Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer who saw more than most of us do, penned these famous words:
Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the pow'r of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.
Ms. Crosby seems to have been inspired by the words of our ancient hymn writer friend, Asaph.
We have examined Asaph's complaint and consolation; we will now consider his conclusion.
Consecration is not a word you hear every day. It is the act of dedicating a person or thing to a deity. Miss Fanny dedicated herself to the Lord to the point where she, like Asaph, longed to be near the Lord and obey His will. The blind sinner saw her need and became a sacred visionary.
Do you remember how Asaph started off? He kept his eyes focused on the prosperity of the wicked, and this caused him to almost deny his faith (Psalm 73:2, 3). He looked at himself and the lot of his fellow believers, and held a big pity party. He blamed God for his problems to the point that he almost complained to his fellow Israelites and would've hurt them as well (v. 15). Good thing he kept quiet!
Do you remember what changed? Asaph got a good look at God and His character and ways (v. 17). He saw that God was a just Judge (vv. 18-20). He perceived God's kind presence (v. 23). Asaph benefited from God's wisdom (v. 24). He realized that God was greater than all earthly pleasures and was, therefore, all-encompassing and sufficient (v. 26).
Asaph remembered the difference between him and the wicked (v. 27). Those who keep their distance from God will soon be repaid by God putting eternal distance between Himself and the sinner. We noted last week that God is good to everyone, whether His goodness is acknowledged or not (Romans 2:4, 5). Those who enjoy his blessings but follow after idols and worldly pursuits, effectively taking advantage of Him, are called adulterers and unfaithful (v. 27; James 4:4). They are like the husband who sticks around for his wife's cooking and cleaning, but finds pleasure in another woman. How does that wife feel? Used and broken, perhaps, but she probably still yearns for her husband's love. That is how God feels when people do not believe in Him.
But Asaph, although he was sorely tempted, did not leave God, because God never left Asaph! As far as he was concerned, he wanted to stay close to his beloved Lord (v. 28). He opened his heart to the One Who created and sustained him. He was no longer blind to the light of truth and righteousness. Asaph acknowledged what we all, deep down inside, know is true, that God is sovereign and good.
It didn't stop with a simple acknowledgment and tacit acceptance. Asaph's was no mere placid resignation to the factshe trusted God to shield and protect him. Many wealthy, self-satisfied people trust in their riches to keep them safe and happy. After presenting the gospel to a rich young ruler who turned away from him, Jesus said, "How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:24, 25). The apostle Paul told Pastor Timothy to: "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17).
Asaph was so excited about his revived insight that he threw another party! Only this time, it wasn't a pity party; it was a praise party (v.28)! He was so happy about being near to God that he promised to tell everyone not how miserable he was, but how great God is! His story was no longer about prosperous sinners and pitiful saints, but about perishing sinners and praising saints. Of course, he was not happy about the lot of the lost; no Christian should be. But he was ready to tell them that life could be found in God, not riches or power or fame or health. In our day, all is to be found in Christ: "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19, NKJV).
By the way, what was different about Asaph's prayer? He never asked for anything! Not vengeance or prosperity or the chance to live like others. He had his answer: "Surely God is good . . . to those who are pure in heart" (v. 1).
Alan Allegra is a freelance Christian writer in Pennsylvania. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. More articles at Lifestyles Over 50: http://www.lifestylesover50.com/ and the Morning Call: www.mcall.com. Available for writing. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alanallegra/
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