Nuggets of Scripture

Sin and Shin
This psalm is an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

161 Rulers persecute me without cause,
    but my heart trembles at your word.
162 I rejoice in your promise
    like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and detest falsehood
    but I love your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise you
    for your righteous laws.
165 Great peace have those who love your law,
    and nothing can make them stumble.
166 I wait for your salvation, Lord,
    and I follow your commands.
167 I obey your statutes,
    for I love them greatly.
168 I obey your precepts and your statutes,
    for all my ways are known to you. Psalm 119:161-168

Have you ever read a Bible passage that just stopped you cold? It’s like an “aha! moment.” Suddenly the Holy Spirit has revealed something you had never seen before even though you’d read the passage dozens of times.

The psalmist understood that concept when he wrote “…like one who finds great spoil.”

These “nuggets” of Scripture are found throughout the Bible. God highlights the passages for our edification. He knows what we need and when we need it.

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The Lost and the Found

Resh
This psalm is an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

153 Look on my suffering and deliver me,
    for I have not forgotten your law.
154 Defend my cause and redeem me;
    preserve my life according to your promise.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
    for they do not seek out your decrees.
156 Your compassion, Lord, is great;
    preserve my life according to your laws.
157 Many are the foes who persecute me,
    but I have not turned from your statutes.
158 I look on the faithless with loathing,
    for they do not obey your word.
159 See how I love your precepts;
    preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love.
160 All your words are true;
    all your righteous laws are eternal. Psalm 119:153-160

There are two verses I’d like to key in on today:

155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
    for they do not seek out your decrees.
156 Your compassion, Lord, is great;
    preserve my life according to your laws.

Even though the wicked are far from God, He still has compassion on them, well, on us. He has always been the God of the Second, Third, and Twentieth Chance. Did you believe the first time you heard the Gospel? It’s rare that any of us did.

God has the ability to change the hardest of hearts. Some reading this feel that one person you know is just lost beyond all hope. But what if you see no fruit, no slightest change in the person?

D.L. Moody once remarked, “I wouldn’t be praying for this person for thirty years if I didn’t believe God would save him.”

God has you praying for this one person for a reason, and perhaps you are the only person in the world praying for that person. Keep praying. Keep seeking. Keep expecting God to move.

God still has compassion on the lost. And He still has compassion on us, the Found, as well.

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Nearer To God

Qoph
This psalm is an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

145 I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord, and I will obey your decrees.
146 I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.
148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
149 Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, Lord, according to your laws.
150 Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law.
151 Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true.
152 Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever. Psalm 119:145-152

Though we can’t touch God, we can certainly feel His presence in our lives. After all, the Holy Spirit dwells in us so we should always feel His presence, right?

That definitely should be the case but it’s not always so. Sin and the cares of the world creep in and crowd out that relationship. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

As we yield ourselves to Christ every day, we realize that wherever we go, the Spirit of God is with us. He’s already with us but as we commune with Him, we are more apt to recognize that truth and accept it (and in many cases we simply remember it). Then when we’re tempted to say or do something that doesn’t square with the Word of God, He puts a “check” in our Spirit that it’s not right. Perhaps this “check” is a warning to just examine the situation more closely or just a pause to think about what we really want to say, but it’s there for our protection. God has an infinite number of ways of loving us, and one of those ways is to warn us.

In verse 151, the psalmist wrote: “yet you are near, Lord …”

Yes, He is near.

He’s nearer than we can imagine.

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A Simple Truth

Tsadhe
This psalm is an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

137 You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are right.
138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.
139 My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.
140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.
141 Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.
144 Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live. Psalm 119:137-144

The Bible is one of the most examined book in the world, from a seeker’s view point as well as a skeptic’s. It has stood the test of time amid critics and scholars from around the world. Many of these scholars even turn to Christ after careful examination because the Bible has stood up to intense scrutiny.

The Bible, however, can be understood by little children and the elderly. In fact, that one famous children’s song tells us the truth so succinctly:

Jesus loves me This I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.

That song, sung in the right circumstances, can melt the hardest of hearts.

Sometimes the simple truth of the Gospel is all it takes.

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His Face Shining Down

Pe
This psalm is an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

129 Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
134 Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed. Psalm 119:129-136

Every day we walk with Christ and read the Word of God we could certainly use the illumination by the Holy Spirit.

We of course know the Word of God is powerful, but it is much more so when we ask For God’s help in reading through it to light our way.

Recall Eric Liddell’s words in “Chariots of Fire” regarding his running: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Feel the pleasure and feel the light as God shines on us when we read the Word of God. Ask Him to make it clear what He wants us to learn every time we sit down to read.

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Wrong Paths

Ayin
This psalm is an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

121 I have done what is righteous and just;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Ensure your servant’s well-being;
do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
looking for your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your love
and teach me your decrees.
125 I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand your statutes.
126 It is time for you to act, Lord;
your law is being broken.
127 Because I love your commands
more than gold, more than pure gold,
128 and because I consider all your precepts right,
I hate every wrong path. Psalm 119:121-128

Earlier in this psalm, we discussed what it means to have a light guiding our path in verse 105: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

That’s half of the story. The other half is verse 128: and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path. The psalmist told us that because he’s studied the Word of God, he knew which path to take and which to avoid. In fact, he went a step further to “hate every wrong path.”

You see, we know that wrong paths surround us. It’s a conscious choice we make to go on the right path, which means we consciously avoid those that are wrong. I know it seems like it’s splitting hairs, as they say, but the point is this: without the word of God in our lives to direct and lead us, we are destined to choose wrong paths. The wrong paths are all around us, and the lamp-lit narrow path is narrow indeed.

It’s tempting to want to get off the good path, to explore and go on wrong paths, but it’s so dangerous.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Continue on paths that are illuminated by the Word of God. They are safe, sure, and will lead to good destinations.

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Trembling in Fear

Samekh
This psalm is an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

113 I hate double-minded people,
    but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
    I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
    that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
    do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
    I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees,
    for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
    therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
    I stand in awe of your laws. Psalm 119:113-120

It’s been a while since I’ve seen fear and trembling as it relates to God. The psalmist knew what that was.

Since this term is often mischaracterized, here’s what trembling in fear is not:
Worry that every little sin you commit is going to condemn you to hell
Worry that God is going to make you do things you’d rather not ever do
Worry that you’re going to be punished for not doing something you know you should have done

That’s a very strict view of the fear of God and I’m pleased to say that if God is anything at all, He is just.

Yes, he desires that we live pure lives but it’s still a very fallen world filled with brokenness and strife.
No, God will never make you do what you don’t want to do. That’s why He’s given us free will.

The principle of the fear of God is not so complicated: it’s the realization that everything I say or do can be pleasing to God, and speaking or acting accordingly.

It’s also realizing that despite our best efforts, our lives are under His control.

We acknowledge that we don’t know everything nor can we.

Lastly, it’s being aware that everything I say and do is being watched by man. In other words, our lives matter. The things we do and say in front of others also matters and can be the difference between heaven and hell for those watching us. Now, obviously, these people make their own decisions regarding their faith, but our words, actions, and attitudes can draw people to Christ.

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Just Enough Light

Nun
This psalm is an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
    that I will follow your righteous laws.
107 I have suffered much;
    preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
    and teach me your laws.
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
    I will not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a snare for me,
    but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees
    to the very end. Psalm 119:105-112

Have you ever been in a room without windows when the door is closed and the lights are out? In most dark rooms, it’s possible for your eyes to adjust to darkness within a minute or two. But in a room with no possibility for even a little light, you cannot see your hand in front of your face. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it can be a very scary experience.

The Word of God, however, is that light we desperately need. In a world filled with darkness, we need the light of the Word to illuminate our path. It helps us avoid the holes, rocks, and critters. It doesn’t give specifics about where to live, what job to take, which car to buy, or which school to attend. He gives us enough light to find our way but not so much to see the entire path ahead of us.

I know it seems like an odd statement, but I don’t think we could handle that much revelation about our lives. We’d begin fretting and worrying long before the event comes along. We wouldn’t be able to live in peace easily if we knew what would happen to us in 10 days, for example.

No, God gives us just enough light to see where we’re going. If we stay on the path, though, we can rest assured that He will guide us along the way.

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‘Tis Good to Memorize

Mem
This psalm is an acrostic poem. Each stanza begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

97 Oh, how I love your law!
    I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands are always with me
    and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
    for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
    for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
    so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws,
    for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
    therefore I hate every wrong path. Psalm 119:97-104

The psalmist laid out a reasonable path for us to follow and it includes some very intriguing side benefits:

  • wiser than my enemies
  • more insight than my teachers
  • more understanding than my elders
  • hate every wrong path
  • keep my feet from every evil path

And this all stems from meditating on God’s word.

There is really one “downside” ever to reading and memorizing the Word of God: the discipline and time it takes to do it. But even that is a weak excuse because the end result will be well worth the time and energy spent committing it to memory.

I have heard the excuse many times over that “I can’t memorize anything.”

And it is just that, an excuse.

If I asked you to tell me John 3:16 out loud, I would say nearly 100% of those reading this post would be able to recite it without…from memory. If you can memorize one verse, you can memorize more.

Yes, it could take you longer than most people. This isn’t a contest. The bottom line is this: the will to memorize the Word of God is more significant than the ability to do it.

Choose one of the verses in this passage and commit it to memory.

Read it a few times, say it out loud a few times, close your eyes and see how far you get. Rinse and repeat.

You can do this.

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