If we humble ourselves and ask God to show us His way and favor, we’ll find Him overflowing us with His goodness and giving us the desire to please Him.
October 5, 2023
Speaker: Greg Sanders
Passage: Psalm 25
Psalm 25 is a fairly familiar passage. Belinda and I were away on sabbatical for this summer. We don’t do that every year; we do it about every five to seven. It had been six years since the last one. What’s phenomenal about getting away and decompressing a little bit from leading is perspective—being able to sit with the Lord.
We’ve spent some time visiting old passages that have been near and dear to my heart in our journey as a church. One is Psalm 25:14, which says friendship with the Lord is reserved for those who fear Him. For me, it’s almost been a life verse that has come out of realizing that friendship with God is possible. There’s an invitation to the people of God to become the friends of God.
The way we do that, according to verse 14, is by being people that fear Him. So, I’ve been sitting in this verse for 14 or 15 years. But I had never seen verse 10. How many have ever read the Bible but not seen something? Then it’s like the Holy Spirit puts his finger on it, and you’re like, oh, that’s what that means. Here’s what verse 10 says, “The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep His covenant and obey His decrees.”
I was sitting on a beach in Hawaii at that moment, and it was like a light bulb went off. “The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness.” How many would say I want unfailing love and faithfulness from the Lord? I want kindness and tenderness.
The word “unfailing love” is interesting because it’s used in other places. The exact same word in Hebrew is translated in several other places as “favor.” The favor of God is upon those people who obey His decrees and obey His covenant and His path.
I started chewing on this, and I couldn’t write fast enough because I felt like the Lord was downloading something for us as a people. I want to take a look at it. Verse four says, “Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for You are God, my Savior. My hope is in You all day long. Remember, Lord, Your great mercy and love for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, my rebellious ways.”
How many are grateful for that? How many are glad you learned it’s legal to ask the Lord not to remember your history? You have a legal right in the Kingdom to go to the Lord and say, there’s a whole list of things, and I’m asking you to forget they exist. That’s not a joke. That’s serious. Whatever came to your mind just now, that thing that you feel like it’s chasing you from behind, you have a right to go to the Lord and say, I’m asking You to not remember this.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you’ve committed murder. It doesn’t matter if you’ve committed adultery. It doesn’t matter if you’ve cheated on your taxes. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you are an addict. It doesn’t matter. You have a right to go to Him and say, will you please forget my history? Please forget my youth.
You can say, according to Your love, remember me for You, Lord, are good.
Can I just convince us that He’s in a good mood towards us? He loves it when we remind ourselves that He sees us through His eyes of love, not through His eyes of judgment. It would be very easy for the psalmist to say, according to Your hatred of sin, remember me. But he doesn’t. It says, “according to Your love remember me, Lord.”
We might as well say it this way, Lord, when you look at me, would You put a love filter on? Would You put a kindness filter on? Would You put a forgiveness filter on? That’s how I want You to remember me, Lord. Think about that right now. How many of you are like me, and you have some things in your life that you’d rather not remember? But here’s what the psalmist says here. Hey, Lord, when my life is over, I just want You to remember me through Your love, not through my failure.
Why is it important? Because we get to align with whatever’s in here. This gives us the legal right to ask for it and expect it. Some of us today need to hear that He doesn’t see you through your brokenness. He doesn’t see you for your worst moment. He sees you through His love. He doesn’t look at you and say, man, I screwed up. You know, I could have loved you if…
None of that. He sees you through a lens and a filter of love. Every time you begin to wonder how He sees you, this is the prayer you pray:
Lord, I’m remembering my brokenness. I’m remembering my sin. I’m remembering the stupidity of my youth. It plagues me. It makes me feel lousy about myself.
How many have ever had something go wrong in your life, and think, it must be because of my history? He’s out to get me. I knew it was coming. There’s this foreboding thing that we live in at times. There’s no spiritual gift called “foreboding.” There’s no spirit that’s been released on the earth from heaven called “foreboding.” It’s actually from hell. It’s sent as a direct assignment against this truth which is that He doesn’t see us for our history. He sees us through His Son.
The way the gospel works is that Jesus gave His life so that He became the lens for all humanity. When the Father sees humanity, all He sees is the sacrifice of His Son. He chose willingly to forget your sin. Why can’t you?
Have you ever considered where that’s rooted? Our incessant need to remember our own history and our own brokenness? I don’t think it’s rooted in His heart. I think it’s rooted in the enemy’s.
How many have ever tried to diet or fast from something? We all understand if we’re trying to fast away from chocolate, the worst thing you can do is stare at a jar of hot fudge. The worst thing that can happen is if those in your household don’t respect your wishes and make brownies. What’s the principle? When you’re trying to discipline yourself to forget something, don’t stare at it.
Why would you stare at your past? All it’s going to do is draw you back into it. Why not just align with what He said? The regular prayer should be, Lord, I’m thinking about it again. I’m asking You not to remember it while I’m asking You to help me not remember it. For you, Lord, are good. All the time.
It’s a statement of character. It’s not a statement of response. The psalmist isn’t saying once in a while, You’re good. He’s saying, You live in goodness; You’re only good.
He goes on and says, “Good and upright is the Lord. Therefore, He instructs sinners in His ways.” This is what I want to dig into. Out of His goodness, out of His kindness, out of His continual state of being good, His natural response is to teach us His ways. “He guides the humble in what is right, and He teaches them His way.”
I think this humility is interesting. I had not seen this before. All it takes to know the path of God is the humility to ask Him. None of us can ever say He wasn’t willing to tell me what to do. The psalmist says right here, He guides the humble.
What is humility? It’s having a proper view of yourself. For example, Lord, I don’t know what to do. Will you tell me what to do? Will you lead me? Do you know what gets in the way of us asking the Lord to lead us? It’s really simple—our desire to lead ourselves. We tend to want to be in control.
How many are recovering control freaks like me? Where you, for whatever reason, still feel like life is better when you’re in charge of it? There are times when learning how to ask the Lord, “What do You want?” is hard because I know that on the other side of that, I have to be willing to lay down what I want.
If you could learn to let go of your history, quit being afraid you’re going to repeat your past and begin to ask the Lord what He wants you to do, His promise right here is that He’ll teach you.
If you say, “I don’t know how to hear God,” that might be true. But Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice,” so we know that His voice is ours to hear. We just learn to practice. How do you practice? Time. Set aside time.
How do little kids learn how to talk? They’re not old enough to hop on the phone or computer and grab some app that teaches them a different language. No, they learn it by being around people talking.
Proverbs says to tune your ears to wisdom. Put yourself in the environment where He’s speaking, and you begin to learn how to hear Him. For some of you, you’ve begun to believe that you’re illegitimate children in the Kingdom and He doesn’t want to talk to you. That’s not true.
The enemy loves to use our past as roadblocks. Sometimes, he uses dad issues. Sometimes, he uses abuse issues. He uses things that stop our ability to hear. He knows if he can try to fight our hearing long enough, we’ll give up because we’ve come to the conclusion that God doesn’t like us. It’s a lie. Learn how to sit before God and say, I want You to teach me how to hear Your voice.
I was 31 or 32 before I learned that discipline. I had been a worship pastor for several years at that point. I was really good at feeling what the Lord was doing. But I couldn’t hear Him, and then I woke up one day depressed. Crazy depressed. How many have ever woke up depressed?
How many are just afraid to admit it? How many also know that you don’t want a depressed worship leader? It’s counterintuitive.
I was trying to white-knuckle it. I was trying to fake it til I could make it. I would show up, but I was so heartbroken on the inside. I couldn’t even figure out why. I was like, I’ve got all these reasons to live. I have a great life. What in the world? It was just this anguish inside. I was working for a guy named Kent Hummel, and Kent said, “I want you to go sit with the Lord in the morning. Ask Him to love on you. I don’t want you to show up to work until you’ve heard His voice.”
There were two ways to navigate that. One, sweet extended vacation, or two, to follow the leader God put me under at that moment and do it. I remember where I was at. We were young and fairly broke. We had little babies, and I was working, and Belinda was home with the boys because we did the math, and it made no sense to let somebody else raise our kids. They might as well be raised by a parent and we’ll just white-knuckle it.
We had no furniture in the living room because there weren’t resources to do that. It was a giant playroom that worked great for kids, and there was nothing I could screw up in it. I would sit on the heater vent and take my yellow legal pad, and I remember sitting down like it was yesterday.
“Oh my God, I can’t hear You. But I need to hear You because I want to kill myself. And I don’t know where to go.” Those are real prayers, right? I said, “Lord, I’ve got every reason to live and no desire to live. I need help.”
Slowly but surely, the Lord began to speak. My rule was I wrote down whatever I heard. I don’t know why that was my rule. Somewhere along the line, somebody had to hear God and write it down. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the Bible. So that was kind of where I started from. I went back and looked at them the other day. I was laughing because they were just so childish. What I was able to hear–much like when kids learn how to speak, and they’re not very good. They don’t quite have the syntax right when they’re learning how to speak.
Yet, how many parents would reject their child if they used the wrong tense? No, you’re like, I don’t care what you said. The fact that you talked is amazing. We celebrate it. We celebrate words that sound like other words, and we say they’re the right words because we love the voice.
He loves your voice. He loves talking with you and loves to talk with you at the level you can understand. He’s not going to sit you down as a two-year-old spiritual self and try to explain physics to you. He’s going to talk to you at a level you can understand. It teaches you His ways.
There’s this promise in verse 10 that says all the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful towards those who keep the demands of His covenant. Here’s what I want to debunk. In our culture, we’ve bought into what I would say is a lie, which is that the kindness and the favor of God flow into our lives regardless of how we live. Church, many of us are walking in a restricted release of the favor of God because we’re not living the path of God.
I want you to understand this word here: “loving” and “faithful” means favor. The favor of God is incredible. It’s this thing that makes life easier. This path of the righteous, according to Proverbs, is like the light of dawn. The intention of the Lord is that it starts at this point and goes up and to the right. It gets brighter and brighter to the fullness of day. His plan for you, not my plan for you, is to give you a future, hope, and blessing, not cursing.
It’s connected to you having the humility and the discipline and the willingness to say, I don’t know how to live on my own, so I’m going to let You show me how to live. I’m just going to follow the demands of Your covenant.
What are the demands of the covenant? There are two words here in Hebrew that are important for us to know. One word is “bereeth,” which means “what is agreed upon by death.” The other word here is “eda,” which means spoken, given, or released testimony. It’s what is said; it’s what is done.
You and I have been invited into this covenant life where we follow Christ. I am crucified with Christ, yet I live, but this life I live now, I don’t live according to the flesh; I live it according to every word that comes. Our lives belong to Him.
It traces its roots back to this incredible story that we see in Genesis 14, 15, and 16 where Abram, he’s not yet Abraham — most of us know him as father Abraham — when he’s Abram at this moment, and he goes to sleep. He goes into a dream state, and God shows up in the dream state. Yahweh appears to him. Yahweh shows him this bizarre picture. In this picture, we don’t understand what it is because we’re not from that part of the world. We don’t understand covenant language.
Here’s the picture he sees. He sees animals that are cut in half, which has to be kind of a gruesome picture. They’re laid in on both sides of a path, and then there are candlesticks floating through the middle of it. There are smoking pots floating through the middle of it. All the time Abram is asleep. On the other side of this vision, he comes out, and his name is Abraham, meaning he made a covenant with God.
How does the sleeping guy make a covenant? Because of what God says. Here’s what sacrifice means in covenantal language. It’s an ancient covenant where you kill animals, you lay them in half, and you walk between them. What you’re declaring when you walk between them is, be it done unto me as it is to these if I break the covenant.
Here’s what I want to highlight. Abram never walked through the covenant. You never walked through the covenant. What God did with Jesus on the cross, He said, because you’ve broken the covenant, We entered into covenant. Because We enter into a covenant, one of Us has to go on the hook, so I’m going to send My Son to die to go on the hook because something has to die for this covenant to be fixed, but it isn’t going to be you.
Because of that, we put our faith in Him. We say, you know what, I’ll follow You. I’ll do what You said. I’ll live like You said. The enemy knows that if you do that, the favor of God on your life is going to transform not just you but the world around you. People are going to be like, I don’t get it. Why do you walk through the same thing I walk through, but you have this blessing on you?
It’s like you got gold dust all over you. It’s like everything you touch. It works. Why does it work? Your answer is, you know what, I have an incredible King. He showed me how to live. He told me if I just lived like He said, He would take care of it. I don’t have to worry about it. All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and trust Him.
It’s time for the church to rise up and walk in favor. This means it’s time for the church to become serious about keeping the demands of His covenant. We say, I’m going to do what it says. No more stupid sin. No more places where I’m like, I believe You in this area, but not this one. Nope, I’m done.
It’s all or nothing. Because I’m tired of sacrificing my favor. Your favor is not your salvation. Your favor is this beautiful add-on. You can make life with Jesus really hard by not walking clean. You can. You can make life with Jesus really easy by walking clean. Stick close to the King. I’m going to live the way He says. In which areas? All of them. I will stay so close to Him because I want as much favor as He’s willing to pour into my life. It’s His desire. We’re not twisting His arm. He wants to put favor on us. But He just waits to see, can I trust you with the demands of My covenant?
Jesus, it is one of my favorite things that we never really know what to expect when we come together. I love how vibrant You are. I don’t think there’s anything that could capture today other than “holy.” Lord, we want to be a people that walk in an unrestricted flow of favor. Holy Spirit, for every place where there are areas of addiction, areas of habit, or areas of mental construct that are against You, we ask for Your conviction right now. Whisper to those places, lead us into truth, and lead us into a clean heart. Help us learn how to recognize Your favor and stay in it. Lord, for the sin patterns that have to stop today, we’re asking for courage and guts to say “no more.” For addictions that have to stop today, courage and guts to put an axe to the root. For every construct of the mind, we’re asking for Your grace and Your courage so that we can stand right before You and live clean. We love You, we honor You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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