Tuesday, June 3, 2008

crushed with longing for the word

Sunday morning (May 25) we met with our community groups bright and early to review what we had learned and to dig deeper into the word. Bethany was in my community group- there was also a guy from Australia who had traveled by himself just for the conference…!

There were perhaps one too many French fry and McDonald’s metaphors from Pastor Doug which were designed to help us understand that we would be bombarded with scriptures and ideas throughout the whole conference but we needed to pick out the key parts that God was speaking to us and apply those. (Don't try to grab all the french fries, just choose the good crunchy ones, and why settle for a happy meal when there is a steak out there for you to find by searching a little harder? It's ok, we didn't know either.)

Family groups had been assigned the night before and they were led by Crossway guys. My family group leader was Noah-the-coffee-addict, a close friend of Elya’s, which was kind of fun.

We broke off individually for forty minutes to study and meditate on Psalm 119. It was a tough assignment to read the longest chapter in the Bible while taking notes and meditating on it. I didn't make it all the way through, but I plan on studying the chapter further on my own...

Things which stood out to me!

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You. (v. 9-11)

In these verses David actually answers the question of “how can a young man [person] walk in purity?” As young people we are to keep our lives according to the word of God! Seek God, store up the word in our hearts, meditate on it, and guard ourselves with it. In a culture where the media bombards us with images of a range of impurity, our hearts are to rest in the example and word of Scripture.

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches. (v. 14)
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (v. 72)
Therefore I love Your commandments
Above gold, yes, above fine gold. (v. 127)

David asks God to teach him His ways; when he regards them he rejoices in their truth much as someone would in wealth. Wow! When I read the Bible I definitely do not get as excited over it as though I had won the lottery… Do I treasure the words of God above possessions and wealth of the world?

My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times. (v. 20)

The psalmist’s soul is crushed with longing. Crushed is such an intense word which displays to the reader the emotion that he felt. David doesn’t merely follow God and study the word as a duty, rather his very soul desires to search the word. But his desire goes beyond our meager desires to see the next movie or to read another book, his entire being longs after it. He needs the word. He is crushed by desire.

Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes. (v. 23)
I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And shall not be ashamed.
I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love. (v. 46-47)

The psalmist reads the word and delights it no matter what those around him think. The fact that he uses the word “princes” and “kings” shows that he does not care about the disdain of others. He stands in his faith unashamed before kings, who am I to bend and break when peers talk against me for my faith?

May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD,
Your salvation according to Your word;
So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word. (v. 41-42)
May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word. (v. 74)

David knows the saving power of the word of God and asks that the Lord prepare him to defend his faith at all times, also crying out that he would have a testimony among believers and unbelievers alike. To know the Bible so that I am able to give a defense for what I believe, when questioned, is a goal!

Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked,
Who forsake Your law. (v. 53)
From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way. (v. 104)

Am I filled with “burning indignation” over sin, or do I gloss over it and follow the “Jesus loves you!” attitude of half-hearted Christianity? We ought to despise sin so that we are motivated to approach those in sin with the love of Christ to represent the grace of his gospel to them for forgiveness of their sins.

That's pretty much as far as I got. We were brought back into our family groups to discuss what we read and to discuss Josh's sermon from the previous night. It is always good to discuss and hear what others say. 'Tis very interesting to hear what God speaks to different people about through the same service!

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