This is the sermon for Sunday morning, July 5th, 2009.
DON’T FRET PART 1
Who do you trust?
This sermon series could be subtitled, “God’s Answers to real life problems.”
Please allow me to share a story with you about where this sermon came from. It came from a personal time of deep pain and sorrow for me. I was deep in emotional anxiety one night, almost to the point of tears over some things. It was like everything just hit me at once, and common fears and worries I have, not only as a Pastor, but also as a man, a husband, and a father, all hit me at once and for the night, sent me reeling. Well, the next morning, I was doing my morning devotions, and this chapter was one of the chapters that I was scheduled to read in my Bible reading plan that I follow on a daily basis. As I read it, I slowed down and just let every word on the page literally soak into my spirit. You see, God had give me some answers to my real life problems. These answers weren’t necessarily the ones I was looking for. I was looking for God to say, “I will do this,” or for God to supernaturally work some of these issues out. Instead the answer He gave me was, “Don’t fret, and do these things.” It all comes down to one simple question as I studied the text out: Just who do I trust?
Well, let me ask you the same question this morning. When it comes to your church, your personal life, your health, your family, your career: Just who do you trust this morning? Do you trust your talents, and abilities? Do you trust that people will continually fail you? Do you trust the fact that you will fail God and others? Or do you trust God, no matter what?
Well, who we trust is evidenced by our actions. Let’s read our text this morning.
Psalm 37:1-4 TNIV – 1 Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Now the Author of this Psalm is King David. More than likely, this was written by Him toward the end of his life. This Psalm is not so much a song of praise to sing, as it is a song of wisdom and meditation, or a teaching Psalm.
Let’s look for a few moments at the theme David is trying to convey in this Psalm:
• Do not fret nor envy the wicked, but trust in the Lord.
• Be obedient to the Lord.
• When the smoke of judgment clears – the wicked will be no more but the righteous will endure.
There is some very wise counsel in this Psalm, similar to the wise counsel found in the book of Proverbs. So for the next few weeks as we cover this Psalm, ask the Lord to not only speak to you, but to help you by His grace be obedient to what He is saying in this Psalm.
Let’s begin this morning.
Don’t fret over evil people.
Psalm 37:1a TNIV – 1 Do not fret because of those who are evil…
The first thing I want us to notice in this Psalm is that it says we shouldn’t fret over evil people.
What does it mean to fret? The dictionary definition is, “to feel or express worry, annoyance; discontent.”
The Idea that David is presenting here is not that we are not just suppose to fret because they do evil, but we are not suppose to fret because it seems that they are prospering in the evil they do.
Proverbs 37:7b TNIV – do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
One thing we human beings know how to do is fret, right? I mean, we feel the apparent brunt of evil seemingly succeeding against us so here is what we do: We spend restless nights over it, tossing and turning; We go over what they may have said and done to us over and over again; we think about what we should have said and done; we wish that we would have had a baseball bat to hit them in the shins, and take pleasure in that thought; and finally, we reach for the Alka Selzter or Pepto Bismol.
Here is a truth we must understand this morning: When we fret, we are displaying our lack of trust in the Lord.
Now it is one thing to have episodes of fretting and worrying, but it is quite another to live in those times of worry and doubt.
So the first thing we must ask the Lord to help us in dealing with real life issues is: Lord, help me not to fret, but trust you!
Don’t envy the prosperity of the wicked.
Psalms 37:1b TNIV – Do not… be envious of those who do wrong.
When does envy begin rearing its ugly head? When we start comparing ourselves with others, and in this case, when we start comparing ourselves with those that do wrong.
Let me give an example: You are faithful to God in church, your quiet time, sharing your faith, lifting other’s burdens to the Lord; you are faithful in giving God your 10 percent joyfully, in properly studying the text of Scripture; you are also faithful in giving your all on the job and working not for your employers, but as unto the Lord. All the while you are faithful in these things, a co-worker who is not a believer in Christ has a vile mouth, gossips about his employers and others, cheats the company by taking extra coffee breaks or long lunch hours, and steals from the company. And when the time of giving a raise comes up, or a promotion, he receives it by lying, and gets his raise; while you are told that you have to cut hours and lose money.
This story illustrates a good example of when envy tries to set in. You begin to cry out to God, “God, I’m endeavoring to be obedient to you and honor you and please you, why do all these good things happen to him, yet I struggle?”
We need to be careful because when we start envying the wrongdoers, then bitterness can begin to set in.
Fill your minds with this truth. While sinners and evildoers may prosper in this life, their prosperity is only temporary, not eternal. The righteous, while they may suffer in this life, will prosper and be rewarded with eternal glory with our Lord in the next life.
Notice what verse 2 says in our text.
Psalm 37:2 TNIV – for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Now let’s look at the inheritance of the righteous found in this same chapter.
Psalms 37:18 TNIV – The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever.
Our envying evildoers shows our lack of trust in the Lord and His Word. Let’s move on.
Trusting in God and doing what He says does have benefits.
Psalm 37:3 TNIV – Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
The phrase, “Trust in the Lord,” can also mean, “confide in Him, or rest in Him.” Instead of allowing your mind to fret and become bitter at the prosperity of the wicked, rest in the Lord, tell Him how you feel, and leave it all in His hands. Whether the evildoers know it or not, God is in control of the situation. We need to remind ourselves of this truth.
What is the evidence that we are trusting in the Lord? Well, we will begin to do good. We will love the evildoers and the wicked that prosper in their way, and not envy and be bitter toward them. We will continue to dwell in the position that God has placed us in. When we do this, we are secure in His care; it doesn’t matter what we see taking place around us.
You see, we are the sheep of His Pasture. As His sheep, we are secure under the Good Shepherd’s care.
Notice these comforting words of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
John 10:27-30 TNIV – 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
So don’t trust in what you see this morning, but trust in the Lord and honor Him by doing what is right.
Let’s look at the final passage in our text.
Psalm 37:4 TNIV – Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
We want to focus on God giving us the desires of our heart, don’t we? But our focus should be on the first part of this verse. You see, Him giving us the desires of our heart is the result of what we do in the first portion of this verse. So what we should do?
Take pleasure and enjoyment in God and become pliable in His hands.
The Hebrew word for “delight” in this text is very interesting. It literally means, “to become soft, tender, and pliable.” It means much more than just enjoying God, which we should do, but allowing that enjoyment of God to mold and shape your heart.
You see here is the amazing thing that happens as you delight yourself in God and enjoy Him: He begins to mold and shape your heart that is prone to bitterness, wrath, anger, and envy and begins changing your desires.
Instead of being envious of evildoers, you become satisfied in God and content in Him.
Paul also has some wise words to say about contentment that we can apply here.
Philippians 4:12-13 TNIV – 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
What was Paul’s secret to contentment? It wasn’t his station in life, but who He drew strength from no matter what station of life He lived in – His contentment was found in His Savior – Jesus Christ.
Our contentment is the same. We are secure in Christ, no matter what we face, and in this contentment in Him is strength to endure.
As we conclude this morning: Don’t fret at the prosperity of the wicked, nor be envious of them. Know that it is only temporary. But trust in the Lord and delight yourself in Him. As you delight yourself in Him, He takes your heart and makes it soft and pliable, changing your desires into His desires and thereby giving you the desires of your heart – and this desire will be to be content in whatever state of life your are in – content and secure in Christ – which is your strength.