Finding truth in His Word.
Today’s gathering brought our study of Psalm 119 to a close. Using the devotional written by the sister, Carol, as a guide, we journeyed through The Heart of His Word.
His Word increases in clarity and depth when we gather with others and share our hearts. And our heart for you at Sister Talk Faith is to find your way in His Word and allow His Word to be your way.
The gatherings for The Heart of His Word begin with sharing how our study impacted our lives. Uninterrupted and unquestioned, we make room to build fellowship with God and one another.
A series of Heart Questions provide prompts.
- What spoke to your heart most this week?
- What questions arose?
- What emotions surfaced?
- What challenged you?
His truth spoke to my heart most this week. And it wasn’t pretty. The truth is I didn’t particularly like what He revealed.
That’s a funny thing about truth. We need it, say we want it, but it’s not something we like — unless it agrees with what we already believe.
I see my confrontations with truth as running into worldview walls. It smacks me in the face and impedes my path. It smacks me in the face and impedes the path I’m on. Something has to change when truth shows up in your life.
My flesh and self-righteous sensibilities didn’t particularly like His truth, this week. The last verse of Psalm 119 became my prayer and a painful reality.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant. For I do not forget Your commandments. –Psalm 119:176 NKJV
The fact is I still wander even when I KNOW His commandments. I know but I still stray! I misinterpret and read into His Word what I want to hear. I want what I want, but His call is at odds with my flesh — with ALL flesh.
Boom! I smack into a wall of truth… I want to be offended, but He says — Nope, this is My righteous judgment and way.
We don’t always like it.
It’s a point of wrestling.
A crossroads with one of two choices:
Walk His Way or walk away…
One word sticks out to me above all others this week — zeal. The passion in the psalmist for God and His Word. It brings me to question my own passion and zeal. My enthusiasm or lack of for God and His children. Which led me to consider what revival really means for me. Just recently I heard someone say, “Revival is not for the lost, those who don’t know God. Revival is for Believers.”
Revival looks like God fanning a tiny flame into a roaring fire. Revival is a daily practice for Believers, essential to keeping our zeal and passion red hot.
Which brings me to yet another question, “What does the daily practice of revival look like for me?”
Review each devotional reading.
After our hearts we share thoughts and revelations received from each day’s reading and journaling exercise, plus the aspects of God’s Word we saw in each devotional: Bread, Light, Truth, Weapon.
Day 18: Tsadhe, Psalm 119:137-144
Truth: The whole of this stanza testifies to the truth of God and His Word.
- He is righteous, His judgments accurate (v. 137).
- His Word and Way are RIGHT (v. 138).
- Those who forget His Word are His enemies (v. 139).
- His Word is pure (v. 140).
- His Word establishes who we are and not the world’s opinion of us (v. 141).
- All His law is forever right and true (v. 142).
- The both/and nature of living in His Word: anguish and delight (v. 143).
- His Word gives us understanding and life (v. 144).
He’s right and we’re not. When we come to grips with this truth, life becomes less shaky. Decisions are easier to make.
Light: My zeal consumes me… (v. 139 ESV). Zeal means passion, fervor, and enthusiasm. It suggests excitement, energy, and emotion.
Not long ago I heard the preacher on the radio talk about sins of ministry. His focus was specifically on preaching and leading the church. His final point was this, “It is a sin to present God’s Word as boring.” Oh my, I actually laughed out loud because I’ve listened to hundreds maybe thousands of sermons and teachings over the years, and I agree.
What I’ve come to realize is this is not about public speaking. It has nothing to do with charisma. It is all about our zeal for the Lord and His Word. Which leads me to ask myself this question, “Where has your passion waned?”
Consider your own passion and zeal. Is your flame barely burning? Ask God to fan the flame of fervor in you until, like the psalmist, you too write, “My zeal consumes me….”
Day 19: Qoph, Psalm 119:145-152
Bread: In the bulk of this stanza, the psalmist gives us a guide to feed our souls in difficult times:
- Passionate persistent prayer (v. 145-147).
- Meditation on His Word (v. 148).
- Perseverance through obedience to His Word (v. 146).
- Trusting the truth of God’s justice revives a weary soul (v. 149).
Stacy and I prayed this stanza last Friday morning and I can say, I think for both of us, it revived our war-weary spirits. Fed our souls and gave us the spiritual calories we needed to keep going.
Light: They draw near who follow after wickedness; they are far from Your law (v. 150 NKJV). It seems those in the dark are drawn to the ones who have light, only they don’t know why.
We’re often confused when this happens, people far from God openly rejecting His ways yet drawing near to us as we try to follow His way. It takes much discernment and faith to avoid getting pulled into their darkness.
Recognizing this spiritual reality can light our path in these relationships. A Believer’s role is to stay very near God, bathed in His light, and remember we are a light for others.
You are the light of the world.
Matthew 5:14 ESV
A Truth to add: But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true (v. 151 ESV). Often we are not sure why those in the dark keep showing up either. Most of the time, they don’t even seem to like us and challenge us at every turn. There are moments we walk away wondering why we continue to love them, care for them, or even let them in the door. The truth is God’s presence draws others near.
This truth helps us to stay the course, to continue to offer love and grace as a light in a very dark world.
Day 20: Resh, Psalm 119:153-160
Ponder and Pray: What do you see when you look at Him? As the Father? As Jesus? As the Holy Spirit? Does what you see of Him encourage your heart? Or frustrate you? Explain.
This day’s devotional centered on seeing: God seeing us, how we see the world, and how God wants us to see.
If you are willing, share your answers to the questions of how you see God: Father, Son, Spirit, and how what you see affects your spirit.
This question for me revealed some ugly truth about my heart — Yuk! — and more of the both/and nature of walking with God in this world.
As Father, I see One filled with wisdom, love, and compassion. BUT I also see Him as the One who sets up lessons for me to learn.
I see Jesus, the Son, like the Father filled with compassion and love. Yet, He is also serving, working constantly to hold all this mess together. He waits patiently for the Father to say it’s time to make ALL things right.
In the Holy Spirit I see God’s presence, love, and joy. A joy I just don’t understand. He connects us all: Father, Son, Spirit, and Believers. She is always moving, dancing and singing songs of deliverance around God’s people and She still hovers over the world.
For my spirit, it’s a both/and — encouragement and frustration. He invites me into His work which is ultimately complete, but the work comes with suffering. He gives it as a gift. I become affected the same way as Jesus in His work. Sorrowing over what He sorrows in and rejoicing over what He rejoices over.
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. –Philippians 1:29 NKJV
Like an impatient bratty teen or pre-teen, I rant and cry: Can’t You just give me what I want now?! Without suffering?!
I know. I’m terrible.
When I see God as Father, I think of words like Creator, Provider, and Protector. God created the world and all that is in it including me. He provides for me day after day and protects me in ways I may not even understand.
I see Jesus as brother and friend. Leaning on Jesus and trusting Him to guide me brings joy and peace. I imagine us walking hand and hand through my days. Some moments need no words, others are filled with questions, and there are times I wait for Jesus to open my eyes and reveal more of God.
My favorite description of the Holy Spirit is found in the popular book, The Shack. As I read the book my eyes began to open to the Holy Spirit’s work in and through everything. I see the Spirit as wonderworking creativity bringing beauty, light, and music to my soul.
The unity of our triune God soothes my soul and encourages me to trust even more. A complete and perfect Community that knows exactly how to reach my heart. It feels frustrating when I look at the broken in the community around me. The pressing of a world that idolizes individuality and “I can do it myself” outlook. Oh, how I want this reality of Community to flow in my home, my church, and my world. Yet, I know it all begins with God’s work in me.
Day 21: Shin, Psalm 119:161-168
Light: Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments (v. 164 NKJV).
I found some light hidden in this verse, something I wasn’t expecting. God’s “righteous judgments” sound harsh to my ears. Yes, I want Him to judge rightly, but I know I’m not right. In our culture, judgment is a word with very negative connotations. It’s a means to attack truth: Who made you judge?
The ESV translation isn’t better. It reads: righteous rules. Rules these days stir up trouble because everyone has their own rules based on their own truth and judgment.
So, in my usual bent, I went to the Hebrew lexicon/dictionary. There I was enlightened, at least with the Hebrew translated as both judgments and rules in Psalm 119:164. The word for righteous was no surprise, it simply meant: right. But mishpat — judgment — is more complex.
Judgment in Hebrew (and in English too, if you think about it) is not just judging right from wrong. We use judgment or discernment in all areas of life when we seek to do what is right. The lexicon told me mishpat means, in addition to judgment and justice: “act of deciding a case… process, procedure, litigation… execution (of judgment)… time (of judgment)… decision (in law)… proper, fitting, measure, fitness, custom, manner, plan” (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
God is not just a Judge deciding right and wrong and executing sentences. He is also a Healer and Counselor, King and Priest. In all these roles He uses His right judgment and discernment to determine what is best in each case. Unlimited in time, resources, knowledge, and strength, I see Him at work in all the world, every soul a case He is attending to with His right judgment, using whatever process He deems best to bring about His purpose. He alone knows how and how long things will take. God’s judgment, action, and timing in every case is always right.
With this LIGHT I too see reason to praise Him seven times a day, because of His righteous judgments.
So yes, I set seven alarms, to praise Him seven times a day. A light I seriously need to have shining in my life during this season. Amen.
Truth: Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble (v. 165 NKJV). When we love God’s law, His Word, His Way, we obey it to the best of our understanding and faith. We avoid stumbling or being offended (KJV) not because things go smoothly with obedience, but we are confident in the decisions we’ve made. Trusting His judgment and discernment, and not our own.
Even in what we perceive as a negative outcome, we know it’s not our fault. It’s not about us. The ones we have offended are rejecting God and His truth. Therefore, we do not feel the need to fight back or seek vengeance. Surprisingly, we may be moved with compassion and sympathy instead.
This truth steadies us from the attack of those who do not yet see and know His ways.
Light: Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble (v. 165, ESV).
For many years of my life I thought all failure meant there was something wrong in me or my motivation. I was crazy afraid one day I would stumble so far I wouldn’t be allowed into God’s presence.
I look at stumbling differently these days. I see stumbling as God’s work too. Though He doesn’t cause me to stumble, when I do, I trust He will use it in my life to grow me closer to Him. No matter how hard I stumble and fall, because I love God’s word to the best of my ability, He is faithful to bless me with more and more peace.
Day 22: Taw, Psalm 119:169-176
Ponder and Pray: How has God’s Word marked your life?
The final devotional sent us looking for how the author of Psalm 119 was marked by God’s Word, how his life was defined by what he knew of God in His Word.
Let’s share our answer to the question for ourselves. How has God’s Word marked your life? Or how do you want His Word to mark your life in the future.
After twenty-six years of walking with God and pursuing His Word and Way, there is not an area of my life left unmarked:
He saved my marriage.
Freed me from fear.
Changed how I spend my time.
Changed what I care about.
Changed how I see the world.
I’ve had to redefine many words: love, good, judgment, faith, evil. And with all the redefining that’s been done, He’s still at work because there’s still so much more to do.
I just pray the marks He’s made are in Sharpie! Indelible marks that will never fade or go away. Amen.
Indeed God has done great things for me! When I think about the way God’s Word has marked my life, I think of Jesus. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Instead of looking at God’s Word as an instruction book full of lists on how to live the best Christian life, I see Jesus. And I am marked for life by this love story between God and His people. A love story Jesus lived just like me and just for me.
Ponder and Pray: In closing, let’s share our responses to the question in the Afterword.
- How has this devotional affected the way you view His Word?
- How will you continue to seek the heart of His Word? Make it flesh in your life?
Walking through this devotional I wrote was a humbling journey. And with the addition of looking for specific aspects of His Word — Bread, Light, Truth, and Weapons — I was amazed how He continues to reveal new insights and deeper understanding. Speaking deep truth to my heart — intimate and timely truths.
I will continue to ask Him to grow me in the grace and knowledge of Jesus through listening obedience.
I noticed something new in me as I walked through this devotional. A sort of “will you look at that” revelation of freedom. No longer do I read God’s Word as an if/then kind of thing. If I do… if I am… if I can. Not once during this devotional did I experience the self-condemnation of falling short of the words in this Psalm.
Instead, I basked in the knowledge of living on the “then” side of the equation. Because any growing I have to do is only accomplished through His will and way.
Oh if you only knew the stark contrast this is to how I once approached God’s Word. So, I’ll keep seeking His heart when it comes to Scripture words no matter what may come because it always, ALWAYS leads to Love.
We pray this is not the end of the journey for you, but a new beginning filled with passion and excitement of what is waiting for you in His Word.
We want to leave you with this thought from Eugene Peterson in his book about living the resurrected life in Christ.
The Hebrew word for Bible is Miqra, a noun formed from the verb “to call,” qara. The Bible is not a book to carry around and read for information on God, but a voice to listen to.Eugene Perterson, Practice Resurrection
God speaks to us not only through the written word, but also with the speaking voice of His Spirit. The two will never conflict with one another. We are not talking new and different revelation, apart from or beyond what we have in the Bible.
What His speaking voice does is interpret and reveal how to live His Word now, right where we are. How to flesh out His righteous judgments to bring light to a very dark world. That is what Eugene Peterson calls Believers to pursue to truly live life in Christ. Listen while you read.
Lord, may we all be hungry for Your Word and attentive to what You speak to us in it. Amen.
We pray your journey into the heart of His Word continue.Stacy & Carol