ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: THE PSALM 23 ADVENTURE, Part 16
Some forty years ago or thereabouts, a friend of mine put Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10 to music. It went like this:
Good and Upright is the Lord
Therefore, will He teach sinners in the Way
The meek will He guide in judgment
The meek will He teach His Way
All the Paths of the Lord
Are mercy and truth
Unto such as keep His covenant, His testimonies
Show me Thy Ways, Oh Lord!
Teach me Thy Paths,
Lead me in thy Truth and teach me
For Thou art the God of my Salvation,
And on Thee do I wait all the day.
Two words jump out immediately in this Psalm: “way” and “paths.” The word, “way,” is translated from the Hebrew, Cøc, derek. While it can be translated “path,” or “well-trodden road,” its principal meaning is: one’s direction, course of life, journey.
The word, “path,” comes from the Hebrew, çøàÊ, orach. The most common translation of this word is, “well-trodden road,” both literally and figuratively. However, the deeper meaning of it is, “the manner in which one travels.” It is also translated “a race.” (You’ll remember Paul’s reference to “running that race that is set before us.”)
That race takes place in the Paths of Righteousness. It is race of persistence and endurance. It is a race we run with patience, knowing that the longer we run, the more the Lord reveals Himself and His character to us.
That said, let’s continue this discussion where we left off.
We finished last week by saying that the Paths of Righteousness are going to take us places our minds will rebel at, and our thought processes — if unredeemed and unrestored — will cause us to question God and doubt what he says to us. That’s where the curse began, and that is where death begins.
Let’s consider a verse we’ve all quoted from time to time — maybe “misquoted” is more like it — when we are in the midst of difficulty or trouble.
And we see, perceive and know with certainty that everything unfolding in our lives — every event that occurs — cooperates as fellow-workers together to bring out the beauty and the good, beneficial attributes in and for those who love the Lord God — specifically to those who the called, the invited and the appointed according to His purposes, His intentions and His desires, as He reveals and expands them. (Romans 8:28: RAC Translation & Amplification)
Are you seeing it? Folks frequently quote this verse as “All things work together for good,” but they leave out the important parts of what Paul is saying here. Let’s get something straight in our minds and understanding!
All things DO NOT work together for good for everyone. All one has to do is to take a look at unfolding events in the lives of people around us —and particularly folks who are not in union or agreement with the Lord. We even see that things do not work together for good to many professing Christians, and that is simply because their lives do not even begin to express faith and trust in the workings of God.
What Paul is getting at here is that everything unfolding in our lives cooperates together for those who — first of all — love and worship God with their whole beings. Secondly, and more specifically, everything works together on behalf of those who are THE called, THE invited and THE appointed to the will and purposes of God!
In case that seems contradictory for some folks, let’s take one more example from the Word.
In Matthew 22, (also in Luke 14) Jesus provides us with a parable concerning a certain king desiring to throw a grand and exceptionally elegant wedding feast for His Son. Many guests had been invited — guests who had known the King and as a result of their longtime association were expected to come to the feast.
When the invitation went out and the King’s servants went to bring and escort the invitees to the feast, they were met with excuses. “I’ve invested in a piece of property that I need to check on,” said one. “I’ve just purchased a yoke of oxen for plowing my fields, and I need to put them to work,” says another.
How about this one? “I’ve just gotten married, and that will interfere with my time with my new wife!” Now this parable takes a very decided turn when Jesus says that most of the remaining invitees decide to attack and persecute the messengers, even taking things so far as to murder them.
And these are supposed to be folks in a longtime relationship with the King? After all, they were on His list of expected guests. These were supposed to the friends of royalty. It takes no great revelation to see that Jesus is referring to “believers” — folks who refer to themselves as “friends of God,” or profess to know Him! Let me take you down a bit of a rabbit trail for a minute.
I recall Bob Mumford sharing something back in the early ‘70’s at one of the World Map Conferences. He drew the analogy of what happened with each new move of God, comparing those who responded to that which Holy Spirit was revealing and those who rejected the new revelations because they were comfortable in their religious doctrines and traditions when he said, “Those of the previous move of God will attack and persecute those of the new move.”
We don’t have to look far to see some examples. When the Pentecostal Revival began to emerge in the mid-to-late 1800’s and began to draw a whole lot of public attention with the Azusa Street outpouring, leaders and adherents of the so-called “mainline denominations” rejected the manifestations of speaking in tongues, the moving into the gifts of the Spirit and the miraculous displays as nothing more than fanaticism.
I only have to look no farther than my grandfather, who had been a Methodist preacher and pastor, who was evicted from his pulpit after he and my grandmother were baptized in the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues.
Along with many others like him, he eventually became joined to a Pentecostal group which — in spite of its early leaders’ warnings — became a “Pentecostal denomination.”
Less than 50 years later, Holy Spirit began to manifest Himself openly in the “mainline denominations” to the utter astonishment and frustration of the Pentecostals, and the Charismatic Renewal began to take shape. With every denomination, doctrines and traditions develop which box folks in and blind them to what God is doing. I can’t tell you how many times I heard someone say, “They’re Catholics! (Or perhaps, Episcopalians!) They can’t possibly be filled with the Spirit! God just wouldn’t do that!”
Really? During the 70’s and 80’s. God opened doors of opportunity for me to minister with several different Catholic and Episcopal priests, vicars and bishops who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Something we all learned in the midst of the Charismatic Renewal was that one of the biggest manifestations of Holy Spirit baptism — aside from the initial evidence of speaking in tongues — was an outpouring of love that transcended our differences. We didn’t have to try to make others see things from our perspective. That was up to Holy Spirit to bring change in our understanding. We didn’t have to play Holy Spirit and try to enforce those of other persuasions to accept or believe what we saw as the truth!
Nevertheless, as in every other move of God that has taken place, many “Charismatics” became comfortable in the truths revealed during the Charismatic Renewal (and even formed what for all practical purposes are “Charismatic denominations”), and when Holy Spirit began to move on once again with revelation foreign to them, those of this latest move began to be resisted, attacked and accused of being heretics, or “preaching some new Gospel” not revealed in the Word of God.
If you think I’m kidding or exaggerating, you only need to Google the names of some of those who have become prominent leaders, apostles, prophets or evangelists who are sharing these unfolding truths. You will see them scandalized, their names dragged through the mud, their past lives (prior to having the revelation that changed them, bringing them closer to being conformed to the image of God) exposed as current truth, touted as examples of someone of questionable character and doctrine to be avoided at all costs.
Folks, God hasn’t changed! He is continuing to draw His people onward and onward — in the Paths of Righteousness — to a dimension in the realm of the Spirit where we are more and more and more and more like Him! Take a quick look at something that John writes in his first general letter to the body of Christ.
I John 3:2: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
That’s change! That’s a product of continuing to hear, to respond and to obey EVERYTHING he asks of us, whether it fits our current understanding or not!
Let’s not forget that this entire walk with the Lord began with a declaration that Yowd Hey Vav Hey is MY ruler, MY governor, MY friend, MY companion, MY protector — the one who tends to me, who leads me to that which will nourish, strengthen, and cause me to grow and prosper. (Psalm 23:1a: RAC Translation & Amplification)
It is unequivocal! You just can’t get away from it! Once you make that decree over your life, you prophesy an unfolding of events that will literally transform you. When this transformative process has reached its conclusion, you’ll be so changed that the old you wouldn’t even recognize who and what you’ve become.
We’ve quoted this before, but consider this again:
II Corinthians 3:18: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
THAT, my friends, is precisely what the Paths of Righteousness are for! (And, incidentally, that focus on the revealing of the Glory of the Lord in us, through us, and by us, is the focus of this new move of God unfolding throughout the world. With the revealing of God’s Glory in us and through us comes a dimension in the realm of the Spirit that defies description with natural, human thinking and understanding.)
Righteousness is the very character and makeup of the Lord Jesus Christ. We described this word early in this discussion, but the word, tsedaqah, and its root, tsadaq, are uniquely Hebrew, whereas many Hebrew words have their etymological root in Semitic languages and Chaldean. The sense of being right, or even with (in character and makeup, therefore, in the Hebrew language) comes in juxtaposition or comparison to God Himself. That absolutely HAS to happen if we are going to dwell in the House of the Lord forever!
Changes a whole lot of things, doesn’t it? As a corollary to what John wrote in I John 3:2, Paul writes to the Ekklesia in Philippi:
Philippians 1:6: Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Get it? This is happening IN US! These are the Paths of Righteousness in which we are walking, and as long as we don’t deviate from these paths in order to avoid the pressures, the thlipsis, the “tribulation” that MUST come, we will see and experience the completion and fulfillment of that good work.
The Parable that Jesus shared of the Wedding Feast is a graphic representation of where all of us are heading. These Paths of Righteousness are designed to bring such transformation in our lives that the walls come down between us and those who are in the same process, albeit at a different place. Titles and positions disappear. One’s status in life becomes immaterial. We don’t look at one another as “rich” or “poor.” We see one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
The call to the Wedding is a call to “the highways and the byways,” to everyone who will respond to that call without excuses – no matter who or what they are. That call is to and for those who can and will understand that this is “for His Name’s sake!”
Jesus’ name – His character, His personality, His authority and power, His love, His very makeup – is at stake here. His purpose and objective for us is at stake. His intention to have a family of people like Him is at stake.
Once again, ”He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
The ”the day of Jesus Christ” is the day when that work will have been completed!
See you next week.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call normally takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#. For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400. If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Sunnyside, Washington 98944
Email Contact: Admin@RiverWorshipCenter.org
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