Discipline Of Darkness
I want you to take God's precious holy word, open if you will please to Isaiah chapter fifty, and then look up here for just a moment., Isaiah chapter fifty. And if you ever paid attention to a message I want you to pay attention to this one because this message is going to deal with something that is going to happen to you if it has not already happened to you. One of these days you are going to find yourself plunged into dark, dark, dark despair. You're going to be perplexed. You're going to have problems and confusion and all of your little formulas and all of your little outlines and all of the little things that you've counted on before are not going to work. And you're not going to understand what God is up to. It will be so dark in your life, you won't even be able to see your hand before your face. You can get to the wall as close as you want and you won't even be able to tell what color it is . You are going into what some of the old theologians use to call a dark night of the soul. And you'll wonder what has happened. You wonder if God died or if you've lost your mind or if maybe the whole things is just a fairy tale, maybe there's nothing to it, you'll say what on earth happened. You'll get out all of those sermon outlines brother Rogers preached and none of them make sense and nothing will work and you will almost be at the point of despair. You'll think that God has forsaken you. I want to speak to you to day on the DISCIPLINE OF DARKNESS, THE DISCIPLINE OF DARKNESS. Take your bibles please and look with me in Isaiah fifty, beginning in verse ten. "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness," underscore that, "that walketh in darkness and hath no light?" That is, not even a pinpoint of light, not even a ray of light and hath no light. "Let him trust in the name of the Lord and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks that ye have kindled, this shall ye have of mine hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow." I want to speak to you first of all about the possibility of darkness in the life of a Christian. The possibility of darkness in the life of a Christian. I want to say that darkness is not unusual in the life of a Christian. It is not unusual and I'm not talking about people who are living in sin. I'm talking about people who fear God. I'm not talking about people who are disobedient. I'm talking about people who obey the voice of God's servants. And they have no light. They walk in darkness. You read the biography of the saints and almost everyone of them will tell about some dark night of the soul when they were so perplexed and in such despair they almost wondered if God had forsaken them. You can read it in the bible, the book of Job, the same thing happened to Job. Job was in darkness and Job said in Job nineteen, he maketh my path darkness. I just don't seem to be able to understand and Job would just ask him why oh God. God, you owe me some answers. As a pastor so many times people come to me and they say pastor, tell me why. And folks, I can't tell them why because I don't know why. You know people feel like they can, they can almost anything if they can just understand why. Why is this happening. And interesting thing, when you read the book of Job, you read it all the way through God never did tell Job. I mean, at the end, Job never did understand what it was all about. God just didn't reveal it to him. Read the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a great prophet. He loved God. He was a man that had tremendous insights and there was a time that Habakkuk was in such darkness, he said oh God, how long am I going to have to ask you and you don't answer me. Habakkuk was in darkness. Read in the new testament about John the Baptist. Jesus said there wasn't a greater born of woman than John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a mighty preacher. He stood on the banks of Jordan and preached with a rippling brook for a choir and a pulpit for a rock, He ate honey but he didn't preach it. And yet that same John the Baptist was taken and put in prison and in a dark, dismal, damp prison. This outdoors man, rotting away there in that jail. He got into such darkness, such perplexity, such despair, that he sent some of his disciples and said, you go ask Jesus if he's the Messiah. I mean, he's the one who said behold the lamb of God, said go ask him if he's really the Messiah. John couldn't understand it. What has gone wrong? If Jesus Christ can work miracles why can't he get me out of this jail? John had preached the victorious Christ, now here is John following Jesus in jail. Even the apostle Paul, the apostle Paul, I suppose, the mightiest theologian, the grandest apostle, the finest missionary that ever lived. He wrote there in the book of Corinthians that he was perplexed. Do you know what that word perplexed means? I just don't understand. Didn't you always like to think of Paul as always knowing everything I mean, you know, just, he said I'm perplexed, I am literally perplexed. So, folks, what I'm trying to tell you is that if you get perplexed, if you get in trouble, if you get in darkness, you are in pretty good company. And it doesn't mean that there's necessarily sin in your life because our verse of scripture talks about someone who fears the Lord and who is obeying the voice of God's servant and yet he has no light and he walks in darkness. It is not unusual. I'll tell you something else, it is not unfruitful.. God knows what he's doing. There's a purpose in it. The fruit of the spirit ripens in the darkness. You're going to find out that God is up to something in your life. Did you know that there's some things that you can only see in the dark. Now, there's some things you can only see in the light, but there's some things you can only see in the dark. You can only see the stars in the dark. We say the stars come out at night. UH, not so, haha, they're there all the time, but you don't see them until it gets dark you see those stars nestled in that canopy of faith, like a chandelier of diamond and you see the moon snuggling upon the lapel of the night like a gardenia. But you wouldn't see all of that unless it were dark. I've never experimented to see if this is true, but I've read somewhere that if you get in a deep well and look up even in daytime, you can see the stars shining because you're in the darkness and if you get down deep enough and dark enough even in the daytime you can see the stars shining. Somebody wrote a book T think called the view from the bottom of the well. Ha hah, and most of us don't want to be there so we can see if it's true, but, but uh, if you look up out of a well, so they say, you can see the stars shining. What I'm saying is folks, there's some things that you can only see in the darkness. I'm going to tell you something else. There's some things that you will see better after you've been in the darkness when you get in the light. There's something about the darkness that sharpens your spiritual eyesight. I heard of an artist who painted a painting, a very beautiful painting. lie called a friend over, he said I want you to see my painting. When the friend came over, he took that friend, and put that friend in a room, shut the door, pulled down the blinds and had his friend to sit in darkness for fifteen minutes. Then he said come, I want you to see my painting. He said why did you have me to sit in the darkness for a quarter of an hour. He said because you had too much of the glare of the street in your eyes. And he said had you seen my painting. with the glare of the street in your eyes you would not have been able to appreciate the subtlety of it's colors. I wonder if there's some of us who have not been dazzled with so much by this world and the glitter of this world and the glare of this world and the brightness of this world that sometimes God just puts in darkness and let's us sit in darkness so when the light comes again we can appreciate the variegated colors of God's grace. I want to tell you something about darkness folks. It is not unusual. I want to tell you something about darkness. It is not unfruitful. I'll tell you something else about darkness. It is not unending. You will come out of it. You will come out of and you'll come out of it a better person. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. The same sun that sets is the sun that rises again and God will indeed lighten the paths of his saints and God, one of these days, and I'm talking to somebody right now, doubtless, there's somebody listening on television, somebody in a hospital room right now, somebody in a home that is filled with sorrow, somebody listening by radio, perhaps you're driving through our city in an automobile, perhaps there's somebody here in this place and there's such darkness in your life, I want to tell you my dear friend, you do what this verse of scripture tells you in just a moment and our God, our dear Lord Jesus Christ, one of these days is going to take the shades of darkness and pin them back with a star and open the door of the morning and flood your world with his glory and with his life. Not now, perhaps, in the later years, perhaps in a better land, we'll know the meaning of our tears and some day we'll understand. Listen folks, let me tell you something. Just because it doesn't make sense to you now doesn't mean it doesn't make sense. And just because it doesn't make sense to you now doesn't mean it will not make sense someday. I am telling you, dear friend, there's the possibility of darkness in your and when you understand Isaiah chapter fifty, verses ten and eleven, you can understand that it is not unusual, it is not unfruitful, it is not unending, second thing, not only do I want to speak to you about the possibility of darkness, but I want to speak to you about the procedures in darkness. Now, literally, what he wrote these two verses for was to tell you what to do when darkness comes and if you're a child of God I'm just going to assume it's going to come to you. He tells you the procedure. By the way, the test of your character is how you behave in the dark. Hmh. That's the test of your character, how you behave not in the light, but how you behave in the dark. What should you do when the lights go out, that's what we're talking about, what should you do when the lights go out. Now, Isaiah tells us there are three things that you ought to do when the lights go out. All right number one, you are to look to the Lord. Now, look again in verse ten here in this passage of scripture. "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyed the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and bath no light?" Underscore this phrase. "Let him trust in the name of the Lord." Let him trust in the name of the Lord. Just look to the Lord. You see, you don't have to know why. Why is not your question. Why is God's question. how is your question. Why is why it happened, how is how you're going to react to it. That's your question, you just trust God. Warren Wiersbe said this, we don't live by explanation, we live by promises. I like that. We don't live by explanation. We live by promises. You see, God is under no obligation to explain himself to us and even if he did many times we wouldn't' be able to understand it, would we because he says my faults are not your faults, neither your ways my ways as the heavens are high above the earth so are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. So, God doesn't have to explain himself to us. We do not live by explanation, we live by promises and so, what you do, you just simply trust in the Lord. It's just that simple, you look to him. It doesn't have to make sense. Thomas Watson, an old Puritan said where reason cannot wade, faith must win. Where reason cannot wade , then faith must win. Just trust God, I mean, just get a promise of God and stand on it. Friend, you don't have to understand it to stand on it. You don't have to understand it. Just trust God. You find yourself in darkness, you don't know what to do, trust God. Let him trust the name of the Lord. This is the highest pinnacle of faith. Faith doesn't come when you can see away clear, faith comes; when you don't see your way clear, when you don't understand, where it doesn't make sense. And you finally come to the place that Job came to. Do you know where Job came to Bob? Of course you do. Job came to the place where he said though he slay me yet will I trust him. See, look, look to the lord. Just look to the lord. Don't look to any experience, don't look to any explanation, we do not live on explanations, we live on promises. So, number one, when you find yourself in a dark night of the soul, look to the Lord. Number two, oh by the way, let me say something here. What is the sign that your looking to the Lord? You know what it is? Do you know what the sign that you trust is? That you obey. That's the sign that you're trusting, that you obey. Trust and obey, for there's no other way. When you trust the Lord, listen, when you, so many people when they get perplexed, do you know what they do? They just stop serving God until everything gets all straightened out again. No, my friend, you just keep on serving God, keep on praying. You say, well, I don't feel like praying. Well, pray anyway. Pray till you feel like it pray when you don't feel like it, pray when you do feel like it and pray until you feel like it, just keep on praying. You say, well, my prayers are so dry. They don't have to be juicy. Just pray. God doesn't hear your prayers because of your emotions. Don't come to God with your hands filled with the brass of your emotions. Come to him with both hands filled with the incense of his worth and even when you don't understand it, just keep praying. Keep giving You say, well, I gave a big gift to victory in Jesus and I lost my job. OK, what should you do? Keep giving, keep giving. You say I don't understand. It doesn't make any difference. If it's right, you give, just keep on giving. Some of you wives, you went to this women's conference and they told you in one of these seminars somewhere that if you've got a mean, unsaved husband, what you're to do is to submit to that husband and if you submit to that husband, God's going to work on that husband. That husband' going to get saved and all that and you submit to him and he's getting meaner than the Hatalota Commenae it doesn't seem to be working. What should you do? Keep submitting. You say, well, I've been told that, that if you have trouble you just praise your way to victory. Isn't that what you say brother Rogers? Right. ,Well, I've been praising and it's getting worse. What should I do? Keep praising. 'Friend, you keep witnessing, you keep praising, you keep praying, you keep obeying, you keep giving, you keep walking for the Lord, just trust in the Lord, it doesn't make any difference whether you understand it or not, it doesn't make any difference whether it makes sense to you or not, when you're in darkness and you have no light, let him trust in the name of the Lord. Number one, then you look to the Lord. Number two, you lean on the Lord. Look again if you will in verse ten. "Let him trust in the name of the Lord and stay upon his God." Do you see that? And stay upon his God. Now, that word stay is an interesting word. It is the root of the word for staff, as in Psalm twenty three, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Now, what was a staff? A staff was something that the shepherd leaned on, it supported him. Can you imagine a shepherd in a dark valley leaning on his staff to keep him from falling. Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for they rod and thy staff, they comfort me. A staff is something to lean on to give you comfort in a dark valley. When this, the scripture says let him stay upon his God what it literally means is let him lean upon that God for support. Let him lean upon that God. Lean on thelord. Look. Look to the Lord and lean on the Lord. You see, God puts you in darkness that you might learn to lean. God is not, listen folks, God is not in the business of giving you reason, it is not reason, it is relationship. God is bringing you to himself And they're times when he'll take everything else away from you so that the only thing that you'll have is him. God wants you to learn to lean upon him. That's what it'sall about. So, you're to lean on the Lord, not lean on some sermon, not lean on some truth, not lean on some formula, not lean on some procedure, not lean on your health, not lean on your bank account, not lean on anything, all you've got is the Lord. Listen to me. I preached a sermon about maybe a year and a half ago on this title is God enough? From the book of Job and I showed you dear friend, from the book of Job that not only is God necessary, God is enough. Now, we all know God is necessary, right? We all need God, but how many of us know God is enough. For example, where are you getting your joy this morning. I say do you have Joy? You say Yes. Where do you get your joy? Well, I'm getting my joy from the Lord. How are you so sure? Maybe you're getting your joy from your health. Well, one way we could find out would be to take away your health and see if you still had your joy, right? And if you still had your joy, then you know that your not getting your joy from your health. Where are you getting your joy? Well, from the Lord. How do you know your not getting it from your family? Take away your family and see if you still have that joy. How do you know your not getting your joy from your business, your wealth? How do you know your not getting your joy from your reputation and your friends? Listen friend, it may be that you'll never know that Jesus is enough until Jesus is all you have. See. That's what God did to Job. I mean, God just took it all away. God took away his health. God took away his wealth. God took away his family. God took it away, all of it, and yet, Job still had the Lord and he trusted in the Lord and he said though he slay me, yet will I trust him and he saw the Lord Jesus by the eye of faith. Now, God sometimes brings us to the place where he brought Job not only to show us that God is necessary, but that God is enough and we learn to lean on the Lord. Just simply lean on the Lord. It is not why, it is whom that counts. It is not reason, it is relationship. It is not explanation, it is promises and we come sometimes to the place where the Lord is all that we have and, and we're like ole Jacob and say, Lord, I'll not let you go, lest you bless me. And if you don't get in the darkness with Jesus alone, sometime , you probably don't know him as well as you know him. And I'll tell you dear friend, the darkness may come and darkness may hide, but it can't divide. Jesus is there in the darkness standing somewhere in the shadows, you'll find Jesus and you will come to know him and understand him and trust him not from philosophy, not some outline, not some principle, him, alone. Maybe you haven't even come to place yet where God can trust you with a dark hour of the soul. And I'll tell you when you do, you'll come out on the other side if I understand the bible. Number one, listen, listen to me, look to the Lord, trust in him. Number two, lean on the Lord. Number three, leave it with the Lord. Look in verse eleven now. "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of the fire that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow." Leave it with the Lord. Don't light your own fire. Don't light your own fire. If you light your own fire, you're going to lie down in sorrow. Now, what happens to a lot of people, they find themselves in darkness and when they find themselves in darkness, their motto is well let's do something even if it's wrong. Right? And so, they launch out in the strength and the energy of the flesh not waiting upon God and with callous and profane hands, they take things into their hands and they do things and they're acting ways that God has not told them to act and they do not have the witness of the Spirit, they do not have the leadership of the Spirit and they blow the whole thing. They light their own fire. Now, you shouldn't do that because I want to tell you, number one, the darkness is ordained of God. You need to learn something about darkness friend. Darkness is the absence of light. And you see, there cannot be darkness unless the light is taken away. You can't go into a room and turn on the dark. You can only go into a room and turn on the light andif the light is there, you can't flick a switch and turn on the dark. All you can do is flick the switch and turn off the light, isn't that right? You see, the darkness never chases the light away. The light always chases the darkness away. When night comes this evening it will not have chased the day away. The day just simply retreated, the sun went down. It is when the sun comes up that it will chase the light away. The darkness always flees before the light, the light never flees before the darkness because the light is invincible against the darkness, therefore, if God is light, and he is, and you are fearing him and obeying him according to Isaiah fifty verse ten and there is no light for you it is because God has ordained there be no light for you. Not because something went wrong, it is not because the darkness overcame the light, it is because God in his sovereign plan has withdrawn the light and that is a plan of God because God is putting you through something that I've chosen to call in this message the discipline of darkness, but if you're not careful you'll try to help God out and you'll light your own fire. I want to tell you something about lighting your own fire., man made light is always the deceptive. It's like looking at a sun dial with a flashlight so I can tell what time it is. You see, the sun dial is meant to register the time by heaven's light, not by some flashlight and a lot of folks today just walking in the spark of the fire that they kindled and they, they go off to some worldly philosophy or some idea, some strategy, something that's not of God because they're in darkness and rather than, than looking to the lord and rather than leaning on the Lord, they just go out and light their own fire. And they're going to find themselves in difficulty., You can study the bible and find people who did that same thing. For example, Abraham, Abraham was a friend of God, a man of faith. He loved God, he feared God, obeyed God. God gave Abraham a promise and God said Abraham, I'm going to make a covenant with you and Abraham, I'm going to bless all of the world through your decendants. I'm going to give you a son while you're an old man. A son of promise, a son a covenant, blessing son, I'm going to give you. And Abraham was in the light when God gave him that promise. And then God himself put Abraham in darkness. That is, God didn't seem to be in any hurry about it. Abraham couldn't understand, why doesn't God do something. Abraham was plunged into darkness and into despair and that darkness and that despair was of God because God was testing Abraham, God was proving Abraham and God was working on his on timetables and remember what I said. That with God timing is more important that time. But now Abraham decides he's going to take things in his own hands and Abraham decides he's going to light his own fire and so, he produces a son, not with his wife Sarah, but with his handmaiden, Hagar and he produced an Ishmael and to this day the sons of Abraham are lying down in sorrow because of that. The works of his flesh. Rather than waiting on God he lit his own fire and made himself to lie down in sorrow. He could not trust God, he could not wait on God, he could not look to the Lord and lean on the Lord and leave it with the Lord. What about Moses? God said to Moses, Moses, I want you deliver my people from the land of bondage, from the land of Egypt. You are going tobe my commander in chief and you're go obey me. And then Moses got a little antsy about it, got a little nervous about it, couldn't understand why God was so slow and Moses took things into his own hands. He lit his own fire. What he did if you remember the story, he killed an Egyptian, murdered him. Moses, who was meant to be a missionary ended up a murderer, spent forty years in a back side of the desert after that every night lying down in sorrow because he couldn't leave things with God, couldn't leave it with the Lord. He had to take it into his own hands, he had to try to make it happen before God. You can read the same thing about Simon Peter, cut off the ear of the high priest. Jesus had told Simon Peter that he was going to the cross, he was going to suffer, he was going to bleed, die, be buried, raise again the third day, he had told people all of this, but now here's Jesus. It looks like the tide has turned. Peter can't understand everything. There the soldiers in the garden of Gethsemane add so Peter pulls out his sword, cuts off the ear of the high priest, trying to light his own fire. What a mess he made. What a mess he made. Friend, listen to me, when the darkness comes it is not unusual, it is not unfruitful, it is not unending, when it comes look to the lord, when it comes lean on the Lord, when it comes, leave it with the Lord. Have faith in God, he'll answer you. Not only is He necessary, He's enough. Years ago I heard a story and I'm not certain if I have all of the details to correct, but something like this. A father and a little girl had come from the funeral home. The father had left there in the cold ground his beautiful wife. The little girl had left mommy dearest there in that cold ground. They came home that night to that empty house, so much more empty than ever before because it didn't have the heartbeat of a mother there. The little girl had a bedroom off and the father went to his bed, cold and empty. And the little girl in her lonely room said daddy, daddy, can I sleep with you tonight. The dad says yes, darling. Together that little girl and her daddy got in bed, they turned out the light, the little girl said daddy, it sure is dark. Daddy, I believe this is the darkest night that I've ever seen. It's so dark daddy. Her daddy said yes, sweetheart, it's the darkest night daddy's ever seen. Then she said daddy, I can't even see you, daddy is your face toward me? He said yes, precious, daddy's face is towards you and she said daddy, you can love through the dark can't you daddy? He said yes precious, daddy can love you right through the dark, daddy does love you and honey, go to sleep. And with that assurance she went to sleep. And that big ole man slipped out of bed, got down on his knees and he began to pray. And he said oh God, God, it's dark. I don't believe I've ever seen it so dark. And the father said yes, son, it's dark. Father, he said is your face toward me. And the father said yes son, my face is toward you. He said father, you can love me through the dark, can't you? He said yes, my child, I do love you no matter how dark it is I love you. And a big man stood up and got back in bed and went to sleep. And I want to tell some of you and some of you who are watching on television, the most important thing for you to know is that God's face is towards you. He loves you through the dark and that darkness can hide, but it cannot divide. You look to the Lord, you lean on the Lord, you leave it with the Lord. Let's pray.