************ Funeral Sermon on Psalm 27:4 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on January 30, 2015

Psalm 27:4
"One Thing I Ask of the Lord"
Bill Billman funeral

November 2011. It was the last Sunday of existence of Immanuel URC in Hanford. William Lester Billman stood up before God and His people and, in response to the questions of Rev Brad Lenzner, professed faith in Christ and joined the church. Bill attended the evening worship that Sunday but insisted on going home right after the service because he was not feeling well; he even made Janice drive. In the next couple of days he was diagnosed with the cancer that eventually took his life.

Bill's favorite Bible passage during all of this was Psalm 27. I read it to him two Fridays ago. I read it to the family this past Saturday. And in this service I read it again.

What is the message of Psalm 27? It is the message said by Michelle in the biography I read a short while ago. Let me quote:
He loved the Lord and was growing in his faith. He was not scared of death and held on to the promise of eternal life through Jesus.
Whether Michelle realized it or not, that's the message of Psalm 27:
(Ps 27:1) The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?

The heading of the psalm informs us that it was written by David. David had many fearful things in his life. He faced a lion and a bear wanting to attack his sheep. He faced a giant by the name of Goliath. More than once King Saul hurled a spear at David but David eluded him. David was forced to part company from his good friend Jonathan. David fled for his life and was without food and weapons. David was hunted by King Saul like a man hunts for a deer. David lived among the Philistines. David faced enemies and armies. David's infant son died. David's sons rebelled against him. David was betrayed by a close friend. David attempted to move the ark of the covenant and a priest was killed by the Lord. David's wife Michal despised him.

Bill Billman faced many fearful things in his life as well. As a boy, he and his siblings were raised by aunts and uncles. When he was put in the care of his father again he ran away from home on more than one occasion. To get away from a bad situation he finally joined the navy; he never said much about it but I am sure he saw all sorts of scary stuff when he was serving his country. Then he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent surgery; that was scary. He was diagnosed with cancer again right after he professed his faith.

Now, in all of his troubles and trials David says, "One thing I ask of the Lord ..." (Ps 27:4). You would think David would pray to God for victory over enemies, or peace in his kingdom, or an end to trouble. "One thing I ask of the Lord ..." (Ps 27:4).

If you could ask only one thing of God, what would you ask for? Over the years I have heard about some unbelievable things. I heard of a woman who prays her daughter will be the home-coming queen. A man prays for his football team to win. A highschool student prays he may get a girlfriend. A boy prays for the latest video game. A businessman prays for a big contract. A woman prays for grandchildren. These are selfish prayers. These are prayers that revolve around me – my wants, my needs, my desires, and my dreams. I pray selfishly when I focus primarily on what I want from God rather than what He wants for me. And I pray selfishly when I focus on what I want at the expense of what others may want or need.

David says, "One thing I ask of the Lord ..." (Ps 27:4). Listen to David's one request:
(Ps 27:4) One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Why is this David's one request? Because the most important thing in David's life is not victory over enemies or peace in his kingdom or an end to troubles. The most important thing in David's life is not health and wealth and strength. The most important thing in David's life is his relationship with God.

"One thing I ask of the Lord ..." (Ps 27:4). Here we see David's greatest fear. David's greatest fear was losing fellowship with God. David's greatest fear was not living with the Lord all the days of his life (cf vs 4). David's greatest fear was not seeing the face of God (cf vs 8 & 9). David's greatest fear was being rejected by the Lord even as the Lord rejected King Saul before him (cf vs 10). The thought of losing fellowship with God brought anguish to David's soul: "Do not hide your face from me ... Do not reject me or forsake me ..." (Ps 27:9). Even one moment without God is worse than anything else than can possibly happen. David is passionate about his relationship with God. That much is obvious.

"On thing I ask of the Lord ..." (Ps 27:4). David wants to spend time with God. David wants to be in God's house.

"One thing I ask of the Lord ..." (Ps 27:4). Bill's brother called one Sunday morning and Janice told him they were in church and couldn't talk. He wondered how that was possible because he had called and she had answered the home phone. Bill and Janice were in worship with God's people of Trinity URC by means of LiveStream. Bill couldn't make it to Visalia anymore but worship was still important to him. His relationship with God and Christ was very important to him.

Lest you get the wrong impression, let me hasten to add that Bill knew he was a sinner. He knew he needed the Savior. He knew he couldn't save himself.

"One thing I ask of the Lord ..." (Ps 27:4). At the time of David it was the priests who got to dwell in the house of the Lord. David wished he had been one of them. It was his desire to constantly attend the service of God. He longed to see an end to the wars in which he was engaged (Ps 27:6), not that he might live at ease in his own palace, but that he might have the leisure and liberty to attend God's courts. Note, all God's children should desire to dwell in God's house. Not to stay there only for an hour or a night, but to dwell there all the days of their life; for there the Son abides ever.

"One thing I ask of the Lord ..." (Ps 27:4). David asks to dwell in God's house, not to be entertained, not for the music and good singing, not for the feasts and sacrifices. David asks to dwell in God's house "to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord" (Ps 27:4).

Meaning what? Meaning God was his heart's desire. Meaning he wanted to meditate upon God and His perfections, His holiness, His righteousness, His mercy, His grace, His light, His salvation. That's what David wanted to do. David is like Martha in the New Testament who sat at Jesus' feet to hear His Word.
(Ps 27:4) One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

For Bill Billman this prayer has now been answered. By the grace of Jesus He is in God's heavenly throne room. He is seeing the beauty of the Lord in a way that is not possible in this life and on this earth and in this body. It is the apostle John who best describes what the souls in heaven see:
(Rev 4:2-6) ... before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. (3) And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. (4) Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. (5) From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. (6) Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.
Do you get a sense of the majesty and glory of God and His throne? Do you see how awesome is God? Do you see the beauty of God? This is Bill's experience right now as one of the Lord's saints, as one who confessed faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

So far we have seen David's troubles and fears. We have heard his one request. We have seen the importance of his relationship with God. We have seen the beauty of the Lord. All along I have included Bill.

But let me now turn from David and Bill to you.

"One thing I ask of the Lord ..." (Ps 27:4). Is this your prayer? Is this your heart's desire? Do you want a relationship with God in Christ more than anything else in life?

When this happens, you can say with David – and with Bill – the words of verse 1:
(Ps 27:1) The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?
Once you have Jesus in your life, nothing else matters anymore. Once you have met the Lord, you have no reason to fear death or cancer or enemies. Once the Lord is in your life you are safe and secure forever.

I urge you, dear people, to learn the lesson of David and Bill. Come to the Lord Jesus. Dwell in His house. Gaze upon His beauty. Seek Him in the day of trouble. And, He will keep you safe in His dwelling.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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