Asaph, a Levite, was a chief singer and leader of King David’s choral worshipers; in fact, he is credited with writing eleven of the Psalms. He was a very close friend to David and the two loved being in the house of God together. Yet, in spite of his tremendous calling and blessings, Asaph confessed, “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped” (Psalm 73:2).
Now, we know Asaph was a pure-hearted man who believed God was good. In fact, he began his discourse in this psalm by saying, “Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart” (73:1).
Yet, in the very next verse Asaph confesses that he almost slipped. Why did he declare this? He notes that he saw the wicked around him prospering while they neglected God’s commands and it would have been easy for Asaph to wonder why God didn’t “balance the books,” so to speak.
Have you ever wondered why blessings are being heaped on people who live duplicitous lives? Perhaps you’ve seen an ungodly coworker rewarded instead of you or an unconverted neighbor acquire material things while you struggled to make ends meet.
It can be very easy for suffering Christians to slide into a grievous sin — the sin of doubt. They may think, “I’ve been living right but all my strictness and diligence to study God’s Word, my praising and worshiping, have been in vain. In spite of all I do, I still suffer.”
Beloved, that is when you must be careful. When your trial comes upon you, when you’re grieving or discouraged, you need to guard your heart against slipping into doubt. Don’t let your faith or your confidence be shaken. God is still on the throne. Get your eyes off your trials and put your eyes on the Lord himself. God will help you to love him and never slip into unbelief.
Asaph saw that he had almost slipped but he held on to proclaim, “I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works” (73:28). And you can do the same!
We who live in the New Testament age have been given a great testimony. Not only do we have the works of Jesus to consider, but also the great works of the first-century church. Add to that the two thousand years of godly people “doing greater works than these,” and we get a glimpse of who our heavenly Father is.
You may say, “I know the Lord. I have an intimate relationship with him and I know who I am in Christ.” Yet Jesus may be saying to you, “It’s true, we have been together for so long and yet you still do not know God as your father.” The purpose of intimacy with Jesus is to have a revelation of who the Father is.
God wants us to have a revelation of him as a father — a heavenly Father! Jesus prayed, “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” (John 17:21-22). Jesus was saying here, “You say you want to know me, and that is good, but now I want you to know my Father as I know and enjoy him.”
God not only chose you, but he adopted you as his child. And his Spirit tells you to cry, “Abba” to him, saying, “You have made me a joint-heir, a brother, to Jesus. You are truly mine!”
How wonderful to know that he chose each of us to be his child solely on the basis of love and mercy. In his mercy he says to you, “I want you — I choose you — because I want to be a father to you.”
Lay down all your worldly loves and follow him today!
During his time on the earth, Jesus was the embodiment of God’s compassion. Scripture frequently says that Christ “was moved with compassion” by the suffering of people (see Matthew 14:14).
Most Christians would like to think that they are compassionate. But even the worst sinners are “moved” when they hear of the suffering of children. Compassion is not just pity or sympathy. True compassion compels us to act.
We read of Jesus: “When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). The phrase “moved with compassion” here means, “stirred to action.” So what did Jesus do about it? He didn’t just talk. No, his heart was stirred at what he saw and he had a consuming desire to change things.
“Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every diseased among the people” (9:35). This was not some vain theology. Jesus didn’t just get alone with the Father and say, “Father, send laborers into your harvest.” He went himself! He laid hands on lepers and got deeply, practically, intimately involved.
We read, “Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). As you look around and see human need, your compassionate heart should cry out, “God, what do you want me to do?” We should not have to travel any farther than our own neighborhood to find needs that we can help to meet.
God wants you to be a part of his compassionate heart to the world. If you are truly willing to do that, he will send needs right to your doorstep. So present yourself to the Lord to be used and watch him open many doors for you.
In this sophisticated age, we find it hard to understand the idolatry of the Old Testament. It is incredible to read of intelligent people being so blinded that they offered worship to hand-carved images of wood, stone and precious metals. Yet it was the sin of idolatry that brought down God’s awful wrath on his own people. “Therefore do not pray for this people … for I will not hear you” (Jeremiah 7:15).
This is God’s declaration against idolatry in the Old Testament. And yet he hates idolatry just as much today. A new idolatry is sweeping across America right now. There are reports of God moving in different parts of the country but you must be careful of where you go and what spirit you sit under. You must have discernment in order to avoid being swept up into an idolatry that will turn you away from the cross of Christ.
The cross — including its demands and hopes — is the very heart of the gospel and any message or worship must be centered on it. Without the cross, all that is left is chaff — a perverted gospel that is insulting to the Lord. There are ministers who are intense, articulate, pleasant and very resourceful, but they preach “a different gospel.”
Paul saw this beginning to happen even in his day: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-8).
Praise God for true ministers of Christ who boldly proclaim the gospel of the cross. They are the bulwark against idolatry of in these last days!
When the prophet Elisha was on his deathbed, Joash, the king of Israel, wept aloud that Israel’s great prophetic light was about to go out. He recalled Elisha’s great works of faith and wept, “My father! My father! … The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” (2 Kings 13:14, NIV). Elisha rallied briefly, bringing hope to Joash’s heart. Then the prophet gave the king some instructions: “Go get a bow and some arrows” (13:15).
Elisha told the king to shoot arrows into the air, which Joash did, and then Elisha told him to take the arrows and strike the ground with them. Joash complied by striking the ground three times. Then, to the king’s utter surprise, Elisha became angry and burst out, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated [Syria] and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times” (13:19).
This may seem like a rather strange scene from Elisha’s life, but he was about building up the faith of others until the very end. He was telling King Joash, “How dare you expect so little from God! You would have defeated Syria five or six times but you’ll settle for only three.”
Elisha’s words apply to every Christian today. Our Lord wants us to go beyond limited victories. Through the God-stories in the Word, we are to build faith upon faith — victory upon victory — and be continually hungry for him to act. We must not be content to settle. Elisha essentially tells us, “God will give you as many victories as you’re willing to lay hold of. Keep striking the ground of faith!”
This may seem like a heartless demand but actually it is deeply compassionate. There is a God-story for every struggling marriage, every financial crisis, every stressful job situation, every alienated parent and child. Remember, God doesn’t give partial victories but total triumph!
God has surrounded you, and all the forces of heaven are at his disposal to protect and provide for you. May God stir your faith so that you will keep striking the ground with conviction and trust. And, remember, every trial you endure is an opportunity for the world to be transformed by your God-story.