Archive for February 2010

Poem - Just One More

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Just One More

A poem written by  Christi Armstrong and recited by Jenny

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His words are dancing all around me.

Spirit moving deep inside me.

My heart reaching, touching His.

"Go and find one, bring them to me.

My broken vessels need my arms."

Turning focus, realign.

Priorities of my own design, bow to holy breath.

Mud and water, lick my knees.

Windy raining, battles peace.

Moving still, I seek His face.

Dropping, praying, eyes tight clenched.

Not my strength but His alone pulls me,

pushing, holding, reaching,

bringing to His mighty throne.

Breathing, grasping sacrifice.

Mercy's beauty, Pearl of price.

Giving one and then another,

just one more,

I turn to go.

Seeking, finding,

one more lamb to bring to Holy,

healing hands.

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Lamedh

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G'day and welcome to Partake and our series "Scriptural Delights!"  Here is our foureenth podcast of our series going through the wonder that is Psalm 119!  Today we look at the twelfth of its twenty-two letters, Lamedh and its verses 89 to 96.

89 Your word, O LORD, is eternal;

it stands firm in the heavens.

90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;

you established the earth, and it endures.

91 Your laws endure to this day,

for all things serve you.

92 If your law had not been my delight,

I would have perished in my affliction.

93 I will never forget your precepts,

for by them you have preserved my life.

94 Save me, for I am yours;

I have sought out your precepts.

95 The wicked are waiting to destroy me,

but I will ponder your statutes.

96 To all perfection I see a limit;

but your commands are boundless.

Thank you for reading, Sandy!  From languishing in the pit of despair in the previous section, the Psalmist here starts with a bang - "Your word, O Lord, is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens" WOW!  While in the pit, he was being tossed and turned like a small boat on a stormy sea! Now he has focussed on a steady rock - God's word!  It is ordered, steadfast, secure and timeless!  In his times of trouble, he turns his attention from himself and his troubles to something much more certain - the Lord and his promises, judgements, orders, decrees, laws and statutes.  God's promises are so certain, assured, and secure that the Psalmist places his whole hope in them!  Secure in the Psalmist's mind and heart is the knowledge that God will rescue him as promised!

He goes on in the next verse to continue the WOW factor! The Psalmist knows that God's faithfulness is unchangeable, timeless and persevering!  Look here at the correlation between God's word and God's work! Just as He is faithful throughout time to all generations, so He created the whole world at a single command, and it too endures! Just as the earth endures having been established by God's powerful words, so too do God's laws endure with precision.  God's word sustains all of creation and all things made are to serve almighty God.  For the Psalmist this signifies that serving God means to obey God and live a life of service to God.  The Psalmist learns to obey, by studying what God has instructed and learning from the lessons of the past from his ancestors and ancient Israel.

This same word preserves the Psalmist.  It is his utter delight.  It is his succour, help and source of joy!  Cogitating upon and remembering God's law is his way of being sustained.  For without it, the Psalmist would be dust at the bottom of the pit - extinguished, lifeless, maligned and afflicted.  The Psalmist, David, lifts his mind to heaven and sees the consistency and constancy of God's dwelling place! There is his only hope, and that hope was found in God alone through God's word because unlike him, God is not perishable!  He reflects on how God's truths, precepts and instructions have been a source of comfort, joy and encouragement to him to keep going! Without them, he would have just given up and let his persecutors malign him further.

Because of this hope, the Psalmist reaches out to God to save him, because he knows that only God can rescue him!  He reaches out to God through God's own precepts, law and word! The Psalmist's salvation can only come from God and he acknowledges that God is his only hope as discovered through God's teachings and through the knowledge of how God handled the Psalmist's ancestors.

While his persecutors wait for him, laying traps to ensnare and take his life, the Psalmist is taking comfort through what he knows about God through the word.  He ponders them, recalls them, brings to mind the promised made by God and the righteous laws given so that he can live a right life for God.  David doesn't worry what mere humans can do to him! No! He gets stuck in to getting to know God better and strengthening his relationship with God! That is what matters to him - being close to God, studying God and becoming closer to God through pondering God's word and God's decrees.

Then finally, the Psalmist concludes that all is meaningless and limited apart from God and God's utterances.  God's commandments and laws bring freedom and hope!  While all things visible have a degree of perfection, they are also temporary, unstable and narrow.  Through the trials of life, the only hope that sustained him was God's ways and God's word. Its perfection is its glory!  By acknowledging that he falls far short of God's holiness and glory, does he continue in the knowledge that his salvation can only come from God.  Its not his own perfection he seeks as a means to being rescued, but to God's perfection! Not his own strength but God's strength to save!

How are you doing and what do you do when the trials of life hit you with a bang?  Do you go into your shell and take pity on yourself?  Do you think God doesn't care about you and your situation?  Its all very well saying you are on God's side when things are going well, but life here on earth just isn't like that! That is not reality!  Reality is that God wants to help you, He has promised to help you, promised to sustain you and promised to be in relationship with you! Are you worrying and burdened?  Then tell God about them, and cast your burdens upon Jesus and let him take the load!  Are you serving God and God's people and yet feeling weak?  Pray and ask God to empower you with the Holy Spirit, so that you do things using His inexhaustible energy and indefatigable power!  Where does your help come from?  It comes from God and from pondering what He has said in the Bible, helping to build your relationship with Him!

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Kaph

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G'day and welcome to Partake and our series "Scriptural Delights!"  Here is our thirteenth podcast of our series going through the wonder that is Psalm 119!  Today we look at the eleventh of its twenty-two letters, Kaph and its verses 81 to 88.

81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,

but I have put my hope in your word.

82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;

I say, "When will you comfort me?"

83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,

I do not forget your decrees.

84 How long must your servant wait?

When will you punish my persecutors?

85 The arrogant dig pitfalls for me,

contrary to your law.

86 All your commands are trustworthy;

help me, for men persecute me without cause.

87 They almost wiped me from the earth,

but I have not forsaken your precepts.

88 Preserve my life according to your love,

and I will obey the statutes of your mouth.

Thank you for reading, Sandy! Well we are half way there! I hope you are enjoying going through the wonder that this Psalm 119 as the Psalmist meanders his way talking about his love of God, love of God's Word and about his own life in God and in relation to other people.

Here the Psalmist is fading.  He is languishing in desperation, worn out and expiring.  You can feel his weakness as he pitifully cries out that he is wilting under pressure and his eyes are failing due to darkness overpowering him.  You can sense the life draining out of him as he pitifully cries out to God.  But yet...  Yet the Psalmist, despite being in such desperate condition, continues to have a twin hope.  A yearning for salvation brings about a hope in God's word. The Psalmist knows that salvation will come to him, because God has promised it and God always keeps His promises.  David knows God will rescue him because God never disappoints!  When desire is exhausted and extinguished, then a certain and sure hope takes over to lift the Psalmist back up again.  With weakened eyes the Psalmist seeks comfort and ease.

The picture of wineskins being smoked is perhaps strange to us in the 21st century world.  But for David they were an explicit illustration of his condition.  Wineskins when empty were hung up in the tent and when smoke filled the tent as it often did, the wineskins grew haggard, wrinkled from the heat and blackened with soot.  It's a picture of David's face.  He is no longer the ruddy-faced shepherd of his youth.  He feels decrepit, wrinkled, haggard and gloomy.  His body was feeling listless and dilapidated. He had endured persecution, undergone the torment of slanderous lies being told about him and his character blackened as if with soot.  And yet... and yet he still had hope, a glimmer of anticipation - he does not forget God's decrees and statutes.  This is his way of reaching out to hold God's hand through this time.

He is waiting for his God to deliver & rescue him, to realise the hope he had placed in Jehovah God.  David was getting edgy and fed up!  He has placed his grievances against others into the court of the Lord and was waiting for justice to be done!   He wants his persecutors punished according to God's law!  His persecutors were digging him many pits to which to trap and bury him.  They were contravening God's law with jesting, arrogance and a haughty step. But David's enemies had forgotten that while they were his enemies, they were also enemies of God! God who had decreed and given commandments to be followed!  David had followed God's commands so would be rescued from his tormentors.  David had not forgotten about God and what God had promised him.  God will help him and David is stretching out his hands for help.

And isn't this last verse more than delightful.  It is not only the Psalmist saying spare or preserve my life.  We get a sense it is more a case of "Give me life!"  The Psalmist is not seeking merely survival but wanting a full life restored to him.  And he knows that this God he follows and serves will grant him new life! David will live again! God has promised it! WOW! Despite what he is going through, David knows he will have new life!  This new life will see David continue to exhibit a life worthy of God as he follows God's commands in a dynamic relationship.  What God has said, David will do.  David was assuredly a man after God's own heart.

How are you doing right now?  Are you feeling as David was? Confused, aged, drying up, wrinkled and lacking energy - physically and/or spiritually? Are people mocking you and jeering you because of the faith you have in Jesus Christ?  Take heart for God is watching, protecting and will rescue you.  Stay faithful to Him despite all the opposition you are enduring and the Great God whom you seek to serve will come to your aid.  Don't give into the doubters by compromising yourself but hold true to God and His word.  If you are the subject of abuse, injustice or any kind of wrongdoing, take your case to God in prayer! Let the God of justice help you, give you counsel through the Bible and minister to you.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you comfort, for that is one of his names - the Comforter.  Whatever you are going through reach out and touch God's hand that is outstretched to you.  Reach out in gratitude to the great God and as an act of gratitude, seek to serve a holy life worthy of being called His servant. Thank you.

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Yodh

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73 Your hands made me and formed me;

give me understanding to learn your commands.

74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,

for I have put my hope in your word.

75 I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous,

and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,

according to your promise to your servant.

77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.

78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;

but I will meditate on your precepts.

79 May those who fear you turn to me,

those who understand your statutes.

80 May my heart be blameless toward your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.

Hello! This is Jim Harris, a friend and colleague of Dave Roberts. Dave has asked me to provide some thoughts in the series he's running on Psalm 119. My brief is to talk about the tenth stanza, or set of verses, each line of which starts with the Hebrew letter ‘Yodh'. That's verses 73-80

When writing this psalm in honour of God's word and its effect upon the life of a believer, the author majored in 8 Hebrew words to describe ways in which the Lord communicates with his people. All 8 are to be found in this section. Now what does that say to us? Here's a quote that really sets us thinking, ‘The author had a theme that filled his soul - that ranged the length and breadth, the height and depth of a person's walk with God.' John Stek makes a great point with these words. This section is about the powerful effect the word of God has in shaping us, developing us, maturing us and equipping us to represent Him in this world. Four big ideas came out of it for me.

Verses 73 and 80 remind us that God made us. ‘Your hands made me and formed me.' That's the starting point for everyone who has a living relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not here by accident, nor by the will and activity of our parents alone. God was in the process of bringing us into the world. He is our Creator, so who knows better than Him how we work and what we need to know, so that we can live in His way? Every piece of equipment in our homes was designed and built for a specific purpose. To know how to use it properly you read the manufacturer's instructions. If it needs servicing or repair you find information in that maker's manual. It's ordinary common sense. And it's spiritual common sense to know that the best way to live in line with the Lord's purpose in making us, is to read his word and respond to its directions. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul wrote, ‘All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.' It's the Maker's Manual.

Verses 74 and 79 imply that the life of a true believer, especially someone active in the Lord's work, is bound to influence other people. You can't escape it! People around us will be affected, for better or worse, by the way we live (or don't live) in accordance with Scripture. Younger and less mature Christians look to those of us who are more experienced, for guidance and example. Others will be taking note of our words and actions and won't hesitate to charge us with any inconsistency they see in our behaviour. This is true within the fellowship of a church, as well as in the home and at work. Our actions speak louder than our words, so we must let the Holy Spirit teach us through Scripture and keep in step with him in our lives. The New Testament has a lot to say about the importance being a good witness before other people. ‘Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.' Matthew 5:16.

Verses 75 and 78 show that the writer had to suffer for his faith.  The life and work he was called to were no easy ride. He speaks of ‘the arrogant' and the fact that he'd been wronged by these very people. Under the surface of the text, there is a suggestion that they'd misrepresented him; twisted his words and actions to suit their own ends. That's not easy to bear. Paul wrote, again in 2 Timothy, ‘Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.' It's not optional. But our psalmist recognises that God is at work in all this, using it to knock him into shape. He bravely goes so far as to state ‘In faithfulness you have afflicted me.' No-one volunteers for suffering but we must endure when it comes. ‘The testing of your faith develops perseverance.' James 1:3.

Finally, we notice 5 ‘wish prayers'; short prayers beginning with the word ‘May . . .' Pick them out and think about them. These are not weak prayers. They are valid and honest, reaching from the heart into other people's lives and needs. They may be expressed at any time, in any place, for anyone. Simple, but real. The apostle Paul used ‘wish prayers'. Look up Romans chapter 15:5-6 and then in verse 13, for two examples. Sometimes, when we find normal prayer difficult, these short prayers can prove valuable in helping us dispense some degree of blessing on other people in our lives. Also, why not try to find ways of using this kind of prayer as an add-on to your usual methods of praying?

‘May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.'

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Teth

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G'day and welcome to Partake and our series "Scriptural Delights!"  Here is our eleventh podcast of our series going through the wonder that is Psalm 119!  Today we look at the ninth of its twenty-two letters, Teth and its verses 65 to 72.

65 Do good to your servant

according to your word, O LORD.

66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,

for I believe in your commands.

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,

but now I obey your word.

68 You are good, and what you do is good;

teach me your decrees.

69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,

I keep your precepts with all my heart.

70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,

but I delight in your law.

71 It was good for me to be afflicted

so that I might learn your decrees.

72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me

than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

Just like the previous section, the Psalmist starts again with a great acclamation! "Oh my Lord God! You have done good to your servant, according to your word"! Here David acclaims God for his faithfulness and for the consistency of God's innate goodness!  God' has again kept his promises to His servant David and is faithful to him.  From God's promises, flow the benefits of serving the Living God!  Then the servant David, asks the Great God to teach him knowledge and judgment, for without either David could not live rightly in accordance with God's commandments and precepts.  This is a King willing to be a servant of the Lord, with a teachable mind and a malleable spirit.  So by the renewing of his mind and the gain of knowledge, David seeks to use this knowledge wisely and in good taste and judgement as he makes decisions - both private and public, personal and as king!

But from v67 we see that David had not always done so! He have gone astray from being obedient to God!  Whether it was one incident or if he is relating himself to the natural rebelliousness against God that all people have, David now seeks to be fully obedient to God, in mind, heart and in service.  His zealousness for God and God's law is palpable.  You can taste it as you read how David went from rebellion to obedience and submission to God's ways and laws.  Whatever David's affliction was, it certainly had a curative affect on him. As he looked back on his life, David saw what God had done and how God had brought him through, teaching him and loving him.  David could see that rebellion and insolence marked the historical Israel's relationship with God and how God had taught and moulded them.

Verse 68 sees the servant David yet again pleading, begging and beseeching God to teach him! Teach me your decrees O great God! O Great God you are good and goodness is you!  All that God does is good, the Psalmist cries, because goodness is part of the innate and essential character of God! He knows that God is good and good all the time!  But knowing God is good, David doesn't seek or pray for wealth, honours or privilege! By no means! David seeks and prays continually to be taught how to obey this great and awesome God who is worthy of being fully obeyed.

The Psalmist then compares his perjurers against God! The proud enemies of David have perjured against him, telling lies, spreading malicious talk and denigrating his character.  Does David now wish to take revenge upon them?  Nope! David desires once again with heartfelt yearning to learn from God and keeping his precepts and statutes in his heart.  These opponents of his have hearts of impenetrable and unmovable stone.  They have no feelings or sensitivity to the ways of God.  All this could well discourage David: leaving him depressed, feeling defeated, battered, bruised and beaten. But again, no! The Spirit of God pierces David's heart and he is shown to be malleable and teachable, willing to be obedient to this God he serves.  David's delight is not in seeking revenge, but in reading about God and his innate goodness and Law.

During his affliction, David may well have questioned God, and asked "Why me?" He may well have been feeling quite dissolute during the times.  But now, after the event, he says that it was good because God chastised him! That was part of God's method of teaching him, because God loved him.  David knew that he was naturally obstinate against God. David now knew that obedience is better than sacrifice and that what God wanted from him, was his utter and total obedience.  No amount of sacrifices could beat that!  In this last verse, David again states that his primary desire is not for honour, riches or a vast inheritance or kingdom, but rather to listen to God speaking to him through the Word.

WOW! That is awesome isn't it? God is good and good all the time! Good in who He is! Good in what He does! Good in what He does to teach us.  Our response, as it was for the Psalmist, is to be totally obedient to this God of goodness. Yet, if we are honest, we have to say at least to ourselves, that sometimes we don't feel or see this goodness of God. We all are naturally rebellious and disobedient against God.  God demands our obedience and conformity to Him.  Not as a means to salvation, because that could only ever be by His grace and mercy.  We show we are His people, by being obedient to Him - which consists of loving Him and loving others.  We are to love also getting to know Him, and have zealousness for the Bible and for prayer! Read about how God is good in your bible and pray to Him to teach you! He will! We are to be obedient by serving others and by doing so this reveals we are serving this Almighty God of goodness. Then we too, like the Psalmist, will be servant hearted, teachable, humble and obedient, shining as lights in darkness.

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Heth

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G'day and welcome to Partake and our series "Scriptural Delights!"  Here is our tenth podcast of our series going through the wonder that is Psalm 119!  Today we look at the eighth of its twenty-two letters, Heth and its verses 57 to 64.

57 You are my portion, O LORD;

I have promised to obey your words.

58 I have sought your face with all my heart;

be gracious to me according to your promise.

59 I have considered my ways

and have turned my steps to your statutes.

60 I will hasten and not delay

to obey your commands.

61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,

I will not forget your law.

62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks

for your righteous laws.

63 I am a friend to all who fear you,

to all who follow your precepts.

64 The earth is filled with your love, O LORD;

teach me your decrees.

David starts off this segment with a bang! A great burst of exclamation of praise "You are my portion, O Lord!" Wow! Here David is lost in awe and wonder of the great God in whom he has put his trust and hope! This great God whom David desires to obey!  This God is part of his treasure and David is enraptured! David could easily have turned to his vast wealth and resources for comfort. He could have plundered the great treasures of the ancient world.  Yet that is not where his heart is - his heart is firmly set on the gift-giver, the Great God!  So much so that he reaffirms yet again his promise to obey God's every law, precept and command! Here is a man expressing total heartfelt devotion to the God who chose him and therefore seeks to serve Jehovah God!

God may have chosen David, but David still desires to develop the relationship with God! He seeks God's face fervently, wholeheartedly and with great devotion. By seeking God's face (verse 58), David is seeking to be in the very presence of the Living God, enfolded in the grace God.  At the very core of God's being is grace, love and mercy.  And the Psalmist knows that God will give him grace, love and mercy, because God has promised that He will! And God always keeps his promises, his side of the deal!

As a response, in verse 59 & 60, David considers how he has been living disobediently and turns back to following and obeying the great God who is his portion, his all!  That is repentance!  He was stepping out of synch with God but turned himself around to the God of grace and made a conscious choice to obey God's commands instead of going his own way. He chose the way of Life instead of the path that leads to destruction.  It is a lifelong commitment David is making, not a half-hearted gesture. No! David is taking all the steps he can in order to be found fully obedient to God and God's law!

David's enemies and persecutors may try to bind him with ropes and try to ensnare him, yet he will not forget God and God's words.  Nothing deflects him from following God.  Not being tied up by enemies who oppress and seek to restrict him, even kill him.  The Psalmist knows they cannot match the God of grace whom he seeks!  So when he had the opportunity, David arose at the midnight hour! Not in order to pray for deliverance but to give thanks! Giving thanks not that he may suffer for the sake of his God but more to thank the Lord for His righteous laws!  God's judgement will fall upon the wicked, the disobedient and unruly!

We know from the historical books of the Bible that David was a friend with all those who chose to obey God - those who feared the Lord.   These were the truly wise people, because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!  It didn't matter whether they were rich or poor - if they feared the Lord and obeyed Him, David would be with them and befriend them! This great King David befriending the obscure who feared the Lord they served together.

Whatever David had faced in his life, he knew that God had been there and loved him.  Through exile, betrayal, war, peace, famine and prosperity - God has always shown His love to David.  This assures David that the Lord truly is his portion! So enamoured is he with God he constantly seeks to be taught by this great God!  Lord you are my portion, he started this section and he finishes with another exclamation of how the earth is filled with the glorious love of the LORD!  Despite being a ruler, leader and King, David still acknowledges that he is also teachable in all areas of life!

How are you doing when faced with the daily problems?  Where is the great God's place for you?  He desires most earnestly to be your full portion for every day.  He calls you to seek His face.  The great God, the Holy Spirit indwells you, to empower you, transform you and teach you how to live!  You are to be constantly filled with the Spirit, not just as a one off experience.  The main way is through the Bible! Read it, pray it and be eager to learn from it! Don't be distracted by anything else but be found fully seeking God in all facets and aspects of life.  When times of trouble come, just as they did to David, you will find that the Bible and the Holy Spirit's inspiration will help you, give you succour and comfort, as the gracious God of mercy enfolds you in His loving arms of compassion. Seek Him! Desire to live rightly for Him! Show others you know Him, by doing good and showing this God of love to those around you who do not fear Him.  Build friendships with those you know who love the Lord as you do - regardless of their social status or rank.  May you also be found exclaiming that the Lord is your portion!  Thank you.

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