Trajectory: Finding Direction For Your Life Part 8 Trust God's Perception
Sermon Summary

This message looks at one of David's prayers in the Psalms. Psalm 4 gives us a great example of learning to trust God's perception abilities to know what our true needs are and that He desires to meet those needs. God hears when we cry out to Him in prayer and He responds by meeting our needs and especially our need for His mercy. This song of David also addresses the fact that there are those who will call into question our trust and may even mock us. However, God's work in our lives will be an example to others of the stark contrast between those who trust God and those who do not.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Do you have an example of how God perceived a need in your life and you knew He had started working things out to provide for that need before you even asked? Share

2. You've probably heard someone say, "I don't think my prayers are getting past the ceiling!" However, we know that God is not in some far away place where He cannot hear our cries, He is actually living within us by way of His Holy Spirit. How should knowing He is with us and able to hear our faintest cries affect our prayer life? Here are some verses that might help you...

Psa 17:6  I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.
Psa 17:7  Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Psa 17:8  Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings
1 John 5:14  This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
1 Pet 5:7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Heb 4:16  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

3. Sometimes we don't know what we really need, we only think we know what we need. We focus on the material needs of food, clothing, and shelter (paying the bills).  God knows our real need is His counsel and direction in life, which He is more than willing to give. How do you experience God's counsel in your life?
Psalm 16:7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

John 14:16  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--
John 14:17  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Psa 119:24  Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.
Psa 119:25  I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.
Psa 119:26  I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
Psa 119:27  Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.
Psa 119:28  My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

4. We all have sinned and fallen short of God's plan for our lives. We've not always sought His trajectory, His path, or His ways. However, God has made it abundantly clear that He will give mercy to anyone who ask! What role has God's mercy played in your life?

Psa 94:17  Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
Psa 94:18  When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O LORD, supported me.
Psa 94:19  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.


Full Sermon Notes

Trajectory: Finding Direction For Your Life Part 8 Trust God's Perception

"With all I am, in Your grace I stand. The greatest of all romance, love of God my Savior!" And have you ever thought about this: When you love someone you desire to talk with them! King David knew that it was only because of God's grace that he was still King of Israel, and he realized that God was his Savior. When God said of David that he was a man after His own heart, I believe He may have been saying that David was a man who genuinely sought after God with all of his heart! We certainly see this in the Psalms where David cried out to God in prayer! David, like us, was learning to...

Trust God's Perception

Just what do I mean by that? I'll show you in just a moment. But first let's do the very thing we're going to talk about today. Let's pray and ask God to teach us deeply concerning the importance of trusting God's perception in prayer. PRAY!

Okay, what do I mean by God's perception? I love word studies. Looking at the meanings and uses of words. Perceive is actually the first synonym listed for the word hear. H-E-A-R. Let's look at the meaning for perception...

Perception: The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

And here's the beautiful thing: God's senses are so far above our five senses of taste, smell, feeling, seeing and hearing!  God's senses are supernatural. That's why He is able to know what we need before we even ask. In fact Jesus said this…

Matthew 6:7-8 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

And as we'll see, just because God perceives our every need, that doesn't mean we don't pray. Prayer is the way we communicate with God! As a parent, you may know what your child needs, but there are times when you want them to come and talk to you about things and have the politeness and consideration to ask you for things. You know the drill: "I don't mind you having a cookie, just ask me first!" While it's not exactly the same thing with God, how sad if we told God, "Listen, I don't really want a relationship with You, I just want you to give me everything I need, and please don't make me go to the trouble of having to pray and ask!" How sad and mean spirited would that be? God responds to our prayers. It's another way God gives us choices. He doesn't force His blessings on us, or meet our needs if we don't want them, so He has established prayer as a way of letting Him know that we still want Him to be a part of our daily lives. That's one of the reasons it's so important to pray. And I say one of the reasons because the main reason will always be the relationship God desires with you!

When you study the life of David you see he was in the process of learning this truth about God. He was developing his ability to trust God's perception to see, hear and be aware of the things David needed! David was growing in his relationship with God. If David was anything, he was a man of prayer! He prayed fervently, often and quite honestly! He held nothing back when he talked to God! His disappointments, his fears, his needs, his confusion, his doubts, and even his anger. You might remember this in his prayer from last week...

Psalm 3:7 Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.

Now, I don't think this is the best thing to pray for your enemies, but this was David's prayer and he was just being honest with God about how he felt about those who were attacking him. God can handle your honesty! The Revised Standard Translation puts it this way:

Psalm 3:7 Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! For thou dost smite all my enemies on the cheek, thou dost break the teeth of the wicked.

I think David was saying that God was his defender and when it came to the bite of the enemy God would cause the teeth of the attack to lose its power to harm. Sometimes people have said things to me and I have to turn it over to God and allow Him to take the bite out of the words. Can you think of a time it would have been better if you had prayed and been honest with God about how you felt things should be handled but let God take care of the situation instead of handling it yourself? Yep, can answer that in the affirmative. How many times? More than I care to admit. David was not only forthright about his struggles, he also held nothing back when it came to his praise for God, his love for God, his hope in God, his trust in God, and his desperate need for God! Some scholars debate whether or not David actually wrote Psalm 4. I believe he did and I think you'll see why when we look at how the words relate to David's life. Let's begin with Psalm 4:1...

Psalm 4:1a Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God...

Trust God's Perception to Hear Your Cries

David found himself in so many situations where he needed to cry out to God. There had been the times as a young shepherd boy out in the scary night tending the sheep when a wild animal would attack and David needed the strength and protection of God. He took his rod and staff and and trusted that God had heard his prayer to help him overcome the beast and protect his father's sheep.

And as a grown man, David found himself pursued first by Saul and then his own son Absalom was seeking to kill him. And of course he spent much time on the battle field as a soldier. Listen to what he said in Psalm 17...

Psalm 17:6-15 I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.
They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.
They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a great lion crouching in cover.
Rise up, O LORD, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword.
O LORD, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life. You still the hunger of those you
cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children.
And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

You can see so plainly in these verses how God used the circumstances of David's life, his need to cry out to God and his need to trust God to hear, to build their relationship. And wow, what a relationship! David had come to a place in their relationship where he knew God would hear him and answer him. But it went further. He speaks of God's great love and salvation from enemies. He then goes on to say that he felt like he was the apple of God's eye! He wanted God to hide him in the shadow of His wings. He said "I will see your face and be satisfied with seeing your likeness!" That's the kind of relationship I want with God in prayer! I want to trust God's perception to hear my cries, my prayers. But let me be quick to say this: Prayer is not some kind of magic formula to get what you want! Prayer is the special ability and privilege given to us by God to talk with Him! Imagine that! Mere mortals given the privilege to speak to the God who created it all! On top of that we can talk to Him on a personal level and as often as we would like and know He hears us! But you must also…

Trust God's Perception to Give What You Need

David said...

Psalm 4:1a,b Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress...

Anyone in this place ever find yourself in a place of distress? David had found himself at times in places of severe distress. Stress causes distress! Word study time...

Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

David had that! You ever have that? And I'm sure that most everyone in this room has at one time or another faced distress. Here's the definition of distress...

Distress: extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain

And as we read a few weeks ago, David had found himself in great distress when he had fallen tragically into sin and desperately needed God to hear his cries of repentance and his cries for forgiveness. He knew God was a righteous God and the sin he had committed with Bathsheba and the tragic results of the attempted cover up had been an affront to God's holiness. So, as we see here, David cries out for relief, and for deliverance from his distress. He has to come to a place of trust in God's willingness to give. And God is such a giving God! He desires to give to us! David said this in a beautiful way in another song, Psalm 16. Remember, I use Scripture to teach Scripture, so now I'm going to use one of David's other songs to expound on this aspect of God's perception to give us what we need! This is like a sermon within a sermon. Hey, two for the price of one. Several verses of Psalm 16  speak of God's perception to give us what we need...

Psalm 16:1 Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.

God knows we have a need for safety! David had material things, but he wanted God to give him safety. He wanted God to be his refuge. We had a whole message on that when we talked about trusting God's protection. David goes on to say...

Psalm 16:2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

And then down in verse 5...

Psalm 16:5-6 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

David wanted a personal relationship with God more than anything. He said "apart from You I have no good thing!" He knew God had assigned him the portion he needed. God had given him security and had allowed him to experience some pleasant things in life. David said the things he had inherited because of his relationship with God were delightful! And one of those things David had inherited shows just how  giving God is, and it's so much more than material provision. David says...

Psalm 16:7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

David's earthly counselors had not always served him well, but he knew God had never let him down. I don't know about you, but knowing God perceives my need for a counselor and volunteers to be my counselor is almost overwhelming! And one of the most amazing things is you will never get a recording that says "call back during office hours", or "give my secretary a call." We human counselors have boundaries because we have human limitations, but God doesn't have those limits! David goes on to say...

Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

When David said "I have set the Lord always before me, he is saying God was priority one in his life! This allowed David to know that God was always at his right hand, and because of that David knew he wouldn't be shaken. This is all because David trusted God's perception to give whatever David needed whenever David needed it! In fact David then says...

Psalm 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Okay, did you catch the first part of that last verse? You have made known to me the path of life! Is that not what this whole series of sermons has been about? Finding God's direction for your life? When we pray and ask God to show us His trajectory for our life, He will make known to us the path of life and fill us with Joy in His presence, because if your on God's path, God's right there with you! I don't know if you've noticed, but in looking at this aspect of David's prayer life, we have inadvertently summarized this whole series! In trusting God's perception to give us what we need we are trusting God's aim, His plan, His power, His protection, His provision, His pardon, and His peace, which are all things we desperately need in our lives! Okay, free sermon is over, back to our text, Psalm 4 next part of verse 1…

Trust God's Perception to Be Merciful

Psalm 4:1 Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

God is painfully aware that we need His mercy! Why do I say painfully aware? Because it cost God to be able to give us mercy. Jay will begin a series of messages on John 3:16 in two weeks and it will be powerful. So I just want to say a quick word about trusting God's perception to be merciful. David asked for God's mercy multiple times and received it! He knew his distress was sometimes self-inflicted and he needed God's mercy. Do you sense another word study coming on? You guys know me too good...

Mercy: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.

The definition of mercy creates the need for grace. Which meaning is...

Grace: The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

You see it's like this: God has compassion and offers forgiveness to people who have royally messed up, failed, and sinned against Him! He has the power to punish or lash out because of our wickedness, but He chooses to give grace, free and unmerited, and save us if we will only ask Him to do so. This is because He perceives our need for mercy and grace and is willing to give mercy and grace! Scholars are not sure who wrote Psalm 94, but it sums up the word mercy and our need for grace in a powerful way. Listen...

Psalm 94:17-19 Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping, ” your love, O LORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Do you know what I realized when I read this. Here's another whole sermon! Wow, three sermons for the price of one! God gives us His help, His love and His consolation, which brings joy to our souls! But as we said last week, there's always going to be those who will mock our trust in God. Later this fall, I plan on doing a series entitled, "Not Ashamed!" As David is praying his mind wonders to the what other people were saying about him. Does that ever happen when you are praying? Your mind wonders? Happens to me all the time. It's human. Don't be discouraged. God understands and He doesn't get upset with us. He knows there are things on our mind, concerns and troubles and it's sometimes hard to concentrate because of all those things especially if others are troubling us. David had to learn to...

Trust God's Perception to Know What Others Are Saying

Psalm 4:2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame ? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Selah

David had his detractors. They mocked his love for God and his trust that God had forgiven him for his past sins. David knew those people were under delusions and their behavior actually showed they were seeking false gods. They were seeking the false god of self. People who are quick to judge others and put others down think somehow they are better than everyone else. That my friends is worshiping the god of self and that's a really tiny god, and a god who cannot save you or provide what you really need. David knew the truth and he speaks that truth in his prayer as if he were talking to those people. But I think he was also talking to himself to remind himself of God's promises. That's not a bad thing to do when you pray!! Check it out...

Psalm 4:3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him.

David then preaches a little sermon as he is praying. This prayer had been turned into a song, so it's possible that he knew some of those people might be listening so he prays a couple of verses just for them...

Psalm 4:In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices and trust in the LORD.

David knew he had hurt others deeply with his sin. But he reminds them to not become so angry with him that they let it cause them to make the same mistake David had made and fall into sin. He reminds them when they lie down at night to search their hearts and to be silent so they can hear God speak to their own hearts about their own failures. He then encourages them to offer right sacrifices and to trust in the Lord! And what are the right sacrifices? Remember from the Psalm we read in the trust God's pardon message?

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

David continues to think about what others were saying and he quotes one of their mocking questions and then immediately gives a wonderful answer of trust and faith. I love this part of the song and what a wonderful note to end this message on!

Psalm 4:6a Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?”

In other words, they were questioning the reality of David's God. They had become bitter, skeptical, and derisive! "Who can show us any good?" But David very quickly responds and responds with great confidence and trust in God's perception to hear our cries, to give us our needs, and to be merciful to us...

Psalm 4:6-8  Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.
You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

David ends his prayer song by contrasting his life with theirs. But he does it not in a prideful, self-conceited way. He simply mentions the greatest goal of every genuine prayer: "Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord!" He then shows the difference God's presence makes in a believer's life. And what is that difference? Let's read it again...

Psalm 4:7 You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.

In other words, no worldly wealth or material gain, or artificially induced high, could compare with the joy of The Lord. Why? Because the Joy of The Lord brings lasting peace that doesn't disappear when the money's gone or the momentary pleasure has faded. In fact he reiterates what we talked about last week:

Psalm 4:8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Trust that God perceives your deepest needs and longs to meet those needs. But you must reach out to Him, ask Him, cry out to Him, trust Him. He is here for you today! Let's pray!