Why God is Enough, Part 1
About the Guest
God is better than everything we could ever lose in suffering. We all experience suffering; we can lose everything. But we will never lose the love of Christ Jesus. Bobby Scott shares part 1 of a message from Psalm 63.
Bobby ScottBobby Scott is the co-pastor of Community of Faith Bible Church. He is also an author and professor. He and his wife have six children. You can find his blog at Truthinthecity.com
God is better than everything we could ever lose in suffering. We all experience suffering; we can lose everything.
Why God is Enough, Part 1
Bob: The Bible teaches us that we are to give thanks in all things. Bobby Scott says that means we are to give thanks even when life happens.
Bobby: We live in a world that is very broken. We live in a world that is filled with sin, and none of us are spared from it. All of us will go through trials and difficulties that will go beyond our imagination. Things you pray would never happen will happen, and that’s the world that we live in. Things happen, and they happen to even the righteous.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, November 24th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How are we to respond when bad things happen to God’s people? Bobby Scott says we are to respond with thanksgiving and more. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition—the Thanksgiving Day edition here in the United States.
Dennis: I love Thanksgiving!
Bob: Yes. I think anybody who has listened to FamilyLife Today knows you love it; Barbara loves it. This is your favorite holiday; right?
Dennis: Well, it really is. She is the one who taught me to love it. It really is—
Bob: Because of the food; right?
Dennis: No. I like the food.
Dennis: I really do; but it is the least complicated, less stressful holiday for families of any in the year. It’s just the expectations are—there’s no gifts; you know?
Bob: That’s because you don’t cook the turkey. That’s why it’s not so stressful. You don’t—
Dennis: That’s a cheap shot.
Bob: —have to do the mashed potatoes.
Dennis: That’s a cheap shot.
Bob: You don’t do any of it. You just sit back and wait for the football games to come on. We know what is going on here. (Laughter) No, it’s a great day. We love Thanksgiving. We love it in part because of the focus. This is a holiday that began with a spiritual focus, not because it recounts a story from the Scriptures, but it recounts a story from our history, where people stopped and acknowledged the blessings we enjoy in life that come as a result of God’s grace.
Dennis: For those of us who live in America, this is the day we declare, “Thanksgiving.” We decided, Bob, we would feature a friend of FamilyLife who really unpacks a great passage of Scripture, just around God, being grateful, and looking at life through His eyes.
Pastor Bobby Scott is going to be our guest preacher today.
Bob: Yes. I got a note from Bobby Scott a while back. He said, “Did you hear about what happened to our family?” I said, “No.” Back in the spring, their house burned down. I wasn’t aware of that. He said, “I had an opportunity to talk about that in a sermon I did when I was filling in at a church in Chicago.” He said, “I got a lot of positive response from that.”
I got a copy of the sermon, and I listened to it. I thought, “You know, it would be good for us to remember on Thanksgiving Day—a day that is set aside for thanksgiving—that God calls us to give thanks in all things. He calls us to give thanks, not for all things, but in all things.” So, even in adversity, like Bobby and his family went through, you learn how to give thanks and see God in the midst of that. In times of blessing and prosperity, we give God thanks in those times, too.
Dennis: Bobby Scott is the pastor of Los Angeles Community Bible Church since 1994. He and his wife Naomi have six children. He’s just a good guy. He’s just a really good guy who believes in the Scriptures. I think you’re going to be encouraged here on Thanksgiving Day with this message from Psalm 63.
Bobby: [recorded message] We had a tragedy in our family about a month or so ago, on May 28th. It happened about 12 o’clock, midnight. My family was asleep. I was about to go to bed. Then, the last minute I went to look over my sermon one more time (it was a Saturday night). I’m sitting there in our den, and I heard noises. I thought the dog had gotten into the house.
So, I got up. I looked through our kitchen, our utility room; and our dryer was on fire. I grabbed a bucket of water and threw it on the dryer. It just laughed at my bucket of water. (Laughter) So, I’m like, “This is not going to work. We’re going to have to get out of here.” I ran and woke up my wife. We ran through the house, and we—I think we’re all out, but my wife said that my eight-year-old son had gotten back in bed.
So, I run back into the house. The smoke was horrific at this point. I’m on my hands and knees, patting around trying to feel for him. I found him, picked him up. I wasn’t sure I could get out of the house because the smoke was so bad. So, I just ran through—slipper falling off. We’re standing in the driveway, and I’m wet, one slipper, thinking the fire department was going to get there any minute; but they were on another call, just nine blocks north of my house.
By the time they got there, the fire is popping through the roof. We had the horrible experience of watching our house burn; but through it all, God has been so gracious, and faithful, and amazing. Because of that experience, I just have it on my heart to kind of share something from Psalm 63 with you today. I’m going to read out of my New American Standard.
A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah:
Oh God, You are my God. I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I’ve seen You in the sanctuary, to see your power and Your glory.
Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed, I mediate on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek my life, to destroy it, will go into the depths of the earth. They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; they will be a prey for foxes. But the king will rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him will glory, for the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.
I love being a pastor. I get a chance to do this, to come and to meet brothers and sisters that I have that I don’t know yet. We are brothers and sisters; we just look a little different. I’m a little shorter that’s why. (Laughter) I just love the family of God—I love Christians. I love the opportunities that I get to do weddings—just stand there and watch people look all googly-eyed at each other. It’s just so cool. I just love that I—baby dedications. It’s just wonderful being a pastor.
There’s another side of being a pastor that’s very hard. That—there are times when my phone will ring; and I will be at places and times when, “It’s difficult,” isn’t the word. I had to minister to a family because the son was wrapped up in duct tape, and there was a bullet hole through his head. What do you say?
There is a time when, as a pastor, you get a call from a family that their son is very ill, and they just need help. You go there. He has cancer or brain tumor, and it’s protruding out of his head—you can see it. He is about to die. To say, “It’s hard,” you just have to come up with another category of words to describe what we experience, living in a fallen world.
There’s nothing new under the sun. We’re sent into the world—with it are broad, disastrous consequences. In Genesis, Chapter 4, right after the Fall, there wasn’t innocence; there was just a murder. Listen, a brother killed his very own brother. Can you imagine being the mother, the father, having to bury your son murdered by the hands of your other son?
In Genesis, Chapter 6, the world was so corrupt that God destroyed it with a flood. Because the world was so immoral in Genesis, Chapters 18 and 19, God destroys a city because of their gross immorality, trying to rape an angel. We live in a world that is very broken. We live in a world that is filled with sin, and none of us are spared from it. All of us will go through trials and difficulties that will go beyond our imaginations. Things you pray would never happen will happen.
In the psalm we just read, scholars differ over the historical context; but David is fleeing for his life—it’s pretty clear. He’s either running from Saul for his life, or perhaps, he’s running from his very own son, Absalom. It tells us in verse 11 that the king will rejoice. I believe David, here, is speaking of himself in third-person. Here David is running for his life, from his very own son. Can you imagine that?
Your son has usurped your position and isn’t satisfied with that but wants to kill you. That’s the context of the psalm that we find. That’s the world that we live in. Things like that happen. They happen to even the righteous.
As David goes through this psalm, I’m going to summarize for us just some confessions that we can affirm that can help us when we go through our dark trials. When the sun doesn’t shine, the rain pours in buckets, and it just won’t stop, what do we do? How do we respond? This psalm gives us, I believe, just help; and David’s confessions, that I want to summarize for you.
The first one I want to give you is found in these first four verses. The point I think the psalmist is making here, as he is going through this trial, is this—that God is better than everything that you will lose. In Psalm 63, David says in verse three, “Your loving-kindness is better than life.” This is a strange psalm, in the sense where David is going through his neediest hour, but he makes no petitions.
He’s not asking for his throne back. He’s not asking that God would just deliver him from this painful situation. Instead, what he does is he begins to affirm certain things. What he begins to affirm is that, “God, You are better than everything I will ever lose.” It’s housed here in verse one where David says, “Oh God, You are my God, I shall seek You earnestly.”
When he is at his lowest point, where David is looking for—what he is earnestly looking for is God. He wants help, and he turns not to his army, not to his mighty men. He turns here, not to his wise counselors, but he turns to his God. The God in—who he knows loves him. Here David cries out, “Lord, I’m seeking You. I’m seeking You earnestly.” The idea of seeking God earnestly—it comes from a root noun that is like the dawn of the morning.
So, some translations say, “From early in the morning hours, I will seek You.” The latter part of the psalm talks about a night watch, as though from his first waking moment until he’s lying on his bed at night, David is crying out to God. He’s searching out for God. He’s seeking for God, and God to be his hope.
Then, he says, “My soul thirsts for You; my flesh yearns for You.” “My soul and my flesh” just talks about everything that David is—like, “From my head to my toe, I’m earnestly aching for You, God.” He is seeking for God in a dry and weary land, where there is no water. Have you been in a spiritual state like that? It’s like you’re in a desert, and nothing can quench your thirst. Everything that you expected to happen doesn’t happen. You’re losing everything.
You walked down the aisle, you made a promise, you made a vow; but your marriage is falling apart. He says, “He’s gone.” You’ve gone to the hospital; you’ve prayed. Your mother is dying. The doctor says, “There is nothing I can do.” In this life, you will lose everything you love—everything. Our spouses will one day die. Our children will die. Our best friends will die. We will lose everything—everything in this broken, fallen world. The question is, “How do we respond?” and God will be there.
David says in verse two, “Thus I’ve seen You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory.” What David knows is—what we all know that—what we need in our weakest moment is God. David, here, he is reflecting on experiencing God in this sanctuary and God’s holy place, where God promised to meet Israel. He told them to make a tabernacle. He would meet them there.
David is reflecting upon his experiences of experiencing God and His power, and His might, and His glory. He knows that is what he needs right now. Sometimes, God will allow us to go through trials just to remind us of that—to stop leaning on crutches, to stop leaning on limbs that are broken and that are weak, but to turn to Him.
David, here, is just thinking about the God that he experiences, the God that he knows, the God that he remembers, the God that satisfies his soul, even in his hardest moments. He cries out to God, knowing that God is better than life.
He knows that He needs God; and this is why—verse 3—because God, “Your loving-kindness is better than (You fill in the blank). It is better than life. It is better than everything that he was losing. Experiencing your loving-kindness is better than that. Your faithful, covenant-keeping, loyal, promise-keeping love is better than everything else that I’m losing right now.
So, when we’re going through a hard trial—and we will. We will lose things that we cherish in this world. In this life, you will. You may have the unfortunate experience of standing and watching your house burn to the ground. You may be in a hospital, holding your mother’s hand while she breathes her last breath. You will lose all sorts of things in this life, but one thing we cannot lose as Christians—we cannot lose God because He loves us.
He’s promised to love us. He says, “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” He will always be there, and David, in the midst of his greatest trial—he has nothing, he’s running for his life, he knows he has all that he needs—that God really is enough. He says that God is better than life.
So, he says, “My lips will praise you.” It’s just a spontaneous response that we have to things that we enjoy—that we praise them. Bet you can think of things that you really, really like—you get a new car, you get a promotion, you get an “A”, you get married, you get a child—whatever it is we really, really delight in—what pleases us, we will praise it. It just comes out of our mouth.
Here, David is saying, “It is You, God. It is You. It’s Your loving-kindness that is my treasure.” He praises God. It just starts coming out of his mouth. In the midst of his dark hole, his trial when the buckets are pouring on him, his mouth is saying things because God is there. He is experiencing God’s loving-kindness.
He’s says, “My lips will praise You. So, I will bless You as long as I live. I will lift up my hands in Your name.” “I’m not going to be an undercover, secret Christian; I’m going to demonstratively, openly praise You and worship You because You are better than everything that I could possibly lose.”
You can say that as Christians; but before the storm comes, you got to put the sand bags in first if you want your house not to get flooded. Before the trials come, you’ve got to put certain anchors in place. This is an anchor. We’ve got to reflect, and remember, and affirm that God’s loving-kindness is better than everything else that we will lose in life—that God is just better. He is better than everything. That’s a hard lesson to learn—but God, He loves us so much—He wants to teach it to us.
He doesn’t want us to be—just to cling to anything else. He just wants us to cling to Him. He is a jealous God. He doesn’t want you to cling to your spouse more than Him. He wants you to love Him more than you love your spouse. He wants you to love Him more than you love your children, your career, your job—everything you’ve worked so hard—and God wants to teach you that.
He taught me and my wife that lesson about eight years ago—nine years ago. My oldest daughter experienced a bout of cancer, and she had a really rare form that most kids don’t get. Most kids don’t survive. We were afraid we were going to lose her. So, we were praying for God to save our daughter; but we went through this with five other families. We watched all of them lose their daughters.
I can’t forget little Kelsey. Her birthday was around the time of Hurricane Katrina. When she watched—she was dying at this point—when she saw all the kids in the Super Dome, she told her mom—she said she wanted to send them something. So, she packed up all of her favorite stuffed animals, and her favorite bears, and toys and had her mom sent her presents to those kids who had just lost everything in Hurricane Katrina.
Then, it was her birthday; and because she was sick, she got all these extra presents, and money, and stuff like that. So, she wanted to go out shopping. She went out with all this money, and she bought her mom some expensive jewelry. Then, a week after that, curled up in her bed with her mom and dad; she died.
So, what do we tell families like that? What do we tell someone who is losing what they cherish so much? Can we tell them this that, “God will help you,” that, “God loves you still,” that, “We can’t measure God’s love for us by our circumstances, living in a fallen world”? We measure God’s love for us by a hill called Calvary, by a cross where Jesus said, “I love you so much.” He stretched out his arms, and He died.
That God loves us even in the broken, fallen world. We will lose everything—His loving-kindness is better than everything in life. We just have to affirm that. When we can affirm that and know that God is our joy, we will be able to praise Him and delight because He is—He is better than everything.
Bob: [end of recorded message] Well, we have been listening today to the first part of a message from Pastor Bobby Scott, a message on Psalm 63. There is more to this message that we’re going to hear as we continue this week, but, Dennis, we’ve all been in those kinds of valleys and had to find God there. In fact, I remember when your wife Barbara was with us one time and we were talking about the loss that you experienced, as a family, when your granddaughter, Molly, died after seven days.
Barbara said, “The time she spent with God in that valley was some of the sweetest time in her walk with Him in life.” It was paradoxical because here she was in pain; and yet, God met her there in a deep and profound way.
Dennis: You know, it’s interesting, Bob. We think the Christian life is primarily about happiness, and about fulfillment, and pleasant things; but I’ve kind switched. I think God is a giver of all kinds of good gifts, and all kinds of great things. We’re going to hear more about that as Bobby Scott finishes this sermon.
I’ve determined that life is about going through those valleys and experiencing God—but there is something about the valley that is both confining and revealing because life is reduced to the basics. On the mountaintop, you can see a lot of things; in the valley, it’s just about what’s in your immediate vicinity. You’re fixed and transfixed there.
I think it’s in those moments when we experience God. We do, as Bobby said, we find out that He is better than everything we could ever lose in the midst of suffering.
Bob: Many of our listeners who have, over the last nine months, attended one of our Art of Marriage® video events that have been hosted in cities all around the country—in fact, there have been hundreds of these events hosted. You’ve had the chance to see Bobby Scott. He was one of the people who was featured in the Art of Marriage video event and was a great contributor to that event.
I so much appreciate, Dennis, his heart of compassion and comfort. It occurs to me that there are probably folks listening to us today who may be alone, who on this holiday are having a hard day; and I hope Bobby’s message was one of comfort and encouragement for you. I was also thinking there may be folks who are listening and you don’t have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is God’s purpose, in redeeming us, to draw us back into the relationship He designed us for in the first place.
Before our rebellion against God, God walked with Adam in the Garden, in the cool of the day. They enjoyed great fellowship together. That fellowship was broken when Adam rebelled, and that’s been our experience throughout our lives. Until we are reconciled to God through the work that Christ did on the cross, we continue to have a broken relationship with Him. If you don’t have a relationship with God through Christ, there’s a booklet we would love to send to you.
Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and request a free copy of the book, Pursuing God. It will give you more information about what’s involved in establishing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Again, the title of the book is Pursuing God. You’ll find it online at FamilyLifeToday.com. We hope you’ll request a copy, and we’d love to be in touch with you.
We hope the rest of your Thanksgiving Day is great. We hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to hear Part Two of Bobby Scott’s message on Why God Is Enough. That’s tomorrow on FamilyLife Today.
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