Lent Reflections @ CEC (3/29/20)
There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, deep relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry you through any and all turmoil. No matter what storms are raging all around, you'll stand firm if you stand on His love. Charles Stanley
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Psalm 119, focused on 9-16
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you,Lord; teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
Today is Sunday, and on our Sunday's during this Lent season, we read one of the Psalms.
Described by one commentator as "not like a chain, where one link is connected to the other, but a string of pearls where each pearl has equal, but independent value," Psalm 119 was likely written and compiled over a period of time. Written as an acrostic, it is a beautiful picture of worship and prayer - of repeated interplay between recitation of who God is, what His word brings and a desire for God's Word to do it's complete work in the life of the writer. Praise and petition. Longing and loving. I encourage you to take time to read the whole thing!
In these verses, the psalmist's earnest desire is to live in such a way as to please God, and to receive the blessings of God. He wants to be a whole-hearted follower of God, and he knows that the Word of God is where he finds the means to do so.
His first question in this passage: How can a young man keep his way pure? The word for "way" is “Orach", which signifies a track, a rut, such as is made by the wheel of a cart or chariot.” (Adam Clarke) Brain research tells us that our behaviors actually make ruts in our brains - that's why it can be so difficult to make changes. It's hard to break out of the ruts. The writer is asking how to make sure the "ruts" he develops are the kinds of attitudes and behaviors that please the Lord.
The answer: by keeping his way (living) according to God's Word. It requires focus and attention on God and not myself. My natural tendency is to live my own way - my ruts will take me along paths I don't want to go and to places I don't want to be.
I'm pondering this morning these words: I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against You. Against You. Those are not words I often use in confession. I confess sin, and ask forgiveness... but unlike this psalmist and others in the Bible, I don't think I ever say "I'm sorry I have sinned AGAINST YOU." Those words remind me of the personal relationship with God - that my sin is not just "sin" - some ethereal bad karma thing - but something against God. I never want to go against Him. And while many have applied this verse to scripture memorization (which is absolutely a good thing), I think it is much deeper. It doesn't say "I have hidden Your word in my brain." It's my heart - the innermost part of me. When his words are deep in our hearts, we want more than anything to please Him, to know Him, to understand Him more and more, and to love Him.
What (or who) is this Word? The Word is Jesus. We keep our way according to Jesus- the way He lived, the way He cared for people, the way He loved people, and yes, even the way He suffered for people. We hide His ways in our hearts - His ruts become our ruts. May it be so!
Psalm 119:17-18 (HCSB)
Deal generously with Your servant so that I might live; then I will keep Your word.
Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wonderful things from Your instruction.
God, that is our prayer this morning. We cannot keep Your Word unless Your Holy Spirit helps us. Thank you that You are kind and generous. Open our eyes to see the wonderful things You have for us in Jesus.