The Book of Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:53
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At a Bible conference at the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church in NY city, Tony Evans shared a story to a room full of pastors about a gospel presentation being held in the University of South Carolina football stadium where he was the main speaker. Thousands had gathered for the evening session, but news reports indicated that a serious thunderstorm was on the way. In fact, the storm was expected to hit at 7:00 pm—the exact time the meeting was scheduled to start.
As the sky grew darker and darker, the threat of cancellation was a valid possibility. A group of preachers and other church leaders decided to gather for a prayer meeting. Tony Evans shared how all the preachers prayed what many would consider safe prayers—ones quite undemanding of God. Then, a woman named Linda spoke up, and asked if she could pray. Linda's prayer went something like this: "Lord, thousands have gathered to hear the Good News about your Son. It would be a shame on your name for us to have all these unbelievers go without the gospel when you control the weather, and you don't stop it. In the name of Jesus Christ, address this storm!"
The prayer meeting ended and everyone took their places inside the football stadium under the dark, threatening sky. The leader of the gospel presentation told the people, "We'll go as long as we can." Umbrellas sprouted up among the crowd. A man sitting next to Linda opened his umbrella and offered to shield her as well, but Linda refused.
Then Tony Evans told the room full of preachers in NY how he and his wife watched as the pouring rain came up to the edge of one end of stadium and then split in two. Rain fell on both sides of the stadium and came back together on the other end, but all of those inside stayed dry.
Then Tony Evans asked the following question: "How did Linda get what the preachers didn't? She had the boldness, the shameless audacity, to ask."
In our text that we read earlier this morning, the writer was a man (like the conference hosts we just referred to). He was in serious trouble. He was worn out—tired of being ripped off by other. But thankfully, he understood some things that we will definitely want to know when we find ourselves in the midst of a painful situation, maybe not exactly like his, but a painful one nonetheless.
This morning, I would like to speak to you about those times in life when you need God to intervene on your behalf in a significant way. The title of my message is this:
Title: When You Need God to Intervene (Psalm 119:121-128)
In 1962 a 14-year-old by the name of Robert White wrote to President John F. Kennedy's personal secretary requesting the President's autograph. Within a few weeks Evelyn Lincoln honored the boy's request by sending him a facsimile signature in the mail.
That was the beginning of a friendship that lasted 33 years. Impressed with White's passion for presidential history, Evelyn Lincoln gave him thousands of documents and mementos. She saved whatever could be saved—even the scribbling JFK did during meetings. Robert White eventually possessed the largest private collection of Kennedy memorabilia—over 50,000 items.
Receiving begins with the courage to ask. And that is what we see in our text in Psalm 119 this morning. The Psalmist really needs an answer to prayer from God, but before he prays, he reminds God about something. Look at verse 121:
Psalm 119:121-----I have done justice and righteousness; Do not leave me to my oppressors.
Lord, I have treated people fairly [justice] and have done what is right [righteousness].
And then he prays: “Do not leave me to my oppressors.” Oppression happens when someone stronger and richer mistreats or robs someone weaker and poorer. Maybe you are oppressed by someone in some way. Maybe you need an answer to prayer from God about some way in which you are being mistreated.
Receiving begins with the courage to ask.
In v. 122, the mistreated Psalmist prays:
Psalm 119:122 (NIV)-----Ensure your servant’s well-being; do not let the arrogant oppress me.
He asks God to “co-sign” his well-being. “Lord, please pledge to me that you will help me—arrogant snobs are mistreating me.”
Now, apparently, this had been going on for a long time because in verse 123, the Psalmist tells God:
Psalm 119:123 (NET)-----My eyes grow tired as I wait for your deliverance, for your reliable promise to be fulfilled.
I believe it was Bill Hybels who said that when we pray, God gives us one of three answers, “Yes…No…or Not yet.” And God has been telling the Psalmist “not yet” for quite a while. But he hasn’t quit praying. Why? The Apostle James tells us why:
James 5:16 ----- The spiritually energized prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.
The great pastor of London, England, Charles Spurgeon said:
Prayer pulls the rope below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly. Others give but an occasional pluck at the rope. But the one who wins with heaven is the person who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might.
And because this is so, the Psalmist prays in v. 124:
Psalm 119:124-125-----Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy [loyal love], and teach me Your statutes. I am Your servant; Give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies.
The Psalmist has loved God’s word and kept God’s word and his enemies have not, therefore, he asks God to keep His promises—the promises He has made to him in His word.
And this leads us to lesson 1. When you are being mistreated in some way ... or when you have been oppressed by some issue that you just can’t seem to shake, no matter how much you pray, you must remember that:
1. Those who treat others fairly and do what’s right can pray with confidence for God to deliver them (119:121-125).
Former Boston Red Sox player John Olerud's infant daughter had a rare genetic disease. During one of her medical treatments, the first baseman held his infant daughter while doctors attempted to insert an IV. Olerud described the look in her eyes this way: “What's going on? I thought you were my dad, protecting me, and you're holding me down and allowing them to poke me? How can you say you love me and let somebody do this?” Knowing that even if he could tell her why all this was happening, she wouldn't understand, Olerud could only say, "You've just got to trust me."
Olerud saw an important faith lesson in that experience. He said: “Sometimes with our suffering, you look to God and say, ‘God, this does not make any sense. I’m getting hammered here, and you could change it.’ I’m sure he’s looking at us saying, ‘I can’t tell you why I’m doing this. It is in your best interest. You just have to trust me.’”
Now, after reading verses 121-125, if you thought that the Psalmist had confidence in prayer, wait until you read v. 126. In v. 126, he is just downright bold:
Psalm 119:126-----LORD, it is time for you to act, for these evil people have broken your law.
I love it! The Psalmist is praying and is saying,
Lord, it’s not just that I am getting chewed up down here by these arrogant rip-offs, but these rip-offs have broken your laws and it is time that you defend what you have said in your own word!
He is basically asking God to judge his oppressors because they have disobeyed the word of God Almighty!
And this brings us to our second lesson for today:
1. Those who treat others fairly and do what’s right can pray with confidence for God to deliver them (119:121-125).
2. Those who serve God and love his word can pray with boldness for God to act in judging those who do evil (119:126).
Not too long ago I watched a movie made in 2008 that starred Liam Neeson called “Taken.” Neeson plays the role of a former CIA operative named Bryan Mills whose daughter is kidnapped by human traffickers during a trip to France with her friend. At the crime scene, Neeson finds a cell phone left behind and dials his daughter’s abductor. In a very intense scene, Neesom says to his daughter’s abductor:
I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want …. I can tell you I don't have money; but, what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills that I've acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.
And with those words, Neeson begins his unrelenting pursuit of his daughter and those who kidnapped her.
Let me tell you something about our God this morning. Our God is the most loving person in the universe. No one can compare to Him. He loves His children with a deep and eternal love that we cannot fathom. But let me say this as well. There is a payday coming for evil people. God says “Don’t be deceived. I cannot be mocked!”
And when his children who have been loyal to him and his word cry out to him when they have been mistreated, like Neeson in that movie, God is essence, says to those who mistreat His children:
I know who you are and I know what you’ve done …. I can tell you that I have are a very particular set of skills, skills that I've possessed over a very, very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you do not stop hurting my child, I will look for you, I will find you and I will judge you.
1. Those who treat others fairly and do what’s right can pray with confidence for God to deliver them (119:121-125).
2. Those who serve God and love his word can pray with boldness for God to act in judging those who do evil (119:126).
Now our final lesson.
After lifting up his bold prayer asking God to act and judge his tormentors, the Psalmist writes:
Psalm 119:127–128 (NLT)-----Truly, I love your commands more than gold, even the finest gold. Each of your commandments is right. That is why I hate every false way.
3. Those who pray boldly and seek God’s intervention should continue to love God’s word and hate every false way (119:127-128).
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