of The Message
Sunday as I sat here beside the pulpit, Robert, my son,
was reading the scripture lesson of the morning and some
words in the scripture reading felt like a thunderbolt went
through me. I've lived with those words all week, and want
to speak to you this morning on these powerful words from
my cry, O God. Attend to my prayer. From the
ends of the earth I cry out to you. WHEN MY HEART IS OVERWHELMED,
LEAD ME TO THE ROCK THAT IS HIGHER THAN I." (Psalm
said these words? Why did he say them? Where
was he coming from? Well, the author is
David and it is the same David who was a shepherd boy. He loved walking through green pastures tending his sheep. He loved to play the harp. Then
he came to the attention of King Saul who had all kinds
of neurotic problems. And King Saul requested
David to play his harp for him. You know the story. Samuel, the prophet, tells King Saul that David is to be the next
king. When David became King he inquired if any
of Saul's household was still living and Mephibosheth, the
lame son of Jonathan, Saul's grandson, was hiding, fearing
that the new king would kill him. But King David sent for him and said, "Do
not fear. Your father, Jonathan, saved my life. Therefore, you shall be my guest and live in my palace like one of
my own sons.
who David was, a wonderful person until he got control and power. It has often been
said, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." And if you want to read the rest of the story of King David, read
Samuel II. I do not want to read
it from this pulpit because it reads like a soap opera. There is sex, violence, deception and duplicity. It is awful. Read what this wonderful
little shepherd boy became when he got power, when he began
to believe he was in control.
now had power and he no longer depended so reverently, mystically
and quietly on the Almighty God for his strength. He already had it! Nor did David need
to depend on God for power. He had it! He didn't need to depend on God for success! David was a success!
where does that change in attitude lead David? It leads him into trouble. And in trouble finally in prayer, he is
asking God: "Lead me, Lord.
Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I." (Psalm 61:2)
was David's problem? In one word I would call it overwhelmed. "My heart is overwhelmed." (Psalm 61:2) Have you ever had that
overwhelmed feeling? What was David overwhelmed
with? He was the king!
Overwhelmed by Temptation
David was overwhelmed by temptation. There has never been a king who did anything worse than David. When he saw the beautiful Bathsheba, he wanted her for himself so
he had her husband assigned to the front line of battle,
where the odds of him being killed were substantial and,
in fact, it happened. And so Bathsheba was widowed and David took her to be his wife. He was overwhelmed with this temptation. Today I think our culture
finds many people overwhelmed by this kind of temptation. It is all around us.
are all kinds of temptations and when David was overwhelmed
by temptation, he became overwhelmed
Overwhelmed by Guilt
can never read a more penitent piece of poetry than Psalm
51 when David cried out to God: "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit
within me." (Psalm 51:10). Whenever you feel guilty, and you will, so do I, read
Psalm 51. It is so therapeutic.
"Lead me to a Rock that is higher than I."
David failed to hold on to the rock of faith he was shaken
into sin through temptation. Yes,
you and I need to hold on to the Rock of faith through temptation
... and we need a Rock that can guarantee that we can be
through the centuries has offered all kinds of solutions
to guilt. But many of these perceived
solutions are unstable. Most
of them depend upon us paying a price. It is what is called, in theology, "salvation
by works." That does not work
because there is no grace. It was Martin Luther
who had a terrible problem with guilt. And
he did everything the church said you should do. He followed the rituals and he followed the church law. Finally he was still as guilty as hell so he walked up the steps on
his knees praying for forgiveness. There
he was led to the Bible verse, "By
grace you are saved through faith, not of yourself, it is
a gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)
you feel guilty today? Meet the God of mercy and love. "Lead me to the Rock that is higher
than I ... All other ground is sinking sand."
Overwhelmed by Grief
was overwhelmed by temptation and then, of course, guilt. And then David was overwhelmed by grief.
Yes, he got the beautiful Bathsheba and she lost her child.
Their first-born died. Then they had another son named Absolem,
who also died a pitiful death later on.
there is some guilt mixed in with grief. I used to do a great deal of pastoral counseling in my first years
here. Through the funerals of our beloved church
members I have often seen grief mixed in the grieving. Most of that guilt is undeserved. But in this case, David’s
guilt was deserved. David was overwhelmed by grief. "Lead me to the Rock that I can hold onto."
wonderful friend and member of this church sent me a beautiful
true story. Ben Hadley is one of
our 3,500 volunteers. He writes that one
Friday morning he was on tour guide duty and there were
no visitors on campus that morning, but then he saw a man
walking toward him. Ben could see that this visitor was not a possibility thinker. He approached Ben and didn’t
look very happy. Ben asked if he ever
heard of the Hour of Power. He said, "Yea,
I watched it once." Ben said, "Would
you like a tour? ..." "Sure
... but let me tell you right up front where I’m coming from."
writes in his own words, "I said, ‘lay it on me,’ He spent ten minutes
telling me everything that was wrong here ... What disgraceful
expenditures, etc., etc. He laid it all out. I said, ‘Well you know, I’ve been around here for 32 years and believe me you’re not the only one who’s
found fault with this ministry. Why don’t we take a walk around a bit and see if I can change your mind.’ And the man scoffed and said, ‘You’ll have one tough
spent one hour and 45 minutes with that guy. The miracle was nobody else joined us. Usually there are groups coming through all the time, but we were
alone for that entire time. He was kind of impressed
when I told him this entire ministry started with a young
man and his wife who had $500 and a little organ they pulled
half way across the country. They had a dream to build a church to tell people that God loved them.
you believe that this church started in a drive-in movie
theater?' I said. He smiled a little
and said, ‘You're telling me things
I really don't want to hear.' We continued on our
tour and I told him about the Arboretum where we have such
beautiful weddings. Then there are the funerals. Christmas parties for the little kids whose parents are in prison. And how once a year we turn the campus over to the 7th
Day Adventist Church for their celebration packed full with
thousands of their young people.
took him to the patio, looked up at the Tower of Hope and
said, ‘You know, in the many years I've been a tour
guide volunteer, more than one person has told me they are
alive today because somebody in that Tower picked up a telephone
when they dialed New Hope. They’re alive today!’
I pointed out the Walk of Faith and told him how many people,
some whom we don't even know, paid to have a Bible verse
carved in granite and put in the sidewalks so people can’t even walk around here without the possibility of reading the Bible.
I showed him the Crystal Cathedral, saying, 'You know one
Saturday afternoon about 22 years ago the Cathedral was
just finished and my wife and I met a young man with his
wife, and that man told us he didn't belong here, but he
had to show his wife the place that put food on their table
when he so desperately needed a job. He
was a glazier and said he helped put all the Cathedral windows
next stop was the Good Shepherd statue where I told him
that one time we found a note of confession placed at the
feet of Jesus. Then he volunteered, saying, 'you know, that was probably from someone
who had carried a weight of sin for years, and when they
laid it at Jesus' feet, they left here as if a ton of weight
had been lifted from their shoulders.' Then he told me how
many years ago his 9 year old son died of cancer and he
said, ‘I became totally alienated
was still overwhelmed by grief. Then the man continued, 'I can hardly believe what's been happening
to me since I entered this place earlier this morning.' I replied, ‘Wow, let's have a prayer.' Just then his cell phone rang and it was his wife. Her meeting was over and she wanted to get together for lunch. And so as I said goodbye to him, I prayed that he and his wife would
be blessed and always sense the presence of Jesus.
we finished praying, he showed me the goose bumps on his
arms and said, ‘You know I think it represents
the Holy Spirit.’ And I said,
‘You’re right’ and I showed him the same goose bumps on my arm.
of you are still overwhelmed by grief. Subconsciously you think you pushed it away. But it’s doing damage.
by temptation ...
by guilt ...
by grief ...
then overwhelmed by threats. Yes, David had his enemies, but the real threat to David's life was
his own sense of power and control. He
had to have it. He had to be in charge.
life throwing a curve at you? Are you in a battle to win? To hold and exercise power and control? In your family? ... in your marriage? ... in your career? ... in your
profession?...in politics? ... in finances? You are the boss? You are the king? That kind of thinking can quickly overwhelm you with the feeling of
am reminded me of a story I read in Readers’ Digest, the November 2003 issue. "A husband and wife got into a quarrel. They both went into a pouting streak where neither would speak to
the other. This silent treatment
went on for days where neither one would speak to the other.
But one night the husband was going to bed and remembered
that he was going to go fishing early the next morning. He had to get up at
5 AM, but he didn't want to give in to their quarrel and
be the first to give in, so he instead of speaking to his wife, he left a note on her pillow. Wake me up at 5 AM tomorrow. The next morning he did not wake up until 9:00. Wow! Was he mad! Until he saw the note on his pillow. "It’s 5 AM, time to wake
Overwhelmed by Possibilities
by projects? ... by people? ... by problems? ... Overwhelmed by possibilities? That's been the biggest problem in my life. I was talking to my 14 year old grandson, Nicky Coleman, recently. Nicky is super talented. He
sings in many musicals and plays. He
has been a frequent soloist here at the Cathedral. I said, "What are you going to be Nicky? You could be a performing artist, you have an exceptional voice. You could be a professional actor, no doubt about it. And I know you are interested in art, and architecture. You could be a great architect."
answered, "I don’t know. It is going to be tough
to decide. I’ve got too many talents." When you are overwhelmed
by talent, opportunities and possibility thinking, you need
to pray the prayer, "Lead
me to the Rock so I will make the right decision
for my life."
Overwhelmed by a collision of insecurities
me to a ROCK that is higher than I." Maybe you're
overwhelmed by a collision of
insecurities. You worry,
"where is my money going? How much did I lose? Will I have enough? More ... more ... more. When is enough, enough? Where does this spirit lead? To greed, yes, and that does not produce joy. The Bible teaches us that if we give 10% of our money to God, we don’t have to worry about the other 90%. But if you don’t give the ten you
will never be satisfied with whatever you keep. It is a decision you have to make.
by a collision, conscious and unconscious? A lot of our overwhelming insecurities are not conscious, but subconscious.
Will this marriage hold? Will
it survive? Will my children turn
out okay? How about my grandkids? How can they grow up
in this kind of a world without becoming morally corrupt?
you worry, maybe consciously, or surely unconsciously, about
the ultimate insecurity, called
death and dying. Nobody talks about that. It’s not happy news. Oh ... but it is happy
news if you know Jesus Christ, because here for sure I can
give you a Rock that is eternal. Hold on to it.
"Lead me to a ROCK that is higher than I, Lord."
prayer. Question, was the prayer answered? How was it answered? When
was it answered?
Second Samuel 22. Yes, the prayer was answered, and David found a Rock! It was a solid island in a story sea, an unshakable, stable, solid
foundation of rock for his faith, which carried him through
to the happy ending.
poet David said it so beautifully in the beloved words of
the 23rd Psalm.
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters ...
Yes, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death I will fear no evil.
For You are with me, Your rod and
Your staff they comfort me ...
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the
Lord forever and ever. Amen."
is the faith I offer to you! That is my Solid Rock! "On
Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. Amen."