07 October 2012
What have been good investments for you?
(People shared about their “investments.”)
Slime in my bicycle tires has revolutionized my ride. I don’t spend nearly so much time changing flats. I probably wouldn’t be spending so much time on my bike today if 15 years ago I hadn’t come across the lime green bottle and impulsively bought it as an experiment.
This morning we’re going to be talking about investing -- not in real estate or slime or _____________ but in something more valuable than gold -- even pure gold. Last Sunday we talked about the value in waiting -- and how the psalmist finds significance and relief in the process of waiting for God to keep his promises. He is learning patience.
In our section this week, vss 121-128, the Ayin stanza, we’re once again seeing that the psalmist is struggling. Yes, Psalm 119 is the story of God’s Word and how valuable it is but there seems to be some kind of backstory. The further we journey into this extremely long poem -- the longest chapter in the Bible -- we’re getting more and more of a sense that things are not quite right. Something is going on.
Yes, the psalmist is declaring the wonder of God’s Word -- but he is not doing so as an armchair theologian. He’s been out in the trenches -- and he is perhaps experiencing some PTSS. And he is at times frustrated and annoyed with the way things are going -- might we even say, with God himself.
Check out vss 121 - 123:
121 I’ve done what is just and right. Don’t just hand me over to my oppressors. 122 Guarantee good things for your servant. Please don’t let the arrogant oppress me. 123 My eyes are worn out looking for your saving help— looking for your word that will set things right.God, I need you to return my calls and email!
Vs 126 -- It is time for the Lord to do something! Your Instruction has been broken.God, can’t you see how bad things have gotten. People are ignoring your message and living according to their own self-serving agendas.
- People are running around shooting at each other;
- breaking into Fab’s van -- again!;
- killing off the unborn babies;
- greed has destabilized the economy;
- people are bumped to living on the street;
- car bombs;
My eyes are bloodshot because they’ve been straining so hard watching the horizon, looking for your rescue team. But nothing good is happening. Nothing is going right!
I don’t want to be presumptuous, Lord, because you know that I am your humble servant, but it’s time for you to do something!
Are you sensing the frustration?
Yet it is in this context that he continually returns to the same point -- God’s Word is incredibly awesome! It’s the only good thing going in his life.
There is nothing more valuable than God’s Word -- even in the hard times. He’s banking on it.
127 “But I love your commandments more than gold, even more than pure gold. 128 That’s why I walk straight by every single one of your precepts. That’s why I hate every false path.”WE BANK ON THE FACT THAT THERE IS NOTHING MORE VALUABLE THAN GOD’S WORD -- EVEN IN THE HARD TIMES. (key point)
I’m certainly not a financial expert but I keep hearing that gold is the best investment -- especially in turbulent times.
I don’t know if that is really true -- and actually have some doubts about that. The price of gold does not always go up. But over the long haul it seems to hold its value fairly well.
Of course, investors are always trying to compare returns. Can you get a better return if you invest in stocks or bonds?
I don’t know. As I said, I’m not an expert on such things.
But I do know that in the ancient world gold was considered to be the most valuable of metals. So, when the psalmist says, “I love your commandments more than gold, even more than pure gold...” he is really making a grand comparison.
I love what you have to say, God, more than the most valuable thing that earth offers.
HE IS BANKING ON THE FACT THAT THERE IS NOTHING MORE VALUABLE THAN GOD’S WORD -- EVEN IN THE HARD TIMES.
Well, what does it mean to bank on God’s word? To invest in his message?
Four observations for investors:
#1. TO BANK ON GOD’S WORD IS TO BANK ON GOD HIMSELF.
God and his Word are inseparable. And Jesus is God. Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus is the Word of God. As such he fulfills and perfectly lives out all the commandments, precepts, directions, etc etc.
And the only way that we can perfectly keep the commandments, is to stay close to Jesus -- to ride his coattails so to speak. Yes, the written words of the Bible will help us in sticking close to Jesus. But ultimately Jesus is the Word.
So, when in vs 127 the psalmist professes, “But I love your commandments...” he is saying that he loves God. And when we live out God’s Word we are making a similar profession.
It’s one thing to say, “I love God.” -- to sing out with all sincerity -- to really belt it out and mean it --
Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God
by Rich Mullins. © 1988 BMG Songs, Inc. (Admin. by BMG Music Publishing)It one thing to sing of God’s love forever -- but it is only genuine love and genuine worship when we are acting on what God has said.
The prophet chides the people in Amos 5:21-24. He is speaking on behalf of God:
21 I hate, I reject your festivals; I don’t enjoy your joyous assemblies. 22 If you bring me your entirely burned offerings and gifts of food— I won’t be pleased; I won’t even look at your offerings of well-fed animals. 23 Take away the noise of your songs; I won’t listen to the melody of your harps. 24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (CEB)Don’t bring me worship. Don’t even bother bringing in the best ukulele players that money can buy. And certainly don’t sing your hearts out.
I don’t want to hear it -- IF you’re not going to take my Word seriously -- if you’re not all about justice and righteousness --- seeking the wellbeing of all people. To really worship me -- to really love me is to do what I say. And that’s what I’m saying to do. You can’t separate your love for me from my Word.
The rubber meets the road when we demonstrate that through our engagement with what he has said to do. In John 14:15 Jesus says -- “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
This is how we bank on God’s Word.
Secondly, TO BANK ON GOD’S WORD IS TO SPECIALIZE RATHER THAN DIVERSIFY.
Any decent investment counselor is going to tell you that you need a diversified portfolio. Conventional wisdom says, You don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket. I mean, what happens if you invest all your retirement money in Blockbuster Video or CircuitCity or Mervyns?
But the psalmist says phooey on conventional wisdom. I am investing the entirety of my life in what is more valuable than gold -- even pure gold -- that is, God’s Word.
- I’m going for bust...
- Drinking the Kool-Aid...
- No turning back, no turning back.
Nor am I going to get sucked in by every investment fad that comes along. I’m not going to try to surf the trending waves. I’ve got but one investing goal -- to pour it all into God’s Word -- that is his commandments, his direction, his precepts, his law, his Son.
127 “But I love your commandments more than gold, even more than pure gold. 128 That’s why I walk straight by every single one of your precepts. That’s why I hate every false path.”That is, that’s why I reject all other investments channels that are not God’s Word.
Thirdly, TO BANK ON GOD’S WORD IS TO TAKE A LONG-TERM APPROACH TO INVESTING.
We talked about this last week -- and the issue pops up more and more as we plow through Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is not just about how valuable God’s Word is but how valuable God’s Word is -- especially when you’re working through hard times.
And again, that is what is happening here in the Ayin stanza. The psalmist feels desperate -- that God is not acting quickly enough on his behalf. He has invested fully in God’s Word but bad things are still happening -- and the unspoken temptation is that he will start to look to other sources of security.
121 I’ve done what is just and right. Don’t just hand me over to my oppressors. 122 Guarantee good things for your servant. (That is, guarantee a good quick return!) Please don’t let the arrogant oppress me. 123 My eyes are worn out looking for your saving help— looking for your word that will set things right. 126 It is time for the Lord to do something! Your Instruction has been broken.To invest in God’s word is to take a long term approach toward the investment. For his own reasons and in accordance with his own grander plan -- he doesn’t make everything workout on our behalf -- at least immediately. And you’ll get frustrated if you are banking on immediate returns.
But in the long run -- if you stick with it -- remain steady -- God’s Word will prove more valuable than gold -- even pure gold. And as you know, long term investing requires a steady hand. You can’t be given to panic selling.
So if you put your money in a mutual fund you leave it there through the low times where it doesn’t seem to be gaining much. But the fact is that during the low times, contrary to appearances, that’s when it is acquiring its best value for future returns. Buy low. IOW,
Have patience, have patience
Don't be in such a hurry
When you get impatient, you only start to worry
Remember, remember that God is patient, too
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you
"Patience" (aka Herbert the Snail) -- from Music Machine. Written by Frank Hernandez & Sherry Saunders Powell ©Copyright 1977 Sparrow Song (a div. of EMI Christian Music Publishing)|(Admin. by BMG Music Publishing) Careers-BMG Music Publishing, Inc. (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)|(Admin. by BMG Music Publishing) Candle Company Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)|(Admin. by BMG Music Publishing)Trusting in God and his Word requires patience -- which he freely gives to all who will accept it. It means that you continue to act on God’s Word even though you may not see immediate returns. Sometimes you do but overall it’s a matter of faith -- trust.
Always, though, we remain confident of God’s protection. Last week we read in vs 114 -- “You are my shelter and my shield—I wait for your promise.”
It’s worth the wait.
Fourthly, TO BANK ON GOD’S WORD IS TO BANK WITH THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
In Matthew 6 Jesus says,
“Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. 20 Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. 21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:20-21 (CEB)That’s God’s Word at work -- treasures in the Bank of Heaven -- treasures more valuable than gold -- even pure gold because they are rooted in his Word.
- pour your life into at risk children --
- such as the foster kids stuck in the revolving doors of a crazy but better-than-nothing system,
- sponsor a child through Covenant Kids’ Congo -- something we’re going to hear more about this coming Advent,
- ride the roller coaster with the mentally ill or highly dysfunctional neighbor,
- open your doors to the refugee,
- put yourself on the line to tell someone that Jesus loves him and cares for him...
And this is exactly where you should be investing your life! Don’t spend your life running after money or bigger barns or more things or even the perfectly secure financial future.
Take a risk -- or what appears to be a risk -- invest it all in God’s Word -- and expect a grand return -- maybe not today or tomorrow -- but most certainly down the line.
But I love your commandments more than gold, even more than pure gold. 128 That’s why I walk straight -- by every single one of your precepts.Unless otherwise noted, all scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. The "CEB" and "Common English Bible" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Common English Bible. Use of either trademark requires the permission of Common English Bible.