(July 23) The Difference Worship Can Make
Psalm 73 tells the incredible spiritual journey of a man named Asaph.
The psalmist declares what is undeniably true: God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart!" Amen! Indeed He is. With that strong statement of faith, the sermon could come to an end.
Oh, wait. There's more. The preacher adds something. "But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped."
What did he just say? The psalmist states what we have all felt before. "God is good to His people, but I feel like the exception." Can you relate?
Then, Asaph the psalmist, details from verses 3-15 all the things that are consuming his soul. He was envious of those who were wicked because it seemed like they had all the prosperity they can stand. It seems as though those who live contrary to God's law, he contends, experience lives of luxury and ease. Others who live out violence and hatred appear to get by with it, and even flaunt their sinful lifestyles. The people who do not believe in God or worship Him taunt those who do. As they parade their immoral lifestyles, they do so as they mockingly say, "How can God know?"
As the psalmist ponders the sin of those who surround him, and how they appear to get by with it, he concludes that his attempts to follow the Lord are in vain. What is the point of striving to be godly and holy when it seems to get him nowhere? While the sinners run around with plenty of money, all the food and entertainment they could ever desire, Asaph himself feels stricken and rebuked day after day.
Wait a minute! When was this written? This sounds like it could have come out of the mouth of someone who lives in our day. The sermon is not over. Asaph adds one other thing.
Asaph says what is even worse, is that he cannot bear to speak these things out loud. He has been struggling as he feels God is blessing other people, but not himself. Asaph feels alone, isolated, abandoned, and the exception to the rule that God blesses His people. He doesn't even want to confess how he feels because if he did, he feels like he would let people down.
What a miserable place to be: jealous of the wicked, frustrated at the world around him, and feeling like the only one not being protected. And to top it off, he has to hold all these feelings in.
Then, something changes. Something massive takes place..."until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end."
When Asaph went into the sanctuary for worship, his perspective changed. The elements of worship helped him take his eyes off of the world and put his focus on God. When he did, everything changed.
Those who mock God may enjoy temporary blessings, he admits, but they will be consumed one day in judgment. Even though at times Asaph feels like he is stumbling, he is now aware that he is being upheld by God's hand. Then, after worship, he turns from envy to praise. He concludes, "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 forever."
What a transformation! What changed? I can tell you what did NOT change. The wicked around Asaph still were living in rebellion. Other believers still were enjoying blessings that at the moment were not present in Asaph's life. But, here is what DID change. Asaph's eyes. His vision went from looking at everybody and everything around him, and through the lens of worship, he fixed his gaze upon the Lord.
It is only after he encountered the Living God in worship that things got put in its proper perspective. Now he writes his story. Now he confesses how he was feeling. The story does not end in despair, however. He concludes by saying, "I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works." As he has been reminded of the goodness and faithfulness of God, he has a story to tell.
Corrie ten Boom would later sum up how Asaph felt so many years ago and indeed, how many Christians today have felt at one time or another. She says,“ If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. If you look at God you'll be at rest.”
There is nothing like worship to get your mind right. read Psalm 73 and see for yourself the difference worship can make.
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