The Right Thing

22 10 2014

Psalm 119:137-144

“Do the right thing!” Lately, it seems that this insistent message is bombarding us. Everyone from insurance agencies, politicians, car salesman, athletes, special interest groups, and celebrities are standing up to promote their idea of the right thing. The problem is which right thing is the right right thing? We listen to all the messages. They are jumbled at best, and contradictory most of the time. One person’s right thing encourages us to invest ourselves in pleasure, independence, and financial security. Another promotes a specific political objective. There are two sides to a moral argument, and both claim to be the right side. Today, what is deemed to be right is most often defined by media attention, political correctness, and a desire for the comfortable. It makes figuring out which way is right very confusing.

Righteousness, doing the right thing, is the focus of the eighteenth stanza of Psalm 119. The writer reminds us that if we want to know what is right, we have to know the One who is righteous. God is righteous. He always does the right thing. No matter what, no matter the circumstance, no matter the sacrifice, no matter the timing. Because God is righteous, His Word is a guidebook that shows us the right way to live. God’s right way doesn’t change with the seasons, the political climate, economic advantage, or the circumstances. Right is right, and God calls us to be people who walk rightly before Him.

“Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.” – Psalm 119:137

My Jesus Resolution today is to do the right thing. Before I can do the right thing, I have to know the right thing to do. Knowing the right thing to do means standing in the presence of the only One who is right, and allowing myself to be examined and guided by His righteousness. God’s Word will always show me the right way, teach me the right answers, reveal the right path, and transform me into the right person.





The Gift

20 10 2014

Psalm 119:129-136

It was a lovely surprise. The box held treasures, each one wrapped in tissue paper. It wasn’t a gift to rush through. It was a gift to savor and enjoy as I soaked in the love, history, and connection folded up in a box. I watched the smile on my friend’s face as I unwrapped the paper. I’m not sure who was more excited. The delight of giving mingled with the blessing of receiving, and I found myself wanting to stretch the moment out. Each time I unfolded a new piece of the gift, I found myself more intrigued about what was to come. The time, effort, and love poured into the gift spoke grace and friendship into my heart.

Can you picture it? This kind of gift is exactly what the writer of the seventeenth stanza of Psalm 119 wants you to see. God’s Word is this kind of gift. It is wonderful, and has the ability to fill us with wonder. Every time we open a page, every time we come into God’s presence, every time we unfold the treasure He has for us, we are given a gift. Light, understanding, longing, stability, freedom, and redemption are ours when we take the time to receive what He wants to give us.

I’m not always sure that’s how I approach reading my Bible. Sometimes it feels like a duty, an obligation, a fact book, or something to rush through so I can check it off my list. God’s Word is so much more. It is the place where we come face-to-face with who He is and are transformed by the experience.

My Jesus Resolution today is to open my gift. I want to do it with all the anticipation, intensity, and delight of receiving a treasure. I want to be done with shallow reading in favor of deep meeting. I want to give myself over to the wild adventure of exploring the heart of God. God poured Himself onto a page, and every day invites me to receive my gift with joy. What awaits, if I’m brave enough, are transformation and a clearer reflection of Jesus.





Promises

17 10 2014

Psalm 119:121-128

Promises are powerful things. Simple promises make up the ebb and flow of our every day. Deep promises make up the backbone of our lives. Living in our promises shapes who we are, tightens our focus, and gives definition to our days. Cementing our faith in the promises of God is the only antidote I know for weathering some of life’s hardest storms. That’s what we find the writer of Psalm 119 doing. In the sixteenth stanza, his eyes search for the fulfillment of God’s promises, the surety of His faithfulness, and the unfailing nature of His love.

Here are 10 promises you can count on even when everything else is falling apart.

  1. His grace is sufficient.
  2. You are never alone, not ever.
  3. God has a purpose for you, right now, right where you are.
  4. Heaven is coming.
  5. His blood is strong enough to scrub away any sin. No matter what it is.
  6. His light is more powerful than the darkness.
  7. His love for you is without end. Really.
  8. He hears your prayers and is bottling your tears.
  9. Hope is stronger than fear.
  10. God is willing and able to provide everything you need.

My Jesus Resolution today is to open my eyes and count on His grace. Psalm 119:123 says, “My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.” How many times has God kept His promises, but I was too busy worrying about the next problem, struggling to find my own way, or so deep in the hole of self-pity that I missed His movement? Every day, God is of fulfilling His promises to me. There is not a day that goes by that His faithfulness does not shine, that His mercy does not flow, and that His love does not embrace my broken heart. God keeps His promises. And that’s a powerful thing.





My Hiding Place

15 10 2014

Psalm 119:113-120

I don’t know about you, but a hiding place sounds pretty good right now. Sometimes it is just too much. The burdens are too heavy, the fear presses in too strongly, and the voices around me seem too loud. Instead of courage, I have discouragement and despair eating away at my soul. I want to be five again, climb up in my dad’s lap, and let him chase the monsters away. I want him to hug me and tell me everything is going be okay. I want to close my eyes and picture a tomorrow full of hope, light, ease, laughter, and no struggles. Then I open my eyes, and I’m a grown up again. My circumstances stare back at me unblinkingly, the pain forces its way in again, and I feel weak, vulnerable, and alone.

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” – Psalm 119:114

The fifteenth stanza of Psalm 119 is a place of refuge. Through His Word, God invites us into the safety of His presence, the strength of His power, and the surety of His faithfulness. Circumstances will rage, people will hurt us, pain and heartache seem to go with the territory. But we have a Father with wide open arms who invites us close, who draws us up next to His heart, and reminds us that in Him everything really is going to be okay. He doesn’t promise no more struggles, but He does promise His strength. He doesn’t promise we won’t be afraid, but He does give us His peace. He doesn’t guarantee a life without pain, but He does promise us a life overflowing with joy. Grace is the best hiding place for my heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to hide. I don’t have to be brave, have it all figured out, or do it by myself. What I do have to do is let myself be loved, to let myself be held, to surrender to His way, His timing, and His goodness. The world can try, and it will, to poke me out of His arms. But the best place to grow up is in the hiding place I find in my Father’s embrace.





Light

13 10 2014

Psalm 119:105-112

It was a dark, summer night at camp. The stars glittered in the sky, winking to be seen away from the city lights. It had been a long day of snacks, crafts, band-aids, and kids learning about Jesus. I was tired, but there was one more mission to accomplish. The campers had all written notes to the camp director and it was my job to deliver them. I started walking to the cabin on the other side of the camp, remembering the simple path that led from here to there. It seemed so straight and clear cut during the day. In the dark, however, I wasn’t sure of the way, and the terrain seemed so much more uneven under my feet. I hesitated, and then reached for the flashlight I should have used from the beginning. With a light illuminating my way, the journey was a joy.

Probably one of the most famous verses in Psalm 119 is found in the fourteenth stanza. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) The psalmist encourages us to hold onto God’s light even when our way seems dark. He describes how the blackness threatens to ensnare him, how discouragement hounds him, and yet clinging to the heavenly lamp allows him to walk safely through the dark.

We all have dark days, times when the shadows threaten to overwhelm our hearts. God’s Word is the flashlight we need to find our way in the darkness. It highlights His faithfulness, shines with His glory, is radiant with His grace, and sparkles with His love. There is enough light in His Word to safely guide you so that you can take the next step.

My Jesus Resolution today is to follow the Light. God’s Word has the power to show me the way, keep me safe, provide me answers, and reveal pitfalls along the way. It also has the power to ignite a fire in me that will chase away the darkness that pulls at my soul. The most important thing the lamp that is God’s Word does is lead me into the presence of Light Himself, and when I walk in Light, darkness cannot overwhelm me.





The Teacher

10 10 2014

Psalm 119:97-104

Teachers are probably the most influential people in our society. Although they get little recognition and even less compensation, they hold the future in their hands every time they pick up a book, do a math problem, or give out a gold star. We all have favorite teachers. More than teaching us the facts, teachers open our minds to new ideas, our eyes to new visions, and our confidence to new heights. The best teachers do more than fill our heads with knowledge. They stretch our understanding and help us walk in the world equipped to face new challenges.

The power of a good teacher is the focus of the thirteenth stanza of Psalm 119. The writer recognizes all the ways that being a student of God’s Word has changed him. It has made him wise, given him understanding, kept him from sin, and transformed even his taste buds.

“I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.” (Psalm 119:102)

Here’s the truth that we must never forget every time we open our Bibles. Through these precious words, God Himself is teaching us. There are information and facts to learn, patterns to recognize and follow, and new truths to understand and hang onto. The most important piece of Bible study, however, is learning to open our eyes to the truth that every time we open His Word we enter His presence. His voice echoes, thunders, invites, and whispers on every page as He guides us to the truth He most wants us to understand. We are deeply loved. We are profoundly wanted, and it is His delight to give us Himself.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be a learner. God is a Teacher. The Bible is His textbook. Learning His lessons, doing His homework, and studying His truths has the power to change my heart. The best part of being His student is His commitment to be with me as my Teacher. The lessons He wants to teach me are grounded in His example and best experienced by walking in His footsteps.





Doing Vs. Being

8 10 2014

Psalm 119:89-96

We live in a doing society. Our value and worth are tied to what we produce during our lifetimes. Money is the ultimate marker of success. Good looks, fame, and power are held up as ideals. Busyness identifies who is important. We invest our lives in a check list of symbols that allow other people to see our worth. We are encouraged, driven, and even shamed into believing that accomplishment and productivity are the final scales by which we will be measured.

Because we are so drenched in doing thinking, it is easy to bring this “I must do” mindset into our relationship with God. Doing thinking says that I must perform in order for God to love me. I must prove myself worthy in order to receive grace. Busyness for God equals approval from God. A completed checklist defines what it means to be wholly pleasing in His sight. The problem is that we cannot accomplish by doing what God gives us freely just by being His. You can’t earn His love. You can’t barter for grace. You don’t rack up points by performance. His delight is in your being His, belonging to Him, and learning how to rest in the truth that He has already done it all for us.

Here’s the deep truth of the twelfth stanza of Psalm 119. “I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.” (Psalm 119:94) The world is emblazoned with the wisdom and power of God. It is firmly written in the heavens. His testimonies shout His faithfulness and whisper glory all around us. Three little words point to the truth that God longs to embed deeply into our hearts. I am yours. These are being words, not doing words. If we can learn to live wholly in these three words, it will turn our world upside down, or should I say right side up.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be His. How long has it been since I spent the day just resting in the luxury of His love? I need to dig the stubborn roots of doing out of my soul, and trust in the grace He lavishes on me every day. When Jesus declared, “It is finished,” on the cross, He was speaking a message that should thunder in my soul. Doing finds its proper place when I embrace the deep meaning of what it means to be His.








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