Psalms 72-74 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He leads us to our glorious destiny regardless of how things may seem

@ Psalm 73
Psalm 73 was written by Asaph who was a Levite appointed by David to direct the choirs, and in this role, he composed psalms, songs and played the cymbals.  He was one that we would say “grew up in the church,” and as a Levite, he more than likely understood the sacrifice involved in serving the Lord.

By the manner he began his psalm, we can sense his love for God and his desire to view God and His goodness in the proper perspective, but it didn’t take him long to get to the heart of the issue that was troubling him.  “For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.  They seem to live such painless lives…they don’t have troubles like other people.” (3-5)

When I read this Psalm, I immediately wanted to remind Asaph that things are not always how they seem to be.  I’ve lived on the planet long enough to see that “He gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (Matthew 5:45)  We should never judge an individual’s trouble factor by how things appear. In fact, prosperity often brings greater, more serious troubles.  We seldom are aware of the family issues, health problems and immense stress levels that those around us are facing.  I’ve known many wealthy parents who would trade all they owned for the salvation of their children.  Everyone has trouble.

“Camp’s not fair!  Camp’s not fair!” was the slogan at one of our youth camps.  A camper had expressed to the camp director that camp was not fair because of something that had happened that he didn’t like.  Well, camp wasn’t always fair, but then neither is life, and the director grabbed that comment and turned it into a chant for the week.  We laughed at the injustice of it all, and we also learned that things were not always as unjust as they seemed.  Most importantly, we learned to roll with it.

However, Asaph was not rolling with it. “Look at these wicked people – enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.  Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?  Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?… I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.  But what a difficult task it is!” (13-16)  Asaph even began to question His walk with God and the injustice of it all, something that can happen regardless of how long we know Him.

How do we move past injustice?  “Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.” (17)  A trip to His sanctuary was the answer!  He now viewed life through the enlightened eyes of grace, no longer through eyes of envy.

The presence of the Lord changes everything.  It opens our eyes to the truth, removes bitterness and resentment, floods us with His peace and moves our understanding to the eternal side of living.  “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.  I was so foolish and ignorant…Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.” (21-24) Well, it just doesn’t get much better than that!

Life may not seem fair, but He is always fair and just. When we focus on the eternal side of living, rather than the here and now, our thoughts and deeds are influenced by those things with eternal value, and we find that a trip to His sanctuary is a worthwhile journey. 

Moving Forward: Regardless of the injustice in this world that surrounds me today, I will focus on those things of eternal value.  Life may not seem fair, but He is! 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 5-6

Judges 17-21 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He is the Constant in our lives

For those who know me, it’s not a secret that I’m a coffee drinker – espresso, lattes, cappuccinos – so much so that I have my own espresso machine with all the little devices that go along with it that promise a good cup of coffee.  When I froth the milk, I use an instant-read thermometer because I like my milk at 170°; and just an additional note of information, the lower the milk fat content, the better the froth.  I don’t like giving the impression that I’m overly particular about my coffee…but I am.  Recently I noticed that my drinks were not as hot as I like them to be although the thermometer read the right temperature.  I knew it was time to calibrate my thermometer.

Using a small tool, I adjusted the thermometer to read 32° when inserted in a cup of ice and water because one of the constants in my life is the fact that water freezes at 32°.  Two plus two will always be four, 12 inches make up a foot, water at sea level boils at 212° – these are constants I can count on no matter what I’m facing in life.

Even though I would like to make $2 plus $2 equal $1,000, it just isn’t going to happen because we can’t change the constants to fit our desires or to match our lifestyles. We can run as far away from our constants as we possibly can, but whether we have lost sight of them or not, they are still constant, unchanging, and resolute.  These truths, however, did not keep Israel from trying to change God, the most irrefutable Constant in their lives.

@ Judges 17
“One day [Micah] said to his mother, ‘I heard you place a curse on the person who stole 1,100 pieces of silver from you. Well, I have the money. I was the one who took it.’ ‘The Lord bless you for admitting it,’ his mother replied. He returned the money to her, and she said, ‘I now dedicate these silver coins to the Lord. In honor of my son, I will have an image carved and an idol cast.’” (2-3)  I’m not sure what part of Exodus 20:4 –You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind – this mother did not understand, but she chose to disregard the irrefutable Sovereignty of God and make a more user-friendly version for herself.  Eventually, Israel was destroyed because it chose to follow this example by worshiping idols as well.  The constant of God’s Word is unchangeable. 

@ Judges 19-21
The dismal story of the Levite and his concubine is heart-wrenching, to say the least, and the list of characters in this story that lost sight of their constant is long.  From the selfish Levite to the perverted Benjamites and to the Israelite army, all were living for themselves and making judgments based on tribal loyalties rather than the constants of God’s Word.  Even after God gave the army victory over the Benjamite warriors, they sought their own means to provide wives for the few remaining men of Benjamin. Obviously, the Israelites needed some recalibrating to the Constant in their lives, but unfortunately, they had lost sight of Him.

The last verse of the Book of Judges sums up the reason for all the sin, rash vows, civil war and bloodshed, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (21:25)  The Israelites chose to reject the unchangeable King of all kings and all the constants He provided – constant love, constant guidance, constant provision and so much more – because they did not want to obey the constants of His commandments.   They chose poorly. 

Moving Forward:  I’m thankful today for all the constants of the Lord, including His commandments – “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”  His Word keeps me calibrated to my Constant!

Tomorrow @ Psalms 24-26