To The End

Friday, January 31, 2014, 7:47 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Praise Be Told!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 119:33-40 (NIV).

Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread,
for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
In your righteousness preserve my life.

Teach Me, Lord

When I read this first verse where the psalmist asked the Lord to teach him the way of his decrees (laws; statutes; standards) so that he may follow them to the end, the Lord Jesus immediately brought to mind the words of Titus 2:11-14 (NIV):

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

This is the reason Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, not just so we could escape the punishment of hell, and not just so we could spend eternity with God in heaven, but so we could and would say “No” to sin (ungodliness and worldly passions) while we still live on the face of this earth, and so we would live and walk in Christ’s righteousness via us submitting to his Lordship over our lives, and via us cooperating with his Spirit’s work of grace in our lives (See Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6; 1 John 1-5; Gal. 2:20; et al).

So, first of all we must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives by his grace, through faith – a faith which submits to the Lordship of Christ, which cooperates with his work of crucifying our flesh, and which yields to his work of grace on a daily basis. Then we can be taught in the ways of the Lord, and of the truths of his word, and we can then follow him wherever he leads us in the power and working of his Spirit within us. As well, he will give us all we need to persevere, to be faithful, committed, and to endure to the end.

Give Me Understanding

The psalmist also prayed for understanding (insight; knowledge; discernment) so that he may obey the word of the Lord with all his heart. The heart of a person can be defined as “the source and center of emotional life, where the deepest and sincerest feelings are located and a person is most vulnerable to pain; and/or somebody's essential character; compassion; affection; spirit (courage and determination);” etc. (Encarta). In other words, his desire was to obey the word of the Lord with his entire mind, soul, emotion, conviction, energies, courage, determination, passion and compassion, etc. This is how much he loved God! Yet, he recognized that he could not do this in and of himself. He needed the insight, wisdom, knowledge, discernment and understanding of God and of his word to be lived in and out through his life in order for him to be able to walk in God’s righteousness.

So, how do we gain understanding? First of all it comes by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, which then results in us being indwelt by the living Spirit of God, who then teaches, guides, leads, counsels, directs, encourages, strengthens, renews, rebukes, corrects, and empowers us to live godly and holy lives (See Eph. 1:7-10; Col 1:9; 1 Co. 2:14; 1 John 5:20). Paul also indicated that we receive understanding through encouragement, unity in love with fellow believers, humility and submission; through guarding how we live, daily trusting in the Lord; in prayer and petition, thanksgiving and praise; through the WORD, and putting the word into practice; and through making an effort to understand (See Eph. 4:18; Eph. 5:8-21; Phil. 4:4-9; Col. 2:1-3; Heb. 5:11-12).

Turn Me Around

The psalmist also prayed, asking God to turn his heart toward his statutes (his word) and not toward selfish gain. He also asked God to turn his eyes away from worthless things and to preserve his life according to the Word of God. So, we have here a picture of the psalmist desiring that God do the work of repentance and change of mind in his heart, and that the work involve the psalmist turning away from what is sinful – selfish gain and worthless (wicked) things – and turning toward what is godly – the Word of God and salvation.

Jesus Christ said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” So, not one of us can even come to Jesus Christ unless we are first drawn to him by God the Father in heaven. Jesus also said that he came to call sinners to repentance. So, we must be drawn and we must be called in order to repent. To repent literally means to have a change of mind. Biblically speaking, it is almost always used in the context of a change of heart and mind about sin, i.e. a turning away from the darkness of sin to the light of the gospel of salvation (See Ac. 26:16-18; 1 Thess. 1:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:19; Jas. 5:19-20; 1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Co. 5:15; Col. 3:2-3).

God’s objective in sending Jesus was first of all to bring Israel to repentance and to forgive their sins (See Ac. 5:31), and then salvation was also extended to the Gentiles (non-Jews). It is thus God who brings us to the place of repentance, so even repentance is the work of his grace (See Ac. 11:18). As well, he commands such repentance to accompany our faith in Jesus Christ (Ac. 20:21), which is a turning away from sin and is a turning toward God to follow him in his ways. Repentance is also required for our salvation and eternal life with God (See 2 Pet. 3:9). Yet, this too is the work of his grace in our lives when we accept him as Lord and Savior of our lives by faith – a faith which cooperates with and submits to that work. God does not possess us like an evil spirit and take over us so that we no longer can choose how we live, act, think, speak, etc. We must daily yield control and surrender.

So, by God’s grace, through faith, and via the Spirit of God living within us and working out his life through us we can turn our hearts, minds and behaviors away from all that is sinful, and we can live lifestyles committed to him, to his word, and to walking in his truth and in his righteousness. Through him, and by his grace, we can also turn our eyes away from all that is worthless (evil; wicked; sinful; rubbish; empty and/or just plain useless and a waste of our God-given time, abilities, talents, spiritual gifts, compassion and love for others). He can also give us understanding and teach us his ways, so we may follow HIM to the end.

Praise Be Told! / An Original Work / December 28, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for all our sin.
Our chastisement was upon Him.
By His stripes, we now are healed.

He has witnessed all our trials,
And the sins we choose to wear.
Yet, while we were dead in our sin,
Jesus died, our sins to bear.

He himself bore all of our sins
In His body on a cross,
So that we might die to our sin,
And live for His righteousness.

By faith in the pow’r of Jesus
And His blood shed for our sins,
We can be forgiven our sin,
And have life with God in heav’n.

He will lead us and He’ll guide us
In the way that we should go.
He will comfort and protect us,
Because Jesus, we do know.

Though He disciplines for our good,
He will heal us – Praise be told!
Do not fear, your Lord is with you.
Just have faith in Christ your Lord.