What discourages you? We all become discouraged from time to time. Our circumstance may be hard. Our health may be failing. Our day may not being going as we planned. All of these things can discourage us. But how frequently are you discouraged because the wicked are prospering and evil is increasing? Where do you turn when discouragement like this sets in?
When we are discouraged by various trials we can and should look to God. Jesus told us in John 16:33 that we would have trouble in this world. In the latter part of this verse he says:
"But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Looking to God's Word when we are discouraged puts our situation in perspective and enables us to see His unchanging faithfulness. Looking to God's Word also develops His character in us. We begin to see His righteousness despite our difficulties. We begin to see how trustworthy His Word truly is. We need to develop the habit of opening our Bibles when we are discouraged by our circumstances or when we see the wicked prosper and the evil go unpunished. Turning to God in these times keeps us grounded in His character, in who He is. When we consider His nature we remember Him to be the Righteous Judge. Speaking to the Romans about this Paul said:
"Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, 'I will take revenge. I will pay them back,' says the Lord." Romans 12:19
The Scripture Paul quoted is found in Deuteronomy 32:35. God is speaking to the people of Israel about their enemies:
"The Lord says, 'Am I not storing these things up, sealing them away in My treasury? I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.'"
Knowing God's character is righteous and knowing He tells us in His Word He will repay the evil gives us hope when wickedness prevails. Reading the whole of Scripture enables us to see God's faithfulness. Not one thing He said to the Israelites did not happen. We hear God speak once again in Isaiah 48:3:
"I foretold the former things long ago, My mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass."
God's Word accurately reveals His character. We consider a person faithful when they do what they say they will do; their words and their actions match up. Throughout Scripture we see God's Words and His actions match up. Knowing God is faithful opens our minds to His sovereignty. When we consider His works throughout history we see He is in charge of all things. Remembering God's unchanging character and the infallibility of His Word in our times of discouragement brings us comfort. We can look on the wicked as David did; with indignation.
The KJV translates Psalm 119:139:
"My zeal has consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words."
Zeal implies action and energy. dictionary.com defines zeal as: "enthusiastic diligence". When I think of zeal my mind turns to Jesus in the temple before Passover. His zeal caused Him to drive out those who were selling sacrificial animals for profit. Jesus was enthusiastic in His diligence to keep His Father's house pure. When we see God's Word so utterly and unashamedly disregarded by the wicked of the world, we should be overwhelmed with the same holy anger and zeal that consumed Jesus and David.
Is this your attitude when others shun God's Word or unashamedly live counter to His Word?
To forget God's Word implies disobedience. Likewise, to remember God's Word implies obedience. When others forget God's Word we should be zealous in our remembrance of His Word. We need to be living and active in our study and application of God's living and active Word!
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:137-139 is:
God's Word is perfectly trustworthy.
Where do you run when you're discouraged? How do you react when you see the wicked prospering and the evil going unpunished? How zealous are you to obey God's Word despite what others are doing? Read the following verses. Notice the contrast in each. Write down the fate of the wicked and the righteous.
Proverbs 11:21; Proverbs 16:3-7; Proverbs 28:20
We can trust God's Word because we can trust God. God is holy and pure; therefore we know His Word is holy and pure. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
"All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the servant of God is equipped for every good work."
God is the Author of all Scripture. God is pure, righteous, and holy. Therefore we can know that God's Word is pure, righteous, and holy. When the source is pure the product is pure. God's Word came directly from His Spirit to the men who wrote it down. God is the Source.
God's Word is not only pure but it is a purifier. Jesus said:
"You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." John 15:3
God's Word points out our sin and the places we fall short. Instead of dreading this about His Word, a child of God can love His Word because it also shows us how to escape our sin and be set free. Like David we not only notice the sin of others, but more importantly we see our own sin. Seeing the wickedness of our own heart creates a low opinion of ourselves. Not a false humility but the realization of just how easy it is for us to slip into sin. Like the English evangelist, John Bradford, we cry out "But for the grace of God, there go I!" Paul tells us in Romans 3:23:
"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."
We all have the propensity to sin at any given moment. This fact alone should cause us never to forget God's Word but to remain faithful in our study of it, allowing it to refine us; testing us through the fire of temptation so that all the dross is burned away. We will not be made completely pure until we reach heaven's shores. However, daily reading and studying of God's Word sanctifies us, setting us apart for God's work. In His high priestly prayer Jesus prayed:
"Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth."
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:140-141 is:
God's Word is perfectly tested and true.
What is one way God's Word has served as a refining fire for you? Where is one area you need this refining to take place? Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you overcome. Give Him permission to do whatever it takes to burn this sin from your life.
Though Jesus knew what truth is and even proclaimed Himself to be the Truth; Pilate posed the question many still ask today:
"What is truth?" John 18:38
In Psalm 119:142 David declares:
"Your righteousness is everlasting and Your law is true."
David knew God's Word is truth. Jesus knew. Do you? Far too many Christians today view God's Word as a good story but not all true. Many do not believe in the reality of hell or that a God of love would punish someone for all eternity. Truth is relative. You have your truth. They have their truth. I have my truth. And as long as we tolerate each others truth, not causing friction, we're all ok and everybody goes to heaven. Thomas Hobbes is quoted as saying, "Hell is truth seen too late." As children of God either we believe the whole of Scripture or we don't. Scripture says God will punish sin. Scripture says those who do not believe will be thrown into the lake of fire. We cannot pick and choose what parts of Scripture we believe are true and which aren't.
Realizing God's Word as perfect truth causes us to feel both anguish and delight as we read and study the Bible. We experience anguish because our sin is revealed. We experience delight knowing because of our faith in Jesus our sin is forgiven. We experience anguish because we know Satan battles against us. We experience delight knowing God fights for us. We experience anguish because our righteousness is like filthy rags to God. We experience delight knowing we are covered with Christ's righteousness. As we study God's Word our understanding of it opens up and His Spirit brings life to our weary souls.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:142-144 is:
God's Word is perfectly righteous and right.
What exactly do you believe about the Bible? Write out what you would say to someone arguing with you about the truth of God's Word. Like Paul admonished Timothy, we must be ready in season and out, to give an account of the hope we have in Christ.
Gathered manna from Tsadhe (Psalm 119:137-144) is:
God's Word is perfectly pure.
Knowing what we believe and why we believe it is important if we are to carry out Jesus' great commission of making disciples. Why would anyone want to follow someone who doesn't clearly understand the why behind their beliefs?
Like David we must learn to cry out to God for understanding of His Word. We must also be willing to cry out for God's help to obey Him. In Psalm 119:145-152 we see the progression of David's prayer life. We see how he prayed in verse 145: "I call with all my heart..." Wholehearted prayers are prayers God hears. When we pray with our whole heart we aren't preoccupied with the days agenda; nor are we thinking of what we're going to say to God. Wholehearted prayers sometimes have no words at all. Wholehearted prayers are guttural. These are the prayers Paul talked about when he said:
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Romans 8:26
These are the prayers that move God's heart. These are the prayers God hears. These are the prayers God answers. Frequent. Fervent. Fierce. Prayers pleading for His salvation; for rescue; for help; for wisdom; for strength. In verse 146 we see this is what David prayed for.
Hear me, Lord.
Save me, Lord.
Help me, Lord.
Strengthen me, Lord.
Short and sweet yet some of the most powerful of prayers. In praying these prayers we admit our need for God. Wholehearted prayers communicate our deepest needs to God and enable His Spirit to work in our lives.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:145-146 is:
Praying to God gives us strength to obey.
How often do you pray with your whole heart? What is one way you can approach your prayer time without distraction? What do you pray? When you pray are you simply giving God a to-do list or asking for His blessings on yours? How do you allow the Spirit to move during your prayer time...or do you? Set aside some time you can spend with God in prayer. Time without distraction. Time to simply sit and let Him lead the conversation. Write down the things you feel God speak to your heart during this time. Make these things the priority in your prayers this week.
Frequent prayers are what Paul called "praying without ceasing". When we pray without ceasing we pray morning, noon, and night, and all the moments in between. We see the when of David's prayer in verse 147:
"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in Your Word."
David didn't want to waste time. He rose with the dawn to spend as much time with God as possible before the pressures of the day began weighing down on him. How many of us say we don't have time to pray in the mornings yet hit the snooze button time and again for a few extra minutes sleep? We prefer slumber to supplication; rest to restoration. We say we don't have time for prayer yet we binge watch our favorite T.V. series for days on end. We prefer entertainment to entreaty; amusement to appeal. Wasting time on frivolous pursuits keeps us from frequent, fervent, fierce praying.
Jesus, who was God in the flesh, often rose early to pray.
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed." Mark 1:35
Frequent prayers keep us in constant contact with our Father. Jesus prayed frequent prayers. He prayed in the morning and He prayed through the night watches just like David.
"One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night in prayer." Luke 6:12
In Psalm 119:149 we learn this is how long David prayed:
"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises."
Frequent prayers open our hearts to God. Having a heart open to God means we no longer pray prayers of provision, instead we begin praying wholehearted prayers; the kinds of prayers God hears.
"Lord, You are the God who saves me; day and night I cry to You. May my prayer come before You; turn Your ear to my cry." Psalm 88:1-2
Frequent prayers turn our attention to God's presence. Instead of seeking God's hand, our prayers become fervent and we fiercely search for God's face. Fierce prayers call on God to act in His faithfulness. Fierce prayers call on God to be true to His character. Fierce prayers ask God to look on us according to His lovingkindness. Lovingkindness overlooks sin. Lovingkindness shows mercy. God hears our fervent prayers for His mercy.
Gathered Manna from Psalm 119:147-149 is:
Praying to God frequently and fervently, opens His ears to our prayers.
When do you pray? How often do you pray? How can you develop the habit of praying without ceasing? When have your prayers become fierce? For what were you fervently pleading with God? How have you seen frequent, fervent, fierce prayers open God's ears?
In Psalm 119:150 we see the result of David's frequent, fervent, and fierce prayers. He has become more sensitive to the schemes of evil. Having a fervent prayer life develops our spiritual senses and we become more attuned to the "spiritual forces of evil". Having a fervent prayer life develops our spiritual muscles and we become strong in the Lord to withstand the attacks of evil.
Having a fervent prayer life enables us to see the path to our rescue. In verse 151 David says:
"Yet You are near, Lord, and all Your commands are true."
David knew the path to rescue is drawing near to God in our times of adversity. James put it this way:
"So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he will turn and run away from you. Move your heart closer and closer to God, and He will come even closer to you. But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinners, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting. Feel the pain of your sin, be sorrowful and weep! Let your joking around be turned into mourning and your joy into deep humiliation. Be willing to be made low before the Lord and He will exalt you." James 4:7-10 TPT
Having a fervent prayer life changes our hearts, enabling us to surrender to God. A fervent prayer life provides us with the strength to stand up to the devil. A fervent prayer life draws us closer to God and in turn draws Him closer to us. As we spend time with God in fervent prayer we become more attuned to His Word. Our knowledge of His Word is deepened and we begin to understand it as true and right.
"For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does." Psalm 33:4
As we become more astute in our study of God's Word and our prayers become frequent, fervent, and fierce we begin to see God work through our prayers. Like David we have a witness, a testimony to proclaim about God. In Psalm 119:152 David declares:
"Long ago I learned from Your statutes that You established them to last forever."
As God's children we need to become life long students of His Word. Bible study should be part of our daily routine, just as sure as getting dressed in the morning. We can never learn all there is to know from God's Word because it is living and active. God's Spirit speaks a fresh insight to us each time we pick it up if we have entered into it with fervent prayer. As we become life long learners and fervent pray-ers, God uses all that comes into our lives for our good and as a witness to Him. As He told Paul on the Damascus road so He tells us:
"'The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from His mouth. You will be His witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.'" Acts 22:14-15
Being a life long learner of God's Word and a fervent pray-er releases God's power in our lives and He turns our mess into a message for Him. He makes our test into our testimony for Him. We become disciples who take seriously Jesus' great commission:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Being a life long learner of God's Word and fervent pray-er puts us in the position to say to those coming behind us: "Follow me, as I follow Jesus." Our life becomes our witness.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:150-152 is:
Praying to God draws Him near and allows Him to work in our lives.
What type of prayer life do you have? How can you develop a fervent prayer life? List ways drawing near to God can help you develop a more fervent prayer life. Which of these can you begin today? In what ways has Bible study changed your heart? Where have you seen God work in your life as a result of your study of His Word and your fervent prayers? What is your witness for God?
Gathered manna from Qoph (Psalm 119:145-152) is:
Praying to God frequently, fervently, and fiercely places us in His will and enables us to become His witnesses.
Let's work on praying God's Word this week...frequently, fervently, fiercely.
Until next time,
God bless and keep you,
1. Read Psalm 119:137-152. Mark every reference to God's Word.
2. Prayerfully answer the questions in this lesson.
3. Read the following Scriptures and list the character trait of God His Word reveals.
2 Samuel 22:26-27; 1 John 5:20; Psalm 7:9; Psalm 25:10; Luke 6:36
4. Choose one of the prayers found in the following Scriptures and re-write it as your own.
Numbers 11:10-15; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; 2 Samuel 7:18-29; 1 Kings 8:23-53; 1 Chronicles 4:10; Habakkuk 1:1-5; Matthew 11:25; Acts 4:24-30; Revelation 5:12-13