Living on the Path (Psalm 139)

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Photography has come a long way. There use to be days when a photographer had to have serious skill and knowledge to adjust the shutter speed and f-stops for controlling levels of light exposing on film. Then came the automatic camera to adjust those levels on its own; additions were focus lenses and flash bulbs. Remember those bulky flash cartridges? And who can forget the Polaroid camera to point, shoot and develop the picture within seconds? We excitedly flapped and waved those polaroids for the image to appear – oh the fun! For those unlucky to not own a Polaroid you would have to drop off your film canisters to get the pictures developed within a couple days time – or then came the 1-hour photo. There are still photobooths hanging around malls that do much the same. In the last decade or so we have digital cameras to not only take literally hundreds of photos but also to print at the speed and quantity of your choosing. Even more, mobile phones can take pictures and video with such instantaneousness that almost every moment of our lives can be captured by camera.

When it comes to reflecting an image, today’s cameras surpass the efficiency and featured quality of those in the past. It has become easy to operate because of technology.

But technology falls short when it comes to human life. Humanity was created to reflect the image of God. In all of history we have tried to capture the carbon copy image of God but feverishly fail every time; except once when God impressed His image inside creation with His very own Son.

Jesus is the picture perfect “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and the “exact imprint of God’s nature” (Hebrews 1:3).

And more, God is restoring His image inside of us through His glorious grace. Humanity was created in God’s image but that image was smeared and shaded by our sin. The work of Jesus is to re-create the image of God inside of people and to restore the beautiful portrait that God created earth to be.

As image-bearers, we are representative of God. That means we are like/similar but not identical to God. We are like God in that we have capacity for existence (life); eternality (spiritual nature), education (intellect), and ethics (morality).

Existence: We have awareness of ourselves. Life experiences the range of emotions, attitudes, and actions. Further, our existence is in relationship to one another. Humanity is interdependent existence, created for community and not aloneness. As God exists in communal relationship (Trinity), so humanity must exist in community, before God and with others, for fullness of being. Lastly, we have a physical body that can see, smell, taste, touch, hear to enjoy life as our Creator can on a much greater level.

Eternality: We have an innate spiritual longing. Our spirit prays to, praises, and ponders the divine. We were made to live with purpose and a sense of forever (Eccl 3:11).

Education: We have ability to learn, think and reason logically. We can overcome challenges and solve complex problems through intellectual understanding. We achieve skill and competency in agriculture, mathematics, science, technology, language, culture (art, music, literature, religion) and nearly every other field of knowledge.

Ethical: We have an inner sense of right/wrong that sets us apart from animals or creation. We are morally accountable – one to another and toward God. Our conscience experiences conviction, guilt, shame, fear of punishment, as well as honor, affirmation and hope of reward.

In all, these have fallen or faded from God’s glory and are in need of re-creation. In Psalm 139 we see two truths about God’s image and intention for His creation.

EXAMINE Psalm 139psalms_logo

God’s infiniteness should result in our reverence of His presence (139:1-12)
The Psalmist is contemplating the creation. He examines and evaluates his life. He sees that humanity is finite and fallen. Yet, as he meditates upon God in comparison to his own existence he is humbled. The vast volume of understanding divinity is overwhelming.

v. 2 God’s presence is known in every day. “You know when I sit down and when I rise” is a reference to the end and beginning of each day. God’s present eyes even supersede the NSA, always watching.

v. 3 God’s presence is known in every direction. “You search out my path… acquainted with all my ways” is a reference to the directions and plans a person has.

v. 7-8 God’s presence is known in death. “Where shall I go/flee… if I ascend to heaven you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol you are there” is a reference to both locations of eternity.
Note 1: God is not absent in death; death is a doorway into the eternal presence of God either in Heaven or Hell. Simply put, hell is not an absence of God’s presence but an absence of God’s protection from His justice and judgment, without mercy or grace. Therefore, hell is horrifying because God is so present with the penalty of His wrath.
(cf Rev 14:10 “torment in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb”; Rev 20:3 “smoke goes up forever and ever”)

Note 2: Death in the form of suicide, euthanasia, abortion is only a temporary escape from the presenting problems of life. In each of these cases the problems are not removed but only transferred to others. Suicide leaves others to feel regret, hurt and depressed. Euthanasia leaves others with a temporary relief but often later remorse. Abortion terminates a baby but leaves physical, emotional and spiritual burdens on the mother and others.

v.9-10 God’s presence is known in distances. “If I take wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea” references anywhere in creation, from sky to sea. There is no place God is not; He is omnipresent.

When I was little I was afraid of the bug spray truck. I think because it was loud and it sprayed chemicals. Anyways, I would run to my room, shut the door, close the curtains, hide under bed, pull covers down to not be seen. For some reason I thought me going the farthest distance a 5-7 year old could run would hide me from my fear. The reality was that bug spray truck came around my neighborhood every week.
 How are you hiding from your fear?
There is no distance you can run to avoid the destination God has planned for you.

v.11-12 God’s presence is known in darkness. “Surely the darkness shall cover me…” references the trials and troubles of humanity yet how God comforts and protects in difficult circumstances.

God is omnipresent (always present/existing), omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful). Supremely, God is infinite – that means not finite, not confined to any limitations or restrictions that we are. God is an inexhaustible reservoir of existence, knowledge and power.

When it comes to reverencing God’s infiniteness, we seldom know where to start. Few of us take the opportunity to consider our ways. Wondering or meditating are not esteemed actions in our culture. We are a hustled and hurried society that produces activity. We rush and race, sprint and speed through daily life that there is little to no time reflect or meditate.

In fact, in a spiritual sense it would seem that the Devil’s main job is to keep you from wondering about the ways of life – and certainly about God. Wonder leads to worship; meditation leads to admiration and amazement. If the Devil cannot lead you to hell then he will lure you to busyness. We must learn the pathway to disciplined faith.
What does this mean for you and your faith?

 God is in the details. There is not a second or circumstance that goes by that God is not working all things together for His glory and your ultimate good (note: His glory brings about your “ultimate” good and not your short-term, self-focused desired good).

 Meditate on the mundane. How is God using conflict with your children, or trouble with your television, or problems with your phone, or the pleasures of friendship, or the savory taste of spaghetti or the wintry cold – all these things simply to call our attention to Him? All we have to do is look around and see that God is in the details of every day trying to speak to us.

 Renew your relationship with Jesus every day. God is not revealed in just general revelation but especially and uniquely through His Son and the Scriptures. The infinite and inexhaustible God wants to have an intimate relationship with you. Don’t waste your time with things that will not matter for eternity. Invest your heart and life priorities for what will last in the kingdom of God.

God’s intimacy should result in our reflecting His image (139:13-24)
As the Psalmist continues meditating upon life, he is in awe of God’s most wonderful work in creating human life. It is God who fills the womb and forms the body.

v. 13 “formed my inward parts [literally: “kidneys”], knitted me together in my mother’s womb”

v. 14-15 “fearfully and wonderfully made” Fear is represented as reverence to one who stands in position of power. Made wonderfully means unique and distinct. The word “intricately woven” denotes embroider/needle work.

v.16 God knows the future days of every person, even in the womb. He knows the number of days each child will live. He knows the path each person will live. God not only foreordains conception inside the womb but also outside the womb as well – you have purpose!

Illustration:
At Christmas I bought an aquarium and fish for a family present. We spent a bit of money for all the supplies. We spent time to assemble everything together for the care of the fish. We named each of the fish: My fish was named Geronimo, Danielle’s was Plum, Alethia’s was Little Stripe, Amiyah’s was Twilight, Audry’s was Sparkle, Avee’s was aptly named Yum (he was an algae eater). Each day we fed the fish and when we noticed the water became murky we tried to balance the ph with treatment solutions.

We went through a lot of labor to care for fish, and no doubt many of you do the same and more for your pets. Some spend thousands of dollars for medicines or surgeries when those are needed.

How much more should we do labor and lead our lives for the promotion and protection of human life? Human life is priceless because it personally reflects God’s image. Humanity is distinct from everything else in creation, being made in God’s image. We are unique and special. Therefore, every life is to be protected and preserved.

Human Life
Christians should extend Care, Compassion and Christ for every person regardless of age, gender, race, disability, and even regardless of religion, theological positions and yes – even sexual orientation. This means that we see people as God does with invitation to experience the life and love of Jesus Christ.

SPBC Love Others
Believers: Body Life Fellowship; Biblical Nurturing & Accountability; Benevolence
Unreached:

Murder – Our cities are in need of God’s message of love and life
SPBC in Baltimore for 2014

Euthanasia –

Abortion
– In US, 45+million abortions since 1973; 1.4 million every year; 3000 every day; 1 every 20 seconds
– In world, 46 million abortions occur every year; with almost one every second
– Abortion is an attack on God’s sovereignty to create, sustain and even take life on His terms. Further, it is an attack on humanity as God’s image bearers (Gen 1:26-28; Jeremiah 1:5).
– If a woman was pregnant and were to get in a car accident or were physically abused by another person that would result in the loss of her baby then that person would be convicted of manslaughter or homicide. YET IRONICALLY that same woman could go to a medical practice to have a doctor insert a sharp object in that baby’s brain and suck its life out with a vacuum and somehow in our nation it is not a crime but called choice.
– To choose abortion based on potential disability would remove from the world: Alexander Graham Bell, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Terry Bradshaw, Agatha Christie, Tom Cruise, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Benjamin Franklin, Helen Keller, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Jay Leno, Wolfgang Mozart, Nelson Rockefeller, Sylvester Stallone, George Washington, and not to mention several of the most beautiful and gifted people in our congregation.
SPBCfootprint_2
 Learn the facts.
o If the unborn are human there is no justification for abortion.
 Right to privacy, freedom to choose, forces unhealthy abortions in back alleys with coat hangers, economic reasons… even evil circumstances of rape, incest since God can bring good from evil (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28)… they ALL FALL SHORT OF GOD & HUMANITY.
 Examine the Scriptures.
o (cf. also Exodus 21:22-25; Job 10:8-13, 31:15; Jeremiah 1:5; John 9:1-3; Psalm 22:9-10; Galatians 1:15; Isaiah 49:1)
 See the pictures & videos.
o We become marked to make a mark
 Sympathize with the victims of abortion.
o Ministering compassion
 Affirm pro-life causes, pregnancy care ministries and abortion alternatives.
o Ministering with feet and not just mouth
SARAH PAXTON TESTIMONY

Psalm 139:19-24
As David hated those who did evil and were enemies of God so we must hate evil. This type of hatred is not directed at a person’s identity as it is a person’s conduct. Unfortunately, today’s world equates activity with identity (i.e. homosexuality = personhood). So, Christians must do 2 things to communicate hate:
1) Separate from and avoid evil but we must also step up and act for righteousness.
2) Search our own hearts for grievous and guilty sins (Psalm 139:24). No sinner is superior to another; we all are in need of grace and the gospel.

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