Standard; Ps 63:1 <<A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.>>
David was on the lam from Saul. Saul was on a search and destroy mission, much as the devil is on a search and destroy mission against you and I and the church of Jesus Christ. And so David goes where the true church of Jesus Christ is always found,,,,namely in the wilderness.
We read about this truth in the Book of Revelation:
Re 12:6 Then the woman (who represents the church) fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
It's not that the church is running from the devil, or that we have an unhealthy fear of him, the key to dwelling in the wilderness is it is the place where utter reliance upon the Lord is necessary. This is where the true church is always found, totally reliant upon the grace of God.
1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
Again, this is the condition of the true church, the true believer. As we mentioned last week, one of the traits of a true believer is a worn out Bible. A worn out Bible happens because of a thirst for God. God is sought for, and found in the pages of Scripture. And David makes it clear that he is at his God-seeking early.
The Hebrew word here for “early” is the idea of being up early and earnestly engaged in a painstaking task. You see, you can get up early, but you will not satisfy the thirsting of your soul by speed reading your Bible or a daily devotional. To do so, is to admit in so many words that you really aren't all that thirsty.
Now, don't get me wrong here. Bible reading and devotional books are great. In fact, if I would not be reading Portals of Prayer, you would not be hearing this sermon right now. ...all I'm saying is SLOW DOWN. Before you begin your reading just pray, “God I am thirsty for you quench my thirst! My soul which is eternal thirsts for you and even my flesh (which is temporary) longs for Your presence and power in my life.
Think of yourself as a dried out sponge. What good is a sponge without water? You need water to be effective. You need water to serve the purpose for which you were created.
You have two sources of water to choose from. You can dip your sponge into the murky water of the world, or the clear and pure water of the Holy Spirit.
If you choose the murky waters of the world, you will not serve your purpose, at best, all you will do is rearrange the dirt. But if you choose the clean waters of the Holy Spirit, you will serve your useful purpose.
Now what happens, if you dip your sponge in the murky waters of the world and without wringing it out you dip it into the clean water of the Holy Spirit? You muddy up the water, and since you are so full of the world, there is no room to soak up the Holy Spirit. And so we need to wring the world out of our souls.
David is dry, he is low on the Holy Spirit. He knows he needs God to flood his soul. So what does he do? He heads for the sanctuary.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.
It is when we dip our sponge in the bucket of the sanctuary that the power and glory of God is released. The power to clean the window, (which is the function of the sponge) so that the glory of God may be seen.
It is in the sanctuary that God's power is found and released, and when His power is released, He is glorified. So what in the world does all of this have to do with you? To answer that question we need to look at the word “sanctuary.” What do you think of when you hear the word sanctuary?
By definition it is a consecrated place. A place that has been set aside and everything in the sanctuary has also been set aside. But through time, the word has come to mean that part of a church where the altar is placed, and as an extension of that definition it has become synonymous with a place of refuge and protection.
Well forget those last two and concentrate on the first. “A consecrated place.” A set aside place where you will find things set aside for God's purposes. David had no temple to run to. He had no tent of the tabernacle, what did he mean then by looking for God in the sanctuary? He meant that he knew that God's power is released in our lives when we come to the place of consecration.
That is, the point where we are finally ready to set aside all we have and are for Him and His use. We take the world out of it, we take our flesh out of it and we simply say. All that I am and have Lord is set aside for You and Your purposes.
The problem is that we are not for the most part eager to do it. It's like going through a spiritual police search. The police won't let you in to see the President until they are absolutely certain you have surrendered the contents of your pockets, and so they ask you to empty them.
So we come to the sanctuary and God says, “empty your pockets of what you have and who you are.” So we reach in and pull out our heart. And God says, I'm glad you have given me your heart, but is there more that you need to give? And so we reach in and hand over our wallet. God says “good, setting aside your finances for Me is good. Is there more?
And we reach in and pull out our sex life. “Good, letting Me be in charge of your sex life is a good thing. Is there more? And we reach in and pull out our marriage. “Good” Let me release my power in your marriage on my terms, for My glory..
And of course you know there are many more things in our pocket, many more things that God wants us to totally give to Him on His terms.
There are some things that we are unbelievingly stubborn with in the sanctuary. No God You can't have that, I must be in control of that! Thank you for giving it to me, but I can't let it go. And because we can't let it go.......we miss out on what he found in the sanctuary........God's power, we miss out on His purpose for our life, and He is not glorified as He should be.
This week, God had me emptying my pockets in His sanctuary and He found something that I thought I had given to Him. Namely my gift of prophet and teacher. By prophet, I don't mean I have the ability to look in the future, but in the sense of being a proclaimer of His Word.
This gift is nothing that I have manufactured or honed, it is simply something that God has given me for the edification of His church, and ultimately for His glory. But even as He gives us His gifts He desires that we set them aside for His use on His terms.
Here then is my problem, I have been very thankful for the gifts that God has given me, but I have never really given them over to Him for His purposes. “Thank you for the gift of prophecy and teaching Lord, now let me tell you how I will use them.”
And because I refused to bring my gift to the sanctuary and set it aside COMPLETELY for God's use, Since I sought to utilize His gift under my terms, my gift lacked the anointing. It lacked the power that could have been given if only I had surrendered it to the Lord. And without the power of the Lord, there is no glory for the Lord.
I really don't know what is going to happen to my gift from this day forward, but I know more will happen with it under God's terms than under mine.
And the lesson, I believe God wants me to leave with you today is that wherever you go, whatever Body of believers you connect with. Take the time to bring your giftedness into the sanctuary and set it aside for God's purposes. Stop demanding to use your gifts under your terms. Squeeze your flesh out of the picture and let God fill your sponge.
We learn of spiritual giftedness in 1 Cor 12, may the Holy Spirit speak to us through these words this morning.
1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:
4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
The Spirit manifests Himself, (shows up in the Body of Christ, makes Himself evident) through your gift. As Donald Gee has said, “The ultimate and full purpose of spiritual gifts thus stands revealed. They are to bring men face to face with the reality of the Invisible God. To make the church realize that the Holy Spirit is ever present and all true ministry springs from Him who is her only source of life and power and to make the unbeliever equally conscious that God cannot be forgotten and that sin dare not be trifled with.”
11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
(You all have a gift or gifts!)
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (The sponge analogy works well here.....soak Him up!) You have a gift! Use it to soak up more of the Holy Spirit!
14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.
21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
There is a terrible virus in the church today and it's one that we should have seen coming.
The Body of Christ is becoming a huge ear. If that's not bad enough.....it's an ear that desires to do nothing but be scratched. 2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
This past week as I was reading the community announcements on WEMI I was shocked to see one concerning Christ the Rock. They are looking for worship team volunteers. A sound board operator, a keyboard player, a bassist, and a drummer. What is happening to the church? You mean that a church that has attendance in the thousands cannot get gifted people from their midst to lead worship?
“I'll come to hear the message, but I won't get involved.” “I'll be an ear....but that's it!” Is that your understanding of 1 Cor 12? Maybe it's because we have turned the church over to professionals and in so doing we have made our own God-gifted people feel inadequate. Maybe it's just easier to hire another pastor rather than to raise up elders.
If God would've wanted His church to be run as a business, He would've called 12 tax collectors. But He didn't He chose ordinary folk and gifted them for the task.
The church has become one Big sound dispenser, one big woofer inside the building, one little tweeter outside the building. We spend thousands of dollars and man hours just to be heard inside these walls, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, and the world looks at us and sees a bad case of cauliflower ears.
Yes faith comes by hearing, but it remains by doing, by putting what you have heard into practice. It's not just about dispensing sound, it's about dispensing sound doctrine that spills over into action as a well oiled machine called the Body of Christ.
The oil for the machine is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit who shows up in gifts that are exercised.
“But I don't know what my gift is?” Start with need. What do you see as a need in the Body of Christ in which you have been planted? Then step up and meet that need with all the ability and energy that God has given you. “I don't have the time.” Well then re-prioritize, the Body of Christ, your Body of Christ needs you. This is far more serious than you might think.
Stop only being an ear. Lest you wake up in eternity as an ear that hears nothing but the moanings and screamings the weeping and gnashing of teeth of the fellow damned because you buried your gift. What happened to the servant who buried his talent?
Mt 25:30 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Maybe faith does come by hearing, but it doesn't remain by hearing.....it remains by doing! Faith without works is dead, and God has chosen the Body of Christ as one of His instruments for dispensing works.
PLEASE, bring your gift(s) to the sanctuary and let them be sanctified (set apart) for God's purposes and glory. Forget your plans and aspirations, don't hold anything back give it to Him completely, give everything to Him completely, so that the power of the Holy Spirit is manifested and unleashed in whatever local Body of believers you are connected with.