Our text this morning. Psalm 25. Two weeks ago we considered how can I know what God’s will is for me? And today we’re going to consider a couple of the deeper issues or fears that concern us when we discuss finding God’s will in our lives. As we look to the reading of His Word though, if you please join me in prayer.
Bless are you holy god in Jesus Christ. Your light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. Blessed are you, God of light. We ask then that you would shine in our lives through Your Word with the light of Christ that we might give you praise through Him who lives and reigns with you in the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen.
Beginning in verse four. Make me to know your ways, O Lord. Teach me Your path, lead me in Your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation. For You I wait all the day long. Remember Your mercy, O Lord, in Your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions according to Your steadfast love. Remember me for the sake of your goodness, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord, therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
The Word of the Lord you please be seated.
You. One of the challenges of preaching comes from anticipating what people hear that you didn’t actually say. By emphasizing A, that means you must be against B. Nope, just emphasizing A. A reminder then, from two weeks ago I quoted from Pastor Kevin de Young.
He said impressions are impressions, they’re not in a special category. Don’t confuse impressions, hunches and subjective feelings with certain words from the Lord. We all get intuitions and hunches and get gut feelings all the time. Some are from the Lord, some aren’t. And most of the time it probably doesn’t matter.
God’s guidance for us is something that he does and is not usually a gift given. Your life is directed by the Lord, and when you look back on it, you see his fingerprints everywhere. But that’s almost always in hindsight, you see how God has moved you and got you into places that you never would have figured out on your own or how these things connected. But it is something that he does, not so much a gift that he gives. Much of the time we are looking for the map and rarely, if ever does God give us the map.
And when we consider finding direction at life’s intersections, finding our guidance from the Lord about difficult decisions that we must make, wanting to know what God’s will is for us, we bump then often into these deeper feelings. Things like well, if God loves me, why doesn’t he just show me in some way? Why do I? He makes me feel so vulnerable and he keeps me guessing. You know, Lord, a wrong move at this point could really be harmful to me.
Don’t you care? Those are the types of things that go to our hearts, particularly in those moments of wanting guidance. But the Lord does care for and loves his people. And you and I then must use these hard moments to reveal our hearts, even as it reveals God’s love. We take the circumstances of our lives and we use the word of God as a standard to measure our responses.
By just a quick note then, on defining the will of God and definitions. They are important, I’m sure. Growing up, you recall that there was a whole new world of humor opened up to you when you realized that words were used in different ways. The classic middle school phone call, prank calling someone up. I don’t think you do that anymore.
Cell phones. But you call up and say, is your refrigerator running? Yes. Better hurry up and catch it before it runs away. Click.
And you realize these two words mean different things. And you realize that many sitcoms in the whole world, the life around you comes from people misunderstanding definitions. When it comes to the will of God, we suffer from that same problem because the will of God is used in different ways. Typically in Christian thought, there are three ways that the will of God are spoken of. I mentioned this in a question in your bulletin.
But the first one is God’s will of decree. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose according to the counsel of his will, where he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass from ephesians one, that is God’s plan, his mysterious will. All of that means that God’s will will happen. The second way that is often spoken of is God’s will of desire, or sometimes referred to as perceptive will, which means God wants us to do certain things like the Ten Commandments. God wants us to love Him and to love our neighbor.
And it doesn’t mean that that will happen, because we don’t. And the third way sometimes is referred to as God’s will of permission. God allows or permits certain things to happen. And this third one brings in all kinds of debates that we are not going to address this morning. But when Christians today speak of wanting to know what God’s will is for their life, they usually mean something else.
A new category. The will of God’s direction, the will of God’s guidance. And that is something relatively new. What college does God want me to go to? Who should I marry?
What house should I buy? Questions like that. And I mean by relatively new. It is surprise you that this was not really preached on throughout church history in this way. Certainly god’s will, number one.
God’s will number two. Yes, all the time mentioned, but not this fourth will of guidance. That’s something relatively new. Of the many reasons, I think one of them simply sort of a bad theology of the Holy Spirit that many have come to think of Him as a force to be used to get something rather than a person to be known. The presence of God in us, directing us according to the ways of God, not the will of direction, but in this arena of guidance, this is where we can feel so much discomfort.
And one of the things that we feel so much discomfort about is we wonder, does God really care for me? Am I special in some way? For decisions in life that we think are more critical, we want an immediate answer. And people will often try and seek some special type of revelation. I’m sure if you haven’t done it, you’ve seen people sort of do the flip and point and look down for the word and hope that somehow that connects with whatever it is that you’re doing.
And we laugh about it because we’ve all probably have done that at some point. So you get a really bad word, oh, that’s the wrong one. So you flip it again and two out of three. But we’re looking for some divine sign, some word from the Lord. And when we do that, we want God to reveal in some special way that we’re important to Him, that we’re loved, that he cares for us in these difficult spots.
So keep that thought for a moment as we look at Psalm 25, the psalmist he begins. And of course, this is a psalm of David. It’s an acrostic poem, a psalm which begins every stanza begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And it is a prayer of lament. It’s a prayer asking God for help because of his enemies.
One writer has referred to this. He said, this psalm is a traveler’s guide for the person who set out on God’s road. And this is exactly what David has done. And we come to verse four in this condition of trouble. And then he’s asking the Lord, he says, make me to know your ways, teach me your path, lead me in your truth, teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.
First, David sits before the Lord. He’s wanting the Lord to instruct him in the Lord’s ways. And it’s important to know what the ways mean. Ways refers to God’s moral law for us, his character, what he wants his people to be like and to do, how we should conduct ourselves in the world around us, who he is. And David is asking for this instruction.
It’s not one of these things where we have this idea what we think will be great for our life. And we come to Lord and say, lord, I want you to bless this thing that I’m doing and if you don’t I’m going to get really angry at you or something like that. Some condition we put on God’s blessing for this great idea that we want Him to carry through.
David says, make me to know your ways. So how does God make his ways known to us? Well, David tells us here in many other places, certainly in Psalm 119, it’s through his word. David extols the word of God, the Lord’s word. His commands, his precepts, as Psalm 119, verse 105 tells us, are a lamp to our feet, a light to our path that’s a guide gives you light to see in order to know how to go forward, isn’t it?
OD how God can give us some 1500 pages of his special revelation, his word to us, and yet we don’t think that’s enough. I don’t know about you, but I have actually seen this. I’ve seen people actually lined up waiting to get a word from the Lord, from some self proclaimed prophetic kind of person. And usually they sort of give you a generic Bible quote like god loves you and has a plan for your life. But what I noticed was how bitterly disappointed somewhere who did not get one of those special words.
There’s this feeling of being upset that God failed, or upset that they weren’t somehow specially loved by God, not worthy to get something. And internally there’s always that question, well why did they get this Word and I didn’t?
Here’s some nearly 1500 pages of God’s special word for you and His Holy Spirit, working by, with and through the Word is communicating that to you as you come to Him, as you are seeking Him.
We use the means that God gives to us. And we also see David here waiting on the Lord. He says, for you I wait all day long. This has to be one of the hardest discomforts that we face when we want to know which way to turn. Lord, I have to make a decision by Friday.
It’s Thursday afternoon. Come on. It’s in the waiting that so much of the sludge of our hearts are dredged up. And know this, waiting is not passive, it’s a battle. When the psalmist is going, how long O Lord?
He is struggling, he wants to do something, he wants God to do something and he’s coming back to waiting. Waiting is a tremendous battle of the heart and this is what David is doing, he’s coming back and he’s waiting upon God.
But what about the decision for Friday? Well, weigh your options, seek wise and Godly counsel, then make a decision.
God’s purpose for your life is not going to get shipwrecked because you chose door number three and you thought the reward was behind door number two. In fact, most of the time it takes decades to figure out which door. Oh, here, that really was the right door. We don’t think at the time. We need a lot more distance to see God’s providential working in our life.
He’s not hamstrung by what we think is wrong decisions. And so, going back to this question of am I special? Scripture speaks of God’s love for us. We have great value to Him. We are, after all, made in his image, and it communicates to us by keeping things in a proper order.
Look for a minute at the end of verse five. For you are the God of my salvation. Where did the salvation come from? Wasn’t David getting his salvation? It’s from the Lord.
And we know that he has given his only begotten Son to die for us. Romans five to take upon himself our sins. Two corinthians five to become a curse for us. Galatians three see, if you are to measure yourself by the value of what it costs to redeem you, then great is your value, because great is Christ. Does God love me?
Does he care for me? Before feeling left out and snub, ponder the cross. And when you do, when those moments in our heart that come up and say, yeah, but what have you done for me lately? Seems silly and trite, we think about what God has done for us, ultimately his love for us through his Son.
Does God love me? Does God care for me? Another thing then, that David looks to in verse six. Remember your mercy, O Lord, your steadfast love, for they have been from Abold. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions according to your steadfast love.
Remember me for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
So one of these life hints for reading Scripture whenever God asks a question in Scripture, it’s not because he doesn’t know it’s for the benefit of the person he’s asking. When David is saying to God, remember your mercy, it’s not because God forgets. David, in worship, is calling upon himself and God’s people to declare who God is. You are merciful. You are faithful.
You are steadfast. David is reminding himself and the people of God of these truths and the discomfort that we feel often in these junctures. It reveals our doubts. And here is a cure for that. In moments of discomfort and turmoil, it’s good to confess the Lord’s wonderful character.
It tells us that though the sun may have momentarily gone behind a dark cloud, it is still bright, radiant and glorious. And we together remind ourselves of that when we question it. When we doubt it, our profession of the Lord’s rightness is food for our souls, and we are to live then in light of God’s steadfast love. In light of this, we do as David does. We recognize our sins, we confess them.
We seek forgiveness. And when we allow God’s Word to form and to shape our desires, much of our own motives become more transparent to us. Hear that again. When we allow God’s Word to shape and mold our desires. We’re not asking God to give us our desire, we’re asking Him to shape them.
Our own motives become so much more transparent, we see what we’re really asking. Our motives are always mixed. And when we’re asking the Lord to direct those, we see what’s underneath that does need confessed. We draw near to God. We come through the doors that he has opened to us through His Son.
We come willingly, needing his cleansing, not asking to get what you think you deserve. That should never come out of anyone’s mouth. God, give me what I deserve. Rather, we are thanking Him that he has given to Jesus what we deserved. And instead we are the recipients of his faithfulness, his steadfast love, his mercy.
And the next great concern then that this discomfort of being in transition often communicates besides. Am I special? Is. Am I secure? Am I in a boat that’s sinking?
Or is the Lord really keeping my life afloat? What does the psalmist declare? Verse eight. Good and upright is the Lord, therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast, love and faithfulness for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
Now that is a testimony of security. A good and upright God, instructs sinners, he leads us. He teaches us all in his love and faithfulness. That is security. But what about the last part of verse ten?
For those who keep his covenant and his testimonies? Does that mean I can only expect security if I do everything right?
Scripture operates from a covenant relationship. To walk with God means to be in right relationship with God, not perfection. It matters how you put the order of events. Because God has done this, I can now respond empowered by the Holy Spirit, by his grace. That’s the biblical order.
It’s not. If I respond right, then God will bless me. No, the grace that saves is the grace that transform the grace that carries. Grace is always first. Being in right relationship with God, being in covenant with Him.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast, love and faithfulness for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Another way to think about this is like looking at a set of train tracks. If you are on God’s tracks, you are in relationship with Him. Your course will go where he directs his tracks. Your life is set by the priority of God.
He is first, he’s middle and he’s the end. He’s the whole way. And being in covenant with Him means that that’s the course you are on.
We’ve all seen, I’m sure, that cartoon image where the little cartoon train is going out and the person’s sitting on it and they run out of tracks and they’re sitting there going, putting the tracks down. They’re trying to get around obstacles we feel that way, like to a wall. Boom, it all blows up. Oh, too bad for you. You made the wrong choice.
That’s not the biblical image. The Lord’s not sitting there, tracks in hand, wondering what you’re going to do next so he can redirect. We talk about his secret decree of will. He’s already mapped that out. There’s great comfort in that.
The tracks are laid, and we are to be on them in relationship to Him. I appreciate St. Augustine. He’s commenting on these verses. He said, the Lord will teach his ways.
Not to those who want to rush ahead, as if they’re more capable of directing their own course, but those who do not stiffen their necks or stubbornly kick when the mild yoke and light burden are placed on them, that submission to God. Our security comes in from being united to Christ. He is in control, and not a thing is going to happen to us that’s outside of his providential care. Now, I know that is not an explanation for why he lays the tracks of your life the way that he does.
I don’t think you’re going to get an answer for that in this life. I’m not sure about the next either. But I certainly know in this life that’s a part of God’s decree of will, what he has laid down, you don’t get the why God this answers. You get the this is what I’ve done. Can you trust me in the midst of it, even if you don’t know why?
The book of Job, I don’t know. Sometimes people don’t really realize this job is asking all these questions of God. God doesn’t answer him. He doesn’t get an answer from God other than, Job, I’m really great and you’re not. And Job’s like because the presence of God was there, and his complaints just went out the window because God was with Him.
Our security comes from that. And yes, there are times when it does feel that we’re on a roller coaster where it seems like we’re plummeting and our stomach is now somewhere up in our chest. And there are times you know it’s coming and times you don’t. Those are the hard parts when you’re on that track and it’s and you see the drop and we sometimes live those drops. Impending divorce, terrible medical diagnosis, death, job restructurings that are going to cause your whole world to change.
And you’re just like, oh, it’s coming, and then how far is it going to go down? Am I off the tracks? Stomach is still going to come somewhere in your throat. God has not left you. You’re on the tracks.
How long will it be? I don’t know. But you’re secure in his hand. Nothing is going to happen to you that’s outside of his will for you. And verse nine reminds us, he says, he leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble his way.
The discomfort of sitting at these intersections reveals to us how hard it is to be humble, because we want to assert our desires. We want our agendas, we want our answers, we want control. And these moments spotlight our utter dependence on the Lord. And it’s humbling. These moments are given by the Lord to show us that we need Him at every turn.
And then we need one another. We’re dependent creatures, we need God, we need each other. And dependency should produce in us humility and the pride of our hearts. Hate that. And God brings us into situations and says, you know what?
You’re dependent upon me. How does one get humble in our submissive response to these very circumstances? That the discomfort reveals our hearts in? That’s where humility comes from. To be clear, the Bible doesn’t talk much about guidance.
Go to the mat with you on this one. Show me. The Bible does not talk much about guidance in terms of this decision, that decision. It talks a lot about the kind of person who is guided, knowing his ways, knowing his path, knowing his truth. That creates in us a character and a heart that God is concerned about, that he guides.
What does that look like? So instead of Lord, what school should I go to? It might look more like Lord, as I discern wisdom in what school I should go to. Please make me the kind of person who will bring glory to you wherever you put me. And again, it often shows us our idolatry.
We get really concerned about things that usually are going to cost us money. Rather than Lord, should I buy this house or do this thing or that? It’s like, Lord, in the midst of this, please keep me from the love of money and greed. Give me a generous heart and one that’s willing to sacrifice for your greater purposes and not Mammon. That’s a better prayer of direction because it’s asking God to direct you in his way.
Psalm 25 dave is asking the Lord for help. He’s in the midst of that, confessing his sin and he’s reminding himself of the Lord’s faithfulness. And in the midst of this in the Lord, no failure is final. The Lord is always working his redemptive will in us to the very end. That’s not over his redemptive will, he’s working in us.
So no matter what dumb decision that we can make or great decision that we can make, god is still working his redemption in us.
And there we hear the Lord say to his people hebrews 13 I will never leave you nor forsake you. Jesus words at the end of Matthew 28 I am with you even to the end of the age. Matthew eleven come to 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 gentle and lowly in heart, humble and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy.
My burden is light. You’re not burden free. You’re not yoke free. That’s one of the problems, especially as Americans. We want to be in control of our own destiny, to be free of everything.
No. In humility, you submit yourself to the gentle yoke and burden of Christ, knowing that he will bring you rest. He’s going to get you where you need to go. And in the process, he’s going to transform you into his image and likeness, because that’s what you were made for, to bring glory to the Father by looking like Jesus. That’s the promise that he has given to his people.
That’s what it means to be in covenant with Him. God is going to bring his purposes to his completed end.
We’re on his tracks. If you belong to Jesus, he’s going to bring you to glory. And everything in between is going to have pitches, ups and downs, the warm spray of the ocean in your face, and sometimes the turbulent tempest, the storms that just tears apart. And all of that can be within a week. You are secure and you are beloved.
Pray with me. Father, we do thank you for the patience that you extend to us. Father. We acknowledge these are hard things for us to walk by faith and not by sight. And so, Lord, we do pray that you would forgive us where we continually cling to sight.
And, Father, even speak ill of you because of it. We pray that you would increase our faith that through Your Spirit that he dwelling in us would continue to create the fruits of righteousness in us. And, Lord, we thank you that you are bringing all things to their completed end.
Disclaimer: Automated Sermon Transcription