Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer's praise, The worries of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.
This is Lisei Bradley, Jr., welcoming you to another broadcast of the Baptist Bible Hour. There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold, But one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of gold. Away on the mountains wild and bare, Away from the tender shepherds care, Away from the tender shepherds care.
Lord, thou hast here thy knight yet nine, Are they not enough for thee? But the shepherd made answer these of mine, Has wandered away from me. And although the road be rough and steep, I go to the desert to find my sheep. But none of the ransomed ever knew How deep were the waters crossed, Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through There He found His sheep that was lost, Far out of the desert He heard its cry, Twas sick and helpless and ready to die, Twas sick and helpless and ready to die. Lord Windsor, those blood drops all away, That mark out the mountain track, They were shed for one who had gone astray, Ere the shepherd could bring him back.
Lord Windsor, thy hands so rich and torn, They're pierced tonight by many a thorn, They're pierced tonight by many a thorn. But all through the mountain's thunder drip, And up from the rocky steep, There arose a glad cry to the gate of heaven, Rejoice, I have bound my sheep. And the angels echoed around the throne, Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own.
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own. Well, earlier in our study, in Psalm 119, we had a section that we called a lesson on prayer. Our subject today is prayer of a wandering sheep. That's in Psalm 119, beginning with verse 169. I hope the message will be a blessing to you.
If it is, let us hear from you. Our address is Baptist Bible Hour, Box 17037, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. The love of God is greater far, Than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star, And reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair bow down with care, God gave His Son to win. His erring child He reconciled, And pardoned from his sin. O love of God, how rich and pure, How measureless and strong, It shall forevermore endure The saints and angels song. We come now to the last of the 22 sections of Psalm 119, reading verses 169 to 176. Psalm 119, beginning with verse 169. Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord, Give me understanding according to Thy word. Let my supplication come before thee, Deliver me according to Thy word. My lips shall utter praise, When Thou hast taught me Thy statutes. My tongue shall speak of Thy word, For all Thy commandments are righteousness. Let Thine hand help me, For I have chosen Thy precepts. I have longed for Thy salvation, O Lord, And Thy law is my delight. Let my soul live, And it shall praise Thee, And let Thy judgments help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep, Seek Thy servant, For I do not forget Thy commandments. Subject for this portion of the Psalm, the prayer of a wandering sheep. This, the longest of all the Psalms, is really a fascinating portion of Scripture. Constant emphasis is put upon the value of the Word of God. And David has repeatedly talked about his love for the Word, his desire to walk in a godly path. He speaks of delighting in the Word of the Lord, constantly praying for guidance, for instruction, for quickening.
And it really is rather interesting when he comes to the last portion, the last verse of this Psalm. He then says, I have gone astray like a lost sheep. In spite of the commitment that he had made, in spite of the sincere desire to serve God, to walk righteously, he admits, there are times I have gone astray.
And must we not all make that same acknowledgement? Some maybe to a greater degree than others, but all of us, either in our walk, in our thoughts, in our attitude, periodically have gone astray. So there are three things we want to consider as we look at this segment. First of all, there is a tendency to wander. Secondly, there is a need to seek help.
And thirdly, there is a shepherd who cares. The Psalmist repeatedly confessed his own weaknesses throughout this lengthy Psalm. In verse 25, he said, my soul cleaves to the dust. I still have a problem with that which is of this world, that which is of the flesh. I aspire to greater things. I want to be thinking about God, His word, His truth, walking in a way of holiness. But there is still this struggle I have.
My soul cleaves to the dust. In verse 35, he prayed, make me go in the path of Thy commandments. By this he is acknowledging there is a tendency in my human nature to go on another path. I can say this is my desire. This is where I have been walking. This is where I want to continue to walk. But there are times I get distracted. Times I find myself taking the wrong turn. Has that not been true in your life? Maybe you can look back and see some places where you took a wrong turn that was very costly.
You went through some dark times, some very difficult days. And so you could indeed pray in sincerity with David, make me to go in the paths of Thy commandments. I find some that are a little apprehensive when you begin to talk about God making us do something. We know that we are obligated to obey. There are blessings in the way of obedience that are never found when we disobey. But if we are sensible of our own weakness, we're not going to be reluctant to pray, Lord, make me go in the right path. When I'm a little stubborn, when I'm distracted, when I'm faltering, Lord, just take over and make me go in the right path. Verse 136, it says, Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies. I realize, Lord, that I have a problem, not only in the way I walk, but I have a heart problem. I can be trying to stay on the right course, but since sin and various evils spring from the heart, that's where I've got to focus some of my attention here, and Lord, I just pray You will take over and incline my heart unto Thy testimonies so that I'm not just committing myself to it and saying I'm going to walk this way when my heart's not in it.
This is going to be a genuine service. I want to serve God with all my heart. Then, verse 37, it says, Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity. Lord, I want You to help me in this area too because I have difficulty being attracted by the enticements of this world. I begin to look at that which is vain. I look at that which is empty. I look at that which is stirring sin.
Lord, turn my eyes away from beholding vanity. And then in verse 67, he says, Before I was afflicted, I went astray. So he is acknowledging there have been times that I did go astray. Affliction came, and by that, Lord, You drew me back. But before affliction, I went astray.
So he frequently confesses that that is a tendency, a weakness in human nature. All of scripture confirms this. Isaiah chapter 53 of the sixth verse says, All we like sheep have gone astray, and we have turned everyone unto his own way.
Now, of course, we think about that as it relates to an individual who has not yet been brought into fellowship and communion with God. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have all sinned. We've all turned to our own way. But the sad fact is that even when we've had an experience of grace, we still find that we tend to turn to our own way. Have you ever discovered in some of these precious little children around that we love them and we appreciate them, but they have a strong, inborn inclination to have their own way?
Case in point. You don't have to encourage them in that direction. It's just, it's born in them, and they got it from you. And, well, back up the line, even with the grandparents, you know, there's that inclination in human nature, I just want to do my own thing.
I think I ought to be able to make my own choices and don't see why parents ought to be interfering and why I ought to have to take counsel and advice. I just want my own way. Well, grow up and same old human nature's there.
Same struggles to deal with. All we like sheep have gone astray. At one time or another, we've gone astray, maybe many times, in a variety of ways. That was certainly the case with the nation that God had chosen and favored and blessed in a very special way.
He said, You only have I known of all the families of the earth. You'd think then of people who were so remarkably blessed would be eternally grateful and walk in a path of obedience, but they turned aside and worshiped other gods. Yet, in the book of Jeremiah chapter 3 and the 22nd verse, the word through the prophet is, Return ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. The whole we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God. Return ye backsliding children.
You've gone in the wrong direction. And yet, what precious words that these who had sinned and strayed were encouraged to come back. Hosea chapter 14 and verse 1 says, O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
A favored people, a nation prospered in every conceivable way above every other nation on this earth, and yet had fallen by their iniquity. Abraham was a man of faith. He's listed in the register of the faithful in Hebrews chapter 11. And yet, Abraham went down to Egypt for help.
This is always depicted in the scripture as the equivalent of going down to the world, ceasing to depend upon God and seeking out our own resources. And while he's down there, he lies about his wife, claiming that she is his sister. Here's a man, for the most part, whose life was on course, who trusted God in very difficult situations, believed Him when it was impossible with man to see what would transpire, but he relied upon the promise of God. And yet, he strayed.
In a moment of weakness, he went down to Egypt for help. Here's Peter. What a bold apostle he was, always close to the side of the Savior. He was one of the three in that favored group that were with the Savior on the Mount of Transfiguration.
He was always ready to speak and ready to act and ready to stand. And yet, Peter, who obviously loved the Lord, in a moment of weakness, when he knew his own life was in danger, denied Him. He said, I don't know this man. How many times have you, since professing faith in Jesus Christ, how many times have you denied Him? Oh, maybe you never vocally said to somebody, I don't believe in Jesus, but by your conduct, it was evident you really weren't following Him.
By the things you were doing, the things you were saying, the way you were acting, nobody could have picked you out and said, there is a follower of Jesus Christ. Yes, there's a tendency to go astray. We're warned against that drifting that can so often occur. It's not an immediate turn.
It's not something that happens overnight. But in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 1, it says, Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. Give attention to the things we've heard, lest we let them slip away from us, or we drift away from where we had been. That drifting, just little by little, step by step, finally takes its toll to where you were one day in close communion and fellowship with God. One day committed to follow Him and serve Him. And now you're being influenced by worldly philosophies, being influenced by the thinking of those who don't even know God, but you're impressed with them for some reason or another.
You drift toward the world. All of scripture confirms this, but your own experience certainly testifies to it. Romans chapter 12 verse 2 says, And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Be not conformed to the world. Now what does that mean to you? Suppose I asked you to get up and speak to this congregation and say, Explain to the people here, what does that mean? Sometimes we go over familiar expressions like this and assume that everybody knows what we're talking about, and then maybe in conversation it will be revealed later on that that wasn't the case.
I'm not going to embarrass anybody so don't get nervous. That might be a good way to keep you awake though on Sunday afternoons. But you just think about it.
What would you say? Be not conformed to this world. Well obviously it means that you're not going to depend on worldly wisdom. You're not going to be influenced by the philosophies of the world. You're not going to pursue worldly things. You're not going to live like those who do not know God. You're not going to try to fit in. See this is one of the techniques that Satan uses in enticing you. You want to be accepted.
This can be a special challenge for you young people. You have friends at school or in your neighborhood or wherever you come in contact with them, and you really want to fit in. And so you think, Alright, I'm certainly not going to deny the Lord. I'm not going to deny my faith.
But I don't have to be a radical. I don't want somebody to think I'm off the deep end. I'd just be a follower of Christ, go to church on Sunday, but when it comes to activities during the week, I want to be able to look at the same movies they're looking at so I can discuss it with them.
I don't want to sound like I'm behind the times and I don't even know what's going on. I want to look at the same TV programs they're looking at. Oh, I know I would be a little embarrassed for the pastor to come in and see some of the things I've been looking at, but you know, you don't have to really be influenced by all of that. You just kind of overlook the bad parts and look at it anyway.
I'm going to spend my time with friends. They don't love the Lord. They don't put Him first. But they're exciting people. They're popular. I want to be popular. I want to fit in. So you begin to make some adjustments and some compromises. You want the prestige that comes by that approval. And this particularly can apply not to young people but now men out in the business world. You're trying to work your way up. You're trying to get a better job. After a while, you kind of like this recognition you're getting from some of the superiors in your company and you don't want to be left behind. So you figure out, how am I going to fit into the program here?
How am I going to get along? And before long, your thinking is being greatly influenced. The text says, be not conformed to this world.
Don't think like the world. You start being influenced in this way and you slow down on your Bible reading. Because when you're flirting with the world and you're trying to read the Bible, it just doesn't work. Because the Scriptures convict you. And so you say, this Bible reading is painful. And you've got a lot of reasons why it's just not working right now. You've given up on the Bible.
You'll get back to it. But right now, it's just not a real good time for Bible study. And then after a while, you start growing cold when it comes to going to church.
I don't know. I'm just not getting as much out of it as I used to. Just wonder, what's wrong with the preachers these days? They don't seem to quite lift my spirit like they used to. No, if you're trying to be a friend of the world and the preacher is preaching from the Word of God about how you need to reject the world and its philosophy, you won't be real uplifted by that. You'll be much relieved when the sermon's over.
And sometimes when you sit there, your mind is way off somewhere else. Well, right in the middle of the sermon, I did call your name out and say, what was that last thought? Oh!
I have no idea. I was thinking about what I was going to do Monday. Let's see, I don't even know the first thought.
That's the last thought. You see, there's a tendency to drift. And after a while, in that frame of mind, people slow down on their church attendance and sometimes quit. And they don't even give any notice. If you were going to quit a job, you would at least tell them you were going to quit and weren't coming back. But people quit going to church and won't even say, I've quit. Just quit and turn to the things of this world. Well, David is acknowledging there is a tendency to wander, to go astray.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep. So there is need to seek help and that's what he's doing here. Verse 169 of this passage, he says, Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord, give me understanding according to thy word. Give me understanding. There's need for discernment. A lack of discernment brings great trouble. If you're not able to distinguish the difference between that which is of God and that which is of the world, that which is true and that which is false, it's going to lead to all kinds of complications in your life. You desperately need discernment. James chapter 1 verse 8 says, A double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways.
If you come to church and say, well, yeah, that sounds good, but you hear a professor at the university or a teacher in the classroom or some book you read and it's just the opposite of what's being preached and you say, yeah, that sounds good too. And you don't have the leverage. You're in deep trouble. Well, I'm glad you've been with us today. Hope you'll come back again. If you would like to help with the support to keep the broadcast on the air, you can go to our website at BaptistBibleHour.org.
So we can reach you next time. This is LeSaire Bradley, Jr. bidding you goodbye and may God bless you. It is my glory, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. This is my glory, this is my song, praising my Savior, praising my Savior, praising my Savior all the day long.
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