Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Imminence of God - Psalm 139

In the Old Testament, God revealed different aspects of His character through His names. One of those names was "Jehovah Shammah", which means "The Lord is At Hand".

God is high and lifted up, but He is never aloof. Psalm 139 is a classic passage that tells us how personal God is and how intimately He knows us. God takes a deep interest in all that we do, and He promises to be with us and care for us always.

God Knows us Intimately - there is nothing we can hide from Him (v. 1-6)
God knows us through and through. He knows our every thought and action. He knows our hidden motives. He knows our personalities, our tendencies, our strengths and our weaknesses. He knows what we are going to say before we even say it. Everything that we think, do or say, whether good or bad, He already knew. Yet He does not despise us for who and what we are.

We often put up a front before others. Sometimes we do the same before God. We try to hide the ugly sinful parts of us and come to God with a 'holy front'. But there is no point in doing so. God sees right through us, and He wants us to be honest with Him and ourselves. He desires truth in the inward parts (Psa 51:6). After all, He's seen it all, and He knew every sinful deed that we would commit long before we ever did them.

Let us be honest when we come before our Father. Our sins have been nailed to the cross, and there is no more condemnation in Christ! Let us rejoice in His intimate knowledge of us, and that in spite of it, He cares for us and loves us still.

God is With us Perpetually - there is nowhere we can hide from Him (v. 7-12)
The knowledge of God's constant presence can strike fear or bring comfort to a person. Adam was afraid because he had sinned against the Holy One (Gen 3:10). To the unforgiven, God is the divine judge, and there is good reason to fear His wrath. But to those who have trusted in Jesus, God is a Father whose constant presence is a source of comfort.

There are times in life when God seems absent and we cannot sense His presence. It could be due to trials. It could be due to depression, or some other circumstance. We may identify with Job who said, "Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him" (Job 23:8,9). But even in the deepest darkness of our lives when we cannot see God, God still sees us clearly (v.12). In such times of suffering, we can say with Job, "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).

God Created us Wonderfully - our lives are His masterpiece (v.13-16)
Our lives are in good hands. God has worked out every detail of our lives from the before we were born to the day we die. He has made us who we are. Each one of us is a unique masterpiece - a 'one and only'. God does not expect us to be somebody else. He wants us to be what He made us to be and to live the life He has planned for us to live.

Nothing that happens in our lives happens by chance. Before it happens, God had it written in His book! He knew it beforehand, and has already worked it all out. We can rejoice that God is sovereign over every circumstance and situation. He is in absolute control, and best of all, He is on our side (Rom 8:28,31)!

Our Response to God - loving what He loves and hating what he hates (v. 17-22)
Our response to God’s love for us is love for Him (1 Joh 4:19). Loving God involves loving what He loves. It means sharing in His values, loving His words and treasuring His thoughts.

Loving God also involves hating the things that He hates. One writer wrote: "As our right response to God's love for us is love for him, so our right response to his jealousy over us is zeal for him. His concern for us is great; ours for him must be great too." We cannot claim to love God if we condone what He hates (sin, wickedness, evil, etc.). Being jealous for Him involves sharing His enmity towards those who hate Him: "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate" (Rev 2:6). If we love Him, we must hate evil (Ps 97:10) but leave the judgment to Him.

Our Response to God - humility and surrender (v.23,24)
We are not the best examiners of ourselves. We don't always see ourselves clearly, and can be more forgiving towards our shortcomings than we ought. God has already searched our hearts and knows what is in them, but we also need to recognise our need for Him to search us out and to reveal to us what truly lies within. We need to humble ourselves before God's convicting power, and be willing to submit ourselves to His way. It is only then that we can truly discover and fulfill God's purposes in our lives.

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