Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday 04-26-11

Psalms 73

I found a new favorite Psalm today. While reading this chapter I felt as if the Psalmist was somehow spying on my innermost thoughts and feelings. However Asaph's been dead thousands of years, so I sincerely doubt he's been stalking me. That said, I want to walk through the Psalm just briefly. 

But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. - Psalms 73:2-3

I can relate, so much so. Who does not have those around them that don't love God, yet seem to have their fill of things of this world. I have been fooled by the prosperity of the ungodly. It seems so alluring, so quick to fulfill all my desires. And so, I come close to stumbling and have launched myself recklessly into the pursuit of quenching my every desire; sinful or not.

Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence. - Psalms 73:12-13

Perhaps you've been there as well. The thoughts overwhelm your mind "if only I have this I can be happy" "God I will be content in you if you give me this" "this is what I want.. no this is what I need.. to be satisfied." Perhaps we demand of God a good thing like marriage, when instead we ought to cry out to Him that His will be done and not ours. Or perhaps the very thing we want is completely wrong, such as pornography. In either case our object of worship is no longer the Creator but rather the created. And suddenly we feel justified in our desire because the wicked have such things and they seem happy enough. So quick are we, rather I should say so quick am I to forget God's goodness towards me.. but let's keep going.

When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight. Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! - Psalms 73:16-19

Here Asaph is thinking about how the wicked pursue their every desire and seem happy enough. Until, until he gets his spiritual eyes refocused. Refocused upon God's word, then he realizes that the wicked will perish, that they do not have a future.. only destruction. In that moment where we would abandon uprightness for folly it is very crucial to stop, and think about what our actions/thoughts/attitudes are conveying about Jesus and His satisfying our soul. We ought to cry out to God to bring conviction and godly sorrow leading to repentance and new life.

Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. - Psalms 73:22-24

I believe here we have a right view of repentance. A realization and brokenness that we where wrong and openly rebelled against God. Such a god-given realization should then lead us to the cross not to self-pity. Here we see that the conviction which Asaph underwent brought Him right back to God. Asaph proclaims that God has not deserted him but rather is guiding him in uprightness. We also see a hope for eternity "afterward [you will] receive me to glory". 

My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. - Psalms 73:26-28

Asaph realizes that he is feeble and that he may fall prey to deception again. He does not boast himself as having overcome all sin and temptation. Rather he delights himself in God. He recognizes that those who pursue what is sin will perish. He proclaims that having God as his 'nearness' or God being his prized treasure is his good. And the last thing we see is that He has made God his refuge or rock that He might also tell others about the goodness of God.

Father, I confess that I have been jealous of the wicked in many ways. I have seen their 'happiness' and desired what they have pursued. But Father by your grace, I realize now that those pursuit's are vain and fruitless. Not only are they vain but they are destructive. Lord, by the power of Jesus Christ I turn from pursuing death to pursuing life in you. Father although my flesh and heart are weak and may fail me. I thank you that I cannot lose the greatest treasure of all... Jesus Christ. Help me Father to trust in you and not believe the many deceptions of this world. Let me proclaim your works to the nations, that they might also rejoice and find joy in you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday 04-20-11

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4 (NASB)

I recently memorized these verses with some friends. When we recite them we normally discuss our thoughts on the verses, how they encouraged and convicted us. Per usual I drag on and on, trying to get across simple things that take me a long time. All that to say, these verses are very straight forward and I would encourage anyone to memorize them.

These verses have become a great encouragement to me over the past couple weeks. Sort of my new "fighter verses". Here's what I've been thinking regarding these verses. God brings trials and temptations so that I would not draw my joy, fulfillment or satisfaction from this world. Because God is sovereign I can trust that any 'testing of my faith' is for my ultimate good.

The testing of my faith according to verse three produces endurance. Endurance in self-control when tempted to sin. Endurance in kindness when others are mocking or belittling me for my faith in Christ. Endurance in pursuing Christ as my joy when I under go depressing times. Endurance in serving when it is most difficult to humble myself and serve others. Endurance in trusting God that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

Enduring such difficult situations by the grace of God will in return produce a life change. A life change so that in the end we will be perfect and complete, finding complete satisfaction in God Himself, not buying into the deception of the world.

I believe if we are honest we each desire the last part of being "perfect and complete, lacking nothing." If one is in Christ there ought to be a great desire to be like Him, to not be molded by this world. That said, how well am I doing at enduring the testing of my faith? Is it producing endurance which produces a life change? How about you? Can we honestly say that we are taking joy in the current testing of our faith, knowing that God is wanting to use it to produce an eternal work in each of our hearts? Before I close, I want to make it clear it is not by my work that I am able to endure and make these changes. I get to "act the miracle" of God's grace towards me (Cor 15:10 and Phil 2:12-13).

Father, test my faith that I would become more like you. Not because I have such a great faith, but rather because the object of my faith.. Jesus Christ is great. It is by His grace that I can endure to the end. Keep the deceptions of this world far from me Father, give me contentment in you.