The Heart of His Word — Session 3

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Finding life in His Word.

The latest gathering brought us halfway through Psalm 119 and to the midpoint of our journey through The Heart of His Word, the devotional by Carol, one of the sisters of Sister Talk Faith.

If you haven’t started your own gathering it’s not too late. The book is available for purchase at Amazon and the shop.

The posts for the Introduction and Session 2 are available on this blog.

Our prayer for all who gather with us is to inspire you on your personal journey of discovering and meeting God in the pages of Scripture.

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We invite you to share what you find with us here. We’d love to hear from you, just add your thoughts in the Leave A Reply box at the end of the post.

Sharing hearts.

Our gatherings for The Heart of His Word begin with a time for every sister to share, uninterrupted and without question, how the readings of the week spoke to their hearts.

To help put thoughts to words, we offer a series of questions to consider.
Heart Questions:

  • What spoke to your heart most this week?
  • What questions arose?
  • What emotions surfaced?
  • What challenged you?

The questions aren’t meant to pry, but to open the way of fellowship. An opportunity to see more clearly our fellowship with God and open our hearts to one another.

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Carol says:

Last week’s reading gave me hope to press on and live faithfully in hard seasons. 

Understanding that the world is not as it should be, and neither are we, explains a lot about life’s struggles. I hear the psalmist tell us, when we surrender to God’s Word, work it into our being, our lives change. In Him we come to know and live out a full spiritual life that sustains us in a dark war-torn world.

However, it’s not a life of gritted teeth and muscling through — it’s a restful life of joy, comfort, and expectant waiting as our spirits trust in God and walk His way.

In light of the truth about the wrongness of the world and me, the psalmist’s words bless me with encouragement to get past the messiness of the world and seek refuge in God. Will my troubles disappear? No. Will life get easier? Not necessarily. But the truth is I can have a quiet joyful spirit, trusting in Him and His Word as the rest of the world chooses chaos.

Stacy says: 

Oh, the turning to God when all seems yuck! When the world is spinning out of control and no good news comes my way. I found both comfort and challenge in the psalmist’s words. Comfort in the thought God knows the yuck I’m in and exactly how it is affecting my soul. 

For me the challenge is choosing to confess His way when all the wrong screams loud in my ears. I heard this week, “Confession precedes belief.” A reminder that, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 ESV). 

I believe Jesus is Lord over all that is seen and unseen. I believe he came to save the whole wide world. 

Even when the wrong is crashing loud, even when I don’t feel it. 

Even when….

Reviewing the readings.

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Sharing hearts, is followed up with a time to share thoughts and revelations received from each day’s reading and journaling exercise. We’re also still looking for specific aspects of God’s Word to help us on our spiritual journey through life. Discovering where God’s Word becomes for us: Bread, Light, Truth, and a Weapon.

Day 6: Waw, Psalm 119:41-48

Bread: I reach out for your commands which I love, that I might meditate on your decrees… (vs. 48 NIV).

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you.

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 

–Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Meditate is a word some shy away from, but the psalmist uses it again and again. 

Meditate means “to focus one’s thoughts on” or “to spend time in quiet thought” (Merriam Webster). Some religions encourage meditation as a way of emptying the mind of all thought, but this is not the way for followers of Christ. Instead we meditate, chew on, question, wrestle, ponder, and pore over God and His Word.

It takes a little by little surrender of our busy minds and lives with scant margin. Like Skin Horse’s explanation of becoming real, it doesn’t happen all at once. Instead, this kind of meditation always comes within the confines of God’s loving presence. As we spend more and more time in quiet with God, we become more real. We become the person God created us to be sometimes without even recognizing it. 

Those around us may not understand, even call us weird. 

But those who know, call it beautiful!

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A Spiritual Carb-fest!
So MUCH food for our spirits in these eight verses! 
We find mercy and salvation in His Word (v. 41).
We find an answer to defend ourselves against those who disapprove of Believers (v. 42).
We find hope (v. 43).
We find freedom (v. 45).
We find a voice to influence (v. 46).
We find delight in following His Way (v. 47).

So shall I keep Your law continually, forever and ever. 
Psalm 119:44 NKJV

Obedience to His Word feeds our souls and inspires us to obey even more! Like carb-loading before a marathon, His Word fuels our faith for the long haul.

Day 7: Zayin, Psalm 119:49-56

Weapon: In the night, Lord, I remember your name… (vs. 55 NIV). In the midst of all kinds of suffering we must remember who God is. This is a battle, and our greatest weapon against hopelessness is remembering, recalling, recounting the goodness of God.

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Light: This has become mine, because I kept Your precepts (v. 56 NKJV, emphasis added). The ESV expands the translation of This to This blessing to give a clearer picture of what the psalmist is singing about. The final line of the Zayin stanza calls for us to look back at the verses above where we find what he affirms what is his:

  • Comfort in affliction (v. 50, 52).
  • Perseverance in persecution (v. 51).
  • Passion (v. 53).
  • A song in his heart (v. 54). In the new covenant, we are the house of pilgrimage, God’s temple. Obedience to His Word causes our hearts to sing with His Way.
  • A clearer picture of God in the night (v. 55). Whether the night we face is physical or spiritual, God’s Word becomes a Night Light reminding us of God — the One who lights our way through the darkness.

All these blessings he attributes to having kept (obeyed) God’s Word. The word that caused him to hope (v. 49 NKJV). 

Obedience to His Word fills our hearts with songs of His Way, fills our minds with the truth of God’s character, and shows us how to walk His way in a treacherous world.

Day 8: Heth, Psalm 119:57-64

Truth: I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes… (vs. 59 NIV). The fact is we would rather look at something else than consider our ways, especially when it comes to sin. Instead, we get defensive and point fingers of blame elsewhere. Yet, in the end, our deepest motives and actions are about our own hearts.

The psalmist understood the importance of diving deep into his own heart and considering his ways. This is the definition of repentance. Examining our hearts and turning from those things that are not in step with God and His Word.

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Truth expanded: You are my portion, O Lord… I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies (v. 57, 59 NKJV). The truth is God’s Kingdom, which becomes our portion or inheritance when we believe, is one-hundred-eighty degrees different in its ways than the world’s, the place of our beginning. Once we truly see, we turn and walk a different direction.

If things aren’t different in your life and you see no reasons to turn, then maybe you haven’t really seen.   

Does your life look the same as when you began your relationship with God? We’re not talking rule-following or church attendance, we’re talking fundamental ways of living. What occupies your thoughts? your time? your energy? your resources?

Following Jesus looks very different than the life the world calls us to. Changes aren’t always dramatic. Most often, Believers’ lives change little by little. You notice yourself thinking differently, responding to similar situations in a different way than you would before.

After careful evaluation, where do you find yourself? How have you turned from the world toward Him?

Day 9: Teth, Psalm 119:65-72

Truth: You have dealt well with Your servant… (v. 65 NKJV). On this foundation — that God deals well with His people — we become unshakable servants. It puts us in a teachable frame of mind (v. 66, 68), and even when facing affliction, we can say: It is good… that I may learn… (v. 71 NKJV).

Remembering only the goodness of God blesses us with another day, another breath, and graciously sent His Son to save His rebellious creatures enables us to say with great confidence: You have dealt well with me.

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Light: Teach me knowledge and good judgement, for I trust your commands… (vs. 66 NIV). 

Stacy says:

“Are you prepared? Do you have enough food and water? Can you survive if this is the end?” she asked. “Because we’re not sure exactly when Jesus will return during the rapture. We should be ready.”

Three different times this week I’ve listened as others talk about being prepared to survive just in case this is it. I get it. We’ve not experienced this kind of turmoil in my lifetime, nor have we faced a pandemic. Life feels like shaky ground these days, and we are all grappling with what to do. How do we prepare for the end times? Should we stock food and water? Extra batteries and other supplies?

I shared it with the sister and she responds, “We ARE living in the end times.” I thought, Well there’s a bit of knowledge to think about. Because each day we live brings us closer to Jesus’s return, and the bigger question I asked myself: Does this fact affect how I am living now? Does it spur me to do something different?

After some reflection my answer is almost the same prayer of the psalmist. Lord, teach me knowledge and good judgement. I’ll trust you to provide what I need. I’ll trust you to prepare my heart for whatever is coming. Go before me, behind me, beside me. Be all around me and within me. Show me how to shine your light in this shaky world. Amen.

Day 10: Yodh, Psalm 119:73-80

Bread: Your hands have made me… Give me understanding, that I may learn… (v. 73 NKJV). It is spiritually nourishing for us to remember God made us and is Sovereign in the world, As our Creator, He is the only One who can give us the insights we need to learn His ways.

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Carol says:

In my current season of life, I find myself questioning the understanding I thought I gained over the years of walking with Him. He’s brought me to a place where what I believed to be a rock has revealed itself as sand. Or at the very least shaky unstable ground. Maybe it’s a season of settling. Removing sand between the rocks, refining my understanding.

Whatever it is, it’s left me questioning what He’s doing and whether He really knows what’s happening down here. I’ve probably asked Why? more times in my heart over the last year than in my entire life.

I’ve heard His words of comfort. His continuing message: More beauty is coming through this. It is done. Yet my heart still wrestles with this question: Is it true You have everyone right where You want them, to fulfill Your purpose and plan?

It is bread to my soul, to know I need understanding, and Someone to take my hands and guide them. And knowing He doesn’t love me any less because of my questions. My heart echoes the psalmist’s prayer: Give me understanding…

Light: …in faithfulness You have afflicted me (v. 75 NKJV). Knowing God’s faithfulness to His people, His purpose, and plan lights up our way when we face difficult times. We can trust He’s at work for His glory and our good.

Day 11: Kaph, Psalm 119:81-88

Truth: All your commands are trustworthy, help me, for I am being persecuted without cause (v. 86 NIV). One of the most common persecutions we face in this life is misunderstanding. We say or act in a specific way, often because we feel God is leading us or because of deep passion in our hearts. And while we don’t always get it right, there are times in spite of our heart’s desire, others misunderstand. They make snap judgments or assume they know our story. It often causes lots of hurt feelings, and we feel persecuted. 

Take heart! All throughout the Scriptures, God’s people are misunderstood. Even Jesus endured the pain of persecution. So what do we do when it feels safer to keep to ourselves, or dampen the fire in our souls?

  • We trust God and His Word. 
  • We trust the work God is doing in us.
  • We trust God is working in others too.
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Weapon: My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word (v. 81 NKJV). Hope is an anchor for our soul during turbulent seasons of life and a prayer of lament fights off discouragement.

This stanza is a song of lament — an expression of sorrow and mourning, a cry of grief (Merriam-Webster’s) — the psalmist cries out to the only One who can save him. But he doesn’t just complain, he also questions God: When? How long? And he calls on God as he knows Him to be: Savior. Comforter. Just Judge. Lover of his soul.

From the psalmist we learn a proper lament to battle a weary heart struggling to hope and striving to persevere.

Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
Psalm 119:88 NKJV

Heading past halfway.

We’re halfway through Psalm 119, our journey has revealed the freedom and life we find at the heart of God’s Word. 

Consider the discoveries you have made so far as we move past halfway. Ask God to open your heart to receive more bread, truth, light, and weapons for your spiritual journey through this dark, battle-weary world. Ask God to stir your heart to move into the rest of His Word, all that is before and behind Psalm 119.

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For Session 4 read:

  • Day 12: Lamedh, Psalm 119:89-96
  • Day 13: Mem, Psalm 119:97-104
  • Day 14: Nun, Psalm 119:105-112
  • Day 15: Samekh, Psalm 119:113-120
  • Day 16: Ayin, Psalm 119:121-128
  • Day 17: Pe, Psalm 119:129-136

Father God, thank You for Your Word that gives us life.
Thank You for Your love that sustains and saves.

Peace and Grace until next time.

Stacy & Carol

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