Sermonette

March 29, 2020

Fret not Evildoers … Trust in the LORD

Scripture: Psalm 37:1-3

As America moves through the corona virus 19 pandemic, things have been constantly changing.  Many states are currently living in a “stay at home” directive, with only “essential” businesses open.  There is the “Six Feet Apart” social distancing guideline, along with common sense cleaning procedures and guidelines to restrict the spread of the virus.  And, as you know, groups of ten or more in a gathering are not allowed.

Unfortunately but predictably, many are trying to use this difficult situation to their own sordid benefit.  News outlets have revealed the price gouging occurring, and have warned about numerous scams that are used on the unsuspecting.  Be vigilant!

Equally unfortunate is the way some in our government have tried to push a concealed, godless agenda in the disguise of “aid” to the two trillion dollar corona virus relief bill.  Fortunately, the sly scheme was discovered, and the bill has been revised.  Praise God for the men and women in Congress that are standing firm on their convictions and upholding their oath of office.

It’s not difficult to become angry, weary, frustrated and even overwhelmed with the status of our culture.  And there seems little we can do to change it.  However …

Psalm 37:1-3 gives advice and directives that should be an encouragement to every Christian.  Our culture and the “evildoers” within are not beyond the will of God.  Our God, Who is holy, sovereign and just, is in His providence, accomplishing His will.

We see in vs. 1-2, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.”  An age-old question has always plagued the godly.  Why do the wicked seem to be problem free and prosper, while the righteous seem plagued and needy?  The righteous seem to suffer more for their righteousness than the wicked suffer for their sins!  Even the Psalmist Asaph struggled with this, cf. Psalm 73:3!

Yet God says, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers …”  The phrase “fret not” literally means “don’t get heated up,” and by application is “don’t be angry.”  Now clearly, there is a place for righteous anger against the “evil” that impacts our world.  Psalm 7:11 confirms that “… God is angry with the wicked every day.”  The Savior was angry as he cleansed the temple, cf. Matt. 21:13.  However, anger shouldn’t control us, consume us or rob us of our joy in the Lord Jesus.  Never allow the “evildoers” to control your walk with God, your joy in the Savior or be a detriment to your testimony.

  1. 1 continues, “… neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.” These “workers of iniquity” are the unsaved, ungodly people who blatantly disregard God and His Word. Such “workers” fit the spiritual description of those in Psalm 14.

But regardless of the depth of their “iniquity,” there seems to be no chastisement.  We may even wonder, “Is God just?  Does God see the evil, or does He care?”

  1. 2 confirms that God knows and cares, and He is the just Judge! God’s judgment looms on the horizon. C. H. Spurgeon said “The scythe of death is sharpening.  Green grows the grass, but quick comes the scythe.  The destruction of the ungodly will be speedy, sudden, sure, overwhelming and irretrievable.”    The same ideas are reaffirmed in vs. 9-10.  God takes no delight in the judgment of the wicked, Ezek. 33:11, and neither should we.  Rather than be filled with anger and bitterness we should be filled with pity and compassion, and pray for their salvation.  Don’t get angry about their temporal status, and certainly don’t be jealous over them.  God has so much more for you right now and forever!  You must redirect your focus … to God!
  2. 3 challenges us to “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” The word “trust” means to have security or confidence in the Lord. We often use the word “faith.”  Faith is the best cure for fretting!  God is worthy of our trust, for the Most High God is on His throne!  Jeremiah reminds us, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness,” Lam. 3:22 – 23.  Solomon likewise reminds us to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.  Certainly, if we can trust God with our eternal salvation, we can trust Him completely in the things of this life!

We are also directed to “do good,” living a life of obedience to God’s Word.  Obedience clearly results in God’s blessing (our needs are met, cf. latter part of v. 3), but even more important, it glorifies God.  We have unique opportunities to share the Gospel, and tell of God’s love, mercy and grace to family, friends and neighbors.  We can encourage fellow believers about the faithfulness of God, and remind one another that He is in sovereign control of the universe and, in His providence, He is working out His plan for the ages.  We can be prayer warriors for the needs that such times produce.  The “doing good” requires serious time with God in Bible study and prayer, as we come to the Throne of Grace to find help in time of need.

As we “Trust in the Lord, and do good,” we verify in our hearts and lives what we truly believe.  The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) describes God as “Spirit, in and of Himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, every where present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.”  If we really believe biblical Truth about God, trusting Him will not be a problem.  Your attitudes, actions, demeanor and speech will reflect your full confidence that He is eternally and absolutely trustworthy.  This trust is exercised through the trials of life … and troubles in this world.

Warren Wiersbe wrote, “When you fix your eyes on the Lord and trust and obey Him, that fretful spirit quiets down and peace comes to your heart.  Whenever I stop trusting the Lord … for His help, my heart becomes heavy and burdened, and then I become fretful and worried.”

I would hope and pray we will never stop trusting the Lord.  Instead, “Trust in the LORD, and do good …”  So don’t fret and falter; instead have faith and God’s favor!

Deliverance from Fear

Scripture: Psalm 34:1-8

We are obviously passing through a series of events unknown in our history.  One of the more conservative websites I visited this week listed several realities, possibilities, and probabilities about the impact the coronavirus 19 could have in months.  The fact is, nobody knows with any certainty what lies on the horizon concerning the depth of impact or time factors involved.  It seems the primary responsibility of the media is to cause hysteria and fear – and it is very effective.  Regardless, one fact remains relentless and unchanging – there is little anybody can do in and of themselves to resolve the situation.

Certainly, we may have fears about the present and the future.  But be assured, if we know the Lord Jesus as Savior, we don’t have to allow our fears to harass, control or bring us to despair.  “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased,” Psalm 115:3.  Our Heavenly Father is the Most High God, the Lord of All, and He is in sovereign control of everything in our lives and our world.  Fear not!

Psalm 34 is the testimony of David when he was facing a fearful and dangerous situation.  As King Saul was trying to destroy David, he escaped to Gath of the Philistines in order to elude Saul.  Yet David was soon in trouble with King Achish, cf. 1 Sam. 21:10 ff (called Abimelech n Psalm 34).  The king’s servants wanted David to be taken into custody or put to death, for “David [has killed] his ten thousands” of the Philistines, v. 11.  Thus David’s “escape plan” placed him in enemy territory with more hostile adversaries, and he was helpless in and of himself to evade another fearful and dangerous situation.  Understanding his dilemma, he feigned insanity before King Achish, who, having no use for a “mad man,” vs. 14-15, seemingly ordered his release, 22:1.

Psalm 34 was David’s response to God for his deliverance.  In vs. 1-3 we read his response of praise to God.  In vs. 4-6 he gives reasons for his praise to God.  In vs. 7-8 he testifies of God’s protection and goodness!  For our purposes we will focus on v. 4, “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

In his fear David simply wrote, “I sought the LORD …”  Contemplate his escape from the danger of Saul to facing perhaps a greater danger in Gath!  Yet he realized he was not really helpless.  His response was a fervent call, a plea to God!  The word “sought” indicates a sincere, heart-felt petition to the LORD.  His prayer was intense and sincere, not flippant and superficial.  It is the degree of prayer we learn only in difficult, fearful times as we realize we need God, “… the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man …” that accomplishes much with God, James 5:16.

In fearful times, prayer is one of our last resorts when it should be our first response.

It’s been noted that the answers to our most difficult problems is only about 18” away, or the distance from our knees to the floor.  We allow ourselves to be dominated by despair, worry and fear rather than seek the Lord for courage, strength and wisdom!  Certainly, prayer achieves the greatest work; yet in reality, prayer really is the greatest work.  There may be a situation we move through when prayer is the best – and only – option.

Yet those situations are not common.  Though we must always give prayer top priority, God doesn’t permit us to sit idly by and ask Him to do everything!  Though David “sought the LORD,” he had already taken the initiative to remedy his situation; he didn’t simply pray and sit still, waiting for God to do everything.   David was actively engaged and did what he could.  He devised a plan and followed it with prayer – then waited on God.

In His time, will and way, God responded to his prayer.  David knew “… He heard me …”  God expects to hear from you before you will hear from Him; response from God follows petition to God.  When you are walking in loving obedience to His Word, you can be assured He will answer according to His goodness, His will and His timing.

God, Who knows all things, knows your fears and trials, and knows how desperate you need His help.  In His loving grace and mercy, He promises to be with us and help us.  He is true to His promises even if they are different than what we believe are best!

God answered David’s prayer, and he testified that God “… delivered me from all my fears.”  The word “fear” could be translated terror.  Again, David’s life was in danger.  He was in the camp of the enemy, and at their mercy.  He could not change the past (when he defeated Goliath and “killed his ten thousands”) that placed him in danger, and could not defeat those who were a present threat.  He was in the gravest extreme!  So he went to God in prayer, and God delivered him from his fears and the dangers he was facing.

Fears are often used by God to strengthen our faith, and it’s interesting the phrase “fear not” is found over sixty times in Scripture!  God doesn’t always deliver us from fear, but develops us through it.  He doesn’t always change the circumstances that cause fear, but changes us through them.  Warren Wiersbe wrote, “The real secret of deliverance [from fear] is not in the circumstances around you, but the faith within you.”

As we move through the challenges, difficulties, trials and heartaches of this life and this world, we can have immutable faith.  Fear doesn’t have to control you!  Why?  “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears … O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him,” Psalm 34:4, 8.

By Pastor Richard C. Rogers