Today’s title is Psalm 139. We’re going to look at verse 23 and then we’re going to back up and look at the whole Psalm together. This is a psalm that addresses that concern and anxiety you have of ever wondering where you’re at with your relationship with God. Or maybe that hunger that you have for God to come and to purify you more and to make you more holy. So David says in verse 23:
Psalm 139:23-24 – 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.
First, a word of extreme caution. Since David was a man after God’s own heart he was willing to surrender to the searching by God’s Holy fire. And what did God find? That David was capable of many sins including adultery, conspiracy unto murder, counting, favoritism, many wives, just to name a few. Be very careful if you ask to search you out! Do not be shocked that God might find a few things you need to repent of! Become very sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repent as if you committed the crime! If you ask God to search your heart He may, if He must, allow you to commit the vilest of sins in order to drive you to repentance.
David has anxiety about where he’s at in his relationship with God or he has a hunger and thirst to know God on a deeper level. Notice what he says in verse 23, how he calls God to action. You ask yourself, “Where is the love in my own heart to go boldly into the prayer closet to ask God to begin to do this in your life?” He begins by saying, “Search me.” He begins to examine. Begin to look, put forth some zeal, rise up and let’s get out of the formality of religion and get into a place where the living God is searching everything about us. It’s a very dangerous kind of prayer. On Thursday somebody here prayed that God would begin to show them the sufferings of the cross and to crucify them and those are dangerous prayers because I guarantee you He will answer those. “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” He’s not asking for a surface kind of examination or something on the level of just kind of a cursory look. This is way beyond religion, this is way beyond what we call Christianity. This is the living God interacting in a very intimate way with you. It’s a sensing of God coming into your life and dealing with your heart and not just outward kinds of things.
He goes on more boldly to say, “Test me.” “Put me in situations that will examine me. Ask me questions, search and probe and test and refine and look and examine and see if there’s anything that is offensive.” Now he knows that it’s not going to be that God comes along and says, “I can’t find anything.” He knows that God is going to find things and yet he is willing to pray this kind of prayer. He’s hungering for this kind of humility and brokenness. “Test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Take this anxiety that I have, look at the thought that I have and then begin to examine and to search and to probe into my life. Verse 24 he repeats it again, “See if there is any offensive way in me.” See if there’s any sin that lingers there, anything that I cannot see. You know that general sense of anxiety where you know there’s something not quite right in your life but you can’t put your finger on it, you can’t quite bring it to the surface. You know it’s there but trying to find it is an impossible thing to do. Well he goes to the living God and he goes boldly before Him whom will show him grace. He knows that if God doesn’t show him the sin he is totally hopeless and without hope. “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” How it is with most men is they don’t want God to search them. They don’t go in and they don’t ask and they don’t demand and they don’t plead and they don’t say, “Test and see and examine and search and look and see if there’s anything in me that is offensive to You, O Lord.” Most men are fully content in their relationship with God. And that’s what we’re going to do today is move away from religion and to a living God.
Let’s go back to verse 1 of Psalm 139 and let’s keep in mind what David’s going to end with. He’s going in before God and he’s going to ask God to search him when he’s all done with this prayer. So everything that he is going to say here is leading up to what we just read. And so he begins the Psalm in verse 1 and says:
Psalm 139:1 – O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
In other words, “You have done this in the past. You have examined, You have looked, You have done everything that I’m going to ask You to do so I know full well that You will do it again. And I hunger for that searching and I long for that searching.” And so instead of running away from his sins and running away from the flesh and the things that would keep him from the living God, he goes boldly before God and he says, “God, you have done this before and I have found it to be a blessing. Let us do it again.”
“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” Look at the intimate level with which he has a relationship with the living God. How sad is it that most men walk around and you can tell as they talk about God they don’t have an intimate level with Him. They maybe have an understanding of who He is or a basic understanding of what Christianity is about, but they don’t have that intimate searching where you can tell God has gone into their heart and shown them sins and blessed them by crucifying their flesh.
Psalm 139:1-2 – 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.
Psalm 139 is really a psalm of awe. A sense that God knows everything about us. He knows what we’re going to say before we say it. He knows the intimate levels of our thoughts. He knows what we dream about, He knows what we think about. He knows everything about who we are. “You know when I sit and when I rise.” You know my daily routine, You know what I do, You know where I go. You have a very intimate understanding of who I am. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You know what dwells in my mind. You know what I think. While men like to rest securely that God doesn’t quite perceive who they are and what they do and how they conduct themselves and you can tell that by the way they conduct themselves. They really believe that God is somehow just overlooking the things that they think in their heart and in their minds. And David says, “I know You know what I think. I know You perceive it from a long distance off.” Verse 3:
Psalm 139:3 – You discern my going out and my lying down . . .
It’s not that You just observe me coming and going, but You discern why I am going and why I am coming. You understand what the motive is as to why I get out of bed or why I go do and what I do and where I go and who I speak to. And the things that I do and why I pray what I pray. You understand not only my coming and going in a physical sense, but You understand what motivates me to come and to go.
Psalm 139:3 – You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Look at the intimacy of a relationship here. Look at his understanding and his sense of God in his daily life. If we had this, how much more purity would we have, that sense of God of listening to my thoughts? And He knows why I think what I think and when I pray hypocritical prayers, when I make myself look more holy than I really am. He discerns why I pray what I pray. He understands who I am and this is also a loving God. This means that He understands and is intimately concerned about who I am. He will make me holy and He will make me righteous and He will do the work so I can come boldly before Him and say, “You know all that I am. You know both my good and bad. You know what You’ve been able to work and I want more of You in my life.”
Again we say in verse 1, let’s read it again:
Psalm 139:1 – O Lord, you have searched me . . .
You have done this, You have completed it, You are a God of action and You are a God of zeal. And You know my thoughts. You are in an intimate level of knowing who I am. And You know it on a deep level. And he senses that God knows who he is. He knows that God knows him.
Psalm 139:2-3 – 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.
And then look at verse 4:
Psalm 139:4 – Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.
Before I have spoken what I am going to say You already know completely what I’m going to say. And this is the sense that he walked about his daily life with the living God. This is the attitude with which he moves in his house and goes about his work and certainly the attitude of which he comes in for worship. You know, God, before I sing a song the words are going to be on my lips. “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” You know the Psalms are a love song. They’re our prayers. Something that comes more from the heart. We’re not here to intellectually tear this apart. We’re here to be alive as He is alive. We’re here to have the heart of what David is, who comes in before God and says, “God, just search and just know and let us fellowship and let us come into communion with each other.” It is a begging and a pleading, it is also a promise. It is an understanding that this is who God is and this is what he longs to do and so he begins to ask God to do that in full assurance of faith that God will do it. Verse 5:
Psalm 139:5 – You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
“You hem me in.” You don’t leave me out here all to myself. You don’t just let me run the course of my day and somehow seem to be unconcerned and then when I make a mistake and pray to You that You come in to deal with that. “You hem me in,” You box me in before and behind and on the side. I cannot run from You in any way I go. “You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” It’s not even that You just box me in, that You keep me contained and that somehow You’re concerned of the places I’ve gone before and where I will go. You have hemmed me in and also what? “ou have laid your hand upon me.” And everything in my life all day long is what? A direction by Your divine hand. And O that I could sense it, that I could understand it, that I could fellowship with You in the middle of all that.
In Proverbs 16:4 it tells that God even hems in the wicked but how much more with loving hands does He hem in those who are righteous. In Proverbs 16:4 it says:
Proverbs 16:4 – The Lord works out everything for his own ends—even the wicked for a day of disaster.
In His wisdom He knows those who will respond, He knows those who will cry out, He knows those who will forsake Him. He knows what will take place and He arranges their life in such a way to work it out to glorify His name when He gets to a place of judgment in their life. How much more so if God is concerned to deal with the wicked in this fashion will He what? Give us righteousness and holiness and direct us in the way of everlasting if we will come in boldly before Him in the prayer closet and we will be bold enough and foolish enough to say, “Search me and know me and examine me and be intimate in me with my daily life. Bring me to the place of everlasting glory.”
Look at Romans 9:22. Because again I’m showing you that God is concerned with the wicked and He will deal with the wicked in a powerful, holy way. In fact, He is making them in a sense, more and more wicked in order to display His glory. He is allowing them to become more and more wicked. He lays His hands upon them in such a way, in such a fashion that since they will not repent He is working out their destruction to glorify His name in that destruction. And if He does that with the wicked how much more will He do that with those who seek Him? Romans 9:22 says:
Romans 9:22 – What if God, choosing to show his wrath . . .
He chooses to demonstrate the height of His wrath that we might know the riches of His mercy. He lays hold of certain men and He lets wickedness form and fashion. I can’t explain this to you in every fine detail. It is a wisdom beyond me. But He takes hold of those who are wicked and He allows their wickedness to grow and maintain and He is intimately involved in their wickedness in order to demonstrate what? His wrath, His holiness and His righteousness. That is if a man chooses to be wicked why should not God use him to glorify His name?
Romans 9:22 – What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known . . .
Now look at this:
Romans 9:22 – . . . bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?
With great patience and diligence He looks to the wicked and He says, “Okay, We’re going to form you and fashion you here for My own end, to glorify My name. Verse 23:
Romans 9:23 – What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—
So the whole purpose of, one of the purposes of dealing with the wicked is to what? Demonstrate to you the riches of His mercy. To show us the height of sin to show us how much mercy He has shown upon us. He gives us Hitlers to show where we would all be without His mercy and His grace. He gives us Hitlers to show what? The height of His wrath and His anger and that shows us the depth of His mercy and His grace so that we do not go the same course. We hear that within this body as God begins to move within the spirit there’s this sense of saying, “Why me, O Lord? Why did You choose me for righteousness and holiness? Why is it that You selected me for that and not for this over here and for Your judgment?” This is wisdom way beyond any of us can take in. “What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—”
Romans 9:24 – even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
So He has laid His hands upon all mankind and for the wicked this is a thing of fear and trembling. But for us who seek the living God it is a blessing and a surety that God is intimately involved in making us holy and righteous and longing to fellowship with us.
Look at Romans 8:28. For we see the height and the glory of this promise.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
“In all things.” Even the wicked that He’s preparing for destruction that He allows in our life “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And so let us run into the prayer closet as David did and say, “Search me, God, and know me and teach me and do it even more as I ask.” Verse 29:
Romans 8:29-31 – For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
And this is what Psalm 139 is—what shall we say as God’s people in a response of this kind of love and this kind of grace, this kind of concern of coming before us? “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” That’s what we shall say. If God is wanting to make you holy and wanting to make you righteous then why do we not run in and say, “God, show me my sins and show me what needs to change. Show me how You’re trying to glorify Your name”? Because He is for us at this point and at this time. He longs for us to repent. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Romans 8:32 – He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
“Graciously.” If He has already given us His Son will He not give us wisdom? Will He not give us righteousness? Will He not give us holiness or self discipline or a soft heart and all that we ask for that is holy? If He who has already released that which He loves the most, His own Son, how much more when we come in before God and we pray before the Lord and we say, “Search my heart and give me righteousness, give me a soft heart and give me feet that are willing to obey Your will,” will He give us those things? Verse 33:
Romans 8:33-34 – Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who is it that will condemn? Who is it that will judge? It is Jesus Christ who saves us so let us come in boldly and say, “God, we come before You to be searched, to be looked at, to be examined, to be tested.” And when He shows us sin, let us not run from Him who what? Is graciously giving us life. And when He convicts, and when He helps us surrender and when He breaks us and when He does the work, let us count it as a supreme blessing and grace that is in Jesus Christ. Verse 35 says:
Romans 8:35 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
We are hemmed in, we are boxed in, He is with us at all times at all moments with everything that goes on. Nothing shall separate us from His love and His grace. It was there long before we were formed and it will be there all through eternity. Verse 36:
Romans 8:36 – As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
This being in Him doesn’t what? Absolve us of suffering. Indeed, it assures that at the end of suffering He has already set down what suffering should come into our life. When we ask Him to search us and show us sin, He is already knowing that we’re going to say that before we even say it, and He’s prepared to show us our sins in the ways He has chosen. Let us rise up and have faith and trust Him that He knows the best way to do it. Verse 37:
Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
It is love acting and talking and speaking and directing and hemming, knowing and testing and refining and making us holy. Now look at verse 38, “For I am convinced.” Let us become convinced, not just know in an abstract kind of faith kind of way. Look at David and how he begins the Psalm; he has an anxious heart and he wants God to search him more but how does he begin the Psalm? He says, “I know that You know me. I know that You have this wisdom. I have tasted of it. We have fellowshipped in this. I am convinced of this, I know this is a sure thing.” And this is the kind of life we need to begin to walk.
A lot of Christianity is merely a religious kind of faith that just believes certain things about Jesus Christ, that an intimate allowance of the Holy One working in each person’s life.
Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Become convinced of this then you allow God to test you. You allow Him to refine and to direct. You will sense Him in all things and everything that happens in your life, even those things that show you your sin.
Let’s go back to Psalm 139:6. All of it hinges on this, right here in this particular passage.
Psalm 139:6 – Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
How many people think of God as nothing more than beyond their church and their doctrine and their ideas and their thoughts and their opinions? They don’t worship a God that is way beyond them. They don’t have a Jesus Christ beyond the confines of the walls of what? Their church, their ideas and their theology. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” He’s in a living relationship with the living God and therefore the kind of knowledge he’s talking about leaves him with a sense of weakness and humility and brokenness. It is way beyond him to take in to contain or to what? Have in any fashion to say in any way that he understands all this.
The more I grow in Jesus Christ the more I know that I don’t know. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” I don’t even try to attain it. It’s not even a goal that I set out to say that I will understand how all of this works. I just know that it works. And I just know that He’s the living God. But how many people do you talk to that claim to be Christians? They have Jesus Christ all contained and all defined. All their doctrine is in place and everything is exactly where it should be for them and they are extremely comfortable. But not so with people who search the living God. They say, “Know my anxious thoughts. Know what is inside here. I need to know these things. I want to fellowship with You. Test me and try me in every way.” And “such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” How sad that so many people don’t know a God that is beyond their opinions and beyond their ideas. They don’t walk with fear and trembling and a sense of awe and a sense of glory and amazement. No, they have God exactly where He should be and they are extremely comfortable.
Let’s go to Acts 17 because Paul goes to a town, he goes to a very religious town, just like our nation. Almost everybody claims to be a Christian and those who don’t certainly have their form of religion. Even those who are atheists believe in their unbelief. In Acts 17:16 it says:
Acts 17:16 – While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.
Why is he distressed? You know that’s the important question. Most of us are distressed because people don’t believe like we believe. We are a particular denomination or a particular belief and so we go into a particular town and see that there are all these different churches and we’re distressed, why? Because they don’t believe like we do. But that’s not why Paul is distressed. He’s distressed because they worship idols, things that they have made and they know not the living God. Since Paul knows what? Psalm 139, that’s why he’s distressed. Because what they have is dry and dead and it’s opinionated and it’s boxed in and it’s not worth even laying hold of. It is something that they have created. So ask yourself why are you distressed that other men have the idols around them? Verse 17 says:
Acts 17:17 – So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.
Everywhere that he goes and everywhere that he’s at he’s talking about a living God. And this is why evangelism really should be an evangelism that is holy because why? He is distressed that they don’t know the living God. Not that they don’t believe like he believed, but they don’t know a God who is alive. And so he’s in the marketplace, he’s in the church, everywhere he goes what is he basically saying? “My God is alive.” He searches and He tests and He examines and He refines and He makes holy and He blesses and He grants us all things in Christ Jesus. Know something that is way beyond you. Lay hold of a God that is so lofty you cannot understand it and you cannot take it in and you barely can examine and know what God’s will is for your life that day. The response in verse 18 says:
Acts 17:18 – A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him.
You already know they’re not going to respond just with those kinds of names.
Acts 17:18 – . . . Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?”
He’s talking about a living God among those who are dead and the only conclusion they can come to is he’s a babbler, that he doesn’t make any sense at all.
Acts 17:18 – . . . Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.”
They cannot take in what he’s trying to say. If it were logical, if it were just the Christian religion, if it were laid out in dry doctrine they would understand what he is saying. Because he would be consistent at every point and he would be logical in every point, but we’re talking a love song here. We’re talking a relationship with the living God, not a God that I can contain, that I can logically put in a box and that I can show you in all the fine details. Where you might find inconsistencies just as Jesus was accused of being inconsistent. Because why? He’s in a living relationship with the living God. “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They don’t even know if that’s what he’s talking about. But again if Paul were preaching what? The Christian religion, they would understand, they could write books on it, they could have commentaries on it. They could have rebuttals to this.
Acts 17:18 – . . . They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
Preached the good news that God is alive. He’s the God of Psalm 139. Preach it to all kinds of people and they’ll think you’re babblers, they don’t know what you’re talking about. They’re blind. They can’t even understand what you’re trying to say. You talk about the message of the cross, you talk about the good news and they don’t even know what you’re talking about. “They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.” The resurrection. A living God who is alive, who searches and who knows and who deals and who fellowships on a very deep and intimate level. Knowing every wicked dream and every wicked thought that we have and every thought that is holy and righteous within us. A God who understands our frame and knows why we do what we do and why we get up. There are no shadows with Him. He never makes a mistake. His judgments are never wrong. He knows why you get out of bed and He knows why you walk the way you do. He knows why you say the things you say. You might be able to fool me and you might be able to fool others, but you cannot fool Him. He sees as if it were transparent as glass. Verse 19 says: “Then they took him.” It doesn’t say they invited him, they just flat out took him.
Acts 17:19 – Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?”
You see, for them it is a teaching. It is something to discuss, it is an idea, it’s a concept, it is logic, it’s a debate, it’s all these kinds of things over here and it’s like Paul says, “No, this is a living God. This is something that is alive that I’m telling you about. It’s not a philosophy, this is not a concept. This is coming into a relationship with the living God, and stop playing games, is what it amounts to.” Verse 20 says:
Acts 17:20 – You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.
Even among those who claim to be Christians, when you start talking about hating your own life and picking up a cross and all of those things they think it’s some strange idea. What does that tell you? They don’t know a living God, even when they talk about humility and even when they discuss righteousness and even though they talk about God’s love, they don’t know what it is for God to lay hold of them that is way beyond who they are. “You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what this means.” Now verse 21 says:
Acts 17:21 – (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
This is the nation in which we live. This is the kind of Christianity that is around us. Verse 21 again, “(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking and listening to the latest ideas.)” One best seller after another best seller. One new concept after another. One new revival meeting after another and everybody spends their time talking about these things. Look, if we had Psalm 139 God moving in this nation, a lot of people would be shutting up and just getting quiet and just humbly walking with God. You don’t need all of that nonsense when you have a God searching the inmost part of your being, do you? Every sermon would pale through that. Verse 22 says, then Paul did what? Stood up. We too have to begin to stand up and say, “Our God is alive.” The philosophies have to be torn down. The dead Christianity has to be exposed. We need to be a people standing up. And when I say “we need to be” that is really put wrong. We need to be so in love with Jesus Christ we need to have the heart and the attitude of what? Psalm 139, that we stand up and make the call.
Acts 17:22 – Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.”
And this is the nation and this is the place in which we live and let us stand up and admit, “Oh, you are a religious people in a religious nation and you lay claim to Jesus Christ and all kinds of concepts and you discuss this over here and you have these ideas over here and you have this debate over here, but let me tell you something. This God that I am talking about is alive!”
Acts 17:23 – For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
I even found an altar with this inscription. You guys are so religious and so full of debate and so full of discussion you make sure that no idea is left unturned and so you have this idol over here called what? “To an unknown God.” There is no aspect any more in this nation, every aspect of Jesus Christ has been discussed thoroughly. People almost know before you get there what you’re going to say. Why do you think everybody wants to know what denomination you belong to? Because the minute you state what denomination you are you are pigeon-holed and they know exactly what you believe. Because their God isn’t alive, Jesus Christ isn’t really dwelling among them. Oh, you’re of this particular denomination, you believe these things. Yes, indeed. So you have your idols, you have your things set up, it’s made of your own hands. It’s not the living God.
Hold your finger there in Acts and look at Hosea 8:11, because the charge God brings to the people, the religious people is this.
Hosea 8:11 – Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings, these have become altars for sinning.
Churches everywhere, worship going on in all kinds of places. You built them for one purpose but they have wound up becoming another purpose, a source of idolatry. And so Jesus Christ has become nothing more than a source of idolatry for whom we can move and direct and guide in a fashion that we see fit. He is so small and so contained that He is exactly as we envisioned Him to be. And therefore when we pray He answers according to how we pray and what we want Him to be and how He should be. And He doesn’t deviate from any of those forms or fashions because we have set these rules and ideas.
He comes in this manner and He comes in this fashion among our church. He doesn’t come in any other way. Verse 12:
Hosea 8:12 – I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something alien.
You bring up aspects of God’s law today and they think it is something that comes from a foreign God. I don’t think it’s Christianity at all, any more. Because why? Because Christianity is dead. It’s not the God of Psalm 139. It’s their doctrinal statements they keep in the foyer.
In Acts 17:24 it says:
Acts 17:24 – The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.
This is not a logical statement that he is declaring and it should not be with us either. This is a fire that burns within him. This is a declaration of life. Some of us need to become alive and just stand up and fall in love with God and just say, “He is alive! He is the God of Psalm 139. He searches, He knows, He does these things.” Read it again with passion, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” He is alive and He is real and He does and He acts and He moves and we can’t contain Him. We can’t control Him, we can’t predict Him. We don’t know what He’s going to do or how He’s going to deal with us, we just know that He is a God of love that will indeed act. Verse 25:
Acts 17:25 – And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
He doesn’t bow down to what you bring to Him or how your prayers are formed or what you declare to Him. “s if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” He hems the wicked in. He hems the righteous in. Let me tell you something, the presence of God is as much in hell as it is in heaven. The effects are totally different but His presence is everywhere and there’s no place that He is not. In verse 26 it says the same thing as Psalm 139.
Acts 17:26 – From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
He points back to Jesus Christ, this is a cry, this is a love song, this is a declaration of passion. This is something alive. This is turning to men and saying, “From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” He hemmed in. He directed. He was involved. He directed long before the world was even created. He said that certain people would live in certain places at a certain time period and that these things would happen in their life and all of this would take place and such wisdom is way beyond my comprehension. He’s saying this God is alive and we need to experience this kind of God of Psalm 139 that that we might honestly turn to other people and say, “He is alive!” Verse 27:
Acts 17:27 – God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
Indeed, He is not far.
Acts 17:28 – “For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.”
It’s more than air that allows me to live. I’m moving literally within Himself. There is not anywhere that I can go, we’re going to see in a moment, the Psalm says because He is everywhere. Men may not sense it, they may not cry out to lay hold of this but He is everywhere.
Acts 17:29 – Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill.
He’s not the Christianity we have formed, He’s not the religion we have directed. He is living in our life and we move within His being. We move within a live God. We may not sense Him, we may ignore Him, we may push Him aside but we walk within what? His very being of who He is. It’s what gives us life is who He is and where He is at. Verse 30 says:
Acts 17:30 – In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
To repent of what? What is Paul calling for? A repentance from ignorance. Of walking and doing our Christian walk without much sense of God really being there. Of repenting of an ignorance that says the only time He draws close to me is when I feel His presence. When I’ve got this disaster out here and I pray and I cry out to Him to deliver me from this disaster. A repentance of the kind of ignorance that picks and chooses its sense and timing of when God is in their life. He hems me in; we walk and move within His being. He is alive and that’s why I dwell and sleep and get up and act and speak and do all the things that I do is within what? His being. And I repent of the ignorance that has ignored Him for many, many years. Verse 31:
Acts 17:31-32 – “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”
It’s either they sneer and laugh at the power of this God and this Christianity that you’re talking about or what? They want to discuss it again as though it were a topic of discussion. We’re talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. We’re not talking about some philosophical idea or concept about what God’s character might be like. He is walking around, He is alive, He is resurrected. He is what? Been delivered from death by the very hand of God and God has exalted Him and we must give an account to Him some day. We’re not talking about a subject here. And verse 33 says:
Acts 17:33 – At that, Paul left the Council.
And so when we begin to talk about hating our own lives and hating for Jesus Christ and denying ourselves and walking in there we are not talking about a subject. We’re not talking about a doctrine. We’re not talking about something dry. We’re not talking about something legalistic. We are talking about the very living God that has directed each of us to walk that course. And when I debate with man and when I discuss with men I don’t discuss it with a passionless position back here. This is the living God! This is alive! This is good news! And if you don’t want that good news you’re not just rejecting a topic or a discussion or an opinion, this is life itself. For most people even the discussion of denying self is what? It’s a topic, it’s a discussion, it’s an idea, it’s a debate. In verse 34 it says:
Acts 17:34 – A few men . . .
It’s hard to win people in a religious town. On the day of Pentecost when God moved and was alive three thousand were added in one day. He goes into a religious town, you’re only going to win a few. Because it’s a debate, it’s a concept. You say, “Our God is alive!” and they go, “Oh, yeah, we know.” They don’t know. The ideas crowd Him out.
Acts 17:34 – A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
You may not win too many people but our God is still alive. This is not an idea, it’s not a concept and I don’t lay before men some idea that they are to go back and study and examine. We’re talking about coming in to an intimate relationship with the living God. Let’s go back to Psalm 139, starting in verse 8. And you tell me this is David just talking in a scientific fashion, an idea, a concept. Look at what he says in verse 8.
Psalm 139:8 – If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
“Everywhere I go I seek Your presence and I know that You are there.” David isn’t talking about—he isn’t speaking to God in this loveless passionless idea. He was in before a loving God. He was beside himself. His prayers aren’t dry and cold. They may not be logical, they may not be formed just exactly as they should be but it is love expressing itself. “If I go up to the heavens you are there. If I make my bed in the depths” and actually some versions say ‘in hell’ which I like better. “f I make my bed in the depths you are there.” Your presence is everywhere. But again and again this isn’t what? A logical discussion about where the presence of the Lord is. This is alive to David, this is the God that searches his heart and he says, “If I go here You’re over there. And if I go over there, You’re there also. Everywhere I sense Your presence wherever I’m at. And even when I don’t sense You there I know that You’re there in that and I’m not sensing You.” Verse 9:
Psalm 139:9 – If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
How often I hear people in the body say, “I just don’t feel God’s presence,” or “I don’t hear Him talking to me,” then go read Psalm 139. Rise up and have a little bit of faith. Go in and say, “He who gave me His Son will give me Himself. That He gave me His Son with that much love, will He not graciously give me all other things if I but would ask? And if I would but have a little bit of faith and if I would rise up and say, “My God is alive,” and if I would stand before other men and say, “My God lives!” “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea.”
Psalm 139:10 – even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
David is full of anxious thoughts, isn’t he? He’s not quite sure of his relationship with God and where his standing is. He’s not sure if he’s following directly in God’s will, but he begins his prayer with faith, not self pity, not a moaning of where you’re at. He says, You guide, You direct, You’re there. I know for whom I’m praying to. I know whom I’m talking to. I’m in a love relationship with this God, He will act, He will speak. He knows Him as he knows a person. Think of those times when you were in love. It wasn’t logical, it wasn’t cold. You did things that you would consider foolish because you were in love. Even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:11-12 – 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.
This is a psalm of deep anxiety and deep faith. It is, “I don’t know my way but You know my way.” It’s a declaration before God that I barely know where I came from let alone where I’m going but I know You live. I know that I walk on this earth with fear and trembling but I know You who know my way. And You will guide me no matter where I’m at and no matter what darkness I dwell within. Verse 13:
Psalm 139:13 – For you created my inmost being . . .
You knew me before I knew You. “For you created my inmost being.” Everything that I am and the way that I am and my personality and all that I am You created long before I knew You were alive.
Psalm 139:13 -14 – . . . you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
This is a man who can have the anxiety of David that says what? “Search me and know me,” but come in with rich faith that says You made me from the beginning. You know how You made me and You know the things that need to be in my life and You will do the work.
Psalm 139:14 – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Sit and meditate on those works and you, too, will run in and say, “God, deliver and work. You are my only hope. If You don’t soften up my heart, O God, I will die. If You strengthen me not in righteousness I will perish in wickedness.” But I know Him who lives and I will ask and I will plead. I won’t wallow in self pity. I won’t go back here in the corner and say, “What’s the point? There’s no hope, I’ll never overcome this sin. I keep struggling with this over and over again.” I will get in before the living God who made my frame, who knows how I am made, who gave me this personality, who will do the work, who gave me His Son and He will make me righteous and He will deliver me and He will work and He will protect. He will hem and there is no place I can go from Him. He is alive and He will do the work. Rise up and have some faith. Verse 15:
Psalm 139:15 – 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,
“You know how weak I am,” he is saying. “When I was in darkness, when I was hidden, when I was carved out, You were there and Your presence was there weaving and working everything together. Now how much more that I am crying out to You. Even though I have these anxious thoughts over here I am not in despair, I am not faithless with this matter. I come before You knowing You created me to have this anxious thought for some reason.” Verse 16:
Psalm 139:16 – your eyes saw my unformed body.
Diligently watch, diligently examine. You knit it together, You did the work.
Psalm 139:16 – All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
He chose the exact time and the exact place. What is Paul preaching in Acts 17? He’s preaching Psalm 139. Just different words. Verse 17:
Psalm 139:17 – How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
I’ve met very few men who consider the thoughts of God to be precious. They love their opinions far more than the thoughts of God. They love their church dogma and doctrine far more than they love the thoughts of God. But look at what he says here, look at the passion, look at the love. “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!” “I treasure them as one treasures fine gold,” he will say in other places.
Psalm 139:17 – . . . How vast is the sum of them!
We’ve got so much joy waiting before us and what is the joy we have waiting before us? To discover the thoughts of God. And we run around in our self pity and we run around in our faithlessness and we run around in our coldness and we run around in our doctrines and our ideas and our concepts and our thoughts and our worries and our anxieties and our joys and all the things and we miss the whole treasure that is before us. The thoughts of God in our life. He is there. He is inward. Those thoughts are there but we ask not. And we plead not to have them. “How precious to me are your thoughts.”
Psalm 139:18 – Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
That’s how much joy we have waiting for us. I know people who have more fun at the beach than they do what? Searching out the thoughts of God. When was the last time you prayed and said to God, “God, I just want to know what You’re thinking right now.” We only want God when we want a little bit of peace, when we want something from Him. When we want to understand something, or refute somebody. We just don’t, “What are You thinking, God? Just talk to me.” There are times when I pray to the Lord, “Just talk to me. Let’s just fellowship, let’s just discuss.” It can be about politics, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just fellowship, let’s just talk, I don’t have to know anything. I just want to talk. He goes on to say in Psalm 139, the second part:
Psalm 139:18 – . . . When I awake, I am still with you.
I walk and I move within Your thoughts and Your being. When I lay down though my dreams take me off in other fashions when I wake up there You are and there’s Your presence. You’re still there, You’re still intimately involved, You’re still speaking, You’re still working. We still fellowship. I rise to this kind of thing in my day every day. This is a joy beside itself. This is love beyond what is logical and fashionable. Quit worrying about debating men and all the different debates that they have, just fall in love with Jesus Christ. When you’re in those debates sometimes just throw up your arms and say, “I’m out of here. I’m in love with Him.” It isn’t an issue of talk. Verse 20 goes on and says what?
Psalm 139:20 – They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
That’s what the wicked are like. They misuse it. They use it to get their way, they use it to flatter, they use it to get God to do something for them. And look at his response. I want to ask you whether you have this attitude or this feeling. Everything about this psalm is feelings, it’s logical, it’s reasonable, but it’s deep seated feelings. Verse 21:
Psalm 139:21 – Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord . . .
You know he who is in love with the living God has what? These enemies over here that he hates and it cannot be any other way. If they misuse the name of Him whom I love above everything else, how dare you come into my presence and misuse that name? You can judge a man’s passion for Jesus Christ by what? The enemies that he has and who he hates and who he detests. Look at what he prays before the Lord: Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord.
Psalm 139:21 – . . . and abhor those who rise up against you?
He’s not passionless in this. He’s not cold, he takes it personal. You’ve attacked the living God, you’ve attacked my friend, you’ve attacked Him whom I love. You’ve misused His name, you’ve quoted Scripture over here and you don’t know what you’re talking about. And you rise up against the cross and you rise up against the message here. This is the good news of Jesus Christ, how dare you take upon your lips and misuse that which is holy and righteous? Not because this is a debate, not because this is logical, not because I can lay this out in a fashion. Maybe I’ll debate you. It’s because He is alive and I love Him. Look at the emotion: “Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord and abhor those who rise up against You?”
Psalm 139:22 – I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
You see, most people only get involved in debates and arguments and have enemies because it affects them personally. I found very few men who take other causes on as if they were affected personally. The only time they’re disturbed about the things of God is if it affects them personally. But I have seen very few men that are indignant because somebody else was offended in Jesus Christ.
Hold your finger there in Psalm 139 and let’s go to 1 Corinthians 16 because we try to rescue these enemies. We try to show them the greatest of love in Jesus Christ but let me tell you something. There’s a wall there, there’s a cross there, there’s a pleading for them to repent. There’s an indignation in the prayers and a hope that they’ll repent before they stand before the living God. In 1 Corinthians 16:20 it says:
1 Corinthians 16:20 – All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
We’re talking about the riches of love here and the fire of what? Abhorring those who misuse the name of God. Verse 21 says this:
1 Corinthians 16:21 – I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
When was the last time you wrote a letter like this in your own hand? Look how personal he makes this. It is Psalm 139 lived out. “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.” I will stand by it. It is a part of me. I am not ashamed of this love, he says. And look at what he writes in verse 22:
1 Corinthians 16:22 – If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him.
“I write this in my own hand.” This is the declaration of who I am. This is the living God. This is who I relate to and if you don’t love this living God then a curse be on you and I stand up to declare that this is in my hand, this comes from my heart and this burns here and you will not stop it.
1 Corinthians 16:22 – If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!
Write that in your Christian letter. Put that in your Mother’s Day card. Where’s the passion? Where’s the fire? Where’s the love for Him? Are we like the philosophers, are we like the people who like to debate and to talk? But there’s no passion about what we say and do. So much of our struggles with other men and ourselves can be solved very quickly and easily if we were alive with passion. Look at people when they’re in love. You can’t stop them no matter what. They do the stupidest things. They do the most foolishness of things. You can’t reason with them, there’s no logic to it. You could lay out all the things of why she shouldn’t love this guy or this guy shouldn’t love her, it will not make a bit of difference because logic has nothing to do with it. And you can come in to me and you can show me all these things logically, you can raise the dead, you can do whatever it is. It doesn’t matter because I’m in love with Him who is alive. And I will write and I will flare and there will be times when I say a curse be on you if you don’t love the Lord. It will just come out, it’s not contained, it’s not calculated, it is just love beating what? Day by day in love with Him. “If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!” Where is that fire? Where is that zeal? It is in Psalm 139. It is in a beating heart for the living God. Fall in love, fall in love. Verse 23 goes on to say:
1 Corinthians 16:23-34 – The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Of course this is all love, it is the height of love. It is all love. To say that you hate the enemies of God is the height of love. And as God wants them to repent, we want them to repent but look, there comes a point in time, if you’re not going to love Him who is holy, if you’re not going to worship Him who is way beyond our wisdom, then a curse be on you. And I say that with all the zeal that burns within me for the living God. I don’t say it because it’s calculated or needs to be said or it looks good, that’s just the way it is and I don’t care who you are. You can be my wife, you can be my kid, you can be the closest of friends, if you turn your back on the living God, a curse be on you. And I will pray it and I will plead it and I will stand up and declare and hope that it is in your life. And I will long for the day of judgment in order to exercise that cursing because He is worthy and He is holy.
Back again to Psalm 139:23.
Psalm 139:23 – Search me, O God . . .
Search me. Yes, Lord, make me alive. Grant me Your fire and Your zeal. Let us fellowship and let us fall in love. Where am I at with You and when can I fellowship with You and when can I be with You?
Psalm 139:23 – Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Is my heart in love with You as it should be? Is my heart alive? Make it more alive, draw me to You and let me see Your presence, let me feel Your presence. Let us walk together. Test me, come examine me. Let’s deal with it, let’s get on with it, let’s get it over with. Let’s fellowship. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. Come to each anxious thought that I have and speak to that thought. But you know how few people have any anxious thoughts at all. They are so self assured in Jesus Christ and they are so comfortable. The last thing that they have is an anxious heart. At least an anxious thought to what? Know the living God. “nd know my anxious thoughts.”
Psalm 139:24 – See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
I move and live within Your being. Come and look and examine if there is anything that is offensive let us remove it and let us deal with it and let us get it out. I love You, O Lord, let us walk together. “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” He wants to be with God forever and this is the way that it is done. Know to the degree that you hate those whom God hates. It shows a lot about your life of love for God and your fire and love for Him.
Just before he ends his prayer he says, “Search me, O God, but keep this in mind, O God, You know I hate those whom You hate. You know I rise up to silence them, You know that I cannot stand them, I cannot endure them, I abhor them.” Paul’s attitude is, “I sign this letter in my own hand. A curse on anyone who doesn’t love the Lord.”
Let’s go ahead and pray:
Father, what words can we pray and ask that will cause You to draw close to us too? Have us fall in love with You. And, Father, we know that You are our hope, our only hope and we long to do it, Father, that we might fellowship and share in Your glory and walk with You. Father, make us full of passion. Give us hearts on fire. Deliver us from debates and talk and discussion and grant us love, Father, love for You. Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.