Tag Archives: God’s word

The Power of Books

book-863418_960_720Carl Sagan was an atheist who had this to say about the power a book possesses.

“What an astonishing thing a book is,” marveled [Carl] Sagan. “It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.”

Sagan’s comment certainly explains the desirability of books through the ages.  It would also seem to explain the power and effectiveness of the Bible. Its author, God, is not dead and its words are timeless. That being said, one has to wonder why we don’t read the Bible more.

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Be Content: Philippians 4:12

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I find this image to be a picture of contentment, which is probably why I love it.  It has great elements: friends, a favorite pet, a favorite hot beverage all in a relaxing setting.  Wouldn’t it be great if life was served up to us like this on a daily basis?

I find it hard to be content when I’m always on the go, busy with this and that, or striving for material things that never seem to completely satisfy. Apostle Paul’s addresses the subject of contentment in his letter to the Philippians.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12

According to Pastor Matt Chandler, contentment is something we must learn.  It does not come naturally.  We can learn contentment from staying connected to the source of truth (scripture), by remembering God’s past provision, and by being grateful for things we already have.

Contentment isn’t a path to complacency, rather, it involves actively striving to be a f.r.o.g (someone who Fully Relies On God).

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Psalm 119:137-152 Are you perfect?

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This stanza of the 119th Psalm highlights the righteousness of God.  He is righteous (137) and so is his word (138).  His righteousness is everlasting and true (142) and is unchanging (144).

How can anyone measure up to this standard of perfection? The psalmist’s approach is one of an all out pursuit of holiness (139). He recognizes his lowly and despised condition (141), yet he has an unwavering desire to understand God’s word.

The second stanza reminisces, considering the time and manner of the psalmists pleadings with God.  Charles Spurgeon summarizes it this way…He prayed with his whole heart (145).  He prayed, “God save me!” (146). He prayed before dawn (147) and all through the night watches (148), He cried out, “Preserve my life!” (149).  God drew near in response (150).

“He who has been with God in the closet will find God with him in the furnace.”  C. Spurgeon.

1 Peter 3:12 ties the two stanzas of this psalm together.  The eyes and the ears of the Lord focus on the righteous and listen to their prayers.

Psalm 119:121-136 Servanthood

god-2925343_960_720The previous three stanzas of Psalm 119 emphasized drawing near to God. In verses 121-136 we do not find the cry of a proud person looking over his domain.  Instead, a different cry arises, that of a servant.

(122) Ensure your servants well-being is a cry for God to take up the psalmist’s cause, for God to represent him.  Christ ensures his followers are heard by interceding on our behalf (Hebrews 7:23-28).  The Holy Spirit also intercedes for those who are God’s people (Romans 8:26-27).

The servant asks for God to (124) deal with them mercifully, (125) give them understanding, (128) and keep them from the wrong path.

What does the right path look like?  (130) Unfold your words is the preparing one’s heart to receive the light of God’s word.  It involves turning towards (not away from) the God of mercy.  Those committed to the right path  ask Him to direct their footsteps (133), deliver them from oppression (134) and shine on them (135).

If you find yourself on the right path do not be surprised if (136) streams of tears flow from your eyes when you observe those around you who are hostile towards the Savior they do not know personally.

Psalm 119:49-64 The Lord is my Portion

god-2012104_960_720Two themes rise to the surface in verses 49-56 of Psalm 119.  The first theme dwells on remembrance.  The psalmist is not asking for God for some new promise.  He is standing on an existing one.   He is not saying, “remember all I have done for you, God,” rather he is asking God to remember his promise.  As Christians we need to remind ourselves of the promise of the empty grave that once held our Savior!  Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we can experience the forgiveness of sins  and have the promise of eternal life.

The second theme that emerges in this section is one of comfort.  Comfort comes from knowing who or what you believe in.

A worldly person clutches his wallet and proclaims, “this is my comfort.” A drunkard lifts his glass and sings, “this is my comfort.” A man of God grounded in the Word of God testifies, “this is my comfort,” for he personally knows who it is he believes in. (Charles Spurgeon)

sunrise-1756274_960_720The next section of the Psalm (57-64) opens with, “the Lord is my Portion.”  As Matt Chandler puts it, “God is enough, he is BIG enough!”  We don’t serve an ancient, obsolete God.  He is actively at work in the world he created.  Chandler provides four points that highlight why God is big enough, even in times of suffering.

  • God is gracious and kind
  • The testimonies of God are faithful
  • God is always available
  • God has given us people of God as companions

(56) Remember God – how often do your thoughts dwell on God? Weekly? Daily? Hourly?  He is a God who comforts.

(57) Remind yourself at least a dozen times today, “the Lord is my portion.”  (God is enough, he is BIG enough!”

 

Psalm 119:33-48 Cause Me

(33) “Follow it to the end” – this section of the 119th Psalm speaks about finishing well.  God’s help is needed for us to stay the course and finish well.  (37) “Turn my eyes” – our eyes have an appetite, we need to guard what they are focusing on.  (41) “Thy salvation” –  deliverance from the evil that is revealed to us in God’s word.  (48) “I will lift up my hands” – how many of us can say that we reach out  for God’s word like a child reaches for a gift (Spurgeon).

Matt Chandler in his video series on Psalm 119 titles this section, “Cause Me.”  Our prayers should reflect two ideas: (1) to love what is good (give me an appetite for God’s Word) and (2) to hate what is evil (my selfishness can be a source of evil).  Studying God’s word positions us to do both.

My prayer: Cause me to be certain of my faith, cause me to be thirsty for Your word and cause me to finish well.-Let anyone who is thirsty (2)

Psalm 119:1-16 (Blessing and Cleansing)

books-1155565_960_720How many of us have attempted to read through the Bible in a year and happened upon the 119th Psalm.  Its 176 verses can be quite daunting.  There are others who attempt to skim through this psalm in one sitting and find it hard to digest. Thankfully, the psalm is divided into stanzas of eight verses each. Each stanza is linked to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet making more practical for the ancients to meditate on and memorize. I have been taking my class through Psalm 119 a couple of stanzas at a time.

Here we go. You get the impression from reading this psalm (believed to be written by King David of ancient Israel) that it’s a compilation of life experiences.  Throughout these experiences David has tried to stay true to the teachings of the Jewish Law found in the Old Testament. I would like to emphasize that this involves more than just complying with the 10 commandments. “Following the Law” would require adherence to the Jewish faith, which includes the observance of all required laws, rituals, sacrifices and festivals described in the Old Testament.

Virtually every verse in Psalm 119 references the Word of God. Synonyms such as the law, God’s word, commandments, statutes, way, judgments, precepts and testimony all reference the awesome nature of God’s Word, placing it on the highest pedestal imaginable.

Stanza 1

The first eight verses highlight the blessings found through obedience to God’s Word.

vv1-3               Those who walk in obedience (whole-heartedly) are blessed.

vv4-6               Highlights a desire to be more obedient in light of God’s commands.

vv7-8               Vow to give thanks as one learns about God’s statutes.

Stanza 2

The second stanza (9-16) focuses on the cleansing aspect of God’s word.

vv9                  A person cleanses his way by obeying God’s Word

vv10-14           A person purifies his way by internalizing God’s Word

vv15-16           We must continuously meditate on God’s Word in order to be transformed by it

Way (v9), the word conveys the idea of transgressing repeatedly, creating a sinful rut of the sort made by the wheel of a cart.

These two stanzas encourage us to go beyond simply reading God’s word and seek to internalize it or meditate on it. Pick one of the first sixteen verses of Psalm 119 and meditate on it daily this week.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Ps 119:11

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