May 18, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 37)

Submitted by Margaret C. Gracepoint Austin Church

Key Verse

vv7-9.  “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.  For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”

vv10-11.  “ A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.  But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”

God is …

God will mark the end of all things.  He will be the One that will have the last say.  The godless may have their projected time of triumph and carefree enjoyment, but God will eventually assert Himself.  God is also patient and merciful.  He appeals to us in love again and again without worry to the fact that He is who He is.  Though during our time on earth, it may seem that the odds are against those who strive to live holy and set apart lives, the unchanging truth is that God is sovereign and is in control.  We don’t need to fret or worry when the wicked seem to prosper, when it seems as though the wicked and the world have the upper and more attractive hand.  When serving and trying to live a life of love gets challenging, uncomfortable, or seems utterly fruitless.  During such times, I can take comfort and strength in this truth that God is not only the Alpha but the Omega.  I can appeal to the fact that God is omnipotent and reigns over all things regardless of how hopeless things can seem in my eyes – whether it be dealing difficult relational issue, struggling with my own personal sins, grappling with the sense that I have not accomplished much, etc.  The truth that no evil escapes God’s attention and notice and that He will make all things right and the ways of the godless will be undercut fills me with fear and awe and causes me to turn from my downward spiral ways of thinking.  It reorients me and cleanses my heart from the fears and insecurities I have which when acknowledged lead me to making selfish decisions.

Lessons for me …

The psalmist speaks of how giving in to our anger due to the wickedness prevailing in the world around us.  I see this in people who live for themselves and who look after only their cause and they are at peace.  I know that the same message of “save yourself” that produces this dominant scene of people pursuing their comfort and worldly rewards resides in me as well.  I see the same message in my own heart and it gets more pronounced when I don’t see the results that I want to see in my ministry, when I get misunderstood by the very people I am trying to love, or as I struggle daily with my selfishness to give and draw generously from my heart for the needs that are all around me.  In these moments, a similar tension that the psalmist describes arises in my own heart.  I can feel cynical when I see my sins exposed in a newfound way, when a person I’m trying to love remains so difficult, when I take stock of my ministry and don’t see much fruit.  It all amounts to me wanting to spare and preserve myself–to not exhaust myself.  The psalmist warns to not give in to this tension or inner conflict as it will lead only to evil.  He exhorts us to “do not fret.”  In v.9, it says that “those who hope in the Lord will inherit the earth” and in v.11, it says that “the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”  When I play out what giving in to my cynicism and the tension I feel to “save myself” looks like, it equates to me powering up and grabbing for what I think I “deserve.”  For example, if there is a difficult person in my life that is not easy to love and who responds unfavorably to my attempts to care and look out for them, then the urge to just leave them alone and to distance myself from that person becomes so strong.  The last thing I feel like doing is to “take the hit” and to keep trying.  But the psalmist insists that it is the meek that will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.  I remember how P Ed said before that “meek” doesn’t necessarily mean that you are literally weak, unable to help yourself.  For example, a harnessed horse is “meek” but it has a lot of strength, only that it is bridled/channeled.  I think about Apostle Paul and how he dealt with the Corinthian church.  Paul had every reason to boast, but he never did.  He had rights that he chose not to claim or demand from them.  Paul was so tender in his dealings with the sins of the Corinthians when he could have rightfully powered up – “We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.…”  And so, when I think about it this way, I see how what the psalmist asserts that it is the meek that will inherit the land is very true.  That is the characterization of a person who loves; holding yourself back and denying yourself out of love.  This is how God loved me and this is how I am where I am because so many people were “meek” toward me.  To live like this, I need to “hope in the Lord” as it states in v.9.  To keep going back to prayer and His words so that I can be refreshed and replenished to be “meek” rather than to go the route of self-preservation.  Finding encouragement and strength in who God is – that He is sovereign, patient, and in the end, His words and truths will endure over all creation.  Remembering and reaffirming again of what is wicked in God’s eyes so that I can repent and be cleansed to do the work He has entrusted me to do along with others.

Prayer

            Heavenly Father, please help me to turn to you for refuge and strength when the urge to preserve myself creeps into my heart.  I confess that the desire to protect myself is so deeply ingrained and that at times, becoming “meek” is something that I want to avoid and rebel against.  Please help me to turn to You in these moments for shelter; so that I may be reminded again of who You are.  That You are in control and that the way of the wicked will be undercut.  Help me to find hope and strength in You to be meek and to live a life of love. Indeed, when I take stock of my life, I see so many blessings and ways in which You have enhanced, ennobled, and made my life abound.  And when I look at the lives of those who have gone ahead of me, I can take confidence in the fact that the way of the wicked is fruitless and that it is the meek that will “inherit the land.” Help me then, to not give in to my fears and cynicism, but to instead entrust myself to You and to fear Your name again. Thank you for your faithfulness and for the promise You give me to supply me with Your strength and love.


Submitted by John L. Gracepoint Austin Church

Key Verses:

Psalm 37:1-5

1 Do not fret because of evil men

or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,

like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in him and he will do this:

One of the significant themes in this text is regarding how the Christian sees “evil men” and “those who do wrong” (v. 1).  This is often where the rubber meets the road when it comes to how one views those who are achieving some kind of advantage or gain apart from God.  When we are all working hard for God, there isn’t much thought given to those living it up on the other side of the fence.  But when those moments are over and then the busyness of the week starts up again, and we pass by and interact with those who are gaining and making advances, fear and envy can often start to creep into one’s heart.  Questions like, “What have I been doing when others are passing me by?” start being asked and there is potentially a downward spiral with the weight of all the fears of an uncertain future, continued pressure from outside and within oneself, and even just time passing us by starts to take its toll on us.

Verse 2 helps me to see the reason why I should not fret or be envious of those who do wrong. The reality is that death is imminent due to the consequences of man’s sin.  So even if people are building for themselves worldly security, status or reputation, ultimately that cannot protect them.  Thus, in place of feeling envy towards others, there are positive things I must do:  “Trust” (v. 3), “delight” (v. 4), “commit” (v. 5), and “trust” again (v. 5).  Based on these words it tells me how envy is rooted in unbelief of God’s love and goodness to provide for me rather than just wanting what others have.  The response that I should have then is faith, or trust, or delight in God, or commit my way to the Lord.  As I continue to grow in these ways, God’s promise from verse 4 is that “He will give you the desires of your heart.”  That is something I have already been experiencing as what I really desired deep down was not the things of this world, or to have what other people have, but rather to have genuine peace, meaning and purpose in my life, and most importantly, a right relationship with God.  If I am unreflective and respond to my base desires, then my sin causes me to want what others have and to never be satisfied with the reality of all that I have been given by God.  I start to have an attitude of entitlement and place unfair demands on myself and have unreasonable expectations of how other people should treat me.  But spending time on the rest of this chapter, again and again I am exhorted to reflect on the outcome of those who do wrong:

v. 9 “For evil men will be cut off…”

v. 17 “…for the power of the wicked will be broken…

v. 36 “…but soon he passed away and was no more….”

I also need to consider the life of those who remain committed to God:

v. 11 “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”

v. 28 “For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.”

v. 40 “The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.”

These verses comfort me because it helps me see that God knows what I’m going through and of my need for salvation and deliverance from my sins.  Not only that, but He gives me a burden for those who need to know Him as one of the important missions for my life and that of our church so that collectively we work together to bring people to find salvation in Him.  That certainly helps me not to be caught up in the petty concerns that fretting and envy are made of, but of elevating the way I look at life to see that living for Him is better by far.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for knowing and addressing all of my needs in a personal way.  That’s because when I peer inside my heart I recognize the ways in which I fret, am filled with anxiety, and also feel envy towards others in many arenas, especially in areas where I foolishly think I inherently know something or have some kind of ability.  Though I don’t like to see those kinds of emotions within myself, I realize that I am broken in that way because of sin.  But help me to learn from the words of this Psalm reminding me that my right approach to life is to trust, devote and commit myself to You.  Truly that is the remedy to all of these petty things I feel because only You and Your purposes are able to elevate the way I should see my relationship with You and my purpose in this world to bring others to You, especially to see others not as competitors but as fellow co-laborers with whom I am to work together towards this end.  Also, thank you for the salvation I have received which is not due to anything I have done, but simply because I realize that You alone are my refuge.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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