Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God despised… (Psalm 53) 200109

This psalm is a parallel version of psalm 14. Coincidentally, I wrote the devotion of psalm 14 during the last Chinese New Year season (see below or click http://leeabel.blog.friendster.com/2008/02/there-is-no-one-who-does-good-psalm-14-040208/, this is my older devotional blogs). It has been a year, and God is somewhat leading me to revisit this theme.
Yesterday, I had a restful day; it’s my Day Alone with God. I am thankful that the church has provided such off day for pastoral staffs to have a day to spend alone with God, not just to rest or do our own things, on top of our weekly off day; but to have a day to be immersed in the Presence of God intentionally. I have chosen yesterday because it was right after the church’s monthly Adult Bible Fellowship. I know that I will be exhausted and will need much rest. I need to be re-established my connectivity with God. I do not want to merely run and organize events without God working in and through me. Another reason that I choose to take my Day Alone with God around the third week of the month, is because I usually preach on the last Sunday of the month in the Chinese Ministry. I really need to hear the heart beat of God before I preach the Word of God to His people.
Back to psalm 53, the main difference with psalm 14 is at Ps 53:5 and Ps 14:5-6. In psalm 14, the psalmist declares God as his refuge (Ps14:6) in the midst of the godless world he was in; while in psalm 53, the psalmist pronounces that God despised those godless people (Ps 53:5). What a harsh reality!
It is not difficult to realize that we are living in a godless world. Though people around us will claim to be worshippers of all sorts of gods; in actuality, they are the ultimate god to themselves. They will never admit that there is no god, they will never admit that they are a fool (v1); but look at the way our world has become, look at how children are being abused, look at how sexual promiscuous is being ‘celebrated’, look at how violence is being permitted, look at how justice is being manipulated by the rich, and look at how greed has become a form motivation.
The most alarming thing is that, all I have mentioned above are not only found in the world out there, but it is also found in the church of Jesus Christ. Though we confess that we have Christ as God, we live as if there is no god. We harbor bitterness against one another and not willing to confront the issues in the name of being a peacemaker; we gossip about each other problems in the name of concern and sharing for prayer; we manipulate others to do what we would like them to do by sending them off to a guilt trip in the name of encouraging people to serve; and we show off our talents and success stories in the name of glorifying God. I am sure that I am also guilty of all the above. No wonder the psalmist says that there is no one who does good, not even one (v1, 3).
No wonder God despised (v5) and NASB uses the word “rejected”. I would definitely not want God to despise or reject me; I want Him to be my refuge (Ps 14:6). But how can?
Yesterday, during my Day Alone with God, I read John Piper’s book: Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. I realize that there are so many tensions within the Christianity. For example: the Kingdom of God is already here, but also not yet here; God is full of mercy but also full of wrath. As I put Ps 14 and Ps 53 together, I will get God rejects and God is also a refuge. Such tension is not for me to be resolved, but to be live with, as John Piper suggests.
God is my refuge (Ps 14:6) in this godless world, and I must also realize that I will be rejected (Ps 53:5) if I am also being “godless” in God’s church.
Remember: God despised and God rejected.


There is no one who does good… (Psalm 14) 040208
Yesterday was a very busy day for me. I went home feeling extremely exhausted. I guess I was not fully ready for such an intense day of meeting with people yet. I was really being zapped. But I am thankful that I feel refresh this morning. I can sense the hand of God holding me.
This week, I will be having Lunar New Year break from SBC. On one hand, it will be a good time for me to rest; but on the other hand, there are tonnes of spring cleaning to be done, and also some assignment to catch up. What should I do? To rest or to do? To idle or to be responsible?
I know that if I leave it to my desire, I will not do anything, continue to dwell in my pitiful state of depression. This is the nature of man. The Psalmist rightly pointed out that a fool says in his heart that there is no God and there is no one who does good (v1). Indeed, there is no one who does good.
Perhaps this is an overstatement, but if I am to be truthful to my heart, I am no good. I am not being self condemnation, but merely stating the reality of the fallen nature of humanity that God brings to my remembrance. Deep within my core (or maybe yours too), I am selfish, I am self-centered. I also lie and cheat. I have evil thoughts and lustful desires. I am lazy and greedy. I am easily anger and not very loving. My words can be hurtful to others and my deeds can be harmful to others too. There is no one who does good, not even one (v3).
With such depravity of humanity, I am without hope. But God is not passive, He actively looks down from heaven (v2), He provides the refuge for those who need (v6) and He will restore His people to Himself (v7). God is such a gracious God. He does all these not because of any good I have done and He does all these even though He knows that there is no one who does good, not even one. Such is my God, great and gracious God.
After reading this Psalm, I am grateful. I am grateful simply because God has never abandoned me. Yesterday, I suddenly felt very lost, I felt a sense of loneliness in midst of the crowd in the church, I can’t find a place where I can find rest, and that is where I began to feel drained off. Maybe I should just look to God for rest, and the most restful place should be my heart whereby God resides.
One day, I will be like Jacob and Israel: rejoice and be glad. Do you have such hope to rejoice and be glad? Do you have God residing in your heart?

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