Posted By Nan

Psalm 119:161–168

As we come towards the end of this Psalm, the psalmist reminds himself of how much he loves God and how much he follows Him. He speaks of the way he can rejoice because he has God to follow and God will help him. I find these verses so inspiring.

I remember a terrible time in my life when a woman I thought was my friend, a fellow Christian from whom I expected better behaviour, started making up terrible stories about me and telling the other women from my fellowship group. This took place over a period of five years. During this time I could not understand why these women avoided me. Why there were nasty comments made in my hearing. Why no-one would offer to help me with my ever increasing brood of babies despite my willingness to help the other women. Finally, a non-Christian friend of mine who knew this woman, told me what she had been doing. I was so hurt and betrayed about what had been said. Terrible things. None of it true. To make matters worse, another supposed friend told these lies to everyone she worked with, all the other Christians from other churches she knew. I did not know everything she had said, only some of it. My name was dirt amongst the Christians of this small community. Never once did anyone come to me to find out if what this woman was saying was true. They were so keen to believe the lies and ostracise me.

I remember leaving my non-Christian friend and crying before God. I was shattered by the terrible, unjust betrayal. God reminded me that He had told me three years earlier to leave my friends because they were no good for me. But I had not done that. I told myself I must not be hearing God because I couldn’t have no Christian friends. But I could. Faith in God does not rely on having Christian friends. Faith in God relies on what this psalmist was doing.

The psalmist loved God. He loved hearing from God. He loved studying God’s word. His heart trembled with joy and awe at God’s word. He rejoiced in God’s word and instruction. He loved the Godly way of living. He never stopped praising God for His greatness. And God filled him with peace. He promised him salvation. He knew the psalmist and cared about all the psalmist’s worries. All his ways were known to God.

What a beautiful promise. All my ways are known to God. All your ways are known to God. What comfort that brings.

I survived the terrible slander. I never had anything more to do with those women who were not following God as He intended them to. God moved my little family to Europe, then back to Australia to another State. God has kept me away from other Christians during that time. Every time we went to join a church, God took us away from it. I have learned to be like the psalmist, to relate to God one to one. To allow God to know me and to learn more and more about God. I have learned to read the Bible and spend time in conversation with God. I have learned that following God does not necessarily involve church attendance. I have some Christian friends, and I have non-Christian friends. All are sent by God, all have something to teach me and all are a blessing from God. I have learned to rely on myself for my relationship with God. And I have grown so much in the more than 20 years since those terrible events.

Reading these verses is such a beautiful encouragement and blessing. May God bless you through your reading of these verses as well.

 
Posted By Nan

Psalm 119: 153 – 160
The Psalmist in these verses voices the predicament many of us find ourselves in at times. We are faithful to God. Maybe we are as devoted to Him as the Psalmist. But we strive to put Jesus first and foremost in our lives. We strive to follow God. We strive to live Godly lives. Yet here are those who laugh at the thought of faith in God. Those who are unjust to others. Those who are greedy worshippers of money and possessions. But those people are still doing well! How can that be? The psalmist is reminding God of how good and faithful he has been. Yet he is suffering at the hands of these people and they are still doing well. Why doesn’t God send trouble to them so they can be humbled and turn to God? Why is the psalmist still suffering?
The truth is, those who hate God and plan evil do well in life. Sometimes we see them suffer, but mostly we do not see that. It looks like we are the ones suffering while those who hate God get away with it. So how is that fair?
God did not promise fair. When I see these verses I am reminded of my own life. With a disabled daughter I am at the mercy of the government and their insistence a young woman who is incapable of working should seek work or lose her disability pension. I have appointments with a job agency, appointments with a psychologist, appointments with a dietitian, appointments with a doctor, and myriad appointments related to meeting her health and emotional needs. Every week there is at least one appointment, usually more. I cannot work regular hours because of these appointments. More than once I have been like the psalmist, complaining that I am being given a hard time while those who impose this unfairness on her and others live wonderful lives. I pray and wonder why God doesn’t reward my faithfulness. But why should He? We are faithful to God because He is God, not for any reward we may receive. So what should I be doing? The same as the psalmist. Love God, praise Him for everything. Ask for help to endure hardship but be grateful for His help and for who He is DESPITE the hardship. How other people are going in life is not our business. God gives us what He gives us. Pray for the faith to accept that and the strength to cope with what comes your way. Never forget God owes you nothing. Never forget God always has your best in mind. Never forget He has a plan. Never forget He suffers with you. Never forget God.
 

 
Posted By Nan

Psalm 119:145 – 152
Last blog I wrote about how my faith journey looks unlike that of other people. I wrote about how I have learned the different faith journeys we travel on and how much western Christianity, the modern day church, has forgotten about spirituality. It struck me later, as I thought about that blog, that the big thing the modern day church has done is to take the spirit out of God, but God is spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and truth (John 4:24). We need to be careful to ensure the truth we worship is the true truth, not something watered down by cultural pressures. Our faith should be based on us loving and seeking God with all our hearts. It should be based on calling God with all our hearts. It should involve being committed to spending time seeking God, even when it is inconvenient. It should involve a personal relationship between you and God, not via some intermediary. True seeking is not formularised prayers. It does not use prescribed phrases and specific orders. This is a conversation with someone you know well. Yes He is Almighty God, but He is still in an intimate personal relationship with you. Yes you will give Him respect and express awe in your conversations with Him, but they will still be personal. Just as you do not speak to friends with formulaic prescribed phrases, you do not speak to God that way either.
God does not expect your words to be flowery, or varied. He is okay with the same prayer repeated if that is what you need to pray. He loves you and loves spending time with you and He knows you benefit from spending time with Him.
So may your faith journey look like that.
 

 
Posted By Nan

When I look at the faith journeys described the people who regularly attend church, I sometimes think my journey is not following God. Because my journey looks so unlike the journeys described by people who regularly attend church.
I have prayed long and hard about that. God’s answer? To send me a mentor whose spiritual walk with God does not rely on the doctrines of churches but who instead seeks God, just as the psalmist here is doing. I have learned a lot about early Christians who sought solitude in order to know God more. Much of what they learned is not part of mainstream Christianity and is largely ignored. But these people had deep walks with God and their faith could not be questioned.
So why is their experience so divorced from what is considered acceptable today by mainstream churches? Again I sought the answer. The answer? The enlightenment and the reformation.
The enlightenment was a movement that set out to put Science ahead of faith in God. All of Western Europe embraced the enlightenment, even the Christian churches. But one of the tenets of the enlightenment is to replace God with science. As a result of the enlightenment, many turned away from faith in God and openly proclaimed their lack of belief in God.
So why has the mainstream church of today so happily embraced enlightenment thinking? Much of the depth of spirituality that existed in the faith of Jesus’ time and prior to the enlightenment has been lost by the western church. Some of this was as a result of the reformation. The early Christian writers, the ones who sought solitude to get to know God better, worked under the then church. This was of course the Catholic Church. When Protestantism emerged from the reformation, much of the teaching of the Catholic Church was rejected. And this mean the loss of the depth of spiritual knowledge of God that had been learned by these early faithful.
This has led to a church that has rejected much of the spirituality of God. Much of the spirituality that existed at the time of Jesus. Much of the spirituality that those who had a closer walk with God’s creation had learned during their years of solitude. This is where the spirituality of so many faithful followers has been lost. This is where the modern church is losing people to other religions which have not thrown out the spirituality of God. This is where many lose the depth of faith that only a few now find. But it is possible in modern Christianity to have that depth of faith. You only have to read the writings of C.S. Lewis to see a man who understood the richness of the spiritual. If you read the writings of John O’Donohue you also glimpse the richness of the spiritual.
One really important way to witness to others, especially those who use the symbolism from other religions, is to show them the spiritual depths of following God. For those who want the magic of the spiritual, there is nothing as amazing and wonderful as the true spirituality of following God. But this is not following God to a religious doctrine. This is true faith in God.
When I was a small child, I read a story by an Aboriginal man about how easy it was for Aboriginal people to accept Christianity because they understood the spirituality of Christianity. Because the dreaming is about the spiritual and they found God there and truly worship Him there. It is time we truly consider God and the spiritual realm. Consider it not in the narrow constricts of an enlightenment and reformation mentality, but in the true spiritual depths of our God. Because He is righteous and trustworthy and He gives us understanding so we may live (v137-8,144).
 

 
Posted By Nan

Psalm 119:129-136
The poetry of the psalmist and his awe at God are so inspiring.
First he proclaims how wonderful God’s word is. It far exceeds anything conceived by man. That is so amazing. The psalmist is so in awe. So overwhelmed with joy at God’s word. The response is for the psalmist to keep God’s word. He hears, receives, loves and obeys God’s mighty word.
He celebrates how the unfolding of God’s word gives light, understanding and comprehension to the simple. No one has to study to understand God’s word. He will give that understanding. It is the simple in faith who have the deepest understanding because they are the most open to learning. And the impact of that understanding is for the psalmist to pant with longing to obey God’s command.
The reality of life is the everyday things the psalmist must do. He wants to do them in the light of God’s commands, but the day is not easy and distractions are many. He begs God to have mercy on him and those who love God’s name. As he walks through his day he asks God to direct his footsteps according to God’s word. He begs God to open his eyes so that no sin will rule over him. He also asks for God to redeem him from the oppression of his fellow man. He acknowledges that we have a life to live and that involves doing the mundane. But instead of segregating God from the mundane, the Psalmist invites God into the mundane to guide his steps and keep him from sin and oppression.
The psalmist wants nothing more than to keep hearing, receiving, loving and obeying God. He asks God for blessing. May God’s face shine on him with pleasure. He asks God to teach him how to follow him.
As he contemplates God’s greatness and his gratitude at God’s presence supporting him on his walk, he feels such sorrow because of all those who do not respect or keep God’s commands. These are the ones who choose not to hear, receive, love or obey God. The biggest sadness in this is what those people are missing out on.
So as we follow that narrow way, may we draw inspiration from the words of the psalmist here and his prayer for support. May we never forget that God is God of everything, even the mundane. May we never forget that God does not expect us to struggle alone. He is generous in his support of us. He wants us to succeed. He is not harsh and judgemental. Instead He is loving and supportive and never hesitates to offer encouragement. Never forget that the light of His approval shines on us powerfully. He loves those who love Him and seek to follow Him. He wants us to receive all the blessings He has in store for us. So lean on Him as you walk the narrow way. Never forget His love for you.
 

 

 

 
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Nan
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