Psalms 119:49-56

Liturgy and Devotion, Project Psalm 119

Remember what you said to me, your servant— I hang on to these words for dear life! These words hold me up in bad times; yes, your promises rejuvenate me. The insolent ridicule me without mercy, but I don’t budge from your revelation. I watch for your ancient landmark words, and know I’m on the right track. But when I see the wicked ignore your directions, I’m beside myself with anger. I set your instructions to music and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way. I meditate on your name all night, God, treasuring your revelation, O God. Still, I walk through a rain of derision because I live by your Word and counsel.

(Psalms 119:49–56 MESSAGE)

Psalms 119:41-48

Liturgy and Devotion, Project Psalm 119

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.

(Psalms 119:41–48 MESSAGE)

Psalms 119:33-40

Liturgy and Devotion, Project Psalm 119

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!

(Psalms 119:32–40 MESSAGE)

Psalms 119:25-32

Liturgy and Devotion, Project Psalm 119

I am laid low in the dust;
    preserve my life according to your word.
I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
    teach me your decrees.
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
    that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways;
    be gracious to me and teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
    do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,
    for you have broadened my understanding.

(Psalm 119:25-32 NIV)

Psalms 119:17-24

Liturgy and Devotion, Project Psalm 119

Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life; not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road. Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders. I’m a stranger in these parts; give me clear directions. My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous!— insatiable for your nourishing commands. And those who think they know so much, ignoring everything you tell them—let them have it! Don’t let them mock and humiliate me; I’ve been careful to do just what you said. While bad neighbors maliciously gossip about me, I’m absorbed in pondering your wise counsel. Yes, your sayings on life are what give me delight; I listen to them as to good neighbors!

(Psalms 119:17–24 MESSAGE)

Psalms 119:9-16

Liturgy and Devotion, Project Psalm 119

How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.

(Psalms 119:9–16 MESSAGE)

Psalms 119:1-8

Liturgy and Devotion, Project Psalm 119

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; Then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. I’m going to do what you tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.

(Psalms 119:1–8 MESSAGE)

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Jeremiah 29

Jeremiah, Liturgy and Devotion

It has been over 5 months since I posted an entry to our liturgy on Jeremiah. Some of it has been busyness. However, most of it has had to do with spiritual wrestling. You see, Jeremiah 29 has the verse. You know, the verse.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

It is on coffee cups, journals, engraved in rocks, posters, coasters and Bible covers. That verse practically has its own theology.  I know that my struggle is one that has its roots in faith and Christianity that is cursed with abundance. It creates a kind of narcissism that might rival the ancient Greeks. I believe that verse, out of context, has done more damage than any other verse in the Holy Scriptures.

It reminds me of this lyric from the group, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds1:

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds — Abattoir Blues

There is this shortsightedness that comes from ignoring something important, and treating it lightly, and highlighting our personal gain while doing so. Reading Jeremiah 29 (and verse 11) with such hubris, leads us exactly where Satan wants us: thinking that everything is about us.

The previous 28 chapters do a better job of showing what the world looks like when everything is about us. Truth is we choose faithlessness and unfaithfulness. Jeremiah 29 should and does, show us how much God loves us. Don’t you dare read Jeremiah 29 without considering the story in the preceding 28 chapters.

  1. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds is a secular band. Be warned.
Man Holding Scrolls by Ben White

The Law and Free Will

Everything, Liturgy and Devotion

Scrolls by Ben White

Free Will

We talked about the Law last night, preceded by some thoughts around “Free Will”. I think John Piper’s post A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Free Will’ is an excellent place to continue. It was hard to talk about our notions of free will purely in a biblical context, wasn’t it? While it is good to use our minds and our hearts to explore who we are, it is better to do that kind of reflection aiming to land on God’s Word. We read from the Book of Galatians. Specifically, Galatians 1:6-7, Galatians 1:11-24, Galatians 4:8-9, Galatians 5:1-12. This week, please read all of Galatians. I suggest reading it in one sitting first, then, take it slowly and think about what Paul has for the Galatians, because it is for us as well.

The Law

The discussion quickly and obviously stayed around “the (L)law” for a while, and with good reason. It is worthy of our effort to understand what it is, and what it is for. There are many ways that the word law is used in the scriptures. Here are a few:

  • Ceremonial Law or Law of Moses. These laws are what was given to Israel. 1Kings 2:3 HCSB “and keep your obligation to the LORD your God to walk in His ways and to keep His statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees. This is written in the law of Moses, so that you will have success in everything you do and wherever you turn…” This also can include the laws given to the Levites, and other tribes in order to maintain order and sacred practices.
  • Natural Law. These “laws” aren’t necessarily written; rather observable in nature, whether that be what we see in our own lives, or what happens around us. Interestingly, I like to consider the idea of supernatural laws, i.e., the laws that happen in the spiritual realms in the same “category” when thinking about this subject. To me, there is no better place in scripture than Romans 7:7-25.

These are just my two broad categories, and they are by no means the only way to understand the law. Ultimately, the question that always surfaces when I study these topics is simply this: What good is “free will” if there is a sin nature in me keeping me from completing the law?

Have additional thoughts? Feel free (pun intended) to share them below.