The Prayer of Sanctification
In this section of the great Psalm 119, the writer prays a prayer of sanctification. He goes before God not to ask for material blessing, or for help in circumstance, but for a transformation that leads to a greater submission to God. The psalmist asks God to teach him, to grant him understanding, to change the direction of his heart, and his gaze, to confirm God’s promise to him, and to turn away reproach. It is a prayer of holiness.
In order to please God, there must be an understanding of God’s desires, and how God wishes us to live. Scripture grants us the basis of this knowledge, but it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can understand all that God has for us, and only through hearing His voice that we learn how God wants us specifically to live. As we walk by faith, God leads us down paths of righteousness.
The psalmist also prays for a heart change. “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain.” Our human desires are often self-serving. It is through the transformative power of God that changes our nature to be like Him, and it is closeness with Him that molds our desires to His will, and draws our heart to His words and ways. This process must come with a turning away from the things of the world. “Worthless things” – be that shallow entertainment, the drama of current events, or simple natural pleasures, must never compete with our attention to God. Our eyes must be fixed on the things that are eternal. In our walk with God, we are also granted promises, both from the Word, and personally. It is a renewed faith in these promises that leads us in faith through trial and storm, and brings us into what God has for us, and in the end, eternal life.
As we speak with God, he confirms His word to us, and grants us a blessed assurance of things to come. All of these requests come from a heart that is seeking after God. It is a prayer that desires a greater surrender to God and His ways. It is through God’s answer to our prayers of sanctification that we reach purity and maturity in Him. As you long for Him and His presence today, may your prayers be answered, and may God transform you into a more perfect and faithful servant.
Jesus was preceded in His 3 year earthly ministry by a powerful prophet, the “voice crying in the wilderness”, John the Baptist. John was called to prepare the way for Jesus. The preparation was powerfully simple; John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Today, repentance from sins is a basic tenant of receiving Jesus and eternal life. The writer of Hebrews refers to repentance from dead works as foundational. To believers at Corinth who are caught up in sinful acts and lifestyles, Paul expresses the need for repentant hearts.
Often, repentance is viewed in relation to regret or sorrow. Paul writes about godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Repentance in the Bible carries the idea of turning around, a change of heart, attitude, and therefore, behavior. A heart that is repentant is a heart that is pliable before the Lord. It is a heart that is prepared to hear the word of the Lord. This was the preparation that was made by John. As the people repented, their hearts were prepared to receive the good news of Jesus Christ. Along with this repentance came baptism. Baptism is an outward symbol of death and new life. As someone is submerged under water the person they were dies, and as they come up out of the water, they rise up as a new creation, a new person. A baptism of repentance is a death to the old behavior and sin, and a new life with a changed heart. The baptism of a new believer is a baptism of death to self and unrighteous, a death with Jesus, and a raising with new life and salvation in Jesus Christ.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have been baptized into a new hope in Jesus Christ, but the Bible says we are also transformed from glory to glory. As we continue to learn and obey the voice of God, we repent of old lifestyles, ungodly ways of thinking, and dead works. It is this spirit of being open to God changing our direction and actions that invites God to continually move in our lives and transform us to reveal more of Christ’s life in us. Today, may you be encouraged by the Lord’s voice in your life, and may your heart be open and ready to change and repent before the mighty hand of God.
Meeting With God
When the Israelites exited Egypt, a pillar of cloud would go before them during the day, and a pillar of fire by night. God’s chosen people were led by His presence. Away from the camp, the distractions, busyness, and uncleanness of the people, was the tent of meeting. It was the place that Moses would meet with God. God would speak to Moses face to face. The pillar of cloud would descend upon the tent. It was here that God would instruct Moses, but it was also here that Moses would come to know God personally, where he would grow closer to the God that brought His people out of Egypt.
When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain of the temple was torn. The separation between the people and the presence of God was removed. Now, Jesus is the curtain, the entrance, to the Holiest of Holies. Through Him, we may boldly approach the throne of grace and enter into a personal relationship with God the father. It is through Jesus that we can enter the tent of meeting and speak to God face to face. We are now able to have an encounter with His awesome presence.
Our time with the Lord should not just be a time to petition God for our desires, or just to intercede, but it should also be a time of growing in relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It should be a time of understanding God’s character, His love and forgiveness. In moments of encounter, we see new aspects of God’s glory, His goodness, and His grace. As He reveals Himself to us, we are changed and propelled to be more like Him. Today, may you leave the camp of the world enter into the secret place, and may God reveal to you more of His goodness, kindness, and His nature!
Light to Our Feet
The Bible is the greatest, most breathtaking book in all of human history. The synthesis of each sentence and book into the whole comes together as a celestial symphony of God’s word. From page to page, God’s plan and desire is revealed. Each book shines light on who God is, his character, and who we are as His creation. Ultimately, it speaks of Jesus and what He has done, who we are in Him, and our future as sons and daughters of God.
For the believer, the Bible is a foundational resource. As the word of God, it acts as the foundation for teaching. God does not change, and He does not contradict what he has spoken and what has been written in scripture. Knowledge of scripture alerts us to erroneous and false teaching, to mindsets and attitudes that would lead us away from Jesus Christ.
Meditation on scripture conforms us to God. As we contemplate scripture, our minds and hearts are transformed. We gain new spiritual eyes. Eyes that see more like God sees. A mind that thinks and understands things ever closer to God’s ultimate perspective. God’s word brings wisdom and understanding that goes beyond natural deduction or psychology. God’s word is a light to our path. It lights the road ahead, allowing us to see further down the road of our own walk in life.
In all situations, scripture brings hope and edification. As we learn God’s commandments and hide them in our heart, we no longer yield to our earthly, natural desires. As we walk through life, the Holy Spirit reminds us of scripture. For a believer, reading and remembering Bible verses that apply to our daily situation can be a powerful step in consistently hearing the voice of God. Today may you have a fresh excitement to read the Bible, and may it light your road ahead, and may you hear the voice of God and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit over His word, and may the words of life be hidden in your heart.