Psalm 73:1-3 A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. (2) But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. (3) For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
As we see in this psalm of Asaph, there usually is a slid before there is a fall. There are 3 different men with the name “Asaph” mentioned in the Old Testament. One was a chronicler of Israel mentioned in 2 Kings and Isaiah. Another was a keeper of the forest mentioned in Nehemiah. The writer of this psalm was one of the Choir leaders for David, and was a skilled musician. He is mentioned throughout 1 and 2 Chronicles. Scholars attribute Psalms 50, 73-83 to Asaph. This is also the same Asaph that is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
As Asaph starts this Psalm, he deals with two contrasting subjects in the first three verses:
- The Goodness of God – 73:1. There is no mistaking or overlooking God’s goodness to His people who by faith follow Him. All righteousness starts in the heart. David said it this way in Psalm 51:10, and he wrote under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” I recently read of one of the martyrs of our faith, John Hooper, who wrote of this verse while in prison and said, “We must learn to say this verse whether it be winter or summer, pleasure or pain, liberty or imprisonment, life of death.” We must always remember that God is good ALL THE TIME!
- The Greed of Man – 73:2-3. Asaph’s problem came because he saw the wicked around him prospering without any seemingly retribution from God. This Psalm represents a great battle that many Christians have faced. Asaph chronicles this battle, and shows us when he turned the corner – Psalm 73:17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. We often allow outside circumstances that we cannot control to allow us to slip in our own Christian walk.
In my Bible, I have this note written down beside vs. 2 – You slide before you fall. To slip means that not only are we not moving forward, we are slowly moving backwards. God expects you and I to press on and move forward. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” We do so by looking to Jesus - Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Are we allowing certain aspects or areas of our Christian walk to slip? Let’s look at three areas in our lives that we need to make sure do not slip. We will study the first one in this post.
WE CAN SLIP IN OUR FELLOWSHIP
One of the ways we define a New Testament church is a called-out, separated, fellowship, or body, of baptized believers. Our fellowship slips when we fail to Preserve our Structure. Dr. Raymond Barber once said, “Poor and inadequate facilities stump church growth. We must provide the facilities that are adequate to keep the ministry of the church going.” God often blesses churches with facilities, or a central location to hold meetings, outreach, etc. They come in different shapes and sizes. Our job is more than just to maintain what God gives us, because if all you do is maintain, eventually the standard will begin to slide. What are we going to do about what we have to be a good steward of what He has blessed us with? What do new people think about when they first walk into your church building?
- Is it clean?
- Well lit?
- A place to worship?
An old building gives off the vibe of an old, dying church. Preserve the buildings and structures God has blessed you with. It is a testimony of your church and the Lord to the community surround it.
Another area our fellowship slips is when we fail to Preach the Scriptures. We are called to communicate the Word of God and fulfill the Great Commission. A church cannot lose its focus on God’s priority – the preaching and teaching of His Word. He not only inspired it to be written, but God has preserved it for us completely and without error today. For English speaking people, I believe that is the King James Version of the Bible. As the church, we have a responsibility to maintain, and even reproduce that word. Think about what Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
Music is important – programs are helpful – but the church’s first priority is to teach and preach the Word of God. We are to rightly divide the Word of Truth, and cannot err on the side of programs and personalities and music.
Yet another area our fellowship slips is when we fail to Propagate and Saturate. It would be great if people were beating down the doors of the church to hear God’s Word and to find out how to know for sure they are saved. But they are not, so we must go out and tell them and invite them. This is the first step in what we call the “Great Commission.”
- Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
- Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
- Luke 24:46-47 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: (47) And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
- Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
If we are not telling others how to get to heaven, then why would heaven want to keep our doors open?
Finally, our fellowship slips when we fail to Persevere with our Standards. No one today likes to preach and adhere to standards. And when you do, they claim you are nothing more than a Pharisee and a legalist. Instead of spending so much time trying to tear down Biblical standards, we should be doing what we can to build them higher and stronger.
If we are going to err, let’s err on the side of caution. If you were taking a trip up a mountain, I am sure you would stay as far from the ledge as possible. Yet, when we continue to ignore Biblical standards, all we are trying to do is get as close to the ledge as possible without falling. But all it takes is one gust of wind, one misstep, one slide, and we are tumbling down the slope of sin. One preacher said it well when he said, “I don’t have standards because I am so holy; I have standards because I know how sinful I am.”
Our families and churches would be in a lot better shape if we would keep our Biblical standards. Mark it down – every time someone lowers or loosens their standards, they don’t become more Christ-like, just more like the world.
Let’s not allow our fellowship, our church, to slip.