Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“For I,” says the Lord, “will be to her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her…for he who touches you touches the apple or pupil of His eye.”
Zechariah 2: 5, 8
“Leave it to Me, child, leave it to Me,
Dearer thy garden to Me than to thee.
Lift up thy heart child, lift up thine eyes,
Nought can defeat Me, and nought can surprise.
Leave it to Me, child, leave it to Me,
Trust in the wall of fire, look up and see
Stars in their courses shine through the night.
Both are alike to Me – darkness and light.
Leave it to Me, child, leave it to Me.
Let slip the burden too heavy for thee.
That which I will, My hand shall perform,
Fair are the lilies that weather the storm.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”
Psalm 1: 5
“An Uncomfortable Fit”
Psalm 1 Part 19
“Having no spiritual senses, no inlets of spiritual knowledge, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; nay, he is so far from receiving them, that whatsoever is spiritually discerned is mere foolishness unto him. He is not content with being utterly ignorant of spiritual things, but he denies the very existence of them.”
What comfort would a person take in being “forced” to spend eternity in an environment they completely detested?
Why do I believe sinners are not found in the “congregation of the righteous”?
“When finally summoned to the bar of God, to give an account, what plea can we have to urge in our defense, if we remain willingly and obstinately ignorant of the way which leads to life.”
“Till the understanding of an (individual) be enlightened to see the deformity of sin, and the beauty of holiness, (they) will never heartily loathe and grieve for the former, love and long for the latter.”
Before our car accident, I had what I would call a fashion addiction to shoes. Now I’ve had many women tell me that they too love nothing better than pampering themselves with some new colorful pair of shoes. The fact was that when I got my first job at the age of 14, after following my parents instructions and putting 1/2 of my check into a savings account for college, I had enough left over to buy a new pair of snazzy brown suede flats with leather ties. I had arrived – at least I thought so. And during subsequent years, I fed my desire with a variety of cute shoes.
That is until our car accident. With two feet that sustained multiple fractures, all of a sudden the “cute” factor for shoes became obsolete. I just wanted a pair of shoes I could walk in without facing excruciating pain. To this day, it is the fit of the shoe that makes all the difference in the world. I don’t care if people point and smirk because my shoes look clunky and old-fashioned. What matters to me is if I can take a step without immediate pain.
This specific fact is the reason I chose to entitle today’s devotional “An Uncomfortable Fit.” Comfortable, wearable, useful shoes that our feet fit in with great ease and which makes it easy for us to get from point A to point B quickly and easily has a rather equal comparison, believe it or not, with our study text for today.
The second part of Psalm 1: 5 states that sinners won’t be found in the “congregation of the righteous.” It’s as if the Psalmist is stating that the ungodly, those who harbor the toxin of sin; the individuals who do not want to be held within the covering of God – simply do not fit in with the righteous community. And they are not comfortable with those who are upright and are in right standing with God.
The two groups don’t mix well together. In fact, they make each other uncomfortable. They are uneasy around each other. They are like a pair of ill-fitting shoes.
I may be able to explain the situation better by relating an eye-opening experience Jim and I had a few weeks ago. We don’t watch much T.V. anymore but one evening after catching the news I was randomly doing some “channel-surfing” and I came upon an interview program where the noted atheist, Richard Dawkins was plugging his recent book. I decided to stop and listen to what he was saying because I recognized the names of some of the other people who were joining in the discussion.
Somehow these five individuals, all who had defined themselves as “unbelievers,” got to talking about heaven of all things. I can’t even remember how their conversation came around to the topic of eternity and a “home in heaven” as I would refer to our eternal future but it did! Then, as the five were putting in their two cents worth talking over each other, one person laughingly said, “It’s funny how people talk about going to heaven and the fact is I don’t want to go to heaven.” Immediately, one of the other panelists jumped in and made this point: “Why even think about going to a place you would not like!”
At that point in time I moved on but the comments from that discussion have stuck with me. Especially because of our study in Psalm 1 where we find that it would be an uncomfortable fit if God forced the ungodly to live in a place they hated. If I stake my life in direct opposition to God and His love, I am certain heaven wouldn’t fit me. If greed and ambition are the keys to making me feel like I’ve arrived, I might not like living in an environment where the first shall be last and the last shall be first. If my entire life focus is centered on pleasing my own selfish desires and sensual pleasures, sitting at the feet of my Savior and worshipping the Lamb might hold no allure for me. And so, the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 1: 5 that there won’t be ungodly in the congregation with the righteous.
Let me be clear. God won’t harshly exclude the ungodly. They will exclude themselves. Actually, it is God’s gracious kindness at work in not coercing His own children who have rebelled against His love and said, “You are not for me.” As commentator Matthew Henry writes: “There will be seen shortly a congregation as never was in this world…Into heaven none unclean nor unsanctified shall enter…The wicked and profane, in this world, ridicule the righteous, despise them and care not for their company. Justly therefore will they be forever separated from them.”
As I’ve reflected on the panel discussion that I witnessed a few weeks ago, my heart felt very sad. Perhaps the heaven I read about in Scripture is not a place those five individuals had ever been introduced to. And what’s more, maybe the heavenly Father I talk to every day is not the gracious Lord of all creation they know. Possibly all they’ve ever heard about is a demanding tyrant out to get you. And what’s more, quite possibly, our Savior who willingly lay down His life that not “one child” should perish is someone they’ve never met. Well, it’s our job to introduce those around us to our God who is love. In the beautiful words of Pastor R. A. Torrey, “If any saved person will dwell long enough upon the peril and wretchedness of any person out of Christ and the worth of their soul in God’s sight as seen in the death of God’s Son to save them, a feeling of intense desire for that person’s salvation is almost certain to follow.” And you know what – it won’t be an uncomfortable fit! It will be perfect for all eternity.
“Eternal God! O Thou that only art
The sacred fountain of eternal light,
And blessed loadstone of my better part,
O Thou, my heart’s desire, my soul’s delight!
Reflect upon my soul, and touch my heart,
And then my heart shall prize no good above Thee;
And then my soul shall know Thee; knowing, love Thee;
And then my trembling thought shall never start
From Thy commands, or swerve the least degree,
Or once presume to move, but as they move in Thee.”
“I have always had one lode-star; now,
As I look back, I see that I have halted
Or hastened as I looked towards that star
A need, a trust, a yearning after God.
My God, my God, let me for once look on Thee
As though naught else existed, we alone!”
“Wilt Thou not visit me?
The plant beside me feels Thy gentle dew;
And every blade of grass I see
From Thy deep earth its moisture drew.
Wilt Thou not visit me?
Thy morning calls on me with cheering tone;
And every hill and tree
Lend but one voice of Thee – Alone.
Come, for I need Thy love,
More than the flower the dew, or grass the rain.
Come gentle as Thy holy dove,
And let me in Thy sight rejoice to live again.
I will not hide from them,
When Thy storms come, though fierce may be their wrath;
But how with leafy stem
And strengthened follow on Thy chosen path.
Yes, Thou wilt visit me;
Nor plant nor tree Thy eye delight so well,
As when from sin set free
My spirit loves with Thine in peace to dwell.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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