The verse that I wanted to focus on is there. Verse number 7 and 8 where the Bible reads, "Only be thou strong and very courageous that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law which Moses, my servant, commanded thee. Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper with it so ever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night. That thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous and then shalt thou have good success."
Now, tonight I want to preach on Psalm 119. If you would, flip over to Psalm 119. The reason that I read that scripture in the book of Joshua is that it talks about the fact that we should meditate in the word of God day and night and that is a lot of what Psalm 119 is about. While you're turning to Psalm 119, I'm going to read for you from Psalm 1, where the Bible reads, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the council of the ungodly nor standeth in the way of sinners nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit and his season. He leaf also shall not wither and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Now, these are amazing promises when you think about it. Making your way prosperous, having good success, whatsoever you do will prosper, the Bible says. You'll be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit and his season. You'll not be barren. You'll not be unfruitful. You will be established. You will be prosperous. You will succeed in your Christian life. The key that unlocks these different elements is meditating upon the word of God day and night. Another thing that's associated with meditating upon God's word is delighting in the law of the Lord. Why is that? Well, if you don't delight in the law of the Lord, you're not going to meditate on it day and night. In order for you to be focused on in and thinking about it. You would have to like it. You'd have to love it. You'd have to enjoy it.
Anything that we do, we must enjoy it if we're going to succeed at it. People that are really good at something, it's because they enjoy what they do. If someone is a great musician, it's because they enjoy playing music. If someone's a great artist, it's because they enjoy making art. If someone is a great runner, it's because they like running. You don't get good at things that you don't like.
Some people, it seems are always looking for some kind of a trick or technique where they're going to be able to memorize the Bible and memorize God's word that they might meditate upon it day and night. Really, it's not as much a trick as just loving the Bible. That's the trick. No matter how you do it. If you have a trick that works for you, great. Maybe you put it to music or you use other techniques. The bottom line is, no matter what trick you use, it's going to take hard work. It's going to take time. It's going to take energy. It's going to take effort. The only people that are going to put in that time, energy, and effort are people who love God's word. That's where it starts. We have to love the Bible. We have to love God's word and delight in it.
Psalm 119 is really interesting chapter. Let me just tell you a little bit about the chapter before we get into this. First of all, Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, which is of course significant. It has 176 verses. You'll probably notice also that it's divided into these various sections. Each section has 8 verses. There are 22 sections. Those 22 sections are named for the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Pretty much every Bible I've ever seen ... Does anybody have a Bible that does not have the headings Alef, Beit, Gimel, Dalet? Does anybody have a Bible that does not have those headings? Every Bible has these in it. They're in your King James Bible. You'll see both the symbol for the Hebrew letter, how it's actually written in Hebrew, and then the name of that letter.
Each section is named for a letter because in the original, actually, each verse starts with that letter. When we think of poetry, we think of things that rhyme, that's kind of the only poetry that we accept in 2015 America, pretty much. Right? Throughout history, that has actually been a very unpopular form of poetry. Most poetry throughout history has been based on other elements. A very common element of poetry is starting with the same letter which is known as alliteration. That's the way this particular poem is. All the book of Psalms is poetry. Other books in the Bible are poetry as well.
This particular Psalm, each verse of this poem starts with the same letter. The first eight verses start with the letter Alef and the next eight verses start with the letter Beit and so forth. In fact, this is where we get our word "alphabet". Alef Beit is where we derive the English word "alphabet". If you're ever listening to preaching and it's a really boring preacher and you're just bored out of your mind, you can actually just turn here and memorize the Hebrew alphabet to increase your intelligence if you're bored by the sermon.
Anyway, another poem like this is in Lamentations. You might notice that the chapters in Lamentations have 22 verses each and chapter 3 has 66 verses. It's because of the same thing. Using different letters to start each verse in Lamentations and then they're tripled up in verse 3, which why there are 66 verses.
It's the longest chapter and the subject of this chapter is delighting in loving God's word and meditating upon it day and night. It's about memorizing it, learning it, living by it. In fact, virtually every verse in this chapter mentions the word of God. It's just over and over and over again mentioning the word of God. Now, the first seven verses of this chapter use seven different words for the word of God besides "word". Okay. Look at them if you will in verse 1. It says, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord." Here, it's called his law. Look at verse 2. "Blessed are they that keep his testimonies." That would be the next word. "And that seek him with the whole heart." Number 3, it says, "They also do no iniquity. They walk in his ways." "Ways" is the term used to refer to his word. Verse 4, "Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently." Then it says in verse 5, "Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes." Verse 6, "Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all thy commandments." Verse 7, "I will praise thee with uprightness of heart when I shall learn thy righteous judgments."
In those first seven verses, we have seven different words that are introduced to refer to God's word whether it's his precepts, statutes, judgments, ways, commandments, law. Those are the seven words that he uses throughout this passage to refer to his word when he's not using the word "word" itself. There are eight words that he uses to refer to his word. That's part of the poetry and they way it's laid out here.
Over and over again, every single verse is teaching us about this. Look at verse number 1, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord." Now, what does the word "undefiled" mean? Well, to defile something is to make it dirty, to pollute it, to make it filthy. That's what it means to be defiled. The Bible says, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord." Look at the first verse of the next section, verse 9. "Where with all shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto, according to thy word." Both of these have the idea of living a clean life because you keep God's word. God's word will clean up your life. How does a young man clean up his life? "Where with all shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word."
Ephesians chapter 5, when it talks about Christ in the church, it says something similar. It says, "Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it." It says, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." The washing of water of the word. God's word will clean you up. Look what it says in verse 11 right there. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee." One of the reasons why you'll be a successful Christian by loving and memorizing and meditating on God's word is that you'll live a clean life. It will clean up your life. It will wash you and keep you undefiled and it will cleanse your way.
I've heard it said that this book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book. People are living in sin, they don't really desire to read God's word. You say, "Well, if it all starts with loving God's word, how do I love God's word?" You know, you'll find that sin kills the love that we have for God's word. That's why the Bible says in Matthew 24 that in the last days, because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Love will wax cold when iniquity and sin abounds in our life.
It says in verse 1, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies and that seek him with the whole heart." What does it mean to keep his testimonies? Well, there are a couple things that this means. Number one, when we talk about keeping the word of God, what we mean by that is obeying it. If you keep the law, you're obeying the law. Then keep also has another meaning of just hanging on to it, retaining it, having it with you, memorizing it, keeping it in your heart.
The Bible says in verse 3, "They also do no iniquity. They walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently." What does it mean to be diligent? It means that you are working hard. In fact, in Proverbs, the diligent man is often contrasted with someone who is slothful, who's a sluggard, who's lazy. A diligent person is working hard to keep God's commandments. You see, it's not just something that's going to happen by accident. You're saved and now all of sudden you just find yourself never wanting to sin again. It's just so easy and natural to do what's right. Is that the case? No. We still have the old man, the flesh. We still have that sinful carnal nature. The Bible says that we're commanded to keep his precepts diligently. That means we need to work at it. Working hard to read and study and, first of all, learn what God wants and then work hard to actually care out his word in our lives.
It says in verse 5, "Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes." Here, David, in verse 5, is even admitting the struggle that it is to keep God's word. He's wishing, "Oh, that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes." He's kind of admitting that he doesn't always keep the statutes but he wishes that he would. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Even the apostle Paul, probably the greatest Christian who ever lived, said that the things that he did not want to do, he ended up doing. He ended up not doing the things that he wanted to do. He delighted in the law of God after the inward man. But then there was another law in his members, in his flesh, warring against the law of his mind. There's a struggle to keep God's statutes, which is why we've got to keep them diligently, we've got to work at it.
The Bible says in verse 6, "Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all thy commandments." From that verse, we should take the fact that when we don't keep God's commandments, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. It's a shame. We ought to be embarrassed. We ought to blush at the fact that we have failed to keep God's commandments. So many people have such a flippant attitude towards sin like, "Well, I sinned. So what?" We ought to be ashamed of ourselves when we sin. By the way, when we're talking about memorizing and meditating and learning God's word, the Bible says unto preachers, study to show thyself approved unto God. A workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. It's a shame when we don't know the Bible, especially as a pastor. It's embarrassing when a pastor does not know the material. The Bible is teaching us that in order to not be ashamed, we need to have respect unto all his commandments and we need to study to show ourself approved unto God.
The Bible says in verse 7, "I will praise thee with uprightness of heart when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes. Oh forsake me not utterly." Notice the language. "When I've learned thy righteous ..." We ought to diligently study these things and learn these things. You see, we need to get back to an understanding that we need to know the Bible and get educated the word of God.
So many churches today do not emphasize this. The education aspect, the learning aspect. They focus so much just the spirit, just basically having the right attitude or coming to church and sort of feeling close to the Lord or walking with God. I understand all that. I understand walking with God and having the right kind of spirit and coming to church and worshiping the Lord and the beauty of holiness. I get all that, but there's also a lot in the Bible about just learning what this book says and becoming educated in the word of God. Church is not where we come just to have a religious experience. It's not just where we come to get a spiritual pick-me-up. That vitamin tablet to kind of get us through the week spiritually and pick us up when we're down. Church will do that for you.
I can't even tell you how many times I've been having a crumby day and been having been in a bad mood and just upset and just discouraged and then I was glad when they said unto me, "Let us go unto the house of the Lord." I can't even count how many times when my attitude was turned around by going to church. In fact, I often wonder what would happen without church. I'll notice myself sometimes kind going down a downward spiral in my spirit and then I get to church and it's like I'm recharged and I'm back again. Then you start to fade away sometimes and then going to church revitalizes you. I'm all for that. You know what? We also need to be going to church to learn something. The Bible talks about how he gave us pastors and teachers so that we would all come to the knowledge of the son of God, that we would grow in grace, yes, but let's also grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We also need to be educated, diligently learning the word of God.
We need to learn God's righteous judgments. What does that mean? God's righteous judgments are basically his opinions about everything. A judgment is when you basically form an opinion about something. You make a judgment. You pass judgment. God's judgments are always right about everything. If we want to have the right view about the world we live in, the right opinion about every subject, we get that from knowing the word of God. Why? Because if our opinion matches the word of God, we're right all the time, every time. When our opinion varies from God's word, we have the wrong opinion. The more we read and meditate in God's word, we're going to be right about more things.
You know, people sometimes accuse fundamental baptists, "Oh, you guys think you're right about everything." No, we think the Bible's right about everything. The more we know the Bible, the more we're going to be right about things. Since fundamental baptists tend to know the Bible a lot better than the liberal rock and roll church down the street, yeah, it might seem like we're right about everything. Sorry. Sorry for knowing the Bible. Sorry for having so many opinions that are in line with God's word. I know that I'm not right about everything, but every time I'm wrong, it's because I don't have God's opinion, it's because I don't have the Biblical opinion.
Let's move into the second section here. That was the Alef section. Biet. "Where with all shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word." The Bible says in the New Testament, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." The Bible says in Hebrews 2:1, "Therefore, we ought to give the most earnest heed to the things which we've heard," talking about the word of God, "lest that any time we should let them slip." We let things slip when we don't take earnest heed to what we've heard. The Bible says, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." What does it mean to take heed? You have to basically pay attention to what you're doing and beware and be alert and take heed to your way. "How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word." Again, it's not going to happen by accident. It takes alertness and it takes paying attention and vigilance.
Verse 10. "With my whole heart have I sought thee. Oh, let me not wander from thy commandments." Verse 11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee." How could verse 11 work practically? Often people who have a sin in their life that seems to come up over and over again that's a pattern with them, they find that by memorizing a verse from the word of God that deals with that particular sin, that they can overcome that sin.
For example, every time they are tempted to drink, if that's something that they struggle with in their life, they could have some scripture memorizes like, for example, "Wine is a mocker. Strong drink is raging. Whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Maybe if they struggle with getting to church, maybe they struggle with being faithful to the house of God, they could memorize a verse like, "I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go unto the house of the Lord.'" They could quote a scripture about not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together as the manner of sum is but exhorting one another and so much the more as we see the day approaching. If they struggle with cigarettes, they could basically quote a scripture something about, "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you. You're not your own. You're bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. Be clean ye that bear the vessels of the Lord." They should not be putting all that junk into their body when they smoke cigarettes.
For example, when someone has trouble looking at things that they shouldn't be looking at, then the Bible says, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes. I hate the work of them that turn aside. It shall not cleave to me." Whatever the problem. Maybe you're one who is soon angry and you blow your top, you could maybe memorize the verse that says, "Wherefore, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." We could go on and on and on just all the sins that people have in their lives and all that they struggle with and how they could memorize a verse. When the temptation comes, they could quote that verse and be strengthened by God's word. Hide God's word in your heart that you might not sin against him.
You say, "Well, I'm just going to write down a list of verses to help me in times of trouble." Here's the thing, that's not always handy. You can't always go to that. No, you need to hide it in your heart. You need to memorize the verses that you need to help you. The Bible says in verse 12, "Blessed art thou, Lord. Teach me thy statutes." This is a prayer that we could pray to God literally every time we read the Bible. "Teach me thy statutes."
It says later in the same chapter, "Open now mine eyes," verse 18, "that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." These are prayers unto God just asking him to show you things in the Bible. You know God will answer that prayer when you prayer that prayer. I can remember times in my life when I came to a passage that I struggled with, when I came to a passage and I didn't understand it, it perplexed me. We've all had passages that perplexed us where they seem to contradict other things in the Bible and we know that the Bible's perfect and without error. We're perplexed when something seems to contradict or not jive.
I remember one time when I was a teenager that there was a scripture that just really bothered me. I just couldn't figure out what it meant. I had the Bible on cassette. Some of you kids don't even know what a cassette is. Anyway, I had the Bible on cassette in my car and I just had that cassette just looping. That same cassette that had this portion of scripture that I was struggling with. Looping and looping and looping. I remember just praying and just asking God to show me what it meant. Show me the truth here. I prayed that for two weeks. After two weeks, I understood it perfectly and I thought, "Wow. How did I not see this before?" That's God teaching you the Bible.
You know what's easier? Just Google it. Just Google it. You know what? Are you always going to get the truth when you Google it? No. Wait a minute, what about when you pray for weeks and then the Holy Spirit reveals it to you? That's a better teacher right there. That's why the Bible says, "The anointing which you have received of him abideth in you and you need not that any man teach you. As the same anointing teacheth you of all things and is truth and is no lie. Even as it hath taught you, that anointing, the Holy Spirit, even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." See, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit can teach us anything about the Bible.
A lot of people would misuse that verse and say, "Oh. We don't need preaching." No. God did give us pastors and teachers to edify us and bring us closer to him in the knowledge. God did command us to go to church. Here's what that verse is saying: There's nothing that Pastor Anderson could teach you at church that you couldn't learn on your own. Anything I teach behind this pulpit that's true, you could have learned on your own. If there's some doctrine that only I can teach you and you'll never figure it out on your own with just you and the Bible and the Holy Spirit, that's a false doctrine. We all have the same Bible, we all have the same Holy Spirit. Therefore, you don't need any man to teach you because you have that anointing.
When you come to church and Pastor Anderson is teaching you the Bible, that is going to accelerate your learning, that is going to teach you more than what you're learning on a daily basis in your home Bible reading. Honestly, the majority of your knowledge should come from your personal Bible reading. Then you learn even more on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. If you listen to a preaching cassette or if you listen to some other preacher and you get some kind of a bonus material, that's all fine and dandy if you're listening to men of God. Wait a minute, it's the Bible that teaches us. Anything that those men are preaching or that I'm preaching, you could learn it on your own from the Bible. It just is faster when you get it from the pastor. I'm not trying to write a poem here, but I just did. The kind that you like that rhymes. The bottom line is though, we do need to get teaching from the word of God by ourselves also so that we're not a babe in Christ. The babe in Christ is the one who has to be spoon-fed, just like a physical baby. "Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age. Even by those of reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
The Bible says in verse 12, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, teach me thy statutes." That's a prayer that we should prayer as, "Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy laws," prayer that we should pray.
Verse 13. "With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth." I wonder if a lot of preachers could ever quote that verse? I wonder how many preachers in 2015 could actually get up and with integrity say, "With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth." How many of them have skipped certain judgments of God's mouth because they're not politically correct? They pass over certain judgments that have come out of the mouth of God and they did not declare them because they were afraid of offending someone. This is a verse that is the declaration that should be able to come out of every pastor's mouth, every preacher's mouth.
Said in verse 14, "I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies as much as in all riches." What's the Bible saying there? The Bible's saying that when we find some great truth in the word of God, that's greater than finding $100 bill laying on the sidewalk.
I remember one time my son, Solomon, he bought I think it was a wallet at a thrift store. What that what it was? Was it a wallet or was it an article of clothing? It had $100 bill in it. He told the story. He got home and he opened the wallet and had $100 bill in it. He zipped it shut real quick. He went into the bathroom, locked the door, just to check and see. Is it real? He's kind of checking all the watermarks. He had to think it through. He didn't want anybody to see it until he'd thought about it and processed it. Then he came to us and showed us and everything.
You better know that a little kid, when they get $100, it's a lot more to them than it is unto us as adults. We would think it was pretty cool to find $100 like that. One time, somebody gave me a sweater and I opened it up and there were $300 cash hidden in a secret pocket, but I called the person and gave it back. Anyway, this one from the thrift store, he just got to keep it because nobody knew where it was from. It had gone through so many hands. You know what? Getting excited about that should only be just if you have an attitude that says, "Well, God gave me this. Praise the Lord." You know what? We should get more excited or at least as excited when we find some great truth in the Bible. As much as in all riches. Think about how excited people get on these game shows when they win money. We're supposed to get excited and rejoice about God's word. Again, that's what this whole chapter's about. Loving God's word, studying God's word, meditating in God's word, delighting in it.
He says in verse 15, "I'll meditate in thy precepts and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes. I will not forget thy word." Let me tell you something. The halves of that verse go hand in hand. The people who delight in the statutes are the same ones who don't forget God's word. You say, "I want to have success in memorizing the Bible." Love the Bible. Number one advice. Love it. You have to. It's essential. You don't love it, you will fail at memorizing it.
The Bible says in verse 17 in the next section, Gimel, "Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live and keep thy word." It's almost like he's saying that his whole purpose to be alive is to keep God's word. I just want to live and keep your word. He says in verse 18, "Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. I'm a stranger in the Earth. Hide not thy commandments from me." Let me ask you this: Does God hide his commandments from anybody? Absolutely. He does, actually. You know, the Bible says in Matthew chapter 11, for example, Jesus prayed and said, "I thank thee, O father." He said, "Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and has revealed them unto babes. Even so, father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."
There are people out there that God deems unworthy of understanding his word. He hides it from them. They're not worthy. He says, "I've hidden it from them. That seeing they might see not. Hearing, they might hear not." They see it but they don't understand it. They hear it, but they don't comprehend it. Why? God hides these things from people. When he says, "I hid it from the wise and prudent," what he means there is the people that think they're wise and prudent. He's talking about those who are puffed up of this world, the arrogant and proud, is what he's talking about there. He'll hide it from them and reveal it unto babes, meaning those who are meek, those who have been converted and become as little children in their heart. They're the ones who God reveals his word to.
This is a great prayer from David's mouth when he says, "I'm a stranger in the Earth. Hide not thy commandments from me." You know, God reveals things to those that he chooses to reveal things to. If you please God, then God will reveal more to you. You ever wonder why certain people, it's like they just have all these revelations from God's word. It's like they just understand so much about it. It's like, "Wow. How did you get so much out of that passage or how do you understand so much of the Bible?" That's because God chose to reveal it to that person. Other people, God hides things from because he does not consider them worthy.
David here is begging God for money. No. He's begging for fame and recognition. No. What's he begging for? Don't hide your commandments from me. Why? Because he knows that the most important thing is to understand God's word. Then everything in your life falls into place. I mean, look, if you know God's word and keep God's word and meditate therein day and night, everything you do shall prosper. Everything else falls into place. He's just saying, "Hide not thy commandments from me."
Verse 20. "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times." That's a pretty strong statement. "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times." It's just a constant craving of God's word, desiring of God's word. "Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments. Remove from me reproach and contempt for I have kept thy testimonies. Princes also did sit and speak against me, but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors." You see, the Bible says there's in the multitude of counselors, there is safety. Here, the Bible says, "Thy testimonies are my counselors." "You need to get some counseling, buddy." Here's the counseling. These are my counselors.
He says in verse number 25 in the next section, Dalet, it says, "My soul cleaveth unto the dust. Quicken thou me according to thy word. I have declared my ways and thou heardest me. Teach my thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts. So shall I talk of thy wondrous works." Again, this might seem repetitive. It is repetitive. It's 176 verses about God's word. A lot of the same themes come up over and over again. God says things repeatedly because he wants to really drive them in. When he repeats something two times, three times, it's for emphasis. It's important.
But I like what it says in verse 27, "Make me to understand the way of thy precepts. So shall I talk of thy wondrous works." It's always good to understand things before you talk about them. Some people, it's like they just like to hear themselves talk. They talk about things they don't understand. It's great to talk about the Bible. Love it when people talk about the Bible. First, they should they should understand something before talking about it. We should try to seek for understanding and learn the truth and some people, they're real lean on learning and real big on talking. We need to spend more time learning, more time reading, more time meditating, and then let's talk about God's wondrous works and let's know what we're talking about.
The Bible says in verse 28, "My soul melteth for heaviness. Strengthen thou me according to thy word. Remove from me the way of lying and grant me thy law graciously." Notice that word, "grant me thy law graciously." Like having God's law is having a privilege that is granted. It's not something to be taken for granted. It's something that's granted unto those who actually appreciate it.
Verse 30, "I've chosen the way of truth. Thy judgments have I laid before me. I've stuck unto thy testimonies, O Lord, put me not to shame. I will run the way of thy commandments when thou shalt enlarge my heart." Verse 31, he says, "I've stuck unto thy testimonies, O Lord, put me not to shame." He's saying, "The way that I live my life, the choices that I've made were based on your word." "Put me not to shame," meaning I don't want to fail in the presence of others. People will say, "Well, he stuck unto God's word and he failed." No, no, no. I've stuck unto your word, Lord, put me not to shame. Basically, "Come through for me that it might be a testimony unto others that those who stick unto your word actually will prosper and have good success and will succeed in their Christian lives."
By the way, when you use the word "prosper" ... Some people, they just hear the word "prosper" and they think money. It's the Mercedes. It's the Lexus. Oh, yeah. Money. No, prosperity in the Bible is not just talking about financial gain. Honestly, that's not really the best thing that could happen to you is to get a bunch of money. It could ruin your life, in fact. Prospering is succeeding in all areas of life. It could be succeeding spiritually, succeeding at soul winning, raising godly children, having a godly marriage, having joy unspeakable and full of glory in your heart. There's a lot of ways that you could prosper.
The Bible says in verse 32, "I will run the way of thy commandments when thou shalt enlarge my heart." One thing that's interesting, I love running. I run virtually every single day. The only time I don't run is if I'm sick or something like that. I pretty much run every single day. I run at least one mile every day. A lot of times, I run a lot further than that. It's funny because I've read a lot of stuff about running because it's a hobby of mine. I read about this condition called Runner's Heart. Runner's Heart is a condition where the heart becomes enlarged. You can look this up in a medical journal and you can see that this is the truth that I'm telling you. I just thought that this was so neat that the Bible actually says, "I'll run the way of thy commandments when thou shalt enlarge my heart." Runners literally get an enlarged heart. Just another little nugget there in the Bible where we see that God knows all the science even before man figures out the science. It's all in the Bible.
I just love the concept of running towards God's commandments. I love how when you read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, so many people are always running to Jesus. Running to Jesus. Running in the way of God's commandments. What does it show? Urgency. Desire. Intensity.
He says in verse 33 there in the next section, "Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding and I shall keep thy law. I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto my testimonies and not to covetousness." Is the way we pray? Do we pray to God and say, "God, help me to keep your commandments, Lord. Help me to learn the Bible. Show me what it means, Lord. Help me to obey today. Help me to follow you today. Help me to obey your commandments today." This should be apart of our prayer life. This is a sample of a prayer life of somebody who loves the word of God.
He says in verse 37, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity." What is he saying? Vanity. You know what vanity is? Things that are just worthless. Things that don't matter. Things that are empty. You know, a lot of people spend a lot of time looking at vanity. Just looking at stupid things that don't ... Just staring at the TV, just rotting their brain on the TV as the Bible sits on the shelf. Watching the idiot box, the boobtube, and just becoming more foolish with every minute that goes by and just wasting valuable time that God has given them. Not redeeming the time, but just wasting the time, just flushing it down the toilet. I mean, will anybody make the argument that watching TV is a good use of your time? I mean even the most non-Christian person would agree that watching television is just kind of a way to just kill some time. Instead of killing time, we need to kill our television. People just sit there and just rot their brain. Your brain is like a muscle that atrophies when you don't use it. You just get more and more foolish and brutish and you will not get smarter watching ...
"Oh, I might watch that which is educational." No, no, no. Books are educational. "Well, I don't understand what the difference is." Well, if you don't understand what the difference is, it doesn't matter. I don't understand everything about the engine in my car and how it operates, but I still know that when I push the gas pedal, it makes the car go faster. When I push the break, it makes the car go slower. I don't have to understand why. I'm just telling you right now, it's just a fact that reading books makes you smarter and watching TV makes you stupid. It's just a fact. "I don't get it. I don't understand. What's the difference?" Well, it doesn't really matter whether it understand. That's just life.
People who say, "I don't like reading," they're dumb. It's true. You say, "You're hurting my feelings because I've said that before." Well, I'm sorry. Stop being dumb. People just, "I just love watching TV and I love watching American Idol and I love watching reality shows and everything." You ought to say, "I'm dumb. I'm shallow and dumb." It's true though. "I'm vain. I live a life of vanity." Then the person who likes to read is the person who loves learning, loves education, loves knowledge. The person who loves to read the Bible is the person who loves the Lord. They love understanding. They love the things of God. They love his righteous judgments.
Maybe these are harsh words, but they're reality. Sometimes we need somebody to shake us and say, "Hello. Quit being stupid."
You know what? Honestly, I don't believe that those who are wise and those who are foolish are determined by their DNA. I think that's a real small part of it. I don't think that DNA is the big determining factor. This guy is just a mouth-breathing idiot because of bad genes. Usually, that's not the case. I don't think it has anything to do with it. I think it has to do with upbringing and what you do with your time. People that are smart are smart because they spent time learning and spent time studying. The Bible says that God's word makes wise the simple. People who are smart are smart because they spend time reading the Bible and because they spend time reading books and learning and they don't spend time just wasted with vanity. That's the difference.
People who don't have any money in the United States of America, the land of opportunity, is usually because they don't go to work. People who have money, they go to work a lot. These are just kind of general, no brainer kind of ... It's the same thing with knowledge. You get it from reading. It doesn't get in there by osmosis. It doesn't get in there by accident. I talked to somebody and they know the Bible real well, it's because they love the Bible and read the Bible a lot. Period. Memorize the Bible a lot.
You can tell when people know the Bible and when they don't. I can tell who reads the Bible and who doesn't because you start talking to them about eh Bible and they don't have a clue what you're talking about, they don't read it. You talk to other people and they know exactly what you're talking about and they exhibit great understanding of the word and you know there's a guy who reads his Bible. There's a woman who reads her Bible. It is apparent. You don't even have to ask that person, "Hey, how many times have you read it cover to cover?"
I've heard preachers get up and say, "I've read the Bible 175 times cover to cover." I know for a fact that they're lying because they lack knowledge and because they constantly misquoting everything and they clearly don't know the scripture. They don't know the subject. They don't know what they're talking about. I just say, "You're a bold-faced liar." No one could read the Bible that much and know so little. Fact. It's true. Then, plenty of other preachers, I hear them preach and they don't have to tell me how many times they've read the Bible, because I just know that they've read it. Many times, a multitude of times, 50 times, 100 times. I've heard a preacher say that he'd read it 100 and some odd times and I believed it because of the quality of the word that he was giving and the fact that he knew the scripture so well. The proof's in the pudding. You don't just read the Bible 100 times and just be an idiot. It just doesn't happen that way. You don't just read the Bible three times your whole life and be a Bible expert. Doesn't happen.
These things seem very basic, but they are the truth. It would be like if you saw somebody with huge muscles and you think, "Oh, they just got that way by sitting around watching TV and eating bonbons." You know that's not true, right? You look at somebody who's strong and you say, "That person obviously put work into that." Bodily exercise profit little. Exercise thyself rather unto godliness. Some of you need to bulk of spiritually. You need some spiritual weight gain. You need to do some spiritual mass building and get some muscle. Get some strength on you. You know what? It is obvious.
I talked to Pastor Roland Rasmusin yesterday, the guy who does the narration at the beginning of After the Tribulation. It was nice to talk to him because he was actually the one who won my father to the Lord and my grandfather to the Lord back in the 1960s in Los Angeles, California. I was talking to him and he told me some stories about my grandfather. Then I spent over an hour with him going through a lot of Biblical doctrine regarding Bible prophecy. We were going through the book of Daniel and going through the book of Revelation. Even though we didn't agree on every point, there were a couple of things that we didn't see eye to eye on, but we agreed on the vast majority of what we talked about.
I'll just tell you right now, it was just obvious, this is a guy who knows the Bible. This is a guy who reads the Bible. You could talk to him and he knew the subject. You could refer to a verse, he knows exactly what verse you're talking about, he can expound on it. Even without the Bible even in front of him. I don't know how old he is, but I believe he's about 90 years old. He's either in his late 80s or he's 90. Yet, sharp as a tack. You know what? You could have a way better conversation with him than you would have with a lot of young guys because of the fact that he does the reading. It comes out of his mouth because he knows the subject from reading it. It's not by accident, it comes through hard work.
Why do people work hard at something? Why do you work hard at your job? Because you're getting a paycheck. What about things that you don't get paid for? What about hobbies? Why would you work hard at playing the piano? Only if you love playing the piano. Why would you work hard at running? Only if you love running. You're only going to work hard at things that you like. You have to love God's word to spend time reading it, studying it. That's why it's like he rotates back and forth in Psalm 119 between delighting in it and learning it, delighting in it, knowing it, loving it, learning it, loving it, meditating in it.
In the next verse, he says ... Let's read it again in verse 37. "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity and quicken thou me in thy way. Establish thy word unto they servant who is devoted to thy fear." We ought to devoted to the fear of God, the Bible says. Verse 39, "Turn away my reproach which I fear, for thy judgments are good. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts. Quicken me in thy righteousness."
We'll stop there for tonight as far as going through this scripture. It's a very long chapter. It would take many hours to go through this whole chapter verse by verse. You know, I just wanted to show you just even in those first five sections that we went through there what the gist of the chapter is. It's a desire and a longing and a love for God's word that manifests itself in time spent memorizing, meditating, learning, and keeping God's word.
We need to make this a practical application in our lives. How do we apply this practically in our lives? We need to get sin out of our life so that we can love God's word more, number one.
As we seek to incorporate God's word into our lives more and more, here are just some quick tips to close out the sermon on how to read the Bible more, how to spend more time meditating on the Bible.
Number one, you need to keep the Bible with you at all times. Technology even makes this easier too. Sometimes, you can have it on your phone. Everybody pretty much has their phone everywhere they go. Get the Bible installed on your phone. Get a King James Bible app where you can pull that thing up and read it anytime. Better yet, just a New Testament. Pocket New Testament in your pocket everywhere you go. In your purse, ladies, everywhere you go. I like to have Bibles in different parts of the house. Coffee table, bedroom, bathroom. Everywhere. One in the car. One in the lunchbox when you go to work. Just having the Bible available, you'll read it more. How many times do you think, "I could read some Bible," and it's like, "Oh, I don't have it with me. Move on to something else." Get the Bible and just get it everywhere. Have it with you at all times.
Secondly, spend time memorizing the Bible. Memorizing the Bible is something that you can do sometimes when you can't read it. To read the Bible, sometimes you have to sit down with the book and read it and you can't necessarily multitask as well. By memorizing the Bible, you can do other things. Sometimes when I have menial tasks to perform, I would have Bible verses on a note card and then I could pull out those Bible verses and just get a small phrase from that Bible verse and then put that in my pocket and just meditate on that for a while I do fire alarms or whatever I used to do for a living or just nowadays if I'm just doing menial tasks in other aspects of my life.
For example, if I were going to be learning let's say Psalm 119, if I wanted to memorize that chapter and I started out with the first verse, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way," I'd just get that phrase in my mind, put that back in my pocket, and just as I go about mowing the lawn or whatever activity, just, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way. Blessed are the undefiled in the way. Blessed are the undefiled in the way. Blessed are the ..." You say, "Well, that's not a very fancy memorization method. Chanting it over and over again. Yeah, but you know what, that's really the only method that I've used. Other people have better methods. That's my method. I've memorized hundreds of chapters like that. It's tedious. Not if you love it. You just chant it. After I've just ran that into the ground for a few minutes, then I just pull out the card and get the next part of the verse, "Who walk in the law of the Lord. Who walk in the law of the Lord. Who walk in the law of the Lord. Who walk in the law of the Lord. Who walk in the law of the Lord." You know? You know? "Who walk in the law of the Lord. Who walk in the law of the Lord." Whatever you do, you just recite it. That's just a way to get more Bible into you.
Sometimes, if I'm just busy and I wasn't really planning on memorizing the Bible so I didn't really have any cards or anything planned, sometimes if I just get somewhere and my mind's just kind of wandering and I'm just kind of bored and don't really have anything going on, sometimes I'll just pull out my pocket New Testament and just open it to a random chapter that I don't know and just pick a verse and just learn that verse right there just for no reason. It's just another Bible verse into my heart. I mean, it's all good. It's all God's word. Just learn it.
Okay. Number three, besides having the Bible everywhere, besides using flashcards or a New Testament to learn scripture by memory, another thing you can do is have the Bible on audio. This is a major way to increase your Bible reading. Some people would say, "Yeah, but if you listen to it, is that really the same as reading it?" You know what? I think it's better. Now, some people get more out of it reading. They say, "Well, when I listen to it, I zone out." They say, "I zone out." You know what? I find that I zone out more reading it than listening. Everybody's different. Some people are more auditory. Other people are more visual in their learning style. I find myself zoning out when I read it where I'll read and then I'll be like, "Whoa. I don't even know what I read for the last four verses. I kind of zoned out." Then I'll back up. Sometimes you have to back up the audio because you zone out. Honestly, I zone out less with the audio. I get more out of the audio. Other people say they get more out of reading it. You know what? Getting something out of it's better than getting nothing. I mean, listening to it's better than nothing by any way you slice it.
Just get that Bible cassette, that Bible CD, that Bible mp3 and just have that thing in the car and have it set to where you turn on the engine, it's already running. Just come right on. You don't even have to decide or think about it.
I remember as a teenager, a lot of time, there was always that decision between you got the rock music CD, when you're a teenager, and then I had the Bible CD. You knew you're supposed to listen to the Bible. The spirit's willing and the flesh is weak. You know what I found? Sometimes you made the right choice, sometimes you made the wrong choice. Here's the thing though. You know what I always found though? Even though sometimes it was kind of like put in the Bible CD. Once it was on though, you were always glad that you did. You always enjoyed it, but it was just fighting with that battle with the flesh to want to turn it on in the first place. Once it was on, you got into it. You got entertained by it. You enjoyed it. You liked it. It's just that struggle to get the thing turned on.
That's why it's good sometimes just having it in the CD player and just to have it turned on, just have the thing running and looping. What I would do, I would just have one CD, I'd leave that CD in for weeks and let it loop a few times so I could kind of just really drill in that one part of scripture. That one hour of reading and then switch it out after a little while.
If you just do the math, 15 minutes a day gets you through the Bible in one year. If you just say Monday through Friday, let's say you drive Monday through Friday, so it would have to be a little more than 15 minutes, let's say it's 22 minutes. Let's say your work is 11, 12 minutes there and 11, 12 minutes back. Just your driving to work and driving home from work alone could get you through the Bible, cover to cover in a year if you did that, if you kept that thing cranking all the time. You just told yourself, you know what? It's just a rule that on my way to work and on my way from work, this is all I listen to. Then God might even stick you in traffic on the way home because you need to listen to the Bible more. No, I'm just kidding. The bottom line is that you'll get a lot more done. You can multitask, again. Turn on the Bible audio and you can do other things. You can take a walk. You can go running. You can do chores. Whatever. Learn the Bible, meditate on the Bible at the same time. You know, an idle mind is the devil's workshop. Listening to the Bible can keep your mind occupied with the right things.
Those are just some practical tips how you can incorporate the Bible more into your life. Have the physical book with you more places more often, use Bible memory as a way to have God's word with you all the time. I mean, I don't have a Bible with me, no problem, quote some scripture, quote a chapter. Then, thirdly, get it on audio and listen to it.
I like the Alexander Scorby reading of it. All God's people said, "Amen." Yeah. Alexander Scorby. You know what? Now with YouTube, even if you don't have the Scorby CDs, you can just type into YouTube "KJV audio Bible" in case you get a little burned out on Scorby's voice. You can just go on YouTube, just "KJV audio Bible" and there are all different narrators. Pick a narrator that you like. All different narrators on there doing it in case you get burned out on the Scorby addition or you say, "I can't afford it. I can't buy it." Just stream it on YouTube. It's free.
There's really no excuse. It's just making the effort. What is the word associated with making that effort? Diligence. Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer.
Father, thank you so much for Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, Lord. Help us to put these things into practice that we might prosper in all that we do and in Jesus' name we pray, amen.