I lie in the dust; revive me by Your word. – Psalm 119: 25 (NLT)
I weep with sorrow; encourage me by Your word. – Psalm 119:28 (NLT)
Some days kick us down, and we don’t feel that we have the strength to get back up. We all have those days. You know, the ones where everything seems to go wrong and our hearts are discouraged because we’re not getting anywhere. We’re battling but not gaining any victories. We don’t feel like our faith is rising or our strength is renewed – if we were to be honest, we’d say that we were ‘lying in the dust’. Yesterday we spoke about how obeying God’s word can bring us joy and purity of heart but you and I both know that there are times when we don’t feel joy. God uses His word to encourage us and to build us back up – to pick through the rubble of our circumstances and grant us renewed strength and renewed faith. This is why it is so vital that we keep His word hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and that we know where to look when we need that kind of encouragement. Here are some of my favorite verses that I have written down in several different places for when I’m ‘lying in the dust’:
If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath. – Psalm 34:18 (MSG)
‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)
And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. – 1 John 4:16 (HCSB)
Forget the former things, don’t dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! – Isaiah 43:18-19a (NLT)
They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken! – Jeremiah 1:19 (NLT)
How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. – Psalm 119:9 (NLT)
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. – Psalm 119:11 (NLT)
Life as a follower of Jesus Christ is a constant battle to turn away from the things of this world, from sin, and to turn towards Him and a life that is pure. Often when we see the word ‘purity’ we assume it is talking about sexual purity. I believe that in this verse, while it might include sexual purity as well, it’s talking about purity in general – purity of the heart. We are called to have pure hearts and minds so that we can rid ourselves of temptations and distractions and focus on what God has called us to do. But let’s be honest, this isn’t always easy. Some of us struggle with being judgmental – impure! Some of us struggle with gossip – impure! Some of us struggle with lust – impure! Jealousy, greed, gluttony, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, self-righteousness – impure! It is a battle to keep our hearts pure and verse 9 of Psalm 119 clearly gives us the solution – obey His word. In the last post we talked about obedience and it’s popped up again today: obedience brings joy and a pure heart. The way to make sure that this is forever ingrained in our lives is revealed to us in verse 11 – hide His word in your heart. Immerse yourself in scripture, read it, love it, ask God to help you understand it, and then do what it says. These things all go hand in hand: obedience, joy, purity, God’s word. In the last post was a challenge to choose obedience. Today I challenge you to get into the word, obey what it says, hide it in your heart and experience joy and purity as God intends for us to have!
Psalm 119 is one of my absolute favorite passages in the Bible. It is full of wisdom and encouragement, and I love that as a busy new mom I can pick out one or two verses to meditate on all day instead of having to take time to read large chunks of scripture – free time is not something that I always have! God led me to this passage this morning and it has been speaking volumes to me today. I want to break it down, pick out the particular verses that are speaking to me right now and unpack them a little so that we can get as much out of them as possible. I pray Psalm 119 encourages you as much as it has encouraged me so far!
We’re going to begin with verses 1 and 2. The author of this Psalm is unknown, some say it was Ezra the priest but there is no real proof of this and I don’t think it’s relevant in this situation – what’s important is what we can learn from what we read!
Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts. – Psalm 119:1-2 (NLT)
Out of obedience comes joy. When we choose to follow the instructions of the Lord, there is joy and joy abounding. God only has good for us and when we obey His word, that is what we get – fullness of joy, life, peace, hope, GOODNESS. Later on in the Psalm, in verse 143, it says “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands”. When we are bogged down by the stresses and trials of this life, we can find joy in God’s word, and in obeying what it commands us to do. So often we get stuck in a rut, wallowing in the misery of our circumstances but if we would just immerse ourselves in His word and do what it says, we can find joy! I was recently blessed to hear from the Lord about what He wanted me to do in a certain situation and I decided to be obedient – let me tell you, I received so much joy from that experience! Just to know that God would care enough to instruct me on something and that He would bless me for being obedient is beyond my understanding. I challenge you to choose obedience, and to ask God to bless you with an incomprehensible joy!