Thursday, May 9, 2013

Psalm 119 Hang on and Keep Walking

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

ז Zayin
49 Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.
51 The proud have me in great derision,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
52 I remembered Your judgments of old, O Lord,
And have comforted myself.
53 Indignation has taken hold of me
Because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.
54 Your statutes have been my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.
55 I remember Your name in the night, O Lord,
And I keep Your law.
56 This has become mine,
Because I kept Your precepts.

The Message
Remember what you said to me, your servant—
I hang on to these words for dear life!
These words hold me up in bad times;
yes, your promises rejuvenate me.
The insolent ridicule me without mercy,
but I don’t budge from your revelation.
I watch for your ancient landmark words,
and know I’m on the right track.
But when I see the wicked ignore your directions,
I’m beside myself with anger.
I set your instructions to music
and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way.
I meditate on your name all night, God,
treasuring your revelation, O God.
Still, I walk through a rain of derision
because I live by your Word and counsel.

Remember what you said to me, your servant— I hang on to these words for dear life!
These words hold me up in bad times; yes, your promises rejuvenate me.
At the time of Jesus birth the shepherds arrived telling a story of the host of angels appearing in Luke 2 while they were out in the night watching over the sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:18-19 (NIV)
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. You must remember that Mary had her own visit from an angel, as did the husband of her cousin Elizabeth. These were not the kinds of things that happened to everyone everyday at that time. Notice that all who heard what the shepherds said were amazed. Mary's response is different she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

There are times when the Lord shows me things in dreams or while I am praying. I quite often don't totally know what to make of it. Its almost like it is a puzzel made of symbols. People who are symbols, things that are symbols and the message is there for me to treasure up and ponder in my heart. There have been times when I will have looked at something one way and suddenly I will see it from a different angle and have a ah ha! kind of moment. At times I have wondered why God does not just tell me more plainly. I know in working with kids that you can teach by telling them things or you can teach by letting them work it out for themselves. In my opinion that working it out makes the solution their very own. It will not be lost to them, it has become a part of them. I want to note that not everything that God shows me is for tomorrow or the next day. Sometimes the things he shows me are way out in the future. I know he has shown me something, I'm not sure why I needed to know ahead of time. They do seem to hold me up in bad times. I can look back on the things God has said and done and the things yet resolved and I hold on to both knowing God is working in deeper, more far reaching ways than I can grasp. His promises do rejuvenate me. One of the promises I hold on to when things are difficult is Psalm 27:13 "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." I have gotten to the other side of many a difficult time and indeed I have seen the goodness of the Lord. 

The insolent ridicule me without mercy, but I don’t budge from your revelation.
I watch for your ancient landmark words, and know I’m on the right track.
I suppose I have learned much like young Joseph to be careful who I share the things that God shows me. Unless it is someone who God also shows things to one is generally met with unbelief and at times ridicule. For Joseph it was just too much for his already jealous brothers. They found the first opportunity alone with him to kill him but then they were persuaded sell him to traveling merchants. Mary treasured and pondered those things she had been shown and the testimonies of others. 
This is not a one time kind of thing for her. Roughly 12 years later Jesus gets lost and the family finally finds him in the Temple teaching the wise and learned men of the day. Again it says of Mary
Luke 2:51 "Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart."  I also watch for landmarks to help me know I am on the right track. Some of the value of an ancient landmark is that it reminds us of Gods dealings in similar situations in previous times. David no doubt thought back on how God dealt with Abraham and Moses.
He knew God was able to deliver his people from Egypt, what was a unbelieving Philistine Giant compared to that. I have little landmarks or reminders of various promises. Pennies remind me to trust God, because I often will find a stray penny during my day just when I need a little encouragement. Hummingbirds remind me to see God's wonder in a situation. Lighthouses remind me of God lighting my way and leading me safely to His destination. They are odd little things that show up when I need a a bit of encouragement. I can be fine and go for days without seeing any of those things. Then there are days when I see them at every turn. I know that God is giving me little reminders of His love and presence. He is not just a story in a book, He is active in the lives of His people. I don't think its weird that I hear His voice and that He has a way of communicating with me. He himself said in the Book that John 10:27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." Learning to know His voice has come from spending time in His presence, quietly listening and sharing everyday. There was a time when it was much more difficult but then my relationship with the Lord was more hit and miss back then, I would run to Him when I was in trouble. All relationships grow and develop the more you spend time with one another. 

But when I see the wicked ignore your directions, I’m beside myself with anger.
I suppose it is not so much the wicked ignoring God's direction that bugs me. I expect that they will ignore God and His ways. The ones that tend to frustrate me is believers who ignore God's instructions or are careless in how they handle the things of God. Aaron's sons who were priests died because they did not follow God's instructions and made some strange mixture of incense to burn before the Lord. Uzzah went to steady the Arc of God that was being transported by cart rather than on poles carried by priests. He is struck dead. You need a New Testament example there is Ananias and Sapphira who thought they could lie to the apostles both are separately confronted and both lie and drop dead on the spot. I think we have grown accustomed to Jesus my buddy that we forget His awesome power and holiness should be respected. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. 1 Chronicles 16:25
"For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods."

I set your instructions to music and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way.
I meditate on your name all night, God, treasuring your revelation, O God.
I will often set verses that I want to remember to music. I have found that music helps me to memorize and remember things. I can remember all the verses to various songs that I learned as a child. They just stick with me. So I use music as a way to help me remember. I will often be humming or singing some verse or song that reminds me of some truth in God's word. When I wake in the night I try to stop and see if there is something I need to pray about. I take the things God shows me in His word, even in the words of others or in visions and dreams and I ponder them. Especially with things spoken by other people, I check those against the truth of the Word, and I take it to the Lord and pray. Is what they have said of me true? Sometimes they are misinformed and seeing what God is doing in my life and totally miss understand. God tells me to forgive them. Job's friends meant well, at least they stuck with him in his trouble. They did not really get what was going on and their council was not correct. God tells Job to forgive them. 

Still, I walk through a rain of derision because I live by your Word and counsel. 
I live in the Pacific North West and it rains a lot here. We still walk and go about our business even on rainy days. We have a crazy festival called the Bumbershoot festival (the umbrella fest). A little rain should not keep you from walking and living by God's Word. Here's a Bumbershoot for you, "His Banner over Me is Love" The writer of this Psalm talks of the rain of derision. To be scorned, or misunderstood is expected so just keep walking. Don't let the negativity and unbelief of others around you keep you from moving forward with God. 

Oh and Happy Birthday to my friend Lisa Johnson. I pray that the Lord will bless you mightily in the coming year. Way beyond your expectations. 

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