Oh God, May I Please You!
“What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance; and this the Christian has, in a way that no other man has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?” J. I. Packer
Our God is a speaking God. He desires to be known and enjoyed. He speaks in creation through the work of his hands and he speaks through his law written in a Book. When God’s Word is read and heard, the Spirit of God opens eyes and softens hearts so that we not only come to know God, we come to want God. The Word of God has the power to transform sinners and rebels into worshippers and lovers. That is why the psalmist finds it so precious and sweet.
One of the more effective lies of the devil is that we only need to know a little about what the Bible says. “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” pretty much sums it up. The Greeks recognized that it was possible to have a little knowledge and remain a fool. They called that kind of person a “sophomore.” It is made up of two words, “soph”, from the word for wisdom, “sophia”; and “moros”, from which we get “fool” or “moron”. One who had a little knowledge was in danger of being satisfied and overly confident and unprepared for the subtle situations that the enemy throws at us.
So, the Christian can never know enough about God. There are two reasons we need to know more of God. First, the more we know of God, the stronger we will be. Daniel says it like this: “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” [Daniel 11:32] Jesus gave this invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [Matt 11:28-29] Weary and burdened people find rest when they learn more of Jesus, and they learn from Jesus as he speaks to them in the Scriptures.
Second, if we know more of God, we will have more joy in our lives. The more we discover, the more reasons we have to delight in him. A God-enthralled man or woman is the one who has picked up the Bible and prayed, “Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in your law.” That prayer was answered for the author of Psalm 19. Because he sees wonderful things in God’s law, he picks it up with delight.
Exposition: Psalm 19:14
Our Prayer: God invites us to pursue the highest, most exalted and most compelling goal- knowing him. If we really believe this, just the thought of that possibility should send shutters up and down our spine. I think that is why the psalmist exclaimed, “You hem me in — behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” [Psalm 139:5-6] Knowing the awesome possibilities, but also aware of our cumbersome liabilities, we need help. So, we pray. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” [Ps 19:14]
That is the first thing we should learn from this text. It is always this way. When God speaks we should pray. We pray because what we have heard causes us to want more. But, we cannot progress in our own strength. So, we quickly learn that the Word, God speaking to us, and prayer, our speaking to God, are the two tracks upon which we must travel if we are to know more of the joy that is found only in our God.
Our Pleasure: The thing that gives us the greatest pleasure will dictate how we will live. We always will choose what our heart wants. If we want God more than anything else, we will seek him with all of our heart. Who do you want to please more than anyone else? If you live to please others, you will be constantly worried about what others think of you. If you live to please yourself, you will be enslaved to your passions and feelings. But, if your goal is to please God, and you seek him in his Word, you will open yourself to infinite blessing and eternal pleasures. He will mean more to you than your very life. The world may attack you and threaten to take your life, but you will not budge!
That was the sense behind Luther’s words: “Here I stand I can do no other:” and Athanasius’s response to the charge that the whole world was against him, “Then, Athanasius is against the world.” Paul said it like this: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” [Gal 1:10] When you settle the question ‘who am I trying to please’, it settles all of the other questions that life throws at us. You are a servant of Christ!
Our Rock: The reason that such a choice can be made with confidence is not based upon image or opinion, but upon truth. God has revealed himself in history as one who keeps his promises. Not only does he make promises, he keeps promises. Our view of God will determine the stability and strength of our lives. James Boice describes how a weak concept of God produces a weak church. Some think, “He is a God who would like to restrain evil, but somehow finds it beyond his power. So he has withdrawn into retirement, being willing to give good advice in a grandfatherly sort of way, but for the most part he has left his children to fend for themselves in a dangerous environment.”
But that is not the God of the Bible says Boice, and then goes on to assert: “The God of the Bible is not weak; he is strong. He is all-mighty. Nothing happens without his permission or apart from his purposes- even evil. Nothing disturbs or puzzles him. His purposes are always accomplished. Therefore, those who know him rightly act with boldness, assured that God is with them to accomplish his own desirable purposes in their lives.”
Our Redeemer: When we fail to live up to God’s commands, we have a Redeemer. In our last study we saw that the psalmist was painfully aware of his own weakness and proneness to sin. That is why he prayed, “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.” There never is a moment when we do not need God’s grace and God’s mercy. But, thank God, “In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” [Eph 1:7-8]. Even though we fail to please him, his forgiveness and cleansing awaits us. We can be restored into the joy of our Lord, reload, and get back to honoring him with our lives.
Our Words: Abraham Kuyper, a great Dutch statesman and theologian once wrote, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!” I would suggest that God’s claim also extends to a couple of square inches we call our tongue. It is said that during the crusades, the knights would go into the waters for baptism and would submerge everything but their arm which held their sword. Apparently, in their mind, that allowed them to kill the infidels without holy restraint.
We must not think that way about our tongues. Just because you close your mouth in the waters of baptism does not mean it is free to say anything it pleases. The tongue is to be dedicated to pleasing the Lord just like every other part of the body, maybe more. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” [James 3:6] The tongue and its words can do great evil or can do great good. As a people who have put off the old man with its sinful desires, made new in the attitudes of our minds, we must speak the truth, not lie [Ephesians 4:25]; We must refuse to let any unwholesome words come out of our mouth. Instead, we are to speak only those things that benefit those who listen. [Ephesians 4:29]
A lady once came to D. L. Moody and said, “Rev Moody, I think I have found my talent.” ‘What is that? He asked. “It is speaking my mind,” she revealed. He responded in his typical forthrightness, “I think God would just as soon you bury that talent, my good woman.” “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” [James 3:10] It may seem like nitpicking to some, but to the one who delights in Christ and desires to please him in all things, even the two square inches in the mouth must be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ.
Our Thoughts: Finally, the battle for godliness is a battle for right thoughts. What a man thinks and believes controls the way he lives. When Joshua was about to lead the people of Israel into battle, God knew it was crucial that he think right so that he would act right. So, he was given these orders: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” [Josh 1:7-8]
One man wrote, “Often the crowd does not recognize a leader until he has gone, and then they build a monument for him with the stones they threw at him in life.” Isn’t it great that we don’t have to worry about what the crowds think about us? We cannot please everybody but we can please the one Person that really matters. That is what we desire. That is what we live for. If the whole world is against us, then we are against the world. Pleasing him matters.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dr. Gary Rieben. © Give Me That Book. Email: Grieben@aol.com. Website: www.GiveMeThatBook.org. Postal: GMTB | P.O. Box 1045| La Quinta, CA 92247 USA | 619.829.2390
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