Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Finding Peace in God’s Word

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says that when you get into God’s Word, it helps you make right choices.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Listen, ladies, the greatest antidote for sin is to have an alive passion and affection for Christ and His Word.

Song:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet,
And a light unto my path.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, January 5.

I have sworn and I will perform it. 1

Leslie: Here’s Nancy continuing in a series based on Psalm 119. It’s called, Revive Me According to Your Word.

Nancy: Well, if you haven’t been with us for the last few days here on Revive Our Hearts, I want you to know that we’re extending to our listeners this year what we’re calling the Daily Bible Reading Challenge.

The challenge is simple. As you’re making New Year’s Resolutions, as you’re thinking about goals for this year, about what you want to accomplish, we’re just appealing to you to consider making one of those goals that you would read the Bible every day in 2012. Now, not the whole Bible every day, but that you would read from God’s Word every day throughout the year in 2012.

When you take that challenge, you’re not making a vow that if you break there’s going to be some dire consequences. We’re just saying, “Join thousands of others all across this country who are saying, ‘We want to know God. We want to know His Word. And so we want to take time every day to be in His Word in the year ahead.’”

I think God wants this even more than we want it. So if you ask Him to help you remember, I bet He will.

If you’d like to take that challenge and sign up online for it, you can go to ReviveOurHearts.com, and you can receive an email twice a month with a reminder and an encouragement about reading God’s Word that will just keep you going. It’s one thing the first or second week in January to make these kinds of commitments. It’s another thing when you get to February and May and October to remember it. So we’ll help you remember.

You can get those twice-a-month emails. You can sign up for that for encouragement. You can share your journey with others on a forum there with others who are reading the Bible. And then we have a featured resource. We’ll have numerous ones this year as we have this year-long emphasis on reading God’s Word, but the featured resource this month is what we’re calling "My Personal Bible Reading Journal."

It’s a real simple tool that will allow you for a year to journal a little bit about what you’re reading each day—just a few lines. You don’t have to be a big writer or anything. Just write down, “Here’s the passage I read today.” Maybe one paragraph, one chapter, whatever. Then take two or three lines and just maybe write a verse that stood out to you or an insight God shows you or a prayer in response to what you read.

There’s room—one page for each week—so a few lines each day. It will take you through the year with this personal Bible reading journal. It’s not dated, so you can jump in any time, and that’s a resource we would be delighted to send you.

If you’ll just contact us at Revive Our Hearts and make a donation of any amount to help out with the ministry, we’ll send that resource to you.

There are lots of other goodies on the website that will help you. If you need a Bible reading plan—if you want to read through the Bible in a year, or you want to go a slower pace—lots of resources that will be helpful to you there at ReviveOurHearts.com.

So, are you taking the challenge—the Daily Bible Reading Challenge? I pray that you will.

Now, in yesterday’s program we talked about five benefits and blessings that the Word of God brings to us, and we’re looking at Psalm 119 this week and next—not going verse by verse through the psalm but looking at themes. One of the first themes is some of the blessings and benefits we get from the Word of God.

We saw yesterday that the Word gives us liberty. It gives us hope. It gives us comfort. It gives us strength and stability. It puts us back on our feet when we’ve been knocked out or down by life’s circumstances. And it gives us life. It revives our hearts.

Today I want to look at give more blessings and benefits—reasons that you want to read God’s Word every day in 2012—and we’re going to spend most of our time on the last two of these benefits. The first three we’ll just look at quickly.

So, picking up at number six (we had the first five yesterday): The Word of God gives us direction. It gives us direction, guidance. We need wisdom to know what to do, how to walk, how to deal with our life circumstances. People today pay a lot of money to get counselors, to get therapists, to get good wisdom from people.

Well, verse 24 of Psalm 119 tells us, “Your testimonies are my counselors.” God’s Word is a counselor. So the psalmist is saying, “When I need wisdom, where am I going to turn? I’m going to turn to this Book. I’m going to turn to God’s Word for counsel.”

He realizes that wisdom comes from God, and that God’s Word is sufficient for every area of my life and practice.

You want to know how to raise that three-year-old for whom no textbook was ever written? Here’s the textbook. You want to know how to deal with that husband who’s got this addictive issue? Or you’ve got this addiction, or you’re dealing with aging parents with Alzheimer’s or other season-of-life issues? What do you do? God’s Word is my counselor.

Now, that doesn’t mean other counselors can’t be helpful to us, but they’re going to be most helpful as they point us to the Word of God that gives us God’s wisdom.

One of the most familiar verses in this passage is 105:

Your  word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

And then verse 130:

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

Now, as you think about God’s Word being a light, giving direction, giving counsel or giving wisdom, in order to get that light shining on our path, we have to acknowledge that we need light, that we lack wisdom, that we lack understanding, that we’re simple, and we need God’s help.

I was actually studying Psalm 119 a few weeks ago late one night when the power went out in my area—no explanation. It was out for several hours. I had books spread all over my bed and papers and outlines and notes, and it was dark. I couldn’t see. So thankfully, I had a stash of candles and lit enough to burn a house down probably, but I was very aware in that moment that you need light to study. You need light to see.

If you don’t have light, if I go much further than my bed, I’m going to stumble and fall. I need light. You need a flashlight. The Word of God will keep us from stumbling. It’s a lamp. It’s a light. It gives us perspective. It gives us insight. It gives us understanding. Things we can’t see without it. It’s a light.

So as you have questions in relation to decisions for your future, family, marriage, children, finances, job, priorities, relationships. . .we all have issues we need to deal with. I’ve just talked with several women in this room who are dealing with tough life circumstances. You need direction. You need guidance. You need wisdom.

Are you turning to God’s Word to get it? God’s Word is a lamp. It’s a light. The unfolding of His Words gives light to our path.

Now, let me just remind you: If you want wisdom, it’s not enough to just know it. God’s Word is not like a magic potion or a good luck charm.

  • You have to have it in your heart. 
  • You have to turn to it. 
  • You have to draw upon it. 
  • You have to meditate on it. 
  • You have to keep it. 
  • You have to use it, rely on it, apply it. 

Then it will be a light to your path.

So that’s the first benefit we’re looking at today. Then the next one, God’s Word gives us deliverance. The word that’s actually used in Psalm 119 in a number of verses is salvation.

Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise. (v. 41)

In the Old Testament context, God’s salvation is His deliverance from enemies. God’s action to deliver His people from their enemies, and, of course, in the context of the whole of Scripture, we know that God is a saving God who has sent Jesus Christ to this earth as His means to deliver us from the enemy of sin and Satan.

So we see hints of the gospel, hints of the New Testament understanding of salvation, hints of salvation as it unfolds more fully in the New Testament.

Verse 94 says:

I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.

Verse 155:

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.

God’s Word brings deliverance to those who know it, love it, trust it, keep it. It brings salvation.

Now, just a reminder, this is where we need the whole of Scripture as we study any part of it. We are not saved spiritually, we are not saved from sin by keeping the law. Well, we could be if we could keep all of the law perfectly every moment of our entire lives. But we all know that we can’t keep it. We are law breakers, so we cannot be saved by keeping the law.

But the law does point us to God’s standard. It points us to the holiness of God, and once we have been saved from sin, once we are children of God, God’s Word becomes a means of grace and growth in our lives. It convicts us. It changes us. It transforms the way that we think and the lies that we believe are replaced with the truth.

God uses His Word to deliver us from our enemies, and you see that as a theme throughout Psalm 119.

Then there’s one verse that speaks to the next benefit (I love this verse), peace. It’s one of my favorites. Psalm 119:165 says,

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

That is a great take-away verse. If you’re going to pick one from Psalm 119 to hold onto this year, that might be one you would choose. “Great peace have those who love your law.”

Now, you know what that says to me as I look ahead to this year? If I am in circumstances where I’m fretful, I’m anxious, I’ve lost my peace; it may be an indicator that I’ve lost my connection to God’s Word. “Great peace have those who love your law.”

Listen to that next part: “Nothing can make them stumble.” Nothing can make you fall. God’s Word will hold you up with peace in your heart in the midst of every circumstance if you’re loving His law.

Now, if it means more to me to have comfort or approval or respect or anything on this earth, if having those things means more to me than having God and His Word, then I will lose my peace. I will stumble.

The psalmist needed that peace, and we see throughout this psalm that he was under attack. He was besieged. You see a lot of references to enemies in Psalm 119. So that’s why he needed God’s peace, and he found that peace and that freedom from stumbling in God’s Word.

That leads me to the next benefit, which is a major recurring theme in this psalm, and that is that God’s Word gives us help or protection when we’re faced with evil, when we’re faced with opposition, when people come against us, when circumstances come against us.

Now, I want to read several of those verses to you. I won’t give you all the references. You can go to our website and pull up the transcript, and it will give you the verse numbers. But listen to some of these verses that talk about this theme of opposition or evil.

Starting in verse 23:

Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.

Now, it’s a reminder that opposition can come from powerful people. It may not be a political prince. It may be the head of your family or your boss or somebody that has a lot of influence, reputation, and that person sits plotting against you. They are trying to think how they can make your life miserable.

And the psalmist, whoever wrote Psalm 119, was facing some circumstances like that. It’s why I often think that David probably wrote this psalm because so much of what he describes here is indicative of what we know about his life—a lot of opposition. And the tendency when we’re facing opposition, the temptation is to focus on the opponents and their plots.

“Princes sit plotting against me.” When somebody’s trying to take you under, that’s all you can think about, right? You think about who that person is, what they’re doing. It may be a mother-in-law, it may be a son or daughter, it may be a person at work. Somebody who’s making your life difficult, and that’s all you can think about. But not this psalmist.

He says, “Princes sit plotting against me, but your servant [that’s me] I will meditate on [what?] on your statutes [on truth, on God’s Word].

He says in verse 61:

Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law. . . . The insolent smear me with lies. (vv. 61, 69)

Insolent. That’s a word that means those who are arrogant, proud, haughty ones.

They smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts. . . . The insolent have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will mediate on your precepts. (vv. 69, 78)

So here the psalmist is being falsely accused. You see it over and over again throughout this psalm. And by the way, I’m encouraging you during the series to consider reading Psalm 119 every day. It will take you about fifteen minutes. You’ll see some of these recurring themes as you do.

But he’s being falsely accused. He’s not suffering the consequences of his own behavior. Sometimes that happens, and then we need God’s Word also. But this is a case where he’s being falsely accused.

But here’s what I love about these verses: He doesn’t let the sins of others, the wrong doings of others to cause him to sin in his own heart. And isn’t it true, when others come against us, when they attack us, when they wrong us, that our tendency is to sin back by becoming angry or bitter or vindictive or critical. We’re going to tear their reputation down because they tore ours down.

He doesn’t do that. He doesn’t let their sin cause him to sin. He’s resolved to live by God’s Word regardless of what others may do to him.

Here’s the sum of this: If you love God, if you love His ways, if you’re trying to please Him with your life, you are setting yourself on a collision course with the world. You’re going contrary to the way the world is going, so you’re going to have opposition. There’s going to be friction.

Now, sometimes we can cause our own friction. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about you are seeking to please the Lord and honor Him and you find yourself just running into other people who don’t have those same values, and there are going to be people who hate you.

It's not because they hate you, but they hate God. Whether they realize it or not, they have set themselves against God, so they’re going to set themselves against God’s people.

You need to expect that friction. If your life for any long period of time doesn’t have any friction like that, doesn’t have any collisions, you need to wonder: Am I really living a godly life?

Again, it’s not because we’re making ourselves odious to the world, and we’re making them think badly of Christianity. It’s that we’re sincerely trying to please the Lord, and that is going to have us running up against people who have a whole different worldview.

So, we will be mocked at times by those who resist God, those who are proud, those who want nothing to do with Him or His ways. But in the fact of unrelenting opposition, the psalmist is able to be steadfast.

Apart from God’s Word and God’s grace, when you run into these situations, you’re going to end up being a victim, feeling like a victim: outnumbered, oppressed, lied about, pursued. But when you put your hope in God, as the psalmist did, when you cry out to Him and you live by His Word, you’re no longer the victim. You become a victor.

Well, let me talk about one other blessing and benefit that comes from getting God’s Word into you. And that is God’s Word protects us from sin. It’s our greatest defense against sin. You see, in the previous benefit, we were talking about being protected from the sins of others.

Now we’re talking about being protected from our own sins, from temptation. And you see in this psalm a two-fold responsibility that the psalmist identifies: God’s part and our part. You want to stay free from sin? You want to live a clean and pure life? God has a responsibility, and we have a responsibility.

So first the psalmist pleads with God to keep him from being overcome by sin. Verse 133, he says, “Keep steady my steps according to your promise and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” God, please, keep me free from sin.

And let’s look at verses 9-11. It's a familiar part of this chapter, but I want you to see here how the psalmist accepts personal responsibility to safeguard his own heart and to do it by the means of grace that God has provided in His Word.

He says,

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you. Let me not wander from your commandments. I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

One of the obvious things here is that we are prone to wander, and you see that in this passage. We’re prone to go astray. We’re bent to do that.

And then we realize in this passage also that all sin is against God. “I don’t want to sin against you,” he says in verse 11. And so he prays to be kept from sinning in the first place.

In verse 9, he says, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” That word means transparent, clear, innocent. It talks about purity of conduct, and that desire to be pure is an evidence that you’re a child of God. If you have no desire to live a pure life, you need to ask: “Do I have any relationship with God? Do I belong to Him at all?”

You also realize in this paragraph that living a pure life, living a godly life involves a battle. It involves a battle. You will either master sin, or you will be mastered by sin. And that’s why this prayer is so important. “How can I keep my way pure? With my whole heart I’ll seek you. Don’t let me wander from your commandments.”

You realize that you can’t coast when it comes to godliness, that to be kept from sin requires intentionality. You have to be purposeful about it. And so he prays about guarding his heart. He prays about earnestly seeking God. He says, “I’m going to pay careful attention to your laws and your statutes.”

And in verse 11, “I’m going to store up or hide your word in my heart so that I won’t sin against you.”

Do you even ask the question: “How can I keep my heart pure?” Does it matter to you? It mattered to the psalmist. It matters to God. It needs to matter to us.

Do you pray to be kept from straying, from wandering? Or do you just stray and then afterwards say, “Oops, O God, help me get back on”? Now, thank God after we do stray we can pray and say, “God, help me get back on the path.” But do you pray before you sin that God will keep you from sinning? That’s an important part of this prayer.

And do you have a strategy in place to guard your heart? The psalmist thought about this before he got into temptation. Don’t wait until you get into moral temptation to come up with a strategy to deal with moral temptation. Come up with the strategy first. And the psalmist’s strategy is: “Get the Word of God in my heart. Get it into my being.”

So I ask: Is your intake of the Word sufficient to guard your heart from sin? Are you getting enough of God’s Word to protect you in the battle against sin?

Now, not only before we sin, but after we sin, when we do go astray, God’s Word is essential to our restoration. And that’s why I love the last verse of Psalm 119. Verse 176, and I’ve prayed this myself just in recent days: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.”

He realizes that he needs God’s help to be restored. “Seek your servant.” But he also takes responsibility for knowing and heeding God’s commandments.

Listen, ladies, the greatest antidote for sin is to have an alive passion and affection for Christ and His Word.

Sam Storms, who has written a book of meditations on the psalms says in his meditation on Psalm 119, “Only when God’s ways are sweet to the taste will sin turn sour in our souls.”

The greatest means of fighting sin is to have a passion and affection for Christ and His Word, to delight in Him. That’s why the enemy tries so hard to keep us enamored and enthralled with lesser things, with substitutes for God, things that displace our love for Christ, and that’s when we wander.

So if you want to fight against sin successfully this year, don’t just figure out how you can fight against it. Ask how you can do preventive maintenance, how you can be prepared in the battle by loving God’s Word, by storing it up in your heart so that when the temptation comes, you will be prepared to fight the enemy with the means of grace that God has provided through His Word.

Leslie: That message is part of a series called Revive Me According to Your Word. During this series based on Psalm 119, Nancy’s been offering us a challenge to read God’s Word ever day in 2012.

If you’re up for the challenge and need some encouragement, sign up at ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send you a couple of emails each month to help keep you meeting your goals.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll say, “Thanks,” by sending you "My Personal Bible Reading Journal." Our team developed this resource to give you a record of all you’re reading in 2012. It will also give you a place to jot down things you’re learning during this challenge.

You’ll also receive the CD Psalms from the Heart. You’ll hear Nancy reading some of her favorite psalms set to a beautiful musical sound track.

Your gift will help us continue coming to you over the radio and online. You can make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for "My Personal Bible Reading Journal" and the CD when you call with your donation. The number is 1-800-569-5959. [For a two-week page of the journal to get you started, click here.]

You know, Nancy says her iPhone is a mixed blessing. It helps her do a lot of things faster, but it can also be a big temptation away from God’s Word. Find out why she says this 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 English Standard Version.

1 Hidden in My Heart, vol. 1, "Hidden in My Heart."

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