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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 10.30 am service, 2001-07-08

Text: Psalm 139:7-16

It is a joy and privilege once again to be able to bring the Word of God to all of you. Our focus this morning will be on how we should include God in our life, through all the changing scenes of life. Unlike all other religions, Christianity is a personal intimate relationship with the Living and True God. The Christian is to live his life with God and for God all the time. He walks with God, and includes Him in all aspects of his life.

Dearly beloved, are you including and involving the Lord in everything that you do, whether it is working, studying, eating, sleeping or playing? Do you know that God is deeply interested in every detail of your life? Every experience you go through in life must be enabled by God, and interpreted for you by God, and even enjoyed with God. Paul the apostle, says that 'in Him we live and move and have our being.' (Acts 17:28) David expressed the same truth in the psalm we read awhile ago. In the first part of the psalm he says 'O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.' 

We notice that in these first four verses of the psalm, David speaks of God's keen interest and involvement in no less than 7 specific details of David's life: his acts of sitting, standing, and lying down, the thoughts in his mind and the words uttered by his tongue, every path he takes, and every road he travels. All this clearly displays the comprehensive nature of God's interest in your life. There is nothing about you that ever escapes God's attention!

Then in the next two verses David paints a vivid picture of being completely surrounded by God. He says, 'Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.'

This thought of God's intimate presence and involvement in every detail of your life should fill your heart with the same sense of wonder that David experienced. Just think of it: Who are you, that the almighty, sovereign God should take notice of you, let alone take such great interest in every detail of your life? No wonder David responded by saying, 'It is too wonderful for me!'

In vv.7-10 we see David expressing this truth: 'Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.'

What a comforting thought this is, that there is absolutely no place on earth, or even beyond this earth, where we cannot experience the intimate presence and involvement of God in our life. He is present everywhere! And there are many others beside David who have testified to this: When Jacob was running away from the wrath of his brother Esau, and traveling toward Haran, a new place he had never seen before, the Lord said to him in a dream 'behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.' When Jacob woke up from that dream he was so greatly moved by this experience of God, that he set up a monument there and vowed to serve God with his life and with his substance.

When Jonah the prophet tried to run away from God by taking a ship westward, the Lord sent a storm to stop him, and a big fish to rescue him from being drowned in the sea. And even during the three days and three nights that Jonah was in the belly of the fish, he experienced God's presence with him and wrote about it later in his book: 'I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.' (Jonah 2:6,7).

When the apostle Paul was in the city of Corinth during his second missionary journey, the Lord encouraged him in a vision, saying 'Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.' (Acts 18:9,10)

And many years later, when Paul was on trial in Rome toward the end of his life, and all his friends had deserted him, he testified that it was the Lord who stood with him and strengthened him (2 Tim 4:16,17). Dearly beloved, the most important truth you must learn from the Word of God this morning is this: That like David and Jacob, and like Jonah and Paul you too can and should be experiencing God's intimate presence wherever He places you.

In whatever circumstance or situation in life you are, you can find tremendous comfort and encouragement that you are not alone. For He who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5) will be with you wherever you go. You can experience God's presence, whether you find yourself serving the Lord as a missionary in the densest jungles of the world, or languishing in some prison cell for the cause of Christ, or fleeing across the sea in a crowded ship if war should come and make you a refugee.

I thank the Lord that I found this to be very true during the time when I was a missionary in the Philippines with my family. This was a totally new experience for us, in a place that was new and strange to us, doing many things we had never done before. To be in a place with many unfamiliar customs, and at first knowing less about living there than even the children of that place know, and having to learn how to do the elementary things of life all over again - like how to eat, how to speak, how to travel and go to the market - all of these comprised the culture shock that we experienced.

There were times when we felt quite homesick and lonely, especially in times of prolonged illness, in the long nights without electricity, in the difficulties of traveling in the dense traffic, and the regular threat of typhoons and floods. You may have heard about the typhoon that just swept through the Philippines this past week. Every time a difficult situation like this arose, there were always the usual fears and questions: 'How would we be able to cope with this? Will we be affected and overcome by the dangers we face?' In the worst of these moments, it was always the precious thought that God is still with us, that actually encouraged and sustained us to keep going on.

And dearly beloved, this precious thought can also sustain you and keep you going in whatever new or unfamiliar situation you find yourself in. And I believe that God has providentially brought someone here to hear this message, who is facing a new situation. Some may have just started working in a new job environment and feeling uneasy about it, because there are some unfamiliar tasks ahead for you. Perhaps you have just been transferred over to a new department and there are great expectations for you to perform well, expectations you are not very confident you can meet.

Perhaps there is someone here who has just got a place in a local or overseas university and wondering if you will be able to cope with the heavy workload of lectures, tutorials and assignments. Some may soon be going into national service and feeling worried if they can take the strenuous physical training. Some may be moving to a new house or flat, or even to a new country for an overseas posting. Others may be getting married soon or have just got married, and yet others may be having their very first child. And there may even be some here who are now facing the real prospect of retrenchment, sickness and even death. Our life is filled with one change after another.

As we go through all these changing scenes of life, and as the Lord moves us to new places, to unfamiliar and unchartered waters, feelings of uncertainty and anxiety are bound to arise. And these unsettled feelings, if not properly dealt with, can easily lead one into the depths of despair and depression. This is why we all desperately need to know now and believe what the Lord has given us in His written Word about how we may include God in all the changing scenes of life. Please listen carefully now as we study the scriptures to derive some steps we can take for doing this. Let us look at Psalm 139:9,10 to see the first step:

I. Rely On God to Lead You and Keep You 

'If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.' The two verbs in v.10 tells us what the Lord will continue to do for us even if we were to dwell in the uttermost part of the sea: He will lead us and He will hold us. The believer is pictured here as a little child whose hand is being held securely by his father. A father holds a child's hand both to lead him along, as well as to hold him so that he will not get hurt when he trips and falls. God likewise leads us along in the right path as well as holds us to protect us from harm and danger.

From these two actions we now derive the principle that we need to rely on the Lord to lead us and to hold us. Let us consider each of these. Let us first consider God�s leading. In any place or situation, we need to rely fully upon the Lord's leading. God has already a charted out comprehensive path for our lives that encompasses everything - our birthplace, our cultural upbringing, our education, life-partner, our home and children and even our career. As God leads us by His hand through each phase of life from birth till death, He ordains all circumstances to fall into place in order to fulfill this plan. He opens one door and then closes another.

Our responsibility throughout this whole journey of life is to determine where the Lord is leading us. Whenever God places us in a new situation we should ask: 'Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?' What is God's will for me now? Now the will of God for living our life can be determined most of the time through a regular study of His Word. The Word gives us many useful guidelines to help us determine God's will. For example:

When God places you in a new place of work, your study of the scriptures will reveal to you that His will for you is to be a faithful and honest worker with God�s help (Col 3:22), so that you may earn enough to sufficiently provide for yourself and your loved ones (2 Thes 3:10; 1 Tim 4:8) and influence your fellow workers to know the Lord Jesus Christ (Mat 5:16)

What about your life at home? As you study the Word of God you will discover that His will for your home life is: to make your home as conducive as possible for Him to exercise His divine lordship within your family (Eph 5:22,23). If you come from a Christian family, this would mean raising up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4). If you come from a non-Christian family, this would mean living a good Christian testimony before your family, praying for their salvation and finding opportunities to bring each of them to Christ (Mark 5:19).

Those of you who are students would perhaps want to know what God's will is for your life in school. Scriptural principles will help you understand that it is: To do your very best in your studies with God's help (Luke 2:52; Ecc 9:10), so that you may eventually bring glory to Him through the right use of the knowledge, the skills, and opportunities that education brings (Mat 25:14-30).

Those who are contemplating marriage would perhaps be interested to know what God's will is concerning whom you should marry. The Bible tells us that it is God's will for believers to marry only believers. To do otherwise is to have an unequally yoked relationship (2 Cor 6:14) which is against God's will. However, apart from all these general guidelines that would narrow down our options, the Scriptures do not reveal specific details like: whom you should marry, nor what place you should stay in, nor what company you should work for, nor what treatment you should choose to deal with an illness.

The Lord's leading for these things is through the wisdom that God has given you to make sound decisions, and through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore you need to think carefully and pray earnestly before deciding what you should do. Look at how He has been leading you thus far - do you see the specific direction He is taking you? Then look at your present circumstances - is God providing sufficient resources for a certain choice? Consult brethren who can give sound advice. And finally, ask yourself: Which is the choice which gives you peace in your heart?

There is one more thing you should know about God's leading: He often leads us one step at a time. We should not expect to know His full plan for our lives from beginning to end. Once we have determined the next step He wants us to take and we take it, then He reveals the next step. This is why we need to keep relying on Him to lead us step by step.

The other thing implied in v.10 that we need to rely on God to do for us is to hold us. As our loving heavenly Father, God takes great delight in holding and keeping His beloved children. He wants us to be safe, and out of danger and so He holds on to us very securely. In fact, His hold on us is so secure that Jesus says in John 10:29 that no man is able to pluck us out of His hand! Psalm 91:10-12 tells us: 'There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.' This gives us great comfort when we find ourselves in any new place or situation where risks or dangers abound.

For example, those who are going into NS soon may sometimes feel a little apprehensive about the training, having heard stories about soldiers who suffered injuries or died in training. That was the way I felt when I began to my NS stint 18 years ago. But I thank God that he kept me safe right through my 2.5 years. Apart from having a sprained ankle and a few cuts and bruises I was able to complete it. And the important lesson I learned then was to trust God every day for grace to keep me safe and to take each day's training well. I trust that our students here may be encouraged to do the same. 

Now while the Scriptures tell us that God always holds us in every place we are, this does not mean that we are therefore totally immune to danger and injury. Although the Lord keeps us safe, in His wisdom He sometimes allows his children to suffer physically, or to be afflicted with a debilitating illness that requires much medical care and expense. The Lord sometimes sees it fit to put us through moments of difficulty. When this happens, let us not jump to the conclusion that He is no longer with us or holding our hand.

The apostle Paul was afflicted with some physical disability which he called his 'thorn in the flesh' (2 Cor 12:7) and he asked the Lord no less than 3 times to take it away. But God�s reply to him was: 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.' (v.9) In Paul�s case, God allowed physical suffering for two purposes: The first was to keep him from becoming proud of his spiritual accomplishments (v.7a), and the second was to reveal the power of Christ in him - that people would be able to see how Paul is still able to go on serving God faithfully despite his ailment, and this would cause them to give glory to God.

Dearly beloved, God may place you in adversity or suffering for the same purposes or for different purposes. Sometimes, we will not know what His purpose is until we see Him in glory. This brings us to the next step we should take to include God in all of our changing scenes of life:

II. Trust In God Concerning Things You Do Not Know 

Let us read v.11-12 'If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.' In these verses King David expressed the marvelous truth that nothing is ever hidden from the sight of God.

God sees everything -things that are in the light are as clear to Him as things that are in the darkness. In contrast, we who are frail creatures can only see things that are in the light. With our limited vision we can never see things that are hidden by darkness.

And it is often these things we cannot see that cause us to worry so much - because they are all still so dark and uncertain to us. I think that many of us would admit that when we were children, we were afraid of the dark. But as we grew older, we outgrew that fear and are no longer afraid of the dark. However, many of us may be afraid of a different kind of darkness. The darkness of the unknown!

There are perhaps many things that we wish to know, but do not know: We do not know what the future holds for us. We do not know the purpose for the things that have befallen us. We do not know the true motives and intentions of the people we have to deal with. Sometimes we realise that we do not even know our own selves very well - as it is possible to deceive ourselves concerning our own motives.

But the wonderful thing is that all these things are fully known to God. To Him they are as clear as the bright daylight! God knows our future - in fact He is the Author of it! God knows the purpose for all the things that have befallen us - because it is His divine purpose! And God knows the true motives and intentions of people. None can ever hide their true feelings and motives from Him. According to John 2:24,25 'Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because He knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.' And God knows us better than we know ourselves. This is why at the beginning of Psalm 139 David said, 'O Lord thou hast searched me and known me.' And at the end of Psalm 139, David said 'Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.'

What does all this mean to us? It means that in every change we go through in life that perplexes our hearts and minds, we should simply trust in the all-knowing and all-seeing God, concerning the things that we do not know, the things that are hidden in darkness from us. Let us look with eyes of faith beyond the darkness that covers us, to see the goodness of the Lord shining through.

One hymnwriter who was very familiar with darkness was Fanny Crosby, who was blind since childhood. We have sung many of her lovely hymns which are both inspiring and reviving. One of the best hymns she wrote was 'All The Way My Saviour Leads Me' This hymn is Fanny Crosby's testimony that despite her the setback of her dark world of blindness she still saw God's goodness shining through. Just listen to the words of the first stanza: 'All the way my Saviour Leads me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my Guide? Heavn'ly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know whate'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.' Dearly beloved, can you say the words of the last line with conviction: 'For I know whate'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well'? Can you praise God for His marvelous works in your life? King David who wrote this psalm we are studying was able to do so.

III. Be Convinced That God Will Do All Things Well 

This is found in v.13,14 'For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.' Here David was praising God for His marvelous work of creating him at conception. As he meditated on all the intricate steps that took place as he was formed from a single cell into a full term infant at birth, he could not help but see the goodness of God toward him. In v.15,16 he says 'My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.'

Dearly beloved, the point we want to understand now is this: If God has really done all things so marvelously well in making us what we are today, if He cared enough for us to give us this present life, to make us grow, and to bring us into His eternal life through Christ, will He not continue to do all things well? If the Lord has spoken to your heart today, please listen to Him. Take these three steps outlined for us in God's Word: Firstly, rely on God to lead you and keep you. Secondly, trust in God concerning things you do not know. And thirdly, be convinced that God will do all things well. As you go now through all the changing scenes of life, please begin to include and involve God in everything you do and in every experience in life -in good or bad circumstances, in sickness or in health, in life or in death.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11