Summary: Shows how the Psalmist in Psalm 73 moves from complaining through communicastion to conviction and commitment; and encourages Christians to listen to hurting people.
FROM COMPLAINING THROUGH COMMUNICATION TO CONVICTION AND COMMITMENT
(Psa 73:1 NIV) A psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
(Psa 73:2 NIV) But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
(Psa 73:3 NIV) For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
(Psa 73:4 NIV) They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
(Psa 73:5 NIV) They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.
(Psa 73:6 NIV) Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
(Psa 73:7 NIV) From their callous hearts comes iniquity ; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
(Psa 73:8 NIV) They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
(Psa 73:9 NIV) Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
(Psa 73:10 NIV) Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
(Psa 73:11 NIV) They say, "How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?"
(Psa 73:12 NIV) This is what the wicked are like-- always carefree, they increase in wealth.
(Psa 73:13 NIV) Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
(Psa 73:14 NIV) All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.
(Psa 73:15 NIV) If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed your children.
(Psa 73:16 NIV) When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me
(Psa 73:17 NIV) till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
(Psa 73:18 NIV) Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
(Psa 73:19 NIV) How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
(Psa 73:20 NIV) As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
(Psa 73:21 NIV) When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
(Psa 73:22 NIV) I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
(Psa 73:23 NIV) Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
(Psa 73:24 NIV) You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
(Psa 73:25 NIV) Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
(Psa 73:26 NIV) My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psa 73:27 NIV) Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
(Psa 73:28 NIV) 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.
The title of my message today is “From Complaining through Communication to Conviction and Commitment.” If the Lord ever arranged His church like a huge department store, and could find no one to manage the complaint department, I think I would volunteer. I thoroughly enjoy watching people, especially teen-agers and youth, motivated by the love of God and the love of parents, and the love of pastors, and listening ears, move from complaining through communication to conviction and commitment.
About fifty years ago now, the teen-age son of a godly missionary couple whom I knew very well, stood up in a young people’s meeting in a Baptist church, and complained in much bitterness to his fellow teens: “My parents were missionaries to China, I was raised in a Jap prison camp. I had false teeth a fourteen. My eyes do not function properly. I suffer daily from migraine headaches. Why? Because during my growing years in that Jap prison camp all the calcium I got was one quarter of an egg-shell per week. I had no choice in the matter. Tell me! Is that fair? Is that Christian?
If you had been that teen-ager’s parents, how would you have responded? That experience was undoubtedly a very important, and eventually a very positive experience, in that teen-ager’s life; and the reactions of his parents at that point were crucial. Thank God that he was able to express his bitterness. Thank God that he did not allow his bitterness to settle deep within him and make him more bitter. Thank God that those parents did not in their embarrassment cut off communication with their son. For that teen-ager outgrew that experience. Motivated by the love of God, the love of his parents, the love of his pastor, and the listening ears of many of God’s people, among whom as a seminary professor I was privileged to be one, he moved from complaining through communication to conviction and commitment. Later he became the very sensitive pastor of a large and growing Baptist church in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada.