I’m doing an online Bible study through Eisy Morgan, a blog that I found through my mom. She and I are meeting over Skype to discuss as we go. More info on the study here. For now, I’m going to get started answering this week’s questions for small group discussion!
If you’re not doing the Bible study, don’t be scared off! With each of these questions, I’m sharing some stories and thoughts that transcend the study itself.
This first set of questions is based upon Psalm 119:129-135 (NKJV). Read it in The Message translation here.
1. List every term the psalmist uses for God’s communication/revelation to man. (Example: V.129 ESV – “testimonies”)
Entrance of God’s words. Commandments. Custom. His word. Precepts. Statutes.
I won’t exhaust you with dictionary definitions; rather, I’d like to highlight one of them. I find it interesting that “look upon me and be merciful to me” is described as a custom. The psalmist recognizes that God is always looking upon him and showing him mercy…yet he asks for it anyways. To acknowledge his desire. His need. It’s quite comforting to just admit to yourself that God regularly looks upon us and shows us mercy–and nothing will keep Him from doing that. And of course…we all have to admit, sometime or another, that we really need His mercy. Constantly.
2. Psalm 119:129 says, “Your testimonies are wonderful: therefore my soul keeps them.” Each of you (as time allows) share a specific way that you’ve come to know personally that God’s testimonies are “wonderful.” If you don’t have a newcomer to the Bible in your group, imagine that you do. Let your answer help explain to her why YOUR soul desires to keep God’s testimonies and why she should even consider it.
I’ve always told people, especially those atheists who come to me with guns blazing, that a relationship with God is an experience. One that you choose to have. After all, winning an argument never won anyone over for Christ. And so, I’m going to share a short story of a cool God moment I had a couple of years ago.
I’ve always loved the rain; sometimes I would go out and just spin in circles, and skip, and run, and then sit down and let it fall on me when I’m all tired. Childlike? Perhaps. But I think that’s the best way to enjoy God’s creation.
One day, it was raining, and so I went outside. But this time, instead of running around and splashing in puddles, I simply sat, and I started singing. You Won’t Relent by Jesus Culture. The rain swelled and slowed with my volume and energy. And I stopped. The rain stopped. I held my breath…
And then belted it all over again. The rain poured back down. And from that moment forward, the rain served as a reminder that God’s with me. He’s here, and He loves my praise. I’m important enough to stop and start the world for. What. I’m just one tiny person in a whole world of seven billion…but touching my heart uniquely is that important to Him. I mean, I knew I was important enough to die for, but this added a whole new dynamic.
And I have full faith that He feels that way toward every person on earth. You.
And the most exciting part is, we have a whole lifetime to discover His endless love for us.
3. Psalm 119:132 says “Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is Your way with those who love Your name.” If you have placed your faith in God through Jesus Christ, you have demonstrated one titanic way of “loving His name.” Discuss the importance of trusting that God’s “way” is to deal with His children graciously. Talk about whether you tend to expect God to be gracious to you or indifferent or harsh and condemning. If you tend toward the latter, would you be willing this summer to seek God with the grateful expectation of His graciousness toward you.
As much as I talk about God’s love and mercy and forgiveness…I must admit to you that I mainly talk about them to remind myself of those things. Most of the time, I tend to think that God is sitting up there, watching my every move, waiting to chastise me when I do something wrong. I tend to think that He’s angry and upset with me when I do something wrong, and that I should keep away from Him for an amount of time (almost as if I’m waiting on him to “cool off”) before I’m worthy of going back to Him.
But God says I am worthy. Worthy of His love. Always. Why else would He give up His life to be with us?
4. Psalm 119:133a says, “Keep steady my steps according to Your promise.” What specific challenges are before you this summer that could cause you to really need God to “steady your steps”?
I’m working as a summer camp counselor at a local church this summer. These kids are the ones who come to the summer camp for 10 hours a day, and many come from broken homes that have no choice but to send their kids to a camp while they work to provide for their family. Some of them don’t come from Christian homes, and I (along with the other counselors and the camp itself) might be the only taste of Jesus they might have. Needless to say, I feel a great load of responsibility for keeping my eyes on Jesus. He’s already given me a love for them that in turn causes me to pursue Him more so that I may lead them better. And I’ve seen Him work in me and in many of the kids there already. But I really need Him in that area–I need steady steps so that I can teach those kids how to walk.
5. Psalm 119:133b says, “Let no iniquity get dominion over me.” THAT, Beloved, is a prayer that could have huge impact in our lives. If you are willing, share a particular tendency of your flesh that you’re really praying will not get the best of you this summer. (By all means, get personal as the Spirit leads but stop short of really graphic specifics. Give people the idea without the mental images.)
A tendency of my flesh is to let people walk all over me. Take advantage of me. Manipulate me. At first, it didn’t really seem to me that it was really “wrong” to let that happen–after all, my motives were based in “loving and serving others with self-sacrifice”–but there is an unhealthy degree to it. I’m constantly praying for healing and guidance through this particular issue, and I have a feeling that many a blog post will spur from it.
6. Psalm 119:134 says, “Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep Your precepts.” Look up several definitions of “oppression” and discuss the vital differences between oppression and authority. How can they be confused? Once we know for certain we’re not just resisting authority but we are genuinely experiencing oppression, realize that God’s will is to REDEEM us from it. Pray fervently for Him to do so. He is perfectly capable of redeeming us from oppression while redeeming the relationship.
I know that God has placed certain people in authority over me–they have the right to make decisions and ask me to do certain things. However, the main difference that I found between authority and oppression is that authority is used to make a decision so that any issue or dispute may be settled. On the other hand, oppression creates issues and disputes. It harms and is not of good will.
Anyone can oppress us…friends, parents, significant others…not just people placed in authority over us. That’s a tricky thing I’m learning about through my answer in number 6.
7. According to Psalm 119:135, conclude by asking God with a full heart of faith to make His face shine upon you, His servant, this summer and to TEACH you vividly through the Book of Nehemiah.
You know, my pastor at Calvary Chapel Tallahassee, at the end of each service, says, “May His face shine upon you.” What a beautiful thing that is.
And so finally, we are finished! I’m excited to discuss with my small group!