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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
Preached At:Lynwood United Reformed Church
 Lynwood, IL
Title:Divine Inspection
Text:Psalms 139 (View)
Occasion:Lord's Supper
Topic:Lord's Supper

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Divine Inspection

Psalm 139

Preached by Rev. Keith Davis at Lynwood URC on 7-8-12 (Songs: 311, 74, 290)


 Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the men’s Saturday morning Bible Study we are studying the book Knowing God by J.I. Packer.  One of the chapters we looked at yesterday highlighted the fact that Knowing God is what we have been made for.  Of all the aims and goals that we set before us in life, none should be higher than that of knowing our great and awesome God. 


Indeed that is exactly what Jesus meant when He prayed to His Father: Now this is eternal life: that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent!  And what is it that God sees in us that gives Him the most pleasure –it is seeing that we are filled with the knowledge of Him, our God.


Later in the same chapter, Packer makes the point that knowing God is more than just knowing about Him; rather it is a matter of personal dealing with God.  Knowing God is a matter of dealing with God as He opens up to us (in other words, as He allows us to know Him from His Word) but it is also a matter of seeing how God deals with us, as He takes knowledge of us.    


What that means is that an essential part of knowing God (trusting Him and loving Him) comes from the knowledge and experience we have of how God deals with us -- even though He sees us for who we are.  Remember, this is the same God who knows us better than anyone else in the world – better than we know ourselves. 


As Packer says: There is certainly great cause for humility in the thought that He sees all the twisted things about me that my fellowmen do not see (and I am glad!) and that He sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself.  There is however great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that for some unfathomable reason He wants me as His friend and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose.


Now that’s an awesome thought isn’t it?  That’s an incredible reality.  And that same sense of humility and that same incentive to worship God and love God should wash over us as we read Psalm 139.  For, this is the Psalm that tells us how intimately God knows us; He knows us inside and out.  He sees all our faults and failings; He is familiar with all our sinful habits, with all of our “secret sins”; he discerns all our evil thoughts.


Yet, this same God graciously calls out to us each day saying: Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.  This is the same God who invites us, poor sinners that we are, to fellowship with Him as His Table next week – the God who is a patient, loving, kind, and compassionate God, who doesn’t treat us as we deserve. 


Tonight, we are going to take a few moments to consider this God who knows us – who searches us, who inspects us, who examines us with divine scrutiny -- in order that we might better come to know Him -- to know Him more intimately, to love Him more dearly and serve Him more faithfully.


Here, the Psalmist Asks God to Search His Heart.  Notice:

1)   His Sincere Desire 

2)   His Righteous Goal


1. The Sincere Desire             

I think it’s fair to say that (especially as we grow older) all of us experience a little anxiety when we go to the doctor’s office for an exam.  Even if it’s just a routine physical, there’s still the chance that the doctor might find some kind of abnormality, he might find that lump, that cyst, that tumor, that irregular heart-beat, the blood test might come back positive. 


And, while we know in our mind that it’s a good thing if the doctor finds these abnormalities (so they can be treated), there’s also that part of us that would prefer to remain blissfully unaware of any problems or diseases that we might carry inside us.  


But that’s not the attitude of the Psalmist.  Rather, with all sincerity of heart, with all seriousness of purpose that he cries out to God to search Him and to know Him.  We hear this cry right away in verse 1: O Lord you have searched me and you know me.  David cries out to the LORD – to the One True God who knows us like no other – to the Creator God, the all knowing, the all powerful, all seeing, every where present God; the God of His existence.


The word search that David uses has the meaning of someone actually digging -- think of an archeologist who digs with meticulous--even surgical precision into the earth.  At times he gets on his hands and knees and he carefully brushes away the dirt to expose the artifacts. Nothing escapes his well –trained eye.


Here, the Psalmist is not asking God to give him a quick once-over, to give him a brief check-up – to open up and say “Ahh. Okay, you’re fine.  Next patient please.”  No.  He’s sincerely calling upon God to search him and to test him thoroughly and completely, inside and out!


This exam is the spiritual equivalent of an MRI, a CAT scan, an ultrasound, and an EKG rolled into one.  He’s asking God to dig down deep -- to peer into the deepest recesses of his heart; to look into the darkest corners of his mind; to plumb the depths of his very soul – not just so God can see for Himself what lies within (for God already know that), but the intention and design here is so that God (by the power of His Holy Spirit) might reveal to the Psalmist what He finds so that everything is disclosed, so that nothing remains hidden, so that no sin goes undetected or unconfessed


He is asking God to make him aware EVEN of the sins, faults and failings to which he might be blind, or sins he might be denying, or hiding, so that in the end, he might confess His sins and turn to God in repentance and faith.  Let’s pause a moment and reflect on this.


I wonder, how many of us would ask this of a friend, or even a family member?  Maybe we should do that this week.  In preparation for communion we can ask a friend/spouse to genuinely examine our life and name two or three areas where we are weak, where we are guilty of sin; areas we need to improve.  Would you be willing to do that?   


And, in that same vein, how many of us are willing to pray to God with this kind of sincerity, with this kind of honesty and humility and candor about ourselves.  How many of us pray with the eyes of our heart, mind, and soul wide open -- fully confessing the sin that lies within? 


I suppose there are times and occasions when we do that, but I also know from my own experience that we are not always so open and honest with God about ourselves.  There areas of our life, compartments in our hearts, and corners of our mind that we seal off from God, that we omit from our prayers, that we’re either too ashamed to bring to God in prayer, or we stubbornly refuse to confess as sin before God  -- or we simply don’t want to give up that sin.


In a certain way, it’s kinda like giving guests a tour of our home.  We walk them around and show them the parts of our homes that are neat and tidy and clean (in good order); yet there are other areas/rooms about which your wife might say: Don’t you dare show our guests that room. 


Maybe it’s being remodeled or that’s where all the dirty laundry is piled up, or maybe the children haven’t cleaned their room that day (week J).  Or, as it is in some cases, there are certain rooms which people designate as “junk rooms”.


This is where things get stored (or thrown) that we don’t know what to do with, and in time, those things accumulate so that the pile may reach from floor to ceiling.  As the pile grows and gets more unmanageable, it becomes easier for us just close the door to the mess and try to forget about it.


These rooms that are “off limits” to the tour because we’re too ashamed or too embarrassed to show these rooms to anyone.  I think that’s a good illustration of what our prayers of confession can be at times.  Each of us has a chamber of secret sins, our hidden habits, our guilty pleasures -- the sins we may be too ashamed to admit or afraid bring to God.


Or maybe we just close off certain areas of our life to God because we don’t want God poking around in our own business.  And then there are the sins we willfully suppress.  Maybe our pride convinces us that we have not sinned, that we’re not in the wrong, that we don’t have a problem, or if we do – at least our problems aren’t as bad as the next guy’s problems.


 And we might even feel pretty good about ourselves because the areas that we allow everyone to see is pretty clean.  We put up a good facade; on the surface our life is fairly neat and tidy – we are faithful church goers, we seem to have a healthy marriage, we send our kids to Christian school.


Yet, there are areas of our life that no one sees (certainly we don’t want others to see) that are dark with sin, that are far from clean and tidy.  And these are the areas in our personal life that we (in effect) are saying: Lord, search me, but don’t go into that room.  Lord, let’s not go there.  Let’s not get too personal.  Lord, don’t dig too deeply. 


Don’t look too hard, because you and I both know we’re not going to like what you find.  Lord, please don’t dig around too much there, because the more you dig, the more it’s going to hurt, and I don’t want to experience the pain, the discomfort, the embarrassment, the shame when I am brought face to face with the ugliness or the cruelty or the meanness of my sin.   


Not only is that disingenuous to God when it comes to confessing our sins, but it is also dangerous to our spiritually well being.  Living in sin, denying our sin, and covering up our sin is always disastrous to us!  As David expressed in Psalm 32, When I kept silent my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  Unconfessed sin crushes us. 


Just as bad, if we choose to continue in sin, that sin will grieve the Holy Spirit of God and He may leave us for a time; and that sin will also sears our conscience so that we are cannot even discern evil from good.  And if we live like this, and if we hide sin from God and others, the result will be -- we will have no peace with God, no true fellowship with God; no sense of relief or forgiveness from our sins, and as a result, our relationship and fellowship with others will suffer.


That is why we should pray like David does here -- with true sincerity, no matter how much it’s going to hurt; no matter how much it threatens to shame us and make us feel guilty.  Remember, shame and guilt can be good things -- so long as they drive us to Christ, asking Him to cover over our shame and guilt, to hide our nakedness and ugliness before God; asking Christ to forgive us of our sins completely and entirely.


That is what this week of self-examination is all about.  It’s about us praying with all sincerity to our almighty God who knows us so well -- who knows when we sit, when we rise; who perceives our thoughts from afar, who discerns our coming and going; who is familiar with all our ways;  who hems us in behind and before, who has formed us and made us in our mother’s womb.          


This is the God who is always with us no matter where we go, no matter what time of day or night it is.  We cannot escape His sight, we cannot flee from His presence, or live outside His power, or His protection, or His love not even for a moment.  This is the God who commands us to come before Him in all honesty and confess our every sin, to surrender every evil thought, ambition and notion, to plead for forgiveness from the sins that we might not even be aware that we committed -- all so that we can find healing and relief in the blood of Christ. 


We do this so that we can come before the Table of the Lord next week Sunday in full confidence and complete surety that God, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, has forgiven all our sins; and not only that, but He has freed us from the power of sin, so that we no longer feel a need to hide from God or flee from God.  Rather we can flee to God and we can find refuge beneath His wings! 


So that is the intended result of this prayer beloved --that we come before God sincerely confessing all our sins, hiding nothing from the God who sees all, who knows us better than we know ourselves. 


2.  His Righteous Goal

Secondly, we see where such a sincere confession leads us. It leads us to the petition found in verse 24: See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!  Here we see the Righteous Goal of this Prayer. 


Congregation, we’ve already mentioned one way which the Lord leads us.  He literally leads us in the way everlasting in the person of our savior, Jesus Christ.  The Lord is our Mediator, the great Champion of Righteousness who (like Joshua of old) leads His people into the Promised Land.  Christ did that by His sacrifice for us on the cross.  By His precious blood poured out for the remission of our sins, He secured our place in heaven above.


But there is another manner in which Christ leads us in the way everlasting.  Christ also leads us by the hand and heart as we walk through this life.  The Lord gives us His Word to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.  The Lord gives us His Holy Spirit to soften our hard hearts and to illumine our dark minds that we might be willing to follow wherever the Lord leads, and obey what He commands.


And then there is also the ministry of the Lord, in heaven, on our behalf, where the Lord serves as our heavenly high priest, making intercession for us before the Father as we go along each day.  And it is this high priest whom Hebrews tells us is sympathetic to our weaknesses, who will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure; and he will provide a way out so that we will not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle.


This is the way the Lord leads us in the way everlasting!  He not only secures our home/place in heaven above, but then he takes us by hand and patiently, gently, lovingly, he leads us there (he steadily draws us nearer unto Himself) day after day.  He leads us out of the darkness of our sin, and unto the glorious light of His presence.


And that -- in the end -- is what we should find so absolutely unfathomable, so utterly amazing, so completely unbelievable – that God would do this for you and for me.  For I know who I am.  And you know who you are.  And we can be sure that the God who formed us in our mother’s womb, who created us and protected us and saves us, knows us better than we know ourselves! 


And what does this knowledge of God do? For one, it brings us to our knees in humility before God.  We stand speechless before a great and wonderful and awesome God who has dealt with us so graciously, so compassionately, so mercifully! 


Second, it evokes within us a response of worship and praise to God.  For how can we not praise the God of our existence – the God of our salvation!  Thirdly, it calls us to a life of loving service to God and to others, as we realize that the God who has been so kind, so loving, so very patient with us, wants us to show others that same kind of Christ like love and patience and grace.


And fourth, it calls us to a life of holiness, where (for the sake of the blood of Jesus Christ), we remain free from sin, no longer hiding our sin from God and from others, no longer living the double life; no longer returning to the sins we confessed yesterday – but now (with all seriousness of purpose) we strive to live and walk in the freedom and in the peace and in the victory which Jesus Christ Himself has secured for us.  Amen. 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2012, Pastor Keith Davis

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