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Teach Me, O Lord

by David Johnson

Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program

 

     It is great to be together again as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson is “Teach Me, O Lord.” And our primary text is taken from the Old Testament Psalm 119 verses 33 through 37. Pleas listen to the Word of God.

“Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees,
then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, then I will keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.

     True and meaningful words that we must all take to heart as believers and would be believers.

As Christians our wonderful gift from God is His precious Son the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior. Similarly, is His gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God that once we are saved is our helper who comes along side us in our growth, development and as our Comforter.

     As believers the Godhead: The Father who is the Giver, the Son and the Spirit who are given are our most valuable assets. One God yet revealed, in Scripture, as three distinct persons of the trinitarian God we worship and serve.

     As spectacular as becoming sons and daughters of the living God, added to His family, there is yet another precious gift.  The gift that, currently in this life, is the most tangible. That is the most perceptible by touch; the gift that currently is the most clearly intelligible, as visible, physical, and useful in our training in righteousness.

I’m of course, referring to the Holy Bible, the sacred scriptures, with God’s decrees, laws, commands, statures, and the like, available to the human race in order to know God, to know His will through His written word.

This sermon’s thrust is primarily two-fold. First to reinforce in our minds the reality that God’s gift of His book to humankind is the world’s greatest book. Secondly to motivate us all to spend both quantitative and qualitative time absorbed in the awesome revelations of God to us.

     “The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. No book in the world equals the Bible for that.”  (The words of Harper Lee, author of a bestselling novel – you’ve probably heard about or even read entitled “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  Why do so many, world-wide, fully accept that the Bible is the ‘Greatest Book?’  Consider the words of the apostle Paul Who wrote to the younger man Timothy.

     “How from infancy you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  Second Timothy chapter 3 verses 15 through 17.

     No other printed material, except Scripture is God-breathed or inspired of God on earth. So identified is the one true God with His word that when Scripture speaks, God speaks to us. Note carefully the words of Romans chapter 9 and verse 17 in the New Testament “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’”  (Here in the Roman epistle quoting Exodus chapter 9 verse 16 whereby the LORD God Himself was speaking and the inspired writer, the apostle Paul of the Roman letter substituted “Scripture says” because it was actually God-breathed by these words.

Scripture is revealed as “the very words of God” in Romans chapter 3 verse 2.

     Jesus Christ Himself stated of the Old Testament Scriptures “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”  Matthew chapter 5 verse 18

     I’ll illustrate the world’s value of even a portion of Scripture.  An auction was held in New York on November 26, in the year of our Lord 2013. A copy of ‘The Bay Psalm Book’ was up for sale. In AD 1640, this collection of biblical psalms had been translated from Hebrew and then typeset and printed by Puritan settlers. It was the first book published in British North America, just twenty years after the landing of the Mayflower. Of the 1700 copies originally printed, only eleven are known to survive. Just two and a half minutes after an opening bid of six million dollars, frenzied buyers were offering more than twelve million dollars for this rare piece of religious history! The final purchase price was $ 14.165 million, earning at the time, the Bay Psalm Book the new world record for the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction.

     If you think that establishes the value of Scripture at least monetarily consider the very first printed Gutenberg Bible. One leaf – that is a single sheet, made up of two pages from a surviving rare Guttenberg Bible can sell for as much as $ 100.000.  This is because the Guttenberg Bible is the first major book ever printed using movable type. It predates The Bay Psalm Book by more than 180 years. Experts estimate that if an entire Guttenberg Bible ever came up for auction, (only 48 copies remain, only 31 in excellent condition), one of these Bibles would likely fetch upward of $ 50 million dollars!

     Of course, when it comes to the Bible, most have an opinion. Abraham Lincoln, United States 16th president stated, “the best gift God has given to man and all the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book.”  Yet another author had a different opinion, his name, Mark Twain, the novelist, the humorist, travel writer, wrote of the Bible “some good morals, and a wealth also of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies.”  So, yes, the Bible is both loved and loathed.

     Yet as believers we are in the camp of the 4th century scholar Jerome best known for translating the Scripture into the Latin language.  Jerome stated the “Bible is the Divine Library.”  For believers, the Holy Bible is for more valuable than dollars to us individually today as Christians, and corporately as the Lord’s church. And in fact, to all humankind for its consideration.

     The Bible is controversial. Many passages are not easy to read or understand. So how can humankind objectively, reasonably, consider the Bible the ‘Greatest Book?’  Using a wide lens, the teachings of Scripture have inspired wide-scale humanitarian efforts. There is no way to know how many hospitals, schools, charitable non-profits, and food banks, for example, have been established because of the Bible’s injunctions to care for strangers, orphans, and widows. (Deuteronomy chapter 24 verses 17 through 19 and in the New Testament James chapter 1 verse 27

     The Bible has a one-of-a-kind history. It was penned by dozens of writers in three continents over a span of ten to fifteen centuries. Throughout history there have been repeated attempts to discredit or destroy these writings considered sacred; but the Bible has survived. Countless people have perished in their efforts to defend and distribute the Bible.

     The Bible has shaped three world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Many are surprised at the latter. But Muslims have adapted many of the stories and people from the Bible and included them in their Quran. Though this with changes from the earlier biblical texts with claims that Jews and Christians falsified aspects of the Bible.

     On an individual, personalized basis the Holy Bible continues to have a monumental, even saving impact. Yet, the world’s greatest book is a gift from the living God to everyone. It is for the faithful and the faithless. The Bible is a springboard to opening minds to all kinds of ideas, thoughts, and beliefs about what our individual life is all about.

     As believers consider Psalm 119; with its 176 sections or chapters it is the longest of the Psalms, and with the most chapters in all the Bible. It is the foremost portion of Scripture that exalts God’s written word. Psalm 119 incorporates seven different terms referring to Scripture including: laws, precepts, statutes, commands, decrees, work, and promises. Possibly it was written by Ezra the priest, it is a repetitive meditation on the wonder and value of God’s mind, God’s heart, God’s will revealed to humankind.  It is written to help the believer to grow in faith, to come to faith and grow in faith and remain committed to the LORD. It’s a precious map for believers of every generation; and can be a comfort in times of trouble.

Let’s consider a short sample:  Psalm 119 verse 33 “Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.”  If we saturate our minds, hearts, and wills with the teachings of the LORD we can be steeled to obey to the end as we persevere and are overcomers in this life.

     Verse 34 “Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it will all my heart.”  The more we read and study Scripture the more we will understand God’s truths with heartfelt surrender.

Verse 35 “Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.”  Petitioning the LORD for divine guidance should be our daily prayers. The more we submit to the LORD’s ways the less burdensome they become even unto a delight. Therein we find maturement in the LORD.

Verse 36 “Turn my heart towards your statutes and not toward selfish gain.”  When we discern that our hearts cling unto the LORD and not unto ourselves, we know that we are developing a heart after the LORD’s own heart.

Verse 37 “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”  Today there are so very more attractions and distractions of this world that can cause us to minimize even neglect Scripture, neglect prayer, and worship. This can be fatal. We must evaluate our priorities. As our bodies need food, so our spirits need God’s word in order to grow, to develop as the family God so desires us to be. In order to grow, develop and be the family God so desires us to be.

     All God’s gifts to us need to be received, treasured, and applied to our very lives. From salvation to sanctification, we need the Scriptures. We need to spend time with God which along with prayer, and worship, Scripture is so, so very important.

     Commit today to continue and or to begin to draw closer to the LORD through the pages of His written word by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Someone has written these truths:

May we all read, study, and apply God’s word to our everyday lives. This is of maximum importance!

The meditation of our hearts needs to continuously be: “Teach Me, O LORD!”

Let us all read and apply our Bibles to our daily lives.  

 

                       David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.   

 




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33