Psalm 139

Psalm 139

The book of Psalms records every emotion that has ever struck the human heart. Love; anger; fear; hurt; sadness; depression; joy--it's all there. We turn to the psalms because it address the full spectrum of human needs. In these one hundred and fifty songs we find direction for our lives and comfort for dark times. This ancient hymnal of praise speaks to us in ways that affect us beyond words. We take this week to dig into Psalm 139 to see that we find our significance when we see how significant we are to God.

Yours is the Kingdom

Yours is the Kingdom

This concluding doxology chimes in exactly with the message of the prayer as a whole: God's kingdom, God's power, and God's glory are what it's all about. To pray this prayer is to pray that God's kingdom may be seen in all the world as they see the glory of Jesus the Messiah. It is because God is King, and has become King in Jesus, that we can pray this prayer with confidence.

Deliver Us

Deliver Us

From testing in the desert to the agonizing plea in Gethsemane, Jesus demonstrated obedience to the Father's will in the face of evil. It's no wonder that now Jesus teaches his followers to pray that God would deliver them from the power of Evil. And we can pray this prayer with confidence because Jesus has met that power and has defeated it once and for all. To pray this prayer is to ask God to enable us to be his kingdom-people who realize the reality of evil and pain in this world, yet live knowing that Jesus has won the victory over it all.

Forgive Us As We Forgive

Forgive Us As We Forgive

Followers of Jesus are kingdom-people who know that they have been forgiven for their sins. Therefore, God's kingdom-people must live out forgiveness to others, otherwise they are denying the very basis of their own existence! Followers of Jesus breathe in true divine forgiveness day by day. Once that life-giving air from God fills us, we can't help but breathe it out. As we learn what it is like to be forgiven, we begin to discover that it is possible, and indeed joyful, to forgive others.

Give Us This Day

Daily needs and desires point beyond themselves to God's promise of the kingdom in which death and sorrow will be no more. The promise of the kingdom includes our daily needs and desires, and this prayer asks for our desires to be satisfied in God's way and God's time. This prayer urges us to pray with the wider Christian family, and human family, standing alongside the hungry and praying on their behalf. It is a prayer for the complete fulfillment of God's kingdom: for God's people to be rescued from hunger, guilt and fear.

Your Kingdom Come

The second main petition of the Lord's Prayer rules out any idea that the Kingdom of God is a purely heavenly reality. "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." When we pray this Kingdom-prayer we are praying, as Jesus was praying and acting, for the redemption of the world; for the radical defeat of evil; for heaven and earth to be married at last; for God to be all in all. We pray this for the world, and we pray this for the church. 

Live a Life of Prayer

James finishes his letter with a call to prayer. Although it may seem unexpected, it is totally appropriate when we think that in order to become "perfect and complete" we must rely on God's power. Prayer is reliance on God's power! When we embody this truth ourselves, we become a community of prayer and praise in a world of self-sufficiency and entitlement. We embody the kingdom of God.

Perseverance for the Poor

After James addresses the wealthy and powerful, he turns his attention to the poor and powerless. What is his call to the poor and oppressed? To be patient. This is a message for all of us; no matter how much money you have in your bank account, we have all experienced areas of need or brokenness. How do we patiently endure those times? What is it we are patiently enduring for?

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Wisdom for the Wealthy

We live in a world of economic injustice. It seems as if the 'rich get richer and the poor get poorer.' The love of money is the downfall of many in our culture, and James is quite aware of this. Money has the potential to cause us to ignore God and to become indifferent to the needs of the least, lost and left-out. The question the Christian community must wrestle with is this: has our wealth blinded us to the things of God? The wealth we are given is to be shared with those in need. As we live in this way, we reflect the kingdom of God that exalts the poor and humble.

Faith Lets God Be God

James warns us against the temptation of putting ourselves in the place of God. First and foremost, speech that judges or criticizes a fellow-Christian usurps the place of God. The other danger is in relation to one's future plans. We have no idea what today will bring, let alone tomorrow. Again, we see that genuine faith produces humility. Once we learn the humility to accept God's sovereign ordering of all life and to live within that, then we see more clearly the life God has called us to live in wholehearted devotion to Him.

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Wisdom in Action

James understood how critical God-given wisdom is for enduring trials (1:5). But he also knew the human tendencies to rely on self-guidance and worldly advice when tough times arise. In this section James reminds us that real faith produces gospel wisdom, which in turn produces gospel fruit. James shows us that our goodness comes from God-given wisdom, not our own human wisdom. We see that God's people are to be a community of fruitful, gospel wisdom in a world of envy, jealousy and selfish ambition.

The Works of Our Words

The Works of Our Words

After James discusses the importance of our works over simply saying you believe, he now contends that our words are very much important to our faith, too. So which is it? Should we focus on our demonstration or our declaration of faith? What we find, as we look into the wisdom of James, is that both our works and our words flow from our worship. With hearts rooted in the love of Christ, we will bear the fruit of a faith that speaks and acts.

The Fruit of Faith

The Fruit of Faith

If we are saved by faith alone, solely because of God's grace, why would James use such bold words about the works we are supposed to have? Just as an apple tree, sprouting from the seed of an apple, will produce the fruit of more apples, as we are rooted in the loving works of Christ we will produce, through the power of the Spirit, more works of love... because of his grace!

Faith Fights Against Favoritism

James continues to encourage God's people to become "perfect and complete" (1:4), wholehearted in their devotion to God as they love others, especially the poor. In this section James teaches that followers of the "Lord Jesus Christ" (2:1) will not show favoritism, for faith in Christ is in no way compatible with partiality toward others. Real faith fights against prejudice. Real faith produces self-giving love. The Christian community is under the "law of liberty" and now free to demonstrate equalizing love in a world that thrives on status and privilege. In addition, the people of God are to be known for their solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, showing utter dependence on God in a world of self-sufficiency.

Faith Lives Out God's Word

The Christian's devotion and obedience to God should be wholehearted, whereas the ‘double-minded’ (1:8) are half-hearted in their relationship to God. Whereas the half-hearted doubt, vacillate, are unstable and restless (1:6–8), the wholehearted are stable and free from doubt because they are wholly devoted to God. This wholehearted devotion to God involves the whole person, since the heart is the inner source of words and deeds and reveals the state of the heart. Therefore, if we are to become "perfect and complete" (1:4) we must examine every area of our lives. James explains that when the true believer is confronted with the truth of Scripture, he or she will respond by conforming to what it teaches.