Finding freedom in His Word.
We gathered again to continue our journey through Psalm 119 using the devotional The Heart of His Word by Carol, one of the sisters at the heart of the ministry of Sister Talk Faith.
We hope you have one or two to gather with if you’ve chosen to take this journey with us. As a reminder the book is available on Amazon and for the duration of this study a PDF digital version is available here:
We’re beginning each session with a time to share our answers to one or more of the Heart Questions:
- What spoke to your heart most this week?
- What questions arose?
- What emotions surfaced?
- What challenged you?
These questions are meant to help us grow closer with one another as we share what our spirits experienced through the week’s study.
First of all, I want to say how odd it is to read words I wrote as if they are someone else’s. However, in most of my writing, that’s often what it feels like. The process I use in composing devotionals is mostly listening.
I also confess, when I wrote the Ponder and Pray sections, I did not work through the questions and prayer prompts. They came to mind as I rewrote and edited each devotional. So the aspect of working through the journaling exercises is completely new to me.
Reading through Psalm 119:1-40 this week reminded me that living in and obeying God’s Word is NOT natural for us. It is a challenge to work it into our lives — it’s a fight to choose His Way in this world.
Yet, at the same time, it’s something we can’t do on our own. Only God makes things grow, including faith. Our role is to humbly ask God to teach us and let Him guide us. Exercising our freewill, we trust Him and cooperate with what He does and how He directs.
With the reading of the first verse of Psalm 119, a question formed: How will I ever be blessed if I must live blameless and do no wrong? Just last night, I felt discouraged about a circumstance in my life. I got busy and didn’t send the text I felt God wanted me to send. Not to mention my snappiness with the sister over something at the shop. I could go on an on….
But this Psalm is not an if-then way of living. God’s blessing is not dependent on my doing. If that’s the case, then I’m doomed. Time and time again, I noticed the psalmist plead with God to teach, guide, and reveal. The writer knew something I have a tendency to forget.
This is God’s work not mine. I cannot transform myself no matter how hard I try. What I can do is ask God to do the work in me and trust Him to finish what he started.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. –Philippians 1:6
Reviewing the readings.
After sharing our hearts, we shared thoughts and revelations received from each day’s reading and journaling exercise. We also discussed the aspects of God’s Word we saw in each devotional: Bread, Light, Truth, Weapon.
Our week of reading started with the Introduction to The Heart of His Word.
Praying Scripture: Another way to handle God’s Word and a powerful weapon to use on your spiritual journey.
Reading through my own story in the Introduction of The Heart of His Word, thinking about when I asked God to make Jeremiah 15:16 a reality in me (p. 4-5), I’m reminded of the power of praying God’s Word into your life.
It’s something I practiced from the beginning of my walk with God but didn’t realize I was doing it. As a new Believer one of my daily prayers for YEARS was asking God to grow me to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength.
It was pointed out to me, at some point, that this type of prayer is an automatic-yes prayer, meaning it will be answered in the affirmative, because it is a command of God for His people.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. –Deuteronomy 6:5-6 ESV
God does not command His people to do what He will not equip them to do, if they are willing.
Can you think of other verses in the Bible to pray as automatic-yes prayers?
Day 1: Aleph, Psalm 119:1-8
Light: You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently… (vs. 4 ESV, emphasis added). Precepts are defined as principles intended as a general rule of action (Merriam-Webster’s). In other words, God sets before us precepts to learn. Not to-do lists to accomplish or endless “don’t do that” rules.
As we grow in our relationship with God, His way becomes our common practice, our way of being. When you think of Jesus taking the blame for us so that we might become blameless, then the psalmist’s words are not something to live up to. But something we are living now. Jesus paid my debt, and nothing I do can add or take away from the work of His death and resurrection.
Jesus is the reason we can boldly enter God’s presence and claim: “I am blameless. I am following His ways. I am obeying His precepts.”
Consider your general way of living. Your common thought patterns and way of life. What consumes most of your thought-life? Are you more concerned with messing up, getting something wrong when it comes to your understanding of God’s law or learning His ways?
Bread. Oh to be directed… (v. 5 NKJV), when I learn… (v. 7-8 NKJV). Spiritual nourishment can be found in these words. They remind us that walking with God in His Word is a learning process. We need direction and are being directed. This truth can sustain us when we fail, knowing we have much to learn, like a toddler learning to walk; and fuel us to take steps of obedience.
The Hebrew translated as directed in Psalm 119:5 NKJV (translated as steadfast in many other translations) can mean “to be firm, be stable, be established, be fixed; to be set up; be secure, be enduring; to be directed aright, be fixed aright, be steadfast; to prepare, be ready; be arranged, be settled; to fix, make ready, prepare, provide, furnish (ESL).
We can be directed by a faithful heart, sure of what is true and not true, knowing there is no other way but God’s way. Directed by confidence in where we are going. Once we know the heart of His Word, we are well established to make decisions day-to-day because there is no other way. Stable, not carried away by every new idea or feeling or thought. We have clear, set, direction: His Way.
Day 2: Bet, Psalm 119:9-16
Truth: Recount and rejoice (v. 13-14 NIV). It means to count again, or to relate in detail (Merriam-Webster’s). When in doubt: Recount. Remember, make a list, tell yourself again and again what you know about Jesus, the Word made flesh. It leads us to rejoice and mediate even more. This is where we find our delight!
Weapon. Oh, let me not wander… (v. 10 NKJV). Asking God to not let us wander from obediently trusting His Word can be a weapon against the enemy’s assault on our faith. When steps of faith don’t lead to what we expected, we can become vulnerable to the spiritual attack of doubt and question the reality of God’s way being right. Praying for perseverance can be a powerful weapon.
For me, in my current season of life, there are places where my obedience to His Word — to the utmost of my faith and understanding — have seemed fruitless. Asking Him to keep me from wandering is a weapon I can use against the enemy’s taunts telling me His Way is futile.
Day 3: Gimel, Psalm 119:17-24
Weapon: Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes… (vs. 23 ESV). We have no reason to fear.
His way is the way of safety. We are perfectly safe in this world. Do you believe this? In our culture safety is a huge issue. From seatbelt laws to electrical outlet covers, safety invades every aspect of our lives. I’m certainly not suggesting we abandon all things we know to help keep us safe, but in the face of this pandemic when our safety is more at risk than ever, it is certainly something to consider when it comes to our faith.
Who or what do you depend on for safety? How does God call us to live faith-filled lives in a world where everything feels unsafe?
Truth. I am a stranger in the earth… (v. 19 NKJV), Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors (v. 24 NKJV). In Christ, we are strangers in this world. We become His ambassadors representing His Kingdom and we need to live like it (2Corinthians 5:20). His Word is our delightful counselor as we navigate our role in representing Him in the world.
Day 4: Dalet, Psalm 119:25-32
Light: I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart… (v. 32 ESV).
Dare I say, no amount of willpower creates the ability to live God’s precepts? Wait, what?!
Yes, I believe it is true. If willpower worked we would all be living God’s law perfectly. There would be no reason for the weight loss industry or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. I know this to be true. I spent many years trying to create a system of rules and regulations to keep me on the right path to God. In the end, I failed. Because following Jesus is not about rules and regulations (religion), it is about relationship.
Letting go of the idea I could somehow train myself to be a better Christian was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It meant letting go of control and trusting God to do the work in me.
What I’ve discovered in the process is freedom.
God enlarges our hearts to live more in His way. Not the other way around. We have no ability to enlarge our own hearts.
What would it look like to let go of trying to be what you think God wants you to be, and let God do the work?
What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.
Romans 3:27-28 MSG
Is there a precept, a general way of living, you follow that you didn’t five years ago? How did God work this into you?
Weapon. I have chosen the way of truth… (v. 30 NKJV). We have freewill. God has blessed us with the ability to choose. This is a serious weapon in a world that wants to sweep us away with sin, guilt, and shame.
When the world says you’ll never change, everything will always stay the same, we can rise up and choose His truth. He sets our hearts free to run in the path of His commands (v. 32 MEV).
Day 5: He, Psalm 119:33-40
Light. Teach me… Give me… Make me… Incline my heart… Turn away my eyes… revive me… Establish Your word to Your servant (v. 33-38 NKJV). God is in charge of our spiritual training to build our faith, but we are in charge of asking Him to do it. This is a light to guide us in our walk of faith and relationship with God. We do not have to figure it out on our own, we only need to ask and obey.
Weapon: Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared… (v. 38 ESV). Fear. It is the enemy’s greatest weapon. Yet we have all the defense we need with our shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16).
Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). Confidence comes as God confirms His promises to us. Jesus is God’s Word in flesh and bones. We have nothing to fear except God alone.
Until next time.
We pray you’re discovering what lies in the heart of His Word as you journey deep into Psalm 119. If you have discovered something you want to share, please leave it as a comment on the bottom of this post.
For Session 3: Read
- Day 6: Waw, Psalm 119:41-48
- Day 7: Zayin, Psalm 119:49-56
- Day 8: Heth, Psalm 119:57-64
- Day 9: Teth, Psalm 119:65-72
- Day 10: Yodh, Psalm 119:73-80
- Day 11: Kaph, Psalm 119:81-88
Father God, thank You for Your Word, for Your direction, guidance, and mostly for setting our hearts free to live Your Way.
Blessings until we meet again.Stacy & Carol