God's Word Can Bring You Comfort

Steve Viars February 24, 2007 Psalms 119:49-96

 

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- One of the darkest periods in our nation’s history was the Civil War...

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- it lasted from April 12, 1861 – April 9, 1865

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- it is hard to comprehend the number of people who participated...

 

Participation

Union             2,803,300     10.7% of Union Population

Confederate       1,064,200     13.1% of Confederacy Population

Combined          3,867,500     11.1% of Total Population

 

Union Deaths:         389,753

Confederate Deaths:         289,000

Total Deaths:           678,753

 

UnionWounded:    275,175

Confederate Wounded:    194,026

Total Wounded:      469,201

 

Total Casualties:    1,147,954

 

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- One of the greatest challenges was how to treat the wounded...

- we’re told that sometimes there were as many as 400 injuries within the first 15 minutes of a battle...

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- these ambulances were used to transport those in need of medical care...

- how much confidence and comfort would you have if this is what showed up in your time of need?...

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- it didn’t get much better because this was often the kind of field hospital the men were taken to...not exactly the private rooms that are being built in our new hospitals...

 

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- It’s horrible to imagine...

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- but often the treatment was amputation...

 

- [return to Pic #6]

- and these men knew that for many, that would be their fate...

- we’re told that the doctors would sometimes operate for 15-18 hours per day...

 

- perhaps most amazing is that many of these operations were performed with no anesthesia...there simply wasn’t any available...

- Pic #9

- we’ve all heard the phrase “bite the bullet”...that is because sometimes doctors would instruct their patients to bite down on a bullet made of wood or hardened leather because that was all they had for pain...

 

- James Winchell, a union soldier, recorded in his diary what it was like to go through such an experience...[and I’m leaving a lot out for obvious reasons]...but he wrote...

“Surgeon White came to me and said: ‘Young man, are you going to have your arm taken off or are you going to lie here...I asked if he had any chloroform or quinine or whisky.  Looking at the gallery of injured soldiers behind me, he replied ‘No, and I have no time to dilly-dally with you.’  I said it was hard, but to go ahead...He got hold of my arm, pulled the bandage off, pushed his thumb through the wound and told me to ‘come on,’ and helping me up we walked to the...table...after a lot of preliminary poking and careless feeling around my arm and shoulder they made me sit up in a chair, and wanted to hold my legs, but I said ‘No, I won't kick you.’ I set my teeth together and clinched my hand into my hair, and told them to go on.   The pain was excruciating...After [the first part of the surgery] they wanted me to rest an hour or so; to which I refused. I wanted but one job to it. Then they finished...while I grasped for breath and the lower jaw dropped in spite of my firm clinch. I was then led away a short distance and left to lie on the hot sand.  Though the surgery took only minutes, the torment of that morning shall remain with me the rest of my days.”

- can you imagine going through that kind of experience with no kind of comfort, or consolation, or way to relieve the pain?...

 

- now, here’s why I wanted to place such a terrible thought before us this morning...

- that same dynamic can happen to a person spiritually...

- where they are enduring terrible trial, or adversity, or affliction...

 

- and the truth of the matter is...that is occurring to people all around us right now...and one of my questions for all of us would be---do we see ourselves as ministers of comfort, of consolation, of relief?...does the fact that others around us could be in pain move us to action?....

- and then secondly...one of those painful experiences could be right around the corner for you, or for somebody you love...are you prepared with the resources of comfort to handle adversity well?...

- with that in mind, would you open your Bible this morning to Psalm 119?...page 446 of the front section of the Bible under the chair n front of you...

 

- it might be a little bit early to talk about the signs of spring...but we’re certainly moving in the right direction...

- that holds special significance to our church family...because it gets us tat much closer to launching three projects that we have been working toward for some time...our community center, our church based seminary, and our faith-based residential treatment program for girls in need...

- and we want to be sure that we are doing everything possible to be ready for that...

- which is why we have adopted the annual theme of ReachingNew Heights...

- in the month of January, we talked about Reaching New Heights in our Faithfulness to Pray...because we understand that all of this has to be bathed in a growing life of prayer on both an individual and corporate level...

- during February, we have been studying Psalm 119 and focusing on Reaching New Heights in Our Commitment to Scripture...because we want our lives, and our church, and these new ministries to founded on the sufficient Word of God...

- so far we’ve seen this...

- Psalm 119:1-16 – God’s Word Can Make You Pure

- Psalm 119:47-48 – God’s Word Can Make You Satisfied

- this morning, we’d like to study portion of...

- Psalm 119:49-96 – God’s Word Can Bring You Comfort

 

[read selected portions of Psalm 119:49-96]

 

- isn’t it great to know that God’s Word can bring you comfort?...

- in the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 ways the Bible can help you/others in difficult times.

 

I. Scripture Gives Hope in Affliction.

- one of the key verses in this section is...

- Psalm 119:49-50 - Remember the word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction...

- now, it is ought to be reassuring to us that the Bible very clearly acknowledges...

A. The presence of trials.

- because this topic causes...

1. Some people mock

- the skeptics look at the existence of difficulties and afflictions and say...that proves there is no God...

- because if there was, He would be powerful enough to shield you from any problems and loving enough to use His power in that way...

- some people find that argument very intimidating...and respond with...

2. Others make empty promises.

- they would suggest that if you trust Christ as Savior and Lord, then your life will be problem free...

- if you have enough faith then you’ll have perfect health and financial freedom and on and on...

- so trials are bad and meaningless and people who know the Lord won’t have them...

- but that’s certainly not the emphasis in this passage...

3. God’s Word faces trials head on.

- this writer is very open about the afflictions he’s facing and doesn’t seem to be embarrassed for himself or God that they exist...

- in fact, the NT goes so far as to say that...

- 2 Timothy 3:12 - Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

- Paul also said that...

- 2 Corinthians 4:8 - we are afflicted in every way...

- and it’s not always the big ticket things---sometimes it’s just the challenges of living in a sin cursed world...

- why is it when you put 10 socks in the dryer only 9 come out when they’re done?...

- trials come in all sorts of sizes...

- in fact, I’ll tell you about one that happened to me this week as long as you promise to feel badly for me...

- often at lunch several us from the staff go down to the gym to try to get some exercise...

- that’s a good thing, right...to try to protect our health for our families and even the church?...

- so I was down there at International on Monday when all that snow started melting...

- and I parked up next to the building like I often do...

- and when I came out, a bunch of that wet snow had careened off that slanted metal roof and just covered the front of several of our cars...

- in fact, a couple of other people had already been out to their cars and found that the snow had broken out their windshields and dented their hoods and all of that...

- they had called the police and I asked if I could do anything...

- then I looked at my car and it was covered but the windshield wasn’t broken...[I whispered one of those—but by the grace of God go I---which is southern for—better you than me...]

- but I brushed the snow off the windshield and kind of had to rock back and forth to get out of the parking place, but I got free and was heading across their parking lot when the rest of the snow slid off the hood and it was unbelievable dented in...

- it looked like someone had dropped a boulder on my car...which is essentially what happened...

- so I circled back around and waited for the policeman they had already called...

- when he got out of his car, he recognized me and the first thing out of his mouth was...I sure hope you’re not going to argue that this wasn’t an act of God...

 

- those kinds of things happen to us all the time, don’t they...difficulties, trials, afflictions...

- this passage says that there is...

B. The possibility of hope.

- why according to verse 50?...

- because during a time of trial, God’s Word has the ability to revive you...

- to wake you up...to give you life...

- we all know the picture...trials have a way of dazing you...of taking you off your equilibrium...of dulling you spiritually and causing you to lose hope...

- but if at that moment, or in that situation, you bring Scripture into the equation...what happens?...

- just like this verse says...you’re revived...you awaken to the spiritual realities that put that trial in its proper perspective...

- now, awakens to what?...for some, awakens...

1. it awakens to salvation.

- it is not unusual at all to hear a person tell about how they came to trust Christ in the midst of great difficulty.

- because that is what God used to bring them to the end of themselves...to convince them that life without God does not work...

- and that person might say today---I am glad now that God allowed that to happen to me...it work me up to my need of a Savior and a Lord...I always knew that---but it came into clearer focus during my affliction...

 

2. it awakens to eternal truths.

- several times in this section of Scripture we read phrases like in...

- verse 52 – your ordinances from of old.

- there is consolation in knowing that these are not new theories that have not stood the test of time...

- that is why there is such comfort and consolation in reading words like...

- Psalm 119:89-90 - Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.

- a well known scientist came to Purdue this week who is a believer in Christ...

- I am thankful that someone of his stature would stand up at a major university and give his testimony of his faith...

- but what was unfortunate was that he promoted a theory known as theistic evolution...where God created the world but then turned it over to some sort of evolutionary process...

- in other words, the Bible in a number of places got it wrong...

- well, we certainly want to be friends and supporters of good science...

- however, we agree with the psalmist...God really is powerful enough to do things just the way He said...and we find that kind of eternal trust to be of great comfort as we factor it into whatever challenge we might be facing...

 

- now, please notice this too...several times in this text we read the word...

3. it reminds us.

- verse 52 – I have remembered Your ordinances...

- verse 55 – O Lord, I remember your name...

- now, please keep this in mind...what the Psalmist is talking about here is a personal responsibility...

- when a heap of snow falls off the roof and damages your car...you have to decide what you’re going to think...and what you’re going to say...and what you’re going to do...

- and this man is saying that his hope comes in part because during a trial, he chooses to remember principles of Scripture...and factor them into what he is facing...

- you might say...reminding us of what?...

a. of God’s presence.

- Hebrews 13:5 – I will never leave you nor forsake you

b. of God’s protection.

- Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that...height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

c. of God’s provision.

- Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

d. of God’s promises.

- 2 Peter 1:4 - For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

 

 

- the point is, through those means and more, God’s Word is able to give His people hope...

- now, let me ask you this...do you know the Word of God well enough, and are you growing in that knowledge...so that you can draw on the hope of the Word when you need it?...

- [apply – some might be here and would say...I am in the category of needing to let God’s Word draw me to Christ...

- others might say...I really need to make a commitment to dig in this spring...mention the FCI magazine...]

 

- now, let’s take it further...we can also draw this conclusion...

II. Scripture Gives Purpose to Affliction.

A. They can be good.

- isn’t that exactly what this passage repeatedly says?...

- Psalm 119:67 - Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.

- Psalm 119:71 - It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.

 

- now, let’s think about that from the perspective of the ministry opportunities we have to those around us...

- this is why we began the message the way we did this morning...

- do you believe there are men and women all around us going through significant pain and have nowhere to turn for hope, and comfort, and consolation?...

- and I am not talking about “religion being the opiate for the masses” as Freud believed...

- I’m talking about the need for sustaining truth and direction during hard times?...

- and if it is true that people around us are in pain for a variety of reasons...my question to you is...are you ready to jump in one of those ambulances and do something about it?....

- think about this ministry catalog...is there someone in your life that might benefit from taking one of these community classes if they simply knew about it?...and are you willing to love them enough to tell them?...

- and if you say, well, would that really work?...

- I would like you to hear a testimony from Kathy Wilkerson...and as Kathy shares with us, please be thanking the Lord for the way He works, and also be thinking about whether there is somebody just like Kathy around you...

 

- testimony – Kathy Wilkerson...

 

- [develop – the need/opportunity to take a fistful of magazines and carefully/prayerfully/thoughtfully distribute them...]

 

- see, it was good for me [and sometimes for others] that I was afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes...

 

- now, you might say, is that the only reason for trials?...no...

- James Montgomery Boice, in his commentary on Psalms, gives five...

B. Possible reasons for trials [James Montgomery Boice]

1. The common lot of man.

- Job 5:7 – Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.

 

 

2. Suffering that is corrective.

- that is what we have been studying here...

 

3. Suffering that is constructive.

- Romans 5:3-4 - And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

 

4. Suffering that is given to glorify God.

John 9:3 - Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

 

5. Suffering that is cosmic.

- cf. Job

- as in the case of Job, as a believer handles trial well, it demonstrates to Satan and to the angels that a person can truly love God and serve Him simply because of Who God is, not just for what the believer might be receiving from God at the moment...

- Satan doesn’t understand that kind of submission, or that kind of love...

 

- now what about the person who says, I don’t have this kind of appreciation for God’s Word, or understanding of God’s Word, and I am not sure I want to invest the time/energy in making it so...

 

- Well, it is true that Scripture gives hope in affliction, and Scripture gives purpose in affliction...it also...

III. Scripture Gives an Alternative to Handling Affliction Biblically.

 

- the Psalmist was very straightforward about it...

- Psalm 119:92 - If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.

 

-[if time allows, talk about the importance of preparing our children...

- could also quote from Rescue the Perishing...]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video