Call to Worship: 1 Chronicles 16:8 “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 11 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”
Songs: Sing - Travis Cottrell
He Is Exalted - Twila Paris
Shout To The Lord - Darlene Zschech
Scripture: Psalm 71:1-24
Song: Hear Us from Heaven - Ross Parsley
Sermon: “Relying on God”
Closing Song: Save Us Oh God - Kevin Prosch
Benediction: 1 Chronicles 16:34 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” 36 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”
1 Chronicles 17:23 “And now, Lord, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, 24 so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you. 25 “You, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. So your servant has found courage to pray to you. 26 You, Lord, are God! You have promised these good things to your servant. 27 Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Lord, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever.”
Today we continue to wait upon God for our strength. God’s word states that Isaiah 40:31 “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Other translations say wait but if you think about the definition of wait, you are actually hoping. One definition of wait is “to allow time to go by, especially while staying in one place without doing very much, until someone comes, until something that you are expecting happens.” It also gives the definition of hope as “to want something to happen or to be true, and usually have a good reason to think that it might.” The good reason we have is the bible tells us so and we believe God’s word; so we wait. Proverbs 8:34 “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Luke 12:37 “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.”
Listen to this description of those who wait on the Lord and those who don’t. Isaiah 50:1 “This is what the LORD says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away. 2 When I came, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no one to answer? Was my arm too short to deliver you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea, I turn rivers into a desert; their fish rot for lack of water and die of thirst. 3 I clothe the heavens with darkness and make sackcloth its covering.” 4 The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. 5 The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away. 6 I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. 7 Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. 8 He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! 9 It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up. 10 Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God. 11 But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.”
This is the description of many Christians today as they walk by the light of their own hands. They do not rely on God. Isaiah 48:1 “Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD and invoke the God of Israel— but not in truth or righteousness— 2 you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city and claim to rely on the God of Israel— the LORD Almighty is his name: 3 I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. 4 For I knew how stubborn you were; your neck muscles were iron, your forehead was bronze. 5 Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My images brought them about; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’” The only stubbornness we are to have is our tenacious desire to follow God’s word. We need to be like Ezekiel and persevere while relying on God. Ezekiel 3:7 “But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. 8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.” Peter said to those listening in Acts 2:40 “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” We too live among a rebellious and stubborn people.
So we wait, we hope and we trust in God words with dogged determination. As we have waited, we have learned to obey His word. By now in your walk with God you should know that you can rely on God’s word. During this time in our lives, God has been teaching us to trust him. Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” We have asked God to Psalm 86:11 teach us your way, Lord, that we may rely on your faithfulness; give us undivided hearts, that we may fear your name. We too say Psalm 59:17 “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” God’s word makes it very clear that he is watching to see who is following his word. Psalm 53:2 “God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. 4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?” God is also looking to strengthen those who are following wholeheartedly. Solomon said 1 Kings 8:23 “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. We see this with the warriors who trusted God to give them victory. 2 Chronicles 13:18 “The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors.” 1 Chronicles 5:20 “They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.”
Look at the difference of trusting in God and those who trusted in man. 2 Chronicles 14:11 “Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.” 12 The Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, 13 and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar. Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before the Lord and his forces.” Later King Asa failed to rely on God. 2 Chronicles 15:1 “The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law.” Later King Asa started to rely on man instead of God. 2 Chronicles 16:7 “At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.”
That sounds familiar in our society today. Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” Most in the church today don’t stop to think there is a problem and continue to do as those who went before us did and refuse to repent. They don’t actually expect anything to change nor do most believe there can be a change. The same today is happening as Isaiah describes. Isaiah 1:15 “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.” Relying on God changes everything. Nehemiah 1:9 “but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.” Joel 2:12 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing.” Zechariah 1:3 “Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Then we have Malachi who also says to return. Malachi tells us to return but also describes the stubbornness we have been raised with. Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?” Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” Most people that call themselves Christians, will refuse to turn away from the path handed to them. They will resist any change and will continue to walk on the paths lit by man. Today people won’t even ask the question; how are we to return because they don’t think they have gone anywhere. This is actually true as most have not. Year after year they celebrate anniversaries but every year they are deader than before. Actually as I wrote that once you are dead you are dead and most churches are just as Jesus described, white washed sepulchers. It doesn’t matter how vibrant they think they are, most are dead and have been dead for some time. Revelation 3:1 “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”
During this time we have learned to rely on God. Even in this church of Sardis God said Revelation 3:4 “Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes.” King Hezekiah said, 2 Chronicles 30:6 “At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read: “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” This message also applies to us as we have returned to the Lord. We stand firm on his word and we wait.
Yes as we have waited there was and will be mocking and spitting as we read in Isaiah 50. Psalm 89:51 “the taunts with which your enemies, Lord, have mocked, with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one.” Job 21:3 Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.” Psalm 22:6 “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. 8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Mark 15:31 “In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!” The good news is one day God will make things right. 2 Chronicles 36:16 “But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. There will be a remnant that will be saved.
Relying on God means we wait for his promises and plan to unfold and we dare not move until he makes it clear to us and those who have mocked on. He will make it clear and all will see his word unfold. Psalm 56:1 describes our journey. “Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack. 2 My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me. 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 5 All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin. 6 They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, hoping to take my life. 7 Because of their wickedness do not let them escape; in your anger, God, bring the nations down. 8 Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record? 9 Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise— 11 in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me? 12 I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Last week I said most do not want you to succeed in your perseverance because it will mean they would have to change. But it doesn’t matter what other people think. You must Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. 23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.”
Yes our journey is long but God is faithful and all we have to do is trust him. Remember even though it may be humans trying to get you to change your direction, it is satan speaking through them to get you to turn from God and to stop waiting for his plan to unfold. Yet we persevere. 2 Chronicles 20:20 “Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” Ezra 8:22 “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.”
Relying on God is trusting, even when you can’t see. When things seem to be going wrong you continue to rely on God just as Job did. When days, months and years go by, you wait until God’s plan unfolds. We read earlier in our scripture reading Psalm 71:6 “From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.” I leave you with a word from Isaiah. First he describes the obstinate; those who rely on themselves and the strength of man. Isaiah 30:1 “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; 2 who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. 3 But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. 4 Though they have officials in Zoan and their envoys have arrived in Hanes, 5 everyone will be put to shame because of a people useless to them, who bring neither help nor advantage, but only shame and disgrace.” He continues and said “8 Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. 9 For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” 12 Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, 13 this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. 14 It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern. 15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
We made a choice not to be those people any more but to be a people willing to be molded. Isaiah 64:7 “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. 8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people. 10 Your sacred cities have become a wasteland; even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. After all this, Lord, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?” God answers and says Isaiah 65:19 “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.” 23 They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”
So we continue to wait because we have great hope in God’s word. Isaiah 30 continues and says, 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” 23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted. 27 See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. 28 His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction; he places in the jaws of the peoples a bit that leads them astray. 29 And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people playing pipes go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel. 30 The LORD will cause people to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail. 31 The voice of the LORD will shatter Assyria; with his rod he will strike them down. 32 Every stroke the LORD lays on them with his punishing club will be to the music of timbrels and harps, as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm. 33 Topheth has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze.”
This is the God we are waiting on. We are not waiting for a man or a woman as so many have followed into nothingness. We are waiting on the Lord God Almighty to pour out his power on us. For too long we have been wearing our prison clothes and many in their nakedness. But soon we will be clothed with power. We serve the same God that David praised when he said, 1 Chronicles 29:11 “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”
Rely on God not man and he will make your paths straight.