Lighted Pathways

Psalm 119:105-112

The danger when men stop believing in God is not that they’ll believe in nothing, but that they’ll believe in anything.” Chesterton

Just as true inside the church as outside:

“Barna and Hatch report the following: of those classified as born-again believers, 68% believe the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves; 1 in 4 believe that Jesus committed sins while on earth; and only about half believe that the Holy Spirit and Satan are living entities — not just symbols. 30% believe Jesus was not physically resurrected and about 1/3 believe all religions teach the same basic truths. I remind you that these are people Barna classifies as “born again.” As Barna and Hatch put it, “the Church is rotting from the inside out, crippled by a-biblical theology.”” Colson, BreakPoint, 2001

Sure, it was incomplete Bible but…Joshua and generations following had something. But pattern for Israel during 400-year period of Judges – “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) In effect, rejected the Bible as rule for faith and practice – what to believe and how to behave. Church of today rapidly approaching same place: still have the Bible, quote the Bible (or mis-quote it), but in practice deny its sufficiency and authority. Individual “Christian” gets to decide when and how Bible applies to life, if at all, beyond narrow particulars of redemption and eternal life.

“N (nun) answers this basic question: how can the wise person stay on God’s path in a world that is so hostile to believers? The world is filled with the darkness of false wisdom, and God’s children are aliens surrounded by danger. But his word is a light for our feet—our GPS that will bring us home.” Johnson

Psalmist been making big deal of God’s Word, praising its virtues for 100+ verses. Working toward climax, here comes the if-then, something that expects a response. If we truly believe that God’s Word is fixed, faithful and firm forever, if we believe it is the source of real wisdom in a crazy world, then…we must give it more than lip-service. If we don’t, we will be guilty of the most shameful hypocrisy – claiming one thing but living another. So…if we are committed to living according to God’s word, what does that mean? And, keep one important point in mind: we can actually live the way Bible says; can’t actually live consistently according to world’s philosophy.

If we stay in the light and submit to the light, we can expect to suffer in the light and desire to sing to the light.

A. stay in the light (105, 110)

light and lamp – day and night; path and feet – course of life and individual steps

lamp – “small bowl like objects which contained oil and a wick to be lit to provide light”; light – “refers to the shining of the sun” TWOT

covers all times, seasons, circumstances of life – addresses the big picture and the details; keeps us oriented toward right destination, enables us to avoid things that would trip us up

important to remember: God’s word not a multi-thousand page technical manual, detailed flow charts / parts lists / exploded views, designed to enable anybody to fix anything even if it’s not broken

not even Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth; it is perfect, complete revelation of God and his will to his people, with all principles and instructions necessary for faith and practice when accompanied by ministry of Holy Spirit

God’s word will not light path of our choosing, only one of God’s choosing. We don’t get to decide where it’s pointed.

is God’s flashlight and he never lets go of it, never allows us to shine light of his truth in places he doesn’t intend it to be

God directs the light, the lamp; he determines its intensity, size of the beam, distance it reaches – our job to follow it

see John 1:4-5; 8:12; 12:35; 1 John 1:7

God’s word the Bible not only source of light for Christian; Bible is faithful expression of God and his will, Lord Jesus even more so

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

v.105 much more than simple statement of fact, that God’s word is lamp and light – have already seen that is true

psalmist is making declaration about character of his life – is principles and teachings of God’s word that illuminates his path

iow, like first line of the hymn – “when we walk with the Lord in the light of his Word”: psalmist saying “that’s me!”

wherever the lamp shows I should put my foot down next is where it goes; whatever dangers appear in the light, I avoid

snares all around; no one,not even seasoned mature Christian is immune to their danger

Christian and Hopeful nearly to Enchanted Ground, last major difficulty before Land of Beulah on the borders of Heaven

B. submit to the light (106, 112)

“vowed and solemnly sworn to keep” – Bible warns about rash vows, encourages solemn commitment to what pleases God

need to get things in right order – principle from the Bible is “do what you know is right”, not “do what you feel is right”

Paul had something to say about that:

Rom. 12:1-2I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

identifies what needs to change so we don’t conform to pattern of this world: our minds…so we will do what is right

commitment included no qualifications – I’ll do as you say so long as: it’s convenient, comfortable, it’s easy, it’s what I intended to do anyway

wholehearted fixed purpose to submit willingly to God’s commands and direction….without second-guessing, grudging, resisting

means staying in the center of the beam – no playing around in the shadows, seeing how much of the path we get to pick

purpose and practice to follow, centered, along path as God shines the light of his truth and principles as found in Bible

desire to keep

“Our cheerfully and heartily preparing ourselves for doing what the law commands. Slavish and constrained obedience differs little from rebellion. …he applied not only his hands, eyes, or feet, to the keeping of the law, but that he began with the affection of the heart.” Calvin

right desires are good and necessary, certainly are pleasing to God; but…desire not always sufficient to keep us faithful – that’s when solemn vow/commitment kicks in!

perseverance or preservation?

will those “whom God has accepted in [Christ] the Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith” “persevere in grace to the end and be eternally saved”? the answer – a resounding “YES”

is God committed to preserving those whom he has called and sanctified and given faith to the end? another “YES”

as we make our commitment, strive to keep that commitment, intending to “persevere to the very end”, God graciously does all that is necessary to preserve us and bring us safely home

God does not preserve the saints apart from obedience but in company with it

C. suffer in the light (107, 109)

suffering a great deal” NET “My life is in continual danger”

Jesus talked about suffering throughout his ministry, not just his own – that of his followers part of the picture too

Matt. 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”

if we are walking in the light, can expect to suffer in the light, be persecuted because of association with the light

John 3:19-21 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

evil-doers hate light, will stay away from the light because it shows them up for who they are; so what happens when the light goes to them?

some withdraw – curl up in a ball, try to withdraw, interact as little as possible, hope the light-bearer will go away

others try to put out the light – smother it, discrredit it, disconnect the power to it, destroy it – do whatever it takes at whatever cost to recover their darkness

note of caution: must be honest when we evaluate how we are treated by others – is one thing to be persecuted because we graciously and firmly stand for truth and right; is entirely different if we are hassled for being harsh and obnoxious

D. sing to the light (108,111)

staying in the light and submitting to the light coupled with sanctifying work of Holy Spirit fosters a love for the light

just like those who thrive on warm sunshine – can’t wait for snow to be gone and warm temps to arrive – Christian thrives in God’s light, can’t get enough of it

love for the light draws believer closer to the light – the source of illumination / understanding as in the Bible…and the source of the source, Jesus himself

worship

should/will anticipate the place and time when we experience God’s presence in heightened way – gives opportunity for expression of praise and adoration and thanksgiving

worship is our time to renew our devotion to the light, receive further installments of the light, give voice to praise

thinking primarily of corporate worship (freewill offerings…), when church is gathered for specific purpose of worship

not limited to corporate worship, can experience God’s presence at times of private worship – should express love and thanksgiving and commitment and dependence then as well

joy

beauties of God’s word, benefits of living in light of his word are source of joy for believer

studying, meditating, learning, growing in God’s word incrreases our joy – remember disciples on road to Emmaus

Luke 24:27, 32And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. …And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?””

By God’s grace, may we spend all our time in the light, faithfully following the Light of the World to the very end.

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