25 I am laid low in the dust;
preserve my life according to your word.
26 I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
teach me your decrees.
27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me and teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I have set my heart on your laws.
31 I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
for you have broadened my understanding.
These eight verses were used by God in the life of the Psalmist. They were highlighted with the subtle heading of an access door to God, a “Daleth,” and kept for us; the future generations when subtlety would be replaced with reality. God would reveal the “Daleth.”
The “door” is exactly how Jesus describes himself in the NASB version of John 10:7 “So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”
These verses of the Psalm are meant for us today. Try this; read all eight of the verses as if you are the “I” and insert the name of our door, Jesus, where it seems to fit in each of them. You may discover these words have become your own access door; praise from one more flawed and fearful, but faithful, servant committed to finding faith in daily life. May it be so.
ג17 Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.
18 Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
19 I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.
21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
those who stray from your commands.
22 Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
for I keep your statutes.
23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
24 Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.
Gimel says the specific purpose of these verses is their relationship to the soul: “the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.”
I’m learning from the psalmist. Our physical part is pleading with God to open a connection to our soul and be at work there; “be good to your servant, open my eyes, I am a stranger, do not hide your commands from me.” The soul is distinctly God’s domain – connection established!
Our first inclination is to assure God that our spiritual part “is consumed with longing” to know his laws at all times. Then we admit it comforts us to know God will rebuke the souls of those who stray, and protect us from their “scorn and contempt”…but no matter what, we’ll stay strong. Sounds humanly familiar doesn’t it?
The last verse of this section is the only possible way the spiritual and physical can unite to become a righteous soul that really does long for God’s law at all times. “Your servant will meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.”
The more-or-less ignored headings of the 22 sections of this Psalm really do count if you read the individual eight verses of each as if they are a key. Beth is the key God has given to a place of shelter for:
9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
Psalm 119 – א Aleph
1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.
There’s mystery in the acrostic use of the Hebrew aleph-bet in this 22 section Psalm. Our alphabet is a sequence of letters but theirs is a sequence of symbols that have a particular meaning. That symbol is the first letter of the word that begins each verse of a section in the Hebrew text. I found a chart of the meaning of those Biblical Hebrew symbols that I’m going to use as I read and think about each of these 22 sections.
א Aleph – ox head, yoke, learn.
The blessing is clear in this first section: be blameless, walk according to the Lord, keep his statutes and seek him with all your heart.
This must be what the writer had in mind for that first symbol, Aleph. It seems to fit. We need strength [ox]; we need yoke [Christ]; we need to [learn] how to be blessed.
We need strength [ox]; we need yoke [Christ]; we need to [learn] to pray these honest words “do not utterly forsake me” as this mystery of blessing becomes a reality in my life.
I’ve been starting each morning with a very simple short prayer. “I love you Lord, please lead me.” Then I start reading and wait for that to happen.
• Thursday: Waiting
Read Esther 1 👎 [that’s a thumb’s down sign]
Scanned Joel 1 👎
Read a new resource: Os Hillman TGIF [Today God Is First] on BibleGateway.com. The apostle Paul said, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13)
…He [God] has foreordained that we should accomplish great things in His name – not so that we will be accepted or become more valued, but to experience the reality of a living relationship with a God who wants to demonstrate His power through each of us.”
• Friday: Still Waiting
Read Oswald Chambers
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
“Every tiny bit of my life that has value I owe to the redemption of Jesus Christ. Am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His redemption into evident reality in the lives of others? I will only be able to do this as the Spirit of God works into me this sense of indebtedness.”
• Saturday Morning: Read Philemon👍
At last, Scripture that catches my attention! Has God been leading these last few days while I thought I was floundering? Re-reading all my notes…again. Finally I do see a thread in one single verse that ties these last few days together!
• Sunday Blessing: Seeds of Grace
Philemon 1:25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
God wants to demonstrate His power through each of us as the Spirit of God works into us this sense of indebtedness. That’s where our understanding of “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” is revealed as more than comfortable personal assurance and becomes the Seeds of Grace to share with each other. That’s the blessing.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
I’m afraid of the seemingly endless stream of violence that plagues cities and people and destroys them. I’m afraid of our current political environment. I don’t like being afraid. It forces me to ask myself this question: Am I Afraid to Have Faith in Jesus’ words about how we can be saved?
That question made me realize that’s exactly what’s happening. Then I read this quote from Max Lucado’s book, You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times
“We can’t always see what God is doing.
But can’t we assume he is up to something good?”
Why, in this world, would I want to assume anything else, Lord? Mark 9:24b…“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Colossians 4:3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 18…Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
This is Master-full writing and really good news. No more how-to books on evangelism, no more intimidating classes and no more role-playing exercises needed. This is Paul’s perfect, clear and concise plan for speaking of the mystery of Christ.
• Proclaim it clearly
• Be wise in your actions toward outsiders
• Make the most of every opportunity
• Let your conversation be always full of grace
• Seasoned with salt
What…you’re a little intimidated…don’t know how to answer everyone? Well Paul has covered that for us too in v18…Remember my chains.” Was Paul only speaking of actual iron chains? I don’t think so.
Those three words were not his plea for sympathy. They were his reminder that the power of his words was bound to the “mystery of Christ” by Chains of Grace, not ability as a public speaker or personality and certainly not circumstances.
• Remember my chains. Grace…
That’s the vital last line to the list.
Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The phrase that got my attention this morning is “your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” It’s that word “hidden” that made me wonder – is it the old life, the new life, or both that’s hidden…And why?
Most of us would like at least part of our old life to be hidden. That’s where those “earthly things” before “Christ, who is your life” are. Why would that old life with those scars be worth hiding “with Christ in God?” Why not just throw it away?
How about that “new life?” We get to live with new realities and new options where responses can be based on transformation not old information. Why would we want anything about this life hidden?
Maybe it’s God’s Safety Deposit Box! It’s odd, but those scars may be part of the treasure that has been hidden there “for” your future, not just “from” your past. God has kept you safe and finds valuable purpose in your new life even with scars. They’re your proof that he has kept you safe, and they’re your witness.
√ John 20:27 Then he [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
God’s Safety Deposit Box is where every proof of your inheritance, your treasure, is hidden and protected from loss. It continues to grow and you continue to receive its dividends; the new realities, new options and responses in your daily life.
√ I Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope…4 …an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
I have this theory that the little “stops” that occur when I read Scripture happen for a reason. Those are the things I need to think and write about. Unfortunately the verses that kept stopping me in this chapter were all those ones I don’t like…about “rules.” I like rules well enough when I make them, but I don’t think they “bring” me, or anyone else, “to fullness.”
Just how can perfectly reasonable rules become a problem you ask? Here’s the real warning: “8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” That happens when we settle for rules becoming:
…a means of control for ourself or others
…a way we cover up our inadequacies
…the evidence of our faith
…a substitute for living “in Christ”
“Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness…13b…God made you alive with Christ.”
The chapter may have a lot to say about rules but these few verses are filled with words of encouragement: continue, rooted, built up, strengthened and brought to fullness. God has made “you alive with Christ” to be his voice in your small part of the world with this message of encouragement. Fullness is about Relationship, Not Rules.
I borrowed this from Richard Dahlstrom’s blog http://stepbystepjourney.com/?p=1605
“ ‘All of us know our inadequacies pretty well – what we need is to be told how much we’re loved, where we’re gifted, where we can shine.’ ”
Tell someone today.