#2153 – Surely Goodness, Forever!      (19 June 2011)

The Message

Pastor Jim Penner

Special Guest

Monty, Mark Fitzgerald and Magin Fitzgerald-Kerr
Monty, Mark and Magin Fitzgerald are church members who joined a team of 40 volunteers to build three houses of hope for the homeless in Ensenada, Mexico.

The Message

When we went to Mexico, the team that I was on, the family had three little kids. The youngest probably, I’m guessing five, maybe six, and they had all their neighborhood friends showing up to try and help out. And so we laid out the house panels on the ground and then they would start painting. They would help paint as we were getting the foundation together. Well, when I turned back around to look, one of the little girls, probably five or six years old had a paint brush, and she was painting the bottom of the panel and as she got that done she’d crawl up onto what she’d just painted and just kept going all the way up. She had paint everywhere head to toe and a smile to match. She was having a ball.

Now it’s not a mystery why Jesus said unless you become as a little child you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven. There is something about being a little child. You understand trust. In some way, you understand trust. And trust in God was at the very heart of a message I gave two/three weeks ago on green pastures, when green pastures are a mirage. Trust was at the heart of that message. And trust is at the very heart also of Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Now when I read these words and every single time I read these words, one overwhelming thought comes to mind. First that we serve a God that is not ambiguous in nature at all. God is not ambiguous. God is consistent and He is faithful to His word. He is consistent and faithful to His word. While us as human beings are constantly saying well I didn’t really mean to say it quite like that. That’s not what I meant. You know what I mean. We’re constantly finding ourselves saying that. God is not that way. God is consistent and He is faithful.

In fact, I want to read to you what God says about Himself. In Malachi 3:6, “For I am the Lord, I do not change.” “I am the Lord, I do not change.” In Hebrews 13, Paul says about Christ, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Did you hear that? Jesus Christ is the same. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Now I’m hammering this point home because you have to understand time does not change God. Since the bible was written to today, time does not change God. Time does not diminish His authority or His majesty any single bit. Time does not change God. Okay, unless you understand that, Psalm 23:6 is just a bunch of words. You have to understand that God never changes. He is consistent. He is faithfully consistent. So we have Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Now if you understand that God is consistent and that God never changes, there are three powerful words in this verse that you need to write down and stick on your mirror at home and look at them every single day; every single day. Those three words are: surely, shall, and forever. Not the ones you were thinking of: surely, shall, and forever.

Now why these three words? Because those three words seal a promise. Surely, shall, and forever seal a promise. It does not say maybe goodness and mercy might follow me all the days of my life and I could conceivably dwell in the house of the Lord forever. That’s not what it says. It says surely, shall, forever. They’re a promise. It’s the judge with the gavel, right? Surely, shall, forever. It’s a promise; it’s not a proposal.

Now the saddest few minutes I ever watched on television, I remember a couple of years ago, a reporter was standing on a street corner. I think it was up in Los Angeles, might even been on Hollywood Boulevard somewhere, and he was asking people what they believed about heaven and were they going to heaven? Now a few, very few said ‘yes, absolutely.’ The majority, the vast majority had answers of ‘oh maybe, could be, I don’t know; if I got everything right, I guess so.’ It literally broke my heart. I wanted to jump through the screen. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs it says surely, shall, and forever! It does not say maybe, could be, conceivably. But unless you understand that God is faithful, consistent, and never changes, Psalm 23:6 is just a bunch of words.

It’s a promise: surely, shall and forever. But then the questions start to come; but Jim how do you know that surely, shall, and forever actually mean surely, shall, and forever? And I’ve gotten that question. I’ve gotten that question. And every time I get that question, every single time, I go to Matthew 7 verse 7 and I look at the words of Jesus. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, (everyone) and he who knocks, the door will be opened. Or what man is there among you if his sons asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, who is in heaven, give good gifts to those who ask?” I love this part in here, what man is there among you if his son asks for bread will give him a stone?

Yesterday my daughter called me; she’s going to school, going to college, not too far from here. She was thoroughly frustrated I could hear it in her voice. She needed to get a spreadsheet done for a class the next day. ‘Dad, can you help me do a spreadsheet?’ I said, ‘yeah.’ I’ve done spreadsheets my whole life. I was a business major in college. So I had a lot of things to do that day, not the least of which was get ready for today, but suddenly when she called and I heard the distress in her voice, I had nothing more important to do yesterday afternoon then to spend time with her building a spreadsheet. Now if me, Jim, being a sinful man, know how to give good gifts to my kids, how much more does your Father in heaven know how to give good gifts to those who ask? Because God never changes. He’s faithful, right? Is it sinking in yet?

Now follow me with this because you can tie together Psalm 23:6 and Matthew 7:7 very simply in a way that you will never forget it. There’s two promises there, one in each section of the bible, two promises, one God. Goodness and mercy shall follow me, why? Because Father God loves to give good gifts. Goodness and mercy shall follow me, why? Because Father God loves to give good gifts. Goodness and mercy will follow me, why?

A lot of you have kids here. You know how to give good gifts to your kids. Man, the Lord wants to bless you so far beyond that, it’s unbelievable. Goodness and mercy will follow you because Father God loves; hear that word, loves, loves to give good gifts. He loves to.

Now you know what? There’s two prayers to ensure that that’s going to happen in your life. There’re two prayers, two prayers guaranteed. I’ll stand here and give you a guarantee there’s two prayers that God will answer to give you goodness and mercy in your life, guaranteed. And the answer will not be no, and the answer will not be maybe. Two guaranteed yes prayers.

Now the first one a lot of you already know. You’re probably already way ahead of me. That’s when you asked Jesus into your life. Lord, come into my life, forgive me, have a relationship with me, be my Savior. The salvation prayer is prayer number one and if you have not prayed that prayer, pray that prayer because your world will change. That’s prayer number one.

The second prayer is guaranteed to bring goodness and mercy into your life every single day of your life. Every single day. Did you say guaranteed? Yes, I did. Guaranteed? Yes, every time.

Now before I tell you what the prayer is, I’m going to give you a couple of examples of people who have prayed this prayer. Dr. Schuller sitting here; Dr. Schuller for fifty-five years has lived with more stress and more pressure that would cripple the normal man. Building a world-wide ministry in the times and era that he did, brought pressures that you and I will never ever understand. He had to make decisions that would scatter the bravest and the strongest and yet Dr. Schuller has lived a life of extraordinary grace. Why? Because he prayed the prayer with a guaranteed yes. Dr. Schuller is not an ordinary man because he prayed the prayer with a guaranteed yes.

Sheila, sitting next to him, was living a relatively peaceful life until the Lord tapped her on the shoulder two years ago; relatively peaceful life. She’s agreeing with me. And in the past two years, I have seen Sheila have to make decisions and have pressures put upon her that would cripple a normal woman or man. But Sheila has lived these two years with grace because she’s not an ordinary woman. Sheila has prayed the prayer with a guaranteed yes. Guaranteed yes.

I grew up in Colorado. I went to a high school called Bear Creek High School and our chief rival was Columbine High School. Now Columbine High School made international news when two student gunmen walked onto the property and started shooting several years ago. One of the students they shot, Rachel Scott, got wounded in the leg and went down. The gunman walked up to her, lifted her head by the hair and said, ‘do you still believe in God?’ And Rachel said, ‘you know that I do.’ Even as she said those words, she knew she was going to die. And yet, and yet Rachel Scott knew what goodness and mercy were all about because Rachel Scott was not an ordinary teenager. Rachel Scott prayed the prayer with a guaranteed yes. Prayed the prayer with a guaranteed yes.

Who wants to live a life like I’ve just described? Where pressures and anxieties can come and they’ll roll off your back like water on a duck. That can happen. And I know that a lot of Christians aren’t praying this prayer. I guarantee you a lot of Christians aren’t praying this prayer and you know why? Because in this country, poles say that eighty percent of this country believes in God, yet you know what? The number one prescription medication on the market today is for anxiety. That doesn’t quite add up. You say you believe in God, but the number one prescription on the market today is for anxiety. You don’t need to have anxiety. You can have goodness and mercy that Psalm 23 is talking about. You can have all the goodness and mercy you can handle. It’s going to overflow in your life. All you got to do is pray the prayer with a guaranteed yes and it can happen. Pray that prayer with a guaranteed yes.

Because this is an important moment. This is a very important moment. Can you pray the prayer with a guaranteed yes? It’s hard to do. I prayed it and it was the hardest prayer I ever prayed. I prayed it many years ago and I find myself praying it every single day because it’s the hardest prayer you will ever pray. And yet there comes a time when it becomes the easiest prayer and you can’t wait to say it. I wake up in the morning saying it. I go to bed saying it now. I can’t help saying it every single minute of my life. The prayer is: Thy will be done. Jesus prayed that prayer. He prayed it on Good Friday as He rode that colt, the week before, Palm Sunday when He rode the colt into Jerusalem because He knew He was going to die. He prayed that prayer on Good Friday when He walked the Via Dolorosa. He prayed that prayer every single time He fell with that cross on His back. He prayed that prayer when they drove a spike through His hands. Thy will be done. Can you pray that prayer? I know you’ve accepted Christ. So many of you have. If you haven’t, do it today. But this is beyond that. This is saying, God, I surrender. I’m tired of thinking everything has to be my way or the highway. This needs to be all about Thy will be done.

Quick story before we pray, Dr. Schuller many years ago, I’ll never forget, when the pressures were great on the ministry, he slid out of his chairman’s chair and he went and sat in a side chair and he left that chairman’s chair empty and he said, “God that’s Yours. You’re in charge.” That takes guts. Can you do that with your life? Can you do that with your life today?

Let’s pray: Oh Lord God, Jesus You prayed the prayer with a guaranteed yes. You prayed Thy will be done. And as a result, You were crucified on a cross but You were resurrected victorious that we might have life eternal. Lord, that’s the kind of life I want. Doesn’t matter what pressure I’m through, I want that resurrection Sunday in my life. I know, I know, I trust, I trust that You are Lord. I want the train of Your robe placed upon me. Pray that prayer: Thy will be done.

You’ve thought about trusting. You’re not sure if you should trust and Jesus is knocking on the door saying its okay. I’ve got you in My hand. In Jesus’ precious name, say yes, Thy will be done, in Jesus’ name, amen.


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