“Law” Means “Law” Not Simply “The Bible”

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“I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.” (Psalm 119:93)

This falls in an a eight verse octane that begins in verse 89 and continues to verse 96. It starts off saying God’s word is fixed in the sky, that the earth is firm and consistent because it’s creator is, and that all creation serves him and remains where it is because he has put it there.

From there it assert that only because he found joy and pleasure in God’s law was he able to survive great suffering that had caused him persistent pain and distress. This is why he never forgets God’s commands and principles, they saved his life  (probably by providing direction and helping him navigate through the storm) and kept him sane in the midst of great adversity, as we might put it.

Note we often mentally substitute “bible” for “law”  based on “the law” being contained in the first five books of Moses, which are sometimes referred to as “the law” as well as “the testimonies” here. But he’s clear later when he’s only talking about reading the scripture and being inspired by God’s dealings in history with his people Israel.  “The law” does emphasize the side of the scripture where we’re searching it for guidance, principles for living, and, yes, rules. It brings delight and pleasure from producing communion with God and by saving us from the pain and suffering of the consequences of sin.

In the next verses we learn he is again in trouble, despite his diligence to seek and follow God’s ways. He asserts he belongs to God and asks to be saved from enemies seeking to destroy him. He again turns to the bible for comfort, here considering the testimonies of the patriarchs. He also declares, in effect, all earthly claims of how to be perfect are quite limited in application, but God’s commandment is not, it is extremely “spacious, open, full, plain, obvious, unrestrained, general” (i.e it applies universally, in  every situation.)

Lord, open our eyes and our understanding, so we might find the joy and pleasure in your law, not only the promises,  but the principles and guidance in your word for daily living. Show us how to apply your ancient, fixed, unchanging command to our modern, unfixed, ever-changing cultural world. Give us wisdom and hearts that obey you out of love, not fear of punishment. In Jesus’ name we pray, Lord

Don’t Let the Past Hinder Your Holy Race

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“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

In this verse, we have Paul pressing on, running the spiritual long distance race to the finish line, seeking a prize–being called upward by God via King Jesus. Upward where? Heaven, communion with God, but in context, more than that–perfection. He puts his past failures and past successes behind him and strains forward to the next step of spiritual growth, bit by bit more like Jesus with every step of the way. In verse fifteen, he tells us this is a fit attitude for the mature.

For many of us, the past, both the good and the bad, is a dead weight in this race. We’re too busy wallowing in our failures, or glorying in our successes, to dust ourselves off, pick ourselves back up, and get back (or keep on) running. What painful memories are holding us back today from growing? We need to examine what mental baggage we’ve got packed away and deal with it, hand it over to God, rather than stuffing it down out of sight. If it’s not hindering you, by all means, leave the past buried, but it if it is a dead weight, confront those old memories and cry it out before God, giving it over to him until it’s no longer burdening us.

So often we get tired and quit. It’s stressful and time-consuming. We need discernment whether we’re picking at old wounds and snatching dead weight back out of God’s hands, or uncovering a weight that’s been bogging us down without us consciously aware of it.

Lord, show us what, if anything, from our past is an emotional burden hindering us from moving forward in our walk with you and keeping us from growing and becoming more like you. Give us the strength, patience, and willingness to face the painful memories so we can hand them over to you and  properly put it behind us. Free us from all bondage. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.