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Sermon – 8/25/02
The Plant - Psalm 66:11-12

The Plant

You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs; You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to abundance” (Psalm 66:11-12)

We received the following email:  “Ron, I read this week's Friday Study, Acts 23: 31-35.  I have a question on a statement you made in verse 32;Any difficulty that seems to trouble you is allowed by the Lord, and he has good purpose in all that happens.’ This is where I have difficulty, where it appears that God allows everything to happen. My understanding is, simply put, God only does good things.  We also have free will and the "Adversary".  Let me know your thoughts. God Bless You, Dennis”. 

I responded by email, and the next day, Dennis and I read the response together at one of the computers in the local Veterans Administration Medical Center.  As is our custom on Friday afternoons, we then went out into the patio area and talked; him in his motorized wheelchair and me on a bench.  I agreed with Dennis that we have free-will and often our difficulties in life are self-caused.  Also, there surely is an “Adversary” called Satan, who has a “Wanted Dead” poster on the lives of every one of us.  He will do all the harm he can, in your life and mine.

But trouble is indeed “allowed” by the Lord, and He will inevitably bring good out of it for every one of us.  God is sovereign in ALL things, which means your problems (or your “good times” for that matter) could disappear in an instant; except that God has a good intention in them, for you.

Sometimes, as in our Scripture for today, God will directly CAUSE those difficulties.  He was the Author of the curse upon mankind, stating in Genesis 3:17-18 that “thorns and thistles” will grow out of our efforts, identifying Him as the Creator of “Murphy’s Law” which we experience constantly in life (“whatever CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong”).

Our Scripture for today includes, “You have caused men to ride over our heads” (Psalm 66:11-12), alerting us that sometimes the person who “ruins our life” was allowed to do so by the Lord.  Of course, before YOU ride off and hurt someone else or get angry at God, also note there is JUDGEMENT for the person who is God’s agent in such matters.  Babylon was God’s tool in destroying the nation Judah (Jeremiah 25:9), but also Babylon was to be punished for what they had done (Jeremiah 25:12). You won’t get away with harming others.

He let Babylon do what they WANTED – they destroyed Judah, and there was purpose in this, for God’s people were lost in sin and only Judgment would return them to the Lord.  Babylon enjoyed their victory, but they killed and ruined many in the process, and were Judged for what they had done.  God is Sovereign in everything, and He is also JUST in all that He does.

Note the rest of our Scripture for today: “we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to abundance” (Psalm 66:11-12).  There is a good outcome for any trouble you have ever experienced; and His ultimate intention is that you will place your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ; to find depths of His love that you never expected.

A couple of years ago, I received a potted plant from one of the Board Members of Friday Study Ministries and it has been on my desk ever since.  The plant was from Genevieve, who became my fiancee and then my wife, and it celebrated our acceptance as a church by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.  That plant is very special.

You would not know just how special it is from appearance, however.  Not long ago, I watered it too much and nearly killed it.  Most of the leaves turned yellow and it obviously was unhappy.  It largely recovered, but not completely.  Last week I MEANT to water the plant, but was busy and didn't get it done.

After the weekend, its leaves were drooping as it visually sent the message, "Help me!"  I gave it water and its leaves then rose to meet the sunlight.  The plant then said, "Ahhh, I like it," in response to the water it received.

Like a plant tenderly cared for by a Master Gardener, you and I are nursed by the Lord.  Unlike Him, I sometimes forget my plant and don't really know what to do for it.  Our Lord constantly has us in mind, and He ALWAYS knows what to do.  We are IMPORTANT to Him, and He cares for you more than you care for yourself. 

Just like that plant on my desk, you and I need EVERYTHING!  It needs to be cared for and so do we.  And we’re not satisfied until our need is met.  Unlike us, the plant does not think on its own, but the reality is that we don’t do so well with thinking, either.  We’re actually very limited, and we often make the poor choices Dennis mentioned in his email.  And there is an enemy who would harm us if he could.  We need Someone outside of ourselves to make good decisions for us.

The Lord God, Maker of heaven and of earth, is WAITING for you to lift your heart to the Sonlight of Jesus Christ, and be turned into someone beautiful.  By trusting fully in Jesus, you’ll discover that “God only does good things”, just as Dennis said in his message.  It’s simply that His good intentions are often not the same as our demands.

The Lord is saying to you right now, “fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you” (Isaiah 43:1-2).

Lord, I come to You, now.  I don’t really know how to meet anyone’s needs, let alone my own.  I’ve made decisions that were not so good and I feel drowned by my difficulties and yet at the same time, parched with a thirst I cannot satisfy.  Fill my heart and life with love.  Forgive me for what I have done (and not done), and rescue me now.  Let me LIVE in You.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
P.O. Box 92131
Long Beach, CA  90809-2131

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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