When God gives a command, He's not trying to spoil our fun.
He's not, as some would say, a cosmic killjoy. No, when God delivers a mandate, He's actually drawing us into a loving relationship with Him. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll presents another message in the series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life.
In the event that you missed any portion of Friday's program, we'll begin with helpful highlights. In this study, Chuck reminds us that God longs to cultivate healthy relationships with His children. He titled his message, Loving God, Our Ultimate Response. I want you to see both statement and command together in Deuteronomy 6 verses 4 and 5. And you shall write them, if you can believe this, you shall write these words on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. I would say God is serious about that.
In other words, I want you to model knowing me and loving me with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might, and I want your children to capture that so that they will have that impression when you're gone. I don't know how many people live under the false impression that when God makes a command, He's trying to take away our fun. On the contrary, when God gives us a command, it's for our good and it's often for our survival.
If you want to do what is good and if you want to do what will help you survive, then know God and love Him with all your heart and soul and mind. For a few minutes, I want us just to sort of graze through several Psalms and I want you to see God at work as He, for the people's good and for their survival, came to their rescue. Psalm 31 is the place to start.
Look at the protection of God in the first four verses. In thee, O Lord, I have taken refuge. Let me never be ashamed. In thy righteousness deliver me. Incline thine ear to me.
Rescue me quickly. Be thou to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For thou art my rock and thou art my fortress. For thy name's sake, thou will lead me and guide me.
Thou will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me. For thou art my strength. Notice, there is no other strength. There is no other source of encouragement. There is no other protection, only the Lord. And the writer says, it's you, Lord, I turn to. Just another, Psalm 46. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
My favorite word is present, very present help, right now. My sister was, for many years, a field representative for the school from which she graduated. Well, for a few years, not many, but a few years. And while she was traveling around the Southwest reaching different potential students, she, of course, had a number of experiences traveling as a single woman. On one occasion, she noticed that she was being followed by a vehicle and it was getting dark and she was alone and became increasingly more uneasy. She decided she would turn in for the night and so she pulled into this rather small town and noticed that the car behind her did the same. And she made several obvious turns that were strange and the car followed, so she knew she was being followed. She quickly found the nearest motel and got out and registered and noticed the lights in the car still on down the way waiting and her heart was beating in her throat. And she quickly signed the register and got the key and jumped in her car and drove around and got in the room and locked every possible lock there was on the door and breathed a sigh of relief. She prepared herself for bed, was going to take a shower, and while she was stepping out of the shower, she noticed that the Venetian blind was up a little on one and she suddenly had this horrible sense of fear. She was being watched, that this person was right outside the window. And Lucy said to me, later she told me, I didn't know what to do.
I was defenseless, I was all alone, if he had broken in I couldn't have protected myself. She said, I looked down and someone had slipped under the glass on top of this chest of drawers. Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest in your soul. She said when she saw that verse there was just this enormous sense of relief that surged over her. She walked over, yanked that Venetian blind down, turned the lights off, got in bed and went right to sleep.
Not a thing happened. There is something remarkable, remarkable about the word of God when it's taken liberally and applied to your situation. It works, friends, it works. It isn't voodoo, it isn't magic, it isn't some kind of divine omen you place on someone else. It is the living and abiding word of God. It is his testimony of his strength in your life and he says, take it, believe it, apply it, love me for it.
And it works, it works. Stories like that could be multiplied all over the family of God. When we make the Lord alone our single source of protection, our solitary refuge, he shows himself strong, isn't he? And then who gets the glory? Doesn't it work right? When he comes through, all you can do is say praise be to the Lord.
He did it again. Now, the best part of the whole, I hate to call it a formula, but the best part of the whole process is as he proves himself strong, the God who comes through when we need him, the response on our part is love. Oh, how I love this one who sees me through. Now, I want to show you from this grateful man's life some examples. And no need to take a lot of time in each one of the Psalms, but you'll see some circumstances and you'll see David's response. Psalm 18. He has been delivered from the hands of his enemies. He has been delivered from Saul's pursuit again. He is now safe in some place. I don't know if he's in the wilderness or back home or where, but he is safe. And once safe, he has to write a song.
He has to testify of his gratitude in song. And he says in verse 1, I love thee, O Lord, my strength. I love you, Lord. Verse 4. The cords of death encompassed me. The torrents of ungodliness terrified me. The cords of death surrounded me.
The snares of death confronted me. In my distress, I called upon the Lord and cried to my God for help. And he heard my voice out of the temple.
And my cry for help before him came into his ears. Verse 46. In response, the Lord lives. And blessed be my rock and exalted be the God of my salvation. He executes vengeance for me and subdues peoples under me. He delivers me from my enemies. Surely thou dost lift me above those who rise up against me.
Thou dost rescue me from the violent man. Therefore, I am grateful. He said at the beginning, I love you, Lord. He says at the ending, I give thanks to you among the nations.
I sing praises to your name. Now the scene isn't always that objective. Sometime we will do wrong. Sometime our situation is deserved. Sometime we will fail. We will stumble. David stumbled terribly.
When I mentioned the name David, unfortunately many people first think of his failure, and it's a glaring one. At the height of his career, he stumbled into lust. The lust turned into open adultery. The adultery led to murder. The murder led to deception. In fact, almost a year of lying to his people. Don't you know the word spread in his kingdom? Don't you know that they whispered of him in the alleys and in the homes around his palace? It was obvious he had married this woman, and it was obvious as they counted back over the months that she had had the baby.
Not enough months since they had married. It was clear to the people, and he slumped into an enormous depression. When he came out on the other side, he wrote a song.
Song number 32. He has compromised his walk with the Lord. He has given in to deception and lust and murder. The misery of the man we can scarcely imagine. Verse 3, when I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away.
Ever had that happen? Ever been so stubborn in your iniquity that you refused to confess it and you began to suffer physically for it? How many illnesses really can be traced to sin?
Not all, certainly not all, but how many in God's family? Through my groaning all day long, this body of mine began to waste away. Day and night, your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to thee.
I couldn't wait any longer. My iniquity I didn't hide. I said, I will confess my transgression to the Lord and thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.
Now look back at verse 1 and verse 2. This is the response of a forgiven man. How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity or credit it to his account, in whose spirit there is no deceit. How blessed I am, how forgiven, how clean.
You know what's happened? He's claimed God's cleansing. He's claimed God's forgiveness. And as a result, his love is expressed in gratitude. I see my wrong, I accept it as wrong, and I lay it before you. And God took away the guilt as well as the sin. Just one more, Psalm 40.
I waited patiently for the Lord, says David, and he inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay. Now, ladies and gentlemen, this pit of destruction can mean many things. It may mean a depression for you. It may mean a period of time where you wandered. It may be a period of unexplainable sorrow in your life. It may be a series of griefs and losses. It may be the loss of health.
It may be a terminal illness. Whatever the pit, you put your pit in this situation. You put it right here in this passage. Whatever it was for David, it is left undefined. He brought me up out of that pit of destruction. He pulled me out of the miry clay and set my feet on a rock, making my footsteps firm, and I have written a new song. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
He will see and fear and trust in the Lord. How happy is the man who has made the Lord his trust. It reminds me a little of the song, Guide me, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak, but thou art mighty. Hold me with thy powerful hand, bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. In the last part of the stanza, the third verse says, Songs of praises, songs of praises I will ever give to thee. The heart that loves God is a heart that bursts forth in songs of praise.
It is marvelous. It is wonderful to have your heart so in love with your Lord that the only way to express it is to sing it. Songs of praises I will ever give to thee. Now, as I close, I want to say two or three things to you who truly love God.
First, I want to say this. You who truly love the Lord have experienced his power to deliver, so you're not fearful people. You have experienced his power to deliver.
You could write your own story. You could keep us all for another hour as we listen to the song of praise. You who truly love the Lord have seen him show his power as he delivers you, and you're not a fearful person. Second, you who truly love God have received his peace and forgiveness, so you don't operate under guilt. You have done wrong and you will do wrong again, but the wonderful truth is that you have claimed his forgiveness and your guilt has been relieved.
You don't spend your days washing around in how wrong or how bad or how failing you have been. You have claimed his mercy. You're free of guilt. Finally, you who have felt his presence through affliction are the ones who love God. You've gone through affliction and your faith has been strengthened as you've felt his presence. You're stronger now.
You know what's happened in the process? You and your Lord have become close. Close. It's so close it can't really be explained in human terms. You have linked yourself with the Almighty and you and him are in league together. You're walking together and nothing breaks that fellowship. That's the way it is with God.
He's on that basis with his children. I started with one kind of story, I end with another. Playwright Moss Hart once recalled a childhood Christmas when his father took him shopping hoping to buy the boy a present he would like. The two walked the New York streets inspecting the merchandise displayed on scores of push carts. Hart's eyes as a little boy were drawn to chemistry sets and to printing presses. But the father, a very poor man, had less expensive things in mind. Each time they would find something the boy wanted, the father would ask the vendor's price, shake his head, and move on. Occasionally he would pick up a smaller, less expensive toy and try to attract his son's attention. But there was no meeting of the minds.
Eventually they came to the end of the line of push carts without a purchase. Hart writes, I heard my father jingle some coins in his pocket in a flash, I knew it all. He had gotten together about 75 cents to buy me a Christmas present and he hadn't dared say so in case there was nothing to be had for so small a sum. As I looked up at him I saw a look of despair and disappointment in his eyes that brought me closer to him than I had ever been in my life. I wanted to throw my arms around him and say, It doesn't matter. I understand.
This is better than a printing press. I love you, Daddy. But instead we stood shivering beside each other for a moment and then turned away from the last two push carts and started silently back home. I didn't even take his hand on the way home nor did he take mine.
We were not on that basis. Nor did I ever tell him how close I felt that night that for a little while the concrete wall between father and son had crumbled and I knew that we were two lonely people struggling to reach each other. I want you to know God is on that basis. God wants your arms around him.
God wants you to say, I love you, Dad. I love you, Father. I trust you.
Whatever you want to give me I accept. I need you. I cling to you. I walk with you.
I adore you. The better you get to know your God the more comfortable you will be with that kind of response. And as you gain comfort in that kind of response, express it. Sing your songs. Lay your burdens on him.
Trust him with all your heart and might. He'll be honored as you do that. I'd like us to bow together. Is it possible you've drifted a little from a walk like this?
Maybe you'd like to have it again. Maybe you don't even know the Lord as your Father and this is the first time in all your life you've ever really come face to face with that void that's there. And I invite you to just turn your life over to God's Son, Jesus Christ, who is your refuge and strength, waits to be your Savior as you believe in him. Our Father, we do thank you for the closeness that there can be with you. It's unusual for many of us who hear this message today to think of you as being willing to be close. After all, you are our Maker. You are the Creator of all things.
And yet it is true there can be an intimacy with you as there is really with no one else. And so I pray today that that might occur, that we might realize what a loving God you are and how approachable and how available, how accessible. Today we give you our thanks for the oneness there can be with you through faith in Christ. May that be a reality, not simply a hope or a dream, on the part of all of us today who have participated in this time together around your Word. I ask this in the name of Christ, who is our Lord, our Savior, and our intimate God. Amen.
Just before his closing prayer, Chuck Swindoll shared that sweet Christmas scene created by playwright Moss Hart. Even in poverty, the concrete wall between father and son had crumbled, and nothing remained but deep affection for one another. In a similar fashion, God wants nothing more than a relationship with his children. You're listening to Insight for Living. And to learn more about this ministry, we invite you to go online to insightworld.org. At Insight for Living, we want nothing more than to inspire your walk with God and your affection for his Son. In that spirit, we've prepared a number of helpful Bible study tools for you. First, did you know that Chuck provides a daily devotional by email? In this way, you can either start or end your day with reading and reflecting on biblical truth. The daily devotional is free when you sign up online at insight.org slash devotional. In addition, every sermon Chuck presents on Insight for Living is paired with interactive study notes. We call this resource Searching the Scriptures. By using this online document, you'll discover what God is saying to you as you dig into his Word on your own.
To access this study tool, go to insightworld.org slash studies. These free resources and the daily programs that feature Chuck's messages are available through voluntary donations from people just like you. We're especially grateful for those who automate their giving as monthly companions of grace. Their regular monthly gifts empower Insight for Living to be heard in multiple languages and on more than 2,000 radio stations across the world. And with the advent of the mobile app and the Internet, anybody with a cell phone can hear the practical Bible teaching of Chuck Swindoll. Joining the team at the beginning of the year makes a lot of sense and it will help tremendously. To become a monthly companion of grace, give us a call.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or you can sign up online at insight.org slash monthly companion. Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun, all in the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation.
Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when he created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier.
When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Insight for Living Ministries to the great frontier, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or learn more at insight.org slash events. The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life right here on Insight for Living. Social use is strictly prohibited.
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