Be What You Were Made to Be

Psalm 119:73-80

Slogans are funny things; used for different purposes, can figure that out from different terms listed as synonyms.

mantra, catchword, call to arms, pet expression, motto, attention-getting phrase; most interesting one: shibboleth, originally used as a password (Judg. 12:5-6), now used to describe catch-phrase used to distinguish one brand from another

Some slogans intended to help brand recognition; others to motivate or encourage patriotism e.g. Uncle Sam, “I Want You”; “If you can dream it, you can achieve it”; Old Army slogan – “be all you can be”; God’s design is different. God also factors in God’s help along with God’s design when he expects us to be what he made us to be.

To get to that point, psalmist began with crucial assumption: Genesis 1 is true and accurate history. Whole series of if-then’s follow from that assumption: conclusions about origins, how we should do science, why we are the way we are, who is really in charge, and on and on. Truth of matter: if you get Genesis wrong, you get it all wrong.

Psalmist assumed creation account is dead-on, that God not chance or blind forces of nature that came from who knows where is the author of all things. Because he is Creator he has absolute rights over all he made, including us. A self-sufficient Being who has power and skill to make all we can observe plus would not do so capriciously, for no intended purpose. Therefore…to extent we can and should know, have duty to determine purpose for which God made us, then follow it.

Sorry folks, not a memory verse that gives the answer; isn’t one of the top 3, either (God / Jesus / Bible)! Requires diligent effort on our part to get beyond basics – glorify God and enjoy him forever. To be successful and pleasing to God, to be what he made us to be, requires learning, then go from there.

A. learners (73)

8 requests for learning in this psalm alone, ending with acknowledgement (v.171) that God does teach his people – anyone who knows anything has learned it from God since God is source of all knowledge and truth

far more in view here than simply gathering facts, adding to store of trivia; photographic memory can be wonderful, if taking pictures of right stuff!

simply possessing the facts is not enough; in fact, can be a liability instead of asset – with knowledge comes responsibility

for knowledge to be helpful, need understanding to go along with it – having good grasp of how to properly use knowledge

teach: to cause to know something train: to form by instruction, discipline, or drill

learning requested by psalmist as his goal – way over in the training camp, not the teaching activity

desired understanding and training that he might conform more closely to God’s standards – wanted to learn to follow God’s commands, not simply learn the text of them

training, conformity requires skill – evaluating situation, determining which principle(s) apply, proper application, then follow-through

B. encouragers (74)

just by being who God made us to be we are an encouragement to others – don’t have to do more than live godly

are things we can do in addition that will increase level of encouragement, effectiveness toward fellow-Christians

be quick to give testimony to God’s faithfulness to his promises, answered prayer, protection and provision

don’t be shy about sharing what God is teaching you – things you have learned about God through meditation on God’s word, prayer, from reliable teachers

put shoe on other foot: when you see growth in godliness in brother or sister, tell ’em so; rejoice with them in their progress

be known, not only as one who trusts in God and his word, but also as one who inspires and encourages that hope in others

remember that understanding prayed for in v.73 – is useful to help others as well as self; directing them to right biblical principle and application based on their circumstances

are all sorts of sources who encourage wrong thinking; we should use every opportunity to encourage others to think rightly, starting with God and his character as evidenced in his word and acts

C. obedient sufferers (75)

can almost see psalmist with sheepish expression, head hanging down, sideways glance – yup, busted! we both know I knew better

several acknowledgments here – what we just said, I was wrong and knew better; also, God’s way is both right and best

God exercising corrective discipline is also right and good – for what it achieves (greater godliness) and avoids (further sin)

this in contrast with average American – determined at all costs to avoid responsibility – blame shifting, victimization

here’s one hard to see sometimes – God, even though afflicting, always acts on basis of faithful love toward his child

since God loves his child, he does what is best and what will bring about the best for that child….and not in isolation

God’s plan is fully comprehensive – God is completing that good work he has begun in you (Phil. 1:6) in the context of his entire purpose

we only see a piece of our piece; God not only sees the whole, he is governing the whole, including our affliction and how it fits into the big picture

this verse sets stage for next one! — what does God supply in our affliction that equips us to profit from it

D. comforters (76-77a)

two basic kinds of affliction – stuff God uses to correct us, what he uses to grow / equip us – God is present in both, in more than one capacity

is by no means a conflict to ask God, in middle of hardship you know comes from his hand, for clear sense of his love

the absence of that was hardest thing for Job – knew what Bible said, couldn’t feel it, struggled with the conflict

when asked for right reasons, and as it suits God’s purpose he will answer request; cannot be asking – make me feel better ’cause I really don’t want to change but also don’t want to feel this way, just make it all better

definition / usage of “comfort” changed significantly in last 100 years – “To soothe in time of affliction or distress” American Heritage Dict., 4th Ed.; “To make strong; to invigorate; to fortify” Webster’s 1913

we think more in terms of first, make me feel better; psalmist and others in Bible thinking in terms of second, give me strength

confidence / assurance of God’s faithful love demonstrated toward us in ways we can recognize invigorate us, fortify us to both endure and profit from affliction

psalmist prayed for comfort, Paul thanked and praised God for it: 2 Cor. 1:3-5Blessed be …the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted…”

remember…both affliction and comfort usually not just for own personal benefit; God has his other children’s needs in view also

E. readers (77b)

to delight in God’s law, must know it and spend time with it regularly – since comes to us in written form, must be readers

we have incredible blessings in 21st century – Bibles available in our own language, affordable, in formats that meet wide variety of needs (lightweight, large-print, audio and video, paper, elecctronic)

what if you aren’t a good reader – NIrV / NCV start at 3rd grade, goes up from there; audio Bible to parallel printed – listen and read at same time; if elecctronic Bible, screen reader (tablet versions, etc)

to hear and see simultaneously usually penetrates more deeply – the more senses engaged, better we understand and retain

we have God’s complete written revelation, more than any of Bible’s writers had! and…have benefit of enhanced ministry of Holy Spirit – enabling us to understand and apply what we read

God knows both our needs and our limitations – has given not only revelation, will along with it supply what we need to use it to our profit (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

be prepared: it won’t always make us feel good…at first; but with God’s help, when we persevere in it, will bring us delight – “To delight in the word when it rebukes us, is proof that we are profiting under it.” CHS

F. thinkers (78)

is not God’s design for us to go through life without thinking; question really is not “are we going to think”, is “what are we going to think about”

list is endless of things that compete for attention – cannot give equal attention to all of them, some don’t deserve any of our attention; in fact, many would cause harm if we give attention

v.77 comes before v.78, on purpose – if we are readers who delight in God’s word, will have God’s truth embedded in heart/mind

works like a battery – charge up our internal reserve of God’s word by reading, meditate on it throughout day, re-charge again when we read and meditate

requires actual effort, self-discipline to focus our minds and attention on God’s word instead of something else

need to do our part – reduce / eliminate all distractions we can, then ask for God’s help to meditate well

G. teachers (79)

saying the same as Paul – Phil. 3:17Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”

when we are being what God made us to be, includes being teachers and examples to others

brothers and sisters should be able to look at character of our life, how we deal with situations etc., be able to safely follow our example

we are the means God often uses to provide comfort, direction, encouragement to fellow Christians

our first priority: teaching by example other Christians, not expecting unbelievers to learn from and follow us

nature of it is they will be shamed by our example, will resent it until God changes their heart, makes them receptive to Him

H. pleasers (80)

Paul cautions twice (Eph. 6:6; Col. 3:22) against being “men-pleasers”; is natural for us to desire acceptance, approval of others

otoh, we should seek to be those who please God; fear of shame/embarrassment handled wrongly can paralyze – fear of shame before God should keep us from doing what we know will displease him

our #1 priority in all things: do what will please God – we must do absolutely everything that is ours to do and we must depend on God for absolutely everything that is his to do

If the world is to know we are Christ’s disciples because of our love, these 8 things must have two primary purposes: glorifying God, edifying brothers and sisters. When with God’s help we grow in these areas, will bring glory to him and encourage development of Christian character in fellow believers.


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