Thursday, January 12, 2012, 4:44 a.m.
– The song, “May Christ Be Seen in Me,”
was playing in my mind when I awoke this morning. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Psalm 66
For the director of music. A song. A psalm.
1 Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
2 Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious!
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing praise to your name.”
5 Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man’s behalf!
6 He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.
7 He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.
8 Praise our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
9 he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
10 For you, O God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
11 You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you—
14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.
15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats.
16 Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
: The psalm begins with a call to praise and reverence Almighty God for his power against his enemies, and for his awesome deeds. It continues with a call to come and see how awesome are God’s works in man’s behalf. Then, it gives a synopsis account of how God had led his people out of slavery in Egypt, how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by God so that he decided to pursue the Israelites after he had let them go, how the Israelites cried out to Moses about their predicament, how Moses then encouraged them that God would deliver them, and then how God used Moses to divide the waters of the Red Sea so that the Israelites could go through the sea on dry ground. The Egyptians pursued them into the sea, but once the Israelites had all gotten safely to the other side, the Lord threw Pharaoh’s army into confusion so that they decided not to pursue the Israelites, the Lord made the sea go back in its place, and then the Lord swept the Egyptians into the sea so that they all drowned. Not one person who pursued the Israelites survived (see Exodus 14). And, this was followed by a call for the rebellious to not rise up against God.
Then the psalmist gave a call to praise Almighty God for how he had preserved the lives of his people. God had tested them severely and had refined them like silver. Silver is refined by placing it over the fire, by letting it heat up, and by allowing the flames of the fire to burn away any impurities. The silversmith must sit, holding the silver, during the entire refining process, so that the silver is not left in the fire too long and thus destroyed. The way the silversmith knows that the silver is fully refined is when he can see his image reflected in it (Resource: The Refiner's Touch:[bless and do not curse] Malachi 3:3
). And, the analogy is obvious. We are the silver that must be refined in the fire of trials. God/Jesus takes us through these trials and difficulties, and he holds us through it all. He never lets go. The purpose of the trials is to burn away any impurities in our lives, i.e. to convict and purify of sinful behaviors and/or attitudes. When God/Jesus can see his image in us (“May Christ Be Seen in Me”), then he knows that the refining process is complete.
The psalmist then gave us some examples of ways in which God allowed his children to be refined and tested. They were brought into prison, and burdens were laid on their backs. And, God allowed men to ride over their heads. They were oppressed and afflicted, alienated and rejected, and were treated unjustly. And, this brings to mind Revelation 13:7-10
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
9 He who has an ear, let him hear.
10 If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword he will be killed.
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.
God’s word promises a day is coming when Satan (the Dragon), the beast and the false prophet will rule the earth, at which time the beast will be given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. Some believers in Jesus will go into captivity (prison), and others will be killed with the sword. This will be a great time of persecution for believers in Jesus Christ. Many throughout the world have already suffered such severe persecution. We, in America, have not yet had to face such opposition to our faith, but that time is coming. And, God is not promising physical deliverance from our enemies at this time, either. The deliverance he is promising us, though, is from our impurities, from our fears, and from our human natures which war against us on a regular basis. He will use this time to refine us like silver in the fire of trial, and to make us a holy bride ready for her husband, Jesus Christ. He promises to be with us all the way and to hold on to us and not allow us to stay in the fire too long to where we are destroyed. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, though we may feel differently about this at times, but he will provide a way out for us so that we can stand up under the temptation and/or trial.
Next, the psalmist spoke of vows he made to God when he was in trouble. Many people make promises to God during times when they are in trouble, but as soon as they are delivered, they forget the vows they made. I am certain that many of those vows are not well-thought-out, and/or are perhaps unreasonable, as they were made during times of duress, and thus must be reexamined before God, and confessed to God as spoken hastily. Others are, perhaps, vows that they should make anyway, even when not in trouble, and thus those are vows that should be honored. When we come into relationship with Jesus Christ by God’s grace and through faith, we enter into a covenant relationship with God, which is like a marriage. Thus, the vows we take are to leave our lives of sin behind us, and to endeavor, by God’s grace and in the power and working of the Holy Spirit within us, to obey our Lord in all things, and to follow him wherever he leads us. The Lord often allows us to go through times of trial when we stray away from those vows, and thus the trial serves as a reminder of the vows we made to God, and of our determination to keep those vows.
Lastly, the psalmist calls to all those who reverence, honor and obey their Lord God to listen to him tell of what God has done for him. He cried out to God in his suffering. God’s praise was on his tongue. He had not cherished (taken pleasure in; made as his treasure) sin in his heart, otherwise the Lord would not have listened to his prayers. Yet, the Lord did listen, and he did not reject the psalmist’s prayer, nor did God withdraw his love from him. Yet, this does not mean God will not allow us to suffer greatly. And, God’s answers to our prayers may involve even more suffering, because he knows what we need to have all our impurities cleansed, to strengthen us, and to make us holy, so that his image can be seen in us. The greatest way, thus, that God can answer our prayers is through delivering us through the trials, but not necessarily out of the trials. In other words, the greatest victory for us, as believers in Jesus Christ, is the victory over sin and over Satan and his attacks on us. We can be despised, rejected, falsely accused, put in prison and/or even killed for something we didn’t do, and we can still gain the victory if we stand firm in our faith to the end, and we don’t let Satan get the best of us. Stephen (in the Bible) was a great example of this (See Acts 6-7). He remained strong in his faith until his last breath.
Again, the purpose of the refiner’s fire of testing and trials in our lives is to purify us from all impurities and to make us holy, so that Christ may be seen in us. May we submit ourselves to whatever cross the Lord may have us to bear, so that Christ may be seen in us. May Christ Be Seen in Me
/ Percy Crawford O Lord, I give myself to Thee, and all that I possess;
I lay aside my sinful pride and claim Thy righteousness,
My will lies shattered at Thy feet, I pray Thy will be done,
My only plea to live for Thee and magnify Thy Son.
O may I count all gain but loss, save as to Thee 'tis gain;
Let me not shun the promised cross, nor shirk to suffer pain,
Then lead me, Lord, up Calv'ry's hill, forth to the cross with Thee,
And there pour out my life with God, As Thou didst Lord for me.
O humbly may I serve Thee, Lord, as in Thy will I tread;
And may I live anew in Christ, as risen from the dead.
Then closely walking by Thy side, may love flow out thro' me,
That those whom Thou shalt lead my way may, too, find life in Thee.
May Christ be seen in me, O Lord,
Hear Thou my earnest plea;
O take me, fill me, use me, Lord,
Till Christ be seen in me.