Reflection Sunday: The Goodness of God and the Futility of the Wicked

2019 Messages

Todd talks of the importance of living our lives for God. God didn't just save us from our sin through the sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb of God, He saved us for something. He wants us to be the church, to serve and encourage others, to be in community with one another, to share the gospel, and to love others as He does.

Todd WagnerApr 28, 2019Psalms 73; Psalms 37:1-5

Psalm 73 is a psalm by Asaph. Asaph was Callie and Ryan, Jon Abel, Shane & Shane. He was a worship leader. That's who Asaph was. Psalm 73 is a psalm that was written by him one day when he was… Not a psalm of David; a psalm of the worship leader. It was written by him as he reflected back on what happened to his heart one day. He left his home and was making his way to work, which, for a worship leader, was in the temple.

On the way to the temple he passed by Sadducees, Pharisees, publicans, people who did not walk with God, who mocked God with their actions, people who didn't attend to temple worship. He saw that they were doing pretty well and that they paraded their tongues against the earth. They were fine if people wanted to superstitiously go to the Temple Mount and have some moments of worship, but by and large, Asaph just saw them doing pretty well, and he wondered. He goes, "This is crazy."

That little section where it says, "Surely in vain do I worship the Lord and have I washed myself in every way that, if there is a God, you should." Then something happens. There's a pivot point in Psalm 73 that changed him. He got to the temple and reflected on what happens there. He said, "If I had spoken thus to the people…" He's really, in verses 1-14, the first part that, frankly, probably when you're reading it you're like, "Wow! Am I reading this correctly?" It just looks like there are people out there who mock God and get away with it.

Asaph said, "If I had spoken this, if I had used this as a message in the temple, I would have betrayed the generation of your children, if I had told them, 'Hey, it's crazy that we're church people, Christians.'" To him it would have been people of God, part of the Hebrew faithful. He said, "When I pondered to understand [why the wicked prosper right now] , it was troublesome in my sight…" Then verse 17 says, "…until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end."

What did he see when he got to the sanctuary of God? He saw the burnt offerings. He saw the temple sacrifices. He was reminded of what the Levitical priesthood was doing, that they were offering bulls and goats as a means through which God, during that day and age, through his gracious provision, was overlooking the sins of men until a final sacrifice would come. He knew God did not wink his eye at sin.

He knew that by no means will the guilty go unpunished and that God in his grace was letting Asaph and righteous people in the land declare to them about the true character and nature of God and that it was going to go well with them if they sought him, and the wicked in the land were basically allowing themselves to enjoy God's gracious provision to the nation, his protection to the nation, and his general grace to all mankind. But Asaph said, "It's not going to work out that way for long for them."

Sadly, what happened is the wickedness increased in Israel and the entire nation lost the covering of God's protection, eventually being hauled out, losing their national identity, becoming, again, sojourners in a foreign land until God brought them to their knees. They remembered they were children of God. He returned them to the land. They began their worship one more time, only to pervert it again until, finally, Jesus himself shows up, and he then becomes the perfect sacrifice and shows the seriousness with which God takes sin.

Bulls and goats can't take away the sins of the world; only the perfect Lamb of God can. Then Christ comes and offers himself. Even after that, God doesn't consume the earth in judgment, but he is patient toward you. He has left a group of us here, post-temple sacrifice, post-perfect Lamb of God sacrifice, so we would be about the business of God, so we could remember how much God loves us, how amazing his grace is. When we say, "I need you," he goes, "I've got you."

Then he's going to say, "While you're here, I didn't just save you from judgment; I saved you for the purpose of not being deceived by the wicked. I saved you for the wicked. I'm leaving you on this earth, which has some of my grace on it, some of my goodness and protection on it, for sure, but there's also a lot of sadness here, and in that sadness I want people to realize it's because this world is not as it should be. You tell them that I'm going to make the world right, but when I make it right I have to remove sin, and if there are people who have not had sin removed from them they will surely meet their end."

One follower of Jesus, one individual who studied this psalm, at one point said it's a pitiful thing that an heir of heaven should confess "I was envious" of anything. Think about that. You've been given everything, and it's a pitiful thing that some heir of God would ever say, "I was envious," but worse still that he should put as an end of that statement "I was envious at the fool. I was envious at the wicked. I was envious at the rebel against God."

The Scripture knows that is our tendency, so again and again and again it reminds us. This is Psalm 37. This is a psalm of David. Psalm 37 says, "Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers." Just like Asaph was reminded when he saw that God was going to judge wickedness, David wrote, "For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb." They're not going to be around long. Let the Texas heat go to work. It will fade. Let the rising sun of the righteousness of God go to work. They will be consumed.

David says, "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness." See, we're not just saved from the judgment, because here's the truth: All of us are wicked. All of us have gone astray, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him, on Jesus, so that we might find the grace of God in him. That's why we're in here singing. We're children of God. We're heirs of heaven.

We're overwhelmed that even though we say we adore him and then live in ways that aren't consistent with his kindness and his will, he just says, "Okay. Come home, and when you come home I want you to remind yourself of the goodness of who I am. I'm not going to take my Spirit from you, but you have to let my Spirit lead you. Don't participate with the deeds of the wicked. Love the wicked with a reminder of who I am.

Live holy lives, separated lives. Not geographically, not in your little holy huddles, but live in their midst as if you know something they don't know, that 'God is good. He's not ripping us off. He has come to set us free. His way is a better way. Fidelity and kindness and generosity and self-sacrifice is a better way. It's where life is.' Declare to them the Spirit of God, which has shown you that better way and enables you to walk in that better way, and tell them to repent."

See, church, it's not just that we're here to remind ourselves (and we should) of what we're saved from, but we are here to remind ourselves, having been saved from judgment, that we would be about his business for what we're saved for so that this nation we live in wouldn't have wickedness continue to rise until God takes whatever general grace and protection is on us, and surely there's some or we'd all be speaking Chinese already.

But that we would continue to be individuals who call them back to repentance and don't just sing, "God Bless America," who do the things God says we should do that would lead to blessing. The Scripture says it's when you delight yourself in the Lord and follow his good way that he gives you what your heart desires. That doesn't mean everything you want; it just means you were designed for relationship with God. You were designed to live righteously. You were designed for fellowship.

Sin separates our fellowship. Sin does not make us live rightly; it makes us live wrongly. It causes war, divorce, sadness, infidelity, people-using, greed, attaching our hearts to material things which never satisfy. But no. When you delight in Jesus and seek his way, you're going to find there only what you can find there. So, commit your works to the Lord, verse 5 says. Trust in him, and he will do it. He will bring the peace.

Did you all see what happened in that little deal we did? We said we know we're children of God. The resurrection affirms who he is and what he has done, yet anxiety still rules us. Something is just not right. It tells me we're being influenced more by the way of the world than the God who says, "Peace." All around you are people whose lights went up. All around you are brothers and sisters in Christ who need encouragement.

Here's what's funny. When the room is dark and we can do this, we sometimes go, "Yeah, I'm sometimes anxious. Yeah, sometimes I'm hurting." What God calls us to do is to live in the light. What God calls us to do is to turn to brothers and sisters and go, "Hey, the Scripture says that I am to be encouraged day after day so my heart isn't deceived by the deceitfulness of sin."

It's why we live in communities where we are regularly, day by day, literally, encouraging one another and saying, "How are you doing today? Where are you tempted to be beaten down by the burdens that are in this world? Let me remind you of things that are true about what God has said. Let's meditate on who we are. Let's face these troubles that are in this world that God said would come because we're not home yet. He has left us here for a reason. Let's strengthen each other's hearts by reminding each other of things that are true."

If you're not having that and all you have to do is wait for a time where in the dark you can hold your light up, then you're not living in the light God intends for you. It's why we are constantly calling you to connect here. Not to Watermark. I don't care about Watermark. I just don't…except that it's the place God has allowed my family to be a part where I can be encouraged, and it's the place, at least today, that you're here.

Find a body. Find a place where you are underneath spiritual leadership, that takes God's Word seriously, where you make yourself accountable, where you're a member of the body so the brain and the mouth can say, "Hey, there's trouble there; let's tend to it." So many of us are wondering where God is, and the answer is he's where God said he would be: in his people who do what he asks them to do.

It's why we encourage you to not just attend services but to be a part of the body of Christ: so you can do what you were saved for and so you can find the comfort God intends for you to find in the grace of his Word, his Spirit, and his fellowship. We want to invite you into that. When you came we gave you your Watermark News. There's a perforated section there. You can fill that thing out.

You can just say, "You know what? I'm not connected to the body. I'm trying to say it's just me and Jesus, because isn't Jesus enough?" Yes, Jesus is enough, but Jesus has told you his enough‑ness happens when you connect to his people who yield to his Spirit, confess their sins to one another, and live in the light. Come.

I want to remind those of you who are already in community that you should be almost day by day…not every other week on Wednesday…day by day encouraging each other, day by day letting each other know, "This is how I'm feeding my soul. This is what God is teaching me." My community is sitting right down there with me. I got a text this morning. They were in Jonah in chapter 1, and they said, "This is how I'm feeding my soul today. This is what I'm being reminded of today."

We gather together. I'll be with them tomorrow morning while it's still dark, and we'll talk about how we've been feeding our flesh in a way that's not healthy. We'll sharpen and admonish and encourage and pray healing for one another, and then we'll talk about how we are doing, what we did this week, and how we fed others. Those questions are in the Community Group app every week.

"How are you feeding your soul? How have you fed your flesh? Let's rejoice in how we have been saved from sin but we've been saved for a reason. So how have you fed others? How this week have you been a means of grace? Not distracted and envious toward the wicked but sharing the hope you have."

I had amazing conversations this week with several people who were far from God who I just built relationships with. I had a chance to tell them about the kindness of God, the truth of the story that was revealed in Scripture, the hope I have, and the love of God for them…ongoing relationships that now I'll have through email and text and phone calls, because some of them were out of town, and then others I live with right here in this city.

How did you do, church, in living how you were saved for? We have a great God, and God is alive. That means he's doing miracles all the time all around us. Some of them happen right here. Here's one of them.


Edwin: I was running for my life. I had been strung out on crystal meth for about five days. I couldn't tell reality from my paranoia. I was running recklessly through traffic. My brother warned me this ice, this crystal meth, was no joke. My addiction was horrific. Now I was out of my mind. I ended up on Harry Hines, and I pulled a taxi driver out of his vehicle. I wrecked it into a creek. I ran back out onto the freeway, only to pull two more victims out of their vehicles. Wrecked those two vehicles.

Cops surrounded me from every direction, only to find myself facing down at the asphalt, praying for mercy from a God I didn't know. What a way to celebrate my 26th birthday. They put me into solitary confinement. I remember thinking to myself, "Man, my life is over." The courts ended up sentencing me to six months of intensive rehabilitation, but while I was in jail a guy named Santiago __________ (16:43) approached me.

He had been with the Mexican mafia, and he was sleeved up on both arms. He asked me, "Hey, what do you know about Jesus?" He started reading to me from the Bible. He started sharing the gospel with me in a way that I'd never heard it before. I remember, as we had these conversations, there just being this supernatural peace that came over me. I remember in these moments thinking to myself, "I don't know what he has, but I want that."

At 6 years old, I was molested. We lived in a small compound, or small community in Mexico. I felt very resentful toward my dad, because as I saw it, he wasn't there to protect me from what had happened. My dad did the best he could, but he struggled with anger and was borderline abusive. I felt loss and like I had no sense of value.

I learned while I was in jail salvation is a gift, that there's nothing I could do to earn my salvation. Past, present, and future sins had all been paid for. It was recognizing the true meaning of grace; that is, receiving something I didn't deserve. Staying sober or completing the court's requirements… None of that happened by my own efforts. I put my faith in Jesus Christ.

I started attending The Porch, and I met some guys there who started discipling me. They taught me how to filter everything through God's Word. They taught me how to meditate on God's Word. These guys taught me how to pray. Things just started changing, and it was all because of the community that had come around me. It was all because of the Word that was transforming my heart. As I started growing in my relationship with God, it became very clear to me that I needed to forgive my dad for the hurt and bitterness I had been storing up against him.

Female: Is that you right there?

Edwin: That's me.

Female: That does not even look like you in that picture.

Edwin: I know. That was, if not the last, one of the last pictures I took with my dad. In 2014, I'd gotten news that my father had been diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. I had shared the gospel with him on numerous accounts, and him just kind of being bitter and angry. As his condition worsened, I nearly gave up on him. One day, he just broke down. He said he was afraid, that he didn't know if he would ever see us again, and he opened up.

I got to walk him through the sinner's prayer, and he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior right then and there. As I looked up at this weary frame of a man, I remember seeing a smile on his face from ear to ear, and it was like he was finally free. It was like this weight had been lifted off his shoulders, and he was glowing. I remember him looking back at me with full confidence. During that last six months, I got to see a transformation in my father that was beautiful to witness.

This man who was so heavy-laden and so bitter would come to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior. I truly find it amazing that God would use my time in jail to save my life and then use the church of Watermark to show me how to love him, to teach me how to be a follower of Christ and to forgive others. My relationship with my dad was reconciled. My dad chose to follow Christ, and I get to live free of the things that enslaved me. Not a moment of my pain was wasted.

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That's true if you've acknowledged that you've been a child of wrath, part of the sons of disobedience, that there is a necessary payment for sin, and you cried out, "O God, mercy! Mercy, please!" You saw that mercy was not given through bulls and goats but was given through the Lamb of God whose life was offered for you, and you said, "That's not just a story; that is my Savior who was on that cross. That was my sin he paid for."

Then you justify that you really meant that by the way you then seek him and walk with him and cling to this good God who has delivered you. You don't just talk about what God has done to save you from something; you start living for him because his Spirit lives in you. Then you're a child of God. There's not a single Edwin in this room, facedown on the concrete thinking your life is over, who can't become a child of God.

But don't give him lip service, gang. Don't just go through the motions. Don't just say, "I adore you" and then go and adore yourself and live your own life. No. Jesus says, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." We are not professors. We are not church gatherers. We are followers of Jesus, children of God, who say, "Christ died for me; therefore, I live for him."

Our country needs men and women who are children of God. Your neighbor needs it. Your fellow believers need it. Listen. It wasn't that long ago we sat in this room and we all confessed our sins and realized that even though we've sinned against God alone, we acknowledge that maybe there's some work to do with people who are here with us. So don't forget that. That hand you grabbed and squeezed? Go to work right now.

It wasn't long ago when we sat next to people who were anxious, who were burdened by life's trouble, who need to be encouraged. Every single person in this room is a part of the kingdom of priests if you're a child of God. If you're not, would you come here? I would love to tell you how you can be. Would you take that perforated section and check that box and just say, "I want to know this God you all just sang about"? If those words are true, you want to know him, but if you know him, you are saved right now to be the church with one another.

So before we scatter out of here, turn and face one another. Go, "Have you been here? Are you connected? Are you part of this body? How can I serve you? How can I give you my testimony that this is where God is at work in me? Just like Eric grabbed Edwin in 2012, can I grab you today? Can I disciple you today? Can I pull you into my community today? Can I walk you to the Welcome Center today? How can I serve you? Because I'm a child of God and this is my home." That's church. Amen?

We don't want you to come to Watermark; we want you to be God's people. I want you to know God loves you. When you know that, you can't help but tell other people that God loves them. Come if you don't know him. Have a great week of worship if you do. God bless you.