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O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. - Psalms 139:1 (NIV)
The above verse may be one of the most powerful you have read in all of 2018. I believe God existed before the creation of the world. He is unique in being the only “uncreated” one. He is not bound by time, space, capacity to comprehend; God is limitless and infinite. There is no galaxy He did not bring forth and no atom He can’t split into parts impossible for humans to perceive or measure. God, in all His fullness, is so far beyond anything your mind or mine can fathom. Somehow in the vastness of all “time”, He created the world that you and I live in. I’m as confident in all of this as the chair I’m sitting in. God is BIG!
In all His bigness He is still personal and intimate. A few years ago I was going through an exercise with a counselor. Under his guidance, I was processing in my mind a traumatic experience from my childhood. I recalled all the details I could remember. After fully revisiting and exhausting all thoughts and emotions, I was invited by the counselor to go back into that same memory and describe where God was in it. In an instant, I could tell you exactly where I “saw” God. It was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had in my life.
I doubt David had the same counseling experience I did, but he lived as though he could point out God in every moment of his entire life. Psalm 139 is all about how well God knows David. He goes into great detail about how well God knows him. God is intimately in David’s life. God is intimately involved in my life. God is intimately involved in yours too. I have no idea how He keeps it all straight but He does.
In this series of devotions based on Southland’s weekend teaching for “Under Review,” we are exploring this Psalm together. If you attended a campus you heard the Campus Pastor there unpack this great thought, the truth that “We matter to God.” This week we’ll spend time with Psalm 139 and probe the Truth found there.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. - Psalms 139:13 (NIV)
My cell phone is so old you have to use your fingerprint to open it. I know, I’m losing touch and living in the stone-age as I type. For those using facial-recognition functionality, I fully accept your pity and consolation. Fingerprints are interesting though. For all 7 billion of us orbiting the sun together not one of us, in all the 7 billion, has the same fingerprint. Not twins or triplets or long lost cousins--no one in all the earth has the same fingerprint. To say we are created uniquely is an understatement the more you learn about how unique we are.
David continues in his Psalm to point out just how individual our design is. He draws the picture of hands-on creation from His Creator, God. God was actively involved, down to the most minute detail. Our uniqueness stands as a testimony to God’s greatness. As we said yesterday, “We matter to God.” One of the reasons we know we matter to God is because of the complexity and uniqueness we each possess. Jesus affirms this line of reasoning when He downloads the secret to contentment. He said flowers in a field are clothed in beauty and they’re just flowers. Your Heavenly Father wants even more for you. We’re God’s children and if He clothes flowers in beautiful detail, imagine how much He values us!
The Bible teaches that we have an enemy. This enemy wants us to believe we are missing something. We aren’t complete. In this lie, we chase after a bunch of forms of gratification that distract us from what fully completes us. What completes us is a relationship with our Creator God, through His Son Jesus. In Christ and our Creator God we are unique in design and loved fully, to the point we have nothing else to prove.
Search me, O God, and know my heart... - Psalms 139:23 (NIV)
I had a youth pastor growing up who would walk up and say in a serious tone, “You have something you need to share with me, don’t you?” He rarely knew for sure but did it from time to time. It was the best, most low down crazy trick for getting me to share sins I wouldn’t talk with anyone about. He loved me and had heard or had a hunch I was struggling with something. He was like a Holy Spirit human lie detector. I couldn’t lie to him; I just coughed up my junk and he graciously led me to better understand God’s way for my life.
David had that in the prophet Nathan (it’s an interesting story you can read here). David invited God to search him and know his heart. For some people that sounds amazing and for others that sounds like the scariest thing one could ever imagine. Wherever you land on the spectrum be reminded today that our Father in Heaven knows us intimately and cares about our heart. He knows our propensity toward sin and loves us anyway.
When Jesus taught us about His Father He told the story of the “lost son.” In this story, a son runs away from home, taking a bunch of his dad’s money, and makes a wreck of his life. At some point, he realizes his life would be better if went back home and took a minimum wage job at his dad’s business. As the story goes, while the son was still a long way off, the father came running toward him and hugged him right back into his family.
God knows our heart - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and He loves us anyway! He loved us when we were still a long way off. Let’s join David and ask God today to search us and know our hearts.
...test me and know my anxious thoughts. - Psalms 139:23 (NIV)
I recently did a Bible.com devotional on anxiety. I don’t consider myself an anxious person; I was honestly doing it to recommend to others who might need that. Turns out, I needed it! It was eye-opening. I struggle with anxiety way more than I realized. David invited the Lord into his anxious thoughts and that’s about as wise an approach as we could possibly take. Here’s how he phrased it, “[Lord] know my anxious thoughts.”
Before that last phrase is the preface, “test me.” When I think “test,” I get anxious. I think it means to examine me, critique me, grade me, etc. However, David wasn’t describing a high-pressure pass/fail testing scenario. He was inviting the Lord into his anxious thoughts. It’s like he’s saying, “God, help me sort them out. Settle things down as I lean into you.”
When a doctor runs tests he isn’t doing it to make personal judgments about you. He is seeking information that will result in a proper plan for healing and rehabilitation. When God tests us He is doing the work of the Great Physician. The more we invite Him into our anxious moments, the more prone we’ll be to experience relief and healing. Sadly, we try to conceal and cover up from God the very pain only He can truly heal. So, let’s open up our lives to be “tested” and invite God to heal our hearts.
Take three minutes, grab a notepad, and list everything that may possibly be causing you anxiety. Circle the heaviest ones and invite God, in prayer, to have full control over each source of anxiety.
Here are the results from my three minutes so you can see an example:
- Finishing devotional writing.
- I’ve been too grumpy.
- Finishing 2018 well at work.
- Planning strategically for 2019.
- Finances. Am I prioritized correctly?
- Adequately leading my family spiritually.
- Should we invest more, less, or the same in sports?
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. - Psalms 139:24 (NIV)
The final verse we look at this week is probably the absolute best of them all. Being led “in the way everlasting” is a great summary of the goal of all Christians. Following Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end of the Christian experience. You could fill the Library of Congress with books written describing how that all works out, but following Jesus is IT.
Part of being led in the way everlasting is tied directly to the first part of that sentence, “See if there is any offensive way in me.” One thing I sense in our culture today is a propensity to avoid those who challenge our beliefs and/or actions. We have a general dislike of critique and, on the macro and micro levels of social discourse, whoever shouts the loudest usually wins what is effectively a zero-sum game.
David takes a different approach. He invites examination and evaluation of his thoughts and motives. Maybe it’s because he knew his capacity for sin. Maybe he was so secure in his relationship with God he never feared rejection. Or maybe he was prompted by God’s Spirit to write something he had to learn how to live out for the rest of his life. Whatever the reality of his writing motivation, he teaches us that the path to followership is paved by the process of God-given evaluation.
Jesus did this profoundly with Peter. He literally said to him, “Get behind me Satan!” Peter was promised to be the foundation of the Church and he got those challenging words directed squarely at him. So, as we look into 2019, let’s resolve together to allow God’s Word and God’s Spirit to see if there is any offensive way in us daily.
Choose a “next step” for spiritual growth in 2019:
- Start a Bible reading plan from Bible.com
- Join a Southland Group this February.
- Designate a daily prayer place and time.
Let me know what you selected and I’ll email you what I’ve jumped into in return.Share Tweet