You Know Me…

You have searched me, Lord, and You know me.
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭139:1‬)

The creator of the universe, knows me… who the hell am I?  How can I make a claim such as this?  I’m nobody special.  But YAHWEH is, and He made this claim, not I.  He says He numbers the hairs on my head.  Literally He knows every detail about me.  Woah…

But whoever loves God is known by God.
(‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭8:3‬)

You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.
(Psalm 139:2)

There is nothing – NOTHING – hidden from God…  He knows my every moment, awake or asleep, no matter how “far” I try to get from Him (as if I could).

This verse, taken out of context, sounds a bit like a “santa clause” verse – up there in the North Pole, knows if you’ve been sleeping, or awake, bad or good so be good for goodness sake.  But if taken in context of the entire Psalm, we see that God is neither distant nor conditional in His unfettered love.  We are the ones who are distant and conditional…

You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭139:3)

Every detail.  Every mannerism.  Every piece my personality.  You know it, oh LORD…  To be known by You, is immeasurably greater than any and all knowledge I could possess…

…and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God…
‭‭(Ephesians‬ ‭3:19‬)

Before a word is on my tongue
You, LORD, know it completely
(Psalm 139:4)

You know me better than I know myself…

You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭139:5‬)

The language the psalmist uses, makes me think of the kind of care a mother gives her newborn child.  The bond a mother has with a child in her womb, I cannot fathom.  I’m told it’s a bond that is stronger than almost anything, and continues through the mother’s life.  So strong, that many will describe their mother as “One who’s very life was her children”.  And that is often true, and so amazing and beautiful.

THIS is the bond God has with those who are His.  And He is eternal!  WOAH!

On the day I gave my life to Christ, I “felt” two things. They weren’t physical, more mentally and emotionally triggered.  But very very real.

One was weight lifted. Shame was no more, at least in that wonderful moment.  I was free…

The other was as if my mother’s hand was placed on my head and the back of my neck.  The sense that I was comforted, safe, LOVED.  The best way I can describe it.  Not some BIG PROFOUND EPIPHANY, or some grand enlightenment.  I did not gain some secret, some knowledge that made me better than anyone else.  I was KNOWN…

“You lay Your hand upon me….”

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
(Psalm 139:6)

Anyone can “know of” a person. I know of many rock stars.  I know of the president – whether that be our current, or any who have been president in my lifetime (and before).  But I don’t KNOW them.

Anyone can read a book, take a class, go to school, get knowledge, and boast in their knowledge.  Which is good – maybe not the boasting part, but getting smarter is good 🙂 – but that’s now what this verse is talking to.

The “knowledge” mentioned in this verse, isn’t head knowledge.  Though God is definitely smarter than I, it’s the fact that He KNOWS me, my every detail.  It’s overwhelming!  The Creator of the universe, knows me???

Now, imagine billions of people, throughout history. and the Creator of the universe KNOWS them.  HOW?  And why would He WANT to?  Who is this God???

We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.
(1 Corinthians 8:1-3)

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
(Psalm 139:7)

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it…
Prone to leave the God I love…
Here’s my heart, Lord
Take and Seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above”

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭139:8‬)

“He is jealous for me…
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His grace and mercy…”

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
(Psalm 139:9-10)

“You have my heart completely…”

 

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭139:11-12‬)

Adam tried to hide, when he knowingly sinned against his God…

Peter said to Jesus, “Away from me, Lord, I’m a sinful man…”

Shame is a tool the devil might use against believers (“Nobody will understand…  I must not be saved…”).  Self-righteousness might be a tool he uses against unbelievers (“Who are you to judge?  Did God really say…”).  Both are symptoms of a rebellious heart.  Both drive us to want to hide from our Maker.

But there is no hiding from God.  He never hides from you.  And you cannot hide from Him.  The God who knows you and loves you, will never give up on you.

For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb
(Psalm 139:13)

A child might be a result of a mistake, but that doesn’t make the child a mistake.  A child is never a mistake.

You are not a mistake.  He’s known you since before you were conceived…

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
(Psalm 139:14)

I did not create myself.  Nor was I an accident, or an evolution of sorts descended from some goo or an ape.  I was fearfully and wonderfully made.

And I’m nothing special, by the way.  This same truth applies to you.

The story you’ve been fed, that you are here by chance, diminishes the glory of your Maker, as well as diminishes your value and the value of every single human being.  Every.  Single.  Human.  Created in God’s image.  KNOW THIS.  Stop believing lies.  Know how much your Creator values you.  Yes, you.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
(Psalm 139:15)

Lord, You know me…

 

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.
(Psalm 139:16)

God has known you, long before you were “knowable” by human standards.  And not just you – that person you see next to you on the bus, or work with.  That guy who cut you off on the freeway.  The person you didn’t vote for – the person who voted for the person you didn’t vote for.  Yeah, God knows them too.

The person you passed on the sidewalk, asking for money…  Have you looked at their face?  Do you know their name?  God does…

The baby in the womb.  Yes, that living human being, with a heartbeat in the first 20 days, with limbs forming, with DNA at conception.  God knows them too…

The person you think is a terrorist.  Whether that be the brown-skinned person you see at the bus stop, or the politician taking away perceived rights – God knows them too…

The needy person at church, or at work or school – “Ugh, I don’t have the energy….” – God knows them too…

Lord, help me to seek to know those You know…  To see them as You see them…

How precious to me are Your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
(Psalm 139:17)

Oh, our precious are the moments, when I seek Your face…  When I wait on You…  When I pour my heart out to You…  When I listen for You…  How I long for more…

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
(Psalm 34:8)

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for You, my God.
(Psalm 42:1)

How precious to me are Your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with You.
(Psalm 139:17-18)

The mind of God, the thoughts of God, the wisdom of God, we can only strive to know…  But in the striving, in humbly seeking to know God and God’s will for us, we can delight in Him!

When I was young, I used to try and count to a million.  I know I started over many, many times, because I’d lose track of where I left off.  But I kept striving. It wasn’t going to win me any kind of award, or give me recognition.  Still, I wanted to do this.  For some reason, God gave me a mind like that.

When I was older, I was invited to a bible study.  I thought, “Bible study??  Me???  I know NOTHING about the Bible!”.  So I sought (As I had several other times) to read this thing cover to cover.  Much like counting to a million, reading a million pages seemed an attractive mountain to try and scale.

Little did I know God would meet me in my seeking.  Little did I know God’s Word is alive and would penetrate my soul and spirit.  Little did I know He was making me new…

I never did count to a million.  I eventually gave that up.  I would have done the same with God and His word.  I’m wired like that.  Take on a huge project, then give it up when it’s too hard.  Sure, start over a few times – but eventually I’d realize that mountain is too high, and the payout isn’t worth it.  Strangely, that’s not the case with Jesus.  Even in the hard times, I seek Him more and more.  Even in the empty times – I long for Him, more and more.  When I wake, when I sleep – I seek Him more and more…  I don’t think I have anything to do with that…

” You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
(Jeremiah 29:13)

If only You, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
(Psalm 139:19)

When I was first saved, I LOVED Psalm 139.  But I would stop reading at this point, or skip over these verses, because “Why would David say this???”.  Or even think this?

But there is beauty in this confession of David’s. I  mean – we ALL cast condemnation down on those we deem “wicked” or “bloodthirsty” (which would very often be different than those who were afflicting David and actually seeking to end his life).

Still – if you read this psalm (and others like it) through to the end, you can see that even David is confessing his hatred to God.  Who better to “vomit” on, as my pastor said in a recent sermon.

In these verses, I see a beautiful combination of “vomiting on God” and pleading with Him to make one more like Christ.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth….
(Isaiah 53:7)

They speak of You with evil intent;
Your adversaries misuse Your name.
(Psalm 139:20)

It’s a common phrase, to ask God to damn something or someone.  We think of that as “taking the Lord’s name in vain”.   But what about swearing to God, when you don’t really mean it (which is probably most of the time)?  Or making claims in God’s name that don’t line up with His character?  Or the whole “name it and claim it”, as if God owes me something because I declare it to be so “In Jesus name”.

Still, those are typically associated with those who love, or at least claim to love, the One True God.  I think this verse is pretty clear that it’s referring to those who are militantly against God.  Not just “I don’t care” – the very mention of the name Jesus can flare some people up.  And they’ll let you know, in no uncertain terms.  In some countries, people lose their heads over it, literally…

Here in America, it’s pretty tame.  We instead are thrust with many, many options, sold as equal to, or better than, the One True God.  We are told to prove He exists.  We are told there are many gods, or there is no god.  We are told the very word of God is suspect, and how can you trust it – funny, we’ll trust that person who tells us we can’t trust God at His word.  We’re silly that way.

We’re told God is either unloving, or weak, or both.  And that’s if He even exists.  And even if He doesn’t exist – He’s still unloving and/or weak. Basically, we’re very quick to mock Him.  Very quick…

But make no mistake, God will not be mocked.  Yes, He’s patient, wanting none to perish but all to repent and have eternal life through Christ Jesus. But there will be a reckoning…

It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
(Romans 14:11-12)

“I am YAHWEH; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.”
(Isaiah 42:8)

Do I not hate those who hate You, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against You?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
(Psalm 139:21-22)

Well intention-ed hatred and contempt, is still hatred and contempt.  Whether it be the godless heathen, who not only commits atrocious sins but celebrates others who do the same or worse, or the hypocrite who calls out sin in others yet hides or justifies his or her own – hatred and contempt in our hearts is itself sin…

To be clear – it’s noble to hate what God hates.  Yes, He hates sin.  It seems nobody likes to admit that anymore.  “God doesn’t judge”, I’ve heard people say.  God is the ONLY judge!  The only One worthy to judge – and I’d argue the only One we should trust to judge.  He judged us when He sent His Son to die in our place – while we snubbed our noses at Him, mind you…

You see that?  He hates sin so much, He went after the sinner – YOU AND ME – with everything He had!  Do we do that?  Do we, really?  Do I?  Or do I look at that other sinner contempt, thanking God I’m “not like them”, as they beat their chest and cry out to God their Savior…

We must check our hearts, when we get worked up over sin in the world.  I’d argue, we MUST get worked up about sin in our very self first.  Otherwise that plank is going to do a lot of damage as we try and “wrestle the speck out of our neighbors eye”.  We’re not God, we would do well to give more of our cares to Him.  I would do well to do this…  This does not mean silence, or inaction.  It simply means laying our hearts before the Lord.

I’m encouraged by David’s honesty, in the Psalms.  These verses follow a pretty hefty request, to eliminate the wicked.  We may not want or ask God to KILL those we deem wicked – but we might wish they didn’t exist, or were more like us, or – just listened to the truth.  And here, we see David justifying his request.  “Don’t I hate those who hate you, Lord?”

The honesty in his writing, his pouring out to God, is honorable.  Yet, what is even more honorable, is the fact that he then leaves it at the feet of Jesus, and puts his trust in Him.  “You know better than I, Lord, please show me my error and lead me…”

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139:23-24)

 

Advertisements

My God….

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!”  Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.

The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.”

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit……

(Matthew 27:45-50)

 

On the Night You Were Betrayed…..

On the night you were betrayed, you prayed….

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

Not What I Will….

He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.  And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”  (Mark 14:35-36)

Yesterday I talked about being fearless, what that looks like in our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit, how Jesus was fearless and obedient.

As I read through the accounts of his time in the garden of Gethsemane, it’s more than clear that he would have certainly preferred a different approach…..  Yet he moved forward, because “not what I will, but what you will”.

When you read the passage above, what do you think?  How does it compare to your prayers?  If you are like me, you might pray something similar.  “God, I know you can do this – but just in case, I’ll give you an out”.  That sort of doubting prayer.

Or maybe “God, I know you could fix this.  Why haven’t you???”.  Again, doubting.  Also accusing God, or blaming him for our afflictions.

Or “Not my will, God, but – well to be honest, yeah my will”.  You know when we pray “in obedience to God’s will”, but fully intend to do what we please……

None of those prayers what reflect Jesus is saying.  He already knows what he is called to endure – for us.  He’s stating that while he doesn’t want this cup, he will drink it to fulfill the will of the Father.  Obedience.  He knows this is the only way to restore his children to himself.  In the moment, he lays aside his flesh, his desires, for the good of all and the glory of God…..

That is my prayer today.  “Lord, not what I will, but what you will”.  Lord, help me to stand by that.  Thank you for your grace which gives me the power to stand by that.

Fearless?

Watching this video, I’m reminded of how often I can choose the easy way.  Out of fear, out of laziness, out of comfort-seeking – whatever it is, it is definitely out of selfishness….

I don’t want to live like that.  I pray every day for courage.  I don’t pray for comfort.  But I must confess, I want it…..

And God won’t let me pray for it, praise him for that.  I don’t know what that will mean in my life – but I do know that daily steps of obedience toward him, in faith that does not doubt or waiver, will only result in blessings.  Not necessarily blessings in a “joyous, happy, comfortable” way.  But blessings all the same.  For starters – every time I take a step in obedience, the Lord blesses me with stronger faith, which allows me to take another step toward him.

He also blesses me with grace.  Grace, which allows me to get up when I fall – even if my sin at the moment is NOT taking that step toward him, or doubting him and his promise – and more quickly than before.  But also grace, which empowers me to say, “No” to the constant barrage of worldly desires.  To say, “No” to my own flesh.  These are immeasurable blessings in my book.  I thank God for that every single day.

As we near Easter, many of us are spending time this week meditating on what Jesus did for us.  He died for us, and not a simple comfortable, or even QUICK death.  He died a gruesome, painful, humiliating death….

Not only that, he gave up his position with the Father for us.  Do you get that???  He was fully in communion with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit!  Lock-step, no deviation.  We, who can seemingly NEVER do that with our families, our spouses, even our God, cannot fully understand all that he gave up.  To live here on earth as one of us.  To commune with us sinners, many who hated him and wanted him dead!  His love drove him to this, so that we might have the power to return to him….

Most important – and most amazing to me –  in that moment on the cross, just before his death, he gave up ANY sort of communion with the Father so that we have the opportunity to be reconciled to him.  He endured HELL.  He was smitten, cast out, forsaken.  Ever been dumped by someone?  Either in a dating relationship or marriage, or fired from a job, or cast out of your family or circle of friends?  Yeah – that’s something we can get over to some degree.  But to be forsaken by God – there is nothing left…..  Complete darkness…….  I don’t think we could recover from that….

I was up north with my wife once, and we were looking out at the bay at night, which was beautiful.  The entire thing was gorgeous, with the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach (In the middle of winter mind you – still crashing waves, very cool!).  But as you looked out as far as you could see, the sky was so dark, that you couldn’t see where it ended and the water began.  You couldn’t see anything.  We both comment on how eerie it was.  I mean freakishly eerie…..  Nothing but black, emptiness.  I got this haunting feeling, “I wonder if this is what hell would be like……”  I don’t want to know, personally.  And I don’t want anyone else to know either……

But Jesus – he endured that.  way, way beyond that, I imagine.  For US.  So we, who DESERVE that, don’t have to.  Don’t you see that?  Don’t you see how unbelievably crazy that is?  He did this for us…….

Willingly.  All of it willingly.  He didn’t want to – if you read through the Gospels, you will see that he would rather not have had to endure this.  But he endured all of this out of obedience to the Father.  For us.

For us……

I leave you today with a passage from Matthew 26….

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.  Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?  Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

“Look at it and Live…..”

From Numbers 21….

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
 
Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.  The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”  So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

I read the above passage this morning, and it gave me many things to ponder……

In the week leading up to the holiday Easter, I’ve been pretty much living as per usual.  No special fasting, no reverence, nothing out of the norm.  I don’t say this to boast – I’m confessing my utter lack of respect for the Lord lately, and how much I can get wrapped up in myself.  Much like the Israelites in this passage (and others).

It’s important to remember God WAS feeding them.  They were not starving here.  God had supplied them manna, from the moment he led them out of Egypt.  He was providing their every need.  The Word says their sandles never wore out, for the forty years they wandered the desert.  They were given fire to lead them at night, and a cloud during the day.  They had everything they needed.

So do I……

Yet, like the Israelites, I can get caught up in what I WANT, forgetting I have EVERYTHING I need.  And – it seems I can forget how much I DIDN’T have before Jesus.  I was a slave, much like they.  A slave to debt.  To lust.  To my selfish, sinful desires.  I, like them, was freed.  Yet I forget that, and complain.  I piss and moan, if I’m being honest…….

Thankfully God has not decided to send poisonous serpents to punish me.  Oh man….  I’m like Indiana Jones – I hate snakes.  That would be a horrible, horrible thing….  but I do think God has often let me poison myself.  Eventually, I’m convicted of my sin, and I repent.  Sometimes it’s a gentle reminder.  Sometimes maybe not so gentle.  But I am blessed in that I’ve never had to be smacked in the head quite as hard as they were.

But look!  God provided a way for them to be delivered yet again!  And I’d argue – an odd way at that!  God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and raise it up.  Anyone who was bitten could simply look upon this serpent, and they would live.

Just like Jesus…..  Jesus became our sin, was raised up, took ALL of our sin upon himself – one time for all.  Anyone who was “bitten” (all of us) could look upon him and live…..

And all we have to do is look upon him………

In these days before we celebrate Easter, what are we looking at?  Are we looking at our present conditions, or are we looking forward to the promise we have in Jesus Christ?

Jesus, thank you that we don’t have to save ourselves.  Thank you that we don’t have to remain in our sin.  That through you we have eternal life!  That eternal life means ALWAYS – including now.  All we need to do is turn to you….

Forgive me Lord  for my childish attitude – thank you that you do forgive me.  You have forgiven me.  And more than that – you’ve taken me out of my old sinful life.  Now.  All I need to do is turn to you…..

Thank you Lord that in an instant I’m restored to you.  Your grace truly is sufficient.  All I need to do is turn to you…..