Matt Blackwell teaches on God speaking using Psalm 19:7-14
Since it’s the beginning of the New Year, I wanted to share some of the top New Year resolutions.
1. Learn something new.
2. Fall in love.
3. Eat healthier.
4. Enjoy life more fully.
5. Spend less, save more.
6. Lose weight.
Losing weight is usually the number one resolution. Last year I had some neighbors invite me to join their New Year resolution to lose weight. I wasn’t sure if that should have offended me or not, but I decided to do it. We lasted about six weeks then life happened and other things crowded in. I know I’m not alone in the act of fading out of a resolution.
According to Forbes, 92% of us who make New Year resolutions won’t complete them. We promise each year will be different and we’ll stick to quitting a bad habit or starting a good one. Yet, most of us fail before we even get out of January. Many people don’t make them anymore, because they’ve failed year after year and don’t want to go through the torment again. We don’t want to go through the guilt and shame of breaking a promise we made to ourselves.
If we go through that cycle long enough, we begin to believe that change can never really happen. We believe there’s a variance of who we are and that’s who we’ll be until the day we die. But there’s good news.
There is true and lasting change available to us. It’s not based on our determination or ability to keep a promise to ourselves. It’s based on an eternal promise of God and His determination to keep His promise to His people.
God Speaks, Things Change
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:7-14 (ESV)
When God’s Word goes out, things happen.
In Genesis 1, God spoke and nothing became everything, darkness became light, He took a handful of dust and turned it into humanity. When God speaks, things change. Change is available to us.
When we think about the Bible how many of us would say we think it’s a little outdated and irrelevant? Most of us would say we respect and honor it. We’re a people that revere and respect the Bible, but don’t read it very often. Even fewer actually apply it and live it out.
My hope is for this year to be marked with true and lasting change from being in God’s Word.
I’ve read the biography of Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest theologians America has produced. Before he was a believer he was in his father’s library and picked up a Bible. By God’s grace, he opened it to 1 Timothy 1:17 and read, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (ESV). God used that particular verse to change Jonathan Edward’s life. At that moment, he said if there was truly a great sovereign king over the entire universe, then surely he was in disobedience to that king and something needed to change. This started him on a journey of understanding who God was.
A guy named George Whitfield, one of the greatest preachers in England and America grew up religious. He would spend two times a week fasting for thirty-six hours at a time. As a young man he almost killed himself by not eating in order to gain God’s affections, but was absolutely miserable in his religion. He could never find a way to prove himself to God. Until one day he came upon the words of Jesus in John 3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” (John 3:3 NASB). God used that one phrase to start George Whitfield on a journey realizing he doesn’t have to earn God’s affection, but has to be born again by faith in Jesus. He went on to preach this passage over a thousand times. God changed his life with the Word.
My dad’s life was changed by a simple phrase. He asked me about when Jesus was talking to some people and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am,” (John 8:58 NASB). He thought there was an error in his bible. This set my father on a journey back to Exodus where Moses asked God who he should say sent him and God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” (Exodus 3:14 NASB). Jesus was taking that phrase and applying it to Himself, saying He is God eternal, has always been and will always be. That one phrase changed my dad’s life.
When God speaks, things change. His word changes us.
In Psalm 119, David was telling us the Word of God changes us due to two things:
1. What the Bible is.
2. What the Bible does.
What The Bible Is…
David talked about six things that define what the Bible is. The Word of God is – perfect, sure, right, pure, clean and true.
Perfect - When a perfect God speaks, His words are perfect. They’re without flaw. They have no manipulation or half-truth. They’re completely perfect. On the other hand, we are imperfect. So when we put ourselves in position to read a perfect law, it shows us our own imperfections. It’s like a mirror to our souls.
Sure - The word of God does not change. We don’t change it; it changes us.
Right - The word for right in this text was the word used for a straight edge, which was used to measure the straightness of particular lines. God’s word is a straight edge by which we measure the straightness of all other things. It’s the standard, the way we judge what is right and true.
What The Bible Does…
There are a lot of things the Bible does, but we’ll look at three.
1. It revives the soul.
2. It makes wise the simple.
3. It rejoices the heart.
This is the change we’re asking God for as we get into His word.
It Revives The Soul
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul Psalm 19:7 (ESV)
The Bible isn’t just a book of morality or religious stories. It’s God’s perfect, sure and right words spoken to a dead people. His words brings us to life by God’s spirit.
“Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life… Deuteronomy 32:46-47a (ESV)
Moses was giving the commands of Scripture to the Israelites. The Bible is not a book of idle words, but rather, gives us life. The word of God revives the soul. Our physical life began because of God’s word. Psalm 33 says it is by His word we were created. Hebrews 1 says He upholds the universe by the word of His power. Not only our physical life, but also our spiritual life begins by His word.
18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. James 1:18 (NASB)
23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 (NASB)
Apart from God, we’re dead in our transgressions and sins, separated eternally from Him. It’s He who comes and speaks life back into us. It wasn’t that we’re somewhat moral folks who just needed God to push us over the edge or to be more committed to reading the Bible so He will accept us. No, the Bible says we were dead. We needed God to breathe life into our lifeless lungs. It is His initiation and word that brings us back to life.
It Makes Wise The Simple
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7-8 (ESV)
There is wisdom to be found in God’s word.
Think back to who you were ten years ago. What were you doing? What were your relationships like? How wise were you in the way you spent your money and treated other people?
I’m guessing you would probably look back and be willing to admit you’ve made some foolish decisions along the way. If you could say you’re wiser today than you were back then, it stands to reason that if we were to fast forward ten years, you would be wiser then than now.
So then how do we not act silly and foolish now? We pray constantly, asking for wisdom. We ask for sight beyond our ability to see. We ask for wisdom beyond our experience, so we know what we’re doing now will lead to life. We need His wisdom. We ask for His word to shape our hearts and minds so we may live and love well, being wise in the way we live.
Reading God’s word increases your wisdom, because it not only gives you knowledge of God but knowledge of yourself. Wisdom is knowing who you are in relation to God. When we see God as He is in the Scriptures we are humbled by His greatness and encouraged by His love. It takes us out of the center of the universe and rightly places God there.
When we read of God’s majesty, grace and glory, seeing how good God is in comparison to ourselves, we’re able to realize it’s not all about us. There is an eternal Creator and sovereign King who has a plan for eternity. You and I are not the heroes of this story.
Scripture serves as a mirror for your soul to show you who you are, revealing your need for God and making clear the way He would have you go. If left to ourselves we can be overcome by our own sin, not even seeing it come. The Bible pours light on this darkness and the Spirit uses it to show us our need, bring us to repent and change our lives as we renew our mind. This frees us up to find our rightful place in God’s story. It frees us to walk, fixing our eyes on Him and helping others see how good He is.
It Rejoices The Heart
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Psalm 19:8-10 (ESV)
Not only does the word of God create life and give us wisdom, but it also gives us joy.
Sometimes we think we know better than God regarding our own joy. We think joy is found in doing whatever it is we want to do. God is for your joy, maybe even more than you are.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11 (ESV)
Jesus spoke the words of God to increase our joy. Our joy is full when God speaks. God wants you to have true and lasting joy and He knows where it’s ultimately found, “that my joy may be in you.”
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
…The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold... Psalm 19:9b-10a (ESV)
If you have the option between God’s word and gold, choose God’s word. In the Word of God there is fulfillment, life, wisdom and joy, all freely available to you through God’s spirit and grace. You can’t buy these things with all the fine gold available. You could spend your life trying to accumulate more and more, but still find yourself restless, anxious and broken.
It’s not shocking to hear me say you have to read your Bible. You know you’re supposed to do that, but yet we don’t. There are a couple practical ways to start this New Year by using some free online tools. There's a Bible Reading Plan. Go to austinstone.org/reap you will find a daily Bible reading plan. REAP stands for Read, Examine, Apply, Pray. If you spend less than ten minutes reading the Bible, you can read the entire thing in less than a year. You can also download an free audio bible. If you’re not a reader, you could get an audio Bible to listen to while you drive to work every morning.
This isn’t a “know-how” issue for most of us; it’s more of a “want-to” issue. There’s something in our hearts that values it and we’ll be about it for a while, but then life comes in, we get busy and forget, until tragedy strikes and we jump back in.
My hope is that God would change our hearts. Ultimately, the thing that’s going to change our hearts to be people who don’t just respect the Bible, but read and live out the Bible, is when we begin to know that it’s not just about knowing the Bible, but actually knowing the Author of it. It’s not about simply understanding the words, but worshipping the One who wrote them.
Jesus is the Word incarnate. He is the perfect representation of the Word of God. He’s the only one who has perfectly kept the laws, rules and commandments. His reward for perfectly keeping the law has become our reward. Our punishment for not perfectly keeping the laws became His punishment on the cross.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:13-14 (ESV)
David was asking his Redeemer to make him acceptable to Him. He wanted to be blameless and innocent, no longer allowing sin to have dominion over him. Because of Christ we are blameless and innocent. Sin no longer has dominion over us. There words are true about us. We are acceptable to God because of Christ. This is the good news of the gospel.
We don’t read the Bible with a legalistic sense, but because we want to know more about the Jesus, the Redeemer, the Savior, who has loved and accepted us. Because of Him we have life eternal and to the full, and have freedom from our sins.
Let us not just respect God’s word, but love the Author and pursue Him with a passion.