Taught at the Feet of God

Psalm 119:102 – “I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.”

Okay, I have to admit it. I’m jealous. I really am. I wish that I could have been there, one time, when Jesus taught a group of people. From the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ teaching, we read that He taught unlike anyone who preceeded Him. And, I’m pretty sure that the world has never seen anyone who teaches quite like Him since He ascended into Heaven.

But, I’m also happy. I’m happy that I have the Bible. I’m happy that I have the very breath of God in my fingertips, every time I hold His precious Word. David said that he hadn’t departed from God’s laws, because he had been taught by God, Himself. And, you know what? We have been too. Every time we break open our Bibles and truly allow God to speak to our heart, God has taught us. Very few people were fortunate enough to ever hear Jesus speak more than once. But, we have multiple spots in Gospels where Jesus’ teaching comes alive. We also have multiple spots where we see God, the Father speak. And, multiple spots where we see the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Marvel today in the fact that you’ve been taught at the feet of God. You hold his very breath in your hand, every time you read His Word. Are you ready to pick it up and read?

Dear God,

Your Word is precious. It represents that which You are passionate about. Help us to remember that. Give us the discipline to be daily in Your Word. You are our Delight, and we love You so much.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

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Crooked Way

Psalm 119:101 – “‘I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.”

–THE FOLLOWING STORY IS A MODERN DAY PARABLE. IT NEVER REALLY HAPPENED.–

It was quite a hike.

Bobby had been hiking these mountain trails all his life. Hiking next to him gave me the confidence that whatever came our way, we’d be prepared for it. As we walked we swapped stories about our lives. Most of my stories involved my suburban life. I don’t think Bobby was really all that interested in my ramblings about cul-de-sacs and SUV’s (that never really went off road), but he humored me. When Bobby spoke I was enthralled. He grew up in the mountains. My biggest fears growing up were that I would get stuck on the wrong side of the tracks. Bobby talked about having to escape from mountain lions and bears. He warned me about the dangers of the wild. He also taught me to respect the land. And, when he said it, it carried a bit more authority than my eighth grade science teacher’s words from years ago.

As we hiked further Bobby’s talk changed. He began to talk about the deepest things in life. He began to talk about God. It took me by surprise that this mountain man was an amateur theologian. He would talk about God’s love and God’s plans. He talked about the paradoxical relationship between God’s grace and His furious wrath. He also talked about anthropology. He called it the doctrine of man. And, he said that all men were created in the image of God. He said that all men have sinned and our sin has separated us from God.

It was then that we happened upon it. It was a path, and it looked gorgeous. The tree lined path was awash in colors of fall. I started to run towards it. It was as if I was being pulled toward the path.

“Wait!” shouted Bobby. “That path looks great, but it is dangerous. It starts as a wide, beautiful path, but if you take it too far, you will never come back. Stay away!”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Mountain man was afraid of a mountain path. I thought he could handle anything.

It was then that he told me about the group of experienced hikers, who years ago took the path and never came back. The path led to treacherous terrain, that even the best hikers couldn’t pass. The tricky thing was that it looked so easy. As soon as one believed that it was, the path swallowed them up.

Bobby told me, “That’s the way it is with life. There are lots of paths that look harmless, but they ignore God. And, the people who walk those paths are led to eternal destruction. ‘Ole King David once said, ‘I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.’ We need to take a page out of David’s book.”

That night we came upon a narrow pass. I didn’t want to venture out on the path. It looked like it would be a tough hike. “Are you sure about this?” I asked Bobby.

“Oh yeah,” Bobby said. “I’m sure.”

Who was I to question the mountain man? So, I followed. It was the toughest three hours of my life. There were many times that I was afraid I was going to slip right off of that mountain. But, it was also a series of great lessons. And, when we got to the clearing, I was in awe. There I was, looking at the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen.

“This isn’t heaven,” Bobby said. “But, I think it’s as close as you can get this side of glory.”

“It sure was tought to get here,” I said.

“Yeah, it was,” said Bobby. “But that’s the way it is with God. Walking with Him is not always easy. In fact, I think walking with Him is the toughest thing in the world. But, it’s worth it.”

“Yes, it is, Bobby. Yes, it is.”

Dear God,

Sometimes walking with You looks so tough. Help us to remember that anything worth something costs something. And, help us to remember that our cost is nothing compared to Yours. Thank You for showing us the way. Thank You for being our Guide.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

The Benefits of Obedience

Psalm 119:100 – “I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.”

This past Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving with several close friends and family. Among the close friends was my friend Jamal. Jamal grew up in Somalia. He is Somali/American and runs a Somali restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. Jamal is a huge checker player. He loves that game. If you ever visit his restaurant, Safari, in the Midtown Global Market, you’ll find that Jamal has a checker board ready to take on all comers. He hadn’t lost for seven years, before Thursday. Then my Dad entered Jamal’s life. My Dad hadn’t lost a game of checkers in eleven years. (He also hadn’t played in eleven years.) My Dad and Jamal traded victories all afternoon long. They had so much fun that we had to go to the Global Market on Friday for more checkers. Dad and Jamal split four games, each winning two games. As they talked I found out that the elders in Jamal’s village would play checkers all day long. The elders were the respected men of the village. They were considered the leaders in that community.

When David talks about the elders in Psalm 119:100 (I’m so excited that we’ve made it to day #100!) he is talking about the same type of men that Jamal spoke of. These were people who were respected in Israelii society. They were considered to be the “answer men.” If you needed advice, you were to go to the elders. David’s words in Psalm 119:100 may seem boastful at first glance. But, they are anything but boastful. David was merely stating the truth. Obedience to God’s commands leads to great understanding. Just as in yesterday’s verse, David spoke about the fact that meditating upon God’s statutes gave him more insight that his teachers, (education is something that should bring you insight) today’s verse reminds us that obeying God’s commands yields understanding.

So, how are you doing when it comes to obedience? When I talk to teenagers about obeying their parents, I hear audible groans. They don’t like the word obedience. But, it’s what God calls us to! We need to obey Him. One of the benefits is understanding! May you be a person of great understanding!

Dear God,

Thank You for Your radical call on our life to holiness. We want to be a holy generation. We want to be people that You can depend on. We want to reflect Your glory to this world. We want to be people who understand our times because we are obedient to You. Help us to be these people.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

The Lens of Scripture

Psalm 119:99 – “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.”

I hope that you’ve had a chance to go beyond just reading these blog entries and that you have had the chance to meditate upon the Scriptures on which they are based. Today’s Bible verse talks about the value of meditation. In David’s life, biblical meditation yielded great insight. He knew how to face life’s circumstances head on because of the insight that he had gained from the study of God’s Word.

Year’s ago I heard a pastor say that he read the newspaper with one hand and the Bible with the other. In other word’s he looked at life’s circumstances with a biblical world view. Do you think that really works? I do. I believe that when we look at the headlines of the day through the lens of Scripture we have more insight than those who do not. When we read about atrocities in other countries, the Christian should be motivated to act, becaue Jesus has compassion for those who have no voice. When we read about injustice we should be motivated to act, because Jesus cares about justice. When we elect our leaders that decision should be made through the lens of Scripture. Are the people that we are voting for people who display the biblical characteristics of leaders? Are the lawmakers that we are electing people who care about God’s laws?

As you walk through life, may you see things through the lens of Scripture. Let God be your guide as you navigate life’s journey.

Dear God,

You offer insight to those who seek You. Thank You for Your perfect will. Help us to seek to understand Your will and honor You with the choices that we make. You are great and Your knowlege is a gift. We love You and seek to glorify You with our lives.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

The Secret

Psalm 119:98 – “Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.”

For the past twelve months, Rhonda Byrne’s New Age book, The Secret, has been towards the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. It’s a shame, really. Because, Byrne’s book is leading many people astray from the truth. Amazon.com writes that Byrne’s assertation is that positive thoughts can lead you to wealth, health and happiness. She also says that negative thoughts can lead to terminal illness, poverty and widespread disasters. Needless to say the book has received quite a bit of negative publicity. But, it’s still selling like crazy. Why? American’s love the idea of anything that will bring us wealth and happiness. Even if it is the antithesis of what it is that Christ has called us to. The title of Byrne’s book creates an instant interest as well. We love secrets.

Well, let me let you in on a different, and a much better secret today. It’s one that King David discovered thousands of years ago. If you want the competitive advantage, study and internalize the commands of God. When David felt like his enemies would destroy him, he had confidence in Christ. His confidence came because of his unfaltering faith. He was absolutely convinced that he was wiser than his enemies because he not only knew, but lived out the commands of Christ in his life.

It’s no different today. I hope that you are not walking around with a bunch of enemies. But, you do need God’s wisdom. His wisdom is contained in His Word. Spend time in it, and you will have what you need to make life’s most important decisions. You will know how to lead others as you spend time in God’s Word. You will know how to be a better spouse and parent as you spend time in God’s Word. You will know how to treat people better as you spend time in God’s Word. You will know how to handle finances as you spend time in God’s Word. You will know how to care for your body as you spend time in God’s Word. You will know how to handle conflict as you spend time in God’s Word. And, I could go on and on. The Bible isn’t an irrelevant book that should sit on a shelf in your room collecting dust. It is wisdom. It is the very breath of God. It will change your life. That’s the secret. Now, go spend time with God.

Dear God,

Thank You for the gift of Your Word. In it is contained wisdom that we all need for our every day life. Help us to grow and learn as we spend time with You. Give us the courage to live by Your precepts.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

What Are You Doing Today?

Psalm 119:97 – “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”

“What are you doing today?”

It’s a question that I ask a lot. As a father of four, I want to know what my kids are up to. I also ask them, “What did you do today?” At the dinner table or at the end of the day, I want to know what it is that my kids spent their time doing.

So, what are you doing today?

Today is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s been a busy few days in the Schulenburg home. My parents and sister have been in town for Thanksgiving. We’ve had so much fun with them. On Thursday we had 18 people in our home for Thanksgiving dinner. Yesterday was spent in shopping malls and exploring the city of Minneapolis. This evening we’ll be part of a group of 30 of our friends and family going to the Minnesota Timberwolves game. I love this time of year!

It can be so easy in this time of year to get so busy that we forget about God. We need to ask ourselves where God falls in our plans. Lordship means that God always takes priority in our day. He isn’t an afterthought. He is our consuming passion. We meditate upon Him throughout the day. Daily meditating upon the Word of God allows us to meet the challenges of our day in a godly manner. That’s what David is getting at here. He was Israel’s greatest King, not because of his own accumen or prowess, but because he depended upon God and His precepts. So, should we.

Dear God,

We want our one consuming passion to be You. As we love You, we will love others. Help us to remember that. Help us to remember Your faithfulness. You are our Great Redeemer and King. Thank You for your wisdom.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Nothing Compares!

Psalm 119:96 – “To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.”

Perfection. Just hearing the word can seem a bit daunting, because we are far from perfection. Just when I think that I’ve perfected something, I’m brought back to earth in a grand display of humble pie.

I grew up a Chicago Bull basketball fan. When Michael Jordan joined the Bulls, he electrified the city of Chicago and the nation. His game was as close to perfection as I had ever seen. Jordan is fond of saying, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Yes, even the game’s greatest player has failed over and over again. There is a limit to earthly perfection. But not to God’s perfection.

God will never say, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” God always succeeds. Even when it looks like God is close to losing a battle, His ultimate plan triumphs. That’s worth trusting in. He is worth placing all of your faith in.

Nothing compares to Christ. Nothing.

Dear God,

Thank You for Your utter perfection. I can’t understand it. I am awed by it. But, greater still, I am awed by You. How can it be that You an infinitely perfect God would love me, an infinitely flawed human being. Nothing compares to You, Father. Nothing compares to You, Jesus. Nothing compares to You, Spirit. Nothing.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.