Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Discovering the Joy of God’s Word

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God’s Word is eternal. It’s always true. It’s always relevant. It’s always right. It’s always pure. It’s always good. It’s always in style. It’s always.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, January 12.

Nancy has been leading us in a rich study through the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, in a series called, Revive Me According to Your Word.

And, Nancy, I think I speak for all our listeners when I say that we’ve gotten so much out of this study. There’s just so much to learn from this poetic chapter.

Nancy: Well, you’re so right, Leslie. When I was preparing these messages on Psalm 119, I felt like I was just barely scratching the surface of all the amazing, rich insights that this passage has to offer. I imagine myself perhaps going back some day and spending weeks and weeks mining the riches of Psalm 119.

In fact, I’ve continued in my own personal study and meditation on this passage since I first recorded it a couple of months ago, and I’m in the process of trying to memorize the entire psalm. That’s kind of my project for this year. I’m honestly not sure if I’m going to make it all the way through, but it’s been so worth the time and the effort that I’ve invested to this point.

And God is continuing to use this passage in a significant way in my own heart, and I know that our listeners have been getting a lot out of Psalm 119 as they’ve been reading it during our series called, Revive Me According to Your Word.

We’ve recorded these messages with an audience of women, and a number of days before they came together for this recording, we asked them to take time to read Psalm 119 to prepare their hearts for this series. So on that recording day, before I even began to teach, I asked the women what they had been getting from the passage as they had been reading it in advance.

I was so encouraged by what they shared, as were the other women in the room, and it was neat to see how God had been speaking to them through the pages of Scripture even before they heard me teach anything on it and giving them insight that they needed for specific areas of their lives.

So today we want to share some of what the women shared that day—some insights from women who had been reading and meditating on Psalm 119. I think what they have to say will encourage you to dive into this rich chapter for yourself and then to get into all of God’s Word and let it speak to you.

Let’s listen as women share how God was speaking to them through Psalm 119.

Woman 1: One of the verses is “Look on my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law” (v. 153). I was just sharing with Robin who I had just met this morning how different ones through Life Action Ministries had connected with me and that got me through a very, very tough time in my life.

God has been faithful. He did not answer the prayers the way I thought, but I’ve got to believe in the sovereignty of God that He is still working. My husband had walked out on us after thirty-two years of marriage, but God is faithful. We’ve seen Him do wonderful things. I am still praying that God will still reach my husband’s heart, my former husband’s heart, and I just trust in God’s sovereignty and how He works. I’ve got two kids that work with Life Action, so I usually come up and use this time to visit with them, too. So I get to hear the recordings and visit.

Woman 2: Psalm 119 always brings me back to a youth pastor that we had who lost his wife. During her dying days of cancer, she memorized Psalm 119.

Woman 3: Psalm 119 is my favorite, and my favorite verse in Psalm 119 is verse 68. Over the course of life, as I go through difficult times, I keep going back to that verse that just says that the Lord is good, and He does good. So no matter what I face, that’s my rock.

Nancy: I have to tell you about that verse. On the weekend of my twenty-first birthday, I was home with my family celebrating my birthday. Then I flew back that Saturday to Virginia where I was working at the time. When I landed in Virginia, having just left my parents hours earlier, I got a call from my mother that my dad had just had a heart attack and was instantly with the Lord, age fifty-three.

The Lord is so kind. This is the sweet thing about having God’s Word imbedded in your heart. That verse, Psalm 119, verse 68, is the first conscious thought that I had when I got that call: “God is good, and He does good.” Then there was just a whole flood of other thoughts, you know, and tears, and things to process. But in God’s providence, that verse: “God is good; You are good, and You do good,” was such a bedrock to my heart.

What’s interesting and sweet, as you think about parenting and teaching your children the Word and the ways of God, that was a concept—the sovereignty, the goodness, the providence of God—that my dad and mom had spent the first twenty-one years of my life building into my life. Then when that stalwart thing in my life, my dad, was gone with no warning, God was so kind to bring that truth that had been just drilled into me to make it so real and conscious at that moment.

So I’ve always loved that verse, too, and am just so thankful that, in the midst of loss, turmoil, pain, confusion, to be able to lift our eyes above the circumstances and say, “You are good, and You do good—You only do good.” And to know that somehow, though that didn’t seem good to me at that moment (my mom was forty years old now widowed with seven children ages eight - twenty), none of that seemed good. Losing your dad on the weekend of your twenty-first birthday—none of that seemed good.

But what a wonderful gift that is to give to your children—the Word of God. When they need it, which is all the time, they’re pointed to God and His ways and His goodness. So thanks for sharing that.

Woman 4: For me, I had the worst time getting all the way through Psalm 119. I told the ladies I had to start reading from the back because I knew the front so well of Psalm 119. But I was having trouble with knowing the concepts from the end. Verses 67 and 71, throughout my life, have been an incredible reminder to me that growth does come through pain. Quite often the best growth I have is when He allowed me to be afflicted.

And while I’m in it, I’m really having a hard time with that thought process. But every once in a while those verses would pop up again in my mind. I would be reminded that there is going to be a good that comes from that. So those two verses really have encouraged me.

Nancy: And for those who don’t have those two verses memorized, let me just read them to you. Verse 67: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your Word.”

And I have written in the margin of my Bible there, there’s a progression there. When we go astray or we wander from God’s ways, then God in His mercy will sometimes bring affliction into our lives. Now that’s not the only reason He brings affliction, but it is one reason. And the same way that when your children are going astray you maybe bring some affliction into their lives because you know they need some consequences for their choices.

And, again, not all suffering is consequences for sin, but sometimes it is. So we go astray. God allows us to be afflicted. And then the result is we keep His Word. It restores us to a place of obedience. We don’t wander anymore from His Word.

It’s the same concept in Hebrews chapter 12 that says God, as a good father, disciplines His children so that we can become partakers of His holiness. It says, “No discipline for the moment seems joyful—it’s painful—but it produces that peaceable fruit of righteousness when we’ve been trained by it” (v. 7 paraphrased).

Same concept as you see here in Psalm 119, verse 67: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray." The implication is then I was afflicted, and then now I keep Your Word; now I follow You; now I’m not going to wander away from You.

You have the picture of the shepherd there who is maybe disciplining that little wandering lamb so that it will stay close to the shepherd.

And then verse 71: “It is good for me that I was afflicted.”

That’s not a verse we really love, is it? It’s good for me. This is good for me. Well, you tell your children, “This is good for you.” But God tells us, “This is good for you.” And then the psalmist says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted,” why? “that I might learn your statutes.”

We learn obedience to God’s ways sometimes the hard way. Now, we don’t have to learn the hard way, but sometimes we do.

And then let me just add to those three verses, verse 75, which puts kind of a bow on that picture. “I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” In the affliction there’s the goodness, the faithfulness, the kindness, the mercy, the character of God.

Because we’re being afflicted, we feel like our world is falling apart. Whether it’s with a difficult marriage, as we’ve been hearing, or financial pressures or prodigal children or health issues—whatever these issues are, we can be assured that in the midst of it all, God is still faithful. He’s not just throwing us out there to suffer the pains and difficulties of life and leaving us alone. No, He is engaged with us in that suffering, in that hardship.

I know that “in faithfulness you have afflicted me” and then, oh, I can’t stop there (laughter), the next verse, verse 76: “Let your steadfast love comfort me.” And aren’t you glad that God brings comfort in the midst of affliction? He’s faithful, and He brings comfort. “Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.”

Woman 5: Actually, Psalm 119:11: “I have hidden  your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” was the very first verse I ever memorized. I know it really made me want to study God’s Word at the time. I was, like, “Well, I guess I’ll start by reading Psalm 119.” And then I saw how long it was, and I changed my mind. (laughter)

So I’ve actually been wanting to read it for a long time, and it’s just really been blessing me a lot.

Nancy: Great! Don’t you love seeing teens with a heart for the Word. Go! That’s great!

Woman 6: I’m Jenny Melvie. I’m here with my mom and Sue, my roommate. We go to school in Wheaton College in Illinois, and Sue and I were actually talking about this verse. What struck us the most was verse 9: “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying Your Word” (paraphrased). I just love how simple that is. How can we stay pure?—like physically and have pure minds and pure hearts—just by obeying His Word.

Nancy: Jenny, I’m so glad you shared that. As I’ve been thinking about that verse, I think it also reminds us how important it is to seek the Lord and purity starting as a young person. Some of us are older—we have some gray hair in here, and we have some younger people. I think those of us who are older would say to those of you who are younger, “We all wish we had had more of a heart to be pure and to seek the Lord—I’m seeing a lot of nodding heads—when we were younger.”

No matter how much you seek the Lord when you’re young, you’ll never regret that. And the time to start—it’s not ever too late—but the time to start is when you’re younger.

I heard recently about someone who was talking about a young woman who is a young adult. I asked how she was doing, and they said, “Well, she’s just . . . she’s not rejected the Lord, but she’s wanting to live her life now and enjoy life now and then get serious about spiritual things later.”

If you’ve lived any length of time, you know that that’s not the way to think. You want to seek the Lord now. You want to seek purity now. The patterns for your life and who you will be and what you will be when . . . As I tell the kids, "When you’re an old lady like me, those things are being determined now. Those things are being set now."

So it really encourages me to have you younger women with us and to have younger women listening to this program and women who are seeking the Lord. You’re setting a course; you’re laying a foundation that is going to be with you for all of your life. So just a word of affirmation to you younger women, even if no one else or few others in your generation or around you may be earnest about seeking the Lord, you do it anyway. God will really bless and honor that.

I think this psalm was probably writtenby David. I think he probably wrote it as a young man, expressing his heart to have a lifetime of seeking the Lord, not just a start down the road, but a start now as a younger man.

Susanna: That verse is very simple, and it’s very comforting. Then later on it shows us that God’s Word is eternal, and it really does last forever. So even it seems like the world has changed and society is different, and that doesn’t quite cut it anymore, we’re promised that it does.

Nancy: Great! Don’t miss what Susanna said there. That is so good, Susanna, about the eternal nature of God’s Word. Even when our culture tells us it’s not relevant, it’s not timely, it’s not fashionable, it’s not cool, it’s not true . . . Our culture just kind of scoffs at the Word of God, which, by the way, it’s not just our culture. There’s always been a culture that is set against God’s ways because they don’t want anybody to rule over them. They want to rule their own lives.

But to remember even when you are like the salmon swimming upstream against a culture that doesn’t embrace God’s Word, God’s Word is eternal. It’s always true. It’s always relevant. It’s always right. It’s always pure. It’s always good. It’s always in style. It’s always in style. And don’t let the world convince you otherwise. They are the ones who are seeing things from a skewed perspective sometimes. You can have confidence in the Word of God. No matter what everybody else thinks, God’s Word is eternal. It’s good news.

Woman 7: I’m ready to learn more about God’s truth versus what people necessarily think is truth, so untangling the lies that I’ve believed to be the truth. I really like verses 19 and 20, and then 169 through 176. I just feel like they speak a lot to where I’m at right now.

Woman 8: It’s just interesting to see how God in His wisdom and sovereignty orchestrates things because the particular Bible I’m reading as a daily Bible, and the last week or so it’s been having me go through Psalm 119. So it’s just God in His wisdom knew that. But a particular verse that spoke to me is verse 97. It says, “Oh how I love thy law. It is my meditation all the day.” And that’s a desire of mine, to have that love and when, like you said, tragedy comes into your life, that the first thing to come into my mind and heart is Scripture. That’s the desire of mine and a goal of mine.

Woman 9: The verse that I love is Psalm 130: “The entrance of Your Words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (NKJV). I think I’m in that constant process, but how good it is to know that God’s Word gives light and direction to your life.

Nancy: I was actually praying that verse this morning for our time together today. I said, “Lord, let Your Words be unfolded to our hearts. Let them give light. We are simple. We are needy. Give understanding to us.” It is His Word that does that.

Woman 10: I am drawn to Psalm 119 because of verse 133. We had been involved in a lawsuit. Somebody sued us. And the verse is: “Direct my footsteps according to your word, let no sin rule over me” (NIV). The Lord showed me that I was so consumed with the injustice of it all that I didn’t see the anger that was overwhelming me. And it was a game changer for me that day because I realized I can’t do anything about what their actions are, but I can let the Lord do a lot for me. And it changed the way I prayed, too.

Woman 11: I love Psalm 119, verse 38: “Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You” (NASB). And that’s my desire this morning.

Song:  

Holy words of our Faith,
Handed down to this age,
Came to us through sacrifice,
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved,
For our walk in this world.
They resound with God’s own heart,
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Ancient words ever true 
Changing me and changing you.
We have come with open hearts,
Oh let the ancient words impart.1

Nancy: I just love the power of the Word of God, and Psalm 119 is a beautiful poem, an inspired poem about the wonders of God’s Word. We’ve been hearing from women about their journeys through this rich passage and how God’s Word has ministered to them in some of their times of need.

I love hearing the passion in these voices. As these women have engaged in God’s Word, He has rewarded them by giving them the insight and the grace that they needed.

I’ve been challenging you to dig into God’s Word in a deeper way in 2012. And in case you’ve just joined us for the first time in this series, here’s the challenge I’ve been making since the first of the year: That is to make a commitment to read the Bible every day this year.

I’m not saying how much, how long, what time of day—just that you will get into God’s Word for some time each day. And I believe that if you do, it will make a huge difference in your life. In fact, I believe that a year from now, if you take this challenge, you will come back and thank us and have testimony to share of how God has worked in your life through the power of His Word.

Now, as much as I have a desire and a heart to be into God’s Word myself every day through the course of the year, I know that that can sometimes be challenging. I know life gets really hectic. It gets busy. We get late nights, early mornings. Lots of things going on. Lots of interruptions. Lots of distractions. I really do know all about that, and I know how helpful it is to walk with someone else on this kind of journey.

That’s why we want to do everything we can to encourage you in this journey this year. So when you go to ReviveOurHearts.com and sign up and say, “I want to take the Daily Bible Reading Challenge,” we’ll encourage you by sending you a couple of emails each month to remind you of the challenge.

We’d also like to send you a terrific little resource called,  “My Personal Bible Reading Journal.” It’s very simple. It just gives you a place to record what you’re reading each day and then to write down one or two insights that you get as you read God’s Word.

I think you’ll look back at this journal at the end of 2012, and you’ll be so thankful for what God has done in your heart as you have been reading His Word.

When you send a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you your own copy of “My Personal Bible Reading Journal.” We’ll also include the CD, Psalms from the Heart. On this CD, I read some of my favorite Psalms, and the Psalms are underscored with some beautiful music of familiar hymns and choruses that will enhance your meditation on God’s Word.

So just ask us for “My Personal Bible Reading Journal” and the Psalms from the Heart CD when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Give us a call at 1-800-569-5959, or if you’d rather make your donation online, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.  [For a two-week page of the journal to get you started, click here.]

Leslie: Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, and it’s all about the Word of God. But you might be surprised at how many verses point to Jesus. Nancy will show you the gospel in Psalm 119 tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

1 Michael W. Smith. Worship Again. "Ancient Words." Provident Labe Group, 2002.

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