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Pocket Sized Thoughts – Psalm 119 – Part 8

Psalm 119:65-80 “You have dealt well with Your servant” (v.65)

Afflictions come which can tempt us to be unfaithful. The testimony of the servant is that, even in difficulties, he has been well dealt with. He has no complaints. Servants can make mistakes, but the Lord still employs them. Though they may be unprofitable, He still pays well and though they may know so little, He will teach them. Trying circumstances can be like a hedge of thorns, keeping us within good pasture to feed upon (Job 5:17) and in a place where wounds can properly heal. Difficulties can teach us – so much depends upon our attitude. When humble, our sins of ignorance can be forgiven (Leviticus 5:18) and thus, we can move on. Self-indulgence brings inner decay, but the Word of God discerns, refines, sustains and fills. It is thus better to learn than rely upon the emptiness of riches. There is a precious humility in knowing that we have been made, so that we may learn from our Creator (v.73). There is no shame in this (v.80) as we live dependent upon His tender mercies (v.77) – this is the greatest motive of life. It is so good and blessed to know that our every breath is because of Him.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that You have made me that I may fully depend upon You.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Psalm 119 – Part 7

Psalm 119:49-64 “Your word has quickened me” (v.50)

God’s Word brings comfort and strength in all forms of affliction. The intention of the proud is to divert from the Word of God. Many are the strategies the enemy will use to deflect us from the Word of God. They all seem so plausible and such common sense. You will be mocked if you stay true to Scripture. There are many temptations to deviate from it. There is great mental stress at those who cast the Word/Law behind them, thinking they no longer need it. Even at night in darkest times, the soul cannot go astray if it stays true to the Word of God and obeys it. To those who stay faithful, there is an inheritance (v.57). Obedience should not be delayed as there is a thief (v.61) who knows the importance of the Word and knows how to steal it; note the speed of attack in Matthew 13:19. But to those who obey, there is a fellowship (v.63), which helps one another in following the Lord and obeying His commands.

PRAYER :- “Lord, help me to remain faithful to Your word and to allow none to steal it from me.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Psalm 119 – Part 6

Psalm 119:33-48 “Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes” (v.33)

As the pilgrimage is continued, he finds that he is taught and is given grace to persevere against the enemies of covetousness, unjust gain, lust for power, etc. Eager desire for the truth of God stimulates us toward godly things and righteousness. He does not want to settle into the routine and staleness of religion, so there is an earnest plea for freshness to be always upon his lips and in his mouth (v.43). This gives godly confidence to freely speak to others, even those who may have authority over us without shame or fear (v.46). We love and delight in the law, because it comes direct from the Lawgiver. Knowing the source of the word and the fountain of life contained in it keeps us fresh in the life and power of Christ.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that Your word teaches us the way of life.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Psalm 119 – Part 5

Psalm 119:17-32 “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law” (v.18)

We are as pilgrims going through this world (v.19). How can we find the way? We should pray that God gives us insight to see the “wondrous things of His law” (v.18). This is a good prayer to pray each time we open and read the Bible. There is also the prayer to be protected from men of influence and authority (v.23) who would seek to oppose the way of godliness. When at lowest points (v.25,28), His word enlivens, counsels and gives strength to adhere to the resolution of verses 30 and 31. From being knocked down and laid low, His word will cause us to run (v.32) showing an eagerness and desire with no delay, or procrastination. This is the enlargement of heart that God wants to bring us to so that we say along with His Son, “I delight to do your will, O God” (Psalm 40:8).

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that Your word quickens and strengthens me to do Your will.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Psalm 119 – Part 4

Psalm 119:1-16 “Blessed are they who keep His testimonies” (v.2)

The first word of this great psalm is “Blessed”. There is no sense of curses, threats, punishments but a word which describes wholeness in every department of our lives. To whom does this apply? It is to the undefiled, the perfectly sincere and those whose hearts are undivided. Thus the emphasis from the outset is upon living and conduct, not just academic knowledge. We are to diligently hold onto God’s commandments (v.4) not to debate them into irrelevance. To honour all His commandments is the way to a clear conscience without shame. If there is any shame, or sin, the Word has an ability to cleanse the entire life and purify from all residual effects of unrighteousness. But the Word also has a power to safeguard from sin and direct the person toward holiness of life. This advice is directed toward young people, learners, who are still vulnerable and susceptible. The whole heart must be engaged in seeking; putting the best thing in the best place (as stored treasure) for the best purpose (v.11). This reminds us of the tablets of stone which were stored in the innermost place of the tabernacle. If this is the prime motive in our life, we can do no better. As we learn, His word becomes to us the best treasure and brings unbridled joy.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that there are such riches in Your word; help me to always hold firmly upon them.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Psalm 119 – Part 3

Introduction (III) :-

Memory and meditation are mentioned many times in this psalm. It is said that David Livingstone when aged 9 years, won a prize for reciting, from memory, the entire psalm, with only five minor mistakes! Memorization really helps to fix God’s word in our minds, that we can come back to many times and so, further meditate upon it. The ‘LORD’ (Jehovah) is mentioned 22 times ; “walking” (in obedience), 9 times ; “speaking” (truth), 13 times. The Lord’s strength helps us walk in truth so that we may boldly declare His word. Finally, do not be daunted by the length of the psalm. Read it in sections and as you do, let it penetrate and feed your soul; from there, a respect, delight and love for this psalm (and for the whole Word of God) will emerge and grow. May the statement made by the father of Matthew Henry, the well-known Bible commentator of the 18th century, become true for us:- “All grace grows as love to the Word of God grows.” I would encourage you to read the verses referred to, before moving onto the thoughts of the blog.

PRAYER :- “Lord, help me to value Your word above all things and that it should feed and greatly influence my life.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Psalm 119 – Part 2

Introduction (II) :-

In the KJV, there are a number of metaphors for the Word of God and a brief explanation of these may be helpful :- a) The Law – God’s truth to aim for; b) the Way – our obedience and conduct in living, to be in unity with (a); c) Testimonies – remembrances, reminders and a witness, declaring to the world; d) Commandments – God’s authority, not to be compromised; e) Precepts – that which God entrusts to man; f) the Word – the mind, or ‘logos’ of God, bringing things to light; g) Judgments – reflecting the wisdom, or established government of God; h) Statutes – things which are engraved, fixed, or marked out. Likewise, there are a number of metaphors for sin to reveal how the conscience can offend a holy God. Transgression refers to deliberate rebellion, crossing a God-set boundary; sin is missing the mark, falling far short of God’s holy standard; while iniquity means an internal moral defect – a tendency to evil, while knowing that is wrong and a conscious inability to do what is right. This is highlighted in Romans 7:19 – “the good that I want to do, I do not; but the evil which I don’t want to do, I end up doing.” God’s word focusses in on these things but also helps us find an answer to the morass of sin and find a new way to live.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that Your word searches me to live by Your standards alone.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Psalm 119 – Part 1

Introduction (I) :-

This psalm stands alone in all its majesty, soaring to previously unscaled heights, where all but two verses of the 176 exalt the Word of God (or some metaphor of it). The chief theme is the word of God and its excellence above all things. The 176 verses are divided into 22 blocks of 8 verses, each block corresponding to one of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, with each verse of that block beginning with that same Hebrew letter. The author is unknown, though Ezra is favoured by some. He was a key man in the return from the exile in Babylon and was concerned less with the physical construction of the temple and walls of Jerusalem, but more that the people should be spiritually built up again by having a law (the Word) by which to live and to be identified with. To this end Ezra “prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it; to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10). Thus, the Word of God became a foundation for God’s people. As the psalm progresses, it reveals a conflict between the world and the Word of God. But, it also reveals how the Word brings the heart to peace and victory. As with Christ Jesus, who is the embodiment of the Word, there is no greater assurance, nor better foundation to be laid in all of life, than the Word of God.

PRAYER :- “Lord, teach me the depths and truths of Your word.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Esther – Part 10

Esther 10:1-3 “Mordecai … sought the welfare of his people” (v.3)

The final chapter sees Mordecai promoted by the king above everyone else. God always honours those who put Him first. Mordecai did not use this new position for self-glory; he used it to seek the welfare of His people and speaking peace to all. Many have come into important positions only to abuse their authority. What a wonderful thing it is when men, whom, when God raises their status, continue to have a servant heart, serving God and the interests of His people, rather than their own. Note how many times the apostle Paul describes himself as a bond-slave. God uses men like Mordecai and women like Esther to steer His church through the most dark and dangerous of times into places of light, joy and peace. The whole story of the book of Esther is one of deliverance from the oppressor and how the invisible hand of God is working toward that glorious end. This is cause indeed to worship, trust and praise Him who does all things well.

“Careless seems the great Avenger, history’s pages record; One death grapple in the darkness between old systems and the word; Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever upon the throne – Yet that scaffold sways the future and behind the dim unknown, God stands within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.”

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that in Your work, we are never alone, but You are always with us.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Esther – Part 9

Esther 8:1-9:32 “The month was turned for them from sorrow to joy” (9:22)

Though Haman had been killed, the threat and danger of destruction of the Hebrew people still remained. The original decrees could not be reversed, so with further intervention by Esther, the king sent a royal decree by the hand of Mordecai for the Jews to arm and defend themselves against all attack. The enemy and sin writes irreversible decrees against us; we can do nothing to change them. A new ‘decree’ is written by Christ, which erases every former thing written against us (Colossians 2:14). As was the case with the Jews, the result was light and joy (v.16,17) arising from a time of great darkness and despair. Chapter nine gives the full account of the deliverance of the Jews throughout the entire empire, not just the palace and capital city. This ‘good news’ was to spread throughout the world. Sin brings sorrow and mourning (9:22) but Christ, by His salvation, turns it all to joy. In celebration, the feast of Purim was instituted, which has been kept all down the centuries and was marked by light, peace and truth. These are wonderful qualities of the kingdom of God, which He wants to make known throughout the world.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that by Your great salvation, You take the sorrow and burden of sin away.”