Sunday, January 1, 2023
Welcome to the first post of our 2023 SeekGrowLove Bible reading plan! We are beginning the year with a little time in Psalm 119, and in the next couple days will add in the other Old Testament and New Testament readings. You can download and print the whole plan found at the end of today’s post. Every time we begin a new book of the Bible, we will include a little introduction written by Steve Mattison.
Introducing the Book – Psalm
The book of Psalms was Israel’s songbook. It contains a collection of psalms (or songs) that primarily focus on praising God for who he is and for what he has done. The Hebrew title is, “the book of praises.” Most of these psalms are prayers to God written by King David, although other authors, ranging from Moses, to Solomon, to the sons of Korah also contributed.
The book of Psalms teaches us to seek God with our whole heart, to tell Him the truth and to tell Him everything, and to worship Him because of who He is, not just because of what He has done. It contains a range of topics, from people crying out to God from the depths of their despair, to those praising God with jubilation from the depths of their hearts.
The book of Psalms has spoken to me in my lowest lows as well as in my highest highs. May the inspired words in this book resonate well with you as you read these psalms this year.
Psalm 119 Devotion
Who in their right mind is thinking about the end right now? Really? Terrible title. TERRIBLE. This is the time of fresh starts! New beginnings! Redos! Our mind focused on the brief novelty of this moment’s pants kicking; the annual motivation for improvements we have put off for weeks, months, or even years. While we might commit to a dream today, I would say there is little thought given to the realities of December 31st, 2023: 365 calendar days away. Whether it’s gym memberships, nicotine patches, cauliflower pizzas, saving accounts, or even bible reading plans, have we bought into the idea that we are preparing ourselves for a full year of commitment in our resolutions? Look at your Google Calendar or your bank statement: what have you planned and paid for in a full-year upfront knowing that it will change your life by the end? Or is your resolve more like the free 7-day trial, leaving one foot in 2022 in case you want to make a getaway?
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:9-11
I will go ahead and say, it is not fiscally responsible, or even logically feasible, to pile up a year’s worth of cauliflower pizza into a deep freeze, but our commitment level to any life-changing resolution, should count the cost of sacrifice with the end in mind. This is an echo of what our Heavenly Father has done through Jesus Christ. Paul speaks to this in Colossians 1:16 when he states “For through [Jesus] were all things created, things that are in heaven, and things that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Our eternal God has dictated to us the rules, plans, and ordinations of his personal and universal will that will lead us to a relationship with Him, which has ended the penalty of sin with the blood of Jesus Christ and leads to the big finale, the Kingdom of God. Knowing the end, it is much easier to keep to and dictate the decrees of each day. Without the end in mind, we are just tragic creatures of toil, mindlessly moving from one task to the next.
“Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.” – Psalm 119:33
Our God is not a God of chaos (1 Cor 14:33). He works in logic and rules that are shared with us because WE as heirs according to the promise are included in the end. We don’t have to feel out the way, make up the path, or bump down the lane. God has made his moral law clear. It is not just a list of “thou shalt nots” but enhancements and boundaries provided for our own physical safety, societal responsibility, psychological well-being, and the eternal enhancement of the connection and relationship between the Heavenly Father and his children. He is not a part-time parent, nor can we be part-time children. You can’t periodically pause your subscription or ghost your way out of the membership. Our life is better lived, today and eternally, when we are resolute to learning and practicing His ways that are forged in the ultimate love and truths. We become devoted.
That devotion begins with finding a way to be connected to the Word of God every single day. It could be found in this blog. It could be found in personal study, podcast, prayer time, or all the above. What I propose, if we truly are wanting to grow in the word of God this year, to engage and act upon His message that is delivered through His word, you and I must set alarms, write in on our mirrors, put it in our checklist and calendars, and make it priority. Being here to read every day provides an opportunity to do that alongside others who are also seeking out a devoted life to Christ. If our end of life is found in 2023, if Jesus returns, or the Lord tarries for another year and He still gives us life, how much more abundant will December 31st, 2023 be if we have committed ourselves fully to understanding the precepts, the statutes, the laws, the understanding, and the wisdom of your heavenly Father? Let’s be committed to the end, even if we are at a loss of where to begin our year.
“May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight. Let me live so that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.” -Psalm 119:171-175
- In reading through Psalm 119 what do you see of God’s character – how does He show who He is through His inspired word? This is a question we will be asking regularly this year (sometimes phrased differently). We think you will find great benefit in journaling, or making notes in your Bible margin, on how you see and what you learn of God and His character from His written word every day this year.
- What are your favorite verses of Psalm 119? What words are used in Psalm 119 to name God’s law or directions for life? What are the benefits given for knowing, following, loving these words of God? What do you find about the results of neglecting these words of God? How would you rate your knowledge of and then, love for, the words of God?
- Where do you want to be at the end of 2023? What steps will help you get there? Spend some time in prayer to the God of Psalm 119.