When In Desert Places
I don’t know about you but I’m a sports guy, I love sports! In fact I think that I love sports so much so, sometimes I drive my future wife just a little bit crazy! Now while I’m a sports guy and will watch pretty much any sport, what I really am is a baseball guy! I mean I absolutely love baseball! From the athleticism to just the sheer beauty of the game, I love baseball!
Coming from Philadelphia, we don’t see a winning season too much with our Phillies but in 2008 not only did we get to the World Series, we won the World Series! It took us playing one game over three days but we won the World Series! As a baseball fan and a Philles’ fan, I was in my world! I remember going to our church back home in Philadelphia when they had the parade with a group of our church people to watch the parade come down Broad Street! What a sight!
Now while I love baseball, what I love even more is a player that not only is a great player and loves the game but also loves the Lord Jesus Christ and seeks to make Him first in their lives and all that they do! One such player is a man by the name of Albert Pujols, the first baseman for the LA Angels. He is a World Series champ, an eight-time All Star, the recipient of three National League MVP awards, and according to a 2008 poll of 30 MLB managers, the most feared hitter in the sport.
But even more impressive is his life off the field. The Pujols Family Foundation he started offers support and care to people with Down syndrome and their families, while also helping the poor in the Dominican Republic. He and his wife of ten years provide a loving household for four little children. But most importantly, he is a passionate disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
While speaking at an event at Lafayette Senior High School in Missouri, Pujols told the audience of men and young boys, “As a Christian, I am called to live a holy life. My standard for living is set by God, not by the world. I am responsible for growing and sharing the gospel.” Then, after reading Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3 – “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
Pujols told the crowd, “One way for me to stay satisfied in Jesus is for me to stay humble. Humility is getting on your knees and staying in God’s will – what he wants for me, not what the world wants.” He added: “It would be easy to go out and do whatever I want, but those things only satisfy the flesh for a moment. Jesus satisfies my soul forever.”
You say what does all of this have to do with the message here this morning. Well in our text here this morning, we find a man like Albert Pujols. We find King David, a humble man, a man after God’s own heart, and a man who knew that it is only God who could satisfy his soul! In fact, if we were to take the time to look at them, we would see Job who lost everything only to find out God was and is enough. We could look at Solomon who had everything only to find out that it is only God who satisfies. And truly we would see and will see partly here this morning, Psalms and Proverbs echo both truths – God is enough and it is only God who satisfies.
So we come to our text for the morning. We find King David on the run, in the wilderness of Judah. Yet we also find an amazing sweet lesson at hand. Though there was a desert around him, there was no desert in his heart because He had his God right there with him by His side!
In verses 1, 5, and 8 we find a two word phrase repeated and it is the phrase, “my soul.” It is in these three verses we find three very important aspects of David’s life and his relationship to His God. These are three aspects that need to be found in the life of every believer and needs to be the heartbeat of every church in good times and in bad. So with these thoughts in mind, I’d like to speak to you for a few moments here this morning on the subject, “When In Desert Places.”
Here in Psalm 63 we find King David when he was in the wilderness of Judah and although he was king. this psalm clearly was written when David could not visit the Tabernacle. That being the case, the occasion may be when he fled from Absalom. Because of that, it would have been written immediately after he fled Jerusalem and was still in the wilderness of Judah.
Perhaps there is one here this morning and I don’t you, we’ve just met one another for the most part, but perhaps there is one here morning like David and you’re going through some of life’s desert places. You’re going through something and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You’re here this morning and trials have come, relationships have failed, you have heartache, sorrow, and perhaps you are starting to feel as though your faith has left you stranded like a broken down car on the side of the road. Like God has abandoned you! You’re enduring some desert places.
Christian here morning know this, you will face the desert places of life! Why? Because we are not in the sweet by and by just yet but we are indeed still in the nasty now and now. And folks, that’s the reality we must face until we either pass from this sinful old world or until our Lord returns some sweet day. And because we’re still in the nasty now and now, this sinful old world we will still have trials come our way! We will still have relationships that will fail. We will still have heartache and sorrow. Now folks, that’s not said to get you down in the dumps, that’s reality. That’s Bible. We will still have to deal with the unpleasant things of this world!
But praise God even in the desert places of life we still have His promise in John 16:33 – “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
So yes, while in this life and in this world, we may and will face desert places, we serve a God who has already overcome it all! If Jesus Christ is truly the basis and center of our faith, we do not have to doubt His desire to help us work through the challenges and questions of this life.
As a church here this morning, you dear folks even if not on an individual basis, you are going through a desert place. You’re without a Pastor. And when a church is without a Pastor, times can become difficult, trying, and even downright scary at times. I know, my home church back in Philadelphia went without a Pastor for 3 years and Satan loved it. The church endured many trying times but because we were God’s people, He protected us, kept us, and gave us the man He wanted to lead us! But it was tough. We lost people, offerings were down, suffered a church spilt, so on and so forth but today while not where we want to be, we are a church that seeks to honor God in all that we do with a sweet spirit.
So yes I know what you’re going through this morning and may I say Satan knows too. So don’t take 3 years to find a Pastor! Satan would love nothing more than to see this church close after 125 years, for its light to be dimmed forever. You say, oh that’s not possible! Ask me about a church in Arkansas that voted to close because they couldn’t or wouldn’t find a Pastor. Satan is in the business of destroying churches and Christians! And he is most successful when both are enduring the desert places of life! So when in desert places, what do you do? Let’s look at our text again here this morning. We see the very first thing you must ask yourself is:
- What Is My Desire?
The psalm begins with David’s impassioned, eloquent cry, O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. He begins by freely acknowledging the Lord as his God. And what an encouragement that is for us here this morning! Even when in the desert places of life, if we know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, God is still our God! God is still your God here this morning no matter what! What a thought!
The key word here in verse 1 is early. David purposed that early he would seek the Lord. The thought is early in the day. Spurgeon wrote, “When the bed is the softest we are most tempted to rise at lazy hours; but when comfort is gone, and the couch is hard, if we rise the earlier to seek the Lord, we have much for which to thank the wilderness.” Insight into the godly character of David is found, He rose early to seek the Lord’s face. Even as one in the desert longs for a cup of cool, clear water, David so yearned for God. He thirsted after Him and longed for Him. God was his heart’s desire.
More specifically, David longed in verse 2 to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Though a fugitive in the wilderness, David longed to once again see the power and glory of God’s work. He had witnessed the same at the Tabernacle and now alone and far from home, he longed to once again witness the power of God in his life. David’s desire was God and the power of God!
He cried out further in verse 3, Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. In reflecting back upon God’s mercy and goodness to him, David determined to praise the Lord. Moreover, he likened God’s lovingkindness to him as being more valuable than even life itself. Because of that he proclaimed in verse 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. As long as he lived, he determined to bless (i.e., praise) the Lord.
David’s desire was clear! It was God, the power of God, and the praise and worship of God! So Christian here morning, ask yourself, what is your desire? First Baptist Church of Eureka, what is your desire? Is it God, the power of God, and the praise and worship of God or is it something else entirely? Are your desires of this world or are they focused on Heaven? Folks you listen to me here morning, your desire must be God and what He wants for your life and your church because until it is you will never come out of your desert place as an individual or as a church!
What is your desire? Secondly here this morning, we see you must ask yourself:
- What Is My Decision?
The thought in verse 5 finds its understanding in verse 6. When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. As David laid awake those initial nights after fleeing Jerusalem, he recalled God’s goodness to him and because of that he was able to say in verse 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips. The Hebrew taste was more appreciative of fat than western culture is. It was symbolic of the finest food, the finest of culinary delight. The greater thought is when David laid awake at night (perhaps as a fugitive from Absalom), his meditation upon the Lord was like the finest of a royal banquet to his taste.
David decided he was going to remember God’s goodness even in the worst of times! And when he did that, he could not help but come to the conclusion that it is only God that can satisfy! In good times or in bad! You see our problem is this; when we are in the midst of a troubled time, we take our eyes off God and put them upon the things of this world to see what in the world can satisfy us! Christian here this morning, nothing in this world can satisfy you! Church here this morning, nothing in this world can satisfy you! The only person, place, or thing you will find satisfaction in is God almighty Himself!
David knew this and because of it he was able to say in verse 7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. David was facing the darkest days of his life. His own son had led a revolt against him. Yet, he knew how God had helped in days gone before and therefore, he now trusted even more in the shadow of His wings. Again, the wonderful analogy of the protective care of the eagle is used by David. Though the night was dark about him and he was not sure of whom he could trust, he knew God would never forsake him and because of that he rejoiced in that assurance.
Christian, First Baptist family here this morning, in your desert places you will always be able to find help and strength in the arms of your loving God! So what will be your decision here this morning? Will it be to look for satisfaction in this world or will you look for satisfaction in God?
What is your desire? What is your decision? Thirdly and finally here this morning, we see you must ask yourself:
- What Is My Devotion?
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. The word translated here as followeth hard after (qbd dabaq) has the sense to ‘cleave’ or to ‘cling to.’ Because God had been his help and protection, David vowed to cleave to the Lord. Why? Because he knew that God’s right hand upheld him.
Simple question, what or who will your devotion be to in your desert places? Will it be to God no matter what or will seek to leave God for a time when the hard times come? I assure you, the hard times will only be harder when you try to go at it alone! What is your devotion?
I close with this verse, Colossians 1:18 that in all things he might have the preeminence. That means in the good times and in our desert places, Christ and God are number 1! They are our desire, our decision, and our devotion. And folks, if we live that verse as a church and as a people keeping Christ and God first, we can do great things for God and Good no matter if times be great or if we’re enduring some desert places! And know this, if we live this verse even when enduring desert places we can still enjoy our Christian life, our great God, and our wonderful Church family! Desire, decision, and devotion. When in desert places, what will yours be here this morning?