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      Psalms 119:1-8                                         Sep. 5 - Oct. 2, 2019
      1 ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
      2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
      3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
      4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
      5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
      6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
      7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
      8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
      The following verse stood out to me...
      5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
      At first glance it seemed to me this person’s soul is poured out with intense desire to have God’s direction in keeping His Word.
      I made a small wood fire in our backyard for my granddaughter, Julia, since she would be staying overnight with us. My wife and Julia stayed outside at the fire for about half an hour. Then, I found myself alone to watch the fire die out on a particularly lovely evening. So I took my verse from above and began to repeat it for memorization. As I repeated the verse, I tried to contemplate the words and apply them to what I was seeing around me. 
      The moon and stars were out now peering through the scattered clouds above.
      [Genesis 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. Genesis 1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, Genesis 1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.]
      Thought 1         
      The moon has stayed his course since the day God created him, also the stars, obeying the statutes directed by God from the first day they were created. Can you imagine God’s direction to the Moon and stars, “moon you will have a path through the sky above the earth, stars you will occupy the firmament above the moon and be clearly visible in the cloudless night sky.”
      Then, the trees, grass, even the air we breathe obey the statues God gave them from the beginning. None of these creations have souls, none have hearts, none have intelligence, but they all observe God’s statutes, His instructions for their limited time on earth.
      Thought 2
      What if we were like the moon, stars, trees, grass, or the other creations which have no soul? We would be directed to keep God’s statutes without choosing to keep them. This is not the image of God, there would be no dominion over other creatures, or over the earth. We would not be capable of experiencing the joy and peace of learning the love of God
      Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
      Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
      Thought 3 (October 2, 2019)
      Is the psalmist pleading God to force God’s statutes to become the man’s ways? No, he is speaking of his own failure in keeping God’s statutes and his desire to keep them, very much like Paul in Romans 7:14-25.
      God doesn’t work through force to turn men from their ways that they would desire His statutes or desire God Himself. Men must reject (repent) put aside his own ways and voluntarily seek God and His statutes.

A Christian Response to Trouble from All Sides

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There are many things we want in abundance. Choices. Opportunities. Results. 

But what the first-century church had in abundance was trials. The apostle Peter said they were “in heaviness through manifold temptations” (1 Peter 1:6). They had trouble coming at them from every angle. 

The modern American church is not used to this. Sure, we’ve had trouble in the past. But we’re in a season right now when trouble is coming at us from every side. 

There’s a worldwide pandemic that has drastically altered our ministry schedules and has repeatedly—almost weekly—forced us to adapt. There is civil unrest. There is economic upheaval, including many being laid off from their jobs. There is fear and concern about education options for this school year. And all this is on top of the personal trials many are already going through. 

Sometimes it all begins to play on people’s minds. Sometimes even for pastors it’s hard to plan for ministry. Sometimes any of us can wonder if pressing forward for Christ during such seasons is worth the effort. 

But isn’t where we find ourselves now the way Jesus described the Christian life would be? Too often, we’re hoping for a walk through the park instead of committing to press toward the mark. God never promised that the Christian life or spiritual leadership would be a routine, easy path every day.


Too often, we’re hoping for a walk through the park instead of committing to press toward the mark.
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What God does offer, however, is a resource the world knows nothing of—Christian hope. While many Christians are generally aware of and perhaps even talk about the reality of hope, many struggle to hold onto it or live in light of it. 

So how do we reach out and grasp this hope? How does it become something so real that it characterizes our lives? How do you live with this hope when you are in a season of heaviness through manifold temptations? First Peter 1:13–16 gives us at least three answers:

Fasten Your Mind on Truth 

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…—1 Peter 1:13

The word gird means “to gather up.” This is a time for serious, spiritual thinking. Pull your thoughts together to the dominant truths of God. 

This is not a time for imagining life outside of God’s revealed will to you. It’s not a time to think unscriptural, wandering thoughts that question God’s goodness or fantasize an easier path. This is the time to gird up our minds and maintain a biblical thought process.

If our minds are not saturated with God’s Word and filled with gospel truth, we will be overcome with fear or frustration.


If our minds are not saturated with God’s Word and filled with gospel truth, we will be overcome with fear or frustration.
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Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;—2 Corinthians 10:5

Fix Your Gaze on Christ’s Coming

…and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;—1 Peter 1:13

The eminent return of Christ is the blessed hope of every child of God. 

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;—Titus 2:13

We see the world in turmoil, but God sees His plan unfolding. And in the midst of all the turmoil, God tells us to look for His coming—to fix our gaze on the heavens and the future glory in Christ.


We see the world in turmoil, but God sees His plan unfolding.
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Missionary Hudson Taylor described the importance of this truth to our work for Christ: 

You will often read in missionary reports that the people have turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, but not in one out of ten do you hear anything about their waiting for His Son from heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:9). I believe that the ignorance of the native Christians generally of the fact that Christ is coming again…is one reason for the selfishness and worldliness to be found…. Well do I remember the effect, when God was pleased to open my own heart to this great truth that the Lord Jesus was coming again, and that He might come at any time…. I do not know of any truth that has been a greater blessing to me through life than this.⁠1

Remembering Christ’s coming frees us from the belief that the trials of this world will swallow up our future. Even if our current difficulties were to last for a lifetime, they are only temporary. When our gaze is fixed on Christ’s future coming, our hope is anchored to the most glorious promises of all. 

Fashion Your Life after God

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.—1 Peter 1:14–16

Christian hope is seen in Christian living. When this world is all there is, living by our “former lusts,” or sin nature, makes sense…and holy living seems pointless. But when we remember that we have been freed from sin and called by a holy God, everything changes. 


Christian hope is seen in Christian living.
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I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.—Galatians 2:20

We are not to continue to conform our life to the old sinful life of the old nature, but we are to, through the power of the Holy Spirit, conform our life to our holy God. 

What Hope Looks Like 

Christian hope isn’t an unwillingness to face reality. It isn’t someone who is optimistic because his head is in the clouds. 

Christian hope is experienced in—perhaps even strengthened by—times of “heaviness through manifold temptations.” We can live with this hope when we are facing trouble from every side. 

But experiencing the help of this hope does require some decisions on our part.

  • Fasten your mind on truth.
  • Fix your gaze on Christ’s coming.
  • Fashion your life after God. 

Are you experiencing the hope God gives? If not, read 1 Peter 1. Focus your mind on truth, your gaze on Christ, and your obedience on God’s Word.

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1 Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The Growth of a Work of God (London: Morgan & Scott, 1918), 407–408.

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