Psalm 119: He & Waw B

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” 119:36-37 ESV

I liked the NLT version, which translates it to give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money.

We are eager people. Our attention fixates on whatever we put in front of it. I love the psalmist’s prayers to turn their heart towards God, instead of themselves. It reminds me not to be afraid to ask the Lord to grow my love for him.

It’s a weird request, really. “Make me love you, please.” Does God really inspire our affections towards him? I don’t know. But I have prayed this prayer, and I’ve experienced a wonderful answer.

When I (genuinely) ask God to help me direct my attention and eyes towards him, he does. Sometimes he pulls the rug out from under me a little, because he knows my response is to run back to him. Or he’ll put a godly, more mature person in my path who will encourage me and hold me accountable. Other times, he’ll speak to me through his Word. The verses will leap off the pages, catch my attention and pull me away from myself and towards him.

This is a valid prayer, asking him to help you grow in your relationship with him. Don’t be afraid to ask.

-Carly

Psalm 119: Gimel & Daleth B

“I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart.” (32) NASB

I’m not sure I have a comment about this verse, I just want to meditate on it awhile. While I prefer the NASB, I thought it would be interesting to check out what other English translations said.

“I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.” NIV

“I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.” KJV

“I will run the way of Your commandments [with purpose], For You will give me a heart that is willing.” AMP

“I will run the way of your mitzvot, for you have broadened my understanding.” CJB‬‬

“I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.” NLT

Our heart is apparently where we understand. Our heart is connected to our active knowing. I love the idea of knowing the commands of the LORD–and pursuing them–in a way that expands something in the core of ourself.

How did this verse strike you? Is there a translation that resonates more than the others?

-Bethany

Psalm 119: Aleph & Beth B

We’re taking this lengthy chapter a few sections at a time! I felt so refreshed reading this today after the godlessness of Israel in Judges.

“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LordJoyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.” 1-2

We can’t follow and obey God’s instructions and laws if we don’t know them. Studying the Bible regularly is crucial to doing what is right in God’s eyes instead of our own. 

“I have recited aloud all the regulations you have given us. I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.” 13-16

What a great reminder of all the different ways we can study God’s words.

Memorization. Even if you’re not great at it, or it feels pointless considering all the access we have to Scripture, I highly recommend this. Memorizing Bible verses just…feels like it sinks in more. And I retain the information so much more! Plus it’s fruitful to have pieces of the Word to rely on by memory.

How do you immerse yourself in the Word? What are your Bible study habits?

Beth and I both try to mix it up. Sometimes I like listening to the Bible on my phone (thank you, YouVersion App!), but mostly I like reading it directly from the book and marking up the pages as I go. It helps me stay engaged in the text, process the information and gives me something to build on the next time around.

I also (occasionally, not as much as I want to) try to memorize chunks of the Bible here and there. Like anything, the more you’re submerged into whatever you’re studying, the more you retain.

Share your study habits with us! We love hearing the different ways people interact with the Word.

 

-Carly

 

Judges 19-21 B

Chapter 19 is hard to read. I find myself physically bothered.

“Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God and said, ‘Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?’ Then the LORD said, ‘Judah shall go up first.'” (20:18‬)

The only reason I plucked out this verse was because it felt like it had been a real while since I saw the sentence, “then the LORD said.” He’s been left out of a lot lately. He’s seemingly involved here, though.

This horrific story doubles as an unfortunate origin story for the future King Saul. Gibeah was his home town. A real slap to Israel’s face and perhaps why Saul hides in the luggage when he’s chosen as king. These are dark days, a stain, in their history.

It seems each horrible action has an even worse repercussion:

  • Towns people harass their neighbor.
  • A woman is raped to death.
  • Said woman is dismembered and sent around the country.
  • An army is formed and bloody civil war ensues.
  • An entire tribe is almost destroyed.
  • An “innocent” (hard to say for sure) people-group is murdered–save 400 virgins who had just witnessed the death of their families.
  • They are forced to marry the few survivors of a civil war, forced to marry the kind of men who would harass their neighbors and rape a woman to death.

This is not justice. This is death begetting death. This is injustice snow-balling.

As easy as it is to judge these people, let’s never take our eyes off ourselves. We’re all capable of being pretty horrible when we allow our offenses to snow-ball.

Are there any feuds in your life? Long standing enemies? Opportunities to take a bad situation and make it worse?

Let’s take a look at our offenses and ask the LORD about restoration and justice. How can He lead you to resolve? How can you avoid escalating things?

Thankfully, tomorrow we dive back into the Psalms, staring with the first two stanzas of chapter 119. That will be refreshing, I think.

-Bethany

Judges 17-18 B

These chapters are a hot mess. Micah is such a big loser, stealing from his mom and making his own personal shrine. And what’s with his mom? “Let the Lord bless you for admitting it”, she says, and away they go to make an idol out of the money.

There’s something other-worldly about the way I love my son. Sometimes it’s hard for me to do what’s best of him because my unconditional love and desire for him to avoid all hardship entwine and create enabling behavior.

He’s five by the way, so we’re talking about, like, giving in to one more popsicle or watching one more movie, or getting away with not sharing a toy he loves. But I have to say, I can relate to the concept. Our friend is personally funding her son’s drug addiction, because she doesn’t want to lose him or watch him go through withdrawals. So he lives in her upstairs bedroom and sticks his hand out whenever he needs more cash to pass off to his dealer. She knows she’s enabling him, but would rather feel like she has control over the situation than to hand him over to himself. “At least I know where he is and what he’s doing”, she says. I can’t pass judgement on this, I can only cling to what I know to be true:

Really bad things happen when we do what is right in our own eyes. 

God has our best interest in mind, he loves us a lot and he knows what’s best for us. He doesn’t flex his power because he can. It’s rooted in love. When I feel overwhelmed in moments of parenting, I remind myself that God loves my kids more than I do; he loves them perfectly. 

The expectations and commands God gives us don’t conflict with his love for us, they flow out of it. 

What are some ways you’re doing what is right in your own eyes instead of what is right in God’s eyes? Maybe you’re not like Micah, taking what you want when you want it. Maybe you’re like his mother, shying away from what’s noble and true so you don’t condemn a person you love even when they’re wrong.

 

-Carly

Judges 15-16 B

I’d like to think Samson lived as long as he did because the LORD loved his mother (13:3).

We get caught up in his magical hair (as if he’s Rapunzel or something), but his power always stemmed from continued obedience to the LORD concerning Nazarite laws. His hair was only part of that.

He had been dedicated to the LORD from the womb, much like other great men like Samuel and John the Baptist would be. But unlike those great men of God, Samson was deceitful, violent and barbaric. He certainly was not supposed to be eating out of animal carcasses, but here we are–deep in the dark days of a downward spiral–unclean foods is the least of our worries.

I’ve read this story a ton of times and I feel I always get to the end and think, “what in the world was I supposed to glean from this?”

“He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, so he reached out and took it and killed a thousand men with it. Then Samson said, ‘With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have killed a thousand men.’ (15:15-16‬)

A guy with this kind of violent record, and a proclivity for riddles and poems, is the stuff horror movie psychopaths are made of.

What is this sex-addicted clown doing in the Bible?

Judging Israel, I guess. Or at least hijacking the title for 20 years (15:20) The only time I can see him saving Israelites from trouble, is in response to his own stirring up of trouble with the fox fire. His temper about his wife going to a friend (a pointed detail) results in her eventual death and MANY others.

I’m not sure how this all counts toward being a judge, but whatever. The point is, things were bad, and if this clown was supposed to their their judge-leader, he was very selfishly not doing a great job. Another sign of tough times.

Even to say that the LORD’s task for Samson was merely to haphazardly murder a few thousand Philistines seems insufficient.

What are your thoughts? He’s a tantalizing guy. I dare say only Jesus rivals Samson for cinematic adaptations of a Biblical person’s life. The sex, the violence, the presupposed muscles… (seriously, wouldn’t it be hilarious if he wasn’t ripped? I mean, he had no need to work out, so there’s a chance he was normally-sized, which is hilarious to visualize).

I can shrug and say, God can use anybody, which is true, but I feel this time around I’m going to chalk it up to a mom who caught the LORD’s attention and compassion, and who kept a promise; raising a son who understood that promise–to an extent.

Women are powerful influencers. We can use that power to impart the importance of obedience. Or we can annoy men within an inch of their lives, like Delilah. How’s that for a spectrum? Where do you land?

-Bethany

Judges 13-14 B

The story of Samson’s life stresses me out. He’s such a foolish man! Yet God has anointed his life and uses him to rescue Israel. He weaves in and out of foolishness, pride, lust and impulsiveness. He picks horrible, nagging women and they mostly ruin his life.

He’s a prime example of God being able to use us despite ourselves. This guy can’t get out of his own way (which will eventually catch up with him).

Think of a time you let your own tendencies get in your way. How did God redeem the situation?

Something I love about him is how he anticipates our weaknesses. Our failures don’t turn in to his failures. He just adjusts his plan and continues to fulfill his purpose.

He’s the best!

-Carly