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Sermon– 1/14/01
Psalm 34:4 – He Heard Me


He Heard Me

"I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:4)

It’s always the prospect of loss that makes us afraid. I might become paralyzed if I ride that snowboard. I could fail if I took the promotion. If I give my life to Christ, He might send me somewhere I do not want to go. Should we do this or that? We can’t decide to LIVE because of the risks involved. We often don’t do much of anything in life, because we are afraid of what might happen.

The other night we went to see a sunset at the top of Signal Hill, in Southern California. There were two mothers with children in the little park at the top of the hill, and they provided an interesting contrast. One of them smiled and was attentive to her daughter, but exhibited no apparent fear as this young daughter scrambled up one cliff face and slid down another. I was remembering the fears I had for my children when they were little, but then I noticed something interesting about that child.

She was calm and unafraid, and was having a wonderful time. And it was apparent about the little girl, that she had become an excellent climber. She had a CONFIDENCE about her that much older children often do not have. The trust and confidence of her mother, had been transmitted to her. The mother BELIEVED in her daughter, and the daughter believed in herself.

About that time, the other lady came to the edge of the drop-off. (It wasn’t a sheer drop, but you could tumble to the street at the bottom). She was afraid for her children. They wanted to have their picture taken on the top of the low brick wall at the edge, with the sunset in the background. But she couldn’t effectively get the picture, because she would gasp each time they moved, and then reach over to grab at the sleeve of one of her little ones. Finally, she took the picture and hustled them back to the car.

The first mother was seemingly oblivious to the presence of the second, and was looking contentedly at the sunset, as her daughter continued to scamper around on the side of the hill. Her child was having a great time. There is a RISK to the methodology of the first mother. Yes, her daughter could be hurt in a fall, and they might both suffer the consequences. But there is a risk for the children of the second as well. They may be entering into lives in which they are ruled by fear.

During the times we have been privileged to be with spinal cord injury patients, we have listened with great interest. They tell of snowboards, surfing, sliding into base, climbing a ladder, fighting, surfing, riding in a car – ordinary events that led to a lifetime of paralysis. We could decide to reduce our activities in the light of such stories. Or, we could decide that it’s better to LIVE than to not be alive. And some of these paralyzed people are more alive than the rest of us. Some of them have turned to our God in ways that we do not know.

God is much like the parent who lets the child run. He is our Father, in Christ, who wants us to RUN on the mountain tops and soar like the eagles on high! But He is not careless with His little ones. In fact, He provides more care for His children than any earthly parent could possibly imagine. He HEARS your children and mine, and delivers them! Whether we have received Him in our lives or not, He has delivered us – often!

I was afraid for my children when they were little, and there was a reason for my fear. I did not truly understand the love of God, and had no comprehension of the reality of prayer. I loved them but did not know how to provide what they needed most. They needed the CONFIDENCE of a parent who trusted in God and who sought the protection they needed, obtainable through prayer to the One who cares for them and for me.

But people say: "He didn’t answer MY prayer!" We hear that a lot, and way down inside, we sometimes find ourselves muttering the same thing. Misunderstanding about His responses to prayer is common. But He does answer – we often just don’t understand what the answer is.

From our perspective, it is when we get the job, or are healed, or the check comes in the mail – when our outward need is met. If that is the standard for prayer, God would then be defined as some kind of great "Assistant" who fulfills our wishes and makes our earthly dreams come true. But He has something much better. He wants to create people that will TRUST in Him, no matter what.

Actually, YOU’RE the one with the potential to become HIS "assistant" instead of Him becoming yours. We CONNECT with God in the Son, and discover that true prayer is when we embrace His revealed plan and fervently ask for His will to be done (1 John 5:14). HIS will is so much more COMPLETE than our own, and only HIS will can satisfy your deepest need.

A great answer in prayer for every one of us is found in Philippians 4:6-7 --- "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the PEACE of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

When Paul wrote Philippians, he was in a literal prison – a dungeon. He prayed and wrote in that place, and received answers to prayer. I’m sure Paul would have enjoyed being outside of that prison. But the greatest need of every one of us, is not to be released from whatever "prison" we might think we are in – our need is to know the PEACE of God, no matter what the circumstances of our lives.

When Jesus was on the cross, He ANSWERED our every need. After fulfilling one more prophesy (Psalm 69:21, they gave him gall and wine), He received the wine and said "It is finished!" (John 19:30). In one last agonizing gasp, Jesus Christ signified answered prayer for every one of us, both now and forevermore.   The answer to your need is "finished" in Him.

All that you could ever want (but never even knew you needed) is summed up in those words and was done on the cross, as authenticated by His Resurrection just a few days later. Because He died for you, and because He lives, you will live also.

Your prayers are answered in Him. What is your trouble? – It is "finished" in Him. Your difficulty is temporary and so is your sorrow. You will have the "peace of God" that Paul knew, while in the depths of a literal prison. You will find the truth that David learned, when he cried "I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:4). Your prayers are answered – Any "lack" is indeed "finished" in Him.

Father, let us lift our eyes from our problems right now and look to You. Yes, we do bring You our difficulties and ask you to lift them from our lives. But even more, we ask, "What is Your will for me IN this situation?" Could this very problem that I am trying to escape, in fact be the "cross" (Luke 9:23) You want me to bear? I acknowledge You are WITH me, Lord, in all of my sorrows. Hear me, my God, and deliver me from all my fears. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham
Friday Study Ministries

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