HOW WE’VE WAITED FOR IT IN WISCONSIN THIS YEAR!
AND IT HAS COME.
THE WINTER IS PAST,
FLOWERS APPEAR ON THE EARTH,
AND THE TIME OF SINGING HAS COME.
THERE WAS A TIME IN MY LIFE
WHEN MY HUSBAND DIED AND I WANTED TO DIE TOO.
NEVER WOULD I HAVE IMAGINED THAT TEN YEARS LATER
I’D BE SO FULL OF THE JOY OF THE LORD
SO THANKFUL TO STILL BE ON THIS EARTH WHERE I CAN
FEEL THE WARM SUN ON MY SHOULDERS
HEAR THE WAVES LAP ON THE SHORE
AND WATCH SALLY AND HER PRECIOUS GIRLS
PULL DAISIES FROM THE SANDBOX.
THE WINTER IS PAST.
THE TIME OF SINGING IS COME.
AND YET I KNOW, THAT WE ARE NOT HOME YET.
THOSE VERSES FROM THE SONG OF SONGS REALLY POINT
TO THE DAY WHEN WE ARE TRULY HOME.
TO A DAY WHEN THERE IS
NO MORE SIN
NO MORE SORROW
AND NO MORE DEATH.
THIS IS OUR SECOND WEEK IN CONSIDERING HOW THE GOSPEL IS A “DOUBLE CURE,” OVERCOMING NOT ONLY THE PENALTY OF SIN, BUT THE POWER OF SIN. LAST WEEK WE CONSIDERED HOW WE MUST NOT BE IN DENIAL ABOUT OUR DEPRAVITY, FOR WE ARE SO BAD IT LED TO THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST.
THE WEEK THAT SALLY VISITED, I JOINED HER IN PRAYER FOR THE RIVALRY BETWEEN SADIE, WHO JUST TURNED FOUR, AND CLAIRE, WHO JUST TURNED TWO.
CLAIRE HAS BEEN BITING SADIE, LEAVING TEETH MARKS, AND A DEVASTATED SADIE.
YET SADIE IS NOT WITHOUT FAULT.
ONE NIGHT WHEN I WAS BABYSITTING, AFTER I’D TUCKED THEM IN, I HEARD CLAIRE WHIMPERING, BUT DECIDED, UNWISELY, TO WAIT IT OUT. SOON SHE WAS HOWLING AND SO I RAN TO SEE WHY, ONLY TO FIND SADIE, FRUSTRATED WITH THE CONSTANT WHIMPERING, BONKING HER LITTLE SISTER ON THE HEAD WITH HER PAT-THE-BUNNY BOOK. I SCOLDED AND LAID BETWEEN THEM UNTIL BOTH WERE ASLEEP.
I told Sally the next morning and she asked, “Was it a hard cover book?”
I confessed to my daughter: “I didn’t handle it well. Not only should I have gotten in there sooner, but then I immediately made Sadie say she was sorry to Claire, and she screamed ‘SORRY’ in anger. I definitely didn’t get to her heart.”
Sally responded, “It’s so challenging to get to the heart!”
That afternoon Sally and I hiked through the woods and talked about why godly people pray that their children will receive Christ early — not at all meaning they should be pressured, for we want it to be real — and we don’t want some eager beaver VBS teacher to lead them in the sinner’s prayer and for them to go on to doubt that they really meant it.
But we can pray for that hunger in their hearts, and for His Spirit to draw and illumine them early, for indeed, it to be real. We want that, not just to overcome the penalty of sin, but to overcome the power of sin. I know little children who are indeed born-again and have very tender hearts toward God. As Proverbs say, Even a child can be known by his doing.
A gospel-transformed heart leads to better behavior. We can’t make it happen, but we can pray.
And we can pray for our own hearts, hearts that are regenerate but tend to default to works-righteousness, to pressing the will instead of allowing the Gospel truths to transform our hearts.
This is why I want to take Psalm 37 and ask ourselves, “How can we apply the gospel to this? How can the gospel penetrate our hearts so that we can overcome sin?”
I chose Psalm 37 because, as Derek Kidner says, it almost seems like a chapter from Proverbs, and in fact, many verses in Proverbs parallel these verses. The mistake people make with Proverbs, and could make with Psalm 37, is to press the will to try to obey. But that method always leads to failure for our hearts are defective and deceitful, like a leaky boat, and will go down before long. I find I can sail off, determined to press the will (I will not eat those potato chips, I will not harbor vindictive thoughts toward the person who hurt me, I will not get anxious…) but within a very short time I sink. I can’t do it. Who will deliver me?
So let us consider how to apply the Gospel to Psalm 37.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.
Monday-Thursday Bible Study
APPLYING THE GOSPEL TO THIS WHOLE PSALM IS CONSIDERABLE HOMEWORK, SO THE SERMON IS OPTIONAL. IT’S ONE MANY OF YOU HAVE HEARD BEFORE, CLASSIC KELLER ON THE GOSPEL, BUT ALWAYS GOOD TO REVIEW. IF YOU HAVEN’T HEARD IT, TRY TO MAKE THE TIME.
Prepare your heart by singing along with this:
3. Read Psalm 37:1-9
A. Kidner says the theme is in the first verse. What is it?
B. The theme is expanded in verses one through four. Expand it.
C. Find the repetition of the theme of not fretting in 1-9.
One way to approach this psalm would be to talk about why we should not envy the wicked, why we should not fret, why we should not lose our tempers, and why we should be generous to those in need. All those admonitions are true. But because we are approaching this psalm through the lens of gospel transformation, I’d like you to take the command, “Don’t fret” and apply it to the sin you mentioned in the ice-breaker with which you frequently wrestle. I think that the reason we run to our idols instead of God is because we are worried that He won’t meet us. What I’d like you to do is to take that fear in relation to your struggle, and talk to your soul. For example, I can rush in my time with the Lord because I feel like I’ve got so much to do. So I would say:
“Don’t fret because of all that is on your plate, trust that the Lord will give you the time you need if you slow down and delight in Him.”
D. Now you do the same, taking a besetting sin and getting to the root reason you are fretting — for indeed, it is a lie. Speak the truth about God to yourself.
E. A key to overcoming is in verse 4. Ponder this. How do you delight in the Lord? And how do you interpret this verse?
4. Read Psalm 37:10-16
A. Find reasons we should not envy “the wicked.”
B. Now, let’s apply the gospel to the sin of envying. Instead of pressing the will and saying, “Stop it,” consider the heart idol that causes you to envy. Then consider what you know about Christ that would help you to wait on Him instead of running to your heart idol.
5. Read Psalm 37:16-29
A. Contrast the wicked’s man approach to generosity with that of the righteous.
B. Now, let’s apply the gospel to generosity. First, instead of pressing the will and telling yourself to be generous, consider what idol tempts you to withhold. Then consider what you know about Christ — even ways He became poor so you might become rich, or ways that give you confidence he will meet your need.
C. I have puzzled over verse 25 and would love thoughts on what it means, for it doesn’t seem to be true in experience. I know the founder of World Vision said, “David may not have seen this, but I have.” Eager to hear your thoughts!
6. Read Psalm 37:30-34. If we are put to death through persecution, how can the gospel help us guard our tongues?
7. What contrasts do you see between the wicked and the righteous in Psalm 37:35-40. What gospel truths do you see that we could use on our hearts from this passage?
8. Reflect again on the sin you mentioned in the ice-breaker. Have you been able to apply the gospel truth to it this week and experience progress?
9. Reflect on Psalm 37:23-24.
A. How do you see from this passage that the Christian life is a fight?
B. What hope do you see in this passage?
I have found it is indeed a daily battle, and yet I am also experiencing more victory and more sense of the presence of God, of Him, “upholding my hand.” Yet I do look forward to the day when he will remove the names of the idols from my mouth — and all their power over me. That is the day, I know, when He will say to each of us:
Friday: Optional Sermon
This is classic Keller, free, and many of you have heard it before. But it is worth a re-listen if you have time. Listen and share your notes.
10. What is your take-a-way and why?