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Singing in the Battle - Psalm 27

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This is one of the best known and most comforting of all the Psalms. It was born from crisis and that's probably why every one of us can relate to it so well. All Christians find out shortly after they're saved that life isn't a playground, but spiritual battleground. How do we survive? Better yet, how can we win those battles?

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8/17/1997
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Singing in the Battle
Psalm 27
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
This is one of the best known and most comforting of all the Psalms. It was born from crisis and that's probably why every one of us can relate to it so well. All Christians find out shortly after they're saved that life isn't a playground, but spiritual battleground. How do we survive? Better yet, how can we win those battles?
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Songs for the Heart

Songs for the Heart

In ancient Israel, the Psalms were poems set to music. They were meant to be sung! Because the Psalms depict the struggles of real people, we turn to them for strength and encouragement. This series provides insight into the character of God and His greatness, and will enhance your praise and worship of Him.

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Outline

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  1. A Confidence (vv. 1-3, 13)

  2. Reverence (vv. 4-7)

  3. Obedience (vv. 8-12)

  4. Expectance (vs. 14)

Apply This Stuff:

  1. Do a study on the Attributes of God. The more you know of His character, the easier you'll find it is to trust His care.

  2. Is prayer your first resort or your last resort in a crisis? Is it because you don't think it will work? In what ways could worship and prayer relieve anxiety?

  3. When was the last time God said to you, "Seek My face"? How did you respond? What would you do differently if you heard Him say it to you now?

Transcript

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Well, good morning. Let's turn to Psalm 27 this morning. Second service generally is full on Sunday morning, that's this service. We have four services all together, Saturday night, three on Sunday morning. So, for those coming, thinking, "Man, it's just so crowded." Come Saturday night or first service Sunday morning, well there's more seats, more availability than there is, we have overflow on second and third service, still few hundred people that can't get in on second and third that watch it by television. So, we invite those who want to be in and find a seat easier to come to those services for availability.

Let's now look at Psalm 27. Let's open up with a word of prayer. Father, we want to thank you for just letting us be here to enjoy the truth of your Word. It's so wonderful to come in out of the cold so to speak, with so many different voices and ideologies, and come in and hear Your Word, hear truth, be comforted, be instructed, to be able to lift our voices up to you. And Father, we ask that you'd speak now to us and that we would respond to you by devotion and commitment. For we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

After the civil war in Rwanda a few years back, when Franklin Graham visited Africa and he was on the border with Uganda, about ready to go into Uganda. In the back of a pickup truck was a little girl clutching a blanket swaying back and forth singing something. And, she was one of thousands of refugees who were now left without any parents or family, many without anyone they knew at all. There were soldiers mulling about and this girl was singing, they didn't pay any attention to her. Franklin noticed her and said, "What is she singing?" They couldn't understand because she was singing in French. So they found a soldier who could interpret because he spoke French. And he listened real carefully. The amazing thing about this girl, I said she was one of thousands of refugees, se had just seen all of her family butchered by machetes and she was left alone. And in shock, she was there clutching that blanket, swinging back and forth. What she was singing was astonishing. The soldier said, "She's singing 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'" Now can you imagine being stripped of absolutely everyone and everything after seeing a battle like that and singing a song of trust and faith and confidence in God. "Jesus loves me this I know," expressing faith in God.

Psalm 27 I have given the title "Singing in the Battle." At whatever time of life David wrote this, he depicts it in battle-like terminology. Some crisis, some of the words that he uses show that, the nouns: wicked is used, enemies, foes, army, war, false witnesses, and then breathe out violence. Do you get the idea that it wasn't a great time in his life. Some warlike, crisis-like circumstance from which David writes. One of the things I appreciate about the Psalms is they're honest. They're great Psalms, great expressions of faith in God, but they're not couched with stained-glass stuffiness. It's real-life struggles of real-life people. The hardships, the heartaches, the battles, the wars, the troubles.

Now at the beginning of Psalm 27 in my Bible, it just says "The psalm of David." However in the Septuagint version, the Greek translation, it says, "A psalm of David before he was anointed," which dates it back before the time he was anointed as king, when Saul was after him to kill him. When Saul, the king of Israel had become David's enemy, was pursuing him. It is a psalm of confidence in God, in the midst of a battle. It's a great psalm of worship and singing in the midst of a battle. And that's why it's so very appropriate for us because we of we find ourselves in a battle. We call it spiritual warfare. And Paul the apostle reminds us of the intense spiritual battles we face when he said, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against rulers, against the authorities of the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms. The faithful Christian understands that there is an intense battle spiritually going on. All of a sudden we step into the realm of commitment to Christ and we realize that we have, as we said last week, enemies that surround us; that hell doesn't give you a standing ovation when you commit your life to Christ. And on many different fronts, there's this intense warfare on a grand scale. And one has only to look at the ministry of Jesus and understand that. How did it begin? In warfare, forty days of warfare with the devil. How did it end? In warfare, in Gethsemane Jesus was sweating great drops of blood before that last great battle of the cross. It began and ended in warfare. Even Paul's life, here's a guy, the apostle, who saw many results, a lot of fruit in his ministry, and yet he writes to the Corinthians, "A wide door for effective service has been opened to me and there are many adversaries."

It's been sort of interest, tongue in cheek interesting, to see how Christians throughout history have battled Satan. Because the question arises: If I am a spiritual person in a spiritual battle, how do I stand my ground? And as I read about how some people in history have done it, it's interesting. Martin Luther, it says, threw a bottle of ink at the devil, in some apparition, that Satan gave to him one night. Benedict, in the fourth century, wore a shirt of coarse rough hair on his body. I guess to distract him from temptation. That would do it, and spent three years in a cave. Other monks decided to throw themselves into thorn bushes, with long cutting thorns that would, again, distract them from whatever temptation they're facing. Others would surround themselves with icons to superstitiously ward off evil spirits.

How do we stand against the onslaught, the warfare, of the enemy? How do we stand firm? Well, Psalm 27 gives us some keys. Now there's lots of different scriptures about spiritual warfare: Ephesians 6 and others. But I think we see four great principles of how to stand in spiritual battles. Number one is confidence. Look at verses 1 through 3 of this Psalm, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, have who shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident." And then if you move down a few verses to verse 13, he picks up on this, "I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

He speaks about fear and the fact that he won't do it, that he's confident in God. Now fear is debilitating, it can immobilize people. Professionals call them phobias. And fear is the most constricting they say of all emotions. And it can range from the low end of just uneasiness to the high end of absolute insecurity. Yesterday I did a wedding in the morning at the church, and I prayed with the bride and the groom before the service, separately---they usually don't see each other. And the bride of course was nervous. She's been dreaming about this all her life. She's getting her gown just so and she's getting ready to march out. So I come to the groom and I say, "Are you nervous?" He goes, "Nah." I'm thinking, "oh one of those, huh?" He goes, "Well should I be?" I said, "Well I guess not, it's only the most important day of your life! I mean it's okay to be nervous." But he was cool as a cucumber, up until the time that we walked out on this platform. (laughter) And he turned red and white in shades and he went "Whoo (sigh)"he said, "I'm nervous." That's the low end, that's the uneasiness.

But then there's that high end, that debilitating fear. Walter Stone said, "Fear is the most destructive force in the world today. It is much easier to frighten people than to persuade them." Fran Tarkenton wrote, "Fear causes people to draw back from situations. It brings mediocrity, it dulls creativity and it sets one up to be a loser in life." Yet, what's the most typical emotion in a battle? Fear. It's most natural, when the enemies are surrounding you to feel afraid. David, in the midst of fear expresses confidence. "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" Notice that his confidence is not in himself, but his commanding officer, in the character of his commanding officer. I think the idea is best expressed in Ephesians 6, that classic section on spiritual warfare, when Paul says, "Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." This is not an arrogant, boastful kind of a confidence. "Lord, it's okay, I can handle this battle. I don't need your help. You can go off now and help somebody who really needs you." That's stupid. And come to think of it, Peter tried that once, didn't he? When before the crucifixion Jesus said to the disciples, "You're all going to flee." Except Peter comes up and goes, "Lord, they might flee. But of course I'm the rock. You can count on me, I'll never leave you, I'll never forsake you." That was of course Jesus' line, Peter stole it, and thought he would be there until the end. Jesus said, "You're going to deny me, Peter." Peter was confident in Peter rather than the Lord. And we're told in I Corinthians 10, "Let him who thinks he stand take heed lest he fall." Folks, in a battle learn to stand behind your commanding officer. Rely on his strategy and his presence. You are no threat to the devil. For you to strut around and go, "Here I am, devil, come on." He laughs at that, apart from Christ. When you are in Christ and clothed in his armor and his strength, now you're a threat to him. As the little maxim says, "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees." That's where your confidence him, in Him. That's where David's is.

How does he phrase it? Well, he says, "The Lord is my light. Now we know that darkness usually accentuates and elevates our fears. Isn't it funny how those thoughts tend to hide whenever the light's out, it's dark, it's late at night, we're alone with our thoughts. And then those little fears come out and knock on the door of our mind, "Here I am." And we start dealing with a lot of those issues in darkness. That's why in Psalm 30 it says, "Weeping may endure through a night, but joy comes in the morning." God is light.

By the way, this is the only Old Testament passage where God is actually called light. The cousin of this verse is I John 1:5, "God is light," John said, "and in him there is no darkness at all." Well, what does that mean? And how helpful is that to know in a battle? God is light. Well physically light speaks of the glory of God, light is pure, it's brilliant, and it seems that whenever God comes on the scene, so often it's accompanied with an expression of light. Example, in Creation darkness hovers over the face of the deep. God says, "Let there be light." And light came into being. In the wilderness, talk about a trial, for forty years marching through the desert. God showed his presence by a pillar of fire by night and a luminous cloud by day, which settled over the tabernacle, principally over the mercy seat. And if we follow that all the way into the future, the new city of Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven in Revelation 21, the city had no need of the sun nor moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it and the Lamb is its light.

So, in the heat of a spiritual battle, it's helpful for me to know just how glorious and powerful my commanding officer is. The Lord (my commander) is light. I don't need to fear. When you realize God's power and glory in a battle, you can then fight from victory not for victory, you're already victorious, you can't lose, you're on his team. He's not on your team, you're on his team. And when you realize that, you're fighting from the position of victory.

Also, light intellectually speaks of the knowledge of God. There was a period in history called the Dark Ages. And that was a term applied to an age when men and women hadn't come under the light of knowledge, they hadn't been illumined yet, illuminated. And so there was the Age of Enlightenment, we became smarter. Well, one of God's attributes is that He's omniscient. He knows absolutely everything. You don't teach Him anything, you don't hide anything from him. The writer of Hebrews said, "All things are naked and open before the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account. He sees it all. He knows it all.

Sort of like the guy in the early days of the automobile, his car broke down, an old Model T, they broke down a lot I hear. He's beside the road trying to fix it, opens the hood, does everything he can think of, it doesn't work. Finally a guy pulls up in a long stretch limousine. He's nicely dressed, he gets out. He says, "Excuse me, I think I can help you." Opens the hood, fixes it, starts right up. Then he introduces himself, "I'm Henry Ford. You see I designed this car. I know all about it and I can fix it when it's broke." It's nice to know in a battle that God is light. He knows everything. Maybe in the battle you're being accused falsely by a fried or a relative. They don't understand you. It's frustrating, "If they only knew my heart and my intentions, they'd never say that." Isn't it great to know that God knows the situation. He knows all about it. You don't have to vindicate or justify yourself. God knows. He is light. "Yeah, but they're saying this about me." Louis Perry Shafer said, "Secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven." God knows all about the situation, He is light.

Also, light morally speaks of the holiness of God. When you think of light, you think of something pure, something spotless. That's why brides at weddings don't wear black gowns, they wear white. The idea originally is purity, spotlessness, I've saved myself for this occasion and for this man. That's why in the old Westerns, good guys wore white hats. They're the winners, spotless, pure. And so John once again says, "God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. He's pure, he's spotless. When God calls us to himself, the Bible puts it this way, "He's called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

When we are in a battle, it's helpful for us to realize that there is a moral issue. When it's a spiritual battle, it's not just flesh against flesh, flesh and blood against flesh and blood, David against Saul, but there's a spiritual element here. A spiritual attack of the devil against God who is light. And God as light dispels darkness. So God is light.

Next he says, "He is my light and my salvation, or deliverance, or rescue. It might interest you to know that the same root word for Jesus is the same word as salvation. The word here salvation is yesha in Hebrew. Of course we know the Hebrew words for Jesus is yeshua. And you could literally translate this, the Lord is my light and my yeshua. What a deliverer He is, going to the cross to deliver us from sin two thousand years ago.

Then David said, "He is the strength of my life. Or, here's a better way to look at it, the Lord is my strong fortress. That's the idea, He is the object that protects me. You know if you're ever in a battle, it's great to have some shelter, right? Bullets are flying, arrows are flying, spears are coming at you. Instead of saying, "Come on," to have something to protect you, to surround you. Here's David's point: I'm in a battle. I'm weak, You're strong. I'm vulnerable, you are powerful. And you know what? It's okay to admit that. You want victory in your spiritual battles? Admit you're weak. Admit you need a deliverer. Admit that you need a strong tower. You want to be burnt toast in a battle? Say, "Come on devil, I can take you. Just you and me, right here, right now."

When Hudson Taylor, the great missionary from China, came back to England when his years were worn and he was old, he gave the secret using him so powerfully. He said, "God chose me because I was weak enough." He went on, "God does not do great works by large committees. He trains someone to be quiet enough and little enough and then He uses them." So David admitted it, "Lord, I'm in a battle, but you're light. You know everything that's going on, You're glorious, You're powerful, You're morally pure, You are my deliverer. You are my strong tower. I need that because I'm weak." So, confidence in God, first principle.

Secondly, reverence for God. Verse 4, "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. To behold the beauty of the Lord, to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble, he shall hide me in his pavilion. In the secret place of his tabernacle, he shall hide me. He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me. Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle. I will sing, yes I will sing praises to the Lord. Hear oh Lord when I cry with my voice. Have mercy also on me and answer me." Now, it's the next logical step, if I have confidence in God to express it by reverence for God. You know if I'm going to say, "You know I face battles, God is my strength," it only makes sense in the battle to show that by praying to him, by worshipping him, and as David said, 'Singing praises to the Lord.' Jesus gave a parable that men ought always to pray and not to what? Faint. Men ought always to pray and not to faint. It seems that in a battle, soldiers get discouraged, the get beat up. And in our battle with Satan, it's either, there's only one of two options: you either pray or faint. Because he is unrelenting. And so this reverence for God is the next step. David does that. You know folks, just because you have a great commanding officer in Jesus Christ in spiritual battles doesn't mean you're detached. You have to be engaged and you get engaged by prayer and by worship. F. B. Meyer said, "The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, it's unoffered prayer. How many times have you caught yourself in the heat of the battle and you go, "I didn't even pray yet. And I've gotten this far and haven't even bounced this off of God yet."

Battles are often won before any shots are fired. Sometimes battles are won in war rooms, the strategies of generals as they plot their attack. And I think spiritually it's the same way. Public victories are the result of private visits with the Lord. David is drawing near to the Lord in these verses. Just like Jesus, as he's facing the battle of the cross, talk about a battle, for the souls of the world. He's in the Garden of Gethsemane and in Luke 22 we read, "And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly." You become engaged and victorious by prayer.

Even Paul the apostle, he talks about our warfare and he says, "You've got the helmet of salvation, you've got the belt of truth. And put all these pieces of armor on," Ephesians 6. "And praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end, with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." That's part of warfare, prayer. So if you were to ask me, "Well why should I pray?" Because there's a devil, that's why. "And he roams around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. So, in the context of spiritual warfare, we talk to God, we engage.

Now, I just want to point something out. Every time we read about spiritual warfare, there's always this element of prayer that is involved. And Paul mentions it here, "Praying always." We're told to talk to God in spiritual warfare, not the devil. So, for the life of me, I don't know why in some quote unquote "Spiritual warfare" meetings, people will stand up and say, "I address the devil and all of his demons, I command you, I bind you..." You know, like you're giving him your name, rank, serial number and family history. Why both even talking to him at all? That's bogus. Talk to God. Use all of the words and energy that you would spend on this on talking to the Lord in prayer. Didn't James say, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Not, carry on prolonged conversations with the devil. Show him that you're really boss. Just pray, just resist the devil. Draw near to God. And the Bible says Satan will flee from you.

In London in World War II when London was being bombarded with bombs from the Germans and people were scared, there was an element of fear. One church put out a sign, "If your knees knock, kneel on them." Good counsel in warfare. We get afraid, it's that tendency. Kneel, engage the Lord, prayer, worship. Worship is really the idea in verse 4 when he says, "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, to inquire in his temple." Now this is a word picture. He's speaking about the tabernacle in Jerusalem but he's really using it as a word picture. The idea is, "I want to get so close to you God, I'll bring my sleeping bag and pillow and just sleep right here in church, right in the tabernacle, I don't want to leave. This is the place where I get fed and filled and I want to get as close to you as possible. But the idea is intimacy with God. He says, "I want to behold the beauty of the Lord." I think one of the failures of Christians today is they don't linger long enough to behold the beauty of God. Jesus said, "Abide in me." Maintain a constant, living, ongoing communion. We want to kind of do it like a fast food restaurant, "Yeah, I'll take a quick blessing with fries"...whoosh. How about just beholding his beauty, abiding in Christ. Bruce Larsen said that we can become what he called "gray people" when we fail to do this. You know without color, just gray, just monotoned. No spark, no life, no beauty ourselves. But when we behold His beauty, it adds color to our lives. So, reverence for God after confidence in God.

Before we move on thought, I want you to look at verse 4 again. And notice this little phrase, "One thing I have desired of the Lord." Now any time somebody says, "This is the one thing I'm going to ask God..." I think it's important to look at that, especially in the Bible. David is kind of saying, "The one thing I want from God is this." We might have a list. "Well I have about 38 things I want from God." David says, "There's one." In other words, he has a passion. He has a narrow focus and pursues with a single mind emphatically this thing. Let me read this verse to you in the Amplified Bible. "One thing I've asked of the Lord, that will I seek after, enquire and insistently require."

Now, it's interesting to follow that little phrase "one thing" throughout the Bible. Remember when Jesus was at the house of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. And Martha is up doing her thing. She's working hard, cleaning up the house, straightening everything up, doing her little Type A personality dance. And, Mary is just sitting on the floor, listening to Jesus, soaking everything she can in. And Martha gets ticked off and comes to Jesus and says, "Listen, tell Mary to get up and help me, I'm doing all the work." Jesus said, "Martha, you are distracted by so many things but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen the better part which won't be taken away from her." "You're distracted by many things but there's one thing you've left out, the most important thing, hanging out with me." Then there was the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked an interesting question, "Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus, in so many words, said, "Keep all the commandments." And then he boasted, "Well I have." Really? "Yeah, I've kept all of them from my youth, I've kept every one of them." Jesus said, One thing you lack, sell everything, give it to the poor and follow me." What he was doing was narrowing down his focus to, "How devoted are you really? Where is your passion?" then there was Paul the apostle in Philippians who talks about his life and he said, "This one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, I reach for the things which are before, I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus." All of them speaking about one solid singular passion: to have intimacy with God.

Do you have this singular, clear vision? Or, do you have a double vision? One of our greatest dangers is allowing the important things in life to be swallowed by the urgent things in life. "oh, but it's so urgent, I've got to do this." Yeah, but is it really in the scale of life and eternity important? That can often and easily happen. I think the secret of progress, either spiritually or in any realm, secularly for that reason, is to pursue one thing. Instead of to be the jack of all trades, the master of none, is to be pursue one thing. When you heard the name Tiger Woods, do you think, "oh yeah, baseball, basketball, hockey." You think, "Golf." I don't know that he's good at basketball, hockey, or any, baseball. But I know he's great at golf. You know why? That's all he's done. He has concentrated on one thing, not thirteen. One thing. His aim was golf. Doctors in medicine any more specialize in one particular field. I think of Billy Graham, what an evangelist. What a lover of souls and a winner of souls. Twenty-two different cities offered Billy Graham land an building free of charge if he would establish a university and preside as the president over it. He turned them down. The reason is this, he said, "I hope you'll come." No, he said this, "I believe it would be a great diversion from my preaching and worldwide crusade." God hasn't called me to do that, He's called me to do this, He's called me to preach to gospel. And I guess he's done a pretty good job at it, wouldn't you say? Millions of people that have come to Christ because he's kept a singular vision.

Now the results of a singular devotion and reverence for Christ is found in verse 6. David said, "Now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me. Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle. I will wing, yes I will sing praises to the Lord." When we lift our eyes to Him, singularly, He will lift our heads above our enemies. You see, a bowed head was a sign of defeat, a lifted head was a sign of victory. Psalm 3, David said, "You are the lifter of my head." So if I have confidence in God and reverence for God as I express my confidence, I'm going to be stable, I'm going to be rooted whenever I go through a spiritual battle. It's going to give me some footing in that time.

In trials, in battles, our perspective changes. You know, we're men and women of faith, "I love God, I trust God, no problem." And then the clouds roll in, the battle looms over us. We don't see or feel God like we should and we think, "I wonder if my theology is right?" Our perspective changes. You know, it's sort of like this: in photography, if you wanted to photograph a building and you put a wide angle lens on your camera and you move close enough to that building, you take that picture. It looks like that building looms over you, almost bends over you. And anything in the background, it's way way in the background, it's minimized. But if you wanted to photograph that same building by taking several steps back and putting on a telephoto lens, you not only get the building but the background by the telephoto is brought in and looks a lot bigger. And so often we're so close to our problems, we've got that little wide angle look and that problem is bending over us. And God says, "Take a few steps back. Put on that spiritual telephoto lens and get some perspective here. Bring Me, the background, into the foreground and look how small that problem is compared to me.

David does that. Confidence in God, reverence for God. The third great truth here is obedience to God. Verse 8, "When you said, 'Seek My face,' my heart said to You, Your face Lord I will seek. Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger. You have been my help, do not leave me or forsake me, oh my God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me. Teach me your way, oh Lord. Lead me in a smooth path because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries. For false witnesses have risen against me and such as breathe out violence." You know because of the overwhelming nature of battles, we neglect step one and two, we forget about confidence in God and reverence for God. As I said, we're often in the battle and we think, "I haven't even prayed yet." And so often the Holy Spirit is faithful to remind us, "Seek Me, seek My face." He'll, in the midst of the battle, tap on our hearts. And we'll go, "Oh yeah." So what's your response? You know, I think the interesting spiritual truth here is this: When God speaks to your heart, be sensitive to do it now, immediately. When you said, "Seek My face," I didn't say, "Well I'm busy today but next Tuesday at 3:30 I'll put it in my Daytimer." My heat said, "your face Lord will I seek." There was this immediate compliance and obedience to His word. Didn't Jesus say of the sheep, "The sheep will follow the shepherd for they know his voice." Example: Remember the story of little Samuel who was a boy living in the tabernacle with Eli. And Eli was the older priest and Samuel was asleep one night and God spoke to him. But Samuel didn't know. He just heard this voice, "Samuel. Samuel." He got up, ran over to Eli, woke him up and said, "What do you want?" Eli said, "I didn't call you, I'm sleeping. I've been sawing logs in the next room." So he went to bed and a little while later, "Samuel. Samuel." He gets up and goes to Eli, "What?" Eli said, "Look, I didn't call you (go to bed little kid, no he didn't say that) but he said, "Next time you hear that voice, I bet it's God speaking to you. So you ought to respond. If God is speaking to you, you need to respond do Him." Sure enough, a little while later, "Samuel. Samuel." He gets right up and he says, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." A better translation, "I'm ready to obey." "When You speak, I'm ready for action," that's the idea. "When the Lord said to me, 'Seek my face,' my heart said, 'Your face Lord will I seek." Question: How do you seek the face of God? How do you seek God at all? What does that mean? Well, we can seek God by prayer, we can seek God by reading His word to find out what His will is. We can seek God by responding to what we already know is the will of God in certain areas of our lives. We can seek God by godly counsel, by discipleship, by fasting; there's a number of ways to seek God. I guess my point is this: There's not one single way, so get a hold of every possible thing that will further your spiritual growth. I think that's a good principle. Whatever you need to get a hold of and get into your life and cause you to grow in Christ, go for it.

Listen to this letter, it's from a congregant to his pastor. He had been going through several struggles and he wanted some more help. She he says to his pastor, "Please send me some ammunition. The battle lines are drawn, the trenches are dug. I am not one of those soldiers to be caught shame-faced when the commanding officer returns. When the records is reviewed I want it written that the soldier in question, namely me, after repeatedly disobeying orders and going AWOL during war-time alert finally donned his armor, reported back to the commanding officer, fought courageously and fearlessly without retreating or batting an eye and he hit the enemy with everything he could get his hands on. And inflicted heavy damage in strategic areas to the credit of his patient and forgiving commanding officer." Key phrase: everything he could get his hands on.

What do I need to grow in Christ? What do I need to seek his face:? Whatever you can get your hands on, make that your singular goal: obeying him. When your heart is told by God, seek Him, go for it.

Then there is the fourth great principle of facing spiritual battles. And that's found in verse 14. I call it expectance. David says, "Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart." "Wait," I say "on the Lord." Now I think David's talking to himself. He's exhorting himself what to do. He's done everything else. He's confident in his commanding officer. He is reverent for his commanding officer, he's been in prayer and in worship seeking the face of God. He's been obedient, when God said, "Seek My face," I said, "Okay, go for it, I'll do it." What's left? Wait. Sit in the foxhole. Enjoy the battle. You've done everything, now wait. The idea of wait is this, I will expect now God to do something, I expect an answer and action from God and I'm going to give him some elbow room to do it. Now, I've got to admit to you, I hate that. It's hard for me to wait. I'm an American like you are, I like instant food, instant coffee, instant stuff. God says, "Wait." Why? "Be patient." Okay, give me patience now. Amen. I'm a spiritual activist, I'm not good at waiting. But when you show confidence in God by reverence for God and obedience for God, now there's expectance. You wait on Him. And that's heard for us.

Like the little poem that was written, "As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to mend, I brought my broken dreams to God because he was my friend. But then instead of leaving Him to work in peace alone I hung around and tried to help with ways that were my own. At last I snatched them back and cried, "How can you be so slow." "My child," he said, "What could I do? You never did let go."

Here we are holding onto our problems, "Come on do something about it." "Well, turn it over." "No!" "Well give it to me." "Well, how long will it take?" Turn it over to Him and then leave it with Him, wait on the Lord, be of good courage. He will strengthen your heart. "Wait, I say, on the Lord." Do you know it takes more courage in a battle to wait than to shoot? It takes a lot more courage to just watch and wait for the right strategy than to just go out there and fight. Warriors need to be waiters. Psalm 62 says, "My soul waits silently for God alone. My expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation. He is my defense. I shall not be moved." What battle are you facing today? Family battles. Personal, financial battles.

Can you still sing that little Rwandan girl, in the midst of your battle, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Can you sing in the midst of your battle as David did? I also want to say that there is another battle that maybe you're not even aware of, maybe you're here today and you haven't given your life to Jesus so the whole idea of, "What do you mean battle? Spiritual battle, I don't even know what that is." Well the moment that you give your life to Christ, you'll know that you're in a battle but that you can have victory at the same time. Right now you're just under the sway of the devil. And there's a bigger battle, the battle for your soul, which is bigger than any battle you're going through right now personally. I'm not trying to minimize your own personal trials and struggles. But just to say that, in the midst of that there's a huge battle going on.

Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones who was a physician turned preacher in England. He said, "It was very noticeable what happened during the Spanish civil war in Madrid and Barcelona." He said, "In those two cities, the psychiatric hospitals were filling up. People had neuroses and phobias and anxieties. And they were getting counseled every week and getting treated for all sorts of different things and psychoanalysis every week. Until the day the civil war broke out." He said, "Virtually in one day, all of the hospitals emptied almost instantly. Because now there's a whole new set of fears. The fear of will I have a home when I get back to it? Will my husband live? Will I live to feed my family and my wife? What about my children, will they survive? So, later anxieties dispel the lesser anxieties. They were cured by a greater anxiety, was his point.

I have discovered that when a person realizes the immense spiritual battle that he is in, the other battles seem to take second and third place. Whose winning the battle for your soul? Is Jesus winning that battle? Is He your commanding officer? Is He your captain? Have you turned your life over to Him? Or, are you in waiting mode, "No I haven't really given my life to Jesus yet, I'm still deciding." Well, then the devil's winning that battle. And you're letting him. So I would invite you, strongly, to find true victory by in repentance turning from sin and turning to Jesus Christ today. Let him take your life, He made you, He can handle whatever comes His way if you give it to him. Let Him have your life, watch what He can do with it.

Father, thank you for the principles of warfare, the principles of victory. And thank you for a man like David who was honest enough to so to speak spill his guts and tell us what it's like, what he felt and where the answer lies. And that's why Your word is so precious to us, it doesn't just point out the problems, it gives us the solutions. So Lord, I pray for everyone here this morning, whatever battle they are facing, that they would learn that the battle is the Lord's, express confidence in You, reverence for You, obedience for You and then expectance that You're going to work, to wait on you, to trust. Lord I pray for those who have come this morning who don't yet know You personally, that today would be the watershed of their choices, they would turn to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/8/1997
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What Makes You Happy
Psalm 1
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6/15/1997
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When God Laughs
Psalm 2
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6/22/1997
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Man and His God
Psalm 8
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6/29/1997
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How Firm is Your Foundation?
Psalm 11
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7/6/1997
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How does God Communicate?
Psalm 19
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7/13/1997
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Psalm for a Suffering Savior
Psalm 22
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7/20/1997
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Confessions of a Happy Sheep
Psalm 23:1-3
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7/27/1997
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Follow the Leader
Psalm 23:3-4
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8/10/1997
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Being God's Guest of Honor
Psalm 23:5-6
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8/24/1997
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Happy to be Forgiven
Psalm 32
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One of the greatest feelings there is in life is to have a clear conscience, especially in relationships. The absence of grudges, petty grievances and the open heart of forgiveness brings relief to the soul. Yet many walk around with a guilt complex because of "vertical insecurity"-their relationship with God isn't cleared up. Sins of the past or present remain unconfessed and unforgiven which leads to a heavy conscience due to guilt. David's been there. He knows!
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8/31/1997
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Feeling Down, Looking Up
Psalm 42-43
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"Down in the dumps and singing the blues" is an experience common to us all. Depression is no respecter of persons unless, of course, you live in a perpetual state of managed denial. Thoughts tumble in from the mind and rush the soul. Circumstances mount themselves around us putting us on emotional alert. Then the doubts rush in like a river. Sound familiar? Then this psalm is for you, friend!
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9/7/1997
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How Can I Pray at a Time Like This?
Psalm 59
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One of life's toughest places is in the place of being misunderstood. You've tried to do everything right. You were diligent and pedantic in the way you went about a certain project and then "Wham!"—like a hurricane, the criticism hit you. When you're misunderstood, you have no defense—or do you? Maybe there's a lesson to be learned from someone who has "been there, done that!" Let's see what happens.
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9/14/1997
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When the Tables of Fairness Are Turned
Psalm 73
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What do you do when what you believe is challenged by what you experience? Let me be specific. When evil abounds seemingly without restraint how can you believe in a God who is good? And on a more personal note, what good is it to follow God's plan when those who practice evil seem to be so carefree? Let's read of a spiritual person who also struggled with this.
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9/21/1997
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I've Just Gotta Go to Church
Psalm 84
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Someone once scribbled a little poem about his feelings on church. He put it this way, Every time I pass a church I stop in for a visit, so that when I'm carried in The Lord won't say, "Who is it?" Such sentiments aren't exactly of a person who loved to go to church now, are they? The above author would no doubt have problems with the author of Psalm 84. This guy loved to go to the place of worship—in fact, everything in his being desired it. Why? Let's see!
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9/28/1997
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Life Is Short, Pray Hard!
Psalm 90
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The contemporary Christian band, DC Talk sings, "Time is tickin' away...tick, tick, tickin' away!" Indeed it is. Life is short and uncertain as far as time is concerned. This psalmist understands that truth and in light of it, he utters a prayer that sheds insight on how we should live our lives to their maximum capacity.
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10/12/1997
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How Should I Treat God?
Psalm 100
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How do you treat someone who has loved you consistently and provided for you faithfully? From giving daily blessings to eternal promises, God is pretty awesome to us. The psalmist noted that if we were to number the caring thoughts of God toward us, they would outnumber the earth's sands. How do we treat the One who has treated us so well?
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10/19/1997
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God is Alive and Well
Psalm 115
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Today in postmodern America, spirituality is a smorgasbord of deities. In the mid-1960's a movement flourished that stated "God is dead." Though the movement is itself dead nowadays, it has been replaced by interlopers--gods manufactured by man himself. Paul said "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God." (1 Cor. 8:5-6) The psalmist explains the power of such a truth:
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10/26/1997
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The Power of the Word of God
Psalm 119
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One of the first purchases a new believer makes is a bible. But how important is the Bible to you? Martin Luther once wrote, "The Bible is alive—It speaks to me. It has feet—It runs after me. It has hands— It lays bold of me!" Clearly the writer of this longest psalm would wholeheartedly agree. Do you? What are the benefits the Bible can produce if read and obeyed?
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11/2/1997
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What Do You Want, a House Or a Home?
Psalm 127
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John Henry Jowett must have had Psalm 127 in mind when he wrote, "Anyone can build a house: we need the Lord for the creation of a home." There is a huge difference between the construction of these two: one is built with earthly materials and anxious thoughts while the other is the building of relationships.
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11/9/1997
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United We Stand
Psalm 133
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A proverb from antiquity states, "Weak things united become strong." That applies to weak people as well as weak things. When we are a united front, in regard to spiritual things, we increase our ability to stand against the real enemies that would destroy our souls.
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11/16/1997
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What an Awesome God
Psalm 139:1-18
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We sometimes sing, “Our God is an awesome God...” What is it about Him that makes Him so awesome? To discover this, it helps to think about His attributes. That’s what David does: he thinks about the character of God and then about God’s thoughts towards us.
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11/30/1997
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The Weight of our Words
Psalm 140-141
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Words can bless and they can bite. We all know what it’s like to be around people who have a “colorful” and sharp vocabulary. We also know that the more we’re around that kind of vocabulary, the easier it is to fall into the trap of using it. How do we counter that tendency? These two little psalms will give us some help.
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12/21/1997
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Hallelujah!
Psalm 150
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This is the time of year when believers are often more aware of praising the Lord. We sing Christmas carols and hymns, gather with family and friends, and offer prayers of thanks to the Lord. But the psalmist doesn't indicate that there is a particular season set-aside for praising the Lord. Instead he exhorts us to break out in excitement and praise of the Lord for the great and mighty God He is in all seasons!
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There are 23 additional messages in this series.