Praying About Difficult Decisions

I. Introduction

From time to time, we all come to a big decision in our lives. I’ve lost my job; what should I do now? I have a medical issue; how should I treat it? Is this person right for me? Should I compromise, or should I stand my ground?

We are faced with decisions often. Yearly, monthly, daily. Some of the decisions we face are very mundane. Should I wear this tie today? Some are more serious. Should I go to church and bible study today? And some are serious indeed: job, family, friends, moral choices. Many times, the choice affects not just you, but several or many people.

Several years ago, I had made a decision to get Lasik surgery to get rid of my very thick glasses. I read up the procedure, became familiar with the different types, selected a doctor and had the examinations and evaluations. And then the day finally came for me to have the operation. It was only a 10 minute operation, max, to treat both eyes.

There was a small hiccup. Apparently I have small pupils, but they had to be very dilated before the surgery could begin. So while it took 3 different treatments of those drops they put into your eyes, so they kept slipping my treatment later and later waiting for my eyes to dilate. I had time to walk around the doctor’s office.

Now, this doctor had a glass-walled operating table. I could see a patient laying on the table, bit computerize contraption over their head as the doctor began to work. And he also had a television monitor outside so you could see the surgery up close. And I watched an extreme close-up of an eye sliced open and lasered. And my appointment was next.

I don’t recommend that for anybody. I had been calm, cool, collected up until this point, but watching an eye sliced opened and lasered ten minutes before this butcher, Dr. Frankenstein, would do his science experiment on me filled me with anxiety. What was I thinking? What if something went wrong? Would this hurt? What if I was blinded? Can I change my mind? Can I get a refund? You know, now that I think of it, coke bottle glasses aren’t so bad after all. I mean, I had a lot of anxiety about this decision.

I can hardly imagine the anxiety Jesus faced with His most important decision. Jesus’ decision would make would affect the world and he would suffer serious pain, humiliation, and then death. How did Jesus get through this decision? That’s what we’re going to study today in Mark 14.

II. Mark 14, The Ministry of Jesus

First, let’s summarize where we are in history. Jesus has been teaching us parables, teaching us behaviors, and teaching us scripture and prophecy. But the end of the chapter of Mark is coming, and with that is the climax, the purpose for Jesus Himself. Soon, to fulfill prophecy, Jesus will suffer and die on the cross.

Mark 14 has a series of disappointments for Jesus. His ministry is nearly complete, and those closest to Him let Him down. Let’s look at a couple of quick verses –

Verse 1. “Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him.” These are the pastors, the deacons, the bible study teachers of Jesus’ time. They studied God’s Word looking for His purpose, and instead of recognizing Jesus for who He is, they plotted to kill Him. There are two very serious problems here – one, despite all their studying, they don’t accept the Messiah that fulfills prophecy. Were they really studying, seeking God’s purpose? I think one could answer that by the second problem, they sought to deal with Jesus by trying to kill Him.

How many commandments are there? Do one of the commandments deal with killing people you don’t like? So these leaders either weren’t really studying and didn’t know, or they were so full of their own self-righteousness that they believed the law didn’t apply to them.

And in verse 17, the disciples are all eating supper together, the Passover meal. And Jesus knows He is having supper with Judas Iscariot, His betrayer. A man who has spent the last 3 years studying and traveling with Jesus. Verse 43, Judas leads a mob from the Sanhedrin to arrest Jesus.

And in verse 53, the Sanhedrin put on a sham trial in order to convict Jesus who was innocent of any sin. And between the mob and the trial, one of His closest disciples who promised never to deny Jesus did exactly that in verse 68. And Mark 14 closes with Jesus alone, abandoned by His friends and convicted by those who wanted to kill Him.

Jesus knew all these things would happen. How do you think Jesus felt? Knowing all these things were to happen, Jesus was hurt, troubled, distressed, and even scared. Jesus is God, but Jesus is also man. He was about to suffer for who He was.

So the night before Judas leads the soldiers of the High Priests to Jesus to arrest Him, Jesus has to make a decision. What steps did Jesus take to make sure He was making the right decision?

III. The Prayer of Jesus

Mark 14:32-35 –

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.

How would you describe Jesus’ emotions this night?

Why do you think it was important for Jesus to take some disciples to the garden for prayer?

When people face a difficult decision, what type of person do they turn to?

What’s the first thing Jesus did when faced with a difficult decision?

The garden of Gethsemane was most probably an olive garden on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. Other scripture indicates that Jesus came here more than once with His disciples; it was probably a peaceful, quiet place. Jesus took His closes friends – Peter, James, and John – with Him for support.

The NIV says Jesus was troubled; the NASB version translates this word as “horrified.” His human self and sense of self-preservation was now at battle with His spiritual side. It had all come down to this. Three years of walking among the people, healing them and teaching them, offering a chance to know and accept Him and knowing that they would reject him. Before the next 24 hours were complete, Jesus would offer himself up for the world and for you and for me. The worst part must have been the anticipation, the anxiety of knowing that tomorrow He would die, and die painfully. Julius Caesar once said, “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than it is to find those willing to endure pain with patience.

And with those thoughts in His mind, Jesus fell to His knees and began to pray.

It is easy to forget the power of prayer. Our prayers are shallow. Somebody tells us about their pain or their anxiety, and we put our hand on their shoulder and say, “I’ll pray for you.” And I suspect most of the time we don’t. We return to our own life and forget our promise to pray. What are some of the reasons we don’t pray? (No immediate gratification, we’re too busy, we doubt the prayer will be answered.)

Let’s look at Jesus’ prayer in Mark 14:36 –

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Once more he went away and prayed the same thing.

a. Prayer Depends on Our Relationship

The normal method of prayer for Jews is a standing position with palms up and open to address God. Jesus’ prayer is radical for the time; first, he’s not standing. He fell to the ground. He is in a position of pleading, making an urgent request. And His first word is…. Abba. This is not the musical group Abba of the 70’s. Abba is a term of endearment, a child’s word. Children in our culture might say “Dada;” the Jewish children said “Abba.”

And the first thing we know about Jesus’ prayer is that He knew who He was praying to. He had a relationship with God, a close, personal relationship. “Abba” is used three times in the New Testament. The second time is Romans 8:15 by Paul –

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

And the third time in Galatians 4:6, And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father, Abba.

When you pray, who do you pray to? A concept? A belief? The Force, like in Star Wars? Some vague deity somewhere in the sky? God wants more from you. He wants you to know Him as He knows you already. He wants an intimate, personal relationship. That sounds great. How do I do that?

If we are going to pray to God “the” Father then it better be to God “our” Father. He only becomes our Father when we become his children. How do we become a child of God? John 1:12, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”

And as His Children, do we have any chores to do? Philippians 2:15, “You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them.” This relationship should be evident to others; 1 John 3:10, “So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the Devil. Anyone who does not obey God’s commands and does not love other Christians does not belong to God.”

You are a child of God if you have believed in Jesus and accept him and you live clean innocent lives and obey God’s commands. Then you can call out to Him, Abba.

b. Prayer Depends on Trusting God’s Power

Jesus also knew the power of God. Everything is possible for you. What’s the point of praying if you don’t believe God has the power to answer your prayers? We have to understand and have faith that with God, everything and anything is possible. The biggest stumbling block to believing that is everyone who prays has unanswered prayers. I prayed and God didn’t answer.

What we need to understand is that God does not always answer prayers the way we expect. In my experience, most but not all my prayers are answered in ways I didn’t expect. God doesn’t always answer our prayers; I don’t know why. Some of my prayers I’m glad He didn’t answer. Some of my prayers I didn’t wait for an answer and took matters into my own hands. Some of my prayers, well, I prayed for God to make somebody else do something.

It’s like this – I can pray that God make everybody I know be sweet and loveable. But God doesn’t force His will on anybody. But it’s not because God is not able. The angel Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:37, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

c. Prayer Depends on Asking

So Jesus prayed to His daddy, believing that God can do anything and everything, and then… Jesus prayed for himself. I struggle with this, I don’t know why. I feel guilty, praying for myself. I should be praying for others, and I’m selfish if I pray for myself. But we shouldn’t feel guilty; if we can call God “Abba,” what father doesn’t want His children to be happy? And wouldn’t it make a father happy to give His children what they ask for?

Think for a second about the Lord’s prayer. How much of that prayer is for us? Our father, give us our daily bread, forgive us, keep us from temptation. It’s not wrong to pray for ourselves, to ask God to take care of us and provide for us and protect us. Jesus once asked in Matthew 7:9-11, “What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”

d. Prayer Depends on Surrendering

So it’s ok to ask for things for ourselves. But here’s the hard part – letting God decide what is right. The fourth part Jesus’ prayer is the hardest. “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” How do you know the will of God? To me, the most incredible part is that God’s will for me has, for the most part, already been written in the bible. It’s already been revealed, I just have to seek it out.

The key, I believe to seeking it out, goes back to Jesus’ example. Troubled and anxious and in need of God, Jesus went to a quiet place to pray, to be alone with God. I confess I don’t always have the best quiet time with God. I tend to shortchange prayer in my life, I pray when I’m driving or showering or studying or something. Setting aside prayer for the sake of prayer is something I need to work on. I study often, especially when it’s time to teach, but that’s only half of what it takes to understand God’s will. Jesus set an example that prayer is needed, it is necessary, and it is comforting to pray to our most powerful heavenly Father.

Jesus didn’t want to suffer, and Jesus prayed for release from the events about to occur. But He added a “yet.” Yet not my will, but your will. Our prayers are most effective when we are not seeking to change God’s will, but by asking God to change us.

What does Jesus’ prayer reveal about His trust in God?

How can our prayers reveal our trust in God?

Why was it important for Jesus to declare His commitment to God’s will?

How can a person’s actions demonstrate a commitment to follow God’s will?

IV. Conclusion

The best way we can begin dealing with a difficult decision is in prayer. Pray. Focus on God’s will. Choose God’s will. Then do God’s will.

Jesus gave us a four part prayer example for when we are faced with a difficult decision. Know who you are praying to, know that He has the power to answer prayers, ask specifically what you need, and surrender your will to the Creator of the Stars.

Security in God

I. Introduction

I visited a coworker in the hospital this weekend. He told me he was at home watching tv when the doorbell rang. When he opened the door, there was a 6 foot cockroach standing there. Before he could say anything, the cockroach punched in the stomach and ran off.

The next night, he was sitting at home again. The doorbell rang. There was the 6 foot cockroach again. This time it punched him in the stomach and the karate-kicked him before running off.

The third night when the doorbell rang, my friend was a little more cautious. He cracked the door to peek out, and there was the six foot cockroach again. The cockroach kicked the door into his face so hard he saw stars. Then the cockroach came in and jumped on him and kicked several times so hard he nearly lost consciousness. He dragged himself over to the phone and called 9-1-1.

The 9-1-1 operator asked him what the emergency was. In a weak voice, my friend answered, “there’s a nasty bug going around…”

There are a lot of nasty bugs going around, from the H1N1 swine flu to job losses to the price of gas. It shouldn’t surprise you that “nasty bugs” have been part of our existence for thousands of years. Today, we’re going to look at Psalm 62 and see how David deals with one of life’s turn of events.

II. Psalm 62:1-2, Security in God Alone

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Let me give you some background on what is going on in David’s life at this point in time. David is much older now; his affair with Bathsheba is long in the past, and David has long since confessed his sins and placed his trust in the Lord. But if you recall during our studies the last few weeks, confessing your sins to Lord frees you from sin and gives you reason to rejoice. It does not, however, free you from the repercussions of your sins. When Nathan said, “You are that man,” in 2 Samuel 12, David finally ceased his self-deception and acknowledged his sin against the Lord. The Lord offers mercy and grace, but also tells David “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you.”

David has several more children over the years, but the sword never leaves his house. As his children grow, David has to deal with children that are disrespectful to him. His son, Absalom, claims the throne for himself. David, not willing to fight his own son for the throne, flees to the desert. A very stressful time in David’s life, losing your job to your son who’s trying to killing you. My day doesn’t seem so bad.

And it is this time in David’s life that he pens Psalm 62 and gives us instruction for how to deal with life’s nasty bugs. David’s strength comes not from his position as king or from wealth or from power, but in the Lord.

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

We should have a single source of security, in God and God alone. David gives us three pictures of security in God –

• God is my rock. What images does this bring to mind? What qualities of a rock provide security?
o Steadfastness
o Stable
o Unmoving
• God is my salvation. If God is our salvation, why does that give us security?
• God is my fortress. What images of security does a fortress bring?
o Protection.

III. Psalm 62:3-4, Security that Withstands Attacks

How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.
Selah

Our security is attacked many ways. Job loss, personal conflicts with others, sometimes with many others. Satan does not want you to have security and will deceive you that your security is misplaced. He wants to topple you. And he will keep this up for an unfairly long time – “How long” will he assault a man.

• What sort of things threaten our security and make us feel unsafe?

If our security is based on our circumstances, in people, in ourselves, in wealth or relationship, our security is fragile. But David repeats himself – we do not find security in anything but God and God alone. Verse 5-8 –

IV. Psalm 62:5-8, Security in God Alone, Still

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God [a] ;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Selah

The Lord God is still our rock, our salvation, and fortress. The Lord is also described as a refuge. Like a fortress, we can run to the Lord for safety when we feel threatened.

David reminds the people of Israel that the Lord is not just a fortress of safety for him, but for all people. We can trust in Him. More than that, verse 8 says that I can also pour out my heart to God. God knows our thoughts and feelings, he knows our pain, our hopes and desires. When we are in need, in trouble, in fear, trust in Him at all times and pour out your fears to Him.

I change my wallpaper on my laptop monthly with various Christian wallpaper, usually with a calendar on it, always with a Christian saying or a piece of scripture. One of them by Charles Spurgeon a few months back was very thought-provoking. “If we cannot believe God when circumstances seem to be against us, we do not believe Him at all.”

We have security in God because He tells us so. And if God is for us, who can be against us?

V. Psalm 62:8-10, Security Nowhere Else

Lowborn men are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie;
if weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.

Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

Where else can we possibly put our faith, we else can we find security but in the Lord? David lists several places where we look for false security –

• In relationships. What sort of relationships do we try to find security in?
o Parents
o Children
o Friends
o Spouses
o Politicians
o Government
o Church
o Ourselves
• In what ways can these relationships fail us?
• David also cautions us against placing our faith in things, especially ill-gotten gains. What sort of things do we use to seek security?
o Money
o Property
o Jobs
o Insurance
• In what ways can things fail us?
• Why are we tempted to add other forms of security like wealth or relationships, rather than rely on Christ alone?

In Psalm 44:6, “For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.” Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” And in the exact middle of the bible is Psalm 118:8, “It is better to trust in the Lord
than to put confidence in man.”

Jesus, of course, knew all this. There is no security anywhere but God. Matthew 6:19, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal.” Instead, we can trust in God because of who He is. He is unique, one of a kind. Let’s look at the final two verses of Psalm 62.

VI. Psalm 62:11-12, Security in God Because He is Unique

One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,

and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

• What are some of the attributes of God that give us security in Him?
o His Power
o His Love
o His Goodness
o His Mercy
o His Justice
o Fulfilled prophecy

VII. Conclusion

God knows we have fears and concerns about our security. He is training us for something better, something that requires us to learn to trust in Him. If God is so powerful, why is it that we are scared? Is God really in control? That’s what we ask ourselves, and what God wants us to know, even when we don’t see Him at work. It’s precisely at those times God is at work in us.

C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Does God Exist?

I. Introduction

“God is Dead.” -Nietzsche, 1882.
“Nietzsche is Dead.” -God, eternal.

We’re working through various aspects of the Psalms, and this week we’ll explore how God reveals Himself to us. In other words, How do I know God exists, and how does that affect me? Does God Exist?

Two weeks ago on September 7, journalist John T. Elson died. John Elson made a name for himself in 1966 by writing a cover story for Time Magazine called, “Is God Dead?” The article began, “Is God dead? It is a question that tantalizes both believers, who perhaps secretly fear that he is, and atheists, who possibly suspect that the answer is no.” At the time it was written, it caused an uproar.

Do you know what struck me as common between Nietzsche and John Elson? They both now have their answer.

How do you know God exists?

II. Psalm 19:1-6, Natural Revelation

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

Psalm 19 begins by telling us that God’s creation itself is evident of God. Philosophers call this the Cosmological Argument. The argument goes like this: Did the universe have a beginning, yes or no? Scientists have generally accepted a Big Bang theory or some equivalent; by looking at the path the stars in the heavens are taking, they can be traced back to a single point. Another piece of evidence is the Second Law of Thermodynamics that essentially says everything, including energy, is eventually used us and decays. If the universe age was infinite, then all the energy would have been used up and arrived at a temperature of absolute zero. I know it feels that way in church sometimes, the air conditioner is set so low, but there’s actually quite a lot of useful energy in our universe.

So the universe had a beginning, so what? Well, then the next question is whether the beginning of the universe is caused or uncaused. In other words, did someone or something cause it to happen? Trying to argue that it simply started all by itself is challenging. Name one other thing or event that just came into existence by itself. Poof. Everything we know about has a cause, so it’s reasonable that the universe was caused.

So if it was caused, who or what caused it? When the universe was created, all time, space, and material was created. What created time? Must have been something timeless. What created space and matter? Something more powerful than all space and matter. Why would the universe without time or space or matter suddenly pop into existence? Could it do it on it’s own? The only conclusion that makes sense is that something created it, decided using free will that it should exist, and free will requires a personal Creator.

That’s the 50 cent summary, you can spend a lot of time studying the Cosmological argument. Usually the argument takes the form of, say, you’re walking along a path, and on the path, you find a pocketwatch. It’s run by intricate little gears inside and it keeps perfect time. Did the watch spontaneously appear there? Did it create itself? Or is a pocketwatch complex enough to give evidence that somebody must have created it? If a pocketwatch is a complex indication of a creator, have you ever really studied how our universe is put together? Our earth just the right distance from the sun to support life, plants that can convert sunlight into energy, animals that eat the plants and have complex circulatory systems with blood that takes oxygen from the air and delivers it to muscles and take carbon dioxide back to the lungs to exhale. Perhaps people just spontaneously popped into existence by themselves. Perhaps simple little microbes somehow decided they’d be better off organizing themselves into a person. Or perhaps we too, are evidence of a Creator.

What evidence have you observed that indicates that we have a Creator?

The evidence is all around us, and all it takes is observation. Many people, though, remind me of the story of a college philosophy professor that asked one question on the final exam. He picked up a chair, he put it on his desk, and wrote on the board, “Using everything we have learned this semester, prove that this chair does not exist.” Philosophy classes get a kick out of that sort of thinking. The students opened their notebooks and wrote and wrote and wrote for the entire hour, churning out pages and pages of deep thoughts and philosophical logic. But one student turned in his paper after less than a minute and he was the only one to get an A. All he wrote was, “What chair?”

We can ignore the Creation that God placed before us if we wish, but it makes no sense to say, “What creation?”

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

The Psalms declare that this evidence reaches every person, every where, so that no one may have an excuse. David says in Psalm 51 that “The fool has said in his heart that there is no God.” It takes a fool to not notice the evidence God has given us.

But besides external evidence of the existence of God, we also have internal evidence, the effect of God’s Word on our lives.

III. Psalm 19:7-14, Personal Revelation

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.

By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

God declares His Word is perfect. The bible is an incredible creation. It was written over a period of 1600 years over 3 continents by 40 different people such as kings and doctors and farmers and shepherds, 1189 chapters and 31,173 verses, yet contains a single, unifying, non-contradictory message of God’s justice, mercy, and sacrifice.

It’s inspired, 2 Peter 1:20-21, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

It’s useful, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

And it changes lives, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”

The bible has the power to change lives, pick drunks up out of the gutter, make saints out of infidels, restore broken marriages, and gives hope to the murderer on death row. There is no other book that has this power.

Think on your own life for a moment. Can you think of a particular time that the Word of God had an impact on your life? A word that challenged or comforted you?

Skeptics can challenge the evidence of Creation and foolishly deny that God exists, but the power of a personal testimony is powerful and cannot be argued. I know what happened to me. I’ve been comforted, I’ve been challenged, meaning has been illuminated in my life to give me purpose, relationships have healed. I am a better man, not because of my own efforts but because of the Holy Spirit working in my life, backed by the power of the Word of God.

Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher, was once asked to defend the Word of God. His response, “Defend it? I would as soon try to defend a lion. God’s Word does not need defending. Just preach it. Let it out of its cage and it will defend itself.”

Look back at Psalm 19 again, verses 7 to the end. How is the teaching of God described? (Perfect, reviving, trustworthy, simple and wise, right, joy, radiant, pure, enduring, sure, righteous, precious, sweet, warning, rewarding, discerning, forgiving.) God’s Word is powerful. One of my recent favorite verses is Isaiah 55:11, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” I get comfort from this, as it tells me that God’s word is true. He has not only a purpose for me, but for everybody. We will find His purpose in His Word.

In what ways can the bible change your life?

How can sin rule over people?

What results from obeying God’s commands?
How does God’s word demonstrate God’s love for us?

How can we show our love for God’s Word?

God’s Word will absolutely clean up lives. Verse 11 reminds us that God’s command is not to limit our freedom but to free us from sin and it’s repercussions. When we are obedient to the Word, there is great reward. And by reward, I mean rewarding lives that impact others and display the power of God in our lives

One of my pet peeves that I believe distorts the power of God is the prosperity teaching, that we can have material rewards, money, fame and power, if we just call on God to provide it. Or a feel-good message that promises a peaceful and joyful life. Both of these are incomplete messages that do not address God’s plan to Refine us, through sacrifice and suffering. I believe the entirety of the bible must be taught to understand God’s will. Likewise, I think it’s important that each and every one of us study God’s Word from beginning to end, for that is the only way we can truly understand God’s plan for us.

Without reading the bible, we’ll never come to an understanding of sin in our lives. Sin is not just doing bad things; sin is missing the mark, missing out of God’s plan for our lives. The problem with prosperity teaching is that as long as things are going well, you feel you have faith and that God loves you. When things don’t go well, then you feel like your faith is weak and that God doesn’t care. In these economic times, I would not be surprised that people that attend a prosperity church fall away, convinced that God isn’t at work after all. But deeper understanding teaches us God is at work, even when we don’t see Him, and that the struggles we endure strengthen us.

Verse 7 says that God’s Word is perfect, converting the soul. Here’s a couple of examples. Imagine I just told you that someone just paid a $50,000 speeding ticket on your behalf. You’d probably look at me like I wasn’t making sense. My good news isn’t good news to you. You’d think, what speeding ticket? You might even be offended because I’ve accused you of breaking the law.

But what if I told you that this morning on the way to church, you were clocked going 55 mph through a school zone for blind and deaf children, the maximum speed limit was 10 mph, and you sped through 10 warning signs. Police clocked you and were coming to arrest and fine you, but somebody stepped in and paid the fine. You’re free.

The difference is the amount of knowledge you have. If you don’t know the law, the good news seems stupid or silly. If you know the law and understand how you’ve broken it, the good news is good news.
Just like the gospel, literally, the good news of Jesus Christ. Just walking up to a nonbeliever and telling them, Jesus died for your sins, makes no sense. What sin? I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m a pretty good person. Lots of people or worse than me.

Likewise, a prosperity message falls on thin soil. Imagine getting on an airplane and somebody hands you a parachute. “Here, put this on, it will improve your fyling experience.” After a while, you feel the weight on your shoulders. The ride still seems bumpy, and the parachute doesn’t seem to do anything for you. So you take it off.

But instead of “this will improve your flying experience,” they hand you a parachute and say, “Here put this on. The plane’s going to crash and you’ll need them when it’s time to jump out.” All of a sudden, that parachute feels pretty comfortable.

Likewise, the man that is told that going to church will bring prosperity and improve his life experience will be unprepared for the troubles that will come. Understanding the entirety of God’s Word and that it will save your life makes the troubles light and momentary in this world.

But the Word of God is perfect and converts the soul. The Word of God trains us in all righteousness. The Word of God saves.

IV. Conclusion

God has provided everything we need to understand He exists, He has a plan for us, and how to live righteous lives with purpose. His Creation calls out His glory; His Word transforms lives. Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be open.” Jesus promises we will find, but only if we seek. God has given us 31,173 verses, but we’ll only find if we seek. Ask God to open our hearts, and let us show Him our love by opening His book.