Guest Post - "God With Us"
Most of us have witnessed the same scene play out as we were running errands. I have participated in this same scenario more than once. When my sons were younger, I would always exit a store with them in the same way. Once we were about to walk out of the doors, I would lean down and grab their hand in mine and hold it fast. Only then would we move toward the end of the curb to wait until it was safe enough to head toward our car. Suddenly, something (usually a penny) would catch their attention and they would lunge into the street oblivious to the cargo van moving too quickly through the parking lot. My hold on them was the only thing that kept them from a horrific fate.
What was their reaction to my obvious care for them? Did they quickly turn and say, "sorry daddy, thanks for saving me?" Not even close. Most of the time, they would react with violence. They would either attack me or begin to throw themselves in every possible direction in an attempt to break free. They would exhaust all of the words they did know trying to tell me what they thought of me and my keeping them from their desired goal. They risked their lives for a dirty penny when they had a turtle bank at home with much more than that in it and a father who delighted in giving them good gifts. Instead of good gifts from their father, punishment was coming.
I wish I could say that I no longer act at all as my sons did years ago. But, I cannot. I was reminded of the hard truth of the sinfulness of my own heart today while listening to Pastor Kenny preach on Psalm 73. I was reminded that I can and do act like they did against God when I sin. Asaph, the author of this particular psalm, recounted a time when he committed the sins of complaining, envy, and unbelief. Though he began his lament by stating truth in verse 1, he quickly took his eyes off of God and began to speak with exaggeration mixing truth with untruth (v. 4 - 15). In his complaints to God regarding his feelings about his suffering, he alleged that the wealthy and unbelieving people around him were not suffering as he did. Asaph had put his eyes only on himself. He was throwing a pity part with a guest list of one. He substituted his feelings as his source of truth instead of God and His word. It was not until he went to worship with God's people (verse 17) that he began to turn his eyes back on God and gain an eternal perspective.
Asaph then wrote the two verses that cut me to the core. In verse 22, as a result of looking at himself in the light of who God is, he stated, "I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you (ESV)." When he realized how he had sinned against God he saw himself as he was, an ignorant beast. He quickly turned from his complaining, envy, and unbelief and broke out into praise and worship (verses 23-28). In verse 23 he went on to state, "Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand." Asaph noted that, despite his sin, his Heavenly Father was still with him. It was certainly not due to Asaph's efforts or anything he had done. In fact, his Father should have let go of him. Instead, He maintained His hold and stayed near.
Like Asaph, I still sin. I complain (which is a lack of thankfulness) and covet what others have. My lack of thankfulness and my envy demonstrate a lack of belief in God's goodness (which I, like Asaph did in verse 1, would affirm). God commands me to always give thanks to Him (Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 4:6), not to be envious or covet (Exodus 20:17; Ephesians 5:5), and to trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Yet, I lunge this way and that striving for shiny trinkets (idols) that are worthless. I act like a brutish and ignorant beast. For sinning against a good and eternal God, I deserve punishment (called hell) forever. Nevertheless, He is with me. What a thought! In addition to saving me (by paying for all of my sins) and causing me to be born again through the life, death, and resurrection of His only Son Jesus; He keeps me with Him until the day I go to be with Him. If He left my safekeeping to me, all would be lost. Let us react the same way Asaph did in verses 23-28 and praise God for He is so good! Let us remember that when we sin, He will hold us fast. Let us remember that when we suffer, He will hold us fast. For our Savior loves us so, He will hold us fast.
Lastly, let us not forget those who do not know Christ. Asaph remembered them in verse 27. They will pay for the sins that they have committed for eternity and there will be no forgiveness for them without Christ. Let us respond by telling them "of all of your (God's) works." Let us share the good news of Jesus Christ with them (1 Corinthians 15: 2-6) and pray that God grant them repentance of their sins (2 Timothy 2:25) and faith in Him (Ephesians 2: 8-9) through Jesus. Let us, like Asaph, share the goodness of God.
**Resources - He Will Hold Me Fast (https://youtu.be/TNi3ejUCYrY) **