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How God Reveals Himself in Affliction and His Word August 26, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Martin Luther, Psalms, Religion, Sermons, Suffering.
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THE GOOD BOOK

PSALM 119:65-72

Martin Luther is reported once to have said something to this effect, that he would not live in Heaven without the Word of God; and with it he could get along just fine in hell. He would certainly agreed with those who call the Bible, “the Good Book”. This is also the message of the acrostic poem that we are looking at today, “God’s Book is a Good Book.” What is it that makes the Bible a “Good Book”?

The Bible is a good book because it teaches a good God’s good dealings with humankind (verses 65, 68).

GOD IS GOOD! GOD IS IN CONTROL 

We received a prayer letter this week from Steve and Becky Diem, missionaries going to Resistencia, Argentina who we support financially and prayerfully. I would like to read two paragraphs written by Becky in which she tells about God’s working in their lives:

“A friend of mine has been trying to have kids for about five years, and her husband isn’t saved. We went out to eat…We were talking about God’s control and plans for our lives. I felt like the Lord wanted me to challenge my friend to give her situations to the Lord. I asked, ‘Have you given it to the Lord yet?’ To make a long story short, her husband has been doing a(n evangelistic) Bible study with us for the past month, and she is two months pregnant. God is good! God is in control!”

“I have been complaining about our small car for the past couple of months; it is very cramped on weekends with all the gear that goes along with two kids and deputation things. I started asking for a van from Steve. He said, ‘Why don’t you pray about it?’ I shared at a ladies tea how God had blessed Steve with an MP3 player that he had been praying for. I told Steve to start praying for a mini van. Yesterday we got an email from someone, and they gave us a mini van. God is good! God is in control!”

Update: Another excerpt from the same letter.

It is wonderful to know that God is good and that He is in control. It is wonderful to see God answer prayer. My wife and I have been where Steve and Becky are at and we can attest to how that the Lord works in the hearts and lives of his children, so that they may accomplish the work which He has for them to do.

WHOSE DEFINITION OF GOOD?

I want us today though to think about who is writing this in verse 65 – King David. Can it be said that God dealt well with David, according to man’s idea? This is the same David who hid for weeks on end in caves because King Saul had put a price on his head. Saul hatred for David was so great that an entire town was destroyed because the priest in the town fed David and his men. His friendship with Jonathan was broken off because of the hatred of Jonathan’s father for David. David ended up hiding with Israel’s enemies but because of fear, he pretended to go mad so that the Philistines would not kill him. He experienced an attempted coup twice during his reign, both times led by one of his sons and drawing after him some of his most trusted advisors. At least three times, because of David’s sin, people died through the judgment of God. How can this man write that God had dealt well with him. The answer is in verse 65. God dealt well with David because God acted according to His Word. As he writes in verse 68, “God is good and He does good and because He is good and does good, whatever He promises, whatever He warns, whatever He determines to do, it will be good. God’s character is not different than that of His Word. He never deals differently than His Word reveals. Good deals with everyone on the same basis – His Word.

BECOMING GOOD LIKE GOD 

The more I learn and apply God’s Word, the more like Him I will become (verse 68). David does not just want to memorize and recite God’s Word. He wants to learn it and live by it and become good just as God is good. He does not want a “crisis relationship” with God but a daily relationship with God (adapted from Wiersbe). He wants to take on the character of God and the only way to do that is to become trained in the Word of God.

Warren Wiersbe writes in his book, Why Us?, “Now, we must be careful how we use the Bible when we are going though trials. Unless we are reading God’s Word regularly, listening daily to His voice, we aren’t likely to hear Him say much when the roof caves in on us.”

The Bible is a good book because believing it will teach you good discernment (verses 66, 69-72). The word rendered “judgment,” properly signifies taste. One of the keys of tasting is confidence. I was reading this week an article about a man who had to pass a test in order to become a judge at an espresso making contest in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was interesting to find out that some of the champion espresso makers sometimes could not pass the taste test to become a judge at the very competition that they had won. The article gave several tips for passing the test. (It did not say what you should do after drinking all that coffee.) The most important tip that was repeated over and over is you must have confidence in your discernment.

FAILING THE THE SPIRITUAL TASTE TEST 

Spiritually, this is also true. You must have know and have confidence in the Word of God if you are going to develop spiritual discernment. Why is it that some people chase after the prosperity gospel of Joel Osteen? They do not have confidence in God’s Word when it says, “Lay not treasures for yourself on this earth but lay up treasures for yourself in heaven.” Why is it that some gauge their spiritual well being by how they feel? Perhaps because they do not trust God’s Word when it says, “If our hearts condemn us God is greater than our heart.” Why is it that church leader after church leader falls into sin? Because we are not confident that God’s Word can be trusted when it says, “Pride goes before a fall.” I could go on and on.

If you have confidence in God’s Word, you will learn to discern between the profit of physical benefit and spiritual benefit. You will learn that the beneficial result of the Word of God in your life is to be preferred to the prosperity of the wicked (#Ps 119:69-72).

In reading a part of the one hundred and nineteenth psalm to Miss Westbrook, who died, she said, “Stop, sir, I never said so much to you before—I never could; but now I can say, ‘The word of thy mouth, is dearer to me, than thousands of gold and silver.’ What can gold and silver do for me by now?” —George Redford, in “Memoirs of the late Rev. John Cooke”, 1828

If you believe God’s Word you will develop spiritual discernment. If you do not, then you will end up chasing rainbows and fighting windmills and investing your life in things that will not satisfy.

A GOOD BOOK FOR BAD TIMES 

The Bible is a good book because it will teach you how to react to adverse circumstances/affliction (verses 67, 69-71).

Sometimes you will learn to turn from sin through affliction (verse 67). “Whipping will not turn a rebel into a child; but to the true child a touch of the rod is a sure corrective.” In the Psalmist’s case affliction worked an immediate, lasting, inward change towards God. When that happens in your life and in my life, God’s Word will give us an anchor that will keep us from drifting back into our sin. We all know of people showed up and committed or recommitted themselves when things got bad but they did not stick around. I know that every circumstance is different but what often happens is that those who have disappeared did not anchor themselves to the Word of God that was given to establish them and to make them strong.

You learn how to deal with your enemy and the injustice of this world through the Word of God (verses 69-70). We find this so difficult. We look at those who are obviously not doing what they should. Sometimes they make our lives miserable. If you do not have the perspective on the world that God gives you in His Word, you will start mouthing complaints like “It’s not fair!” You will be open to the temptations of this world. That urge to get even with that jerk will grow until you either lash out at that person or so internalize your hatred that it destroys you from the inside out. God’s Word, though, teaches how to react to those people and to those circumstances. You might object that it is two hard. Certainly, for us alone, we cannot do it but we must submit to God’s will in His Word and the Spirit’s working in our hearts. We must learn to say with Augustine, “Let the word of the Lord come, let it come; and if we had six hundred necks, we would submit them all to his dictates.” —Augustine.

GOOD OUT OF BAD 

You learn that God always intends good to come out of your suffering. Now God’s Word is a lot more realistic about what is good than the descriptions of the world that we prefer. The right guy gets the right girl and they have a few ups and downs but at the end everyone lives happily ever after until death do us part. No life long suffering because of the sins of youth. No unexplainable physical suffering. No mother’s who dreams for a child remain unfulfilled although through no fault of their own. Miraculously healings and answers to prayer are a daily occurrence. In our Christian fantasy world the real issues that people cry themselves to sleep over every night seem so easy to solve. Of course, it is wonderful when such things happen but God’s Word deals with the reality of life. It deals with the hum-drum as well as the exciting. It talks about people who suffer as well as those have their life go as planned. The Word of God is for those who never receive any relief from their suffering as those who seem to never suffer even though they live wicked lives.

Sometimes when bad things happen we say, “I know the LORD wants to teach me something but I am not sure what.” This verse 71 is an answer to that question. God lets affliction come into my life so I can learn His Word so that I can learn Him and become more like Him.

(John Piper on this subject)

Warren Wiersbe also tells in his book, Why Us?, about a couple in a church where he pastored. “Years before…their little boy had contracted a brain disease that left him an invalid. He spent his entire life in bed, unable to speak, read, or use his hands creatively. When (Wiersbe) first visited in the home, the boy had become a man; but he was still lying in bed, wearing diapers, and he needed to have someone with him constantly.

“‘Pastor, don’t feel sorry for us because of Kenny,’ his parents (said). ‘People think he’s a burden, but to us, he’s a blessing from God. We’ve learned so much about God’s grace in taking care of Kenny’”

Whatever you may be going through (and it does not matter whether humanly speaking it is big or small) God wants to teach you to trust His Word, to trust His character, to become more like Him.

QUESTIONS

Believer, have you learned these three lessons? Have you learned that God is good and does good, not just in David’s life but in your life and in mine and He deals with you well, in a good manner, according to His Word?

Do you have confidence in your spiritual judgment? You can, if you know and are following God’s Word.

Is God’s Word governing the way you react during the tough times of life? Get in God’s Word.

What we have talked about today is how God deals with humankind. He wants to deal with you if you are not a believer in the same manner. He wants you, through thick and thin to learn of Him.

You need simply to trust Jesus Christ and Him alone. He is the only one who can rescue from sin, He and no one else. He died and was buried and rose again to rescue you. Won’t you turn to Him today?

A FINAL WORD FOR THE TROUBLED 

Are you in trouble? One thing both believers and unbelievers share in common is trouble. We all have it in one form or another. We tend to compare our troubles to each other. That is not very helpful. Turn to God, not to get you out of trouble but to give you the forgiveness you need to become His child and the stability you need to glorify Him both inside and outside of any trouble that you might experience.

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Comments»

1. paperbag - September 24, 2007

God lets affliction come into my life so I can learn His Word so that I can learn Him and become more like Him. –> so true..


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