Faithlife Sermons

A Holy Refuge Or A Bird In Flight

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Rest In God or Flee A Coward

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Call To Worship Scripture

Psalm 11:1–3 ESV
In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
Psalm 11:4–7 ESV
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

Sermon Scripture

Psalm 12:1-2
Psalm 11:1–3 ESV
In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
Psalm 12:1–2 ESV
Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

Sermon

Psalm 11:1–3 ESV
In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
Over the past month we have seen the need and recognized the battle of godly living. Oh how we need Jesus, to overcome our inborn selfishness, to overcome our twisted world views, to overcome our own how too’s and to truly hear the cry of God lest we be found deaf with our Savior standing right before us.
Let us be clear in this… I am not saying that we sit alone in our homes coniving some way to live selfishly, and purposley coming up with a world view that is in opposition to God’s truth, or that we would label ourselves as intentionally closing our ears to the Words of Christ…what I am saying or rather what scripture is crying out, is that we all like sheep go astray, we all seek our own way - no one is righteous - no one seeks God.
But we must and thus we need God.
We live, just as every generation of believers has amoungst a wicked generation.
As if overcoming self was not enough, living godly is so counter cultural that the war for godliness within becomes numerous battles and trials without.
What do we do?
I believe the Psalmist words hold for us some great spiritual insight and encouragment for living in a godly way in a godless generation.
As a matter of fact the beauty of these two Psalms is that it breaks the survival of the godly down into two words.
Faith - That is trust, this is what you must have and what you must do. It is a faith that is alive and working.
Word - That is the Word of God. The who of who God is and the power of what God has spoken.
If you put those two things together then you have all that you need for the finding and sustaining of life period. But if you have either one without the other, then you have nothing. If you have faith, but not faith in the Word which God has spoken and thus changed you by then your faith is good for nothing, and if you have the Word of God but not the faith to surrender to and live by it then the Word becomes of no benefit to you but rather stands as your judge.
However these two Psalms shed a great light on the wonderful marriage of faith and the Word.
David is the author. David is one who in his life was placed in almost every situation that any believer will come across. Wether rich or poor, thriving at the top or barely hanging on at deaths door, beloved by all or a hunted enemy, faithful child of God or adulteourous, murdering, liar; David faced the trials that come upon believers from various life circumstances.
These Psalms are believed to be during a time at which David was hunted and under persecution from Saul. That is to say Saul wanted David dead. David has “friends” who counsel him to flee, to cower and the Psalm reads:
Psalm 11:1–3 ESV
In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The first temptation in faith is to distrust God. It is what corrupted man in the garden and still seeks to kill you and I today. David states, “In the LORD I take refuge”. .. That is to say, “In God I Trust”
Now in these first three verses David demonstrates the contradiction between the counsel of his peers and taking refuge in the LORD.
Or...
Then word of God shows the contrast in trusting in God and seeking your own preservation
It could be seen here that if David were to flee then he would be found in breach of his duties, that he would be found in cowerdice, perhaps a similar situation to Nehemiah who recieved counsel to escape for his life and found that counsel was given in hope to entrap him.
In the LORD I take refuge…that is to say that I trust in the protection of the LORD.
If this is true, then, “how can you say to my soul, ‘flee like a bird to your mountain’
To opperate in this manner would be to leave the reffuge of the LORD and go to your own mountain.
It would be to say that you have assesed the situation and find the LORD lacking.
As Spurgeon states,
“When Satan cannot overthrow us by presumption, how craftily will he seek to ruin us by distrust! He will employ our dearest friends to argue us out of our confidence, and he will use such plausible logic, that unless we once for all assert our immovable trust in Christ, he will make us like the timid bird which flies to the mountain whenever danger presents itself.”
Listen David puts the case so clearly.
The bird has a refuge, but the counsel of the friends is to leave that refuge to seek another, but what happens when the bird leaves the tree for the mountain? He is exposed. Exposed to what?
“The wicked bend the bow; the arrow is fitted to the string”
In following God the only power that darkness can be given is when the child of God gives credience to the threat and moves in cowerdice rather than trust.
Trusting in God for the preservation of His people had been the foundation of David’s life.
With a sling and a stone He took down Goliath, not by his might but by trust in God.
It is in the Lord that David has taken refuge and listen friends, it is in the Lord that we must take refuge. The word or phrase for refuge here gives the idea of fleeing to. Thus David cannot flee to the Lord and flee to the mountain. If David and if we flee from the Lord to another, then as David puts it:
“If the foundationas are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
In the foundation of the Lord the righteous have a stregnth, but as the righteous cease to abide in the Lord then their stregnth is God, and they become vulnerable to the assults of the enemy.
However, “What can the righteous do?” when in the Lord becomes, “what cannot they do?”
When prayer is given the open door to God and we engage Him as on our side, and our faith stands us upon the foundations of His promises then we have no cause to flee.
We do not flee from the Lord. This is beautifully demonstrated by Ann Askew who was burned at Smithfield in 1546. Listen to what she wrote and sang:
“Like as the armed knight Appointed to the field, With this world will I fight And Faith shall be my shield.
Faith is that weapon strong Which will not fail at need. My foes, therefore, among Therewith will I proceed.
As it is had in strength And force of Christes way It will prevail at length Though all the devils say nay.
Faith in the fathers old Obtained rightwisness Which make me very bold To fear no world's distress.
I now rejoice in heart And Hope bid me do so For Christ will take my part And ease me of my woe.
Thou saist, lord, who so knock, To them wilt thou attend. Undo, therefore, the lock And thy strong power send.
More enmyes now I have Than hairs upon my head. Let them not me deprave But fight thou in my stead.
On thee my care I cast. For all their cruel spight I set not by their haste For thou art my delight.
I am not she that list My anchor to let fall For every drizzling mist My ship substancial.
Not oft use I to wright In prose nor yet in rime, Yet will I shew one sight That I saw in my time.
I saw a rial throne Where Justice should have sit But in her stead was one Of moody cruel wit.
Absorpt was rightwisness As of the raging flood Sathan in his excess Suct up the guiltless blood.
Then thought I, Jesus lord, When thou shalt judge us all Hard is it to record On these men what will fall.
Yet lord, I thee desire For that they do to me Let them not taste the hire Of their iniquity. “
Psalm 11:4–7 ESV
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.
Here is the question: what place does the throne of God have in your life?
Do you recognize the mystery, supremacy, purity, everlastingness, invisibility, justice…of the throne of God?
This is why verse 3 emphasises the necessary foundations and as such the preaching and proclamation of those foundations.
How often in our flight do we forget the ever seeing eyes, the ever working power of the invisible God. There is a mystery to His works and a needed trust if we are to know His refuge. God test the righteous to see that they truly do abide on Him and not just rest on branches while looking for another place to reside.
“Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross;
But the Saviour’s power to know,
Sanctifying every loss.
Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet
Lay me low, and keep me there.
Did I meet no trials here
No chastisement by the way
Might I not, with reason, fear
I should prove a cast-away!
Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly vain delight;
But the trur-born child of God
Must not-would not, if he might.” - William Cowper.
Distrust in God and his promises is most noticibly made known in sin. In the sin of seeking self of loving whatever pathway to get there.
To seek to trust God and practice His righteousness is to seek to walk in a beloved attribute of God and in doing this, the beauty of the presence of God becomes wonderfully known to the righteous, in such a way that the righteous and wicked will never know.
But how does one remain faithful or what does he trust in or move by or obey as exersise of that trust? How does one move out of walking by their own wickedness and into living by and abiding in righteousness of God?
will demonstrate:
Psalm 12:
Psalm 12:1–2 ESV
Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
HELP, LORD.
Perhaps no sweeter, no more honest prayer for the righteous man to abide in than, HELP, LORD. While the cry of the friends is to become ones own help, the cry of the righteous is to humble themselves before God. Help Lord, I know not how to move or where to move or more rightly…I know not how to remain, not how to be content, not how to survive.
The normal state of the faithful is lonliness or at least the appearance of being outnumbered.
The wicked or unfaithful generations are identified by:
1. Lies to his neighbor - they rest not on the foundation of God but rather speak lies to each other to build up their own vanity. The lies are seeped in flattery.
Flattering Lips
2. Flattering Lips - Arrogance causes lips to lie and ears to recieve the lies.
3. Double hearts leading speech - The flattery, the talk is not so the neighbor feels good but to advance ones own cause.
Listen to this from Spurgeon:
“He who puffs up another’s heart, has nothing better than wind in his own. If a man extols me to my face; he only shows me one side of his heart, and the other is black with contempt for me, or foul with intent to cheat me. Flattery is th sign of the tavern where duplicity is the host. “
Nothing is more devious than the flatterer.
Amoungst a wicked generation, where everyone is left seeking help but knowing not where from and everyone is left not knowing who to trust, then flattery and lies becomes the montra of a generation. Do whats right for you, run to that mountain, you can have it all becomes the cries of the neighbor that if believed lead you out of the foundation of God and into the open air whereby the arrows of Satan will find you as you fall from the sky amist your cowerdly flight to the top…and if you should make it even to the top of the mountain how quickly you will find that you have no covering and sit as an open target for a great fall.
Psalm 12:3–4 ESV
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
To all those who where the name Christian and yet speak with lips giving lordship to ones own self, the LORD Himself will cut you off.
We flatter ourselves, we say that we are good, we say that we have good intentions, we say that we are free, we say that we can have it all and eventually what we say in the midst of applying all such nonsense is “who is master over me”? We have fallen prey to flattery to thinking that we are more than what we are.
Somewhere down the line even within the church the Christian has seen fit to tell themselves that they are LORD of their own life. That they are free to decide what to do, where to go, how to live, how to spend their money, how to pursue a job, how to run a house, how to do this and that with no applicable consequence or no relation to where or who they are abiding in.
There is a great contrast between saying “Help Lord” and saying “who is master over us”?
And your actions demonstrate one of these two beliefs.
The Lord loves the humble of heart but despises the proud and the Psalmist continues:
Psalm 12:5 ESV
“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
Psalm 12:
We need not take flight, we need not arise upon our own strength, but from our groaning, from a faithful child’s, “Help LORD”...
God arises and God places him in the saftey for which he longs.
It’s a crying infant lifted into the care of their fathers arms.
Church this is what I am telling you from the Word of God:
If you want to move yourself, if you want to go where you want for whatever purpose you determine and you feel justified by your many neighbors who applaud you, then know that you fly only on the winged lies of flattery and from the protection of God you are cutting yourself off.
However, if you want to know what it is to be lifted from the trials of life and guided through life by the hands of God and to know the assurance that you have so longed for then in faith in the Word you only need to cry out HELP LORD and wait. The Lord is on His way.
Psalm 12:6–7 ESV
The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. You, O Lord, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.
Psalm 12:
The contrast is between the flattering words/lies of man and the pure word of God. God speaks to give you truth, truth that is so true, it is as though it has been purified seven times. That is there is no corruption to be found within the words, they are perfectuly pure, perfectly true.
And get this…the “how will I make it”, “who will I be” question of our lives becomes “The Lord Will keep Me.”
But keep you from what? From the corrupt generation. He will keep you from the flattery, from the lies, from the double hearts. The Lord will make your paths straight. This is a supernatural beauty and phenominon to have lived out in your life.
To fall into the hands of an evil generation is to be bated by their flattery.
Please please please here me, for we are all being baited. This generation is telling you lies, flattering you with what you can have, with comforts that will be destroyed. We do not live by what we get, by what we do, but rather as believers we live upon two words, “Thou shalt” and indeed He shall.
Psalm 12:8 ESV
On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
Psalm 12:8
Now we return to what perhaps you shall each see in attempted application. You go to apply righteousness in life and you see wickedness all around. You see the survival of the righteous shakey at best in this world where wicedness is exalted. It is here, that though our sight is unnerved by what we see, we in faith meet the evils of the times with a spirit of holy resolution, and with full faith in the Words of Christ, all the more hopefully pray, “HELP LORD.” -Amen.
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