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Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr. Sunday January 2, 2011
ORDER MY STEPS IN THY WORD
“Order my steps in thy word; and let not my iniquity have dominion over me” Ps.119:133
This is the 1st Sunday of the New Year, 2011. It is, also, the first Sunday of the 2nd Decade of the 21st Century. As is true of every New Year, mankind makes Resolutions ranging from attitudes to actions. Some are short lived while
others are fervently pursued. In order to enhance the prospect for success in attaining and keeping resolutions, the
individual’s steps must be ordered. Accordingly, this 2011 New Year’s Sermon has been entitled, Order My Steps In Thy Word. It is based upon a prayer of David’s as recorded in Psalm 119: 133.
Prior to identifying the three points of interest that undergird the sermon, attention will be focused on some dimensions of walking.
To be able to walk is a blessing. It is an action that requires learning and having the ability to move from one point to another. While the potential to walk is a biological fact of birth, it must be learned through many falls during early childhood. Learning to walk requires numerous coordinations that involve balance, sight, and movement by
one step at a time. As one learns to walk, that person can move at various speeds that include: walking, jogging, running, skipping and even limping. Irrespective of the movement form, every type can be reduced on one step at a time. Hence, whether an individual is in a five miles relay, a two blocks jog, or an expedition on the moon, the episode must be done by one step at a time. The reality of this principle was articulated by Neil Armstrong when he uttered, upon standing on the moon, "One step from man, but a gaint leap for mankind".
While learning to walk physically is a highly cherished ability that not everyone possesses, there is another type of walk that everyone needs; it is the ability to walk in the statures of the Lord. The Bible has numerous references to the need for and reality of man to walk with God. It notes, for example, that Enoch walked with God and he was not found and Peter walked on the water as he went toward Jesus. Both Enoch and Peter moved one step at a time and, likewise, their steps were ordered by the Master. Each of them was successful because he allowed God to order his steps, a statement that means God was allowed to put both Enoch and Peter in line with His expectations. This emphasis on God's ability to order the steps of mankind is a theme of Psalmist 119. It is concisely stated in verse 133 where the Psalmist exclaims, "Order my steps in thy word; and let not any iniquity have dominion over me". In the verses that follow that request, the Psalmist indicates values to be derived from having his steps ordered and obligations placed upon him by having his steps ordered.
While many years separate us from the Psalmist, there is yet the need for us to have our steps ordered.
Accordingly, our sermon will explore aspects of this request in reference to our life. Hopefully, it will help us to either reaffirm that our life is in divine order or to get the same in order.
Let us note first that the Psalmist did not request to have his life ordered according to his desires; instead, he yielded to God and exclaimed, "Order my steps in thy word". This request was far reaching in scope because, if granted, it would place many restrictions on the Psalmist, yet he freely asked for it and was willing to be govered by its standard which was the word of God.
What is the word of God? In the Old Testament that phrase occurs over 400 times and it is used to denote any communication made by God to men, especially by the prophets. In this connection, there are numerous references to the word of the Lord coming unto me. This expression the word of God in the New Testament Ere is taken to mean the Bible. Hence, current references to the word of God merely means the Bible. In this regard, both the Psamist’s request - Order my steps ... and ours of today - both reflect the willing to have our life shaped in accordance with the Bible.
At this point, attention will be focused on three aspects of the request - order my steps in thy word. First, what are the essential features of His word? According to the Psalmist, the Word is pure (Ps. 119:140). This means that the word is undiluted, non-contaminated, authenic, real, the real thing, the ideal type, none fictitious, and everlasting.
Owing to its purity, the Word glitters above all scripts and it lingers beyonds all books. So to be ordered in his word is to be aligned with purity and such a person is obligated to be a real christian instead of a phoney christian.
The Psalmist, next, asserts that the word is True ( 160) This means that the message of the Bible is inerrant and eternal; it is factual, it is dependable, it is everlasting, and it can be trusted. Because the word is true, it is trustworthy for one to have his/her steps thereupon. The Psalmist’s faith in the truthfulness of the word was later vindicated by Jesus who declared himself to be the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6) So when we, as Christians, seek to have our steps ordered in him word, we have more than the Psalmist, for we have the story of Jesus who has demonstated many aspects of truth in the word. He demonstated that he was the Son of God; he demonstated that he is the risen Savior and he has promised to return to earth again. So to have our steps ordered in his word is to be prepared from the return of the
Master.
Let us not turn attention to another facet of being ordered in his word. It is the question of what is to be gained by being ordered in his word. Again, the Psalmist, listed his expectation from being ordered in the word. First, he anticipated divine teaching from the word. He knew that the message of the Word was from God and he felt the need to have
it imparted to him; hence, the Psalmist, indicated his willingness to be taught by the Word. Many years later, this
expectation would be acknowledged by Nicodemus who said unto Jesus, Good Master, we know that thou art a teacher sent from God because no man can doeth these things except God be with him.
Secondly, the Psalmist envisioned understanding to come from having his steps ordered in the word. While teaching generally involves at least two people, understanding most often resides at the individual level. In this regard, it is highly desirable for one to be able to comprehend, to make knowledge a part of his/her learning experiences and to
r elated to real life situations. A dependable source to enhance this internalizing process
is found in the Word of God according to the Psalmist. Many years later, Jesus would tell his disciples when the Spirit of Truth is come He will teach you (John 17: ).
In addition to be taught and learning, the Psalmist sought deliverance and he felt that it would come by having his steps ordered in the Word. Hence, he wrote in 134, “Deliver me from the oppression of man ... “ David, the Psalmist, had earlier been delovered from the paws of a loin and successful in defeating Goliath, but now as a successful leader he was encountering intensed opposition from his people. Within that challenging situation, David, called unto the Lord to order his step and thereby he would attain deliverance from his enemies. Many years later Jesus would declare that he came to seek free those in captivity and to bring deliverance to those in bondage. Additionally, a song would proclaim the same message through words, ... strong deliverer, be thou still my strength and guide.
The final consideration of this message addresses the topic of what must be our response to having our steps
ordered in his word. It is first something for us to meditate on. This means that we must devote some time to reflecting on what the Lord means in our life, what the Bible teaches that we should do, how Jesus died for our sin, what the
penalty is for denying Jesus as Savior and how great will be the eternal existance with the Father after the great white throne judgment. In Ps 119: 148, the Psalmist committed himself to meditation on the Word. This we, too, must do if we are to have our steps ordered in his word.
Next, we must rejoice in the word once our steps have been ordered in the same. This capacity must be
manifested irrespective of the hardships, disappointments, adversities and heartaches that saturate our life because the ordered steps are under the will and purpose of the Word. Again, we see Jesus fulfilling the Psalmist’s faith and calling to mankind, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavily laiden and I will give you rest”.
Finally, we must witness to the world that our steps are ordered in the Word. The Psalmist declared , “My tongue shall speak of thy word; for all thy corrunandments are righteous” (Ps 119”172). In a like manner, we are called upon to
be a living example of a changed person once our steps hall have been ordered in his word. This is the essence of the New Testament teaching, “If ye are ashamed to own be before mankind on earth, I shall not present you blameless before the father”. Best Wishes for a blessed New Year. Amen