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Encountering God // How to handle the trials of life? // Pastor Josh Evans

Union Grove Baptist Church / Pastor Josh Evans
The Truth Network Radio
June 5, 2023 11:35 am

Encountering God // How to handle the trials of life? // Pastor Josh Evans

Union Grove Baptist Church / Pastor Josh Evans

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June 5, 2023 11:35 am

In this episode, Pastor Josh looks at the trials and how do we handle them.

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Psalm 57 here today, and we're continuing our series entitled Encountering God. This is just a study through the book of Psalms, and we're taking not every single Psalm, but we've been kind of walking through many of the different Psalms of David and looking at these, and these are just an opportunity for us to encounter the Lord. And Psalms is a book of songs. They're really written to be sung in praises to our great God. And I believe that our culture within the church, but also just in, you know, outside of the church, they're drawn to this book.

And you say, why in the world? And I think it's because most of the Psalms were written directly in times of struggles that many of us can relate with. And so if you've gone through a difficult time, or you've gone through a valley experience, or life has been difficult for you, and you don't have all the answers that maybe you have enemies in your life, whatever that may be, or obstacles that are in front of you. The book of Psalms really is probably the most encouraging book for each one of you because many of them who are writing those are going through the very same things that you are going through. So I think that's why our culture is drawn to this book, the book of Psalms speak directly to some of the most practical questions that we face in the Christian life. All the questions that we face in the Christian life, the Psalms really speak directly to each one of those and today's question is very simple. And we've touched on this through our study so far, but it's how do we make it through the trials in our life? I don't know if you've ever felt this way if you're going through a difficult valley experience, or like we're going to see today, maybe you feel like you're in a cave and there's absolutely no way out. And you think, how in the world am I going to get through this?

How in the world am I ever going to get on the other side of this trial? My daughter, she's in sixth grade, and she recently, one of her guinea pigs passed away. And thank you for the sympathy, okay. And when that happened, she had never, she's actually lost two in the last year, which is just the saddest thing in our home, I guess.

I'm not going to tell you how I feel about it. But here's the thing is when she lost the very first guinea pig, these are her guinea pigs, she wanted guinea pigs last Christmas. And that's what she asked for for Christmas. I kept saying, is there anything else? Okay, anything else but the guinea pigs. And she said, no, that's all I want for Christmas.

So she got those for Christmas. And I told her when she received the guinea pigs, I said, listen, these are your guinea pigs. That means you take care of them. That means I do not feed them.

I do not clean their cage. And I gave her all these rules and things like that. Well, when the guinea pig just up and passed away on us recently, my daughter was in like mourning for days.

It was terrible. And I literally kept going to bed at night and she was sad and she was all upset about this because these were, you know, and if you have a pet, you know, kind of that feeling. It's a difficult feeling. And I remember telling Abby, I'm like, are we ever going to get on the other side of this? Like, when's she going to be okay? And many times when we have trials in life and difficulty experiences or difficult experiences in your life, sometimes you wonder, are you ever going to get out on the other side of this? Are you going to be able to make it through?

And if so, how in the world can we make it through to the other side? Because a lot of times when we're in a valley experience, all we see is the valley and all we see is the mountains around us and we feel like there is absolutely no way out. Well, Psalm chapter 57 really speaks to this. It speaks to how you can glorify the Lord in the midst of the valley, how you can continue a relationship with him even in the midst of the valley. This Psalm was written while David was actually hiding in a cave from King Saul.

And if you remember the story, you might be new to church and some of you might not be as familiar. And so I want to give you briefly just kind of why this Psalm was written. You say, why was David hiding in a cave? He was a man after God's own heart. Well, because of Saul's rebellion and disobedience to God, the hand of God turned away from him. It went off of King Saul. And so the prophet Samuel had to go anoint a new king. So he went to David's house and anointed David to be king. But at that point, Samuel left. David was anointed to be king, but Samuel left. And so he didn't become king right away. And so Saul was extremely jealous because he, this guy, this young shepherd boy was actually going to become king. And so his plan was, I'm going to kill him during that day.

Any time that threatened that threatened his position or a leader or a king's position, the way to stop that is you get rid of them. And so that's what Saul was trying to do. And so here we find David is writing Psalm chapter 57 in a cave, probably the cave of Adullam that is mentioned in First Samuel 22. It's probably in that cave experience that he is writing the words that we are going to read today.

Now, it's important for you as you study this, I want you to kind of put yourself in his position a little bit. He is hiding for his life. He has an army of people around him. But this man, this madman, Saul, is looking for him.

He has a massive army of his own and he is looking for him to put him to death. And that is why David wrote this. What is intriguing about this Psalm as we get into it is this, is never one time does David ask for a removal of his circumstances.

Think about that. Not one time as he is sitting in this cave and he is lifting up this song to his father, not one time does he actually ask for deliverance or that God would take this away. His point is in this Psalm what we are going to see is he wanted God to be uplifted in the midst of the trial that he is going on. In the midst of the cave that he is in and hiding for his life, he wanted God to be glorified.

So let's look at it together. Psalm 57, we will read all 11 verses and then I will give you a few practical thoughts here today about the Psalm first. He says in verse 1, Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me. How many of you need the mercy of God?

Can you raise your hand or say amen? Listen, we all are in desperate need of the mercy of God. In fact, I want to remind you today because many of us sometimes get off track and we think we are pretty good for ourselves.

Let me remind you of this today. There is none good, knoweth nobody. There is not one person in here that is good, that is worthy of the mercy and grace of our God. In fact, God's grace and mercy comes to us not when we were looking for him, but then when we were actually rebelling against our father. And yet in the midst of our rebellion, God sent his son, his only begotten son, to die for you and to die for me so that we could be fully reconciled to the father. You see, that is the message of the gospel. And so I want you to feel these words here in verse 1, Be merciful unto me.

You need the mercy of God. Well, David here writing in this cave, he needed the mercy of God. He says, Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me, for my soul trusteth in thee. Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge until these calamities be overpassed. I will cry unto God most high, unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall sin from heaven and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up, Salah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. My soul is among lions, and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword. Verse 5, he's going to repeat this here in a couple of verses. This is really the theme of the psalm here in verse 5. He says, Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let thy glory be above all the earth.

They have prepared a net for my steps. My soul is bowed down. They have digged a pit for me in the midst whereof they are fallen themselves, Salah. My heart is fixed, O God. That word fixed just means steadfast. My heart is steadfast on him, O God.

My heart is fixed. I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory. Awake.

Saltery and harp, I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people. I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let thy glory be above all the earth.

Let's pray together and we'll dive in. Father, we love you. God, I'm reminded each and every time that I stand up here today, I'm absolutely nothing without you today, Father. And God, I need your grace and encouragement and strength and filling of the Holy Spirit here this morning. I pray that you would bless your word and that you would hide me behind the cross today, that every person in here would hear the very voice of you in their heart today. Father, that's why we've gathered here today to lift high and to magnify and exalt your name. And, Father, that's what we intend to do. I pray that you would bless the remaining of this service, for it's in your name we pray.

Amen. You say, how do we make it through the trials or difficult experiences that we are facing? David is riding in a cave, and he is riding about exactly how you can make it through in those difficult times.

You say, how can we do that? I want to give you three things from this passage that I think are helpful. First, he mentions the first way that you make it through the cave-like experiences in your life is this. We have to run to God for refuge. We have to run and find refuge in Him, not in the circumstances that we face in life.

Now, he mentions here in verse 1, he says, Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me, for my soul trusteth in thee, yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge. Now, he has this idea of a bird who finds shelter or refuge under the wings of their mother or whatever. Here, he's mentioning that that is where we are to find refuge. When you think of the word refuge, we naturally think of safety. We think of shelter. We think of rest in something that we can find refuge in. We think of protection. We think of peace.

It's a place to go, and when he talks about being under the wings of the Father, he's talking about when we are in a relationship with God, we are protected, and we are at peace. Isn't that what every single one of us is looking for in life? We're looking for peace. We're looking for protection. We're looking for safety.

We're looking for security. We're looking for all of those things, and David is reminding us that in the cave, that is what he's looking for. In the middle of that cave-like experience, he's saying and even singing this praise up to the Father, saying that all the refuge that I need is found under the wings of the Father.

Here's what I want you to understand. If you're in a cave-like experience, you're in a valley, a trial, and you're in a pit, and you feel like you can't get out, maybe life has just not been going the way that you intended for it to go, and things are just not looking up for you. We all have bad experiences sometimes in life. Let me remind you that the way that you can get out of the cave, or not even just deliverance from the cave, but the way that you can make it through the cave-like experiences of our life is we have to find refuge in him, not in the circumstances of our life. You've got to find refuge in a relationship with God. You've got to find safety in a relationship with God, not in your circumstances of life. When I think of the word refuge, I think about when I was a youth pastor.

I was a youth pastor for several years before I became a pastor. We used to always play this game every year. It was this big game that we used to play called Capture the Flag. How many of you have played Capture the Flag before?

You know what I'm talking about and what I'm referring to. We would play this game called Capture the Flag. It was always the highlight. For many of you who maybe grew up in youth group, Capture the Flag was the best. Here's what's amazing to me is every kid that came through my youth group loved playing Capture the Flag. Here's how Capture the Flag always ended. Somebody got injured and people got mad at one another every single time we played it.

I don't understand why it was such a highlighted game. Every single year when we would play it, I would say to our teenagers, I would say, this is the last time we're ever doing this. Then next year rolls around and Capture the Flag finds its way on our event calendar.

I don't know how. We would play it. In Capture the Flag, you hide the other team's flag, but there's always this one area in the surrounding areas that you play the game on that is called base, that you can't get tagged out if you're on base. For us, when I first became a youth pastor, we played at this camp. There was this road, the road that went into the camp.

That's what divided the two sides. We would tell them that if you were on the road, you were on base because it's directly in between the two sides. Everybody would try to get to that base. But when you're on that base, here's what's amazing. You are so relaxed.

You're at peace. That is your safety. That is security for you. But the minute that you step off a base onto enemy's territory, you then are starting to look around. You're looking behind your back.

You're looking around. You're looking at everything around you, and you have absolutely no safety when you go to that side. You need to be on base if you want to be safe and relaxed and not have to watch your back that you're going to get out in the game. And when I think about this, David is saying, all of the refuge that I need is found in a relationship with him. In other words, the safety that you experience when you're on base, that you don't have to worry about everything else. You don't have to worry about who's over here and who's over here. You don't have to worry about the circumstance that is behind you, the circumstance that you're in, or the circumstance that is around the corner.

When you're on base in a relationship with the Father, you have refuge, safety, security. In fact, everything that you need in your life is found in him. Notice he did not find his refuge in the cave that he was in. David didn't find his refuge in the army that was around him. A lot of times we seek to find the refuge that we need in whatever you are gifted with, don't we? Whatever you can control in your life, that's what you find refuge in a lot of times.

And so if life goes bad, you run to the things that you can control, or you run to money, or you run to career, or you run to wherever you're gifted and you try to find the refuge that you need in there. David didn't find his refuge in any of those things. He didn't find it in the fact that he was the anointed king. He didn't find it in the fact that he has an army around him. He didn't find it in the cave that he was in in this moment. He didn't find it in the fact that he was an incredible shot with a slingshot. He didn't find it with anything like that. He found it in a relationship with the Father. And that's what you need to learn and that's what I need to learn if we're going to make it through life. You've got to find refuge in God.

You can't find it in circumstances. Two thoughts about refuge is this. First, his refuge does not mean the absence of troubles. I don't want you to hear me today that I think that when you find refuge in God that that means all trouble goes away. Any person who has been saved and following Jesus for a length of time in their life would tell you that a relationship with Jesus, you're going to encounter trouble. Life's not always going to go your way. There's going to be difficulty in your life. But even though it doesn't mean the absence of troubles, it means that his presence will be with you in the midst of the troubles and that's all that you need in life.

You see, that's all that you need in life is a relationship with him. The presence of the Father with you in the middle of trouble is better than the absence of his presence without trouble in your life. That's what David is saying is that all he needs is to be sheltered under the wings of his Father and it doesn't matter what trouble comes his way. It doesn't matter what cave he experiences. It doesn't matter who's out to kill him. As long as he is sheltered under the wings of his Father, he has all the refuge that he needs in life.

But secondly about refuge, I want you to understand this. God is wanting to do something in us during the trouble. Listen, if you're in a trouble or a valley experience and maybe you're not in one and I praise God for that if you're not, but many of you have experienced some difficult moments of life and you've experienced loss and you're wondering why in the world did God, a loving God, ever pull me through something like that? Why would the loving shepherd lead me through these kind of paths that are so difficult?

And we as Christians sometimes we ask questions like that. Let me remind you that sometimes God is wanting to do something in you in the midst of the troubles that you experience. God is way more interested in who you are becoming and the character that you are developing and the holiness that he is trying to put into your life. He's way more interested in those things than he is your comfort or your happiness.

He's not about you just having great fun life circumstances and all that kind of stuff. He's trying to do something in your life. And sometimes he has to let us go through trouble in order to do what he is wanting to do in your life. You see, when we experience trouble, we naturally in our flesh run to temporary fixes. You have a problem so you run to, man, I need more money and that will solve all my problems. Or you have another issue and you're like, man, I just need to change careers and then I'll find everything I'm looking for.

Or many of you are like, man, if I can just get to my summer vacation, life's going to be good and I'll come back recharged and everything's going to be fine. You see, we go to relationships. We try to find all the refuge in all of these wrong places and here's what I believe God is trying to do. The reason he sends us through trouble sometimes is God is constantly trying to attack our places of refuge so that we can learn that what we are looking for is a better and eternal refuge and that's found in a relationship with him.

So he's sending you through trouble so that you can learn and find that your refuge is not in money, that your refuge is not in a better career, that your refuge cannot be found in a different relationship, that your refuge can't be found in just a vacation or in whatever, fill in the blank, whatever you are looking for. No, he's trying to attack all the different places we look for refuge, trying to teach us that an eternal refuge in him is far better and provides the safety and security that you need. The second thing, not only do we need to find refuge in him, we need to trust in the protection of God. We need to trust in the protection of God. He says in verse 2, I will cry unto God most high unto God that performeth all things for me. He, God, shall sin from heaven and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah, God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

My soul is among lions and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword. Now, we live, when we talk about trusting in the protection of God, we live in a society that centers around as much protection as we possibly can. Parents, I have two children and we look at our life's goal as to try to protect our kids from everything. We protect them for everything. And many of you who grew up 30 years ago, you guys did not understand what protection was.

You know what I'm talking about? You ever been to like a playground that existed like 40 years ago? Like my parents, when we go to their house, there's a old, old country church right at the end of their driveway. My grandfather would attend there until he passed away. And so the pastor there, he knows my parents well. My parents go to a different church, but he always says, when your grandkids come to visit, they are always welcome at our playground out back. And so my dad will say, let's go kids to the playground when they were young and we go out to the playground.

And I just don't even understand how some of us are living today with the way that you parents and grandparents treated us when we were young. We went to this playground and it amazes me, there's these stairs, these metal stairs to this slide, and it is really high. And there's like no railing, you just gotta hope for the best. And when you get up there, like the sides of the slide, you can just roll right off.

I'm thinking, what is this? My generation, you enclose it all. So there's absolutely no way that our children could ever fall off the slide. But no, that's not how it was back then. You guys just, I mean, y'all had no heart for your children. And so when we go there, I'm always reminded about, man, the differences and how like, man, I mean, some of you are like, man, we need to go back. That's what's wrong with society, right? We need to toughen some of these kids up. But when we go there, I'm always reminded about protection and how it's changed over the years. Nowadays, we protect kids from everything. We protect our own for everything. We don't want our kids to get hurt. If your kid has a problem with another kid in school, you're like, hey, just avoid them.

Run from it. We want to protect them. Or parents jump in the middle of it, right? And they jump in the middle and they're trying to protect and shield our kids and our grandkids from everything in life. And so here, when we think of protection, we naturally, as human beings, we go to protection from stuff, right? Like when we talk about the protection that we have in God, we naturally look at that and we think that that means God's gonna keep us from everything. That God's just gonna step in front of you and he's gonna shield you so you never experience bad things in life.

If you walked in today thinking that a relationship with God is going to free you from all troubles, then you have listened to the wrong sermon. You see, sometimes God is trying to teach us something and it's not always protection from things. He's trying to prove how he protects you through the troubles of your life. And that's what his protection is about. You say, how in the world does he protect us? He mentions just a few things here in verse two. He protects you by completing his work in you. He protects us by completing his work in you. Look at the end of verse, verse two. Or I'll read the whole thing. He says, I will cry unto God most high, unto God that performeth all things for me.

For me. You see, the way that he protects you is God fights for you. The way that he protects you is God completes his work in you. The way that he protects you is God steps in and he's the one who takes care and fights for us.

It doesn't mean that you're never gonna experience trouble. It just means that God is gonna complete what he started in you. You see, the purpose of God is completed or is being completed in us and for us. The second way that he protects us is found in verse three.

He does provide safety. He says, verse three, He, God, shall send from heaven and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. In other words, God is going to save me from my enemies. In this case, Saul is who he's referring to and Saul's army and the enemies that he's facing.

And one day, David recognized that he will be saved from his enemies. David is referencing that the saving that he's experiencing is actually found in a relationship with God. He doesn't just mean the absence of his enemies. He means that when he is under the wings of the father that there is where he can find the safety that he needs to encounter the enemies that he experiences. So he completes his work in us, he provides safety, but then he also fills us with peace.

He fills us with peace. Look at verse four. This is a wild verse, by the way. He says, my soul is among lions and I lie even among them that are set on fire. Even the sons of men whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword.

I love the poetry of David here. I mean, he really describes how he feels about Saul. If you have a problem with somebody, maybe in the church or at work or whatever, start just describing them this way because he really poetically describes the enemies that he is facing. He calls them lions that are on fire, these beasts that are on fire who have teeth that are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword, right? And so, I mean, pretty serious description of the enemies that he is facing. And he says, at the beginning, my soul is among them.

And look at what he says. And I lie even among them. In other words, David is saying that he is laying down in the midst of the lions, in the midst of the fiery beast, in the midst of his enemies, he can still lay his head on his pillow at night and rest because he's at peace with the father.

Now, think about that. None of us are gonna lie down and be able to sleep when you're surrounded by lions, right? Or you're surrounded by fiery beast. None of us are gonna be able to be at peace when those type of enemies are around us, okay? If they threw you at the zoo into one of the exhibits, right? None of you are just gonna pull up a pillow or find a good rock to lay on and just kind of rest for the night.

No, you're gonna be finding a place to hide because you don't wanna be swallowed up by the enemies that are around you. When I was growing up, we would go to a place called Cades Cove every single year. How many of you have ever been to Cades Cove before, okay? So we would go to this place called Cades Cove and my parents, they love to camp. And so we've been around tent camping and as we got older, they stopped with the tent stuff, went to like a pop-up camper and then went to, you know how if you own a camper, you always start with a smaller one and then you kind of work your way up if you know what I'm talking about.

Well, that's how my parents were. And so when I was little, we would stay in these tents and that's what we would do every single year. We would go to Cades Cove and if you know where Cades Cove is, many of you that have been there, you've kind of rode around their scenic loop that they have. Well, one thing that you might not know is there's a campground up there and we would camp for an entire week up there in the campground. Now you say, do we still do that? No, we don't and here's why.

It's because there's no power, there's no water, everything that we need, there's no wifi. Like I don't even know how I would function. But when I was growing up, that's what we did. And when we go visit, I'm always like, mom, like what did we do all week?

Like this is wild to me. But we would stay in this campground right up there by Cades Cove and you're completely unplugged for the week and that's just what we did and we would stay in these tents. Well, there were several times because there's a ton of wildlife up at Cades Cove, there's a couple times where the bears there in the Great Smoky Mountains would come like right through our campsite. Like we're in tents. I don't know if you know much about bears but bears could destroy a tent and get us, okay? And there we are and we're just like celebrating and we're taking pictures and everything else and I'm just like, what is going wrong?

And when I say taking pictures, it'll probably look like that, right? And all I'm saying is, all this kind of craziness of what we were doing and so when I read this, I was thinking, okay, I was thinking what kind of, what's the closest I've ever been to a beast of some sort, right? It's probably in those moments and we're the crazy family in the mountains that gets real close to these things and tries to get as close as you can to get the best picture because we still visit there from time to time. But I'm thinking when we're around things like that, the last thing you're gonna do is lie down in the midst of them, right? Because they can destroy you. Well, David is saying this, that his enemies with their swords and their spears and their fire, they can destroy me but in the midst of it, I can lie down at peace.

You say, how in the world? It's because he was at peace with a relationship with the Father and that's what God the Father can do in your life. If you find refuge in him and run towards him and find the peace that you will find, the peace that you are looking for in life. You'll find the peace that you can rest, you can sleep at night. You don't have to stress. You don't have to worry. You say, why?

That's what I'm looking for. If you could just stop worrying, right? If I could just live a life where there's no cares and no worry, then I've achieved what I'm looking for. You can. The Bible says that you can. You wanna know how you rest and be at peace in the midst of enemies around you? It's found in sheltering yourself under the wings of the Father. And when you do that, you can find and experience the peace that he brings.

The third thing that we have to do is this, and finally. You have to worship the Lord in the midst of the cave. This is the most mind-blowing thing to me about this whole passage. Really, this is the point of the passage is that in the midst of the cage, verse five, in the midst of it all, be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let thy glory be above all the earth.

They have prepared a net for my steps. My soul has bowed down. They have digged a pit before me into the midst whereof they are following themselves. My heart is fixed, O God.

My heart is fixed. I will sing and give praise. Awake up my glory, awake.

Saltery and harp, I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people. I will sing unto thee among the nations, for thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens.

Let thy glory be above all the earth. You see, I want you to understand that regardless of where your circumstances are, regardless of what you came in carrying today, God is still worthy of all of your praise. Not because He's given you what you think is the best circumstances. He's worthy just because of who He is.

And that's what we have to understand. Sometimes we think God's only worthy because of the circumstances that He puts us in. And if they're good, then He's worthy. If they're bad, then He's not.

Let me tell you this. The Bible says God is worthy of your praise and honor and glory regardless of the circumstances that you are experiencing. And that's what David is doing here in this psalm. He mentions in the first four verses, he mentions the enemies that are looking for him.

And he mentions them poetically in a graphic way. But then all the attention in verse five changes to where in the midst of that, even if God doesn't get me out of this, if I stay in the pit, if I stay in the valley, He is still in the midst of the pit, in the midst of the cave, in the midst of the valley, He is still worthy to be exalted. And God let that be on my lips, the exaltation of the Father. You see, He mentioned God be exalted above the heavens and the earth, verse five. He says I will sing and give praise, verse seven. I will praise and sing among the nations, verse nine.

Verse five again, God be exalted above the heavens and the earth, or verse 11 rather. Listen, He's talking, and here's what's mind blowing about this, is He's riding this in the midst of the cave. He's riding this in the midst of the cave. Now I always like to put myself into these stories a little bit, and I'm thinking His army's right there. He's got this army around Him.

They're probably having to be a little bit quiet because Saul is looking for them and they don't know where he's at, and so it's dark. And for you and me, I've been to caves and we've paid money to go tour caves and different caverns and stuff like that. And when you go down there and they turn on the lights, it's like wow, this is beautiful, this is awesome. I want you to remember, that's not the experience of what He was experiencing here. It wasn't like wow, this is so cool, man.

This is awesome. It was dark. I suspect that they weren't trying to turn on a whole lot of their lights and lamps and different things or the fire because they're thinking hey, blow out the fire because we don't want anything to attract Saul into this cave.

I suspect it was pitch dark. And in the midst of this darkness and he's hiding and he's thinking at any moment, is Saul gonna come through into this cave and find us hiding here and kill me and that is the end. And in the middle of this, he's sitting there and he's saying you know what, this is just, man, these enemies, they're like lions and this is rough and their teeth are like spears and arrows and their tongues are a sharp sword and this is awful. And then I can just imagine him thinking but really, in the midst of it all, right here in this dark cave, he starts singing his praise.

Be thou exalted, oh God, above the heavens. When was the last time your bad valley experience, instead of focusing in on your experience, you focused in on the goodness of God in the midst of the experience. Sometimes when we're going through difficult times, all we tell people about is how life's been bad. You ever met somebody like that? Hey, how you doing today? Oh man, let me tell you about my week. I've stopped asking people like that.

I'm just like listen, that's the person. I'm not gonna ask them because I know it's just gonna be terrible. Instead of talking about how bad your circumstances are, we should be talking about how good our God is and that's the point. Stop making your life about the circumstances and start making them about the worship and exaltation of the Father.

You see, here's what I learned when I was studying this. Worship is a choice. Worship, it's a choice. You see, the scripture tells us and even commands us to worship Him regardless of how I feel. And here's what David would say.

If David was standing before you today and we have his words here of what he wrote, this song that he wrote, here's I think what he would say to that. Sometimes the choice to worship Him, yeah, sometimes it aligns with my feelings, but a lot of times it doesn't align with my feelings. But we're still in those moments called to worship Him anyway. You see, the worship of our Savior, it's not based on your experiences or your circumstances.

It's based on who He is. And let me remind you, the God of the Bible, the one true God, the God that we serve, the God who saved your soul from hell, let me remind you, He changeth not. Your circumstances change from day to day, but the one who never changes is actually worthy to be worshiped because of who He is regardless of what your circumstances look like today. So if you're in a valley today, worship Him. If you're on the mountaintop today, worship Him. If you're in a cave today and you're running from your enemies, worship Him anyway. If your life's good right now in your life and you have nothing to complain about in life, worship Him anyway.

You see, He's worthy of our worship regardless. And here's what I think David understood. Exceeding David's desire to be rescued was David's desire for God to be worshiped. That's, I think, the issue is I think David cared more about God being worshiped than he did the circumstances that he was in. He cared more about God being exalted than he did Himself being delivered. And if you're honest with yourself, some of us, we care way more about our deliverance from problems than we do the worship of our Savior.

And we have to change gears and get our eyes on Him because a lot of us, we're just wanting deliverance. God, deliver me. God, get this out of my life.

God, remove this from me. And what happens is there has to be a shift in your life where you care way more about the worship of God than you do the deliverance of the problems that you're experiencing. And that's what David did. He cared more about God being worshiped and exalted than he did Himself being happy and comfortable.

And we have to live the same way. Let me remind you, the ultimate purpose of your life, it's not about your happiness. You want to know why you exist today? To bring Him glory. To give Him glory. That's the only reason you are still breathing at this moment right now, is to shout the glory of God.

In fact, the scripture tells us that the only reason creation even was created was to lift high the glory of God. You see, God has a message for the whole world and it is written on all of creation, everything that you see and in your life. And it is this message shouting loud and clear that He is worthy of your worship.

He is glorious. And that's the message. And that should be your life's goal. Your life's goal shouldn't be about yourself. It should be about worshiping Him.

And that's what David realized is that he didn't mind being rescued as much as he wanted God to be worshiped. So I ask you this today. Where are you at today in life?

Say, Pastor, I'm in a cave. Things don't look good. Maybe you're surrounded by your enemies. Maybe you are in a situation where you just don't see anything, any way out. It could be a financial situation. It could be something at your job. It could be a relationship problem. It could be that you're hurt by something and you're wondering how you can get over it and move forward. It could be something with your children.

It could be anything. Whatever thing you're experiencing, say, Pastor, I'm going through something where I feel like I'm in a cave. I feel like I'm hiding from my life. I feel like every time I wake up and every time I turn, something bad happens in my life. What in the world am I supposed to do?

My challenge is to you today. Run to God for refuge. The safety that you're looking for, it's found under his wings.

The protection that you're looking for, it's found under his wings. You can trust in the protection of God knowing that he is working in you and performing all things in you and completing what he has started in you, but then in all things, regardless of what your circumstances look like, listen, I wish I could tell you they're all going to get better for you, but I can't. I can't promise that.

They might not. I hate to tell you that it might get worse before it gets better. I hope you came for some encouragement today, okay?

There it is. I can't promise you that life's going to get good for you, but I can promise you this, that he is worthy of your worship regardless of what life throws your way. He is worthy not just because of what he does in your life, although that's a part of it. Listen, I praise God that he saved my soul, but let me tell you this. He's worthy because of who he is, and some of you have been using your life story to make it about you, and your life story's not to be about us. Our life story should be about him. The only story worth telling is a story that exalts and magnifies and glorifies the king of kings. That's the story worth telling for your life, and for some of us, we need to ask for forgiveness about the times when we took our eyes off of him and we put them on our circumstances, and some of us who are in valley experiences today need to run to God to find the refuge that we are looking for. Would you bow your heads with me? Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens.

Let thy glory be above all the earth. Father, I love you, and God, I think in a room this size, there's probably some in here who are experiencing valley moments. They feel like they're in a cave just like David. They feel like there's no way out. They feel like everywhere they turn, God, that life just keeps hitting up against them, and it's just not getting better, and they might be saying here today, like, what is the next step? What are we supposed to do?

What am I supposed to do? How am I going to make it through, Father? And, God, your word is so clear, and your word is alive, and it's powerful, and it speaks to us, Father, and today I pray, God, that they could find all the refuge and safety and protection in a relationship with you, that everything that we're looking for, everything our heart is longing for, Father, can be found in you. God, I pray that they find that here today. Heads bowed, hearts lifted in prayer. Can you please stand with me?
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-07 23:18:57 / 2023-10-07 23:37:58 / 19

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