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Grace for Dark Times (Psalm 25)

The Head and The Heart  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro:

Have you ever wondered what the will of God is on your life? Or have you ever struggled with making decisions because you know that decision will affect not only you but your family and those around you? Have you ever just wanted guidance from God? Especially during times of difficulty?
Columbia researcher Sheena Iyengar has found that the average person makes about 70 decisions every day. That's 25,500 decisions a year. Over 70 years, that's 1,788,500 decisions. [The 20th century philosopher] Albert Camus said, "Life is a sum of all your choices." You put all of those 1,788,500 choices together, and that's who you are.
As believers in Jesus we want Him to be at the center of our decision making. Today we are looking at so if you have your Bibles you can go ahead and turn them there.
So this message this morning is mostly directed toward those of us who have trusted Jesus and have believed the gospel. Those of us who aim to make the counsel of Jesus decisive in our decision making process in our everyday lives. People like David… the man who wrote this Psalm that we are about to read. David didn’t have an easy life and i’m pretty sure that most of you can relate to that.
Being an adult is hard and it just gets harder once you add a spouse and kids and a house and insurances… add living a Christian life on top of all that… it is hard.
As Christians, it is our desire to please Jesus in every aspect of our lives. We want to know God’s ways… we want to know the path that he wants us on. We want to make the right decisions when it comes to:
Sermons from John Piper (1980–1989) The Goodness of God and the Guidance of Sinners

• In what you watch on TV,

• what job you take,

• whom you marry or whether you marry,

• how you spend your leisure time,

• what courses to take,

• where to live,

• what kind of car to drive,

• how much to eat,

• how to dress,

• how to pray and read the Bible, and

• what sort of sanctuary to build at Bethlehem

And although I’m speaking to mainly believers in Jesus this morning, if that is not you, let me just urge you to listen and consider Jesus and what life with Jesus is like. John Piper said,
Sermons from John Piper (1980–1989) The Goodness of God and the Guidance of Sinners

it may suddenly seem reasonable that to put your own wisdom above the wisdom of God in the choices of your everyday life is not only an insult to him but suicide for you. The only way to salvation is trust in the true God, not an imaginary half-god who offers merciful forgiveness and unacceptable advice.

So with all that said, let’s look at and consider the Word of the Lord for our lives this morning...

Teach Me Your Paths

25  OF DAVID.

1  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

2  O my God, in you I trust;

let me not be put to shame;

let not my enemies exult over me.

3  Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;

they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

4  Make me to know your ways, O LORD;

teach me your paths.

5  Lead me in your truth and teach me,

for you are the God of my salvation;

for you I wait all the day long.

6  Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,

for they have been from of old.

7  Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;

according to your steadfast love remember me,

for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!

8  Good and upright is the LORD;

therefore he instructs sinners in the way.

9  He leads the humble in what is right,

and teaches the humble his way.

10  All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,

for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

11  For your name’s sake, O LORD,

pardon my guilt, for it is great.

12  Who is the man who fears the LORD?

Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.

13  His soul shall abide in well-being,

and his offspring shall inherit the land.

14  The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,

and he makes known to them his covenant.

15  My eyes are ever toward the LORD,

for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16  Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted.

17  The troubles of my heart are enlarged;

bring me out of my distresses.

18  Consider my affliction and my trouble,

and forgive all my sins.

19  Consider how many are my foes,

and with what violent hatred they hate me.

20  Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!

Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

21  May integrity and uprightness preserve me,

for I wait for you.

22  Redeem Israel, O God,

out of all his troubles.

This is the Word of the Lord Let’s Pray
There is a lot that is going on here. As I said a little earlier, this Psalm was written by David. David experienced a lot of fear, loneliness, guilt, and confusion in his life.
There are a couple of things that I want us to look at from this text this morning and this is the first thing:

Point I: We will have enemies in this life.

It is believed that David wrote this Psalm later in life when he was literally surrounded by people who wanted him dead. Obviously we can’t be totally sure about when in David’s life he wrote this Psalm but it is believed by many scholars and commentators that he wrote this after his sin with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Urriah the Hittite.. those events led to his own son Absalom leading a revolt against his father to take over the throne in Israel.
We can assume this because of David’s frequent mention of his sin.
David’s situation is not going too well.
He has enemies that want nothing more than to see him dead (vv. 2-3). They are many in number and they hate David (v. 19). They have gained the advantage over David, because he describes his feet as already caught in their net (25:15). David feels lonely and afflicted, and his troubles are growing worse, not better (vv. 16-17). And, David’s repeated requests for God to teach him (vv. 4-5, 8-9, 12, 14) imply that he is confused in the midst of this mess.
David is experiencing a difficult time. And here’s the thing… He’s not a young man anymore. He’s not a new believer in the things of God. He’s older now. Why is this important to note? Because no matter how long you walk with God you will always experience hardship and difficult times.
Being a Christian… believing the gospel doesn’t exempt you from bad things happening to you. In fact, Jesus said it will make you life harder. Peter wrote about this in his first epistle. He said in 1 peter 4 :12,

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.

He was writing to the church at a time when Christians were being accused of ridiculous things and being put in jail and even being murdered. Cornelius Tacitus (c. 56 – c. 120 AD) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. He wrote in one of his histories about how Christians were treated by Emperor Nero at the time that Peter wrote to not be surprised by fiery trials as if they were unusual...
Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
Talk about fiery trials… Christians were literally used for illumination after the sun went down by being strung to a post and lit on fire.
Now you may not be going through anything like that.. i really hope you aren’t… you may not have enemies hunting you down wanting to take your life… but you will still have trials and difficult times in your life.
You might have unbelieving friends or family members who would like nothing more than you to give up your faith in Jesus. Like these enemies that are hunting down David there could be people in your life that aren’t too happy with your decision to follow Christ.
Stand firm in these words from Jesus...

11 “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Don’t be discouraged by this. Rejoice Jesus says! We are counted worthy of being mistreated because Jesus was mistreated. And there is a reward waiting for us in the Kingdom of God.
We all go through trials and difficult times. Things like bombing tests or losing a job are realities in our lives. More serious things like our families falling apart… you know, our parents splitting up… or a relationship with a girlfriend, boyfriend, or even a best friend falling apart… these things can happen to all of us.
And then we have the enemy… the Devil… working to see us fall and stumble by tempting us with sin.
Maybe the enemy that is hunting you down is lust. You try so hard every day to fight it but it just creeps around the corner and overtakes you. You don‘t want to look at those websites but you always lose the battle. You’re in an unhealthy relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend and it is based solely on the physical. On having sex outside with someone that you are not married to.
Whether you are the victim or someone else’s lust or you are the one taking advantage of someone else...
Or maybe you struggle with arrogance and pride… or greed.
We will have difficult times while we are in these bodies. We will have enemies that want to see us fall.
And sometimes the trials and difficulties are brought on by our own sin and shortcomings.
In verse 7 he prays, “Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions.” Apparently his troubles later in life brought up in his mind the sins that he had committed in earlier in his life. In verse 8, he refers to himself as a sinner. In verse 11, he again cries out, “For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” In verse 18, he again asks the Lord, “forgive all my sins.”
Which leads to the second thing that I want us to take away from this Psalm this morning and that is this...

Point II: The proper response to difficult times

David’s response to these difficult times isn’t giving up his faith or even making excuses for why he is experiencing what he’s experiencing.
Sometimes the difficulty that we face is brought on by our own sin and sometimes its brought on by the sins of others. What is the proper way to respond to these circumstances?
Look at the example of David. I kind of gave you a summary of what he is going through before. David was messed up. He’s king in Israel and he is God’s man during this time in redemptive history but that doesn’t mean that he is without fault.
While his men are out to battle in 2 Samuel chapter 11, he hangs back instead of going to battle like he should. While he is home he sees a beautiful woman from his window bathing and he can’t control himself. He gets her pregnant and in a plot to hide his sin from everyone, he has her husband (who was one of his most loyal men) sent to the frontlines so that he can be killed and David can take his wife as his own.
So not only is he hiding his sin but he is making himself look like a hero by taking in a poor widow.
Fast forward to , David’s daughter Tamar is raped. This makes David angry but he does nothing about. This makes his son Absolam angry and so he murders the dude that raped his sister and conspires to go after the throne for himself and to kill his own father.
And this is when we believe David wrote this Psalm. Charles Spurgeon agrees with that so I think it‘s a safe assumption. The point is, David made some really serious mistakes. He sinned some big sins. But God never gave up on him.
You know that sin that you keep falling to? Is your first response to hide from God or is it to run to him bcause he is a God who is incredibly gracious.
Look at verse 4 of ...
vMake me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your wtruth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your xmercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
yfor they have been from of old.
7 Remember not zthe sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your asteadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
Whether you are suffering because of your own sins or you‘re suffering because of the sins committed against you… you’re response should be the same… seeking God for forgiveness and for guidance.
Have you ever been in such a low point in your life that you feel like God just has stop caring about you… you know, that low, low spot where you don’t know what you’re going to do.
This is David’s lowest point in his life. Can you imagine the failure he must feel? Or the betrayal Of his own flesh and blood seeking his life? David prays during probably the lowest moment of his life.
This Psalm is filled with prayer. It begins with prayer in verses 1-7… there is a prayer in the middle in verse 11… and he ends with prayer in verses 15-19.
Your first instinct when things are difficult should be prayer. It’s not just something you do as a last resort because you exhausted all of your options.
Sometimes prayer is the hardest thing to do. A lot of times we blame God for the things that are going on in our life when these things should drive us to our knees begging him to work in us. He won‘t always change our circumstance but he will work in you because he will never let you go through something you can’t bear. And if it seems like it is too much to bear well then lean all the more on Jesus.
So we can break this Psalm up into three sections of application for us for when we are going through dark and difficult times. The first thing we do is we...

Pray for guidance and wisdom

When you don’t know what to do ask the Lord for guidance. For direction and wisdom. Verse 4 and 5.
4 vMake me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your wtruth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
Make me to know your ways because if you don’t help me… I will be lost. We need God to lead us. A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Barry taught on .... that Psalm describes the Lord like a Shepherd that leads his sheep through difficulty and into green pastures. Without our shepherd we are lost.
There are promises in the Bible concerning asking God for wisdom. James says in his Epistle...
5 jIf any of you lacks wisdom, klet him ask God, lwho gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But mlet him ask in faith, nwith no doubting, for the one who doubts is like oa wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 phe is a double-minded man, qunstable in all his ways.
Ask God for wisdom with absolute faith that he will give it and he will.
says The heart of man plans his way,
but zthe Lord establishes his steps.
We can make plans with our life but it is God that gives us direction and wisdom to get there.
So ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance and he will give it to you freely. This is the second point of application out of this Psalm...

Meditate on God’s Goodness

This is something that could really help us especially today when all we here on the news is bad things and fear mongering. We are bombarded daily with bad news from CNN and Fox, weather and traffic reports, creditors and doctors, bosses and busybodies, foes and friends alike. In such an atmosphere it is often difficult to maintain a hopeful, thankful heart. As a result it is all too easy to fall prey to fear and worry about our life and our future; and often we succumb to a negative and complaining attitude.
Look at verses 8-10...
bGood and upright is the Lord;
therefore he cinstructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are dsteadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
Do you have a right understanding of who God is? Of his character and the way he works?
John Calvin wrote in his commentary...
Pausing for a little, as it were in the prosecution of his prayer, he exercises his thoughts in meditation upon the goodness of God, that he may return with renewed ardour to prayer...David, therefore, desirous to encourage himself to perseverance, speaks to himself, and affirms that God is good and upright, that, gathering new strength by meditating on this truth, he may return with the more alacrity to prayer.
This really is the anitdote to constant discouragement that many of us expierience. Meditate… or think on… the goodness of God.
He really is good. Even though you might fall over and over again he is waiting to offer you forgiveness and a new start. This causes us to want to fight our own sin… to fight against temptations that try to bring us down.
Like praying can be hard during difficult times… this can be hard too But believe me it will change your perspective because again we can strat to question God’s goodness for allowing such hard times to happen to us.
Sometimes the Lord let’s us go through times of suffering and hardship for our good. This can be difficult to grasp but listen to
6 For hthe Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. iGod is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
3 dConsider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or efainthearted.
The writer of Hebrews is saying consider Jesus. If anyone can identify with our struggles and with our sufferings it is Jesus. He did nothing to deserve the suffering he went through yet he endured. Listen to the next verses in Hebrews 12...
4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
f“My son, gdo not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For hthe Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. iGod is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, jin which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
What this means is that when we are in the midst of being surrounded by enemies and temptations that want to see us destroyed… when we are sinned against… think on the goodness of God as that of a Father. Because he loves you like a good father loves his kids.
With Lydia, we recently made the transition from a crip to a big girl bed. One thing you will learn when you become parents is changing bedtime routine is one of the most challenging parts of parenthood But it’s got to be done. The biggest struggle that we have is Lydia will wake up in the middle ofthe night multiple times and come into our room wanting some milk and to get in our bed.
Because we love her we have to discipline her. Tell her no she can’t have more milk and no she can’t get in our bed. And that if she gets out of bed again she’s going to be in trouble.From her perspective we are evil evil people that just want to be mean but if we don’t train her to sleep alone in her big girl bed she will never learn.
It’s the same with God. He disciplines us because he loves us. I’m not saying that he causes all the evil in your life and Scripture teaches that God does not tempt you to sin but he is disciplining you through it to mature you and to grow you more toward godliness.
So the next time you are tempted with something like lust think upon God’s goodness and fight it. John Piper says to wage war with your sins! Remember what the Apostle Paul said in ?
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. wGod is faithful, and xhe will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
God doesn’t cause temptation but he won’t allow you to be tempted with something that you can’t fight against.
So these points of application from this Psalm for when you are going to dark and difficult times are 1. Wait for Guidance from the Lord. 2. Meditate upon the Goodness of God. and this is the last thing...

Plead for Grace and Deliverance

Now this may seem similar to asking for guidance because guidance is a grace from God but look at verse 16-22 of ...
16 mTurn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 nConsider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
oLet me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 pRedeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.
While we are asking for wisdom and guidance from God and meditating on the goodness of God… his discipline and all that… It’s ok to ask the Lord for deliverance.
There is no deliverance apart from the working of the Lord. Back to David’s story… David is eventually delivered and restored to the throne of Israel but it was through a lot of pain and heartache. His son was killed in battle and he went through a depression that he had to repent of but God delivered him.
We like missionary stories here. I read the story of a mission by the name of John Paton.
John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave.
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present—but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station.
He was literally surrounded by enemies that wanted him dead but the Lord delivered him.
We can endure suffering and trial because of Jesus! The writer of Hebrews tells us,
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
And when we believe in Jesus he gives us the Holy Spirit to not only empower us for mission but also to empower us to live in this fallen world without despair.
What do you need deliverance from this morning? Maybe it’s a habitual sin. Maybe it’s an illness. Or maybe it’s from the temptation to give up your faith because of the lack of support you get from your friends and families.
As we stand and get ready to worship the Lord once again through song… use this time to ask him for wisdom and guidance… reflect upon the goodness of God. How he has already blessed you and called you out of your sinful dead state… and how the world considers you worthy of being mistreated the same way our Master was. And ask him for grace to be delivered from sin and the enemy and to have grace to suffer well for his namesake.
The Gospel Transformation Bible says this about and I think that it is important. Listen to this.
the child of God needs protection from enemies, because their mockery is cruel and their treachery is unpredictable (vv. 1–3, 19). Emotional dangers also warrant God’s help (vv. 16–17). But God’s people also need refuge from the less obvious enemies of their own sinful and dishonest hearts (v. 21). That relief can be supplied only by a gracious God who forgives sins (vv. 16, 18). Forgiveness is not conditioned on dutiful service or sacrifices (Heb. 7:27); it is based entirely on God’s own “steadfast love” (Ps. 25:6–7).
This love ultimately came to expression in Christ, who was broken because sinners broke the covenant (Matt. 26:26). The main distinction David sees between the believer and the unbeliever is instruction, another facet of salvation (Ps. 25:5; John 14:26). God’s children prosper as they pursue a long obedience to God’s truth (Ps. 25:4–5, 8–10; John 3:36).
“it may suddenly seem reasonable that to put your own wisdom above the wisdom of God in the choices of your everyday life is not only an insult to him but suicide for you. The only way to salvation is trust in the true God, not an imaginary half-god who offers merciful forgiveness and unacceptable advice.“
If you are not a believe today… Consider Jesus. You don’t have to go through difficulty alone anymore. You don’t have to lean on your own wisdom and experience. Place your faith and Jesus. He will change your life and the way that you face trying times.
Let’s pray andthen we will worship together.
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