew it. He had
walked in it, but he turned from it, and he became hardened in sin. He wanted
that which he could gain for the flesh with unrighteousness, and he perished.

 
Balaam was destroyed eternally, even though he had all this rich experience,
because he departed from the living God through the deceitfulness of sin.
 
We must be careful. I am not a stranger to rich experiences, and certainly I am
thankful to the Lord for every rich experience I have had of His nearness and of
His love, but that is not the basis upon which I can claim salvation. Balaam had
it all and still perished.
 
The Lord Jesus says, If you hear my sayings and do them, then you are building
on the rock, walking in the ways of the Lord.
 
This is why we are admonished in our text, “But exhort one another daily, while
it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of
sin.”

 
This is so urgent because every step our poor, unbelieving brother takes in
departing from the living God makes his recovery all the more difficult. The
more we depart the more hardened we become, and the more difficult it is to gain
them back. This is why we must exhort daily.
 
The deceitfulness of sin has such a hardening effect, which causes one to loose
his love for the truth. Balaam, I believe, loved the truth, but he lost it by
departing from the living God. We must be careful not to lose our love for the
truth. This places us beyond the reach of the voice of exhortation.
 
Turn with me to 2 Thessalonians 2:10b-12: “Because they received not the love of
the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them
strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned
who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
 
This is why Balaam was damned. He had pleasure in unrighteousness.  
 
It would not be as important to warn a brother that his house is on fire as it
would be to warn him if you see him departing from the living God, because his
soul is at stake.
 
As we see our text in context, let us be admonished with Hebrews 3:15-19: “While
it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the
provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that
came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not
with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom
sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed
not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
 
Unbelief is departing from the living God. Faith is walking in the ways of God. 

 
Who can you find to tell of more or richer experiences than the children of
Israel? They were brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. They could stand on
the banks of the Red Sea, and they could sing the songs of redemption. They were
able to go through the wilderness and that Rock, which was Christ, followed
them. They drank from the rock. They saw God descend on Mount Sinai, and they
felt the mount shake. They heard the voice of God as a man speaks with his
friend.
 
Look at what they had seen of God, and yet they rebelled.
 
So what was their sin of unbelief? It was departing from the authority of God’s
Word after having seen so many deliverances from His hand.
 
I want you to turn with me to Deuteronomy 29:2-3: “And Moses called unto all
Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes
in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his
land; The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those
great miracles.”
 
You have seen all of this and you still have a wicked heart of unbelief. You
still refuse to obey. That is why they were destroyed. That is why they were
damned, not because they lacked experience, but because they refused to obey.
They departed from the living God with a wicked heart of unbelief.
 
I am sure that many of those Israelites who perished in the wilderness could
tell of experiences that you and I would never dare to claim, but they perished
in unbelief, in rebellion.

 
With all this experience they were the more accountable, yet they believed not.
We read in Deuteronomy 9:23: “Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadeshbarnea,
saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled
against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor
hearkened to his voice.” They refused to obey even after they saw Him destroy
the Egyptians and how He had delivered them 40 years in the wilderness and
promised to them the Promised Land.
 
See how important it is that we understand the authority of God’s Word. When we
rebel against the Word of God, we are departing from the living God with a
wicked heart of unbelief. 

 
The Lord calls to us daily, like He did to Cain, where is your brother? Where is
your sister? Where are your father and mother? Where are your neighbors? Are
they walking on the broad road to hell? Are you doing something to reach out to
try to warn them?

 
Genesis 4:9 says: “And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And
he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” 

 
I want to ask you, Are you your brother’s keeper? It was Cain, a murderer, who
replied, Am I my brother’s keeper? He had just slain his brother.
 
We are our brother’s keeper. The first message I had on this subject, I
explained the scriptures that call on us to be our brother’s keeper. We have a
responsibility. If they depart from their righteousness and you do not warn
them, their blood is on your head.
 
Our text says in Hebrews 3:13: “But exhort one another daily, while it is called
To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
 
Do not wait until tomorrow. They may not be here anymore. You may not have the
opportunity tomorrow. They may not be within the sound of your voice. They may
have become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin and no longer be within
your reach. Every passing day that we neglect exhorting our brother who is
departing from the Lord through an evil heart of unbelief, he becomes all the
more “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Satan goes about as a roaring
lion seeking whom he may devour through his deceit. Sin is so deceitful.
 
I want you to see what we read in Matthew 24:24: “For there shall arise false
Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch
that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” 

 
There is such a blessed consolation for those whom the Lord has chosen, although
now in this lifetime we are often bowed down with heaviness through manifold
temptations.
 
We have a consolation here. It is not possible to deceive the very elect. God
sits above it all, and He will not allow His elected to be deceived, but we have
to live by the revealed will of God, and the revealed will of God is that we
must exhort one another.
 
If the Lord is going to save my brother, and He has ordained that He is going to
use me to do it, and I do not do it, the Lord will use another means, but He
will call me to account. Then I must give an account because I have neglected
the duty, the call, of the gospel.
 
We have such an assurance for those whom the Lord has chosen, that they will
never be deceived.

 
I have eight children, and sometimes my heart falters when I see the
deceitfulness of sin, and I see how crafty Satan is. Then sometimes I see that
they have gone beyond the call of my voice: Daddy, we are grown up now.

 
Then I have this consolation that we see here in 1 Peter 1:3-6: “Blessed be the
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy
hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth
not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through
faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly
rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through
manifold temptations.”
 
The Lord has preserved, and He has protected all His own. He has preserved them
in Jesus Christ.

 
These verses are the comfort I have for my children, my brothers and sisters and
for all of God’s people. They are kept by the power of God. The Almighty, with
His restraining grace, will spare them. He uses you and me as His instruments to
warn them. This is the calling He has given us. The fact that He says He will do
it does not excuse you and me. This does not mean that we may neglect our duty.

 
We have many struggles in this life, and many times we have to struggle against
the powers of sin, but we have that blessed consolation that He will keep us
through His power. This is where we have our comfort. This is where we have our
hope.
 
We may not govern our lives by the secret will of God, but we do have such a
blessed consolation in our heavenly Father’s unchanging love.
 
I cannot say, Well, if God is going to save my son, He is going to do it, so let
him go ahead and drink the rest of his life. That is not the will of God. The
will of God is that he walk in the ways of the Lord, and that if I see him
walking in a way that is not right, that it is my duty to warn him. That is the
revealed will of God.
 
Jonah had to go and warn Nineveh. The secret will of God was that they were
going to repent, but Jonah presumed upon this.
 
We read in Jonah 4:1-2: “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very
angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this
my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish:
for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of
great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”
 
Jonah presumed upon the secret will of God, and he disobeyed God’s revealed
will. Do not get caught in that. The revealed will of God is that we must exhort
daily as their soul is dependent on it because that is the means God uses to
bring them in.
 
We have a blessed consolation in our heavenly Father’s unchanging love. I want
you to see this in 2 Timothy 2:19: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth
sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one
that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 

 
The Lord knows who are His. He has chosen them from eternity, and not one will
ever be lost. His revealed will is to warn them. If the Lord’s secret will is
that He is going to save them, that is His secret will, and we may not impose
upon that. We cannot govern our lives around His secret will. We must obey His
revealed will.
 
If everything depended on you or me, we could have our hands on the door knob of
heaven and still go from there straight to hell because we would still fall
short. Our only hope and expectation is on the fact that Christ has done it all,
and the fact of God’s eternal, electing love, which He has given us as that
foundation.
 
Continuing in verses 20 and 21 we read: “But in a great house there are not only
vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to
honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he
shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet [that is, fit in character]
for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” 

 
We are made fit in character by the work of sanctification, by the work of
regeneration, by the work of grace.
 
Just say that this afternoon, the Lord may have used this very message to save
someone. Do I take the credit? No. The Lord has called me to preach the gospel,
but in the foolishness of preaching, He has chosen to save some. That is His
secret will. I must obey. I must preach the gospel.
 
Now, if I would come back and say, Lord, I do not think anyone is going to be
saved this afternoon, so I disobey and sit in the bar all afternoon.

 
The Lord is warning us against an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the
revealed will of God. We must obey the revealed will of God, because it may have
been God’s eternal purpose that this very afternoon some person may have had an
arrow shot that struck his heart, and the Lord used it for his conversion. If
that was the Lord’s secret will, would I have been just in leaving it to others
and going about my way? No, that is not the revealed will of God. The revealed
will of God is that we do what He tells us to do.

 
Along with such blessed consolation also comes this admonition in 2 Timothy
2:22: “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity,
peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
 
This is my evidence of salvation. It is not the cause of it. I am not going to
earn salvation by anything I do. When my heart has been changed, and the Lord
has given me new desires and worked grace in my soul, my evidence is that I flee
all unrighteousness, and I associate with others who do the same. This is my
evidence that I love God. I cannot spend my time with people who are cursing and
swearing and using God’s name in vain. They are enemies, because they blaspheme
the name of the God I serve.
 
My evidence that I am of God, that Christ is formed in me is that I desire to
follow righteousness. I have faith and I have charity, that is, I speak of my
brother in the best possible light. I do these things because I love God.

 
Following after righteousness includes the admonition that is synonymous with
our text. Galatians 6:1 says: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye
which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering
thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
 
I must have a spirit of meekness in order to restore him. The Lord Jesus told
Peter before Peter cursed, swore and denied he ever knew Christ, When you are
converted, strengthen your brethren. Then Peter could come in a spirit of
meekness. Before this, he was so big and proud. He could claim, I will follow
you to death, and I will do all these things.

 
After he learned to know the evil and the plague of his own heart, then the Lord
turned and looked on him with a look of love. Then he could come in a spirit of
meekness. He could now come to his brother and say: Oh, be careful, I know how
slippery those places are because I have been there, and I fell. I know what it
is to feel so strong in myself, and then find out what a fool I made of myself.
Do not do these things. I know how painful they are.

 
That is the spirit of meekness. I am not standing above you. I am not telling
you that I am too good to fall in the sin I am telling you you are in. I am just
telling you I have been there. I know what the lessons are. Do not do it. I know
how grievous it is. I know what it is to go out and weep bitterly.
 
Believe me friends, I am not a stranger to this. I know what it is to weep
bitterly over having done something that was done in just a thoughtless moment.
I can look back and think what a fool I was for being able to be so thoughtless,
and then I can see the fruit of one of my own children and what the consequences
were.
 
The Lord sometimes lets that weight hang there a while before He turns and gives
us that look of love.

 

 
 
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage (Psalm 119:54). 
 
The statutes of the Lord are not to be looked at with drudgery. We do not ask:
Well, do I have to do this? Would God keep me out of heaven for this little sin?
If we do the will of God rather than the orders of God, then it becomes our
highest joy to know His will so we may do it.
 
Have you ever noticed that if a child is really going to show you gratitude for
the love you have shown to them, they will do so by a tender respect for your
will. They will look for what they can do to please you by wanting to know what
would be your will. They would do this to return with love and gratitude for the
love they have received. If we rightly understand the parental relationship
between us and the Father, then His commandments are not grievous. They become
our chiefest joy and our greatest pleasure.
 
David said that God’s commands were his song. Joy bursts forth into singing when
our joy reaches a high note. Then we start to understand the joy there will be
in heaven as read in Revelation 15:2-4: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass
mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over
his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea
of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant
of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works,
Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall
not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all
nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made
manifest.”



The result is the perfect harmony you and I have when His perfect will breaks
forth in such a melody. Everyone sings with one voice. The song of Moses is the
victory we gain over the world, death and the grave. The Word of God becomes our
songs in the night. The Word of God becomes our highest delight.
 
Holding our text in its context, we find that the entire Psalm is devoted to
David’s expression of his delight in God’s perfect will. It begins with the
blesseds as the beatitudes do as we see in Psalm 119:1-4: “Blessed are the
undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that
keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no
iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts
diligently.” It is a blessedness, not a grievous servitude. This is a little
taste of heaven to be able to rejoice in knowing and doing the will of God.
 
This Psalm so powerfully teaches that our walk of life revealed to the world
must correspond with our profession. If not, we do not have salvation. The new
birth is being renewed in the spirit of the mind. We must put off the old man
with its bitterness and hatred. We start walking according to the law of love.
 
The great joy spoken of in our text points to the Spirit’s witness in the soul
of how pleased God is when we truly become imitators of Christ. We should get a
glimpse of this from our own children. There is great joy when our children walk
in tender reverent respect for the will of the household. What greater joy is
there than to know that your children walk in the ways of the Lord, that they
reverence the things of God. What do you suppose causes more joy in heaven than
one sinner who comes to a change in attitude, one sinner who repents and comes
to the mind of Christ? 

 
The Father’s love in giving His Son, and restraining that love because of the
love He has for you and me, is rewarded when He sees that we restrain our
fleshly desires because of the love we have for Him. Our desires become
worthless in comparison to the joy we have in pleasing the Father.
 
We must imitate Christ. Look at Philippians 2:8: “And being found in fashion as
a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the
cross.” The Father’s command was that He lay down His life and take it up again.
He had no sin of His own to die for, but He obeyed His Father’s command to lay
down His life for His people because His Father’s love for His people was so
great. If Christ had shed His blood reluctantly, we would not have forgiveness
of our sins. His humble obedience in giving Himself at the command of the Father
made His blood an acceptable sacrifice.

 
Now see how the Father was glorified in rewarding His Son for such obedience.
Look at Philippians 2:9-11: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and
given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee
should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the
earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father.” 

 
When our soul’s eyes are opened to see how the Father is glorified with humble
obedience, then we begin to understand David’s agony expressed in the verse
before our text for those who disdain the authority of God’s Word: “Horror hath
taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law” (Psalm 119:53).
The Lord is worthy that we should obey Him, and this is why it causes such
horror when we see those who disobey His law.

 
To get some insight into the joy expressed in our text, “thy statutes have been
my songs in the house of my pilgrimage,” we must understand the relationship
between God’s statutes and His promises.
 
Turn with me to Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our
faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the
shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” He bore the pain
of the cross because of the reward the Father had set before Him. Our obedience
must be motivated by the promises.
 
Look at Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he
that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them
that diligently seek him.” We must have faith to believe in the reward.
 
We read in Psalm 19:7-11: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the
LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the
judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are
they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the
honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there
is great reward.” 

 
The law rightly understood changes the attitude. It changes the very soul of
man. The man now delights to do the will of God. There is no drudgery in the law
of God. We do not need to argue that the law has been abolished. Satan wants law
and sin out the window because sin is the transgression of the law. If there is
no law there is no sin. What a crafty trick Satan has here.

 
The law was not abolished, but it was fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ, and
now we become imitators of Christ, and we begin to delight to do the will of
God. We do not merit anything by obeying the law. It is our evidence that we
have salvation. This shows that we have been renewed in the Spirit of our minds.

 
When we start to understand the law of God in its right light, then it becomes a
privilege when we see a rebuke in the Word of God. We are warned when we get
into slippery places. We do not obey to merit salvation, but there is a great
reward.
 
David’s reference to “thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my
pilgrimage,” tells us we are rewarded in this life as well as hereafter. Many
think we just look forward to going to heaven and walking on streets of gold,
but in this lifetime we just have to take what comes. This is not what the
Scriptures teach.
 
“In the house of my pilgrimage” speaks of during this lifetime. The joy and
blessings we receive in this lifetime are a taste of our eternal rest. We get a
taste of heaven in this life and what it means to be reconciled with God and
have communion and fellowship with Him.
 
We read in Genesis 47:9: “And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of
my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the
years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the
life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” He is talking about this
lifetime.

 
As we learn to realize that “here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to
come” (Hebrews 13:14), then we become ever more aware of how God is glorified by
our attitudes and actions, or walk of life. We get a little glimpse now and then
of the blessedness there is in Christ, the blessedness there is in the love of
the Father. When we get to heaven we will not be strangers. We will just be
coming home. We will be coming home to a parental relationship with God that we
are not strangers to because we have learned what that means in this life.

 
I want you to see 1 Peter 2:11-12: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers
and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having
your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against
you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify
God in the day of visitation.”
 
We become strangers in this world, but we will not be strangers in heaven. We
will be coming to a God we have learned to know. Our goal in this life is to
glorify God.

 
See how repeatedly scripture, as in our text, teaches the relationship between
our ability to sing of His statutes and our observance of those statutes. You do
not sing of His statutes unless you observe to do those statutes.
 
I want you to see this in Isaiah 58:6-8: “Is not this the fast that I have
chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let
the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread
to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when
thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from
thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine
health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee;
the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.”
 
The labor of love becomes the law we delight to do. Then we become lights to the
world, and we start singing His statutes. So many limit the joys of salvation to
going to heaven, but our text says, “thy statutes have been my songs in the
house of my pilgrimage,” that is, in this lifetime.  

 
The joy spoken of in our text comes from the Spirit witnessing with our spirit
that we are the sons of God in this life. In Romans 15:13 we read: “Now the God
of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in
hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” There is joy in believing that
cannot be compared to anything in this world. Having all the gold in the world
would not compare to the joy in believing. 

 
Those who believe and are baptized will be saved, and those who believe not
shall be condemned. To believe not means to defy authority. To believe means to
submit in unconditional surrender to the authority of God’s Word. Our hope of
salvation is in learning in this life to know God and Jesus Christ, whom He has
sent. This is where we find hope.

 
You cannot enter into this joy in believing when you are out of harmony with
God’s revealed will. If we are not in harmony we will not be able to sing His
praises on the sea of glass. We will not come into harmony after we are dead,
and live and serve the world while we are here. Our hearts come into harmony
with the will of God in this life, and we go from here into the celestial city
with hearts in harmony with His will.

 
Look at 2 Corinthians 5:17-19: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new
creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all
things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath
given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ,
reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and
hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
 
This reconciliation has to come from both sides. From God’s side, He was
reconciling Himself to the world by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We read of
reconciliation from our side in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Now then we are ambassadors
for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead,
be ye reconciled to God.”
 
When we are reconciled to God we will know what it is to sing of His statutes.
When our hearts are reconciled with His perfect will, we will receive joy in
believing.
 
See the harmony in God’s Word. David said, “Horror hath taken hold upon me
because of the wicked that forsake thy law,” which is immediately offset with
our text, “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.”
 
The more we can sing the statutes of God, the more our hearts are in perfect
harmony with the will of God, and the more grievous it is to see those who are
out of harmony. Try to picture yourself singing in a choir with perfect harmony,
except for the person next to you, and he is totally off key. It would spoil the
whole assembly. Do you see why there is such horror with those who are out of
harmony? 

 
See how the Prophet Isaiah’s heart breaks forth with such blessed harmony
between God’s statutes and His promises. We read in Isaiah 58:9: “Then shalt
thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I
am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the
finger, and speaking vanity.”

 
Can you see how grievous it is to the Lord when we start accusing others and
speaking evil of them?

 
Continuing in verses 10 and 11, we read: “And if thou draw out thy soul to the
hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity,
and thy darkness be as the noon day: And the LORD shall guide thee continually,
and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like
a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” 

 
The Lord is so pleased, and the promises flow from our obedience. We stop doing
those things that are out of harmony with God’s will.

 
It is not reasonable that we should expect God to grant what we ask if we
disregard what He has commanded us under the law of love. Look at 1 John 3:22:
“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and
do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” 

 
This does not mean we have merited His favor. This means His reward is His favor
because He is so pleased with childlike obedience.

 
What was the commandment referred to here? We see in the answer in verses 23 and
24: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son
Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that
keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that
he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” 

 
Because we are pilgrims here, that is, because we show clearly by our actions
that this is not our place of abode, the world treats us as strangers and not
fellow citizens. When we come into harmony with the will of God, we lose our
harmony with the world. We can no longer sing their songs. We can no longer
enjoy what they enjoy.

 
I want you to see this in 1 Peter 4:1-4: “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered
for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that
hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live
the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the
Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings,
banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye
run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.” 

 
Our refusal to run with them to the same excess of riot alienates us from the
world as we see in John 15:19: “If ye were of the world, the world would love
his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the
world, therefore the world hateth you.” 

 
The world is blinded from seeing the hope we have of a better home in the
mansions of bliss. In fact we get only a glimpse of it ourselves in this life.
The world does not understand the joy we have in believing. They think something
is wrong with us. They think we are not normal.
 
I want you to see what we read in 1 John 3:1-2: “Behold, what manner of love the
Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:
therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we
the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 

 
The one thing we so little realize is that we are sentenced to death, and we are
all on death row. We have committed capital crimes. We are only awaiting the day
of execution.
 
I read in the paper about a man who was sentenced to die for committing a
gruesome capital crime. He showed no sign of remorse. The judge and the
prosecutor warned him that if he did not show remorse before he was executed, he
would have to expect that Satan would greet him with open arms.

 
Now the question is: Do we realize that we have committed capital crimes? Do we
have remorse over having sinned against such love? Have we repented, or will
Satan catch us with open arms? If we have repented, we will be met with open
arms by our Saviour.
 
The great difference between the wicked and the righteous is that those who are
reconciled with their Creator not only have a better hope for eternity, but as
David they can say: “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my
pilgrimage” (Psalm 119:54).
 
While we are waiting for that day of execution, we can rejoice in yet having a
day of grace to do His will.
 
The attitudes and actions of the righteous speak louder than their words. We
read in Hebrews 11:13-14: “These all died in faith, not having received the
promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and
embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” 

 
What is better evidence that we can claim the grace of God for our souls than
the fact that we are strangers in the world, that the world hates us because we
do not walk in their ways?
 
When King Jeroboam caused Israel to sin, Jehu came to sort out those who served
the Lord from those who served Baal. He called for a sacrifice and told the
worshipers of Baal to determine if any servants of the Lord were there. Those
who do no worship God can identify those who worship God easier than you and I
can because they are not in harmony with them. They are the ones who put us out
of their company. We are the light of the world, and that light is their
condemnation.
 
This word seek implies diligence. We use the means of God’s grace, diligently
seeking His will. See what we read in 2 Peter 1:10-11: “Wherefore the rather,
brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do
these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto
you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ.” 

 
What are these things? See their context in 2 Peter 1:2-4: “Grace and peace be
multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto
life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory
and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the
corruption that is in the world through lust.” 

 
What is our evidence that we have these things? Continuing in verses 5 to 8 we
read: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to
virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and
to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly
kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that
ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus
Christ.”
 
We see the two tables of the law of love in these verses. Godliness is loving
God with our heart, soul and mind. Brotherly kindness is the second table of the
law, loving our neighbor as ourselves. Charity is to think and speak about our
brother in the best possible light. 

 
“If these things be in you, and abound,” you will be able to say with David in
our text, “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.”
 
Look into the lives of those who serve the Lord as their greatest delight and
you will see in Psalm 19:8: “The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the
heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” 

 
Not only do those who delight to do the will of God have joy in believing, but
their end is peace. Look at Psalm 37:37-38: “Mark the perfect man, and behold
the upright: for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be
destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.” 

 
We must examine our hearts to know whether we have grounds to believe we have
been saved. Where is our delight? Do we rejoice in the things that glorify God
or do we rejoice in things that serve the flesh? It is just that pure and
simple. The Scriptures tell us this from beginning to end.
 
Our text says, “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage”
(Psalm 119:54). This becomes the highest pleasure and delight of our hearts.
 
There is such blessed harmony between God’s statutes and His promises for us in
this lifetime. Look at John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man
love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come
unto him, and make our abode with him.” 

 
Could you tell me anything that would be greater fruition for God’s people in
this life than if God the Father and His Son come and make their abode in us?
They warm our hearts.

 
Jesus said in John 15:14: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command
you.” What command was He referring to? We see the answer in verse 12: “This is
my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”