How can a young person maintain a pure life? By guarding it according to your instructions! -Ps. 119:9 (NET)
It is easy to think that modern temptations are just to great — especially with the advent of the Internet and all of the temptations for gambling, sex and other forms of compulsion it promotes. But the Bible gives us a one-word answer: careful study of God’s word. While we will never be perfect in this fallen world in our flesh, we can certainly strive for it and employ the tools God has given us: regular prayer, His word and continuing fellowship with one another.
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. -Psalm 119:5-6
God’s precepts require careful obedience: there is no keeping them by accident. –C.H. Spurgeon. There are no “ifs, ands or buts” about it: God commands us to strive for holiness in our daily walk with Him. We are to keep his precepts (laws) diligently. Another word for “diligently” might be carefully. Great care must be taken to read, understand and apply God’s law in our lives as best we can. When we walk with Him, there is no room for fear.
I think it is a good time to begin studies in the book of Psalms. One of my favorite books of the Bible, Psalms is a collection of songs written long ago by numerous authors under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite psalms is also the longest @ 176 verses: Psalm 119. We will be embarking on a study of that psalm in a couple of weeks at our Friday night Bible study and I, for one, am very much looking forward to it.
This sacred ode is a little Bible, the Scriptures condensed, a mass of Bibline, Holy Writ rewritten in holy emotions and actions. Blessed are they who can read and understand these saintly aphorisms; they shall find golden apples in this true Hesperides, and come to reckon that this Psalm, like the whole Scripture which it praises, is a pearl island, or, better still, a garden of sweet flowers. –Spurgeon
Let’s begin at the beginning of that Psalm: Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. –Psalm 119:1-4
Blessed are the undefiled in the way (perfect, blameless or sincere). I think sincere is a good way to render it, since we know none of us are perfect in this world, although we are before God – thanks to Jesus. Any perfection or purity that we have comes strictly by Divine Grace. God wants to share His blessedness with us. (See also Psalm 128:1).
It’s “all or nothing” with the Lord. We cannot serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). How often can we say that we seek Him with our whole heart? Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. -1 John 3:9 (NLT) We must make religion our rule, looking to God for wisdom and grace to do so. We must make the effort to live as people who love His law. As Christians, we love Jesus and should therefore wish to study His Word and aspire to keep the law as the best way to live. We should have no shame for making every effort to live as Christ would have us do. God’s precepts require careful obedience: there is no keeping them by accident. –C.H. Spurgeon. There are no ‘ifs, ands or buts’ about it: God commands us to strive for holiness in our daily walk with Him. We are to keep his precepts (laws) diligently. Another word for diligently (KJV) might be carefully. Great care must be taken to read, understand and apply God’s law in our lives as best we can.
Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. -Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)
Although the text in Jeremiah is clearly referring to the people of Israel, we can derive the same satisfaction from the promise of God’s love that they were entitled to because of our relationship with Jesus Christ and adoption into His family.
Like everyone else, I have on more than one occasion let down the people I love and who love me, whether a spouse, parent, friend or other loved one. Usually, the reason can be traced back to selfishness. I often am only thinking of myself and what’s best for me, giving no regard to how my actions may affect others. Are you often guilty of the same? I suspect, if you are honest before God, you can only [sadly] answer yes. Such is our state of being in the flesh. Thanks to the guidance and strength that comes with the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit, we are on a path toward sanctification.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. -John 5:39-40
I can clearly remember when I would on occasion listen to a sermon or even attend a Bible study. I thought somehow that I earned points toward God’s approval by picking up a copy of His word once in a while to peruse it — much in the same way one might have thumbed through a Sears catalog back in the day (picking and choosing what caught one’s eye to look at).
I remember sitting in the Lutheran Church of my childhood looking through a copy of Good News For Modern Man, published by the American Bible Society and wildly popular for a brief time about 50 years ago.. It didn’t read like the stodgy old RSV I was used to hearing from on Sundays and compared even less to the old King James Bible I have come to love so much as an adult believer. In it I learned the story of Christ and saw Him as believable as the Son of God. At the time I equated my conclusion to saving faith in Him. While belief in a character from history is one thing, faith in that same person is quite another. That came some time later (and continues to build as time passes). At the time, I believed in God — I just didn’t have any solid relationship with Him.
There is an important message here to be understood if we are to be part of God’s family and heirs to the salvation He procured for us on the cross: we cannot intellectualize our way into a relationship with God. It must come from the faith we are granted when we are regenerated and saved by Him. The Holy Spirit will direct us to realize that Jesus is so much more than a “believable” character from the pages of history. He is someone we must come to and meet in the present day.
Eternal life is not a wage to be earned; it is solely a gift from God that can only be given through Jesus Christ. There is no other way: Jesus saith to him, `I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one doth come unto the Father, if not through me; -John 14:6 (YLT)
One of the most difficult things I have to do sometimes is to attend a memorial service or funeral for someone who I suspect died without ever having acknowledged Christ as their Savior. I can only hope that they came to some conclusion and made a decision for Him before passing into eternity. Moreover, I can only imagine how difficult it is for a minister to eulogize someone who was not saved (unless they are so liberal that they embrace some sort of universalism that says everyone is OK with God). Quite often, I get a list of their accomplishments or what other people thought of them: a good worker, friend, parent, neighbor, etc. Sadly, those of us who know Christ also know that it has to be more than that.
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. –1 John 4:16 The Bible clearly tells us that God is love and wishes no one to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). That is not my opinion, but a stated fact in His word that one can either embrace or reject. He gives us the freedom to do either. I pray you have made the right choice. The life He offers is beyond compare to any temporary arrangement we may think we have here on Earth.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. -Isaiah 43:2 (KJV)
I am blessed to have many friends whom I love a great deal and would want to be there for in times of distress. I hate to see my friends suffer or have anything bad befall them. That is how our great God is. He loves us and is with us in good times and bad. He is the one who has the power to see us through the hard times — and He will. God has the power to impart to us the strength we need for victory in the face of tremendous adversity. That is something I cannot do for my friends. What I can do is encourage and pray and point the way to Jesus. Even those things I sometimes fall short in accomplishing. Thank God He is patient and loving beyond anything I could ever imagine.
A young person has come to my place of employment with talents and abilities that seem superior to almost everyone else on staff. This is cause of fear and assorted grief among many of our staff who feel like she is making them look bad. I have no feelings of inadequacy around her, and I don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that I only have indirect dealings with her. I think it has everything to do with knowing who I am in Christ.
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! -Isaiah 5:21 (KJV) People tell me she can be arrogant. I hope not. She seems to me to be a bright, pleasant young person with good ideas in some areas where they are sorely needed. My experience in life is that arrogant, conceited people are something to be pitied, not envied or scorned.
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. -Proverbs 28:26 (KJV) It is unfortunate how people of this world look down on others while they themselves rocket toward Hell in disbelief of God and reliance solely on themselves. I fear that they are in for an eternally rude awakening. Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. -Proverbs 26:12 (KJV) The accomplishments of even the “greats of history” are fleeting and often soon forgotten. They certainly don’t afford anyone immortality. Eventually, people of great achievements, such as Abraham Lincoln or George Washington, will be forgotten as memory fades through the passage of time and stories are no longer told. Anything we acquire or accomplish on Earth, save witnessing for Christ to the lost and loving our brothers and sisters, is of no eternal consequence. Only our decision for Christ and our role in being used by God to reach others accomplishes anything lasting.
So know who you are in Christ and place your confidence in Him! But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. -2 Corinthians 10:17-18 (KJV)
Continuing on the subject of God’s faithfulness to His children, I am reflecting on how grateful I am that He is not like me. Sure, I can be faithful (to a point) and even make sacrifices for loved ones from time to time — But I still deal with issues in my walk with the LORD that surface in such things as fear and selfishness. I know, if we are honest with ourselves, we can all say that.
Fortunately, we serve a God who is faithful to us — even when we break our part of “the bargain.” I offer the following verse as documentation of His incredible faithfulness: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. -2 Timothy 2:13
I can only imagine how many people would actually be saved if being 100% faithful was an absolute requirement of salvation. Actually, imagination is not even required here. The answer is simply nobody. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. -Isaiah 64:6
He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. -Psalm 105:8
I have lost track of how many times in my life I have promised something to someone [or to God] that I failed to fulfill. So many jackpots to escape that it became a common practice to make assurances to others about things that would never become reality. So often I have made promises to God in the morning, only to be quickly forgotten as the cares of the world took over as the day wore on.
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? -Numbers 23:19 I have never meant anyone who hasn’t told a lie (or many of them, for that matter). If I did, I think I would immediately conclude that they were lying to me!
Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; -Deuteronomy 7:9 God is consistent. We know from scripture that He does not change: For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. -Malachi 3:6