Do you suffer from Bible blindness?

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Reading: Psalm 119
ג Gimel
(Verses 17-24)
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).

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Open my eyes that I may see — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
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.

red poppy flower field

Photo by Elina Sazonova on Pexels.com

The LORD of the Storm

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I will praise Him!

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The LORD of the storm — photo by David Kitz

The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
    the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
    the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
    Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD strikes
    with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the LORD shakes the desert;
    the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks
    and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
    the LORD is enthroned as King forever.
The LORD gives strength to his people;
    the LORD blesses his people with peace.

  (Psalm 29:3-11, NIV)

Porn and Purity

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Reading: Psalm 119
ב Beth
(Verses 9-16)
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, LORD;
    teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
    all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
    as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
    and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
    I will not neglect your word (NIV).

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Cobden, Ontario — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
In the age of the internet and one-click-away pornographic websites, the opening question in today’s reading from Psalm 119 has never been more salient. How can a young person stay on the path of purity? 

Why would a young man want to keep his way pure? Why not chase every skirt in town? Why not have some fun? Why not eat, drink and be merry? We only pass through this life once. Why not live it up?

But if the God of the universe has called men and women into relationship with Him, then purity and holiness are at the very core of that relationship. If we are called to be with God—to dwell in harmony with Him—then we must embrace holiness. To embrace God is to embrace holiness. Those sin spots have got to go. If we are to walk with God, we must willingly walk away from mind and soul-fouling sin.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews urges on the young faith runners with these words: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV).

In a world awash in pornography, we all need fixed eyes—eyes fixed on Jesus—eyes that see the cross— eyes that see the blood-drenched cross. Purity comes at a price. It cost the heavenly Father the life of His very own Son. A young man named Jesus—in flesh like my own—in skin like my own—poured out his life’s blood to make me pure. Fix your eyes on Him!

Response: LORD, I want to live my life according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you struggle with impure thoughts? Are you neglecting God’s word? How can we overcome?

The Blameless and Innocent

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Reading: Psalm 119
א Aleph
(Verses 1-8)
Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
    who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
    and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong
    but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
    that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
    in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
    when I consider all your commands.
 I will praise you with an upright heart
    as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
    do not utterly forsake me (NIV).

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What path are you following? — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
We are about to start a twenty-two day journey through Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the Bible. This is also an acrostic poem, which in this case means each stanza of this poetic psalm begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The section above for instance, begins with the letter Aleph, which roughly corresponds to our letter A. Also, within each alphabetic stanza are eight verses, which all begin with the same Hebrew letter. In this way the psalm’s composer works his way through the entire twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This psalm is a truly remarkable literary composition, which was originally structured to be memorized, like the alphabet. Alas, for the English reader, much of the elaborate, intricate beauty of this psalm is lost the moment it is translated from its original tongue.

The theme of this psalm is consistent throughout. It is a poetic testimony in praise of God’s holy, unchanging word. Here we find the alpha and omega of the psalms—a literary tribute to the A to Z wonder of God’s word. Every letter trumpets the salutary goodness of God’s written word.

From the beginning of this poetic masterpiece the author recognizes his need. His life needs to be governed by the law of the LORD. His goal and heart’s desire is to lead a blameless life. God’s blessing comes to such a person. Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—they do no wrong but follow his ways.

In a world of injustice and moral rot the words of Psalm 119 pierce like a steel-tipped bullet to the heart. But the first heart that needs to be changed—totally renewed—is my own.

Response: LORD God, like the psalmist I want to fall in love with your word. Here is the purpose to my desire. I want to live a blameless life that brings honor to my Maker because you are good. Amen.

Your Turn: Is holy living one of your goals? Do you see value in leading a blameless life before God?

The Cornerstone

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Reading: Psalm 118
(Verses 22-29)
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the L
ORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
 The L
ORD has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.
LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the L
ORD we bless you.
The L
ORD is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever
(NIV).

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Rejoice today and be glad — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
This final reading from Psalm 118 contains one of the most profound messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The opening sentence carries great significance: The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

The apostle Peter identifies Jesus as the stone the builders rejected. He adds that this rejection was due to disobedience and unbelief and he quotes Isaiah 8:14 to prove his point. “[Jesus is] A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:8-9).

In reality our reading from Psalm 118 paints a metaphoric picture of Christ’s Passion Week. When Jesus arrived triumphant in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday he was greeted by the crowds chanting this line from Psalm 118: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9). But later, Jesus, the rock of our salvation, was rejected by the religious leadership. Metaphorically, he was taken up to the horns of the altar and there on a cruel wooden cross, the Lamb of God became our sacrificial offering.

But… but praise be to God! The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This same Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, and now he offers forgiveness and salvation for all those who put their faith in him. He is our living rock—the rock that accompanied Israel through the wilderness. See 1 Corinthians 10:1-5. Jesus is the rock on which you can build your life—your cornerstone. 

Response: Father God, I thank you for your prophetic word because it points to Jesus. Lord Jesus, you are the rock solid foundation of my life. I give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! Amen.

Your Turn: Are you building on the Rock, which is Christ?

A Right-handed Cultural Perspective

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Reading: Psalm 118
(Verses 15-21)
Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The L
ORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
The L
ORD’s right hand is lifted high;
the L
ORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the L
ORD has done.
The L
ORD has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the L
ORD.
This is the gate of the L
ORD
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation
(NIV).

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MacNutt, Saskatchewan at sunrise — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Are you left handed? Today in western cultures being left handed presents some challenges since many devices are designed with right-handed people in mind. Try finding left-handed scissors next time you’re at a store. Good luck with that! Oh, and if you find them, expect to pay three times the price of a right-handed model. Often lefties don’t have it so good.

Even today in Middle Eastern cultures being born left handed presents an enormous challenge. The right hand is used for eating food; the left hand is used for personal hygiene—bottom wiping. You dare not reverse that assigned role. Toddlers are strictly trained in this cultural practice. Usually left-handed children are forced to switch so they conform to the social norm. Making this switch plays havoc with the developing brain and often results in speech impediments such as stuttering, since this transition requires a complete rewiring of the child’s brain.

The Bible was written by Holy Spirit inspired authors, but like authors today they were not blank slates. They wrote from their cultural perspective to the people of their time. As a result, readers today can easily miss or misunderstand concepts that were readily understood in their original context.

The significance of the right hand is one of those culturally important concepts that we often pass over with little thought. The Bible is replete with references to the right hand or specifically God’s right hand. So what’s the big deal, we think to ourselves. But in Middle Eastern culture the right hand holds great significance. This is the hand of righteousness, honor and blessing. Thus, there is immense significance in this statement: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”

Response: Father God, extend your right hand of blessing over me. Work on my behalf. Show me your mercy, your power and glory. Again and again I will give you thanks, for you answered me. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you like the psalmist? Has the LORD spared your life for a purpose? Has God lifted His right hand to save and bless you?

The Words of a Warrior

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Reading: Psalm 118
(Verses 8-14)
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the L
ORD
than to trust in princes.
All the nations surrounded me,
but in the name of the L
ORD I cut them down.
They surrounded me on every side,
but in the name of the L
ORD I cut them down.
They swarmed around me like bees,
but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
in the name of the L
ORD I cut them down.
I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the L
ORD helped me.
The L
ORD is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation
(NIV).

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The Parthenon, Athens, Greece — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Psalm 118 is perhaps the most militant psalm in the Bible. The psalmist assumes a combative stance. He is ready to take on the world and everything his adversaries can toss at him. These are the words of a fighter—a courageous warrior: All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the LORD I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them down.

Some may find the aggressive words of this psalm offensive. To be frank, I prefer the more passive psalms that speak of quiet waters, grassy hills and star-filled night skies, but life is more than tranquil repose. It also includes moments of conflict and combat. As the author of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9). There is a time to be conciliatory, but there also are times when we need to stand our ground and defend our faith and our way of life.

Joshua is a Bible character who exemplifies the attitude and intent of this psalm. He was a man on a mission. His mission, assigned to him by God, was the conquest of Canaan. If you read the Book of Joshua, you will discover that he pursued his mission with a ruthless passion that ultimately brought victory and success. In his farewell speech to the nation, Joshua had these words of advice: “The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised. So be very careful to love the LORD your God” (Joshua 23:9-11).

The God of peace is also the God who fights for you. Very little in this life is accomplished without rugged determination and a fighting spirit. Joshua proved that great nation-changing things are possible when we move forward with courage and tap into the power of God.

Response: Father God, there are battles that you want me to fight. Help me to personally tap into your power. Give me courage to stand for you and your truth though a thousand oppose me. Amen.

Your Turn: Are there great things that God has called you to accomplish? Is He fighting for you?

The Strength of His People

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I will praise Him!

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Autumn glory near MacNutt, Saskatchewan — photo by David Kitz

Praise be to the LORD,
    for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.

The LORD is the strength of his people,
    a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
    be their shepherd and carry them forever.

  (Psalm 28:6-9, NIV)

If You Remain Silent

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I will praise Him!

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Autumn sunflowers, Churchbridge, SK — photo by David Kitz

Of David.

To you, LORD, I call;
    you are my Rock,
    do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
    I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy
    as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
    toward your Most Holy Place.

  (Psalm 28:1-2, NIV)