Bible Study: December 15, 2013
NASHVILLE (BP) -- This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week's Bible study is adapted from the YOU! curriculum.
Bible Passage: Psalm 73:12-13, 21-28
Discussion Questions: What makes me lose sight of God's presence? How can I improve and grow my receptivity to God?
Food for Thought:
Many agree with the psalmist Asaph that life just isn't fair. It's like the children's game Chutes and Ladders, where, if you get lucky, you get to climb the ladders and win the game; but if you land on the wrong space, you slide down a chute and lose ground. Perhaps like Asaph, issues with unfairness have put you in a fog so you couldn't see God; maybe it was a totally different issue.
We can all drive into the fog sometimes and lose sight of God. A variety of issues can put people in a spiritual fog, leading them to take their eyes off Jesus and focus on the circumstances or concerns that are fogging their spiritual vision.
Psalm 73 is raw. Asaph, one of David's chief musicians, shares his honest struggle with the prosperity of the wicked around him. To him, life just didn't make any sense. It wasn't fair, and it seemed contrary to God's promise that He would bless the righteous. Asaph took his eyes off the Lord, focusing instead on what others had. He lost sight of the ever-present God.
Asaph began Psalm 73 by introducing the depth of his own struggle (Ps. 73:1-3). He was really bitter and wounded to the core of his innermost being. In this state, Asaph wrote that he approached God foolishly and aggressively like an unthinking, wild animal. This was a godly man who had lost sight of God in the fog of the trappings of this world: the "good life," the trophy wife, the hottest car, the latest fashions, accessorizing, and the right look, house, technology, job, clubs, and friends.
Asaph admitted he was wounded deeply, thinking God had turned His back on him, was punishing him or worse, was not the trustworthy God Asaph thought he knew. You have to admire his courage in writing down the weaknesses in his life for all to sing and read.
The good news is that Asaph stopped whining to others about his issues and took them to God! He realized his relationship with God provided all he needed for life and much more. He realized that God was always present and guiding him in all his life. God would also judge the wicked, but Asaph would know and declare the goodness of God's presence.
In verse 25, Asaph pondered aloud the rhetorical question, Who do I have in heaven but You? He already knew the answer. He had no one else who compared to God with respect to His majesty, power, compassion and love. Asaph's affirmation, "I desire nothing on earth but You" (v. 25), sums up what he then understood. The Lord was his all-sufficient One, his Provider and his Sustainer for all of life. Nothing else really mattered.
Our journey of faith and our relationship with God do not totally depend on us. When we come to the end of our strength or get lost in the fog, God comes for us! Asaph rediscovered his joy in the Lord, deepening his conviction that God was his primary passion, the strength of his heart and his portion forever.
The Bible speaks of God's people as His portion (Deut. 32:9). Jesus died to redeem us and make us God's portion (Isa. 53:12). In a broader sense, all those who follow the Lord have Him as their portion (Ps. 16:5). The Lord is the greatest inheritance we possibly could have.
We find three things we desperately need as we live in God's presence: passion, power and provision. And the more we draw near to God, the less we are affected by the superficial, short-lived attractions of this life. God's presence (literally, "nearness") provided Asaph greater good than anything the wicked offered. The "Lord God" had become Asaph's refuge, his place of security. He had learned to measure God's blessings based on God's goodness and presence in his life.
In our world today so many voices try to pull us away from living in the presence of God. The voices come from the media, from our friends and family, from the hard realities of life in our fallen world, and even from our own sin and selfishness. God is not missing what's going on with us. He hurts when we hurt. His heart breaks when ours breaks. He loves us deeply and never leaves us or forsakes us. He's always as close as a whisper. Amazingly, He is with us even when we lose sight of Him!
Intentionally focused on urban and multicultural believers, YOU! is biblically based with culturally relevant and affirming lessons to help your members connect, grow, serve and ultimately be engaged in impacting the world for Christ. This flexible, non-dated all-in-one quarterly resource offers weekly Bible study for leaders and learners, devotionals and teaching plans, as well as articles on hot topics and missions. For additional online teaching resources, visit LifeWay.com/YOU.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at www.LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.