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The Surrendered Christian
By Brian Pepper
This morning I want to bring to your attention some very interesting statements from the Book of Psalms. I have heard a number of folk asking the question “what has the Christian life got to offer outside of a series of do's and don’ts”. There has been far too much emphasis on the negative side rather than the positive. David was well qualified to speak on the subject and he says that the Christian life has everything to offer.
Like a Tree Planted by a River
I want you to notice some of his statements. Psalm 1:3."And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Now isn’t that an excellent statement. A tree planted by a river. Could you have a better illustration than that? There is nothing long faced or sour in that statement. A real Christian should flourish for he draws his nourishment from the river of living water that never dries up.
Down on the Manjimup - Nannup road (Western Australia) there is a delightful place called 'One Tree Bridge. The early pioneers cut out of the forest a very large tree and lay it across the river to make a bridge. All around there are towering giants. The karri trees are not only giants but beautiful to behold. Trees that grow in such favourable surroundings do not wither and die. David says that is the way it should be with the surrendered Christian. They should be a living testimony to the power of the Gospel. David says that this thee should produce fruit. And even though the karri is not a fruit tree it in time becomes useful timber. Strangely enough it is often used for fruit cases.
For a picture of the fruit tree planted by the river one of the best illustrations of this is Fonti’s pool, one of the most delightful spots in Western Australia. To the side and behind this famous pool are fruit trees which draw their moisture from the pool to produce the most luscious fruit. The fully surrendered Christian will be like that. He won’t live to benefit himself but to bless the neighbourhood with his good deeds.
Thou makest me Dwell in Safety
Psalm 4:8 says, “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." I wonder how many folk knew that statement was in the Bible?
There is a great deal of violence and crime these days, mothers are anxious about their children with so many children disappearing. The news on the radio and in the newspapers is often disturbing. But here is a wonderful promise. Since the Christian’s mind is at peace he can sleep contentedly being assured of God's protection.
Quite a few years ago when Mario Lanza was at the height of his success he sang a song that became very popular. It told how the angels watch over us while we sleep. Why should we spend sleepless nights worrying when we are assured of divine protection?
I will Sing unto the Lord
Psalm 13:6 says, "I will sing unto the Lord, because He hath dealt bountifully with me.” Have you ever burst into song because of some good news or some special occasion? If you have you will be able to appreciate just what David is saying here.
There must be very few folk who have not heard of George Beverly Shea. Without question he is the most outstanding Gospel singer today, his records prove that. They are such good sellers that they rarely sit very long on the display racks. Why is this man so successful? l believe that it has a lot to do with his sincerity and conviction.
David must have been a very fine singer. For all we know he could have been the equal of Mario Lanza or George Beverly Shea - it all depends whether he was a tenor or baritone. He was known as the sweet singer of Israel. This suggests a tenor. Whether he had an outstanding voice we do not know but we do not question his sincerity.
The real surrendered Christian will thank God for His benefits through the medium of song. You ought to try it sometime.
There is no Fear of Death
Psalm 17:15 says, "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness." There is no fear of death to the surrendered Christian, but rather he longs for the joy of seeing God face to face. The Bible declares death to be an enemy and I am sure that everyone will agree with me on this point. When I was a young fellow I remember how I dreaded death. I used to think that death was the most terrible thing. But David says, "If you are a Christian there is nothing to fear. There are better things ahead.”
Over in New England they had a custom in the early days that if any one died, the day that person died, the day that person was buried, the church bell would toll out that person’s age on the bell. If a person were ninety - the bell would toll ninety times. That is a stroke for every year the person lived. But sometimes the bell only tolled once or twice or on occasions thrice.
As I thought about that bell how glad I was that David tells us that death has no fears.
"0 death where is thy sting?" 0 grave where is thy victory?"
Christ has taken away the sting He has gained the victory. How isn’t that wonderful! Doesn’t that make you glad that you are a Christian?
Forgiveness of Sins
And now Psalm 32:2. "Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." David's hands were bloodstained hands. He had smeared his conscience with adultery and murder and yet the wonderful thing about it, he could come out with this statement. It was true and genuine repentance on his part that enabled him to say this. True he had to pay the price, it must have been a bitter blow to lose his sons; worse still to, that it was because of his own doing, his own poor example. But thank God there is cleansing power in the blood of the Lamb.
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Now isn’t that wonderful! So simple. God’s way is always like that.
I am glad David could say, “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.” If David could say it, so can you and so can I.
He Delivered me from all my Fears
Now here is something else that he has to say. Psalm 34:4 says, "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." Mow isn’t that wonderful! People have all kinds of fears. Some fear war, others fear want, others are fearful for their children. There seems to be a continual fear of something or other. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "We have nothing to fear except the fear of fear.” When you analyse that statement it is very true.
Actually Jesus indicated that the day in which we are living would be a day of fears.
Luke 21:26 says, "Men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth."
But David says if you are a Christian there is no need to fear “… for the Lord has delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4) That should be a comfort to every mother and father, brother and sister, Uncle and Aunt.
Thou shalt be Fed
How listen to his next statement. Psalm 37:3. "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed.” This is a good one. People like to feel secure. Often folk will plan carefully to that end but unfortunately even the best laid plans often go astray. I want you to notice that this is a very positive statement; “thou shalt be fed.” Put your trust in the right place and you will be duly rewarded.
In South Australia nobody gets excited at the sight of a sparrow – as a matter of fact sparrows are probably the commonest birds on earth. Sparrows love to be wherever men are. Wherever people live, sparrows will come and make their homes. As a rule men do not take very much notice of them…
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A Prosperous Long Living Christian
Psalm 52: 8. "But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.) In some parts of the Holy Land today, the gnarled -ash coloured trunk with its stiff branches and leathery leaves, is the only tree of size to be found. It is an evergreen and grows to a height of 20 to 40 ft. To the Oriental it is a symbol of prosperity and blessing. As you know the fruit yields the highly prized olive oil.
To be like a green olive tree in the house of God suggests a prosperous long living Christian. We ought to ask ourselves the question. Are we green olive trees in the house of God? If not we ought to be.
We need to Focus more on Others
Psalm 54:6. “I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name O Lord; for it is good." Folk are not prepared to sacrifice these days. The pioneers’ spirit has almost died out. Often folk ask me questions about photography, some have shown me their pictures. I find that a common failing with many inexperienced photographers; they do not focus carefully enough. Fuzzy distorted photos are only fit for the wastepaper basket.
I think that quite a large number of folk have their thinking out of focus. They are focussing all their thoughts on themselves. Everyone is out to better themselves. But I want to assure you it would be far better if we were to focus our thoughts on others; to be prepared to sacrifice a little of our means to help the less fortunate.
Two tourists were visiting the famous Passion play at Ober-am-mer-gau. After the presentation they approached Mr Lang, who played the role of Christ. One of the tourists said, "Would you let my friend photograph me standing here with you, Mr Lang?" The actor consented, and after the photograph was taken, the tourist asked again, "Will you let me lift the cross you carried?" Once again Mr Lang consented. The tourist stooped to lift the wooden cross but try as he would he could scarcely budge it. Again and again he tried, but he could not lift that cross. Finally, with a look of chagrin on his face, he said, "Your cross is very heavy sir.” The actor replied very seriously, "Ah yes, I cannot truly represent Christ if I carry a light cross."
And how true that is. Christ bore a heavy cross for us. He made the supreme sacrifice. If we could only catch a vision of that sacrifice our lives would be transformed. Let us by sacrifice prove a blessing to others. There is absolutely nothing like the Christian life to bring complete and lasting satisfaction.
Every day we are loaded with Benefits
Psalm 68:19 says, "Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation." Fancy that. David says that every day we are loaded with benefits.
I often think that we fail to recognize how many benefits we do receive from the LORD. How many folk today are starving? How many do not have any homes? How many do not have any friends? The LORD gives us good things in abundance. These blessings are twofold, for they are spiritual and physical.
What would the world be like without Christ?
Have you ever stopped to think what this world would be like without Christ? When He first came to this earth in human form the value of a man or woman was very low.
Did you know that when Jesus Christ was preaching, and teaching and healing in Galilee, in the city Rome there were nineteen slaves to every free man. And these slaves were not coloured men, nor were they ignorant and inferior persons. Some of these slaves had as good an education and as wonderful intellects as any other person that ever lived. As these slaves became older they came into the possession of some of the poorest citizens of Rome. These poor masters had hardly enough bread to feed themselves, let alone their slaves. And so the slaves were reduced to the most miserable conditions imaginable.
By His exalted teachings Christ lifted humanity showing that a human soul was of tremendous value in heaven. Today we are reaping the benefits of those wonderful teachings that have given to men and women liberty and equality.
It is no wonder that David comes out with the statement "Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits . . . even the God of our salvation.”
No one is Disappointed who puts their Trust in God
And now we pass on to the next statement. Psalm 71:1. "In thee, 0 Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion." As a child leans upon its parents so the Christian finds constant support in God.
No one is ever disappointed who puts their trust in God. Take Daniel for instance, he was able to say "My God hath shut the lions’ mouths that they have not hurt me..." Because Daniel put his trust in the right place the lions’ den had no terrors
The same could be said of the three young men who refused to bow down to the great image when they were threatened by the king with death by fire. Because they trusted God they were able to say “.... our God, whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king." Daniel 3:17 And what a marvellous deliverance these young men had. They walked out of that blazing furnace without so much as a scorch mark.
What God did "back there He can do today. Put your trust in Him and He will bring you through every danger.
Divine Protection for the Believer
A church member was standing on a platform in the railway goods shed when suddenly a bottle came hurtling from the rafter overhead and just missing his head, almost grazing his nose, shattered on the floor close to his foot. I am sure that everyone here today could give a similar illustration of divine protection.
I will Praise the LORD among the Multitude
Psalm 109:30 says, "I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise Him among the multitude." Something we do not hear very often these days is the good old fashioned testimony meeting. Gone are the hearty amens, the praise the Lords, the hallelujah brothers. I think that certain Pharisees in the church have contributed to the decline of the testimony meeting. But to David his testimony was very real and very genuine. When David gave his testimony the folk knew it was from the heart.
Testimony meetings may be out of date here on this earth but not in heaven. The 24 elders testify every day to the wonderful saving grace of Jesus. The angels of Glory praise God with speech and song.
During the Extension school at Avondale many of the ministers at some time or other made mention of the Friday night vespers, when on many occasions opportunity was given to speak a word for the Saviour. Every one of those men prized the memories of those hallowed occasions.
I only wish that we were more like David. Despite all his failings God loved that man. He was always ready to stand out among the people and praise His name.
Being Generous in Giving for the LORD's Work
Psalm 116:18 says, "I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.” We know that to be true for David was most generous in his giving to the cause of God. God has given us the privilege of assisting in the work of Salvation. Now it is true that not everyone can preach or be a missionary. But God has made it possible for everyone to assist in bringing the Gospel message to others. Some people say that money is a great curse; that we would be better off without it. It all depends on how it is used.
God does not really need our money. He could just speak the word and every poor person would be rich. He could heal all the human race of all their diseases. He could dispense with ministers altogether and make the angels His ambassadors. But God knew that man must have something to do in order that life might be a blessing to him. The silver and the gold are the Lord's. He could rain them from heaven if He chose to do so. But instead He has entrusted man with a responsibility; that is to provide the means of spreading the Gospel. It gives men a chance to be liberal and kind to others.
Often men pledge a certain amount towards the work of the Gospel and that is very good. Those pledges and vows are very sacred and when they are redeemed the liberal person receives credit in heaven. However the majority of professed Christians part with their means with great reluctance.
May the LORD help us to be generous like David who was able to say "I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people."
Midnight Communion with God
And now another of those wonderful statements; Psalm 119:62. "At midnight l will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments." Now I ask you how many of us think of midnight as a time of communion with God. Most of us prefer to be tucked away in bed at that hour. And yet we find on many occasions God manifested Himself to men during the late hours of the night. The call to Samuel came in the night. Daniel was given many of his most important visions and dreams in the night hours.
Just a few years ago Pastor Walter Schubert told of a young man who was the only Seventh-day Adventist in his family. He loved to read his Bible but his mother did not like this new religion and she was very angry when she saw him reading the Bible. One day while he was away at work she hid his Bible under her mattress. When the young man came home he asked her if she had borrowed his Bible. "Me borrow your Bible! She replied angrily, "as if I would read that!" That night the young man prayed that God would help him find his Bible. He went to bed and during the night he had a dream. In the dream he saw an angel and the angel spoke to him saying, "Your mother has hidden your Bible under the mattress of her bed, you will find it there." Next morning he went to his mother’s room and collected the Bible. His mother was speechless. He told her that an angel had shown him where it was. His mother became interested and eventually was baptized.
Yes God can speak to you in the night hours as well as in the day.
Seven times a day will I Praise Thee
Psalm 119: 164. "Seven times a day I praise thee because of thy righteous judgements."
The number 7 has a great significance in the Bible. It signifies completeness. The praise offered to God by the psalmist did not depend upon his feelings or his circumstances; whether he was undergoing severe trials or in deep sorrow such as the loss of his favourite son Absalom. Or in time of great joy; always his voice was uplifted in thanks and hymns of praise.
The House of the LORD
His genuine Christian experience prompted him to say in Psalm 122:1 "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." David did want to build that temple for the Lord but God said "David your hands are stained with blood. As much as I love you I just cannot let you do it but you can make a start. You can gather together all the building materials and get things ready. How David would have loved to take part in the building of the temple. He would have encouraged those workmen with bursts of song and music.
But when he made this statement he was referring to the time of the feasts. The first of these (the Passover) was held in the early spring. At this time the grass was green on the hills and valleys. The wildflowers were in bloom. The moon was nearing the full making the evenings delightful. Throughout the land of Israel the bands of pilgrims were making their way to Jerusalem; the shepherds, the herdsmen, fishermen from the Sea of Galilee, some of the prophets from the sacred schools. Some were on foot, others travelled in caravans. And as they made their way to Jerusalem the grand Hebrew psalms were chanted exalting the Glory and Majesty of Jehovah. Then as the people arrived at their destination the sacred services began. At the sound of the trumpet, with the music of cymbals, the chorus of thanksgiving arose, swelled by hundreds of voices. What a wonderful occasion. No wonder that David could say "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go unto the house of the Lord."
One day friends there is going to be the greatest gathering of the people of God in all history when all the redeemed will stand on the sea of glass.