The Surprising Experiences that Result in a Passio

Brent Aucoin June 4, 2006 Psalms 73:

Introduction:
We all know this individual… 
This individual is the one who seems to have an inordinately stable life. 
He doesn’t seemed to be shaken by much.  When he says “God is good” you understand that this is not some kind of perfunctory platitude or cliche that he mindlessly echos
For him, you know that the statement “God is good” comes from conviction and firm belief
The individual seems to long for God more than he enjoys the simple pleasures of life. 
You know him all of us probably have met him before and we are curiously drawn and attracted to him.
He is the individual that we hate it that we love him so much, because being around him sometimes makes us wonder..

“Why do I not have that same kind of passion for God?”
“What does that individual have that I do not have?”
“What does that individual do that I have not done?”
“What did it take for that individual to develop the passion for God that he has?”
“What did he go through?”  “What did he experience?” 

Would it surprise you if the answer was… that he was deeply angry at God at one point in time?

This summer we are continuing our series that Pastor Dutton started last week “Are YOU angry with God?”  This is simply a reversal of the question which Pastor Viars taught on for 5 weeks, “Is God mad at us”

Today we look at this question through the lens of Psalm 73

Are YOU Mad at God
The Surprising Experiences that Result in a Passionate Heart for God

Please turn to Psalms 73.  It is on page 423 in the front section of the bible in the chair in front of you. 
Or for our Chinese friends it is on page 729 in the Chinese English Bible.

Now as we approach Psalm 73 I first want to draw your attention to the nature of the Psalms in the OT. 
Pastor Viars and Dutton have largely been speaking to you out of portions of the Bible that are called Biblical narratives
Biblical narratives tell true stories about God and his people—Genesis, Matthew, Luke.
Pastor Viars and Dutton have also been speaking to us through epistles which are Letters from apostles that instruct God’s people—I Corinthians, Hebrews, etc

The Psalms are neither narratives nor epistles.  The Psalms are ultimately a record of the responses of the people to God Himself. 

“The Book of Psalms is a cross section of God's revelation to Israel and of Israel's response in faith to the Lord. The Psalms mirror the faith of Israel. In them we receive windows that enable us to look out on our brothers and sisters in the faith of more than twenty-five hundred years ago.” William VanGemeren

Truly the Psalms are the word of man back to God that have actually become the Word of God for instruction to us.
And in them we find some very startling words of man back to God. 
We will see some of them today.
But God has placed these responses in His Scripture so that we may ultimately learn about from the great but sometimes very perplexing work of God in our lives.

Secondly I would like to draw your attention to three items in Psalms 73  before we read the Psalm together

1) Its beginning  Verse 1  “Surely the Lord is Good to Israel”
2) Now look at verse 25 Whom have I in heaven but You and besides you I desire nothing on earth.. and verse 28 “But as for me the nearness of my God is my good
Now the Psalm begins on a great truth about the goodness of God and end on that same truth, but look at the middle
3) verse 13 “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence,
Do you understand what the Psalmist is saying there—“Sure I have walked in the ways of God and it has been vanity. 
All this doing right
All this learning truth
All this trying to love God and people
Has BEEN VAINITY
Pretty Amazing is it not? We have a guy like this recorded in Scripture?  Have you said that to God.  Have you uttered that?  This guy has some intense problems!
This is where Psalm 73 intersects with our topic Are you Mad at God?  Something was happening to this man and   he surely in a very precarious position----angry at God.
What Happened to him? 
Are you on the edge of your seats ready to find out?

Read Psalms 73Psalm
1Surely (notice the ring of certainty.  This Hebrew term is repeated 3 times in the text)  God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! (“heart repeated 6x)
2But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped.
(Notice he starts with truth and then he uses a three letter word—what is that? “But”
I want you to observe hear that while all of us mouth the words “God is good”, we all typically have our three letter word after it—“But”.  How does God ultimately remove the “But” from our saying of the perfunctory cliche, “God is good?”
Let’s continue reading…
3For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity (Shalom/Peace/ completeness) of the wicked.
4For there are no pains in their death, And their body is fat.  (they have so much that they are fat))
5They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like mankind.
6Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them.
7Their eye bulges from fatness; (Their eyes shine because of their prosperity)
The imaginations of their heart run riot.
8They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high.
9They have set their mouth against (actually ‘In”) the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. (Notice the picture these individuals are like gods, their mouths are in the heavens speaking and then their tongues carry out their words on earth)
10Therefore his people return to this place, And waters of abundance are drunk by them.
11They say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?”
12Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.

13Surely  (notice the certainty here) in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence;
14For I have been stricken all day long And chastened every morning.
15If I had said, “I will speak thus,” Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.
16When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight

17Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end.

18Surely (Notice the certainty here) You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.
19How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!
20Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.
21When my heart was embittered And I was pierced within,
22Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.
23Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand.
24With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory.
25Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
28But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have
made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.

Certainly we could look at this Psalm from the perspective of what ultimately happens to the wicked.  However, I think there really is something else going on here.  The Psalm doesn’t seem to be just about the wicked seeming to propser.  It is about a man seeing something in life that shouldn’t be and his spiritual journey of processing what he sees… AT the end the man finally concludes God you are all I want….

Theme:  The heart that desires God more than anything else (Ps 73:26 heart) is a possible reality; but, that heart has gone through episodes of anger with God. 

Question: How did we get to the point of Ps 73:25, 26? 

Answer:  God allows us to taste three transforming experiences in order to develop a heart that desires God more than anything else.

The first transforming experience that God allows us to taste is

1.  The destabilizing disillusionment that infests those living for things seen

Notice what the Psalmist said about his condition at first. 
He compared it to being on a slippery slope in verse  2 “My steps had almost slipped”
He evaluates his condition as sliding backwards….He is going down and going down fast
He flat out says that life being lived as he was living it right then was vain,
He is disappointed to put it mildly,
He is disillusioned with what he sees to put it accurately
As he looks around and sees all the wicked seemingly prosperous
He compares that with his condition as he strives to live for God it doesn’t click!!.
They are blessed and I am cursed.
They have SHALOM (Peace), and I have distress 
They have an abundance now and I do no not. 
They have health and I have sickness. 
They have power and I am weak
They have all the influence and I inspire no one!
They have fame and I have the reproach man!
How can this be because I AM  THE ONE WHO KNOWS GOD AND THEY DO
NOT
GOD, THIS IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR WHEN I CAME TO KNOW YOU!
THIS IS UNJUST.  THIS IS NOT RIGHT!!  IT IS SIMPLY NOT WORTH IT, GOD. AND YOU ARE NOT GOOD—“SURELY IN VAIN I HAVE KEPT MY HEART PURE”

However, can I ask you this question, when you signed up for a relationship with God did you sign up for simple earthly peace, abundance, health, power, influence and praise of man?  Is that really what the contract was?

[APPEALS:]  You today may not be angry with seeing the wicked proper.  Maybe it just you not prospering.
You may not be prospering in your Job, in fact, you don’t even like your job and wondering why won’t God given me a job I like
You may not be prospering in your marriage relationship, in fact you don’t even like your marriage relationship and wondering why won’t God change my spouse?
You may not be prospering in even finding a marriage partner, in fact you can’t even envision yourself ever finding the right one and wondering God what are you doing
You may be praying for a loved one for salvation/ healing and in fact that individual is going the opposite way of the way you are praying and you are wondering is this all vanity?
So, you may not be in the same situation of seeing the wicked prosper, it just may be you are not and your starting to go down the same path as this man…

Now, Something happened to this man, that shifted his perspective about his relationship with God;   WHAT WAS THAT???  SOMETHING SKEWED HIS THINKING!!
Here is what happened….He began thinking that God is only good if he provides the temporary blessings and success like HE SEES (by his own senses) the wicked enjoying
His disillusionment started to infest his heart in an almost imperceptible way when he made the mental shift in his thinking about the way God blesses…

Look at verse 2 again,

But as for me, me feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped.  For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked….

Notice the subtle steps that produced his disillusioned and angry condition

1) Deception of the heart
He looked outward and saw material prosperity of the wicked; he saw the peace;
And he assumed that prosperity, success, wealth, health were the standard of God’s blessing.

The destabilizing disillusionment that results in anger with God begins with a deceived heart that evaluates reality by seen temporal blessings.

By what standard are you evaluating God’s goodness????
A perfect spouse?
A companion?
Ease of circumstances?
A problem free existence?
Good grades?
People like me?
Having children?
Having obedient children?
Having children that serve you?
Health?
A 40 hour a week job with 4 weeks of vacation, 3 weeks of sick days,

As soon as an individual makes that evaluation what happens next?
As soon as you make the determination that success in this world is measured by abundance, wealth, good things, health, beauty, power, and influence.
You start lusting after those things.  And that’s what this man does
He starting lusting after them….I wish that I had what they have,

2) Desires in the heart

But as for me, me feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped.  For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked….

As soon as he starts to lust after the material blessings of this world is the moment he starts living for the temporal pleasures/powers/possesion that he sees others enjoying yet he himself seems to enjoy none. But he lusts after them

At this point, is when we experience idolatry—Idols of the heart, living for something other than God

And Ezekiel 14:2-says, “Son of man these men have set up idols in their heart.  They have set the stumbling block of their iniquity right before their faces”  (Illustration)

Once I view everything through the grid of my desires for temporal pleasures and succession I start severely distorting reality

3) Distortions by the heart

Notice the seemingly ABSOLUTE STATEMENT by the Deceived, Lusting Heart in regard to the reality of the wicked
The wicked HAVE NO PAINS (v. 4)
THEY ARE NOT IN TROUBLE (v. 5)
THEY ALWAYS ARE AT EASE (v. 12)
THEY INCREASE IN WEALTH ( v. 12)
BEHOLD THE WICKED!!!!

Those distortions about reality then lead one to make

4) Determinations from the heart
About Self--VANITY
v. 13 “Surely I have kept my heart pure”
About Circumstances--PUNISHMENT
v. 14 I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning
About God--GOD IS NOT GOOD
v. 15, The Psalmist says, If I start speaking this way, I will betray a generation of your children God.”  Why would he betray?  Because ultimately his speaking and thinking at this point is all indicating that GOD IS NOT GOOD TO ME.  How would you like FBC to be teaching that in children’s Sunday School.

HE IS ANGRY WITH GOD
How did he get there?
Deception of the Heart
Desires in the Heart
Distortions by the Heart
Determinations from the Heart

This man is tasting the destabilizing disillusionment that infests an individual living for things seen.
He concludes in verse 16, “When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight—“Troublesome” is an understated translation.  The word is “DISTRESSTING”—The kind of DISTRESS that the wicked should be in but are not and the kind of DISTRESS that the righteous should not be in but are.

The destabilizing disillusionment is not a pretty, sight, it is not pleasant, but it is a part of life!!!

[Personal Illustration]  About three years into my ministry here at FBC I became somewhat disillusioned.   Can I give you some of the determinations of my heart at that time….This ministry is too aggressive!  I can’t do what I’m asked to do!!!  Surely there is as place out there where I wouldn’t have to work so hard!  Surely there is a church out there that doesn’t expect so much from me!  My gifts centered around being more of a discipler of men not an administrator and one of the determinations of my heart was, “I’m never going to become an administrator” and in many ways I was angry with God and my situation and the people around me for the circumstance I was in.

Now, what was in my heart?  For me largely it was this—My heart struggled and still struggles to live for the time when I don’t have to work hard…that is God is good to me if he gives me the appropriate ease, relaxation, and pleasure, and problem free existence that I lust after….The terms “PROBLEM FREE” and “CHURH” are oxy morrons in fact the terms PROBLEM FREE AND LIFE are oxymorons.

These times in our lives that are disorienting, disillusioning are necessary for us to begin realizing that there is a greater reality than what we see in this lifetime..

So what do I do if I am in a disorienting disillusionment?. What do I do now Brent? Please notice what the Psalmist did...in verse 17…

Until I came to the sanctuary of God  (this is the pivot verse of Psalms 73.  EVERYTHING HINGES ON “UNTIL I CAME TO THE SANCTUARY OF GOD”

The second transforming experience that God wants us to taste is…

2.  The reorienting revelation that illuminates those seeking understanding

The Psalmist in this case goes to the place that represents the presence of God.  This was the OT Temple. 
In that place there was a manifestation of God’s glory that resided above the cherubim of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies.
We do not know why this man went there!
But his last statement was, “All of this was not understandable”
So even though he did not understand..
Even though he thought the God with whom he was in relationship with had done him wrong…
Even though from his perspective, God had been unjust to him
He still went back
Possibly to get more understanding..
Possibly to give God a piece of his mind…
Yet He went back to God (say that with me—“HE WENT BACK”)
Unlike Cain from last week who ran from God
Despite not UNDERSTANDING HE WENT BACK

And in going back in the presence of God he received a revelation--
The God who is truth, who sees ultimate reality in a way we simply cannot…showed him what true reality really is.
Man can only perceived snippets of reality and even those snippets become misinterpreted,
So, God pulled back the curtain and showed him revelation that reoriented his deceived perspective.

v. 17  “THEN I PERCEIVED  or “discerned” or “understood” their end
That  revelation of God was the starting point of his rescue from the destabilizing disillusionment.

(How important is it to be around God’s revelation?  ---Word about exposure to truth and coming back tonight for the Praise service—Summer time)

[Continue Personal Illustration]:  For me, I kept going back to God and the church and ministry.  And during that time, I learned 3 revelations that started rescuing me….1) Life is not about living for the time when I don’t have to work, life is about working for God and others and rest will come in due time, 2) God expected me to work hard 6 days and rest one, 3) God is working even when I can not…This was the beginning of the reorienting revelation for me….

[Begin transition to next point]
However, for this man in Psalm 73 and for myself it is simply not the exposure to truth that rescues.  It is the exposure and acceptance of truth that rescues..  You see, he had to come to the point where he believed the truth despite the fact that he had not seen in actuality what God was proclaiming would happen to the wicked.

Notice again that He came into the sanctuary. ( v. 17)
We are not told how he received truth, was it in a dream, was it through a preacher preaching in the temple, was it through the OT Scriptures being read?
Yet, He perceived, he understood, he discerned, the end of the wicked, even though he did not see it yet.

So God not only wants us to taste
1. the destabilizing disillusionment that comes from living for things seen
And, 2. Reorienting revelation that illuminates those seeking understanding
But, 3. The….


3.  The settled satisfaction that comforts those believing in things not seen.

Notice the clear contrast between verse 3—“I saw the prosperity” and verse 17, “I understood/perceived” His understanding of reality at this point was not based upon his senses but based upon the truth that he believed about the situation.

And he starts getting a sense of satisfaction and relief even in the midst of his circumstance.  You don’t see him tense anymore.  You see the Psalmist at ease, content.  You see in him a sense of reliefe and settled satisfaction that comforts those believeing in things not seen…

That settled satisfaction covers three all encompassing aspects of life.

1) Reality
What was seen by the eye What was in fact REALITY from God’s eyes
Feet being on slippery ground --v. 2 The wicked are ultimately on slippery ground—v. 18
Wicked seem to have mouths like the gods—v. 8-9 Wicked’s mouths will be silenced—v. 27
Wicked last forever and increase—v. 12 Wicked are extinguished in a moment—like passing dream—v. 19-20

The distortion that came from the deceived heart is now cleared up.
Reality from God’s perspective is seen by faith. 
Even though you don’t sense it with your eyes, ears, nose, mouth and hands. 
What REALTIES are true from God’s perspective that you can’t necessarily see right now?
How about::  God is using your efforts believe spouse married to an unbelieving spouse
How about::  God is using your circumstances to purge from you some non godly thinking patterns and behaviors
How about:  God is giving very wicked people over to their lusts and all you see and envy is their power and wealth, but you don’t see their total dissatisfaction in life
How about:  God is using your hard circumstances now because he knows that later on he will bring somebody into your life that went through the same thing and you will be prepared!
How about:  God is preparing you to shine like the brightness of heaven in the coming Kingdom, reigning next to His son.  The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glories that follow..

2) Self
Our nature in the angered state—Beastlike (v. 22)
Our eternal companion—God (v. 23)
Our guidance—God’s Counsel/Revelation (v. 24)
Our destination—Glory and Exaltation (v. 24)
Our sufficiency—God Himself (v. 25)

When I see by faith the true reality of the ultimate blessedness of people of God, I want nothing else than God. 
When I see by faith the true reality of the justice beyond what goes on in this sin cursed world I want nothing else than God
I want no part of living for things seen that pass away like the wicked
I want no part of the temporary nature of the wicked
I want no part of the temporary pleasure, power, possessions of the wicked
What I want is the eternal pleasure, power, possession, that comes with GOD therefore,
Besides you God I desire nothing on earth!!   And remember, God, when I was angry with you back a while a go, I was deceived by thinking that living for things seen was where it was at, but I believe now that it is not, I was a brute beast before you God, I truly see now by faith what you have and it is so satisfying and stabilizing now that I really believe that
The condition of the heart determines whether you perceive God is good to you
The Pure in Heart always see God’s goodness (v. 1)
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God

3) God—God is Good

And notice what comes out of his heart now—v. 28
“But me?  The nearness of God to me is good and I have set on the Lord, Yahweh, my refuge to speak all your words.”

Before in verse 15 his heart was just about to teach little Sunday school children that God was not good.  His heart has been transformed and not he speaks out of that which fills his heart!
The pious platitude of God is Good that he started with is now something more than simply a perfunctory statement to be said
It is now a settled conviction!

[Note the cyclical nature of this process…]


Believer are you angry with God? 
May God fully ingrain in us as he did with the Psalmist
THE VANITY of LIVING FOR THINGS SEEN
   THE NECESSITY OF REORIENTING REVELATION
   THE SATISFACTION OF BELIEVING IN THINGS NOT SEEN

Unbeliever….I’m glad you’re here, but I hope you understand that if haven’t taken the first step in believing in Jesus Christ (one who is not seen) and the salvation he offers from your sin (that is also unseen), you are considered by God as one who is not his child, as such which group of people are you in the Psalm?—the group that the Psalmist is wrongly envying, and the group that the Psalmist ultimate sees will be wiped out and not remembered like a passing dream.  Do you understand that the greatest power you have right now is to stimulate envy in God’s people by living for things seen.  That’s really it.  You will have no abiding influence, purpose or meaning in life apart from the God who created you.  Today, come to knowGod through faith in His Son Christ and begin the spiritual journey of learning to have a heart that desires God more than anything else!


Are YOU Mad at God
The Surprising Experiences that Result in a Passionate Heart for God

The Psalms are ultimately a record of the responses of the people to God Himself. 

“The Book of Psalms is a cross section of God's revelation to Israel and of Israel's response in faith to the Lord. The Psalms mirror the faith of Israel. In them we receive windows that enable us to look out on our brothers and sisters in the faith of more than twenty-five hundred years ago.” Dr. William VanGemeren

Theme:  The heart that desires God more than anything else (Ps 73:26 heart) is a possible reality; but, that heart has gone through episodes of anger with God. 

Question: How did we get to the point of Ps 73:26? 

Answer:  God allows us to taste three transforming experiences in order to develop a heart that desires God more than anything else.

1.  The destabilizing disillusionment that infests those living for things seen

Notice the subtle steps that produced his disillusioned and angry condition

A. Deception of the heart v. 3
The destabilizing disillusionment that results in anger with God begins with a deceived heart that evaluates reality by seen temporal blessings.
B. Desires in the heart v. 3
C. Distortion by the heart vv. 4-12
D. Determinations from the heart vv. 13-16
About Self—VANITY v. 13 “Surely I have kept my heart pure”
About Circumstances--PUNISHMENTv. 14 I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning
About God--GOD IS NOT GOODv. 15

2.  The reorienting revelation that illuminates those seeking understanding (v. 17)

3.  The settled satisfaction that comforts those believing in things not seen. (v. 18-28)

That settled satisfaction covers three all encompassing aspects of life.

A. About Reality
What was seen by the eye What was in fact REALITY from God’s true perspective
Feet being on slippery ground --v. 2 The wicked are ultimately on slippery ground—v. 18
Wicked seem to have mouths like the gods—v. 8-9 Wicked’s mouths will be silenced—v. 27
Wicked last forever and increase—v. 12 Wicked are extinguished in a moment—like passing dream—v. 19-20

B. About Self
Our nature in the angered state—Beastlike (v. 22)
Our eternal companion—God (v. 23)
Our guidance—God’s Counsel/Revelation (v. 24)
Our destination—Glory and Exaltation (v. 24)
Our sufficiency—God Himself (v. 25)

C.  About God—God is Good

Psalm 73

 

2But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.
3For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4For there are no pains in their death, And their body is fat.
5They are not in trouble as other men,
Nor are they plagued like mankind.
6Therefore pride is their necklace;
The garment of violence covers them.
7Their eye bulges from fatness;
The imaginations of their heart run riot.
8They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
They speak from on high.
9They have set their mouth against the heavens,
And their  tongue parades through the earth.
10Therefore his people return to this place,
And waters of abundance are drunk by them.
11They say, “How does God know?
And is there knowledge with the Most High?”
12Behold, these are the wicked;
And always at ease,
they have increased in wealth.

13Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
And washed my hands in innocence;
14For I have been stricken all day long
And chastened every morning.
15If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.
16When I pondered to understand this,
It was troublesome in my sight


1Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end. 

 

 

28But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
27For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

26My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
25Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
24With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
23Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.

22Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
21When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,

20Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when aroused,
You will despise their form.
19How they are destroyed in a moment!
They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!
18Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.

Brent Aucoin

M.S. - Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Central Baptist Seminary
Th.M. - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Ph.D. - Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Brent Aucoin and his wife, Janet, came on staff in July of 1998.  Pastor Aucoin serves as overseer of Faith Seminary and Soul Care Ministries at Faith Church.

View Pastor Aucoin's Salvation Testmony Video