The Word of the Lord

Psalm 19 beginning in verse 7 can help us to learn about the Word of the Lord.

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;

The law of the Lord is His revealed will, which is what we read in the Bible.  We have encountered people’s wills – our own and others.  Those wills haven’t been perfect.  Most often there has been a problem, something that needed to be changed.  But God’s will is perfect and has always been perfect.  It is so perfect it can bring restoration of the most important part of our being – our eternal souls.

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The testimony of the Lord is His truth.  Testimonies of people haven’t always been the truth which causes us to be unsure at times on what to believe from people.  The testimony of the Lord is true so we can be sure, be confident, that what we read in the Bible is the truth.  This truth is so carefully stated that even the simple can be made wise by reading it.

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

Another word for precepts is instructions.  We have received instructions from people that have not been right; we may have even given some incorrect instructions ourselves.  God’s instructions are right.  If we follow them, we will be going the correct way.  There is a lot of joy in receiving instructions that you know you can accomplish.  Following God’s instructions, His precepts, can give us great cause for rejoicing.  They are always right and can be followed because the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers is there to help.

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The commandment of the Lord is His authoritative word.  Words that we have received from human authorities may have been harsh, unkind or rude, but God’s words of authority are pure, very pure.  Hearing words from human authorities can bring a dark response in our minds because of confusion or emotional response.  God’s Words bring a light to the mind that leads to greater understanding.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

To fear the Lord means to have a reverential trust.  There may have been people that we have respected, maybe even had a reverence towards, but then that person does something wrong or betrays a trust.  Now our thoughts towards this person are no longer reverence.  Thoughts of this person may even make us feel dirty.  A reverential fear of the Lord is clean always.  He cannot sin or dirty His name, and it is a cleanness that will last forever.

The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

The judgments or decisions of the Lord are true.  Judgments of people have been found to have errors in them.  The judgments may have been based on lies, bias or misinformation.  God’s judgments are true and righteous.  All of them are true and righteous, not just a few of them.

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

The remaining verses of the psalm tell us what the Word of the Lord will do for us.  It will give us warnings so that we can keep from wrong and do right.  Doing the Words of the Lord can bring rewards.  His Words will help us to find our own faults which will help us to not be controlled by sin.  God’s Word can bring forgiveness and a blameless life.  They provide for us something worth speaking about and thinking about.  They help us to be accepted by God, who desires to be our Redeemer.

How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the Lord.
How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.
Psalm 119:1-2

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The Fear of the Lord

  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10

The fear of the Lord being wisdom is also mentioned in Job 28:28 and Psalm 111:10.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
Proverbs 8:13

Because of Proverbs 8:13, a verse my husband has been reading to our children each day this week, I realized that there is a lot more to fearing the Lord than just being the first step to wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is associated with knowledge and the love of it and the love of instruction.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom,
And before honor comes humility.
Proverbs 15:33

The first reference to the fear of the Lord helps us to see that there are some actions and qualities that should be seen in our lives if we are fearing the Lord.

Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do,
for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality
or the taking of a bribe.

2 Chronicles 19:7

If we fear the Lord, we will be careful what we do and will have nothing to do with unrighteousness, favoritism or bribery.  We will also demonstrate a hatred for evil, pride, arrogance and wrong speech.  We won’t be envying sinners.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
Proverbs 8:13

Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But live in the fear of the Lord always.
Proverbs 23:7

The fear of the Lord will help us to avoid sin and evil ways, which is a blessing since it is hard to do right sometimes.  We can depend on the Lord to be our help.

By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
And by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil.
Proverbs 16:6

A person who fears the Lord is blessed and has life.  This life is satisfactory and brings peace of heart and mind.  This life that is benefited by the fear of the Lord is primarily the spiritual life.   This is important because our spiritual life is eternal and should be strong in the ways of God which is a benefit to our physical life now and our relationship with God for all eternity.

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
Psalm 128:1

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
That one may avoid the snares of death.
Proverbs 14:27

The fear of the Lord prolongs life,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
Proverbs 10:27

The fear of the Lord leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.
Proverbs 19:23

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,
And his children will have refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria
enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord
and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

Acts 9:31

There are blessings to those who faithfully and wholeheartedly fear the Lord
(2 Chronicles 19:9).  The fear of the Lord is associated with humility, and both lead to  God-given rewards.

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord
Are riches, honor and life.
Proverbs 22:4

The fear of the Lord is a treasure to help us have stability in our unstable times.

And He will be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the Lord is his treasure.
Isaiah 33:6

There are consequences for not having the fear of the Lord in our lives.

Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord.
Proverbs 1:28-29

Finding the fear of the Lord and how to demonstrate it in our lives takes discernment.  This means that it is not always to seen and understood.  We will need to spend time studying the Bible and praying for guidance to be able to find how to make the fear of the Lord real in our lives.

If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:4-5

 

 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men,
but we are made manifest to God;
and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
2 Corinthians 5:11

Because of the fear of the Lord in our lives we are manifest or known to God.  Fearing the Lord is part of the confirmation that we have that we are Christians.  Praying a prayer is not enough.  We need a close and growing relationship with God now and continuing for all eternity.  The fear of the Lord will help us to have that.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the continuing manifestation of God in our lives.  It is the means by which we can tell others about Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.
Psalm 111:10

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Echoes of Christmas – Obedience

When I read the Christmas story, I am struck by the obedience of the people involved in the story.

Consider them:
Zacharias – he doubted the angel’s message, yet John was born in due time.

Mary – she could have refused to be the mother of Christ.  She had no forewarning of her role in God’s plan, but she did not approach it lightly.  She declared herself “a bondslave of the Lord” (Luke 1:38).  Her beautiful Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55 is all about God and He dealings with mankind.

Joseph – he thought about sending Mary away and not marrying her.  Instead he obeyed the instructions that he was given and married her and named the baby Jesus.  He also obeyed when he told to take his little family to Egypt to save Jesus’ life.  Later he obeyed again and took his family to Nazareth (Matthew 2:13-23).

Joseph and Mary – they followed the law and brought Jesus to the temple to present Him before the Lord.  While they were there, Simeon blessed them.  Because they obeyed they received the blessing (Luke 2:34)

The shepherds – imagine looking for a baby in a manger!  Pretty ridiculous sounding, yet these men followed the instructions that they were given and found the Messiah.

The wise men – in their journey to find the king, they received instructions from two different men – a worldly king (Mat. 2:8) and the King of kings (Mat. 2:12).  They chose to follow God’s instructions.  We don’t know anything else about these men, but we do know that their deaths were not caused by Herod.

We can learn from the obedience of these people.  From Zacharias we learn to not allow ourselves to be hindered by doubts.  Mary’s story reminds us that our obedience should bring us closer to God.  Joseph helps us to see that the first step of obedience makes the next step easier.  The shepherds’ story points out the obedience brings blessing.  The importance of following the right instructor is the lesson from the wise men.

The obedience of these people who are part of the Christmas story gives us some insight into the life of Jesus Himself.  His life was one of obedience.  He said,

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me.
John 6:38

We admonished to follow His example.

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps
1 Peter 2:21

 

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Echoes of Christmas – Do Not Be Afraid

Three individuals and one group of people were told to not be afraid.

First, Zacharias
 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.”
Luke 1:13

Second, Mary
 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.”
Luke 1:30

Third, Joseph
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 1:20

Fourth, the shepherds
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people”
Luke 2:10

The Christmas story is a reminder that Christians do not need to be afraid.  They can trust God and know that He will only do what is best for us.  If we are following His will for our lives, as these people did, we will not need to be afraid.

All things may not be easy.  Consider Zacharias.  He was unable to speak for awhile.  That could not have been an easy situation.  Notice the difference between what he said when the angel spoke to him and what he said after John was born and his voice was restored to him (Luke 1:1-20, 64-79).  This trial that he went through helped him to understand God better and to be in a better relationship with God.  That is what the hard times are supposed to help a Christian to do – build a closer relationship with God Himself.  If we can trust the Lord completely, we will see that we do not need to be afraid.

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 41:10

 

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Echoes of Christmas – Emmanuel

Yesterday, I wrote about the name Jesus.  He was also referred to by another name – Emmanuel.

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son,
and they shall call His name
Immanuel,”
which translated means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:24

This verse in Matthew is a quotation of Isaiah 7:14.  Seeing the name in both the Old and the New Testaments helps us to see the eternality of Jesus.  He is God and has always been God.  The name Emmanuel reminds us of a precious truth about God – His omnipresence.   To know that God is always present with us, especially with those who are Christians, is a comfort.  It should also be a caution to help us to not do wrong.

This name Emmanuel also reminds us that Jesus is God so by studying the Gospel account of His life on earth as a man we learn about God.  Combining what we learn from the Gospels with the truths we learn about God from the rest of the Bible, our study will increase our love and worship of God.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying,
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

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Echoes of Christmas – Jesus

Joseph was told by the angel that the child that Mary was carrying should be named Jesus.

you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21

The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Jeshua or Joshua.  It was a common name.  There are two examples in the New Testament.

 and also Jesus who is called Justus;
these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.
Colossians 4:11

When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos,
they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus
Acts 13:6

Notice one of these men was a false prophet.  Why would God allow the name of the only Saviour of the world to be named a common name?  To add to that in the last days there will be multiple anti-Christs.

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming,
even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
1 John 2:18

I think that God allowed this so that we would search for Christ.  He wanted us to study the Bible so that we will know who Jesus is and what He has done.   Just because a person uses His name does not mean that he or she knows the true Jesus.  The Jesus to follow is described in Philippians 2:5-11.

 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, although He existed in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,
and being made in the likeness of men.
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself
by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him,
and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,
of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This is the Jesus to believe in.  He alone can give salvation from sin.

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.
Acts 16:31

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Echoes of Christmas – Prayers

Prayer is an important part of a Christian’s life, but it isn’t usually considered part of the Christmas story.  There are two stories in Luke that show us the value of prayer.

The first story is in the first chapter of Luke, and it is about Zacharias.  He was taking his turn as the priest to offer incense at the altar of incense.  The altar of incense is a picture of prayer and was to have new incense in the morning and in the evening, according to Exodus 30.

While Zacharias was laying the incense before the Lord, he learned that his own personal prayer was going to be answered.  His prayer was for a child.  The angel Gabriel reported that the child would be a boy and that his name was to be John.  At the same time as Zacharias was learning about the answer to his prayer, the people outside the temple were also praying.   This gives a picture of the unity that is part of Christian praying.

The Christmas story gives us another picture of this unity of prayer in the story of Anna recorded in Luke 2.  She shared the joyful news of the Messiah’s coming “to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (v. 38)  This story shows us the unity of purpose in prayer – prayer for a Redeemer.  This prayer was also answered as the Messiah was there at the temple as a baby.  This seems to be an unusual way to answer this prayer, but Jesus did grow up and did die on the cross for our sins.

Matthew 18:20 states, “ For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”  These are words Jesus spoke, and they remind us that there is value for more than one person praying.  Having a godly purpose for praying and having more than one person praying about this purpose, we can be assured of answers.

There is a caution concerning prayer that we see in the story of Zacharias.  When we pray, we must believe that God can answer and that we are trusting in Him alone.  Zacharias did not believe Gabriel when he presented his message of John’s birth.

And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak
until the day when these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
Luke 1:20

God will not deal with us in the same way if we do not believe, but we can be certain that He will deal with us if we choose not to believe Him and His Word.

 But if any of you lacks wisdom,
let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach,
and it will be given to him.
 But he must ask in faith without any doubting,
for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:5-8

James has some encouraging words concerning prayer.

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:16b

When we pray according to the Scripture, we will be praying in unity with other Christians.  We can be assured that our prayers will be answered, even if the answer does not come immediately as happened to both Zacharias and Anna.  As we pray, let us not follow Zacharias’s disbelief.  Let us instead learn to trust God more and more.

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