Monday, November 11, 2013

Apart from God

“Keep me safe, my God, 
 for in you I take refuge.  I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’  I say of the holy people who are in the land,  ‘They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.’

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. 
 I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
 or take up their names on my lips.  Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. 
 With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:1-8 NIV)

There is always pressure to conform to the standards set by a particular culture or cultural subset.  On the college campus, “normal” college life is viewed to include a lot of drinking and sex.  Those who refrain from participating in these activities are viewed as oddities.  In the world of science, those who believe in a Creator who has designed the world and universe in which we live are often castigated as fools and considered outliers by their colleagues.  I read an article recently written by a well-known news reporter and commentator who became a follower of Jesus.  As she began to feel the pull of the Lord, she dreaded becoming “one of those people.”

This prayer of David was written in a time when people were worshipping other gods and engaging in unholy behavior.  It wasn’t a lot different from the times in which we now live.  David and other followers of the Lord felt the pressure to conform.  

Yet David did what is necessary to survive with our faith intact when we live in a culture and are surrounded by people whose view of life is so different from our own.  He recognized the truth and reminded himself of what He truly believed.   To me, the key phrase is, “apart from you I have no good thing.”

David recognized that all good things come from God, that, as Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).  David reminded himself that he was totally dependent on the Lord.  The lie of his culture, and our culture as well, is that we have no need for God; we can get along in life without Him.  Yet the truth is, and David knew it, is we are ultimately dependent on the Lord for every breath we take, for the food we eat, for all that is necessary for life.  If not for God, we would cease to exist. 

So he gives praise to God and recognizes all the good things He has given him.  He also commits to keep his eyes on Him, like an ancient mariner keeping his eyes on the North star, in order to navigate his way through life without going off course and getting lost.  He knows He can trust God to guide him.  And he knows the course he is taking will lead him to a delightful end.  

Today, remember that no matter what people are saying and doing around you to discourage you from following the Lord, He is your one true hope. Nothing you are being offered compares to what the Lord has given you and will give you if you remain faithful to Him.  Fix your eyes on Him and never forget that apart from Him, there is nothing in life that is truly good.

© Jim Musser 2013

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