Beth Moore - Road Trip Psalms - Part 3
I want to read Psalm 126 to you tonight out of the NIV. This is the psalm that, the translation, rather, of the psalm that I first began to love this section of Scripture in. So Psalm 126. "When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.' The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy".
The power in that lyric, hearing in those few verses the full stretch of the emotions not just from sadness to joy but from tears to laughter, so to me it is even further than the sadness or the joy in that it is the manifestation of each. Joy that then becomes throwing your head back and laughing, sadness that becomes the outpouring of tears; this full measure of this experience in a journey with God. I want to remind you that we've been looking at the fact that we can live portions of our life in between verses 3 and 4. In other words, we're looking back over our shoulder when the Lord restored the fortunes and we were like those who dreamed, and our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy and people would say to us, "The Lord has been so good to you". And we'd say he has been good to us and we're just filled with joy, but that's past tense and in the worst way we need another mighty move of God.
We need to see his wonders again and so we asked him in four, "So do it again. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like watercourses in the Negev". Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. I loved so much what one of the commentators said out of "Word Biblical Commentary". He put it this way. Dr. L. C. Allen, he captured this whole section of the psalm when he begins to say, he goes from past tense to future tense. Would you do it now? Would you do it in our future? Would youa flip on terms. We think about the past catching up with the future. No, no. That the present would catch up with the past. In other words, that we have that kind of faith to believe that God could move among us again, to move among his people again do it again? And he says, "The requirement for the present to catch up with the past".
I just loved it because it's such and exceed what we have ever seen him do. So here's what I want you to do with me because this is what this began to mean so much to me a number of years ago when I first stumbled on Psalm 126, and I loved Psalm 126 by itself before I ever knew it was part of the Psalms of Ascent. It just had its own draw to me. And I'm going to tell you a metaphor that I want you to enter in with me, if you would please, as we think about what it means to sow in tears. Think in terms of seed in our New Testament as under our covenant with Luke chapter 8 when he tells the parable of the sower. And so the seed is what? Somebody tell me. It's the Word of God. It's the Word of God.
And so I want you to picture with me in this process that you and I this side of the cross and resurrection with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, what would this metaphor say to us and it would be saying to us is that the seed is the Word of God. And so the bag of seed, when it says, "Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy". Verse 6, "Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed".
Well, if you'd allow me to put it that way, that's exactly what this is, a bag of seed. And it's meant to be sown into the soil of our present journey, and I love the thought that we're not sowing it behind us but in front of us. And I want you to picture with me that as we're on this journey, this pilgrimage with God, that he is calling on us to continue to take him at his Word and that whatever soil that is, whether it is the hardest soil that we have ever put our knees on, if it is drenched and muddy, whatever it might be; wherever we are in our walk, would we take God at his Word and would we plant that seed in that soil and believe him to at some point faithfully bring up a harvest? I got to tell you, I'm going to bring back to your mind some very, very well-loved and known Scriptures.
Isaiah 55:10 and 11, a little bit of a turn on this metaphor, "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it". It has accomplishing power, and you got to know that so that even if that Word has nothing to do with your present experience still I don't want to just read it to try to find verses that go with my experience. I also want to spontaneously read it. I want to read chapters of Scripture, and I want to know they're going to come up. They're going to come up. It's planting seed in mind.
Well, how do we plant it? How do we plant it in the soil of our journey with God? I want to tell you a story that happened to me, oh goodness, some 12, 13 years ago, but I have never forgotten it. There are some things, some experiences you have that are ingrained so deeply that you'll take them to the grave, and this was one of them. Keith and I had gone to Angola. We'd gone into South Africa to meet up with a team that did a program called, they had begun the program. It was their nonprofit, and it was a family organization called Mission Feeding and their whole objective was to go into areas in Africa out in rural villages where they did not have access to food and there was such malnutrition and people just starving to death and at least take food, a porridge-like food to the children.
So it would be like those that were 14 and under. Those would be able to have access to this porridge. And so we would go, we would deliver these enormous bags of this porridge that they would add water to and they'd light the fire under and stir it almost like a big 30 gallon metal trashcan that was being stirred around, stirred around. And these kids, they would keep the same bowl every day. So they'd be given a bowl and they'd have to bring that same one back over and over, and they would just eat it with their fingers and the parents would just stand back and watch. I mean, it's just like, "Oh my word". Because there was not enough to go around to everybody. But these little kids, you know, their hair of course was like bleached orange and yellow from malnutrition. And so Isak Pretorius was the young man. He was the son of this organization, about 30 something. And I just was standing with him just overlooking this village.
We went to one right after another, but I just was, I couldn't even believe what my eyes were seeing. I couldn't even believe it. And I said, "There's got to be something else. There's got to be something else". And he said, "Well, there is". He said, "There are programs. There are things happening". And he said, "One of the things is that we're trying to teach farming". It was such a torn-up country. The ground is awful. And he said, "But we run into the same problem over and over". And I said, "What"? And he said, "Well, they don't plant the seed. They're so hungry they eat it". I couldn't even wrap my mind around it. What does that mean? Is it just anything to fill their stomachs?
And it makes perfect sense to us when we think about their situation and there's just not enough money going around and being given to cover just millions and millions of starving people, but I couldn't help but think about it where we're concerned with the seed of the Word. Because let me tell you what is the easiest habit on earth to get into; and that is just like going to our Bible lesson, going to our sermon, whatever it may be, sitting under the teaching. And so we're just hungry for it so we just eat the seed and that's all there is to it. Just eat it. In, out. Just eat it and we wonder why nothing ever changes. Why is it that we could go to Bible study year after year after year and we've still got exactly the same strongholds we did?
See, we ought to be asking questions because the Word of God through the power of the indwelling Spirit is transformative. Why aren't we changing? Why do we still have the same unforgiveness on our heart towards somebody we had 15 years ago when we're studying the Scriptures? Because what we're doing is getting an immediate appetite satiated. "Oh, I was really anxious to come to Bible study today".
And so there's a seed, we eat the seed. The seed was meant to be planted in the reality of the soil of our lives as a real-life application. In other words, whatever is going on. If we're in financial upheaval; if we've got chronic illness in the family, we're taking care of an elderly parent, you're a single mother raising three small children; whatever it is, we're to make the connection from the page to the soil. "This is seed. This is the soil. This is my present circumstance. This is where my challenges are. This is where my present needs are, my questions are". So that seed has got to go in the actual soil and not just feed my immediate appetite. Am I speaking to anybody tonight?
When we take God's Word and go, "I'm going to tell you something. My heart is so broken right now I don't know what to do". Or maybe you're just worried, disappointed. Maybe a business has fallen through that you'd put your heart and soul and mind into. I mean, all sorts of things that just bring us disappointment. You might have thought you'd found the love of your life and they just, like one day they were over you. That was it and you've never know why. You had a friendship just end, just end. You've never had any explanation for it. What do you do? You read God's Word, you read God's Word, you read God's Word and you plant it in the real life soil of your present experience; and I mean, you just let those tears drop right into it and that seed gets watered by those tears and it's own act of worship before God.
And I'm going to tell you something. He's made a promise over it. He said it will. He did not say it might, he said it will. They will return. They will return with sheaves of joy. So I want to take Romans 8 for instance. So say, "I'm in a season of tears. I'm in a season of tears. How would I do this"? And well, okay, I'd be reading right here in Romans 8:18, and they would say, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us". You talk about a seed you can plant; that no matter what I'm going through one of these days when I see the face of Jesus I won't even be able to compare my suffering to the extent of the joy that I'm about to experience, to be able to plant that seed in the ground and go, "This cannot help but turn out well". It cannot help but turn out well.
Your story, if you're in Christ, has a really good ending; and for you to know that now, for you to be able to plant that in the reality of your tearful season, you plant that seed in that ground and you let your tears fall on it and you know that there is a harvest coming. Mark 4:26 to 29, "The kingdom of God is like this. A man scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day; the seeds sprout and grow, although he does not know how. The soil produces a crop by itself; first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head. And as soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come". And he just go, "I have no idea how any of it happened. No idea". Because this is what happens. There's this gap, this gap that comes between sowing the seed and the harvest, and it's underground.
You can't see a thing. This is where only God is at work because whatever is happening is under there where you cannot see it. So you just stand there staring, staring, and staring, and staring going, "Is that a weed or a sheep"? But you know he's faithful to his Word. He's going to do what he said and there will be seedtime and harvest, but sometimes and is like an A-A-A-A-A-N-N-N-N-D-D-D-D-D-D. But as surely as he said it, he will do it. He will do it. God is faithful to his Word. We just stand back and go, as much as we'll pray for something, as many things as we'll try, when God does it his way, we will still stand there and go, "I don't know how that happened".
It's one of the most beautiful experiences in the faith. I'm going to tell you a story as I close this session because it has everything to do with the Cove. I got to tell you, I will tell this story every time I come. It won't matter how many times they would be so gracious to ask me. I will tell it every time because it's where it happened, and it was extremely pivotal to me. So we pull on the premises and, you know, there's the immediate sens, I don't know what it is. There's just the immediate sense that it's a very, very special place. And so they pull us up here first because they do a tour, and as I was on the tour I was overwhelmed by the way that God had honored the commitment of Billy Graham and I wasn't, listen, I'm not naïve. I didn't get a chance to be naive. I don't come from a naive background and so I wasn't, I never would have thought the man was perfect, and I don't know how he would have been imperfect. I just never assumed that he was.
But it was obvious he had made a lot of really good choices and that he'd prioritized Christ Jesus and the cross of Christ and the salvation of people all of these years, this one long obedience in the same direction, and it was overwhelming to me and I just thought, "Wow. I mean, look what God did. Look what God did, and look what this man did in the hands of God". Well, it got to me. I'm embarrassed to say it. I should have had more maturity than that, but it got to me.
And I was with a friend, I had a friend that was meeting me here, and I was really, really quiet and she said, "What is wrong with you"? So this was after the tour and after the first evening. And I said, "Nothing". And she goes, "Oh, I know you better than that". She said, "What's wrong with you"? I said, "I promise you I'm perfectly fine". I said, "I'm just tired". And she really tried to stay after me and I really didn't give her very much, but I was so down and so under self-condemnation because it was like, "Oh, Lord, I wish so much it had gone differently".
And so I got my pajamas and I'm so hoping I can tell this without crying. I got my pajamas the exact full plan of this cabin that I'm in this week, and I got in the bed and, there's two little bedrooms. She was in the other one, and I got in bed and I had my Bible opened. I just laid it on my chest and tears were just pouring. You're talking about the Negev. Tears were just pouring, just pouring out of my eyes. And I said to him, "You were worthy of this. You were worthy of so much more than I gave you and I just want you to know I'm so sorry".
I had told him I was sorry 50.000 times. I had repented of those sins years ago, years ago. I had not turned back to that lifestyle in ages and there I was just sorrowful because he's so worthy. He's so worthy of that, and I wish I had given him that. So I go to sleep at some point, wake up. I'd tossed and turned. Bible's in all sorts of bent pages and everything by the time I get up. It's very, very early in the morning and I go to the little den area to turn my coffee pot 'cause that's the first thing I do. And when I went in there, I looked out, I glanced out the window and there was something that looked unusual to me 'cause the trees looked exactly like they look this time. It was exactly the same time of year. Exactly. And I looked out. It was the strangest sight. And I went and looked out the front door and I was like, "Whoa".
You know, I'm a South Texan so I just wasn't positive of what I was looking at, and so I beat on Jan's door. I said, "Jan. Jan". She goes, "What", I mean, I could hear her yelling 'cause, I mean, just very early in the morning. She goes, "What"? I said, "Come out here". She comes, so both these women standing here in our pajamas. I said, "Jan, you have to come see something with me right now. I need you to come see this". She goes, "What is it"? I grab her by the hand. We walk out on the porch together. I said, "Jan", and I hold her like this by the shoulders and I said, "I have a very important question to ask you and I need you to think carefully before you answer me". And I mean, she was like... And she said, "What"? I said, "Jan, is that frost or is that snow"?
And she looks it, she starts to grin kind of like y'all are, and she says, "You know, Beth, it is in flakes heaping upon the branch. Where I come from, they call that snow". And I mean, it was everywhere. It was everywhere, and it had not been in the forecast when we came. And all that next day, everybody just kept saying, "What an unseasonable snow. What an unseasonable snow. We didn't see this snow coming". But I was on that front porch with her. It was about 5:36 a.m. in the morning and I started screaming, jumping up and down on that porch yelling over that mountain like this: "Whiter than snow. I'm whiter than snow".
I said, "Jan, Jan, I'm whiter than snow". It was changing to me. It was as if the Lord went, "Will you just finally please accept it? Would you just... you've harassed me with this for so many years". And I wonder would you? Would you? Finally would you let it go? Would you let it go? He knows you're sorrowful. You're welcome. He knows you're sorrowful. He saw you turn from it. He knows it's cost you a lot, that it had a lot of consequences to it, but all we're doing when we keep saying over and over again, "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry." we're reconfirming that he did not forgive us when we repented, we are reconfirming his lack of faithfulness.
We are saying we can be faithful, we turned from our sin; but he's not faithful, he did not completely forgive us. Somebody tonight needs to be set free, and you need to know, forgive me. I've never said this in front of his children. You are as white as snow as Billy Graham before Jesus Christ. Do you know what I'm saying to you? Aren't you covered by the blood? You are forgiven. You are cleansed. It's time to move forward.