“>Psalm 19:7-11, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward.”
In October 2012, I traveled to Central Korean Baptist Church in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey for an RU weekend. Pastor Joseph Han was overwhelmingly excited about the potential for this new lighthouse to reach the addicted within 20 miles of New York City. He attended one of our Rockford Training Days, and God burdened his heart to make a difference rescuing the addicted.
After the training, I returned to the hotel and turned on the news and was shocked by the headlines:
“EAST COAST BRACES FOR HISTORIC STORM OF THE CENTURY!”
This was one of many stern warnings by reporters that “Hurricane Sandy” was violently approaching the Eastern States. Her catastrophic collision was expected to cause more damage than “Hurricane Katrina” and was scheduled for Monday evening, October 29, 2012. Thankfully, my flight was scheduled to leave Monday morning, and I was praying I could get out in time.
By Sunday afternoon, people all over town were evacuating, and I mentioned this to another pastor. “Should we be concerned about the storm headed our way?” I asked. He assured me everything was fine, saying “We have storms like this come through here all the time, no need to worry.” However, to be honest, I was a little worried. I was scheduled to preach at 2:00pm and 5:00pm. To add to the anxiety of these moments, I was preaching with an interpreter for the first time. Pausing between phrases, as the interpreter translated my thoughts for the Korean members, my mind kept reminding me: “There’s a storm coming!!” I’m surprised it didn’t come out in the message. But everyone present seemed to be oblivious to the impending danger.
Knowing when there is danger ahead, and warning others about it, is one of many duties for someone ministering to those who have addictions. Often this same type of anxiety and urgency can be sensed, especially when you see the storm fast approaching in someone’s life. Maybe you can remember a time when the signs were flashing and the evidence was mounting that destruction was just ahead. Or maybe the destruction came, and you didn’t recognize the warning signs until “after the fact,” and it was too late. Either way, it is vital that the servant of the Lord working with the addicted becomes acquainted with the warning signs given to us in the Bible.
Psalm chapter 19 gives us many different descriptions of God’s written instructions, including: Law, Testimonies, Statutes, Commandments, and Judgments. Then verse 11 makes this incredible declaration: “Moreover by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward.” What warns the servant of the Lord? God’s inspired words admonish and warn us when we are in danger. They give spiritual insight for the recovery watchman and prudence to foresee the evil approaching in the lives of others. There are five biblical warning signs mentioned here, along with their root word meanings:
1. The Law of the Lord
comes from a root word, meaning “to direct, to guide, to aim, to shoot forward.” God’s law is the schoolmaster that points us to Jesus Christ for salvation. It is “perfect” and may also be of use to “convert the soul” of the believer that has strayed from God’s path.
2. The Testimony of the Lord
comes from a root word, meaning “to bear witness, to testify.” The Bible is God’s record of people who heeded warnings and those who didn’t, and these testimonies “are written for our admonition” (I Cor. 10:11.) God’s personal written testimony is “sure” and credible, and is directed toward “the simple” that they may become wise.
3. The Statutes of the Lord
comes from a root word, meaning “to engrave or inscribe.” It is crucial that we have the truths of God’s word written upon our hearts so we may recall them in time-sensitive “teaching moments.” Secular truths may not always help, but God’s truths will never return void. They are “right” and they will bring true joy when lived and applied, ”rejoicing the heart.”
4. The Commandment of the Lord
comes from a root word, meaning “to order or ordain.” God’s commands are the clearest warnings, but they are also the greatest promises. They are “pure” and free from defilement, bringing both RU leaders and students to an awareness of the joy of the blessed path and “enlightening the eyes.”
5. The Judgments of the Lord
comes from a root word, meaning “to judge or determine.” Dealing with addiction often requires getting to the heart of the issue, which is usually an issue of the heart. Nothing is a better ”discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” than the word of God (Heb. 4:12.) God’s judgments are “true and righteous altogether,” and when used efficiently, can remove the deception and help them see clearly.
When we see the incredible value of God’s warning signs listed here in this passage, we will desire to have them more than gold. We should take time to become well acquainted with these each day, and then use them to help others. The next time you see a storm or disaster headed toward someone you love, utilize one of these biblical warnings. You will find that “in keeping of them there is great reward!” The rewards of prevention are much richer than the blessings of recovery.