The Power of God’s Word – Life Altering
Last week I shared with you about a few different Bible reading plans. Pastor Bruce realizes the importance of consistent Bible reading and wanted to make it a priority for us. Authentic Christians have always been people of the book and have emphasized the importance of God’s Word. The Protestant Reformation resulted from the desire of authentic believers to base all of life on the Word of God, choosing to recognize Scripture as the final authority for all of life and godliness. This is why Pastor Bruce wants to encourage all of us to be spending consistent, quality time in the Word of God this year.
Here are some examples of the importance of God’s Word to believers in history, “The pony express was a thrilling part of early American history. It ran from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California—a distance of 1,900 miles. The trip was made in ten days. Forty men, each riding 50 miles a day, dashed along the trail on 500 of the best horses the West could provide. To conserve weight, clothing was very light, saddles were extremely small and thin, and no weapons were carried. The horses themselves wore small shoes or none at all. The mail pouches were flat and very conservative in size. Letters had to be written on thin paper, and postage was $5.00 an ounce (a tremendous sum those days). Yet, each rider carried a full-sized Bible! It was presented to him when he joined the pony express, and he took it with him despite all the scrupulous weight precautions. —Our Daily Bread1
There is a story of, “A poor prisoner confined in a dungeon had no light except for a few moments when food was brought in. He used those moments to read the Bible, saying that he could find his mouth in the dark, whereas he could not read in the dark.” 2
- This morning we are going to look at a portion of Psalm 119, which is an extended acrostic poem that utilizes the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order. Each line in our present passage begins with the Hebrew letter dalet. Psalm 119 describes the power, greatness, and absolute necessity of God’s Word in the life of a believer. It is the longest Psalm, and it is dedicated to the Word of God. In our present passage the psalmist is in trouble and he cries out to God for help. He asks and expects it to come through God’s Word. As we look at the passage we will see six statements related to God’s Word.
Six Statements Related to God’s Word:
God’s Word Revives Believers (25).
The psalmist is in a desperate state. He declares that he is so weak that he collapses in the dirt. Being in such a weakened state he turns to his God and asks for something that I am not convinced we would readily think to do. He asks God to revive him with the Word of God. When we are discouraged or in a difficult set of circumstances, do we ask God to use his Word (which we would need to have prior knowledge of it) to revive us (strengthen/encourage/give us hope)? The psalmist has full confidence in the power and sufficiency of God’s Word to help him. Samuel Clark wrote the following, “Christians deprive themselves of their most solid comforts by their unbelief and forgetfulness of God’s promises. For there is no extremity so great, but there are promises suitable to it, and abundantly sufficient for our relief in it. A thorough acquaintance with the promises would be of the greatest advantage in prayer. With what comfort may the Christian address himself to God in Christ when he considers the repeated assurances that his prayers shall be heard!”3 God’s Word revives believers.
God’s Word is Wondrous to Believers (26-27)
The psalmist has poured out his heart to God (26). Do you cast all your anxieties on God in prayer, or do you cope, managing your worry? The psalmist did what God urges his children to do – cast all your cares upon him (1 Peter 5:6-7; Phil. 4:6-7). When you are in need do you boldly go before the throne of grace to find mercy and help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16)? Now that the psalmist has poured out his heart to God, he asks God to teach him God’s statutes. When you collapse in the dirt, do you ask God to teach you his statutes? We will see in the next verse why he asked for such a thing.
He asked God to teach him, to help him understand God’s precepts, so that he can meditate on God’s wonders (27)! The Word of God is where we learn truth about God – who he is, what he expects, and how he acts. The psalmist who in the dirt wants God’s help to understand God’s precepts, so that he can meditate on God’s wonders. When we are weak and afraid being reminded of the greatness of God and his unbreakable promises brings encouragement. The Word of God is not only where we learn about who God is, what he expects, and how he acts, but it is also where we hear from God. It is his message. If you want to hear God speak, read his Word. God’s Word is wondrous to believers.
God’s Word Sustains Believers (28)
The psalmist declares that his grief causes him to collapse (lit. “drop” like rain). He asks God to sustain (strengthen, establish) him by God’s Word. This is the power of God’s Word, strengthening the weak. When you are weak, where do you seek strength? The psalmist believes firmly that God’s Word will strengthen him, sustaining him in life. Do we view God’s Word in this way? God’s Word sustains believers.
God’s Word is a Gift to believers (29)
The psalmist recognizes his predisposition toward sin and he is aware of those around him who are living in unrepentant sin, so he asks God to keep him off the way of deceit (cf. Verse 30 – I choose the way of faithfulness; he has chosen a different path). When Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray, he indicated that believers would need God’s help not to sin, “And do not bring us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:!3). After asking God to take away the way of deceit, he asks God graciously to give him God’s Law. He is asking God to give him God’s Word, so he can obey it with God’s help. Is this a common request of ours? God’s Word is a gift to believers.
God’s Word Must Be Made a Priority (30-31)
The psalmist declares that he has chosen the path of faithfulness, in contrast to the way of deceit (cf. verse 29). He is committed to God’s ordinances (judgments). The path of faithfulness is obedience to God’s Word. He has chosen to reject the way of deceit for the path of faithfulness, which amounts to choosing God’s way of life over the world’s way of life. God’s way of life is revealed in his Word.
The psalmist clings to God’s testimonies (rules, decrees; Ex. 31:18 – two tablets of testimony; i.e. ten commandments). He treasures and clings to God’s Word (note that in verse 25 he said that his soul was clinging to the dust, here he states that he is clinging to God’s Word, since he clings to God’s Word he has the hope to pray what he is praying). He asks God not to let him be put to shame – allowing him to sin, be defeated by the enemy, be impoverished, etc… He is asking for God’s blessing. J.I. Packer wrote, “True Christians are people who acknowledge and live under the Word of God written in ‘the book of Truth’ (Dan. 10:21), believing the teaching, trusting the promises, following the commands. Their eyes are upon the God of the Bible as their Father and the Christ of the Bible as their Savior…The promises are before them as they pray, and the precepts are before them as they go about their daily tasks.”4 God’s Word must be made a priority.
God’s Word Being Obeyed Requires God’s Enablement (32)
The psalmist runs the way of God’s commands (parallel to the way of faithfulness; in contrast to the way of deceit) – he is seeking to obey God’s Word, living in God’s prescribed way of life. He runs the path of God’s commands because “God has expanded his heart” which means that God has enabled him to do so. God has enabled the psalmist both to desire and have the ability to obey God’s Word. Paul says much the same thing in the N.T. (Phil. 2:12-13; Eph. 2:8-10; Tit. 2:14; 2 Cor. 5:15). God’s Word being obeyed requires God’s enablement.
THINK – God’s Word is essential for living the Christian life.
FEEL – My soul craves what God’s Word provides.
DO – Spend consistent, quality time in God’s Word.
Because of God’s Word, my next step today is to…
__ Commit to reading the Bible five days each week for this year (for at least 5-10 minutes each day).
__ Commit to memorizing one Bible verse each month of this year, in addition to spending consistent, quality time in God’s Word.
__ Commit to reading through the Bible using one of the Bible reading plans Pastor Bruce made available.
__ Commit to meditate on what I have read in God’s Word by keeping a record of what you have read. You may use the following guide (or your own system, it is simply to get you meditating on God’s Word):
Mark or make note of words/thoughts that stand out or impress you.
Date _____________ What I read today _______________
Best thought I marked/noted today: ________________________
How it impressed me: _________________________________