Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Revival of the Word

"I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word."
~Psalm 119:107

The weight of this world drags us down. Living in the flesh is hard. We are afflicted from every side. Pressed, crushed; without Jesus Christ, that is. You see as it says in 2 Corinthians 4:8,9, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

 In this world, we will be troubled, as Jesus said, but He left us with peace. How do we attain this life-giving peace? Isaiah 26:3 reveals the answer: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

How can we stay our mind on the Lord Jesus Christ? By meditating on who He is, as He has revealed Himself through His Word. By thinking on verses such as Isaiah 12:2, which says, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” We have no reason to fear, because God is our strength.

 Meditating on this and thinking about this makes our fears suddenly seem smaller, our worries not as important, and our problems insignificant. Why? Because our God is so much bigger than these things! Sometimes we need to take a moment and “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). 

As you spend time meditating and reading the Word of God, you will find one thing is true. It gives you life. It breathes purpose into your longing soul. It reminds you of the One who loves you more than life. David agrees in verse 93, “I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life.”

 Jesus Himself confirms this in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” I love what Martin Luther said: “The soul can do without everything except the word of God, without which none at all of its wants are provided for.”

 The only way you can truly know the life-giving power of the Word for yourself is to experience it. Read it. Meditate on it. And watch as the peace of God fills your heart and mind; watch as its words breathe life into your affliction and revive you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

God's Word is Forever

Psalm 119:89 says, "Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven."

David is acknowledging an important fact: that God's Word endures forever. Science is constantly changing, and theories keep "developing" as more scientific evidence is found. Humans keep changing their opinion. For example, evolutionists used to believe that that animals "evolved" from one kind to another. However, because they are unable to prove this claim scientifically, they have changed their theory. Now they believe that the animals simply "jumped" from one kind to another. This is a great example of man's opinion being changed.

On the other hand, God's Word never changes. It will stand in its original form forever and ever. As it says in Genesis 1:25, "God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, and everything that creeps along the earth according to its kind..." From the very beginning, God said what science has proved.

Psalm 119:160 sums up this topic well,
"The entirety of Your Word is truth, and everyone of Your righteous judgments endure forever."  As Isaiah 40:6-8 says, "All flesh is as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever." This verse brings up an important point of application. The wealth, power, and glory of a man will fade away. He himself will also fade away. But the Word will not. Nothing we do on this earth to build our store of earthly riches or gain popularity will last. It will all fade with the setting sun.

Instead of choosing to invest our time in worthless things, maybe we should look for investments that will last into eternity. Is there any such thing?  Yes, treasuring and obeying the Word of God. The investments we make in God through His Word, through reading it, memorizing it, loving it, and keeping it, will last forever.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Neglect of the Scriptures

"The greatest cause of neglecting the Scriptures is not want of time, but want of heart, some idol taking the place of Christ." ~Robert Chapman

Prayerfully examine your heart.  Is there some other idol taking first place in your heart, causing the Scriptures to fall by the wayside?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Panting for the Lord

Psalm 42:1 says "As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God."

I've been told that when a deer is thirsty, he does not notice you until you are very close up. He has single-mindedness, thinking only about his need for water. We are to do that too. We are called to be so consumed with our King, that we cannot think of anything else, we don't turn aside from the path, but keep our eyes focused on Him.

How, practically, can we do this? Although not an exhaustive list, here are a few ideas I came up with, through the Spirit's leading.

-Read His Word. If we desire a deep and lasting passion for the Lord, we must learn about His character. We learn this in His Word. It is there that we really develop a love for the Lord. I encourage you to read His Word every day. Set a goal for yourself (ex. 15 minutes of Bible study and 10 minutes of prayer), and make it your top priority. This time sitting at the feet of our Savior should be the highlight of our day!

-Pray. I cannot stress this point more. This is the thing that really draws us close to our Savior. When we are in constant contact with the Perfect One, He will make us like Him. Set aside a time to pray, but then pray throughout the day as well!

-Memorize His Word. When we are memorizing His Word, our King can bring it up later, reminding us of His promises and character.

-Meditate on His Word. When we are thinking about Christ and His commands, our mind is focused on Him, and looking to heavenly things.

-Sing praise songs. Praising Him again reminds us of His character, and as we meditate on Him, singing His praises, we grow to love Him even more.

It is my prayer that all of us would pant for Jesus, just as a deer pants for the water!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Asking, Seeking, Knocking

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." -Luke 11:9

Our God IS and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. When we are persistently asking, seeking, and knocking, He will answer, because He loves us!

Now, I want you to look at the verses following Luke 11:9:
"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (10-13)

I think so often we view God has someone up their in the sky, who delights in punishing us. But that simply is not true! He is our Father, and what kind of Father would deny good gifts to those who ask?

John 3:16 highlights about all else God's love for us. What kind of mean God would send His own flesh and blood to die for us on the cross!

So, you may be asking, Why aren't all our prayers answered? What about my Grandmother, or my best friend's salvation, or the new car I asked for? Those are good questions, and I will try to answer them with the following verses.

First, let's look a couple verses from chapter 11 for some solutions:

"And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs." (5-8) 

 So from this verse we learn that we must be persistently asking the Lord, not just once of twice. As we pray for the salvation of a friend, it may take months, or even years. Don't give up! Keep praying for them. Someone I know prayed for her grandson's salvation for 15 years! Talk about persistence! Keep asking, seeking, and knocking until the answer comes.

 Another answer lies in this verse:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:8-9) 

Sometimes the Lord has other plans in mind (like for your grandmother). But cling to this: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." -Romans 8:28 (Emphasis mine) 

God promises that all things will work out for good! Plus, He is a all-knowing God who wants the best for us. He can turn evil into good. Let us trust these matters into His almighty hand.

Now for that car: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." (James 4:3)  You see, one of the fundamentals of prayer is that you ask for things that align with God's will. When you want a brand new car so that you can show off to all your friends, that doesn't fit in with God's will. Now, oftentimes He will answer these wants, according to His wisdom. But I have found that when He does this, they are most often come when I have been obedient to Him and abiding under the shadow of His wing. He really His a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. But we must be diligently seeking Him, everyday.

And finally, the most important concept in prayer, faith. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:5-8) 

 We must believe that He can and will answer our prayer. Matthew 17:20 says "So Jesus said to them, 'Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.' " So many of the times when Jesus heals people, it is because they had faith. So must we.

Finally, let me stress to your the complete importance of prayer. It changes lives! Prayer isn't to be our back tire but our steering wheel (Elizabeth Elliot). It isn't the preparation for the war, it is the war.

I encourage each of you to spend 5-20+ minutes in prayer today, and see how great the Lord is!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Read the Word?

As I studied this week, one verse in particular really stood out to me.

"Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments."
Verse 73 of Psalm 119 recognizes a very important principle. It answers a question that many of us have: Why should I read the Bible? Why should I keep His commands? The answer is because He made and fashioned us.

Please note that this is only an illustration and an inaccurate representation of the workings of our Lord. Let's say that you love sail boats, and want to make a toy boat of your own. You carefully carve its body from wood and cut out its sail from cloth. You paint it bright red, and along the side, in big white letters, you paint your name. One day, you decide to take your little boat to a local pond, to see it float about in the water. After gently placing it down in the pond, you step back to watch it go. Soon though, another little boy comes down to the river's edge, picks up your boat, and starts to walk away with it. Are you going to stand by and watch him steal your boat? No! Rather, you will run after the boy. And what will you tell him? "That's my boat!" Why don't you want anyone else taking your boat? Because it's yours. You made it.

Now, let's say that one day you decided you were going to take your little sail boat on a journey up the river. Are you going to just let it go off by itself? Or are you going to guide that boat? You will certainly want to guide that boat, but with what? What about a long red string tied to one end of your boat? Would that help you guide it?

You see, it is the same way with God and us. He formed us, and wrote His name on us, proving once and for all that we are His. Is He going to just stand around and let another come and take us? Why not? Because He made us and we belong to Him. And because we are His, He can do whatever He wants with us, and we must follow, just like the little boat. But here's where God's conduct differs from that in our story. He gave us a choice, allowing us to choose which way we went; which guide we followed. We could choose to wander off by ourselves, or we could choose to strap His guide string to us and follow His leading. His red guide string is none other than the Word of God.

If you bought a completely custom made one of a kind sports car, you would want to know how to run it properly, right? You wouldn't just play around with all the gadgets, would you? Rather, you would look for an instruction manual. And where might you go for one of those? To the creator and designer of the car, of course! After all, because he made the car, he knows more about it than anyone else.

In the same way, who but our Designer knows how we run? Who knows more about us than anyone else and knows all about how we should be properly taken care of? None but God Himself! And in His wisdom, He has given us an owner's manual to the body we now live in: God's Word. It lays out the steps for the best possible experience both here on earth and in heaven.

So why should we read God's Word?
#1 Because He has made us and owns us. Just like we might be jealous for our boat, God is jealous for the hearts, minds, and bodies of His children.
#2 Because He knows us than even we ourselves, for He made us and crafted us.
#3 Because He made us and loves us. He wants what's best for us. He wants us to run smoothly, and that is why He has given us the Scriptures, as a guide for life.

Are you seeking answers? Turn to the One who made you. Are you struggling with something? Turn to the One who loves you. Do you need some guidance? Turn to the One who fashioned you. He will give you the answers you are searching for, the love you are needing, and the guidance you are seeking. Read His Word.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Blessing

"Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways."
~Psalm 119:1-3

How do these men remain undefiled, pure, having no iniquity? They seek Him with their whole heart. They walk in His ways. They keep His testimonies. They walk in His law.

We wonder why we're not more like Christ, crying on our beds, wondering why we didn't say the right thing, or sin in this way yet again. The answer is in these verses. We desire to be like Christ, yes? We want to become like Him, and the key is right here. Seek His Word, and keep what you find therein. Look at what you see in God's Word and follow Him. Walk in His law. Don't just read it, but align your steps by it. In this way, you're steps will be purified by the fiery furnace of the living Word. Your heart will be pierced by the convictions that lie within God's testimonies.

And in the end, you will receive joy, peace, and the gift of abiding in Jesus. I can tell you, that gift cannot be traded for all the gold in the world, or the whole state of Texas. Don't trade anything, not video games, not grades, not television for the preciousness of being like Jesus Christ.

Seek Him through His Word, and the Bible promises that you will find Him. Do you want to be blessed? Walk in the law of the Lord. Do you want to be blessed? Keep His testimonies. Do you want to be pure? Seek Him with your whole heart. Do you want to be without iniquity? Walk in His ways. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

God's Statues, Our Songs

"Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." ~Psalm 119:54
Let's pause on this idea of a song.  Many songs are jubilant and cheerful (especially the kind that David would sung).  They are heartfelt and passionate.  They bring a smiles and jubilance.  Many times, especially in David's day, songs praised and worshiped the Lord.  God's statutes can be sung as a prayer to God as well.  The Scriptures lift up our soul and put a smile on our face.  they praise the Lord.  And just like a song, they must be spoken verbally in order to receive their full impact.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow put it this way:

"Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away."

God's Word too provides comfort and quiet, in the midst of the turmoil's of this world.  We can turn to the Word for peace and it will silence our heart.

Many times, when I'm stressed with school, or have a to-do list a mile long, I'll go to the Lord through His Word, and it will calm my soul and still my thoughts.  It gets me back to focusing on the right thing: Jesus Christ.

So with this in mind, let us turn to the statutes of the Lord to be our song.  May we use them and sing them throughout our day.  May we meditate on them and sing the verses we have memorized as we go about our chores.  May His Word be our song.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Looking at Eternal Things

"Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way." ~Psalm 119:37

How often do we look at worthless things as Psalm 119:37 talks about? Oh, we might not consider television, video games, the computer, social media, or our iPhone, as "worthless" things, but do they really matter in eternity? Will be proud of the choices we made today when we're worshiping at the feet of our King in heaven? The pulpit commentary defines worthless things as the vanities of the world, like wealth, honor, power, and glory. Things things which will all fade away, these are eternally worthless. They only distract us from our real purpose in life, exactly what Satan wants to happen. So let's choose to defy him.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Let's turn from looking at evil things, and look instead to Jesus, by reading His Word and meditating on His truths. Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible says this about the last line in Psalm 119:37,

"'and quicken thou me in thy way;' so as to walk and even run in the path of truth, in the way of true religion and godliness; and, instead of looking upon vanity, press towards the mark for the prize; keep Christ in view, while running the race; and look to things unseen, and not things that are seen; and set the affections on things above, and serve the Lord fervently; all which is done when God quickens the hearts of his people, and the graces of his Spirit in them."

Let this verse become the prayer of our hearts, that "we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jewish Boys and Memorization

If we were to study Jewish culture during New Testament times, we would discover that customarily, boys memorized the first five books of the Bible between the ages of 6 and 10. That’s 5,852 verses total, which means 1463 verses a year, or an average of 4 verses a day. Many of us have trouble even reading through Leviticus and Numbers, but these mere boys learned to retain it in their memory.

By age 14, many of the boys could boast of the knowledge of the whole Old Testament, Genesis to Malachi. To accomplish that feat, they needed to memorize an average of 12 verses per day from the ages of 10 to 14.

Not many of us memorize twelve verses in a month, and we are much older than 14.  Their diligence puts us to shame.  We claim to love the Word of God, yet are we devoted to it?

We say memorizing the whole Bible is impossible.  Yet these boys memorized the entire Old Testament in a mere eight years.  Shouldn't we be able to memorize the entire Bible in twenty years or so?

According to Never Thirsty, there are 31,173 verses in the entire Bible.  There are 7,300 days in the next twenty years.  That means that if we memorized five verses each day for the next twenty years, we will have memorized the entire Bible.  If we memorized approximately two verses a day, we could have the entire Bible memorized in forty years.  So why wait?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Meditating on God's Creation

How much time do we spend thinking about what God has created and made? Very little, I'm afraid. Yet when we really take time to ponder His creation, we find that "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20).

"When He utters His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens: 'And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, He brings the wind out of His treasuries.” -Jeremiah 10:13

He makes lightening for the rain. Who would think that the rain needed lightening? And what about thunder? What is it good for? Isn't peace and quiet preferable to loud noises? But no, God choose to connect loud noises with bright flashes and pouring rain in our mind to highlight His amazing power.

Glance around the room. How many colors do you see? How many different textures and sights meet your eyes? Do you think that this was all man's reckoning? By no means! God's creativity is beyond comprehension. Think of how many different things He has made. How long it would take us even to design something like the world we live in. And yet, God's spoke it all with a word. Yet even through all this, order and peace reign supreme (that is, until the fall). But even after the fall the order in this world is amazing! The whole thing with the moon and tides, who on earth would have been able to come up with such a design? No one on earth, but only God.

Have you every thought about the power of God's voice. Simply uttering it, He makes a multitude of waters in the heavens. I wish I could do that.

Look all around you. Everything you see was created by God and for God (Colossians 1:16). I encourage you to take some time today to meditate on the splendor of your King's creation. Praise Him for His wonderful works. Meditate on His matchless creativity and organization. Marvel at the wisdom of your King.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Call to Prayer

Today, I want to stress to you the importance of prayer. This practice brings us closer to the Lord, further molding us into the image of His Son. If we want to be perfect, we must pray. If we want to be content, we must pray. Turning our eyes upon Jesus in prayer, not only allows us to talk with the Savior, but also dims the things of this earth, as we meditate upon the King of kings, clothed in a rainbow.

In Acts 1:14, the believers got together for the express purpose of prayer. They continued in prayer, not just a one time 2 hour prayer meeting; this continued all day! That is what we should be striving to do. "Pray with out ceasing" the Bible says. I challenge you to do that today. Make a special effort to pray throughout the day, by God's wisdom and grace.

Meet with another good friend, or a group of friends and pray today.

And then note what happened as a result. When the group of people in this verse were praying, they were rewarded by the overflowing of the Holy Spirit upon them. They then preached the Word and saved many. Imagine what would happen if you too got on your knees with the Savior today, with other believers. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says the following about verses 12-14 in this chapter: "God can find hiding-places for his people. They made supplication. All God's people are praying people. It was now a time of trouble and danger with the disciples of Christ; but if any is afflicted, let him pray; that will silence cares and fears. They had now a great work to do, and before they entered upon it, they were earnest in prayer to God for his presence. They were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, and abounded in prayer. Those are in the best frame to receive spiritual blessings, who are in a praying frame. Christ had promised shortly to send the Holy Ghost; that promise was not to do away prayer, but to quicken and encourage it. A little company united in love, exemplary in their conduct, fervent in prayer, and wisely zealous to promote the cause of Christ, are likely to increase rapidly."

Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible adds to this: "For the promise of the Spirit Christ had given them reason to expect; and that they might be preserved from their enemies, and kept faithful to their Lord; and be abundantly qualified for the preaching of the Gospel, and succeeded in it; and that their hearts might be comforted, and knit together in love: and they were unanimous in their requests, and so were under the promise of being heard; and in this work they were constant, and assiduous, and followed it with importunity. "

Pray while you're washing the dishes, cleaning your room, practicing your piano. Pray!

If you don't know what to pray for, here are some ideas:
-Praise Him! (Out of all the ways to pray, I think this is the most rewarding.  Do it often! Praise Him in every little thing you see: the sunshine, the flowers, the delicious food before you, the strength He has given you to complete your math test, His wisdom, His mercies which are new every morning, etc.)
-Our country and president
-For grace and the Holy Spirit
-To be like HIM!
-For the poor in this country and around the world
-For your unsaved friends and family members
-For unity in your church and wisdom for your pastor
-For your parents (They do so much for us, and could most certainly use our prayers!)

I'm praying for you my friends! May you be rewarded through your time in prayer today!