INTRO.- Answer me quickly, Lord.
ILL.- Here’s a bad situation where you barely have time to call on the Lord or anyone for help. May 23, 2013. Driver survives I-5 bridge collapse into Wash. river: A driver said he thought he was about to die when an Interstate 5 bridge span collapsed in Washington state, plunging his pickup and another car into the Skagit River below.
Dan Sligh, his wife and another motorist found themselves waist-deep in water when the freeway crumbled moments after the bridge was clipped by an oversized truck. Sligh said the accident was “like a Hollywood movie unfolding in front of your eyes - up close and personal.”
He said he managed to release his seat belt and climb out of his mangled truck to shallower water, despite fearing he had dislocated his shoulder. His wife also escaped, and was being kept in the Skagit Valley hospital where she was being treated for internal bleeding. "I thought we were done," Sligh said. “When I look at all the carnage, all the metal, I assumed that was it at that point. But here we stand. I’m OK. I’m beat up. I feel like I rode a rodeo bull or something.”
How scary that would have been! A person might have been screamed, “Lord, help us!” or “Lord, save us!” but that was probably the only prayer you could have offered with no time.
Think about all those who people in Moore, OK, May 20, 20013,who had 15-16 minutes warning, knowing a monstrous tornado was headed their way. I’m sure many prayers were offered up to the Lord and rightfully so. Who else could help you in a time like that? Who else could stop a tornado or disastrous affects from happening? The Lord is the only one who has the power to do that.
"My family and God is what's helping us through this," said Vickie Myers, 39, whose husband Brent, a disabled military veteran, was recovering after he was pulled unconscious from the rubble.
Joseph Salinas, 25, said he prayed for safety as he rode out the tornado in a friend's shelter in Moore, along with his mother, and his two children, Andrew, 2, and Faith, 3. They lost most of their possessions in the storm but Salinas does not despair. "As long as we have God, we have everything," he said.
A Gallup survey published in 2012 found that 77 percent of people in Oklahoma described themselves as strongly or moderately religious. There are 82 churches listed on the website of the city of Moore, which has a population of about 55,000 people. All are Christian denominations. Could it be that the Lord spared them somewhat because of their faith in Him?
Job 14:1 “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Life is full of trouble, problems and difficulties, etc. Consequently, we need a help greater than ourselves or any human person. WE NEED THE LORD!
PROP.- The Psalmist’s prayer should be our prayer at times.
1- Answer me quickly, Lord
2- Do not bring me into judgment
3- Show me the way to go in life
4- Rescue me from my enemies
1. ANSWER ME QUICKLY, LORD
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Come quickly, Lord. When we’re in deep trouble we want help and we want it now!
ILL.- Preacher Warren Wiersbe wrote: “In October, 1983, I was painting Van and Juanita Clark's home. They had a small black dog who would go to the back door and bark and bark until someone finally got the message and let it out. One day I was there, painting the outside of the home, while everyone else was gone. Their little dog, however, took his place at the back door and barked incessantly all day. The sad thing was that it never dawned in his little brain that all his barking was totally useless--no one was home to hear him!”
Is that you how feel when you’re experiencing trouble and you call out to God in prayer? Have you ever felt like He wasn’t there? The Psalmist may have felt that way when he said, DO NOT HIDE YOUR FACE FROM ME. God, are you there?
I’ve heard it said that God answers prayer in at least four ways: yes, no, maybe, and you’ve got to be kidding. Haven’t we all asked some of those “you’ve got to be kidding” prayers?
It’s possible that God doesn’t answer some of our prayers and we just aren’t paying attention. Sometimes God closes doors and sometimes He opens them slowly and sometimes quickly. We just to be open to His will, be discerning, and wait on the Lord. And sometimes God says, “No,” and it’s own our fault.
ILL.- When Norman Vincent Peale was a boy, he found a big, black cigar, slipped into an alley, and lit up. It didn't taste good, but it made him feel very grown up. . . until he saw his father coming. Quickly he put the cigar behind his back and tried to be casual. Desperate to divert his father's attention, Norman pointed to a billboard advertising the circus.
"Can I go, Dad? Please, let's go when it comes to town." His father's reply taught Norman a lesson he never forgot. "Son, he answered quietly but firmly, "never make a petition while at the same time trying to hide a smoldering disobedience." Don’t ask while you are being disobedient.
Psalm 66:18-19 “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.”
If any person is going to cherish sin in their hearts, or love sin, or cling to that sin then the Lord will not answer their prayers. He always listens but He doesn’t always answer, not when we cherish sin or wrongdoing in our lives. Could this be why we sometimes don’t get answers to our prayers?
ILL.- There was once a godless seaman who was in a boat fishing with his godless companions when a storm came up which threatened to sink the ship. His companions begged him to offer a prayer; but he declined, saying it was years since he had prayed or been in a church. Finally, upon their insistence, he offered this prayer: “O Lord, I have not asked You for anything for fifteen years, and if You deliver us out of this storm and bring us safe to land again, I promise that I will not bother You again for another fifteen years.” I don’t think that’s how God works.
James 5:16 “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I think we can safely include, “The prayer of a faithful man is powerful and effective.”
Hebrews 5:7 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”
Psalm 46:1 “The Lord is our refuge and strength, an ever- present help in trouble.”
Psalm 40:13 “Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.”
Psalm 70:5 “But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay.”
Psalm 79:8 “Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.”
2. DO NOT BRING ME INTO JUDGMENT
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.
Have you ever been in a court of law? How did you like that situation? Honestly, I don’t think anybody likes to appear before a judge for any reason. I didn’t even like it when they called me as juror. Just sitting there bothered me. There was just something about it that made me feel somewhat uneasy.
Well, if you think that’s bad, what about appearing before the all-righteous, holy God of heaven? How you would feel about that? I think I know how some would feel, very much afraid.
Daniel Webster (American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War) said: “My greatest thought is my accountability to God.”
It seems this should be the greatest thought for many people, especially those who know they are not right with God! The fear of judgment and the fear of God needs to be re-instituted in the hearts and minds of all people. It seems like there is no fear of God any more. This thought scares me for our country!
ILL.- James Denney was a Scottish preacher in the 1800‘s. He said: “All that we have hidden shall be revealed. The things we have done in the body will come back to us, whether good or bad. Every pious thought, and every thought of sin; every secret prayer, and every secret curse; every unknown deed of charity, and every hidden deed of selfishness; we will see them all again, and though we have not remembered them for years, and perhaps have forgotten them altogether, we shall have to acknowledge that they are our own. Is not that a solemn thing to stand at the end of life?”
Is this ever a solemn thought! And some people need to think about this if they haven’t been thinking about it.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. Isn’t this our prayer? Please don’t bring me into judgment because no one is righteous or no one lives right. And that’s true. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Everybody sins.
But there is a difference in the Christian and the person who has never named the name of Christ and surrendered to Him in faith and obedience. We are sinners saved by grace, saved by His grace in the person of Jesus.
We cast ourselves on the mercy of God because we trust in Christ to save us from sin, judgment and hell! This is our hope and it’s a sure hope. So please live in confidence of appearing before God. He is not your enemy. He is your gracious God who loves you more life itself! HE PROVED IT ON THE CROSS!
3. SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO IN LIFE
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Show me the way I should go. Teach me to do your will.
I really wish this was our prayer, but I fear that often it is not for most people. Why do I say this? Because I’m not sure that most people want God show them the way to go and how to do His will.
ILL.- Frank Sinatra popularized that famous song, “I did it my way.” And I guess he did live his wife the way he wanted. And multitudes of people have made that their theme in life. They selfishly and pridefully say, “I DO IT MY WAY.” Most folks want to do their own thing in this life and then hope they will receive eternal life in the next life. But that’s not smart. We should pray, “Lord, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And add to it, “Lord, thy will be done in my life.”
How does the Lord show us the way to go in life? There are two basic ways. God’s basic or general will is revealed in His Word. Many things about life are covered in His Word: Work, marriage, raising children, relationships, the Christian life, etc. He shows us the way to go in His Word and if we’re doing something that is contradicted by His Word then we’re going the wrong way.
Secondly, God’s specific will is revealed or can be revealed through seeking Him in prayer. “Lord, what should I do about this situation?” The problem is that few of us really pray about seeking His will for our lives. We just go ahead and do what we want or perhaps what we think is right without consulting God.
Many times we make mistakes in life that could have been avoided if we had gone by God’s Word and then sought Him in prayer and waited until we were sure He answered.
ILL.- I think of the many young people who get married quickly just because they wanted to live with someone. They may not be sure he or she is the right person but they get married anyway. I think many people jump in far too quickly.
And I don’t know of hardly anyone who prays about the person they want to marry. But the same thing is true of many things in life. We go off half-cocked, not seeking the Lord’s will in the matter and then later we may find that we’ve made a bad mistake. We must pray, “Lord, show me the way I should do. And teach me to do your will.” To do God’s will is a matter of obedience. Do you really want to do God’s will? If you are serious then obey His Word!
ILL. Thomas a Kampis, the great German scholar who wrote THE IMITATION OF CHRIST also wrote: “Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace.” Teach me, Lord, to do your will, to obey you.
4. RESCUE ME FROM MY ENEMIES
9 Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. We all have enemies in life whether we want them or make them. There will always be some in our lives who seem to want to cause us trouble or oppose us in some way.
ILL.- I was talking to my brother Larry who manages a large price chopper store in the Lenexa, KS, area. You might think, “He’s the manager. What kind of trouble could he have?” Plenty. He told me that someone with the Health department has been hassling him. It seems that she checked the milk case and the milk was 43 degrees. He said that by the government health standards it has to be 41 degrees. So what happened? Larry said they had throw all that milk away and other products simply because it was two degrees too warm. And then he had to bring in refrigeration men to make sure they could get the temperature down in the cooler so the milk would be at the right temperature.
What started all this? Someone who didn’t like something that happened at his store and so they called the Health department to complain that their child got sick on some baloney they bought from that store. But here’s more to that story. That father who complained to the Health Department wanted to park his pizza truck on their parking lot to sell pizza’s and the company said, “No, he couldn’t do that,” so he conjured up this story to get back at the store and that company.
That incident cost Larry’s store initially $5000 for all those milk and cheese products that they had to dispose of, but he said it will cost a lot more to have their refrigeration worked on. And he said that probably every store in the Kansas City area is no different than his store.
We all have enemies or opponents in life and in every realm: at work, the world, relationships, and even sometimes in the church. And there are always plenty of troublemakers in life. And this is why we pray: 9 Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you.
Psalm 25:20 “Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.”
ILL.- A preacher friend from Marion, IL, wrote this devotion recently and posted it on facebook. It tells the story about our need in the midst of our difficulties in life.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” - Genesis 18:14
A little boy was trying to roll a rock as his father watched from a distance. The boy was heaving and sighing, but he couldn’t turn the stone over. His dad with a smile said, “Son, are you using all of your strength?” He said, “Yes, Daddy, I’m using all my strength.” And the father said, “No, you’re not, because you haven’t asked me to help you. My strength is your strength.”
Sometimes we wrestle with problems and say, “I don’t know what to do.” Our Father wants us to say, “I’ve run out of my strength,” and run to Him. His strength can become our strength if we lean on Him!
Is there a problem too big for you to solve? Give it to the Lord. He can handle it.
Steve Shepherd, Cape Girardeau, MO