"The True Christian Heritage"; Psalms 61:5
August 1, 2013

C. R. Oliver

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August 1, 2013

"The True Christian Heritage"
Psalms 61:5

          Standing in front of a young DMV clerk, I was astonished at his final question, after eye testing and posing for those horrible mug shots used on driver's licenses. He asked, "Do you have any advice as to how a young person should live his life since you evidently have years of experience." Without a thought I replied, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and He shall direct your paths (Prov.3:5, 6)." He was taken aback by the swiftness of the response, but did not register acceptance of the scriptural premise. A white haired gentleman at the next station interjected his advice, "Always speak the truth and be true to yourself." Both of us offered good advice, but from two different perspectives. Neither of us knew how serious the young man was in his inquiry.

          Our information age has caused the world's population to rely heavily upon research and advice from unknown sources in order to steer one into safe harbor. Google has become a god. Our educational systems have abandoned their historical roles of introducing great literature (including the Bible), philosophy, history and cultivating personal initiative. Group thought, psychology, science (apart from God) and cultural studies dominate their curriculum. Their graduates are secular as opposed to Renaissance persons a century before. It would seem that any arena sans God (and Biblical principles) flourishes in corporate acceptance, while those who find themselves thinking like King David are scorned and maligned.
Psalms 61:1-5
Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3 For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

5 For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
This, from the heart of one who would not touch God's anointed (Saul) nor battle Philistines (as well as other enemies such as Ammonites) without consulting the Lord God of Hosts. The most anointed of ancient Kings did not find himself intimidated by seeking the Hand of the Lord. He waited upon the Lord and sought His timing and His victories. Few modern national leaders would consider battle plans that included "Prayer and Fasting" while lying prostrate before the Lord.

Fewer still could boast of being comrade with those known for their fearing the Lord. David considered the "Heritage of those who fear Your Name," as the pinnacle of ranks. In line with those of Hebrews 11, David shared a place where no one in today's scene will find their photo.

When David declared, "From the end of the earth I will cry to You," he expressed the heart of many a missionary and certainly predated my own understanding of the comfort of the Presence of the Lord in all places on the earth. I too have sought out (in 53 countries) the guiding hand of the Lord and always found Him "right there." (En Punto is the testimony book for such.)

Isaiah penned a similar passage to that of the Psalmist, and though it is well quoted and better known in pulpit pulchritude, it is rarely embraced as "rules for living."
Isaiah 55:6-9
6 Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Consider this passage as an absolute in a world of relativity. It minces no words and accepts no compromise. Fiatly, it states that on one's best day intellectually, using a Mensa mind and incorporating the assistance of the world's most perceptive electronic devices-man falls short of God's most infantile considerations. Isaiah's Biblical premise reduces the sources of man's highest reference to idiot's babble. It makes pulpit ramblings, with their accompanying plethora of books, DVDs' and other diatribel media, mere musings. With certainty, the routing of economic strategy and the global desires to return to Babel are shipwrecked before their voyage is begun. No Christian must look to any man for the solutions to the world problems.

Examine verse seven, which is addressed to God's people: "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts."

Note the word "return." In order to "return," one must have, at some point, departed. (The old adage, "you can't come back from where you've never been" is appropriate.) God is addressing spiritual people. Acceptance of the label "wicked" is a dose of medicine in itself to them. "Twisted" would be a good synonym. Wicked means twisted. To humble oneself before the Mighty God and say, "Lord, I am twisted in my ways. I have left your paths and I know it. I have followed worldly ways and found myself alone and disparate in my circumstances. I want to stop right here and now and confess, 'I need you to show me Your way.'"

The Lord's response to such a heart is with mercy and abundant pardon.

"Messed up thinking" can happen to anyone, and it can only be rectified by Isaiah's method. Such activity does not disparage who we are in Christ, it exalts Who He Is!

Pardon me, but too many ministries are hyper loaded in psychology and counseling techniques, incorporating social strategies, and have abandoned the simplicity of humbling oneself before the Lord of Hosts. Words of knowledge and revelation are great but cannot be but support tools assisting the soul's crying out to God and returning to the Lord with a contrite heart.

"Let the unrighteous 'forsake' his thoughts."
Since thoughts are the starting line for action, they are the fountain which must be closed up and "left behind." Forsake means to "loosen," "leave desolate," "relinquish and refuse." Instead of the church rising up and declaring they are the righteousness of God in Christ, some might consider confessing their "unrighteous" state first and their great need to abandon their unholy considerations. The need for mercy and pardon has never been greater than today. The call for "forsaking ways and thoughts" has never been weaker!

Yet, when Jesus taught about the "self sufficient man," he concluded with this passage:
Luke 14:33
33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
While discomfort comes at the relinquishing of man's devices, comfort returns in Hebrews 13.
Hebrews 13:5-6
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we may boldly say:
"The LORD is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?"
His "Thoughts" and His "Ways" constitute the greatest need of this generation. We simply need the comfort of His help because the wreckage of lives and moral values strewn across the globe testify to this truth. With prayer and forsaking, we must come before Him, confess our failure to reach "the secret place," and seek His presence so as to be close enough to hear His thoughts and engage His ways. God is talking and most are not listening!

HE SAID, "My ways are not your ways." These are His words, and He knows we need His ways. Can we be still and wait until we discover what He is willing to give to us? His ways, paths and wisdom contain what is best for us and they help us avoid the pitfalls we are unable to apprehend. ("Be still and know that I am God.")

David had a grip on this.
Psalms 25:4-12
4 Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
6 Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindnesses, for they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness' sake, O LORD. 8 Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. 9 The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way. 10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. 11 For Your name's sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. 12 Who is the man that fears the LORD?
Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
3 He himself shall dwell in prosperity,
And his descendants shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him,
And He will show them His covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.
"Show and tell" is the method of God's instruction. His Word is one thing, but the Spirit's guidance is another. For Him to teach, there must be a ready listener-a teachable spirit. Look at David's contriteness. Observe his manner of approach and the humbleness he expressed in it. Do we not qualify as a stiff necked, arrogant people these days? Few dare fall into the altar and shudder before His presence. Few tremble at His Word and fear His Name. Are we not judged, like the ancients, as those who forgot their instructions in Deuteronomy?
Deuteronomy 5:33 You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.

Deuteronomy 10:12-16 "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? 14 Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it. 15 The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. 16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer
Jesus used this latter passage to answer those who quizzed Him. As a covenant people, we need to renew our commitment to the ways and thoughts of the Lord. The Liberals have lied to the multitudes, and the religious leadership of today has joined them. They have approved much of what God has not, but no one rises to a point of order or demands accountability. That makes our thinking far afield from His.
Jeremiah 7:8-11 (observing a nation sliding into ruin)
8 "Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, 10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to do all these abominations'? 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," says the LORD.
We must escape this mentality. We must insist on a higher standard than what is presented to us in the name of acceptable behavior. We must rise above the sludge which is avalanching toward our children and grandchildren. God is calling His people higher and demanding they follow.
Romans 11:33-36
3 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

34 "For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?"
35' Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?"

36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Recently, I was in the company of some faithful saints of the Lord, who walk on a different level than the average "pew-master." The conversation was filled with riveting accounts of exploits for the Lord. As I sat in their presence, I silently prayed for them and thanked My God for the privilege of sitting in their midst. The depth of their Bible knowledge, coupled with their experiencing of great reward for faithfulness, caused me to want to never leave their company.

I can understand the communal days of the early church where this kind of fellowship was constant and glowing. Today's technology precludes a "closed in" or "solitary life" while talking and texting or "MP3-ing" as the world passes in a blur; we are robbed of our Emmaus's and removed from the company of the blessed. Our thoughts become as abbreviated as our texts. Though wiser in information, we are weaker in our walk.

God, who created all things, does not approve of our modern patterns of rationale. Our theology is shallow. Our understanding of God's way of thinking and doing is hindered by our inability to blot out the sounds of the Century.
(CG Bevington in his book, Remarkable Miracles, recalled spending days in the woods in a hollow log, meditating upon the Lord until the voices stopped. He said it often took days before the interruptions of life's voices ceased. )
Cell phones and I-pads serve us, but they become voices that must be attended-they place demands upon our time and schedule.
Jeremiah 18:15
Because My people have forgotten Me,
They have burned incense to worthless idols.
And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways,
From the ancient paths,
To walk in pathways and not on a highway,
Consider "pathways (which are characterized as faint narrow trails that are full of rocks, briars, and impediments of steepness, uncertain curves and endless objects blocking far vision)." Consider "highways" with graded levels, smooth and even travel surfaces, marked intersections and cautioned approaches. Highways are faster venues and tend to save time and energy. Why stagger and stumble when one can move with ease and arrive less fatigued? David knew about the advantages of the Highway of Holiness.

David understood the nature of God's ways and thoughts. His writings reflected his deep regard for God's thoughts versus his own. He knew that to apprehend Yahweh's way of thinking and doing required righteousness and holiness to a degree beyond the formulas of Judaism. David sought to go beyond the requirements of religion to the place of friendship with the Most High. God shares His mind and heart with those who are determined to know Him.
Psalms 92:5-7
5 O LORD, how great are Your works!
Your thoughts are very deep.
6 A senseless man does not know,
Nor does a fool understand this.
7 When the wicked spring up like grass,
And when all the workers of iniquity flourish,
It is that they may be destroyed forever.
The broader view, the richer texture, the comprehensive grasp, the power of creation, the elevation of in-depth appreciation, these are but a few of the elements found in the prism of His mind. We are not invited to sit upon His Throne to act as imbecilic as some do among the ranks of those deemed "elitists" by government and church. We are invited there to learn of His ways and to share His thoughts. As primary in content as some of the conversation may be, it is from those who share those moments who create the greatest books, have the grandest revelation and testify with those of the gospel, "we can but speak of that which we have seen and heard." These are they who fulfill Revelation 12's mandates for the overcomers: The Blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto the death. That's His way.

(Ah, the places "in Him" for which we are to tabernacle will be heaven indeed! "In my Father's House are many tabernacles and I go to prepare a place for you.")
Micah 4:1-2
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the LORD's house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And peoples shall flow to it.
2 Many nations shall come and say,
"Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths."
Meanwhile, we have a 2000 year old mandate:
Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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