Friday, 31 March 2017

The Lord is Righteous

Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth;
Yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers plowed on my back;
They made their furrows long.”
The Lord is righteous;
He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked. – Psalm 129.2-4

David begins the psalm by talking all the opposition he gets in the world. He has all kinds of trouble in this world. His enemies afflict and it seems like evil is winning and God’s people are losing.

It just doesn’t seem right – and it isn’t.

Nothing about this world is right. It opposes us and our God. It opposes the things of God and God’s plan for it and God’s natural order of things. There is no right and there is no wrong and it feels like God’s enemies are surely going to win.

But we have the absolute assurance that we have a God who is righteous and he always acts according to His righteousness and because He always does righteously we always see Him do right.

One day He is going to sort all of this out. His rightness will prevail in this world of wrongness. The wicked will not always win. Wrong will not prevail. Thank God that all we have to do is to hold on and trust Him while we wait for His righteousness to win out.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

A song of hope and blessing

Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you out of Zion,
And may you see the good of Jerusalem
All the days of your life.
Yes, may you see your children's children.
Peace be upon Israel! – Psalm 128

This is a beautiful psalm just full of blessings and goodness. The whole thing is precipitated by the words ‘blessed is the man that fears the Lord.’ This person is one who lives his always keep in mind that he is accountable to God for the life he lives.

These blessings don’t mean that this man won’t have issues. It doesn’t mean that his life will be without cares or worries. It does mean that God can and will bless us during times of good or bad.

You can be happy. Things will be well for you. Things are not going to be perfect because this is a broken world, but we can be happy in this world if we are fearing the Lord more than we fear this old world.

Underlying all that we face is God’s constant blessing on us. We can find happiness and prosperity and blessing and goodness no matter what the circumstances when we walk with the Lord.

No matter what comes our way we can rest in the goodness of our God and enjoy His blessings. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

He has done great things

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us, And we are glad.  – Psalm 126.2-3

The Lord has done great things for us. I think if we were to be honest we would have to say there are times when those words seem kind of hollow. There are times when I don’t see God’s great works with my eyes of flesh. All I see are my issues and my problems and my fears.

But really? So I have a few hard times and a few struggles. Life is life. Life is full of sorrows. We live in a broken world full of broken people. Everyone is going to face problems.

But God’s children should have a different perspective. We can rest assured that God has done great things despite all the wrong we see. I think of James’ words here when he wrote about we are to rejoice in trials because those trials allow us to learn lessons to prepare us for the future.

Plus, God has done so many obvious great things. He is the creator of all we see and he is the sustainer of all we enjoy. He keeps my heart beating and my lungs pumping. He provides my daily bread.

But more than any of those things is that He saved me from my sin.

Because He has done that one great thing I have hope no matter what I encounter today.

He has done great things – so I can be glad and assured that He is doing even greater things in the future. 

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Children - our reward

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. – Psalm 127.3-5

I love kids. I love the youth and exuberance and joy and innocence and fun and mischievousness and love and joy that they give. We are living in a day that misses far too much those things and instead sees children as pests or bothers or inconveniences or something to be avoided. More and more couples are choosing to delay or postpone or even choosing not to have children because they are seen as too must of a bother and as too limiting or restricting or hindering.

But God’s word has a whole different view of children and God’s people need to look carefully at what God has to say.  

God says that children are our ultimate heritage, they are a reward. They are like arrows in the hands of a warrior as they are the way to carry our lives on to future generations. They ought to cause us to be happy and blessed and not to feel frustrated or bothered.

Children always had a special place in the word of God. Of all the places where we see the focus on them the most obvious is when a group of children came to see Jesus and His disciple tried to send them away. Of course, we know that instead of Jesus doing that He told the disciples to let the children come to Him. He told the disciples that children were a picture of those who would be in His kingdom.

I am so glad for our six children and I am thrilled that so far they have given us twelve grandchildren. I loved it when our children were young and I love seeing our grandchildren. They are a special reward and I thank God for each of them. I pray that they will be the heritage that Mary and I will leave behind.  

Monday, 27 March 2017

Not moved

Those who trust in the Lord
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever. – Psalm 125.1-2

It is hard to find strength in anything today. Everything that can seem so strong and so stable is liable to collapse and failure.

Standing firm as a believer can be hard too. How can we keep from being moved in a world that seemingly draws conformity? How do we stand for God and for right when there is so much anti-God and anti-right.

It is almost too simple – those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion. That mountain cannot be moved – it abides forever. And just like the mountains surround Jerusalem God surrounds His people forever.

I’ve never been to Jerusalem, but they tell me that this is a perfect illustration for someone living in Jerusalem. The psalmist could have pointed all around and said ‘you see these mountain? Those who trust in God will find Him surrounding them just like these mountains all around us and just like they will never be moved God’s people can never be moved.

We need not be moved in the midst of our storms. We need not be moved though all we know is shaken because we have the Lord on our side – we shall not be moved.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

If not for the Lord

"If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, When men rose up against us, Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their wrath was kindled against us; Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, The stream would have gone over our soul; Then the swollen waters Would have gone over our soul." – Psalm 124.2-5

‘If not for the Lord.’ What thought provoking words these are. It is an easy verse to personalise – ‘if not for the Lord where would I be?’

This was used for Israel here – but we might well ask ourselves the same question, ‘if not for the Lord’ where would I be.

I hate to even think. In 1973 I was on a downhill course. I had moved far from home for the first time and found myself in a party school for a college. Drink was everywhere, including in the basement of my dorm. I had experimented with drink in high school but it was not a major part of my life.

But now, well, things got bad quickly. With drink everywhere I took full advantage. Before long I was losing weekends and once was accused of theft when I could say nothing because I had no memory of the night. I was almost kicked out of this school where rules meant little. I started drinking to get over a hangover.

But then God stepped in. He saved me and turned my life around. Still, I was not done and backslid into that same nonsense again. Again God stepped in and turned me back on the right path. I stopped the drink completely and changed schools to a Christian college. I met Mary and He directed us into Christian service. Eventually that led to the life we have today.

So if not for the Lord where indeed would I be? Who knows? Maybe I would have dealt with the drink and got my act together, people do that. But I do know that when God stepped He saved me, then He accepted me back when I wandered from Him, then He kept me a preserved from the path drink was taking me down.

It is was His work. If not for the Lord who knows where I would be. But I do know I would not have the life I have today. I know that I would not have the wife and family and friends I have today. And if not for the LOrd my eternity would not be secure.

Thank God that don’t have to know where I would be ‘if not for the Lord?’

Saturday, 25 March 2017

I will lift up my eyes

Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our  God, Until He has mercy on us. – Psalm 123.1-2

There are few things worse than a down-hearted Christian who is full of gloom. It is easy to get downcast when we look at all the stuff going on around us. If all we do is look down at all this we are certainly going to be discouraged.

The Bible has the solution there. David said ‘unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in heaven.’ That reminds me of where Paul wrote to the Colossians that if they are truly in Christ they ought to set their affections, and eyes, on heavenly things and not earthly things. Instead of focusing on the difficulties that line our race of life we ought to be looking at Jesus as the Author and Finisher of our faith standing at the finish line.

So much of how we deal with our life is what we tend to focus on. It is up to you and me to decide if we are going to get caught up in all this mess or if we are going to look to Jesus as our hope.

I think of Peter walking on the water. He did fine until he focused on the problems, but when he sank he looked to Jesus and cried out ‘save me!’

When Stephen was being martyred he cried out that he saw Jesus standing at the Father’s right hand.

In our times of trouble instead of being downcast we ought to, so to say, pick up our chins, look up, and gaze on the face of Jesus as our hope to carry us through.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Let us go to the house of the Lord

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
Our feet have been standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem is built
As a city that is compact together,
Where the tribes go up,
The tribes of the Lord,
To the Testimony of Israel,
To give thanks to the name of the Lord. – Psalm 122.1-4

I like the phrase ‘the house of the Lord.’ In the Old Testament it referred to the Temple or the tabernacle where God literally dwelt. When the psalmist wrote ‘let us go to the house of the Lord’ that is what he meant.

But it was more than that as well. This is the place where the people have committed to be together. It is the place where people were committed to their testimony and to give thanks to the Lord.

The building itself is not the special place – it is special because that is where God’s people meet together. It is what Paul meant when he wrote to Ephesus that Jewish and Gentile believers together make up ‘the household of God.’

There is no greater joy than being together with the household of God. The weekend is just about upon us. Sunday morning we will have a choice, will something else get in the way or we will say ‘let us go the house of the Lord and let us meet with His household, our family?’ 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Never slumbers

My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand. – Psalm 121.2-5

I love this psalm. It is one of my favourite to preach on. The psalm speaks of Israel returning to Jerusalem and looking up to the hills of Jerusalem. As they did they considered where their help really came from. It wasn’t Jerusalem – ‘my help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.’

Then follows a great description of who that Lord is.

The Maker of heaven and earth
The one who gives us stability
And the Keeper of Israel

Now I do understand that we cannot take every promise to Israel and claim them for the church, but here Israel only illustrates that God keeps His people, and the church is God’s people.

I could write for a while here about the various aspects of ‘the Keeper’ but I want to centre on the idea of our keeper’s vigilance.

Not only does our keeper not fall asleep, He won’t even slumber.

We all know what it is like to slumber. It is the same notion as what it means to doze off. Slumbering, or dozing off, is something that I am well practised at. I do pretty well in conversation, normally, but I am a notorious dozer when it comes to television.

Mary and I like to watch ‘Murder She Wrote’ when it was on television here. Well, I should say Mary like to watch and I like to try to watch. It seems like every single episode I would doze off just as the key event happened or at the end when Jessica was explaining it. I have so many times had to ask, ‘what happened, I missed it?’ Or sometimes I just do without and fake it.

This passage reminds us that God doesn’t doze off. He doesn’t miss anything. He doesn’t miss the key events. He never has to say ‘what did I miss?’ Nothing, ever, is going to catch Him off guard. He is our keeper.

No matter what is going on in our lives, or what has gone on in the past, or what is going to come in the future, catches God having a doze. Our keeper always keeps.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

In my distress

In my distress I cried to the Lord,
And He heard me. – Psalm 120.1

This world is in distress. Do you have any doubts? Check out your favourite newsfeed and look at the stories there. The uncertainly of the future in 2017 can be a scary and anxious thing.

Not only that, we have our own times of distress. We become distressed over deaths and illnesses and loss of jobs and financial. Sometimes our distress can come suddenly it can knock us off our feet and we can act before we even have time to think. When those distressing events happen to me before the news is even complete my mind goes into ‘fix it’ mode and I can act before I even consider things or pray about it.

The psalmist had is right – ‘in my distress I cried to the Lord’ and when he did that the right thing happened ‘and He heard me.’

Too often my distress comes in the middle of the night and I spend hours fretting and stressing out over them. Instead of wasting that time and putting myself under that emotional I need to learn to do the only logical thing.

Every March I casually read through ‘The Confession’ by Patrick. For part of his life Patrick was a slave caring for sheep. He knew his life was a mess. As he recounts that time he quotes this verse – ‘in my distress I called on the Lord and He heard me.’ God delivered him and used him to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ back to the Irish people.

We are foolish to let distress ruin our lives when we can cry out to the One who is in control

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

My tongue shall speak

My tongue shall speak of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness. – Psalm 119.172

I am one of those irritating people who likes to talk. The topic makes no difference, if I have the slightest knowledge about it I will join in the conversation. Actually sometimes I don’t even have to know anything to jump it.

I like to talks sports and politics and the weather and just about anything else. I am not even afraid to express opposing viewpoints and some say I even relish those conversations more than others.

But then, what happens when it is time to talk about the Lord? I can speak with what sounds like authority even when I don’t really know what I talking about in most situations. But, when it comes to the Lord my words get tangled and my thoughts get disoriented and I stammer and stutter. It is not too bad when I am preaching or teaching, but one on one is a whole different story.

This is quite a challenge to me. To speak of God’s word requires a measure of boldness. Even Paul asked for prayer that he would have the boldness to speak of the Lord. But if we don’t know it nobody will. Of all the ways God could have chosen to get His word out He chose us. We must be the ones to speak of God’s word because people are not just going to come across it.

Lord, amongst the many things my tongue will speak of today, may Your word be predominate. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Great peace

Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble. – Psalm 119.165

Don’t we all seek after peace? Wouldn’t we all love a little peace in our lives?

And yet, try as it might, this world is not, has never been, and will not ever be a place of peace.  It is just  a world that is too broken. People want what they want for themselves more than they want peace. We war and we fight because we lust after all the things that gratify us.

The same basic thing is true within our own lives. God offers peace, Jesus promised it, the word of God uses the word peace all the time, and yet we don’t have peace for one basic reason – we are trying so hard to get our own way and do things our own way that we won’t stop and trust God to give us what we need and be happy with what He gives us.

Great peace have they that love Your law, nothing will cause them to stumble.
Don’t be so full of cares, but in every situation, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God and His peace, which passes all understanding will keep Your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

There is no true, lasting, eternal, forever peace apart from God. The world cries out ‘peace, peace’ but there is no real peace. The peace the world offers is not real peace. Only Jesus brings the deep abiding peace that lasts forever.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Revive me

Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. – Psalm 119.159-160

Most of us have at least read of the great revivals in the last 300 years. There were the two Great Awakenings that impacted Great Britain and the United States, there was the great Prayer Meeting Revival of the mid-19th century in the US. Even the northern part of our little island has the Antrim Revival of about the same time. Revivalists and evangelists have carried out great revival meetings. We all pray for revival.

But I have never seen one. I’ve never even seen a small local revival. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. We ought to pray and preach and practice our lives and expect the Holy Spirit to do a great work again.

But there is another sort of revival that we all ought to be concerned about. This most important revival we need is revival in our own hearts.

There are times in all of our lives we we can get dull to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the word of God can seem like just another book and the preaching can seem dull and listless.

That happens when we get our eyes off of Jesus and we get focused on us. Whenever I look at m own ability I am going to get discouraged and the is going to turn in to complacency and spiritual lethargy.

Then the only hope is the prayer David prayed here. ‘Revive me O Lord according to Your lovingkindness.’

I am not sure how or why this great revivals happen. But I do know that I can do something about me and my times where I lack spiritual fervour. When that happens I can pray for revival in my own heart, make sure I am spending time in the word of God, and fellowshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Lord, revive my heart. Remind me of Your love and care and compassion for me. Help me look to Jesus as the author and finisher of m faith.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

You are near O Lord

They draw near who follow after wickedness;
They are far from Your law.
You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
Concerning Your testimonies,
I have known of old that You have founded them forever. – Psalm 119.150-152

I wish I could be spiritual enough that I could say every single day of my life I always feel really close to God. I know some people have that amazing testimony and I can almost envy them, because I have tough days. I have days when I feel kind of alone. I have days when I really don’t sense his closeness.

That doesn’t mean that God is not near. It doesn’t mean He has moved. It doesn’t mean that He does not see my trouble. It means that I am looking in the wrong place.

God is near. He is right there and is not about to move from us for we are his. We are told in Isaiah that God is near to all those who call on Him. If we want to sense God’s nearness we must look to Him and not be distracted by all the woes and cares that so easily grab our attention.

The next time we are fearful or anxious or nervous or alone we need not fear, because Jesus is near. He is ever watching over us. Worries can all cease, we can have peace because He is always near.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Ego Patrocius peccator

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God – Romans 3.23
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, - Ephesians 3:8

‘My name is Patrick... I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to do a St Patrick's Day devotion repeat today. I think I did one the last couple of years, but today is a good chance to look at the testimony of our brother in Christ.

Reading The Confession is a great challenge for believers today.

Patrick believed that man is a SINNER who violates God’s law and justly deserves His displeasure:
Patrick believed that it is THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST that we are saved:
Patrick believed we are saved by God’s GRACE, not by ourselves:
Patrick affirms the second coming of Christ to judge the world in righteousness:

Patrick was a man much like us. He felt like he was called ‘to the uttermost parts of the earth’ because at that time there weren’t many places more uttermost than Ireland. He was deeply burdened to the Irish people and their need of the gospel. He was looking for the ‘soon return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’

Patrick was a saint. He didn’t need a special designation. He was a saint just like all Christians are saints – sanctified and set apart by our salvation.

So let us as Christians enjoy a day set apart to honour our brother in Christ and let us do so in a way that honours the Christ who saved him and us.

Ego Rogerius peccator – My name is Roger, I am a sinner - what a great reminder.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

I am weak, but...

I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth. – Psalm 119.141-142

We think of David as the great brave king of Israel who even as a child had the faith to kill a giant.

But David saw himself differently. He saw the truth that he was small and insignificant and despised by the world.

I think we can identify with that feeling living in the world we live in.

It is the next line that ought to encourage us: Yet I will not forget Your precepts.

We may not be able to do much. We may not be able to preach or teach or sing or play in instrument or write a book.  We may never be rich or famous. We may never be known.

But all of us can be true to the word of God. All of us can remember His word and apply it to our lives.

Thank God then we feel weak and unable we can still remember God’s word.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hate every false way

Therefore I love Your commandments
More than gold, yes, than fine gold!
Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things
I consider to be right;
I hate every false way.- Psalm 119.127-128

David often repeats his love for the word the word of God and for keeping his commandments. Here David also gives us the other side of the picture. If we love the word of God, the source of all truth, then we are consequently going to hate every false way.

That sounds well and good, but there are some pretty extreme statements there. If I love God’s commandments I will HATE EVERY false way.

That doesn’t leave much leeway for playing around with sin and falsehood. It means that we hate it, we don’t tolerate it, we don’t make an excuse for it – we hate it.

Not only that - we hate EVERY false way.

My problem is that I find it easy enough to hate the false way when it when it something I don’t already like or something I am not drawn to. But, when it is something I already like I seem to be able to find was to justify or rationalise it.

God hates sin. He hates every false way. There is no room for our pet sins to carry on.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Let no iniquity have dominion

Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts. – Psalm 119.133-134

David, like all believers I think, hated the fact that he had to deal with sin in his life. It is a terrible fact that Paul addresses in Romans 7. ‘I do all the things I don’t want to to and I don’t do the things I want to.’ It is something I can certainly identify with and every Christian I know deals with. It is simply a fact of life for a new creation living in an old flesh.

But David prayed that sin would not have dominion over him. He did not want sin to reign over him. He hated the notion of being a slave to sin.

We have something David didn’t have. We have the wonderful words of Romans 6-8. In this extended passage Paul deals with the notion of the problem mentioned above.

But before he does that he gives the good news in Romans 6. The truth is that since we died with Christ and are raised to walk in newness of life in Him we are no longer captives to sin. Sin no more has dominion over us. The power of sin to rule in us is broken. We don’t have to submit to its authority. We have a new Master in Christ.

That’s great news, but it also brings about a harsh reality. When we sin, and we will, we can’t say ‘I am can’t help it’ or ‘I just can’t get the victory’ because sin has NO power over us. We sin because we choose to serve our flesh instead of yielding to the Spirit. We sin because at that moment the urge to obey sin is greater than our desire to please the One who died for us.

No iniquity has dominion over us. When we sin we sin because we want to. May I 'reckon mysefl indeed dead to sin' and not give it rein over me,

Monday, 13 March 2017

Our hiding place

You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word. – Psalm 119.114

I recently finished the book The Pianist. I had seen the film a few years ago but was more moved by the book even than the film. It tells the story of Polish composer Władysław Szpilman and his struggles to survive in war torn Warsaw during World War 2. He spends most of the book running from hiding place to hiding place. He hides in basements and closets and abandoned houses and secret rooms and attics and hidden attics above attics. It is an amazing story of trials and survival in unbelievable circumstances.

Szpilman does survive. It is an amazing story of courage and endurance. His hiding places allowed him to have hope and to survive this most terrible of trials.

And yet his hiding places were all poor. They always failed him. His hope was only temporary.

We too have a hiding place in this world that has gone mad. All around us bombs are going off and machine guns fire and snipers are picking off God’s people. Where Szpilman fought enemies of flesh and blood our enemies are spiritual.

Our hiding place is perfect. It is permanent. We are always provided for. The enemy can never get through. The bombs are not going to hurt us. And best of all our hiding place is mobile and goes with us wherever we go.

The omnipotent God is my hiding place.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

To the very end

I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, to the very end. – Psalm 119.112

Living for God according to His word is not a temporary assignment. It is not to be taken lightly. It is not a sprint.

David says here ‘I have decided to perform Your statutes forever – even to the very end.

Starting to live for Christ is easy enough to start with. Plenty of people are stirred by emotion or peer pressure or whatever and make a profession of faith but quickly burn out and their faith seems to fade away.

It is impossible to judge who is truly saved and who is not – no one has the right to judge another’s heart.

But the Bible does say a lot about how true faith endures. Jesu told His disciples that the ultimate test of whether or not they truly were His disciples was if they would endure to the end. True followers of Christ will stay true. They may waver. They may be weak. They may falter. They may backslide. But they will endure. The Bible also tells us that the saved are those whose faith allows them to endure to the end.

We are told to not faint.
We are told to not be weary in well doing.
We are told to run our race with patience.

I want to follow up on that last phrase. It comes from the book of Hebrews and it is followed up with ‘looking to Jesus because He is the originator and the finisher of our Faith.’ We only endure because of Him. If we could lose our salvation, we would. It is He and He alone who allows us to endure to the very end.

He which has begun a good work in us will perform it until the end of days.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Sweeter than honey

How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. – Psalm 119.103-104

I am a big fan of honey. I like it on bread and on American biscuits and in my daily porridge. I like it by the spoonful. I like the relatively healthy sweetness.

There are a lot challenges about how much we should be treasuring the word of God. God uses all kinds of illustrations for us to show how wrong we have our priorities. Most of us understand he draw of the sweetness of honey and the longing for it.

The test is whether or not we have that kind of desire for God’s word or so we have a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. Is God's word sweet to our tastes?

How precious is God’s word to us. What place of priority is there for God’s word in our daily life? Is there, indeed, any desire for it?

If our desire for God’s word is less than our desire for other things that we like, it is time for us to examine our hearts.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Settled forever

Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. – Psalm 119.89-90

There are two ‘forevers’ in these two verses.

God’s word is settled forever
God’s faithfulness endures forever

This reminds me of Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians that they ‘don’t look on the things you can see, but look at the things you cannot see. The things you can see are on temporary, but the things you cannot see are for all eternity.’

Everything we can see will be gone one day – but God’s word lasts for ever and He is faithful for all eternity.

We have plenty of examples of that. We read that Jesus was faithful to death – even the death on the cross. We read that Jesus saves to the very end those who put their faith in Him. We read that Jesus is the ‘author and the finisher of our faith.’

There is a place where we find a  consistency that lasts to the very end. God is as real and faithful to His word as He was when He said ‘let there be light.’ His word will endure no matter what happens along the way.

God made the earth and it still endures to today. That is the evidence we need to know that His word endures.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

I will hope in your word

My soul faints for Your salvation,
But I hope in Your word.
My eyes fail from searching Your word,
Saying, “When will You comfort me?”
For I have become like a wineskin in smoke,
Yet I do not forget Your statutes. – Psalm 119.81-83

It seems like every place where we might be tempted to put our hope is proving untrustworthy and futile. Some hope in governments. Some hope in possessions. Some hope in bank accounts. Some hope in their own abilities. Some hope in all kinds of things.

All of those things are going to fail. None of them are really worthy of al our hope. If that is what e hope in we are always going to be disappointed.

But there is one place for our hope that is never, ever going to fail. ‘I will hope in your word.’

We are seeing a lot about the word of God in Psalm 119. It is a blessing that the longest psalm is dedicated to aspects of the Bible. We can put our hope in the word of God because it is established is in heaven, because it is our light, because it endures forever, and on and on.

That means that if the Bible says it I can believe it. It means my hope is not in my meagre bank account, or my flag, or my abilities, or even in family and friends. My hope is in God’s word.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes,
That I may not be ashamed. – Psalm 119.80

Let my heart be blameless so that I am not ashamed.

I like this word ‘blameless.’ I was studying it at one point so looked into what this word means. It does not mean perfection, obviously, because no one is perfect and as long as we live in these bodies we are not going to be perfect. It does mean we live lives so that nothing can be pinned on us. There is no flaw in our character that people can point to and put blame on us.

We all mess up. We all blow it. We are make mistakes and we all sin. But do we lives our lives in such a way that others cannot cast blame or aspersions on us.

There is a difference between me telling a lie and me being a liar.
There is a difference between me losing my temper and me being and angry man.
There is a difference between me being mean to someone and me being an unloving man.

One is an act – the other is character. It is our character that ought to be blameless. By the grace of God let's keep our character clean so that our sins are an aberration, not the norm.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

You are good

You have dealt well with Your servant,
O Lord, according to Your word.
Teach me good judgement and knowledge,
For I believe Your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
You are good, and do good;
Teach me Your statutes. – Psalm 119.65-68

‘God is good, every day, all the time.’

If we could ever grasp that one key truth would truly change our lives if we would only apply it.


Because if I really believed that God is good I would trust Him with the unknown. I would trust Him when hard times come my way. I would trust Him not matter how dark the day. I would trust Him because I would know that He is good and will do good.

Is it such a simple truth – why can’t we get it?

To be brutally honest it is because we think we are better judges of goodness than God is.

Our children and grandchildren don’t always get it when we know what is best for them. Even though the street looks like a nice place to play we know it is not a good place – they don’t. They think we are unreasonable to say ‘don’t play in the street.’ But our way is the good way. We are good to them and we are doing good.

And it is the same way with God. His ways are not our ways so sometimes we are not going to perceive His goodness as goodness.

But the Lord is good.
He is a stronghold in the day of trouble.
He knows those who trust Him.

God is indeed good, every day, all the time. Lord, remind me to rest in your goodness when things get anxious. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

A companion of the righteous

I am a companion of all who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts. – Psalm 119.63

God never intended for man to be alone. He made that clear way back in the book of Genesis when He said plainly ‘it is not good that a man should be alone’ and He immediately provided a companion in Eve.

The God added children and He put His people in a nation and today He puts His people in the Church. Some folks like being alone for a while and there is nothing wrong with that. But God wanted us to have companions. He spends a lot of time talking about friends and companions.

But we need to be careful about our companions.

God put us in our culture and our society for a purpose. If we don’t spend time with people we can never hope to reach them with the gospel.

But it is also important that we are ‘companions to the righteous.’ We need the company and companionship and support of God’s people as we go through our days. With all the bad that is going on we certainly need a rallying place to get a boost to get through living in a world which is not our home. We don’t need to pull apart from the world – that is where God put us and it is the only way we can share our God. But let us be sure that we take those chances to walk with like-minded saints. Let’s unite with those who walk in God’s precepts. Let’s spend time with them. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

I will remember Your goodness in the night

I remember Your name in the night, O Lord,
And I keep Your law.
This has become mine,
Because I kept Your precepts. – Psalm 119.55-56

Nights are a terrible time for me. Nights are meant for sleeping and I don’t sleep very well. I never have. Night is the time when all the things I can put aside during the day come rolling back into my head.

Judging from a few things David said about sleep I think he had a similar problem, only he had just cause. He faced real enemies that were a real threat to his life. For anyone who has problems with their nights this is a great reminder and indeed a great challenge.

David said “I will remember Your name in the night…’ He goes on to talk how that leads him to obey the law of the Lord the rest of the time.

But what sticks out to me here is remembering in those night ours that God is good. Most of what I deal with at night could be sorted if I could just focus on the goodness of God at 2.48 or 3.27 or 4.12 or whatever time is on that dreadful clock.

I have no doubt that, if not tonight, some night soon, I am going to need the reminder that God is good. May the Holy Spirit bring that to mind in those moments.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

An answer

Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord—
Your salvation according to Your word.
So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I have hoped in Your ordinances. – Psalm 119.41-43

The world is looking for answers. The problem is that it is looking for answers in all the wrong places. The change of pace in what the world is seeking has been amazing. Folks are looking to sex and substances and finances and jobs and relationships and self-gratification and at the end of the day all of those things come up empty.

I have a friend who is aiming in the right direction. He told me recently ‘I am looking for ‘the way’ and the _____ church is not showing it to me.’

But we have the answer in God’s word. When we are reproached or mocked or criticised for our faith it can be hard sometimes to explain it to others. We have the answer – they need the answer – and God will give it to us. The New Testament tells us that we are to study and prepare so that we can give an answer of the hope that is in us.

The world may not like our answer. They may very well mock it and make fun of it and look at us like we are crazy. But we have an answer for them. By the grace of God may we have the chance to share it.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Worthless things

Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way. – Psalm 119.37

Job wrote ‘I will set no wicked things before my eyes.’

In some ways it is not those ‘wicked’ things that are the worst problems. Those wicked things we can recognise and acknowledge and be on guard against. We can decide to not set those wicked things before our eyes. We don’t always do it, but we have a choice in those things and I think it possible that we can generally avoid those wicked things.

But then there are those other things, those worthless things.

Paul was concerned about these things in the life of spiritual son Timothy. Over and over again he warns against getting involved in silly, petty wasteful, useless, worthless, and even hurtful discussions.

But for some of us those worthless, not bad or wicked, but those worthless things, have a real draw for some reason. We just seem unable to turn aside from them. My battle is politics. I am fascinated by it. I have strong opinions about it. There is nothing wrong with it. But compared to eternal things it is indeed a worthless topic. Sports can be the same way. Nothing wrong with – it can be fun – but if it distracts us from the important things it too is worthless.

So Lord, keep me from getting distracted by the worthless and stir up my heart instead in Your way.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A melting spirit

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word. – Psalm 119.28

This picture of a soul melting from heaviness is wonderfully poetic and picturesque. I would guess that when we read about a heart melting from heaviness we know exactly what that means.

There are times in our lives when due to serious problems or bad health news or deaths or heartbreak or any number of tragedies we can sense our hearts just melting away in sorrow and anguish and it seems like nothing can help.

Other times fear or anxiety about the future or the unknown can cause our heart to crumble.

I appreciate the sympathy of family and friends and the compassion of folks at church and all of the well meaning thoughts – but there is only one thing that can really help when our hearts and souls are melting.

‘Strengthen me according to Your word.’

All real meaningful help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. By being the all-powerful God he is the ultimate source of power and strength to get us through even the most unbearable times of a melting heart.

So when we find ourselves with hearts that are melting let us turn to the only true source of strength and plead ‘strengthen me according to Your word.’

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Open my eyes

Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law. – Psalm 119.17-18

The world is a dark place. The god of this world, Satan, has blinded the eyes of those who are not children of God. The problem with people around us who do so much evil is that they just can’t see any other option. They just can’t see the good. All they can see is the darkness and they make decisions based on what they can’t see. No wonder the world goes on the way it does – they are doing the best they can do with what they have. That’s why it is vital that we don’t see the world as our enemy – but the god of this world. We need to be loving and sharing and praying that God will open their eyes to the truth of the gospel.

But it is even true for Christians that it is not always easy to see God at work. When it seems like we are being daily besieged with sin and wickedness and all kinds of evil it is hard to see the good. In this age when all the news that’s fit to print and all the news that isn’t is splashed all over media it can be hard to see what our God is doing. We are so caught up with the visible that we miss this invisible.

David had the same problem. So he prayed ‘open my eyes Lord that I may see the wonderful things in Your word.’ When we see the wonderful truths of the word of God it gives us hope in the dark world where we live day to day.

So we ask God to open our eyes to see beyond the visible things that are not going to last forever. We ask God to open our eyes to see the invisible things of eternity instead.

Sure, we have to live in this world, but with God opening our eyes to behold wonderful things out of His word we can endure, and even flourish.