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Worship Message-Confidence

Confidence

Today, most of the message is going to be a review of much of Psalm 139. We are going

to review that Psalm, which was written by David in the Old Testament, for the purpose

of reminding ourselves of the ability we have for confidence. Confidence we should have

personally. Psalm 139 gives us reason after reason after reason we can be confident.

They all relate to how God made us and how well He knows us. Confidence we should

help build in one another, which is a challenge that will be given toward the end of this

message.

For today, much of Psalm 139, which begins with the information it was written to “the

choirmaster.” I do not really know the significance of that information, except to

suggest that what is proclaimed in the Psalm was to be sung, not only by David, but by

others as well. It was to be sung so others in the congregation of God’s people would

hear reasons for them to be confident.

“To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD [o God], Thou hast searched me and

known me!” Because of that - because Your searching and knowledge are so thorough -

“Thou knowest everything about me, [including] when I sit down and when I rise up.”

And it is not only what I am doing that is known. “Thou discernest my thoughts from

afar.” You know what I am thinking.

And it is not only what I am doing and thinking now. “Thou searchest out my path and

my lying down.” Where I am going to walk and when I am going to rest from my

walking. “And [Thou] art acquainted with all my ways.”

And it is not only where and when I am going to be and think. Even my words - the

words I am going to say in the future - even they are known. “Even before a word is on

my tongue, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.”

By the way, do you notice in this first part of Psalm 139 the words, me, I, and my? Those

words are found throughout the Psalm, but what important words they are. As in me

personally. And yes, the LORD is our God, but He is my God, too. He knows me

personally.

Right from the start, there is reason given for confidence - for spiritual confidence - for

the confidence needed to obey and serve God. It is that God knows us.

You know, I sometimes wonder who am I in the world. In fact, as I prepared to go to the

Church of God Global Gathering last month, I was concerned because while I am kind of

known in the state Church of God work and somewhat known in the work of the North

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Central Region of the Church of God, I wondered if, when I got to Anderson, Indiana,

for the Global Gathering, it would be like, “George Who from Where?”

Interestingly, I knew more people there than I thought I would. And hey, I was far from

important there, but there were some state people and some regional people and some

missionary people and some Church Ministry people I knew. So what I was concerned

about never materialized. And even those I did not know were friendly, as I tried to be

to them.

But you know what? Even if I had known nobody and even if the reaction I had faced

had been George Who from Where, so what? I am known by God, who has taken the

time and the effort to search me and know me. As we will get to a bit later, He has done

that always and forever, but the words me, I, and my are critical. He knows each one of

us, not only corporately, but personally.

And yes, as we have read, it is everything about us He knows, including our movements,

our thoughts, the paths we are going to take, the words we are going to say, all of that

when we are with people and when we are by ourselves.

You know, being aware of God’s knowledge of us can be a scary thing. But it is not

meant to be scary. God’s knowledge of us is supposed to build confidence in us.

Confidence also based on what is written in verse 5. “Thou dost beset me behind and

before, and layest Thy hand upon me.”

Isn’t that a wonderful verse? God sets Himself behind us to protect us from what is

behind us physically or in the past, and to encourage us and push us to keep us moving

along the paths He wants us to be on - paths of righteousness, of accepting Him and

worshiping Him and serving Him through this life all the way to Heaven.

Paths we can know because He is also before us, leading us and guiding us.

Paths we can stay on because He has His hand upon - see the word - He has His hand

upon me, which is a promise for each of His people.

David wrote in verse 6, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot

attain it [or understand it or comprehend it]. And that is true, is it not? I mean, I have

trouble grasping how God can be powerful enough to know everything there is to know

about everyone. I have trouble grasping why He would want to know everything about

everyone. Why, for instance, after searching me and finding out what I am really like,

He would want to know me. He has every right to ignore any one of us. Looking at it

logically, He, in His perfection, should ignore each one of us. But He does not ignore us.

He knows us. Everything about us. Yes, that is a high and amazing thought.

Then, beginning in verse 7, David continues to proclaim God’s knowledge of me - of us

individually and personally. In verse 7, David asks a couple questions. In the verses

after that, he answers the questions.

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“Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?”

“If I ascend to Heaven, Thou art there.” We know that is true. Heaven is God’s home.

“If I make my bed in Sheol.” There are a few ideas of what that refers to. Some say

Sheol is a place where the dead are held until the final judgment. Others say it is Hell,

which of course in the opposite of Heaven. Still others say David was referring to the

center of the earth.

Whatever Sheol refers to, “Thou art there,” wrote David, the point being that no matter

how low you go in any sense of the word, you can never get away from God.

“If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea.” The first

of those phrases refers to going off in the direction of the sun rise, which is toward the

east, or in the directions sun rays go, which is to the north and south and west. The

second phrase refers to being on some remote island somewhere. There can I be away

from God? No. “Even there Thy hand shall lead me.”

And look. “And Thy right hand shall hold me.”

There are a couple points of significance in those few words. God’s right hand is the

hand of salvation, so His purpose of knowing me and staying with me is to save me.

That purpose is also the meaning of His right hand holding me.

Which brings to my mind Jonah in the Old Testament.

Remember Jonah? He was told by God to go preach to the people in the city of Nineveh,

warning them they were to be destroyed by God because of their wickedness.

Jonah did not want to do what God told him to do. He was afraid of the Ninevites, and

he did not think they deserved to be warned.

Because he did not want to obey God, Jonah fled. He did that by getting on a ship that

was sailing the opposite direction from Nineveh.

Remember? During a great storm - a storm God caused to halt Jonah’s escape - a great

storm somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea - Jonah was thrown

overboard, which should have resulted in his death.

But, as it is worded, “God appointed a big fish to swallow up Jonah,” which was an

example of God’s right hand being on Jonah to save him from the sea.

For three days, the big fish held Jonah, which gave him a chance to pray, which God

answered by having the fish vomit Jonah back on land.

Jonah found out he could not get away from God. Even though he tried to get away,

God protected him. That is the promise God has for me, too. And for you, as well.

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And again, some take that as a negative thought. Those who want to get away from God

take the promise negatively. But it is supposed to be a positive thing. A proclamation

that even when we are having problems - when we are somewhere away from our

comfort zones - He is there. As written earlier, He is behind us to protect us and

encourage us, before us to lead us and guide us, holding us with His right hand of

salvation.

And yes, that is true, even when things seem the darkest. Verses 11 and 12. “If I say, let

only darkness cover me [which could be expanded to hoping for darkness, as in wanting

darkness to hide from God] and if we say, let the light about me be night, even then [we

cannot escape God or be separated from Him] for even the darkness is not dark to Thee,

the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with Thee.”

God has searched me, and He knows everything there is to know about me. And about

you. Everything we do. Everything we are. Everything we say. Everything we think.

He knows it all.

And this is not recent knowledge. It has gone on from the moment each of us was

conceived. Verse 13. “For Thou didst form my inward parts, Thou didst knit me

together in my mother's womb.”

And He searched us and knew us even before that. Verses 15 and 16. “My frame was not

hidden from Thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of

the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance. In Thy book were written, every

one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

And as mentioned earlier, His interest in us continues. It did not and does not stop,

even though every one of us, at some time or other, has been or is unworthy of His

attention. God still thinks of us. Verses 17 and 18. “How precious to me are Thy

thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, I could not.

They are more than the sand. When I awake [wherever I am when I wake], I am still

with Thee.”

Therefore - verse 14 - “I praise Thee.” What a reminder that God’s searching,

knowledge, and presence are positive things. “I praise Thee, for Thou art fearful and

wonderful. Wonderful are Thy works! Thank You that Thou knowest me right well.”

Interestingly, David, beginning with verse 19, switches away from positive praising to a

reminder of what happens to sinners. To those who refuse to accept the fact that God

knows where we are and what we are doing and thinking and saying. Those who refuse

to have any of that affect them positively. David in essence asked God to destroy those

who do not follow God. He promised to not associate with or fellowship with people

who did not honor and obey God.

However, David wanted to make sure he was not among the sinners. So he ended Psalm

139 with a plea.

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Verse 23. “Search me, o God, and know my heart!” And yes, God already had searched

David. God already knew him. Everything about him. But David wanted that to

continue. David wanted the closeness with God that is implied in the Psalm to continue.

So “try me [test me] and know my thoughts!” Which again, God already knew. But keep

knowing me. That was David’s plea.

And - verse 24 - if, in the searching and knowing and testing, there happened to be any

wicked way found - “if there be any wicked way in me, lead me [be before me, grab hold

of me with Your right hand, God] “in the way everlasting!” That way I can know Your

blessings now and make it to Heaven when the blessings of this life are over.

As stated at the beginning of this message, the purpose of reviewing Psalm 139 is to

provide the reminder that we have many, many reasons to have confidence. The

reasons being that God, who created us, cares so much for us that He has and continues

to search us and know us, that He has and continues to be behind us and before us, and

that He has and continues to offer His right hand to lead us and save us.

And yes, our confidence can be a constant thing because He searches and knows and is

with us to lead us and guide us wherever we happen to be.

Which should lead us into the challenge to take advantage of His presence and His help.

To take advantage as we display our appreciation for what He has done and does do for

us. As we display our appreciation by having the spiritual confidence to know that

whatever He calls us to do, He is and will be there to continue to guide and help and

save us.

And by the way, this refers to anything and everything He calls us to do. It may or may

not be preaching. It may or may not be singing or teaching. It may or not be praying

out loud in front of people. It may or may not be any of a number of things that are

ways for us to serve others in the name of the Lord.

Is God calling you to anything that will serve Him? If so, take the call. Take on the task,

doing so with confidence, knowing from Psalm 139 that how God has made you is

special, that how He is calling you is how He will lead you, that He is wherever you are,

and that as long as you are following Him, He is with you, encouraging, protecting,

leading, guiding.

God already has and He will continue to empower you to do what He calls you to do.

And guess what. He wants the rest of us to join Him in encouraging His people to be

confident as they serve Him. Which leads to a story that has a scary part, a couple sad

parts, and then a happy part to it.

Here is the story, beginning with the scary part, Scary for me anyway since some

medical issues interfered with me learning how to swim.

The story begins with this. Picture 250 8- to 10-year-old boys in swimming trunks

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standing in a line by the waterfront the first day of a two-week-long summer camp.

They are all lined up to take the mandatory swimming test.

The test is simple. Walk to the end of a pier, jump into the water, and swim the 25 yards

to the next pier.

Each swimmer who made it to the next pier with no trouble was given a fishing line

necklace to wear. A necklace with a big green bead on it. It indicated that boy could

swim anywhere he wanted for the two weeks.

Those who made it to the next pier, but had some trouble doing so, were given

necklaces, each with a big yellow bead, which indicated there were some restrictions

concerning where those boys could swim.

Any boy who barely made it to the other pier was given a necklace with a red bead. That

put some serious restrictions on where he could swim.

There were about a dozen of the boys who could not make it to the next pier. And here

is the first sad part of the story. The first part was scary. At least it would have been for

me since I would have known ahead of time I could not have made it to the other pier.

Here is a sad part of the story. The boys who could not swim the 25 yards to the next

pier were also each given a necklace to wear. But it had on it a small lead weight. Which

caused those boys to be called the sinkers.

There were chances for any of the lower classes of swimmers to improve, but throughout

the camp, those with the green beads made sure their necklaces were worn outside their

shirts - shirts they wore for other camp activities. Many of the yellow- and red-beaded

boys, at least when they were around the sinkers, made sure their necklaces were

showing. It was only the lead-weight boys who made sure their necklaces were inside

their shirts.

Well, for the rest of the camp, there were swimming lessons each morning. The lessons

had the boys grouped together according to their skill level. There were many

opportunities for any of the boys in each of the lower levels to move up.

But as the author of the story, who just happened to be the teacher for the lead-weight

boys, writes, those lesson times were not much fun for the sinkers. And here is the

second sad part of the story. When the teacher - the swimming instructor - said, “You

are going to make it to that other pier, and when you do, you are going to grab hold of

your fishing line, rip it off your neck, and throw it as far as you can,” one boy said, “But

we can’t swim.” And another said, “My dad told me I’m too skinny to swim.” And

another said, “My mom said I’m too young to swim.” And another said, “My older

brother says I’m too dumb to swim.”

Wow. Isn’t that sad? It almost brought a tear to my eye as I read the story the first time.

And leaving the story for just a bit and applying it to what we are talking about in this

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message, will we be careful to not discourage people based on our perceptions of what

someone needs to do or be to serve the Lord?

And hey, there may be times when people do need to be counseled away from one kind

of serving and toward another. But to make comments about size of body or age or

intelligence? Or to allow anyone to think there is nothing he or she can do? That is

wrong, especially based on Psalm 139, which reminds us God is the one who made each

one of us.

Back to the story. The swimming instructor answered each one those comments with,

“What do they know?” He then went about teaching them how to swim.

And listen to how he did so.

He first had them play in the shallow water so they would become comfortable with the

water. Then he taught them to float on their backs. He would suggest to them that if

they could float long enough, maybe a good breeze from the right direction would push

them to the other pier. That was a light-hearted way to ease the teaching.

Then he had them start moving their hands like paddles while they were floating on

their backs. When the boys discovered they were moving, the instructor could see their

imaginations beginning to formulate the ripping off of the lead-weight necklaces and

getting them replaced with red bead necklaces.

He would then have them float on their stomachs and learn a few basic strokes.

Then, one by one, he had the boys try to make it from the one pier to the other. This is

the happy part, but it also has a wonderful lesson for us who ought to encourage others.

As each boy started swimming - slowly at first - nothing wrong with that - the instructor

was next to him, cheering him on.

And guess what. The boys on the other pier - the ones with the colored beads - were no

longer making fun. They were shouting their encouragement for each of the boys to

have the confidence he could make it. It was like those boys were watching an Olympic

event.

Each time one of the little guys made it, he climbed out of the water and, as the author

puts it, with fire burning in his eyes, he would rip the sinker off his neck and throw it

into the lake as far as he could. Each one did that with confidence.

Is God calling you to do something? First of all, make sure it is God who is doing the

calling.

But when He is, know He is calling you from a total knowledge of you. As proclaimed in

Psalm 139, He knows who you are and what you are and where you are.

Also know He is where you are. He is behind you and before you and with you, and has

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His hand - His right hand - on you.

And yes, what He calls you to do may be scary. maybe not, but maybe it is scary. And

maybe, like that one group of boys, you will need to take small steps toward becoming

comfortable doing what He calls you to do. But take them because each step will build

your confidence.

And please - and again, I am not negating the need for some occasional counseling one

way or another - but may each of us endeavor to be encouragers of confidence. May we

cheer each other on as together we continue to display God and help people come to

accept Jesus as Savior and promote spiritual growth in those who believe in the Lord.

Let’s be spiritually confident ourselves - individually and personally - that God knows us

and wants to use us. Let’s help others to be spiritually confident. Let’s be and do both

those things for the glory of God, who so wonderfully made us.

today’s closing song is Cleanse Me. It highlights many of the points made in Psalm 139 -

the searching and testing, the salvation, allowing ourselves to be used by such a great

God. Cleanse Me, verses 1 through 3.

Search me, o God, and know my heart today;

Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts I pray.

See if there be some wicked way in me;

Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.

I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin.

Fulfill Thy Word and make me pure within.

Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame;

Grant my desire to magnify Thy name.

Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine;

Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine.

Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride;

I now surrender, Lord - in me abide.

Confidence. Spiritual confidence. Lord, that is what we need so we can serve You. And

that is what we can have. Never self-confidence, but Your confidence, built on the fact

You made each one of us. That You made us wonderfully. Built on the fact You know us

individually. That You know everything about us. That You know us personally.

may Your wonder and Your knowledge inspire us to serve You and worship You and

pray to You. and yes, may each of us join You in encouraging others to have spiritual

confidence as well. Help us to work together in that way so that not only individually,

but as a group of Your people, we will be able to further Your Kingdom. Thank You.

Amen.

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