This is a statement I struggle saying freely, because my heart and mind wants to rebel almost as soon as I think to say it! To think that I was an atheist 20 years ago, yet I still struggle with God’s greatest commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might!
On Monday Rick Wiles talked about the ultimate prepper’s survival stockpile. His second item in that stockpile was that you must have a love and a devotion to keeping the commandments of God. This is a transcript of what he said on that radio program:
I would advise you to read all of Psalm 119. It is a beautiful Psalm about the loveliness of God’s commandments; His ways, His laws:
Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
Verse 20: “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.”
Verse 24: “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”
Verse 27: “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.”
I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
The promises of God in Psalm 119 are just too many to mention. It says in Verse 97:
Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
So I would say to you, are the commandments of God sweet to you? Are they precious to you? Do you think about them day and night? Is the desire of your heart to keep the commandments of God, and to please your heavenly father by keeping his commandments? You will keep his commandments when you store his word in your heart. When we love God with all of our heart, mind, and soul, and when we love our neighbor as ourselves, we will keep the commandments! We will have to walk in love.
So these words from Rick Wiles been stewing in my heart this week, and I am convinced that it is completely God’s doing to have my Book-at-a-time Bible Reading Plan fall upon Psalm 119 this week. This is the longest chapter in the bible, and it’s pretty close to the middle of the book. I listen to the Reader’s Bible on CD during my weekday commute, and as I listen its synonymous thoughts wash over me like a Bach motet.
The 176 verses erect a grand cathedral of lovely thoughts, of devotion to God and of peace with God. The longest and most ambitious of all the Psalms, Chapter 119 is a work of flawless artistic integrity. Its twenty-two stanzas (of eight verses each) are in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within a stanza begins with the same letter, and each verse contains one word for “instruction.” The author glorifies and thanks God for the Pentateuch (the first five books known as “the law”), prays for protection from sinners enraged by others’ fidelity to the law, laments the cost of obedience, delights in the law’s consolations, begs for wisdom to understand the precepts, and asks for the rewards of keeping them.
The author’s depth of piety, intensity of execution, grandeur of architecture, and pervasive loftiness of expression have earned Psalm 119 a place among the most admired works of the entire bible. You probably recognize verse 105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. It’s a simple but profound metaphor that sums up the message of Psalm 119: God’s word directs and guides human life.
Just for poops and giggles, I looked for the middle verse of Psalm 119. There are 176 verses in the 22 stanzas. The 1st verse of the 12th stanza is 119:89: Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. This speaks directly to my personal testimony. He revealed to me that the bible is absolutely true, whether I believe in it or not.
My atheism was always punctuated with absolute statements to support my lack of belief in Jesus:
- “There is no God.”
- “There is no evidence to support the claims of any religion; none whatsoever.”
- “Religion is a con, used to dupe the masses out of their free will and money. It’s a fraud, nothing more.”
- “I have no reason to give any credibility to a single religion out there. If such evidence existed, churches wouldn’t need to ask their people to have faith.”
- “The bible is an unreliable book of myths and legends.”
Historical evidence meant nothing to me; eyewitness testimony meant nothing. The word “coincidence” was my blindfold, and other avoidance tactics kept my heart in enmity with God. Given my sensitivity about being lied to and deceived, I know that it was an act of God that caused my heart to stir and awaken to His call.
And though this is my first time analyzing verse 89, it has stood in stark contrast to all my human artifices for thousands of years: God’s Word is firmly fixed in the heavens forever. The evidence is overwhelming to support the claims of the authors of the bible that Jesus of Nazareth came to earth 2,000 years ago, died, and rose again.
Verses 118-120 describe the punishment I would have received for my unbelief, had I died in my atheism: “You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.”
My heart often feels far from the Lord, and especially when I see God’s judgment meted out on us, my flesh trembles for fear of Him. In those moments I can’t testify that I love His commandments. However when I pray and consider my own heart and my limited reasoning, I remember how Jesus revealed himself to me, and how He paid for my sin on the cross. Only then do I know that God is just and holy, He is good and His steadfast love endures forever! Then my heart is healed, and I can truly say that I love God’s commandments and that I love my neighbor as myself.
It is time for the Lord to act,
for your law has been broken.
Therefore I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.