Tag Archives: Psalms Bible study

Guest Post and Series from Gregory Dickow Ministries

I can’t think of any better way to share the joy of new beginnings and renewal, than by sharing these free resources from Gregory Dickow Ministries.

Here’s a special Easter Message, a link to a free teaching series, and then a short video to introduce the second installment of Pastor Dickow’s “Fast From Wrong Thinking” series, which is a 40-day series, with each lesson sent to your email, daily, for 40 days.

It’s true: “Right thinking produces right living.”

Here’s the Easter Message from Pastor Dickow:

We’re celebrating the most incredible event in history: Jesus’ resurrection! This is what changed everything for you and for me, and this is the Good News that I have dedicated my life to proclaim to the world. Thank you for standing with me. Lives are being changed now and for eternity because of your prayers and support. I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you’re doing for the Gospel.

Not long ago I was in Jerusalem, and I had the opportunity to go to the Garden Tomb, the very site at which the event we’re rejoicing over this weekend took place. This empty tomb not only represents our salvation because Jesus rose from the dead, but it is a reminder of an invitation God gives us: an invitation to happiness.

You see, we live in a world of sadness, loneliness and discouragement, but when Jesus conquered sin and death He also conquered all the negative emotions that beat us down and limit us from living a life of purpose and victory. That doesn’t mean we’re never going to have troubles, but the Gospel is an invitation to happiness in an unhappy world, to joy in the midst of trials, to peace in times of fear and to a celebration of a right relationship with God.

All of our emotions come from what we believe, and if we don’t believe that God will keep His promises, or that they’ll work for others but not for us, then we feel discouraged, depressed and defeated.

But when you believe that God will keep His promises, joy and peace will be yours!

“I will watch over My word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:12

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13

While I was at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem I thought about Mary’s experience there. Remember the story? She was weeping because the tomb was empty and she didn’t know where Jesus was. But then He appeared to her and asked “Woman, why are you weeping?” (John 20:1-18). He asked her that because He wanted her to be happy. He wanted her to have joy, and He is asking you the same question. Why weep when you can rejoice? Why weep when you can be happy?

Jesus had said on at least five occasions that He would be killed and rise again on the third day, and Mary was weeping because she didn’t believe it would happen. But Jesus’ resurrection not only provides for our salvation but is the proof that He does what He promised He would do!

And if Jesus could keep that promise He can and will certainly keep His promises to you!

Maybe you have bills you can’t pay. God always comes through and will supply your needs. Maybe you have a body that’s sick and in pain, but God’s Word is true and it says by His stripes you can be healed. Maybe you’re going through something that you just don’t know how to overcome, but God said you’re the head not the tail, above only not beneath. And God said what He started in your life He will finish. Perhaps you’re discouraged about one of your children who has gone away from the Lord. The Bible says you and your whole household shall be saved!

Why are you weeping?

I wonder what things are making you sad today. I wonder what’s discouraging you today. Let me tell you, it’s going to end!

Believe that God will keep His promises to you!

There are three things that cause us to be unhappy. Let’s deal with them right now.

First is Bad News, which I call wrong information. You’re hurt by what people say about you. You’re impacted by what you see going on in the world. Life is uncertain and you’re worried about what the future holds.

Where we get our ‘news’ or information from is critical. We can get the news about us from others, from the enemy, or from God. The good news that God has to say to you and about you & your future will produce joy and happiness.

Get your information from God’s Word.

Number two: Bad Memories produce unhappiness, guilt and shame. We have all fallen, failed and made mistakes. But the Bible says in Hebrews 10:17 that we’re under a Covenant of Grace because God doesn’t even remember your sins and failures. Jesus came out of the tomb but your mistakes and shortcomings are still buried there and forgotten.

Your past is over. Bad memories cannot control your life anymore.

And the third thing that robs us of happiness is Bad Focus. We’re focused on what we don’t have, what we haven’t done, and what is going wrong. God wants us to focus on what He’s already done and what He’s promised He will do. That’s when your perspective will change; and peace and joy will be the result.

Focus on what God has already done for you (Psalm 103).

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Note: Just by reading Psalm 103, the entire chapter, you will be blessed, as you read about all of benefits you already have, in you possession, right now! I can also promise that, if you’ll go through the entire “Fast From Wrong Thinking” series, it will change the way you think … and, by doing so … it will change your life.

Here’s the video to introduce the new “Fast From Wrong Thinking” series:

 

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Psalm 117: Shortest Chapter, Longest Message

We recently had the great, and eye-opening opportunity to study the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119. Its subject was the Word of God. Come to think of it, it still makes sense that, in the Bible, the written Word of God, the longest chapter is devoted to the authority, power, and relationship of the Word to man. How important the Word, His Word, is to us … and, to God.

It just seemed natural to, then, look at the shortest chapter in the entire Bible, which is only “2 chapters back” of the longest chapter. Bringing us to Psalm, chapter 117.

Only 2, yes 2, verses. But, I discover in studying this chapter, that, perhaps, I should sub-title this writing with something like, “Fewest Verses, Longest Vision.”
Man, talk about looking at the big picture!
Yes, the chapter is, perhaps, “set apart” by being the shortest, but it is also set apart for another reason: It is the only Psalm which is strictly addressed to the Gentile world. It clearly sees the same vision other Old Testament writers saw … that the Gospel … that Salvation … would be sent …would be offered … would be available … not only to the Jewish nation and its people … but, to “all of us.” As we’ll see, this was a message many Jewish believers did not want to hear, and was still an issue in Paul’s day. More on that later.

First, let’s consider that, Scripturally, there are only 2 races of people: The Jews and Gentiles. Period. All of us are in one of these 2 categories. Yes, that means just that. It would be fair to say that this message, the message and fact that all nations, all peoples of the “heathen” nations, would have salvation made available to them, was the hottest, most debated topic of the very, very early church. Things haven’t changed much, have they? How God can offer the same salvation, the same eternal life, the same spiritual gifts, etc., to “everyone,” even those we consider to be “unsavable.” How, in God’s eyes, we are all, really the same … all are lost without Jesus, regardless of culture, class, or whatever else may “divide” us. And, that God offers the same salvation to everyone … regardless of where they live … and … I know this hurts some folks … but, the same salvation is offered to everyone, regardless of what they have done … what lifestyle they are now living … regardless of … regardless of … they are offered the same salvation which … which … which … we were offered …

Wow! This is supposed to be about the shortest chapter … I think the fact that its content has even led to this conversation proves the power of the message contained in these 2 verses. And, not only that, but the verses aren’t even that long to begin with!

It occurs to me that, already, there’s about a hundred lessons just in what we’ve covered so far!

OK, I must say it: Sometimes, the hardest thing for us to understand, to “get,” is that God may not approve of someone’s lifestyle, just like He didn’t approve of ours, but that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love them. It doesn’t mean that the same saving grace which saved us … can’t save them. Jew and Gentile. Really, still, even within these two groups (yes, they are different groups!), it still all boils down to only 2 groups of people in the world today: Saved and Lost. That’s it. Period. Those who are lost need to be saved. Those who are saved need to reach out to those who are lost. Regardless of who, or where, they are. Have things changed since Paul’s time? How difficult is it for us to reach our hands-and hearts-out to people who are different from us? I mean … surely the Gospel message is not meant for them, too???

All this from Psalm 117? Only 2 verses???

How Great God is! If we could just catch hold of His vision! I’ll say this again: God knows what He is doing. Even if we don’t know what He’s doing … even when it seems that what He is doing goes “against the grain.” I’ll even write this: It’s a good thing He’s in charge, and not me. I think one of the greatest “against the grain” things that God ever did happened right there at the “beginning” of the Church. Think about this, as we ponder the “differences” between Jew and Gentile. Think about how big a deal this was in the early days of the Church. Peter was, perhaps, (please keep this in context) the most “Gentile” of all the Disciples. What did God do? Put him in charge of the Church in Jerusalem. Paul was, perhaps, (please keep this in context) the most “Jewish” man who ever lived. What did God do? Put him in charge of taking the Gospel message to the Gentile world … Indeed, revealing to him “the mystery of the Gospel …”

Taking the Gospel to the Gentile world. Whose idea was that? It was God’s idea all along. Yes, Jesus came first to the Jewish nation … but, when they rejected Him … the door opened for “everyone else” to have the opportunity … the same opportunity … While, yes, there is still the “Jewish Nation/Family,” we are just as important a part of that family … by adoption into that family … A “hidden” message, sprinkled throughout the Old Testament …

I think I see another hundred lessons …

Back to Psalm 117: There have been some scholars who didn’t think that this Psalm “stood alone;” that it should have been a part of Psalm 116. However, Psalm 117 has the basic 3 elements of a “Psalm,” or “hymn of praise”: It clearly has a call to praise, “O Praise the Lord, all ye nations (Gentiles); praise him, all ye people.” It has a reason for this praise, “For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.” Then, it finishes with a conclusion, “Praise ye the Lord.” By the way, for those who thought this chapter should have been just added to finish Psalm 116, that Psalm already has a clear conclusion of … “Praise ye the Lord.”

With its call to praise, addressed to the Gentile nations, and the word “people” meaning “all ye peoples,” there is no question that the Psalmist is clearly focusing on God’s interest and desire to save the “Gentile Peoples,” resulting in their praise for, and to, Him.

Is Psalm 117 the exact center of the Bible? Well … I must ask you to independently search for this answer. When you do, you will find that some say it is chapter 118, and some say it is chapter 117. I say that both are really great chapters … and, you should read and study both.
Again, I ask you to search for this. Here’s a sample of what I found:

For those who favor Psalm 118:
Fact: There are 594 chapters before Psalms 118
Fact: There are 594 chapters after Psalms 118
Add these numbers up and you get 1188
Q: What is the center verse in the Bible?
A: Psalms 118:8
Q: Does this verse say something significant about God’s perfect will for our lives?

The next time someone says they would like to find God’s perfect will for their lives and that they want to be in the center of His will, just send them to the center of His Word!

Psalms 118:8
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”
Now isn’t that odd how this worked out (or was God in the center of it)?

(I just wanted you to read that!)

Then, for those who believe Psalm 117 is the center of the Bible, I found this:
“According to independent research, the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible contains 1189 chapters; Psalm 117 is the 595th; there are 594 chapters before Psalm 117, and 594 after it. Thus, it is 117, not 118, that is the center chapter of the Bible.

Here is what Charles Spurgeon wrote, in his “The Treasury of David”:
“This Psalm, which is very little in its letter, is exceedingly large in its spirit; for, bursting beyond all bounds of race or nationality, it calls upon all mankind to praise the name of the Lord. It is both short and sweet. It may be worth noting that this is at once the shortest chapter of the Scriptures and the central portion of the whole Bible.”

We spoke of the Apostle Paul earlier. The verses of Psalm 117 are one of 4 passages of Old Testament Scripture which Paul used, in Romans, chapter 15, to prove that God’s plan is to save Gentiles. Again, this was perhaps the most hotly debated topic during the days of the early Church, to which Paul would repeatedly write that, in God’s eyes, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, bondman or free, etc. Paul wrote, “that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written …” Then, Paul would quote from Psalms, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah. In so doing, to prove his point, Paul quoted from the Psalms, the Law, and the Prophets.

So, in closing, “O Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye peoples. For his merciful kindness (loving-kindness) is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.
Praise ye the Lord.”

Richard. Vincent. Rose.

 

Psalm 119: The Wonder and Wisdom of “The Word”

Hi Friends:

For the last several days, I have been studying Psalm 119. I have read the entire chapter many times in the past, but, in sitting and studying the words this time, it’s like I had never read it before. God is so good, as He is always revealing new things to us, each time we read His Word, and I think He takes great pleasure in giving us new insight into something we have read many times. Yes, “Wisdom is gained every time we open the Bible and read His Word,” as an old, old bookmark I have still reminds me.

I think it can be said that in all the great chapters and passages in the Bible, Psalm 119 stands alone. It is a written monument to the importance of God’s Word. In fact, it is God’s Word that is the sole subject of the chapter. We all know that Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, with its 176 verses. How important is it that we read, study, believe, and learn the Word of God? How important is God’s Word to us? Let’s put it this way: What is the single subject matter of the longest chapter in the Bible? God’s Word.

As I read and studied the chapter, I learned so many things that make this chapter unique. Of course, we always begin any conversation with the length of the chapter. But, it is the way the chapter is arranged that sets it apart. Like many of the Psalms, it is an “acrostic.” An acrostic is when sets of letters (such as the first letter of a line) are written in order: “A composition, usually in verse, in which sets of letters (as the initial or final letters of the lines) taken in order form a word or phrase or a regular sequence of letters of the alphabet.” The Hebrew alphabet had 22 letters. Usually, when writing an acrostic verse, only one verse per letter of the alphabet is used. In other words, each line would begin with a letter, the next verse begins with the next letter of the alphabet, and so on. In Psalm 119, there are 8 verses for each letter … that is why Psalm 119 has 22 stanzas: One stanza for each letter … 8 verses for each letter … 22 letters in the alphabet … 8 verses per letter … equals 176 verses! Amazing! Yes, I had to go back and look at each stanza … 8 … 16 … 24 … all the way to 176! For this reason, the chapter is also referred to as an “Alphabet Psalm.” There is a tradition that King David used this Psalm to teach his son Solomon the alphabet. It’s also thought that King David taught his son to not just use this alphabet for writing letters, but as an alphabet for spiritual life.

Perhaps the one word most associated with the Psalms would be “praise.” In Psalm 119, the entire chapter is a “praise” song for God’s Word: Its authenticity, its value, and its purpose. Here’s the number 8 again: There are 8 words which repeat, over and over, throughout the chapter, and they all have to do with the Word of God: Word, Law, Statues, Commandments, Judgements, Precepts, Testimonies, and Thy/His Ways. All of these words stand as synonyms for the Word of God, revealed to man. Here we have the longest chapter in the Bible, 176 verses, and the Word of God is mentioned in every verse, but three! Reading God’s Word … learning God’s Word … knowing God’s Word … hearing God’s Word … and … and … keeping God’s Word close to us must be of the utmost value and importance. Another word which appears repeatedly throughout the chapter is “quicken,” which means “revive.”

Who wrote Psalm 119? Not sure. It is one of the 61 Psalms which credit the author as “anonymous.” Just as with the book of Hebrews, there is debate over authorship, and the list is only a couple of names. For Psalms 119, as with Hebrews, it comes down to writing style. It is believed that either King David wrote Psalm 119 (compiled over his lifetime), or Ezra wrote it. But, consider this: The ultimate Author of Scripture is God Himself, using men to write, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. That’s why you need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand the Scriptures … Who better to get the true meaning from … than the Author?

Psalm 119 is approximately the same length as the books of Ruth, James, or Philippians.

I never miss an opportunity to encourage people to read the entire book of Psalms. People, especially those reading the Bible for the first time, will ask me, “Where should I start?” While it is easy to say, “At the beginning,” which, of course, isn’t a bad idea, I always suggest the book of John … and, the book of Psalms. If they will, seriously, read either … it will make them want to read more. I think that one of the reasons Psalms is so “popular” (if I may use that word in context) is that they are so easy to understand, and they express so well the feelings that we all share. Plus, and I think this is important when someone is first learning to start devoting time to Scripture reading every day, the Psalms are easy to read an entire chapter in one sitting … I can’t remember a time when I have read through the book of Psalms, and, every chapter I read, every time, spoke directly to something I was going through at the time.

I’ve known so many people who have told me that Psalms was their favorite book. This includes my Mom, who, like all of us when going through difficult times, turn to the Psalms … and, in particular, favorite Psalms. Time and again, it is the peace and comfort found in the Psalms that give us “just what we need” for any situation we are facing. C.S. Lewis said that, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” And, R.C. Sproul said that, “Whenever I read the Psalms, I feel like I am eavesdropping on a saint having a personal conversation with God.”

There is just a special “connection” we feel with the Psalms. And, so many of us keep going back to our favorite verses within the 119th chapter. For instance, John Calvin preached 22 sermons (one for each stanza) from Psalm 119. Here is this statement about one of those great, “we all know” verses from Psalm 119, from Thomas Watson: “I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. The Word, locked up in the heart-is a preservative against sin. As one would carry an antidote with him when he comes near an infected place-so David carried the Word in his heart as a sacred antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin.” Wow! That was really good!

Charles Spurgeon liked Psalm 119 so much, that he said, “We might do well to commit it to memory.” Commit it to memory. I know that most of us know, maybe, Psalm 23 by heart … but all 176 verses of Psalm 119? We wrote that there is a belief that King David used this Psalm to teach Solomon. It has been suggested that Psalm 119 may have been written as an acrostic poem so that it would be easier to memorize. The words of this particular Psalm were considered to be that important! I’ve learned that there have, indeed, been some pretty famous people who have made a point to memorize the entire chapter … all 176 verses. Some people you may know, who were known to have the entire Psalm memorized, include William Wilberforce (19th century British politician who led the movement to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire), Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, Henry Martyn (19th century pioneer missionary to India), and David Livingstone (19th century pioneer missionary to Africa).

These examples epitomize the words of verse 11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart …” meaning “to deposit or place” in my heart. Which leads me to the question of which are my favorite verses from Psalm 119? Who could pick? Allow me to write that there are so many, and, on any given day, every verse could “stand out” as being just what God wants me to learn for today. There were a couple of verses I specifically wrote down, as I went through. One was verse 160, which personally responded to my last writing about why believing God’s account of creation was important: “Thy word is true from the beginning.” This spoke to me about what I had written about believing God’s Word from the very “beginning.” I’m working on the “Wealth Stored for the Righteous” series, which speaks so much about the benefits we have right now … so, verse 162 spoke to me about what should be tops on our list of wealth we already possess: “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great treasure.” Verse 42 repeats what we should say, constantly: “I trust in thy word.” And, not just trust: “I hope in thy word” (verses 81, 114). Another treasure we have is the assurance that God is always with us, that “thou art near” (verse 151).

What a great, great chapter. What Words! No wonder I am “in awe of thy word” (verse 161).
I am reminded that, besides Isaiah, the book of Psalms is most quoted in the New Testament. I am also reminded that this chapter praises the Word … and, that Jesus is, literally, the Word in human form. The Word made flesh. When we praise Jesus, we are praising His Word, and when we are praising the Word, we are praising Him. You can’t separate Jesus from the Word.

I will close with another example of someone from history who had memorized the entire chapter of Psalm 119. I found this same story on several different sources, so I will share this with you:

George Wishart was the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17th century. Wishart was condemned to death, and was scheduled to be executed. But, when he was on the scaffold, he made use of a custom that allowed the condemned person to choose one Psalm to be sung, and he chose Psalms 119:1-176. Before two-thirds of the psalm was sung, his pardon arrived and his life was spared.

Please read Psalm 119.
And … the rest!

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.