In a previous devotional, we discussed how the word path in scripture is interpreted from different forms of Hebrew words. In the verses for that devo the Hebrew word used meant 'the rutted path of a cart or wagaon'. The word for 'path' in today's verse comes from a word that refers to ‘lifestyle’. The full definition says: ‘path, way, road; by extension: behavior, lifestyle.’ We have explored how path can mean a rutted path carved out by God that we must purposefully jerk our wheels out of to leave, and now we have a word to remind us that when we stay in this path God commands, we will always find happiness.
Oh ok, so if that is where happiness is then I’m not leaving this path! And since this path means behavior or lifestyle by extension, then I will behave just as God commands. But wait, I can’t help but notice that the Psalmist starts this verse with ‘make me’. “Make me walk along the path of Your commands.” Make me behave according to Your commands. I believe we are given a clue here. Just as in our exploration of the word about the cart in the rutted path, our flesh wants to seek happiness on paths that appear to be more interesting than the one we are looking at sometimes. We can be led to behave in a way that is not in line with His commands. Well, at least my flesh has. You?
If you have children, or if you are an adult with siblings, you recognize the words ‘make me’. They are usually fighting words! "Oh ya? Let's see you MAKE ME!" They are told to a brother or sister when one is telling the other what to do. Sometimes it’s for their own good, but our rebellious nature wants to resist the ‘good instruction’ because they aren’t the boss of us!
And so we come to the twist on those ‘fighting words’. God is the boss of us. Plain and simple. We are reminded over and over that we are to submit to His authority willingly. So I say in agreement with this Psalmist, “God ~ MAKE ME!”
Make me want to walk along the path of Your commands.
Make me feel lost when I am not following the path of Your commands.
Make me seek the path of Your commands when I am not sure where I should go.
Open your bible and see that in the verses leading up to Psalm 119:35. The Psalmist asks the Lord to teach him His ways and give him understanding of His ways and then he says MAKE ME. When we ask to be taught with a desire to understand, the understanding makes us want to actual do what we have been taught.
So today I cry out to God, “MAKE ME”. I want to behave as You command. I want to live a lifestyle that You command. I want to walk the path that You command.
Are they fighting words? You bet! I am fighting with the power of the Holy Spirit against the will of my flesh and the deception of the enemy. To them I say “You can’t make me but God can!”
PRAYER:God, You have laid a path before me that will bring me happiness and You glory. Your word tells me that this path is the lifestyle I am to live and the behavior I am to exhibit. I cry out to you Lord, MAKE ME walk that path daily. I confess that I need You to be ‘the boss of me’ so that I don’t get lost along the way. Teach me Your ways, give me a mind that understands and make my want to heart obey. Show me if my lifestyle or behavior has taken me down a path that is not of You and make me want to come back to Your commands. If I am lost, make me feel so lost and alone that I seek You with all my heart. And Lord, let me find You quickly. Amen.
2 Chronicles 25:2 ~ And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.
I was reading in 2 Chronicles today and this verse jumped out at me. Since Chronicles is all about the succession of kings, what they did when they reigned, how they honored or dishonored God, and so forth; so I’m inclined to read this book quickly…skimming at times if I am completely honest! I have to make myself slow down when I realize what I am doing. At times it is like reading a novel series where the same thing seems to happen over and over; different characters but same story ~ man becomes King, man pledges to follow God’s will, man wins battles and gets a big head, man decides to step out on his own will, man is struck down by God.
I’ve found myself wondering how so many kings who proclaimed to follow God or were raised in a home that proclaimed to follow God could fall into this pattern over and over again. Today I caught a glimpse of what could be the answer…both for the kings of old and us today.
How often do I (we) follow the letter of the law to be the ‘good Christian’ but do it without a whole heart? Obedience with less than a whole heart might look like this:
- Grumbling under our breath or out loud to others as we choose to honor God in our actions and choices when we’d rather do it another way or be doing what our friends are doing.
- Volunteering at church or in the community because we want people to notice us and see that we are important.
- Stepping out in a calling God has put on our lives with visions of notoriety or wealth.
This list could be quite long if we all were deeply honest with ourselves. God calls us to follow Him with a humble heart. Yet, I have learned that doing so with my whole heart has been part of the sanctifying process.
I have found that the enemy can take a verse like today’s and attempt to pour shame and guilt upon us; trying to make us feel like we are a failure in God’s eyes because we struggle with issues listed above (and all the other ‘less than a whole heart’ issues that could be added to that list). And I will confess that for years I would let the enemy win. The truth is that we are all learning how to be more like Christ one day at a time. If I see myself as one who ‘does what is right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart’, then this is God showing me one more thing to confess, repent of and move forward, stronger today than I was yesterday.
God knows our heart. We cannot hide it from Him. It is not a surprise to Him when we bring confessions of pride, anger, greed or bitterness to Him when we realize that our obedience is done with less than a whole heart. In fact, in ourselves we are blind to our own sin. God is the one that reveals to us the true nature of our heart!
So ask Him today to show you what part of your heart is not wholly committed to Him. Let Him show you what you are trying to hide from yourself and then experience the healing touch of the Spirit as you confess and repent. Walking in obedience will be sweeter than ever before!
My patient God, You know the thoughts of my heart better than I do. And yet you continue to love my completely, with Your whole heart. Your unfailing love shown on the cross covers me with mercy and forgiveness. Show me what I need to see Lord. Show me what part of my heart is not completely surrendered to You so that I may repent of it and do what is right in Your eyes with a whole heart. Amen
Feeding my Hungry Soul one meal at a time,
The Hebrew word used for ‘path’ in this verse literally means a rutted path of a cart or a wagon.Think about a rutted path. It is created because carts and wagons have taken that path over and over and over. The wheels of the carts and wagons have carved out a deep path that others can follow and not get lost. It has been used so much because it has proven to be the best path to take to reach the destination successfully. In fact, a rutted path that is followed over and over for long periods of time can be hard to get out of. The wheels are deep in the path and one would have to intentionally jerk their wagon wheels out of the rut to go in a different direction.So this verse actually says, God leads me in the rutted paths of righteousness... God is telling us that if we will just walk in the path He has carved out for us, we can't get lost and we will live a life pleasing to Him. And by specifically choosing this Hebrew word, I can't help but think God is reminding me that as a believer filled with the Holy Spirit, getting off His path is an intentional act of rebellion. Think about it...a wagon doesn't easily wander out of a deeply rutted path, it has to be forced out.
I know the ways God leads. I know them because I have His Word to tell me. I know them because I have the urging of the Holy Spirit to tell me. But too many times I take the reins and jerk my wagon out of the rutted path and head down a path that I am sure is much better. Am I the only one? Is this familiar to you too?
This word today is reminding us that we don’t need to hold onto the reins. God has His hand on each of us. His word leads us onto the rutted paths that will keep up in His ways.
And so, if I have chosen rebellion, the best thing I can do is to submit those reins back into the hands of the Lord of my life and let Him lead my cart back where it belongs. And as my wheels settle back into the deeply rutted path, I’ll know I’m home again; right where I belong.
Rebellion is done to bring honor to ourselves. If we choose a path that is not directed by God, we are choosing to go against His authority (rebellion) and instead choosing to prove our way is better (pride / or desiring honor for ourselves) When we choose to stay in or return to the rutted path of righteousness, our actions bring honor to God. What do you choose today?
Lord of my life, I come seeking Your rutted path of righteousness. Show me if my wheels are outside the walls of the deeply rutted path You have set before me. If there is any rebellion in my heart, show it to me now so that I may return to Your path and bring honor to Your name. Father, I realize that too many times I reach for the reins of my cart out of pride; seeking to make my own path in life. I bring this to You today and ask You to make me mindful of my prideful ways so that I may repent and return the reins to Your Almighty Hands. It feels good to be deeply rutted in You Lord. Amen.
Have you ever come to the end of a long day when things you needed to do didn’t get done, or a decision that should have been made is still pressing in on you, and as you laid your head on the pillow you sighed “I’ll deal with it tomorrow”?
Or maybe you have been (or are) in a season where life is hard; I mean really hard and there doesn’t appear to be any light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of each day as you laid your head on the pillow you sighed “maybe tomorrow will be better”.
I have. I have experienced all of these pillow talk moments and have found that the first part of today’s verse is a much better way to end my day with a sigh, saying instead, “Lord, let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love”.
We live in fleshly bodies; bodies that can feel the weariness of a long day or season of life. This is what makes us all the same; believers and unbelievers alike. The difference between one who trusts in God and one who does not is a body that is refreshed each morning with a reminder of God’s unfailing love.
I struggled with this in a season of my life when I just couldn’t find joy in the Lord. I’d say things like: “What unfailing love? Look at my life, it is a mess!” “Lord, don’t you see how unfair this is? Can’t You do something about it? Why are You not changing my situation?”
Finally I stopped looking for God’s unfailing love in my personal situations and looked up. When I did, I saw my Savior on the Cross. God’s unfailing love was shown to me on that cross.
When the challenges of life get me down, I remember that God loves me so much that He gave His only Son so I can bring those burdens to His feet.
When my body is weary from long, hard days, I can remember that God loves me so much that He sacrificed His Son so I can walk with Him and in His strength.
When there does not seem to be an end in sight to a series of what seem to be hopeless days, I can remember that God loves me so much that He let His Son walk in the darkness of death for 3 days so that I could walk in the light of hope found in the promise of eternity with Him.
Yes, that is the word of unfailing love I think of when I lay my head on the pillow and sigh, saying “Lord, let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love”.
How can I not put my trust in a God who would go to such lengths to have fellowship with me? I can trust Him to always show me the way to go.
And so as the Psalmist goes on to say, “To YOU I lift up my soul”.
Do you? Do you lift up your soul to Him? When I first read this verse, after realizing how powerfully God has shown His unfailing love for me through the cross, I considered what it meant to lift up my soul to Him.
I am no theologian, but I will tell you that God has given me a vivid imagination that He often uses to show me what He wants me to glean from His word. So don’t look for this interpretation in any commentary, but imagine if you will your soul as a vessel of some sort. For me it is a large clay bowl. This bowl (representation of my soul) is in my hands and I lift it to the Lord. As I do, He pours the living water of His word into that bowl. My soul (represented by that bowl) receives this word and my body is refreshed by the living water that fills my soul.
Morning, noon and night I lift up my soul to God, seeking the word of His unfailing love. I am reminded that the unfailing love of God is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. I am reminded that if my God loved me so much that He would do this for me, even before I was born, then His love is greater than anything I could come against. God cannot and will not fail me. And so, I trust Him to show me the way that I should go.
Our recipe today is God's Word of Unfailing Love
The ingredients are Psalm 143:8
The directions are to remember the everlasting love God showed on the cross and cling to that promise no matter the circumstances you are in at the moment.
CLICK HERE for a printable version of today's recipe for the soul. Make notes on it of how God is speaking to you today, and carry it with you to feed your soul as needed.
Heavenly Father, I am humbled at the thought of what You did to bring me into fellowship with You. You could have given up on me and all mankind and saved Your Son from the torment and torture of that road to Calvary. You could have but You didn’t. You didn’t because You are unfailing love. You aren’t just one who shows unfailing love…you ARE unfailing love. Lord, I am saddened at the thought of the times I have failed you. My love is true, and yet I fail You time after time. I thank You that Your unfailing love shows mercy to me. Forgive me as I stumble along learning to live more like You. Lord, to You I lift up my soul. Fill me with the word of Your unfailing love. Show me the way that I should go Lord. I trust You, the God that went to such lengths to show me a love that cannot and will not fail me. Yes Lord, show me the way that I may go and I will follow. Amen.