Psalm 27:1-5 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”
These are some of my favorite verses of Scripture. I love verse 4 especially, but I have to ask myself, are these merely beautiful words or is this something I truly desire and choose to go after? It’s not just a pretty place, to dwell in the house of the Lord and to behold His beauty. This is a way of life, a seeking after His presence and a willingness to let go those things that hinder that.
Pastor Merritt says, “It’s not on the mountain top that true growth takes place. Growth takes place in the valley. It takes place in that pavilion of the secret place of the Most High, in the midst of the storm when God is standing by your side. When there is confusion, hurt, betrayal, pain, in that moment, you have the potential to see genuine growth in your life. You also have the potential to see death or setback. It’s all dependent on your response. You can grow or step back.”
“You can experience great life or debilitating failure. It all depends on how you react in the moment of confusion or brokenness or setbacks.”
Pastor Merritt continues, “As the people of the Name, you must begin to revolutionize your mind, your thinking of how you look at hardships and suffering and confusion and pain. Your reaction must be dictated by what you know in the Lord.”
It is at those times when your children or your coworker or your boss are jumping up and down on your last nerve or you get that surprise bill that you’re not sure how you’ll pay or you make the same mistake…again, that you must choose how you will respond in that moment. Will you yell at your children or simmer at your boss or coworker? Will you freak out at that bill? Will you beat yourself up because of your failings?
“Be lifted up and encouraged,” says Pastor Merritt. “You may be broken, but God sees beautiful. You may feel lonely, but God sees lovely. You may be petrified, but God sees perfection and potential. His view of your setbacks is not governed by emotionalism, but by what He knows. Jesus knows the end from the beginning.”
Psalm 61:1-3 “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.”
There is a story the prophet Nathan told David about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had plenty, but the poor man had only a little lamb. The rich man had a visitor and he didn’t want to give of his abundance, so he took the poor man’s lamb. The poor man looked on that lamb as his own child. When David heard what the rich man did, he said he should pay it back and be stoned. Nathan said, ‘You are the man.’
Pastor Merritt explained, “Previously, David had committed several sins. At this moment in pain and confusion David had to choose either life or death. He probably began to recall those sins that brought him to this point. He probably thought about a rebuttal or excuse to get him out of that uncomfortable situation. However, he did not give a rebuttal or an excuse. Instead, he replied, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan prophesied that the child would not live but die. David neither ate nor drank from that day until several days later when the child died. Then, David went into the temple and worshiped. Theologians believe he wrote the 27th Psalm at that time.”
Because of your poor choices or someone else’s poor choices, your next move will bring either life or death into your situation. Know the sacrifices of God, a broken and a contrite heart He will not despise. Although David sinned and failed, he knew that God would show Himself mighty and strong.
One thing I’m coming to terms with is the fact that conflict is a part of life. God will use it to help me grow to be more like Him, but I have to submit to that. It is up to me how I respond in those situations, whether they are from poor choices or habits I’ve chosen or because of what someone else has done. Truly, I have no control at all. It is only through allowing God to be God in my life that I can experience that ‘peace that passes all understanding’. God WILL show Himself mighty and I WILL grow if I allow Him to do that work in my heart and mind.
When you are broken and confused, it is of the utmost that you do what David did and get into the presence of God and let Him do a work on your heart. Pastor Merritt warns, “It would be the devil’s greatest desire for you to take it upon yourself to try to get out of that pain. If you pull yourself from that surgery too early, you will be a detriment to yourself and no use to anyone else.”
His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
Pastor Merritt received a word picture from the Lord, “this church is like a ‘well-oiled machine.’ God wants to revive and restore. He wants to bring life so you can be a blessing to yourself and everyone around you. A machine’s parts must each do its part, moving together.”
2 Cor 12:9-10 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
The woman caught in adultery, Jesus refused to condemn. It was in the presence of Jesus that her life was changed. She stopped that sin and allowed His mercy to change her life.
You must allow God to do what He wants to do. Without your willingness, you will not receive your victory. It’s in the moment of brokenness and confusion that (if you choose to trust Him) God will work a miraculous change in your life.
Psalm 16:11 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
It is that awful moment where you must choose either to trust the Lord or attempt to fix it yourself. Attempting to fix it yourself will lead to destruction.
‘Encourage yourself in the Lord.’ David did that. Wrap yourself in God. Seek Him. Your answer is in the Presence of God.
Mat 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Liberty (and joy and peace) is available to you, but you must wrap yourself in God.
Isaiah 10:27 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.”
If there is suffering and hurt in your life, if there is brokenness, God wants to heal you. Your answer is in His Presence.
It is more than merely believing that God will take of you. You must get into His presence. Seek Him. Listen to Him. Walk with Him. Quiet yourself and reach for Him. Then, you will find that rest, that peace, that leading, that direction, that assurance.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (emphasis mine).
Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Steven Merritt, missionary to New Zealand.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.
If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!