Episode 11: The Panting Deer (Psalm 42)

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Sermon text here.

I have decided to try, as a new addition to the podcast, a portion after the sermon which will serve as sort of a devotional time of my own, to talk about what led me to choose this sermon and to give my own thoughts on the subject.  This will not supplant discussion episodes, but I wanted to try doing this to begin generating my own original thoughts on Spurgeon’s words and the Scriptures at hand.

By the way, the transition music is a new arrangement of A Mighty Fortress is Our God by Jarod Grice, whom you may recall from discussion episode 8A.  You can download his song and many others he’s written at his Bandcamp page.

I chose this sermon for three reasons.  Firstly, this is probably one of my favorite psalms, and there have been many days since the Holy Spirit broke my heart for Christ that I have found myself feeling exactly like King David in this psalm, aching deeply for closeness with my Lord.  My desire has been to have a heart that is fully in sync with Paul’s words of Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  But it seems like that is often beyond my grasp, and I am forced to be reminded of something else Paul wrote, a word from God in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

And that feeds into my second reason, and one that Spurgeon acknowledges early on: the deadly effects of sin on our communion with God.  Like all believers who still live, I have had to do a great deal of battle against the sins of my past, against my fleshly will to rebel and against the enemy that tempts and accuses.  I have struggled with the truth that God’s grace is sufficient for me, that the sacrifice Jesus made of Himself on the cross is truly vast enough to cover what I am guilty of.  Most of all I have had the bittersweet experience of having my eyes opened to an idol I have been holding back; over the last few years God has walked me through this same process in gentleness but with discipline, in showing me things that I am holding onto in such a way that I have made it clear that I don’t truly trust God fully.  Then in that same sense of joyful, repentant weeping that Spurgeon talks about, I have had to release my grip…and in that release, God has been faithful to bring healing, renewed life and rest, and to remind me that He loves me.  That is, after all, one of the reasons I started this podcast, to be able to share material that God has used in my life for exactly that purpose so many times.

And finally, that leads into my third reason: my wife returned from a mission trip to Asia and had amazing opportunities to share the Gospel with many and to meet people who had become believers in a place where proclaiming the name of Christ is at best, severely frowned upon, and at worst met with death.  She spoke about one man who shared his testimony; after becoming a believer his family had disowned him.  For years he had been unable to speak with them, and this in a society which is far more communal and collectivistic by nature than the West; losing contact with your family is like losing contact with your context for the world.  His father passed away and he tried to return and see him one last time, but he was kept out, unable to attend his own father’s funeral.  She recalled that his closing words were, “Christ is my only asset.”

And as I heard this, I was deeply convicted of this truth: the same is true for me.  I live in a society where we do not have this same level of persecution; becoming a believer was not something that destroyed my connections with family and friends.  Yet the truth is that even with all the things I do have here, Jesus Christ really and truly is my only asset.  If I live, it is for Christ and through Christ; if I die, I go to Christ.  Yet how many times, even in just the last few days, have I been guilty of living as though Christ were simply one of several fungible assets I can choose from?  Too many to count, enough to make me cry out to the Father just like the blind man, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!”

But thanks be to God, that mercy is given, and given readily.  My friends, I pray this podcast is a blessing to you.  If you know Christ, then I pray your spirit has been strengthened by this mere echo of a great preacher of years gone by.  If you don’t know Christ, then I pray you have felt a conviction that you are in need.  I hope that you are driven to ask questions, and to seek answers.  The answers are there to be had, and Jesus Christ is there to know you, to cover the sins you and I and all people are guilty of, and to give you the only real, meaningful, lasting asset any human can ever possess.

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