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Posted By Nan

Psalm 119:9-16
The section of Psalm 119 is like the resolution following the recognition of the psalmist’s imperfection in not being able to be perfect in following God. Now he wonders how he can cleanse his way and continue to conform his life to God’s word. He admits to God that he seeks God with all his heart and askes God to help him to not step away from God’s commandments either deliberately or unwittingly. He admits he has hidden God’s word in his heart so he will know not to sin, and he asks God to continue to teach him. He declares he speaks out God’s law and delights to do so. He loves to follow God and seeks to meditate on God’s laws. He chooses to respect the way of God and seek to follow the path God has laid out for him. He promises God he will not neglect to follow God’s word.
What is interesting about this section is that he spends a lot of time declaring what he will do, in his own strength. Only once, in verse 10, does he ask God for help. The trouble with doing things under our own strength is that we are bound to fail. We are also unrealistic if we can think we will be perfect in following God. We will never manage to be perfect. That is why Jesus needed to die on the cross to pay for our human imperfection. We should never beat ourselves up about not being perfect. God knows we are not perfect and never will be in this life. Yet He still loves us. What God loves, is our desire to be the best we can and our willingly to ask Him constantly and often for His help. We cannot follow God without His help to walk that path. No matter what experiences you have had in life. Despite maybe being raised to be punished for asking for help it is important to remember God is not like that. He delights in helping us. Do not hesitate to ask Him. God is a loving and generous God. He delights in helping us. Remember Matthew 7:7-8. Ask because it will be given to you. Seek and knock on the door. If you ask you will receive. If you seek you will find. And if you knock the door will be opened. Never forget God’s boundless love and generosity. Praise God for His magnificence.

Posted By Nan

Psalm 119:1-8
Psalm 119 is like a how to of following God.
Today I am going to focus on the first section, verses 1-8.
The psalmist talks of how blessed the person who follows God blamelessly is. The ones who seek to follow God’s statutes and seek him with all their hearts, who do nothing wrong. Then the psalmist wishes that his ways were steadfast in obeying God’s decrees. He wishes he would not feel shame when he thinks of all the things he does wrong. How he would be able to praise God with the knowledge he was blameless. And he asks God not to forsake him or punish him for not following God closely.
For the psalmist, he lived in a time when there was no permanent remedy for our sinfulness. We were unable to follow God perfectly, and there was no redemption for our fall. In this age, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know that Jesus’ blood has washed us clean. That in the light of the cross, we are blameless in God’s eyes. We have redemption.
Despite our knowledge, we are still, like the psalmist, unable to follow Jesus perfectly. We can yearn to be perfect, but we never will. Yes, we have the knowledge that Jesus has paid for our imperfection. But we are still unable to be perfect. All we can do is, like the psalmist, seek God with all our hearts. We will not always achieve that perfectly, but we can keep trying. And we can ask God to help us. We have that reassurance and we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to assist. We will never be one whose way is blameless, but we can always seek to give our best to God and to do our best to surrender to Him.

Posted By Nan

Psalm 23:1-6
Psalm 23 is one of the best known and loved verses from the bible. It is easy to become so complacent with these verses that we stop looking into them or listening to their message. They have a vital message regarding following Jesus. For this purpose, I have found the best translation is the version in the Amplified Bible.
The Psalm starts with the statement that God is my Shepherd. Not a shepherd, but my shepherd. He is my Shepherd to feed, guide and shield me. And when He is there to feed, guide and shield me then I will lack nothing. Lacking nothing does not mean I will have everything I want. It means I will have everything I need. In our journey of following Jesus, it is comforting to know that we do not have to be distracted worrying about meeting our needs. God is there to meet them and to empower us on our journey. We follow God in His strength, never in our own.
To reinforce that message, we then read that God makes us lie down in fresh, tender, green pasture. If we were sheep, that would be the ideal pasture for our shepherd to take us to. There we would have high quality feed that would fill us up. The fact we would be able to lie down in this pasture means we would feel safe in this place. God would also lead us to water that was clean, fresh and peaceful. Getting a drink would be easy and pleasant. This reinforces the picture of God giving us a sense of safety, in other words peace.
Further to that message is the knowledge that God refreshes and restores us. He knows when we are tired and need rejuvenating and He ensures we get that. He leads us, if we are prepared to follow, along the path of righteousness and right standing with God. And He does this because He is God, not because we have earned it. In addition, during those times in our lives when we walk through darkness and fear, we will not need to be frightened of the evil that we sense. During those times God is with us. As our shepherd, He has His rod of protection and staff of guidance and He brings us comfort. This does not mean evil cannot harm our earthly bodies, but it does mean our spirits will remain unharmed.
The next verse, with its reminder that God will prepare a sumptuous banquet for me in the presence of my enemies and invigorate me by anointing my head with oil, has been very comforting to me at times in my life. We cannot always avoid our enemies, and we may have to continue coming into contact with them. But that does not mean we are powerless or vulnerable to their activities. God empowers us. To prove this be prepares a banquet in front of our enemies. The enemies may not see the banquet, but they will sense its presence. When we are unable to achieve something on our own, God is always there to achieve that thing. Stop struggling. Let go. Let God.
So our comfort is to know that goodness, mercy and unfailing love will always be with us. Not matter how hard or frightening or dispiriting the journey, God will always be with us. Even when it doesn’t feel like He is there, He always is. Here in verse 6, goodness, mercy and unfailing love are described as following us. We follow God, He sends goodness, mercy and unfailing love to follow us as we live and dwell in God’s presence.
The journey following Jesus is not a journey we undertake alone. Jesus is before and behind us. If He is before and behind us, then He is around us. We are not racing after a rapidly retreating figure, because our journey is within His presence. May that knowledge bring you comfort and courage on your journey.

Posted By Nan

2 Chronicles 34:1-33
I have spent the past few blogs covering what happens when you do not follow God. Now I am looking at what happens when you do. This is the story of Josiah. He was of the line of David. Many Kings of that line had preceded him. They had allowed Baal altars to be built and Asherah poles with idols and images. They allowed sacrifices on the altars and worshipped idols. Josiah came to the throne at the age of 8. Initially, he would not have and much authority to rule, but by the age of 16 he began to seek God. Once his had developed a great faith in God and was old enough to make his own decisions, he had the Baal altars and Asherah poles destroyed. To desecrate the altars, he burned the bones of their priests on the altars. The idols were ground into powder and that was scattered over the graves of those who had worshipped these false gods.
Josiah then turned his attention to the temple of God. He sent out men to repair and purify it. During this process the book of the covenant was found and read out to Josiah. He was very distressed when he heard the words of the covenant and he tore his robes as a sign of that distress. He sent his men to speak to a prophetess of God who relayed the message that what God had said in the covenant book would be Judah’s punishment was about to befall Judah. However, as Josiah had shown such distress at the events and humbled himself before God, God would delay the punishment until after Josiah was dead.
Josiah called all the people together. He had the covenant read out and pledged allegiance to it. He then commanded the people to do the same. For as long as he lived, he followed God faithfully and the people did the same.
After his death, Josiah’s successors did evil in the eyes of God. So Josiah was the last of the Davidic Kings who followed God as David had done.
It is notable that Josiah did not automatically follow the evil path of his predecessors. He chose instead to follow God.
His first step was to seek God.
Once he had established a relationship with God and learned about Him, he then acted to remove the Baal and Asherah worship from Judah.
After he had removed the false gods, Josiah set about consecrating the temple so the people could worship God there. He repaired the temple and in the process found the book of the covenant.
Once Josiah became aware of the covenant, he humbled himself before God and expressed his distress at the breaching of the covenant. If you read through chapter 33 you will see Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh, although he did evil, also humbled himself before God at a desperate point in his reign. God valued his action. It is noted by the chronicler that Manasseh’s son Amon did not humble himself before God. This lack of humility increased his guilt. It can be seen that being humble before God is an important aspect of following Him.
Josiah continued to follow God by pledging his commitment to the covenant and expecting his subjects to do the same. He led the people and they remained loyal to God during his reign.
Josiah’s story teaches us we must make a choice to follow God. First we must seek God and establish a relationship with Him. We must then act on his promptings to remove things from our lives that we have idolised. We must have a respect for God and His ways and be distressed at breaches of that relationship. A significant part of our relationship with God is to be humility, not thinking ourselves better than others and not thinking we are entitled to get things from God. Instead we are to accompany our humility with gratitude for all God has done for us. Finally we are to remain loyal to God and, by our example, influence others to do the same. And when we inevitably fail to do those actions? We are to humble ourselves before God in penitence and humbly accept His forgiveness.



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