Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 8: Psalm 119:57-64

57 The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 7: Psalm 119:49-56

49 Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
51 The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
52 When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.
54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
55 I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.
56 This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 6: Psalm 119:41-48

41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise;
42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.
44 I will keep your law continually, forever and ever,
45 and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.
46 I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame,
47 for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.
48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What do short prayers indicate?

A few thoughts on today's reading...

If ever there was a psalm that showed us how to pray short prayers, this is it. The psalmist could use lengthy prayers, as we have realized how painstakingly crafted this psalm is. And yet, 1-word and 2-word prayers dot the landscape of this psalm.

Teach me, give me, lead me, incline my heart, turn my eyes, confirm, turn away.

The more I read this Psalm, the more I believe that God wants to be in a constant mode of thinking about Him, praying to Him, and doing what He says.

The length of the prayers does not indicate the depth of the relationship with God, but the frequency of the prayers surely has to indicate something!

Day 5: Psalm 119:33-40

Digging on Day 5

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
38 Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.
39 Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.
40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Real life in Psalm 119

As I was reading 25-32 today, I was reminded of a couple of things...

The psalmist found himself in some desperate situations. Like v 25, "My soul clings to the dust," and v 28, "My soul melts away for sorrow." Intense emotion is described with figurative language, but make no mistake, the psalmist is hurting. I can't help but think that we all have been there at times. Feeling like we have hit the bottom, only to experience more pain.

And yet the psalmist prayed. Give me life, teach me your statutes, make me understand, put false ways away from me, graciously teach me, let me not be put to shame. I have been struck recently that God may be more honored by short prayers, than long, verbose, pious prayers. "Help me, be near to me, encourage me, stabilize me, calm me." Could these prayers have been close to the psalmist's lips? I think so.

I also noticed the statements of pursuit and determination toward the end of the section: I have chosen the way of faithfulness, I set your rules before me, I cling to your testimonies, I will run in the way of your commands. What a response to the reality of the situation and the strength gleaned through prayer.

Thank you God that I can read the 3000-year old words of someone who followed You and be encouraged today!

Day 4: Psalm 119:25-32

25 My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't miss the pronouns

As I have been reading through Psalm 119, I am reminded of how many pronouns are in the chapter. I mentioned on Sunday the synonyms for God's Word that are there, but the pronouns even outnumber those.

This is a personal psalm in which there is a personal "me-you" relationship described. It begs the question, do we know God that intimately? Are we able to speak of Him and to Him on such rich personal terms.

I am encouraged that God has given us language for prayers and ways to describe our relationship with Him.

Day 3: Psalm 119:17-24

Here is the 3rd installment of reading through Ps 119 as a church...
17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your rules at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Some thoughts on reading through 9-16

I am struck in reading the Threads assigned reading (Ps 119:9-16) today by a few things.

The declarative sentences. The author writes some things that are intensely personal and we get to overhear him.
>> I seek you
>> I have stored your word in my heart
>> I declare your rules
>> I delight in your testimonies
>> I will meditate
>> I will fix my eyes
>> I will delight in your statutes
>> I will not forget your word
Promises and statements. A bunch of them.

In the mix also are a few prayers...
>> Let me not wander from your commands
>> Teach me your statutes

Can I make the same statements? Can I pray the same prayers?

Prayer of pursuit

I read this in A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' name. Amen

It was a reminder of much of Psalm 119.

Day 2: Psalm 119:9-16

The text of reading for the day: verses 9-16...

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 1: Psalm 119:1-8

So, our Threads journey through Psalm 119 brings us to the 8 verses that begin with the Hebrew letter 'Aleph' (1-8)...

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
4 You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
8 I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

So, you want to read Psalm 119... (Part 2)

Picking up where I left off yesterday...

Make friends with 176 people – Imagine that you have walked into a room with 176 guests who are there for a banquet. You may know a few on a first name basis. You may know some in a deeply personal way. Some you may have never met in your life. Now, take a moment and talk with them. Learn their story. Ask them questions. As you do this, you will become more familiar with them. You may even seem resemblance among them. Some may look like cousins or sisters. Some will look very similar to others, some very different. I appreciate David Powlison introducing me to the Psalm with this analogy. There are 176 verses. We know some very well. We may know about “hiding God’s Word in our heart” or about “Your Word is a lamp to my feet.” Some verses we have yet to really grasp. So, my encouragement here is to spend time with the verses. Ask them questions. Ask God to make these verses personal friends of yours. I think that as you do this, you will see some common threads running through the verses. Some will seem similar to others. Those are the threads that I want to call our attention to.

Think feast not fast-food – I remember hearing Paul Tripp say that we often approach the Psalms as spiritual fast-food, something quick to pick up on the run. He suggested that we ought to go to the Psalms with a mindset of eating a Thanksgiving dinner. We will eat and eat until our hearts are content, and there will still be leftovers. So, don’t “drive-thru” this psalm as if you can pick up a quick bite. Enjoy the flavor of each dish that is there, and stay at the table to enjoy the post-dinner conversation.

Follow the path to Jesus – Don’t miss Jesus who is also the self-disclosure of God. He is there in Psalm 119. He is the embodiment of all the good described in the 22 stanzas. When you read about the ways of God being just, you cannot help but be reminded of the fact that Jesus Himself was just and is just. You find common ground between the words of this Psalm and the words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. God is intent on us knowing Him. He gave us creation, a conscience, His Word and His Son. Don’t miss what He is saying.

So, there is a ‘freshman orientation’ of sorts if you are new or unfamiliar to the psalm. I desire that God uses the psalm to grow my hunger for Him, and I pray that for you as well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So, you want to read Psalm 119… (Part One)

Looking forward to starting Psalm 119, I jotted a few ideas down...

“Where do we start?”

That is the question that was going through my mind when I saw our church’s parking lot piled with more inches of snow than many Delawareans could remember seeing for a long time. Eventually, with the help of snow blowers, snow plows, shovels, ice-melt, backhoes, and tractors, our property was inhabitable again. But, the point is we had to start somewhere. You may feel like that when you look at Psalm 119. Where do I start? I want to share some ideas that have helped me in answering that question for myself. Not all of these ideas are original (I don’t have too many original ideas), but all have been personally valuable. They will inform my teaching and preaching over the next several weeks, and so I felt that it might be useful to share.

See God’s Word as a revelation of God Himself – I think one of the greatest helps in reading the Bible is to remind yourself that Scripture is a pathway to God. It is a pathway because in it God reveals Himself. We see who He is and what He is like. We see how He treats His people, and how He cares for the needy. We see what He requires and desires. We are not simply reading for information, or even inspiration. We are reading to know God in a deeper way, and He has promised to make Himself known through His Spirit by His Word.

Appreciate the nuances – I think that it is so vital to understand what the writer of the psalm is pushing for in using so many synonyms for God’s Word. He uses words like precepts, law, judgments, testimonies, rules, commandments, statutes, and some others. If you tune out the subtleties of each word used, I think you miss an ocean’s worth of spiritual benefit. So, dig deep into what a testimony or a statute really is. Think through the magnitude of the reality that God wants your heart and mind to dwell on them and enjoy them.

Appreciate the intricacies – We often forget that the psalms are poems. Hebrew poetry is different than our run of the mill rhyme schemes, but it is no less intricate than any poetry we may know. In addition, each section (of 8 verses) is known by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This is because each of the verses in that particular section begins with the same letter. Imagine, 8 thoughts beginning with the letter ‘A ,’ and then 8 thoughts beginning with the letter ‘B.’ That is not something you trot out overnight. There is detail and precision given to each line. It ends up being a masterpiece.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Psalm 119 on the horizon

This coming Sunday we will begin a study of Psalm 119 called Threads (God-willing, unless He chooses to bless us with another 2 feet of snow).

We are trying to connect our church body with this Psalm through some different means.
  • We have a Facebook group that you are encouraged to join where we will be having some online discussions about what God is teaching us. I also will be posting a portion of Psalm 119 each day on the blog, and I welcome comments here.

  • In addition we will have journals this coming Sunday (and available online) to record and collect our thoughts about what God desires for us to learn through this study.
God is already using His Word to challenge me in some unique ways, and I feel like the profit for OBC to hear from God in this psalm will be great.

Tomorrow, I will post a few thoughts about how to begin thinking about the longest chapter in the Bible.

I look forward to connecting more in the upcoming days!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The offices are closed and our Wednesday night activities are canceled.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

If the Lord wills

Yesterday and today, I gave a lot of thought to a couple of verses. A couple of things led up to this. 1) We had planned on having a guest speaker this weekend at Ogletown, and that didn't happen, due to the PHL airport closures, 2) we had planned on having services tomorrow, but that isn't going to happen.

So, a couple of verses...
"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:13-17, ESV)
I may have another opportunity to highlight some things from these verses, but here are a couple for now.
  • 'if the Lord wills' is surely not a magic formula, but it is a humble recognition.
  • How often do I really recognize God's sovereignty over the things of life?
  • How often do I really recognize that 1) I am not in control of many things, and 2) human life is pretty fragile?
  • God's providence ensures that we live.
  • While none of us would want to be classified as an 'arrogant person,' it is the height of arrogance for Christians to live a functionally God-less life.
  • This is quite connected to the Lord's prayer (i.e. Your will be done)
Just a few thoughts from someone who had planned on sharing a few thoughts tomorrow morning however, the Lord willed otherwise.


Due to the weather, our Sunday morning services are canceled. Look for a post later tonight on "When God changes your plans!"



As before we are monitoring the weather conditions and expect to make a decision about all Sunday activities later this afternoon or early evening.

Keep safe.