Faithlife Sermons

God's Grace

A Summer in the Psalms   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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In many cases, the process by which someone finds salvation in the Lord Jesus is a long and difficult process. We’ve all heard testimonies from people who, at one time, willingly lived terrible lifestyles and made horrible choices. Those same people eventually suffered the consequences of their decisions and hit rock bottom. At their lowest point in life and in an act of desperation, they called out for God to rescue them, and out of love, mercy, and grace He responded and did just that.
In 1978, Velma Barfield was a woman from rural North Carolina who was charged with the first degree murder of four people, including her mother and fiance. She never denied her guilt, but told the chilling story of her drug-dazed life, beginning with the tranquilizers which were prescribed following a painful injury.
She was taken to prison and confined in a cell by herself. One night the guard tuned into a twenty-four-hour gospel station. Down the gray hall, desperate and alone in her cell, Velma heard the words of an evangelist and allowed Jesus Christ to enter her life. Her conversion was genuine. For six years on death row she ministered to many of her cellmates. The outside world began to hear about Velma Barfield and her remarkable regeneration.
Velma became pen pals with a Pastor’s wife named Ruth and a real friendship developed between them. In one letter Ruth wrote to Velma, "God has turned your cell on Death Row into a most unusual pulpit. There are people who will listen to what you have to say because of where you are. When I compare the dreariness, isolation, and difficulty of your cell to the glory that lies ahead of you, I could wish for your sake that God would say, 'Come on Home.'"
Before her sentence was carried out, Velma wrote to Ruth: "If I am executed on August 31, I know the Lord will give me dying grace, just as He gave me saving grace, and has given me living grace." On the night she was executed, Ruth and her husband knelt together and prayed for Velma until they knew she was safe in Glory.
At Velma’s memorial service, the Pastor said, "She died with dignity and she died with purpose. Velma is a living demonstration of "by the grace of God you shall be saved.'"
Psalm 6 is known as a Psalm of lament. A lament, is a “passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” A Psalm of Lament is characterized by the fact that David is anguishing over his sins, but finds hope God’s grace and mercy. One writer sums this Psalm up like this, “This prayer reflects severe pain, deep depression, and, at the same time, faith, and relief in the presence of God.”
This Psalm should be divided into three sections:

I. David’s Plea for Help (6:1-5)

Notice David’s mental, physical, and spiritual condition in the first three verses. In verse 2 he is “languishing” and his “bones are troubled.” Not only is he struggling mentally and physically, he’s also struggling spiritually. Notice in verse 3 he says, “My soul is also greatly troubled.” But why? Why is David in such distress? Well, he tells us in verse five, “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?” David is begging God for his life. He is terrified that God is going to kill him as a punishment for his sins.
David knew well the stories about God carrying out His anger on the Israelites whenever they rebelled against Him. No doubt that David was told the stories of how his ancestors forsook God, and forgot God. And he knew the stories of how God punished them by allowing the Moabites, Philistines, Canaanites, and other nations to oppress them until the repented.
So, David’s plea in verse one is for God to hold back His anger and His wrath as a means of correction and punishment for his sins (6:1). It’s very important to notice what David is not asking from God. He is not asking God to withhold His correction or punishment. That is because David understood the life lessons he’d learned whenever God corrected and disciplined him.
After David sexually sinned with Bathsheba, tried to cover up his sin by convincing her husband to come home and sleep with her, and then murdering her husband by sending him to the front lines during a battle, God punishes David in a great way in order to teach him some valuable lessons.
A few weeks ago we talked in detail about one of those punishments. Remember, his daughter was raped by his son, who was then murdered by another son, then the murderer rebelled against David forcing him to flee the capital. Prior to all of this occuring, David and Bathsheba’s child died because of David’s sin.
Through all of those tragedies, and others, David drew closer to the Lord and learned what it meant to truly be in God’s presence.
There are times in our lives when we rebel against God that we need His correction and His discipline to set us straight and teach us valuable lessons.
I read a blog this week that lists three reasons why God disciplines us:

He Loves Us

Proverbs 3:11 says, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves...”

He is a Good Father

Proverbs 3:12 goes on to say, “as a father the son in whom he delights.”
Hebrews 12:7 says, “God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does no discipline?”

He Wants What is Best for Us

Hebrews 12:10-11 tells us that while our earthly fathers “disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them” God “disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.”
Many years ago, when I was just out of high school, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. So, to kill some time while I figured out what I was going to do, I decided to make some money by getting a job. It so happened that my youth pastor’s mom and dad owned a local furniture store and they were needing three guys to help make deliveries Monday-Saturday. My youth pastor’s son, who I was really good friends with, asked me if I wanted to join him and another one of our friends and go to work at the store. I agreed.
Little did I know the amount of lessons I would learn while at that store. Because of my family’s relationship with their family, the owners, Jerry and Frances Kelley took a great interest in setting me straight and helping me become who I am today. There were several times when Mr. Kelley had to discipline me for something dumb. One time in particular, I was headed back from making a delivery and I pulled out in front of a car. Thankfully, we didn’t crash, but it would have been a bad accident had we done so. When I got back to the store, Mr. Kelley sat me down and gave me a good tongue lashing for not being more careful. A few days later, I was backing the small pickup truck to the front doors so we could load a piece of furniture. Once again, I wasn’t paying careful attention and I backed the truck up too far and hit the doors knocking them off their hinges. This time, Mr. Kelley took my driving privileges away for six months. While there are many other embarrassing stories I could tell you, my point is this. I knew Mr. and Mrs. Kelley loved me because they treated me like one of their own kids and they always wanted what was best for me. When Mr. Kelley passed away, I felt like I’d lost one of my own grandparents. In fact, Mrs. Kelley, who thankfully is still living, was an honorary grandma at our wedding. They saw something in me, that I could not see in myself, and God used them to teach me lessons, even hard lessons, to help me become the man God needed me to be.
Billy Graham once said, “God does not discipline us to subdue us, but to condition us for a life of usefulness and blessedness.” David understood that truth, so he welcomed God’s discipline and so should we.
In verse four, David reveals the only thing that can restore his joy. He says, “Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.”
God is the only one who can save David. He’s terrified that God has turned His back on him, and all that can restore him is for the Lord to return and rescue him. Until that happens, David will remain in great despair.

II. David’s Anguish (6:6-7)

As the first two verses allude to, David’s fear of the Lord’s wrath being poured out on him was causing him great distress. David firmly believes that God is angry with him resulting in grief and an inability to sleep.
We see in verse 6, that he is “weary with…moaning...” from flooding his bed with tears and drenching his couch with weeping. Because of his crying and his grief, his eyes are swelling shut.
Basically, David is under great conviction for his sins. They are weighing down on him and he feels the walls closing in around him.
It is said that the great theologian and reformer, Martin Luther would spend six hours a day confessing his sins to his priest. He would review the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount and question whether he could faithfully live out Jesus’s teachings. He was haunted by the scenes of judgement in the Book of Revelation. R. C. Sproul said that “Luther was not satisfied with a brief recitation of his sins. He wanted to make sure that no sin in his life was left unconfessed.” Martin Luther’s fear of God’s immediate judgement on his life led to severe physical pain and suffering. He developed digestive difficulties due to the anxiety he had regarding his battle with sin.
Luther wrote about this saying, “When I was a monk, I made a great effort to live according to the requirements of the monastic rule. I made a practice of confessing and reciting all my sins, but always with prior contrition; I went to confession frequently, and I performed the assigned penances faithfully. Nevertheless, my conscience could never achieve certainty but was always in doubt and said: “You have not done this correctly. You were not contrite enough. You omitted this in your confession.” Therefore, the longer I tried to heal my uncertain, weak, and troubled conscience with human traditions, the more uncertain, weak, and troubled I continually made it.”
Can’t you sense Martin Luther’s desperation? Can’t you feel the depth of David’s depression in the words we’ve read thus far?
He is in such great fear that God is going to strike him dead because of his sins that he is in excruciating mental and physical pain. One may say that David has it rock bottom.
But I want you to notice how quickly everything changes when he remembers God’s grace.

III. David’s Faith is Restored (6:8-10)

It is as if the curtains have been flung open and a the sun now lights what was once a darkened room. David immediately remembers three promises of God and they restore his faith and joy.
God has heard his crying
David immediately recalls what He knows about God’s character. And one of God’s characteristics is that he hears when his children call out to him.
“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears...” (Psalm 34:17).
“In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” (Psalm 18:6).
These promises are not only true for David, they are true for you as well. Whenever you are grieved about sin in your life to the point of agony and tears, God will hear you when you cry out to Him.
That fact leads David to a second conclusion. Because God has heard his crying, then it must be true that God has heard his prayer.
2. God has heard his prayer
So what exactly has God heard? Look back at verses 1-4:
(vs. 1) Don’t correct or discipline me in anger
(vs. 2) Show me grace because I am a failure.
(vs. 2) Heal me or restore me
(vs. 4) “deliver” my “life, and to “save” me.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer” (1 Peter 3:12).
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
Not only did David remember that God heard him crying, and that He heard his prayer, but He also remembered that God had accepted it.
3. God has accepted it
David is basing this revelation on his past experiences with God. I wonder if he recalled the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba and the fact that God did not immediately strike him dead. I wonder if he recalled in the aftermath of when he had Uriah murdered and the fact that God did not immediately strike him dead. Truth be known, these are not the only times in David’s life when he sinned. These are just the times that we know about.
Hears the point, David understood God’s nature of offering grace to us despite our sinful ways.
In Exodus 34, God tells Moses that He is “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin...” (Exodus 34:6-7).
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
“The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned” (Psalm 34:22).
God is a grace giving God who does not strike immediately strike us down when we sin. He could, because He is a sovereign God, but He doesn’t because He is a grace filled God. One writer puts it like this, “God is gracious. Graciousness is not something that he puts on and takes off depending on the situation. He is always gracious. He does not decide to show us grace. Rather it is just who he is. Because he is gracious he demonstrates grace in everything he does.”
Last week, I read from Ephesians 2 when Paul explains that “it is by grace [we] have been saved.”
Earlier, I told you the story about my experiences working at Kelley’s furniture store. Remember, I told you about how Mr. and Mrs. Kelley taught me some incredibly valuable lessons that I still keep with me to this very day? One of the greatest lessons Mr. Kelley every taught me was what it means to show grace.
Two occasions come to mind that drove home the idea of grace. When I first started working at the store, I was considered part-time because I generally didn’t work more than 30-35 hours a week. Of all the guys who worked there, only one was full-time. Anyway, a few days before Christmas I was putting some furniture out on the show room floor when Mr. Kelley walked up to me. He handed me an envelope and said, “Don’t tell the other guys how much is in there. The other part-time guys got $50, but I gave you a little more.” When I opened the envelope, Mr. Kelley had placed a $100 bill in there. Now, for all I know he’d probably given all the guys the same amount and just wanted me to feel special because that’s the kind of person he was. But I remember thinking, after all the destruction I’ve caused around here, man I don’t deserve this. The second time, I was cleaning out one of the warehouses one afternoon. Mr. Kelley walked in the warehouse and quietly said, “You’re doing a great job for us and I appreciate you so much that I’m giving you a raise.” I’m telling you, besides almost causing a pile up on highway 123 and ripping the front doors off the store, which was enough reason for me to be fired, I also damaged furniture and was known to hit a wall or two when taking furniture inside. I mean, I was a complete and total disaster, yet Mr. Kelley loved me enough and believed in me enough that he gave me a raise. That is grace!
And here’s what I know. The Kelley’s showed me grace because they understood God’s grace. Mr. Kelley’s love for me was great enough that he was willing to overlook all the head aches I caused him, and God loves us all enough to send His one and only Son as payment for our sins! That is grace. And that is why, as believers, we do not have to live in fear and anguish of God’s wrath. Because of His love and His mercy, and His grace, He poured out the wrath that was meant for me and for you on His Son Jesus Christ.
So brothers and sisters in Christ, do not fret. Your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. You have been restored. That fact does not give you permission to go out and sin as you please. Instead, it means you should spend every moment praising God for what He’s done and striving to be more like Him.
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