You Think He Doesn’t Know?

He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge— the Lord —knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath. (Psalm 94:9-11 ESV)

Sometimes I think we convince ourselves that God isn’t aware of what is going on. This verse says otherwise. In fact it takes it to a whole new level. Not only does he hear and see, but this text reminds us that he is the Creator of our very ears and eyes so of course he knows.

Not only that but he also rules over the world, all the nations. All knowledge we have us taught by him. When we rebel against him we actually are using the mind that God gave us to decide to not obey.

God knows even our deepest thoughts. That’s scary, as for me I have some pretty sinful thoughts. How does he still then love me? What does he think of me? If we are his adopted sons and daughters by faith in Jesus, he sees Jesus in us and by faith alone we stand justifies before him. Each day then is lived in grace as we grow, fail, grow some more, fail some more…yet always under the all knowing all powerful and all loving, eyes and ears of our Heavenly Father.

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The Things that Cannot Be Shaken

Japan-Earthquake_2155758bI spent some time in Hebrews 12-13 this morning.  So much good stuff in there, but what particularly grabbed me was Hebrews 12:18-28.   In the Old Testament, God spoke to Israel at Mt. Sinai and everything shook, they were terrified. That same God is speaking to us today, there is not two different Gods – and Old Testament God with an anger problem, and a kinder, gentler,  80’s feathered-back-hair “Jesus God” in the New Testament.  There is one God, in three persons, who is forever the same.   One day, God will shake the heavens and the earth,  and return to make all things new, to restore forever what sin has broken, to judge,  and to usher those who are his into our new “city of the living God.” (12:22)

The parallel is that in our lives, we can experience times when everything around us seems shaken.  I have a few close friends who are going thru such times now, and I’m certain I will be there someday as well.  No one is immune to such times – when everything we have known as stable for many years is upside down.  In these times, it is important to remember the message of this passage – there are things that cannot be shaken.  The shaking of our worlds can actually cause us to see more clearly those things.  In speaking of this passage, author Michael Horton in “The Gospel Driven Life” writes “Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, the Scriptures remind us, and only the kingdom that God is building will remain.”  Hebrews 12:27b says that they are shaken “in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain”  – there is a purpose to the times in our lives when everything is upside down – so that we may see more clearly that it is only God’s kingdom that will remain.  Sometimes, it takes everything falling down around us in order for us to see what is truly permanent.

So, what do we do in response to this?  Heb 12:25 says “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.”  God is still speaking today, right now.  God is speaking to you in these times, make a decision to turn from controlling your life, and turn over your life to live for God’s kingdom which cannot be shaken.  Our lives are meant to be lived in worship of God.  That doesn’t mean walking around singing worship music 24/7, that means turning from sin and toward God’s way in purity and truth and faith, in a healthy respect of who God is.

Hebrews 12:28-29 sums it up well –

“Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

Fearing God Amidst Fearing Life

Psalm 86 is a very powerful Psalm – you can tell that David is writing this as someone in the midst of a trial as v1 shows a man desperately seeking God as he is “poor and needy,”  v2 asks for God to “preserve his life,” and “save your servant.”

David is crying out to God in a desperate time in his life – in the Hebrew “Lord” in v3 (and 6 other places” is “Adonai” which is “Sovereign.”  Here we see a very important thing about David’s perspective – he is in a desperate situation,but he knows who God is and he is calling up on the Sovereign nature of God.  God is in control of all things, and is working his plan for his glory.

It’s interesting to note what David does not pray for – that God would get him out of this situation, or simply ‘make the pain go away.’  Verses 11-13 a great summary of what he is praying for:

Teach me your way, O Lord,

that I may walk in your truth;

unite my heart to fear your name.

He wants to know God’s ways more, he wants to live them, he want his whole being to be one to honor, respect, revere God.  As one commentator puts it:

[David] does not mean ‘teach me how to get out of this trouble’ but ‘teach me, while the trouble still rages, to live your way’. Undivided heart, ‘unite/unify my heart’, deliver me from being double–minded, two–faced with God; give me ‘a single, steady aim, unmoved by threatening or reward, to you and your great name’.

As comfy Americans, this goes against everything we know in our blood.  God is there to make our lives more comfortable and take the pain away. When we are facing pain, we just call out to God and ask him to make it stop.  Yet, that is not what we see here from David – God is sovereign above all, and yes, even the pain he is working in for his purposes and our growth.  This Psalm should change the way we pray, moving the focus from us to God himself – that we may turn over all of our selves to him and seek to know him more. As v12-13 says:

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.

For great is your steadfast love toward me;

you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

God has rescued us from our sin and the penalty of it in Jesus.  May our focus on Him create thankfulness in our hearts and outward lives lead for his glory.

 

Psalm 25

Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
(Psalm 25:4-15 ESV)

I spent time praying thru these words this morning, for various people the Lord laid on my heart.  It is sweet to pray the Psalms.

But we also learn much about our God in this Psalm.   We learn that God will teach us (v4-5); he is merciful and has covenant, steadfast love (v6-7); that he will not remember (intentionally) our former sins (v7); that he is good and upright and because he is those things he instructs sinners in his way (v8); we need humility to be lead and taught by him (v9); and when we do, he filles our lives with love and faithfulness (v10); he forgives sin for HIS glory (v11); and when we revere him, honor him as first in all our lives he instructs us (v12); our souls will have peace (v13); we are to give him the honor that he deserves and he will instruct us in his covenant (v14)

We see a big theme running thru these verses:  God is 100% good and faithful to his promises, we need to be humble and honor him in our lives as God – and he will then teach us his ways and his covenant.  Now that Christ has come, we have a new covenant – by grace thru faith in Jesus we are God’s children, we are forgiven, we have a new identity, we are blameless before God because of the work of Christ.

May we be humble and teachable to grow in the knowledge and mature in Jesus, and may we come to understand the covenant faithfulness and mercy of our God.

 

 

A Psalm 23 Kinda Day

I was comforted and encouraged by this famous Psalm this morning:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalm 23 ESV)

Two things that jumped out at me today –
(1) God is the source of guidance, peace, comfort, and life. Note v1 starts with “The LORD”, look at the use of “He” and the switch to “You” in v5. God is the source of all of these things – not ourselves. We do not conjure up these blessings by ourselves, we NEED God.

(2) Verse 3 – “He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Our job is not just to sit back and soak up all the blessings from Him – our active role is to flee sin and pursue righteousness. Why? For his name’s sake – for HIS glory (which is ultimately for our good – See Rom 8:28-29)

This is one of those extremely familiar passages in Scripture – but God is always faithful to teach us more, and different things about Himself is we earnestly seek him by faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6 ESV)