Day 13 – The Longing of the Word in Me

Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes. My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law. – Psalm 119:129-136

 Disciples are not just men who followed Jesus while He lived on earth. Disciples are not people who have it all together. They don’t walk around with halos and sing hymns around the clock. You are a disciple. Every single born-again believer in Jesus Christ is a disciple. The word disciple implies two key thoughts: First a disciple is a follower. We get this idea immediately when Jesus called His first disciples. They immediately dropped their nets and followed Him. They went everywhere that Jesus went. They forsook their lives, families and occupations to follow Jesus. Secondly, disciples are learners. It would not have been enough for these men to just follow Jesus around on earth. They did not just observe, but they learned and imitated Him. They were learning about how to live and about how God’s Kingdom worked. Disciples ask a lot of questions. Actually, Jesus often taught His disciples by telling them more stories, or by asking them questions in response to their questions. It was assumed that a disciple was a teachable person.

How teachable are you? Are you willing to unlearn certain things that you have wrong? What if what you believe to be true is actually clearly taught as wrong in the Bible? What is your response? Does your way win or does God’s? Daily reading God’s Word brings truth to our heart and enlightens us to His ways. Does your worldview line up with the Bible? Or do you interpret the Bible from your worldview? If you are honest, you probably do a little of both without fully realizing it.

The Psalmist knew that the only way to learn was to be immersed in what God had said. He is declaring that God’s words bring “light”. Light has an startling relationship with darkness. It repels darkness. If you shine a light into a dark room you will be able to see where you are going. Without the light you might stumble and fall or might possibly even hurt yourself. What do you do though, when light is shining and you do not like what you see? This is why understanding your identity, as a disciple, is crucial. We must always be yielding our will and spirit to His truth. Even though it might be painful.

A teachable spirit gives way to a thirsty soul. Psalm 119 convicts me repeatedly. I am just stunned, however, over the words he uses in verse 131.

“I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.”

Wow. If I don’t read my Bible today is my soul left with this same kind of thirst? The honest answer to that question is embarrassing. I don’t believe he was saying that he was craving a fix, like someone does with his or her morning coffee. He knew that his soul needed the Word to live! He desired the nourishment and refreshment that the Word brought him. He needed God’s light to shine upon his heart, to learn more about himself.

Always be teachable. Read, learn and apply God’s word to your life. Stay thirsty! I pray that the Spirit will cause the Light of the Word to cause a thirst that makes you pant with an undying need for God.

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Day 12 – The Benefits of the Word In Me

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. – Psalm 119:97-104

Have you ever had a cram session? I did this occasionally in college, when I was running out of time to study. It also happened when I got to class and was informed by my classmates that a quiz was coming that I had not anticipated. I would take out my notes or the textbook and read the material as fast as I could. I wanted to absorb as much quick information as possible, so that I could answer the quiz or test questions. Sometimes this worked in my favor and at other times this really hurt me. Regardless of the result of the test or quiz that day – the facts are that I no longer remember what I crammed into my head. The cramming had served its immediate purpose. It was to get a grade on a quiz. It did not benefit my learning, because I had purposed to use the information in a way it was not intended.

I believe many people read the Bible this way. They do not read the Bible for long-term life transformation, but they use it as a cram session to get what is needed for that moment. The Psalmist said that the God’s law was his “meditation all the day”. The word used here for meditate implies a deep and thorough study. It is a study that caused a deep reflection within the reader. This reflection could be remembered and utilized throughout the day. He did this out of a motivation of love. He loved the law of God! He knew that it made him wiser than his enemies and more learned that that of his elders. He knew how to live because he could recall what he read and applied it to his life accordingly.

We need to intently read and use every word and root it deep within our hearts. We need to let these words marinate within our souls. When meat marinates in its seasoning it soaks up the flavor and juices deep within. The longer the meat sits marinating the better it tastes! The flavor that permeates the meat is released with every bite, and floods our taste buds with epic goodness. This needs to be our attitude regarding the word of God. Don’t read it as a quick cram session, in which you will forget what is said an hour after it is read. Read it and let it marinate deep within you. Ponder over it again and again. Write it down. Memorize it. The benefits of the Word within you get better and better over time. It is these words that make us wise to spiritual things as His Holy Spirit teaches. This is what the Psalmist means when he says that he “meditates”. May the light of God’s Word be your meditation so that your heart can shout forth his praises.

Day 11 – The Hope of the Word In Me

“My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?” For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law. All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.” – Psalm 119:81-88

When your life falls apart what brings you hope? Some run to sports teams, the stock market and political systems for hope. I’m so glad that my hope in life is not in the New York Yankees. The Yankees, the world’s most accomplished sports franchise, has had much to celebrate over the years. They own and hold the record of 27 world championships. They have been in existence since 1901 spanning over 100 years of competitive play. Although they have won a record 27 times, it also means they have not been successful at least 86 of those years. Eighty-six different years the Yankees have left their fans disappointed.

The stock market has crashed numerous times over the years. It is true that some have made fortunes through the market, but others have lost more. The stock market changes everyday and tomorrow is not guaranteed. You may earn a few dollars or lose thousands. This is not a system in which to hope in either. Politics also pose a nightmare for real hope. What happens when your political party wins, or doesn’t? What happens when policies and laws are established that you believe are unconstitutional? I’ve seen many depressed and discouraged Christians that act as if their hope is dependent on who lives in the White House. I am so thankful that as a Christian, my hope is in a much greater Kingdom.

The Psalmist knew that his hope and deliverance was in a much greater Rescuer. The Psalmist longed for the promises of God. Even in the midst of desperation and difficult times, he did not “forget” God’s statutes. His enemies were winning and all hope had seemed lost, but he was reminded of one thing that mattered. He was reminded of God’s steadfast love. He knew that God’s unchanging, never-giving-up love was the fuel for living life. The Bible tells us of a Faithful God who loves His people, and gives them abundant promise and hope. A daily reminder of the gospel is a necessity for each believer.

How often do you remember the promises that God has for you? Everyday, we are surrounded by people who disappoint and let us down. However, we can take full confidence that our God sits on the throne and is Sovereign. The Psalmist knew that God had promised to save him. By remembering this promise, he was enabled to endure the darkest of days. If you are not daily reading the Bible how can you know what God has promised? May you start reading His word daily, and may His spirit create a longing for God within your soul. What is your plan to make sure you read and are reminded of God’s promises daily. Get in the Word. The light of His Word brings me hope and a promise.

Day 10 – The Love of the Word in Me

The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words. I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law. At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules. I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts. The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes! – Psalm 119:57-64

Do you remember the emotions you felt when you first realized that your spouse was “the one”? Before I worked up enough nerve to ask my wife, Lori, on a date, I was longing to see and talk with her. I met her in the very first college class I attended. The class was one of my least favorite subjects, but it instantly became a hit with me. Why? Lori was in this class. This was going to be the one hour I knew I could see Lori. I didn’t even know that she knew I existed. However, I knew full well that she was there and thought she was beautiful. I loved to hear her voice answer the questions in class. It wasn’t until a year later that I asked her on a date. Life has never been the same since.

During the summer break of 1996, Lori and I did not see each other for 3 months. She lived in Maine and I lived in New Jersey. I would check my mailbox 20 times a day to see if the mailman had come. I wanted to read what she had to say. I wanted to smell the paper (she sprayed her perfume on each note), which reminded me of her while I read it. I could not get enough of it. You didn’t have to force me to read her letters. I wanted to read it with all of my heart. I loved her and wanted to treasure every word she had written. I still have the notes that she wrote to me during these days. These are sweet memories. She captured my heart, showed me her sweet spirit and I was a goner.

As you read the Psalms you can see an even greater love and desire for God and His word. This is greatly convicting to me. How much do I love God’s Word? Do I just read it out of duty? Or do I deeply desire it? Read again how the Psalmist describes his response to the word. His response does not come from obligation, but of passionate obedience. He “turns his feet” to obey God. He does not “delay to keep your commandments”. Through the tough times when his enemies are trapping him…”I do not forget your law”. He even wakes up in the middle of the night to praise God for “your righteous rules”. Reading this response to the Word is convicting for me. How much do I desire God’s word? How much do I love it? Do I treasure every word written? Do I long to read it again the next day?

Many read the Bible out of begrudging submission. They try to “love” the Bible, but they just can’t. What’s the problem here? The problem lies within our hearts. We are shining our light of “wisdom and understanding” on the Bible hoping that something will stick. This is not our work to accomplish. This is God’s work within me. My response to God’s glorious light is a love for the Word. This desire is not self manufactured or manipulated. His Spirit produces it within me. He changes my heart. He puts the love for Him and His Word within me. May the gospel produce an impossible love for God and His word in your heart. If you have no desire or love for His Word – it may be time to check your heart. The light of the Word produces a Love for the Word.

Day 9 – The Life of the Word In Me

My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes! Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! (Psalm 119:25-32)

 We attempt to satisfy our longings with things that still keep us longing. We live to give ourselves life with that which has no life. This is exactly what the Psalmist says in verse 25. He admits that he is prone to crave the “dust”. Dust? Who would ever crave dust? Indoor dust is mostly comprised of dead skin cells, and microscopic organisms (mites). There is nothing satisfying or enriching about dust. This amplifies the ridiculousness in this statement. He says that the natural inclination of his heart is to continually be disappointed in things that just do not matter. In other words, you and I crave dust.

Several years ago there was a documentary named “Supersize Me”. It was a 30-day video journey of a man that decided to eat McDonalds. 30 days of McDonalds breakfast, lunch & dinner. He ate nothing other than what was on the menu. At the end of the 30 days he was not very well. He was extremely sick and had gained weight. A doctor who recorded any changes in his health monitored his vitals. The changes were astounding. He wanted to prove a point and he did just that. You cannot get life from that which has no life.

The psalmist knew that the life that his soul was craving could only be found in the word of God. His formula for digesting the life of the Word is amazing. He asks God to help him learn God’s commandments (statutes).

How teachable are you? Do you desire to just hear what God has said? Or do you desire to learn it and change your life accordingly? He also desires for God to give him understanding in what God has mandated (precepts). You will not understand everything that God has said. There are some very hard passages in the Bible that we will struggle understanding. However, the Psalmist does not want to give up. He asks the Lord for help.

When He finds himself depressed; what does he do? He meditates on God’s wondrous works! What has God already done for you? What has He already promised to His people? When our hearts sorrow, we can take confidence in remembering what God has already done for us! Sorrow makes our hearts weak. How do we get our strength back? Where does true joy come from? The Psalmist very clearly says here, “strengthen me according to your word!”.

When was the last time you let go of the “dust”, and asked God to help you understand, learn, and believe? In the future when your heart sorrows…take confidence in what God has already said! The light of the word brings life!

Day 8 – “The Memory Of the Word In Me”

The following post is a part of a series called “40 Days of Light”.  “40 Days of Light” is a church-wide campaign at the church I pastor.  Join our church as we go through this next 40 Days exploring and exulting God and His Word.  These postings are also available on Amazon.com for your Kindle or Kindle App. Please search “40 Days of Light” in the Amazon Kindle Bookstore. For more information about “40 Days of Light” please visit http://www.nwbcbradenton.org

WEEK 2 – THE LIGHT OF HIS WORD

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119:9-16)

This week we will change our focus and intently look at another biblical light. The Bible declares itself to be illuminating. When we read the Bible we are reading the very words of God. These words are alive and powerful. Have you ever stopped and meditated on that amazing truth? The way God created the universe was by speaking. We hold in our hands the same power that creates life. Moses tells us that everything was dark until God declared, “Let there be light.”- Not only is light created by the very words that God spoke, but they also provide light into what God wants us to know.

Psalm 119 is devoted entirely to the Psalmist’s love of God and His word. In verse 9 he asks a rhetorical question. This question is about the desire of those to live according to the ways of God. The answer to this question, according to the Psalmist, is to guard everything against scripture. How is this accomplished? Does it not seem like this is a tall task? The Psalmist wants to use the words of God for protection against sin. He has set up the word of God to be his defense before temptation is an issue.

We will sin, but we need to know what God has said so we can be ready for temptation. The Psalmist has “stored up your word in my heart”. The idea here behind “stored” is that he hidden or hoarded the word. He was ready defensively, but was also ready to be on the attack. Attacking what? It was his protection against himself. The psalmist knew that he needed to memorize Gods word so “that he might not sin”. Did you know that we have no greater enemy than we ourselves?

Nobody has failed you more than you have failed yourself. No one has lied to you more than you have lied to yourself. Our hearts are dark and lead us astray often. We need the light of God’s illuminating word in our hearts so that we may know the truth. During this 40 Day period we are learning and memorizing scripture together. This is an activity that is usually delegated for children to do in Sunday School. However, it should not be for just children. We all need to hide the Word in our hearts. How are you guarding your heart (defense) today? How are you “storing” God’s word deep within? (offense). Have you memorized the 40 Day memory verses yet?

When Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days he used scripture to fend off the temptation of Satan. If Jesus needed to memorize the word; how much more should we?

Day 7 – “God’s Glory Calls Us Into Service”

The following post is a part of a series called “40 Days of Light”.  “40 Days of Light” is a church-wide campaign at the church I pastor.  Join our church as we go through this next 40 Days exploring and exulting God and His Word.  These postings are also available on Amazon.com for your Kindle or Kindle App. Please search “40 Days of Light” in the Amazon Kindle Bookstore. For more information about “40 Days of Light” please visit http://www.nwbcbradenton.org

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” – Isaiah 6:8

 Isaiah could not leave God’s presence without a robust passion to serve God! Having a clear picture of God’s holiness and glory will propel us to serve Him passionately! Isaiah did not hesitate to respond to God’s question. He emphatically declared his presence and availability. How else could Isaiah respond? If he really believed what he saw – there really was no other choice. He saw the LORD as the KING and in AUTHORITY. We must do as the King beckons. Why? The King is worthy of our obedience.

Maybe as you read this passage you do not feel the same as Isaiah. The question for you must transition to “how do you see God?” Do you see him as Isaiah did…? (sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, filling the temple, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, righteous, glorious, worthy of all the universe’s praise). Is it possible that you see yourself as the hero of the story? Have you placed the spotlight on yourself? Do you live your life as if God needs and depends upon you? The Bible does not tell us of any heroes, but instead, shouts the triumph of a Faithful, Holy and Loving God; who chose, empowered and redeemed men and women, for the sake of His Name and renown of His Glory.

Maybe you are not willing to respond like this to God because you see Him as a “friend with benefits”. Do you only want to worship God for the “blessings” He has given you? Do you only sing His praises when things are going your way? To seek the blessing more than the Blesser is idolatry. When we live for the praise of His name, above all, our reason for living becomes much clearer. Israel could not comprehend this truth. Almost all of the entire Old Testament is the story of how unfaithful God’s people were to His name. They repeatedly failed God by serving and worshiping other gods. They allowed the influence of the surrounding pagan nations to infiltrate and deceive them. Evil kings, who loved the gods of the land, more than the God of their Fathers, led Israel astray.

Once the praise of God begins it will forever change you! Look around you! You are not the only one or thing worshipping. The heavens declare the glory of God! This God is to be praised in all that He does and for all who He is. This God has no equal. How do you respond to Him? It all depends on how you see the “Light of His Glory”.