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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Psalm 119:33-40 Learning from the Great Teacher

Have you ever tried to obey God but at the same time you thought that you did not have the understanding or the strength to do so? If so, you’re not alone. The writer of the passage we heard from Psalm 119 felt the same way. The theme of that reading is growing and walking in faith and not growing weak. This walk is the road to spiritual maturity.

Psalm 119 is a psalm in celebrating God’s law. The psalmist asked God to teach him to obey God’s Law. That might seem strange since laws are something we either do or don’t do, so there’s not much thought necessary. The psalmist knew that God’s Law is really about having our hearts changed to align with God’s will for our lives.

The Psalmist represents those of us who have trusted Christ as our Lord and Saviour. The psalmist, like us, was restored to life by God’s power, and like us he had to grow in that life. He needed God to teach him, and we also need God to teach us. God’s Word is all we need for godly living. By grasping its powerful message, we as God’s children can be pure. God’s Word teaches sound doctrine.

It is one thing to be taught and another thing to understand that teaching. God, like a good coach of a sports team or an athlete, shows us the basics and we must start with them. God has the responsibility to give us both content and understanding. As we ask for it, and as we obey what God shows us, our knowledge will grow throughout our lives.  

God is happy when we obey Him wholeheartedly-that is, without hesitating or asking questions. God doesn’t have to explain everything he asks to do. Obedience will provide us with the explanation.

If we want to live the life God wants us to live, we have to be very choosy about what we give our lives and attention to. God’s Word shows us the right path to take. It calls us out when we take a detour. It teaches us how to stay on the path God has laid out for us. Instead of seeking happiness in the things of this world, we must seek happiness in God’s Word. We must not lose sight of what is really important in our churches and our Christian lives. For example, too many people think of a church as just a building, Church buildings are important, but God’s work will go on regardless of where people meet to worship God. When the Disciples of Christ Church in Milton was being “remodeled” and moved, the congregation met for worship in the church office. They still did God’s work, and I can tell you from experience preaching there that the Holy Spirit was very much alive and home there.

Many of the things we focus on in life won’t matter very much in the end, especially if they are worldly things. When we lie on our deathbeds, we won’t wish we had worked harder or made more money or had a better job. We will likely wish that we had loved God more, focused on people more, spent more time with our families, shared our faith more, prayed more and pursued God’s purpose for our lives.

Like the psalmist, we have to decide to give ourselves to God, but we know our own weaknesses. No matter how much we want to please God, God must give us the strength to do it. Only God can give us both the motivation and the energy to follow Him. Our hearts must be renewed again and again, just like the Israelites who were wandering in the desert couldn’t live on yesterday’s manna. They got fresh manna from God every day. Similarly, we can’t rely on past experiences as a substitute for a vital, daily walk with God.


1.                  Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, p. 786)

2.                  ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.

3.                  Williams, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol 14: Psalms 73-150 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1989; pp. 350-352)

4.                  Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 821-822)

5.                  Pastor Rick Warren, “Obedience is an Act of Worship.” Retrieved from

6.                  Joel Osteen, “When to Turn Away.” Retrieved from

7.                  Ron Moore, “Turn My Eyes from Worthless Things.” Retrieved from

8.                  Gathering, Advent/Christmas/Epiphany 2016-2017 (Toronto, ON: Worship, Music and Spirituality Office; Church in Mission Unit; United Church of Canada: p. 22)

9.                  Christine Hallenback Ask, “Psalm 119:33-40.” Retrieved from





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