pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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The Joy of My Heart

Reading: Psalm 119: 105-112

Verse 105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

The psalmist opens this section of the longest chapter in the Bible with these familiar words.  As one reads, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path”, one can’t help but have the tune come to mind.  The truth that the psalmist writes remains as true today as it was the day he wrote it.  The depth of commitment we hear in the words of our passage is still the depth of commitment that God continues to look for today in each of us who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our life.

The opening line speaks of God’s Word guiding us through life.  A popular acronym for Bible is “basic instructions before leaving earth”.  Spending time daily in the Word continues to be essential to faithful discipleship.  It is so important to spend time each day with our Bibles, meditating on God’s ways and learning more about what it means to follow Jesus.

The psalmist does not tout a blessed and perfect life once he made the choice to make his oath to follow God’s ‘righteous law’.  Instead he admits that his life continues to have suffering and the wicked continue to tempt him.  We too must acknowledge that life is not instantly a bed of roses once we choose to enter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Life will still have it’s troubles.  There will still be times of pain and anguish and hardship.  But we do not face these alone.  Jesus walks with us through the troubles and trials, bringing us peace and comfort and strength.

Our passage today ends with “your statutes… are the joy of my heart”.  We find the same joy when we choose to allow Jesus’ ways to be our rule for life.  The Law of the Old Testament and the psalmist has been renewed and refreshed by Jesus and the new commandments.  We too must match the psalmist’s commitment to his faith – to live out each and every day as a follower of Jesus Christ – bringing honor and glory to God in all we do and say.  May it be so!


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Exalt and Worship

Reading: Psalm 99: 5-9

In today’s Psalm, we see four aspects of God, each requiring or provoking a response from the faithful.  Each of these aspects of God continue to be a part of our faith today.  Each is essential to a full relationship with God.

Verse five reminds us that God is holy.  In God, there is only good.  In God there cannot be any wrong or evil doing.  It is the spark of the divine in each of us that makes all of humanity have a natural bent towards doing good in the world.  Our response is to exalt the Lord and to worship our God.

Verse six speaks of calling on God.  Moses, Aaron, and Samuel are but a few who called on God.  There are many more who turned to the Lord our God in prayer.  Each came before God with honest and sincere hearts and prayers and “He answered them”.  Our response is to do the same.  We are called to regular communication with God, in the pattern of these great examples.

In verse seven we are prompted to remember God’s statutes and decrees.  The Bible is God’s guidance and directions for how to live as He intends us to live.  Our response remains the same: be obedient to God’s ways.

Verse eight recalls the struggle we all face: sin.  We will all experience temptation and at times we will all sin.  This verse reads, “you were to Israel a forgiving God”.  This remains one of God’s core characteristics.  God loves His children and constantly seeks to restore us to a right relationship with Him.  Because of this desire, our God is a loving, merciful, forgiving God.

Verse nine contains our response.  It is a reminder of what this passage opened with.  In light of all that God is, the psalmist again calls us to exalt and worship the Lord our God.  May our lives today be filled with our praise of God, worshipping the Lord our God in all we do and say and think this day.


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Living Right

Reading: Psalm 119: 137-144

The psalmist declares that God’s righteousness lasts forever.  Because of this, all of God’s laws and ways are also righteous.  Since God’s laws and ways are always righteous, we should ever seek to understand and live out God’s statutes and precepts.  If we do so, then we draw near to loving them as the psalmist does.  Even in times of trouble and distress, the writer declares that God’s commands bring delight.

To this understanding from the Old Testament, we can apply our understanding of Jesus.  Jesus was the fuller revelation of God as He lived in the flesh.  Jesus allows us to see what it looks like to live out God’s laws and ways.  Even though Jesus was in the flesh, He was still divine and lived a life without sin.  In the life of Jesus, in the things He taught, and in how He lived, we have the example of what it means to live fully in God’s righteousness.  Jesus defined and lived out the essence of all of God’s laws and precepts that we find in the Old Testament.  He did so by loving God with all He was and by loving others as God loves them.  Jesus saw all as beloved children of God and treated each accordingly.

Jesus exemplified verse 142: “Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true”.  God does not change.  God’s love never ends.  God’s ways are true.  Within these truths we seek to live as Jesus lived.  Living out our faith us living right.  Living out the love that Jesus pours into us is living right.  Living out the truth of God so that God’s word spreads to those around us and so God’s love and light grows is living right.  Whether filled with joy because of God’s blessings or struggling through a trial, these truths do not change.  No matter what life may bring, God’s love and God’s ways remain true.  May we always follow Jesus’ example, seeking to be God’s love and truth lived out.


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His Ways

The psalmist refers to God as their refuge, rescuer, and deliverer.  These are just a few of the many names we can attribute to God.  Others include, but are certainly not limited to, healer, provider, forgiver, restorer, reconciler, redeemer, comforter, King, and guide.  Each of these names speak to a characteristic or trait of God.  As His children, we call on Him to act on or to be these things as we seek His action through our prayers.  It is at times as if we are reminding God of who He is in hopes of finding healing or restoration or whatever it is we are petitioning God for.

The names we attach to God can also remind us of who He is.  The many and varied names remind us of how powerful and limitless our God is.  The fact that He is so many things to us reinforces the belief that God can be our all in all.  As we consider this, we come to realize that our God is capable of anything.

Yet, to us, God does not always do all that we ask.  Or so it appears to us.  For example, in the midst of a storm or trial in life, we ask our Great Deliverer to deliver us from the situation.  Or perhaps we come to our Great Healer and ask for Him to bring healing to a friend or loved one.  But we find that the trial goes on or that the person passes away.  We question if He is indeed deliverer or healer.  We forget that His plans are not our plans.  Maybe in the first case God was not quite done refining us.  Maybe in the second, the person found the healing they truly needed.  His ways are far above our ways.

In the end, if we are faithful, we will find deliverance or healing or whatever we seek.  May we be ever faithful and trust in His ways and in His plans for our lives.

Scripture reference: Psalm 71: 1-3


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Wisdom

The author of proverbs parallels the characteristics of a noble and good wife with wisdom.  Through the way this wife manages her household and through how she conducts herself, she is revealed as one full of wisdom.  Her wisdom is shown and revealed in how she lives out her life.  The writer knows that the goal cannot be to simply obtain wisdom but that it must make a difference in our lives and that it must be lived out.

Wisdom is to be lived out in several ways.  The wise one goes to work, acts with kindness and common sense, spreads justice and mercy, and serves and honors those around them.  Wisdom cannot be passive but must be active and must engage the world around us.

There is much wisdom in the Bible.  Jesus and many others offered lessons on how we are to live our lives and how we are to live out our faith.  By spending time in the Word, we gain wisdom.  Once we learn something though, it is just the beginning.  It only becomes ‘real’ and useful when we apply it to how we live our lives.  Once we do this, we in turn grow wiser in our daily decisions.  This is one way we allow our light to shine in the world.

We must be in the Word daily.  There we find the gems that help us to walk our path of salvation in a way that is a little more aligned with God’s plans for our lives.  As we gain and live out God’s wisdom, we bring honor and glory to God.

Scripture reference: Proverbs 31: 10-31


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A Commitment to Delight

“Blessed is he …  whose delight is in the law of the Lord.”  We all want to be blessed, to have a ‘good’ life.  God watches over the faithful, helps us to grow in our faith so that we can bear fruit, and allows us to prosper.  All promises in Psalm 1.  When we are faithful, life is indeed good.

How does one ‘delight’ in the law?  And what is the ‘law’?  Neither term is as simple as it might appear at first glance.  In today’s text ‘delight’ means to value, to take pleasure in, to engage, to wrestle with, and to explore God’s laws.  It is a fullness of our interaction with God.  It is not a sit-on-the-sidelines, one-hour-a-week faith.

The law is traditionally seen as the commandments and other rules that encompass how to live as a good Israelite.  In this context and in our lives, the ‘law’ is so much more.  Here is also encompasses God’s teachings and His direction for our lives.  To fully live into this idea is active and participatory.  Walter Brueggemann said it is to experiment without fear and to try on God’s teachings for size.  It is to learn by doing and to fully throw oneself into wrestling with God’s direction for and intent with our lives.

To grow and bear fruit and to share our faith takes a good deal of effort.  It is a commitment.  To spend time in pursuing God’s vision for our life takes courage and trust.  It is wrestling with, engaging in, and being molded by this into the person God wants us to be.  The promises are great but it does take commitment, trust, courage, and effort.  May we delight in all God offers as we come to be more and more like Christ.

Scripture reference: Psalm 1


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Our Rock and Redeemer

God is perfect.  Therefore we find perfection in His laws and in all of His ways.  The psalmist extols the laws’ benefits – it revives the soul, makes the simple wise, and makes the heart rejoice.  Benefits come from living under the law.  The psalmist recognizes his own imperfection and acknowledges that God does not expect perfection from us either.

The ways of God are valuable and important to life.  To the psalmist they are as valuable as pure gold and as sweet as honey.  For us as well there are benefits from following God’s statutes.  They give us both guidance and protection.  Life is smoother and within a peaceful contentment more often when we seek to follow His ways.  Yet we cannot always follow all of His laws and the psalmist admits this as well.

The psalmist goes beyond this admission as he asks God to find his hidden faults too.  The obvious sins are just that.  But we sometimes sin in ways that we do not even realize and he is asking for forgiveness for these as well.  Perhaps these are things like the missed opportunity we did not even see or the words that hurt another unbeknownst to us.  We too need what the psalmist asks for – forgiveness from sins and protection against future sins.

The psalmist closes with a popular and well-known prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”  Today, may this be our prayer.  May the words in our mouths and in our minds be acceptable to God.  May all of our thoughts and ideas honor God.  And may we find rest, peace, comfort, and love in the Lord, our rock and our redeemer.

Scripture reference: Psalm 19: 7-14