20 August 2017

THE ALL KNOWING & PERSONAL GOD


Psalm 139:1-16

What does it mean when God knows everything about you and me? Most people have a natural terror of someone knowing too much about them. It’s that “Big brother” complex that someone is watching your every move. We want our privacy and we don’t want to be watched. Especially our inner thought life, we keep a closely where we hide a lot of junk from others, maybe ourselves at times. So when we think that God knows everything about us, should make us pause for moment. That’s why it’s important to think biblically about what it means for God to all knowing and present everywhere.

David doesn’t start by making remarks about that God and His factual knowledge. For example! “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” Luke 12:7 No David starts with God’s knowledge of His intimate, personal, relational information. “You have known me.” God knows everything there is to know about you and me. (v2-v4) David starts out by using a variety of verbs to express God’s knowing. Words such as “know”, “understand”, “observe”, and “are aware”. God knew David’s daily rhythms, thinking, activities, speech and thoughts before he made one step or utter out words to speak. (v5) says “You have encircled me” this literally means “from back to front, You have enclosed me.” Everything in David’s life was under God’s all-seeing eye. This is one of those awe and wonder moments for the Christian life about all-knowing God. Ben Patterson wrote “God’s knowledge of us is not of a scientist peering through a microscope but of a lover gazing at His beloved.” Charles Spurgeon wrote “From the crown of your head to the sole of your foot, God is examining you now; His scalpel is in your heart,….He is searching your heart and trying your reins, He knows you behind and before.” This is the same God who is omniscient and is involved personally over your life.

“Omniscience” is defined as “the state of having total knowledge, the quality of knowing everything.” For God to be sovereign over His creation of all things, whether visible or invisible, He has to be all-knowing. His omniscience is not restricted to any one person in the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all by nature omniscient. For us finite creatures that should bring about rest and comfort and peace that this world no nothing of. Why? Because God is all-knowing this means He has always known everything, and if He knows everything then He has never had to second guess Himself or His motives. Isaiah penned these words “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'” Isa 46:8-10 “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” 1 John 3:20. God’s plans are always based on His perfect knowledge. It doesn’t just stop here! God is all-knowing but He is also omnipresent. (v7-v10) After reading this portion of David’s Psalm, you would ask the question!

Where can one hide from God? Answer! NO WHERE.

“Omnipresence” means that God is everywhere; He is not limited to time and space. This means God is unlimited in respect to space, just as He is unlimited in respect to time. Because God is Spirit that doesn’t mean He is some giant cloud of gas. If that were true then part of God would be in one place and p[art of Him would be in another place. But to be omnipresent means that God is completely everywhere at all times. Paul said “In him we live and move and have our being'” Acts 17:28. Jeremiah spoke these words “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.” Jer 23:23-24. All this implies is that God cannot be contained to any space, no matter how vast. We cannot and never be able to escape His transcendent presence, even in death. We cannot run away from Him in order to hide from Him. This is what David is expressing in this Psalm. When we worship corporately and personally He is there with us, just as He is here this morning. We don’t have to call Him down or to awake Him from some sleep. He is already here! His majesty and unveiled glory is here, just because we can’t see Him doesn’t mean that He isn’t here.

Remember what God said to Moses? "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." Exo 33:20 . But there is coming a day when all that will be changed for forever. “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2
  
We get to experience His manifested presence because He is already here. Not only is He omniscient and omnipresent, He is also personal in dealing with His created children. “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made” In Psalm 139, David describes God as fashioning his tiny body together in the darkness of his mother’s womb. This Psalm expresses that God loved David before he ever existed. This Psalm says the same thing to me and you. Though David is expressing a deep theological truth about God who looks over Him. The same thing is happening over you and me before we were born and He continues to look over us today and forever. What else does this statement David makes mean for you and me? We must be pro-life in the purest sense of the word. We are to respect and cherish all human life: The born and those still in the womb; children and weary seniors; the wealthy executive and the financially destitute. All persons are unique productions of our Creator’s genius. But our culture doesn’t see it that way because they do not value life as God sees it. Recently going through my twitter feed Julie sent me this article on Down syndrome children in IcelandThis is part of the article! “With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” Using an ultrasound, blood test and the mother's age, the test, called the Combination Test, determines whether the fetus will have a chromosome abnormality, the most common of which results in Down syndrome. Children born with this genetic disorder have distinctive facial issues and a range of developmental issues. Many people born with Down syndrome can live full, healthy lives, with an average lifespan of around 60 years.

Other countries aren't lagging too far behind in Down syndrome termination rates. According to the most recent data available, the United States has an estimated termination rate for Down syndrome of 67 percent (1995-2011); in France it's 77 percent (2015); and Denmark, 98 percent (2015). The law in Iceland permits abortion after 16 weeks if the fetus has a deformity -- and Down syndrome is included in this category. The article went on to say “Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women -- close to 100 percent -- who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.” The University Hospital in Iceland who counsels women who have a pregnancy with a chromosomal abnormality. They speak to them when deciding whether to continue or end their pregnancies. They tell women who are wrestling with the decision or feelings of guilt: "This is your life — you have the right to choose how your life will look like." They told a reporter that "We don't look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication... preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder -- that's so black and white. Life isn't black and white. Life is grey." This breaks my heart especially a father of six children. Statistics Canada tables show a recorded total of 2,838,328 abortions between 1974 and 2006. CIHI tables show a recorded total of 353,034 abortions between 2007 and 2010, which means that the total number of “reported” abortions that took place between 1974 and 2010 in Canada is 3,191,362. This fallen and broken world system doesn’t believe this truth that we find in Psalm 139. They chose to suppress and deny God and power He instill that He has over life and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
  
What is David trying to say to us the reader of this psalm? God is over life and created us with great care, love and concern. God has fearfully and wonderfully made us, setting us apart as the brightest, clearest mirror of God’s creativity. While evolutionary biology considers us nothing more than glorified apes, scientific research confirms that humans are vastly unique on many levels. Humans are set apart from all other creatures by the ability to make moral judgments. We can discern between what is right and wrong. The human heart is fearfully and wonderfully made, enabling us to love and experience God intimately. The heart reveals our personality thoughts, memories, emotions, desires, will. Humans are unique in that we recognize wrongdoing and seek redemption. David is revealing to us that God isn’t some distant God who shows no interest or cares about who He created for His glory. Each and every one of us is unique and that’s how God created you before you were born. The construction of man is not of himself, nor of his parents, but of God, and is very wonderful in all its parts. The human body is the most complex and unique organism in the world, and that complexity and uniqueness speaks volumes about the mind of its Creator. Every aspect of the body, down to the tiniest microscopic cell, reveals that it is fearfully and wonderfully made. The complexity of the human body is so amazing it’s puzzling to think that people who study natural science can fail to a believer in the infinite glorious God we serve. Knowing this truth of this Psalm should make our hearts melt to worship and praise as David does here “I praise You”.
  
Why was David able to praise and see the value in life as we do and should?

Answer is found in (v15-v16) “My frame was not hidden from You.” What does that statement mean? The substantial part of my being was before God, Himself. The bones which make my frame were put together by God’s hand. "my bones" this word is usually rendered "embryo" which means beginning. The essential materials of my being before they were arranged were all within the orchestrated by God’s perfect plan. When we were being made in secret (v15) God was the one putting all these parts together we call the human body.

What does that mean? David didn’t have the ability to see a 3D sonogram and see how the body is formed by God’s good grace. Yet David is giving us detail and insight into God’s personal involvement into our birth that was being made in secret. Today we have the ability to see this truth come to life, what David explained express so many years ago. Doctors use several different methods to listen to the fetal heartbeat. About 3 weeks, one day after fertilization, when the heart first begins to beat, the sound of the little heart is too soft to hear. Very soon thereafter, they can see the motion using ultrasound technology. At 7 weeks the fetus (Greek word for “Little person”) has its sex determined. XX chromosomes for girl and XY for a boy! And the sex is determined by the father. At 8 weeks the sonogram displays those hidden things that God made in secret.

The baby will suck their thumb
they respond to sounds
The recoil from pain
All major organs are functioning
Nervous system is fully functioning
The brain receives signals
The heart is pumping
The liver is making blood cells
The kidneys are clearing fluids
And to top it off there is a finger print.

At 21 weeks the baby can live outside the womb with a little help if it had to because of complications. All this is going on by the all-knowing and ever where present God before a baby is full term. This is what David is revealing to us this morning. This is the great God who is with us right now. The same God who was with us before we had a name.

The same God who knew…. 
Your name
Your abilities
Where you would  live
Who you would marry or would never become married.
How many children you would and would not have.
You sin and rebellious state of mind in your fallen body.
Your heart and your reception to the gospel or reject to the gospel.

To unpack all this is as David said “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (v6) This wonderful knowledge is more than I can comprehend. It is beyond my reach; it surpasses all my powers to comprehend it. BUT! Though I can’t figure everything out, it doesn’t stop me from loving and praising your name amoung the earth. Why? “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Which leads me to say as David “O Lord you have searched me and known me!” This is good news that comforts the soul in any circumstance of life. Because He has ordained it and allowed it into our lives. Let me close with this! “The guillemot is a small Arctic seabird that lives on the rocky cliffs of northern coastal regions. These birds flock together by the thousands in comparatively small areas. Because of the crowded conditions, hundreds of females lay their pear-shaped eggs side by side in a long row on a narrow ledge. Since the eggs all look alike, it’s incredible that a mother bird can identify those that belong to her. Yet studies show that she knows her own eggs so well even when one is moved, she finds it and returns it to its original location. She is never confused.” This Psalm reminds us that our heavenly Father intimately understands each of His children. He knows our every thought and emotion, and is “acquainted with all our ways” From morning till night He gives personal attention to all their circumstances. Not only does God’s knowledge of us evoke our praise and worship, but it also brings great comfort to our hearts.

Isn’t it wonderful to be so well-loved and well-known by our Lord? 

07 August 2017

OUR GREATEST ENEMY


Rom 7:18-25

Who is your greatest enemy? I bet I can guess who it is. Is it Satan? What if I told you that there is someone else who is your greatest enemy. Want to know who it is? It’s you! Don’t get me wrong Satan is our enemy, but is he really our greatest? Paul answers this question for us very clearly in the 7th chapter of Romans.

Look what Paul pens for us this morning (v18) Our greatest enemy, however, lurks within. Human nature is inherently rebellious. Give us a law and we will see it as a challenge to break it. Isn’t that true when you’re driving? Isn’t that true when you see something you want and can’t have it? Isn’t that true when someone makes you angry over something that has no eternal value? Isn’t that true when you find more joy in something other than God. What’s amazing though all this is…. Jesus, however, forgives our lawbreaking and gives us the Holy Spirit. He imparts a new desire and ability so that our greatest pleasure becomes bringing pleasure to God.
But even though we have been born again, we are deeply aware of our inclination toward evil. This is our greatest enemy! Our flesh, our fallen human nature.
  
What do I mean by that? Our fallen and human nature naturally wants to do whatever is forbidden. “Me and I” are the pivot around which its argument revolves in chapter 7. “Me” the old humanness which has not yet been completely transformed. “ I” our new inner self no longer approve of the sin that still clings to our flesh. This chapter is about our battle we face against our flesh. The Law demonstrates for us our inability to follow and the more we try the more we fail. Because the flesh is at war within us. What is the natural man according to the scriptures?

We are natural born liars “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.” Psalm 58:3 

We are natural born sinners “How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure? Behold, even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure in his eyes; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!"  Job 25:4-6

We are naturally born depraved “And he said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him.” Mark 7:20

Though this is our natural problem, Paul reminds us of the solution at the end of this chapter. But before we get there we need to understand something important! Though we are naturally depraved this means “twisted or bent”. The simple explanation of “depravity” is that mankind has fallen from the original state of righteousness. And that our nature has become corrupt. But understand this when you hear the word “depraved"  This means we are not as bad as we could be! This means we are not incapable of demonstrating virtue. This means we are not incapable of possessing a conscience, or that we are totally insensible to good and evil.

What this does mean though…… 
We have seriously defaced, disfigured and are polluted with moral corruption. 
We are hostile towards God and prone towards sin. 
We are not prompted by any love of God when we do things according to the flesh. 
We are incapable to free ourselves from our sinful and depraved condition. 
See this becomes a battle ground for many Christians who are willing to amid it. 
They fail so much they begin to doubt the love of God for their life. 
I’m here to tell you with the apostle Paul….”Welcome to the club
The church is filled with people who cannot do enough good, and fail at obey God’s law over our lives. 
This is not a place where people run from God it’s a place where people are running to Him.

Now! This doesn’t mean we throw our hand in the air and give up. This doesn’t mean we can just continue to sin and ignore the Holy Spirit leading in our lives for correction in righteousness. This doesn’t mean we don’t pursue and strive for holiness. What this means is….We recognize that though we love God, there is something else that is trying to keep us from that love though our inabilities and downfalls. Why? We are at war within ourselves. Though after salvation sin doesn’t rule us any longer, but it manages to survive. Though it doesn’t reside in the innermost self but finds it lingering dwelling in the flesh. This will remain until a believer meets the Lord at the Rapture or at death. Remember what Paul said “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Gal 5:17

That’s why Paul said this (read v19-v23) For many they doubt they’re good enough or doubt that God could love them enough which in the end lead many people to doubt the eternal assurance that God offers fallible and broken sinners like you and me. Because we mess up and we cannot keep the Law that God has written on our hearts. We begin to question, Am I saved at all? Again Paul in this chapter helps us to answer that question that those who are God’s children will be keenly aware of our own inabilities and struggles of the flesh. Charles Spurgeon said something that should comfort our doubt about God’s grace. “It is some comfort when we feel a war within the soul to remember that it is an interesting phase of Christian experience. Such as are dead in sin have never made proof of any of these things. These inward conflicts show that we are alive. There is some life in the soul that hates sin, even though it cannot do as it would. Do not be depressed about it. Where there is pain there is life” To know you feel as Paul feels is a sign of God’s sanctification in your life, which then lead to find that you are secure in His arms. See there is a difference between eternal security and eternal assurance.

Security is that you know its Christ alone through repentance and faith in His gospel. 
You know He did this through His death and resurrection. 
You know that He is only way to be secure with an eternal home. 
You know that your secure though His death and resurrection. 
You know you’re saved and that He keeps you.

Assurance is day by day of growing as you love and serve our Lord with all your heart mind and strength because of that salvation so freely given. Assurance is a confidence in my salvation. Assurance is made evident by who you love and desire to serve on a daily basis. Assurance reaffirms our eternal position in Christ. And our eternal position gives persevering evidence to our assurance in the gospel of our salvation.

How do I know that’s true in my life? Let me ask you!

Do you desire to please Him?
Do you desire to walk in holiness?
Do you desire to honor and obey His word
Do you desire to know Him?
Do you desire that He would know you and love you
Do you desire to love Him?

We would all say yes to the questions but our response would be “I can’t do this on my own” Exactly! That is what Paul is reminding us this morning. It’s all of grace, that’s what it’s been from all along. Our greatest assurance is when we love Him, serving Him and worship Him. This is our greatest joy and evidence of our assurance in God. Why? Because the natural man or women don’t have those desire that you and I have here in this chapter of Romans. Paul knew it, and so do you and I know all too well the battle we face with our own flesh.

Let me illustrate what Paul is saying!

It is said in ancient world that when some murdered someone, the body of the victim would be tied or strapped around their waist and they would have to carry that body for the remainder of their days. 
And it is said over time as the body would begin to decay it would attack the flesh of the one carrying the corpse and that person would eventually die as well.
This is perfect illustration of our natural flesh that is trying to bring our minds into captivity. 
Our dead sinful nature is trying to kill us and the only thing that keeps that from happening is the work of Spirit in your life. 
Paul had such torture of mind when he expressed his longing to be free from the body of death.
  
This cry of Paul comforts us as we cry out this same longing. Though we are nowhere where we should be, we know that we are completely dependent on Christ. I know what I want to be and I know where I want to be, but I still struggle with this war of my flesh. But! This also reminds us of what we are not anymore, lost, blind and depraved children. We are born again and we are declared His, despite that our natural flesh wants to wage war on our minds. One thing we always need to remind ourselves as we take the pilgrims road. We are never to evaluate the Christian life by our failures and short comings.

Why? We know our weaknesses and temptation, we know we fall into patterns of sin or possibly been taught wrongly about His grace. We know that if we endeavor to live a holy life apart from the power of the indwelling Spirit, and independently of the grace of the gospel that has been given. All such efforts are sure to end in wretchedness. We can no more sanctify ourselves than we can justify ourselves. Deliverance from the power of sin is the gift of God’s grace, as forgiveness is. As one theologian said “It is only when we have come to the very end of all our strivings and resolving’s, and have abandoned ourselves to the Savior, He should do in us and for us what we cannot do for ourselves, that we are led to cry, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”” The greatest assurance that Paul found was in this statement he makes in the closing verses of this chapter.

The only answer to our problem and times of doubt is found in (v24-v25) Paul is acknowledging his inability to save himself and cry’s out a question! Who has the power to delivery me from this body of death? This body that is naturally bent and crooked because of the Fall of man. Paul is making it very clear that the cause of his frustration and torment is the body of death. “Who can set us or deliver us free?” “Set free” has the basic idea of rescuing from danger, as a solider would go out on the battlefield to save his wounded comrades. Paul’s cry and it should be ours is that we long for the day when we would be rescued from the last remnant of our old, sinful, unredeemed flesh Answer? (v25) “I Thank God, through Jesus Christ!” All our praise goes to Jesus Christ, though we still live in these sinful shells we are safe and secure in the Sovereign arms of God through Jesus Christ. We are no longer the wretched people we once were and this is all because of the gospel. Though we will battle until that day He calls us home, we can rest assured that…..“…I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6. Because? “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Rom 8:18. Though our enemies are many, we have one, who is trying to take our minds captive and off the promises of God.

When a person doubts their salvation and thinks that God is displeased every time you mess up. Take them here to Paul’s confession and frustration as a child of God. The reason why this person questions about their relationship with God should be evidence to their conversion and sanctifying work of God in their lives. Why? The world isn’t concerned about their flesh, because they are only concerned about their flesh and its desires. BUT! For those of us who are concerned because we love God and fail at times, this is evidence to a work that is being done in you. But remember! Though the Christian can say that a new man has already arisen in them. The Christian must also confess that the sinful part of the old man has not yet ceased to be. Praise is to Jesus Christ and His unfailing love and mercy to me, one a wretched man but now a child of God.
So stay the course and never doubt His unfailing love because you are not perfect and incapable of being perfect. Even though you try. 

Because! In this life, the Christian life is somewhat like an unskilled artist who beholds a beautiful scene that he or she wants to paint. But your lack of talent prevents you from doing the scene justice.
  
The fault is not!
In the scene
Our in the canvas
The brushes or the paint

It’s in the painter! That is why we need to ask the Master Painter, Jesus Christ, to place His hand over ours in order to paint the strokes because we can’t do it on our own. This chapter reminds us of that! And Jesus said this before Paul penned this letter! “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. The only way to have victory over this enemy is to”…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Gal 5:16