Pondering Truth In Christ
(Written Memorial Day 2017)
Psalm 139:23,24. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
There are ways and then there are ways. Then there is The Way. Some examples of the Way of Righteousness may be considered through the careful contemplation of, for example, Proverbs 12:28, Psalm 23:3, 1 Corinthians 1:30, and John 14:6. These should be explored by readers who are inwardly compelled enough to do so, and to connect the dots between them and what is shared here.
The Way of Righteousness - brought from Christ to us by the Holy Spirit - is the everlasting way of life. It is the way where there is no death, the way of our soul’s restoration. This is how it is connected to the “abundant life” which, Jesus Christ tells us, is the reason He took on human flesh and dwelt among us. This is the Way whereby He calls us from servitude to the evil one who would rob, kill, and destroy every good that our loving Heavenly Father has in mind for us.
Thus the psalmist wisely prays that God will examine him - search him, know his heart, try him, and know his thoughts. He is asking the Great Physician for an in depth spiritual examination for the detection of wicked ways. These are the hidden ways, lurking in the bushes of our interior landscape that, when undetected can lure us off the Way of Righteousness onto paths which at best are dead ends and at worst lead to eternal separation from God and to destruction. Without careful lives of “walking circumspectly” and perpetually prayerfully asking, seeking, and knocking for the Holy Spirit to ferret out these wicked ways, any disciple of Christ runs the risk of wandering off onto these paths leading to destruction.
On this Memorial Day we wonder how things have gotten to this point in this topsy turvy sin infested world, especially in our presumed “Christian” USA. We find ourselves in a world where good - according to God’s Word - is called evil by the darkness which has gained ascendency over not only the world but all too many churches. Therefore it is imperative to take a good hard look at these two little verses at the end of Psalm 139.
Many today join in the mantra “Pray for America”. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is often the go to verse for this. Certainly this is needed. However, let us remind ourselves that God’s directive includes three others in addition to prayer: to humble ourselves, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.
Yet since the “sin within” - the wicked ways the Psalmist prays about here - is often hidden and subtle, undetectable by human sensitivity, does it not stand to reason that we will need some divine help to identify it? Only then can we confess what we could not perceive with our own senses, which the Holy Spirit reveals, so that it may be repented of, renounced, and removed by the power of the Holy Spirit? How can He show us where repentance is needed, unless we take a page out of the psalmist’s book and very honestly ask Him to show us “if there be any wicked way in me”? Psalm 19:12 - “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” There it is again!
It is puzzling, especially on these military holidays, how the majority buy into the narrative that the fallen have “died to keep us free.” Yet all the while our moral fabric is in tatters, our Constitution is largely ignored as the law of the land, and the freedoms we have taken for granted dry up and dissolve right before our very eyes! The creeping, gnawing, devouring locusts are not only at our borders, but have more than crossed them. They infest every system we supposedly rely on (such as government, education, corporations, and the like). Sadly this includes especially the churches which are supposed to be the very body of Christ on the earth, the city set on a hill! Intruder alert! Our freedoms have become an illusion, as well as the humanistic means (war and bloodshed) we have been told will “secure” them!
God has His answers, however, but are we asking for them, seeking them, knocking to be let into that place where He reveals them, as if our life depends on it? Or are we sending up the prayers of personal will worship? This goes far, far deeper than a one time “asking Jesus into your heart”, but then going your merry way, not living in fusion with the Cross nor infused with its precious work!
Where’s the outcry for the Holy Spirit to “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Might we be assuming that we have a standing with Him that we do not actually possess? Does not Scripture admonish us to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5. (Ouch!) And this examination needs to be in the light of God’s Holy Word and the relentless searchlight of the Holy Spirit! No “blessed assumptions”, things taken for granted, about ourselves! May it never be! Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!
God’s grace is not bestowed so we can take it for granted as a one shot deal. The process of destroying the works of the devil is ongoing, and it begins with His searchlight in the innermost being! If we are to walk the Way Everlasting, then the little “come hithers” - most often within our impure hearts and the gods of our belly - that draw us onto the ways of wickedness must be rooted out by divine intervention.
Thus Paul’s admonition in Galatians 5:1. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” It was on that cross that the Way Everlasting was opened to us, and we were set free from sin, death, and the power of the evil one.
Without this we can never be truly free, without prayerfully “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. Nothing changes until the very core of the heart of man is daily surrendered to Christ and to His cross.
Dr. Martin Luther says concerning the practical outworking of our baptism (Small Catechism, under The Sacrament of Holy Baptism), “It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
Let us pray to be so inspired, enlightened, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Scripture Passages for Consideration:
Mark 16:19. “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”
Psalm 110:1,2. “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’ The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies.’”
Ephesians 2:4-7. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 1:22,23. “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
Psalm 8:4-6. “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” (Wow!)
It is not the intention of this article to weave all of these into any sort of narrative, but hopefully, by presenting them and a few provocative questions, to stimulate a hunger leading to satisfying a curiosity about our reality. They are offered for your contemplation along with the following thoughts.
What might be the full and amazing purpose for which mankind has been created, which was lost, and to which our Heavenly Father intends to restore us in Christ Jesus? How is this to come about? Is it about this vision and its beginnings in the here and now, or about going to heaven when I die, or both?
Might this be the reason why, before Jesus Ascension into heaven (which is celebrated in the Church today), He reveals something rather startling in Mark 16:17,18? “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” And then on to verse 20. “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.” The entire book of Acts follows up with a narrative depicting who the church is, where she lives, and what she looks like.
What we’re supposed to see are attesting signs that follow, which indicate the authority of the Gospel message and the restoration of God’s reign over mankind and the earth, as it spreads over all the world. He created it and redeemed it through His Son - from sin, death, and the power of the evil one. His Church must see itself as involved in a grand celestial search, rescue, and salvage operation that is to be taking place whereby mankind experiences restoration as sons of God! This is why Jesus commands, according to Matthew 28:20, to those who go forth to preach the Gospel and to baptize, that they are also to teach “them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This mission impossible, made possible by the One through Whom all things are possible, begs the question 2000 years later, Where is this understanding and its relationship to the meaning of “Ascension” (in Christian terms, not Luciferian)? Where is its manifestation, as Jesus Himself reveals it, and it came about through the Church that flourished right after that 1st Pentecost?
These passages paint not only a very powerful picture of a dynamic church but also a holy church, living in and being led as sons of God by the Holy Spirit of God, as she goes forth to baptize and make disciples of all nations. Her directive is to teach all that Christ commanded us. The unfolding of this restoration includes attesting signs that the authority of God Almighty is announcing His reign through His Church.
After all, has not “… The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil”? 1 John 3:8b.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that these are not only redeemed, but are already essentially spiritually seated with Christ in heavenly places at the right hand of God the Father - not only bought, but brought with Him in His death, resurrection, and ascension!!! One could say we are bi-locating Christians, present physically on earth and spiritually seated in Christ at the Father’s right hand, in heavenly places. Ponder that for awhile!!!
This Church is set apart from the world and other religions to be the living, breathing answer to the question posed by David in Psalm 8, “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?”
How is it that the vibrant truth of our reality in Christ Jesus has been supplanted by watered down theological systems of thinking, by repetitive religious practices pitched as the way that we “connect” with grace, or the “visions” of mere mortal men caught up in the pride of intellect with their own ideas? These perspectives more likely than not keep us in a very earth bound mindset, and utterly other than what is clearly and fully revealed by Holy Scripture alone - the Scripture that reveals Jesus Christ as the Way, Truth, and Life, and the At-one-ment bestowed through His work on the cross?
Who is behind making sure, with these cunning devices, that the elect never perceive who they really are and where they live, move, and have their being? Who therefore, because of the lack of divine wisdom and understanding, will be robbed of a full and powerful Gospel? Not only the Church suffers, but the whole world (into which our Lord sends us) which lies under the power of the evil one. Why? Because the knowledge of Christ is not being disseminated as He laid it down, with signs evidencing His presence and authority following!
We need to ask ourself, what - according to the Word of God which He made sure has been clearly preserved and laid out before us - is the whole vision of Jesus Christ for His people and for the world which He has ransomed with His own precious blood? Am I at one with this? Who am I and where do I live - according to His word? What am I doing on earth for heaven's sake? Am I off in la la land somewhere ruminating on my worldly “dreams”, drinking the Kool Aid of some religion that promotes the gods of the belly and self satisfaction? Am I participating in God’s vision for His Church and the world He created, redeemed and intends to restore through His Body on Earth? Or have I been conned into a lesser vision which may actually be more aligned with the agenda of the Adversary?
Who decided that the Vision of Christ and His Apostles for His Church - His bride, His holy body - ceased with the first century Church?
Is Jesus Christ “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)? If so, let us review who we are and where we live, and then repent of all lesser ideas than His, as we cry out to Him for wisdom and direction! Amen.
This is just a short thought for a Sunday, bounced off a post I read today that seems to reflect an attitude of discouragement concerning "those other Christians"...
It simply reminded me of a common workplace attitude: "I'm doing all the work around here, and nobody has the zeal or quality for it that I put out."
If I am worried about other Christians and their "comfortable" condition in the world, it makes me think that perhaps the need is to remove the log from my own eye first so I can see more clearly and without a distorted perspective.
It also reminds me of what the Lord told Elijah - that there were 7000 faithful who HAD NOT bowed the knee to Baal, and that he needed to stop running away and whining and instead realize that he was not the lone ranger.
In other words, I need to rejoice in the Lord and in those other believers who have been made faithful and fruitful by the power of His grace. I may not be able to see them, but they're there! I need to pay attention to what He's asking me to do, work with what He has made ready - in the power of His Holy Spirit - and leave the rest to Him.
Otherwise it is easy to become self absorbed, weakened, discouraged, and being pretty much dead in the water.
See 1 Kings 19. Time to get with the Still Small Voice?
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© Only a Messenger
Is there something the Lord is showing to you, something that needs to be said or addressed? This is not always the easiest thing to accomplish, but with God - in the power of the Holy Spirit - all things are possible. There may be some cost, or loss. Truth is not always welcome, especially if it requires owning up to something, or repenting. Those we care about, as we speak the truth in love, may turn away from us. It is a risk that love takes.
For did not the Son of God leave all glory behind to teach, perform miracles, suffer, and die - only to be rejected by those He came to save? If we go where Jesus goes - on the Crossroad - would we expect to experience anything less than the Master we claim to follow? "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and celebrate, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)
This is a solemn matter, especially that we discern whether the word is actually from the Lord or from ourself. Many will come in the name of Christ, but shall have taken that name in vain. As the Lord states through Jeremiah, "Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 23:28)
Therefore let us live life prayerfully - not just asking God for what we want, but in quiet receptivity, listening -as His holy living tabernacle - allowing His Spirit to move and speak within and through us. May our attitude be one of complete surrender to our Lord, as that of Mary to the words of Gabriel, dispatched from our Lord, "Be it unto me according to your word."