I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 119
Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
but I do not turn from your law.
I remember, LORD, your ancient laws,
and I find comfort in them.
Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
who have forsaken your law.
Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
In the night, LORD, I remember your name,
that I may keep your law.
This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts (NIV).
Raise your hand if you want a dose of suffering. There aren’t many volunteers when that question is asked. But in all seriousness, we do volunteer for suffering, if we believe there is a benefit.
As a youngster growing up on a farm, I remember getting a sliver in my finger. It took some convincing from my mother to allow her to dig it out with a needle. Once that sliver was gone, the suffering stopped almost immediately. A small dose of short term pain brought long-lasting relief.
There’s a similar principle at work in a statement from today’s reading. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
It’s the promise of a better future that helps us endure suffering in the present. I’ll endure the suffering of surgery, if it comes with the promise of a pain-free future. But the LORD’s promises are on a grand scale. He doesn’t just preserve my life for the present; He promises to preserve it for eternity. That’s an enormous promise, but our God is far beyond enormous. How do you measure infinity?
Now let’s return to that sliver. You can’t walk through this life without picking up mental slivers—foreign objects that lodge in your mind. It could be an erotic picture, an emotional scar, or an errant thought that grows into a bad habit. Brain slivers aren’t easily removed. And yes, they fester and become infected. It isn’t long and they may begin to take over your whole thought pattern. You can try to remove them yourself, but Jesus is the best brain-sliver remover that I know. Go to him. A little repentant pain can bring eternal relief.
Response: Father God, remove my brain slivers. Forgive me for allowing wrong thoughts and habits to fester. I remember, LORD, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them. Preserve my life. Amen.
Your Turn: Are there brain slivers that have invaded your mind? Set your mind on God’s promise.
Earlier this week, I came upon this review of my Biblical novel on the website Christianbook.com.
The Soldier Who Killed a King by David Kitz is an amazing fictional recounting of the passion of Christ as seen through the eyes of a centurion. I’ve had the book for quite a while and now having finished it, regret not reading it sooner so I could share it. What a remarkable book! The author brings a turbulent week in Jerusalem to life with compelling imagery and believable dialogue and action. The rereading of this last week before the crucifixion of Jesus was a moving reminder of what He suffered for me. Readers of Biblical fiction will not want to miss The Soldier Who Killed a King.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookFun Club network. A favorable review was not required and opinions are my own. — Annelr, Brighton, MI
To download a free study guide for this high-impact, Bible-based novel visit:
https://www.davidkitz.ca/centurion.php/free study guide PDF
Reading: Psalm 119
May your unfailing love come to me, LORD,
your salvation, according to your promise;
then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees (NIV).
We live in uncertain times. I am sure people have been saying words to that effect for generations, but it’s true. Developments in technology have been driving change at an ever increasing tempo. With major political and economic changes on the horizon, there seems to be more uncertainty than ever. The only thing that seems certain is that change will certainly happen.
In times like this, we need certainty. This world can’t offer us certainty, but God’s word can. Isaiah reminds us of the permanence of God’s word. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
Jesus offers us the same assurance. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, 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. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).
Jesus fully endorsed a reverence for God’s holy word. This is the reverence that we see expressed here in Psalm 119. We can place our trust in God’s word because it’s not changing with the times. It stands eternal. In uncertain times, we need God’s word in our minds and on our lips more than ever. May this be our prayer: Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.
Response: Father God, help me grow in my love for your word. Help me to read, meditate and apply it to my daily life. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you spending time daily in God’s word? Has it become as essential for you as your daily food? Do see God’s word as nourishment for your soul?
Reading: Psalm 119
Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may 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.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread,
for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
In your righteousness preserve my life (NIV).
How do you learn? We live in an era when education and learningt are highly valued, so this is an important question. In recent years psychologists have discovered what good teachers have recognized intuitively. Not everyone learns in the same way.
We all learn by taking in information through our senses, but that’s where individual differences begin to emerge. Some of us are primarily auditory learners. We learn best by listening. Others are primarily tactile or kinesthetic learners; they learn through touch and physical activity. Visual learners grasp concepts best by engaging with pictures, maps or diagrams. Personally, visual learning is my strong suit.
The psalmist begins today’s reading from Psalm 119 by expressing his desire to learn from the LORD: Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
Now that’s a noble request. We all need to pray that prayer. But how exactly do we learn from God? The psalmist goes on to provide some answers. 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.
It all begins with turning our hearts—our affections—toward the LORD. You can’t expect to learn much if you turn your back on the Teacher. And that requires a repentant heart. What are your eyes taking in? Is it worthless things, or the glory of God in nature, or in the face of Jesus Christ?
Response: Father God, I want to see you. Open my eyes to your wonders around me. Teach me your ways in practical life altering steps that draw me close to you. Open your word to me, so I can see the path you have set for me to walk. Amen.
Your Turn: What kind of learner are you? Are you learning from the LORD?
I wrote my novel about Christ’s passion from the perspective of the centurion who was in charge of the Good Friday crucifixion. Despite this masculine viewpoint, I have been pleased by the positive response from female readers. The following 5-star review was written by Sally Meadows and was posted to Goodreads:
It seems more than fitting that The Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed to God and was betrayed on the eve of His crucifixion, is the setting of the climax of “The Soldier Who Killed a King.” Here, the protagonist finally meets the living God in a gut-wrenching, unforgettably powerful way that will change his life forever. David Kitz’s narration draws us, throughout this book, into the complexity and brutality of New Testament times with such incredible detail that we can see, taste, feel, everything the soldier does. An enormously successful retelling of Jesus’s final days from the perspective of the man who was instrumental in Jesus’s death. And how through Jesus’s death, the soldier found true life.
To download a free study guide for this high-impact, bible-based novel visit: https://www.davidkitz.ca/centurion.php/free study guide PDF
Reading: Psalm 119
I am laid low in the dust;
preserve my life according to your word.
I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
teach me your decrees.
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me and teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,
for you have broadened my understanding (NIV).
Humility is not a character quality that is natural to man; on the contrary, a proud and haughty spirit is all too common. We may do our best to disguise our pride, but often it’s there just below the surface. Usually we are blind to our conceit and arrogance. We flatter ourselves too much to see our own faults. There are a number of scriptures that say just that. The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are (Proverbs 28:11).
We smarten up when we are laid low. The psalmist begins today’s reading from the lowest point—from the dust. Why does he begin from such a low point? We are given a clue in the second verse of this psalm portion: I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
When we are called to account, we like to put on a brave face and set our best foot forward. This may work well in human circles, but it’s not the best strategy when we are called to account before God. The positive spin we put on our sins and shortcomings doesn’t impress God in the least.
God sees us as we truly are. We are always naked—morally naked before Him. We can hide nothing from the LORD. When God answers us, we are brought low; we are laid low in the dust. We were taken from the dust and God formed us into who we are. Any success we have had is due to Him—entirely due to Him. That problem-solving mind was formed by Him. That pretty/handsome face was shaped by Him. That strength and athletic talent came from God. My talents are gifts from God.
We get a right understanding—the best understanding from our knees—the laid low position.
Response: Father God, you are right to call me to account. I humble myself before you. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law. I want to please you. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you putting a positive spin on your relationship with God or has humility triumphed?
Reading: Psalm 119
Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
those who stray from your commands.
Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
for I keep your statutes.
Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors (NIV).
My wife knows all about my blindness. Actually, it’s a condition that afflicts many men. You see I have difficulty seeing what is right in front of me. She will tell me to get a certain item from the next room, but can I find it? Of course not. Eventually, my long-suffering wife will arrive to point out the obvious. To which I will respond with, “Now, why couldn’t I see that?”
She will then reply with, “Because you’re blind.”
I’m sure domestic scenes like this are repeated in homes all over the world. But something very similar happens when we open our Bibles. We read a passage and though we take it in with our eyes, it seems the words go nowhere. The thoughts expressed by those words do not register on our minds or in our spirits. I’m ashamed to admit there are times when I have read a chapter from the Bible and walked away completely unaware of what I have read. Nothing has registered. The psalmist’s prayer in today’s reading needs to become my own: Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Unless God opens our eyes when we read His word, we are engaging in an exercise in futility. The Holy Spirit inspired the apostles and prophets to write the Bible, and we urgently need the same Holy Spirit to bring those words alive for us as we read. The god of this world has blinded our eyes. Often God’s truths are veiled. We need the Holy Spirit to remove that veil. Something marvelous happens when that occurs. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3: 18).
Response: Father God, open my eyes and my heart to the truths of your glorious word. Day by day I want to grow in my knowledge and love for you. I need to be transformed by your Spirit. Remove the veil from my eyes. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you regularly read God’s word? Do you sometimes suffer from Bible blindness?
Finally, on this day let’s remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.