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Chapter 10 Discussion Continued

posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:50 AM by Lynn Squire

Even though the Blacks  lost their farm, did God provide for them?

The answer to this question depends on where the Blacks chose to focus their heart's desires. The answer you give to such a question reveals your values, your views, and from where your strength comes.

The road to recovery after tragedy reveals the truth about your heart’s desire. Will you have the faith to overcome?

I want to tell you about two women and what hardships revealed about their hearts.

The first woman battled cancer for two years. After having numerous surgeries and spending the early part of this year enduring a bone marrow transplant, the doctor informs her that she still has cancer. Her first reaction is, "I'm so tired. I'm so very tired." After digesting the news, and knowing that she will some how have to tell her children, she professes that God is good and praises God, exalting His name. Her love for her Saviour is strong and her faith solid. Her focus is on God, not on her present or future condition.

The second woman has a daughter with a chronic condition. Most days her daughter is tired, sometimes has trouble breathing, and often has pain.  The daughter copes by serving God and others, but this second woman worries. She focuses on what might happen, letting her imagination take her down all sorts of scary roads. She tries to tell her daughter to slow down, to take care of herself, stop trying to serve God and others. She says, "If you wouldn't stand up for the cause of Christ, if you would stop being a part of every event at church or trying to witness to every person, you wouldn't experience the stress that weakens you."

This second woman has fooled herself into believing that human comforts and pleasure are signs that a person is living right before the Lord. What she fails to understand is that a Christian's life is not his own. She can't  grasp the depth of meaning in Paul's words, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ  may rest upon me. Therefore  I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." II Corinthians 12:9b-10.

Today, I want to take you to Psalm 18, a psalm written by David after the Lord delivered him from the hand of Saul.

David's life had more pits then cherries. His brothers mocked him. His king, the one he faithfully served, sought to kill him. He spends years on the run. He lives amongst Israel's enemies. While he attempts to do good, all that belongs to him is taken away. But David isn't focused on what he lost. He's not focused on what he could have had, or how he could make himself more comfortable, or how he could have more pleasure. His focus is on pleasing God.

v. 1 "I will love thee, O LORD, my strength."  He determines to love God. He knows God is his strength.

When we endure a long time of testing, what we truly love is revealed. In my example at the beginning, the first woman endured and you see who she loves by who she praises. The second woman, enduring the sorrow of watching a daughter suffer, reveals what she loves when she tries to tell her daughter to stop serving God. She loves her daughter, yes, but in the context of what she thinks will make her daughter happy. She believes that rest and comfort and pleasure and "good-living" will be satisfying to her child. This demonstrates that she finds these things more satisfying than loving and serving God.

Let's take some time now to see what the Lord is to us.

Read Psalm 18:2.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

What does David say God is to him?

  • his rock
  • his fortress - a place of security, a place of defense
  • his deliverer
  • his God
  • his strength
  • the one in whom he trusts
  • his buckler (or shield)
  • the horn of his salvation (Note, the horn in the Old Testament was often used as a symbol of strength and power, such as a bull's horns are used to fight with another bull and demonstrates his strength and power. We can see, therefore that God is our strength and power in our salvation, we cannot save ourselves, but God can save us.)
  • his high tower - a place of security where you can see the enemy coming. When we know God's word, we know the eminent dangers we face and we know how to defend ourselves.

Read Psalm 18:4-5.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

David tells us the depths of what he is experiencing:

  • sorrows of death compassed me
  • floods of ungodly men made me afraid
  • sorrows of hell compassed me about
  • the snares of death prevented me

 To say the least, David has been in a bit of a pickle, and in his distress (v. 6) he calls upon the Lord.

God's response, as David describes it, is powerful.

verse 7-9:

Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.

Now,  when we read I Samuel, we don't get this same picture. We don’t see God with smoke coming out of his nostrils and fire from his mouth. These are metaphors that paint for us a picture of how God reacts in response to our cries.

Let's slip over to Daniel 10:11-12 to look at another great man of God.

This chapter is about a vision Daniel has; an event that is so terrifying the men who were with him fled and hid (see verse 7). By the way, this vision also clues us into the presence of a spiritual warfare.

"And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved,understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.

 "Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself  before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words."

What three things does God point out that Daniel needs to understand?

  • Daniel was a man greatly beloved - in other words, God found him to be desirable, someone who gave God pleasure
  • That God desired for Daniel to understand God's word
  • That because Daniel set his heart to understand God and chastened (humbled) himself before God, God is bringing  him this message.

The message God had for Daniel was fearsome. But God made a point of ensuring Daniel had the strength to hear it in verses 18 and 19.

Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,

 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.

Does God provide for us even when the outlook is grim? Yes.

He provides exactly what we need...but we must be willing to see it. We must desire, as Daniel did, to set our hearts on understanding God--not our situation--and humble ourselves before God.

Did God provide for the Blacks? Yes.

What did He provide?

  • Shelter (the soddy)
  • Friends
  • Each other
  • The love of God
  • Strength, if they sought it
  • Peace, if they sought it

I ask you, which of the two women I described at the beginning describes you?

Have you, like the first woman, chosen to praise God even when she couldn't understand why?  Or are you like the second woman, not willing to see that infirmities and suffering can be a place where you see the mighty hand of God and find great pleasure and joy, and instead choosing to see only the hardships that may come?

Are you like Daniel and have your mind set to understand God and to humble yourself before Him? Or will you be like the men that deserted him when the vision came, unable to see and hear from God?