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Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
January 1, 2024 12:00 am

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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January 1, 2024 12:00 am

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The question is, how can we sleep peacefully when we have enemies that are attacking us? I want to help you go to sleep tonight. As the year winds down, with what attitude do you look ahead?

Are you vexed by problems, dreading what's to come? Well, that's not the way Christians are to think. And on this edition of The Truth Pulpit, Pastor Don Green offers you ways to sleep peacefully in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright, and we're beginning the series, As the Calendar Turns, with part one of a message titled, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. And Don, fear really should not be part of a believer's life. Well, Bill, it shouldn't be. That's true. But my friend, you know all too well that sometimes it is. And it brings us back to basic scripture, Proverbs 3, 5, trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. You know, we can do that based on what scripture teaches us. We can work out these things in our mind and grow in our trust in Christ. It starts today here on The Truth Pulpit. Thanks, Don. And friend, have your Bible open to Psalm 4 as we join our teacher now in The Truth Pulpit.

How can we sleep quietly and confidently in time's life agitation? First of all, I want to just show you out of verse one what David does. The first thing that we could say is that you appeal to God with confidence. This is very, very profound, and this does so much to take our prayer lives beyond a desperate cry into the dark to a confident appeal to God knowing that He will hear and that He will listen in a way that puts our mind at rest. I'm very, very eager for us over time to develop this kind of spiritual trait in our lives as a church body, as fellow believers in the walk of life together. To understand that as we pray, we want to do more than just make requests.

We want to learn how to address God and interact with Him in a way that is worthy of His honor and in a way that drives us to and carries us to spiritual confidence. It's not that we work up the confidence and then we come to God. We develop that confidence even as we are praying. And we appeal to God with confidence.

David said, In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety. What we want to do is understand how David got to that place of confidence. How he moved from his difficulties into that place of assurance in the person of God. And we see first of all in verse one his appeal to God with confidence.

What is the source of his confidence in prayer? Look at verse one with me. David opens up and he says, Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness.

You have relieved me in my distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. He opens up and he invokes the name of God right from the beginning, but he's doing so with a pattern. He's doing so with a particular approach to God that we need to observe very closely. Notice how he addresses him as he asks God to hear him, to answer him. Notice how he appeals to God. He says, Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness. First thing that you want to see in the midst of that appeal is that he is addressing God with confidence. And he says, God you are the one who knows the sincerity of my heart. I am surrounded by people who oppose me.

I am surrounded by people that are lying about me and trying to undermine me. But God I can set all of that aside and I can appeal to you unfiltered by their opposition. I can appeal to you and know that you will hear me because you are the God of my righteousness. What does he mean by that? First of all he's saying that Lord you know the truthfulness with which I come to you. I can't explain it to others. I don't have to explain it to you.

You already know. I am trusting in you to know the righteousness and sincerity of my heart. As he says, God of my righteousness, he's saying you're the source of all righteousness in me. And so here's what he's doing beloved.

Here's what I want you to see right from the very start. There is so much packed into these verses of Scripture which testify to us that they are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. You couldn't get this much genius and content from the mere mind of man. What's David doing here in verse 1? He is appealing to the promise of God. To be faithful to his children. He's appealing also to the omniscience of God.

God you know the whole situation as I come to you. You know the purity of my heart and so God of my righteousness, the God who has promised to be with me, you are the God that I appeal to. He frames his right thinking and his right speaking about God from the very very start in this psalm. In essence he's saying God you already know the need before I speak to you.

Now hear me favorably. God in light of who you are and the promises that you have made to me, I appeal to who you are, to your character, to your knowledge, to your promise. I appeal to everything good about you and all of your good intentions toward me and I ask you to incline your ear and hear me favorably when I pray now.

And so from the very beginning he has framed his view, his understanding, the sense with which he appeals to God. It reminds me of the way Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew chapter 6. He said pray then in this way, our father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. When we pray to God we don't pray out of a desperate sense of panic and urgency because of the trials that we're facing. We stop and step back and say no, when I go to prayer I am addressing the God of the universe who deals with me as a loving heavenly father. And we have to cultivate that kind of intimate knowledge of God if we are going to actually succeed in our quest for spiritual growth.

We do not view God through the prism of our problems and speak to him through the filter of the difficulties that we're facing. We remove that filter and we address him for who he is and what he has made himself known to be to us. He is our heavenly father. He loves us. He cares for us. He is strong and mighty. He is so committed to our spiritual welfare that he sent the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue us from our own sin. Beloved, every time you pray that should be somewhere near the front of your brain, near the very surface of your consciousness that when I come to God I am coming to one who is favorable to me, who has promised good to me, and one whom I can trust with the deepest sorrows, the deepest problems, the saddest weaknesses of my heart because this God is favorably inclined to me. Do you know God that way?

Do you trust him like that? If you still view God as some distant remote deity as a Christian, I've got good news for you. God is not a remote deity to his children.

He is a loving, gracious father who knows the numbers of hairs on our head and welcomes us when we pray, says that he will respond, that he knows what we need before we ask him, and he bids us to come into his presence. And so we come not trembling in fear as true believers in Christ, but we come as those who are confident of a good reception from the hand of our loving, gracious God. That's what David starts with, and that's where the roots of your spiritual growth can go deep.

That soil that you can plunge into to realize that your God is a God to you like that. Every one of us that knows Christ can speak to God in exactly this manner of confidence with which David prays. That's good stuff from God's Word.

We have a loving father. Now watch this as we continue on in verse 1. I think one of the things that this teaches us is it calls us to a much greater degree of deliberate intent in prayer.

It forces us to think and to deal with God for who he is. Look at verse 1 with me again. Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness.

Then watch this. You have relieved me in my distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. What's he saying there when he says you have relieved me in my distress?

Think about it this way. David is reminding God and as much reminding himself that God has a proven track record with him. David is alluding to the fact that God in times past you have relieved me of prior distresses which no longer trouble me. I have called out to you in times past and you blessed me and you delivered me. When I was feeling squeezed by my adverse circumstances, you gave room to my heart. You alleviated those sorrows. You resolved the problem on my behalf and I walked again in freshness and newness of spiritual life. You've done that for me in the past. Now, what he's doing here in Psalm 4 is, watch this, he is appealing to those past answers to prayer, those past times where God has given him relief and said, God just like you have blessed me in the past, now I'm asking you to do something similar again. God, you've done this before and so my confidence is strengthened all the more to ask you again, you've helped me in the past, surely you will help me now as well.

My circumstances are different but you're not. You're the immutable unchanging God. You saved me out and delivered me out of distress in the past. You will do it again and so I pray with confidence. Now, I'm going to meddle with you.

I'm going to get into your kitchen. If you've been a Christian for any length of time at all, a few months, a few years, those of you many years, listen to what Scripture is saying here. One of the challenges that you have and one of the ways that you need to grow spiritually when you are under times of stress and opposition in your life is you need to remember this particular truth. In times past in your spiritual life, without doubt, without question, you have seen God help you in the past. Now, your responsibility in the present distress in which you find yourself going is to remember that and not to be sucked into the vortex of what's troubling you right now and forget all of the prior context of your spiritual life. You have to step back and not simply rush into God's presence and ask for help, but to remember your own spiritual history. Didn't God help you in that one particular way back when you were first a believer? Don't you remember as you were starting to enter into your relationship with your current spouse of difficulties that you had, but the Lord helped you through them? There were times when you were suffering financially and the provision ultimately came. Multiply that by any number of other examples that we could come up with. What you're supposed to do is remember that and not go to God now in the midst of your present distress as if He has never helped you before.

No, no. We step back and we remember and we recite it. Say, God, I remember when I was down to my last few pennies as a college student and how you helped me. God, I remember how you brought help in the midst of that profound sorrow that men and other human counselors could not help me with. I remember how you helped me then. Lord, I remember how I cried out to you in distress and said, Lord, I can't take another minute here. And you intervened.

And you provided something that I could not have anticipated. And you brought me out of all of those distresses. You stop and you remember those things. And you recite them to God with a spirit of gratitude and a spirit of trust that says, Lord, I haven't forgotten. And so when I pray to you now and ask you to answer me in this present difficulty, oh God, I'm praying with confidence, not with a sense that there's any doubt that you're going to help me.

You have too long of a track record. I must honor you with full confidence in my heart in light of your character, in light of your track record. Lord, it couldn't come out any other way except that you will help me again as well. And so Lord, with that context of trust and memory and your character in mind, I ask you now to answer me when I call. Be gracious to me when I hear. You're not asking God to do something that He otherwise wouldn't do.

You're asking Him to act according to His established character and His established track record in your own life. And so you take time to recite His character. God, you're the God who defends and upholds your children. You take time to remember God's past help. And God, you helped me there, there, there, there, there and there. I have to tell you, the privilege of preparing this message was that it forced me to go through that process in my own life and look back. And it was so enriching. It was so encouraging. I can't even remember what I was troubled about when I started the psalm, to be honest with you, because I was just overwhelmed with all of the decisive ways that God had acted and brought me out of my own hardship.

How can I do anything else but trust Him now? Here's the question for you. How could you betray your own spiritual experience by doubting God's provision now in what you don't see is going to work out today? How could you betray all of His character and all of that past blessing that He's poured out on you by saying, God, I'm not sure about this one, you know, because the guy who's challenging me at work is really powerful. The trouble that I've got here today is bigger than anything I've ever seen before. You can't think that way. You can't let yourself think that way.

You have to stir yourself up to faithfulness. And the way we do that is by calling to mind the character of God and the past ways that He's helped us. And what this does for you, beloved, what this inevitably does for us is rather than making prayer the irksome duty that sometimes we think that it is or the cry of panic, the cry into the dark, it makes prayer something really sweet and precious. When you remember how intimately God has helped you in the past, you can't help but have your affections warmed to the God who's been so good to you and is still with you today.

Right? And so, when the difficulty comes, don't pray like this is the first crisis you've ever faced as a believer, or worse, like it's the first crisis that God's ever had to deal with. It's not.

It's not. God, pardon the crass metaphor here, God has made His living throughout all of eternity doing the impossible. Let's remember that and pray to Him as those who know that and trust Him. Beloved, this great God, our Lord Jesus Christ who hung on a cross for our redemption, He deserves our trust and confidence even if we are suffering severely at the moment. Our circumstances don't contradict what He has already done.

Our circumstances don't change who He is. And so, we have to disengage our emotions from our circumstances, unplug that appliance and plug it in instead to the goodness and faithfulness of God. And I realize it takes effort. You have to try to do this.

It doesn't just happen. You have to rouse up. You have to stir up your soul to move in that direction. That is the exercise of your faith. And our God is worthy of that. Now, so David has stirred himself up to faith in verse one and he's appealed to God with confidence. What's going on in the verses that follow in verses two through five? Well, that brings us to our second point and what you see here in verses two through five is that you assess your enemies with clarity.

You appeal to God with confidence. Now in verse two, David is assessing his opposition with a clarity of thought. Having addressed God in verse one, now he's going to address his enemies beginning in verse two. Look at it with me, verse two.

Notice how who he's addressing changes. He says, O sons of men. He's prayed vertically in verse one. Now he's speaking horizontally in verse two and he's addressing those who are making life miserable for him. In verse two he says, O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?

How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? This phrase sons of men indicates people of nobility. They are men of influence that are opposing David at this point in his life. Somehow in some way that isn't made expressly clear in the context of the psalm, they despised David's throne. They were opposed to him.

They were trying to undermine him and they had betrayed him for a worthless cause. And what David is doing here as he addresses them, how long will my honor become a reproach? In other words, how long are you going to oppose God's anointed king?

How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? He is confronting them spiritually and he is addressing them directly and confronting their sin. He is appealing to them to stop and think. He says, in effect to them, he says, you despise me even though I'm God's anointed king.

How do you think that that could ever possibly come out good for you? If God has installed me on the throne, what can your opposition to me be anything other than opposition to God himself? Your heart is filled with deception.

He says to those people, either actually addressing them or addressing them hypothetically in his mind, it's not entirely clear, but certainly when the psalm was published, these enemies would have found the word addressed to them. And notice at the end of verse two, there's our little word again, selah. Stop and think about it. Park it here and contemplate what I am saying to you. You are being ungodly.

How long are you going to persist in that foolish path of conduct? What's that say for us today? We're not God's anointed king.

No, but we're his chosen people. We're in a position of chosen privilege before a holy God. What this verse is teaching us to do, and there's so much spiritual effort, so much spiritual thinking that goes into being able to put your head on your pillow at night and sleep in peace. It's not just thinking about the character of God and his faithfulness to us.

That's part of it. But when you're under the assault of wicked people misrepresenting you in your employment, family who is treating you wickedly on account of your faith in Christ, mocking you, making life miserable for you, and you know that it's for spiritual purposes for which they do that, again, beloved, you have to step back and you have to think biblically. You have to process this situation in light of truth, and you have to take a longer term perspective than just the immediate events of today or the things that have bruised your sensibilities or threatened your confidence about what the future holds. You have to think like this. You have to think like this in light of that. You have to think like what I am about to say. Their sinful dealings with you carry the seed of its own destruction.

The way that they are dealing with you is a guarantee of their own lousy outcome, of the fact that their way with you cannot prosper in the end. We'll pause right there for today, but Pastor Don Green will have part two of his message, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, next time on The Truth Pulpit, as we continue our current series, As the Calendar Turns. We hope you'll join us then. Well, the year may be changing soon, but our helpful website remains, and we invite you to visit us at thetruthpulpit.com. There you can download podcasts or find out how to receive CD copies of Don's radio messages for your personal study library. And if you want to go even more in depth, you'll also find the link Follow Don's Pulpit. That'll take you to Don's full-length weekly sermons, not subject to the time editing needed for radio broadcasts. And if you're in the Cincinnati area, check out our service times at Truth Community Church. That's also on our website, and plan a visit because we'd love to welcome you. I'm Bill Wright. Thank you for joining us today. We'll see you next time on The Truth Pulpit with Don Green.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-01 04:38:23 / 2024-01-01 04:46:58 / 9

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