1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever. (Psalm 118.1 NIV)
It is one thing to give thanks to the Lord when everything is going just as you planned, but what about when the bottom drops out, when troubles have hit and there is no end in sight? As you read through this Psalm, notice all of the ways the author describes how he was about to fall, but “the Lord helped me.” How has God helped you when you were down? Did you thank him?
How do you typically react when your life hits a rough patch? Where do you turn first? How can you turn to God’s faithfulness first?
Whether the psalmist knew it our not, there are several allusions to Jesus, the coming Messiah, in this psalm. Where are they and why do you think the psalmist mentions these specific things?
How much confidence can you have in your life–even in the hard times–knowing that God’s love endures forever?
1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
3 they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
4 You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
6 Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me. (NIV)
One of the things about reading God’s word is that it changes us. The knowledge and understanding that comes from God helps us to live blameless lives. Without that instruction, how well do you think you would live a blameless life?
What connection do you see between being blameless and walking “according to the law of the Lord?” Do you think about this connection as you read scripture?
How have you been blessed because of the time you have spent reading God’s word?
How can you praise God more as you learn his laws? How can you encourage others to praise him through their reading of scripture?
1 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 company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 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.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. (NIV)
What better place to start a year of reading through God’s word than a psalm that points out the importance of delighting in the law of the Lord. Our prayer is that this will be you this year, and that you will continue to grow and prosper in God.
What are ways that you delight in the law of the Lord? How can you do this more or make reading God’s word a more regular habit in your own life?
In what ways have you seen that reading God’s word–delighting in his law–has helped you prosper?
Who do you hang out with? Would you consider yourself as one who does not associate inappropriately with the wicked, sinners, or mockers?
Ezekiel 39.1-40.27; James 2.18-3.18; Psalm 118.1-18; Proverbs 28.2
It slips up on even the best of us … one careless word spoken in haste, without thought. The end result, however, can be disastrous. Perhaps even life-changing. How have you seen a word spoken in haste change lives forever? How do you work to ensure you “tame” your tongue?
How does God’s blessings or punishment show his glory to other people?
In what ways is your faith so strong that good deeds are a result?
What reasons do you have to give thanks to the Lord?
How do wise and knowledgable leaders bring stability?
Ezekiel 35.1-36.38; James 1.1-18; Psalm 116.1-19; Proverbs 27.23-27
One of the biggest challenges any of us who follow Jesus faces is the struggle to reconcile how bad things happen to us, even when we are seeking to follow him as closely as possible. It would seem our lives would get better … and easier when we follow him. James writes when we face troubles, we should consider it joy. Say what!? What we discover is that as with most things, our faith grows when challenged and stretched. Facing troubles? Know you have an opportunity for growth!
Why would it be important for God to give the people of Israel–and us–a new heart and a new spirit?
When was the last time you asked God for wisdom?
How well do you realize that God hears you? Does your life demonstrate love for him as a result?
How well do you care for those you are able to influence and help follow God more?
Ezekiel 29.1-30.26; Hebrews 11.32-12.13; Psalm 112.1-10; Proverbs 27.17
Hebrews 11 and 12 are some of the most encouraging chapters in all of Scripture. Who doesn’t like the idea of the great men and women of faith cheering you on so that you run without any hinderance? The truth is that we have some of those same people in our lives today. While we certainly praise God for heroes of the Bible, we also need to praise him for those who encourage us every single day to follow him better. Who would make your “modern day” list of faith heroes?
Why would God return Egypt to its rightful place and restore it to its land? What does this say about God’s purposes for countries beyond the nation of Israel?
In what ways has your faith in God allowed you to do great things for him?
How has good come to you as a result of you lending money or operating your business in a fair manner?
How have friends sharpened you?
Ezekiel 21.1-22.31; Hebrews 10.1-17; Psalm 108.1-13; Proverbs 27.12
“I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” (Hebrews 10.17, quoting Jeremiah 31.34) How good is this news? For most of us, we are all too aware that while we forgive people, “remembering them no more” is rarely a reality. Take a moment to think what it means that all of the things you have done in the past are forgotten. Forgiveness from God is not in play today, but revisited tomorrow. Why would we NOT seek it?
Have you ever had a time when you tried to cover your sins, but they were so obvious, there was really no way of avoiding them being known? Knowing this, how does our passage from Hebrews mean even that much more to you?
Where would you be if Christ had not come to take away your sin, good for all time?
How do you demonstrate the confidence you have in God?
What dangers and precautions do you think the Proverb writer is referring to in today’s passage?