Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Psalm 68:3 But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!
Over the years I have observed the progression of rest areas. I know, sounds like I have been the recipient of a government research grant. But seriously, rest areas along the highway have changed dramatically.
When I was a boy, it was a treat to find one with running water. Typically they were just pit toilets, and mom always had a small jug of water in the car with soap so we could wash our hands when we were done.
Then came the nice wooden buildings that actually had multiple stalls, running water, and even vending machines.
Now, as I travel the interstate I recognize the old locations of the outdated rest areas that have been abandoned, and the new modern rest areas in different locations. One of the nicest ones is just north of Madison near the Wisconsin River. It is a huge rest area. I’m really surprised that a major fast food chain hasn’t figured out a way to get into these new places like the ones along the toll roads in Illinois.
The reason I lay this groundwork about huge rest areas is because Psalm 68 is a huge rest area. If you remember, my plan for going through the Psalms was to make one stop in each Psalm at a place where the Lord spoke to me. It is the “Rest Area” or “Scenic Overlook” approach to studying Scripture – just read until you come to a place that causes you to stop and take in the view.
Psalm 68 has multiple scenic overlooks and rest areas for me, so I think I will take this whole week to look at them all.
I begin in verses one through 3, where I discover the contrast between the enemies of God and the followers of Christ. It is a simple but deeply profound contrast.
The enemies of God will flee from Him in fear when He rises in judgment. Far too many people today are living in denial of their accountability to God. But the day is coming – maybe very soon – when Jesus Christ the King will come and God will demand an accounting of everyone’s life. The bottom line that determines the eternal destiny of every human is this – did you believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and did you trust His death on the cross as the basis of your forgiveness for sin which provides eternal entrance into the Kingdom of God through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ?
How horrifying it is going to be someday for those who have refused to believe this truth. Some have chosen to trust their own ability to qualify themselves. Maybe they try to earn God’s approval through doing kind deeds. Maybe they trust some sacrament of a religious group as sufficient to qualify them. Maybe they just don’t care and think that this life is all there is. But whatever their rational, when the Perfect One comes, they will all flee before Him, but they shall not escape the judgment of God.
HOWEVER, the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! Those who know and love Jesus will be glad to see Him return. We are expecting it any moment. There is nothing in this life that is so attractive or necessary that we would not reject it in the twinkling of an eye to be able to stand in the presence of Almighty God and praise Him with exceeding joy.
Oh but wait. Maybe there is something that we love more than the return of Jesus. May I suggest that we spend today evaluating our lives based on the contrast between the innkeeper and the shepherds in the Christmas story?
Maybe, like the Innkeeper, we have no more room in our lives for Jesus because we are filled with the pursuits of this life. When serving Jesus and pursuing earthly goals conflict, which do we choose?
Or are we like the shepherds, who upon hearing the good news of Jesus, left their sheep – their livelihood – and immediately went to worship him?
My friends, the love of Jesus for us was demonstrated by His sacrifice of position and possessions. He intentionally took upon himself our sin so we could be made righteous.
Our love for Him and what He did will also be demonstrated by our sacrifice of position and possessions. We intentionally take on the life of Christ and live in the hope of glory, willingly denying the world and everything in it for the sake of serving the King.
Bottom line – if Jesus appeared to you today and asked you to do something for Him that required you to sacrifice what you love most about this world, would you rejoice or make excuses why you couldn’t?