The Lord Rewards His Godly Ones

March 28, 2020 Preacher: Luis A. Cardenas Series: Psalms

Topic: English Passage: Psalm 18:20-28

Below is a video which includes the sermon audio and manuscript.
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Hello, everybody! I’m glad to have you listening to our message for today. It still a little surreal to realize that we don’t have our regular church gathering right now, and it looks like we may not be able to have it for another couple months. Lord willing, it will be sooner than later.

I miss you all, and I miss the blessing of gathering together. I’m looking forward to meeting again, when the Lord lets us do that. You know, listening to messages online is not a bad thing. I’m grateful for the opportunity to minister to you like this during this time.

At the same time, however, you need to realize that there really is no true substitute for personally and regularly gathering with the church. God uses that time to minister to us in a unique and important way. There’s a sanctifying effect in that.

I’m aware that giving messages online gives me a little broader audience than when I’m preaching in the pulpit on Sunday morning, so I just want to take this opportunity to encourage all our listeners to gather with a local Bible-teaching, gospel-preaching church once this season is behind us.

There are people who are part of our church, and part of churches all across the world, who can’t regularly meet with their church family for various reasons. And that’s a sad thing.

If God gives you the ability and the opportunity, though, to gather with the church, as imperfect as we all are, you need to be there, for you own benefit and for the benefit of your soul.

Sermons from the Bible are a staple in the life of a church, but church life is about more than messages. God intended us to be connected to one another. The church is a body; it’s a flock. God intended us to be committed to loving and serving and edifying one another.

For us members, I hope God uses this time to grow our love for the regular Sunday gathering. And in the meantime, I hope He opens our eyes to the variety of ways we can be loving one another and loving the people in our community.

Well, having said all that, before we get to today’s message, I have some announcements I want to share with you. This is going to be significantly longer than our announcements would normally take, but it’s important because we want to make sure we’re all on the same page, and that’s not easy right now.

First of all, I need to tell you that the church building is now officially closed to all visitors. You can still drop things off if you need to, but unless you’ve made arrangements ahead of time with the staff to be in the building, we are not going to give walk-ins access to our building.

This is going to continue as long as this “safer at home” order is in place. We want to do our part to help protect the safety of our community. Jim and I are working outside the office during the week, and our Office Manager Luz is reducing the number of hours she is in the building. She’s basically going to be there to take care of some of the essentials, like opening our mail and paying the bills.

Along the lines of paying bills, I have a second announcement. We elders recognize that added to the fears and isolation of this time, this is also a very difficult time economically and financially. I want to make this very clear: if you’re facing a need, please talk to someone about it.

Don’t go through this alone. Your church family is eager to help and serve, but we can’t do that if we don’t know about it. So, please talk to someone if you find yourself in any kind of need. God will use these things to unite us in humility and love.

Let me move on to the third announcement. If you are a member of our church, and your email is part of our list, you would have received an important message from our Treasurer regarding our church’s finances.

For those of you who need to adjust what you give because of this tough time, you should know that that’s a priority. Taking care of your family’s needs is a clear, biblical command. And then, once you’ve done that, to the degree that the Lord blesses you, you can cheerfully give for our other needs and ministries.

For those of you who want to give to the church, there are three main ways of doing that right now. First, you can mail us a check. Or, second, you can deposit an envelope in our mailbox, which is right next to the front entrance. Just make sure you write your name on the envelope if you want your gift to be recorded.

The final way to give right now is something that some families already take advantage of, which is to use the “Bill Pay” option with your bank. This can usually be accessed online or through your bank’s app. The process looks different for every bank, but basically what you want to do is add FBBC as a “Payee.”

Once that’s all set up, you can give electronically, and the funds will be withdrawn from your account, and the church will receive a check in the mail indicating whom it’s from. Just make sure you check with your bank to see if they offer that and if they charge a fee. A lot of banks don’t charge for that.

Well, that’s it for the more administrative type announcements. Now, I’d like to move on to some announcements dealing more with how we can connect with one another during this time. Again, it’s important that you think about how to do it.

First, I just want to remind you about the webpage we’ve created with all the updates for this time. You can go to to see any new announcements and resources we’ve put out. You can also refer others to that page. And the stuff is arranged there by date.

This past week, we added a mid-week message on Psalm 18:4-19. We also added a document with some devotional pages that kids can do. That might be a good way to lead your children in reading the Bible and then interacting with they’re learning. Dads, it’s a simple way to lead them.

You can also find a blog post from Pastor Jim which includes ideas for making your own worship playlist and some links to websites you may find helpful. Again, these are all things we want to provide to help you with your own family worship during this time since we can’t meet corporately.

In addition to the resources we’ve put online, we’ve also got three people who have taken some initiative to help keep us connected.

First, we have Rochelle Zieman who is working with a church and a grocery store in La Mirada to deliver care packages for the elderly. They are now branching out into Pico Rivera. If you know someone who would benefit, or if you want to find out how to help, again talk to Rochelle Zieman. And you can get in contact with her by checking out your membership directory or calling the office.

Second, Julie Horn is coordinating an effort to reach out to English and Spanish members who, unlike most of you listening right now, don’t normally use the internet. We want to be able to give them access to these resources. If you know a member whom you’d like her to consider, or if you want to help with that, talk to Julie Horn.

And last, but definitely not least, is an important event this evening. Alex Mata is going to be hosting a digital prayer meeting via Zoom. Some of you have become familiar with that app recently. But if you don’t know what that is, reach out to someone who can help you. It’ actually not that hard on your smartphone or laptop. Once you get it set up, you’ll be able to see and hear everyone else who is part of the meeting.

If you don’t want to install an app on your phone, you can connect just by calling in to a phone number, and you’ll be able to be part of the meeting with only audio.

All the information you need for this meeting is on the email we sent out a few days ago to our members, so if you’d like to join us and you’re not a member, just find a member to ask, or talk your Family Life Group leader if you are a part of one.

We’ll be having a Spanish prayer meeting from 6 to 6:45 tonight. And that will be followed by an English prayer meeting from 7 to 7:45. Again, check your email for all the info you need.

In fact, this is the end of our announcements, so you might want to pause right now, find that information, send it out to whoever you like, and then set a reminder for yourself for tonight’s meeting. Just hit pause and take care of that, and then you can come on back when you’re done, and we’ll begin our message.

Well, now it’s time for us to look at the Scriptures together, and we are continuing in Psalm 18. So, go get your Bible if you can, and turn with me to Psalm 18. This is now our third message from this psalm.

Kids, if you are listening right now with your family, I just want to say hello to you too. We’re glad to have you. Today we are going to be looking at part of a song. And our world is filled with all kinds of songs. We have songs for happy times and songs for sad times. Psalm 18 is a happy song. It’s a song that David wrote because he loved God and wanted to praise Him.

There were times in David’s life when people were chasing after him. They were trying to kill him. And sometimes, it was really scary. Things looked pretty bad. But God rescued him every time. And so, in thinking about all those times that God rescued him, David wrote this song, Psalm 18.

In our last message we looked at verses 4-19, which talked about how powerful God is. He is the Creator of the universe. There is no one like God. It would be a terrible thing to be God’s enemy. There’s no way you could win.

David, though, was God’s friend. And so, he knew that God listened when he called out to Him. He knew that God would recue him one day and fulfill His promises. David knew that God loved him.

The portion of the song we’re looking at right now talks about a different aspect of God when He rescues. The last part talked about His power and His love. This part is talking about His justice, His righteousness.

Have you ever been in trouble because of something you did? We all have—kids and adults. Have you ever been in trouble for something you didn’t do? Have you ever been in trouble because someone else thought you did something wrong?

That happens in this life. It happens because people make mistakes. Teachers make mistakes. Parents make mistakes. We all make mistakes.  Even if we’re doing our best to judge things perfectly, we will get it wrong sometimes. Some people will even try to judge the wrong way because they hate God. That’s all part of this life.

God, however, will never render a bad judgment. God sees everything, and He knows exactly what you did and what you didn’t do. He never punishes anyone wrongly, and He never rewards anyone wrongly either. God always gets it right. He is the perfect Judge. He is perfectly righteous.

David was running for his life, not because God was angry at him, but because his enemies were angry at him. They weren’t trying to kill him because of something wrong he did; they were trying to kill him because they hated him. They were jealous of the way God had blessed him. But even though kings and princes were trying to kill David, David knew that God was going to be just. God would rescue him one day.

Look with me at Psalm 18, verse 20. Here’s what David says as he looks back on how God rescued him from all his enemies.

The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.

God is a God who delights in rewarding. Everyone loved to be rewarded, right? Athletes get a medal or a trophy. Students get good grades, and they get a diploma when they finish. Sometimes, if you’re good at your job, you get a raise or a bonus. Sometimes, the reward can be announcing to others what you have done, and that’s a good feeling.

Being rewarded for something we’ve done appeals to our sense of justice and fairness. The flip side of that is the indignation we feel when a good person is robbed of a reward, or if someone receives a reward who doesn’t deserve it. Unfortunately, like I said, that happens in this world.

David understood that his enemies were unjustified in seeking his death. He didn’t deserve to die like that. David also knew that each time God rescued him, it was part of God’s reward for his righteousness.

Davis is saying, “God made the right decision. He didn’t let me die because of my enemies. He saved me. He rewarded me because I was righteous here. My hands were clean.” Look at verses 21-24. Here’s how David describes his innocence.

21For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. 23I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. 24So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

What is David saying here? Is he bragging? Is he saying he was perfect? No. That’s not what he’s doing. David knew he was a sinner. Like I’ve said earlier, this psalm is repeated almost word-for-word in 2 Samuel 22. And if you were reading through 2 Samuel, by the time you got to this psalm, you would know David wasn’t perfect. There were many times when he acted foolishly and rebelliously.

But what we have in these verses are two basic messages from David. First, he’s saying: I am innocent. I am innocent with regard to my enemies. Saul, for example, wasn’t trying to kill David because of something David did. David hadn’t broken any laws. He was innocent in that regard. David didn’t deserve to have Saul chase after him. David was innocent.

David second message is this: I am on God’s side. I am on God’s side. Again, he’s not saying he lived a perfect life. What he’s saying is that the trajectory of his life was toward God, not away from God. He was, by God’s own admission, a man after God’s own heart.

In general, David’s life was a life of righteousness. It was not a life of perfection, but it was a life of righteousness. Verse 21 says he “kept the ways of the Lord.” Can you keep the ways of the Lord if you’ve sinned? Is that possible?

Yes, it is! Even after you have sinned, you can keep the ways of the Lord by confessing your sin and repenting. That’s God’s way. That’s how all of Israel was commanded to respond to God through their sacrifices. A sacrifice given to God along with a repentant heart pleased him. That’s what God wanted.

That’s how David lived his life. His life of integrity was marked by confession and repentance. He kept God’s rules, God’s statutes. And God rewarded Him by rescuing him from his enemies.

What you’ve got in this portion of the song is a dual faithfulness. David maintained a general faithfulness in life because it was a response to the perfect faithfulness of God.

And that character of God is what David reflects upon in the verses that follow. God is a righteous Judge. When all is said and done, God will rescue His righteous ones, and He will condemn the wicked who persist in their rebellion. That’s who God is. He will not let evil go unpunished, and He will not let His people go unrewarded. Look at verses 25-27.

25With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; 26with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. 27For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.

Which category does David fall into? He’s not the crooked man. He’s not the haughty or the arrogant man. He’s the merciful man, the blameless man, the pure man, the humble man. So, he is absolutely confident God will rescue him. He trusts completely in a loving God who will reward him.

So, even in the darkest of circumstances, he says this in verse 28:

For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.

The Lord was David’s lamp. The Lord was going to guide David, no matter how dark or scary things looked. The Lord was going to rescue him.

What can we take away from this portion of Scripture? How do we apply this in our own life? To one degree or another we feel the despair and the injustices and the difficulties of this life. What do we learn from David’s song?

Well, to start, we can, like David, praise our God because He will rescue and reward His people. We don’t know how these earthly trials are going to end, but we do know that God will ultimately rescue us. He is going to reward us with a crown of righteousness. We have a great and heavenly reward waiting for us.

Look up the words related to “rewards” in the Bible, and you will find that God delights in rewards. He has promised them to His people.

In Revelation 22, the final chapter in the Bible, Jesus says this in verse 12:

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.

Jesus is waiting to give us our reward, our inheritance, and nothing in this life, or in the spiritual realm, can stop that from happening. The Apostle Paul said it like this in Romans 8:18—

The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

We have a glorious reward waiting for us, so let’s continue in the love and praise of our heavenly Father. That’s one way to respond to the message of Psalm 18. Just like God recued David from his enemies, He will rescue us eternally as well.

A second response to this psalm is to evaluate your by asking yourself a very important question: Am I really on God’s side? Do I truly have the promise that He will rescue me? Think how tragic it will be to have people suffer in this life, waiting for the hope that comes after death, only to be deceived about it. They think death will free them, but instead it ends in eternal enslavement, and in a suffering unlike anything in this world.

Don’t let that be you. Examine yourself. Are you the rebellious person, the crooked person? If that’s you, and you don’t change, God’s patient mercy will end one day. The fiery eyes of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ will see right through any façade, and you will be punished eternally.

But God’s message to you is that if you will call out to Him for mercy, recognizing the hopelessness of your sin, He will rescue you. He will wipe your record clean. He will forgive every sin you have committed and ever will commit. And He will do it because of His Son Jesus Christ.

Like I said, God is a righteous judge, and He will not let sin go unpunished. And so, in order to satisfy His perfect justice, He sent His Son to pay the penalty on behalf of sinners. Jesus died under God’s wrath, in order to free sinners from that wrath. And then, on the third day, He gloriously resurrected proving the reality of His message and the glory of His name.

If you are willing to surrender your life to Him, God will save you. God saves everyone who calls on Him with a humble heart. It’s not just that God wipes your record clean. God credits to repentant sinners the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

The message of Jesus is a message of substitution. It’s that a transfer has taken place. Jesus never sinned, but He took upon Himself the wickedness and the judgment of sinners. And rebellious sinners who deserve to be judged forever are covered with the righteousness of Christ. There was a transaction at the cross. God credits His own perfection to all who come to Him.

When someone repents, something supernatural is happening. It’s not just a change of lifestyle. It’s a new nature. The old nature is gone, and a new nature comes in. God trades a heart of stone with a heart of flesh. And that new heart is alive to God’s truth and God’s love.

How do you know if that transaction has taken place? How do you know if you’re a real Christian? You can’t measure it by perfection; none of us are perfect. But you can measure it by your progress. What direction is your life headed? What’s the trajectory of your life? It is spiraling downward into sin and love of this world? Or is it moving upward into righteousness and love for Christ?

Even the best of Christians doesn’t love Jesus perfectly, but there is a love there. And when we sin, it grieves us to know that we have grieved our Father and our Lord. That conviction we feel is evidence of God’s work in us, and it’s intended to move us into a closer walk with Christ. The heart of a Christian is to say: “I want to love God more. I want to hate sin more.”

And over the course of our lives, God moves us in that direction. That’s called sanctification. Christian maturity is not simply a change on the outside; it’s a change in our hearts. The God-honoring desires are growing.

So, when David talks about his own righteousness and his own blamelessness, we should evaluate our own lives to see if that who we are too. Is that the direction of my life? Am I seeking to be faithful to God? If it is, I belong to Christ, and He will rescue me. If it isn’t, I can repent, and call out for mercy, and Jesus will hear me.

There’s one final application I want to share for a passage like this. We should praise God because He’ll rescue and reward us. We should evaluate our lives to see if we are truly saved. And thirdly, we should commit ourselves to walking in righteousness. We should commit ourselves to walking in righteousness, no matter how difficult the circumstances around us.

Even in the most severe seasons of suffering, we are still called to pursue righteousness as we trust in God’s salvation. That’s the example we get from David’s life. He persevered. We have so many other biblical and modern examples of people giving in to sin when life gets hard. But in this case, David didn’t.

At one point, David had an opportunity to kill Saul, and his men were telling him to do it. But he wouldn’t go through with it. He maintained his righteousness. He stayed faithful to God’s law, even when everyone else around him would have given him a pass.

And greater than David’s example was Jesus’ example when He was being mocked and killed. First Peter 2:22 says that Jesus “committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Jesus wasn’t just trying really hard not to retaliate. He was worshiping in those moments. He was entrusting Himself to His Father who judges justly. That’s the example we’re called to follow. We need to train ourselves to respond to God and not to this world.

Right now, honoring God is going to mean showing love and consideration to others instead of responding out of selfishness or greed or fear. And that doesn’t just apply to how you treat people in the grocery store. That even applies to the people in your own home.

A lot of us are stuck with one another all day. And over time, that can bring some tension. People get cranky and grumpy. And rather than have a home of love and righteousness, we get a home of bitterness and bickering.

Fight that temptation. Look each other in the eye, commit to a forgiving heart, and then commit together to doing things God’s way, not your own. Let’s walk together in righteousness, in confession, in repentance, and in mutual love. That’s how we honor God through all this.

If you’re in a financial crisis, honoring God will mean maintaining your integrity as you trust in Him. Don’t stray from God’s path in order to protect yourself. Honor the Lord, and He will provide. He will take care of you. He’ll use circumstances, and He’ll use the church to show you His merciful, gracious love.

Our pursuit of godliness and integrity is a direct result of our faith in  a God who rewards. A lot of you know this verse already, Hebrews 11:6—

Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Genuine, saving faith isn’t just believing God exists; it’s trusting that He will reward us as we seek to know Him and serve Him, no matter how difficult the circumstance.

Later on in Hebrews 11, it gives us Moses as an example. “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” God is our great Rewarder, and He calls us to trust in Him. Let’s pray.

Father, again we’re grateful for reminders like these. Your word is so rich and so applicable in every season of life. We’re grateful for this opportunity to study it together and to be sharpened by it.

We praise you, Lord, because You are perfectly faithful. You will fulfill every single promise You have made to Your people. The faithfulness You showed to David and through Christ is the same faithfulness You show to us.

We pray, Lord, that you would work in the lives of those who don’t truly know You. Open their heart to the reality of their sin and the truth of Your sovereign, saving grace in Jesus Christ.

What a mystery and what a gift that God would come in human flesh to die for us sinners. None of us is worthy of it, but You are merciful and gracious. You are slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.  You never abandon Your promises. You never abandon Your people.

Help us walk in righteousness. Help us encourage one another to fight the good fight of faith. Help us trust in You when faced with temptation. May our hope and confidence in Your great rewards help us combat the false promises of sin. May we walk in the light You have given us.

We love you. We hope in You. And we pray that our lives would continue to be used for Your glory and the advancement of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, Amen.

I love you guys. I pray you have a great week. Hopefully we’ll get to see each other tonight at the prayer meeting and eventually, one day, face-to-face. God bless you!

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