Faith Tried But True

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Psalm 73:26-28 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

I have heard from many as to how discouraging 2020 has been. One of the things that has been most discouraging is not the virus itself, but the hypocrisy and hatred of the worldly. When it suited the talking heads on the network news channels and in Hollywood, it was perfectly fine to gather in large crowds, to sing and shout protests on bullhorns, to chant and even riot. But when it came to the gathering of the local Churches, many were shuttered by their governments, or if allowed to meet it was only with greater diminished capacity and an injunction against singing.

It is quite discouraging.
But God understands our discouragement.

Tonight we’re going to look at “A Psalm of Asaph”. Asaph was one of the Levites who directed the Choir in Israel under King David’s reign.

1 Chronicles 25:1 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals …

When Churches are told that they cannot sing or worship God in song, this directly hinders the power of God’s Holy Spirit within the service. The Sons of Asaph “prophesied {preached} with harps, psalteries, and cymbals”. There were both stringed {harps and psalteries or zithers} as well as percussion {cymbals} instruments. When the Apostle encourages the Church to “be filled with the Spirit {of God}”, he goes on to say:

Ephesians 5:19-21 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Music is an integral part of a Church worship service. It is by music that God softens the heart, and fires up the adoration of His people. The “Cantor” or worship leader was and is still considered just as important as the preacher of God’s Word.

Asaph, the worship leader, wrote this Psalm. The Psalm is broken into three parts.

  • In Part 1, {verses 1-12} Asaph unburdens his heart, expressing his discouragement over the ease by which the wicked live their lives.
  • In Part 2, {verses 13-20}Asaph begins to see the light, and to redirect his faith.
  • In Part 3, {verses 21-28} Asaph returns to full faith in God our Savior.

Let’s break this down, and apply it to our lives.

The Crisis Of Faith

Asaph begins with a simple truth:

Psalm 73:1 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

Truly, God HAS been good to America. We are {even with the excesses that many of the governors subjected their people to} the freest and most protected peoples on the planet. Regardless as to how bad the year has been for you, we must say:

Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to ALL: and His tender mercies are over ALL His works .

God cannot help but be good, for “Good” is in the very nature of God. The Bible says:

Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

God has been good to our nation. God has been good to our communities, to our churches. Asaph said,

even to such as are of a clean heart

This is not a reference to those who are “self righteous”, but to those who have given their hearts to the Lord Jesus. King David prayed:

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

The Bible says “the just or righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). When we realize our brokenness and come to Jesus Christ in faith, receiving Him as both Savior and Lord, God cleanses us, and brings us into His family. What a joy it is to be a Christian! Yes, God has been good to us. But Asaph continues:

Psalm 73:2-3 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Asaph acknowledges that he nearly lost his faith. “My feet were ALMOST gone”. His walk with God was threatened because he focused on the apparent ease with which the wicked lived their lives. “I was envious at the foolish”. I watched a news anchor the other day called Don Lemon as he spoke about how unfair life was to the people of color. This from a man who is a millionaire! The foolish have everything: good health, full bank accounts, great health care. And yet so often the righteous seem to have nothing. I was talking to a dear lady the other day who said she could not pay the high price of insulin because of the idiotic “doughnut hole” provision in Medicare. Yet people like this newscaster and other talking heads complain bitterly, though they have all.

It is discouraging! Asaph continues:

Psalm 73:4-5 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.

The world is so very unfair! Hugh Hefner made millions off of abusing and using women as sex objects, and yet he is celebrated when he dies. The wicked do not seem to suffer as do the rest of humanity.

Psalm 73:6-7 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.

They have all that they desire, and more so. They are prideful. They stand above the rest of us, mocking us, patronizing us.

Psalm 73:8-12 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

They are not afraid of God, and freely mock Him. Like the comedian Kathy Griffin who, upon winning an Emmy Award, said:

A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. … This award is my god now.”

When you focus on the ungodly, and watch the evil around you that is seemingly unrestrained, it strains your faith. Asaph said “my feet were almost gone”. A man made religion will not stand the test of time. A man made faith – reliant totally upon my own efforts – will in time fall apart. Yet a God made faith, a faith founded in Jesus Christ, will stand even the assault of the wicked.

Psalm 94:16-18 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? 17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. 18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.

It is natural, even normal, to have your faith challenged. But if it is challenged, it will stand the hardest knocks if God Himself is in it.

Genuine Faith, Though Tested, Will Return To God

Psalm 73:13-17 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. 15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. 16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

The Jewish Study Bible notes: “There was no atheism in ancient times, only the notion that God lacked knowledge and power”. What is meant is that there are genuinely no true atheists. It is just that people, if they believe in God, believe Him to be as flawed and limited in ability and knowledge as we are. The lost think of God – if they think of Him at all – as an emergency brake that is only called upon when absolutely necessary. As Asaph focused on the lost, the evil who seemed to prosper while the righteous suffered, he began to question his faith. That is, he questioned his faith until he went into the sanctuary of God – then he understood their end.

When a Christian turns off the technology and opens the Bible, God opens His heart to us. When we take the time to meet with other believers in a house of worship, then we begin to see the truth. The truth is, God allows the wicked a certain amount of freedom, because He wants all to be saved. Just as Asaph questioned God over the freedom of the wicked, so did the Apostle Peter. He wrote:

2 Peter 3:3-10 knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

God is not ignorant of what the wicked are doing. God knows – but tarries in judgment, waiting in graciousness that others might come to Christ. When God told Noah that he was going to flood the world, the Lord gave Noah 120 years to build an Ark. God tarried His hand of judgment – but then one day the end came. God does the same thing today. He waits, giving every person an opportunity to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The Lord loves the Don Lemons. The Lord loves the Kathy Griffins. The Lord loves the lost, and came to this earth to seek out the lost for salvation. Jesus said:

Luke 19:10 the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

We often forget that these mockers of God, these rich Hollywood fools, that they are just as loved by God as you and I are. The lost may have their riches – but their souls are bound to the service of darkness. We who are saved were once blinded by evil. But God tarried, and in time our eyes opened, and we saw Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Ephesians 5:5-11 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

The unbeliever may mock and make fun of God now, but there is a judgment day coming. They think that they are on sure footing. They think that they can get away with the wickedness that they do. Asaph continues:

Psalm 73:18-20 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. 20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.

They are in “slippery places”. They believe that the fat life that they are enjoying shall continue on into eternity. As Murderer James W. Rodgers stood in front of a Utah firing squad, he was asked “Do you have a final request?” He quipped, “Bring me a bullet proof vest”. The unbeliever thinks that they are in a good place, but those without Christ will one day have to suffer the Great White Throne Judgment of God. They will one day enter a lake of fire, from which there is no reprieve, no respite. It is a place of which Jesus said:

Mark 9:43-48 … if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

When We See Life Through God’s Eyes
We Are Not Petty In Our Faith

When we look at the evil around us and believe it to be winning, even becoming discouraged by it, we are looking with the wrong eyes. We need to look at all things through the eyes of God, from His perspective. Asaph said:

Psalm 73:21-22 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.

Asaph says, “I was acting like an animal”. Animals have no moral sense, though we often attribute morality to our pets. Only humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) with a sense of morality. Asaph repents of questioning God, and return to full faith in Him. Asaph begins to do what we all should do when challenged by the culture of godlessness around us:

Psalm 73:23-24 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

God is continually with His children. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Our God is ever present, ever vigilant as He watches over us. He holds us by our right hand. The picture here is of a little child who is holding the Parent’s hand as they navigate a treacherous and crowded area. God is with His people. Jesus said:

Matthew 28:20 … lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world ..

The Apostle said:

Hebrews 13:5 Let your {way of life} be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

God is with His Children. He guides us by His Counsel. We who are Christ’s by faith are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. We have His Promise:

John 14:16-19 I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

We as believers in Christ have the greatest Possession possible: we are possessed and are possessors of God Himself. God indwells each and every one of us. The Bible says, “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9). The day you received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the day that God’s Spirit came upon you. God is in you, and will stay with you, dear believer. Once Asaph realized that he had received the greatest Gift possible, he no longer looks with envy at the lost. No, his heart soars heavenward!

Psalm 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

What a wonderful thing it is to have God as your portion FOREVER! There will be times in this life that we are all afflicted. But if God is with us, then who can be against us? The Apostle Paul, being afflicted, sought God that the affliction be lifted. But then God told Paul:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 … My Grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness …

As long as God is with us, holding our right hand, guiding us, then all will be well at the end. Of the lost who reject the Lord Jesus we say:

Psalm 73:27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.

In the end, the wicked who will not come to God by Christ shall perish. Their way is the way of destruction. God is the inheritance of His people. Asaph ends with:

Psalm 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

The best place to be is near God. Let us draw near to Him in prayer daily. Let us draw near to Him through the reading and study of His Word, the Holy Bible. Let us draw near to God by doing that which He tells us. Jesus said:

John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:23 If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Has your faith drifted? It is understandable. But rather than live in the drift, heed God’s Word. Do the things He tells you to do. Cling to Him as He clings to you. Tell others about Him. And, if you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, run into His arms today! May God through His Spirit touch your hearts and minds. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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