December 22, 2021

December 22, 2021

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
December 22, 2021

Psalm 119

This psalm is something of a love poem. The word love pops up fifteen times or so. The focus is upon God’s Word. It is a love poem with respect to his love for the word of God. You can see that in verse 47, “For I find my delight in your commandments which I love.” Verse 48, “I will lift up my hands toward your commandments which I love and I will meditate on your statutes.” Verse 167, “My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly.”

When you love God’s word you want to stay close to God’s word, you want to obey God’s word, you will meditate upon God’s word and you stay steadfast or loyal to God’s word. That comes through in the psalm again and again. Verse 5 for example, “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” To the man who wants to have a steadfastness, a constancy in terms of his life of obedience to the word of God. But he is also afraid that he can go astray from God’s word. Look at verse 10, “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” And he does go astray, look at what he says in verse 67, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” So he came back, true Christians always will. We can have spiritual lapses, we can go astray like sheep go astray.

He also learned some lessons. Notice what he said in verse 71, he is even thankful for his affliction. That affliction was used to bring him back, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”

One of the reasons why God brings trials and afflictions into our lives, is to make us more acquainted with our Bibles; to learn them, to love them even more. Trials are not meant to drive us away from God or from our Bibles, but bring us back or help us to learn to love our Bibles even more.

I am sure for many of us in the last two years as you talk to person after person they would say these last two years have been difficult years. COVID19 brought significant disruption to our lives: schools, families, churches. It had an impact on our emotions: fear, anxiety. God uses affliction to teach us, to help us, to see his truth more clearly. C.S. Lewis said, “God uses suffering as a megaphone to get our attention, to hold our conscience, to bring us back in line with his word.” I hope that you can say that of COVID19, that it has given you a greater understanding of your Bible; a greater love for the scriptures.

There are three truths that were impressed upon my mind in terms of COVID19:

1) A greater appreciation for the sovereignty of God. COVID19 reminded us that we are not in control, we are not even in control of a small little virus. The only person who is in control of everything, down to a virus, disease, accident, hurricanes, storms, is God of the Bible. He uses all of these things for our good. That is what is so amazing, Romans 8:28, even for our good. The most difficult things in life God uses for our good. So God is in control, absolutely. I hope you were impressed upon that as you see everything out of control, Godly control.

2) The vital importance of the church. God made us social creatures and also worship creatures and most of those things were held at bay; not completely cut off but they were limited. How many of those
“one another” commandments could we implement or put into practice because of COVID19? I wonder how many Christians declined spiritually because of COVID19. They went astray. I trust we can look back and say that I learned from this affliction, it was good for me to have been afflicted. We learn that we need one another, sanctification is a community project. Dr. Packer says, “We realize how vital the corporate means of grace are for our spiritual help and vitality.”

3) It made me more aware of the devil. We don’t give enough credit to the devil. When we see the false isms of the world in which we live; whether it is communism, Marxism, materialism, narcissism, post modernism, or relativism. John tells us that, “the whole world is in the power of the evil one.” That’s strong language. Clear from the book of Job the devil goes after the saints, he goes after the people of God in a very focused way, he is attacking Job. We see him attacking Paul the apostle by that thorn in the flesh, he calls it a messenger of Satan. We see him at work in terms of attacking God’s people. Paul could say of his missionary endeavors, “the devil hindered me,” 1 Thessalonians 2. That is strong language. Brethren we are naïve if we are not thinking continually about the devil. I would rather not be thinking about him every day but we have to realize he is at work. When you see millions of babies getting slaughtered; when you see lives getting propagated; when you see fights and conflicts in churches and schisms, don’t forget the devil.

The Bible has three clear warnings about the devil. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2, “Do not be ignorant of his devices or his stratagems. Don’t be ignorant of how he operates.” 1 Peter 5 says, “He goes around like a prowling lion seeking whom he may devour.” Ephesians 6, “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” When it comes to spiritual activity, a verse that shows where the devil is actively engaged when we expose ourselves to spiritual activity is the parable of the sower. When the word of God is preached the sower goes forth and sows the seed and the devil is likened to the birds of the air who comes and snatches away the word as soon as it is sown. The devil doesn’t want us hearing the word of God, he will distract us when we are sitting under the word of God, he doesn’t want us praying. William Gurnall, the Puritan, has written a 600 page exposition on Ephesians 6 on putting on the whole armor of God. He says, “Satan will keep you from prayer by many objections; many discouragements he will throw in the way of this duty.”

Why do we find prayer so difficult? I realize that we cannot blame it all on the devil, some of it is our own remaining sin. But we can’t forget the devil, he doesn’t want us to pray. If you have come to prayer meeting tonight you have won a battle. We all can get discouraged, we have negative thoughts, and physical tiredness can play into the whole matter of not praying. We are Christian soldiers and that means that we must keep on praying, it is the mark of a good Christian soldier.