The Blessings of Being Close to God

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The Blessings of Being Close to God

Psalm 91:1-16

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 8, 2012

*James 4:8 makes a great promise to us when it says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

-And when we do draw close to God, He will bless us in amazing ways.

-Psalm 91 shows us some of those ways.

*James Hastings called this the Psalm of “God’s inner circle.” And he noted that “for every advance on man’s part, there is an immediate and corresponding advance on God’s part. When man goes out to seek God, God meets him more than half way. When he calls upon God, God will answer him. Loving faith on man’s part will be met by faithful love on the part of God.” (1)

1. This Psalm teaches us that we should draw close to God. And when you do, you will be you in the ultimate place.

*The Psalmist describes this place in vs. 1: “He who dwells (i.e. remains, sits down, lives) in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

-The best possible place you can ever be is the place of the Most High God.

[1] Notice that it is a secret place.

*God has secrets. That’s understandable, because God knows all the mysteries in the universe. God has secrets. But the great news is that God loves to reveal his secrets to those who seek His face!

*And God’s place is secret right now because the world cannot see it in a physical way.

-On the night before the cross, Jesus told His followers:

15. "If you love Me, keep My commandments.

16. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever,

17. even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

18. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

19. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. (John 14:15-19)

*God’s place is also secret because it can only be seen by faith.

-In Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

*God’s place is also secret because lost people have been blinded by the devil.

-In 2 Cor 4:3-4, Paul said:

3. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,

4. whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

*God place may be secret, but the great news is that He loves to reveal His secrets to those who seek His face. And “he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

[2] Also notice in vs. 2 that God’s place is safe: “I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.''

*Are you trusting Jesus tonight as your refuge from the storm?

-Are you trusting Him as your protection from the enemy?

*About nine years ago, our Katie and I were pulling into Wal-Mart, when we saw the Jews for Jesus bus. You may know that they are a great group of Christian Jews who witness to other Jews all over the world. That day they had performed at the Senior Citizens Center, and they stopped at Wal-Mart on their way to Shreveport.

*I used to get their newsletter, so I pulled over to try to meet them. Katie and I had a good visit with a beautiful young lady from Israel. Her name was Rivka. I asked Rivka how she got saved. She told me it was through the prayers and witness of other Jewish Christians. Rivka finally realized that Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews, and she trusted in the Lord. She told me, “If you are praying for someone, don’t give up! That man prayed for me for two years before I got saved.”

*Rivka then told us of her plan to go back to Israel to start a Christian ministry with her fiancé. I asked her if she was nervous about it and she said: “The safest place that we can ever be is right smack in the center of God’s will.”

*Rivka had found the secret place, the safest place. Surely she would echo these words from vs. 1&2:

1. He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.''

*When you draw close to God, you will be in the ultimate place.

2. And you will have His ultimate protection.

*In vs. 3-4, the writer begins to speak to everyone who trusts in the Lord, and he promises amazing protection from the Lord:

3. Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.

4. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

*In vs. 5&6, He promises to calm our fears:

5. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day,

6. Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

*“You shall not be afraid.” God wants to calm our fears. I once I heard Pastor Bruce Rux speak at a funeral about God calming our fears. Bruce reassured the family with a story from his seminary days in Pittsburgh. One of the professors asked this question: “Which commandment from God is repeated most often in the Bible?”

*Those eager students tried hard to answer his question. Some thought it must have been “love the Lord with all your heart” or one of the Ten Commandments. They were all surprised when the professor told them that the most frequent commandment in God’s Word is simply, “Fear not.” -- “Do not be afraid!”

*I looked it up and those words are found 331 times in God’s Word! -- Life will seem scary at times, but “Fear not!” God wants to calm your fears.

*In vs. 7-10, the Psalmist promises more amazing protection from the Lord:

7. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.

8. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked.

9. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your habitation,

10. No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

*These are amazing promises, and no doubt that God has protected us in ways we cannot know or imagine. But the fact is that these promises will not be ultimately fulfilled until believers are in Heaven.

*There are more Christians being persecuted today that ever before. I once heard that there were more Christians martyred in the 20th century than in all of the first 19 combined. And almost every day, Christians are being killed in the Muslim countries of North Africa and the Middle East. On top of this, there are faithful believers we know suffering with serious illness right now.

*Listen to the Apostle Paul’s resume of suffering from 2 Corinthians 11:24-28:

24. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.

25. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;

26. in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

27. in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness

28. besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

*Judy Anderson grew up as a missionary kid in Zaire. As a little girl, she went to a day-long rally celebrating the 100th anniversary of Christian missionaries coming to that part of the country. After a full day of messages and music, an old man came before the crowd and insisted that he be allowed to speak. He said he soon would die, and that he had some important information to share.

*The old man explained that when Christian missionaries had first come a hundred years before, his people thought the missionaries were strange and their message unusual. The tribal leaders decided to test the missionaries in a cruel and harsh way: They slowly poisoned them to death. Over a period of months and years, missionary children died one by one.

*Then the old man said, “It was as we watched how they died that we decided we wanted to live as Christians.” (2)

*That sad story had gone untold for one hundred years. And God worked all things together for good, just as He promised He would for those who love Him. But those faithful missionaries and their children did not find the ultimate protection until they got to Heaven. And neither will we.

*But when you draw close to God, you will have His ultimate protection.

3. And you will see His unfolding prophecy.

*This Psalm generally applies to everyone who trusts in the Lord, but it looks forward to the Savior in a special way.

[1] For example, in vs. 9-12:

9. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your habitation,

10. No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

11. For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.

12. They shall bear you up in their hands, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

*The first time most people hear those last words is not in this Psalm, but in Matthew 4:5-7, where Jesus was tempted by the devil:

5. Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,

6. and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge concerning you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

7. Jesus said to him, "It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

*This Psalm 91 might have been written by Moses almost 1,500 years before Christ or by King David a thousand years before Christ. But here and all through the Old Testament, God was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah.

[2] This Psalm looks forward to the Savior in a special way. Verse 13 is another example: “You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample under foot.”

*I don’t think that’s talking about us. I’m not going to be treading on any lions or cobras anytime soon! -- How about you? -- No way. But Romans 16:20 tells Christians that, “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly!”

[3] Psalm 91 looks forward to the Savior in a special way. Surely in these verses, the Heavenly Father is speaking to and about His Son.

*In vs. 14, He speaks about the Son’s love for His Father: “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him.” Jesus confirmed His love for the Father when He died on the cross. Just a few hours before the cross Jesus said, “That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.” (John 14:31)

[4] Again in vs. 14, we see a special link between the Father and the Son regarding the name of God: “I will set him on high, because he has known My name.”

*On the night before the cross, Jesus focused on the Father’s name. Listen to part of the Lord’s prayer from John 17:5-7. There Jesus said:

5. “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

6. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

7. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.

[5] This Psalm looks forward to the Savior in a special way. In vs. 15 we hear the Father promising to answer the Messiah’s prayers: “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”

*In John 11 Jesus talked about how the Father always heard His prayers. Listen to what the Lord said just before He raised Lazarus from the dead:

39. Jesus said, "Take away the stone.'' Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.''

40. Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?''

41. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.

42. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.''

43. Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!''

44. And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go.'' (John 11:39-44)

*Jesus Christ is the Lord God Almighty we see in Psalm 91. Jesus Christ is the Lord God Almighty we are to seek with all our hearts.

*And when you draw close to God:

-You will be in the ultimate place, close to God.

-You will have His ultimate protection.

-You will continue to see God’s prophecy unfolding all around us.

*And best of all in vs. 16, you will see God’s salvation. “With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

*Have you seen God’s salvation? -- We see it best in the cross of Jesus Christ!

-The Lord dying for our sins, and rising again from the dead.

-The Lord taking the punishment for our sins, and giving eternal life to all who trust in Him.

-Then one day taking us all to Heaven.

*Open your heart to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.

-Put your trust in Him.

-And draw close to God because He will draw close to you.

1. “The Great Texts of the Bible” - Edited by James Hastings - Volume IV - p. 241

2. Leith Anderson, Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2. - Found in “Bible Illustrator for Windows” - Topic: Trust Subtopic: In God Index: 1214-1218 - Date: 71998.1876 Title: Paying the Price of Evangelism

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