This morning a fella that some of have probably heard of named Thabiti Anyabwile preached from Psalm 73. He is connected closely with 9 marks ministries (www.9marks.org) and I’ve read several of his articles, but never heard him preach. He can preach. He pastors at First Baptist Church Grand Cayman (www.fbc.org.ky). Here’s my notes and a comment at the bottom from me.
•This is an important topic
•What role does emotion play in worship? This isn’t just a conversation taking place with the church, but it is taking place in our country. It’s not called worship, it’s called happiness. How it is found in money, fame, and rock hard abs.
•He quoted from a recent Time magazine on article on happiness. The telling line was, “we are terrible at predicting the correct source for joy”. True dat.
•In our current day with all of the obstacles to secular happiness, people are bottomed out emotionally.
•Is all of this true of Christians as well?
Outline – Psalm 73
Man centered emotion lead us to despair (73:1-16)
•Articulate Good Theology That Is In His Head (verse 1)
•Hasn’t made it into his heart however (verse 2-3).
He thinks that he is the exception to God’s goodness (verse 2)
Why? The wicked seem to be prospering instead of him and he was envious (verse 3). His envy turns to bittersness (cf. verse 21)
•Rehearses the lifestyle of the wicked (verse 4-12)
They are healthy and without trouble (verse 4-7a)
They sin against God (verse 7b-11)
General Conclusion (verse 12)
The Result of His Man Centered Emotion (verse 13-16)
I’m wasting my life being righteous (verse 13)
Exaggerates his own trouble (verse 14)
Muttering under his breath heresy (verse 15)
Tired of it all (verse 16)
Application of What We’ve Covered
The first half of the Psalm is whining and man centered, most of us enter our corporate worship there. If we are going to rate our emotional response in praising God on a scale of 1-10, we’d admit we start out at a worship gathering in under a 5 on most days.
How does that affect how we lead our churches in worshipping God? Do we address where people probably are at the beginning of a worship?
Many folks also have right head theology or will see from the Scriptures what we’re teaching, but the heart will say, “I don’t like that” or “It ain’t happening for me like that!” Are we as leaders realizing that folks are coming together on Sundays on the verge of bad things going on in their life (struggling with self guilt over miscarriages, sicknesses, scared due to lack of income, romantic heartbreak, anxious about a week ahead, anger issues). Emotions are rampant in our church. Strong and raw and many times they are being controlled. Does all of this have a place in our worship?
God says, “Yes”.
God Centered Emotions Lead to A Singular Love of Christ and Joy (33:17-28)
•The transition takes place when he goes into the sanctuary. (verse 17)
•This isn’t church by the way. The sanctuary was the presence of God. Asaph wasn’t able to go in there much in the whole system of Old Testament worship. But we can go boldly into God’s presence through Christ who died for our sins and made us righteous before God. We have the Spirit of God indwelling us.
•Having encountered God, he sees things different. He gets a high view of God and his mind shift from man to God.
•He sees things very differently:
First off, he sees the wicked differently. He sess who is really slipping. It’s not himself (verse 2), it’s the wicked (verse 18). Things for the wicked will shift quickly (verse 19-20)
Second, he sees himself differently. He was righteous before God and therefore entitled. He was arrogant and bitter (verse 21-22). This shows that man cannot see himself rightly until he sees himself in relation to God.
Thirdly, he sees God differently. God makes the wicked slip. God sweeps them away. This guards us from anger, bitterness, and revenge. God is with his people all the time and guides them. (verse 23-24). Note how nothing has changed in his circumstance. Only in his perspective. His perspective is now that he needs nothing but God (verse 25-26). His joy isn’t found in lack of trouble or wealth or health. His joy is God, not what God gives or takes. Man this is a terribly important point. The overwhelming emotion that Asaph is now feeling is satisfaction (verse 27-28).
Application: We can have a leadership role during worship that helps folks go from emotionally unsatisfied with their circumstances to satisfaction in Christ regardless of circumstances. And not only on Sun. morning, but throughout the week.
Avoid denial. Don’t pretend everything is ok in the lives. Don’t worry be happy will last about 30 minutes.
Avoid emotionalism. Don’t make the emotional high a spiritual fix.
Avoid manipulating folks. Don’t trick folks.
Address the fact that expressing emotion is good. It’s good to cry in sadness when you’ve lost. It’s good to shout when the cancer report was good. These folks need to be next each other.
Address the reality of suffering. Christians suffer. God is glorified in deep suffering in our lives. Prosperity Gospel is crap. A theology that God wants every believer to be wealthy and healthy is idolatry. Prosperity Gospel doesn’t love God it loves what God gives.
Show that our response is to be based on truth, not emotions.
Address both believers and non believers in their emotional state. The most helpful thing we can do for non Christians in worship is clearly show that to be outside of Christ is to be headed toward eternal punishment rather than eternal joy.
Pay close attention to our emotions. Asaph had my job. Take care of my heart. Get inspected by others who will talk straight about the state of your soul.
Closing Thought By Me
Very, very good exposition of Scripture. That’s two sessions and both have included great teaching. You may remember I went to a conference in the spring that was helpful in many areas, but the teaching of the Bible and showing us a huge God was not one of them. This is not going to be a conference like that. This will be a conference that is Christ and his Scripture centered. That is good news folks!