Friday, May 19, 2017, 10:56 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 19 (quoting vv. 7-14 ESV). God’s Words (vv. 7-11) The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Our Bible (Genesis to Revelation) is the Word of God to us. It was penned by men of God, as God breathed his words into their hearts and minds. All of it is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). But, not all of it literally applies to followers of Jesus Christ. So, we have to read scripture in context and see how God might use it to teach and to train us in righteousness, always making sure it agrees with the teaching under the New Covenant relationship between God and his people. God’s Word is perfect, without error in its original form. Over the years since these books were first penned, it has been copied over and over again, and it has been translated into multiple languages and in various versions, too. So, the translations we have in our possessions may not be 100% accurate to the original texts, but our God is all powerful, and as believers in Jesus we have the Holy Spirit living within us who will guide us into all truth, and who will make his Word known to our hearts. Yet, we must also be diligent in our study of scripture to make certain we are correctly handling it, too. So, we should always read scriptures in context, and see if what we are reading agrees with other similar texts, if we are able, and to make certain, as much as is within our ability to do so, that we are hearing and following the truth. As followers of Jesus Christ, we should also be students of his Word, for this is how God primarily speaks to us. This is where we learn truth from what is false, and righteousness, holiness, godliness, and the will of God for our lives. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). This is our bread, our sustenance for our spiritual lives. Through God’s Word he encourages, strengthens, counsels, urges, warns, instructs, guides and directs us in the way we should go, as well as he answers our prayers. We, as Christ’s followers, should love the Words of God, and they should be more precious to us than gold, or than anything this world has to offer us. When we read and study God’s Word, and we pray, and we worship him, this is where we have our intimate times of fellowship with our Lord. Our lives should not be complete without our times with our Lord each day in personal worship. Through these times we grow to maturity, and we learn what it means to follow HIM in obedience, and we understand his will for our lives. It is here that we hear his voice speaking to us ever so gently, and his voice should be what we long to hear, too. His words should bring much joy to our hearts. And, in keeping them, there is certainly great reward! No Dominion! (vv. 12-13) Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 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. When we get to know God’s Word, and our Lord’s voice, and we recognize when the Holy Spirit is speaking to our hearts, it greatly improves our discernment in knowing right from wrong. Yet, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, God puts his laws in our minds, and he writes them on our hearts (Heb. 8:10). So, even from the beginning of our walks of faith we should know when we are doing wrong. Yet, it is possible, because of other influences in our lives, and wrong teaching and training, to become desensitized to some things which are wrong, which we may not see as wrong, because they are not blatantly as offensive as some more obvious sins. But, when the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts, and he shows us the error of our ways, we must respond in obedience. There are some sins, too, which we may have formed as habits, and they may be so automatic that we do them without much forethought. These need to be eradicated from our lives, and they need to be confessed as sin, and not excused away as just habit. God will help us to put off these sins and to put on his truth and righteousness in their place, if we are willing (See: Eph. 4-5). Jesus died for our sins, not just to deliver us from the punishment of sin, but to deliver us from bondage (addiction) to sin. He has given and he will give us the way of escape, but we have to take the way out he provides, and not ignore his promptings. Other sins are regarded as willful sins, i.e. knowingly and arrogantly making a choice of the will to do what we know is wrong. This may include plotting out the sins in advance, lying about what we are doing before we even do it, in order to deceive others, and then covering up our sin with lies after the fact. Sinful habits can also fit into this category, especially if we keep repeating the same sins over and over again, knowing that we are doing this, and yet we do nothing or little to try to overcome or to correct the sinful behaviors, or we give up easily, which is why they then get ingrained in our lives and become so automatic. One of the main reasons these sins hang on is that we are not willing to go the distance with them to truly remove them from our lives, but we continue to play with fire. So, if we don’t want to be ruled by them, we need to obey the teachings of scripture and do what it teaches us we must do to shake off these sins which so easily entangle, so we can run the race marked out for us by the Lord. We also have to get rid of what leads us into sin and what hinders our walks of faith. If the internet is your downfall, for instance, cut it out of your life if you can’t manage it under the power of the Spirit within you. If yard sales are your downfall, stop going to them, and avoid streets where you know they frequently have them. Learn to say “NO” to what you know is going to lead you into sin, resist Satan, run away from what even tempts you to sin, and draw near to God in obedience to him and to his Word. My Words (v. 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. I think one of the most besetting of sins are those involving the mouth. We speak before we even think sometimes, and that is not good. We need to guard our tongues, but we also need to have our hearts cleansed first, because it is out of the heart that the mouth speaks. So, if we want to have purity in what we say, and not falter in our speaking, we need to have our hearts and minds in the right place. We must forgive others, and not hold grievances in our hearts against anyone. We must be careful not to judge others unjustly, hypocritically or with human judgment. We must avoid gossip like it is the plague and keep from complaining about things over which we have no control, and just because we want to gripe. There is a time to confront wrong, though, and to speak out against what is evil, but it should be for good purposes, to warn others, to call for repentance, and to encourage faithful obedience. I pray this prayer with the psalmist that the words of my mouth, and the meditation (what I focus on) of my heart would be pleasing in HIS sight. If it is not, I pray the Lord would reveal this to me, that I might confess it to him, and that I would respond to him in obedience in having the change of heart and mind he would have for me that would result in the right words coming out of my mouth, for I want to honor him in all ways, including with my lips, i.e. with the words that I speak. Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer, This is my constant longing and prayer; Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion, Loving, forgiving, tender and kind, Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, Seeking the wandering sinner to find. O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit, Holy and harmless, patient and brave; Meekly enduring cruel reproaches, Willing to suffer others to save. O to be like Thee! while I am pleading, Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love; Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling, Fit me for life and Heaven above. Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee, Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.