Purity and Holiness (part 2)

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.

I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.

With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.

I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.

I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”

Psalm 119:9-16 (Beth)

With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth. (verse 13)

Remembering- this is the key for the Christian to persevere. We recount God’s faithfulness to mankind through His redemptive work on the cross; we recount God’s faithfulness to us individually through the life story He weaves for us; we remember God’s laws and His promises. Do not forget what God has done, is doing now and what He will not fail to do in the future. Remember and tell others the wonders of our Lord. 

I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. (verse 14)

When we find the Pearl of Great Price, naturally there is rejoicing. The riches of God are true but require faith and patience to take hold of. In Christ the believer is rich and has everything he needs. Yet these riches are not the material possessions the world treasures. To be rich in the Lord first means you have found forgiveness of your sins, eternal peace and fellowship with God through Jesus. Second it means that the Lord will be faithful to help extract you from the vanities of this world. We begin to truly see for the first time, our satisfaction, joy and purpose is in God alone. Thirdly, it means Jesus will give us Himself to imitate as He tenderly guides us on our pilgrimage. He gives us His fruit to cultivate in our own hearts which slowly manifests in our thoughts, speech and actions over the course of a lifetime. So be deeply happy Christian- Jesus is yours and you are His. No person was ever richer than the one who belongs to God. 

I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. (verse 15)

To meditate and consider a matter is wise. Such a thoughtful person will look at an argument from all sides weighing the outcomes. When we study God’s Word we cannot approach it as a purely academic exercise. One will only gain head knowledge, neglecting to allow the words of God affect their hearts. This is where change takes place, in the inner man. We need God’s Spirit to help us know how to think about Him and His will. Our prayer each day can sound like David’s psalm, “Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long (Psalm 25:4-5). How can we know the path He has charted for all His children? Look to the Scriptures. The King’s royal words are true and for our own good. They will not fail you because God will never fail you.

I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word. (verse 16)

To delight and neglect are opposite in desire. We delight in what we hold dear, our treasures, our hopes and interests. We neglect what seems dull, hard or irrelevant- it does not captivate us at all. This is the challenge placed before each child of God. We can go to Him, asking for His help in our unbelief, when our faith is shaken or stagnant. The more we read and comprehend truth, the more our belief and love contain the proper nutrients to grow. The flame of our heart’s desire will burn brightly as discipline welcomes delight in the duty of seeking the Lord our God.

Who is God in this passage? (Psalm 119:9-16 Beth)

God is our Teacher. He helps His children live according to His Word. His Spirit ignites the flame of love and belief in our hearts. God says to seek Him and love Him above all else because He knows that HE is the very best for us. The Lord is the Pearl of Great Price.

 

Grace upon grace,

April  

 

Grow deeper: Matthew 13:44-46

Live your life

I typically do not like to overwhelm your inbox with posts each week. Your time is valuable and I certainly would not want you to waste it on anything that was not worthwhile. But what I am going to share with you today I feel is important enough to make an allowance for one more post this week.

Recently, Allie Beth Stuckey shared an episode on her podcast concerning how we are called to spend our time as Christians, especially in a post-Covid world where a lot of us put our lives on pause. Maybe you still are, so I truly hope her episode will encourage you.

We are still called to live Biblically whether circumstances are “normal” or not. It is not a question of living recklessly, but rather, are we living in fear? Is fear and anxiety crippling us from being a light in a world which so desperately needs to see ambassadors for Christ? I hope you are encouraged today. This episode ministered to me which is why I wanted to share it with you.

Grace upon grace,

April

Here is Allie Beth Stuckey’s podcast: Relatable- Episode 530

Purity and Holiness (part 1)

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.

I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.

With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.

I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.

I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”

Psalm 119:9-16 (Beth)

 

Verse 9 is the main question for the rest of this octave. The psalmist shows how our faith is to be daily active and very practical. Christians are called to reflect the beauty of God’s commands, His holiness, and His character. This is what it means to become like Christ. 

The psalmist lists a number of actions to take as believers discipline themselves under the delight of doing God’s will. Most of the actions are things we do positively in pursuing a life according to God’s Word. But there are negative activities we must avoid as well, as a resolve to not displease the Lord: 

 

I seek You with all my heart; (verse 10a)

This is a positive action. Do I seek God each day with all my heart? Is He my treasure and delight? (Deuteronomy 6:5)

do not let me stray from Your commands. (verse 10b)

A plea to not let the psalmist stray from the truth. Our hearts are prone to wander, looking for love, identity, or satisfaction in someone or something other than our Heavenly Father (Isaiah 55:6-7).

I have hidden Your Word in my heart (verse 11a)

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts is a result of treasuring Scripture. When we love His Book we learn more about God- who is He? who am I? The Bible tells me I am a sinner saved by the blood of Jesus. He is patiently and tenderly transforming His saints by His grace, through the help of the Holy Spirit. 

that I might not sin against You. (verse 11b)

A desire not to sin blossoms from a regenerate heart as he gazes intently on God’s law. He sees how he has fallen short, failed God, but is also aware of the great cost to win us back into fellowship with Him. The deep deep love of the Father sent His Son Jesus to pay the price meant for us. Christ inherited our just judgement, we inherited merciful righteousness. Pray we will not grieve the Spirit over careless words, thoughts and actions! 

Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees. (verse 12)

The Holy Spirit is our Teacher. The psalmist did not have this permanent blessing as we do today. Praise You Father for this wonderful gift! Anything we learn from His Word is because God has graciously revealed it to us. The Lord gives us eyes to see, ears to hear, a soft heart to respond and obey. As He teaches, our love for Him will grow. Bless You Father. 

Grace upon grace,

April 

 

 

Unfailing Love

“I will obey Your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.” -Psalm 119:8

As the psalmist sees the beauty and goodness in seeking God’s ways, he asks the Lord to not abandon him. He is needy for God’s help, recognizing he cannot love or obey in his own strength. What a tender picture of this man of stature (possibly even a king if David penned this psalm), to reveal his childlike dependence on God. What else do we have to bring to the Lord but our sin and our need? God has promised in His Word to never forsake His own (Deuteronomy 31:6; 8; Hebrews 13:5). Not only will our Father never forsake us but He fights for His children as well. The believer is not to fear. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). God equips His saints to battle personal sin, Satan and the secular world. He is faithful to guide His little lambs to walk in obedience. His love will not fail us. With God on our side we shall do valiantly.

Grace upon grace,

April

Grow deeper: Romans 8:31-39

A kaleidoscope

This past summer I enjoyed a 12 week Women’s Bible class in Psalm 119. We generally worked through two octaves per week, breaking them down as much as possible, verse by verse. I consider this a rich way to meditate on Scripture. Nothing is lost or skimmed over when focusing on a particular verse, pondering why the Lord (through the psalmist) penned these words. Along with studying together, our teacher provided a supplemental commentary written by Charles Spurgeon. His reflection on Psalm 119 is so dense it was made into a book titled The Golden Alphabet: An Exposition on Psalm 119. Spurgeon’s meditation on Psalm 119 led him to the analogy of a kaleidoscope. While a number of the verses seem redundant, he argues that the reader is not properly viewing the entire psalm as it should be. He writes:

This psalm is a wonderful composition. Its expressions are many as the waves, but its testimony is one as the sea. It deals all along with one subject only; but although it consists of a considerable number of verses, some of which are very similar to others, yet throughout its one hundred and seventy-six stanzas the self-same thought is not repeated: there is always a shade of difference, even when the color of the thought appears to be the same. Some have said that in it there is an absence of variety; but that is merely the observation of those who have not studied it. I have weighed each word, and looked at each syllable with lengthened meditation; and I bear witness that this sacred song has no tautology in it, but is charmingly varied from beginning to end. Its variety is that of a kaleidoscope: from a few objects innumerable permutations and combinations are produced. In the kaleidoscope you look once, and there is a strangely beautiful form: you shift the glass a little, and another shape, equally delicate and beautiful, is before your eyes. So it is here.”

Our class was encouraged to journal through each octave, so the bulk of this study was left up to us to personally reflect through Psalm 119 as the Holy Spirit illuminated His treasure trove. This is the explanation I can give you for my posts on Psalm 119 the last few weeks. I hope to share the entire psalm with you as a means of encouragement. To write these reflections out again for this blog has been a comfort to me all over again. We are always in need of remembering the truth we know. So I write these posts for my personal encouragement as much as it is an offering of love to you. My hope is you are blessed in reading snippets of what the Lord is teaching me. Which leads me to ask, what is God teaching you? I think it is wonderful to share with fellow believers how the Spirit is at work in our hearts. We don’t seem to talk this way very often. Maybe the Bible has become stale to you or you aren’t sensing the Lord’s presence near. Cling on to the encouragement trusted believers have found in God’s Word and let that sustain you until you drink deeply again from your own well. God will not let you stay thirsty. He is faithful to show Himself to those who seek Him. God is faithful to help the weary believer persevere because of His promise to never leave or forsake His own.

Grace upon grace,

April

Grow deeper: Deuteronomy 31:6-8; Isaiah 40:29-31; Isaiah 55:6

Act of Worship

“I will praise You with an upright heart as I learn Your righteous laws.” -Psalm 119:7

The psalmist pivots to a heart of praise in verse seven. This posture of worship pleases the Lord. The psalmist has just meditated on God’s mercy in light of his sin and inability to save himself. What is his response? As the Holy Spirit continues to teach him the depth of God’s wisdom, the psalmist explodes in gratitude with praise. He would likely echo Paul’s doxology in Romans, written hundreds of years later:

“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgements, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 11:33-12:1)

God has given us His Holy Word to learn His righteous laws, recognize our need for the Savior, and come to Jesus. The soul which leans on the work of Jesus, abiding in His Spirit for holy living becomes a precious offering before the Throne of Grace.

Grace upon grace,

April

God’s Mercy

“Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all Your commands.” -Psalm 119:6

One of the benefits of God’s Law is to reveal to us our inability to keep it perfectly. It is here we see our need for a Savior rather than give up and despair. When a heart considers the holiness of God’s standard, we realize we can never measure up as sin seeks to master us. The soul who sees this feels shame. Yet it serves as an act of mercy from God, to not let us stay covered in guilt but run to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of every repentant heart! Parables, prophecies and warnings all serve as mercies for the soul that comes alive, acknowledging the damnation of autonomy, self-righteousness and pride. It is God’s mercy to show us through His commands “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) so that we might not perish in our sins, but come to Him for everlasting life.

Grace upon grace,

April

Sanctifying Obedience

“Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying Your decrees!” -Psalm 119:5

Verses 5 and 6 in Psalm 119 are an interjected prayer of lament because the psalmist knows too well his sinful nature. He cannot perfectly keep the law. To be steadfast in obeying the Lord means to be immovable, unshakable, and constant. Yet we are fickle, finite creatures overcome with fear, worry, and the cares of this world. I once heard the Christian life compared to a life-long practice of who we will be in Heaven someday. This is our training ground. So what are you practicing today? Is it contentment, self-control, taking captive prideful thoughts, harnessing a gossiping tongue? If you and I run into another breathing soul today it is likely we will have practice in our sanctification. Am I learning to bear with others in love? To be quick to forgive, slow to anger? There are many times I have not practiced well which is why I need the Lord’s help every day.

We echo the psalmist’s lament in our own strength, yet have hope in Jesus our Mediator, High Priest and Friend. He will continue to intercede for us when we fail. Our Lord guides the tenderhearted, strengthening His lambs according to His Word.

Grace upon grace,

April

Grow in Grace

“You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.” -Psalm 119:4

The psalmist in Psalm 119 rightly understands pursuing God means living out the commands He has given. It isn’t enough to mentally assent to the words of Scripture. We must be people activated in the power of the Holy Spirit, putting hands and feet to what our mouths profess. We also acknowledge that no one fulfills the ways of God perfectly except Jesus His Son. Our failure to carry out God’s standard shows us our need for Christ. Only then can we persevere in faith, pursuing holiness because of what Jesus has done for God’s children. A regenerate heart will want to follow their Shepherd, knowing we will stumble but equally aware of our King’s grace toward redeemed sinners. He keeps pouring out more mercy, more love, more fellowship with Himself. We serve a just and gentle Savior. God is faithful to help us obey when we abide in Him. He is faithful to pick us up when we fall into the miry pit as well.

God demands submission to His authority but not as a harsh taskmaster. He expects us to follow Him out of love and trust. What do you know about God? What is His character like? His faithfulness in past events? The same God who rescued His people from slavery in Egypt through Moses, the same Father who allowed His only Son Jesus to die for sinners, is the same Lord over all today. He does not change (Hebrews 13:8). We can trust a God like this. He is willing and capable to deliver His people from bondage, to grow us in grace, guiding His children in obedience to His will.

Grace upon grace,

April

Grow deeper: Isaiah 40:25-31

Declared Innocent

“They do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways.” -Psalm 119:3

Those who are hidden in Christ are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). In God’s eyes we are innocent because Jesus exchanged His robe of righteousness for our sinful garments on the cross. It is only when we step out of His will, operating in the flesh that we sin. When pursuing holiness which is Christlikeness, we are safe, surrounded by the hedges of God’s commands. But the curse has infected every heart, therefore a life long earthly battle of two natures is at work in every child of God. Our part is to stay faithful and diligent in our fight against sin, knowing how real spiritual warfare is (Ephesians 6:12-13). Those who do no wrong are abiding in the Spirit, for we cannot be righteous apart from Christ.

What blessing, what relief we find when our minds rightly see our sin, confess it, repent and turn back into restored fellowship with God! One day, soon and very soon, our fellowship with the Lord will be eternally unbroken, never again tainted with sin.

Grace upon grace,

April

Grow deeper: Romans 7:14-8:17