Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Forget Not God's Benefits

I love the brutal honesty of the psalmists who often examined themselves and presented what they found to God. I think more of us could use a bit of that in our closet time with God. Too bad we are so busy that we rarely even reflect on our own condition. Consider Psalm 73 for just a few moments. The psalmist starts off with:

Surely God is good to Israel,    to those who are pure in heart. (v. 1)

A great way to start a psalm of praise; lift up the one you are praising. However, he then interjects a "but":

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; 
   I had nearly lost my foothold. 
For I envied the arrogant 
   when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (vv. 2-3)

It would appear that our psalmist friend allowed envy to play a mind job on him. He knew God, had a relationship with him but he expected to have some advantage from this relationship that was not working out for him. He puts into words perhaps that which a few of us can identify with:

This is what the wicked are like—
   always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
   in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been plagued;
   I have been punished every morning.
(vv. 12-14)

Have you ever been there, wondering why you are putting such limitations on yourself when those without God seem to have such an easy time of it? Have you ever thought of giving up simply because there didn't seem to be any benefit, any difference between you, who pray faithfully, and those who give God the finger? Don't be afraid to be honest about it because if we are not honest the matter can't be settled to our advantage.

The best thing to do when you have thoughts, feelings, doubts of any nature is to take it before the Lord. I don't mean in a rushed manner. I mean sitting in his presence, listening for him to respond to your honesty:

When I tried to understand all this, 
   it was oppressive to me 
till I entered the sanctuary of God; 
   then I understood their final destiny. (vv. 16-17)

My spirit stands up every time I read that one line "till I entered the sanctuary of God" ; till I came into the presence of God ; till I took to my God my condition ; till I presented my troubled heart in all honesty to my God. That's when things happen. That's when we are given eyes to see and understanding for our heart:

Surely you place them on slippery ground; 
   you cast them down to ruin. 
How suddenly are they destroyed, 
   completely swept away by terrors! 
As a dream when one awakes, 
   so when you arise, O Lord, 
   you will despise them as fantasies. (vv. 18-20)

We must understand that our old nature is always waiting to re-assert itself on us and when we give permission for something like envy to enter in we allow the Spirit to be handcuffed. We start taking on the nature of the brute beast again:

When my heart was grieved 
   and my spirit embittered, 
I was senseless and ignorant; 
   I was a brute beast before you. (vv. 21-22)

The longer we remain away from God the worse our condition but when we enter his "sanctuary", come into his presence, allow him to speak to us, to touch our heart again, we realize the truth of the matter. There is wonderful advantage in our relationship with God and it is difficult to count all the benefits. The arrogant may look okay today but a time is coming when we will be glad we stuck with our Lord Jesus:

Yet I am always with you; 
   you hold me by my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
   and afterward you will take me into glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
   And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
   but God is the strength of my heart 
   and my portion forever. (vv. 23-26)

Such an overwhelming beautiful truth that my spirit leaps, shouts and dances on the rooftop. The arrogant have nothing on us. My cup is full and overflowing. My joy is not tied to anything on this earth. I have a peace that goes beyond anyone's understanding. The wisdom of this place pales in comparison to the wisdom of my God. I have all that I need in Jesus. God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. My friend, trust the Lord, he will see you through.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Philip said...

I love your thoughts this morning. I left my Bible at the office last night, so I'm not able to have my regular devotions, so thank you for unpacking one of my favorite Psalms. My spirit leaps with yours, and I'm so excited that I get to dwell in God's presence "all the days of my life." It's simply amazing!

Feel free to comment on my blog anytime you want. I think people are afraid :).

Ashley Ormon said...

Another encouraging article by you. God has really blessed you with a gift to minister to others. I will be visiting your blog more frequently. God bless.