Psalm 73 describes how the confused man becomes the confident man. In v1 Asaph states how God is good to Israel. he then goes on to outline his confusion as regards to the apparent blessings of the wicked in vv2-16. Finally in vv 17-28 we see the confident man.
the transformation of Asaph comes on account of v17 where we read: until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. It is in the sanctuary of God that the reality of the goodness of God starts to rise upon in his soul. How a good God allows the wicked to prosper will always be a perplexity to us until we go into the sanctuary of God. Confusion and despondency will prevail until we go to where God dwells and see as He sees.
Accordingly, in the last section of the psalm, we see some glorious statements about the good purposes of our good Lord and God. Let these verses (vv23-26) brighten and enliven your soul, if you are a true believer in the Lord:
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterwards you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
Here is a full expression of the believer’s life. Here are comforts to the soul in the present, and expectations of glory for the future. This is the true man of God acting in faith and steadying his soul in God.
As confidence emerges in our souls, we remember that is is not self-induced confidence, but God-worked confidence.
This world does confuse us and will always do so until we go into the sanctuary of God. Have you spent time in the sanctuary today? If you do you will be different. You will enter into a fresh awareness of the god that is good and that good God will do good to you.
And so Asaph concludes in v28:
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
Amen Lord! So let it into my soul and to the souls of my fellow-believers.
The biggest surprise we should have concerning life in the UK is that things have continued to be so stable for so long. The fact that we seem to be entering a time of turbulence should not be a surprise.
One of the themes of scripture is the collapsing of government and societies which set themselves against God and His ways. The ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden In Genesis 3:22-24 was the first example of this. The flood events in Genesis 6-8 and disrupting of the people through diverse languages in Genesis 11 all showed God causing upheaval on account of the people’s sin.
The rejection of God’s ways over the last century in the UK through the propounding of alternative moralities and the exaltation of man, must inevitably have consequences. The foundations of have gradually been eroded and the new superstructure of society is standing on very flimsy foundations.
So as we face increasing turbulence. In so many ways not only though the shenanigans surrounding Brexit, but also through the knife crime on our streets, extensive drug use, dismembering of families, etc. As we face these things we should not be surprised.
I have written here previously about how long the West might last.
But praise God amidst turbulence we can turn to the Rock. Let us rejoice in these words of David from Psalm 40:1-4
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
In turbulent times we cannot find rest in the times, but only in our God. May the days we are set to go through be days when the church of God draws away from the “rocks” of this world to the only true rock, our God Himself. And in the Lord’s grace may many who have placed their hope in this world repent and come and join us there.
We were considering the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men (and women and children) with a small group aged 10 to 17 at church last week. We read this in John 6:5-7
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’
The response of Philip led us to ponder upon the way that this world thinks. Amongst us, and this was not from me, we noted that the way of the world is to think of “money, shops and the things you can see”. I felt that was quite a pithy, but very helpful description of the world in which we live. In fact Philips’ words would indicate that these reflect a mindset which permeates the ages.
Sadly it is not the way of thinking that helps to deal with the real issues of life and to find ultimate solutions. That way of thinking focuses on Jesus Christ as the miracle-working Lord of eternity. When He steps into a situation he brings satisfying transformation. “Money, shops and the things you can see” always lead to an ache for more. When Jesus comes and intervenes there is always satisfaction.
So in the feeding of the five thousand we read that all the people had as much as they wanted (v11b) and they had all had enough to eat (v12a)
Amidst the issues of life. Do we look to the way of the world or the way of Jesus?
The book Sing! by Keith and Kristyn Getty has 35 recommendatory comments in the frontispiece. Yes 35! The great and the good of the evangelical world are there in their serried ranks giving their appropabation to the book.
I understand why this is done. It is to recommend the book so that more people will be inclined to purchase it. But 35 does seem to be a bit of overkill.
This raises the issue about whether these statements are appropriate at all. Are they just buying into a worldly mindset that uses all means and methods to boost sales?
In defense of the approach, If the book is considered publishable then presumably its is deemed to be a book which will benefit people. Therefore to use this means of the recommendation is a legitimate tactic to bring spiritual benefit to people.
Yet I have this niggle about the whole issue. There can almost be a competition to out-recommend someone else’s book.
And why not just let a book stand in its own right. Yes produce it well and in a way that is honoring to the Lord. But then send it forth seeking the Lord’s blessing. So I was encouraged to come across this book by Christine Eastwood, well-produced, but with no recommendations in the frontispiece.
Just musing upon the issue of what we give our thinking time to. This is in the light of so much discussion about those permutations today. Yes what if England finish first or second in their group. See here for one discussion of it all; but of course only look at the link if you want to waste ten minutes of your life (which you won’t get back) on inane trivia.
Mark Chapman on Radio 5 live at about 17:15 last year asked Chris Sutton a despairingly inane question about Sweden now being in a certain part of the draw which England may be in.
Now, I have my proneness to overly indulge in football which leads to a wifely rebuke from time-to-time, but I am just left pondering about how much thought time we give to trivia in contrast to the big issues of life.
“What is going to happen when I die?” is rarely asked or considered. But surely it is a bit bigger than England’s first or second place in Group G at the world cup or even if England actually win the world cup
I don’t want to be a kill-joy, but there just seems something wrong here.
It is not as if the football deliberations are a little diversion from consideration of the weightiest issues. No. this is just a further indication of what so many are pre-occupied with.; taht is things ultimately of no consequnce
And by the way why did Jesus Christ come into the world? Can I ask that you give five minutes to considering that today. In fact I think I will go and ponder on that for five minutes myself.
I want to run to you a hypothetical scenario.
So there this man Rodney; he was brought up in a reasonably “normal” English home. His parents divorced when he was six and he was therefore mainly brought up by his Mum, But otherwise it was a steady background. Now, though, he is 25 and is in Iraq fighting with Islamic State. His journey to this position was full of mental turmoil and emotional struggles. His views on life started to change when he was nineteen. He became disenchanted with the decadence of ‘The West’. Then he started to watch propaganda videos online from Islamic idealists. He started frequenting chatrooms online. Through all this he was going through much anguish as he feared upsetting his family. He feared the reaction from his friends as he moved into the extremist version of Islam. He finally came out into the open after much heart-searching. And now he is fighting and killing in Iraq in the name of Allah.
If you have bought into the prevailing ethos in The West that feelings trump everything, then you are obligated to accept that this is a perfectly reasonable outcome for Rodney. He has been through so much, you see, to get to being an Islamic fighter and so it would be totally wrong of you to say anything against Rodney’s position.
Which all leads me to say that the next time you hear someone arguing a moral point on the basis of feelings, be concerned. Just because someone went through a lot of turmoil to get to a certain position it does not mean that they got to the right position.
As your weekend dawns sorry to dampen your spirits with some stomach churning bad and sad news.
So I write here to mention four things I noticed on the BBC website over the past couple of days:
- Here is a man being allowed to participate in a women’s team in Australia. (Here are my previous musings on this phenomenon)
- Here is Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black announcing the birth of their (?!) baby
- Here is an article about a man breastfeeding his (presumably) baby.
- Here is a lesbian couple proposing to each other.
So what can be said:
- Yes my stomach did churn in aversion to some these happenings. I trust that is not just because of my cultural susceptibilities, but because these things are heinous to my God.
- It interesting how acceptable all this has become so quickly.
- The BBC blithely records it as if we are all supposed to be onside with it all.
- Yet it is all rejecting the Master’s plan for His creation.
- Marriage is between a man and a woman for life.
- Children are given to a married couple in marriage.
- We are born male and female.
- Behind it all are lives seeking for meaning. Yes looking in the wrong places, but still looking. We should be compassionate and point to a greater hope in Christ.
- As churches we need to stand firm and declare that these developments are wrong before God and harmful for humanity.
- Amidst the darkness the light should shine brighter. How are we shining as Christians and churches.
- When our Lord comes into situation He always changes for the better.
- My cry goes up “Even so come Lord Jesus”