Hey it's great to be here with you tonight. And just segueing from what everyone else was just telling you about our ministries, if you want to find out more, we have information on tables there in the foyer. Maybe you have kids, well, they better be with us; they better be hanging out with us around the service times. And if you don't, maybe you can even grab some of our business cards and invite some, maybe, kids you know in your neighborhood or just around. And, and I just want to tell you what a privilege it is that we get to partner with you in raising your kids in the house of the Lord.
I've heard it said that an ounce of parent is worth a pound of preacher. So really, you have the harder job, you've got the harder task, but we commend you and we're thankful to be a part of seeing your kids raised to know Christ.
As you saw in the video, I've been doing a series in the Book of Psalms called Manic. And when you read the Psalms, they can seem—David, he can seem a bit bipolar, you know. He has high highs and low lows, and they can seem a little rough sometimes, and seems like he's got some emotional issues.
But really, when you look at him, it's not so much that David had problems in his mind, that he had some kind of imbalance, it's more just that life has issues. Life has high highs and low lows, does it not? I mean one minute you can be on top of the world, and the next minute you can be laid out on your back gasping for breath.
And the psalm we have before us, Psalm chapter 4, if you turn there, it's not so much a manic psalm, it's more of a low one; it's more depressive. He would probably sing it in the minor key. It's called an evening prayer. It's called an "evening prayer." This is David's night call.
And there's not many people you can call in the middle of the night. I mean a lot of people don't like being awakened while they're sleeping, period. It could be one in the afternoon, and there's some people, you wake them up, and then they suddenly turn into a troll or a gremlin, you know. It's like, "Who disturbs my slumber?" That's how it feels when you wake somebody up.
So, there's not too many people you can call in the middle of the night, but sometimes you have no choice. I mean, your car breaks down, you try to push it to the next Shell Station and it was a bad move. You know what I'm talking about? You know, I've been there. You're hiking with the, the container on your back.
Maybe you had a real bad breakup and you just had to call somebody. Maybe you've spent a little time in our correctional facilities, and you've gotten your one phone call. There's sometimes where you just have to call somebody in the middle of the night. On a more serious note, maybe you, you had to call an ambulance, or there was some kind of a tragedy and you had to call someone.
When your kids have nightmares, they know just who to call, don't they? They call you, and you bring little Johnny: "Oh, little Johnny wet the bed," you bring him into your bed, "Oh, it's going to be okay Johnny." Unless you're the fourth kid like me, then it's like: "You can just go sleep with the dog. You'll be all right. All the other kids got through it." You know, that can be how it feels.
But I don't know if we have any sleepwalkers in the building. I'm, I'm part of a tribe of chronic sleepwalkers, and I could tell you horror stories of people diving through windows in the jungle and bungalows on missions trips, wandering hallways while they're asleep. You know, you come up the stairs to our house, come in too late, it sounds like you're in a scene from the Exorcist because there's so much sleep talking going on.
And, and I read about the most extreme sleepwalkers. There was an article in the Chicago Tribune, and the story that really caught my attention. It's kind of sad when you think about it, but there's a man named Cal Pope. And it said there that Cal would kick the wall furiously and threaten to crush people's heads in the middle of the night. One night, Rowena, his wife, watched in horror as her husband got down on all fours roaring like a lion. And the next morning she asked him what was going on, he's all, "I was chasing other lions around." Naturally, right? Of course you were.
But when your kids have a nightmare, a night terror, a bad dream, they know to call you. And maybe you should call Wildlife Services for Cal and something. But who can you call when life becomes a bad dream, when the terrors of the day keep you up at night, when you feel so tired but all you can do is toss and turn? Who do you call when things become so painful you can't even believe its real, when you wish you could wake up from reality?
Some of you may know my family can relate to those statements a bit, feeling a little bit of insomnia due to difficulties. And we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayer; by the way you've reached out and shown love to us. We're thankful for that, but we're not the only ones having—being in that sort of a dilemma.
You know, one out of four Americans, one out of four Americans take some kind of a sleeping aid. There are over sixty million prescriptions sleep drugs written or prescriptions for sleep medication written every year. And Ronald Mehl in his book God Works the Night Shift said this, I think he explains part of the reason why, "Everything seems so much more serious at night, doesn't it? Our problems seem to multiply; our fears, they're amplified. The dark of the night has a tendency to call our issues out loud. Our minds race with thoughts out of control, and sometimes it gets so dark we don't think we'll ever see the light of day."
For some of you in here, 2012 just concluded, and that year had some bad dreams in it; it had some nightmares. Maybe for some of you it didn't, but 2013, it may have some nightmares in store for you, some dark days ahead. At the very least, you'll know somebody who goes through a difficult time. And who can you call on in those moments?
Who can you count on to answer at an hour like that? David would tell you this tonight, David would tell you, "You can call on the God of righteousness." That your Deliverer, his phone doesn't do voice mail. He doesn't put his phone on silent. He won't hit decline on your line. His ears are open to the cries of the righteous.
He says to you tonight that he neither slumbers nor sleeps. The One who watches you, he's up. He's waiting for your call. He says, "Call to me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you and you will glorify me." your God, he's eager to answer.
Father, we're approaching your Word, and some of us we need you like we've never needed you before. We're so aware of our mortality. We're aware of our, our limitedness because of finances, or relationships, or death, or despair, whatever it may be. God, we believe we're approaching the Word that you used to speak the universe into existence. We're approaching the Word who became flesh. We know that your Word is like a sword, it, it cuts between joint and marrow; that it's like a hammer, it breaks rocks to pieces.
Lord, we ask and pray that tonight you would comfort broken hearts, you would purify dirty hearts, and, Lord, if need be, you would crush hard hearts. And we pray this in the mighty name of Jesus, amen.
So look with me in Psalm chapter 4 verse 1, "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer." Really what you see exclamation points in this text, and really, there would be. I mean, what David is saying, is he's saying, "Please take my call!" Sounds a little desperate.
It'd be like one of those text messages you receive where it's in all caps, you know. There's some words misspelled. Probably a few too many emoticons. I need to be careful with the exclamation points, like, "Take it easy, Sparky, you're gonna put an eye out with that thing. All right, we get the memo."
But David Guzik said this, "We lack power in prayer because we lack passion in prayer." God wants us to care deeply for what he deeply cares for. We have these little whispering prayers. We like to have unspoken requests. We use prayer journals. And I use a prayer journal too; don't call it a diary, that's offensive. But there should at least be some exclamation points in there, right? I mean seriously, the "fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
But it's not just that you know how loud to talk, it's that you know who you're talking to. So we need to remember who we're talking to, and David, he's addressing the God of righteousness. We're reminded of the Hebrew name Yahweh Tsidkenu. He doesn't use Yahweh here, but Yahweh Tsidkenu, it means "the Lord our Righteousness." In 1 Corinthians 1:30, "it says Jesus became for us wisdom from God—righteousness, sanctification, and redemption—so that him who glories would glory in the Lord."
God the giver is glorified when you gladly see yourself as the receiver. The basis for help from God is in who he is, not in who you are. It's not in David. It's not in me. You don't earn being right with God, it's a gift of God. When you call on the name of Lord, the Bible says his righteousness was imputed to you, that his righteousness was imputed to your account.
Your debts were deleted in the bankbooks of heaven. Jesus' credit score became your credit score. His account covered your bill the moment you believed, once for all, done deal. Grace through righteousness brought eternal life, and that means past, present, and future sins. If it's, if you can lose it, it's not eternal. He gave you eternal life, eternal righteousness.
But beyond that, David may have in mind that he's a righteous Judge, and if we leave justice, if we leave vengeance in his hands, he promises to vindicate us. He's the God of our righteousness. He says, "In my distress," in my distress. The Hebrew word implies David was feeling claustrophobic. Have you been there? Have you been there when the jaws of circumstance are crushing down on your chest, where you're trapped in the vise of life? That's where David is.
And it seems like David's dealing in particular, as we're going to see in a moment, with slander, with treachery. And it's very entrapping, very entrapping, when somebody's talking bad about you behind your back, isn't it? It's very entrapping to be untrusted, to have your reputation trampled.
But David, he saw plenty of terrors in his days to keep him up at night. This wasn't his only encounter, his only experience. Psalm chapter 6 verse 6 says, "I'm weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears."
See, the Bible is transparent, it's real, it's raw. God wants you to be honest with him tonight, that's what he wants. But David, honestly, I mean, think about his life. He was mocked as the runt of all of his brothers. His father in law Saul hunted him for years and years, wanted to murder him. Then he ended up committing suicide; that's nice. His own mom and dad, at one point, forsook him. His best friend, Jonathan, died in battle.
Whole nations wanted to invade and conquer his people. His first wife, Michal, despised him. He had a child that died of sickness, a baby, on account of his adultery and murder. One of his sons raped his daughter and was killed later by Absalom. One of his most loyal friends Abishai became a slanderer and a backstabber and, and completely betrayed him. Absalom betrayed him too, he tried to overthrow him, and then his own son ended up being tragically killed by one of his staff against his will.
He had guilt for sins he committed. He had trauma for sins committed against him. And he had grief from all those who died in the wreckage that was his life. David had a lot to keep him up at night. The king after God's own heart knew what it was to have his heart ripped out. But eventually the Lord relieved him. He reminds himself, himself of that, he says, "In the past you've relieved me." And, and in the past the Lord put him in open places.
And the truth eventually comes out, the slanderers, the liars, they were found out, and David was exalted. The King James Person, Version says that David was "enlarged." David was enlarged. I want you to know tonight that God will always make you a deeper person through the sufferings you endure. He's working everything to make you into the image of the greater Son of David: Jesus.
So we gotta remember, remember back. Think with me right now; remember how the Lord has taken your other calls. How he answered things, how he answered you and things worked out. How the day dawned, the vise loosened, and you came out holier, humbler, more like Jesus, more compassionate. We need to think back at that. We need to remind ourselves. We need to ask for future favor based on past blessings. We need to look back and remember who we're talking to. He's done it before, he'll do it again.
You hear these people and they're like, "Aw, man, God will never forgive me, I might as well just go crazy," or, "God's abandoned me..." When did God become the grace Nazi? Like, "No soup for you!" When, when, when did that happen? I mean, if he answered you before, when did he suddenly become a Scrooge? If he came through on the first, and the second, and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, and the sixth, what makes you think he's going to bail out on you on the seventh?
He's going to come through. And I can think in my own personal life to horrible times of tragedy, and spiritual warfare, and drought, and, and financial difficulty, and relationships that are spinning out of control, and depression, and even persecution. It's like recurring bad dreams. You feel like you're just getting cycled through the waves and it feels that way. But those nightmares, they ended. They ended, and God had heard my prayers. He had been my provision. He had become my peace. He'll do the same for you.
He says, have mercy on me, "Have mercy on me and hear my prayer." The ESV puts it, "Be gracious to me, hear my prayer!" You know, grace is the only reason why God takes our calls at all. He's got no obligation to hear the prayers of undeserving people. I mean, think about it. Why should the God of righteousness answer sinners? Why in the world would he do that?
I mean, does the attorney general chat it up all night with serial killers? Do you think they have, like, a hot phone, speed dial, just to, to talk to them? You know, the Mafia bosses? Do you think drug lords are talking to the attorney general in all hours? "Oh, you. You're on my favorites list, buddy. It's good," you know, "Send the call through." Of course not.
And Hebrews tells us that you and I, for some reason, for some strange reason—we know to be Jesus, he's the reason—that we can come boldly to the throne of grace to find help in time of need.
And we gotta come in Jesus' name. Now, Jesus' name, I gotta fill you in. And you probably know this already, but Jesus' name—it is not like walkie talkie talk where it's like, "Over and out, Lord." It's not TTYL. It's not Hebrew slang for, "Lates, Lord." It's not what it is at all. When we say "in Jesus' name, amen," it means we're coming on Christ's character. We're coming based on Christ's accomplishments and not our own.
Every time you call on the name of the Lord, you do well to remember Jesus' blood paid your phone bill. Every time you call on the name of the Lord, you do well to know Jesus' blood paid our phone bill.
Verse 2, "How long, O sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? But know that the Lord has set apart for himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to him."
See, when you remember who you're talking to, it guarantees you air support. And I don't know if you can think back to a war movie or two you've seen, I, I can think of We Were Soldiers, or Tears of the Sun. But you see those movies, and you see that one guy, and its like, "What's, what's the deal with that guy? He doesn't have a gun. What's he doing? He, he kind of—it appears he has a pay phone on his back. Why would he have that pay phone on his back?"
And he's like, dialing: "This is very strange. I, I, I don't understand. That doesn't seem to be—" Oh, and then the air strike comes in! Close air support nukes the jungle. Flames are all over the place, and you're like, "Oh, I like that guy. Yeah, he can stick around. He can be in my platoon. You know, that sounds pretty good." And everybody is happy.
Well, David has an enemy. He has an enemy who is turning his glory into shame. They're stabbing his back and slandering his name, and he's reasoning with them in this psalm. He's saying, "Hey, guys, you can fight me if you want, but I got the close air support. I got the bigger guns. I got the eye in the sky, watch out." That's what he's letting them know.
And if you're with David, you're being slandered, maybe Christmas was a nightmare just because people telling lies, bitterness, grudges in the family. And we're all sinners who've been sinned against, and we're all sinners who have sinned against people. But if you're being maligned tonight and slandered, know that you have close air support. You have a God who hears their lies and knows your heart.
So he says, "How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood?" These men, they delighted in worthless lies and falsehood about David. They were telling lies about him behind his back. But lies and falsehood is really characteristic of their whole life. Every bit of their life was lies, and falsehood, and, and worthlessness, false gods.
You know what's interesting, fascinated me, one of the most common words used in the Old Testament for idols literally means "worthless." Ezekiel, chapter 14, these religious dudes cruise in and, and they're going to ask something of Ezekiel, and the Lord says, "They have idols in their hearts. Why should I answer them?" They don't have any physical idols, but they've got worthless in their heart. What's the idea there? Oh, it means that me and you are probably idol worshipers too, that's probably what it means.
Because whatever you declare to be worthy of your time, worthy of your money, worthy of your affection, worthy of your thoughts, and of your energy—that is something worthless you're ascribing worth to. That's, that's what that implies. And these worthless liars, they just won't quit. We do well to ask ourselves how long? How long, how long am I going to keep it up? How long am I going to keep wasting my life on something that's worthless? But these liars they just keep it up, and it's keeping David up at night. He's got insomnia.
Verse 3, "But know that the Lord has set apart for himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to him." The New Century Version says, "The Lord has chosen for himself those who are loyal to him." God wants to give you close air support, but you gotta get your heart out of the blast radius. We gotta stop going AWOL. We need to give him our whole allegiance, and then, and only then, can we expect him to come to our aid.
You know God doesn't hear everyone's prayers. It's kind of interesting, there's a verse, it's somewhat troubling, in Isaiah 59:2, and it says that God's ear isn't deaf that it can't hear, his arm isn't short that it can't save, but that our sins have separated us from God so that he won't hear, so that he won't listen. Not that we can't hear, not that, not that he's unable to, but that he won't.
When you're in deliberate, prolonged, unrepentant sin, God doesn't hear your prayers. He closes his—[sticking fingers inside ears]. "Not listening," that's what he says. Jesus is a friend of desperate sinners, but he's an enemy of satisfied sinners. You can't presume on grace. You cannot presume on grace. The Lord wants loyalty, he wants priority.
And I don't know, some of you, maybe you just gotta be real. You gotta be honest and say you're kind of living a halfhearted Christian life. You're, maybe, living a little bit of a halfhearted Christian life. Jesus is just the dude you visit on Sundays for an hour, you know. God, he won't accept that though. He's not into that. He wants your whole heart. He won't take one little square on your waffle, okay? He wants all the squares. He wants to be the syrup all over the place. He's not into one little scene in your movie, he wants to be the star, the writer, the director of every scene. He wants you to be a part of his story.
But what's great is the wholehearted life, the wholehearted life is the help life and it's the happy life. It's interesting, many of the Hebrew trans, many of the Hebrew manuscripts imply that when it says, "Set him apart for himself him who is godly," some of the manuscripts read "wonderful". He has made wonderful him who is godly.
You're going to give your heart to something. You're going to give your life, you're going to give your affections, your passion, your time, your energy to something, and it's going to do something to you. It's either going to make you worthless or it's going to make you wonderful; the choice is yours. And it is wonderful to belong to the Lord, isn't it? It is wonderful to belong to the Lord!
See, he takes good care of his property. He takes good care of his stuff. And if you are his, he says to you tonight, "Whoever assembles against you will fall for your sake. No weapon formed against you will prosper, every tongue that rises up in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me."
If you give him priority, he will take responsibility. If you are his selection, that guarantees his protection. If you are living for his glory, you can count on his grace. If your life is one on mission, he promises his provision. He's got a vested interest in you, and he'll never screen your calls. You've got close air support.
Tonight whatever you're going through, whatever is happening in your life, you've got close air support, if you're living a loyal life to the Lord. And that means you don't gotta defended yourself. If you got close air support, you don't gotta defend yourself. David, he takes these attacks and he brings them to God. David, he doesn't go into man to complain. He doesn't start his own little slander campaign; he doesn't do that. He doesn't let his terrors turn him into a terrorist. So, don't turn terrorist.
Look at verse 4, "Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah." Most commentaries agree that David is talking to himself right now. He's talking to himself. It's a little weird, and some of us talk to ourselves, but David is talking to himself.
And the great British preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones said this, "Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you're listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself." We listen to our flesh, don't we? Get these thoughts: "Oh, no, worries. Oh, they must be looking at me that way." Dude, they probably don't even think about you, actually, to be quite honest, you know. And, and we listen to ourselves and we're thinking of all these worries, and schemes, and, and stresses, and temptations. We need to spend less time listening to ourselves and more time talking to ourselves.
A different psalmist Asaph in Psalm 42 and Psalm 43, over and over again, this is the chorus of his song: "Why so downcast, O my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I will yet praise him, the help of my countenance and my God." And if I can be transparent with you, there are times where I get depressed. There are times where I get worried. I get frustrated.
And I'll just be driving in my car, I kid you not, I will scream those words, "Why so downcast, O My soul?" And people must think I'm some kind of a fruitcake, you know, driving next to me in the car. But you have to do that. You gotta say, "You know what? I'm going to talk to myself." Be angry, fine. Be angry, but don't sin. Just meditate; meditate quietly within your heart on your bed.
Those of you who are well versed in the Scripture probably know that Paul quotes this in Ephesians 4:26 and he follows it up, saying, "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath." See, I think the idea here is David's saying, "I'm not going to let my terrors turn me into a terrorist." And what about you? Are you letting suffering caused by other people's sin cause you to sin yourself?
Think about it: "That person, they rebelled against God and they hurt me, so I'm gonna rebel against God too." That doesn't make any sense. That doesn't solve the problem at all.
Do you realize that whatever is keeping you up at night is probably a result of sin? I mean, think about it, it's like a drunk driver—how, how absurd is this? A drunk driver kills your family, horrendous, terrible, and that turns you to the bottle. Did that make any sense? Maybe some of you, your, your father was angry and absentee, and that turns you furious and flaky. It doesn't solve anything at all.
But in one way or another, whatever is giving you insomnia, whatever is troubling your sleep at night, or at least one fourth of Americans, it's a result of sin. Could be guilt over your own sin, could be guilt over the sins that you've committed. I mean, long before Cage the Elephant said, "There ain't no rest for the wicked," Isaiah wrote this, he said, "The wicked are like a troubled sea when it cannot rest."
You know, that's a good reason to toss and turn. If you're not right with God, it's good that you don't sleep at night. It's good that you have a tough time. He's trying to give you a chance to get rid of the guilt. And tonight you're going to have that opportunity. But could be guilt over your own sin, it could've been brokenheartedness, or bitterness over the sins of other people. That's mostly what David's referring to here: bitterness, brokenness, brokenheartedness, over the sins other people commit.
You know what more than likely it is though? Grief over Adam's sin; grief over Adam's sin. I don't know if we get—a lot of people don't understand the magnitude of what happened at the fall. They don't understand the magnitude of what Adam did. Romans 5:12, you can jot it down. It talks about how through one man's sin death entered the world, and death spread to all men because all sinned.
Al Mohler, he points out how people failed to understand the magnitude of what that means, he says: "Not understanding the fall explains why so many Christians have their faith rocked in the wake of natural disaster, why they're left asking, 'Where was God?' The fall explains why human society is the way it is, why entertainment is the way it is, why our spouses are difficult, why our children are naturally brats, why we have to lock our doors, why we're never satisfied, never content, never truly at peace. Most importantly, it tells us why we die and why we're under judgment from a holy God."
Elsewhere in the Book of Romans, verse, chapter 8, verse 20, it says that God subjected the whole universe, all of creation, to futility; not willingly, but so we'd hope. So we would hope. That everything—that word futility, it means "meaninglessness." You ever look around the world and feel like, you know, it's all so meaningless. What's the point of it all? Hollowness, emptiness. And a lot of people they see the emptiness of life, they see the futility, the destruction, the death, the hardship, and it makes them angry at God; makes them really angry at God.
Charles Darwin, Charles Darwin, he examined closely the futility of life, didn't he? He looked around and saw it's a dog eat dog world. He saw how everything killed one another to survive. He just looked at the world and he said, "This is all meaningless." But you know something else that led Darwin in his conclusions? Not many people are aware of, to his rejecting God and everything, was the problem of evil. That was one of Darwin's biggest problems.
You see, Charles Darwin and his wife, they had a daughter named Anne, and Anne was a ten year old girl, and she lit up their world. But their daughter Anne came down with scarlet fever and died at the age of ten. And Darwin said this in a memoir to a friend, "We have lost the joy of our household in the solace of our old age." And he looked at it and he said, "It seems meaningless that a girl would die this way. It seems meaningless that such a young kid, that her life would be so brief."
And only after his daughter's death did he launch into full sail agnosticism, and did he go on several years later to publish The Origin of the Species. He had problems beforehand, but that's really what solidified it for him.
I know somebody else who lost a daughter. I know somebody else very closely who recently lost somebody well before their time. Another man, the name's Levi Lusko, he's my brother. Him and his wife, Jennie, two weeks ago, they lost their little Lenya lion, their little precious girl. She died of a severe asthma attack. It only took around five to ten minutes from when she was completely normal to the time she was gone and in the arms of Jesus.
And you know what? In the face of futility, looking death's meaninglessness in the face, I heard my brother say these words, "We miss her fiercely, but we trust God fully." Yeah, you could clap for that. We appreciate your prayers, that's partly due to your prayers, your love. You know what? There's a storm going on for them right now. There's a storm happening and it's fierce, and it's frustrating, and it's painful, and it doesn't make any sense, and it's terrifying, but there's an anchor in the storm. And, God, you prepared them for this storm.
I don't think it's coincidence that when I received his Christmas card Thursday morning, the day that this all went down, I opened it up and it said, "Born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth." And then in his Christmas card right next to beautiful pictures of Lenya, it said, "Jesus has abolished death and brought immorality to light through the gospel." See, he had an Easter verse on a Christmas card for a reason.
He had a reason and you have to ask yourself this question, because the only one who can wake us up from the nightmare of death is Jesus Christ. He's the only one who can wake us up from the nightmare of death. And you have to decide tonight, are you going to side with David or with Darwin? Are you going to let your terrors turn you to God or from him? You have to make that decision.
But David teaches that if you make the right call, you don't let your, your terrors the turn you into a terrorist. It's possible to be on hold but happy. Sometimes the problems just don't disappear, and you just gotta hold on. Nobody likes being put on hold. I mean, you call up Dions or whatever and it's, "Hey, thanks for calling Dions, let me put you on hold." It's like, "No, no. You could never put me on hold, please. Just don't do this, please." "Oh, okay, fine, all right."
Nobody likes being put on hold. I mean, you're just afraid Rick James or Barry Manilow is going to come creeping out into your ear, you know, through the telephone lines. You're going to hear elevator music or some guy, like, "Thank you for calling, $13.99. We're so glad—" losing it. And, and nobody likes to be put on hold.
The other day I had to change the date of a flight I was going to make, and it was an extremely frustrating situation. I spent a lot of time on hold with Barry Manilow. But, I called this one lady and she was in India and she just does not care about my problem. She's just like, "Well, holiday flights, you're going to have to pay $700 to change your flight." I'm like, "I I can't even count that " you know, click, hang up the phone. I just start weeping, crying, but then I, I decided to call the airline itself, and oh, man, did this sweet angel of light answer.
I want to tell you about Tanya, just for a moment, okay? I want to tell you about Tanya. She gets on there and she's like, "I don't know what she was talking about. Don't you worry, sweetie, we're gonna get your flight changed. We're gonna get you all taken care of." And I'm just like, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!" Hey, hey, hey, once I knew I was talking to Tanya, I didn't mind waiting on hold. Tanya was taking care of business, boy, man, and like, she was, she was doing what she had to do.
And when you know who you're talking to, when you know you're trusting the Lord, you can be on hold but happy. Look at verse 5, "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, put your trust in the Lord." See, David, he pivots from pondering to praise. He switches from anxiety to assurance. And you know where it happens? It happens at the place of sacrifice; that's where it happens.
See, you are the die hards. I'm talking about the die hards of Calvary right now. You guys are not the fair weather followers; you were the ones brave in Leviticus, cuz that's just how you roll, baby. Like, you're taking care of business, and you know that all these sacrifices of righteousness here, they can't take away sin. We know from the Book of Hebrews that, that those sacrifices, they all point to the Sacrifice that can make people righteous. These sacrifices of righteousness, they looked forward to Jesus.
And herein lies the secret to being on hold but happy: Put your trust in the Lord. Believe that he's going to come through, that that Lamb of God is going to cruise up on to the scene. See, we're saved by looking backward, aren't we? We look backward to an event that happened and we're saved. They were saved by looking forward to an event that would happen.
There's a night call, another night call, in Psalm 79:9, amazing verse, says this, "Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins, for your name's sake!" Whoa, whoa, think about this. Think about this. He is asking God to provide atonement for sins against who? "Against you alone have I sinned O God." Wait, wait a minute, he's asking God to pay for sins against himself to provide atonement.
Think about what kind of a call that is. This is the debtor asking the loan collector not only to forgive his debts, but to pay them. This is the criminal asking the cop to serve his prison sentence. Is anybody else like, this doesn't make any sense at all? How is that? Nobody would do that. With his one phone call he's calling the dude he just robbed and asking him to come and bail him out of jail and be his defense attorney. That's what he's saying, "Provide atonement for our sins against you."
You know, the Lord answered that call. That's exactly what the Lord did. Jesus, he did that at the cross. He paid our debts against himself. Think of it, the audacity of the ruler dying for the rebel. Man, he answered that kind of request? He took that kind of a call? Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has anyone ever known of a God but you who answers and acts on behalf of the one who waits for him.
Man, beyond that it was the Lord's idea. It was his promise. It was his plan. He made good and he gave himself for us. That is scandalous mercy. That is overwhelming, astonishing grace. His name is utterly trustworthy. If he kept that promise, what promise won't he keep? If he's given his Son for us up freely, will he not then freely with him give us all things? If he answered that call, what kind of call won't he answer? He will give you everything for your good and his glory; you just gotta hold on. You just gotta hold on.
Verse 6, "There are many who say, 'Who will show us any good?' Lord, lift up the light of your countenance on us." See, there's many people who don't believe there's any hope, and of many people in our culture and our society, more and more of them it seems, who would say that we're completely alone, that we're completely autonomous and alienated. We're left in the cold to fend for ourselves.
They'd look at you and say, "Hey, this nightmare is all there is. You better get used to it and just make it your fantasyland like the rest of us." That's what a lot of people would say, "Who can show us any good?" But we know, we know, church that all things work together for good. He's saying here, "Just a smile from you, lift up the light of your countenance. Lord, just a smile from you can prove them wrong."
His person is our portion. His presence is our prize. You know, we can know what that purpose is. "All things work together for good to those who love God, are called according to his purpose," you can know what that purpose is. You can know what good it is that all things are working together for. It's that those he foreknew and he predestined would be conformed to the image of his Son.
I came here tonight to tell you that God's gotta dream for you. God's gotta dream for you and that it's you'd look just like Jesus. And he's working every nightmare to make that dream a reality; that's what's going on.
Verse 7, "You've put gladness in my heart. More than in the season that their grain and wine increased." Christ in the heart is better than money in the bank or beer in the bottle. The joy a believer can afford at a funeral is more real than an unbeliever has on his twenty first birthday. For the believer, this is the worst it's ever going to get, but for the unbeliever, this is the best it's ever going to get.
And we may still be on hold. We are on hold, aren't we? You can be real. We are on hold some of us. Our problems haven't evaporated. We're still in the dilemma. We're still in the difficulty. But while we're on hold, we know on whom we have believed. There's still a storm, there's still high and stormy gales, but our anchor holds within the veil. We can be on hold but happy.
Look at the final verse of this psalm as we close this thing down: "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for you alone make me dwell in safety." I want to let you know that God wants to give rest to your tired soul. He wants to give rest to your tired heart. It says in Psalm 127:2 that it doesn't make any sense to rise up early, to get up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; because God, he gives his beloved sleep.
And some of you are wondering, you're saying, "Well, why don't I sleep well at night? Why, why don't I have this peace? I'm a Christian. I'm a believer. I, I've trusted in Christ." Well, you may want to write this one down, Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
Your enjoyment of God's peace is contingent on your dependence on his person. Your enjoyment of God's peace is contingent on your dependence on his person. None of David's problems have, have disappeared. His problems haven't changed, but his perspective has. He's not looking at his fears anymore, he's looking at the Lord, and he's on hold but he's happy. When your life has singularity, and the Lord is your priority, you can sleep easily.
I told you earlier one out of four Americans has to take sleeping medication, that there's sixty million prescriptions issued a year, but it doesn't seem to be working. You know that? It doesn't seem to be working.
Jack Edinger, a sleep specialist at the National Jewish Health hospital, said this, "There's no evidence that proves sleeping pills can cure insomnia."
A different medical study that was published in the New York Times, this one will probably wake you up, no pun intended. But, it, it, it'll probably wake you up because the New York Times said this: There was a medical study done over the course of two and a half years that looked at users of sleeping medications and non users. And they said over the course of the two and a half years, users were five times more likely to have died in that period.
So I want to tell you this: if 2013 becomes a bad dream, maybe instead of reaching for your pill, you should reach to the Lord in prayer. Maybe before you reach for your little bottle, you should turn in your Bible. Maybe God is waking you up at night because you don't make time for him in the day; it's possible.
You know, tonight as you go to sleep, there's gonna be 911 operators you can reach at a moment's notice, the click of a dial. ER rooms are staffed, ambulances have engines running, there are firemen who are up, there are policemen on patrol, there are air, the air force—they're monitoring air traffic controls, sentries are at their post in the midnight dark, and they're standing guard. They're ready to take your call.
How much more the Lord? How much more the Lord? Don't let your sorrow go to waste. The Lord doesn't want your pain to go to waste. Don't just go through pains, grow through pain. Grow through those seasons. You can let your terrors turn you from the Lord, or you can let your terrors turn you to the Lord. And I'll tell you one thing, mark my words, he's up, and he'll answer your night call. Let's pray.
Father, we know there are hurting hearts in this room, Lord simply by nature of the fact that we're human, that we're on this fallen, crooked planet, that we're sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, where we know there are hurting hearts in this room, and we pray you'd comfort them. But, Lord, if there are hearts that aren't just hurting, they're, they're hard. They're hearts that are far from you, Lord, hearts that are dirty with sin, and sick with sin.
We know that the, our first call sets the pattern for all of our other calls. That the first time you reach out to us and we reach back to you, Lord, that's what really defines everything. That's what makes the difference. That's what guarantees us hope. That's what guarantees us resurrection. It's what guarantees us peace. It's what guarantees that our sufferings aren't pointless, but that they're making us like Jesus. Or it's the fact that we know you, we have a relationship with you.
And right now as, as the lights are dimming, as, as, as, as the band is starting to play, and every head's bowed, and every eye is closed, I want to give you an invitation. I want to give you an invitation because there are some people that the Lord is calling tonight. It maybe he's been calling for a long time. Maybe you've sat through a million sermons like this. Maybe he's been calling you, but it's time for you to call him back.
The Book of Romans says, "Whoever calls on the name of Lord will be saved." If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. See, the confidence I've been ranting on about all night long, it's not just warm optimism. It's not just feel good faith.
The hope I had last Wednesday as I placed my five year old niece's casket into a grave, the hope that my brother had and his wife had as they worshiped God as their little daughter lay on a table dead before them, the hope that gave them the power and thought to go back in and invite the ER nurses, and invite the doctors, and paramedics, and the staff to come to church and come to Christ—it's a living faith.
That's the faith I extend to you tonight. That's the faith that I commend to you tonight. It's based in a real historical event. There's a real man, there was a real man named Jesus who was really God. And outside of a real city called Jerusalem, he was really crucified under a real procurator; you can look him up, Pontius Pilate. And three days later, it didn't stop there, because three days later in a real garden he really rose again, and he dispelled the nightmare of sin and death to as many as would receive him.
And twelve real men, they went and they carried that message, and they turned Western civilization upside down. They broke history in half with that message.
And here we are tonight, here we are talking about that real Jesus who brings real hope, who brings real salvation. And I want to invite you, I want to beg with you, and plead with you with every ounce in my being that tonight you could know that your sins are really forgiven. That tonight you would know that you're free from the fear of death for real. That you'd know that there's a real God with you in your nightmares, in the nightmares in your life.
But it's a decision—I can't make this decision for you. You need to make it for yourself. You need to answer the Lord's call. Bible says all you have to do to be saved is repent and believe. Repent sounds churchy, sounds fancy, what it means is this: Stop loving your sin, start hating it. Stop trusting yourself, start trusting Jesus. I would tell you, you ought to do it now.
Maybe you've been to church a million times, but you've been dodging his calls. You've sat through altar call, after altar call, and you're dodging his calls. But if somebody's texting you, somebody's calling you and you keep hitting silent, and you feel the vibrating and you turn it off, and you turn it off. And they text you, they call you, they message you on Facebook, they do whatever they gotta do and you ignore them, eventually they're going to stop calling.
The Bible says don't receive the grace of God in vain, and I know better than ever that your breath can be gone like that. You could be dead; I'm not kidding with you. Your life, eternity, is in the balance in this moment, and indecision is a decision in itself. If I send you a friend request, an invite to be my friend, and you just leave it sitting pending in your mailbox, it's the same thing as never becoming my friend, it's the same thing as rejecting it. There's no Switzerland with Jesus, there's no passive room; indecision is a decision.
And so, right now as everyone's heads are bowed, as their eyes are closed, I want you to raise your hand up if you want to know your sins are forgiven. I want you to shoot your hand up in the air like a drowning man would [waving raised hand high]: "See"! I want you to say, "I need Jesus." I want you to raise your hand up if you want to know your sins are forgiven, you want to—God bless you, I see your hand towards the back. If you want to know that your sins are forgiven, know that you don't have to fear death, be bold, put your hand up. I see hands going up.
Maybe you think, "Oh, well, everybody—I've been acting like a Christian forever, they'll think I'm a fake." You probably are a fake. I was a fake for a long time too. I was raised in this sanctuary. There was a day I had to put my trust in Jesus for myself. Raise your hand up; you're just saying you need Jesus.
Well, those of you who raised your hand up, I'm gonna ask you to do the craziest thing you've probably ever done in your life. I'd ask that everybody in this room would be praying for these people, because there's one last thing I didn't tell you, and that's you gotta follow Christ publicly.
Jesus was stripped naked on a Roman roadside and crucified in public. He died for you in public. He wants you to live for him in public in front of your friends, in front of your family, in front of everyone. And so as a decision to draw the line in the sand, I want you to walk forward through this aisle. As everybody stands up, as the band starts playing, I want you to walk down and meet me here at this aisle.
God bless you. I know it's awkward, you gotta be bold. Praise God! You're drawing a line in the sand. You're saying I put my whole eternity and my whole life in his hand. You're not earning it by coming down here, you're not earning it. You're coming up to will call. Jesus bought your ticket at the cross. You're coming to will call. You're saying, "I receive it. I'm desperate. I need it." It's grace, it's grace.
It means God does it, you don't deserve it. God gets the credit, and you get the benefit; that's what it means. You're receiving God's kindness, receiving his grace. I am, I am so stoked for you. I know I'm kind of a weird guy on stage, all animated, but I am so elated, delighted for you. And if you truly entrust your whole life to Jesus, put everything in his hands, you will never regret it. You will never regret it. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I told you earlier the Bible says whoever calls on the name of Lord will be saved. So I just want you to pray this out loud, with your whole heart, right now.
Lord, I know I'm a sinner, and that sin deserves death. It deserves hell, but I trust in Jesus. I trust in his death that he died in my place. I believe he rose from the dead, and I want to follow him. Fill me with your Spirit. Make me new. Be my Savior and my Master. Amen! Amen!