Where do you get life?

“Come on, live a little.”

How many times have you heard that? You were probably being enticed to do something you knew in your heart to be wrong, right?

“But it feels good.”

OK. It’s starting to sound a little like an ABC After School Special, but you get the point, I hope. Sin feels good. It feels like really living. At least, for a while.

But the psalmist knew a better way.

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Psalm 119:37

He knew that the temptation to sin with his eyes was very great. It was great because looking on those things felt good. It fulfilled something he longed for. It scratched an itch he had.

I sometimes wonder what the psalmist specifically thought about when he wrote about “worthless things.” If he wrote today, I suspect he would have in mind the kinds of worthless things that one can see on much of television, in movies and on the internet. He would probably include a lot of books and magazines. And maybe he would go so far as to suggest that many of the special things we hold dear — like sports, hunting, and entertainment — are in reality “worthless things.”

Why might he suggest that those things are worthless? Later in the psalm he wrote, “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (119:72). Then he wrote, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (119:103). Then again, “Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold” (119:127).

The comparable worth of even the most valuable things in his time wasn’t even worth considering next to God’s Word. If he had that view of wealth and fine foods, surely the lesser things in our time would have to be included.

For the psalmist, though, the alternative to worthless things was clear: “give me life in your ways.” The psalmist knew that real life — genuine, lasting, joy-filled life — was found only in God and his design for our lives.

But he also recognized that life in God’s ways was not something he could do for himself. He knew that turning away from the worthless things of this world was something he would need help to do. That’s why he asked God. It was a prayer: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”

God desires to give us life in his ways. He is here as the perfect fulfillment for our lives. Like the psalmist, have you come to recognize the many worthless things from which you try to get life? Have you asked God to give you life in his ways?

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What Do You Value Most?

What you value most is what you spend the most time doing. What you spend the most time doing is what fills you with the most joy.

When was the last time you experienced joy in God’s word? I pray that you experience it every day. If not, perhaps you need to learn from the example of the writer of Psalm 119.

Psalm 119 contains 176 verses that beautifully express the greatness of God’s word and the psalmist’s delight in it. The writer of the psalm described God’s word in various ways—as law, commandments, precepts, rules, statutes, et al. The psalmist understood God’s word to be all that was contained in the Old Testament Scriptures. As New Testament believers we understand that the whole Bible is God’s inspired word. We know that it both reveals his plan of redemption through his Son and equips God’s people for service.

Scripture really is an amazing gift from God. It is a demonstration of his grace to us that we have this record of his self-revelation. The psalmist recognized this fact and expressed the value of Scripture in the monetary terms of his day. He wrote,

“The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (119:72).

There wasn’t much of more value in the psalmist’s day than items of gold and silver. Yet, he understood that God’s law, his instruction written in Scripture, was worth far more.

The value of Scripture is not just a 2,500 year-old sentiment. It is as true now as it was then. God’s word is more valuable than any amount of money one could ever accumulate.

Is it that valuable to you? Before you answer with an emphatic “yes,” consider that which you truly value. Whatever you spend time doing is what you value most. Is God’s word better to you than television, movies, internet, smartphones, music, hobbies, sports, hunting, fishing, fitness, beauty, friends, family, work or service? I’m sure you could add more to this list.

My fear is that our hearts are so far from delighting in God’s word that we value it much less than life’s most trivial pursuits. How is it that we can treat what God has revealed to us as of such little value?

Let me encourage you to delight in God’s word, to meditate on it, to believe it, to be consumed with longing for it at all times. Turn off the TV, shut down the computer, say “no” to that activity, and consume God’s word. Train to increase your appetite for Scripture. All other pursuits will begin to taste stale in comparison. It is then that you’ll begin to experience the eternal joy of God’s presence in his word.

God, give us hearts to delight in Scripture. By your grace may our joy increase in you and your word.

Week 9 Bible Readings

New Testament

26 February:  Mark 14:53-72

27 February:  Mark 15:1-21

28 February:  Mark 15:22-47

29 February:  Mark 16

1 March:  Luke 1:1-38

2 March:  Luke 1:39-80

3 March:  Luke 2:1-38

Old Testament

26 February:  Psalm 146, 147

27 February:  Psalm 148-150

28 February:  Genesis 1-3

29 February:  Genesis 4-6

1 March:  Genesis 7-9

2 March:  Genesis 10-12

3 March:  Genesis 13-15

Week 8 Bible Readings

New Testament

19 February:  Mark 11

20 February:  Mark 12:1-12

21 February:  Mark 12:13-44

22 February:  Mark 13:1-23

23 February:  Mark 13:24-14:11

24 February:  Mark 14:12-31

25 February:  Mark 14:32-52

Old Testament

19 February:  Psalm 126-128

20 February:  Psalm 129-131

21 February:  Psalm 132-134

22 February:  Psalm 135, 136

23 February:  Psalm 137-139

24 February:  Psalm 140-142

25 February:  Psalm 143-145

Week 7 Bible Readings

New Testament

12 February:  Mark 7:1-23

13 February:  Mark 7:24-37

14 February:  Mark 8

15 February:  Mark 9:1-29

16 February:  Mark 9:30-50

17 February:  Mark 10:1-31

18 February:  Mark 10:32-52

Old Testament

12 February:  Psalm 110-112

13 February:  Psalm 113-115

14 February:  Psalm 116-118

15 February:  Psalm 119:1-88

16 February:  Psalm 119:89-176

17 February:  Psalm 120-122

18 February:  Psalm 123-125

Week 6 Bible Readings

New Testament

5 February:  Mark 3:13-35

6 February:  Mark 4:1-25

7 February:  Mark 4:26-41

8 February:  Mark 5:1-20

9 February:  Mark 5:21-43

10 February:  Mark 6:1-32

11 February:  Mark 6:33-56

Old Testament

5 February:  Psalms 91-93

6 February:  Psalms 94-95

7 February:  Psalms 97-99

8 February:  Psalms 100-102

9 February:  Psalms 103, 104

10 February:  Psalms 105, 106

11 February:  Psalms 107-109

Week 5 Bible Readings

New Testament

29 January:  Matthew 26:47-27:10

30 January:  Matthew 27:11-56

31 January:  Matthew 27:57-28:20

1 February:  Mark 1:1-28

2 February:  Mark 1:29-45

3 February:  Mark 2:1-22

4 February:  Mark 2:23-3:12

Old Testament

29 January:  Psalms 74-76

30 January:  Psalms 77, 78

31 January:  Psalms 79, 80

1 February:  Psalms 81-83

2 February:  Psalms 84-86

3 February:  Psalms 87, 88

4 February:  Psalms 89, 90

Week 4 Bible Readings

New Testament

22 January:  Matthew 21:33-22:22

23 January:  Matthew 22:23-23:12

24 January:  Matthew 23:13-39

25 January:  Matthew 24:1-41

26 January:  Matthew 24:42-25:30

27 January:  Matthew 25:31-26:13

28 January:  Matthew 26:14-46

Old Testament

22 January:  Psalms 57-59

23 January:  Psalms 60-62

24 January:  Psalms 63-65

25 January:  Psalms 66, 67

26 January:  Psalms 68, 69

27 January:  Psalms 70, 71

28 January:  Psalms 72, 73

Week 3 Bible Readings

New Testament

15 January:  Matthew 15:1-28

16 January:  Matthew 15:29-16:28

17 January:  Matthew 17

18 January:  Matthew 18

19 January:  Matthew 19

20 January:  Matthew 20

21 January:  Matthew 21:1-32

Old Testament

15 January:  Psalms 37-39

16 January:  Psalms 40-42

17 January:  Psalms 43-45

18 January:  Psalms 46-48

19 January:  Psalms 49, 50

20 January:  Psalms 51-53

21 January:  Psalms 54-56

I Love God, or He Loves Me?

Our Love versus His Love

 

“I love you, O LORD, my strength” (Psalm 18:1)

Did you know that a phrase like this only occurs twice in all of the Psalms? Does it seem odd to you that a verbal expression of love to God occurs so infrequently in a collection of prayers to God in Scripture? I thought so.

It’s also interesting to note that the phrase “I love …” is directed toward God’s word at least nine times. Really? Almost five times more does the psalmist express love for God’s laws and commandments than he does for God himself.

But do you know what really amazes me? The psalmist praises God’s love for us more than twenty times! For instance: “I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD forever” (Ps 89:1); “I will sing of steadfast love and justice” (Ps 101:1); “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love” (Ps 143:8).

 

God’s Love is the Big Idea

 

What are we to make of this?

If the Psalms are any indication, it appears God’s love is a much bigger deal than ours. That is not to say that our love for God is unimportant. It is surely an essential indication of a regenerated life.

But the Psalmist helps us to realize that we need to make much of his love for us–even ten times more than our own love for him!

The apostle John helps us with this. He writes, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Isn’t that the good news anyway? His love, not our love.

Let’s make this our testimony: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases” (Lamentations 3:22).

That’s the big idea.