Wednesday, September 09th, 2009 | Author:

Welcome! As we’ve recently acquired some new WFW meme bloggers, (see the list to the right, and yes, I’m excited!) I thought it would be a good idea to give Mr. Linky another try: 1) so I don’t forget anybody (!) and 2) so bloggers can leave their link, even if they don’t have time to comment right away. Without further ado … leave your link in Mr. Linky!

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That I May Know Him

In last week’s WFW, Rebecca posted from Psalms 119, including the following verse:

I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
(Psalms 119:131)

In the way that only the Holy Spirit can do, this really grabbed my heart, which leads to a confession: I have been discouraged. The problem is that I identify with this verse, and I don’t know many other people who do. I rarely see people who hunger and thirst for the Lord, and it’s a permanent condition with me. So what kind of an oddball am I? Maybe this story will shed some light.

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”(Luke 7:36-48)

So perhaps this explains it. As David said in Psa 51, “For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.” Maybe the rest of the world just hasn’t sinned as much as I have.

In any event, I’ve been discouraged that, even in church circles (or especially in church circles) I see people seeking signs and wonders, or seeking wisdom, or seeking just the right service with just the right music … but I don’t see people seeking Jesus.

Several years ago, I heard a sermon about the following passage:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11)

The pastor asked, “Who wants the fellowship of His sufferings?” Without hesitation, my hand shot up – but it was the only hand that did, because most people, including the pastor, were laughing. “Of course we don’t want to suffer. Never mind that it brings us fellowship with the Lord. We don’t want to suffer.” I left that service very discouraged, and I’ve not seen much since to change my view of the American church.

But God is gracious, and has provided me some encouragement in the form of new, young WFW bloggers who have a passion for the Lord. I pray that they will encourage our whole nation to its knees in repentance.

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6 Responses
  1. Anonymous says:

    I don't have a blog, but thought I'd contribute:

    Foundations -

    At bible study this week, we were looking at Hebrews 5:11 through 6:6. Hebrews 5:12 chides the readers for not grasping the “elementary principles.”
    Hebrews 6:1–2 lists six elementary principles that are the “foundation” for understanding the Christian faith. Some churches use this passage as a key for their pre-membership classes.
    And Hebrews 6:4-6 says it is impossible to be re-saved if you have truly fallen away.

    The last passage is interesting in the “once saved, always saved” versus “eternal security” debate. Using human logic (which is not always safe to do trying to grasp what God is saying), we can assume that any backslidden condition that Christians have historically returned from is NOT a condition unto eternal death. To better understand these things, we looked at I Corinthians 3:10-15:

    “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.
    “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.
    “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw–
    “the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.
    “If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.
    “If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.” – NRSV

    We also compared this with I Peter 1:3 – 9, especially verse 7:

    “so that the genuineness of your faith–being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. – NRSV

    These scriptures showed how if we fail to build on the foundation in a way that fails to pass the “fire test,” the builder will still be saved. We also talked about refining molten gold and silver to remove the dross.

    I Corinthians 3:11 caused an “aha” light bulb moment in one of the people. It was regarding attractive contemporary doctrines that had been troubling her. The passage says: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.” Even though the troubling doctrines sounded really good and truly positive, their foundations weren't Jesus Christ. This examination of the foundation became a measure by which to test every doctrine that on the surface sounds good, but leaves an empty “eh” feeling in our consciences. This verse gave her (and us) permission to reject any doctrine built on any other foundation than Jesus Christ.


  2. Jim Wetzel says:

    The pastor asked, "Who wants the fellowship of His sufferings?" Without hesitation, my hand shot up – but it was the only hand that did, because most people, including the pastor, were laughing. "Of course we don't want to suffer. Never mind that it brings us fellowship with the Lord. We don't want to suffer."

    Of course, I wasn't there. From reading your account, I wonder if some didn't raise a hand simply because they didn't think their response was being solicited. Pastors, and other speakers, often ask questions rhetorically, and do not want answers from listeners.

    Still, the laughter is troubling. What was the substance of the rest of the sermon? I don't suppose that "wanting" suffering is significant; it's true that no one wants suffering. Jesus Himself didn't, based on Matthew 26: 39 – 44 (and parallel passages). The question for us to confront is: are we willing to suffer, for the sake of His fellowship? I think I am, although I've not had to face any true trial of my willingness. I can only hope that when it comes, I will have been sufficiently prepared by the work of the Spirit in my life and character.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I agree with Jim– sometimes people just don't raise their hands when questions are asked. It's speculation to make "global" and general assumptions based on a response you interpret that is based on one event. But then again, you've mentioned your peers before, so I know you aren't merely basing your post on *just* one event. Still, don't be discouraged!! Maybe you should recall poor ol' Elijah, who went to hide in a hole in the rock because "all God's prophets were gone." And God said that He had– what was it– 7,000 people who had not bowed the knee to Ba'al??

    God's a big God, He can handle His church. And I'm speaking from experience here, cuz I've felt a lot of the same things you have felt. Just do the will of God and don't be discouraged! Remember that song by Keith Green, He'll Take Care of the Rest? :D

    Thanks for a heartfelt post. It reminds me again of the greatness of God, even amidst troubles and concerns. HE IS A BIG GOD!! :D

  4. Renee says:

    It seems to me that your "problem" is one that we all should have. It reminded me of this verse:

    Matthew 5:6
    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (supplied with abundance).

    I looked up that word "filled" in the Greek… The root Greek word means pasture. It reminds me of Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in beautiful, fresh, green, pastures…

    If you didn't see it, I studied Psalm 23 here:

    It's really neat to see that our blogs are an encouragement to you. :) It is the coolest thing to be able to share the things we are studying with like-minded people! Thanks for starting WFW and giving us an opportunity to share what we are studying. (I posted my Word for Thursday today…)

  5. akaGaGa says:

    @Tom: Thanks for sharing your Bible study, even if you don't have a blog. :) So many churches are building on doctrines or traditions that are not standing on Jesus, and so much of what passes for "Christian" music or literature has nothing to do with Jesus. It's good to know that someone, somewhere is actually studying the Bible. Thanks again for posting.

    @Jim: Honestly, I don't recall the rest of the sermon. It was many years ago. But I can say that this wasn't a case of people not answering a rhetorical question. I had conversations with several people afterwards, and to a man, they all thought I had a screw loose. They wanted worldly blessings for free, not fellowship at a cost.

    @Rebecca: LOL! I confess, Elijah often feels like a kindred spirit. He, however, didn't have the benefit of the internet for encouragement. :) Thanks.

    @Renee: Ah, fresh green pastures. When I was a kid, one of my parents' fields was surrounded by trees and brush, making a private little world that was only open to the sky. I'd spend hours there, all by myself, just laying on my back and soaking up the sun. That's probably the closest I'll get to heaven before I see the real thing.

    And thanks for posting your Word for Thursday. That happens quite a bit around here. :) And I'll be sure to check out your Psa 23 post. Thanks for the link.

  6. Jay says:

    Hi Jean,
    I love what you are talking about here, how we should become partakers in the suffering. This is a topic not many people hear about today in the churches, as you were mentioning. When I hear this, I think about the fact that when we humble ourselves and die to the flesh, we our crucifying our flesh with its passions and desires. When God calls us, we need to die to our flesh, so that our flesh doesn't get in the way of God's call. If we are still hanging on to the flesh, then there's no way that God can have our undivided attention. This goes along well with my WFW about answering God's call and putting everything else aside to follow Him: