A Holy Passion

161 “Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at Your Word. 162 I rejoice in Your promise like one who finds great spoil. 163 I hate and abhor falsehood but I love Your law. 164 Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous laws. 165 Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble. 166 I wait for Your salvation, O LORD, and I follow Your commands. 167 I obey Your statutes, for I love them greatly. 168 I obey Your precepts and Your statutes, for all my ways are known to You.” -Psalm 119:161-168 Sin and Shin

It is said we become what we behold. God’s will is for every believer to grow in love with Him each day through His revealed Word. Can we echo the psalmist as one who finds great treasure in it? In the Lord? The psalmist isn’t just an admirer of God’s law, but a follower of it. The writer here is fully captivated with the Lord. He loves God the Father and tells Him so, over and over, throughout the entire psalm. Yet words must match our lives. The psalmist’s actions prove the devotion and sincerity of his heart to live before the throne of God in sweet communion. What is interesting to note is that through most of this psalm, he has been under affliction. Yet trials have not pushed him away from God but drawn him even closer. 

I think about specific times in my life when the storms of life have howled. Although I didn’t understand the circumstances, Peter’s words to Jesus came to mind when Christ asked his disciples if they were going to leave Him. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God”, was Peter’s reply (John 6:68-69). It’s one of my favorite lines in Scripture because it encompasses the life of faith for the Christian. When trials come (and they will), do we isolate and nurse our wounds? Or do we cling to God, our Father, who loves us best? 

God’s Word brings peace in our hearts, praise to our lips, obedience in our steps, holiness to our lives. This discipline of delight is cultivated over a lifetime of experiencing the Lord’s fellowship, discipline, mercy and grace. As we near the end of Psalm 119, the writer looks back over the life God gave him, laying it all before Him. The psalmist presents the entirety of his life as a sacrifice back to the One who gave Him the gift of salvation. We too, are called to lay our lives down for God’s glory, as we become more like His Son. We use the treasure map of the Bible to lead us closer to God. All the arrows point to the Pearl of Great Price, Jesus Christ. May God be our Abba, Father, as we dig deeper to mine the treasures He chooses to show us.

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: Psalm 63; Matthew 13:44-46; Romans 12:1-2


Eternally True

“All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal.” -Psalm 119:160

This is a verse which varies significantly in different Bible translations. Yet I found those differences to enhance its meaning. The entirety, the sum, the essence, of God’s truth has been true since the beginning. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth […] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-2). Scripture affirms Scripture as we see it here. Psalm 119, Genesis 1 and John 1 exalt God’s eternality, the validity of His words, and Christ as our Living Word. The theme of everlasting truth was previously echoed in vv.151-152 of Psalm 119. We know God’s word to be true and trustworthy because He is. His laws are eternal because God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is complete in Himself, needing nothing.

We are but a vapor but God’s Word will remain. The trees will wither, the beauty of flowers fades, men live and die, but the Word of God stands forever. Those in Christ Jesus will also live forever, reigning as co-heirs with King Jesus. Through Christ we are given eternal worth and purpose. Jesus has perfectly fulfilled what we were unable to keep in God’s holy laws. Our mortal bodies on earth will fail us, but God promises immortal, glorified bodies for His saints which will never wear out. He will make good on His promises just as He has before. He is faithful. What better example do we have than the fulfilled promise of Jesus the Messiah? Make no mistake, this same Lord Jesus who came to earth, will come again. When He returns, it will be in His splendor, ruling in truth and grace forever.

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: Isaiah 40:6-8; Psalm 39:4-7; 90; Revelation 22


Redeemed in Love

“See how I love Your precepts; preserve my life, O LORD, according to Your love.” -Psalm 119:159

We love Him because He first loved us. Christians love God because He has placed a desire within us to seek His face. Do you remember how Jacob wrestled with the angel and would not let him go until he was given a blessing? The way we “wrestle” with God is through His Word. The truth of His precepts are given to us to engage Him. This is how we learn from Him and of Him. Once we encounter the Living God, we wrestle with His standard of holiness, coming face to face with our sin because we cannot measure up. Confession and repentance follow. In His mercy, Christians receive the blessing of their salvation. Just as Jacob was given the blessing of a new name, Israel, we too have a new nature in Christ. As you and I grow in grace, His words become sweeter, His fellowship our most treasured relationship.

This is the psalmist’s third and final request for preservation. The way he phrases this verse is a reflection of mutual love with His Father. The psalmist has declared his love of the Lord’s commands, then desires to keep them with more grace, more love, more awakening to the deeper and true. Then the psalmist adds that this request be fulfilled according to God’s love for him. Every Christian can confidently repeat this petition knowing very well how securely loved we are by our Heavenly Father. The Lord is faithful to preserve and grow His children in the grace we ask for. 

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: Genesis 32:9-32; 1 John 4:13-21

My friend Anna sent this song to me. It’s very good so I wanted to share it with you too! 

Solid Joy

“I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey Your Word.” -Psalm 119:158

 Transgressors who have never known God as their Father are to be most pitied. Christians rightly abhor all sin, first starting with our own. It grieves us, because this is what has separated every man and woman from God since the Fall in Eden. This is why God hates sin because sin ushered in death, the curse, which has touched everything. The psalmist is heartsick by the faithless people he encounters because it is to the ruin of their own souls, provoking God to judge. 

 Just as Heaven is a real place, so is Hell, and they are both eternal. We see and feel the effects of sin everyday, in the world and in our own lives. This world isn’t as it should be, which is interesting because even the unregenerate know this, striving to create their own utopia. Faithlessness and disobedience are the children of pride and human autonomy. As we live each day in a world that is not our home, interacting with others, still being tied to our flesh, may the children of God be on high alert to Satan’s schemes. If the devil cannot have our souls, he still seeks to tear down the fruit God has cultivated in us with disobedience. For what use is a paralyzed Christian? Dear Christian, rest in the work Christ has done on your behalf and war against the spiritual realities of evil as we pilgrim through this life. Walk worthy of the calling you have received through Christ with obedience. The faithless live for today, but the faithful live with the Living Hope of God’s past faithfulness, present graces and future promises. God’s holy, eternal judgement toward the faithless is what makes His unending mercy toward redeemed sinners so rich. We are the ones with solid joy. Praise God!

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: Romans 8:5-14; Ephesians 5:8-17; 6:10-18; 1 Peter 1:3-16; 5:8-11

Do Not Be Overcome

“Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from Your statutes.” -Psalm 119:157

After focusing on the Lord’s compassion, petitioning Him to preserve his life, the psalmist circles back to his enemies as in verse 155. The writer is stating his case before God, as to what he is up against, yet the servant of God remains blameless. He has not retaliated, taking revenge in his own hands. Any faithful saint will have foes because our Master told us it would be so (John 15:18-25). Sometimes it seems even other Christians are threatened by another’s zeal for the things of God. Do not let that dampen your fervor for your Father in Heaven. Whether the antagonist be within or outside the gate, the heart He gave you to follow Him stays true. Paul encouraged the Roman Christians to not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. This is what happens when we entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly. What is our reputation in the eyes of man, so long as we are blameless before God? Taking the eternal perspective frees us to live before an audience of One and not live for the fear of man.

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: Romans 12:9-21; 1 Peter 2:9-25; 4:12-19

Filled with compassion

“Your compassion is great, O LORD; preserve my life according to Your laws.” -Psalm 119:156

I am grateful for God’s compassion. What would it be like to serve an all-powerful Creator who lacked compassion on His creation? I think some view God this way from lack of knowledge about what the Bible actually says regarding the Lord’s character. It can also stem from an unfortunate upbringing where an earthly father was absent or abusive, projecting this understanding of a father onto our Heavenly Father. Whatever the reason, the truth of the matter is found throughout Scripture. The heart of God is made flesh in the heart of Christ. Just as God pursued Adam and Eve in the Garden after they sinned, Jesus sought out the outcasts, the self-righteous, the diseased, the weary- sinners.

The story Jesus told of the prodigal son is a picture of every redeemed sinner coming back to his true Father. And how is the father in the story portrayed? When he sees his wayward son coming home, while he was still a distance away, “his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20). God is perfectly compassionate, perfect in power and justice. He is able to preserve His people however He sees right. Spiritually speaking, His elect are preserved for all eternity because of His great mercy. It is His will to preserve us, so that not one sheep is lost. God blesses such a prayer like the psalmist’s, but it may not be answered in a way he (or we) expects. Our faith is made even more precious when we pray expectantly, waiting on His timing, not ours. Fear not, God is at work mercifully saving and keeping those who belong to Him. This is the second of three prayers in this octave requesting preservation from the Lord.

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: Luke 15:11-32; John 17:6-26; Ephesians 2:1-10


Come Home

“Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out Your decrees.” -Psalm 119:155

Salvation is far from those who reject God as Truth. Their hearts are hard, their spiritual eyes are blind. Oh that they might draw near to God, to “taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8). We all like sheep have gone astray, each determining what is right in our own eyes, forming ourselves and other things into little gods. But God, in His rich mercy, saved His elected saints, bringing His children into the Shepherd’s fold, adopted forever as His sons and daughters. We are the ones who are being made truly alive each day, to reflect our Eternal King. Christian, take joy in the gift of your salvation. This is the closest to Hell you will ever be. 

Those who have no appetite for God will be given over to their lusts. Sin, deceit and confusion will rule the rebellious heart (Romans 1:18-32). It should break the heart of every believer to see someone revel in lies. It was never meant to be this way. Yet because we live under a Curse, Jesus came to set us free. For those who belong to Christ Jesus, you are now no longer under condemnation, but grace. His set love is on you, His mercy is unending. 

But how will anyone know they are lost if they do not first hear about God? How will they ever know to seek Someone they have not heard? This is why evangelism is needed. Christians are to proclaim the Good News to others so they too might hear and repent. We cannot save, for this is the Lord’s work. We are simply called to be faithful with what we know to be true. Go and tell. Live out the Gospel truth that through Jesus’ sacrifice of His own body, redeemed sinners are forgiven, because of God’s mercy. Jesus Christ is the only way to have eternal peace and fellowship with God (John 14:6). Jesus “has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). If you have never trusted in the saving and finished work of Christ I implore you to go to Jesus today. He is waiting for you to come Home.

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: Isaiah 53; 55; Romans 10:14-17; Ephesians 1-2:10


Christ our Advocate

“Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to Your promise.” -Psalm 119:154

Here is the first of the psalmist’s plea for preservation. Other translations say “revive” or “give me life”. It is a quickening. The writer asks God to sustain him during his trial. Whether he means physically to keep him alive or his spiritual vitality I do not know. Perhaps it is both. If David penned this psalm, then we know he was surrounded by Saul’s men constantly, hunted down as an animal. They were many in number and strong. Only God could protect him. We do need our bodies and minds to work properly in order to serve God. There is everything right with praying for God’s physical protection. Yet if we are spiritually stagnant, what use are we to God or anyone else? It’s like using a dull ax to chop wood. It is appropriate to pray for life abundant in Jesus- more grace, more love, more of Christ in us.

The psalmist asks the Lord to defend and redeem him. Why? This is not necessarily to save his own skin, but so that the work of God might continue in his heart, mind and soul. He is asking for further transformation and perseverance. If the psalmist is preserved, both physically and spiritually, he may continue on the pilgrim road. His work is not yet done which is to the psalmist’s benefit, as he is pruned little by little, to reflect his Savior. On this particular verse John Gill comments, “Christ is the advocate of his people, their Redeemer, who is mighty, and thoroughly pleads their cause against the accusations of Satan, the charges of law and justice, and the condemnation of their own hearts; as well as defends their innocence from the calumnies of wicked men, and rights their wrongs, and redresses their grievances;”. Paul writes in his letter to the Roman Christians, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) The psalmist can look forward to the future graces of his spiritual inheritance knowing God is on his side and will intercede for him. El Shaddai defends His beloved permanently from the invisible realities because He has overcome death and Satan. The Serpent Crusher is greater than the one who is in the world.

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: John 15:18-27; Romans 8:28-39; Ephesians 6:12-13; Hebrews 10:5-23


“Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten Your law.” -Psalm 119:153

Praying for what we know the Lord can do and will answer in His time is a source of great comfort. We don’t know when or how the deliverance will come, but trust Him to be our help. Will He relieve our earthly pain in this specific case? Or will a reception from Heaven be our sweet welcome as we cast off the burdens of this life, delivered eternally from heartache? God already sees the psalmist’s pain and the writer knows this. Yet he asks for God to look closer, with compassion, and act. Whatever the outcome, the psalmist will not let go of God’s laws. He has resolved to live out his faith and worship the One True God no matter what. We cannot always understand God’s reasons or timing in events, but we can know His heart is for sinners and sufferers. This is why Jesus went to the cross, to take our place. No matter what happens this side of Heaven, those in Christ will be eternally delivered.

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: Job 17:1-9; 19:23-29; Matthew 11:28-30; 2 Corinthians 4:8-18

Preservation and Power

153″Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten Your law. 154 Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to Your promise. 155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out Your decrees. 156 Your compassion is great, O LORD; preserve my life according to Your laws. 157 Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from Your statutes. 158 I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey Your Word. 159 See how I love Your precepts; preserve my life, O LORD, according to Your love. 160 All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal.” -Psalm 119:153-160 Resh

The psalmist prays for the Lord to preserve him three times in this prayer. He asks God to preserve his life according to His promise, laws, and love. This octave is similar to the previous Qoph (vv.145-152). There are parallels in the writer’s petition, reflection of the wicked, and praise of God’s eternal words. Verse 160 emphasizes what is said earlier in verses 151-152, proclaiming God’s words as true and eternal. In both octaves the psalmist is in distress, petitioning for the Lord’s deliverance (vv.145-149/153-154). He is surrounded by the wicked, who are God’s enemies, in verse 150 and vv. 157-158. Whether these prayers were written over the same affliction or separate matters, I do not know. But the psalmist once again places his cause and trust in God’s hands. He is asking for the Lord to be his defense, Jehovah Maginnenu. 

The psalmist’s prayer and example are ours to imitate. His faith brings him to trust in God’s promises, His law, which demonstrates God’s perfect justice, and His covenantal love, which knows no end. The same God the writer cries out to is the same Lord whose strong arm rules with complete power today. If we ever need to be reminded of God’s transcendence and sovereignty, especially in a world where wickedness and confusion rule the day, look no further than the Bible. Like in the days of Noah, right up until the flood, evil seemed to be winning. There were 400 years of silence from God’s prophets before the Light of the World broke through. Then everything changed. Jesus came in the silence of night, unassuming, as a baby. The King is coming again but this time, all the world will know it. He will come as a warrior on a white horse. In the end, the psalmist’s prayer is fully answered in the future deliverance of God’s people at the end of Time. This too, is our great hope, as we look back on God’s past faithfulness, His present help and future graces.

Grace upon grace,


Growing deeper: Isaiah 40; Matthew 24:36-44; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Revelation 19:6-16