When You Seem Stuck

Then Sings My Soul  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:54
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When we seem stuck, cooperation with God's plans will keep us moving toward His intended end.

Today we celebrate those who are peering over the side of the nest and looking at the vast world before you. With new liberties will come new responsibilities.
Decisions that you make now with mom and dad’s assistance, will soon rest squarely on your own shoulders. Getting up and getting to class will be your own responsibility. With no curfew, getting your rest is all on you. You’re about to learn that pizza and pop-tarts will lead to the “Freshman 15”.
I would be guilty of ministerial malpractice, if I didn’t warn you to guard your spiritual life. Choose friends who will support your faith. Develop habits now of Bible reading and memory. Commit to finding a local church for worship and support. Look for a campus ministry that will provide opportunities to use your spiritual gifts and talents.
Mark my words, even if you are surrounded by people every day, you will experience times of homesickness and loneliness. There will be times when you feel like a nameless student in a sea of people.
In a small county with limited population you have grown up with the knowledge that news of any trouble you get into will probably make it home before you do. Many of you are about to experience anonymity for the first time. At the university, in the military, or at the trade school you’re about to find yourself in situations where it is common to wonder if anybody sees you as an individual.
Today’s text is a lesson for any of us that feel like we’re spinning our wheels in a mud bog. Nobody notices but we’re getting tired. We begin to wonder if the seeming lack of progress is worth all the effort. Will anybody notice if I just give up or drop out?
Transition: Today’s Psalm that was read for us in the video a moment ago contains 4 main reminders of things you already know and I will make 2 takeaways. The first reminder is…

God Sees Everything (vv.1-6)

Have you ever been thinking about something or doing a google search for an item, then you turn on Facebook and there is an ad for that very item?
Long before Google or Mark Zuckerberg were able to track the details of your life. The Psalmist reveals that God is the one who sees these things.
But God is on another level. He doesn’t only see what we do, He knows why we do it.

God sees (v.2-3)

1. God sees the physical – sitting and rising
2. God sees the internal – thoughts & ways

God foresees (v.4)

1. God sees what you’re about to say, because he sees your heart.
2. In one of Jesus’ debates with the religious leaders he said, Matthew 15:18 (ESV) — But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart.

God envelops (vv.5-6)

1. This truth protects (v.5a)
2. This truth blesses (v.5b)
· This pictures an ancient Hebrew tradition that is similar to our last will and testament.
· A man about to die would gather his family and lay his hand on his sons and pronounce a blessing, often leaving portions of his estate to his heirs.
3. This truth is beyond our comprehension (v.6)
When we started school last September there isn’t one of us who could have predicted how the year would end.
Teachers, if you knew you would not see students after spring break, would you have planned differently?
Students, if you knew that prom, Spring sports, and solo/ensemble would not happen would you have made any changes to your schedule?
Parents, if you knew you would be consulting during online learning, would you have read up in advance?
4. God knew what was going to happen. God preserved you during the process. Each of us has experienced benefits from this process that we did not plan, did not anticipate, yet we have all made it through.
5. The same truth applies to the 20-21 year. We will each experience things that we neither plan nor anticipate, but God will see you through.
Transition: After these verses about God seeing everything, The Psalmist changes perspective and admits that…

God Sees Everywhere (vv.7-12)

This next section has undertones of Adam’s attempt to hide in Genesis 3:8-9. But just like the set of muddy footprints that lead to the child’s bedroom, culprits find there is no place to hide.
Just as Paul details at the end of Romans 8 that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love, this passage explains that there is nowhere that can separate us from God’s presence.

No Boundaries (vv.8-9)

1. Up/down (heaven/sheol)
2. East/West (morning/sea)

Guide and Protect (v.10)

· We looked extensively last week in Ps 23 at how God’s intimate presence (nearness) guides and protects.

Night-vision Equipped (vv.11-12)

God’s vision is thermal and night enhanced.
I have never personally used NVG or seen thermal imaging. But I’ve watched enough action movies to have an idea about what those green-tones images or the white forms on a grey screen look like.
God’s view of us is not diminished like these representations. No matter the environment where we try to hide, He sees us in full-color and Ultra High Definition.
Transition: God not only sees the invisible and penetrates the inaccessible, but is operative there, the author of even the smallest details of my being[i]…

God Sees Minutiae (vv.13-18)

Made for This (vv.13-16)

1. A person with fat fingers is probably not the best person to work on antique clocks with all the tiny gears, springs & levers.
2. A person with little patience is probably not the best person to work in a daycare center.
3. We’ve already seen that God knows the events of your life and that he goes before you and ‘has your six’. in these 4 verses that speak of God’s involvement before we are even born, we find that God uniquely forms you for the tasks in front of you.
This week I reached out to Coach Budke on Twitter and asked his followers to interact with the idea that “Victories are executed on the gamefield, but wins/losses are manufactured on the practice field.”
I value the feedback that he and another High School coach provided. I was trying to draw a connection between speed camp and practices and hopeful success on the field during the season. Both of these coaches reminded that while the specific skills developed in camp have an application on the field, the real test is in how those skills are adapted for real life.
4. God has formed you with the necessary ability to succeed. Parents, teachers and coaches have refined your abilities with skills, attitudes and habits that can help when you feel like you are stuck, God has created and molded you to press on.

Mastery creates options (vv.17-18)

1. Because God knows how all the itsy bitty parts work together, he knows how to arrange those parts for the best outcome.
2. When we feel stuck and unable to see our way through, God is so creative that he can see options that we miss.
I realize they aren’t overly popular here, but some of you may be familiar with barn quilts. What amazes me (a non-quilter) are the vast number of variations of color and pattern.
Similarly, I hardly know the difference between a tulip and a dandelion, but I am amazed at the variety of flowers that God has created.
Transition: We’ve seen that God sees everything, God sees everywhere, and God sees options that we may miss. Finally, it all comes together when we remember that…

God Sees Me (intimately) (vv.19-24)

The Struggle is Real (19-22)

1. The Psalmist has chosen a side. He knows that God sees the whole situation. He knows that God is with him in the struggle. He knows that God has equipped him for the struggle.
2. Rather suddenly v.19 seems to come out of nowhere. But these are the admissions of a man who honestly admits that some days are hard.
3. I do you a disservice if I don’t warn you of the obstacles. On Campus, in classrooms and lounges, and in life not everyone is committed to your spiritual, academic or social success. Some will play you for their advantage. Some will tempt you with distractions. Some will naively invite you to join them on detours of pleasure.
4. In vv.19-22, David identifies a goal and admits there are enemies to that goal.
One of my favorite authors is Chuck Swindoll. Over 25 years ago he developed a series of messages under the title Building Blocks of Biblical Character. In the chapter based upon the life of Daniel he describes both Daniel’s prosperity and adversity. Swindoll writes, “real integrity stays in place whether the test is adversity or prosperity. Whether Daniel was next in line to become prime minister or the hungry lions’ midnight snack, he maintained his integrity”.[ii]
My friend, no matter what situation you encounter in life, do NOT surrender your integrity!

Semper Reformanda (vv.23-24)

Many of you are familiar with the Marine Corps slogan, Semper Fi, which is an abbreviated form of Semper Fidelis – Always faithful.
Are you aware that a similar phrase occurs in Church History? Semper Reformanda is a phrase attested at least as early as 1674 and some trace it to a supposed quote by St. Augustine around 400 AD. It refers to the conviction of certain theologians that [believers] the church must continually re-examine themselves in order to maintain purity of doctrine and practice.
If the Marines grunt “semper fi, do or die”, the call of semper reformanda is “search me, try me, lead me to do better.”
David intentionally submits to the continued cycle of testing, refining and improving.
Transition: As we conclude I want to land this sermon by identifying 2 obstacles that will get you stuck.
Two obstacles to God’s Plan for your life:
1. Your Cooperation – God’s Will has two expressions—decree and desire. Some things God decrees and nothing you can do will prevent it. Nobody here had the power to stop the earth from spinning so that the sun appeared in the eastern horizon about 5 hours ago and nothing you do will prevent the same sun from crossing the western horizon at 8:50 tonight. Other experiences are found within his desire, but not his decree. Theologians smarter than be have debated which things fall into these two categories.
· Verses like Mark 3:35, Hebrews 10:36 and 1 John 2:17 describe those who do the will of God. Because this will is dependent upon our doing, I believe this is describing His will of desire.
· Based upon verses like Rev 3:20 (which picture Jesus knocking on a door waiting for the occupant to open and invite Him in), I believe God is asking for your willing cooperation with His desires for your life. This is the way everlasting from Ps 139:27.
2. Your Consistency – There is a major difference between a hobby and a habit.
· I have buddies who compete as a hobby. My friend Mike (left) runs ultramarathons (50 miles) and my pal Ted just competed an Ironman Triathalon. Both of these guys train as a hobby for these competitions.
· This is my buddy Chris. He is amazing for a few reasons. 1) He is a special education teacher, which requires amazing patience. 2) He is a divorced dad who has primary custody of a teenage daughter. 3) He is involved in his church and stepped out of his comfort zone to lead a small group for the first-time last fall. But the most amazing thing that comes to my mind when I think of Chris is his social media post yesterday that ended with #Runstreak 2933. Yes, he has gone running (on purpose) EVERY day for the last 2933 days (that is over 8 years!) Chris doesn’t run indoors, and he doesn’t live in Texas or Florida. He lives in Wisconsin and he has consistently made opportunity to run (usually about 5 miles) every single day!
· Besides heartbeat and breath, I don’t know that there is much that that I have done every single day for 8 years.
· The key to you making it out of the times when you seem stuck and finding the way everlasting is to speak with and listen to the Lord daily. Any of us who invite the Lord’s examination of our motives daily will be lead out of the desert.
Today’s message has been written with our Seniors in mind, but it also has direct application for any of us who feel like we are stuck in a rut.
One humorist has quipped that a rut is just a grave with the ends blown out.
God does not want you stuck in a rut! By remembering that God sees everything, everywhere, minutia and you, and by surrendering your cooperation and consistency to His will, we each have opportunity to be led in the way everlasting.
[i] Derek Kidner, Psalms 73–150: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 16, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1975), 502.
[ii] Charles R. Swindoll, Building Blocks of Biblical Character, 33.
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