Thursday, March 27, 2014

Psalm 46:10

"Cease striving and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  

First, God commands us to be still, let go, relax.  If we are to know the living God, our spirit must be free from the worries, anxieties and strife inherent within the world system.  The prince of the power of the air incessantly seeks to sow seeds of discord, discontent, distraction, and destruction.  He would have us stare at circumstances, dwell on situations, and be consumed with the cares of this world.  And the degree to which we do so, is the extent to which we forfeit knowing God intimately and His peace personally.

Resting in the Lord is a byproduct of submission to His sovereignty.  The greater our willingness to consider all of life as permitted by God's providence, the more consistently we will experience His peace.  To the extent we chafe against His established throne in the heavens (Psalm 103:19), is the degree to which we lose His peace.  Submission is an act of the will which may not be joyful, but sorrowful (Hebrews 12:11), yet the inner tranquility is peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Secondly, we are directly commanded by the living God to know Him.  Contrary to the world's worship of the adage "know thyself" as the highest knowledge, the Creator of man asserts "know Me."  Is this distinction crucial?  Immeasurably!  

Man in his ignorant arrogance is convinced that he knows his own heart, that it is a trustworthy source of truth, and therefore he needs no god (nor does he desire one).  This perspective dovetails nicely with the prevailing notion of evolution, whereby it is denied that man is a creature (which implies accountability), and is seen as simply a highly-evolved animal.  With the pervasive teaching of this God-excluding hypothesis to the point it is "generally assumed", the enemy of man's soul has enhanced the spiritual blindness of millions.  

By contrast, the God who created mankind in the first place is the only One who really knows the heart of man: "I the LORD search the heart, I test the mind," (Jeremiah 17:10).  Thus, being "intimately acquainted with all our ways" (Psalm 139:3), He knows that our greatest need in the quest to know ourselves is to know Him.  In truth, the only way man gains correct perspective of his true nature is by knowing intimately the One who created him.  

How is this possible?  By looking to the Lord Jesus Christ in saving faith, who said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father," (John 14:9).  The Lord Jesus, God personified, is "the exact representation of His nature," (Hebrews 1:3);  only through Him can one begin to know the living and true God.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Heart of Hypocrisy: Saying & Doing

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,"  (Matthew 23:13).

The three offices held by the Lord Jesus Christ were: Prophet, Priest, and King.  In this encounter with the scribes and Pharisees, He is speaking as Prophet, delivering seven oracles of judgment ("Woe to you") in this 23rd chapter of Matthew's gospel account.  As Prophet He also spoke oracles of blessing (Matthew 5:3-11), but here declarations of condemnation.

Having begun by addressing the crowds and His disciples (v. 1), the Lord then turns His attention to the conservative religious leaders in verses 13 and following.  Six times He includes the term "hypocrite" in His stern reference to them.  He explains the basis for such a label in verses 2--12.  Verse 3 summarizes His appraisal:  "all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds;  for they say things and do not do them."

Believer, the crying need for every conscientious Christian is for discernment... to be taught of the Lord the true state of his own heart.  Rightly does Scripture declare that "the heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?"  (Jeremiah 17:9).  The answer implied: no one.  Only as He reveals our heart to us through His Word of truth will we rightly mourn for the hypocrisy there.  The more intimately we know Him, (through prayer and meditation on His Word), the more deeply we love Him, the more intense our desire to please Him, then greater will be the consistency between what we say and what we do.  

You who are intimately acquainted with all our ways know perfectly the areas of hypocrisy in each and every one of Your children's hearts.  We can deceive ourselves, and one another, but never You.  Thank You for Your faithful Holy Spirit, who uses Your Word to reveal to us the depth of our depravity...increase our willingness to accept, confess and repent, as You show us our heart.  
In the Lord Jesus' Name,