Tag Archives: Psalms

It’s Not My Law

I’m sure you’re familiar with the scenes.

  • Someone smokes where it is forbidden
  • While driving there is always that driver that just has to speed past everyone else
  • The driver treats the stop sign as a yield sign
  • A person cuts a few corners on their taxes
  • A witness commits perjury
  • A group of friends set off fireworks after posted hours
  • Parents let their underage teen host a party where alcohol is consumed

This one may not be familiar but it fits. From the Detroit News: “Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Tuesday she would not enforce a state abortion ban if federal protections are overturned…” (1)

While there are many more examples these, hopefully, raise the question of the day. Why do people feel it’s okay for them to break the law? Why do they feel they can say and act as if “It’s not my law?”

I believe the answer is quite simply “Pride.” To knowingly and willingly break the law is to say, in essence, “I’m special. This law doesn’t apply to me.” “I think it’s a stupid law – I know better so I can ignore it.” Pride puts us in a position of feeling superior, better than and different from others. Pride allows us to make laws and set boundaries as we see fit. After all, it’s not my law.

But make no mistake about it; we’ve all been similarly prideful and willingly broken laws at some point in time. And I believe it stems from our rebellious, sinful nature. We saw it with Adam and Eve when, because their pride placed them above God and rejected His law, they ate the forbidden fruit. The reality is every time we sin we are saying to God “It’s not my law.” The testimony of Scripture is clear.

First, there is law. God has firmly established His law within the world He created and “The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure… Your statutes, Lord, stand firm…”  (Psalm 93:1&5) “The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved…” (Psalm 96:10) “The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.” (Psalm 111:7-8) The truth is it’s not now and never is ‘my law.’ It’s God’s law.

Second, we all break God’s laws. (2) “What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:9-12 & 23)

Third, there are consequences for breaking the law. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) A basic theme of the book of Judges is that when everyone does what is right in their own eyes, there is chaos in the land.

Fourth, the power to obey comes from loving Jesus. He proclaimed, “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:15-17)

Fifth, there is great reward in loving Jesus. Jesus said “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:10-11)

Why this brief overview and summary of Scripture? Because the bottom line is that obeying God’s laws compels and enables us to better obey human laws and to live with joy. The better we understand it the better off we and our world will be; because, after all, “The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved…”

————–

No Smoking Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

(1)https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/04/16/nessel-id-never-enforce-michigan-abortion-ban/3487903002/

Gavel – Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

 

Slowing Down the Speeder

My wife and I recently spent a lot of time traveling in our car (60+ hours – but who’s keeping track?) It was over the course of 2 weeks and much of it was on the highway. And I smiled as ‘it’ happened again.

We were on a stretch of 5 lane highway. I was in the middle lane doing the 70 mph speed limit. (Well, okay. For transparency’s sake I was doing 75. That’s still within the spirit of the law isn’t it?) Suddenly, over in the far left lane a car went speeding by at – my estimate – 90 + mph. There’s always someone who just has to do it.

As he went by I wasn’t smiling – I just shook my head. But then ‘it’ happened. About 15 yards beyond us he (or she) suddenly slowed down significantly. At the next curve in the road I saw why – about 15 yards ahead of us in our lane was a state trooper. That’s when I smiled.

(By the way, I estimate the trooper was doing about 75 mph!) For the next 15-20 miles the speeder maintained the slower speed. Then the trooper exited and in a moment, ‘in the twinkling of an eye’ to use a Scriptural phrase, the speeder hit the gas and was quickly out of my sight. I smiled again.

I smiled because I’ve seen it before and will see it again. These speed demon drivers base their mph on who’s watching. They’re daring enough to be disobedient but not daring enough to be disobedient when authority is watching. My smile indicates my theory that they are not as daring as they think they are.

Yet speed demons are not the only ones who behave this way, not the only ones who are disobedient when they think authority is not watching. Children are disobedient when parents are not watching. Students are disobedient when the teacher is out of the room. Employers are disobedient when the boss is not around. Adults have affairs as long as they believe no one is watching. I’ve certainly been disobedient when I thought no one was watching (that’s all you’re going to get! That’s where my transparency ends!) And I suspect you have been as well.

It’s sad that often the basis of our actions is who’s watching. It’s a pretty flimsy foundation for life. But you know what? It can be a good foundation if we remember one thing: God is watching – always watching. We need to recover the awareness that God’s people had.

  • “The LORD sees what happens everywhere; he is watching us, whether we do good or evil.” (Proverbs 15:3 Good News Translation)
  • “The Lord… will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:7-8)
  • “Where could I go to escape from you? Where could I get away from your presence? If I went up to heaven, you would be there; if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there. If I flew away beyond the east or lived in the farthest place in the west, you would be there to lead me, you would be there to help me. I could ask the darkness to hide me or the light around me to turn into night, but even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” (Psalm 139:7-12)

This awareness should be the foundation our behavior. It powerfully impacts what we do and don’t do, what we say and don’t say, where we go and don’t go. It’s not that God is a dictator and we must obey Him “or else!” No – He watches us, as the Scriptures above indicate, so He can protect and provide for us. Our disobedience breaks His heart and blocks much of what He wants and waits to do for us. Our obedience, on the other hand, warms His heart and allows the free flow of His grace-filled protection and provision. What a difference it will make in our lives if we, at the time of decision, remember God is watching. It will stop us from doing and speaking some things and prompt us to do and say other things. It will stop us from going to some places and send us to other places.

And by the way, we have a constant reminder in an unusual place. On our money. No, not the “In God we trust’ motto. Check out the back of a dollar bill.

It’s part of the seal of the United States. Notice the eye. It’s called the all seeing eye. And while there are some varying pieces to its history the point of most agreement is that it represents the providence of an all seeing God. The words “ANNUIT CŒPTIS” is one of two mottos on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. Taken from the Latin words annuo, “to nod” or “to approve”, and coeptum, “commencement, undertaking”, it is literally translated, “[providence] favors our undertakings” or “[providence] has favored our undertakings.” So even in our spending God is watching, protecting and providing!

It’s as the psalmist said: “Where could I go to escape from you? Where could I get away from your presence?” The truth is I don’t want to get away from His presence. It’s what keeps me on the right, healthy and blessed path. It will do the same for you.

It’s All in the Footwork

Proper footwork is important. To dance well, to hit or field a baseball, to be a good defender in any sport, to play soccer well, or to play a pipe organ beautifully takes good footwork. I’m thinking about this because last week my wife Barb and I had the opportunity to help out at the Friendship Camp at Cran-Hill Ranch. She was asked to be the RN for the week and I went along to help out if and where needed.

Throughout the week we were all engaged by the chaplain, John Cleveringa. He did some wonderful presentations on the theme verse from Proverbs 4:26-27 (New Living Translation). “Mark out a straight path for your feet … Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Near the end of the week Barb and I walked one of the nature trails and doing so actually made the verse come alive even more. Here are a few brief reminders and lessons the verse and trail provided for me.

“Mark out (make) a straight path for your feet…” We are not, at birth, automatically placed on a life path. We either wander aimlessly

through life or we choose a path. When Barb and I decided to take a walk we first had to choose which trail, which path to take. There were plenty of options and none of them came to us – we had to choose. The same is true in life. There are an overwhelming number of paths to walk through life. At some point we must choose which one to walk. John the Baptist was called to “guide our feet in the way of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79) He did so by pointing people to Jesus who said of Himself “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) While ‘choosing Jesus’ certainly means we have the guarantee of eternal life with Him, it also means He is the straight path for our feet – choosing Jesus is to commit to walk after, to follow Him.”

Don’t get sidetracked…” The reality is there are many paths that can be followed. As Barb and I walked our chosen trail we came across several side trails. We had no idea whether they went to a nicer place or if they led only deeper into the woods. We were tempted to walk some of them. It was easy to get sidetracked. So it is with life. There are always others paths along the way, some appealing and some not. It’s easy to let our curiosity get the better of us and change paths. But the wise preacher reminds us that it is not wise to do so: “Don’t get sidetracked.” Changing paths could lead to trouble, danger or dead-ends. It can lead to delay in reaching our chosen goal and destination.

But how do we stay on track? “…keep your feet from following evil.” To ‘keep’ is to continue or cause to continue in a specified condition, position, course…to continue doing repeatedly or habitually. As we walked Barb and I had to keep our feet headed in the direction of the trail we had chosen. It took some effort and discipline, just like staying on track in life. It is difficult, if not impossible to stay on the chosen path without daily, repeated, habitual disciplines. (1) They help us stay on our chosen course to avoid “evil’ – the trouble, danger and dead-ends. Spending time with God through reading the Word and praying helps keep our feet on the path. Through these disciplines we are shown the steps to take. As the Psalmist put it “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 New Living Translation)

While keeping our feet on the path is often very difficult, God offers His help along the way. “Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling.” (Psalm 66:9 New Living Translation) And He also offers some very precious promises as incentive for doing so. As The Message states Ps. 119:1-8 – “You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.”

In light of these promises the Psalmist reaffirms his commitment to proper footwork and I invite you to do the same. “You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; Then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. I’m going to do what you tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.”
(1) I acknowledge that there are other Spiritual Disciplines but I am focusing here on the ones more apt to be daily.

A Word About Syndromes

There is a new syndrome affecting many people. It’s called the Trump Anxiety Disorder (TAD). I get it, and somewhat understand it. And while I can get very political and biased I will resist the temptation to do so here – that’s not the purpose of my blogs.

Rather I am more inclined to reflect on how this new syndrome strikes me. As a Christian, what is my response? How do I react to the root causes of this syndrome? I look at the apostles and early Christians – they lived under the rule of the likes of Herod and Nero who gruesomely persecuted and killed Christians. I think about the Jews who lived under (and the many who died under) the horrific reign of Hitler. I read about the persecuted Christians of today who face inhuman punishment and execution daily. How is it that so many of them live each day without panic and overwhelming fear?

It’s because they’re affected by another syndrome – the Foundational Faith Syndrome (FFS). In my book A Nation Under God (1) I wrote about the core of this syndrome.

“The God who rules is sovereign. Jeremiah was disappointed that his message and ministry were not being followed by Judah. He felt he had done all he could with Judah and his heart was broken that she was still as wayward as ever. So God spoke to Jeremiah and told him to go to the potter’s house…Jeremiah observed the master potter at work. Using two wheels connected by an axle, the potter rotated and controlled the speed of the wheel with his foot and molded the clay with his hands. So adept was the potter that beautiful pottery was formed as if by magic. Mesmerized by what he saw, Jeremiah was jolted back to reality when the potter felt a flaw in the clay and stopped his work. Jeremiah anticipated he would throw out the clay and start with a fresh batch. But he was fascinated to discover the potter simply took the same clay and started over again to form a different pot. “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”

God’s sovereignty is part of the fabric of Scripture. The Psalmist affirms it: “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart throughout all generations.” (Psalm 33:10-11) “Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:8-12)

Even the pagan kings of Daniel’s day understood. “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”” (Daniel 4:34-35)

“Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: “May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”” (Daniel 6:25-27)…

So God will have his way with nations. God puts them on His divine wheel and never lets up – He is continually molding, shaping, sculpturing. No matter how independent nations think they are, no matter how much control they think they have over their destinies, the truth is they are clay. They are being shaped, molded, controlled by hands other than theirs. They are being formed by God’s hands.
We also learn, however, that because God holds nations accountable, nations can influence God’s ways. Consider God’s explanation to Jeremiah: “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”

Therein is our hope; therein is our peace.

No wonder the Psalmist could say: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!…The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress… “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”” (Psalm 46:1-3,7,10) That’s why Jesus, just prior to his excruciating trial and death could say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) It’s my prayer that you will be affected not by TAD but by FFS.

(1) NOTE: To read more about the book follow the link. To order at a discount go here.

Safe and Secure

We have a security system at our house. I know it works because we’ve accidentally tripped the alarm on more than one occasion. But there is also a code we can punch in at the control box which, we’ve been told, would immediately bring emergency assistance without setting off the alarm. But how do we really know? Sometimes I would like to punch in the code just to see if anyone comes quickly. But unless I want to get into deep trouble, I need to trust and believe.

I feel much the same way when I read Psalm 91. The Psalmist is eloquent and picturesque as he speaks about four provisions of security. The first provision is in verse 3: “Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.” God gives SAFETY from the traps and snares the devil sets for us.

God also provides SHELTER. (4a) “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge…” When a predator or something dangerous approaches, the bird instinctively spreads its wings and the younger birds scurry underneath for shelter. So God provides shelter for His people.

God’s third provision is that He is our SHIELD. (4b) “…his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” The Psalmist knew that God is faithful to all He created (Psalm 36:5): “Your love , Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” He also knew that God’s faithfulness would pass through the generations. (Psalm 119:89-91 NLT): “Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven. Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created. Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans.”

The fourth provision God provides is SACRED GUARDIANS. (11-12) “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Hebrews 1:14 teaches that angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. God sends His angels to keep His people safe and on track in all their ways. In essence, God has provided us with designated drivers to escort us home.

These provisions give us at least three freedoms, the first of which is FREEDOM FROM FEAR (5-6) “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.” Since God provides security, what is there to fear? The Psalmist also says that we gain FREEDOM FROM EVIL. (7-8) “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” Evil will not take over our lives and control us. Thirdly, we gain FREEDOM FROM HARM AND DISASTER. (10) “…no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.”

God gives safety, shelter, a shield, and sacred guardians so we are free from fear, evil, and harm and disaster. The Psalmist concludes by restating God’s covenant with His people: (14-16) “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Notice the promises – God will rescue us, protect us, answer our prayers, be with us, deliver us, honor us, satisfy us with long life, and show us salvation. It’s wonderful!

It all hinges on TRUSTING GOD. Security in God is not an insurance policy against misfortune or trials. The glorious, seemingly unconditional provisions and promises of Psalm 91 are, at core, not a call to understand but a call to trust. (1-2) “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” To ‘dwell’ is to trust God – to put all your weight on Him. Think of climbing a rock wall. Once you put your weight in the harness and trust the person holding the rope, you feel safer and therefore can climb easier and higher.
(1)
Are you willing, in the midst of the tough times of life, to put your weight on and trust in God?

Consider the following conversation. (2)

“God, can I ask you something?” “Sure.”
“Promise you won’t get mad?“ “I Promise.”
“Why did you let so much stuff happen to me today?” “What do you mean?”
“Well I woke up late.” “Yes.”
“My car took forever to start.” “Okay…”
“At lunch, they made my sandwich wrong and I had to wait.” “Hmmm…”
“On the way home, my phone went dead, just as I picked up a call.” “All right.”
“And to top it all off, when I got home, I just wanted to soak my feet in my foot massager and relax, but it wouldn’t work. Nothing went right today! Why did you do that?”

“Well, let me see…the death angel was at your bed this morning and I had to send one of the other angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that.” “Oh…”
“I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on our route that might have hit you if you were on the road.” “Oh…”
“The first person who made your sandwich today was sick and I didn’t want you to catch what they have; I knew you couldn’t afford to miss work.” “Oh…”
“Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give a false witness about what you said on that call, so I didn’t even let you talk to them so you would be covered.” “I see God.”
“Oh, and that foot massager, it had a short that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn’t think you wanted to be in the dark.” “I’m sorry God.”
“Don’t be sorry, just learn to trust me…in all things, the good and the bad.” “I will trust you God.”
“And don’t doubt that my plan for your day is always better than your plan.” “I won’t God. And let me just tell you God, thank you for everything today.”
“You’re welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I love looking after my children.”

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

(1) http://www.aviatorsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/IMG_0035-2.jpg
(2) Original author unknown

 

An Inside Job

Everyday I take some pills. Some are vitamins and some are prescriptions. I don’t know how they get into and go through my system. I do not feel them doing anything. Yet I seldom ask “Why should I take these pills – I don’t feel any different?” Why? Because the state of my health assures me they are working inside my body. It’s an inside job.

Similarly I eat meals everyday. I have some understanding of how they get into and go through my system. But unless I overeat I do not feel them doing anything. And I can’t tell you what I ate for lunch July 21 or dinner April 3 or even lunch last Monday. Yet I never ask “Why should I eat these meals- I don’t feel any different and I don’t remember them anyway?” Why? Because when I have strength to get up each morning I know the food is working inside my body. It’s an inside job.

I also read the Bible with great regularity (I confess I do not do it everyday, much to my own disappointment. And there’s no one to blame but myself.) Sometimes as I read I am not inspired, am not moved, and learn nothing new; I do not sense anything happening. Yet it’s been many years since I’ve asked “Why should I read the Bible so often – so often I don’t feel any different? And I don’t remember what I’ve read.” Why? Because the Bible assures me that God’s Word always does something inside me. It’s an inside job.

Consider Psalm 119. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” (9) I” have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. “(11) “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” (24) “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” (93) “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.” (99) “I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.” (100) “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (103-105)

Consider Isaiah 55:10-11. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Consider Hebrews 4:12-13. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I am convinced that every time I read the Bible the Holy Spirit goes to work in me – even if I am totally unaware of what He is doing. It’s an inside job. John Piper put it beautifully: “I spend this much time on Bible memory because I believe in the power of the indwelling Word of God to solve a thousand problems before they happen, and to heal a thousand wounds after they happen, and to kill a thousand sins in the moment of temptation, and to sweeten a thousand days with the ‘drippings of the honeycomb.’ (“When I Don’t Desire God”, 123)

I will continue to read the Bible. But not to be inspired or moved, or to learn something new or with the hope that I will experience some great feeling. Any of these dynamics are but bonuses. Rather, I will read knowing that God will go to work on and in me. He will increase my spiritual health and strengthen my faith. He will continue to transform me into the image of Jesus. It’s an inside job I can live with. In fact, I cannot live without it.

 

 

Good Roots

Before last week’s 50th reunion reflections I considered “Those Never-Ending Weeds” and “More About Those Weeds.”

I wrote that there was one more weeds blog to come. This is it. The question that crossed my mind in identifying and uprooting those weeds was “How do I identify and uproot the weeds in my life?”

The answer is “Develop a good root system.” A strong root system crowds out unwanted growth. The prophets repeatedly told the Israelites how to do so. When they spoke to the nation about sin their most frequent opening statement was something akin to “The Lord spoke to me” or “The Lord our God says.” It was their way of reminding God’s people that the only way to identify the sinful weeds was to look at our lives from the eyes and heart of God. Jesus demonstrated this principle during His temptation in the wilderness. Each time Satan tempted Him Jesus responded “It is written…” (Matthew 4:1-11). He evaluated the tempter’s offers through the lens of God’s words. That’s why the Psalmist wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) He understood that we identify the weeds only when the Word of God has taken root in our hearts. A strong root system crowds out unwanted growth.

When we look at our lives from the perspective of God’s Word we see more clearly that the foundation of most every sin is pride. In my book “7 Habits of Highly Healthy People – Antidotes for the 7 Deadly Sins” I pointed out, “As William Barkley wrote, ‘Pride is the ground in which all other sins grow.’ Think about it. Pride grows:

Envy – we are unable to permit the success or excellence of another
Anger – we cannot tolerate those who frustrate our plans, purposes, and desires
Greed – we need to possess more to be worth more and impress more;
Lust and Gluttony – we need to satisfy ourselves (or escape from ourselves)
Sloth – we lack love for ourselves and others

Pride is at the root of all of these sins. Pride is a powerful sin… “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.””(Proverbs 16:18)

Only when we have a good root system deep within our hearts can we spot our pride that leads to other sins. So with the Psalmist we need to hide the word within our hearts. The author of Hebrews described the dynamic vividly when he wrote “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I’m learning how to identify and somewhat control the weeds in our yard and garden. In doing so I’m also re-learning how to do the same in my life. I’m recommitting myself to hiding the Word in my heart that I might not sin. A good root system will do the job.                           As Psalm 1:1-3 paints the picture: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Good roots – blessed life. Sounds like a plan.