Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"What to do when you can't sleep …"

Day #179:  Daily Bible Reading - June 25th

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 75 - 77 …

 Knowing God is different than knowing ABOUT God.  You can know a lot of things about God and even believe that He is working in the world and in your life, but it is only when you KNOW God that you will trust Him in everything and surrender to His will, which is always good and right and just.  These Psalms of Asaph speak of the one true God and point you and me to find hope and peace and strength in Him as we live by faith.  It's not always easy, but it IS possible!

Let's start with Psalm 77 and then go back to Psalms 75 and 76.  What Asaph describes at the beginning of the psalm is the common experience of all of us at one time or another.  Crying out to God, finding little peace, groaning in our spirits …  "You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak" (77:4).  What was Asaph thinking about?  He tells us:

"Will the Lord reject forever?  Will He never show His favor again?  Has His unfailing love vanished forever?  Has His promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful?  Has He in anger withheld His compassion?" (77:7-9).  These thoughts may arise at various times throughout our lives and we may not recognize that they are more than just thoughts, they are a temptation!  When you find yourself in this state of mind you will be tempted to feel isolated and alone - even though it is not true.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (I Corinthians 10:13).

Being tempted is not sin; it's what you do WHEN you are tempted that may lead to sin.  Look at Asaph's response to the temptation to doubt God's presence, goodness and faithfulness:  "Then I thought, 'To this I will appeal:  the years of the right hand of the Most High.'  I will remember the deeds of the LORD … I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds. … You are the God who performs miracles … With Your mighty arm You redeemed Your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph" (77:10-15).

Here is the key to finding strength to resist the temptation to doubt God's presence and love and mercy: KNOWING GOD!!  Go back now to Psalms 75 and 76.  Notice where Asaph begins:  "We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks, for Your Name is near; men tell of Your wonderful deeds.  You say, 'I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly'" (75:1-2).  Remembering God's Name and God's deeds and His sovereign control over all things brings a testimony of praise.  "As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob" (75:9).

When you KNOW God, it becomes much easier to trust Him and then to praise Him.  So few people today know the true God who has revealed Himself in His Word.  The longer I live the more convinced I am that the spiritual darkness the Bible talks about is becoming greater as we near the return of Christ. God continues to call a remnant out of the darkness, but most people remain under the judgment of God and reject His offer of light.  Jesus predicted that such would be the case:  "This is the verdict:  Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).  All those who do not know the "God of Jacob" do not know God.

Asaph begins Psalm 76 by saying, "In Judah God is known; His name is great in Israel"  (76:1).  He speaks of God's judgment and says, "Surely Your wrath against men brings You praise, and the survivors of Your wrath are restrained" (76:10).  Then he calls us to "make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them" (76:11).  How important it is when you know God to commit your life to serving Him.  According to the Bible, true faith arises from being born again by the Spirit of God and results in devotion to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Anything less is a poor imitation, a counterfeit "faith" that will not stand up during the times described in Psalm 77.

As Asaph "remembers" the deeds of the LORD, he testifies concerning the crossing of the Red Sea by God's people in days gone by.  "Your path led through the sea, Your way through the mighty waters, though Your footprints were not seen" (77:19).  I would encourage you to look up a song my son wrote a few years ago, based on Psalm 77.  It is titled, "Footprints Unseen" - Altar*d Life.  The words of the song express the thoughts and feelings of Asaph … your thoughts and my thoughts … your feelings and my feelings.

What do you do when you can't sleep?  If you know the God of Jacob,  you remember His deeds and know that nothing is too hard for God.  Through faith in Jesus Christ you and I have access to the very throne-room of the God who created the world and who chooses the appointed time.  He cannot and will not fail us, for He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us.  His ways are holy (perfect) and righteous (good).  His power is without limit and His love and mercy endure forever.

I pray that you KNOW God and that knowing Him brings you peace in the midst of the storm and joy on the mountaintop.  Though His footprints are often unseen, He makes the path clear for those who are His and carries the burdens of the weak.  Put your trust in Him and He will give you all you need to stand firm in your faith and to be able to SLEEP … for you rest under the shadow of His wings!

"My Father and my God, You are greatly to be praised, for You alone are God.  Because You have revealed Yourself in Your Word, You can be known, and through Your Son Jesus Christ I come boldly before Your throne in my times of need.  I testify that Your deeds are mighty and Your deeds are good. With Your mighty arm You have redeemed Your people and I trust in You.  May my life be a testimony to You, my God, as I make my vows to You and fulfill them with the strength You give me … one day at a time.  In Jesus' name, Amen"  

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