It’s Time for the Judge to Act

Tags

, , , , , ,

Reading: Psalm 119
ע Ayin
(Verses 121-128)
I have done what is righteous and just;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
Ensure your servant’s well-being;
do not let the arrogant oppress me.
My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
looking for your righteous promise.
Deal with your servant according to your love
and teach me your decrees.
I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand your statutes.
Because I love your commands
more than gold, more than pure gold,
and because I consider all your precepts right,
I hate every wrong path
(NIV).

2018-06-15

Deal with your servant according to your love — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Do you have a negative view of judgment—God’s judgment? Do you cringe at the thought? If you are guilty of wrongdoing, you should cringe. But if you have been harmed by wrongdoers you have solid grounds to welcome God’s judgment. Our sense of justice calls for the intervention of a righteous judge.

There is none more righteous than the LORD—none more worthy to sit as judge. For this reason the psalmist calls for God to act. It is time for you to act, LORD; your law is being broken. 

As we look about our world, as we listen to newscasts, it becomes increasingly apparent that it’s time for God to act. Lawlessness, hate, and violence abound. Sexual perversion is promoted—gets top billing—is openly applauded. Plutocrats with their extravagant wealth rule the roost, while the poor struggle to feed their families. On the international stage dictators and warmongers parade about freely, while oppressing their own people. Those who would dare to oppose them are imprisoned or slaughtered.

This injustice was brought into sharp focus last week through a series of interviews I had  in Athens with Turkish refugees fleeing from the Erdogan government.

Where is the justice? Where is truth and right judgment in all this? Where is the LORD? Daily, the prayer on our lips should be this: It is time for you to act, LORD; your law is being broken.

It’s time for evil and crooked dealings to be exposed. It’s time for the light of day to reveal what has been done in secret. It’s time for the righteous Judge—the Judge of all the earth—to act.

On a personal level, like the psalmist, let this be the cry of our hearts: Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees. The prophet Hosea also has a fitting word for us. But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always (Hosea 12:6). 

Response: LORD God, I see the corruption that is in the world. Keep me from it. It is time for you to act, LORD; your law is being broken. Please show mercy and grace to those who call out to you. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you troubled by the lawlessness and injustice in society? Where do you turn?

Double-minded—Double Uncertainty

Tags

, , , , , ,

Reading: Psalm 119
ס Samekh
(Verses 113-120)
I hate double-minded people,
but I love your law.
 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
Away from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commands of my God!
Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed.
Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
I will always have regard for your decrees.
You reject all who stray from your decrees,
for their delusions come to nothing.
All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
therefore I love your statutes.
My flesh trembles in fear of you;
I stand in awe of your laws
(NIV).

IMG_20180622_1959094

You are my refuge and my shield — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Our reading today from Psalm 119 begins with a rather harsh statement: I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.

You never know where you stand with a double-minded person. His opinions and his views on various topics shift, depending on who he is with or what is currently in vogue. Everything is relative, so what is wrong today might be right tomorrow depending on the circumstances of course. This fluid, shifting perspective, accurately reflects the moral tenor of our times. There is no certainty. There are no absolutes.

Psalm 119 is a direct contradiction of this world view. The author rejoices in the word of God. He exalts the LORD’s commands. My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws. 

But where does that leave me? I live in a world that is trying to bend me—to distort me—so I fit into its mold. It takes real determination to resist. If I compromise my faith, I quickly become a double-minded person, unfit for the Lord’s service. I need the mind of Christ.

James has this advice for us: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8). 

Response: Father God, I need your wisdom to live right in this world. I want to escape the corruption that is in the world by drawing close to you and obeying your holy and unchanging word. I call on you for help. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you suffer from double-mindedness? Where is your anchor?

A Lamp for my Feet and a Light on my Path

Tags

, , , , , ,

Reading: Psalm 119
נ Nun
(Verses 105-112)
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
    that I will follow your righteous laws.
I have suffered much;
    preserve my life, LORD, according to your word.
Accept, LORD, the willing praise of my mouth,
    and teach me your laws.
Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
    I will not forget your law.
The wicked have set a snare for me,
    but I have not strayed from your precepts.
Your statutes are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on keeping your decrees
    to the very end (NIV).

2017-07-12c

Shine your light on my path, Lord — Montebello, Quebec — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Some stories that you read are memorable. They stick with you. You identify with the character or the event, and as a result, on a certain level their experience becomes your own.

Several years back, I read a story in Guideposts Magazine about a boy in Florida who went rambling through a field on his grandparents’ farm. On this adventurous excursion, he jumped across an irrigation ditch only to land on a deadly snake—a water moccasin—which instantly bit him. It was only through the miraculous intervention of God that this young fellow made it back to the farm house and survived. In this situation the old proverb, look before you leap, definitely applied.

We too are pilgrims traveling through a field—a dark and dangerous world. That’s why we need the light of God’s word. The psalmist says it best. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

We need a light—the light of God’s word—on our path because there are venomous snakes in the grass. Actually, the psalmist uses a different analogy; he speaks of snares. But the net result is the same. On this path we are walking, our very life is in grave danger. We must see clearly to avoid disaster. The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.

We need to know the precepts—the principles of God’s word—if we are going to walk in His ways. This goes beyond a fixed set of rules. It involves an understanding of the reason for God’s commands. For this we need the Spirit and the mind of Christ. We are not just walking to avoid pitfalls; we are walking toward a goal. That goal is Christ Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2, NKJV). 

Response: LORD God, shine the light of your word on the path of life you have ordained for me to walk. I am not on this path by accident, but through your will and purpose. Guide me home. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you encountered snares or snakes in the grass? Are you on the right path

Sweeter Than Honey to my Mouth!

Tags

, , , , , ,

Reading: Psalm 119
מ Mem
(Verses 97-104)
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
 I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path
(NIV).

2018-06-12e

Petrie Island morning — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Here’s a question for you: How do you take a bone away from a hungry dog?

Answer: You offer him a steak. 

In many respects humans respond just like dogs. We won’t give up our filthy habits unless we are offered something much better. Many years back I remember a conversation with a drug addict—a former drug addict. I asked him if he found it difficult to give up his drug habit.

“No it was easy. Once I experienced the love of God—the real love of Jesus for me on the cross—it was easy. I found something so much better,” he said with a huge grin on his face.

These words from today’s reading reflect the same concept: I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

It’s not hard to walk the straight and narrow when you are walking that path with the Lord—when He Himself is teaching you—when your heart is burning within you as the resurrected Jesus opens the eyes of your understanding. See Luke 24:13-32. There is a closeness in the Spirit that has no equal. Those are the moments that change you forever because you are fully with God. His word is rich. It’s nourishment to your famished soul. His love is the air you breathe.

Who here wants a dirty chewed up bone when there’s steak on offer?

Response: Father God, renew my first love for you. I want to fall in love with you again. Fill me with delight for your word and your Spirit. Completely change my affections. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you too content with your bone? Have you experienced the nearness of Jesus?

Let us go to the House of the LORD

Tags

, , , ,

I will praise Him!

2018-06-12b

Wild irises — photo by David Kitz

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Our feet are standing

    in your gates, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built like a city
    that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
    the tribes of the LORD
to praise the name of the LORD
    according to the statute given to Israel.
There stand the thrones for judgment,
    the thrones of the house of David.

(Psalm 122:1-5, NIV)

 Where Does My Help Come From?

Tags

, , , , ,

I will praise Him!

2018-05-18 L L

The mountains around Lake Louise — photo by David Kitz

A Song of Ascents

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you—
    the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

(Psalm 121:1-8, NIV)

To All Perfection I See a Limit

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Reading: Psalm 119
ל Lamedh
(Verses 89-96)
Your word, LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
but I will ponder your statutes.
To all perfection I see a limit,
but your commands are boundless
(NIV).

2018-05-21e

Quiet stream — Bilberry Creek, Orleans, ON — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
One of my hobbies is art. I enjoy drawing. In recent years I have rediscovered my childhood love for pencil crayons. When creating any piece of art there, I find there is a delicate balance that needs to be reached. Anything I do can be improved. Early on in the process there is a lot of improving or refining needed, but eventually you reach a point where further tinkering becomes pointless. I aim for perfection, but perfection always seems illusive. At some point I need to say, “I’m done. This piece is finished.”

In today’s reading the psalmist reached that same conclusion. To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.

We will never reach the limits of God’s holy word. There is always more to be discovered, to comprehend and apply. It is as the psalmist declares, “Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” 

St. Paul expresses the same thought. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33). Eternity gives us insufficient time to explore the wisdom of God. But let’s begin the quest; let’s take up the challenge. All of Psalm 119 can be viewed as a grand challenge to discover the wisdom and beauty of God’s word, His commands and precepts.

Let’s continue the journey. This glorious art—the divine art of God’s word—is without beginning or end.

Response: Father God, I love your word. I want to dig deeper in it and know you better thereby. You are a totally awesome God, far beyond my comprehension, but not beyond my appreciation. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you taken up the challenge of studying God’s word?

I am Being Persecuted Without Cause

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Reading: Psalm 119
כ Kaph
(Verses 81-88)
My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, “When will you comfort me?”
Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget your decrees.
How long must your servant wait?
When will you punish my persecutors?
The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
contrary to your law.
All your commands are trustworthy;
help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
They almost wiped me from the earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
In your unfailing love preserve my life,
that I may obey the statutes of your mouth
(NIV).

20180521b

Let the light of your truth shine forth, LORD. — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Christians around the world are going through an unprecedented time of persecution. Broadly speaking the news media has done very little reporting on this topic. In China, new church buildings have been bulldozed to the ground. In Syria and Iraq, Christians have fled for their lives as Islamic extremist rampage through their communities raping and killing any who remain. In India several states have passed anti-conversion laws in an attempt to halt the spread of Christianity. Christmas celebrations were cancelled in Manipur state because of clashes and threats of violence from Hindu radicals.

For those who are suffering, these verses from Psalm 119 are particularly pertinent: All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for I am being persecuted without cause. They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.

Satan and his minions are determined to wipe Christians from the face of the earth. Sensing that his end is near, he has inflamed a host of religious extremists and fanatics to attack the bride of Christ. Though he rages, he will not succeed. Closer to home court rulings have frequently trumped religious freedom, while openly promoting an LGBTQ agenda.

In their suffering, persecuted believers turn to the Lord and to his holy word. These words are their prayer: In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.

We ought to thank the Lord daily for the freedom we have to assemble and worship our Savior. It’s a freedom we may one day lose.

Response: Father God, have mercy on those who are suffering for their

faith. Be with those who are fleeing persecution. Travel with them and be their guide. Show me how I can help. Amen.

Your Turn: Do we take our freedoms for granted? Have you faced opposition because of your faith?

Touched by God

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Reading: Psalm 119
י Yodh
(Verses 73-80)
Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, L
ORD, that your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.
May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame
(NIV).

2018-06-12d

The Creator touched you — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
You have been touched by God. Pause. Consider that for a moment.

When did God touch you? According to the psalmist it happened at the very beginning of your life. Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.

Implied in that statement is God’s personal care—His attention to detail. You are not an accident or an afterthought in the mind of God. He formed you with a plan and a purpose. According to the apostle Paul, a large part of that purpose is that you may know Him, and be conformed to the image of His dear Son.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:28-29).

When we face difficulties, hardship and suffering has God abandoned us? The answer is a resounding no. Consider the psalmist’s response to these things: I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.

Every adversity you face should bring you nearer to God. See it as an opportunity to learn, grow and be changed into someone who is more like Jesus. He did not run from adversity, but instead faced suffering and death head on. God the Father brought Jesus safely to the other side, and it’s His purpose to bring you through to glory too. 

Response: Father God, I want to be like Jesus. Thank you for touching my life and forming me with your hands. I am yours—yours by creation—yours by redemption. I will meditate on your precepts. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you questioned God’s love for you? Are you living out His plan?

True Value

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Reading: Psalm 119
ט Teth
(Verses 65-72)
Do good to your servant
according to your word, L
ORD.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I trust your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold
(NIV).

2018-06-12c

Early morning on Petrie Island, Ottawa, ON — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
For Christmas more than a year ago, my wife gave me a 99.99% pure silver coin. The coin commemorates the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. It’s a beautiful coin that honors in precious metal the history of a beautiful country. Unlike many other gifts, this piece of pure silver will appreciate in value with the passage of time.

In today’s reading from Psalm 119, we are challenged to consider what we truly value. The psalmist writes, “The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”

What do you value in this life? What is precious to you? We need to continually assess what is dear to us because from that assessment we determine the course of our actions and the outcome of our life. An accurate assessment depends on sound judgment, so earlier in this psalm the author makes this request: Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.

We live in a world that chases after wealth and material goods. Apparently, that’s where the value is, or so it would seem. But the psalmist reaches a far different conclusion. He values God and His word above all else.

Such thinking is heresy according to the wizards of Wall Street. But silver and gold can’t keep you warm at night. It might buy you sex, but it can’t buy you love. You see real value isn’t found in the gift; it’s found in the giver. My wife is much more valuable to me than thousands of gold coins. As for God, He’s the ultimate Giver—the Giver of all things. We receive true value when we receive Him.

Response: LORD God, I want right values. That starts with loving you with all my heart, soul and strength. Let my actions reflect your values. You value people. That’s why your Son bled and died. Amen.

Your Turn: What do you value in life? Do your actions reflect your values?