Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Is Your Soul In Prison?

Psalm 142:5-7, “I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.”

Psalm 142 was written while David was in a cave hiding. We do not know exactly which cave, but probably either Engedi (1st Samuel 24:1-3) or Adullam (1st Samuel 22:2). Regardless, king David was having a rough time. This chapter of the Bible jumped out at me and encouraged my heart. It was like reading my biography.
Psalms 142:1-2, “I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.”
This is what we should all do when troubles come, pour out our complaint to God. The Hebrew word for "complaint" simply means, "to pray or communicate with God." David was making a request to God. Back in Moses' day, God was upset with the Israelites for complaining about the quality of the food they were given. As a matter of fact they complained about nearly everything. This was sinful and God punished them for it (tragically thousands died).

King David however was complaining to God for a very different reason, because someone was trying to kill him. David wouldn't fight back against God's anointed leader, king Saul. It's not wrong to complain to God about legitimate problems in our life, but God does not like when we don't appreciate His blessings in our life. David was not complaining in the sense of being unappreciative; but rather, David was asking God to deliver him from his "persecutors" (verse 6). There is a big difference! What type of complainer are you friend?

I complain to God all the time, but not in a selfish way. I complain about the iniquity in America, the injustice of the Enron corporation (who swindled millions of dollars from its own employee's retirement fund), the apostate ecumenical movement, abortion industry, gambling casinos, beer factories, spiritual wickedness in high places, and just about everything else that is wicked. I often find myself (like David - Psalms 58:6) praying imprecatory prayers, asking God like the prophet Jonah to bring swift justice and fiery judgment upon our wicked land!

There's is much we can all do to influence America for God. I worry about people (especially Christians believers) who have no passion for truth and justice. I don't know about you friend, but I want to make a difference for God. We need to get MAD (Make A Difference)! I'm really upset that so much corruption exists and nothing is being done about it (like $59 billion disappearing from HUD and then Bill Clinton pardons the man who was convicted for the crime). That's tax-payer dollars being stolen! The money was never recovered!

I also sometimes complain to the Lord that heathens like rock star Ozzy Osborne are paid $20,000,000 contracts for being wicked, while God's righteous children struggle in factories to make ends meet. The Holy Spirit always reminds me that everything which Jesus owns is mine also, and that I have eternal life—which is worth more than all the riches in the universe. Heaven belongs to those who die in the Lord (Revelation 14:13), having their sins washed away by the precious blood of Jesus.

Ozzy Osbourne has nothing because he doesn't have Jesus Christ, sad but true. And now Ozzy is nearing the end of his life in 2024, suffering from Parkinson's disease. I am sad for Ozzy and his family. They need the Lord. By God's grace, I am very rich indeed, for I have Jesus as my personal Savior! We have so many blessings from God to be thankful for, even the air that we all breathe and take for granted. God is pleased when sin makes His children upset and when we stand up to speak the truth against the evildoers (Psalm 94:16). The old adage is true: Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.

Psalm 142 is special to me because I have been there in my troubled life...
Psalms 142:3, “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.”
David said his enemies had privily (secretly) laid a trap for him. I've had people do this to me before. It's a very panful experience when someone cheats and hurts you, and when somebody spreads lies about you (or even worse, the truth). People just love to gossip and tear down other people. It's in our sinful nature as humans to hurt one another (Romans 3:10-23). Because I am a Christian I've learned that some people will just sit in wait (as a predator), waiting for us to stumble. Pastor Texe Marrs (1944-2019) was right, who said: When you're a Christian the whole world is waiting for you to fall.
Psalms 142:3, “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.
Notice that David said he was "overwhelmed" inside. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by emotions? I sure have. David says in Psalm 142:7 that his "soul was in prison." Ever felt like your soul was in prison? Have you ever felt like you'd never get out of debt? Have you ever felt like life would never get any better? Have you ever felt like people were a lost cause? I have felt all of these things at times in my life. People can really get you down sometimes (John 16:22).

The Lord Is Our Refuge In Time Of Trouble

There were times in my life when I felt like all the walls were closing-in around me, like everything in the world was wrong. I know what it's like to want to die, but you know you have to keep on living because that is God's plan. And let me say, I was right with God during those overwhelming times. I was drawn by my afflictions more into the precious truths of God's Word. I know that God has a divine purpose for my sufferings, to prepare me for the burdens ahead (Deuteronomy 8:3). You really don't understand the truth until you live the truth, when you're at the bottom of life looking up. The Bible comes alive when you feel like your dead. 

Read how David felt...
Psalms 55:6, “And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.”
David wished he could have grown wings and just flown away. Have you ever been there? There have been umpteen times in my life when I have felt that way. Sometimes I just wanted to quit my job and go anywhere but there! I'm sure that you've also felt that way, especially if you live and work in a big concrete jungle city like Chicago, Los Angeles or New York.

If you've ever received bad news at your front door, you know the fear that lingers every time you hear a knock at your door from that day hence. The same is true with the phone and the mailbox. I dread checking my mail, answering the door, or the phone. I've received enough bad news to last a lifetime. What can we do? I now check my mail only once every couple weeks. I forget about the mail. I don't let my mailbox of phone control me, I check it when I feel like it.

I have an answering machine, I keep my ringer down. My time is MY TIME. I have learned little ways to control the life which God has given me. If you don't take control you will have no life. I worked midnights years ago and slept afternoons. I turned the phone off every afternoon. It worked great. Sometimes you have to take drastic measures because people (especially your own family) will abuse you (even though they likely don't intend to). I've learned to say "no" to people from church as well. Just say "no."

You likely can't work in a church ministry all day on Saturday, you've got things that need to be done at the house. You need to spend time with your wife and kids. A real man spends time with his family. The Godfather (played by actor Marlon Brando) said that and he was right! People won't take no for an answer sometimes. If you have small children, you owe it to your wife to watch the kids so she can get a much-needed break on Saturdays. Family must come before ministry. If you can make time to serve in a church ministry, that's great, but not at the expense of your family.

Seek God's Mercy To Find Grace To Help In Time Of Need

I could see why many people would like to grow wings and fly away as David wanted to. Years ago, I was a bit discouraged and someone bought me an encouraging card. The card said:
"Any idiot can handle a crisis, it's this day-to-day living that wears me down."
I never forgot that card, and the above statement is a classic. It's not the big things in life that wear us down, it's the mundane and routine things that wear us down. David was tired from always looking over his shoulder for enemies. David wanted to fly away from his problems but he knew it was impossible. David was discouraged because he felt like no one was his friend. He was convinced that no one cared about his soul. David couldn't find someone to give him refuge so he ended up in a cave. Everyone was afraid to help David (just as most people today are afraid to help those in trouble). No one wanted David around anymore because they knew Saul was after him. People had also heard about his adultery with Bathsheba and how he murdered her husband Uriah. David was a marked man! The stigma sticks!
Psalms 142:4, “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.”
David turned to the Lord God, which is always the best thing to do when we are in trouble...
Psalms 142:5, “I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.”
David had many enemies, especially Saul. What was David to do? He had a problem that wasn't going to go away anytime soon. Do you have any problems like that dear reader? I can only do so much as one human being. We are living in a wicked world. I know how David felt...
Psalms 142:6, “Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.”
David was in an overwhelming situation. He felt very low, betrayed, humiliated and broken. David, who had killed a fierce lion with his bare hands! David, who had slain the Philistine giant Goliath with a mere sling shot! David, who had slain his ten thousands! Now David finds himself hiding in a cave with nowhere to turn, but to the Lord for help. Sometimes, we will have nowhere to turn, but to the Lord Jesus Christ for help. David's soul was in a prison. He wanted out, but saw no way of escape. There was no light in sight at the end of the tunnel.
Psalms 142:7, “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.”
Is your soul in a prison? Is your heart living in a dark cave of life? Do you have burdens that your family and friends just can't help you with? Have you come to the end of yourself? I have been there too my friend, so be of good cheer. 1st Peter 5:9, “Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” As David experienced, I can only turn to my God in desperation and plead for deliverance from mine enemies and miseries. David said in Psalm 142:6 that he had been "brought very low." David cried unto the Lord...
Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
We have a wonderful promise from God in Hebrews 4:14-15. Because we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, we have a God-purchased RIGHT to the throne of grace. Jesus paid for this right. We surely don't deserve it, but God loves us and has made this provision for us with His own blood which He shed for our sins (1st Peter 1:18-19). Jesus is our High Priest who intercedes for us in Heaven (Hebrews 4:14; Romans 8:34). God wants us to BOLDLY approach His throne of grace to obtain mercy, to HELP in time of NEED. God has promised to help us, but we must plead for His mercy. God owes us nothing, we must petition God (make supplication) concerning our burdens. If we are not arrogant and self-willed, He will help us. God is real my friend, He sits upon His throne in heaven. Through our spirit, we can stand before that throne if we will only pray.

Prayer is a serious matter, be careful what you ask God. If your soul is in prison, take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there. Cast your cares upon God (1st Peter 5:7-8). If the burdens don't go away, hang in there because unshakable faith comes from having your faith shaken! And what pleases God? FAITH! (Hebrews 11:6). So it is very true then, that more problems in one's life is better for us, because more affliction will cause us to have a stronger faith. We cannot grow in grace without suffering and pain.

Unshakable Faith Comes From Having Your Faith Shaken

God is not pleased to watch us suffer, but He is pleased if we don't quit. If you ask God for more faith, then you WILL be sent a multitude of problems to build your faith. This is why I say be careful what you pray. I love this next verse. Listen to what Job said:
Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Do you have Job's kind of blind faith? Job said, "I don't care if God kills me, I'm not going to give up!" Job had a great faith! So there is a silver lining to every burden, though it may not seem joyous at the moment. Perhaps you ask, "Do you really believe all that?" Yes I do, but I don't like it one bit. I'd rather not have the burdens, but they're here. So I might as well do what James said and count it all joy (a silver lining). I hate problems! Unfortunately, they keep coming one after the other. Unshakable faith comes from having your faith shaken!

I'll say this though, if I hadn't carried the burdens which afflicted me years ago, I wouldn't have had the strength to bare the burdens I have now. That makes me worry what burdens may come in the future, but I have to leave that in God's hands and trust Him. God has promised to encamp round about me to watch over me (Psalms 34:7). By God's grace, I wouldn't have learned all the Bible truths I have learned, if I hadn't had all those past burdens. I am grateful to God for my life, good and bad alike. It is my life. What saith the Scripture? ...
James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Has James lost his mind? No, not at all. The trials in our life will make us stronger if we hang in there for God. Have you ever heard the old adage: That which does not kill you only makes you stronger? This is true. Many people turn to drugs, alcohol and immorality when the rough times come. What we need to do is seek closeness with the Lord. We need to live in the inspired Word of God. The Bible truly does have all the answers if you look for them (John 5:39). We need to pray about everything (Philippines 4:6). Do you know what encourages me more than anything else when I'm discouraged? It is preaching the Gospel. There is no joy as sweet as leading a lost sinner to Jesus Christ.

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