Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Enter God's sanctuary ... then you will understand!"

Day #150

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 72 - 74 …

As you begin today, reading Psalm 72 is confusing if you don't understand who Solomon is writing about.  Solomon was a great king in Israel.  His father, David, was even greater in God's eyes.  But Solomon says some things here that could not possibly apply to any earthly king!  He begins by praying, "Endow the king with Your justice, O God, the royal son with Your righteousness" (72:1).  That could apply to Solomon, the son of King David.  But then he goes on to say, "He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations" (72:5).  That cannot refer to any human king!

And there's more:  "He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth" (72:8).  "All kings will bow down to Him and all nations will serve Him" (72:11).  "May His name endure forever …  All nations will be blessed through Him, and they will call Him blessed" (72:17).  And he concludes, "Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds.  Praise be to His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory.  Amen and Amen" (72:18-19).  Surely, these words point to the One who will reign forever ... to JESUS!!  Solomon was inspired by the Holy Spirit and was writing about Jesus almost a thousand years before He was born.
Asaph, the writer of the next few Psalms, begins Psalm 73 with a testimony and then reveals how easily we can slip into discouragement when our minds and hearts are not where they should be:  focused on God.  He says, "Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart" (73:1).  So far so good!  "BUT as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.  For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked" (73:2-3).  Who has not been there?!  Who has not at least thought, if not expressed the feelings in words, "God, why does it seem like those who don't know you have an easier life than I do?!"

Asaph is honest when he expresses his feelings:  "Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence" (73:13).  In other words, why try to do things the right way when those who do things wrong seem to "get ahead"?  Have you had these thoughts?  Have you said these words, or similar ones?  Have you asked the questions?  Have you presented your complaint to God?  Maybe you are there right now.  Perhaps the circumstances of your life appear unfair because you have put your hope in God and you feel like He has let you down.  Listen carefully to what God wants you to hear today …

"If I had said, 'I will speak thus,' I would have betrayed Your children.  When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me … TILL I entered the sanctuary of God" (73:15-17).  When the Psalmist turned to God and set His mind on what he knew about God and allowed the Spirit of God to give him wisdom, he understood that God wasn’t finished yet … either with his circumstances or those of the wicked.  The wicked walk on slippery ground and it is only a matter of time before they face the consequences of their sinful rebellion against God.  God sees it all and He WILL deal with sin, either in this life or in eternity - or both.

And what about believers?  What about those who truly know God and who love God and who are seeking to follow His ways?  Listen to this testimony … to our testimony … and I pray to YOUR testimony:  "Yet, I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.  Whom have I in heaven but You?  And earth has nothing I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" (73:23-26).  If you would memorize some verses of Scripture, make it these!!

This testimony leads to Asaph's conclusion:  "Those who are far from You will perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You.  But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds" (73:28).  Have you entered the sanctuary of God and listened to Him speak to You through His Word?  No wonder that another Psalm says, "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).  Right now, where you are, no matter what your circumstances, you can enter into God's presence in prayer by faith in Jesus and pour out your heart to Him.  But don't forget to listen!  Too often we present our requests (complaints, desperate cries and wants) to God, but don't hear what He says.  We need to be students of His Word for in His Word GOD SPEAKS!!

And finally, Psalm 74 expresses more questions, that when taken along with Psalm 73, have already been answered.  The temple was destroyed by enemies, but GOD cannot be destroyed!  Men can burn God's earthly sanctuary (74:7), but they cannot touch His heavenly one; and one day God will establish His sanctuary on the new earth and the King of Righteousness will reign forever.  By faith in Jesus you and I can enter God's sanctuary TODAY!  "But you, O God, are MY King from of old; YOU bring salvation upon the earth" (74:12).  "It was YOU" …  who did great and mighty things before.  It is YOU who do them today.  And it is YOU who will do them in the future, until Your kingdom comes and Your will is done on earth as it is in heaven!!

THAT must be our prayer … the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray.  We will never understand all the events in our lives and in the world around us, but this we KNOW:  God is ruling over it all and when we enter into His sanctuary and gaze upon His majesty, all the rest will be forgotten, as Isaiah writes in Isaiah 65:17:  "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind."  Enter God's sanctuary today and find the peace you are looking for.

"Heavenly Father, it is so comforting to know that You ARE the Sovereign LORD in whom we may find refuge and strength.  Keep me close to You and help me to set my heart and mind on things above, where Jesus is seated at Your right hand.  And remind me, in those times when I forget and become confused and worried, that Jesus is still on the throne and the angels are singing … and give me grace to join them in praising You, my God.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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