Too Many Rules

Psalm 119:89-172

Psalm 119 105 NIV sgl

Being a Christian isn’t for me.  There are way too many rules.  My life would be so boring if I followed all those rules.  Have you heard anyone say that before?  Or maybe you are a Christian and you try to follow all the rules, but you feel like you are missing out on the fun.  Or worse yet, maybe you are a Christian, and during your weak moments you don’t miss out on the fun.  The Bible is a huge book with a lot of Do this’s and Don’t do that’s.  Why did God make it so difficult to be a Christian?

If you have ever felt a bit strangled by all the instructions to follow in the Bible, Psalm 119 will open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking.  God’s laws are not some kind of test to see if we can show self-control and prove we want to be Christians.  Psalm 119 says God’s commandments will make you wiser than your enemies, have more insight than your teachers, and understand more than the aged.  Let that sink in for a second.  These rules were given to us to make us smarter – even more intelligent than our teachers and those older than us who have more experience than us.

God did not make all the rules to make our lives MORE difficult; He gave us all the rules to make our lives LESS difficult.  He is watching out for us and has our best interest at heart.  God knows a lot of stuff and He is just trying to share with us some of what He knows to make our lives better.  Don’t be rebellious because you don’t like someone telling you what to do; instead, be thankful for the pages and pages of advice that God has shared with you that will help you out in life.  You might have an urge to lie, steal, have sex outside of marriage, look at porn, get drunk, or do any other sin of your choice.  All these things may seem like a worthwhile option in the heat of the moment, but God’s word lets you know that doing these things will make your life worse.  Trust Him; He knows what is best for you.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.”  Life can be difficult, and many obstacles will get in the way on your path.  You can ignore God’s word and try to go it alone, but you will assuredly stumble around in the darkness.  Or you can read God’s word and follow the instructions so your path will be lit up.  Those same obstacles will be on your path whether you read your Bible or not, but if your path of life is lit up with God’s word, you will more easily see how to maneuver through the obstacles you will face.

How valuable are the words of God?  The psalmist who wrote Psalm 119 says in verse 127 that he loves the commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold.  The words of God are more treasured than gold!  Do you believe that also?  Your actions speak louder than your thoughts and words.  If you truly find the scriptures to be that valuable, you will search diligently by reading the Bible, and then you will mold your life to fit the words you have learned about.

One last part of this psalm that really drove home the value of God’s words to me was in verses 163-165.  He said he loves Thy law and praises Him seven times a day because of Thy righteous ordinances.  I feel like this is not an exaggeration to make a point (like forgiving someone 7 times 70 times), but probably a true practice that this individual followed for the most part.  If you are awake for about two-thirds of your day, you would need to praise God for his rules about every two hours to keep up with that psalmist.  You would be in a constant state of thankfulness for God’s laws every day, which seems like a bit much, but verse 165 tells us about the huge reward we receive for following His words.  He said that those who love Thy law have great peace and nothing causes them to stumble.  If you want to add stress to your life, just go ahead and break a rule.  However, if you want true peace in your life, search through the scripture looking for God’s advice and follow that advice.  Thank you to the psalmist for giving us this great perspective on rules.

Rick McClain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+119%3A89-172&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Song of Solomon 1-8 on our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Thought Checker

Psalm 119:1-88

Psalm 119 11 NIV sgl

(We will read the second half of the longest chapter of the Bible on Sunday – but feel free to actually read the whole thing both days – it is full of good stuff!)

What comes to mind when you hear the word purity? Because we currently live in a fallen world where sin is part of our human nature, we are all impure. Think about it… what about your thoughts? What do you think about? Are there any sins that don’t start with a thought? I’m sure we could learn a whole lot about someone if we could read their thoughts, because the thing about our thoughts is that they are essentially hidden from the rest of the world. And this is why it can be so dangerous. What starts to be a single almost innocent thought can then eventually or suddenly develop from good to bad to ugly. So when would be a better time than now to examine our thoughts and heart. God knows our thoughts, we can’t hide anything from Him, remember? Our thoughts do matter. They reveal what is in our heart. 

 

Thankfully, we can find in Psalm 119 how to stay pure. 

 

Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.

 

Psalm 119: 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

 

Because God’s word should be our treasure in life we should hide it in our heart and meditate on it so that we can obey it and therefore stay pure. So let’s see what Philippians 4:8 says. “ And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This makes staying pure a little harder, not only should they be pure, they should be honorable as well.

 

 I am so glad this verse made it into our Bibles because it has certainly helped me. When I was little I used to have trouble falling asleep from worrying, until my mom wrote out Philippians 4:6-8 and hung it up next to my bed. Suddenly I had a way to check my thoughts. A thought checker. If it doesn’t align with Philippians 4:8 throw it out of your mind. And even more than that, I was able to memorize it and because of that I’ve been able to use it throughout the years. 

 

Starting some habits can be really helpful in controlling your thoughts. But the first step is to really know the scriptures so you know what is right and wrong. Because how else can we know what the Bible says if we don’t take the time to study, meditate, memorize, and know what it says? Also you will need to commit to memorizing scripture so that when the time comes that they are needed you will be able to pull them out of our pocket and meditate on them. 

Here are some great verses to memorize and hide in our hearts.

 

1 Timothy 4:12 “ Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way  you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 

 

Romans 8:1-2 “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for your. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Or 2 Corinthians 6:6, Romans 8:6, or 2 Corinthians 10:5, and many many others. 

 

So the next time you feel like your thoughts are controlling you, make it a habit to test your thoughts and make sure they align with Philippians 4:8.  When they don’t, affirm that it is a thought that doesn’t align with God’s word and toss it out. Just like Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan,” when Peter was a stumbling block for him, you might choose to say something in response to it to help combat it. Then, ask God to renew your mind and help you strive to live a life pleasing to Him. Lastly and one of the most important steps, meditate on scripture. Choose a specific verse that is personal and recite it over and over again. 

 

So how can a young person stay pure? By living according to God’s word. By meditating on Scripture and hiding it in your heart so that you don’t sin. 

 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+119%3A1-88&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 3-4, 2 Chronicles 1 and Psalm 72 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

A to Z

Psalm 119

p119-lamp-to-my-feet

Monday, January 16

If you live in the United States, you are subject to millions of laws.  There are so many laws at the federal level, that it would take lifetimes to count them all. There are possibly 20,000 regulations placed upon gun ownership.  The Internal Revenue Code is over 7,500 pages long.  There are over 300,000 expressions of criminal offenses you could possibly commit.  All of these numbers do not include the laws you must abide by at the state or local levels.  I do not tell you all of this to make you rummage through law books before every action, so you will fearfully stay at home (there might be a law against that, too), or even as some kind of backhanded political statement, but to make the simple point — even when you want to follow the law, it can be hard when there are so many.

 

“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.  Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart — they do no wrong but follow his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.” – Psalm 119:1-4

 

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” – Psalm 119:8

 

Psalm 119 is a reflection on the following: the laws, statutes,  precepts, and words given by God to men through an acrostic.  What is an acrostic?  You have most likely done something similar with your name at some point in your school career:

 

Artistic

Ambitious

Relaxed

Objective

Nearsighted

 

The first letter of each word spell out the theme of discussion.  By using the Hebrew Alphabet to begin each stanza, David, our author, literally covers everything from “A” to “Z” (or “Aleph” to “Taw”) to thoroughly tell about the favor or folly that comes from obeying / disobey God’s commandments.  The ABC’s of living a life for God is closely clinging to His commands – all 600+ of them given in the Torah that make up the Levitical Law? For David, yes.  Thankfully, Jesus Christ simplified the commandments to two guiding principles that encompass them all:

“‘Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?’ Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40

Does reducing these many laws to two make it easier to live within the law? Absolutely not.  There are no longer loopholes, gaps, or technicalities to exploit which are the reasons for chastisement of religious leaders in the time of Jesus and the ever-increasing amount of laws today.  These two laws encompass every part of our lives. A-to-Z. From Actions with our enemies to the Zeal which we have for His kingdom, these laws apply.  When we commit to following His law, we have blessing, direction, fulfillment, and hope.  Is it an easier life? No. Is it a better life? Absolutely, yes.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again:  I will obey your righteous regulations.” – Psalm 119:105-106

-Aaron Winner