Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #300 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalm 119:57-96 today and our focus is on Does God Use Terrible Things and Terrible People To Draw Us Closer to Him? Does God Cause Bad Things to Happen To Us??? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
It is fascinating to me how many ways the Psalmist in Psalm 119 refers to different parts of God’s Word, for instance:
54 Your statutes are the theme of my song
during my earthly life.
55 Lord, I remember your name in the night,
and I obey your instruction.
56 This is my practice:
I obey your precepts.
57 The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep your words.
In just those four verse, the Psalmist uses statutes, then instruction, then precepts, then words – all referring to various parts of the Word of God. There are others here too: decrees, commands, judgments, promises, and ordinances. What are the differences between all of them? Well, I am sure there are differences – God’s promises are things like, ““I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5, and His commands are more like, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have,” also Hebrews 13:5. But we don’t need to spend a lot of time today parsing the difference between an ordinance and a command, or a decree and a judgment – the whole point of what Psalm 119 is teaching us is that we should feast on God’s Word and follow it wholeheartedly. Why? Well, we have dozens of reasons in Psalm 119, including:
Psalm 119:72 Instruction from your lips is better for me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Psalm 119:93 I will never forget your precepts,
for you have given me life through them.
Psalm 119:98 Your command makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is always with me.
All of these benefits, and many, many more come when we devote ourselves to feasting on God’s Word and following it. To miss this is to miss the point of the longest chapter in the Bible, as the first two verses of our Psalm remind us:
How happy are those whose way is blameless,
who walk according to the Lord’s instruction!
2 Happy are those who keep his decrees
and seek him with all their heart. Psalm 119:1-2
Today in perusing social media, I noticed a friend of mine, a missionary and mother to many orphans in India, posted a wonderfully convicting quote from Brother Yun, a Chinese Christian house church leader who endured frequent persecution and arrest from the Chinese government as he sought to make disciples and evangelize. Brother Yun’s quote was, and I believe this is a paraphrase:
As you serve the Lord and He begins to use you, be careful not to turn your ministry into an idol. Keep your heart soft before the Lord and don’t get so busy that you lose perspective. This happened to me on several occasions…..but the Lord helped me repent by giving me time in prison
As a pastor…ouch. We can indeed turn ministry into idolatry, but the part of the quote I want to focus on is that last part – how God might help us repent of something by giving us time in prison. Consider what that meant for Brother Yun’s life – imprisoned by a corrupt Chinese government, Yun saw this as God’s Providence and the means for him to repent…this is fascinating, and not at all the kind of teaching that you are likely to encounter in your local prosperity focused megachurch. But…can you find such teaching in the Bible? Could God cause and/or allow bad things to happen to us to bring us closer to Him, and save us from ourselves or our sinfulness? You better believe He does! For instance:
This is my comfort in my affliction:
Your promise has given me life. Psalm 119:50
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word. Psalm 119:67
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I could learn your statutes. Psalm 119:71
I know, Lord, that your judgments are just
and that you have afflicted me fairly. Psalm 119:75
Notice the progression: The Psalmist is going through a bad affliction, but is receiving life through God’s Word (vs. 50) Whatever affliction the Psalmist suffered through caused Him to KEEP God’s Word, according to verse 67. In verse 71, he goes so far to say it was GOOD for him to be afflicted so that he could better learn to keep God’s statutes. How often can we say it was GOOD to go through a hard affliction? Then, in verse 75, we get to a shocker: whatever hard affliction the Psalmist is going through has come DIRECTLY from GOD! Not from Satan. Not from wicked people or bad guys….but this guy was receiving affliction – a hard affliction – directly from GOD! Further, this affliction was so hard, it would have killed him, IF he had not taken delight in God’s Word, “If your instruction had not been my delight,
I would have died in my affliction.” Psalm 119:92
Is this possible – could GOD Himself send something bad and painful our way?? He certainly did in Psalm 119, and other places in the Old Testament. But surely, He would never do such a thing to us, would He – we are living in a NEW TESTAMENT era – God wouldn’t send affliction on us, would He? And, here we are reminded of the Words of Paul the apostle, one of the most obedient and mature Christians who have ever lived. God sent him affliction in the form of a messenger of Satan! Don’t believe me? Well…here it is:
Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. 8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2nd Corinthians 12:7-10
What is our conclusion? Our God and Father, who works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) will indeed not just allow, but SEND afflictions our way from time to time to draw us close to Him, to discipline us (see Hebrews 12 ) and to work GOOD in our lives. Just like a football coach who puts his team through hard practices, difficult drills and tough workouts – but infinitely more wise and caring – God puts His sons and daughters through difficult trials and painful afflictions in order to do His great and good work in us. How do we respond? Back to the guy that was afflicted by a messenger of Satan:
16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18
Don’t give up and entrust yourself to the infinitely good and loving wisdom of our God and Father who disciplines us like sons and loves us more than we know.
Bible Memory passage for the month of October: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
The Bible 2021 Podcast Is a ministry of Valley Baptist Church A Baptist Church in North Salinas, California.
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