Date: 14 Jan 2003
Whoever typed this in didn't include the great last verse!!!
v. 18: I try to count them -- they are more than the sand; I come to the end -- I am still with you.
I love that last half verse: "I come to the end -- I am still with you." What a great acknowledgment of God's continuing Presence.
Blessings, Eric in KS
Date: 18 Jan 2003
Do you think most people feel this scripture is comforting or threatening? I believe that would depend upon one's understanding and acceptance of God's grace. What do you think? K in NC
Date: 18 Jan 2003
If any of you have the book, Living Beyond the Daily Grind by Charles Swindoll, pg. 348f, you will find such a powerful message using Psalm 139 to show God Being omniscient, omnipresent,and omnipotent. He answers the questions: How well does God know me (vv. 1-6), How close is God to me (vv. 7-12), How carefully has God made me (vv.13-18) and How much does God protect and help me (vv. 19-24)? These questions speak to the issues of the problem of identity, the problem of loneliness, the problem of self image and the problem of fear and worry.
I'm going to talk about how God has called us by name and how precious we are- Ps. 139. Then I'll talk about hearing God's call with I SAm and the gospel. God Bless, Rev. C in Saskatoon
Date: 11 Jan 2000
I want to find in this passage explicit proof that abortion is wrong. I also want to be faithful to Scripture, and not read something into it that I want to be there, but isn't.
It seems to me that, at best, this only has implications for the abortion debate among Christians. It does not settle it. Does anybody have any thoughts that might help me?
Ken in Pennsylvania
Date: 11 Jan 2000
Can you find explicit proof for the resurrection, for the incarnation, for any of the other miracles?
I don't think so.
I don't understand your statement that "this only has implications for the abortion debate among Christians." What are you implying? That the application of the laws of God (what some call morality) is only applicable to Christians?
Rick in Va
Date: 11 Jan 2000
I am somewhat confused. It is impossible for a woman to abort at 7 months. Perhaps something else happened. I don't expect JM to respond. This is their personal experience and I respect that, but I just don't understand what is being said here
Date: 12 Jan 2000
My emphasis in preaching this text will be on the completeness and intimacy of God's involvement in our creation and in our lives. God knows every last little thing about us and knows even our words before we speak them! This can be either a very scary situation or a very joyous situation, depending on our relationship with God and on how we are living our lives.
This is a really great text for emphasizing both the transcendence and the immanence (sp?) of God. God's thoughts are so vast that we can't comprehend them, and yet God has taken concern for every last detail of us.
My big question this week is how to turn this passage into a challenge. Sure, there is the obvious "God is watching you, so behave." That's a legitimate message, but I think God is moving me to say something more. Any thoughts out there?
-- Dan in Philly
Date: 12 Jan 2000
If this passage has implications for abortion, does it also have implications for genetic medicine? For example, if God is the one who forms babies into their shape wouldnt this include deformities? And wouldnt this suggest that if God wants to create a baby with deformities - or chronic health problems - who are we to interfere? I suspect that the situation is a bit more complicated than that, but I AM sure that I really dont want to go there in a sermon.
As far as a challenge, I see this passage as an affirmation that we can launch out into bold, new adventures without fear since God has already gone on before us. And why fear the science that explores the heavens, or delves into the atom? God dwells in these places as well!
Also, this passage challenges the notion that God only dwells in Jerusalem, in the Temple, in the Holy of Holies. Or God only dwells in our Church. It assures us that God dwells in the foreign land, and (possibly by implication) even in the foreign people.
And finally it suggests that we are really quite arrogant when we think weve got God figured out. We can no more understand God, than a virus can understand us.
Date: 13 Jan 2000
I mostly "listen" at this sight. You all inspire me with wonderful ideas. This week I feel lead to share. We don't often think about what Jesus knows about us, honestly. With Samuel God know he was the one who would carry the message to Eli, even though Samuel had a difficult time recognizing God's call. Isn't that just like God to pick the apprentice, the lesser one, to do the job. How often does God call us and we respond with an attitude of "It's not my job" or "as long as I don't open my big mouth I'll get out of this one" What did God know about the church at Corinth? They definitely don't have a good reputation. And still God called them in the midst of their lack of discipline and bad habits. Didn't God know what they were like? Did he miss sexual sins or the prostitute that hung around? Or did he call them first and them work on changing their faults as they learned more of his love. Ever have a known prostitute come to your worship? Were then loved in such a way that their lives might change or were they outcast because their lives were not yet right. What could God have been doing calling such people to his church? He just couldn't know much about them! And look at Nathanael. Another Jew who didn't want to believe. Just what Jesus needed! He had one of the original disciples tell him about Jesus and still he didn't believe. What was God up to? Jesus had enough problems keeping the folks who willingly followed him in line without someone like Nathanael. Just think he had to keep an eye on Peter. Just keeping him alive could be a full time job. He'd be living on a mountain top or drowned in the sea if not for Jesus. Jesus needed a good solid believer not another stubborn doubter. God couldn't know much about Nathanael or he wouldn't have chosen him. Right? The Psalm reading pulls it all together. God knows all about us and still loves us enough to die for us. God knows!! Not just thinks he knows or is a luck guesser. God knows! I think I'll use the title "What Does Jesus Know About Us?" Thanks for the inspiration. BY in PA
Date: 13 Jan 2000
Classic one to do with being known by God. It is a powerful poem of relationship. How many of us can say anything like this about anyone that we have known in our entire life. No-one. And that is because this is about our relationship with the one who created us, and from whom our life comes. It is interesting here to reflect that The poet doesnt only talk about God knowing his spirit but rather he knows him physically and fully. The poet is fully overcome by the concept of God knowing him so fully. Imagine if you can being so fully known that nothing about you is a secret. He is so overcome and so aware of the presence of the divine, that he pleads with God that he be made pure. He asks God to lay bare his soul and to correct anything that is unacceptable. It is unconditional surrender to the Other, to God. Somewhere in my spiritual journey it is this very thing that I have begun to find difficult about religion. The idea of giving oneself fully to an outside power is a complete anathema to our modern society. Look at so many of our modern films and TV shows. So many of them espouse this very idea that it is patently wrong to surrender oneself to anything else in this way. Eg? I am also so immersed in this that I find it emotionally difficult to conceive of doing this, yet the psalmist is adamant that this is the only possible reaction to being known so fully. Perhaps the most difficult part of this reading for me is in the verses that tell of the hate that the author has for those who hate God. But this is in the nature of a love poem to God. It is a poem of passion and high regard. In some ways it fills me with anxiety because it is out of words such as these that fundamentalists all over the world throughout history (and in Ambon at the moment) justify the murder of others who believe differently than they do. But that is not what this is referring to. The passage also referrs to a book of the living which is a reference to those who were servants of God. Most often when fundamentalists refer to this sort of thing it is as if we have some idea of who is in and who is not. The other readings this morning reflect a very different idea of who knows this. Samuel is called by God and in a very direct way, but has trouble identifying that it is indeed him that is called by God. When Jesus calls his disciples they are every bit as surprised and they are the most unlikely bunch. At least one of them (Nathaniel) is even cynical about Jesus himself. A challenge to let ourselves be known and to actively engage with others in knowing them?
Gordo Melbourne Australia
Date: 14 Jan 2000
The question which intrigues me with this lovely and demanding psalm is this: Do I want to be known and loved so completely? How we run from this type of intimacy in our daily lives and interactions! "I come to the end and am still with you." Perhaps this is a sermon about accepting ourselves and sitting with ourselves, knowing we are not alone. More musings later. Thanks. SDE in PA
Date: 14 Jan 2000
My guess is that at the end of my life I'm probably going to be concerned more about who knew me, than who I knew. As well, as much as we desire to love someone, I think the desire to be loved is perhaps greater.
The world says: "It's who you know."
This Psalm says: "It's who knows you."
Sure being known is scary, but there is also the element of security here. God knows me, keeps me. The One who knows me best, loves me most.
John near Pitts.
Date: 14 Jan 2000
The expressions in this psalm are very basic to faith. Every Sunday, during the Prayers of the People, I conclude by offering up our unspoken requests. Our most intimate and personal of prayers, things we would never tell anyone else but God alone, are those unspoken requests. During that portion of the prayer time, I make some affirmation of what the psalmist says, in "O LORD, you have searched me and known me." God knows us better than we know ourselves, and still loves us, and works in our lives, in hears our most private of prayers. This intimacy only can come from God "knowing" us through the Incarnation of Christ. PTL!
AO in PO
Date: 15 Jan 2000
Pasthersyl wrote..."It is impossible for a woman to abort at 7 months." I'm afraid this information is completely incorrect. Abortions can be, and are, performed all the way to term in too many cases. Hence the debate on late-term and partial-birth abortions. To me this Psalm speaks clearly not only about the humanity of unborn children, but about the reality of God's purpose for that child. If God is truly a purposive Creator, then is not abortion robbing from God's purpose. In our selfish "right to choose" in so many areas of our lives we rob from God. This sort of robbing, however, has to be just about the most dastardly.
Jim Bohannon Milledgeville, Georgia email@example.com
Date: 31 Aug 2001
Why in the world would the Lectionary Committee leave out the wonderful verses7-12? "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?" Not hither, apparently. tom in TN(USA)
Date: 04 Sep 2001
I think I'm going to use the whole psalm and read it responsively out of the back of the United Methodist Hymnal. I also think I'm going to put a lot of the sewing ladies' materials on the altar, for the "fearfully and wonderfully made" part. If your congregation needs a self-esteem booster, this is the time to do it!
Date: 05 Sep 2001
What does it mean to be completely, utterly, and fully known? Especially in light of all the scriptures on the undying love of God for us. Wow. Matt in WA
Date: 06 Sep 2001
Hmmm. Could use some help here ... we have a revival starting Sunday morning, and for
reasons too complicated to explain, I will be leading the first half of the service
and then turn it over to him. I really want to preach, so I thought I'd do a brief
meditation on Psalm 139, as the choir is singing a lovely anthem on that text.
Hospitality demands that I use my time as a preparation for our guest speaker,
but my theological convictions (the speaker was invited before I was appointed
here, and he's very nice, but we have different aims in our preaching) demand
that I speak ...
What would you do, oh most charitable brothers and sisters, and how would you do it
with Psalm 139?
kbc in sc
Date: 06 Sep 2001
kbc in sc,
Perhaps Matt's sense of awe about being so totally known by God could be your starting
point, and your introduction to the speakers. I have always liked Elizabeth Cady
Stanton's 1951 speech to the women's convention on "Solitude of Self." (Her point is
to advocate for women's education in a time when educating women was being debated, and
she doesn't particularly use Christian language, but to me, she says, nobody else lives
inside our skin, no other person can know all the things that make us who we are -
EXCEPT the "Only Omniscience" [I really like that name for God, too] - the "Only
Omniscience" who lives inside the solitude of the self.) The Psalm, Matt's expression
of awe, speak of how each one of us in our uniqueness (both our genetic and our
environmental influences) are totally known by God, even more than we know ourselves.
Thus your speaker brings a uniqueness known by God to the uniqueness of each one in the
congregation, and together, you are known by God, the Only Omniscience who lives with
the body that is your congregation, and will guide it and love it from the past,
through the present, to the future and eternity. I hope this is helpful.
Grace and peace,
Janice in Ks
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Thanks, Janice, it is helpful. A little awe will be helpful in reinforcing my own humility, and keeping me from the "I know best" position, in order to welcome whomever this speaker is. Only God knows. But God knows. Thanks.