Sunday, June 29, 2014

Two Minutes With The Bible ~ When Things Look Bleak

When Things Look Bleak 

by Pastor Paul M. Sadler
“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
—Psalm 73:1-3
This particular Psalm, along with eleven others, is ascribed to Asaph, a Levite who ministered as the chief musician at the temple. After many years of faithful service, Asaph began to waver in the faith. With a heavy heart he says, “My feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped.” Most believers can relate to this having experienced the same struggle in their own lives. In fact, it is an all too common problem.

Notice what the stumbling block was: Asaph became envious of the prosperity of the ungodly. He made the mistake of comparing his life with the lifestyle of the rich and famous. “They have more than the heart could wish” (vs. 7), everything had been handed to them on a silver platter. And what was even more disturbing to the Psalmist was they had obtained their ill-gotten gain through corruption and violence (vss. 6,8). Meanwhile, Asaph had labored day and night to barely make ends meet. He had compassion on the poor, but the wicked oppressed them seemingly with impunity. It just didn’t seem fair! As the old saying goes, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

The wicked in those days, as now, were not interested whatsoever in God and acted as though He really didn’t know or care (vs. 11). And to add insult to injury, the heavens were silent! The Psalmist, on the other hand, sought to live a righteous life only to find himself afflicted by the world and chastened of the Lord. This caused him to ponder, “Have I cleansed my heart in vain?” The more he dwelled on this, it was just too painful for him to bear. “Until!” Until what?
“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places: Thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors” (Psa. 73:17-19).
Have you ever awakened from a nightmare and felt thankful it wasn’t real? For the ungodly the nightmare described here is very real. The Psalmist’s “foot had almost slipped,” but he was spared by God’s grace and mercy in salvation; but the slippery slope the ungodly will find themselves on ends in terror. When things look bleak—Remember Psalm 73! ** (see below)

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** Psalm 73

A psalm of Asaph.
1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace;they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, "How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?" 12 This is what the wicked are like-- always carefree, they increase in wealth. 13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. 15 If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 As a dreamwhen one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. 21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beastbefore you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strengthof my heart and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.


linda said...

This is a real happening everywhere these days. One becomes jealous of another and it spirals from there. My only help is to run to God. Good post this morning my friend.

Simply Linda said...

We were discussing this yesterday, so much hate, so much anger(GUILTY), so much jealously and so on..thanks for the great post..BLESSINGS

Carol B. said...

A very good message. It is visible all over today, all the jealousy and the anger. The poor with their hands out, always wanting more, wanting to be like others who have more worldly possessions. Instead of seeking God, they want others to give them what they want.
Hope you have a great day.

Sparky @ My Thoughts Exactly said...

Guess I was feeling bleak and discouraged. This message really spoke to me this week. Thank you everyone for your timely and very welcome comments. Have a blessed week. ~:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sparky, I always look forward to these messages you share. I pray that you both will have a good week. Love you.

White Lace and Promises said...

I was thinking about Psalm 73 from reading your post the other day.