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The Scriptorium

Faith for the Real World

It ain't easy bein' saved. Psalm 119.81-88

Psalm 119.81-88

Pray Psalm 119.81-83.
My soul faints for Your salvation,
But I hope in Your word.
My eyes fail from searching Your word,
Saying, “When will You comfort me?”
For I have become like a wineskin in smoke,
Yet I do not forget Your statutes.

Sing Psalm 119.81-83.
(Ripley: Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
My soul faints for Your salvation – but my hope is in Your Word!
I have searched Your Word with patience seeking comfort from You, Lord.
Like a wineskin, Lord, You test me; I am withered with despair!
Let Your statutes my sweet rest be as I call on You in prayer.

Read Psalm 119.81-88; meditate on verse 88.

1. What was the psalmist experiencing?

2. Where did he turn for relief?

The testimony of Scripture, both the New Testament and the Old, is that it’s not easy being saved. And the troubling part about that is many Christians don’t want to face up to or prepare for that reality.

Our psalmist understood this, and he knew where to turn for comfort, guidance, courage, and strength. So intently and earnestly did he cling to the Word of God that his eyes grew weary even as his longing for God’s salvation increased. Being saved wasn’t easy for him, and we need to realize that it won’t be easy for us, either.

Some years ago I taught a seminar on the Scripture’s teaching about elders as shepherds. I began with the example of Jesus, went back throughout the Old Testament, then concluded with the teaching of Paul and Peter about shepherding God’s flock. During a break, one of the participants took me aside and said, “You know T. M., this is really powerful stuff you’re teaching us today.”  I knew what was coming next: “But we live in the real world…” I cut him off right there and said, “No, we do not live in the real world. We live in the unreal world of wrong belief, misguided faith, and a misunderstood Gospel. The real world is the Kingdom of God, and it is that world we intend to realize through faith and shepherding.”

And the work of learning, loving, delighting in, searching, keeping, and sharing the Word of God.

Which is to say, you are the real world, my believing friend. The world of your Personal Mission Field is flooded with lies and the flotsam and jetsam of wrong belief. Go today and bring a little more of the real world to the people to whom Jesus has sent you (Jn. 20.21). Cling to the Word. Trust the Lord for comfort and strength amid afflictions. Look to Him for revival so you may keep the testimony of His mouth, living and speaking the real world into the crazy world around you.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Nothing about life is easy. We sometimes seem to spend our days struggling to keep afloat. We are pummeled on all sides: either the Lord is chastening and teaching us, or we are being afflicted by enemies. Either way, it doesn’t always feel too good.

The apostle Paul spoke words of truth to Timothy that are pure and sure words of guidance for our days on planet earth. They teach us how to think about and handle much of what confronts us and tries to steal our peace. He longs for us to be prepared for every good work and to experience the joy of the Lord. Ready?
1. Flee youthful lusts.
2. Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
3. Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, know that they generate strife.
4. Don’t be quarrelsome. A servant of the Lord must be gentle to all.
5. Learn how to be a patient teacher.
6. Be humble when correcting those who are in opposition to you.
7. If we can manage to do these things through the power of the Holy Spirit it is possible that our enemies will be encouraged to seek repentance from God, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil. Sadly, at this point, they have been taken captive by the devil to do his will. But look at the good things that may happen if we do what we are called to do (2 Tim. 2.22-26).

When we can look beyond ourselves, first to the Triune God, then to what He has called us to do in our Personal Mission Field, our spirits are lifted out of the unreal world and plopped down firmly into the real world of the Kingdom of God. It is what we should seek first (Matt. 6.33). And when we do, we have the trusted promise of God that He knows all the things that we need: love, comfort, security, righteousness, peace, and joy. And these He will gladly add to our lives in His way and in His time.

Faith for the real world. God’s world. It’s what keeps us afloat.

For reflection
1. What do we mean by saying that this fallen world is not the real world?

2. What makes the Kingdom of God the real world?

3. What do we mean by “faith for the real world”? What is the role of God’s Word in this?

The psalmist sought deliverance from his sins, his foes, and his fears. Hope deferred made him faint; his eyes failed by looking out for this expected salvation. But when the eyes fail, yet faith must not. His affliction was great. He was become like a leathern bottle, which, if hung up in the smoke, is dried and shriveled up. We must ever be mindful of God’s statutes. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.81-88

Pray Psalm 119.81-88.
Wait on the Lord in silence, reflecting on the words of Psalm 119.81-88. Do you feel some of this weariness? Roll it onto the Lord! Do you fear that people might persecute you if you were more outspoken for the Lord? Call on Him for strength and courage! Are you facing troubles and temptations? Ask the Lord to give you strength to cling to His Word!

Sing Psalm 119.84-88.
(Ripley: Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
Lord, how long, what shall my days be? When will You Your judgment toll?
Let my enemies disgraced be, those who persecute my soul.
All the proud dig pits to slay me, and they persecute me strong!
Let Your Word my strength and stay be: Help me, Lord, receive my song!

For my foes would make an end to my existence on the earth.
Yet Your precepts I befriend to know the greatness of their worth.
In Your kindness, Lord revive me! In Your love, restore my soul!
Let Your Word in me alive be; I will keep it well and whole.

T. M. and Susie Moore

What is the Law of God and how should we learn and obey it? Two books can help. The Law of God arranges the statutes and precepts of God’s Law under their appropriate number of the Ten Commandments. This book is an excellent tool for meditating on God’s Law and thinking about its application in our time. The Ground for Christian Ethics, on the other hand, explains why the Law matters and how we are to use it. You can order free copies of each of these here and here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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