Lenten Training (2): Anxiety is Defeat (Psalm 27)
Introduction: The Devil's most expensive tool: discouragement.
Psalm 27:1 - The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? ... 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple. . . 27:9 Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me . . . 27:14 Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
Our Spring Training is firstly, actively growing in faith in Christ. As we looked (last week) at Jesus’ Temptation we should trust Him more since: 1) Jesus is our Captain by fulfilling the call of True Israel and 2) Jesus is our Champion - He was the victor over the devil through trusting the Father at every point. Like Christ we overcome through faith. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1John 5:4). This week we will look at the reverse of faith, fear. Our second Lenten Training theme is overcoming anxiety. Casting anxiety the Lord is an active spiritual discipline.
Our lectionary Psalm for the day is Psalm 27. It’s theme is confidence in the presence of God which removes fear. The Psalm is in two sections (1-6, 7-14). Readers of the Psalm may be surprised by the change of mood from confidence to fear (at vs 7). The outline broadly forms a parallel (chiasm) which we will expand into main points.
A) Confidence in God’s Presence (1-3)
B) Prayer for God’s Presence (4-6)
B’) Prayer for God’s Presence (7-12)
A’) Confidence in God’s Presence (13-14)
1) Take Confidence in God’s Light and Deliverance (1-3) - We should have confidence in God because He is our light, our deliverance, and our defense (1). The result of this is faith not fear and worship not worry. Anxiety is produced when our “light” is not the Word but false ideas. Fear comes when that which we trust fails. Do you trust your resources (money), your natural abilities, or other people (spouse, family, friends, leaders, government, etc.)?
2) Prepare for God’s Presence in the Day of Worship (4-6) - We should seek God’s presence because only in seeing Him as He is will we worship Him as we ought. True worship involves meditation, seeing the beauty of the Lord, sacrifice and praise (4 & 6). This kind of worship lifts us above our enemies (5-6). Have you every truly worshiped?
3) Cry for God’s Presence in the Day of Trouble (7-12) - We should cry out for God’s presence in the times when we feel abandoned, knowing that He will not forsake us (9-10). This is the surprising turn in the text. But I believe it represents the ordinary experience of believers. We prepare in worship and then we are faced with life challenges. Despite our doctrines and formal worship do you fear that God may abandon or forsake you (9) or that you will be delivered to your enemies (12)?
4) Wait for God’s Presence without Despair (13-14) - If we have confidence in God because He is our light, deliverance, and defense; and if we have prepared by worship (meditation, God’s beauty, sacrifices and praise), then despite our “day of trouble” we will return to confidence in God’s presence. We will not despair but trust that we will “see the goodness of the LORD” (13). The spiritual discipline to practice is patience instead of anxiety. Will you “wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage” (14)?
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more