LEARNING TO WALK IN THE ASSURANCE OF GOD'S PROMISES
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
8 SEPTEMBER 1991
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verses: (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)
5. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
6. “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart;
7. and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
The reason we have have so much suffering and violence in the world is summed up in these words; or more specifically, we have so much suffering and violence because we have failed to live by this commandment.
We cannot truly love the Lord our God unless we also love the whole of His creation, which includes all of our fellow human beings, all of the other animals, and the environment in which we all live.
It is our failure to love in this unconditional manner, and subsequently, it is our failure to teach this kind of unconditional love to our children that is the underlying cause of all the pain, suffering, violence, and death that we have in the world.
This is the basic problem that we need to "fix", if we are ever going to have peace, and be able to live in the assurance of God's promises.
Last week we talked about trusting in the promises of God as being the basis for not taking things into our own hands and, thus, getting ourselves into trouble.
We saw in Scripture that King David knew what God had promised him; that he would not lack a son on the throne.
But there was a condition to that promise: that his sons would walk in the ways of the Lord, obeying His statutes, His commandments, and all His instructions concerning a godly way of living.
David knew this, for he repeated it to Solomon his son, but he didn't always live or walk in God's promises; a fact that was clearly seen when he told Solomon to kill those who opposed him.
If God's promises are true – which they are – then He would have protected Solomon even further, if he and his father had trusted more in the Lord.
This is a fact of life that is seen over and over again in the pages of our Bibles and in every day of our lives.
But Satan tries to convince us that such occurrences are coincidences, and not God's help; and that we have to do things on our own that are counter to God's will, if we are going to be successful.
God's promises are always true, and He is always faithful to carry them out; but we, to fulfill our part of the covenant relationship, must do the things that God tells us to do.
Then why do so many people fail to receive the blessing of God's promises?
Because they haven't learned to walk in the assurance of God's promises, and because they haven't learned to live in God's perfect love.
Satan tries to convince us that if we walk in the ways of God, we won't have any fun.
That simply isn't true!
By doing things counter to God's will we may have short-lived pleasure, but a lifetime of heartache afterwards.
To walk in the assurance of God's promises will bring us joy all the days of our lives.
This is a learning process.
If you are not taught how to drive a car, you will have a lot of problems learning, and in the process, you and your car might get hurt.
And this becomes even more serious when it comes to flying an airplane; for then we run an even greater chance of losing our life.
But these lack-of-learning examples only affect this lifetime. Failing to learn the ways of God could lead to our eternal death, and separation from heaven and the Lord forever and ever.
Psalm 119:129-136 addresses how our desire should be in learning the ways of God. Let's take a look at these verses.
129. Thy testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul observes them.
God's testimonies are indeed wonderful.
They are the truth.
But we have to learn about the testimonies of God, and then be willing to live by what He tells us to do, or we won't find out how really wonderful our life can be.
For it isn't until we experience the truth, that our soul really desires to observe the things that God tells us to do.
We don't learn about things by breathing them in; it requires some real effort on our part.
And it is also this way with the ways of God.
If we never come to church, if we never read our Bibles, if we never attend Sunday school or Bible studies, we will never learn what we are missing.
We may try to excuse it away, as the fox who couldn't reach the wonderfully sweet grapes did, by saying that they were sour.
But the truth of the matter was that the grapes were indeed sweet.
Almost as much as the Lord's word.
The fox in the story lived in the darkness of his own lie. The truth brings us into the light, as the psalmist tells us:
130. The unfolding of Thy words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
We have talked before about the fact that our schools, for the most part, only teach us knowledge, and very little wisdom.
Wisdom is the ability to utilize, in a constructive manner, the knowledge we have acquired.
It doesn't take very long for a student of the Bible to begin to learn that the pages of Scripture contain much wisdom, for in them we are taught how to apply the knowledge we learn.
Over and over again I have had people in the church come up to me after a service or a Bible study and say to me, "If only I would learn to live by what was said, my life would be a lot easier."
Sometimes they relay the same message for someone they know.
And what they say is true, not only for them, but for everyone.
The more we learn this truth, the more we desire to acquire more wisdom.
131. I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Thy commandments.
132. Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Thy manner with those who love Thy name.
If this is the desire of our hearts and minds, God will indeed answer us.
But we still have to do our part.
133. Establish my footsteps in Thy word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.
The last part of this verse sounds very much like part of The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:13):
"And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
We say The Lord's Prayer over and over again, but do we live up to our part of the covenant relationship we express in that prayer?
For if we don't, then God is not obligated to live up to His part, either.
We might say, "Well, let God show me first, and then I will listen."
Well, He has!
He has given us His promises, and He even put them in writing.
We have to take the next step.
We have to live in the lifestyle that God tells us to live.
God has established the pathways on which we are to walk so that no evil will befall us, but we have to be willing to walk upon them.
In most of our villages and towns and cities we have sidewalks that keep us safe from all the traffic, but if we insist on walking in the middle of the road, we run the risk of being hit, and it would be our own fault.
Just as it's all our own fault when evil befalls us when we fail to walk according to the will of God.
The psalmist says,
134. Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Thy precepts.
The more we learn how to live with our neighbor, the less we oppress one another.
The more we learn to love through each other’s sins, the more others will love us through our own sins.
The more we learn to love the other animals, and help preserve their God-given rights to live freely in the world He created for them and us, the sooner we will have the peace we say we want.
But our society doesn't live this way, does it?
Thus we oppress one another.
But that's no reason to give up.
God's promises are still true.
And if each of us learns to walk in the assurance of His promises, that God is faithful to fulfill all that He says, then at least we will have His joy.
We may end up suffering to some extent for the sins of our society, but we should never lose our hope and joy in the Lord.
And, most importantly, we much always keep trying to make this a more loving and peaceful world for all humans and animals alike.
135. Make Thy face shine upon Thy servant,
And teach me Thy statutes.
136. My eyes shed streams of water,
Because they do not keep Thy law.
Do we feel true sorrow when we, or others, do things against the will of God?
Or do we just go along with them, knowing in our heart and mind that they are wrong?
God's face does most assuredly shine upon us, as the sun shines forth every day of every year.
But sometimes we let the clouds of our sins block His shining glory, as the clouds block the sunlight.
That doesn't mean that God isn't there; for just as the sun continues to shine, even when we don't see it, so is God's presence with us even though we don't see Him.
Ask the people who regularly attend our Bible study if they have seen a change in their lives.
I believe the majority of them will tell you they have.
The word of God is a mysterious thing.
It never gets used up.
In fact, it multiplies.
The more of it we take into our lives, the more blessings we seem to receive; and we receive them over and over again, and we get new and even better ones.
If we truly want our children to have a better life than we have had, then we
have to provide the opportunity for them, don't we?
Part of convincing them that what we desire is good for them is for us to set the proper example, and to participate with them.
And since the word of God is the basis for all wisdom and joyful living, then we must begin by learning that word together as a family.
I know it's true, for I have seen the change for the better in everything in my life, since I committed myself to the Lord, as I am sure some of you have also experienced this.
It doesn't mean that everything will be perfect, for it won't, because the world around us is still corrupt.
But one thing is certain: if we, individually, live and walk in the assurance of God's promises, we will get through these difficult times much more easily.
And in the process, we will learn more wisdom.
The light and joy of the Lord will never go out, unless we turn it off.
Seek a closer personal relationship with the Lord, and everything else begins to improve.
But each of us has to respond to the promises already set forth by God, if we are going to experience the results.
Love never fails!
Your Comments are welcome
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