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rose-white-and-pink3Key verses – Psalm 19:7-9, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether”

Psalm 139:14, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”

Our theme – The Scriptures have many beneficial effects to our lives.

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Introduction

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest estimates , there are more than 50 million adults age 65 and older living in the United States. By the year 2050, that number is expected to grow to almost 90 million. Between 2020 and 2030 alone, the time the last of the baby boom reach age 65, the number of older adults is projected to increase by almost 18 million.

Florida has the highest percentage of senior citizens (21%), followed by Maine (20%). Utah has the lowest percentage of senior citizens (10.8%), followed by Alaska (11.1%). California is home to the largest total population of senior citizens (over 5.4 million), followed by Florida (4.2 million).  Today, nearly one in six New Yorkers is 65 and above (16 percent), a larger share of the state’s population than ever before.

Since a growing percentage of people in the United States are becoming senior citizens, the number of advertisements for prescription drugs has increased dramatically and will continue. If you watch television there are more commercials pushing drugs that you must have. However, all drug ads have one thing in common, in that, they list all the benefits of the drug before listing the possible side effects, such as dry mouth, swollen ankles, hives, headaches, diarrhea to name only a few.  But don’t worry about those side-affects our product can do wonderful things for you.

The drug, no matter what its benefits are, would never sell; however, change the same ad so it lists the benefits first and then covers the risks in a fast voice, or the letters are so small you can’t read them, I believe customers would still be willing to overlook the risks in order to enjoy the benefits. I would venture to say that many people want to know what the drug can do for them before they hear about the adverse side effects.

Our Scripture lesson is Psalm 19. This Psalm lists the benefits of Scripture and unlike drug commercials, there are no risks tucked at the end of the psalm. Scripture has only good side effects, or benefits. The benefits of Scripture should cause us to want to partake of it on a daily basis. In the first six verses of Psalm 19, David was caught up with the revelation of God in the natural world.

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A. The Revelation of God in Nature – (Psalm 19:1-6)

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” and Hebrews 11:3 says, “The worlds were framed by the word of God”

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In the beginning (Genesis 1:1) is not the only place in the Bible where we read about creation. The remarkable work of God’s creation is not a one-passage occurrence. Woven throughout Scripture are reminders that God fashioned our world, revealing to us again and again, how essential it is to believe that the universe and everything in it came through the masterful work of God’s mighty hand. We are told that God created:

(1) “the foundations of the earth” Psalm 104:5;
(2) “sun, moon, stars, and the heavens” Psalm 148:1-5;
(3) “the ends of the earth” Isaiah 40:28;
(4) “lightning, rain, wind” Jeremiah 10:13;
(5) “people” Malachi 2:10;
(6) “all things” Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16.

We need these reminders, otherwise, the teaching we hear continually from the government, and scientific community who spend millions upon millions of dollars in an effort to learn the origin of man and the universe could easily influence us. All types of theories have been developed from the big bang theory to evolution to explain the beginning. When devotional writer Aletha Lindstrom needs a lift for her spirits, she thinks of her favorite poetry book title, “Who Tells the Crocuses It’s Spring”? That prompted her to ask other questions like:

(1) Who makes the trees turn all those beautiful colors in the autumn?
(2) Who splashes rain in shining puddles?
(3) Who makes the stars shimmer in the night?

Such questions ought to also stimulate our own thoughts. Centuries ago, Job exclaimed that it is God who “does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number” (Job 9:10). It is God who:

(1) Reminds the sun to rise at its appointed time every morning.

(2) Keeps the earth steadily rotating at tremendous speed.

(3) Feeds the sparrow and dresses the lilies of the field in their entire splendor.

(4) Guides the feathered flocks southward in the autumn and then brings them north again in the spring.

As David looked to the heavens, he could see God’s handywork in the blue sky, with the glory of the sun and clouds and the beauty of sunrises and sunsets; in the  night sky, with the brightness of the moon, the awe of the starry sky and the spread of the distant galaxies. These together – with their size, their awe, their grandeur – shouted to David and all who would see, “The God who created all this is glorious, and this is evidence of His glory”, having created something so immense that works together so well; in God’s artistry, having created something so beautiful and is glorious in His goodness and kindness, having created something for all humanity to see.

David concluded this section by commenting again on the extent of the revelation of God (v. 6). Just as no place escapes the heat of the sun, so no part of the world escapes the knowledge of God through the sun and the other heavenly bodies that He created.

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B. The Benefits of God’s Word – (Psalm 7-9)

As David reflect on the revelation of God in the heavens (Psalms 19:1-6), he thought of the greater and clearer revelation of God in the Scriptures and the beneficial effects of the Scriptures for believers (Psalm 19:7-14). He used six names for the Scriptures. While each name has a slightly different thought from the others, together they are synonyms and are simple and different ways to refer to the Scriptures.

The law in verse 7 is more than a reference to the Mosaic law. It refers to all of Scriptural truth. Testimony in verse 7 is God’s witness or presentation of the truth. Statutes and commandment in verse 8 both indicate the responsibilities or decrees God gives to His people.  Fear of the LORD in verse 9 is a name for God’s Word that reflects an effect of God’s Word – people learn to fear God through His Word (Deuteronomy 4:10). Judgments (Psalm 19:9) is a designation for God’s judicial decisions. These six words show the comprehensive nature of God’s Word.

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(1) “The Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.”

Which means it is without blemish, and is complete, lacking nothing. Perfection here speaks to wholeness; it has lost nothing and its perfection is the basis within which all of the other characteristics of God’s word is found. Nothing is missing from God’s Word and no part of God’s Word, is unnecessary.

In fact, the NKJV says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” As God’s word is perfect, its effect on the soul of the person who reads it and applies it is that which calls us back into a  right relationship with God. It restores or returns us to God. It is God’s means by which He draws us back into a right relationship with Himself. This is a constant necessity in our spiritual life, to be drawn back into fellowship with God when we allow actions or attitudes to draw us away. This is one of the functions of God’s Word.

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(2)  “The Testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

The NIV says that the testimony of the Lord is “Trustworthy.” We can rely upon it. When all around us there are conflicting messages as to what truth is, God’s word does not change, it is sure, and it is trustworthy. The word “Simple,” in the Hebrew is more aligned with naïve (foolish; simple; childlike) than it is to our English word “simpleton” (a person who is easily deceived; fool). It does not speak of one who is incapable of understanding knowledge, nor does it speak to one who is unwilling to receive knowledge, but simply of one who is lacking in knowledge.

The idea here is that for those who are truly looking for answers, who are coming to scripture with an open mind, God will reveal Himself in such a way through His word that it will make them wise. And of course, as Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The word of God is a sure and true witness, it will inculcate within the open-minded reader a fear for God, which is where wisdom begins. And as that fear of God grows, we will grow in our understanding of who He is and how He works. This too is part of our spiritual development. God’s word makes us wise, without it we will stumble around in the foolishness of our own thoughts and desires. Next, he says that.

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(3) “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”

A precept is a directive which, if followed, will lead one to the goal of faithful living. It carries with it the idea of orders or directions, like a marked line on a road map, which if followed allow you to go where your God wants you to go. God’s directions, His precepts are always right. They never mislead, will never take you down a dead end, and are never out of date. They are always right. It is impossible to grow increasingly conformed to the image of Christ without His direction. As the old hymn says:

“He leadeth me, oh blessed thought, O words with heavenly comfort fraught. What e’r I do, where e’r I be, still tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”

And they rejoice the heart, or bring joy to the heart, not only because they save you from the heartbreak which invariably comes when we deviate from God’s word but because they keep you on the paths of righteousness, God’s precepts keep you in right a relationship with God.

God’s word may seem restrictive, but God never intended it to harm us, but rather to help us. He did not give us His word to be a burden to us but rather to be a blessing to us. You stop and think about it. If everyone in this world lived in accordance with the precepts of God’s word this world would be a wonderful place. There would be no violence, no greed, no war, no murder, no hate, no selfishness and no rebellion. It is precisely because people have chosen to disregard God’s word that the world is in such a mess. God’s word gives us guidance and leads us into joy.

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(4) “The Commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”

The word pure here, is often used to describe the purity and radiance of sunlight. In fact, the NIV translates this “The commands of the Lord are Radiant, giving light to the eyes.” This is in keeping with Psalm 119: 105 which says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Proverbs 6:23 says, “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light.”

The apostle John, in John 1 describes, Jesus as the Living Word of God who is the true light Who enlightens everyman in the world.

God’s word sheds light on an otherwise dark pathway. Like the brilliance of the morning sun cutting through the darkness at dawn, God’s word casts the darkness aside and enables us to see clearly. Through it He shows us where to step, how to walk, what to avoid and which way to go. It enlightens, illuminates or gives light to the eyes of our understanding. How else can we see, if not for the light of His word? “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”

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(5) “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.”

The fear of the Lord is clean…the word fear here is used as a synonym for the word of God because, as we have seen, the fear of the Lord is one of the effects of God’s word has upon the heart. The fear of the Lord is clean, that is, it has a purifying effect on us and it endures forever. It does not change.

First Peter 1:24-25 assure us that, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word which was preached to you.” You see, the purifying effect of God’s word is that it shows us how to be in a right relationship with God and that relationship is something which endures forever.

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(6) “The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.”

God’s judgments are true. The word judgment here speaks to what God says ought to be, it is His judgment, His decision, His declaration about what should be and what should not be. And when God speaks it is always true.

As God reveals Himself to us in His word, He tells us the truth about sin, about forgiveness, about heaven and about hell. His word is true. It never misleads and is never confusing. It is true.

God’s Word is true and altogether righteous. In a world filled with such uncertainty, with so many competing opinions of right and wrong, God’s word serves as an indispensable tool for the believer. In it we have a sure and certain word from God Himself. It is perfect, it is sure, it is right and it is pure, it is clean and it is righteous. What a description of the word of God.

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Now that we understand the names and descriptions of God’s Word, we are ready to examine the benefits. Once we understand the benefits of God’s Word, we cannot help but be drawn to the Scriptures.

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Converting the soul in verse 7 refers to giving life to an unsaved person and reviving a believer’s weak spirit. Making wise the simple means God’s Word gives wisdom to the humble at heart. The proud want nothing to do with God’s Word. They want to live according to their own ways (Proverbs 12:15). They set themselves up as their own authority.

Rejoicing the heart refers to the encouraging benefits of Scripture. Through God’s Word we can encouraged no matter what circumstances we are facing. The phrase enlightening, the eyes conveys the idea of getting guidance from the Scriptures. Reading and studying God’s Word shines the light on what is an otherwise dark path (Psalm 119:105, 130, 133)

God’s Word is enduring forever. The Bible will not change and will not lose its value (Psalm 119:89). These truths give us confidence in God and His Word. Righteous altogether means God’s Word leads to a righteous life.

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C. The value of God’s Word – (Psalm 19: 10-11)

Here David pointed out the value of Scripture by comparing it to the most valuable commodity (gold; Psalm 119:72) and the sweetest food (honey; Psalm 119:103) known to mankind at that time. And he specifically identified fine gold (the purest and most valuable) and honey from the honeycomb (the sweetest kind). In essence, he said that the Scriptures are greater than the greatest things you can think of and are more desirable than the most desirable things you can desire.

In verse 11 David identified two more values of God’s Word. First, he listed the value of being warned. God clearly warned the Israelites. If they disobeyed Him, they would experience His righteous anger (Deuteronomy 6:10-16) God isn’t being mean when He gives us warnings. Quite the opposite is true. His warnings are valuable to us because they help us understand the seriousness of sin and because they motivate us to obey Him. A mean God would hide the consequences of sin until He doled them out.

Second, obedience to God’s Word brings the promise of blessing and reward. Often God’s clear warnings to the Children of Israel were accompanied by promises of blessings for their obedience (Deuteronomy 6:17-25). The principle of blessings for obedience carries over from the Old Testament into the New Testament. As part of God’s church, we can’t claim the promises God made to Israel, but God still blesses the obedient. Ultimately our blessings for obedience will come in eternity (2 Corinthians 5:10).

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D. The response to God’s Word – (Psalm 19:12-14)

The benefits and values of God’s Word demand a response from us. We can’t just agree that God’s Word is beneficial and valuable. We have to do something with it. David’s first response was to use God’s Word to overcome sin.

In Psalm 19:12 David asked, “Who can understand his errors?” The obvious answer to this rhetorical question is, “No, one.” Our spiritual lives are complex. We don’t even always know when we are sinning. “Secret faults” are unintentional sins that slip under our radar. David know God’s Word could have a cleansing effect on him. He wanted God to use His Word to point out unseen sin in his life.

Presumptuous sins are sins committed blatantly. David wanted God to use His Word to break the sin habits that had a hold on him. Hiding God’s Word in our hearts is vital to overcoming our sin (Psalm 119:9-11). David concluded that the ministry of God through the Word would render him upright, or blameless, and would help him to avoid much great sin.

David’s second response to God’s Word was to live pleasing to God. David wanted both his words and his thoughts to be acceptable to God. In essence, David desired to replace old sinful habits with new words and thoughts that pleased the Lord. That David wanted his thoughts to be pleasing to God communicates his seriousness. God would renew David’s words and thoughts as David spent time reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word.

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Further reflection:

Of all the books that have ever been written or will ever be written, no other book can match this book because it is a living book! Author Ronald B. Schwartz asked scores of well-known contemporary writers to name the books that influenced them most deeply. Their responses ranged from the popular stories of Mark Twain, the works of Dickens, Shakespeare, and Faulkner were mentioned. Perhaps because most writers want to deal with the “big questions” of life, and the Bible is the ultimate book for life’s big questions:

(1) Who am I?

(2) Why am I here?

(3) Is there a God?

(4) Does life have any meaning or purpose?

The pages of Scripture bring us face to face with ourselves, with God, and with His grand design for our lives. The Bible, according to the late journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, is “the book that reads me.” The writer of Hebrews said, “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” (Hebrews 4:12).

So, when we read the Bible, God speaks personally and powerfully to us about the big questions that matter most in life. Someone penned these words regarding the Bible: This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.

Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It involves the highest responsibility, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

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David closes this psalm with these words, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer”. It was David’s desire to be blameless, to stand before God in purity. The goal here is not sinless perfection but rather to avoid doing that which is displeasing to God. God knows we cannot be perfect, that’s why He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. But even though we cannot be perfect, we must still have a strong desire, a devotion that is evidenced as we seek to live lives that are pleasing and acceptable in God’s eyes.

This is at the heart of how David wraps us this Psalm. He says, “I don’t want sin to rule over me. I want to avoid that great transgression which will cause my life to be ruined. I want the very words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart to be acceptable in your sight.” How is this possible? Within the context it has to do with hearing and obeying the word of the Lord. As Psalm 119 says, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his ways, by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought Thee, oh let me not wander from Thy commandment, Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”

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Closing thoughts:

God’s natural world declares His Glory. It’s important for all those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ to nourish their spiritual lives. This is accomplished in several ways such as reading the Bible, having daily devotions, praying, having fellowship with believers in Christ Jesus, and by worshiping and praising the Lord. However, there’s another way of learning about God that we often forget and that is observing the wonders of nature.

The psalmist often expressed amazement and wonder as he saw God in the everyday occurrences of nature. A good example of this is found in Psalm 47. Verses 7 through 11 tell us that the God who causes the rain to fall and the grass to grow to provide food for birds and beasts is not pleased when man relies on his own strength or on the strength of his animals. Instead, the Lord delights in those who hope and trust in Him.

Then in verses 12 through 18, the psalmist reiterated that the Lord of all creation takes responsibility for His children’s protection, blessing, peace, and provisions by controlling the snow, the frost, the hail, the icy winds, and the warm breezes. When we study a tiny wildflower or marvel at the vastness of the Milky Way, we are reminded of the One who made all of it. In a deeply personal expression of praise, the psalmist wrote, “O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all” (Psalm 104:24).
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As  believers in Jesus Christ, we are privileged to know the Creator of the universe, and as such there are millions of similar wonders in our world today, more than enough to convince anyone with an open mind and a searching heart that a-all-powerful and all-wise Creator brought them into existence.

As we nourish our souls with God’s precious Word, let us also be ever so mindful and observe His ways in nature. Whenever possible, we should go outside and see, feel, and smell what’s there and look up to God our Creator in adoration, gratitude, praise and worship.

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Creation is filled with signs that point to the Creator.