Thursday, February 19, 2015

Searching for Peace and Happiness: Psalm 119

"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." Psalm 119:14-16

The search for peace of heart and mind--- elusive 'happiness' leads people on many searches. Some search for years---reading books on how to achieve and "be your best self", how to always have happiness 'present' in your life and how to conquer our fears. We spend endless time listening to speakers and watching tv shows to help us achieve this, even pursuing hobbies, busyness and 'chasing the wind.' Some of these things help us for a time, but we are quickly moving on to something else when all of these fail. We want to rejoice in the riches, the temporary satisfaction of the world, and the latest and greatest. God tells us to rejoice in His laws and delight in His decrees.

"Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word." Psalm 119:37

God, knowing man's elusive search for these things, and that we cannot find them or achieve them ourselves, gave us the answers. They are all laid out when we search for His ways, when we seek Him and know Him. Yet, we often view God's ways as a burden, or as something that will not lead to peace, and so we continue on our own way---still not finding peace and joy. God's ways are applicable to our daily lives, they involve more than sitting in church every Sunday. God's way is a way of life, it requires discipline, study, prayer and a willing, humble heart. When we are committed to learning God's ways and how to apply them to our lives, God will answer us. He provided His path for us so that we may find Him and walk in His ways of peace. He wants His children to have what is best for them, and what is best for us is to follow the ways of the One who made us.

"All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.    We have left God’s paths to follow our own." Isaiah 53:6

The enemy would like to get us with what we try to believe is 'innocent compromise.' We let things in the door of our hearts and minds, our very lives and pretty soon we live our whole life based upon these things. We don't even remember when we made a conscious choice to walk the path we are on. We compromise with what everyone else is doing, lifestyle, possessions, entertainment, reading, lack of spiritual discipline or how we raise our children and yet we lack for a richness in our lives and we long to fill the emptiness and the lack of peace our life is reflecting. When we sow into God's ways, we will reap the benefits of walking in God's way, and when we sow into the world's ways of compromise, we will reap the end results. David said "I will study your commandments, and reflect upon your ways." What are we studying, thinking, reflecting upon? Is it constantly distraction, or are we reflecting upon God and the new path we are choosing?

"Oh, that my actions would consistently
   reflect your decrees!" Psalm 119:5

Christians in centuries past cycled their days and lives around God. They began their day with Him, they went about their work with Him, asking Him to guide them, and they kept Him in the front of their minds and hearts all day. They consistently reflected His decrees because they delighted to walk with Him all day. Because they began their day with Him, scripture was in their mind and hearts and those truths overtook even their own thoughts.They ended their day with God, began their day with Him, and spent their life with Him. In return, they knew Jesus deeply, and whatever storms or trials came their way, they knew their shelter would not fail. These Christians did not compromise. They did not let into their lifestyle the things that 'everyone' else around them did, they simply knew God's way, followed Him, and knew that they were not missing out on anything. They were wise in learning to shut the door on compromise and live a simple life with God, not tangled up in the things which they knew were not for them.

"As I learn your righteous regulations,
   I will thank you by living as I should!" Psalm 119:7

Being thankful to God for all He has done for us, we thank Him by living as we should! A thankful, grateful heart to God desires to walk in His truths, knowing it is the only way to walk. He is our God, and we will only follow Him, and nothing else can tug us off of His path. So many of us forget this important step in our walk with God. Studying His ways, then turning the head knowledge into action in our lives. If we say we follow God, but know nothing of His ways, and are undisciplined, still following the world's ways, then we are not really following God, but man.

"Be good to your servant,
   that I may live and obey your word.
Open my eyes to see
   the wonderful truths in your instructions.
I am only a foreigner in the land.
   Don’t hide your commands from me!
I am always overwhelmed
   with a desire for your regulations." Psalm 119:17-20

Our days can easily be "overwhelmed" with many things, but when we are overwhelmed with a desire to walk in God's ways, those things fall away as we walk in step with Him. The beauty and truth that shines when we walk God's path is that we are not bound to do anything anyone else does, we are not 'entangled' to the world's desires or the rat race. We are not slaves to this world and it's trappings, but to God and His ways. God asks us to walk in His ways, to change our ways to His, so that we are free to walk as His children.

Prayer: "Lord, teach me your ways and guide me. Break my fear of giving up my old habits and learning habits of peace. Teach me and guide me in the way I should go, change my path that I may delight in living in your ways each day. Amen."

"Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
   I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
   I will put them into practice with all my heart.
Make me walk along the path of your commands,
   for that is where my happiness is found." Psalm 119:33-35

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