July 28, 2016


Psalm 119:125 I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand your statutes.

In the NIV the English has a rhythm to it at first that makes me want to change the last half of the verse to match:
I am Your servant;
Give me discernment
That I may perceive Your laws.
However, that’s a holdover reaction from poetry class in college, I think, and I’m sure the Hebrew doesn’t do that any more than the Japanese does. All that aside, the prayer is a very valid one: when we choose to serve God, we realize that we need His help in grasping what He says to us. As He said to Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) It also brings to mind what Paul said. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) We do need God’s help in grasping what He says to us, because it’s analogous to explaining quantum physics to a dog. Unless He helps us, it’s hopeless! The problem is, our flesh – not only our lusts, but also scars from past wounds – distorts what we hear, sometimes badly. I am reminded of a situation my father had to deal with many years ago of a seminary student who was cohabiting with a prostitute. His rationale was that he wanted to “draw her to salvation by showing God’s love to her.” He was taking an essential pillar of the Gospel, God’s love, and distorting it into an excuse for immorality, conveniently ignoring 1 Corinthians 6:15-16. Had his commitment been first to serving God, then he would have found a pure way to express God’s love to the woman and draw her out of that lifestyle. Universalists have the same sort of problem, distorting the message of God’s mercy and grace to the point that they deny His holiness and purity, trying to sidestep the essential point of repentance. Left to ourselves, we are so stupid (compared to God) that we will distort anything. Like the Psalmist, we need to confirm our commitment to serve God and ask Him to enable us to do it correctly.

As with every truth of God, this certainly applies to me. I still remember what a breakthrough it was for me to finally get it through my head that God’s smart and I’m not; I’m no better than that dog trying to understand quantum physics. To be honest, even my desire to serve God has its ups and downs. I can’t count on myself, but I can count on God, and that is my comfort and my hope. When I am at my most rational, I renew and press into my commitment to God, and that helps carry me through the moments when I am distracted by the world and my flesh. I know without a doubt that apart from Christ I can do nothing, (John 15:5) so my focus is to abide in Him.

Father, thank You for being God. Thank You for keeping it all straight and knowing the end from the beginning. Thank You for being totally trustworthy, especially since I am so far from that. I ask for enough understanding and strength to please You as Your servant so that Your will may be done through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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