It’s 8:00, dinner’s over, the echoes of a screaming 10-month old who does not think he should have to go to bed are still reverberating through the house. The other two kids are off the chain, encouraging one another with Apostle-Paul like gusto in their competition to see who can be the loudest and most frenetic. And this is the time that we have chosen to be our devotional time for the evening. Because we’re brilliant. As I attempt to calm and untangle the writhing mass of arms and legs that are my first and second born, I think to myself, “Maybe tonight is a good night for daddy to pray quickly and tell them that mom is tucking them in …” I’d like to say that this is an out-of-character thought, but I try not to lie. I know that this time is important, but so often I’d rather do anything other than fight with the kids for their attention. So, I go into ‘father’ mode. You all know what I’m talking about. That personality that comes over dad when he decides something needs to be done, and it’s going to be done his way. His all-business, as-efficient-as-humanly-possible way. It’s genetic, I think. And all men have it.

As a family, we’ve been reading through the book of Psalms together for quite some time. It’s a pretty long book, and a lot of Psalms have taken us a number of days to get through, because we try to take it in small chunks. We’re not perfect about it, and don’t have the opportunity to do it every night due to sometimes-hectic schedules. But it’s been good. Still, there are those days where my sinful heart looks at it as something that benefits the kids; it’s not really for me. In truth, Scripture is always something that benefits me.

Last night was Psalm 119. Again. As it will be for weeks to come, probably, because apparently in the time of David chapters didn’t exist. We read verses 33-40, and as we walked through the importance of the Word of God in our lives (but that’s not irony), I was struck by the beauty of verse 40.

“How I long for Your precepts!
Give me life through Your righteousness.”

One of the things that we spent time talking about with our kids last night were the many words that David uses to describe God’s Word. Instruction, commands, decrees, judgments, statutes, ordinances, precepts … These are all words that refer to what God has spoken to us. We want our children to understand that God’s Word is not only valuable to us, it is essential. But it was the second part of verse 40 that captured my heart afresh. Give me life through Your righteousness. What a beautiful picture of the Gospel, and one I so desperately need daily. So often I try to find ‘life’ in so many other things. I try to find life in my relationships, in entertainment, in rest, in relaxation, in success, in completion of a project – you name it. I look to these things to give me life, to restore drive, passion, and energy. But they can’t do it.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:16-17

This. This is where I find life. In the Gospel. The gospel which saves me, having revealed a righteousness that can be applied to me by faith only because of Christ. Give me life through Your righteousness. David doesn’t claim a righteousness of his own, because he doesn’t have one. He realizes that he needs God’s righteousness, and that only His righteousness will do. And we have a way to that righteousness. It isn’t by being a really good person, or trying really hard. It’s by recognizing that Jesus Christ died on the cross paying the penalty for my sins, and that He offers me His perfect righteousness if I place my faith in Him as the only one Who can save me. Thus, I have righteousness through faith in Christ. I know this. I preach this. Weekly. I must be reminded of it. Daily. Because if not, I’ll forget – and I’ll start to think that the reason I sit down to read the Bible with my kids is because they need it … those little hooligans. I need it. We need it. Spend time in His Word today, and be refreshed. Find life in Him and be reminded of what that looks like.

“Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit.”
Psalm 51:12

 

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