Around The Corner

When Things Get Hard, It Can Be Tempting To Turn From God

Dan Franklin
Nov 20, 2022    43m
There are times in life when it is tempting to turn from God when it seems like the people who don't believe in the promises of God are getting ahead in life while you struggle. But whatever struggle you feel like you are in right now, God's hope, His victory, and His reward are just around the corner for those who faithfully wait for it. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:17] This morning, I'm reading from Psalm 73. When I was asked to read today and I realized it was Psalm 73, I thought, Lord, you have truly blessed me, this is one of my most favorite Psalms, and I get the privilege of reading it to you this morning. Psalm 73, "1Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. a 5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. 8They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. 9Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” 12This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. 13Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. 14All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. 15If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. 21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 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.". This is the Word of God. Thanks be to God.

Video: [00:04:30] (Video Plays.)

Dan Franklin: [00:04:45] All right. Good morning. Let's talk this morning about quitting. Was that fun? It was fun, it was hilarious, and it's funny because that video actually is part of a trend that you can see if you're online, not only of videos but of people collecting stories called quitting stories. Some of them are really funny, like that one, some of them are very angry, and some of them are utterly inappropriate to share in a setting like this. But there are people who are collecting these quitting stories and sort of reveling in what it's like to quit their jobs. And here's the thing, here's the dirty little secret about quitting, because most of us have grown up being told you shouldn't quit. But here's the dirty secret about quitting, it feels great, at least right away. You know that that felt great. And for most of these stories online, whether the people were angry or whether they were fed up or whether they were kind of funny stories, the thing that they all have in common is they felt great when they quit. And not only does quitting feel great, but we are in a culture where we do a lot of quitting and we do it fast. We get out of things quickly, so we quit our jobs, but not only do we quit our jobs if we engage on a sports team and suddenly things aren't going so well, we're out of there. If we get into a class and it's harder than we thought it would be, we're out of there. We quit on all those things. We quit on our schools. We quit on our jobs. We quit sometimes on our diets and our workout plans. We quit on our Bible reading plans whenever we get to Leviticus, and it just gets too difficult. We quit on our churches. If suddenly we discover that our church isn't really doing for us what we thought it was going to do. We quit on our friendships, all too often. We quit on our marriages when our marriages aren't doing for us what we expected them to do. We are a culture, at the end of the day, we are a culture of quitting, and we do it fast. And part of why we do it fast is because of the dirty little secret about quitting, it feels good, it feels relieving. And that's part of the thing, when you're at the quitting point, when you're at the point where you're trying to decide if you're going to quit, there's a little voice in your head, the enemy's voice, telling you you will feel so much better once you do this. And the greatest victory that the enemy would have is not just by getting us to quit a job or even to quit a friendship or a marriage, but to get us to quit on our faith in God.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:27] I don't know where everybody is at today, but we've worked these kinds of special Sundays into our calendar as a church where every so often when we're between two series, we just have an open Sunday. And this is one of those open Sundays, where we get to walk through what's my favorite psalm in the Old Testament because it talks about a man who was at the point where he was ready to quit. And here's the thing, it wasn't just any man ready to quit, he was at the point of being ready to quit, and he was a worship leader in Israel.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:02] If you have your Bible open to Psalm 73, which Linda beautifully read for us earlier, you see that it's written by a man named Asaph. And when you think of Psalms, normally, you think of David because he wrote a lot of the Psalms, but Asaph wrote 12 of the Psalms. He wrote Psalm 50 and then Psalms 73 through 83. And he's mentioned in First Chronicles Chapter 6 as somebody who was appointed by David as a worship leader in the land of Israel. So here is a worship leader, you think you've got problems. here's a worship leader who's at his quitting point and he's ready to quit on God.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:39] In fact, we get, just in the first three verses, which I want to look at before we really get into things, he tells us what was going on at this crisis point in his life. In verse, 1 which we'll pull up on the screen. In verse 1, he says, "Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart." And here's the thing you need to know about verse 1. verse 1 is Asaph telling us the end before we go through the journey. And I think he's doing this because there are going to be some points in the Psalm where he's going to talk about his struggles and he's going to talk about his battles and he's going to talk about how much he wanted to quit, and some of us are going to read that and we're going to think he's making a good point, I think I'm with Asaph, I think it's quitting time. But he wants to tell us right from the beginning, all right. I'm going to tell you before we go down into the valley, I'm going to tell you I came out on the other side of the valley believing that God is good to those who are pure and heart, to those who choose to follow him.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:37] But in verses 2 and 3, he tells us about the valley. In verses 2 and 3, he says, "But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Just real quick, you guys might be working on it up there, but the slides aren't advancing, so hopefully, you have an open Bible, and you'll be able to follow along. But he says in verses 2 and 3, "My feet almost slipped." He says I was almost done, I almost walked away from God. As a worship leader, I almost cashed in my chips and just said, I'm done with this, I'm done following God, it's not worth it, and I can't keep doing it. And he tells us why he almost quit, he says, "I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."

Dan Franklin: [00:10:25] In essence, it seems like Asaph says, it seems like I'm a chump, it seems like following God doesn't work out as well as doing things your own way. And when he's talking about the wicked, well, we hear that word and we're like, somebody would have to be pretty bad before we would call them wicked. He is simply referring to people who choose not to place God at the center of their lives, who choose to run their own lives and do things their own way, and he says it seems like it's working out better for them. It seems like they're coming out ahead and I'm coming up behind, he tells us, my feet almost slipped.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:00] Now, here's how the rest of this psalm is going to unfold. Asaph is going to spend some time telling us where he was, telling us what was going through his mind when he was at his quitting point when he was ready to say, I don't think following God is worth it. Then we're going to get to see his turning point where he came to a crisis decision point. And then after that, we're going to get to see how things unfolded and where Asaph landed.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:28] So let's start by looking at where he was, and this is what happens in verses 4 through 14, and here's the deal for the second time, and because we already heard the passage read, I'm not going to read through all of the verses in here. But in verses 4 through 11, we get eight verses of Asaph talking, describing the lives of the wicked. And I'll sum it all up for you and then talk a little bit about it. His summary statement is this, the wicked are winning, and their way seems to be working. He talks about the fact he says it doesn't seem like their lives are that hard. In fact, sometimes it doesn't even seem like they're dealing with the normal difficulties that the rest of us are dealing with. Has anybody ever spent any time on Instagram, do you follow celebrities on Instagram, and you're like, wow, must be nice, must be nice to be living large and not be dealing with the normal frustrations that we all deal with? Sometimes you might be on social media, and you might say, must be nice to have kids who always obey you, apparently, and pose well for pictures. Must be nice to always be healthy. Must be nice to always be getting good grades, Must be nice to always be hitting your benchmarks at the gym, must be nice. So they're not even dealing with the normal things that we're dealing with, and he talks about their arrogance, and in some ways, he is saying, why shouldn't they be arrogant? Their way seems to be working. Why wouldn't they come to a point of saying, hey, God doesn't seem to care what's going on because they keep getting further ahead no matter what they do? In fact, one of the things that's said in this section in verse 10, he talks about the idea that their people come to them, in other words, he's saying everybody's looking to them, they are the influencers of their day. People keep coming to the wicked and asking for their secrets for life. Have you ever seen a social media influencer or somebody online who is an influential person in our society, and you look at the way that they're living and you just say, them, really, they're the one that we're looking to? Asaph is saying, they're the ones that we're looking to, and yet, what can I say? It seems like it's working for them. He gives a summary statement in verse 12, he says, this is what the wicked are like, always free of care, they go about amassing wealth. It seems to be working for them, whatever they do.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:53] And so what's Asaph to conclude? Well, he says this in verses 13 and 14, he says surely in vain, I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. This is one of those things where it's always good to read the Bible in context, this probably isn't a good verse to stitch on a pillow. But Asaph is being real, he's just getting down to it and he's saying, I think I'm a chump, I think I've been foolish, I think all of this is pointless. I have worked so hard to say, no to sin and say yes to God. I've worked so hard to keep my hands clean, and it seems like it doesn't even matter. I've struggled and I've battled, and I've cried and I said no to stuff that I wanted to say yes to, I have worked so hard to do the right thing and it seems like it hasn't worked out.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:42] By the way, some of you will know the name, Rosaria Butterfield. She's a Christian author, has written some great Christian books, and she became a believer after living decades in a lesbian lifestyle. And I heard an interview with her one time, and she was talking about the idea that sometimes people ask her, well, what was it like before you were a Christian? And what was it like when you were struggling with same-sex attraction? And she sort of laughed at this question, she said, I was not struggling. She said there was no struggle at all, I was fully indulging in every desire that I have, there was no struggle before I was a Christian. In fact, she says, the struggle only started when I became a Christian, and I started trying to fight against these temptations towards sin in my life. Asaph is saying, I've been foolish, I have done all this, and it's been pointless.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:33] Now he says in verse 14, All day long I've been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments." And he doesn't spell everything out, but it seems like he's saying not only am I frustrated because I've worked hard to be innocent, but he's saying I'm also frustrated because walking with God has cost me in the eyes of other people. And it seems like he's saying I've dealt with some opposition from other people because I've been diligently following God. And again, I don't know all of what it was, but maybe it was something like this. Maybe Asaph frequently found himself in this situation when he was around the other guys that he would have to tell them, you know what, I'm going to go home because there's too much drinking going on here. Hey, guys, I'm not comfortable in going to the strip club, or I'm not comfortable in the way that you're talking about your wife, or actually, you need to talk to your wife, you need to tell her about what's going on. And eventually, Asaph just stopped getting invited to the gatherings. The guys said we don't want you around, you make us feel bad about ourselves, you are holier than thou, and you think you're so much better than us. Asaph says, not only have I exhausted myself trying to fight against sin, I have people against me because I'm looking to do this. He's saying, I'm done.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:50] Now, let me just pause, I don't know every story out here right now, but does anybody out here feel kind of like I'm done? Some of you might be at quitting time right now. You might even be thinking about the big quit. You might be thinking, you know, this might be my last Sunday here. I just kind of think I'm done with God, I've tried it. This is what we do when we quit, we say, I've tried. I've tried it God's way, and it doesn't seem to be working, and people just seem to be living large in joy and life who are doing things their own way. And so some of you may have shown up, and by the way, thank you for showing up on a Sunday where you might feel like I'm close to being done.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:30] Others of you, you might feel like, well, I'm not thinking of the big quit, I'm not thinking of abandoning my faith, but there are other ways where you're thinking about quitting. Some of you are thinking about quitting, you might say, you know what, I'm done saying no to all the gatherings when my friends are partying. I'm missing out on stuff, everybody else is enjoying it, why am I the only one left out? I'm done saying no to the party scene. Some of you might just in general feel like I am done saying no to this area of sin in my life, whether it's lust or it's anger or it's envy or it's greed in some way, you're just like, you know what? Other people seem to be fine; they're not struggling, they're enjoying life. I'm in the battle here, and I'm just done, I'm just going to say, you know what, maybe it's just good enough for me just to indulge myself in this. Some of you might feel like I'm done holding my tongue when everybody else seems free to say whatever they want. I mean, just check social media, people feel free to say whatever they want. And you might feel like I am the only one exercising self-control here, I'm the only one saying no to all of these things that I want to say. And by the way, the things I want to say are actually true. Unlike everybody else, I'm ready to say them, I'm done holding my tongue.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:49] And once again, some of you might feel like, you know, I'm done in my marriage. I've tried, and it's painful, and we don't have grounds for divorce, biblically, but you know what? I'm just done. And I see other people moving on, and man, they feel relieved when they go ahead and get the divorce. I see other people moving on and they seem pretty relieved in their new marriage or in their new relationships. So, you know what? I think that I'm done.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:13] Maybe some of you are just saying I'm done taking unpopular biblical stands when all it gets me is scorn and lost friends. Some of us are coming in this morning and you're just feeling like you're done, and you're like, yeah, I'm with Asaph right now. I think he's making some pretty good points in this opening section. There are times where we reach the point that we become convinced that following God just isn't worth it.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:38] And so Asaph is at a crisis point, he's at what we might call the turning point right now. And it seems like Asaph sees two possible directions. Direction number one is he quits, he just says, I'm done with this, I'm certainly not going to be a worship leader anymore, I'm not even going to be a worshiper. I'm done and I'm walking away. Or, the other option is, God somehow convinces him that following God is worth it. But what Asaph doesn't see as an option is for him to continue to be faithful to God when he's convinced God's way doesn't work. He said I'm not doing that anymore, I'm either quitting or God's got to do some convincing.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:23] And in verses 15 through 17, Asaph describes this sort of turning crisis point. First of all, and this is curious, he says in verse 15, "If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children." This is a very interesting verse, especially given our context today in 2022 in the US, Asaph says, I felt this way and I'm telling you all about it now because I'm on the other side of it. But he says, while I was feeling this way, I didn't talk to people about it. And don't misunderstand, Asaph is not saying, hey, if you're going through something like this, don't confide in a trusted friend. Asaph is saying, I didn't go public. I didn't go and just spew to everybody who would listen, that I was beginning to wonder if God was worth it. I didn't get up in a synagogue meeting when I was about to lead worship and say, hey guys, real quick before we get started, I'm just not sure I believe any of this anymore. He left himself an out, he knew he was in the middle of a battle, in the middle of a struggle. And instead of declaring everything and dragging down other Israelites who might not get to the other side where he got, he decided to keep his peace.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:34] And so here's the deal. If you right now, if you're like this is resonating with me a little bit too much, like this is where I am right now, I'm thinking about quitting on God. One of the best things that you could do is to find, whether it's a pastor or an elder or a trusted friend or a life group leader, or a detour group leader, and to be able to say, I've got to be honest, I'm thinking about quitting. That would be one of the best things you could do. One of the worst things that you could do is decide that you need to go public with your journey when you're still in the middle of it. Somehow, we think authenticity today is that I say everything that I think every time I'm thinking it. That's not authenticity, that is foolishness and selfishness. And thank God, Asaph said, you know, I'm going to just leave the window open, that God's going to bring me on the other side of this.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:24] But he wasn't passive, even though he wasn't talking about it. He says in verse 16, "When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply." So he's trying to track down solutions. Maybe he's a math guy, and he's trying to find the algorithm or the formula that's going to help make sense of everything and how all this works together, but he's coming up empty. Maybe he's reading the philosophers, maybe he's having deep conversations, and he still can't sort it out. He says I couldn't come to the other side of this, I couldn't understand this, it troubled me deeply. The next word is till. In other words, until something happened that turned all of this around. It troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny." Asaph was at his quitting point, but it turned out that a level of restoration was right around the corner. God was about to do something that was going to change everything, and he says, I entered the sanctuary of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:28] And this is the point, I know some of us feel this way, this is the point where I wish we got more, I wish he spelled out the exact scenario. I wish we had a described scene about exactly what went on. He just says I went to the sanctuary. And we're like, what happened at the sanctuary? Like, did you hear scripture read, and suddenly there was a scripture read that was really applicable to your situation, and everything came together? And it's like, maybe. Did you go to the sanctuary, and there was a worship service and there were songs, and the songs reminded you about how much you love God and how much he loves you? And like, maybe. Did you go privately and just pray there and God spoke to you? Maybe. Did you go and watch an offering being offered and you remembered God's forgiveness for our sins? Maybe. We don't know what exactly happened at the sanctuary, but here's what we know, going to the sanctuary was Asaph choosing to walk toward God. It was him choosing in his doubts, and his frustrations, and his wanderings, to say instead of walking away from God, I'm going to lean in, I'm going to walk toward God and I'm going to believe that he has a solution to my problem.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:38] And here's what I want to say, in many ways, the application for this sermon is all going to come right here in the middle before we see what happens. This is the point if you are at quitting time right now, first of all, thank God that you're here, while you're contemplating quitting on something. You are choosing to draw near to God. You're choosing to believe in some part, even if it's just like 3% of yourself, you're believing that God has some solution to the problem that you're facing. When we feel like we're at quitting time, it's the time above all other times that we need to be in the Bible. We need to be in the Bible all the time, but we need to be in the Bible because we need God to speak to us, we need His Word to renew us, and we need a wider perspective because sometimes we only see what's right in front of our faces and when we get into God's Word, we get the bigger perspective.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:31] I don't know, are any of you doing the Bible reading plan we're doing through the Gospels right now? Oh man, there's nothing better than reading about the life of Jesus. If right now you're at quitting time, grab one of those bookmarks, start reading about Jesus, and your perspective will widen. When we're at quitting time, is the time that we need to pray. Don't think for a second that God doesn't want to hear from you if you're thinking about quitting in some way, God loves you and God wants you to lean in and draw near to him and He wants to speak to you and lead you as you do that. And when we're thinking about quitting, we've got to be around God's people, we've got to be in our small groups, we have to be in our Detour groups, we got to be here on Sunday. We've got to lean in and trust that God is going to somehow make known where he's going to lead us, He says, I went to the sanctuary of God, and he gives a hint of how God changed his perspective and he says, then I understood their final destiny.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:29] And just real quick, before we look at verses 18 through 20, let's take their final destiny. Who's final destiny? The wicked. It says, what turned me around in all of this, is that God showed me where the wicked ended up. So after the turning point, we get to get a glimpse of where Asaph ended. And verses 18 through 20, he tells us how God revealed to him the end of the wicked. He says, "Surely you place them on slippery ground." Which, by the way, do you remember how this started with Asaph? My feet almost slipped, he says, they're the ones on slippery ground. You cast them down to ruin, and how suddenly they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. They are like a dream when one awakes, when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies, He says. I was right at the point of quitting, and then God reminded me of where the wicked end up. And he says, you know, it might seem like they're getting away with it, it might seem like everything is going fine for them, but judgment is coming because God is just and one day they will all be judged. He says I was about to quit, and then I realized and was reminded by God that judgment was right around the corner.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:44] Now I want to pause here because some of us are uncomfortable with what's going on in verses 18 through 20, it's kind of like, is this okay? Is this okay that he's happy that people are going to be judged? Is this malicious? Is it okay? Some of you might even be feeling like, I kind of like this, but should I like this? There's nothing wrong with Asaph celebrating the judgment of God. In fact, this is a little bit like it. Some of you, later on today you're going to watch football, and as you're watching football, if you watch a football game with a big football fan and the big football fan is watching the team that they're rooting for, I guarantee you at some point in the game, they're going to yell out these three words...Don't worry, they're church-appropriate words, in case you're wondering, they're going to yell out these three words, and some of you will be able to finish it. The three words that they're going to call out is, throw a flag. And when they yell out, throw a flag, who are they yelling at? They are yelling at the referees. Even if we're at home, we're still convinced they can hear us. Like, throw a flag. And here's why you yell that; you yell that because you become convinced that throughout the game your team is getting the raw end of the deal. And there are a lot of times that penalties should have been called, but those refs won't throw the flag and call the penalty. And when there finally does throw the flag and call the penalty on the other team, you rejoice like, thank God, finally, they threw a flag. And you're not excited because you really hate that other guy that got the penalty called on him, you're excited because there's a part of you that says, Oh good, we are playing football. Oh, good, the rules do apply. Okay, I finally understand the universe again because of that call that was being made. This is what Asaph is saying right here, he's saying, okay, the world finally makes sense again. It's less about him being malicious against wicked people, and more about him saying, all right, this makes sense now, God does reward those who are faithful to him, and he does punish the wicked.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:52] In fact, if you read through the Book of Job, which is right before Psalms, Job is about a righteous man who suffers terribly, he's troubled the entire time, and part of the reason that he's troubled is because he's suffering and he's upset about that. But part of the reason why he's troubled is that he's saying the world doesn't make sense, the world doesn't make sense if I'm suffering like this and other people are getting away with it. And that's where Asaph is, and he says the world finally makes sense. And you can even already hear him sort of scolding himself a little bit, saying, man, I was envying, I was jealous of people who were headed towards God's judgment. I was jealous of people who are headed toward destruction.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:38] Quick story, so some of you know that my dad has been in a wheelchair for over 35 years now. When I was nine years old, he was paralyzed from the neck down and then was immediately in the hospital, he was in the ICU, he couldn't talk, couldn't move really anything, except he could wink and blink, so he was in bad shape. He had to be fed through a tube. And he tells a story now about what that was like, and he says he had a roommate in the same ICU room and nobody there is in good shape. But this guy was definitely in better shape than my dad was, and the main thing that my dad noticed was that he didn't have to be fed through a tube, he was able to actually be fed solid food. And my dad sat there in his paralysis and was just envying the entire time, this other guy, this roommate who was able to have solid food while my dad was sitting there being fed through a straw. Well, a little bit of time passed, and that roommate was no longer there and a new roommate was brought in. My dad couldn't talk at the time, so he couldn't ask questions, but he overheard a couple of the nurses talking about the guy who previously had been his roommate in that room and quickly realized that the reason that guy was no longer his roommate was because that guy was dead. And my dad had this bizarre epiphany of I was jealous of a dying man, I was jealous of somebody who was heading toward the morgue. How many of us find ourselves jealous of people who are heading toward judgment?

Dan Franklin: [00:32:13] This is why, later on, I don't have it up on the screen but in verses 21 and 22, Asaph reflects back on his time, and he says, "When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. He says, how foolish, how dumb was I, I was jealous of people headed towards judgment. He says, now I understand it clearly, and here's what Asaph understands clearly, he understands that with God, no act of rebellion is left unpunished, and no act of faith is left unrewarded. With God, we may have to wait, and it might be frustrating, and at times we might feel like quitting, but we know that in the end, God is just, God is righteous, no act of rebellion goes unpunished and no act of faith goes unrewarded. And Asaph knew that he got to live in the joy of knowing what God had ahead for him, that every sacrifice he'd made would end up being rewarded, and that every act of rebellion by God's enemies would end up being punished.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:20] And so Asaph gets to run towards the conclusion of this song with great joy and tenderness, these are some of the most familiar verses, and I want us to look at them together. In verse 23, he says, "Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand." And I love this picture of a father leading a child along, guiding him through life. He says, "You guide me with your counsel." He goes, God is with me, God is close to me, God is telling me what to do, he's guiding me towards wisdom. And he says, "And afterward, you will take me into glory." One of the reasons why this verse, verse 24 there is so significant, is because if you read the Old Testament, it's murky about the afterlife. We tend to think, hey, from the beginning there is this very clear picture of heaven, and hell there's really not. Even in the New Testament, it's not as clear as we like to believe it is, but in the Old Testament, it's murky. In fact, there is a whole set of Jews that just didn't believe anything happened after death and didn't believe in any kind of afterlife. But he says here, after you're with me and you counsel and guide me here, you will take me into glory. Asaph believe that even after he was no longer living, there was a reward that God was offering. Which means this, even if you go through the rest of your life not yet seeing the full reward of your faithfulness, you look forward to God receiving you into glory.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:47] Probably the most famous verse of the Psalms is the next one, verse 25, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And Earth has nothing I desire besides you." Verse 25 is kind of funny because it's like, "Whom have I in heaven but you?" Alright, if we're taking it literally, he's saying, Well, God, you're the only one that I have in heaven, there's nobody else, you're the only one that I have in heaven. But who does he have in heaven? He's got God. That's the headline, he's saying, I've got God, I have the one, and I have the judge. He is mine and I am his, he says my flesh and my heart may fail, which is Asaph's way of saying, I may get so sick that my body no longer works, my heart may fail, I may get so heartbroken by emotional difficulties that I experience deep loss. "My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." I love that word portion, on Thursday, most of us are going to eat a big meal and there might even be a pie that gets sliced up and distributed, maybe an apple pie, or a pumpkin pie if you're weird. [Inaudible] Yeah, yeah, get over it, you can have the whole pumpkin pie, I don't want any of it. You're going to be given a slice, and when you're given that slice, that is your portion. In other words, that's like, that's all you get right there. Look at what Asaph is saying, Asaph is saying, God is all I get. And do you know why that's okay? Because God is all he needs. God, you are my portion. He was right at quitting point, but the reward was just around the corner.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:34] And I just want to pause and say this, we don't have testimony time right now, but if we did, here are some of the things that we would learn just from those of us in this room. If we had testimony time right now, you would hear from person after person who would talk about regrets in their life and say, I so wish back then I had trusted God and did things his way because he's gracious and he's compassionate and he's forgiven me and he's brought healing. But man, I've dealt with the fallout, there's no act of rebellion that goes unpunished. And they would warn us all, don't go the world's way, trust God because you don't want to deal with these regrets. And what they also would tell us is that this room is filled with people that reached a quitting point and decided to trust God just one day longer, one weeklong. I'm going to keep trusting him, I'm going to keep walking with him, I'm going to keep being faithful to him, and they would say, I'm so glad that I did. There would be people who are saying, you know, we were at the breaking point ourselves, we were about to end our marriage, we were just done with it. But we leaned in, and we said, no, we know that God has faithfulness for us to each other, and we leaned in and we kept trying and we got people around us and we were faithful to God's Word. And we're experiencing the most joyful season of our marriage because we didn't quit. There would be people in this room saying, I was about to quit on prayer. I was done with prayer, just because it was hard work and because I didn't see God answering my prayers, but I decided to persevere, I leaned in and I kept being faithful to God. And now I not only have seen prayers answered, but I am enjoying the joy and the pleasure of intimacy and closeness with God.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:07] Whereas Asaph talks about, He's with me, he's guiding me, and he will reward me. And not only this but let me remind us of one other reality. The person who we're trusting to accomplish all this is one who hung on a cross, and if there is ever a moment in human history where it looked like wicked people had won and the righteous had lost, it was when Jesus was hanging on the cross. Jesus was the only person who ever lived and really could say, I've done nothing wrong. He was hanging on the cross, all seemed to be lost and his body was tossed into a grave, but victory was right around the corner. Resurrection was coming, and with God, no matter how deep the valley, no matter how much you feel like quitting, reward and restoration and victory and resurrection are always just around the corner. So let me ask the question again, where are you tempted to quit today? In what area are you just feeling like I'm done? I've tried it God's way, I've tried it so many times, I keep waiting for him to come through and it's just not happening. Where are you tempted to quit today? Asaph doesn't pull any punches, he tells us how dark the valley can get, but he also tells us that we have a God who leaves no act of rebellion unpunished and no act of faith unrewarded, the God who sees in secret will reward you.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:44] In fact, the Psalm is not done, Asaph gives us a little benediction in verses 27 and 28. He says, “Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you." A reminder of the end of the wicked, and then he says, "But as for me, it is good to be near God. I've made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds." He says, I've come through to the other side of this, and here's what I've decided is good. What I've decided is good is not utter rebellion in doing whatever I want. What I've decided is good is not calling my own shots and running my own life. What I've decided is good is being near to God. And because I'm near to God, He will lead me, He will guide me, and he will reward me. And brothers and sisters, the reason why we get to walk forward in confidence that we can be near God is because we really do believe that on that cross Jesus paid it off. You have no sins, if you're a believer in Jesus, you have no sins hanging over your head because Jesus paid it all. And just as we're going to celebrate at Christmastime, that he is God with us, he will always be with us because Jesus has paid it all.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:07] And so it seems really appropriate that the next thing we get to do in our service, our first act of worship and response to this, is that we get to take communion together. If you're going to be helping out with communion, you can head to the back and Tom will get you set up with all of that. We get to take communion together, and we get to use this as a time to remember the price that was paid so that God would always be near to us. And so here's what I want to encourage you to do. when we prepare to take communion, it's always appropriate for us to be thinking through our own sins, and the things we need to be forgiven of, and the way that God has been good, and the price that Jesus paid. Here's what I also want you to be reflecting on as we get ready to take these elements, what I want you to be reflecting on is the fact that whatever deep valley you feel like you're in right now, God's hope and his victory and his reward is just around the corner for those who faithfully wait for it.

Dan Franklin: [00:42:05] Let me pray for us. Father, I pray especially for anybody this morning who really is at quitting time, who really is, Father, they are just trying to hold on, but are struggling. You see those tears, you see that struggle and you treasure that, and Father, I pray that you bring the hope that's needed. I pray even during this communion time that you remind us that you bring victory out of the darkness, and you bring hope out of our darkest places. Thank you that Jesus has paid it all, truly to all to him we owe. We pray that you receive our praise and our thanks, and we pray that you supply us with the strength, and the guidance, and the hope to continue to be faithful to you and to trust that you will be faithful to us. We pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848