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Hold Fast

June 1, 2014

Holding fast

Prepare

Are there times when you find it hard to follow Jesus? How do you get through them?

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Psalm 119:25-48

25-32 I’m feeling terrible-I couldn’t feel worse! Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember? When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom. Help me understand these things inside and out so I can ponder your miracle-wonders. My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn; build me up again by your Word. Barricade the road that goes Nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation. I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner. I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me; GOD, don’t let me down! I’ll run the course you lay out for me if you’ll just show me how.

33-40 GOD, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me-my whole life one long, obedient response. Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway! Give me a bent for your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot. Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way. Affirm your promises to me-promises made to all who fear you. Deflect the harsh words of my critics-but what you say is always so good. See how hungry I am for your counsel; preserve my life through your righteous ways!

41-48 Let your love, GOD, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised; Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery because I trusted your Word. Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever-your commandments are what I depend on. Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom; Then I’ll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed. I cherish your commandments-oh, how I love them!-relishing every fragment of your counsel.

Explore the Bible

Great faith

This psalmist is obviously a man of great faith. Like the Pharisees he follows the law. But there the similarity with the Pharisees ends. For him, God’s law is not just a set of rules and traditions. It is life-giving, and obeying it leads him to experience God’s love. It also requires him to make decisions.

Here the psalmist is at a low ebb but knows exactly what needs to happen to restore him. He comes humbly and honestly before God, telling him where he is now and asking for the things he needs to turn his life around (v 25). He makes a conscious choice to follow the way of faithfulness (v 30). He takes a resolute look at his circumstances, acknowledges they could be better, and determines to do something about it.

Positive attitude

When we are laid low it can be hard to lift ourselves up. And of course we cannot change everything in our lives. But, sometimes, having a positive attitude goes a long way to help us.

The psalmist shows us how laying things before God can lead to the answers. He really cries out to God. We have got to have the honesty – and the courage – to do that too.

Respond

‘Lord, I pray that, whatever I am facing, I will open myself to your love and make a conscious choice to follow you. Amen.’

Liz Pacey

Deeper Bible study

How can we live the good life? The Psalter begins (Psalm 1:1–3) by reminding us we have a choice – we can drift by default with the taken-for-granted culture around us (walking ‘in step with the wicked’) or grasp our spiritual destiny by being deeply rooted in God and his ways.1 Psalm 119 continues this theme of choosing to live well. In three further stanzas of this devotional acrostic, the emphasis is again on the blessing that comes when we immerse ourselves in God’s wisdom, even when the way seems hard (vs 25,28). We meet again all the words we have already seen in Psalm 119 for knowledge of how God wants us to live – God’s Word, decrees, precepts, law, truth, statutes, commands and promises. We have no excuse for missing the point! The instruction our God gives us is life-giving. We should grab it with both hands.

How do we access this wisdom? The apostle Peter says that God ‘has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him … For this very reason, make every effort …’ (2 Peter 1:3,5). It takes discipline – the discipline of setting aside time for God’s Word; the discipline of obeying what we read there. There are many ways to do this. My father taught me to meditate on a psalm every day because they speak to the whole range of our human experience. In preparation for the testing times ahead God told Joshua to keep the Law always on his lips (Joshua 1:8). In recent days I have gone back to memorising Scripture, a habit lost for many years. I find that in those other times in a day – maybe driving in the car or walking by the ocean – I can recite the words and let them work their way into my heart and mind so I grow in knowledge and Christlikeness.

Jennifer Turner 1 Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, HarperCollins, 2009, p149

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year. Today’s readings are:

2 Kings 10–12

2 Corinthians 5

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