Friday, January 31, 2014

When the prayers go Unanswered

Read Psalm 119:145-152.


Some threats never go away; most do not go easily.  For the psalmist, the beleaguering menace were arrogant, unbelieving persecutors.  However, danger comes in many forms--health, finances, relationships.  All such intimidations bring emotional and even spiritual upset.  We pray constantly; yet, the issue does not go away.

In this nineteenth stanza, the writer said he cried out to the LORD for help.  He woke up early in the morning before dawn to pray.  Late at night, he continued to pray.  What kept him going?  How could he face another agonizing day?  His prayers were not complaints nor bargaining with God.

Through it all--
1. He remained faithful to God's Word. (vv.145-146)
His obedience was not influenced by getting what he wanted from God.  He was consistent in his faith no matter what happened to him.

2. He maintained hope in God's promises. (v.147)
Yes, the threats are real.  But the promise of God to care for us is greater.  Belief that we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), that He is control, and that He is fulfilling His purposes in us is the basis of our hope for the future.

3. He meditated on God's promises. (v.148)
Placing a guard on one's thoughts is a key to survival.  For the believer, continually feeding the mind on the Scriptures provides an anchor for our emotions and direction for our decisions.

4. He remembered God's presence. (v.151)
The enemy was near, "But you are near, O LORD."  God is more powerful than any enemy to our well-being.  Knowing His presence, enjoying His fellowship, learning to trust Him, and growing through adversity is the stuff life is made of.

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'  So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

6 truths for being right with God

Read Psalm 119:137-144.


How much of the Word of God is correct?  Is it God's Word or man's word about God?  Should the view of Scripture change with changing cultures?  Should not other opinions and views be equally considered?

Every generation wrestles in one way or another with the claims of the Scriptures.  Here in this eighteenth stanza the psalmist could not be more clear in addressing those above questions.

1. The LORD is right. (v.137a)

2. What He said is right. (v.137b)

3. What He said is based upon His right character. (v.138)

4. What He said has been proven right. (v.140)

5. God's right character will not change. (v.142)

6. God's right Word will not change. (v.144)

This why the psalmist could state with such confidence, "I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way." (Psalm 119:128)

Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35)

How vital for life it is then to know and implement the Scriptures in order to be right with God!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A crying response to the Scriptures

Read Psalm 119:129-136.


How many different ways can the love of God's Word be expressed?  In this seventeenth stanza, we are told the Scriptures are full of wonder, helping us to understand life, and providing stability.

The psalmist longed for what God had to say.  He ran to it, panting for more.  But while he experienced such a relationship with the LORD and all His benefits, his heart was broken for others.

"My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law." (v.136)

One of burdens a committed follower of Christ carries is for those who are estranged from God.  They do not know the joy of forgiveness, of personal fellowship with the LORD, and have the assurance of eternal life.

The Apostle Paul carried this brokenness for his countrymen.  "...I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (Romans 9:2-3)

Praying for specific people to come to know the Savior is a natural response to our love for God's Word.

Whom are you praying for today?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The three R's of praying

Read Psalm 119:121-128.


Charles Spurgeon called this sixteenth stanza "The just man's prayer against injustice."

Feeling threatened by some unnamed oppressors, the psalmist prayed for God's intervention.  He presented  a series of personal requests but they were based upon his solid love for God and His Word.

 1. The rightness of his prayer.
The basis of his requests was his own right standing with God.  With integrity he could ask the LORD to act justly on his behalf.  How could he pray for justice if he was living a life of injustice?  "I have done what is just and right."  Such praying requires a pure heart and clean hands before God.  Second, he prayed according to the will and Word of God--"your law has been broken."  This one loved God's Word more than money.  He believed every word of God to be correct.

2. The requests of his prayer.
In five verses, he made over a half-dozen petitions.  Yes, he desired deliverance from those who were against him and for God to do something for him.  However, much of this prayer is for God to do something in him.  "Deal with me," "teach me," "give me understanding."

3. The results of his prayer.
He did not pray to complain or to only present his needs.  He prayed expectantly for God to respond.  "It is time for the LORD to act."  Obviously, God has His own timing but this type of confident faith is what pleases the LORD.

"Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him." (1 John 3:21-22)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Love, Hate and Fear

Read Psalm 119:113-120.


Part of spiritual growth is learning to love what God loves and hating what God hates.

The psalmist understood spiritual warfare.  One committed to the LORD goes up against the enemy of the soul throughout every day.  Choices must be made regarding the influences all around us that beckon.

1. Learning to what to love.
"I love your law."  The chief way we know about God and His promises to us is through the Scriptures.  There is no substitute for investing personal, daily time getting to know the Bible.  The more we know, the more we will want to know.  The more we want to know, the more in love with God we will be.

2. Learning to what to hate.
On the other hand, sin and sinful influences cool our love for God.  The double-minded are mentioned.  These are folks who say they believe in the LORD but their thinking, words, and behaviors are in contradiction.  Then, there are the evildoers, or people who love and live to sin.  God spurns (tosses aside, puts down) those who go their own way instead of living in obedience to Him.  We must be cautious living in a lost world and be certain that we demonstrate the marked change Christ makes in our lives.

3. Learning to what to fear.
The LORD is a God of justice.  The psalmist said he trembled just thinking about the judgments of God.  The word literally means the hair stood up on the back of his neck.  Too many treat God and His Word with a casual attitude, as if they could take or leave it, without realizing the dire and eternal consequences.

It is time we made a difference in the world with our love-life.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Light for my I's

Read Psalm 119:105-112.


Verse 105 is one of the best known statements from the Psalms.  In this fourteenth stanza, the psalmist begins by describing the Word of God as a lamp and light.  It is very personal in the application.  Here is how the illumination of the Scriptures has impact on daily life.

1. My direction. (v.105)
The "lamp to my feet" shows me clearly where I am.  The "light to my path" clarifies where I am going.

2. My confirmation. (v.106)
There must be time and place when one decides for themselves to step across the line of faith and embrace this One as LORD of life.  The purpose of such a personal commitment is "to keep your righteous rules."

3. My affliction. (v.107)
Tough times will come.  These may be turned into seasons of spiritual growth.  "Give me life" is a call for reviving the heart, refreshing the spirit, in the midst of difficulty.

4. My submission. (v.108)
Most often freewill offerings involve financial generosity.  But here it is the sacrifice of praise.  The statement in this verse goes beyond giving; there is receiving as well.  Intentionally investing time to be taught the Scriptures requires submitting our schedules to God.

5. My distraction. (vv.109-110)
Everyone has stresses and threats nearly everyday.  They may be physical, relational, occupational, spiritual, or financial.  If we are not diligent, these can distract us, even derail, our fellowship with God.  Remembering God's Word will anchor us in difficulties.

6. My celebration. (v.111)
Having a heritage (Hebrew=possession) of the Scriptures is something not everyone has.  It should never be taken lightly or for granted.  This prized possession goes to the heart, stimulates our joy, and causes us to celebrate our relationship with God.

7. My inclination. (v.112)
Growth in the knowledge of God's Word and putting into practice will alter our lives inside and out.  It will change our natural bents and behaviors to a life that is focused on pleasing our Savior.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Putting our love into Practice

Read Psalm 119:97-104.


Loving God and loving His Word cannot be a sometime thing.  Such love is not confined to a place of worship, nor a particular day of the week.  It is life itself.  True love is based upon a commitment, not emotions only. It requires daily discipline and the fortitude to reject all other competing ideologies.

In this thirteenth stanza, the psalmist declares his absolute love for the Scriptures and describes the influence this has on his life.  How does one put such love into practice?

1. The Scriptures should guide and guard our thinking. 
Twice, the writer says he meditates on the Word of God.  This is not only an intentional time of meditation, but throughout the day the Scriptures are turned over and over in the mind looking for wisdom and applications.  In order for that to be habit, one must invest daily time reading, studying, and memorizing portions of the Bible.

2. The Scriptures should guide and guard our behavior.
In verses 101-102, the decisions could not be more practically expressed.  "I hold back my feet from every evil way."  This is self-discipline to stay away from sin.  "I do not turn aside from your rules."  Faithfulness is practicing what you say you believe and love.

3. The Scriptures should guide and guard our world view.
What we allow to shape our perspective on life and the world will be reflected in everything else we do.  Education, friends and influencers endeavor to do this constantly.  The benefits of knowing and loving God's Word include wisdom and understanding that others do not possess.  The psalmist is not being arrogant.  He is not saying that he is smarter, has a greater IQ, or is a know-it-all.  But the Scriptures go beyond human understanding and thinking to give us insight for life both here and for eternity.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Where do you Stand?

Read Psalm 119:89-96.


The Word of God and the character of God are inseparable.  What God gave to the writers of Scripture to record is based upon who He is.  Stanza twelve contains some of the strongest statements in the Bible concerning its veracity and impact.

1. The Word of God stands forever. (v.89)
Like a towering, stone monument of remembrance, the Scriptures are firmly established for all to see.  But unlike man-made structures, what God has established is eternal.  It will never change.

2. The character of God stands unchanged. (v.90a)
He remains faithful to what He has said and what He has promised because He is faithful.  Though thousands of years have passed, generation after generation, culture after culture, may depend upon the LORD in the exact same way.  "For I the LORD do not change." (Malachi 3:6)

3. The creation of God stands fast. (vv.90b-91)
According to Colossians 1:17, Jesus Christ who sustains the universe.  The orbits of the planets, the rotation of the earth, down to holding together the protons of the atom are in His control.

4. The care of God's people stands secure. (vv.92-95)
When afflicted, when feeling alone, when in the need of encouragement and direction our help and our hope is found in the unchanging Word of God.  Notice the psalmist's surrender to the LORD and his love of the Scriptures.  " delight...I will never forget your have given me life...I am yours...I have sought your precepts...I consider your testimonies."

Everything in this life has a season, an end, and a limit.  But not the Word of God. (v.96)

"Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God."
R. Kelso Carter

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Praying with predetermined Obedience

Read Psalm 119:81-88,


Still praying regarding his persecution, the psalmist returned to his focus on the Word of God.

1. His dilemma. (vv.83-85, 87)
The suffering was taking a toll on him.  He had reached the end of himself.  His insides felt shriveled and dried up.  His two questions are common to all of us: How long must I endure this?  When will the LORD intervene and do something to help?

2. His deliverance. (vv.81-82, 86)
He realized that his true help was not in positive thinking, nor the self-help wisdom of other people.  His deliverance was in a person, God Himself.  His understanding of God and how He works in the lives of people is found in one place--the Scriptures.  There, His promises are written and, there, is the source of our hope.  We may stake our eternal claim on the infallible, inerrant, unchanging Word of God.  "All your commandments are sure."

3. His decision. (v.88)
Once again, he asked "give me life."  But notice the motive behind his request for such renewal.  He had predetermined his obedience: "that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth."  Living a life that pleases God is one that obeys His Word.  Motives are important to God and a key to answered prayer.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Purposes in tough Times

Read Psalm 119:73-80.


What happens to us directly affects those around us.  Whether we like it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, people watch and take notice of how we respond in tough times.

In this tenth stanza, the psalmist continued to refer to his affliction from God (see vv.65-72).  However, there is a decided turn in his praying.  In verse 76, he asked God to comfort him with his faithful love.  This would confirm that God was not being mean to him but lovingly correcting his behavior.  Such comfort, then, had an even greater purpose.

There are two major supplications concerning the testimony of his faith to others.
1. What others would see. (v.74)
He prayed that others who witnessed his affliction would rejoice and be glad.  The joy and gladness was not about his suffering but about his hope.  Through it all, he never wavered in his faith that God loved him enough to intervene and correct him.  Such steadfastness of faith in tough times could open the door for ministry to others.

2. What others would do. (v.79)
Having gone through his time of discipline from the LORD, he could speak from experience to others in similar situations.  God does not waste our time.  When He gives us something it is to be used to help others.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Encouragement for the Afflicted

Read Psalm 119:65-72.


In this ninth stanza, the psalmist's concern was his personal affliction.  The Hebrew word for afflicted means to bring down, to humble, depress or weaken.  Some afflictions may be caused by Satanic attack, self-destructive decisions, or so-called natural causes.  But in this case the affliction came from God Himself, "You have dealt well with your servant" (v.65).  Sometimes God must intervene to gain our attention when our behavior is in violation of His Word and remains unchecked.

What did God do to afflict him?  He allowed and used the uncaring arrogance of his enemies to smear his reputation with lies (v.69-70).  Their words hurt and brought him low.

Hurting people have a choice.  Some choose to curse God for the affliction.  Many will ask "why?"  But in this case, he knew why.  "I went astray" (v.67).  He confessed that he brought this on himself.

This is no strange thing.  It happens to everyone all the time.  The difference-maker in life is what we choose to do next.

1. He trusted in the goodness of God.
"You are good and do good" (v.68).  This is a test of our faith.  When the circumstances are not good, we must trust in God's character and love for us.  Everything He does has the purpose of shaping our lives toward Christ-likeness.  The psalmist took comfort in sound theology.

2. He acknowledged his need for discipline.
The affliction motivated him to learn.  He recognized that he had used bad judgment.  So, he prayed for the LORD to teach him according to God's Word (vv.66,68).

3. He corrected his desires.
It may have been that wealth and financial gain had caused him to stray (v.72).  But having been stopped by God, he realized that the true riches of life are found in knowing and obeying the Scriptures.

"...he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:10b-11)

Friday, January 17, 2014

What a fully devoted follower looks Like

Read Psalm 119:57-64.


How important is the Bible to your daily life?  If you did  not have access to the Scriptures would it make a difference in how you lived each day?   If the LORD were to remove His presence, would you notice?

In this eighth stanza of Psalm 119, note how pervasive the Word of God is to the psalmist.

1. My portion, or lot in life, is my relationship with God and keeping His Word. (v.57)
2. My heart is set to seek God's favor. (v.58)
3. My feet, the places I go and the direction I am headed in life, are in alignment with the God's Word. (v.59)
4. My priorities are to immediately obey God's Word. (v.60)
5. My perspective in life is drawn from the Scriptures and not the culture around me. (v.61)
6. My attitude is full of non-stop praise for what God has done for me. (v.62)
7. My influencers in life are those who honor God and His Word. (v.63)
8. My learning about God's love and faithfulness is constant just by looking all around me. (v.64)

Being a fully devoted follower of Christ is not a sometime thing.  It is life itself.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How do you measure spiritual Maturity?

Read Psalm 119:49-56.


Physical maturity can be mostly self-evident as children grow and adults grow older.  Spiritual maturity is not immediately discerned but certainly can be observed over time.  Nothing reveals the depth of one's walk with God quicker than trouble and stress.

The psalmist, in this seventh stanza, continued to reference some arrogant, wicked mocker of his faith.  It made him rage inside with anger (v.53).  So, how does this penman that God used to write this portion of the Scriptures respond in a spiritually mature way?

1. He found hope in the Word of God. (v.49)
2. He found life-giving comfort in the Word of God. (v.50,52)
3. He found the Word of God made him to sing. (v.54)
4. He found solace in the Word of God in the darkest hours. (v.55)
5. He found God's blessing through faithful obedience to God's Word. (v.56)

An infant requires someone else to feed them and do everything for them.  As one grows up, they learn to feed themselves.  Spiritual maturity is knowing the Scriptures and how to put them into practice.

"But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:14)

Monday, January 13, 2014

4 steps to overcoming criticism of your Faith

Read Psalm 11:41-48.


In this sixth stanza, the psalmist mentions an vocal enemy.  Someone had done more than criticize him; they taunted him about his faith.  This put him in a tight spot on several levels.  He felt the pressure.

Anyone who lets their faith in Jesus be known will sooner or later encounter a similar experience.  It may come from a person at work, a neighbor, or even a relative.  Dependency on God and His Word may be seen as offensive to them and foolish.  Such reactions usually come from those who are hurting, feeling guilty, or jealous that you have found forgiveness and purity in Christ.  But their hurtful words still hurt.

What did the writer do to overcome his feelings and get back on track?
1. He depended even more on the steadfast love of God. (vv.41-42)
He did not give in and he did not give up because of spiritual opposition.  He looked up to One who loves us and never changes.

2. He renewed his hope in the trustworthiness of God's Word. (vv.43-44)
The truth of God's Word will last forever.  Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."  (Matthew 24:35)  You can count on them!

3. He looked to the future with increased influence for God. (vv.45-46)
In the moment, he may have felt hemmed in or powerless against the criticism.  But his hope relied on a time when God would lead him to a new level of freedom.  "In a wide place" he would have plenty of options and opportunities to tell others of his faith in the LORD, even in the highest of places.

4. He committed himself to learn and practice the Word of God. (vv.47-48)
Such actions involved his hands and his heart.  His hands would loving take hold of the Scriptures.  With his mind he would meditate, turning the truth over and over in his thinking, looking for insights and applications to his life.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A prayer for Life

Read Psalm 119:33-40.

The prayer continues in this fifth stanza.  Twice, the writer cries out for "life."  The old King James translated the word "quicken" and modern translations use the word "revive."  The meaning has to do with preservation of one who is experiencing great discouragement or threatening sickness.

In the first seven verses, there are seven prayer requests.  Each one carries a resultant commitment or effect.
1. Teach me.
The purpose of being taught the Scriptures is to obey them.
2. Give me understanding.
Beyond knowing what God has said is having discernment to apply it to one's life.
3. Lead me.
Asking the LORD to guide is commonly prayed by believers.  But this request includes a predetermined attitude of delight in following God's leadership.
4. Incline my heart.
Without that inner commitment to obey God's Word, one will naturally turn to self-pleasing behaviors.  A selfish life ultimately produces emptiness.  The Apostle Paul wrote, "Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment." (1 Timothy 6:6)
5. Turn my eyes.
It is inescapable that what we use our eyes to read or view has effect on thinking, speech and behavior.  There is no difficulty in finding an endless supply of worthless things to see and waste the time God has graciously given us.  Investing time looking into the Scriptures is life-giving with eternal consequences.
6. Confirm...your promise.
Everyday, and throughout the day, God is at work.  He demonstrates His provision for us, His care of us, His protection and His love.  A hardened heart misses this constant intervention.  A spiritually sensitive heart not only enjoys this moment by moment interaction with God, but lives a life of awe and respect for His presence.
7. Turn away the reproach.
As in the last stanza, we are not told what the threat to his well-being was.  He prayed for God to take it away, and in doing so, that the LORD would show to all that His decisions are good and right.

May our prayer be: "Give us this kind of life."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The remedy for a heavy Heart

Read Psalm 119:25-32.


We are not told what happened, but the songwriter was extremely downtrodden.  It was not a physical problem.  His heart was heavier than he could bear.  It must have felt like the end, because of his opening statement: "My soul clings to the dust."

This fourth stanza of Psalm 119.  God had answered his prayers in the past and now he needed the LORD's intervention again.  

1. He prayed for life. (v.25, 27, 32))
He was alive outwardly, but inwardly he felt enslaved and dying.  With a broken heart he prayed for God to break the bondage and give him the freedom to live.

2. He prayed for understanding of God's way. (v.27)
What he came to realize was that only by living according to the Word of God would he ever know clear direction for his life.  More than merely reading the Scriptures, he asked God to help him to think and gain insight into His Word.

3. He prayed to be faithful to the truth. (vv.28-31)
Once a person sees the real life implications of the Scriptures, there will be a conviction about every false way.  Ridding one's life of enslaving lies and habits against the knowledge of God, brings the freedom every human heart truly desires.  Living in that freedom only comes through a commitment to diligently put the learning into practice.

How powerful then are the words of Jesus!  Coming to Him is the starting place and cure for every heavy heart.
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Monday, January 6, 2014

My reason for Living

Read Psalm 119:17-24.

What is my reason for living?  Why am I here?

The answer to those questions determine one's true success or failure in life.  We can live to please ourselves, but all the pleasure, power and possessions on earth will not fill the emptiness inside.  We can live for others and serve in great humanitarian efforts, but at the end we will have only made a few improvements on things that one day will all pass away.  When one lives to fulfill God's design for them, they discover personal satisfaction, life-changing service to others, and eternal benefits that can never be taken away.

Where does one begin to discover God's purpose for their lives?  See the psalmist's perspective here in stanza three of this song.

1. His Requests (vv.17-18)
He prayed for God's blessings on his life.  But notice why he wanted to be blessed "bountifully."  It was so he could live in alignment with God's Word.  So next, he prayed that God would help him to have spiritual insight into what he was reading.

2. His Needs (vv.19-20)
This world is not our home.  Our existence here will only be for a number of years.  Eternity is ahead.  Life on this planet then becomes a proving ground and preparation for what is ahead.  A pilgrim in a strange land needs a map, direction, and guidance along the journey.  The psalmist's desire was that God would reveal such direction from His Word and rule in his life's decisions accordingly.

3. His Story (vv.21-23)
He understood from God's Word and from observation that those who stray from God's purposes for their lives suffer the consequences.  But his prayer was that God would remove from him any temptation to stray.  His desire was to be faithful.  Even if respected authorities came against him, he determined in advance to turn to God's Word for counsel and to guide his thoughts.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The secret to avoiding personal Sin

Read Psalm 119:9-16.

The price of spiritual growth and enjoying a personal relationship with the God of heaven is purity.

This is the second of 22 stanzas in this acrostic psalm.  The subject continues to be the Word of God but the focus in these verses teaches us the basis of avoiding personal sin.

An unwillingness to give up sin keeps people from coming to Jesus for His forgiveness and cleansing.  For the believer, sin breaks our fellowship with Him and stunts spiritual growth.  Christianity has too many spiritual pygmies.

Many have memorized verses 9 and 11, but the secret to maintaining one's purity is found in verse 10.
1. The desire of purity.
"I seek you."  One who desires to live as they wish with eyes on what pleases them will soon find themselves enslaved in sin.  It is only when our supreme desire is to seek out what God wants that we find true freedom.  Purity begins with wanting to be right with the LORD more than personal wants.

2. The demand of purity.
"With my whole heart."  A half-hearted commitment satisfies no one.  Either we are living for God or we are not.  Purity demands that we forsake everything that displeases the LORD.

3. The determination of purity.
"Let me not wander from your commandments."  First, we must know what God has commanded in His Word.  Next, we must make a commitment to obey it.  Notice the 8 times the psalmist uses the personal reference of I in these 8 verses and the action verbs attached to them.  Then, when confronted with temptation, we have predetermined to go God's way instead of our own.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it."  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Friday, January 3, 2014

The starting line for Life-change

Read Psalm 119:1-8.

Many know that this to be the longest chapter in the Bible.  But most cannot tell you why.  This is an acrostic song and each stanza of 8 verses begins with one of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.  Presumably this mnemonic device was used to teach and to memorize the psalm.  Notice that every stanza is focused on the Word of God.

1. The Word of God blesses those who put it into practice. (vv.1-3)
There is no little idealism in these verses, especially the words "do no wrong."  God's Word is perfect but we are not.

2. The Word of God must be practiced diligently. (v.4)
This is a command from God, not a suggestion.  The word "diligently" means quickly and with intensity.  When we know what God has to say, He expects us to do it and to do it now.  There is no easing into obedience with God.  Either we are living in obedience or disobedience.

3. The Word of God will drive us to prayer. (v.5)
We all identify with the psalmist's prayer.  Understanding God's perfect Word reveals our sinfulness.  It is not possible to live a life that pleases God without knowing His Word and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.  Every sincere heart has cried out with the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24, "Wretched man that I am!"

4. The Word of God should change our behaviors. (vv.6-8)
The psalmist made three personal commitments for life-change:
-"my eyes fixed" Spiritual growth begins with high regard for the Scriptures.
-"I will praise you" True worship comes from one whose heart is right with God.
-"I will keep your statutes" Every moment of the day what we think, what we say, and what we do reflects our commitment to practice the Word of God.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A song for Today!

Read Psalm 118.

Picture a worshiper singing this song as they walked toward the Temple in Jerusalem.  The sacrifice for sin is being readied (v.27).  It is a feast day, possibly the Passover.  Yes, there had been difficult times in the past.  Other nations had attacked them and rejected their belief in the LORD.  But, today the heart is full of praise for God's love demonstrated in how He has faithfully delivered the nation. (v.24)

The psalmist lists many ways in which the LORD has delivered him and the nation.  Yet, there is more.  Unmistakably, at the same time, the psalm anticipates a triumphal entry of the Messiah.

"Open to me the gates." (v.19-20)

"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." (v.22)
Jesus quoted this verse in Matthew 21:42 as He taught the Parable of the Tenants.  It was a veiled reference to Himself.
Peter quoted it to preach that though the nation had rejected Jesus "there is salvation in no one else" (Acts 4:11-12)
Paul referred to it in Ephesians 2:20 and Peter again used it again in 1 Peter 2:7 saying that Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith.

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!" (v.26)
As we read the description of Jesus' entry at the Passover, it does appear that the crowd may have in fact been singing this psalm (John 12:13).

For those who have welcomed the Messiah into their lives by faith, there are two strong verses for today's worship and rejoicing.
"The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." (v.14)
"This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (v.24)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2 reasons to praise the LORD

Read Psalm 117.

"Praise the LORD!"

This is a short praise chorus.  It is quick and direct but packed with meaning.

1. Who is to praise Him?
Believers do this now every day.  But here all nations and all peoples are called to worship God.  The Bible knows nothing of the acceptance of many gods, nor does it allow for the concept of worship as you choose.  When Christ returns in all His glory every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

2. Why is He to be praised?
Translations will use different words but the Hebrew focuses on two main reasons:
-God is kind, good, merciful, and loving.
-God is trustworthy, faithful and true.

His character does not change even when rejected by unbelievers.  Indeed, they experience His common grace every day.  His word does not change with our circumstances.  No matter what comes our way, our LORD's loving and reliable presence will be with us.

"Praise the LORD!"