Don’t Forget God’s Word!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Psa 119-16 not forget God's word

Don’t Forget God’s Word!

These words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s are particularly startling: “Why is it that my thoughts depart so quickly from God’s Word and I find the necessary word is often not there for me in the time of need.” [1]

My delight is in Your statutes;

I will not forget Your Word.

Oh, can I relate! I know—firsthand—what it is like. I had a stroke as a freshman in high school. Yes, there were some physical effect. But, by and large, the effects on my speech center were long-lasting. Frustrating and even infuriating. I still have difficulty after starting sentences, having the concept in my head that I want to communicate, and—nothing. No words or phrases. I could not bring anything to mind. Literally, and spiritually.

“Because God’s Word was spoken to us in history, in the past, it is necessary for us to repeat what we have learned every day in order to remember it.” [2] As Bonhoeffer says, remembering is power. God has infinite power, too.

I am sure of God’s power—God’s love—God’s mighty acts because they worked for me in the past. That’s how I know that God will be there for me in the present (in the “now”) as well as the future…”remembering and repeating are necessary for blessedness, and forgetting is equivalent to falling away from the faith.” [3]

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have some mercy. Dear Lord, help me to remember Your Word whenever I need it. Amen.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 123.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 124.

Pay Attention to God’s Ways!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, January 5, 2018

Psa 119-15 precepts, Bible

Pay Attention to God’s Ways!

These admonitions really hit home, God. The words this psalmist writes are strong and emphatic. No nonsense, here. God  is the only one we ought to pay any attention to.

Consider the verse of Psalm 119 we are to consider this time. Verse 15 says to listen up!

I will meditate on Your commandments

And give attention to Your ways.

Some powerful words indeed, written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Give an ear to this: ”Every gift we receive, every new understanding, drives us still deeper into the Word of God. We need time for God’s word.” [1]  Wow! That verse almost makes me really want to study God’s Word in depth. (I mean, morethan I am studying the Bible right now.)

Bonhoeffer does not pull many punches. He is quite direct in his admonitions, as well, and lets his readers know that with his direct speaking: “Certainly, God will often require quick action; but He also requires stillness and reflection.” [2]

Just to make sure that his readers did not miss one of the main points of this verse, Bonhoeffer demands that we consider this. “The Word of God demands our time. God Himself entered into time and wants us now to give Him our time.” [3]

How wonderful the riches to be found in the Bible. Old Testament, New Testament, both are important and both contain wisdom and knowledge for us, in abundance. (Bonhoeffer would definitely agree.) In fact, he scoffs at the theologian who merely makes his or her own interpretation and solely speaks their own thoughts—to the exclusion of mentioning the Word of God at all. That is not a fruitful manner in which to consider God’s Word.

Dear God, thanks for such a serious attitude and approach to Your Word. Help me—help us to value it and to treasure it as much as Bonhoeffer did. In Your Son’s name we pray.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 121.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 122.

Take Delight in God’s Decrees

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Psa 119-14 God's statutes, bible

Take Delight in God’s Decrees

I am amazed at how earnest the psalmist is, sometimes. Taking delight in God’s rules? Laws? Decrees? I know this psalmist really meant it, with all his heart.

Let’s read verse 119:14, as translated by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I have taken greater delight in the way of Your decrees

than in all manner of riches.

As Bonhoeffer said, “’Delight’ is the great word, without which there can be no walking in the way of God.” [1] He then mentions the Gospel of Matthew, where a man found a treasure hidden in a field, and then buys the whole field for the joy of it. Such exuberance. Such joy.

Sometimes, I cannot quite bring up the joy of the Lord from within me. I wonder why? Perhaps the day-to-day routine covers up that joy. Maybe the week-in, week-out rat race gets me down. Yes, I can read statements like Bonhoeffer’s, that “God’s word creates joy and delight in the one who receives it.” [2] Yes, it is delight about restored fellowship with God, and the ability to walk with God, sit with, cry with, even be angry with God.

But, I suspect it is much more than that. I am delivered from fear and separation and alienation from God. God’s Word – which is both the Bible and the Logos – is full of that joy. Especially at this time of year we hear about it. “There is the great proclamation of joy about the incarnation of the Word of God in Jesus Christ in Luke – ‘Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people’ (Luke 2:10).” [3]

Even though people go through challenging times, or difficulties, or the valley of the shadow, or joy on the mountaintop, there is still joy. That good news of great joy is truly a delight. I can reach out and accept that gift of great joy. I can delight in that precious treasure. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for this matchless gift of the incarnation of the Word of God. Thank You.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 119.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 120.

With My Lips Tell of God’s Laws?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, December 15, 2017

Psa 119-13 recount God's laws, words

With My Lips Tell of God’s Laws?

Ah, Pastor Bonhoeffer, again you have struck me right in the heart. Again you have hit me in the gut. Not fair, I say!

Actually, I feel such judgment and conviction from Bonhoeffer’s comments on the current verse. (Bonhoeffer, you have certainly done your job, I can tell you.) Let’s take a look at this verse:

With my lips will I recite

All the judgments of Your mouth.

I do not think the author was kidding around at all. Not in any of this incredibly long psalm.  The author seems to be perfectly serious whenever he mentions taking God’s Word to heart. And in referring to this verse, Psalm 119:13, Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells his readers to be cautious about the words that come from their mouths. “It is often easy to carry God’s Word in our heart, but very difficult to bring it upon our lips!” [1]

Ah, Herr Pastor, your words hit me in such a delicate, awkward place. How often do I keep my mouth closed, lest I seem to be a “schoolmarm” by other people? “Is there not an atmosphere of frivolity and godlessness in which we no longer find the right word and simply become silent? Does not false modesty and fear of others often keep our mouths shut?” [2]

Yes, I am certainly guilty as charged.

Dear Lord, forgive me. Let me strive to honestly and sincerely use God’s Words to uplift and encourage others. Gracious God, help our words to be consistent with our hearts, in all things. It’s in the powerful, mighty name of God we pray. Amen.

 

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

 

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 118.

[2] Ibid, 119.

Instruct Me in God’s Laws?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 7, 2017

Psa 119-12 teach me, words

Instruct Me in God’s Laws?

When I read this brief comment on Psalm 119:12, I sat back and thought about it for a while. Let’s get the verse in front of us, so we can see what Bonhoeffer is talking about.

Blessed are You, O Lord;

Instruct me in Your statutes.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “Does the ‘I,’ which is so noticeably repeated in these psalm verses, signify preoccupation with the self in self-criticism and self-justification?” [1] I do not know about that. What I recognize is that the Psalms are one of the most personal and emotional books in the Bible. I always appreciated the fact that the different psalm writers had no problem expressing deep (and sometimes troubling) emotions.

I have never thought of this specific idea before. Does the psalmist have some hyper-sensitive preoccupation with the self? (I mean, unhealthy preoccupation. I am not talking about a normal self-concept here.) That is a fascinating idea, and one that is new to me. I simply cannot answer that right now.

However, I can agree with the psalmist and with Bonhoeffer on his other striking insight. “In blessing God, we confess what we have received. In making our request of God, we confess our poverty.” [2] Oh, my. I know very well how poor I am. I need God’s instruction, God’s wisdom, and especially God’s help. What can I do, but pray?

Gracious God, source of all wisdom, thank You for these words. Thank You for this psalm. Continue to impress these verses on my heart and mind. Please, Lord, help me to follow Your statutes and laws. I thank and praise Your blessed name, Lord. All glory be to You. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 118.

[2] Ibid.

Treasure God’s Word in My Heart

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, December 1, 2017

Psa 119-11 hidden Your word, Bible

Treasure God’s Word in My Heart

We come to a verse that I memorized very early in my work of Scripture memorization. As I still remember Psalm 119:11, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” (The first number of verses I memorized came from the King James version of the Bible. A lovely, poetic version, but not always the most understandable.)

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes on this verse, he translates it “I treasure Your promise in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” Similar content, slightly different translation of the first section. Slightly different imagery, but still an awesome verse. I think this has been one of my favorite verses—and concepts—from the Hebrew Scriptures that I have ever committed to memory.

I absolutely agree with Bonhoeffer. Straight off, he says “I do not treasure God’s promise in my understanding but in my heart. It is not to be analyzed by my intellect but to be pondered in my heart.” [1] Yes, theological concepts can be analyzed. Certain weightier sections of Scripture benefit from a careful, clinical study. However, the psalmist here states plainly enough that God’s word needs to be pondered, and hid—or treasured in one’s heart.

How deeply do I need to allow God’s Words to penetrate into my innermost being? Bonhoeffer says “It must penetrate deep within us, dwell in us, like the Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary, so that we do not sin in thought, word, or deed.” [2]

Oh, dear Lord…those words of Pastor Bonhoeffer convict me to the heart. I am not even thinking of any specific sin, or shortcoming, or place where I need to mend my ways. However, I know that I very much need God’s Word in my heart. Oh, boy, do I need it!

While this verse is one of my all-time favorites, yet, it also convicts me. I hesitate, even, before allowing it onto my internal radar screen. Dear Lord, gracious God, help me to follow You more nearly and love You more dearly. Encourage me to hide Your word in my heart, because I do not want to sin against You, and do things (or think or say things) that displease You and even make You angry. Dear Lord, forgive my falling away, and my falling short. In Jesus’ precious, powerful name I pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 117.

[2] Ibid.

Seeking God with a Whole Heart

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, November 26, 2017

Psa 119-10 all my heart, hillside

Seeking God with a Whole Heart

This verse in Psalm 119 and its accompanying commentary by Dietrich Bonhoeffer really made me think. Of course, many of these from this Psalm strike home, and challenge me to strive to follow God more nearly and love God more dearly. However, this particular verse talks of following God “with my whole heart.” Here’s the whole of Psalm 119:10.

With my whole heart I seek You;

let me not stray from Your commandments.

When I think about following God with my whole heart, then I am striving to commit my life truly to the following of God. As Bonhoeffer says, “For with half a heart we might be seeking an idol, but never God Himself.” [1] If I only give half of myself—or even less of my attention, love, or service—to God, that is an extremely poor excuse of a gift to give to my Creator, my Shepherd, and my Savior. How could I even think to give a shoddy gift like that to my God?

Sadly, I am afraid I give that kind of gift to God on a regular basis…

I am surprised God doesn’t strike me down with a thunderbolt from heaven, for the really awful gifts I do end up giving to God. When I even think of giving gifts at all…

Dear Lord, I am sorry. I know I owe You so much more. As Bonhoeffer says, “If we are responding to God’s Word we will say ‘I seek You with my whole heart.’” [2] Gracious God, help me to seek You every day in such a way. You want nothing else from me but to seek You, to be in Your presence, and to rest in You. Help me to be constant and consistent in seeking You, Lord. So help me, God.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 116.

[2] Ibid.