Summary: This sermon addresses the Christian’s frustration with their struggles as they watch the unrighteous continue to prosper.
Sacrifices: When Making Sacrifices Grows Old
Part I: When the Wicked Prospers
Scripture: Psalm 73
This message was birthed in my spirit several months ago as I thought about the many conversations that I have had with people that started off with the words “Why” or “When”. The conversations would generally go like this: “Why does it seem like I am always struggling?” or “When will it ever be my turn?” Some of these conversations I actually had with myself that went on for weeks and weeks. There is nothing like a good “woe is me” party when you believe you’re the only one suffering.
If you have ever asked this question or have had others express this sentiment to you, you will understand this message. This sermon series begs the question that if we are so blessed, why do we struggle? If we are faithful in our giving, where is my 100 fold return? If I am in Church every time the doors are open, why does it seem like the only ones enjoying life are those who do not go to Church at all? If I am a hard worker on my job, why do the promotions go to the ones who barely do anything at all? If I am trying to help someone else get ahead, why do they turn around and step on me as they climb their way up? If God loves me so much and wants me to be prosperous like the TV evangelists says when I send them my money, why am I still struggling to pay my bills when the TV preachers have riches? When will it be my turn to have riches? When will it be my turn to take vacations – and be able to pay for them as we go? When will it be my turn for the milk and honey versus having the vinegar and salt? These are the questions that Christians ask when they look at the world around them and see others prospering (in their minds) while doing little in service of God. As I said before, I have asked these questions myself.
Several weeks ago I was lying in bed one night thinking some of these questions and God spoke to me. I will share with you later where He took me, but it surprised me at some of the things that I read. Many times we feel as if we are carrying the weight of the whole world on our shoulders with no relief. We have responsibilities to family, parents, friends, Church, jobs and the list goes on and on. We receive emails that read “I am too blessed to be stressed” and we think “yeah, right” as we go to the medicine cabinet to take that blood pressure medicine or to get the Aleve for the headache because of our stress load. All of those cute sayings are real and appropriate except when you’re the one going through. When you’re the one going through it is hard to grasp on to those sayings. If anything that I have said hit home to you, then join me as I share with you that we are not and have not been the only ones to feel this way. This morning we will start with Psalm 73, a psalm of Asaph.
Asaph was a composer, singer and chief musician under King David. He is credited with writing twelve of the Psalms. He is first mentioned in 1 Chronicles 15:17. In that chapter David was preparing to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. After appointing the priests and those to actually carry the Ark, David asked the chiefs of the Levite to appoint their relatives as singers with instruments of music. Asaph was one of the singer/musicians who were appointed during this event. He was a Levite who was known for his use of cymbals in worship. David appointed him as the chief leader of the choral worship (1 Chronicles 16:4-5). In Psalm 73, we find a song about how even though we follow God, we find ourselves in the midst of trials and tribulations. Meanwhile, the person next to us who laughs at God’s ways grows more powerful and prosperous every day.
I. I Almost Stumbled
As we read through this Psalm, please keep in mind that Asaph was writing as an Israelite, not a Christian. So as we read this, wherever you see a reference to the Children of Israel, you can substitute you and I as Christians. So let’s get started.
Psalms 73 opens with these words: “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Psalm 73:1-3