The Word


Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

 1 O LORD, you have searched me
       and you know me.

 2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
       you perceive my thoughts from afar.

 3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
       you are familiar with all my ways.

 4 Before a word is on my tongue
       you know it completely, O LORD.

 5 You hem me in—behind and before;
       you have laid your hand upon me.

 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
       too lofty for me to attain.

 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
       Where can I flee from your presence?

 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,

 10 even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.

 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
       and the light become night around me,”

 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you.

 13 For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 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,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

 17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
       How vast is the sum of them!

 18 Were I to count them,
       they would outnumber the grains of sand.
       When I awake,
       I am still with you.

 19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
       Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

 20 They speak of you with evil intent;
       your adversaries misuse your name.

 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
       and abhor those who rise up against you?

 22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
       I count them my enemies.

 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
       test me and know my anxious thoughts.

 24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
       and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139 NIV                                        

My son, keep your father’s [God-given] commandment and forsake not the law of [God] your mother [taught you].  Bind them continually upon your heart and tie them about your neck.  When you go, they [the words of your parents’ God] shall lead you; when you sleep, they shall keep you; and when you waken, they shall talk with you.

Proverbs 6: 20-22

It is so important to immerse ourselves in God’s words, His will, and His way.  I think a lot of times we have failed to realize the creative and life-giving power of His Word.  After all, how did God create our environment?  He spoke words and heaven and earth were created as well as plants and animals, etc.  We need to carry on in His pattern and speak life to our situations, circumstances, and each other.  We learn how to do that by digging into the Word of God and keeping it in our hearts, minds, and even in our mouths.  We need to sleep, eat, drink, and speak the Word of God- that’s called meditating on the Word.  When we do this, we’ll find it easier to be led by the Holy Spirit thus resulting in protection and wisdom amongst many other benefits. Do you want to travel highways of pleasantness and paths of peace even through the worst of circumstances?  Try engrafting your heart with edification- God’s Words.  Then you’ll begin to travel the road ahead of you assuredly….”When you go, they [the words of your parents’ God] shall lead you; when you sleep, they shall keep you; and when you waken, they shall talk with you.”

These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an abomination to Him:

A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren.

Proverbs 6:  16-19

This excerpt really cuts to the chase. What things do God find abominable?  Of course, we all know he hates sin!  The things listed above are indeed sin.  Somtimes, we may not think of some of them as such.  However, these verses make it clear.  Let’s consider all seven.

1.     A Proud Look- This is described in the Amplified Bible as the spirit that makes one overestimate themselves and underestimate others. I’m sure we’ve all either been guilty of or a victim of this spirit.  I know I certainly have.  What immediately comes to mind is an assumption I had made years ago about a t.v. evangelist who didn’t sound quite the way I supposed he should have sounded and I thought to myself, “Oh, she’s smarter than he is”- (it was a husband and wife team).  I looked at the presentation of those on the broadcast and made a hasty judgement just because of my own pre-conceived notions.  I didn’t take time to listen to what was being said.  I had easily rated the level of intelligence between the two mates by how the Word was presented (What did intelligence have to do with it anyway? Talk about shallow!  Of course, I realize now that just because one person may be a bit more polished than another in their outward presentation means absolutely nothing!).   One seemed “country-fried” while the other seemed to be not so country but presented the word in a business suit and a more reserved manner (less expressive than her husband).  She was calm while he was fired up- fired up and spitting out that country boy accent and expressions!  It took only a second for me to come up with a hasty judgement.  I easily underestimated him.  A couple of years after that, I had the opportunity to watch the broadcast frequently.  Of course, I found out how wrong I was.  This man is truly wise.  I judged a book without taking time to read it.  I judged a book by my perception of  its cover.  I don’t recall doing that a whole lot in my life.  But, that time I did. 

Oh, Holy Spirit is so good!- I just recalled two other times! These involved two men of whom now I am extremely fond of, but of course, it didn’t start out that way.  Basically, I had underestimated each one based upon their behavior.  I had the opportunity to witness the behavior of one first hand, while the other’s behavior was only “legendary”.  Both turned out to be men I now admire and have great respect for, although they made lousy first and even, with one, second and third impressions.  The best of people can do some of the worst things and, on the otherhand, the worst of people can do some of the best things.  We’re human.  We’re flexible….We’re fallible….We can adapt…change…be transformed spiritually…be misled….fall flat on our faces and then get back up and do it all again…etc.  The point is never underestimate others or overestimate yourself and your views.  There is so much more to people than what we often realize. It’s a valuable lesson we should not easily forget.

2.     A Lying Tongue-  Oh, boy!  Of course, everyone knows lying is a sin!  However, have you ever heard anyone trying to justify their actions by saying,  “Oh, it was just a little white lie!”  You can paint it any color you would like but the truth of the matter is whether you think you told an itty bitty lie or a whopper of a tale, it’s all the same to God.  If you meant to deceive someone by your words or actions, that makes it a lie.  Deal with it and do better!

3.     Hands That Shed Innocent Blood-  This one seems to be pretty straight forward in the literal sense.  However, it also helps to think of it figuratively.  Have you ever ‘thrown someone under the bus’ so to speak?  Or should we say, made good use of a “ better him than me” attitude when it came to dealing with an issue where someone  or someone’s reputation had to suffer whether it was justified or not?  I’ve seen this happen in the workplace quite a bit.  Someone had to be the talk of the town whether it was known to be justified or not…  someone had to take the blame  whether or not  they had anything to do with the incident, someone had to pay the price even if they had nothing to do with the problem all because of another party’s selfishness, insecurity, lack of character,  jealousy, or spitefulness. Oh my, have I seen some innocent blood shed!

4.     A Heart That Manufactures Wicked Thoughts and Plans-  I’ve seen this one with my own eyes as well.  A particular person actually popped into my mind when I was meditating on this list of seven.  The person could be a poster child for six out of these seven.  I don’t say this lightly.  It’s not one or two or even a hand full of things that would qualify this person as the poster child.  I observed this person’s character, choices, scheming, plotting and planning, lying, and troublemaking etc. for years. This person had a heart for manufacturing evil- manipulation was usually a tool of choice.  They would plot constantly…sometimes for revenge, sometimes for leverage, sometimes to “keep people in their place”,  and sometimes, seemingly, just for amusement.  It really was a shame but quite eye-opening.

5.     Feet That Are Swift In Running to Evil– “Fight!” Remember the reaction this yell brought back in school whenever it was shouted at the top of someone’s lungs?  Usually, everyone took off running in order to see who was getting a beat down.  However, the wise one walked in the other direction.  That’s what we’re to do when the opportunity comes to participate in anything we know God would not be pleased with.  Can you picture someone who is always quick to run and hear the next juicy piece of gossip…. someone who is the first to always try and stir things up….someone who is quick to try to get in on whatever kind of bashing is going on?  These sorts seem to relish other’s misfortune and pain.  They seem to relish what God hates and are quick to pursue it.

6.     A False Witness Who Breathes Out Lies [Even Under Oath]-  What’s worse than someone who sees/knows the truth yet purposely proclaims falsehoods, in a court of law or otherwise?  The Lord hates it.

7.     He Who Sows Discord Among His Brethen–  God is big on unity among brethren.  He hates it when we fight amongst ouselves.  There is power in unity.  The one who plants strife amongst the body of Christ is indeed acting as an enemy to the whole body.  Ultimately, Satan is the sower of discord among the brethren.  However, we all need to look at what kind of seeds we are sowing through both our actions and our words. We should always strive to be used of God and not allow ourselves to be tools of the enemy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               So, these are some of the things that elicit feelings of extreme disgust, hate, and loathing from our God.  That, alone, makes them characteristics we should fight hard against. One thing is for sure- we should not be content with any one of these traits abiding within us. When we begin to hate what God hates, we will begin to see a significant change in both our character and behavior.  Then, we will have more of an effect not only on our neighbor but the world

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Philippians 4:8 NIV

 

This verse really struck me today.  Probably because quite a few times in the past week, I’ve actually caught myself thinking negatively and have quit as soon as I realized it, and used my mind to go in the opposite direction.  For instance, I could have been thinking about a loved one driving a car, then my thoughts would trail off into that person having an accident, visions of the accident scene- who responded to it, the subsequent fight for life and death at the hospital, who would be called in what order, etc. – and sometimes all of this drama even has a soundtrack… my own private little mini-drama for one. 

Why do we use our imagination like that?  I must say I have done it all my life.  But why?  Why do we torment ourselves with a million different scenarios that could possibly occur but haven’t occurred ?  Life is tough enough- just putting yourself through the tragedy of whatever your mind throws at you is extra wear and tear for the soul.   No good can come of it.  However, what if we consciously made an effort to utilize our God-given imagination?

What if we used that imagination to think “good thoughts”?  That same mind that so easily churned out thoughts of a horrible car accident and a loved one fighting for their life can be redirected in seeing that loved one as safe and protected as they go along their way.  It can envision strong angels surrounding that loved one as they go about their business and the mercy of God hovering over them all the days of their life.  That God-given imagination can be used to see that loved one traveling highways of pleasantness and paths of peace.  Once again, the choice is up to us. 

Now, how about that?  We can actually choose what to think and how to think.  I didn’t always know that.  Thank God for the revelation of it!  Have I mastered it yet? – Oh, noooo!  Will I keep on working on it?- Ooooh, yes!  Why?  Because the word of God tells me to and I have every confidence it is the best for me- because my Daddy wants nothing but the best for me.

So, the next time your mind tries to get you wrapped up in a horrendous melodrama- take the time to nip it in the bud – that’s right!  Just cut it off…but don’t stop there!  Take the time to replace it with a promise from the Word of God.  If you can’t think of a promise regarding the mini-drama in your head, just pull out the Word and find one!  That way, you can be prepared the next time that “melodrama” tries to play in your theatre!  Remember, it’s up to you to choose which thought is going to be the trailer and which will be the blockbuster with star-billing.  Make the right choice and be blessed!

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.  If they say, Come with us; let us lie in wait [to shed] blood, let us ambush the innocent without cause [and show that his piety is in vain];  Let us swallow them up alive as does Sheol (the place of the dead), and whole, as those who go down into the pit [of the dead]; We shall find and take all kinds of precious goods [when our victims are put out of the way], we shall fill our houses with plunder; Throw in your lot with us [they insist] and be a sworn brother and comrade; let us all have one purse in common–

My son, do not walk in the way with them; restrain your foot from their path;  For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.  For in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird!  But [when these men set a trap for others] they are lying in wait for their own blood;  they set an ambush for their own lives.  So are the ways of everyone who is greedy of gain; such [greed for plunder] takes away the lives of its possessors.                  Proverbs 1:10-19

 So, this excerpt from chapter 1 has caught my attention today.  First, I will admit, I had to look up piety in the dictionary.  I found that it meant reverence for God among other things.  While I was using the dictionary, I also decided to look up plunder which was defined as loot or anything taken by robbery, theft, or fraud.  I think this one is great to start off with- A father advising his son to resist the pressure of his peers to commit awful deeds for the sake of a “common purse”.  The group has devised a plan to ambush innocent passersby in order to take their valuables,etc.  They hope to lure the lad to take part in their deeds and become an official part of the group.  In short, they’re looking for a new recruit… 

Now what does dear old dad have to say about this?  He is advising his son to stay away from such groups.  He warns of the danger of engaging in such activities. Quite frankly, he advises him that payback comes with that sort of a lifestyle.  “But [when these men set a trap for others] they are lying in wait for their own blood;  they set an ambush for their own lives. ”   This truth is repeated over and over in the bible.  It’s the seedtime and harvest principle- you’ll reap whatever you sow.  Many times the harvest is not immediate.  It takes time to bring in a crop.  However, just as a seed that’s planted will eventually come up if it’s not uprooted, so will our words and deeds whether we mean them to or not. Dad is warning Jr. that these fellows and those like them are going to reap a terrible harvest although they probably don’t realize it.   

Folly loves company.  The first thing that came to mind when I read this excerpt was gangs.  Street gangs, among others, are infamous for plotting attacks and chasing plunder.  In order for these gangs to survive, they must actively recruit new members- whether it is through fear and intimidation or through painting the life of a thug as glamorous and a thing to be sought after, fresh blood is always necessary.  No doubt, peer pressure has its part to play in the process as well.  Kids need help to say no to the heavy pressure their environment is placing on them everyday.  They need instruction, as this father from Proverbs is giving his son, guidance (shown through how one’s life is lived before the child not from just what is said to the child), love (unconditional), committment (they have to know that an adult is committed to them and their future – that they are on their side and that their thoughts are for the child’s success), self- worth and value (to be derived from a relationship with Christ).  Then, they will have the proper tools to withstand the pressures of this world and make the right choices. 

Of course, a street gang is only one type of gang.  What about the office gang, or the gossip gang, or even the church gang?  I’m sure most of us have had the unfortunate opportunity to be asked to chime in on someone’s reputation, their job performance, or even their moral character.  Of course, the proposal is more subtle than this one from Proverbs but just as indecent to be sure. We’re invited to take part in a lethal tongue lashing of the intended victim. It may start off by the person saying something that seems to be kind about the individual, but then it turns to something else… the person’s faults (whether real or imagined, or just plain made up for evil puposes) are now being highlighted in a manner that invites our agreement.  Before taking part in such sessions, take care to consider the advice from above… “My son, do not walk in the way with them; restrain your foot from their path;  For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.”   Although the plunder may look attractive to you at the time, there is always the big payback to consider.  Your tongue is sowing seed for your own destruction when you take part in such activities.  It is helping you to set an ambush for your own life, yet on a grander scale.  The harvest is always more than the seed planted… and payback is the reward for the plunder.