When You Get A Raw Deal
- opening illustration - thar she blows
- I suppose no one got up that morning thinking they would have whale guts on them by noon!
- But isn't that just like life sometimes? You are going about your business, and a whale explodes. You didn't see it coming, you didn't plan for it, you certainly didn't welcome it.
- I think we have all experienced that life has a way of suddenly altering its course down hard paths, leaving us hurt, confused, and weak, with lots of unanswered questions.
- So what do you do when your theology clashes with reality? How do you hold to the convinction that God is good, even when life stinks?
- I told you this year our goal is to get to know God in a way we never have before - in order to grow closer to Him we have to understand a fundamental truth about God - He is always closer than you think - even when you don't feel it, even when you don't see it, and even when you can't believe it.
- For the next several weeks we will spend time exploring this by going through the book of Psalms - where raw human emotions cries out to the Soverign God.
- Let's start our journey by looking at an all-too-common problem - when you get a raw deal!
- Has this ever happened to you? Maybe you did the right thing but were written off? been betrayed? been gossiped about? Someone been unfair to you at work? Have you crashed financially?
- If you've ever had something happen to you that was completely out of human control but seemed unfair and you questioned how God could let it happen, then you need to hear this today.
- Let's look at Asaph. One of three choir directors working under David, a great worship leader. He's about to get as real as it gets.
Asaph's Raw Deal
- Asaph starts out well - he acknowledges that God is soverign over all. That He is good. That Asaph is a man of faith, he just knows it to be true.
- But look at what happens quickly, v. 2. Asaph seems to say, i'm stumbling over something that just doesn't make sense. It's not fair what is going on around me.
- You almost get the sense that Asaph is ready to throw in the towel, walk away ("nearly lost my foothold"). Furthermore, Asaph is not shy about sharing why he is upset - v. 3.
- Look closer at Asaph's struggle, four words in v. 3 jump out. Two refer to the people he had been tracking. They are arrogant and wicked. Arrogant people make sure you know what they have. Wicked emphasizes the guilt of those who are actively choosing that which is offensive to God. Asaph was looking at the celebrities of his day, the Donald Trumps, the Brittney Spears who openly disdain God.
- Here is where it hit Asaph the hardest - the third word he uses, they enjoyed prosperity! Did you know the Hebrew word for prosperity used here is Shalom. Recognize that word? It's the peace that God promised His people. Yet Asaph has a problem, God they are driving the fancy cars, they are enjoying the big houses, they even seem to experience peace that you promised to Your people - it's not fair - It's a Raw Deal!
- The problem is Asaph had fallen into the trap of the loving the world and the things that are in the world. He ceased being concerned about the "sin of the successful" and started focusing instead on the "success of the sinful". And that lead him to the fourth word - envy. "I envied the arrogant"
- Envy simply is comparing yourself to someone else and a way that leaves you feeling deprived. "I want what you have"
- By the way, it's not difficult for this to happen, especially in our culture. America is uniquely designed to create inevitable comparison and inevitable dissatisfaction. Whether it's standardized tests, beauty contests, your neighbor's new car, we are all creatively encouraged to envy. Envy is so common it is the subject of one of the 10 commandments - don't covet your neighbor's house, his wife, his slaves, his animals, or anything that belongs to him.
- As soon as Asaph let envy come through the door it colored everything he saw. Look at how he paints the picture, vv. 4-12.
- Asaph could have said it in our venacular - "so this is how life is, these godless people, they live on easy street! They don't face the hardships I face. They live longer, play more, and get away with everything. They wear a power-hungry, cutthroat, cynical attitude like a coat. They are self-promoting, anti-God, and worldly, and they are the ones that are getting a slice of the pie, not me?"
- Look at his sobering statement in v. 13. Asaph sees it like this: "you try to honor God and stay humble and do good, you'll have a tough, mediocre life. You live by lust, power, greed, and deceit, and you become a celebrity. God is good to the pure in heart? HA! Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?
- Now, do you see the raw emotion? Can you connect with any of these feelings? "I try to be faithful and do right, and I have to fight for every inch. It's all backwards." Maybe you are still struggling with the injustice you've been dealt and you've felt your commitment to God wane because of it. Before you bail out on God, Asaph wants you to understand what he came to understand. Consider this godly guidance when you get a raw deal!
Pour Your Heart Out To God
- This psalm is a brutally honest confessional, from the heart of Asaph to the God he felt ripped him off. But he didn't just sit on it, he took his doubts and confusion to God in prayer.
- He didn't do like many of us do, and just pretend everything is okay. He followed the pattern of Job.
- You know this is what God wants us to do.
- Isaiah 43:26 God gives the invitation, "Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence."
- Psalm 145:18 "The lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth"
- God is big enough to take your anger, your pain, and your questions. So go ahead and tell Him about it.
- If you keep those questions inside building up it will build resentment and hardship between you and God. God is waiting to talk to you about all the issues in your life.
Weigh Your Choices Carfully
- In vv. 4-12 Asaph's envy had so taken his heart that he was fed up with living a godly life. He was angry and disillusioned.
- Yet in v. 15 he stops to consider the impact his next steps will have. Asaph realizes that if he goes public with his inner struggles, lettin cynicism and anger out in words, he would become a tool of Satan's for the ruin of God's people.
- How many rash words and unsifted actions have we wished to take back because of the negative consequences they brought about?
- Things we have done have brought headache, regret, heartache all because we didn't stop to consider the consequences of our words and choices.
- Asaph paused to realize the ripple effect on others. I would encourage you to follow this example, trace the results your words and actions will have on your family, friends, lost acquaintances, and church.
Get the Big Picture
- Asaph's perspective is expanded. vv. 16-17. Asaph went to church. He brought his confusion under the truth of God. As long as Asaph tried to reason what he saw he would be hitting his head against a brick wall.
- In worship we see from God's infinite perspective. You can sense the relief of Asaph as he comes to God in worship. Everything changed. In the sanctuary of God his focus was not on his issues but solely on God. He was reminded of who God is, how much God loves him. He could see the punishment of sin, as well as God's gracious offer to the sinner. Eternity shattered his temporal perspective.
- vv. 17-19. Asaph could see that God is in complete control. The wicked and arrogant don't control their own destiny. It is fleeting, and can be stripped at any time, and will be stripped for eternity. Their end will be terror! Get the big picture.
Renew Yoru Relationship With God
- Now that Asaph sees a new perspective he sees himself more clearly
- Envy had previously poisoned him. Look at his own confession - v. 21-22.
- Asaph was only concerned with the immediate - not the long run. He couldn't see past his own envy, and that affected h is relationship with God. But in worship, he renewed that relationship with God.
- vv. 23-28
- When Asaph takes his raw deal to the right place, he finds out he didn't have it that bad after all. With an eternal perspective, everything looks different. God wants that for you, He is closer than you think.
- Today, you may have never made a decision to follow Christ - you know what category you fall into? That of the wicked and arrogant - you lack a Savior to keep you from the punishment of your sins. Today, come to the altar and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
- Today, you may know Jesus, but be dealing with an embittered relationship. Get that right today, begin to see with an eternal perspective, not a bleek, fading, temporal one.