Friday, March 4, 2011

The Safety of the Faithful

This past week I have been studying Psalm 4. It was written by David and it speaks of the reality of finding such peace in God’s presence that even when torn by physical and emotional pain, a person may still have restful sleep.

As I pondered this concept, I was reminded of a statement that Kay Arthur wrote in one of her books that dealt with the topic of why Christians suffer. She had said that Christians would do well to have the word “eternity” stamped on the inside of their eyelids in order to keep the proper perspective of life and all of its trials and tribulations. In reading Psalm 4, David sees past the temporal, past his enemies, past those that love only the good the world has to offer, and he rests in His God who makes him dwell in safety. What a marvelous spiritual truth to allow to captivate our lives and thoughts.

It is also worth pointing out that throughout the Psalm David repeatedly refers to the righteousness and holiness of God. In verse 3 he states, “But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him.” Many people call out to God for help, especially during difficult trials but notice that God hears those that are righteousness. This calls to mind James 5:16, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

God hears those that have made a decision to follow Him and forsake sin. And this really gets to the heart of the issue. God is first and foremost concerned with our sin not our circumstances. On the cross, Jesus defeated sin and its power to have dominion in our lives. God expects His people before they even call out to Him, to be leading lives separate from the world. This does not mean we are perfect by any means, but as John MacArthur likes to say, “It is the direction of our lives not the perfection.” If our lives show a pattern of worldliness in thought, deed, and action than how can God work His goodness and blessing into our lives?

David was able to pillow his head at night and say, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” because in his life he was “offering sacrifices of righteousness to the Lord.” In fact, it was David in Psalm 51 who said about God, “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart - These, O God, You will not despise.”

I think often as Christians, we can come to God with our requests and expect Him to fulfill them based on our terms. I try to remind myself that every time when I begin to pray to first confess sin and asked to be cleansed because if we are not seeking to be holy first than all else really does not matter. We serve a holy and just God who tells us in Matthew 5:48 that He is perfect and His desire is for His people to be perfect.

God wants us saved, sanctified, and filled with His Spirit. The circumstances of life are a distant second to this objective. This is not to say that God is not interested in our day-to-day lives and struggles. On the contrary, He tells us to bring our requests to Him, but if we are not seeking to become like Him than why would we expect Him to hear us?

"For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:6)

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