Monday, November 30, 2015

Thoughts on Psalm 119:5

5 Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes!

Desire. Longing. Yearning. Passion.
There is a fire in that statement that is infinitely deeper than a casual prayer.

I find a similar statement in Genesis. When Jacob wanted to leave his uncle Laban, but Laban asked him to continue working for him, and said, “What do you want me to pay you?” Jacob said, “I’ll just take the spotted and speckled sheep and goats. You can have all of the pure white ones.”

If they had a car dealership together, it’s like Jacob had said, “I’ll take all the old rusty beat up junker trade-ins. You keep all the brand new cars.” Quite the deal for Laban.

And Laban said, “Oh, that it were according to your word!Gen 30:34

As if to say, “Are you kidding? This sounds too good to be true!” Fueled by greed, it was a declaration of intense longing. It was his heart’s desire. And is there not a godly force that is more powerful than greed? A holy covetousness, so to speak, toward the Word of God that would cause the psalmist, contrasted to Laban, to cry out, “Oh! That my ways were directed...”

Mary said the same as Laban when the angel said that she would be the mother of the Christ: “Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) That really is one of the best prayers we can ever pray. The promises that God makes us in His word are far better than what we could ever conjure up for ourselves.

It’s not as if Mary was sitting there one day thinking, “It sure would be nice if God used me in some spectacular way. Let’s see - God did say a Messiah would come one day. Maybe I could give birth to Him! Without ever having known a man! Lord, could I have that please?”

That would have been ridiculous. She could have never conceived such an idea. But in fact, she was presented with the word of God - a plan for her life that was from the heart of the Father (Jer 29:11), drawn up in the blueprints of creation before the world even existed (Eph 2:10).

So as we read the word of God, and that moment comes when the words come alive; they jump off the page and into our heart. We hear it and keep it. Something inside of us says, “really?! this sounds too good to be true! This is so amazing! It sounds impossible! I could have never dreamed this up!”

That is the moment we enter into blessing.

And this is the proper response: “Let it be to me according to Your word.”

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thoughts on Psalm 119:4

4 You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.

On the surface this verse seems redundant. Almost as if to say, “You have commanded us to do your commandments.” Or, “You said to do what you say.” Or worse yet, “You made a rule that we should keep your rules.” Why waste space stating the obvious? Why sing a song about that? Why does the psalmist after a glowing introduction to blessing suddenly seem to turn into a killjoy?

Because he had a revelation that God’s commands are his empowerments.

God’s power is in His Word. We see this throughout the entire Bible. The first recorded words that God ever spoke were: Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Gen 1:3

Through what power did God create? Through speaking! He spoke, and everything came into being.

“Let there be a firmament” (v6). “Let the dry land appear” (v9). “Let the earth bring forth [vegetation]” (v11). “Let there be lights [sun, moon, stars]” (v14) And so on.

And when God created mankind, he spoke again: Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…” Gen 1:28

The Lord wasn’t just giving them directions. It wasn’t a list of “to-do’s”. Rather, he was imparting power to them. The same power that was released when He said “Let there be light” was released when He said “Be fruitful.” If He hadn’t said it, they couldn’t have done it.

Peter understood this truth. When He saw Jesus walking on the water, he said to Him, “command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. Matt 14:28-29 Peter knew if Jesus would say it, he could do it.

And with one simple word - “Come” - the Son of God empowered Peter to overcome the natural law of buoyancy and tread upon the waves of the sea of Galilee. If Jesus had not said it, Peter would have taken one step and sunk to the bottom.

And so it is with us. When He says, “keep My word” He isn’t just telling us what we ought to do. But His commands provide a supernatural impartation of grace that enables us, empowers us, to do it. If we try to do it apart from hearing His voice, we too will sink to the bottom.

We have been introduced to the overwhelming blessing that awaits those who keep God’s Word. But what good is it if we cannot keep it? Indeed God is so gracious that He commands us - He empowers and enables us - to keep His precepts diligently.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thoughts on Psalm 119:3

3 They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.

“Do no iniquity.” I knew it. Here come the rules. The do’s and the don’ts.

Read it again. They also do no iniquity.

The word “also” is very significant. It means “in addition.” So in context with verses 1 and 2: those who keep God’s word - who hide it in their heart, who meditate on it day and night - those who seek Him with all their heart are blessed. More blessed than Mary, as Jesus said. In addition to being blessed, they do no iniquity. “Doing no iniquity” is not a prerequisite.

It’s a byproduct.

Religion tells us, “You’re a sinner and God is mad at you. Stop sinning and get your act together. Then God will bless you.” And that mindset is what Psalm 119:1 was calling “defiled.” Polluted. Corrupt. It’s not true.

All religions put the emphasis on what man must do to earn God’s blessing: sacrifices, penances, keeping rules, stop sinning, doing right, avoiding wrong.

For example, the woman caught in adultery in John 8 was about to be stoned to death. Religion demanded it (Lev 20:10). In essence, saying “you did wrong - you must be punished.”

They brought her to Jesus, and you know the story, He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” John 8:7

Religion wanted to punish her. But Jesus is not a religion.

He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?
She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11

Do you think the woman ever committed adultery again? I don’t think so.

And why not? So she could “get right” with God?

No - she encountered the Word of God - the words of Jesus. The Love, the Kindness, the Forgiveness of God.

She kept it; she treasured it in her heart. And as a result, she was blessed. She “sinned no more,” that is, she did no iniquity. She walked in His ways.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thoughts on Psalm 119:2

2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!

Blessed! There it is again! This is really setting the tone for this great Psalm, isn’t it? Let’s look deeper into this idea of being “blessed.”

The Virgin Birth had been prophesied by Isaiah some 700 years prior:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

And Isaiah went on to describe this Son:
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end… Isaiah 9:6-7

I am sure Mary was aware of this. She certainly had been to synagogue and heard these prophecies read many times in her life. Messiah - Mighty God - would come by way of a Virgin Birth.

And then one day an angel stands before her saying: “You will fulfill this prophecy!”

Wow. The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Savior of the World - would be her Son! That is blessing that goes light years beyond just happy, prosperous, healthy, fulfilled and joyful. It’s almost incomprehensible. Truly she was blessed beyond our ability to articulate it.

But could we ever expect that kind of blessing in our lives? To be blessed like Mary was blessed?

Would you believe that Jesus Himself explicitly answers this question?

And it happened, as [Jesus] spoke... that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:27-28

Read it again: More than that!

Those who hear God’s word and keep it are more blessed than the virgin Mary!

Can you believe that? That it’s possible to be more blessed than Mary? It’s astonishing. Breathtaking. Yet Jesus said it is possible. And how does it happen?

By reading the Bible. But more than that - by hearing it. That is, when the words are more than just ink on a page - but they become a living voice - and you hear God speak to you in your heart.
Blessed are those who keep His word, who seek Him with the whole heart!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thoughts on Psalm 119:1

1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the Lord!

Blessed. What a marvelous word. Many ideas come to mind: Happy. Healthy (no sickness, no pain). Abundance (no lack, no need unmet). Prosperous relationships. Purpose. Passion. Protection. Guidance. Joy. Peace. Security. Confidence. Freedom. Forgiveness. Fulfillment. Love.

It is remarkable that the first word of the longest chapter in the Bible is “blessed.”

And who is blessed? Those who “are undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.”
I might say it this way: those who aren’t polluted in their thinking, but live according to the Bible.

I know what you’re thinking: “Do this. Don’t do that.” The law. A bunch of rules.
But let’s not jump to any conclusions just yet!

Let’s just read it for what it says: those who live according to the Bible - whatever that means, whatever it really looks like - they are blessed.

To get a picture of what God’s kind of blessing is, let’s look at someone in the Bible who was said to be blessed:

  • The angel said to [Mary], “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:28
  • Then [Elizabeth] spoke out with a loud voice and said [to Mary], “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Luke 1:42
  • Mary said, behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. Luke 1:48

The angel called her blessed. Elizabeth called her blessed. She called herself blessed.

I believe that the three greatest miracles ever (in chronological order) were: 1) Creation 2) The Virgin Birth, and 3) The Resurrection of Jesus

And Mary was directly involved in one of the three! In fact she is the only non-Deity involved in any of them!

Is it any wonder that 2000 years later Mary is still one of the most common names in the world, in honor of her? And every Christmas countless Nativity scenes are set up with a figure of her?

That is God’s kind of blessing. And those who walk in the law of the Lord are blessed!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thoughts on Psalm 119 - Introduction

"Lord, help me to fall in love with Your Word."

I first prayed that in 2006. I had an encounter with Jesus several months prior, and had come to realize that the Bible was in fact the Word of God. So I sought the Lord that I might have a greater appreciation for it.

Within a short time, I came across Psalm 119, and I learned that this is one of God's answers to this request. And for a number of years, I have written music, sung, and meditated on this Great Psalm. Countless times I have drawn strength from this well.

So today I embark on a journey to accomplish two tasks:
  1. Make a short commentary on each verse.
  2. Record the music I have written. 
I have set a goal to post the commentary on Mondays and Thursdays - going through 8 verses in 4 weeks time. And in that same 4 weeks, I will record the music to each section of 8 verses and post it along with the commentary.

In doing so, I hope to dive deeper into that request I made of the Lord: that I might fall in love with the Word of God.

I hope you do too.