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Delight In The Word of God

Date: Dec. 27, 2020

Author: Bob Henkins

Psalm 1:1-6

Key Verse: Psalm 1:2

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

I can’t believe that another year has passed by. Looking back at the beginning of the year, we had such high aspirations especially with the whole “2020” vision concept going on. We went from “Thrive” (Romans 8:37 – More than conquerors) in 2019 to having vision to “Do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) in 2020. Some of the high hopes we had for 2020 were some of our key student leaders were graduating, David Kim, Titi, Liz and Junmo. Mike and Mary’s baby Elle would turn one in July. Jimmy and Becky were looking forward to their next chapter in life with Jimmy’s new job in LA and they were expecting their new baby.

Then with the start of the new semester, we saw new students Jackie, Byung, Ogee, come for the first time. And Deborah was bringing a number of her friends, Tomina, Oray, Yosie and Reddit. By the end of 2019 the number of students coming to Bible study and worship service was growing and they were becoming more faithful each week and growing spiritually. At the end of the year, we even got a special visit from Sam and Grace Jang and we got to see their beautiful kids Andy, Lydia, and Clara all grown up. 2019 ended on a wonderful high note. So, at the start of 2020, we had high hopes. As the new semester began, the Bible club leaders (David, Wofai and Titi) started preparing Jese so that his transition to take over the Bible club in 2020 would be smooth. Everything was going so well, they even planned the club special event early, we did laser tag the first week of March. Usually, we are scrambling to get it in at the end of the semester, so this was a great it seemed like we were finally getting ahead of things, but little did we know that the Bible club event on March 6th would be the last thing we did together in person as a group because Covid hit and then on March 15th we were surprised that we had to switch our worship service to be remote. Everything changed after that. The world went into lockdown and we haven’t met in person since.

The semester ended bittersweetly, we were happy for David Kim, Titi, Liz, Junmo, Orlando Jr and all those who graduated in 2020, because they completed personally milestones in their lives. But we were also sad because they couldn’t celebrate their success fully because of the gathering restrictions so it felt kind of anti-climactic. The pandemic was bad enough by itself with the lockdown, isolation, surging Covid-19 cases and the huge number of people dying, but also with it came an economic downturn with so many businesses closing and people losing their jobs. And if that weren’t bad enough, a Minnesota police officer killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck, which sparked civil unrest and protests sprang up around the country, which brought opportunists who used them to riot and loot. And on top of that we had the presidential election which only further polarized the country even more.

Now, looking back over the past year, 2020 turned out very different than any of us had hoped. Who could have foreseen a year like we’ve had? So, it feels good to bring 2020 to a close so that we could put all this behind us and look forward to the new year. So when it came time to think about choosing a new key verse for 2021, I wondered what would be a good direction for us after all that we’ve experience last year? Then in October, the UBF headquarters celebrated Founder’s Day and their theme was “Delight in the Word of God” based upon the book of Psalms chapter one. They asked me to share a personal testimony on the subject and I agreed. As I went through Psalm 1:1-6, my heart was moved as I meditated on God’s word. So, I brought this passage to our chapter leaders and we talked about it as a possibility for our 2021 key verse.

 and accepted it as our direction for 2021. When we delight in something, that means we get a high degree of gratification or extreme satisfaction from it. And who doesn’t enjoy being delighted? Everyone takes delight in something; the question is: What do you take delight IN? That’s what matters. Over the past nine months, we’ve been so isolated and disconnected, we thought that it is really good to turn back to God and his word. So, after our discussion, our chapter’s leaders decided to accept the theme “Delight in the Word of God” and take Psalm 1:2 as our key verse for the new year, which reads, “but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (Ps 1:2)

I personally like the holiday season. I know that some people have difficulties over the holidays, but I really like them. I like that there is less traffic on the roads (although this year I haven’t had to do a lot of driving because of the pandemic-but I still like less traffic). I like spending time with my family and getting time off from work. I like our special Sunday services, Thanksgiving and Advent and I especially like the food during this time of year. Every year, from Thanksgiving on to New Year’s, everyone’s food production seems to turn up a notch. I love our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals; the food is so delicious. Usually, our ministry has a special Thanksgiving service with West Loop and Hyde Park UBF chapters. We have a special guest speaker and a delicious Mediterranean meal. And of course, there is the traditional turkey with our family. And this year for our family Christmas celebration, we had big juicy prime rib roast when Julia’s mom and dad came to visit. And we had a deep-fried turkey and ham when we visited my mom and dad. Mmmmm it was so good, just thinking about it makes me hungry. As you can tell, I like food. You can almost say that I delight in it….

When we really delight in something, the time just flies by as we are deeply engaged in it and sometimes, we can even forget to eat, unless of course you delight in eating, you wouldn’t forget about that. We can take delight in so many things, like food, art, sports, reading, science, movies, games, friends, music, the list is endless. The neat thing is, we never get tired of the things we delight in. Maybe, even our heart rate can increase just by talking about it, or our energy level goes up, and we can even become more focused, with heightened senses when we are engaged in doing what we delight in. 

Let’s try a little experiment. Take some time now and think back, over the course of your life, what event, or time, or activity in your life has given you extreme satisfaction? For some it can be finishing up a project (successfully) that you’ve been working on for a long time. Or something as simple as getting a good night's worth of sleep where you wake up feeling well rested. It could be seeing your children born, and then later in life, seeing them succeed or grow up to be good person, someone you’re proud of. For others is can be a hobby like painting, sports or video games. In the Old Testament, King Uzziah, delighted in agriculture, so he dug cisterns and planted vineyards because he loved the soil (2 Chronicles 26:10). Personally, I delight in doing a job well done, not to say that I do a good job, but I can become so focused on what I’m doing that I often forget to eat and don’t hear when people are calling out to me. Also, I delight in seeing my kids happy and when succeed in their accomplishments and do things well.

We delight in these activities because they give us joy and make us happy. They can satisfy a certain need or desire and give us a sense of fulfillment. Sometimes they may even give meaning to our life. If you can’t decide on what delights you most, think about where you spend a lot of your time and money that will most likely tell you where your delights are.

As I mentioned earlier, the question that’s important for us to answer is, WHERE does our delight come from? Or what do we delight IN? It’s important for us to know the answer to this question because if you want to be able to maintain your delight, and not have it shaking all over the place, we need to delight in something that TRULY LASTS. We can take delight in many good things, and we should, we don’t need to deprive ourselves of delightful things, but if we ONLY delight in things that will not last, we are setting ourselves up for failure. So, we need to delight in something that is deeper, stronger, something that will last. For example, if we only delight in going out and enjoying food at restaurants, then the past nine months would be like hell for us because most of that was gone during the quarantine. Or if we only delight in spending time with our family, it’s hard to do that in person now and video conferencing can only go so far. And a lot of people have lost someone close to them this year, that’s certainly not something to delight in. If we delight in things that come and go, then our mood goes up and down and we get depressed. I heard that Japan’s suicide rate is higher than ever because of the quarantine. It’s a depressing time and we end up feeling worse if we can’t experience the things, we delight in. So, we need to delight in something that truly lasts.

Let’s take a look at Psalm 1 verses 1-3. “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, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 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.” From these verses we can see that when we delight in the “law of the Lord” we will be blessed and fruitful. Just so that we’re clear, “law of the Lord” and the “word of God” are the same. God gave us his word so that we may get to know him better and we would be able to walk in his ways. Therefore, we should value God’s word and not let the word of God fall to the ground. (Micah 4:2)

To start, since we are made in the image of God, it makes sense to think about what God delights in for that might give us insight into what would be good for us to delight in. So, let’s take a look at Proverbs 12:22 which helps us see what God delights in. It tells us, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” (Proverbs 12:22) From this, we can see one of the things that God delights in is trustworthy people. God detests those who lie and are full of deceit, but he loves those who are honest and trustworthy. God is delighted when we walk in his ways, when we obey his word. (Isa 42:21) The Bible says that if we obey God with all our heart, he will delight in US and have compassion on us and restore our fortunes. (Deut 30:1-9)

God gave us his word in the Bible, so that we could know get to know God better and to make us wiser. For example, Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” If we delight in the Lord the outcome is good, for God is our heavenly Father and our creator, he loves us and wants to bless us. And just as parent’s hearts are moved when their children love and adore them, God’s heart is moved when we love and adore him.

Also, when we delight in God’s word, we learn from it. It becomes like a flashlight in the dark for us. God’s word helps guide us so that we take the right path, and it protects us. (Ps 119:105) This summer, our family went on vacation to Yellowstone where we went camping. The second night there, around 2AM I heard some noise. So, I got up and used my phone’s flashlight to see in the dark, but as I came around the back of our van, I came face to face with a bear. Both of us were surprised to see each other. But I think it was because of my phone’s flashlight that it run away. The word of God is like that flashlight, not only did it helps me when I couldn’t see where I was going, it protected me. When King David was old and handing the kingdom over to his son Solomon, he prayed for Solomon to learn discretion and gain understanding from the word of God. (2 Chr 22:11-13) When we delight in God’s word, through it, God gives us discretion and understanding. Also, the word of God can help us settle disputes (2 Chr 19:8). The word of God is perfect, it refreshes our soul, and it can make us wise. (Ps 19:7) And for those who obey his word, God establishes his covenant with them (Heb 8:10) and he will bless them (Gen 22:18).

The Bible also tells us that if we are God’s people, then we’ll have his law on our minds and written on our hearts (Jer 31:33). And those who walk according to the way of the Lord, are blameless in God’s eyes. (Ps 119:1) From all this we can see that it is good to delight in the word of God, but what if we don’t delight in it? Let’s take a look at Psalm 1:4-5, they say, “Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” The Bible tells us that those who reject God’s word will blow away like dust (chaff) with the wind. The reason we will be blown away like dust is because we don’t have a good foundation, we don’t have anything to hold on to. When people do not hold on to the word of God, they will cling to deceit, refuse to return to God, will love wickedness, act innocent when guilty, charge into recklessness, act foolishly, handle God’s word falsely, and eventually they will be put to shame, be dismayed and be trapped. (Jer 20:4-10) No one likes to be called a slave, but the reality of it is, if we are not a slave to God’s law, we become a slave to our sinful nature. (Rom 7:25) The reason for this is because we can’t control ourselves and we end up doing the bad things we don’t want to do and we can’t do the good things that we really want to do because we don’t have the will power (Rom 7:19). In book of Daniel, disaster comes upon the people of God because they didn’t turn from their sins and give their attention to God’s word. (Dan 9:12-14) If we don’t delight in the word of God, ultimately, we’ll be led astray by false gods. (Am 2:4) And because God does not take delight in disobedience, eventually, he will turn away from those who reject his law. (Lev 26:31) When people reject the law of God, society become lawless, and it becomes like the wild wild west, like survival of the fittest. In a word we become wicked because we don’t have a standard to base our life upon. We do what is best for us and don’t care about others and eventually that path leads us away from God and to our own destruction. This has occurred many times in history. Just as the prophet Isaiah warned the people of his time, “Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa 5:24) we too should take note and listen so that we don’t fall into the same pattern.

That sounds a bit depressing, but there is also so much hope. Because in God’s history, when people turn from their wicked ways and turn back to God, once again he delights in them. There are so many good examples in the history of God’s people that had failed but then turned around and once again delighted in God’s word such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. No one is perfect, we are all sinners with our faults and failures, but we are assured by God when we fail, if we turn to him, he will accept us and once again delight in us.

The prophet Ezra was a good example. He delighted in the word of God because he devoted himself to study and observe it. ( Ez 7:10) God blessed him by granting all the requests he made to the king (Ez 7:6) so that he and Nehemiah could lead God’s people. They were so dedicated that they spent half their day in Bible study, praise and worship. (Neh 9:3) Nehemiah and the nobles were so dedicated and serious to Bible study that they bound themselves to it with an oath and a curse (Neh 10:29) and because of their hearts, God blessed them and helped them re-establish and rebuild Jerusalem.

There are so many examples like Ezra and Nehemiah of those who delight in God’s word being blessed by God. Psalms 1:3 sums it up perfectly, it says, “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.” (Ps 1:1-3) When we delight in the word of God, aka the law of the Lord, we will be blessed. Because the knowledge of God is so vast, he created the world and everything in it, who better to learn from than the Creator? It says that when we do, we will be like a tree planted by stream of water. The tree that is planted by the water has the source of life for as they say, water is life. As long as the tree has water it will be fruitful and its leaf will not wither. Likewise, God says that if we delight in his word, obey him and follow his law, whatever we do will prosper because we have God’s blessing upon us. Now that doesn’t mean everything, we do is going to be successful according to the world’s standards, but it does mean that we will please God and with that we’ll have God’s blessing, protection and provision.

And ultimately, through God’s word we come to know God’s precious son Jesus. God doesn’t want anyone to perish, that’s the reason he sent Jesus, so God works toward saving people. Just as a tree prospers being planted by a stream of water, people prosper when we have Jesus in our hearts. Jesus is living water because it’s through him we have eternal life. When we have Jesus, streams of living water flow out from our hearts.

Another reason to delight in God’s word is because it is so consistent from the beginning to the end, it doesn’t change because God doesn’t change, he’s the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). God is consistent in his word, in a world that can change so quickly, it is comforting to know that we can always rely upon God’s word because it is so consistent.

This year we didn’t have a lot to delight in. California has over two million surging Covid cases and they are out of ICU beds. Here in Chicago carjackings are up, even in our neighborhood in Bridgeport, last week a guy was killed in a carjacking. We had one on our block.

Things of the world don’t really satisfy us, they leave us thirsting for more. But the word of God can satisfy us. My personal experience of delighting in God’s word grew over time. I remember even from an early point during my spiritual life, I noticed something special about the word of God. I remember during my undergrad days, sometimes when I would be walking across campus to go to Bible study, I would be grumbling to myself, “Arrrggghhhhh. Why am I going to this? I don’t really want to go.” But I told M. Paul that I would come, so I kept my word. And during Bible study, God’s word would penetrate my hard heart. And I could see that I would leave Bible study, with a much different attitude than when I went in. I would go from a grumbling heart to a joyful heart. This phenomenon always amazed me. I wondered, “how could my attitude change so dramatically? From this, I could see that the word of God had power, power to change someone’s heart. Not only that, it had the power to change someone that didn’t believe into a believer. Later on, I could understand why this happens through Hebrew 4:12, it says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God’s word has the power to penetrate even the hardest of hearts. God’s word has the power to humble the proud, strengthen the weak, educated the fool, and bring life to the dead. Whenever I’m anxious, or fearful, or need guidance, I know that if I go to God’s word, he will calm my anxiety, take away my fear and give me courage, and lead me in the best direction. There were times when I couldn’t sleep because of the stress that I was experiencing at work, because there were rumors that I was going to lose my job. One time I was even rushed to the hospital because of a cardiac episode that I experienced because of my job stress. But through God’s word, prayer, and co-workers, God helped calm my anxious heart. I am so thankful because I have the privilege to study God’s word. And I do honestly believe that it is a privilege.

These days I delight in God’s word through message preparation. This can be seen as a burden, because sometimes it does take considerable time and effort, but I find that it restores my soul and gives me joy and peace. Also, I delight in God’s word through Bible study, letting the spirit lead and guide us by letting the passage come to us with no fixed agenda. Often, we come to find the point of a passage was something that we never anticipated. I delight in God’s word by studying the historical context that it falls in. We learn so much about the history, the people, the nations and culture. This can help us understand our times better as well. I can also delight in God’s word by doing a word study on the passage, to see how that word has been used throughout the Bible. This helps gain a fuller understanding of God, his people, and his word. In all, I am so thankful to have been taught how to study the Bible, to have the privilege to study God’s word and to be encouraged to be faithful in keeping it up. The one thing I hope, is that I may not be distracted by other things that compete for my attention and try to dissuade me from delighting in God’s word so that I may be able to hold on and maintain Bible study for the rest of my life. I don’t read God’s word as often as I should. I know that it is important, and I want to do it more. If we don’t do it, does that mean that we don’t delight in it, or maybe it’s just that we don’t prioritize it. It’s so easy to get busy doing other things where we find that we don’t have free time to delight in anything. Then when the day is done, we are tired and collapse into bed out. Therefore, we have to make reading God’s word a higher priority. We need to make time for God. We don’t do it WHEN we have time, we need to MAKE time. We can’t deny the reality of life, but what we can do is set aside some time to be with God. One way to spend time with God is with his word. So, I’d like to challenge you to make spending time with God through his word a goal for you in the new year, to be more consistent, be more intentional about it, and do it more often. I pray that you too may be fruitful and blessed like a tree planted by a stream with the water of eternal life through the word of the Lord.

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