Psalm 1 calls us to love Torah, to love and live in “the law of the Lord.” Torah moves far beyond a mere book of rules. Only when we understand its scope can we fully embrace its meaning. In essence, the law is the sum of all God’s good gifts to Israel. We joyfully ponder the goodness of each day, throughout the day. We often find that hard to do in our crazy-busy lives.
Lauren Winner, raised Jewish, converted to Orthodox Judaism in college and converted to Christianity during graduate school. In her book Mudhouse Sabbath, Winner speaks to the fact that as a Christian she misses the Jewish practices that helped ground and sustain her belief. She writes, “Jews do [spiritual practices] with more attention and wisdom [than Christians] not because they are more righteous nor because God likes them better, but rather because doing, because action, sits at the center of Judaism. Practice is to Judaism what belief is to Christianity” (ix). She argues that by practicing our faith, we will come to understand and believe more fully.
We follow Jesus, our living Torah, in a way that is itself a God-centered practice and belief. Jesus sums up this living in his own words: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matt. 22:37-40, ceb).
When we delightfully ponder and live into God’s word, we can faithfully serve the world.
Father, help us love your word and ponder your goodness daily, so that our practice, our belief, and our action can lead to righteousness. Amen.
Scripture tells us that in our lives in general, and especially in our spiritual lives, we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. The psalmist admonishes us to follow the truth of God and flee wicked ideas. This week we read about Judas, who did not follow the psalmist’s advice—with disastrous results. In Acts the apostles seek to replace Judas among their number with a witness to Jesus who has not been led astray. In John’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the loss of Judas and prays that his followers will cling to his words. The author of First John testifies that God’s words are trustworthy above all others. They bear witness to the life that comes through Christ, whose legitimacy was confirmed by his ascension into heaven.
• Read Acts 1:15-17, 21-26. When have you experienced the disruption of a meaningful relationship through death? How did you eventually recover?
• Read Psalm 1. When have you allowed the world to define you? How do you avoid that?
• Read 1 John 5:9-13. How have you come to know the testimony of God in your heart?
• Read John 17:6-19. What helps you sense God’s presence and protection?
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