140216 Psalm 119:1-2, 4-7

Last Updated on Monday, 17 February 2014 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: Psalm 119:1 – 2, 4 – 7
Sermon Theme: How Do You Spend Your Time?

Recently someone asked me: "Pastor, how do you spend your free time? What hobbies do you have?" I just smiled and answered, "Well, like a lot of families, there is not a lot of 'free time' these days! I guess you would say that my 'hobby' is running to and from the different activities that my children participate in...for example, my 'hobby' the last couple of months has been going basketball games!" How about you? How do you spend your time? Survey after survey shows that more and more people are spending less and less time reading and studying God's Word. Today, based on the Psalm of the Day that we sang just a few moments ago, I would like you to answer this question for yourself: "How do you spend your time?"

Psalm 119 begins by telling us of the reward for spending time in the Word of God. We read, "Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord." Those who spend time in the Word of God are "blessed". The very first Psalm speaks about this blessing of spending time in the Word of God. There we are told that those who spend time in the Word of God are "like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." The promise of our Savior-God is that as we spend time in his Word we will grow. We will grow in our knowledge of the Bible. We will grow in our faith in Jesus as our one and only Savior. We will grow in our relationship with the One true God.

Did any word in the opening verse of Psalm 119 stand out to you? It reads, "Blessed are they whose ways are blameless . . ." By a show hands, how many of us here this morning would claim to have lived a "blameless" life? We know from God's Word that we are sinful creatures. Each day we must confess that we sin against our God in our thoughts, words and actions. It is in another one of the Psalms, Psalm 51, where we are told that all of us are sinful from the time we are conceived. So, how is it possible for sinners like you and me to be blameless? We are told here in God's Word, "Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord." Is the Psalmist telling us that we can somehow make ourselves blameless; that if we try really hard to obey God's Law that we can earn the favor of God? Absolutely not! For such a statement would be contrary to what other portions of God's Word make so clear.

The facts from God's Word are this: you and I are not able to make ourselves blameless; you and I are blameless in God's eyes only because Jesus Christ won forgiveness of all our sins...Jesus took on himself your blame and mine, and made you and me right in God's sight...it is Jesus Christ who proclaimed, "It is finished!" It is in thankfulness for all that Jesus Christ did for you and me, that we desire to live our lives completely devoted to all of God's Word. And when you and I live our lives guided by the Word of God, we will live in such a way that others can't find fault with us. So it is in this sense that we will be "blameless" in the eyes of others. As the Psalmist writes, "Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart." How do you spend your time? As Peter writes in his First Letter, rejoicing in the forgiveness that Jesus won for you, guided by the Word of our Lord, "live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us" (1 Peter 2:12).

How much of what we read in God's Word applies to us today? There are some who say that the Old Testament was written only for the Jewish people, and that the New Testament is the only part of God's Word that we are to be concerned about today. There are others who say that it is up to us to pick and choose for ourselves what applies to us today, and what doesn't. Yet the Savior-God tells us in Psalm 119 that all of his Word still applies to us in the 21st century. "You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed." It is important for you and me to remember that God's Word is not like going to a supermarket, where we simply can pick and choose only those things that we would like to take home for ourselves. We are to listen to all of our Savior-God's Word. However, along with the Psalmist, we have to confess that we have failed to listen to EVERYTHING the Lord tells us in his Word ALL THE TIME. We are all guilty of disobeying what God's says to us in his Word, and join with the Psalmist in his confession: "Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands." All of us will have to bow our heads in shame as we consider how we have neglected the Word of our Savior-God.

But the Good News for us today is to remember whose Word it is that we are spending our time reading and studying. It is the LORD's Word. It is the Word of the Savior-God who promised mankind a Savior from all sins. As we spend time in the Word of our Savior-God we hear the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus Christ is our Savior from sin. Jesus won forgiveness for all of your sins and all of my sins, including the sin of not spending time in his Word. This wonderful gift of our forgiveness, given freely to you and me from our Savior-God, fills our hearts with joy. As we read in the Word before us, "I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws." Not one of us here today is able to say that we have learned all that the Bible has to teach us. You and I grow in our knowledge of God's Word each time we read it. As we spend time in God's Word, we also are motivated to give our Savior-God the thanks and praise he alone deserves for all the blessings that he showers upon us day after day.

How do you spend your time? There is an answer to that question as you read through the weekly bulletin and announcements. Each week there are many opportunities to join with your Brothers and Sisters in Christ to study and to discuss the Word of God. The monthly meeting of the Church Council, the Ladies Guild meetings and the meetings of the various Boards and committees of our congregation all begin with time spent in the Word of our Savior-God. While we are thankful for all these opportunities, it is important for all of us to remember that the time we spend reading and studying the Bible is not to be limited simply to the time we are on this property or in this building. Each day, in our own homes, we are to spend time in the Word of our Savior-God. Remember that any excuses you would like to try to come up with saying why you can't spend time in the Word are just that, excuses. How do you spend your time? Spend it in your Bibles. Listen to what the Savior-God has to say to you and your family in his Word. As you do, the Almighty God in heaven promises to bless you.

How do you spend your time? Why spend so much time in the Word of God? Wouldn't our time be better used in some other way? Of course, the answer to that question is a simple and clear: "No!" The time spent in the Word of God is the most important part of our day. As we take time to read our Bibles we are reminded of our great need for a Savior from sin. It is during time spent in the Word of God that we read about the wonderful, free gift of forgiveness through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is during this time spent in the Word, that the Lord promises to bless us. I know from personal experience that daily and weekly schedules can fill up and become busy. But as we look at that full calendar, you and I will remember what God's Word says before us today, "Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart." May our gracious Lord bless you as you spend time in the Word of our Savior-God. Amen.

 

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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