Experiencing the Devotional Readings
To help you experience each day’s reading and devotion, it’s suggested that you read the Scripture passage and read it more slowly a second time. Then, read the devotion and reflect upon how God is speaking to you through the passage. Finally, take the time to pray, using the exhortation that closes each devotion.
Nov. 17, 2014 Psalm 119:1-22
Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm (and chapter in the Bible), with 176 verses. The beauty and blessing of God’s holy word is the central theme. Over the next eight days, we’ll read 22 verses for each accompanying devotion. The devotions will focus on how the Scriptures can bless each of us in our daily walk with the Lord. The Psalm begins with joy, the joy experienced by those who obey God and diligently search for Him. This joy comes from knowing that when we’re obedient to God, we’re expressing our love for Him (1 John 5:3), and He is honored and glorified. The Psalmist has hidden God’s word in his heart. How can we do this? We can read the Scriptures daily (v. 15) and even memorize some verses. Studying God’s word will strengthen our knowledge of Him and draw us ever closer to Him. The more we do this, the more we will recognize the Holy Spirit at work in our lives as we obey the word and see God working in the world. The Psalmist also asks the Lord to open his eyes to the wonderful truths found in Scripture. The Bible promises us that if we ask for wisdom, God will freely give it (James 1:5). When Jesus shared bread with the two folks He met on the road to Emmaus, he opened their spiritual eyes and they recognized Him (Luke 24:31)! Paul refers to this as opening the “eyes of your heart” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV). God’s word is glorious and life giving! Let’s be joyful as we obey it, hide it in our hearts, study it wholeheartedly, and ask the Lord to open our eyes to its abundant truth.
Nov. 18, 2014 Psalm 119:23-44
Upon an initial reading of Psalm 119, one might think that it basically says the same thing throughout. This rush to judgment will be overturned once we really delve into each verse and see the “wonderful things in Your law” (v. 18 NIV). God’s word revives the downtrodden spirit and encourages the sorrowful soul. A “circle of truth” is found in verses 32 and 34 – pursuit of His commands brings wisdom and understanding, and that wisdom enables wholehearted obedience to Him. The Psalmist prays for an eagerness for God’s word to combat a love of money (which turns us away from God). He asks the Lord to help him avoid coveting worldly things, and to turn his heart toward His life-giving commandments (see 1 Timothy 6:17-19). The Psalmist acknowledges that God’s word is his only hope. This truth is so wonderfully expressed in the hymn “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less” (lyrics by Edward Mote) – “On Christ the solid rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.” May our hope in the Lord and His life-giving Word lead us to say, like the Psalmist, that we will obey His instructions “forever and ever” (v. 44 NLT). Dear Lord and God, Thank You for Your word to us and Your Son, the living Word, given for us. In His precious name, Amen.
Nov. 19, 2014 Psalm 119:45-66
What nuggets of blessing do we find in this passage? First, we “will walk in freedom” (v. 45 NLT) when we devote ourselves to God’s commandments. By living according to the Lord’s instructions, we’re free from bondage to sin and free to follow Him and His plan for our lives. When we meditate on God’s regulations, we are comforted. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) that we are to think about whatever is “noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy” – surely the Lord’s word is all of these and much more. By reflecting on who God is, and realizing that He loves us unconditionally and has a perfect plan for us to live by, we are led to obey His instructions (see Ezekiel 20:11). The Psalmist writes that “I am a friend to anyone who fears You…who obeys Your commandments” (v. 63 NLT). He seeks fellowship with others who believe, and they can encourage each other in their walk with the Lord and build up each other’s faith. We can do likewise at Bethany, as well as be free to worship and follow the Lord and be comforted as we meditate upon His word. Praise God for all of His wonderful blessings and share those blessings with others during our bicentennial year and always.
Nov. 20, 2014 Psalm 119:67-88
Have you ever praised and thanked the Lord for your afflictions and His discipline? This Psalmist did – twice (vv. 71 & 75). He tells God that his suffering and affliction was good for him, because it “taught me to pay attention to your decrees” (v. 71 NLT). Maybe he thought that the Lord was trying to get his attention, or that he needed to draw closer to God. Whatever it was, he was now seeking the Lord in His Scriptures – a good thing. Then, the Psalmist admits that he needed God’s discipline, which is as good as a confession of sin and an acknowledgment of his deep need to be closer to Him (even to be disciplined by Him). He also says that waiting on the Lord has worn him out, but he continues to put his hope in God’s word (v. 81). He also writes that even though he was almost defeated by his enemies, he refused to abandon God’s commandments. In John 6:67-68, when Jesus asked His disciples if they were going to leave Him, Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go?” (NIV). Like Peter and the Psalmist, our only hope is in the Lord God Almighty! “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:5 NIV). Let’s all thankfully receive God’s discipline and affliction, and put our hope entirely in Him every day.
Nov. 21, 2014 Psalm 119:89-110
More blessings await us in this passage! We read that God’s word is eternal, and never changes nor becomes outdated. Jesus reinforced this truth when He said that “my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35b NIV). Our Lord Jesus Christ is the living Word, of whom it is said in Hebrews – “(He) is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (13:8 NIV). Likewise, we’re told that He is faithful through all generations, like an anchor in the stormy sea of life, and a rock in shifting sand. We can have confidence in God’s word because “everything serves (His) plans” (v. 91 NLT). The Lord told Isaiah that His word always produces fruit when He sends it out and will accomplish His will and purpose (55:11). The Psalmist writes that the word of God is a lamp and a light, guiding us to the truth and exhorting us to follow Him along the path of life. For all of these wonderful and undeserved blessings, we can offer this prayer – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the Heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3 NIV).
Nov. 22, 2014 Psalm 119:111-132
“Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight” (NLT). Reading this verse (111) makes us think about what we truly treasure in our lives. The Psalmist further explains his love for God’s commands, loving them more than the finest gold (127). Solomon tells us that wisdom is “more precious than rubies” and nothing “can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:15 NLT). The Psalmist asks the Lord to sustain him so that he can meditate on His decrees. This request would be very pleasing to God, in that he did not ask for riches and honor (see Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 3:7-12). He also asks for discernment to help him understand God’s laws. Spiritual discernment enables us to know right from wrong (1 Kings 3:9) and to recognize God’s truth and wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:14). The last verse of this passage records the Psalmist asking the Lord to “show me your mercy” (NLT). God demonstrates His mercy to us by not treating us as our sins deserve, but showing us His unconditional love and forgiveness. In prayer, let’s all commit to treasuring God’s word more than gold or rubies, to trusting His sustenance so we can obey His commands, and let’s ask Him for discernment so we can better know His mind and heart – His perfect will – for us.