True Riches

“Because I love Your commands more than gold, more than pure gold,” -Psalm 119:127

The psalmist pleads for the Lord to take action in the previous verse because he treasures God’s glory more than the riches of the earth. No gemstone or precious metal is worth comparing to the greatness of God’s glory revealed in His holy gift. God’s Word is the psalmist’s delight. As a believer grows in fellowship with the Lord, he will see the wisdom in God’s boundaries, His commands, in which we are free to roam. Pasture is good, but so are fences to keep us from harm. Whether it is an outsider who seeks our undoing, or we attempt to destroy ourselves in sin, God has laid out His commands as guideposts for staying on the narrow path. This is why Christians find God’s Word priceless. 

Keep to His way and you will be alert to steep cliffs, falling rocks, sharp twists and turns on your pilgrim journey. We can pray for a love of His commands and for the Holy Spirit to help us obey them. God is faithful to answer this kind of prayer since it is in line with His will. Loving the Bible leads us straight to what, or Whom, our hearts always longed for. God’s Treasure Map shows us the way to true life, eternal life hidden in Jesus Christ.

Grace upon grace,

April 

For further encouragement I wanted to share this song. I’ve been thinking a lot about Heaven lately. It isn’t a discontent with all God has given me here, but knowing something better awaits. Scripture directs our steps back to Eden, through Jesus Christ. Christian, this isn’t our home. Don’t drop your anchor here. We’re almost Home.

 

Judgement and Grace

“It is time for You to act, O LORD; Your law is being broken.” -Psalm 119:126

This verse shifts to a petition of action. It is not a demand, for who can order the Lord what to do? Rather, out of zeal for God’s Kingdom and honor, the psalmist cries out for the Lord to move swiftly. God will not allow wickedness to go unpunished- He will not be mocked. Yet God does not operate on our timetable. He is not bound by Time, for He created it. He is slow to anger, longsuffering, not wishing any to perish in Hell for everlasting wrath. I once heard a pastor say that Hell was made for Satan and the demons. It was never God’s intention to have image-bearers dwell in torment. We were made for Eden. Yet it doesn’t prevent image-bearers to rebel against God either. Rebellion and an unrepentant heart suffer the consequences of God’s actions with eternal judgement. 

Even the Lord Jesus took action when His Father’s house was turned into a marketplace instead of a house of worship (Matthew 21:12-13). We too can follow Jesus’ example of standing for holiness by upholding God’s laws. As redeemed sinners, we hold two truths together. The law reflects as a mirror of our true selves, mercifully, leading to repentance. Grace is now the freedom of every Christian. Just as we have been lavished in His grace, so we extend grace toward others. As the Christian matures in faith we see both extremes of legalism and grace abused as deceptive. We must stand for God’s standard as the psalmist does, crying out for justice. And yet the psalmist can boldly pray this request knowing he is securely kept by God, resting in the shadow of the Almighty. His sins are forgiven, his debt paid in full with the future blood of his Savior, Jesus Christ. Even if the psalmist’s (or our) feelings wax and wane, the facts remain. God does not give up what He has already bought with the sacrifice of His One and Only Son. Be of good courage and take heart, God will act for His people because He has already overcome the world, starting with Death.

Grace upon grace,

April

Growing deeper: Psalm 2; Psalm 91; Romans 5:20-6:23; 16:17-20

 

Confidence in God

“I hate double-minded men, but I love Your law.” -Psalm 119:113

There is a familiar tone from the octave Mem (vv. 97-104), where the psalmist proclaims his love for what God loves (v. 97) and hatred of what God hates (v. 104). Here the psalmist declares his hatred of wavering faith. The double-minded person is divided in their loyalties, not deeply rooted in faith (James 1:5-8; Matthew 13:5-7; 20-22). Self-sufficiency over trust in the Lord. They lack confidence in Who God is. Reading Christian biographies is a good remedy for seeing God’s power on display. Gladys Aylward, William Wilberforce, Elisabeth Elliot, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon and Amy Carmichael are a few I can recommend. Their lives show us that we do not compartmentalize our faith. Genuine fellowship with the Lord does not operate this way.

Elisabeth Elliot comments on a Christian’s confidence in God. She says confidence in the Lord leads to a prayerful life, which leads to a fruitful life, which leads to a joyful life. Elisabeth suggests another faith-building exercise (to fight double-mindedness) is to write down in a specific notebook your prayer requests. Over time look back through them and write down how the Lord has answered that prayer. Is anything more helpful than to see how God works personally toward you? 

Even as the psalmist cries his hatred of double-minded men, we must remember that he speaks of their lack of faith toward the God he loves. It is an extreme use of language describing what he rejects and what he commends. We do not hate any person created in the image of God, but hate the effects of sin born in every soul except Christ. This calls for discernment and maturity which comes from reading God’s Word on a regular basis. What pleases God and what grieves Him? Spiritually nourishing our souls is how we cultivate wisdom as we make a thousand choices each day. Holy living is made practical, which is why the psalmist then exclaims his love for God’s law. Obedience to God’s commands keeps us from becoming double-minded people. God is gracious to show us the best path for us to follow. It is written in His Word.

Grace upon grace,

April

The value of Scripture

“I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey Your precepts.” -Psalm 119:100

This verse is similar to the last one except here the psalmist refers to his elders. The elderly were highly respected in this culture. Here he talks of understanding, a synonym to insight and wisdom. God’s commands make him wise, insightful, with understanding because he carries God’s words with him wherever he goes. He meditates on them and obeys what God’s precepts instruct.

It is wise to hide God’s Word in our hearts so we might not sin against Him. This is a way of remembering throughout the day and not forgetting God as we go about our earthly duties. We will gain insight and blessing the more time we spend meditating on what God’s commands mean, then obeying them. Believers who are doers of the Word will obey God’s way and thereby gain understanding in the value of Scripture through experience.

Grace upon grace,

April

Growing deeper: Psalm 119:9-16; James 1:23-25

Treasuring wisdom

“I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on Your statutes.” -Psalm 119:99

This verse nicely follows the previous one on wisdom. The psalmist here speaks of his insight now compared to his teachers. His teachers were first his parents, then the religious leaders. He has learned more than the dutiful Jewish student, diving deeper into God’s storehouse of treasure. Only those with  seeking hearts find what they seek. God gives them eyes of faith to mine the precious jewels found in Scripture. This kind of insight is worth more than all the riches in the world. Earthly wealth will lose its luster one day and eventually burn up in God’s Kingdom. Wisdom from God is eternal for all His students. 

Grace upon grace,

April

Growing deeper: Matthew 6:19-21; Proverbs 3:13-26

Blessings of wisdom

“Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.” -Psalm 119:98

To be wise. Even better is to be wiser than our enemies. This doesn’t imply higher academic marks or a more comprehensive head knowledge of the Bible. Atheists will read God’s Book for merely intellectual purposes, remaining untouched by the deeper truths the Lord has layered in Scripture. The way in which a believer is wiser than an unbeliever is through understanding the spiritual realities that exist. This only comes by faith.

Our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We see the purpose of our lives through the living and active Word of God. It is not a dead history book. Believers not only take in what we read and hear from the Bible, but digest the truth in meditation, then act accordingly through obedience. Do you believe all of Scripture to be true and trustworthy? Our answer will determine how we approach studying God’s commands, how we live, and how we relate to God Himself. God’s words are spiritual food, nourishment for souls on earth. May God be gracious to bless you with wisdom in thought, speech and action. May our sin nature (our enemy) not rule over us. Let us seek and pray for wisdom like the psalmist.

Grace upon grace,

April

Growing deeper: Ephesians 6:10-18; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Sweet words

“Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long.

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. 

I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on Your statutes. 

I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey Your precepts.

I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey Your Word.

I have not departed from Your laws, for You Yourself have taught me.

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

I gain understanding from Your precepts therefore I hate every wrong path.” -Psalm 119:97-104 (Mem)

This octave begins with love and ends with hate. Like the psalmist, we love what God loves and hate what He hates. God calls us to love Himself, His Word and others. We hate sin, specifically starting with our own. We rightly understand that sin ushered in a Curse, which hangs heavy over humanity. The effects of sin are seen and felt everyday in this broken world, which is why the psalmist declares his passion for God’s Word and zeal to obey. He also knows a Perfect Kingdom will be ushered in one day. Promises fulfilled and yet to be bring comfort and purpose in this life. As the psalmist looked forward to the coming Messiah, we have the distinct privilege of seeing this promised fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The Christian’s faith and hope lies in the “already and not yet” side of history as we wait on the Lord. 

As we live in the interim, before God consummates full redemption, believers can enjoy the sweetness of His Word. The psalmist loves the life giving fruit God’s Word bears. He takes the Lord’s commands seriously, not wanting to grieve his Holy Father. As a result of his emotions toward God, the psalmist pens a beautiful octave of unrestrained adoration with devout seriousness in approaching His Word. Meditation, obedience, love- in this order the Christian life flows, over and over. It is in this faithful cycle, by God’s grace, we receive sweet words of spiritual nourishment.

Grace upon grace,

April

When enemies assail us

“The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder Your statutes.” -Psalm 119:95

The psalmist knows the plans of the wicked against him. It is helpful to remember when we too are oppressed by evildoers, it is more that they have a hatred of God than we did anything worthy of their venom. Loving the Lord our God in faithful obedience is our “crime”. Therefore persecution should not take us by surprise because if they crucified Jesus, unbelievers will afflict His people as well (John 15:18-25). Yet we look to Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith, clinging to God when enemies assail us. 

 Persecution is to be expected, not viewed as something strange for the Christian. When we suffer for Christ’s sake we can trust God is at work! All Christians should expect the way of the cross in this life- to be a daily living sacrifice pleases our Father. Instead of asking “why is this happening?” we must ask “what would You have me do today?” and walk in obedience. No matter how small or insignificant your obedience may seem, the loving Lord sees all. Continue to do good and place your faith in the One who loves you best. Jesus sacrificed Himself for sinners to have eternal peace with God. Set your gaze in His Word, asking the Lord to help your unbelief, doubts, or fears when you are weary and downcast. His statutes will provide comfort and wisdom to those who seek Him. 

Grace upon grace,

April 

Growing deeper: 1 Peter 4; Romans 12:1-2

Remembering

“I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have preserved my life.” -Psalm 119:93

Precepts are man’s moral obligations as we are joined with God. Christians represent Christ and therefore imitate His character, following God’s command to be good stewards of all He has given us (Genesis 1:26-28). Yet one of the greatest snares to holy living is forgetfulness. I forget every day where I placed my phone or if I responded back to a text. But spiritual amnesia is far worse. Think of how many times in Scripture the Lord commands His people to “Remember”. The psalmist declares he will not forget God’s precepts. Like Christian in Pilgrims’s Progress, when we step off the narrow path forgetting how God has called us to live, we are headed down the wide road of destruction, and just might end up in the clutches of one Giant Despair! God’s commands are for our own good. They keep us from destroying ourselves, preserve our souls, and sustain consecrated holiness.

On this side of the cross, you and I have the privilege of remembering what Christ has done for sinners and sufferers. We remember the bloody cross and God’s mercy. We remember that Jesus paid the believer’s sin debt once and for all. We remember Who we belong to. We remember that this place is not our home but Jesus is preparing a place for us with Him. We remember and believe and do not despair. The Gospel saves our souls, allowing us to live out the precepts God graciously provides for His children. 

Grace upon grace,

April

Growing deeper: 1 Peter 1:1-21

All Things Together

“Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve You.” -Psalm 119:91

This verse nicely compliments the previous two verses. The psalmist is still praising God for the endurance of His Word. God in His lovingkindness has proved Himself faithful over the course of human history to reveal His Truth to us. We would be eternally lost if the Lord had not left His instruction on how to find Him. What does the Bible say on how to find God? Jesus said, “I AM The Way, and The Truth, and The Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). If we want to know God and His ways of saving faith, we need not look any further than His Son Jesus Christ (John 17).

All things serve God as well. Even a soul which does not know or acknowledge their Creator, God in His Sovereignty can use whatever tool He pleases for His purpose. The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart to accomplish His plan in redeeming enslaved Israel through Moses (Romans 9:14-24). God appointed Cyrus, a pagan ruler of Persia, to allow the Jews to return to Israel after 70 years of captivity. Isaiah even prophecies Cyrus’ role in Jewish history, calling him by name, 150 years before Cyrus was even born:

“This is what the Lord says to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge Me.” (Isaiah 45:1-4)

God gives each of us a will which He can use in His foreknowledge for His purpose. Nothing takes the Father by surprise, there is no ‘plan B’. This is the beautiful mystery of man’s will and God’s sovereignty at work. Praise God He allows us to mine the depths of His revealed wisdom. Yet I believe we have only begun to scratch the surface of this incomprehensible, indescribable, unchanging Lord of all. In writing his letter to the Roman church, Paul stops two-thirds of the way and exclaims,

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36) 

Grace upon grace,

April

Growing deeper: Job 37:14-42:6; Colossians 1:15-17

All Things Together by Andrew Peterson