On The Journey–Daleth

My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

I have declared my ways, and You answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.

Make me understand the way of Your precepts;
So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

Remove from me the way of lying,
And grant me Your law graciously.

I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.

I cling to Your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!

I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart. Psalm 119:25-32 NKJV

For the fourth letter and segment, we see a continuous plea and acclamation by Psalmist–acknowledging the need for God’s guidance through His Word and honoring Him for what He does.

When our soul thirsts for truth–what do we do? We know that our souls dry out when we lose hope–and it seems like we cannot breathe for the dust of unrighteousness clogs our ability to breathe without struggling.

Do we struggle with unrighteousness or better yet, do we recognize when we are struggling with unrighteousness? Are we convicted by Holy Spirit when we plan to do wrong or actually do or say something we shouldn’t? Are we mindful of what God has said is good and true or do we simply muddle through life, doing our own thing, not considerate at all of others and how what we do impacts their lives?

When we study God’s Word, are we revived by what we study? Do we understand that within His Word is the key to life–living according to His Word and benefiting from its content? Have we chosen to follow the path of truth over lying? Are we manipulators and deceitful, twisting truth for our own benefit?

The Psalmist understands that by keeping God’s judgments (the blessings and curses) in front of him, he will eventually understand how God wants him to live. And he is choosing to follow Truth and is opening his heart to God for greater understanding and willing to allow God to lead him.

Too often many Believers get caught up on just studying the “good stuff” in God’s Word and we ignore the warnings. Simply put–if we understood Deuteronomy 28 (the blessings and curses) and kept the commandment to love, we would never have to worry about the judgments, but since we do not demonstrate understanding–we must constantly be aware that judgment begins in the household of faith–with the Believers.

If we would simply obey God, we would have no need to be fearful of being put to shame before others.

Are we willing to follow the path of Truth or will we just continue to deceive and lie to others, thinking we are more than we are, and putting ourselves in position to be exposed, openly?

Perhaps, now would be a good time for some deep introspection-asking God to show us ourselves and give us a chance to clean up our acts, before He allows us to be “seen” as we truly are.

As we end this year–2015–let us plead with God to enlarge our hearts with understanding of His word and give us courage to live His Word on a daily basis, for the rest of our lives!

 

On The Journey-Gimel

Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.

I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.

My soul breaks with longing
For Your judgments at all times.

You rebuke the proud—the cursed,
Who stray from Your commandments.

Remove from me reproach and contempt,
For I have kept Your testimonies.

Princes also sit and speak against me,
But Your servant meditates on Your statutes.

Your testimonies also are my delight
And my counselors. Psalm 119:17-24 NKJV

Gimel– (The “G” sounds like an “H”) the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the third segment of this acrostic poem, written by the Psalmist to express their desire to really know God and obey, in spite of those who ridiculed them.

In this segment, we see the Psalmist seeking God’s generosity in pouring out understanding of His laws. The Psalmist realizes that without knowing and understanding how God wants us to live that our lives are cut short and we do not accomplish all that God has planned for us.

Do we understand that if we do not obey God’s commandments, we will not receive all He plans for us? Are our souls disturbed when we do the wrong things enough to instantly repent and seek God’s guidance? Are we overly concerned about what people say about us–those who ridicule us for our belief in God and in keeping His commandment of love?

There are many who sit in high places as well as low places (hierarchy of either class or authority) who ridicule Believers on a regular basis. Some of them claim to be atheists and others are simply born to be obnoxious. What they haven’t learned yet is they are entitled to not believe just as we are entitled to believe–without all the vitriol constantly launched in our direction. Many claim to want to “open our eyes” to their truths so we won’t believe, but the truth of the matter is–they have no truth–other than what has been contrived in the minds of those who are influenced by the enemy–and they are many!

However, for those of us who are steadfast in our belief and faith in a living God, we have no reason to be concerned about the enemy’s attempt to ridicule us. We can stare them down, smile, remind them God loves them and keep going. We do not have to argue our faith–we simply need to live it!

The Psalmist has observed what happens to those who turn away from God and they are determined not to suffer the same fate. The testimonies of God is what we witness–what happens to other people–either those who stand firm in their faith or those who turn aside.

It is not that difficult then to understand what is happening in our world today. We see the results of a land in which many have turned aside from obeying God and all other authority in the land. If we choose to refute and live in opposition to God’s Word, we have no choice but receive what we deserve. If those who obey are blessed, then those who don’t are cursed. If we delight in obeying God’s Word, then those who don’t are bitter.

Where are we on this journey in life? Are we seeking God’s counsel or we just living by the seat of our pants–with no understanding or direction?

The path to happiness and abundant joy is accessible–we simply have to choose to follow the way God has determined for us.

 

 

See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

See the fireworks maryhallrayford created by blogging on WordPress.com. Check out their 2015 annual report.

Source: See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

On The Journey–Beth

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.

With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.

With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.

I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.

I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word. Psalm 119:9-16 NKJV

The question that was asked so long ago, should still be asked and answered in the same manner. How can people cleanse themselves (free themselves from sin)? By living according to The Word! The Psalmist is pleading with God–Don’t let me go astray–help me to stay on the right path.

And then there are the declarations–He has hidden the Word in His heart so he won’t sin against God. Have we hidden the word in our hearts? Have we read it enough that we remember? Have we studied enough to understand it? Do we allow God’s Word to be our guide in everything we do?

Do we love to hear the testimonies of those who have experienced God in their lives? I mean real testimonies of God’s miraculous intervention, like the woman with the issue of blood, being saved from a horrendous situation, or just being kept–in our right minds. Do we love to hear those testimonies? Better yet–do we have a testimony? Coming into the knowledge of Jesus Christ should be a testimony for everyone who is claims to be saved and has chosen Him to be the light of their lives.

Do we declare–with our own lips–God’s goodness or are we content to share the testimony of others because we are ashamed of who we are? Do we proclaim God’s Word in its entirety–the blessings and the curses–or do we simply sugarcoat The Word in order not to offend others when we need to correct them?

When was the last time we told God, “I am so happy to know Your Word and to know that it is Your Word that will keep me safe from harm?” Are blessed by knowing God’s Word or do some feel inhibited or intimidated by God’s Word?

Have we reached a place yet–on our journey in life–that we can say, “I will meditate upon Your Ways O God, I will always consider what You have said before I do anything or say anything to anyone else.  I will be happy and favored to study Your Word and I will share each revelation You give with others so we might have peace in the land?”

For knowing God’s Word and living His Word (by everyone) will surely bring peace upon the earth since knowing Him, loving Him, means loving all. And how can we cause harm to those we say we love?

With all of the chaos and violence and killing everywhere we turn, we know that people have not yet learned Love–they have not hidden His Word in their hearts and they are certainly not living it. Perhaps, it is because we have not taken the time to meditate upon His Word and allow His Word to become deeply embedded in our souls and spirit.

If we allow Holy Spirit to guide us in all we do–after having meditated and studied The Word–He will keep us on the path of life that God has designed for us. If we don’t study and meditate upon The Word in order to receive revelation knowledge–Holy Spirit won’t be able to get through to us for we have not anchored The Word in our hearts.

Think about these things, calmly and meditate upon God’s Word without distraction or interruption and see what He is able to show you.

 

On The Journey–Aleph

Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!

They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.

You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.

Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes!

Then I would not be ashamed,
When I look into all Your commandments.

I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.

I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly!  Psalm 119:2-8 NKJV

The first three verses of this Psalm are written–seemingly as part of a conversation–to everyone. Notice the point of view–written in third person. We are being reminded that all who keep God’s laws and live according to His Word are blessed (happy); we do nothing that is wrong, but follow The Lord with our whole hearts.

Verse four–speaks directly to God-(second person point of view) acknowledging that the writer knows who has laid the principles by which we are to live out of obedience.

And then verses five through eight--becomes a personal acknowledge of shortcomings and determination to change (written in first person point of view). Basically, what the writer is saying is, “If I was consistent in obeying Your Word, I wouldn’t be ashamed of anything I do. I will praise You with my heart ready to receive from You and learn to do all You have asked me to do. I haven’t obeyed all You want me to do, but I will, so please don’t forsake me!”

If we all faced reality with the sincerity of the writer–acknowledging where we are and how we have fallen short, but willing to hear God and learn so that nothing we did would put us to shame, what a wonderful world this would be.

Unfortunately, there are too many people–functioning in the church–as well as those outside of it–who are not willing to admit they even have any faults or shortcomings. They think they are just fine the way they are and nothing anyone says will convince them otherwise. This is a person who does not have a teachable spirit.

A person with a teachable spirit is always willing to hear–instructions and corrections–without taking offense to what is being said. They understand the only goal is help them become better–not bitter.

The purpose of The Word–is help us become better –not bitter–as we continue our journey in life. We need to know how to interact with others appropriately, but we also need to know how to correct wrongs when see them and if we can’t do it, we should direct the situation to the party who can. The Word should be our authority in life and within The Word, we are admonished to obey authority–those given positions of authority and decision-making. If we are not happy with the authority exercised by man, then we should follow the appropriate protocols to make our dissension clear and public so changes–if necessary–can be made.

Whenever we do things to circumvent authority without following protocols established to maintain order, we do ourselves a disservice and we dishonor God. If we cannot respect authority, we certainly cannot expect others to respect us in a position of authority.

Before we can lead anyone, anywhere, we must know how to follow and then demonstrate ability to lead–as a facilitator–not a dictator.

When we learn to do things God’s way, we prohibit (close the door) the opportunity for friction and chaos and if there is no chaos (no drama), then we can indeed be happy because we are walking under the authority of God’s Word.

Thinking back to twelve step programs, it would appear that this segment of scripture was used as a foundational principle–first acknowledge–truthfully–where we are and what we have done to sabotage happiness and order in our lives. Until we acknowledge where we are–no one else can help us move forward and benefit from all God wants for us.

On The Journey!

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD! Psalm 119:1 NKJV

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Psalm 119:1 NIV

Joyful are people of integrity,
who follow the instructions of the LORD. Psalm 119:1 NLT

In an attempt to get a better understanding of this passage, I consulted the Strong’s concordance about the word (from the Hebrew), “way” which revealed the intent–a path or journey.

Using the path or journey as a foundation for continued study of this Psalm, the very first verse would be interpreted, “Happy, highly favored by God, are those who keep themselves pure (honorable) on the journey/path who walk (live) according to God’s Word.”

This then is what I perceived from my meditation of this verse. I’ve used comparative verses from other translations for the sake of conversation. Not every translation of the Bible is an accurate translation. In fact, I can say without fear of refutation that every translation of the Bible was composed from the perspective of either individual or collective beliefs that people hold that do not necessarily represent a right relationship with God. 

To further corroborate this point, I could cite other translations, The New World Translation, The Queen James Bible, The Living Bible, and there are so many more. And like the King James Version which was composed by a number of scholars--approved by the king--the words on a page do not adequately reflect God’s intent for all of mankind since the words are “biased” because of man’s perception of things and how things appear to be.

This is not to discount the original text given to man in the Aramaic or Hebrew languages, but even that is biased because of gender roles that existed at that time and limited understanding of how the world works. I am not saying what was written was wrong; I’m saying it was biased because of beliefs–about a number of things.

Here’s what important to note about this verse–those who choose to live according to God’s Word as they journey through life are blessed and will experience His favor while they live. 

What is God’s favor? His grace (acceptance from the Hebrew, goodwill, loving kindness, reward, favor, from the Greek)–unmerited favor–favor we could not earn, demonstrated by His love for us in coming down from heaven, taking upon Himself our sins, and choosing to hang on a cross for us, that we might be saved!

Notice that the original intent is not about a man’s ways that are blameless, but about a person’s willingness to live according to God’s Word, while journeying on their way through life. Man’s ways and on the way (journey through life) have two contextually different meanings and they should not be confused. And while I generally use the New International Version, because of the contemporary language, I must admit that contextualization is often skewed in an attempt to be more appealing than the King James Version.

In doing research over the last twenty-five years and comparing various versions of the Bible, I tend to use the one that most closely states what God reveals to me. For that reason, I use a number of translations in my studies after praying for revelation. Therefore, in all my blog posts, I have used different versions to support what God has shown to me. For I know, that what He reveals to one, He has revealed to others.

Are you blessed as you journey through life, living according to God’s Word? No matter what happens–how many fiery darts to enemy launches my way, I can still say–I am highly favored by God–and will live according to His Word.

 

 

Taking Time To Meditate!

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who mediates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither–whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 NIV

One of the most common responses from a Christian when asked how they’re doing is, “I’m blessed!” But are they really blessed as implied by The Word? From the Hebrew and the Greek, the word, blessed–means to be happy or happiness. So if we exchange the word blessed in this Psalm, the beginning would say, “Happy is the one…” If people are so blessed–happy–why is the church–the Body of Christ–in such a sad state?

Are we truly happy? Are we meditating on God’s Word, day and night or we just playing at memorizing The Word and think we have accomplished something?

From the dictionary, blessed also means to be divinely favored or selected or fortunate–from a purely biblical perspective–it is an adjective (words that describe).

To meditate on something (from the Hebrew and Greek) means to study, or declare. Do we truly meditate on The Word? Do we study it in order to declare it?

From the dictionary, to meditate (action word–verb) means to contemplate, engage, reflect and introspect–all which require deliberate actions.

One of the reasons the Psalmist can say that a person is happy when they are obedient to God’s Word is because the Psalmist has a relationship with God and hears Him, when He speaks–providing instruction and insight as to how He wants us to live.

Can we truly say we spend time with God, studying His Word, hearing Him provide us with insight as to the meaning or context of what He’s saying? Or are we more content to rely upon others to tell us what they think about God’s Word?

These questions keep cropping up in my spirit because of what I observe in others–those supposedly teaching The Word. Based upon my understanding of what I have studied, I see many who are merely teaching God’s Word out of traditional leanings, with no true understanding. The focus is more on a moan or a groan-coming from them–which is unintelligible for others to understand. So, if what we say is unintelligible (not understood), how do we claim that it is teaching? For in order to teach anyone, anything, what we say and do must be understood.

If I’m stepping on toes today, good! We all need someone to remind us that we have not arrived at perfection and when it comes to teaching God’s Word, we should always meditate–study it so we can give clear understanding, before we attempt to teach it to anyone.

I am setting aside time for deliberate meditation upon Psalm 119 in the coming weeks. This is not just to memorize it–since I tend to be extremely forgetful–but to understand it–in its entirety and to be able to line it up with the rest of God’s Word. For all of God’s Word should line up–it’s context should never change even one scripture.

The World is changing and from what I can see–we are in dire need of understanding–all of God’s Word as Paul tells Timothy, ” Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” (I Timothy 4:15 NKJV)

And that is precisely what I plan to do–give myself entirely to concentrating on The Word, one verse at a time. So, if you are inclined to read my understanding every day, great! If not, oh well. If you know Psalm 119 well enough to teach me, don’t hesitate to comment on what I say. I am very teachable and sometimes–I may not hear God completely, but it’s not because I’m not listening–traditional perceptions sometimes get in the way.

Here’s to getting the traditional perceptions out of the way so I can clearly understand what the Psalmist is saying to us–from then to now–in the 21st century and how it applies to our lives in this changing world.

 

 

 

Great Joy For All People!

Great Joy For All People!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared unto them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is the Messiah, the Lord: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” Luke 3:8-14 NIV

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Today, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I am so thankful that He was obedient unto the cross, loving me so much that if I was the only person on earth, in need of saving, He still would have died–just for me.

I pray that all will remember the love He has for all and that we all–whosoever will receive Him–will be mindful of the love He has for us and love others as He loves us–unconditionally.

It is easy to set aside one day out of the year to recognize others with gifts and kindness–for some–who have financial means to do so, but what about the others–who have no thing to give, but know how to love?

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with exchanging gifts, but with the gift-giving and tearing off paper wrappings, tossed in the garbage, are we remembering the Gift given wrapped in love, never forsaken and cannot be tossed aside?

For even if some have never received His Gift–of love and sacrifice, it is still accessible–and all they have to do is open their hearts and receive.

The best gift–is priceless–knowing that we are loved without measure and when we receive His love, we can be filled to overflowing–able to love others--even the unlovable–just as Christ loves us–when we are unlovable.

The gift of Love in the person of Jesus Christ is the reason we celebrate today and even if you didn’t get the “things” you wanted, remember His Love is always accessible.

Have a very Merry Christmas Celebrating

The Joy He Gives to All Who Receive!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I was planning to post this tomorrow, but tomorrow is promised to no one. If I’m here, I’m here, if not–at least I got a chance to say, Merry Christmas, one last time.

Reality set in as I watched the news at 5:00 a.m. this morning and it made me realize, I don’t control my tomorrows. Now, I plan to be around until I’m 95, but I have no idea what God’s plans are.

So, I’m spending the rest of the day in bed, resting my body and brain–trying to relieve the pressure of a sinus condition, but I’ll return to my normal habit–as long as it fits with God’s plans, when I rise in the morning.

Love to love you, all!

Jesus is alive and well in my soul and I love to praise His name!

Twelve Days of Kindness–Day 12!

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 NKJV

When we have obtained a like measure of faith , “For He has given to all a measure of faith,” we can add to that measure of faith to strengthen our knowledge and understanding of who Christ is and how we are to conduct ourselves.

With all diligence–consistent determination to do what is right, we add virtue–a moral sense of ethics, based upon God’s Word. Then to virtue, we add knowledge–a consistent study of God’s Word. To knowledge we add self-control–the ability to operate in wisdom, not emotional turmoil. For our emotions will lead us astray, but those who control emotional outbursts appear wise and others will respect their ability.

When we have learned self-control, we then add perseverance–a stubborn determination to do what is right at all times–no matter what the circumstances are. And to perseverance, we add godliness–functioning in the true nature of Christ–no lies, no deceit, knowing He sees all we do.

With our Christlike nature, we add brotherly kindness–being kind to everyone and with kindness we add love for if we have not kindness–a genuine concern and consideration for others, we will not love.

If we don’t have love–we have not Christ–for He is Love.

The last eleven days have been a joy–an eye-opening experience–to extend kindness and observe the responses of others to the kindness. On this last day, the twelfth day of kindness, I pray all who extend kindness, will receive 100 times the kindness they have extended.

Prayerfully, when all are celebrating the birth of Jesus on tomorrow, some will remember a kindness extended to them in the past twelve days and will go out of their way to extend kindness to another. That’s what this season is all about–the giving of the greatest gift–Jesus Christ–who because of Him–we have eternal life with Him and can love to overflowing because of the love He has for us.

So, go forth and show kindness–every day–and watch how the world will change because a little kindness, goes a very long way.