Monday, July 29, 2013

What is a Precept?

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Psalm 119:92-94 (NIV)

92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
94 Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.

In reading our passage for today you find the word precept twice. One time it says I will never forget your precepts. The other I have sought your precepts. So do you even know what a precept is?

Here's what Mirriam Webster has to say.
Definition of PRECEPT
1: a command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action
2: an order issued by legally constituted authority to a subordinate official

Isaiah 28:10 KJV
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

A precepts is a command or instruction that is to guide our moral behavior. Isaiah tells us that we build one upon another, upon another. I talk to a lot of people who want to understand the Bible or want to know how to pray like I pray. We want to have the wealth of the knowledge of God instantly downloaded into our brain as if we were characters in the Matrix. We are like children in kindergarden wanting college level answers for our problems.

I think one of the reasons my prayers are effective is because I pray in line with Gods word as well as I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. I've been walking with the Lord for about 32 years at this point. I try to spend time daily in His word and in fellowship with the Lord. Its not that prayer is complicated - its just talking to God and sharing with Him what is on your heart and then listening to what He might be saying. God will never say anything that violates His written word. 

The confusion comes in that we struggle with knowing if we are hearing our own thoughts, or God or distractions from other sources. Knowing the voice of God is like tuning your radio to the right frequency. Once you know where the station you want is, you are able to lock into that frequency.
The more you travel through the wilderness over and over the more a path begins to develop. Oce the path is established getting to your destination becomes much easier. The more we tune into God's voice the more we are able to recognize it. Also the more we know of His written word, the more we are able to filter out what is not the voice of God. 

I found a cool page on face book called Once-a-day that allows you to log your bible reading progress. They even give you little badges and things for various reading milestones. If regular bible reading or bible study is something you are working on this looks like it would be a helpful page. I am in no way affiliated with them and get noting for recommending them to you. I have often found bible reading plans helpful. I do more bible reading at Bible Gateway, on my computer or my i-phone than I do my actual bible these days. I love the search features and the ability to access instantly many parallel versions. So the idea of an on line tracking system is appealing to me.

So lets take a look at today's verse in The Message
Psalm 119:92-96 (MSG)

89-96 What you say goes, God,
and stays, as permanent as the heavens.
Your truth never goes out of fashion;
it’s as up-to-date as the earth when the sun comes up.
Your Word and truth are dependable as ever;
that’s what you ordered—you set the earth going.
If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so,
I would have given up when the hard times came.
But I’ll never forget the advice you gave me;
you saved my life with those wise words.
Save me! I’m all yours.
I look high and low for your words of wisdom.
The wicked lie in ambush to destroy me,
but I’m only concerned with your plans for me.
I see the limits to everything human,
but the horizons can’t contain your commands!

The idea of precepts here is translated as advice and wise words and commands. Perhaps those are a little easier to grab on to. Precept is not a word that I use all that often but I understand the idea behind it. Like little children the Lord, who begins a good work in you, sets out to little by little, truth by truth to train us to respond to the situations of life in ways that are pleasing to Him and show His kingdom truths to others as we live our lives before Him. We who have decided to follow him, desire to be more and more like Him. It is a life long process in which He instructs and refines us. There are  more treasures to be discovered in His word and in His presence.

"I have hidden your word in my heart so I might not sin against you". Psalm 119:11 is something I have tried to do. I hide God's word easiest through putting it to music. For some reason song lyrics stick in my brain. I have a friend Mary Lou, who is amazing at Bible memorization. I have often seen her flipping through her stack of Bible memory cards when she has a few minutes to wait for a meeting. She takes the time to memorize verses, but she does not stop there she actually practices them and keeps them warm and ready for use.

When you are in a crisis you really don't have time to study and build up your faith. That stuff needs to be done in advance. You need to have daily built up your faith through the study of God's word and through time spent in prayer so that when you find yourself in a tough spot its already in you.
You squeeze an orange and you get orange juice. When you are under pressure - what comes out?
If it is not what you want - then you need to consider what you have been feeding yourself.

We must press forward to know the Lord, to discover His ways. To little by little day by day build upon the foundation of faith that has been laid. Precept on precept, line upon line. Don't put off till someday when you have more time, what you could be developing in your life a little more each day. We make time for the things that are important to us. 

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