Tag Archives: The Word of God

Psalm 119:153-168: Revival and Awe

woman-2100082_960_720

Verses 153-160 of Psalm 119 incorporate the theme of Revival.  Consider the Psalmist’s words, Deliver me (153), Redeem me (154), Revive me and preserve me (154, 156, 159).  David Guzik offers this commentary, “The Psalmist looked for help and salvation outside of himself…He knew he needed God to redeem him…The Word of God is a source of revival.”  If we will only read it and incorporate its principles into our lives.

Look upon my suffering and rescue me, for I have not forgotten your instructions. Psalm 119:153 NLT

One reason we fail to do just that is so many of us have lost our Awe of God.  This is the subject of verses 161-168.  I find it interesting that so many people are willing to make God an idea.  If they can allow themselves to believe that thought, then God can be manipulated.  Better still, God can be fooled.  However, if God is real, he is to be feared (revered) because he knows all and sees all.  Consider the Psalmists words, My heart trembles (161), I love your law (163, 165) because it is a great spoil (treasure) and brings me peace.  Because he is in awe of God and believes God knows everything about him, he obeys the Word of God (168).

Awe occurs when you stand on precipice of something vast (an ocean, mountain or canyon) and it makes you feel small.  In the words of Matt Chandler, “The human heart hungers, not to be consumed with itself, but to look up in awe of our Creator.”

Allow your heart to be revived, be in awe of God!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Psalm 119:97-120 Find time alone with God

What is it about God’s Word that the psalmist is so enamored with?  Answer: he has a personal relationship with God.  If we were to characterize this relationship as a two-way street, one side is the psalmist’s side of the street lined with worldly buildings and distractions, and the other, God’s side of the street.  So what is it about God’s side of the street that makes the psalmist want to cross over and devote himself completely? (Hint: did you have a best friend in your youth?  Was being able to stay at their house the best and most exciting thing ever?)

book-863418_960_720These three stanzas of Psalm 119 highlight the importance of finding time alone with God in prayer and Bible study.

(97) Your law – The God given Law is found in the Old Testament.  God have us his son, Jesus, in the New Testament.  The Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14).  (98) Makes me wiser – the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).  (99) I have more insight – those who sit at the feet of Christ often have more insight than Doctors of Divinity (Charles Spurgeon).  (100) I have more understanding – Trust in God with your heart and don’t rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).  A regular time of private devotion also yields guidance (101), learning (102), and a hunger for more (103); an example being to your favorite food that tastes so good you can’t get enough of it.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105

In the next stanza God’s word lights my path (105), preserves my life (107), is my heritage  (111), and gives me hope (112).  If so much joy and happiness can be found spending time alone with God, why would we ever want to return to our worldly side of the street?  Spurgeon reminds us that, “We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into the darkness; let us never venture there without the light-giving word.”

The third stanza uses language one would find of a war being carried out in enemy territory.  (113) I hate double-minded people (frivolous, indulgent, worldly thinkers).  (114) God is our refuge and shield.  We must remember to wear the whole armor of God against the enemy (Ephesians 6).  (116) God’s word sustains and upholds us and is proven. (120) He alone is the right (true) one to worship.

narrative-794978__340

Matt Chandler offers three points for those who have a relationship with God, addressing our need to find alone time with him.  (1) Staying connected carries us through life’s ups and downs.  (2) When we remain near to God, it leads to a sustaining love. (3) We produce fruit when we stay connected.  Staying connected allows us to be transformed by him (Romans 12:1,2) and enables us to make a difference in the world in which we live (our side of the street).

“We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into the darkness; let us never venture there without the light-giving word.” C. Spurgeon

Psalm 119:81-96 Trust in the God of Hope

What do you do when a trial or threat you are facing wakes you up in the middle of the night?  Your mental, physical or emotional stability is hanging by a thread.  Do you get up out of bed and go to your safe, pull out a stack of bills and start counting your money?  Does that give you comfort? Do you pull out a prized collection and handle the objects of your desire for relief? Or, do you close your weary eyes and sing with all your heart, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  What, or who, do you place your hope in?

questions-1922477_960_720This stanza appears to describe one of the psalmist’s seasons in the life; he is in a place so dark and desperate, a place where none of us wants to go, let alone think about.  My soul faints (v81); my eyes fail (v82). Whatever it is we put our hope in better be big enough, sure enough, true enough, strong enough, to bring us back from the brink.  (Remember: God is my portion in Psalm 119:57)

(v83) Wineskin in the smoke – Empty wine skins were strung up in tents.  The fire in the tent turned the skins black and sooty and caused them to wrinkle and shrivel, rendering them useless.  Are there times when you feel useless?

(v84) How long must I wait – We need to remind ourselves that God never tires of us asking him (Isaiah 40:28-31).

(v86) Your commandments are faithful – unlike the society in which we function, we don’t have to learn some new software or worry about something we learned being obsolete.  God’s truth is able to meet any present or future need.

(v88) The word of God is a life preserver – the living word of God speaks to us when we need it.  Jesus has saved us by the power of the cross (John 1:14 the word [of God] became flesh and lived among us).

If the previous stanza portrays the psalmist as being at the brink of ruin, this stanza is filled with great certainties. Derek Kidner reminds us that God and his commandments extend beyond the limits found in the world in which we live.

(v89) God’s word is eternal; (v90) he is faithful; (v92) your word saved me (don’t forget to stand on the promises found in scripture).

(v96) There is a limit to perfection we see in our world – a confusing verse but consider that in any situation we deem “perfect” such as witnessing a perfect sunset or a picturesque fall day, there will always be a limit to how long it will endure. Contrast this thought with:  But your commands are boundless – There is a spiritual (eternal) side to everything we experience that can only be truly be satisfied by God’s word (a.k.a Jesus Christ)

quotes-1449691_960_720

Matt Chandler in his video series on Psalm 119 stresses that there is hope found in God’s word.  It is a deep hope based on God being enough regardless of life’s circumstances.  Hope is not crossing our fingers, it is placing our trust in the God of the universe.  Finally, rejuvenation can be found for those who place their trust in God.

Psalm 119:17-32 (Deal bountifully with me)

god-2925343_960_720Anyone who has tried to keep the 10 commands knows that it is an impossible undertaking, especially if we are to factor in those errant thoughts and motives. Jesus came, not to discard the standard of perfection found in the Old Testament, but to fulfill that standard on my behalf. Jesus’ perfection is imputed onto me so that I can one day stand before God blameless.

This doesn’t make the word of God found in the Old Testament any less relevant to Believers. God sent Jesus, a living, breathing human being, to represent Him. John’s gospel declares, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14 Jesus is the Word of God!

Gimel – Symbol of gathering or walking

v17-20 Be good to me – deal bountifully with me – help me, give me what is good.  Open my eyes – this could be a desire to seek what is truth, but also a request for guidance on what areas of my life need cleansing.  A stranger to earth – a sojourner needs a heavenly compass and a roadmap, to help him find his way.  My soul is consumed with longing – Carelessly pushing God away during times of prosperity or success leaves us wide open to anxiety in times of trouble.

v21-24 Rebuke the arrogant – have you ever been humbled by God for being too proud?  Do you find that people ridicule and criticize that which they don’t know or understand? The world will lead us one way, but often the council of God leads us in a different direction. The Word of God brings life to a dry thirsty soul.

Daleth – Symbol of moving, hanging, entrance

v25-29 My soul clings to the dust – a feeling of being emotionally dead and buried.  Preserve my life – have you ever thought of God’s Word as a life preserver?  Cause me to understand – don’t just help me out of my predicament, show me the way to keep from falling back into it again.  My soul is weary – The words of Jesus “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28) are the perfect balm for the weary soul.

emotions-2764936_960_720

v30-32 The way of truth – is the path chosen by the Psalmist. Jesus offers himself as the way, the truth and life (John 14:6). Following the way of truth means clinging to the promises (testimonies) found in God’s Word.  I have set my heart – the prophet Daniel purposed in his heart that he would stand up for what he believed in even if it cost him his life.

This week, try substituting the name of Jesus wherever you find a reference to “the word of God” or any of its synonyms as you read this psalm. As you do this, understand that there is a difference between knowing about Jesus and believing in him. Traverse the bridge of faith today and experience Jesus personally.

Believing is Seeing

 John 1:6-14

IMG_0864

As I continue to contemplate John’s usage of “the Word,” for the Son of God, two additional thoughts come to mind. First, “Word” is capitalized. The writer seems to be emphasizing that Jesus is the source or author of all truth and knowledge. Second, when I revisited the creation account in Genesis chapter 1, one statement was repeatedly made, “and God said.” Each element of the created order was spoken into existence using words. “The Word” spoke creation into existence.

Here are my thoughts on verses 6-14 of John chapter one. As I read I immediately notice another John is introduced, not the fishermen turned gospel writer, but a baptizer. His role, according to the text, was to testify that Jesus is the spiritual light of the world. In other parts of the Bible we are told that this John (a) is a relative of Jesus (Luke 1:36-66); (b) his job was to prepare the way for Jesus by preaching a fiery message of repentance (Matthew 3:1-12). John baptized (with water) those who have confessed their sins. There had to be something unique or compelling about the message of John the Baptist because people were talking about him. He was drawing large crowds of people from all over the territory of Judea to hear him speak.

John the disciple then shifts gears back to the subject of light. Spiritually speaking, if we turn (repent) from our sinful ways and reorient ourselves to the true source of light, then we are able to receive life-giving salvation. I am reminded of how plants orient their leaves to maximize the energy they can produce by the sun’s light. Later on in John’s gospel, Jesus proclaims that he is the way to salvation, the source of truth and life (John 14:6).

Next, John emphasizes that light of the world, Jesus, literally entered the world as one of us. He was a helpless babe just as I was. He grew from a child to an adult just as I did. As Jesus aged and matured he followed the Jewish religion of his family, adhering to rituals, observing festivals and performing the required sacrifices.

John tells us that Jesus’ own people did not recognize him as the Messiah even though they were looking for one. Jews of his day were under Roman governance. They were oppressed and longed for a messiah to come, someone who could lift them from the yoke of oppression. They believed the Messiah would establish God’s kingdom and rule it just as King David had done countless centuries earlier. Not only was Jesus not recognized as the Messiah, his fellow Jews rejected his claim that he was (is) the Son of God.

From here, John identifies the true children of God. “Believe” and “receive” is the terminology John uses to establish the criteria for becoming a child of God. Believe in the name of Jesus, who he is and what he stands for. Receive him into your heart, which equates to placing Him on the throne of your spiritual self.   A throne previously governed by a person’s self-will, which by the way, habitually rebels against God. The goal, then, of the devoted Christian is to orient his or her will towards the will of God by continually seeking God’s will for their life and responding accordingly.

Spiritually, “believe” and “receive” equates to believing is seeing. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, one can experience and understand things he or she has been spiritually blind to previously such as attitudes and behavior. This would seem to run contrary to what we have been taught by our culture, where “seeing is believing,” sort of a try before you buy approach. Are you tired of believing only what you see (or hear) or are you ready to reach out in faith, to believe and truly see?

“Then Jesus said to him (Thomas), “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”” John 20:29