When Evil Abounds
By Bill Blakey on April 16, 2023
When Evil Abounds
By Bill Blakey on April 16, 2023
Well, I have a serious question to ask you here this morning. What do you do when the evil abounds? What is your response? I don't know how you feel when you look around yourself in our world today, in our society, but I know many people would say they do not feel like things are going in the right direction. Maybe you could look around at your workplace, or in your neighborhood in our country, sin is celebrated. Companies have embraced sin, actively wanting to promote it. There is an increased hatred of righteousness in America today. And when you see all of that around you, what is your response?
Now there are many people who claim the name of Jesus, who are responding in exactly the wrong way when they look at that. And so, I would like to turn us to a passage from the Bible. Turn with me to the book of Psalms and Psalm 37. And we're going to be instructed on what should we do when we see evil abounding around us? So, open up your Bible, go to Psalm 37. And we're actually going to stand as we read this Psalm together. We're going to read the first 11 verses of Psalm 37. So once you there, I'd invite you to stand with us as we read God's word and honor it and pay attention to it together. Psalm 37 is a Psalm of David. Psalm 37:1-11.
“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
That's the reading of God's word, you may have your seat. Well, here we have a psalm written by King David. And if we were to continue reading a little later into the Psalm 37 in verse 25, he says, “I have been young, and now I am old.” So, this seems like a Psalm that he wrote later on in his life. And David was a man who had encountered many evildoers, many wrongdoers, in his life. He knew of evil. David was one who, when he was young, he had been anointed as the king and fought in a battle and won a great victory, and many great victories for the Lord and for his people. And as a result of that, the person who was the king at that time, got jealous of him and wanted to kill him. And he had to run and flee for his life. David had seen his best friend Jonathan killed in battle. And when he was older, David's own son Absalom led a revolt. And David had to leave the city of Jerusalem again, in fear for his life. Even after all of his victories, David wasn't able to escape the proliferation of evil. Even in the Promised Land, things didn't necessarily work out the way I'm sure David would have hoped. And for us in America, a nation that seemingly was founded on some Christian principles, a nation where we've seen revivals of turning to the Lord and of righteousness. These seem like memories that are more distant than we would like them to be. Seems like evildoers abound. In America today, it seems like evil is more mainstream than ever, evil has become normal, evil has become celebrated and wholeheartedly embraced as the way to live life. So, what should our response be? Let's look at what David says here.
In Psalm 37:1, he says, “Fret not yourself.” “Fret not yourself because of evildoers.” Fret not is what David would say to all of us. That's what he had learned to do. That's what he is commanding all of us who are reading this to do now. But that word fret, that's not normal. Have you used that word in a sentence this last week? I don't know that's a way that we talk but this word fret in the Hebrew, it kind of means like, the intensity gets riled up, like things get more intense. But then sometimes it has a connotation of, like, okay, well, when I see something evil, maybe my blood boils, my blood pressure goes up, and I respond in anger; like, I'm just upset at these evil doers and what they're doing and I just want to repay them. I want justice. Oh, you know, kind of that way. Or it seems like when this kind of feelings come up, sometimes it can also tend to worry and anxiety, and fear, like, oh, there's so much evil going on around us! Now I'm so afraid and worried about what is going on.
And so, when David says “Fret not,” we should ask ourselves the question, are we fretting? Are we a bunch of fetters here in the room? like get this down if you're taking notes. Pull out that note sheet. And for point number one, what we want to do is a fret-Level assessment. Right here in the service, you need to do a fret-level assessment. When you see evil around you, evil doers, what is your response? Maybe there are people in your neighborhood who live near where you live, and you see their lifestyle. You hear of it, you interact with it, and it's evil, like, what's your response to those people? Are you upset with them? Are you mad at the way that they're living their life at work? Maybe there's a person who isn't doing what is right, they're cutting corners, they are maybe even blatantly lying. Maybe at your workplace, you're around people who are just foul-mouthed, and all sorts of debauchery are flowing from their lips. Do these evil people get you riled up? Maybe for you, it's on the news. Do you get your news at ten o'clock? Or do you get your news through posts on some kind of app or social media where you see people posting about this evil thing that's happening in America? These days, this new legislation that's being proposed, this political party, this evil politician, this school system, this celebrity! And what they are saying. Does it get you hot and bothered? Does it get you afraid and fearful? You might be sitting down as you're watching the ten o'clock news, but the fretting has begun. Maybe there's even personally someone in your life who's treating you in an evil way. They're wronging you and not caring about you, or maybe there's someone who's wronged you in the past and done what was evil to you. And here they are living their life with no thought of the wrong they've done to you, with no consequence of the evil that they have done. Are you getting bitter towards that person? Are you finding yourself dwelling on the wrong and evil that other people have done to you often?
What is your fret-con level? You know the Def-Con level? The fret-con level! Like are you at fret-con five where it's like okay, there's a chance of fretting like maybe some mild fretless has arrived you at like fret-con level one, like threading is imminent, like fretting has already begun; nuclear war kind of status. What David is saying to us is like we should be at fret-con level none. Like do not fret. “Fret not yourself” is what David is saying. And I don't know that's the way that we think about it. I think we think that if fretting is just what happens there's a little bit, we can be at like maybe up to a fret-con level three, maybe even four, and we're still okay. As long as we're not out of control with our fretting. David is like don't fret at all. “Fret not,” that's what he says repeatedly in this text. That there's going to be evil doers, there's going to be wrongdoers, and they're going to be doing evil and doing wrong all around us. And we don't need to fret. We don't need to get angered. We don't need to get worried. We can Fret not! Look at what else he says in Psalm 37:1. He says, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers. Be not envious of wrongdoers.” Maybe another way when we see people being evil around us is actually sometimes, we can be tempted to envy them. Seems like some sinful people seem to be doing quite well for themselves here in Orange County. I mean, I don't know how it works in your neighborhood or the nicest houses like occupied by the righteous people. Is that the way it works in your neighborhood? Like the more righteous you are the better living accommodations go for, you know. Evil actually might be a way to get ahead in America, might go well for you financially. Seems like in our experience actually doing what is right leads to difficulty. Doing what is wrong leads to ease. It's a lot easier to do evil than it is to live righteously. Seems like those who aren't trying to steward their money for the Lord, but are all about spending it on themselves. Seems like they've got plenty of money to spend on themselves. They get more immediate gratification. It seems like the wicked have more. TV shows, they feel fine watching more movies, they feel fine, going to more music, they feel fine listening. This can actually be a real temptation for us.
Turn over to Psalm 73. Just go to the right in your Bible, to a Psalm that was written by Asaph, and Asaph is getting real with us. And he is telling us how when he saw people doing evil, and the prosperity, that it seemed like it led to in their life, he was tempted to be envious, and actually was a little bit envious of them. Look at what he writes in Psalm 73:1-4. He says, “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek.” Maybe there's some cultural differences between the way we talk about things today, right? Like, I don't know if any of us are like fat and sleek! Yes. Let's go back in those days, right? Like if you got to be the spot where your body's fat, that means you're not out in the fields working hard doing physical labor, you're not having to tend to animals yourself. You have your people doing that and you can just sit back and have people feed grapes to you. Right? Like you can just look at me, I can get fat and sassy, like this is the good life getting fat and out of shape. That's the way maybe they might have thought about it back then. It says in Psalm 73:5-7, “They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.” It just seems like they have an abundance. Look at what he says in Psalm 73:12. “Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.” They’ve got the passive income flowing right there, having other people do their work, and they are increasing in riches. And when Asaph saw this, when he saw that, it seems like these wicked evil people, seems like it's actually going pretty well for them. And then he thought about his own life. Look at what he says in Psalm 73:13-15. He's like, all in vain. “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ I would have betrayed the generation of your children.” Like, hey, if I had even just verbalized what I was thinking and what I was feeling, I would have led people in the wrong direction at this point. And this is the way it can be. Things come across to us as things seem to us in the here. And now, it seems like evil might lead to prosperity. It might seem like hey, these people who are wicked, oh, I mean, look at that car they drive and then we look at that house that they live in. And then we look at that vacation that they're going on. And then I look at my own life. And I'm thinking, yeah, this is actually kind of tough, like living for the Lord and turning away from evil actually leads to some suffering. It actually leads to unpleasant things, sometimes that I'm experiencing this. And then look at what he says. This in Psalm 73:16. “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task.” Like, why is this the way it is? Like, when I think about it, I just get tired. Like, I'm just weary of doing what's right. Seems like it's a lot easier to do what's evil. And then look what he says next, Psalm 73:17-19 “until I went into the sanctuary of God, then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!” Like, when you think about things from God's perspective, the evil are not actually in an enviable position. It will not actually go well for them in the end, and all of the things that seem like they're going well for them right now, could be taken away in a moment.
Go back to Psalm 37, because that's what David says in Psalm 37:2, it says “For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.” I don't know if you've ever gone to the grocery store and you look at the herbs that are there and you see some of those herbs, or living herbs and They come in like this little pie with the soil. And have you ever seen those ones? And you're like, great, I can just keep this thing alive and there will be herbs for days and for weeks, just so many herbs. No, it's not true. Like you bring that pot into your house it's going to wither. You’d better put that basil in the pasta tonight, my friends, because it might be dead tomorrow. Like it's going to wither like the green herb like this. This season of the year in Southern California is actually quite pleasant because we get to experience the color green in Southern California. Right? Have you noticed this? I mean, record rainfall, record snowfall, almost creating emergencies, but praise God for the rain, we needed rain here in Southern California. And now it's like the hills are alive. And there is green, and things are in bloom. And it just looks so nice. You're driving around, and you're like, what a beautiful place we live in at this point of the year. But if you've lived here for any length of time, you know that first hot weekend in May, where the temperature rises, we go back to the color brown. And that's where we live until like next February or March after we get a little bit more rain. It just seems like this green grass feels like it's so alive right now. That's the way it seems at this present moment. But then very quickly, it will fade. That's where the evildoers are at, that's where the wrongdoers are at. And David says, “Fret not.”
Now, I'm concerned that this is something that David is saying to correct people. And I'm concerned that actually a lot of us when we watch the news, when we see posts on our phones, when we see the person, the people around us who are evil and doing wrong, we are tempted to fret, we are tempted to envy, fretting and envy actually seem like common responses among Christians. And David is saying “Fret not.” Like, are you fretting? Are you someone who's actually responding to these things the wrong way? Like, if that's you, and I would dare to say it is some of you in the room right now, God is calling you to turn away from that. He wants to correct the way that you respond to evil. He wants it to change today, but it's very often the way that God leads us, as whenever he says, okay, turn away from this. He's not just like, okay, turn away from this. And that's it, where it's like, okay, after this sermon, I'm going to be like, don't fret, don't fret, don't fret. What am I doing? Fretting, right? Like, it's not what he's saying. He's saying, don't fret, but then he is going to tell us like, what we should turn towards. And what he's going to say is not, hey, turn to yourself, like, look into yourself. And that's where you're going to find the answer. So, he's not like, just huddle up with some other Christians. And we can all get together, we can find a neighborhood and we can just invade that neighborhood, create our own little commune, and really be safe from all the evil that surrounds us and stuff like that. Maybe we can find some undiscovered territory and I'll move there and colonize it or whatever. That's not what he says. Look at what he does say in Psalm 37:3, he says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord.”
Psalm 37:5-8, “Trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” Did you see what he told us to turn to? He told us to turn to the Lord. Pastor Bobby has affectionately named this the two-step. Right? When we're stepping away from something, we're also stepping towards something.
So, get this down for point number two, on your notes, is that we need to step to God. Like when you see evil around you, there is a refuge, it's not in yourself, it's not another people it is in the Lord himself. Like that's where we need to go, we need to not fret and get angry or worried. We need to go to God instead. And you can see that there's actually quite a few specific things that he tells us to do as we go to God.
So, in classic sermon style, point number two has four sub points to point number two; you can see them as dashes on your notes. And the first one there in Psalm 37:3, he says, Trust in the Lord. So, let's get that down for our first dash: Trust. We're not meant to handle this on our own. And when we're in our current experience with the way things seem, and it seems like there's no consequence to the wicked and it seems like there's actually a reward in wickedness. We need to go to something outside of our experience. We need to get a bigger perspective than just our slice of space and time that we occupy and live in. Now this word in the Hebrew for trust is used throughout the Hebrew Bible, but one of my favorite places it's used is in 2 Kings 18. Can you turn there with me to 2 Kings 18? And I'm so excited for us to keep talking about this passage through the week and in fellowship groups. And 2 Kings 18 is where we're turning. But if you go to the back of your handout and you look at the questions, it might encourage you to go to 2 Chronicles 18. You can just cross out that Chronicles and write in Kings. Right, like I'm testing you, you're going to pass people on Saturday that might night they might fail. They might be talking about Jehoshaphat. But we're here to talk about Hezekiah. In 2 Kings 18. And Hezekiah has become a favorite character of mine. He was one of the good kings in Judah. And he actually was in charge of building this epic thing that you can still experience today in in the city of Jerusalem; he built a tunnel. And as enemies were coming against Israel, and if your city was besieged, your water supply became a very important thing. And so, what he did is he actually dug their heels with the springs. And so he dug a tunnel that would connect where the people were besieged and the springs. And these guys started digging here. These guys started digging here. And they came and maybe they had to course correct a few times, but they eventually met in the middle, and you can actually hike through this tunnel. It's kind of my favorite way to do hikes. It's indoors and in water. I mean, it's the right way to do hiking, in my estimation, and you can go there, and you can experience it today. And what had happened is that the king of Assyria, the Assyrians had come in and they had attacked the northern kingdom of Israel. And they had really taken it over. They had wiped people out, they had taken them captive, and now the king of Assyria went down to the southern kingdom of Judah and went to Jerusalem where Hezekiah was the king. And he came and he sent his army and he sent some of the chief officers of his army and the names are just epic. I mean, you’ve got to like it because the king of Assyria, his name is Sennacherib, which sounds like snack a rib, which is interesting. And then he's got this one guy and his title is the Rabshakeh, right, which is just a title, if you know what I'm saying. And if you look in 2 Kings, not Chronicles 18 And you go to 2 Kings 18:28-35. The Rabshakeh just lets out his trash talk and look at what he says: “Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: ‘Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?” I mean, just some proper trash talking. And really, the thing he is telling people to do is don't listen to Hezekiah because Hezekiah is going to try to get you to trust in the Lord. And what he says is actually, there's a better way than trusting in the Lord don't trust in the Lord. Trust in the king of Assyria. And if you trust in the king of Assyria, it will go well for you. Right. Do you see what he says there? It'll be good and you'll eat your own fig tree. Right? Like I don't know that figs that are that tasty but whatever. Right? And he's like, I'll take you to a land and it's kind of similar to the land that you're in right now. But it's good land and it's like so good, like it's going to go good for you if you trust in something else, besides the Lord. And really, you've got no other option but to trust in the king of Assyria because all these other places they said that we're going to trust in our gods and did their gods deliver them? No, they did not like these Assyrians. Were like the worst dudes in the history of bad dudes in the world. I mean, they would go in and they would conquer people and torture people and plunder and pillage and it was ugly and they would do the classic like, we're going to kill everyone except for a few people so they can go tell the tale of the evil that we did to these people. He's like, don't trust in the Lord because he can't help you. And that might be the way that it seems to us sometimes, might seem like, I don't know, the trust and in the Lord, that doesn't seem like it's going to go well for me, seems like my own if I can't beat him seems like my only option is to join and start doing some evil myself. But it's so epic if you keep reading.
Go to 2 Kings 19. There's this prophet Isaiah and Hezekiah. He goes, and he just prays about this to the Lord, and he brings it before the Lord. And Isaiah brings God's response and says, well, what the Lord's answer is, in 2 Kings 19:32-36. It says, “’Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.’ And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh,” like a loser. And then two of his sons killed him. I mean, that's, that's the way it is, like when those people are hearing the tops of the Rabshakeh. It doesn't seem to them, like, is there an option where 185,000 people of these are going to kill me, killed without battle? Like, yeah, Hezekiah he wasn't able to deliver us, but the Lord is able to deliver us. Like, I don't know if they considered that as an option. But God said, this is what I'm going to do. And guess what happened, exactly what God said.
There might be people doing evil things all around us, you know what we can do? We can trust in the Lord because he's going to do what he said. Go back with me to Psalm 37. If you go back there, sometimes in our society today, but some of the other things he says, in this psalm, it's like, okay, well, how's it going to go for me? Because it seems like it might be going better for the wicked than for me. Look at what he says in Psalm 37:16. It says, “Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.” Did you get that? Like, you might think, well, I got less than some of these wicked, evil people around me. God says that's better. It's actually better to be righteous, even if that means you have less. And it says in Psalm 37:17, “For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.” I mean, sometimes it's even like, okay, well, if I don't lie, if I don't cheat, if I don't cut corners, am I going to be able to make it financially? In Psalm 37:23-25, it says, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”
Can you trust in the Lord that he can actually provide what you need? He can. And he has, and he will. But the question is, are we going to trust him? Look at what it says in Psalm 37:34 says, Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.” Like right now it might seem like evil is winning all around us, there will come a day where we will look on when the wicked are cut off. Right, the grass might be growing, and I don't know what the grass is like in your backyard, but it might be growing high, but there's going to come a day when the mower is going to come. And it's going to be cut down in a moment. And we will look on. We will be victorious. We will be on the side of the right and in what he says, wait for the Lord in verse 34 and keep his way.
So maybe we should actually add to that first dash we should say, trust and obey. Write that down: trust and obey. There's really no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. I feel like I've heard it said like that before and look at that's what it says in verse Psalm 37:3, “Trust in the LORD and do good.” “Trust in the LORD and do good.” Now, if I were to ask you, what is the good that God wants you to do? Do you have an idea of that? It's not like it's some mystery. It's not like God has never given us any direction on the good way to live our lives that he wants us to. I mean, Jesus said, Abide in me and let my words abide in you. That's good. Like, hey, when other people are doing evil when they're doing wrong, I'm just going to go and abide with Jesus. I'm just going to go spend time with him. I'm going to get his words into me. I'm going to ask my requests of him and respond to him in prayer. Right? Gee, I mean, Jesus said that God's greatest commandment was that we would love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that we would love others like we should, like we would love ourselves. Do you have some relationships with other people? Have we got any husbands and wives here in the room, this is God giving us direction on the good way. He wants us to treat our spouse, any parents, children in the room? Has God given us direction on the good way that parents should teach and love their children, and keep from provoking them to anger; and children should obey and honor their parents. Any bosses and employees in the room? God has given us instruction on how to live there. I mean, has God given us any instruction on how we should live as the church, how we should encourage one another? We should be striving to build one another up. I'm so excited for fellowship groups to be back. So, we can have even time together to do that, where we're going to talk about this passage and encourage one another with it.
Don't worry about what the wicked are doing. Like sometimes we can get so caught up in what the evil and wicked people are doing wrong or not doing what is right, that we can fail to do what is right ourselves. We just need to trust in the Lord and obey what he says. We need to trust in the Lord, and do good. Now in Psalm 37:3 it says, “dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” I don't know if you've got a footnote there as you read that, but in mine, there's a little number two and I go all the way down to the tiny text at the bottom. And it says, “Or and feed on faithfulness.” Befriend is kind of an interesting translation choice. But it's really feed on faithfulness, because this word is kind of almost like a shepherd connotation or a pasture connotation. It's almost like, hey, you have a good shepherd who's led you into a good land, you don't need another land that's good. You already have a land that's good. And God is there with you. And you need to feed on his faithfulness. Like that's what David was trying to encourage the people of Israel to think about. And for us, as Christians, we have the highest position. Like, as a Christian, you have been reconciled to God, because of the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, that he came and died for our sins, and rose again so that we could rise with him and live a new life, and the life that the relationship that we have with him now is one where he has declared us righteous, where we now have access to him. He's not like, no, you're not holy. I need to be set apart from you get away from you. Now, he's inviting us to come to him. Now he wants to be a good father to us. And he loves us and he wants to work all things together. For our good, God is going to be faithful. We have all of the green grass that we need right here in front of us to enjoy. We don't need to look to the other side of the fence, because we've got it all in Jesus. Amen. Amen. And that's what he says next in Psalm 37:4. He says, “delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Let's get that down for our next blank: Delight in the Lord instead of fretting about the evildoers, the wrongdoers and all they're prospering and they're evil and wicked, we need to delight ourselves in the Lord. This is perhaps one of the key commands for us here in Huntington Beach in the year of our Lord 2023. The question is, where are you finding your delight? Where are you finding your delight? That might be the actual problem that leads to so much fretting in our lives is too many people are looking for their delight to the things of this world. Now this prophet Isaiah who gave Hezekiah God's response, he stuck around for a while and he saw things get worse and worse in the southern kingdom of Judah. And he wrote and he spoke on behalf of the Lord to them. Turn with me to Isaiah 55. Isaiah, his book of prophecy, and he's just recounting the words of the Lord. He's speaking on behalf of God, to the people as a prophet, in Isaiah 55:1 you can see God's heart for his people expressed here in this passage and he says, come everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and he has no money come by and eat. Come buy wine and milk. Isaiah 55 Without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy. Listen diligently to me and eat what is good and delight yourselves, enrich food, incline your ear and come to me here that your soul may live, and I will make with you an everlasting covenant my steadfast sure love for David. See, here he was, the problem that that happened in Israel after the days of Hezekiah is like they didn't necessarily stop agreeing with the right information about God. They just look to all these other things for their satisfaction. And all these other things. They're spending their money they're spending their labors and their efforts for things that don't really satisfy. And sadly, this is the way a lot of people who profess to be Christians live life today. They think that being a Christian means I agree with certain doctrines or truths. Okay. Jesus is really God, and he was really born, and he came down and he died on the cross, and rose again. I agree with all of that. I am a Christian. And there are many people who are agreeing with that information. But they are looking to other things besides God for their happiness. They're not delighting in the Lord, like this seems like it's actually the way that the Christian life works.
You can write down there on your notes, write down John 4:13-14, where Jesus is talking to the woman at the well and I'll just read it for us. It says “Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Being a Christian seems like it's more than just agreeing with truths as correct. Being a Christian means you have a new source of delight, a new surpassing joy. It doesn't mean that we can't enjoy anything in this life, but it means we have a greater joy than the things in this life.
Now, even people who profess to be Christian, they're still trying to find their satisfaction in the things of this world, things like entertainment, things like travel, and family, and work, and success, financial security, physical pleasure, health and safety, things going well in America, politics, good Christian fun. Let me just encourage you guys, this is not the pasture that our good shepherd has led us to, he's got something better than America to offer us. These are fickle sources of delight, temporary at best, shaky, not steady and this is what all the people around us are doing is that they're reaching for something to satisfy them, and they are trying to go for it. And they are extending their energy to get it. And once they grab a hold of it, and they think it will satisfy them, it's like sand that just sifts through their fingers, and is gone. This is what the wicked do. Like I want you to understand this, the wicked focus on the gifts and not the giver. The wicked focus on the creation, not the creator, the wicked see God as a means to some other end, rather than the end himself.
Go back with me to Psalm 37, he says, “Delight yourself in the Lord.” And then he gives a promise and he will give you the desires of your heart. Now, so many people have misunderstood this verse, they think, okay, what this means is like, I'm going to, like delight myself in the Lord. And then he's going to give me what I really want. And what I really want is money. Or what I really want is success, or what I really want is pleasure. And so okay, I'm going to go to church, and I'm going to like, I'm going to give a head nod towards the Lord, and I'm going to do the church things, I'm going to raise my hands, and I'm going to sing, and I'm going to expect money, I'm going to expect what I really want. And what is this I'm not actually getting these things? So, it seems like the Bible must not be true. Seems like it must not really work because I'm delighting in the Lord, but the desires of my heart are not getting satisfied. Have you ever heard someone express something like this? God is not going to be used by us to fulfill some other delights. God wants to be our delight. If you delight yourself in the Lord, guess what the desire of your heart is going to be? It's going to be him. Like if you delight yourself in the Lord, He will satisfy you. Like if you look to him, and you say, hey, I'm actually going to look to the Lord for my delight and my happiness and my satisfaction, guess what's going to happen? You're going to be happy, and you're going to be satisfied. If you look to something else, these temporal things, you won't be satisfied. So how do you do this? I mean, it takes you saying, like, God, I'm going to set you above everything else in my life. I mean, even Jesus, when he taught his disciples to pray, didn't he say, first hallowed be your name? He said, well we need to do is we need to ask God to be in a special place in a place all his own, in a place that is high and lifted up, that is holy, that is separate from everything else that God wants, he needs to be first, and nothing second. It's a vow, and thou only first in my heart kind of delight that God wants us to have. I like how Moses when he prayed to God, he asked God, God, show me your glory. Like I've got all these other things distracting me. What I really need is I need to see you and how great you are, I need to see that you are surpassing worth that there's nothing in this life that could even come close to comparing to you. And when you do this, it's like a superpower that you have when you really delight in the Lord like David's life. I mean, like this guy had something about him. And it was his delight in the Lord. Because he was able to be happy in some very unhappy places. Like some of the psalms that David wrote that we like to sing, they're so full of rejoicing, and joy. And sometimes you look at the places that they were written. And you're like, How could happiness and joy even exist in a place like this, like I have been to the wilderness of Judea, where David was hiding out in caves for his very life? And I'm thinking, how can I get back in the bus where there is some air conditioning? Right now, this is not an indoor in the water hike that I am on right now. This is brutal. Like how could you be happy like David was able to be happy, even when his circumstances were brutal, I'm on the run for my life. Maybe tomorrow is the day they catch up to me and kill me. But I can be happy. Because I'm delighting myself in the Lord. Even when evildoers are all around, I can be happy in God.
Now for us, I mean, you think about this economy that we're in and people are checking their portfolios on their phone, your portfolio of delight, could ever be increasing. When people don't treat you right, you could think about the Lord. And you could think about how he has treated you so much better than you deserve to be treated, how he has treated you when things are inconvenient, and we're not having fun. Have you ever been in a long line that's not moving. I was in a long line this week, and it wasn't moving. And I was thinking about this text, and I'm looking around, and when it's clear, like, hey, this line is not really moving the way we want it to go. It's like everyone starts clutching for some source of happiness, like, oh, I'm not happy in this line. Where can I find it? And everybody's pulling out their phones. And you can tell they're trying to find it. They're not in the news portfolio? Nope, nope, you can just see they're looking to all of these things, and not finding it. And I was able to sit there and sit back. And I was able to think, well, I'm going to spend some time thinking about the Lord. And all that he's done for me. And guess what? I was happy in a line! I delighted myself in the Lord. And my desires were satisfied. And it was epic. Like I was just like, I'm so happy and alive. It's not moving. Like this is epic, right? Like, you could be on the 405. And you're sitting there and we're at a standstill, and you could look to the left, and this person's pulling out their hair. And you could look to the right and this person's like banging on their dashboard. And you could be sitting there happy because you've got a delight that can't be taken away from you; traffic can't take it away from you. Circumstances can't take it away from you. You could delight in the Lord.
There was a man early on, before America was even fully established, there was this Great Awakening, where many people turned to the Lord and started worshipping him. And one of the great theologians and pastors that was during this time was this guy, Jonathan Edwards. And if you read his biography, you'd hear him talk about times some of his favorite times where he would just go out and take a walk in the woods and it wasn't like I'm walking in the woods and the trees are so nice and look at the squirrels and all of these things. What he would do is he would just meditate. He called it on God's perfections on all of his excellences and he would just say that the joy that just erupted in my heart when I was just delighting in the Lord is something unlike any other joy I could experience in this life. Like would you actually do that this week? Would you actually spend some time where you pray and ask God to show you how great and desirable he is how satisfying he is where maybe, maybe you could just go take a walk. And it doesn't have to necessarily be in a beautiful place. Squirrels are optional, right? But you could just spend time thinking about the Lord and how great he is, and how great all that he has done for you. I guarantee you, if you do that, you will be happy, you will be satisfied.
Now, I was just thinking about Revelation, where we were reading it this last week, and we got to chapter eleven, where it's like the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and he begins to reign and everybody is just starting to worship him. And I'm reading about his excellency and his glory. And I'm just happy. As I read that, I'm filled with joy. When I read those words, like, I just want to encourage you, would you jump in and read these last two weeks of revelation with us? maybe, maybe revelations, or at least some things harder to understand, maybe you've gotten pulled out or maybe you haven't even been jumping in. And one of the things we love to do here at Compass Bible Church is read the Bible together and talk about it and encourage one another, not just from the weekend sermon, but all throughout the week, Monday through Friday, we're opening up the Word and getting into it together. We’ve got two weeks left of Revelation, I would encourage you jump in with us, like if you're at the Bunny Run, and you didn't sign up to run, but you see Ryan St. Pierre running towards the finish line, just jump in and run with him and like beat him right at the end, or something like that. That's what I do. Just go for it. Just go for it. Like we need to get in the Word like if we're going to see God's excellency, we’ve got to be seeing what he says in this book. And this is something that we don't just want to do, we want to be people who delight in the Lord all the time, that we need to really work on this. And I was almost kind of thinking like this passage from David, where he's like, live in real life with real evildoers all around him. Yet, he's able to be happy and not fretting. Such a good example for us! Like I was almost thinking, wouldn't it be cool if we could like read more things that he wrote and learn more from his example, like, what if after we finished Revelation, we just started reading Psalms. Let's do that, we're actually going to do that. That is the announcement.
After we’ve finished revelation, May first, we're going to start the summer in the Psalms together. And we're going to read the entire book of Psalms as a church family all throughout the summer. And it's going to be a sweet time of seeing God's glory. I know the Psalms is a book that helps me delight myself in the Lord, where there is just such joy as I read of all of God's perfections and all of his praises laid out for us. And some of you, you've enjoyed getting to read the Bible together. And maybe some of the videos that we make that try to help people get into the Bible together, like all of that started, because one summer, we went through the Psalms, and we started making, we started doing live events here at seven o'clock in the morning. And we started reading the Psalm. And we were learning how to pray through the Psalms together. And we were praying together, and it was epic. And we posted the videos online. And we thought, Man, that was so epic, we should do more of that, we should post more videos online, we should get everybody reading the Bible together here at Compass HB. So, we're going to go back there this summer. And then after that, as we get into the fall, like, what if we just read some books of the Bible where God kind of introduces himself to people and tells us about who he is like, maybe we should go back to the beginning, to the law, and read that together. Seems like it would revive the soul. Is anybody with me on this? I mean, let's go, let's do this thing. Let's delight ourselves in the Lord. And friends, I just want you to know that, day after day, if you try to delight yourselves in the things of this world, you only be mildly satisfied at best. Day after day you will deal with disappointment. But if you delight yourself in the Lord, day after day, you will be delighted. You will be satisfied in him.
Psalm 37. Look at the next thing he says in Psalm 37:5. He says, Commit your way to the Lord. So, let's get that down for our next dash. Commit your way to the Lord. Now when we hear that word commitment, sometimes we're like, alright, commitment, I'm going to go do this, like I'm going to pull myself up by my bootstraps and be committed and let's go, right it says, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him.” And then does it say, and you will do it? No, it says, and he will do it. There's a word in the Hebrew for commit. Sometimes it's even translated roll, like in the context of like rolling a large rock or something like that. And that's what I think some people think the Christian life is, it's just this large rock of all these things that God wants us to do. And day after day. I'm trying to roll this heavy rock up the hill and never able to get it all the way there, and then the next day I just do it all over again. The way the Christian life is lived is not like that, my friends, it's not, go do it in your own strength, you’ve got it. It's like, hey, you’ve got all these burdens, you’ve got all these difficulties, roll it to the Lord. Roll it to the Lord. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he's going to act. That's what the Christian life is like. Like when we're delighting ourselves in the Lord, then we just need to be praying to the Lord and asking him about everything. God, this is coming up, roll it to the Lord God; this hard thing just happened, roll it to the Lord God; this person is actually making up lies about me and saying all kinds of evil things about me falsely, roll it to the Lord. That's what it says in Psalm 37:6. He says, “He will bring forth Your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday.” If you need to be vindicated, trust in the Lord to do it. Trust in the Lord. I mean, we as a group of Christians are being more maligned than ever, it seems like more and more people are thinking that people who believe in the Lord and his ways are the problem, a big bigoted and antiquated group of people who are really repressing people. And if we need God to be we the one to show people that that's not true. That actually living for the Lord is righteous, that he will make that shine clear. There will be a day where everyone will agree that living for Jesus was the only way to live life. Right? And we need to go to the Lord and ask him for help. We need to roll all these things to the Lord; the Lord will vindicate us.
What he says next, in Psalm 37:7, he says, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” So, write that down, as your next dash: Be still and wait, be still and wait, be still. We don't have to fret. We don't have to make a fist. We don't have to make a fight. We don't have to organize and come against the evildoers and create our own party and get out there with signs and bull horns and megaphones and get loud. We just need to be still before the Lord. Is the Lord going to execute justice? Is the Lord going to be the avenger of all the wrongs that have been done to his people? We don't have to take vengeance ourselves. Look at what it says in Psalm 37:8, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!” Like we could want to get justice. And we could want to lash out and lash back. Don't do that. Because guess what, if you fret, it only tends to evil. Like if we're threatened and we're getting angry, like, we're not going to be set apart from the evil, we're actually going to become a part of it. We're actually going to propagate more evil. As we go on, we need to be still. And it says wait patiently for the Lord. As I read the end of Revelation, it just seems like that. That is a day that I am waiting for and not waiting in a passive kind of way, I'm just waiting for the Lord like this is an active eager anticipation. This word “wait” in the Hebrew Bible, it's kind of almost like translated “bring forth,” it's like a woman would bring forth a baby. It's kind of like that kind of waiting. Have we any moms in the room here that when you've been like great with child, we're like waiting for the baby to come, like you know that kind of waiting. Like, when can this baby come? Like now would be the time I would like this baby to come? What kind of exercises can I do to get this process started? What kind of Chipotle can I eat with the spicy sauce to get this process going? Because I'm waiting for the baby to come. I'm eagerly waiting for the baby to come. This is the way God wants us to be.
Go with me to Colossians chapter three and Colossians chapter 3. Paul just gives us such clear instruction; that is so helpful. And he says in Colossians 3:1, “If then you have been raised with Christ,” anyone in the room been raised with Christ? It's not just something that Jesus did two thousand years ago. You have been raised to walk in newness of life. If that's true of you here in the room, you know what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on the things that aren't, because on earth, we’ve got all these evildoers, we’ve got all these wrongdoers like things are not going the right way. There's all this rebellion against the Lord going on around us. We need to set our mind on the things above for you have died and your life, your delight, your life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Like the great thing about delighting in the Lord is that the best days of it are ahead of us, my friends. Like, we can delight in the Lord and have such joy and such satisfaction right out here, right now today. And it's only going to get better. Like one of the days like all of this evil that we experience will not be here anymore. And we need to set our mind on the things above we need to eagerly anticipate that day. That's coming.
Go back with me to Psalm 37 because that's what he encourages us with. In this next part of the chapter, it says in Psalm 37:9, it says, “For the evildoers shall be cut off.” Like they might be growing up like the weeds in the grass right now. But there's going to come a day where the mower is going to come, and all evil will be put away, all evil will be cut down. But those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land, there is a new Jerusalem, there is a new heaven and a new earth that those who wait for the Lord will inherit in just a little while. The wicked will be no more. Though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. Like right now it might feel like how long O Lord, it might feel like oh, man, this evil is just continuing and propagating. And in the end, when we get to be with the Lord, we'll feel like that was just a little while. All that affliction that we went through, that was just light and momentary. Look at what it says in Psalm 37:11, “But the meek,” not the people who are fretting, and getting angry and getting fearful, that people were just humbling themselves and saying, I'm going to trust in the Lord. These other people, they may not be doing what's right, but as for me, I'm going to humble myself and trust in the Lord, I'm going to really delight in him, I'm going to wait for him, I'm going to be still before him. Like those people will “inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” Do you realize that evil is only going to be around for a limited time? My friends, there's one day we won't have to endure evil.
So, get this down for point number three on your notes: Remember the end that is coming soon. Let's read Revelation over these next couple of weeks, let's read about the way that the story is going to end. And that will help us not fret now, that will help us trust in the Lord and do good, that will help us delight in the Lord and eagerly await the day that is coming. And I don't know how things are going to go here in America. I'm praying for a revival. I'm praying that there will again be an outpouring of God's grace and mercy like I've never experienced in my lifetime. But I don't know how it's going to go. Things very likely could go from bad to even worse here in America, but it doesn't have to go that way for you. And when you see that, when you see it go that way. You don't have to fret, and you don't have to envy the wicked. We can go and trust in the Lord and delight in him together. So let me pray and ask God to help us do that.
Father, we're so thankful for this chapter, Lord, for David's example of how God, even when there was evil all around, that David didn't have to be the victim of his circumstances, the victim of other people. God, he was able to not fret, and to rise above all of these things, because he trusted in you, because he turns not to himself, not to other people, God, but he really turned to you. And he delighted in you. And he found joy and satisfaction. And so, God, I pray that we would just take what you say in this text so seriously, Father, don't let us fret. God, I know that there are some people for whom fretting has characterized their life as they walked in here today, or that they have just been watching the news and get angry. They've been watching what's going on around us and getting fearful. God I'm so glad that you have shown us a better way than that. God, I pray that we would not fret, that we would not envy the wicked. God, let us turn to you. God, let us be those who hear what you say, God, that it's not going to go this way forever, God, that it's just going to be a little while longer and evil is going to be put away; it is going to be done with, God, that you will return, and you will rule, and you will reign, and you will put all of your enemies as a footstool under your feet. And so, God, be our vision. Lord, we really need to look to you. We need you to show us your glory. God, we want to delight in you, that we want to be satisfied in you. God, we want it to be you and you only first in our hearts. We don't need riches, we can be satisfied with less than other people, God, because we have the most satisfying thing in you. And God we know that the only way that we can have a relationship with you is by trusting in your Son Jesus Christ, in the work that he did when he died for our sins and he rose again so that we could have a new life, and eternal life with you, so that would be our vision, be first in our heart, we pray. Amen.
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