A Powerful Cord
By Iverna Tompkins
As transcribed by Jane Vaughn
Have you ever looked at the number three as it is discovered in the Scriptures? Numbers are very important in the Bible, revealing many different truths. There are a lot of “threes” from which we could learn much Three is the number of the Trinity – signifying Their unity and agreement. Certainly we’ve noticed this: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the Triune God. The God that we know and serve is not three gods, but one God. He is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit – three Persons in One. You can’t break through that unity! That’s a strong steadfast – unwavering, unfaltering, firm, solid, steady, stable and secure! Three-in-One is a very strong statement about Who our God is.
Also, I’m rather confident you have noticed throughout Jesus’ ministry, there was a three-fold cord. It went something like this: Jesus taught those who had a desire to move into the Kingdom; He preached to those who were unconverted; and He healed all who were sick. In every Gospel record – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – we see that three-fold cord in the ministry of Jesus.
First John 5:7 says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven: the Father, the Word, [which is the Son - cf.Jn.1:1-3;14], and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one.” Verse 8 continues: “And there are three that bear witness in the earth: they are the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.”
We know the truth of those verses. But have you seen that positional truth deals with the position that we have in Christ, that is translated to practical truth when we appropriate or apply it to our living levels. In other words – the intangible positional truth becomes a strong reality when we make it relevant in our understanding of life. Essentially, there’s a three-fold cord operating.
The Resurrection of Christ – that was the third day. Further, His resurrection is a fact of sacred history; it is sound theology; and it is a fact of spiritual experience: “Christ in you” – now– “the hope of glory” (Col.1:27).
Look at this one. Our share in Christ’s Rapture is three-fold. His position of strength is “where Christ sitteth on the right hand” (Col.3:1); His position of satisfaction is “set your affection on things above and not on things on the earth” (Col.3:2); His position of security – “He is hid with Christ in God”(Col.3:3).
Our share in Christ’s Return is three-fold. We are to share in the life of Christ now. Colossians 3, verse 4 says, “When Christ, who is our life….” He is “our life” right now – our very existence is in Him. The verse goes on showing that we share in His lordship – the lordship of Christ – “When He… shall appear, then shall [we] also appear with Him in glory” (Col.3:4). And Paul also reveals that we are to share in His eternity – “So shall we ever be with the Lord” (1Thes.4:17c).
Now, I’ve rapidly run through these examples of various kinds of threes to show you the importance of “3” in the Word of God because I want us to turn to a specific psalm – Psalm 31 – to see the significance of three. Rather than entertain you with a sermon, I want to walk through this psalm with you, one step at a time. Too often we merely look for a sermon format when we study a given passage: a story, the background or history of it, and then an application of the truth discovered (there’s three again! :-)). This time, I want to walk with you through the verses and show you another three-fold cord. So, that’s the title of this message: “A Powerful Cord – the cord of three” (cf.Eccl.4:12).
If you take one strand of a 3-strand twisted cord and separate it from the other two – alone, by itself, there’s more weakness than strength. A single strand by itself can be broken easily. Twist two strands together and the resultant cord is stronger. But when you wrap a third one, adding another strand, there is much greater strength in the combination (can we say: “in the unity?”).
Maybe – just maybe – that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “If any two of you shall gather together in My Name, I’ll make it three – I’ll be there in the midst of them. ‘If any two of you shall agree as touching anything’ – P.S. ‘in My Name’ – I’ll show up! :-) and that’ll make it three.” (Mt.18:19,20).
God wants us to see something important in this whole concept of threes. I believe the truth He is revealing is this: that our individual weakness in walking with the Lord is because usually we only do it one strand at a time. For example: there are times when we really praise. We wake up in the morning just singing His praises. And we praise Him all day long. Things are just so good!
Then there are times when we really have faith. Oh, yes, we like to feel faith. There are times when you just – feel it! We love that! “Alright – name it! Bless God! I believe it!” And you’re just full of faith – until the next morning. :-)
But then there are other times when we really pray. We just beseech the throne of grace (Heb.4:16). And we’re even bold about our approach.
But what we need to learn is that it takes those three things – woven together consistently – to be strong enough to hold us when things of life get a little “sticky.” Faith – Prayer – Praise (with Worship, which you really cannot separate from sincere, heartfelt Praise).
I think it is interesting to watch as we read through the psalms. The majority of them were written by David and we’ve all studied or at least heard stories about him. He is such a favorite of ours because he’s so honest. So, studying the life of David is a choice many of us have undertaken. In such a study, we discover David didn’t have a “cushy” life! He went through a lot of different kinds of experiences.
He really wasn’t a great wonderful Christian or exemplary believer or a model of perfection as we would speak of that today. In fact, because his sins were not the silent kind that could be hidden or easily disguised, many churches would have thrown him out at the first one revealed! :-) His sins were just blatant – right out in the open! The thing that makes you love David is that he prayed the same way he sinned. Think on that… you’ll see it.
Ah, ha! You did get it, didn’t you? Right out in the open, nothing withheld in crying out before God – just as he so openly sinned. If you don’t see this reality when we read his psalms, you are missing some important things. Come on, tell the truth. Have you ever read one of David’s psalms – to yourself – and passed over some of it because you felt you just shouldn’t say that – to God? Some of the things David says. . . You know what I’m talking about. When he seems to just shout it out: “Where are You, God? I’ve been calling on You night and day!” :-) You can totally feel his exasperation!
Then some of us try to hide all that: “Oh, I just skip over those verses and.... I would never say that to God.” No, you’d want to though, but settle for just thinking it! :-) Then I can just imagine His response to that ploy – that hypocrisy: “Right. That’s why you don’t hear from Me. :-) Because you’re not honest enough to press in for an answer.”
David begins this particular psalm by saying, “In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust.” There’s his faith. And your faith is to be right there too. No matter what happens – no matter if God does what you tell Him to (in-Jesus’-Name, of course – and we call that “praying” :-)) or, no matter if He prolongs sending an answer… no matter what the situations of life… always we can say, “In Thee do I put my trust!”
When you’re going through a personal trial and someone else close to you isn’t – they are most disgusting to be around. Don’t you find that to be true? :-) That’s because they think they have every answer you ever needed and begin to sound so super-spiritual: “Well, you just have to learn to trust God.” Or, “Well, I’m surprised you let this thing get you down. I mean, He’s God, isn’t He? Is God different from yesterday?” And your honest reply is: “Yeah, a little! It feels like it anyway.” :-)
We need to learn that our faith is not in jeopardy because of our honesty!
It’s so easy to pray what we think He wants to hear – those lofty, holy sounding prayers: “Blessed, Holy, Ancient of Days – we beseech Thy throne this night, in the Name of Thine only Begotten Son…” And that’s all true – and yes, we do come to Him. But I think, sometimes He looks down toward us and wonders in total amazement: “What? Who are you? Who are you really?” :-) We need simply to be honest in our prayers and say, “Father, it’s been a rotten day! (in Jesus’ Name).”:-) You see – faith says, “In Thee do I trust!”
I exercise my faith in prayer – all the time! I trust Him – all the time! No matter what my day may bring. That truth doesn’t mean I always feel victorious. It just means I am victorious – because I am in Him and He is in me and He’s the One who said I am an overcomer! (1Jn.5:4,5; Rom.8:37; 1Jn.2:13,14). [Actually, I prefer “feel.” but I don’t get to vote! :-)]
So, when I’m around Christians who are feeling their faith or they’re feeling their victories, I have a tendency to – fake it! :-) When they come and flaunt: “How ya doin’, brother? Ohhhh, bless God!! He’s good. Isn’t He good?” We think we have to be there too: “Oh, yeah, that’s what I was about to say! ‘He’s good!’” :-)
It is no wonder that prayer is difficult for so many people. It’s because they don’t understand they can be real with God! That’s why the Bible says, “Pour out your heart before Him” (Ps.62:8). You see, David says, “I put my trust in You – now, Lord, don’t let me ever be ashamed!” (Ps.31:1)
He’s not talking about, “Don’t let me be ashamed – for the bad things I do.” He’s talking more about this: “I’ve told everyone I put my trust in You. Don’t mess with it now! :-) I want it to be revealed – to be apparent – to be obvious. I want people to see that You do take care of me – that You’re with me – that You’re faithful to Your Word! I want to be a living witness to that faithfulness.” But don’t fake it, my Friend! You might be able to fool the people standing nearby, but God knows the difference.
“Bow down Thine ear to me;” (he’s praying) “Deliver me speedily. Be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me. For Thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Thy Name’s sake, lead me, and guide me” (vv2,3). For Thy Name’s sake.
He’s praying honestly and sincerely: “People know I’m a believer, God. People know I trust in You. People know I declare: ‘You are my supply! You are my Healer! You are my God! You are the One I adore!’ Now, Lord, don’t let me down – in front of them! For Your Name’s sake!’” Not for my pride’s sake. There’s a very fine line here – or, the other side of the coin, if you will. The truth is, we don’t often recognize or acknowledge our honest motivation – in prayer. “Lord, I told everyone this and so I want it proved.”
Go to Part 2. . .