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fret Not

Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on June 13, 1976
     
     “Fret not thyself . . .
     Trust in the LORD . . .
     Delight thyself also in the LORD . . .
     Commit thy way unto the LORD . . .
     Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him . . .
     Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright:
     for the end of that man is peace.”
     - Psalm 37
     
     TAKE YOUR BIBLE AND TURN TO PSALM 37, please. We have majored on God’s repeatable. When God says something more than once, stop and pay attention: it must be important. Three times, He says the same two words: “fret not,” in verse 1; “fret not,” in verse 7; and again in verse 8, “fret not.” If you have never fretted, then this message has nothing to say to you today. If you have, this message is for you.
     
     Verse 37 closes with these words: “for the end of that man is peace.” We need peace in a time of stress and a time of storm. Christians are forever fretting, it seems. This preacher speaking to you today has not yet eliminated the tendency in his life to fret.
     
     God’s spiritual laws are as operational as the laws in the natural world. Christianity is not complicated, it’s just tough, but God does not just leave you with the command “fret not,” and the end, which is peace; He lays out the formula to make the journey in between. There are a few things that I must do, and then a lot of grand things that He will do. I do not know why God works the way He does, but He always seems to withhold some of His richest actions until I have done my part. My part is never outlined as something I cannot do: what He asks me to do, I can do. But, like plugging an electrical cord into a circuit, unless I do my part and plug in the cord, the power will not be released to do its work.
     
     God tells us not to fret; and then, through His writer David, He lays out the steps we have to take. This is a psalm of David, that Old Testament saint who was “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14) If you will do these simple things when you are fretting, I will guarantee you that, like the current flowing through the cord, God’s part will begin to flow.
     
     I am not interested in simply uttering words or preaching sermons. Something happens to a man’s heart when he stays with a people: he is no longer addressing a crowd, the message is to individuals. This message is not to your neighbor. God’s word can zero in on you today, if you will let it. I wonder how many faces with a smile today hide an anxious heart, a fretting condition and a stress they may not even be able to talk about, but they know they are fretting. What can you do about it? Do this, and then God will take care of the rest.
     
     “Trust in the LORD;” that is the first step. One word for trust used in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament into Greek is the same word that appears so often in the New Testament translated faith. In the New Testament, faith was not just a mental act, or even a heartfelt confidence. You did not have New Testament faith until you literally hung your body on what the mind had seen and the heart had responded to. When God says something, since His Word created all this seen world, the safest place to hang your body is on His Word. Like Noah, when God said, “It is going to rain, build a boat,” he didn’t just believe it, feel good about it, or think about it: he started building! He hung his body on what God had said, despite what he saw. Trust means to hang in there. On what? The Lord.
     
     Your deliverance from a fretting condition starts with a refocusing of where you are putting your body, where you are focusing your being, and what you are hanging on to. Is it on your circumstance, or on the Lord Himself? God starts right where we are. He tells us to clean our mind out, refocus the meter, and take a new fix. On what? “Is the Lord trustworthy?” If He is not, then this is a ridiculous gathering. The reason for being here is that God has said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I.” (Matthew 18:20)
     
     Is the Lord to be trusted? In your fretting circumstance, settle that first and foremost. It is a mental act. You cleanse out the other pressuers and you take a fix: “Can I really trust the Lord?”
     
     What is it with God about His Word? Let the old promises roll through your mind: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) That is the first step; that is picking up the cord.
     
     God is more concerned about His Word than you and I are. You don’t have to shake it at Him like a stick to get Him to act. With God, words and things are the same thing. He has to be careful what He says, because when He speaks, it is something. He is allowed no idle words. When He speaks, creation occurs.
     
     Here is the second step: “Delight thyself also in the LORD.” Being carnal, I used to read this verse in a hurry to get to the second part. I would read it like this: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart!” I would say, “There it is in Your Word, God. Pour it out on me!” In philosophy we call this a tautology, an axiomatic or self-evident statement. Put the emphasis on the first part of the verse: “Delight thyself also in the LORD.”
     
     Your fretting is because of the pressure coming in and a sense of insecurity has come. Sweep that aside and fix your focus in terms of faith and trust. “Overcome evil with good,” as Paul says to the Romans. (Romans 12:21) Don’t attack the fretting. Just change the focus and begin to ask yourself anew: “Is God trustworthy? Can I trust the Lord?” And then, “What do I really want in my fretting condition?” Do I want the Lord to give me the desires of my heart, with my heart as it is? Or, do I want to do something about my heart, which is the seat of emotions and wants and
     desires, and bring myself to a stop in the middle of the stream and say, “Whose pleasure do I really want, mine . . . or God’s?”
     
     There are laws in the Spirit, and they are not complicated. If I am fretting now, whom do I want to receive delight, me, or the Lord? Take a fix on your wants. What is bothering you today, something denied you, or something denied the Lord? Where is the focus of your wants? As trusting the Lord changes the focus meter of your mind, change the focus meter of your heart and take a new fix on His right to pleasure.
     
     As Paul said to the Corinthians: “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) Lenin said of the Communists, they were “dead men on furlough.” We ought to be “dead men.” Dead! As dead men, we no longer have desires for ourselves; we want what God wants.
     
     If you have slipped out of that focus, your real problem is that you are trying to get God to delight you! You are trying to get the church to take your shape. You are trying to get God to go along with your wants. You have to change the focus. Because when you want what the Lord wants, and when His pleasure means more to you than your pleasure, He will give you the desires of your heart: the desires of a reshaped, refocused heart. It is not complicated, but it is tough.
     
     If He is trustworthy, fix it anew: His pleasure is more important than mine. If I receive nothing from God until I die, He gave me more than I deserve. He gave His Son for me and His Son died for me.
     
     That just sets the frame. The third step gets tougher. With my mind and heart straightened out, verse 5 says, “Commit thy way unto the Lord.” What is my way? All of it: the road of life and all of me. V. RaymondEdman, preaching on this verse, used the analogy of droplping a letter in a postbox. He said that you go to the postbox and you turn loose of it. You commit that letter to the U.S. Postal Service. Now, how many of you will stand in front of that postbox, trembling for fear that your letter will not get to its destination? Have you ever driven by a post office and seen somebody leaning into the postbox still hanging onto the letter? This ludicrous example is an illustration of the way people “commit” their way. You turn loose of the letter. It’s now in their hands!
     
     The Hebrew picture is from the language of the men who carried goods in camel trains in that day. A burden-bearer would take the load, go over to the camel that was kneeling, lean over and let that burden roll onto the shoulders of the camel. That is what is being translated with the word commit: “to turn loose of it.” In the New Testament, a similar phrase says you are to cast “all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
     
     How do you do that? Again, God is very simple. He is a covenant-making God. When He tells us to do something, He tells us how to do it. In the Old Testament, when you wanted to receive from God, He gave specific directions for performing each
     step of a sacrifice as it related to Him, from laying hands on the animal to how to capture the blood. In the New Testament, to activate a covenant promise, you commit your way very simply: “With the heart man believeth . . .” It suddenly dawns on you, that is exactly what God gives us a right to do: if I will take a fix on His trustworthiness, take a new focus in my heart, and want His will, in this instant I can commit my way to Him. How? “With the heart man believeth . . . and with mouth confession is made.” Talk it out. (Romans 10:10)
     
     What are you fretting about? I am sure you find it very easy to talk to close loved ones about your problem. Psychiatrists stretch people out on a couch, and they talk it out. Same formula: you tell God. If it is so complicated that you don’t know how to describe it, then wrap it up in one ball of words and say,” God, it’s the whole mess. Here, take it.”
     
     Repentance is made out to be something experienced like a bomb dropping out of Heaven or people feeling electricity from their toenails to the hair on the top of their head. In the New Testament, reprentance is a simple act of the will. You turn from something to something else. You turn loose of your way and you give it to Him. You do the repenting; He does the rest of the work. As the jailer at Philippi was told when he asked, “. . . what must I do to be saved? . . . Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 16:30-31) you say, “Lord, here it is, mess that it is, take it.”
     
     What is the fourth step? “Rest in the LORD.” Wow, it gets tough! I give it to Him Sunday night and, like that fellow standing in front of the postbox, I quiver all night for fear He will fly the letter through Houston, instead of Denver, going to New York. You know I am telling you the truth. I am not the only sinner in the camp! We give it to God, and then we want to chart God’s course for Him and tell Him how to unravel it.
     
     “Rest in the LORD, and wait . . .” It would be easier if God would stop there! “Wait patiently for him.” Do you mean that is all I have to do? Yes. Trust in the Lord. Delight thyself in Him. Take a fix on what you really want, whether it is God’s will or yours; then, in simple words, give it to Him . . . and rest? “Well, Lord . . .” We have been years messing it up, and we are mad at God because He doesn’t unravel it by Monday night when we gave it to Him on Sunday night. Will you give it to Him, whatever your problem is today, and will you rest and wait? How? Patiently.
     
     What does God do? These verses are glorious; and they are your promise today. He doesn’t even wait until I start resting. Do you know that? Whatever problem you have today, roll it up, whisper to Him right now and give it to Him. “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” The King James Version just does not express it adequately: the literal meaning is “the Lord worketh.”
     
     The minute that you roll it up and give it to Him in commitment, the Lord worketh. He goes instantly to work, at that moment, without even waiting to see if I will rest and wait patiently. Who goes to work? The Lord! The Scripture says He is
     
     the “LORD of hosts.” That means even inanimate objects are under His control. When Deborah fought for the people of God, the stars in the heavens were used by God to help give her victory. Joshua stopped the sun! You may say, “Do you believe that?” I sure do. God spoke, and nothing became everything. This world consists in His Word, and His Word will blow it apart one day and put it together again. The literal heavens are under the Lord’s control!
     
     Here I am sweating, fretting, trying to pull the problem apart. As I face problems every day of the week, I remind myself morning and night and say, “God, it is really Your problem. I have committed it to You. I am but an agent; I wait for directions.” But remember He is the Lord of Hosts! That is why the Scripture says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) If necessary, God will use the sun and the stars on your problem!
     
     You may say, “The world and the devil are tough on me.” The devil is alive, but the church world is giving him almost too much credit; he can only go as far as the Lord lets him go. You need not fear. When you give your way to God, we read in the Scriptures that He even makes the heathen serve His purpose when He wants to. The Lord of Hosts is in control. That is who goes to work on your problem the minute you give it to Him.
     
     Not only does God have that kind of power, verse 18 says, “The LORD knoweth…” I sat in a hotel in Taipei, Taiwan; I was sick and alone. I felt like nobody, including God, knew I was there. I began to pray. I went to Psalm 139. I read it about 10 times, but by the tenth time it rang like a bell in my spirit: “LORD . . . Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understand my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways… If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” God knows!
     
     I once heard a man preach on Moses being called in the wilderness. For 40 years, you cannot find a whisper in God’s book that God was talking to him. But when God finally appeared in a burning bush, He didn’t say, “Hey, you over there!” He didn’t even say, “Hey, shepherd!” He said, “Moses!” (Exodus 3:4) God knew exactly where Moses was. In the New Testament, in that storm at sea when all hope was lost, Paul said, “An angel stood by me.” (Acts 27:23) God found him in that storm! The Lord knows where you are. He knows your problem; He knows everything about it.
     
     “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD.” The Lord ordered. When you turn that letter loose, will you quit arguing if it goes through Houston instead of Denver? My problem is that when I commit, God doesn’t unravel it by taking the particular stand I think He should deal with first. Or, as He leads me, He does not take the path I think He should take. If you really want God’s will, it is harder to get out of God’s will than it is to stay in it. When you have given Him your life, He starts to work on it. Rest in that knowledge, and wait patiently! Though in your judgment He “zigs and zags,” the Lord is ordering the steps.
     
     
     What if you falter? “The LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” The Lord worketh with knowledge to guide the path. The literal meaning gives a picture of a stonemason going along and building up the path as you walk, to keep you from stumbling; God is still working with our failings. When Elijah failed, God sent an angel to bake a cake for him. He let Peter, the most miserable failure of all the disciples, preach on the day the church was born. When you give your way to Him, He even takes your failings into account.
     
     Why? “The LORD loveth judgment,” but that is toward the sinners, “and forsaketh not his saints.” What is a saint? A saint is something made holy by being placed without reservation on the altar. We are right back to the starting point: when you give your way to Him, He goes to work on it.
     
     Can you trust the Lord? Do you want His will? Will you commit your way, rest and wait patiently? If you will, He goes to work instantly, right now as you say it. He does it with knowledge. He will order your steps, even though it doesn’t look right to you. He will pick you up when you stumble, and He will never forsake you. “The end of that man is peace.”
     
     What are you fretting about? There is a law of deliverance right here today in His Word. You can come to peace. Peace is “cessation of against-ness.” That is why God treats your condtion before He treats your problem.
     
     Can you trust the Lord? You say, “Well, I have trusted Him, but the problem is still there.” Well, He has been “zigging and zagging” awhile. The outcome is predetermined for the church that Jesus came to build, and for you as an individual. Where is your trust today? What have you been relying on in your problem? Whether you are a businessman, or a parent, whatever your need . . . can you trust the Lord?
     
     Do you really want God’s will? Are you willing to commit your way? Then, all you have to do is to rest and wait patiently, as the Lord goes to work on it. He goes to work with knowledge. God is already working, without sleep, on every problem we have turned loose of, in commitment to Him.
     
     Heavenly Father, take the Word and drive it home right here.
     We have not flung words out to preach a sermon. There are those
     who are fretting. I ask you now, by Your Holy Spirit, to quicken
     the Word.
     
     Re-printed and published with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott




Prayer Requests for May, 2013
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). After all the years and all the court rulings, the judge has ordered another new trial for Frank.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas). His custody level was lowered last month and now he asks everyone to pray that it will be lowered again soon.
For Judy Oakley (Lincoln, Arkansas), who is having another surgery.
For Tammy Daetwiler (Oklahoma) who is recovering from a stroke.
For Isaac Douglas (Danville, Illinois), who is seeking another sentence reduction. (He had his sentence reduced once last year.)
For William McAllister’s (Taylorville, Illinois) friend, Shirley Ragland.
For Jamie Workman’s (Holdenville, Oklahoma) Mom who has Alzheimer’s disease.
For Robert Russell’s (Sumner, Illinois) Mom, Billie Rose, for health.
For Willie Clark (Lubbock, TX) who is being treated for cancer.
For Bob McDaniel (Rodney’s Dad), for health and recovery. He is finally back from the hospital, but he is still in the infirmary.
For Johnnie Dunnum (Lexington, Oklahoma). (His hernia was healed.)
For Michael Small’s (Illinois) step mother Suzanne. She is still being treated for vision problems.
For Joseph Runge’s Mother, Mavis (Illinois) who suffered a stroke last year. (She is regaining strength and feeling.)
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, Oklahoma) who is being treated for heart disease. He has had many recent trips to the hospital.
For Jimmy Huff (Colorado City, Texas), for health.
For Cody Campbell (Florence, Arizona), for health.
For Jacob Cota (Prescott, Arizona) who has back problems (Sciatica nerve).
For William Holland (Joliet, Illinois), for health.
For John Crutcher (in Oklahoma) who needs a liver transplant.
For Johnny Carruthers (Florence, Arizona) who has a few health issues.
For Anthony Grayson (Shawangunk, New York), that his health gets better, and that he finds legal assistance.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Robinson, Illinois), to keep his healing and stay cancer free. (His lung cancer has been in remission since 1998.)
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence will prove his innocence.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.





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