Where’s your joy placed? – Galatians 4:13-18

Where’s your joy placed? – Galatians 4:13-18
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 21, 2016

A lot of folks do not understand that there is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness can be fleeting while joy is more steadfast and sure, and in fact you can have joy even when everything around you in life is falling apart. Too much of today’s world has confused joy with happiness. Lasting joy is not found in things. True joy that lasts not just a lifetime but forever is that which is found in a relationship, not in sinful people but in the one who gave everything to give you everlasting joy!

Paul understood this and did not want the Galatian church to be deceived or lured away by the false, shallow, and momentary happiness of the world around them. I know it is hard for some of you to believe but sometimes people have ulterior or hidden motives. They want your friendship, your vote, or your physical presence in order to satisfy their personal lust for power, greed, or pleasure. Paul not only understood human nature he understood the gospel as well. Paul was tacitly asking the Galatians, “Where’s your joy placed?” Let’s discover where ours is placed this morning…

READ: Galatians 4:13-18

The last verse (v. 12) belongs with the following verses where Paul related how he was received by the Galatians on his first visit to them as found in Acts 13-14 and he lets them know that…

I. Joy is found in other believers! (Vv. 13-14)

As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.

1. Evidently the Galatians had forgotten how when they had first heard the good news “they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” And in fact “The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.” (Acts 13:48-49 NIV) In fact when Paul and Barnabas faced persecution by the very Jews who would pervert the Galatians joy, they just “shook the dust from their feet” and continued on “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:50-52) When Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium “they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed” (Acts 14:1) and because of persecution they fled to Lystra and Derbe. Because of a healing they did there the crowds mistakenly thought they were Zeus and Hermes. “Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.” (Acts 14:19 NIV) So here Paul kindly reminds the Galatians, “As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.” Illness! They had tried to STONE him! However Paul continues by reminding them “Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn.” Some think Paul could be referring to his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7) and perhaps it was his eyesight, if so it was because of those who tried to stone him in the first place! “Instead” Paul reminds them, “you welcomed me as if I were an angel (messenger) of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself!” Why would Paul say this? Because he knew that joy is found in other believers!

EXAMPLE: Paul would write the Philippian church that they were to have the same attitude as that of Jesus. That ” If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” (Philippians 2:1-2 NIV) That is how believers are to behave toward one another! There is nothing more beautiful, nothing more powerful, and nothing more wonderful than when believers are pulling, praying, and encouraging one another! Some of the greatest joy I have had is in the toughest times of my life when fellow believers were praying for me and encouraging me to keep on keeping on in the Lord! Paul knew this to be true and would remind the Galatians that joy is found in other believers!

Our world so focuses on ourselves and how we feel that we often forget as believers that we are part of the body of Christ in the world. Christians physically and spiritually represent Jesus in a sin-fallen world! Joy is not found in what the body of Christ can do for you; joy is found in serving Jesus in the body of Christ! And Paul reminds the Galatians that…

II. Joy is found in recalling where joy comes from! (Vv. 15-16)

What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

1. Perhaps Paul had suffered an injury to his eyesight in serving Jesus by being stoned by those he was trying to win to the gospel. And now those Paul had given his all for including perhaps his eyesight were “turning back to those weak and miserable principles”! How could they do such a thing? Paul is incredulous and asks them “What has happened to all your joy?” Where was their faith placed? Did they not remember what he had done for them; did they not remember what Jesus had done for them; and did they not remember what it meant to be the body of Christ in the world? At the time when Paul had witnessed to them and been with them they were more than willing to do whatever it took to serve Jesus! Paul writes, “I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.” Paul would write others, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us!” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV) The Galatians, like many believers today, were focusing on the wrong thing! They wanted to be accepted, they wanted to feel good, they wanted three easy steps to being happy and successful! The Judaizers were whispering into their ears an easy believism of Jesus plus their guilt. It was ungodly then as it is now! Instead of coming to their senses they got offended and had hurt feelings. This is not what Jesus is about! A believer’s joy is not lost because their feelings are hurt! Paul bluntly asks, “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Yet this is exactly how many believers in our day and age react when confronted with their sinful attitudes! “You took away my joy in the Lord, you are my enemy.” Argh! Joy is found in recalling where joy comes from!

EXAMPLE: I was incredulous as a new pastor that there were folks who considered themselves “Christian” who wanted to be treated with godly respect but who were unwilling to treat others the same way. Like the Galatians we can sometimes only think of ourselves first and to heck with everyone else forgetting that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 NIV) They had become so focused on themselves and how they felt that they had left their joy in knowing Jesus behind. So much so that they were treating the very person, Paul, who had first introduced them to the very joy they now had lost! This is why Paul wanted to remind them that joy is found in recalling where joy comes from!

True joy in Jesus is not found in momentary worship on Sundays, regurgitating a stream of meaningless scriptural platitudes, or in trying to message one’s guilty conscience. Jesus never taught his followers to “seek first your happiness and your well being and all the joyous things of God will be yours”. Quite the contrary, we are to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness because…

III. Joy is being enthusiastic for Jesus! (Vv. 17-18)

Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.

1. Paul would not put up with phony piety from anyone because Paul knew that “such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” (Romans 16:18 NIV) In fact Peter would also have strong words for those who would lead astray sincere believers by saying that “These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity–for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” (2 Peter 2:17-19 NIV) In a world where folks try to fill every waking moment with their own satisfaction it must be difficult to realize this is not what a walk with Jesus is all about. Paul put it into perspective for the Galatians when he told them, “Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good.” The Judaizers were not interested in developing the Galatians in their faith, quite the contrary. In fact Paul related that “What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.” Paul did not have a problem with folks having strong feelings about God and tells them that “It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.” Being zealous, having strong feelings is fine but it can lead the spiritually weak away from the importance of following Jesus by faith instead of emotions. The Galatians needed to be strong even when Paul was not there with them! Paul would tell the Philippians that “this my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ”. Joy is being enthusiastic for Jesus!

EXAMPLE: So much of Christianity focuses on the individual in our day that we could be accused of spiritual self-indulgence. While Jesus came to seek and save the lost, we can forget that this also includes others as well. Like the YouTube musical parody that depicts a worship leader singing, “It’s all about me Jesus, it’s all about me!” Christians can become spiritually confused when they focus on the wrong person, themselves instead of Jesus. Joy is being enthusiastic for Jesus!

Conclusion:

Joy is found in other believers! Joy is found in recalling where joy comes from! Joy is being enthusiastic for Jesus!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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No turning back! – Galatians 4:8-12

No turning back! – Galatians 4:8-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 14, 2016

It is interesting to me how over the years I have met those who while they do not believe in God have sold themselves into other philosophies or people that in the balance of things are really rather odd. We live in the information age but it’s as if critical thinking has gone out the window. Far too many fall prey to what “popular” opinion teaches rather than what reality truly is. A good example of this is when those who lean towards progressive thought claim conservatives are “Nazis”. Nazis were socialist and politically progressive in their thinking; the problem arises when one does not know what the definitions of these terms are. As Forrest Gump’s momma would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.” My dad would say that “There is no turning back from being foolish.”

The Greek-thinking Galatians were not only being influenced by Judaizers (those who supported Jesus plus the Mosaic Law) some were also turning back to their old gods. While many today realize that Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, and Athena are just mythical, made up, they readily give credence to the millions of Hindu gods, the atheism of Buddhism, or the false philosophies of agnostics, Latter Day Saints, Islam, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why would anyone turn back to myths or things that were manmade? Paul did not understand this either and let’s discover what he taught about how there is no turning back…

READ: Galatians 4:8-12

Contrary to our politically correct thinking, there is only one way to the God. Paul knew this as well and wanted the Galatians to understand…

I. There is no turning back to false gods! (Vv. 8-9)

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

1. Sometimes folks need to be brought back to reality when they are considering doing something really stupid. The Galatians were in this kind of a situation and Paul was not going to allow them to do something that could harm or weaken their faith in Jesus. And so Paul reminds them that “Formerly” in their past before accepting Jesus, they “did not know God” and in fact they “were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” The gods they had trusted before were so much wood, stone, metal or clay. Before their conversion to Jesus and religious freedom they had been enslaved to manmade statues! Now there are those in our day who equate Jesus with the same false gods as a myth. However, we know historically, through archeology, and through personal eyewitness testimony that Jesus truly existed and did what he did! There is no mythos there. In fact the vast majority of academia understands that Jesus was a real person who walked this earth, taught what he did, and changed the world because of his message. Just because someone today wants to yell “Jesus is not real” or “God is dead” the actual truth is quite different. It is like yelling there was no such thing as the moon landing or the vapor trails jets leave behind are mind-altering chemicals. Science, reason, and evidence declare otherwise. The Galatians had left behind those pieces of wood, clay, stone and metal for a living Jesus! And so Paul writes them “But now that you know God” and also that they were “known by God–how is it that [they were] turning back to those weak and miserable principles?” The wording here means they intrinsically fundamentally knew and were completely known by God! They had heard the gospel from Paul himself, had believed it, and experienced it as well! Why then would they want to go “back to those weak and miserable principles?” They were giving up on Jesus and turning back to false gods! Paul asks them, “Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” Paul understood that there is no turning back to false gods!

EXAMPLE: I remember telling a man that he had willingly “given up on Jesus”. He had graduated from a Christian seminary, fell for a Mormon girl and left the teachings he knew to be true because he had gotten her pregnant. He was ashamed but I encouraged him that God loved him and to come back to what he knew to be true. Paul would be extremely blunt to the Corinthian Church about their wanting to turn back to false gods when he wrote them, “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:19-21 NIV) He would tell them, “We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth… yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6 NIV) For Paul there is no turning back to false gods!

In our day and age we have been so poorly influenced by “correct” thinking and those who want you to falsely reason that finding the middle ground is actually a good thing. If you think this is wise when was the last time you compromised and let a restaurant serve you food that was served to someone else the day before? Most folks would not be so foolish and Paul wanted the Galatians to understand that…

II. There is no compromise where Jesus is concerned! (Vv. 10-12)

You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.

1. For Paul the proof of their compromise was in the pudding of what they had actually been doing. He writes, “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!” The Galatians actions smacked of wanting to be liked by their “homies”, their peers in their old way of life rather than following their faith in Jesus. The Bible Knowledge Commentary suggests that “They kept special days (weekly Sabbaths), and months (new moons), and seasons (seasonal festivals such as Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles), and years (sabbatical and jubilee years).” However they were probably also celebrating the festivals of their old paganism. They just could not let go. They would rather be accepted by their old friends than live for the Lord! There are those who constantly flirt with ungodly behavior in order to be accepted by the world. John would teach, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NIV) And Paul further reiterated to others that “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV) Paul therefore was kind of disgusted with the spiritual weakness of the Galatians and how they were way too willing to give up their faith and go back to idols! He bluntly tells them, “I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” Remember how Paul had asked them if they were “so foolish” back in chapter three and if they had actually “suffered so much for nothing” (Vv. 3-4)? So he intensifies his argument and writes, “I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.” Paul had become just like them after his conversion, leaving the Law of Moses and following Jesus by faith. He became just like the Galatians he addressed. For Paul there is no compromise where Jesus is concerned!

EXAMPLE: One of the greatest compromises that promised peace but brought about the deaths of millions and the enslavement, torture, and imprisonment of millions of others was when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed a peace pact with Nazi Germany and declared it provided “peace in our time”. While perhaps in some instances of marriage, raising children as parents, or finding a way out of a mutually disastrous situation compromise may be called for, but in spiritual things, never. One cannot compromise their faith and think it works for good. Even a little sin is ungodly. Paul understood this and this is why he taught that there is no compromise where Jesus is concerned!

Conclusion:

There is no turning back to false gods! There is no compromise where Jesus is concerned!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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God’s children! – Galatians 4:1-7

God’s children! – Galatians 4:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 7, 2016

What rights do children have? Some would say, “Way too many!” while others would declare, “Not enough!” Yet how the ancient world saw children is quite different from our modern day perception of every child being an “honored child”. This might be kind of shocking to our sensitive ears but children were considered a kind of property and in some cases they were seen only as a means to establish a heritage. By today’s standards and how overprotective some parents are you might say, “We’ve come a long way baby!”

Paul had just gotten through establishing the fact that we “are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”. However what did this mean for the Galatian believers and for us today? Some mistakenly think that everyone is a “child of God” simply because they exist and while we are all created in the image of God we are not all children of God. This rather odd idea comes from the movies and TV rather than actual Biblical theology. Do any of you remember the TV show Touched by an Angel? It should have been called Tainted by a Heresy instead because while it was cute it wasn’t biblical in any way shape or form. While we are all created in God’s image we are not all children of God no matter how many soft-spoken grandmother types tell us so. Paul wanted his readers to fully understand what this meant for their lives to be God’s children. Let discover what Paul meant…

READ: Galatians 4:1-7

In the first two chapters of his letter Paul established the divine origin of his apostleship and his message. Then he turns to the fact that the Law could do nothing for us now that Christ had come. We are saved by faith not works and when we believe we become God’s children and in fact…

I. As God’s children we are no longer illegitimate children! (Vv. 1-3)

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.

1. Paul wanted to explain to his readers exactly why the Law of Moses no longer had any effect on our lives and how when we place our faith in Jesus we become God’s children. Since he was speaking about the Law of God he used a legal illustration. He writes, “What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave”. Before any child was of age in the ancient world they were considered completely under the control of their parents and so were seen no more different than “a slave”. Why, because like a slave they had no rights in the ancient world. And “although he owns the whole estate” in that he would inherit everything, he was still seen as a child without any privileges of an adult! In fact Paul goes further and related that “He is subject to guardians and trustees”! Like a slave the child could not make any decision for their own lives. They were constantly watched over, guided by, and “subject to [their] guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.” The parent would establish a will, a contract, a testament securing his heir’s authority and future authority. Paul then brings it back to what this means for us as believers and to where the Galatians were falsely headed by reminding them, “So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.” Most of us and probably most of the Galatians were never Hebrews however they did understand the basic law, “the basic principles of the world”. Until a child came of age as a son, which varied in the Jewish, Greek and Roman societies they had to follow these principles. Under Roman law the age of maturity for a child was set by his father and involved a ceremonial donning of a special toga and his formal acknowledgement as son and heir. But now because of Jesus we become God’s children and heirs by faith in him! Therefore, as God’s children we are no longer illegitimate children!

EXAMPLE: Sometimes adopted children can wonder if they were ever loved by their birth parents. It can be a very real concern for them. In fact some can grow up doubting themselves because they think that there must have been something wrong with them in the first place for their parent to want to give them up. Instead of focusing on the love of the ones who gave up everything to adopt them, they focus on the wrong thing. This can be true in the lives of Christians as well. Far too often folks can focus so much on wondering if they have to do something in order to please God or to be worthy of his love. And God resoundingly tells us by his testimony to us. He loved us so much that he sent us his son that we might become his children! As God’s children we are no longer illegitimate children!

Sadly, sometimes even in the most loving families there can be children who grow up feeling like they do not belong or are lost in the shuffle. When one is adopted usually the adoptive parents desire and desperately want to make the child feel loved and accepted. How wonderful then to know that…

II. As God’s children we receive all the rights of being his child! (Vv. 4-7)

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

1. The answer to any law is to know the law and to have a good advocate or lawyer on your side. The old contract had been fulfilled and now there is a new one being enforced. In fact the old contract expired when the new one was implemented! This is why Paul wrote that “when the time had fully come, God sent his Son”. Just as a human father during Paul’s day chose when his son was ready to receive his full rights and authority as an adult so God chose the time for Jesus to come into the world to transition us from the old law and into being children of God by faith! God’s timing is always perfect! Our advocate has arrived! “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” When we become children of God through our faith in Jesus we receive every good thing God has to offer. That is what grace is all about because we do not deserve any of the inheritance he gives us! Jesus paid the price, he “redeemed” us and made us part of the family! Yet there is more to it than just that, Paul relates that now “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.'” God sent Jesus to be our advocate (lawyer), to pay the price of our redemption, and to give us his Spiritual seal which allows us to see God as our “Abba Father”! Our Papa God! Wow! We have the full rights of being God’s children and enjoy all the benefits of the Holy Spirit living in us! Like a legal document that has been stamped by a special notary we are signed, sealed, and delivered by God because of our faith in his Son! The entire Trinity is at work! Paul relates, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Now I do not know about you but I am excited to receive all I can from God as his child. As God’s children we receive all the rights of being his child!

EXAMPLE: We have no reason to wonder if God loves us or not. We have no reason to ever doubt his devotion to us. We have no reason to ever think we are illegitimate children in any way shape or form. The beautiful wonderful truth is that we are fully adopted into God’s family because of our faith in his Son and we have the living proof of his Sprit living in us! Paul would write the Roman church: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16 NIV) So stop wondering if God loves you, stop living in fear because you are his child, and stop doubting that you are good enough because if you have accepted his Son as your Savior you are his child and as God’s children we receive all the rights of being his child!

Conclusion:

As God’s children we are no longer illegitimate children! As God’s children we receive all the rights of being his child! Are you a child of God?

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Freedom! – Galatians 3:23-29

Freedom! – Galatians 3:23-29
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 30, 2016

Americans do not truly understand what slavery is all about. Even those who decry it as a part of their family history have no idea what it means to be enslaved. You are not your own person, you cannot go where you want when you want, and you are a piece of property that can be disposed of, sold, or traded at the whim of your master. Those gained their freedom from slavery would never willingly go back to being enslaved, yet many who desire that others pay their way, give them something for nothing, or want a handout are just as enslaved as the slaves of Paul’s day.

When Jesus came he saw no racial, gender, societal, political, or financial barriers. For Jesus all lives mattered and in his statement “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV) proved this fact. God desired to set people free, not from individuals or governments but from their enslavement to sin. Paul understood this and was frustrated that those who had claimed their freedom in Jesus were going back to being enslaved. Paul reminds them of their freedom; let’s discover what he said…

READ: Galatians 3:23-29

If you place yourself under the influence of someone else or something else you are enslaved by the choice you made. The Law of Moses only pointed to how tough it was to be holy and the price our sin demands. It had once had its purpose but no longer. In fact Paul related…

I. Freedom is found in faith! (Vv. 23-25)

Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

1. In his continued teaching on the Law Paul uses two figures of speech. He shows how the Law was like a prison and how we become free as children of God (More about the latter later.). Paul relates that “Before this faith came”, meaning our faith in Jesus as Messiah and the fulfillment of the Law; “we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.” The Israelites were protected by God from the evil and ungodliness of the societies around them as they followed his Law. And in that they were held, imprisoned by it until Jesus came! They had to follow all the guidelines, nuances, and intent of the entire Law or they were guilty in breaking the entire Law! Paul reminds us “So the law was put in charge” of us. The NASB relates the wording here as “tutor” and the KJV relates it as a “schoolmaster”, but the word in the Greek “paidagōgos” is where we get our word pedagogue from and it is more like an educator who teaches his way and no other way. If you disagree it is the highway for you! The Law was a strict teacher keeping its adherents under its control “to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” The Law was their disciplinarian until Jesus was revealed! The sole purpose of the Law of God was to lead the Israelites to the knowledge of faith in Jesus! This is why that “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” We no longer need a tutor or nanny with a switch that would smack us back into line if we messed up because salvation comes by faith in Jesus, God’s one and only Son! Our chains are gone, our shackles removed, and we are free from mindlessly following a set of rules in order to be right with God. Freedom is found in faith!

EXAMPLE: The term “paidagōgos” literally means to beat one into line until they conform. I had a drill instructor in the Navy who did this quite well. My mother was another pedagogue in my life because often it was her way or the highway for us as kids. She would pull her petite five foot frame up and tell us miscreants that we had “Better shape up or ship out!” If we cried too long she would tell us to “stop crying” or she would give us “something to cry about!” Now lest I make my mother out to be a harsh mistress, she wasn’t entirely. She did it to protect us. You have to remember she had two wild and woolly boys and a rebellious teenage daughter growing up in a tiny town. The Law of Moses was like my Mom. It protected and punished, but now that Christ has come, our faith in him sets us free from this hash mistress. Freedom is found in faith!

The world often makes the mistake in thinking that Jesus just taught about love, love, love and never bothered with our sin at all. This simply is a lie. Jesus did not come as some Buddhistic philosopher spouting confusing platitudes and passing them off as wisdom. He lived and died to make us new creatures in him! In fact, Paul relates that…

II. Christ’s freedom makes us children of God! (Vv. 26-29)

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

1. If we are no longer under the Law’s supervision, are we free to do whatever we want whenever we want? The answer is a resounding “NO!” Paul tells us that things have changed since Jesus came and redeemed us. He bluntly relates that “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”. Believers are made God’s children not by following the Law of their enslavement but rather by their faith! How is this possible? Paul taught that “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” The Law was a discipling pedagogue, and those under its supervision were spiritual babies. However, now that Christ had come, the Galatian believers were sons through faith and were no longer under a “Jewish slave-guardian.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary) Like newly set free slaves they had been given a new wardrobe; they were now “clothed… with Christ”! In fact there no longer existed any spiritual gender, class, or racial distinction: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Make no mistake Paul was referring only to those who have believed in Jesus and not everyone in the world! Why would I say this? Paul writes, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” This is why John would write that “all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13 NIV) People are not naturally born children of God but can become so by receiving the gift of the new birth by faith in Jesus! Christ’s freedom makes us children of God!

EXAMPLE: Few of us would like someone constantly hanging over us telling us what to do every moment of every day of our lives from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. You know, from the womb to the tomb. Now I know it is natural for teenagers to test the boundaries of the perceived confinement. This is part of growing up but what I am talking about lasts a lifetime with no break and no freedom. This was the Law of Moses. When one woke up and until they went to sleep they were constantly under the watchful eye of its mandate. There was truly no rest for the wicked because we are all wicked and as Paul would write, “For no one is put right in God’s sight by doing what the Law requires; what the Law does is to make us know that we have sinned. But now God’s way of putting people right with himself has been revealed. It has nothing to do with law, even though the Law of Moses and the prophets gave their witness to it. God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all: everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free.” (Romans 3:20-24 GNB) Christ’s freedom makes us children of God!

Conclusion:

Freedom is found in faith! Christ’s freedom makes us children of God!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Corrupt Character Matters

Corrupt Character Matters
By Lee Hemen
July 27, 2016
It is truly sad we do not have better choices for President this year, but we do not. And while Mr. Trump carries with him a lot of baggage the sheer audacity and corruption of Hillary Clinton takes one’s breath away. Most millennials have no idea who they might vote for when they cast their vote for this feminine crook. Make no mistake this is exactly what she is; her whole life is one of staying one step ahead of the law, skirting the law, or figuring ways the law does not apply to her. From when she was the First Lady of Arkansas people soon learned that you did not cross the Clintons but especially Hillary.
Her metamorphosis from a geeky thick-lensed feminist to the political insider she is today would be breathtaking if it was not filled with so much corruption. Huffington Post reported on her Wall Street corruption in a hit piece on Republicans and linking Hillary to voting or not voting in order to enrich her campaign coffers. They related, “Hillary Clinton’s corruption thus far has not been exposed by the Republican Party, because they’ve had no need to do so: she hasn’t been the Democratic nominee for President.” They also related that “On 28 August 2006, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition headlined ‘Senator Hillary Clinton: All Show and no Substance,’ and the well known government whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, along with the organization’s board member William Weaver, condemned her as: ‘an elected senator who has served six years in her seat, never taking a strong stand in support of her constituents on any serious or controversial issue; a senator who has used her record-breaking TV public appearances to say ‘nothing’ … an elected official who has no record of conducting investigations into cases that are matters of great concern to her constituents and to our country … a politician who has spent all her focus and energy on a campaign of shallow publicity glitz.'” (See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/why-hillary-clinton-shoul_b_4293469.html) This is Hillary Clinton, a person who is interested only in what is best for Hillary Clinton.
Hillary’s corruption has always looked for the cash. “Show me the money,” should be her campaign slogan. She has sold out her global warming friends, anti-oil, and personal friends. Whitewater was where Bill and Hillary Clinton were associates of Jim and Susan McDougal in the Whitewater Development Corp., an Arkansas real estate investment firm that went under when McDougal’s Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan was closed by federal regulators for illegal accounting. Taxpayers lost $73 million due to Guaranty. The Clintons lost an estimated $67,000 on their investment, but McDougal helped pay off Bill Clinton’s campaign debts, and Hillary Clinton’s law firm received an unknown sum in fees for representing a Guaranty project that also failed. Then there was her earning $100,000 from a $1000 investment in cattle futures.
And how about the Rose Law Firm billing records that all of suddenly magically appeared in Mrs. Clinton’s White House office, years after they had been subpoenaed? Afterwards there was the death of Vince Foster under rather unusual circumstances and the lies and cover-up that followed that still linger to this day. Millennials will not remember her testimony before congressional investigators as she answered “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” 250 times. Then there was Travelgate where after Bill became President Hillary engineered the firing of seven employees of the White House travel office and the hiring of a firm with ties to the Clintons to replace them. Multiple investigations absolved the president of involvement but Hillary Clinton was found to have made false statements to investigators. Sound familiar?
Few remember Filegate where hundreds of FBI background files on officials in previous Republican presidential administrations were improperly given in 1993 and 1994 to Craig Livingstone, the director of White House security who was a Hillary Clinton favorite. She also rented out the Lincoln bedroom to more than 800 donors and sold seats on Commerce Department international trade missions to corporate figures in return for big contributions to President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign. Then there are her shady friends John Huang, Charlie Trie, and Johnny Chung. All three collected moneys to support Hillary and Bill. Marc Rich is another shady “friend” who was pardoned after his former wife made big contributions to the Clinton presidential library and to Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign.
Lest we forget there was the Benghazi attack where Hillary blamed it on an anti-Muslim YouTube video where she sat for an 11-hour hearing before the select committee in October 2015 and denied knowingly spreading false talking points about the attack. Yet emails revealed during the hearing suggest Clinton told her daughter the Benghazi compound was overrun by terrorists before she ever addressed the public about the controversial YouTube clip.
And finally we have her email scandal where she used her private email and a privately set up email server to send and receive top secret and classified communication which is in violation of Federal Laws. She has never released her speeches given before Goldman Sachs and others for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then there is the continued cover up of the Clinton Foundation which has received millions of dollars offshore from foreign corporations, countries, and individuals while receiving special treatment before the State Department while Hillary was Secretary of State.
Now, does anyone think the stealing, lying, and theft will stop this time if she becomes the most powerful woman in the world?

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The law fulfilled! – Galatians 3:13-22

The law fulfilled! – Galatians 3:13-22
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 24, 2016

There are those in our day and age who would have you do a lot of things in order to please God. Eat certain foods, read certain books, do an undetermined amount of penance or rituals in order to gain God’s grace. I have often stated that I believe it is often used to cement their own power or control over folks who allow their guilty conscious to dictate their faith instead of the facts of the gospel narrative. When we do this we begin to wonder if we have done enough in order for God to like us let alone love us.

Paul wanted his fellow Galatians to fully understand that their holding onto an old way of life simply because it assuaged their guilt was foolish. In fact they were placing themselves back under a curse instead of being free in their faith in Jesus alone! The no longer meant anything for those who had placed their faith and trust in the one who meant all the requirements of the contract of God. Let’s discover for ourselves this morning how the law was fulfilled.

READ: Galatians 3:13-22

I remember when I was younger there was an old grouchy man, who was probably the same age I am now, who used to come out of his house and yell at us for walking across his yard. He lived on the corner and I used to think he laid in wait to jump out and curse us for doing so. However, the curse Paul related to was the curse of the Law of Moses and he tells the Galatians that…

I. We are redeemed from the Law’s curse! (Vv. 13-14)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

1. Here we discover that Paul uses legal terms in talking about the Law of Moses. The reason was obvious for Paul and any of his fellow Hebrews; the Law of Moses was a contract between God and his people! And we discover Paul reminds us that “Christ redeemed us from the law by becoming a curse for us”! We are redeemed from the Law’s curse because of Jesus! The curse was the fact that no one could keep the law and would therefore be guilty all the time in breaking it! James, Jesus’ half brother would write, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”(James 2:10 NIV) Yet Jesus took the curse (guilt) upon himself “for it is written” Paul related that “cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree”; the “tree” here refers to the cross Jesus was nailed to. The Jews considered anyone who was crucified as “cursed” or guilty because of this and deserved what they got. Why then would God decide to come as Jesus and take this curse? Paul reasoned that Jesus did this “in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles (all of us) through Christ (Messiah) Jesus”! “The positive side of Paul’s argument emphasized that there is hope for all who have broken the Law and are therefore under its curse. That hope is not in man but in Christ who redeemed us from the curse of the Law.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary) What the Hebrews could only hope for and what David had longed for now came by faith “so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” The contract of God was paid for and the guilt taken away by the promise of Jesus. The Holy Spirit in the lives of those who believe proves we are sealed in Jesus our Redeemer! We are redeemed from the Law’s curse!

EXAMPLE: Money is a necessary part of life. Without it, we couldn’t secure the necessities or luxuries of life. But there are things money can never buy. Money can buy things but it cannot buy the presence of God. Money can be used to bribe one’s way into political and preferential treatment but it will not buy the respect of God. Money can buy phony accolades and grease the palms of the corruptible but not one’s way into heaven. Money is used to redeem its worth for goods and services and is a promise of payment. The Law of Moses could make one feel better for a period of time but it could never redeem one from their sins. It could never make one holy before the Lord, but Jesus could and did pay the debt we could never pay through his redeeming death on the cross! We are redeemed from the Law’s curse!

My father hated it when one of us kids lied. For him lying was one of the worst things a person could do. In fact, when he said he would do something, he would try his hardest to get it done. That is what a promise is all about and when it comes to the promise of God, it truly means something. The law was simply a shadow of things to come and God had promised something far greater. Paul relates…

II. Jesus is the Promise we need! (Vv. 15-18)

Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

1. Paul’s opponents might argue that Abraham was indeed justified by faith, however, the Judaizers would then argue that the Mosaic Law which was later entirely changed the basis for achieving salvation. So Paul related, “Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life: Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant (contract) that has been duly established, so it is in this case.” Just as a properly executed contract was legal and binding, so are the promises of God! God made a contract with Abraham and these “promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed”, Paul patently wrote them. He then explains what he means by using the term “seed”. “The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ”, meaning the Messiah. Was Paul using semantics in his argument? Yes he was because what he meant was that “The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant (contract) previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.” The Law of Moses was a contract which promised the Messiah would come through him; he would be Abraham’s “seed”, his inheritance, his future promise fulfilled! And like any seed that is planted (promised) it bears fruit. In this case, Jesus Christ! So Paul rightly argues that “if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but in his grace (God) gave it to Abraham through a promise”! And God’s promise is as good as and therefore even more binding than any legal contract because it was done by God’s grace! Jesus is the Promise we need!

EXAMPLE: It is that time of the year when politicians promise the moon and forget them as soon as the ballots are cast. I find it truly depressing that we hear the same tired promises and things never change. This is why so many have supported candidates who are outside of the mainstream. They are tired of hearing the same tired promises without seeing anything getting done. Instead of one proclaiming “I’m with her!” perhaps it would be better to hear, “I’m for you!” I do know one thing for certain; nothing will change until people change. Like Paul I believe Jesus is the Promise we need!

Some concepts are tough for people to understand and they just do not seem to get them. What happens if you break the law? You will be punished for it, unless you’re like some modern politicians, then you can run for President! Paul gives his readers a lesson in exactly why the law of God was given to Moses in the first place and he should know, he was a legal scholar! He relates that…

III. Our faith is the promise of the law fulfilled! (Vv. 19-22)

What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one. Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

1. Like a good school teacher Paul then asks his readers a question they would have to try and find the answer for, “What, then, was the purpose of the law?” For those who continually skirt the law or break the law they would tell you it was there to make their lives miserable. But Paul is speaking about the Law of Moses handed to him by God himself. He answers that “It was added because of transgressions (our sins) until the Seed (Jesus) to whom the promise referred had come.” We needed the law to show us just how horrible sin was and to show us how impossible it was for us to live holy lives! Add to his that the law was inferior because of the way it was given! “The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.” Angel here does not mean heavenly beings but rather God himself and the earthly messenger Moses! In continuing his legal lesson Paul reminds us that “the mediator (the contract), however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.” Contracts or covenants always represent several parties and here it was God and mankind! The Judaizers would argue that God gave Moses the law and that was all there was to it, but Paul knew what they knew. Namely no one could keep the entire law and that in fact God did not give it to us to save us! So Paul asks, “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.” And the final answer for Paul was that “the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” Paul knew that “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” Our faith is the promise of the law fulfilled!

EXAMPLE: Recently we panted vegetables in our garden. Every day we go out to see if the seeds we planted are growing and producing a crop. The beans we planted were supposed to be bush beans but came up pole beans instead. So you cannot even trust the packets the seeds came in! The Law of Moses was merely a seed of what would come to fruition in Jesus. God’s Law was a contract that he would never break, but he would fulfill it and he did in Jesus! What the Law could never do Jesus did and the promise was completed in him through our faith. Therefore our faith is the promise of the law fulfilled!

Conclusion:

We are redeemed from the Law’s curse! Jesus is the Promise we need! Our faith is the promise of the law fulfilled!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Submerged! – Psalm 139

Submerged! – Psalm 139
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 17, 2016

How confident would you be to have someone follow you around for a month and write down everything you did and then publish it online for the entire world to read? Now I know some of you are thinking, “They would be really bored!” Some of you might say, “Who cares?” And then there are those of you who already do this, it is called Facebook and Twitter! Yet even these social media sites are not the same as having someone expose your every waking moment. And what if they included your private thoughts as well? Now that is a whole different matter, isn’t it?

Yet the Psalmist David was willing to have God do this very thing. How in the world could he be that confident with his life? I mean if we read what has been written about David you would think he would have been a bit more circumspect about wanting God to search him and know him. David was not always a nice person nor did he always honor God so how in the world could David ask God to know him in this way? I believe it has to do with how David viewed God, how God views us, and if we are truly willing to be submerged in God!

READ: Psalm 139

David understood that if one desires a life that is rich and full in the Lord it must starts with…

I. Knowing that God knows you! (Vv. 1-6)

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

1. David understood that God was omniscient that is all knowing. God knew David completely just as God knows each of us completely. David writes, “O Lord, you have searched me and know me.” Now this was not some kind of doddering old dude who kind of smiled at David and his mischievous ways, but rather a holy all knowing being who intrinsically knew David thoroughly. God had searched David! Could you say like David that God knows you this way? David says, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” Wow! David is readily admitting God’s knowledge of him as if he had scoured every detail of David’s life and thus knew him intimately. In fact, before David spoke, God knew what he would say: “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.” How could God know this much about David, because God hemmed David’s life completely! “You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” Being known by God is not confining, rather it is freedom for those who love God! This is why David concludes, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” Being submerged in God begins in knowing that God knows you!

EXAMPLE: In the books by Tolkien we discover an evil presence in the country known as Mordor. Mordor was a black volcanic ash plain located in the southeast of Middle-earth to the East of Gondor surrounded by three mountain ranges. Supposedly there existed an all seeing eye of evil known as Sauron. Sadly, there are those in our day and age who actually see God in this vain; as some all seeing eye who looks for only the bad in people in order to punish them for their impudence. God is nothing like this because for David God was the Creator who knew him intimately and loved him in spite of his personal faults. For David being submerged in God began with knowing that God knows you!

There are those of us who fool ourselves into thinking that God is not aware of every area of our lives, this is simply not true. If one wants to be submerged in God David relates it begins with…

II. Knowing you cannot go where God is not! (Vv. 7-12)

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

1. After stating what he did about God searching him completely, David laments the same accusations those who are caught in sin often do, they begin to blame God! David asks, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Of course the answer is nowhere because God is everywhere: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” While we may want to escape God’s presence in our lives the truth is we cannot, ever. There are those who think that by running away into deeper sin, they can escape God; just like the prodigal son thought. Surprise, God is already there waiting for you! In his hypothetical assertions David knew that heaven is not too big for God nor is death, Sheol below. My mother used to quip, “You have to get up pretty early to fool God!” Of course she meant you could never get up that early and David understood this as well, he writes, “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” No matter where we try to flee into sin or where we fall into sin, God is there. His calming, protecting, and strong “hand will hold” us “fast”. Trying to escape into further sin does not hide a person from God’s presence: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” David knew that we are already submerged in God! This understanding comes in knowing you cannot go where God is not!

EXAMPLE: Jesus would later tell his disciples that God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die for them! And that in fact if they believed this then no one could snatch them from the Father’s hand because he and the Father were one and the same. Jesus is God. Just as God understood the Israelite’s plight in Egypt, just as he understood David’s weaknesses, he understood ours and sent his Son to redeem us! David would rejoice and declare, “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” This was a comfort to David in that knowing one cannot go where God is not!

In today’s world there are those who falsely think they are not accountable to anyone; so much so that their view of the sacredness of life has been lost. They do not care what they do with their lives and so they do not care what they do to others. David knew this was not true because being submerged in God begins in…

III. Knowing God created us! (Vv. 13-17)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

1. For David God was unknowable because he was God. He was always present, he was all knowing, and he had always existed. And as David looked at what Moses and others taught about God with his own experiences with the Lord, David could only say, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” God knew all about David when he created him in his mother’s womb. As David pondered this he could readily say, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Every person has value and each of us is unique to God because he has made us so! David knew this “full well”, completely because of what he understood about God. David realized that his “frame”, his body, was not hidden from [God] when [he] was made in the secret place”. All life is sacred because God sees us as “wonderful” and each of us are “wonderfully made”! God has “woven” us all “together in the depths of the earth”; the idea is one of being embroidered or knit by God’s own hand. Of course this is metaphoric but David wanted to emphasize God’s creative nature and his individual love for us because when this occurred God “saw [David’s] unformed body”! Added to this that God knew “All the days ordained” for David and they “were written in [God’s] book before one of them came to be”! This therefore led David to conclude, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” Knowing God created us!

EXAMPLE: As we study more and more about the world and creation around us we learn that there is great knowledge at work. From the chromosomes in our DNA, from the smallest cells to the largest animal ever existed we find the handiwork of a wonderful being at work. An all knowing God knows his creation. Just as an artist knows each work they lovingly sweated over, agonized through, and joyously presented. David understood that if we wanted to know God more and be submerged in him it begins with knowing God created us!

David was far from perfect but we know that David was a man after God’s own heart. If you want to be submerged in the Lord as David was…

IV. You must know God! (Vv. 18-24)

Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

1. Knowing God created him led David to conclude that the Lord’s plans for his people are most precious and in fact those plans are infinite so David concludes that “Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” Just as Paul would one day understand that for him to “live is Christ or to die is gain”, David finally realized that “When I awake, I am still with you.” Whether he was alive or dead, God was there. Yet David incorrectly concludes that if God is there with him and knows him, then why doesn’t he destroy those who personally hate him? David laments, “If only you would slay the wicked, O God!” Rightly so David wanted nothing to do with evil people and he cries, “Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!” And if they were his enemies weren’t they also God’s enemies? David tells God, “They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.” While David understood God loved him, he misunderstood God’s nature. If the enemies of the Israelites enslaved them and tried to get them to worship pagan gods, God was jealous and would respond; but often God allowed his people to be punished for their own sin. This is why, like a petulant child David whines, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?” Yes, David did, but David was just as guilty of his sin even though he declared, “I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.” Like many of us David is tacitly bargaining with God. It does not work. I believe David knew this to be true and in the midst of his lamenting, he realizes his condition and openly confesses to God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” If one wants to be completely submerged in God, bargaining with him never works. Only open and honest confession does. David understood that you must know God!

EXAMPLE: I find it kind of humorous that there are those who call themselves atheist, meaning “no god”, yet they are so concerned that others would believe there is a God. Of course they will say they do not want others to live in the ignorance of believing a myth. Yet if this “myth” is true, what then? And hasn’t this “myth”, by their definition not mine, has in fact created a far better world? Of course they would try to tout the wars or evil done in the name of religion and would want you to forget all about the horrendous things done by mankind in the name of science or humanism. Where racial, political, or societal genocide was endorsed, millions slaughtered through abortion, and whole populations unknowingly experimented on in the name of science and knowledge. Only when one is honest about their nature can one understand the true nature of God. It begins with asking, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” To be submerged in God one must know God!

Conclusion:

To be fully submerged in God it begins in: Knowing that God knows you! Knowing you cannot go where God is not! Knowing God created us! You must know God!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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