Psalm 119 9-16
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
We have a book with the ability to change lives
Today as you know is Bible Sunday.
Why is the Bible so important to us?
I would like to suggest that it is - because the Word of God produces spiritual life.
Story: Let me tell you the story of the Pitcairn Bible. Any of you know the story of the Pitcairn Bible?
The story of the Mutiny on the Bounty has been told many times and has been made glamourised by the 1962 film starring Trevor Howard and Marlon Brando in the lead roles.
But the one part of the story that is not so well known is the transformation on Pitcairn Island of the survivors of the Mutiny.
You probably know the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty quite well.
Fletcher Christian, the second in command led a mutiny of most of the crew of the Bounty against the Captain, Lieutenant Bligh on 28th April 1789.
The Captain and those of the crew that refused to join mutiny were sent adrift.
After much hardship and brilliant seamanship on the part of Bligh, they reached the island of Timor.
Fletcher Christian took the Bounty and the rest of the crew to Tahiti.
But in September 1789, he and eight other Englishmen from the Bounty, six Tahitian men, eleven Tahitian women and one child, sailed from Tahiti on the Bounty
Early in the following year 1790, found and landed on an uninhabited island, Pitcairn Island.
They burnt the ship in order to escape detection.
At first, the island seemed a paradise.
But soon the Englishmen started to mistreat the Tahitians and stole one of their wives, causing a rebellion.
Within four years, all the Tahitian men and all but four of the Englishmen had been murdered.
The only survivors were Alexander Smith, Edward Young, Matthew Quintall, William McCoy.
McCoy soon learnt how to distill liquor from the roots of the “ti plant”, and soon the men were drunk almost all the time.
Fearing for their lives, the women and children fled to another part of the island and build a fort for protection.
One day McCoy threw himself over the cliffs in a drunken stupor.
Matthew Quintal became so dangerous when he was drunk that he threatened the lives of everyone else. So Smith and Young had to kill him for the safety of the others on the island.
Smith finally came to his senses and destroyed the still and all the liquor on the island. He went “cold turkey” for several months.
Young, who was dying of TB, was taken in by the women to nurse him.
While Smith was living alone, he discovered among the stores taken off the Bounty - before it was destroyed - a copy of the Bible and a Book of Common Prayer.
However these weren’t much use to him as he was illiterate.
Eventually, Young recovered and he and the women returned to the village where Smith was living.
Young was literate and so he taught Smith to read using the Bible.
In 1801, Young died.
Alexander Smith continued to read to Bible in its entirety, and grew to understand it over a period of several years.
Seeing the importance of teaching the Bible to others, he began teaching the children how to read, and eventually some of the mothers learned to read as well.
Using the Bible, he taught everyone about the Christian faith and instituted a daily prayer time, grace before meals, and Sunday worship.
One of his prayers was as follows:
“Suffer me not O Lord to waste this day in sin or folly. But let me Worship thee with much Delight.
Teach me to know more of thee and to serve thee better than ever I have done before, that I may be fitter to dwell in heaven, where thy worship and service are everlasting. Amen.”
In 1808, Pitcairn’s Island was discovered by captain Mayhew Folger of an American ship the USS Topas.
The members of the crew were amazed to find that the island was inhabited by thirty five English-speaking people of Polynesian descent who were practicing the Christian faith.
It wasn’t long before the outside world was fascinated with the news that Fletcher Christian’s community had been found.
The English authorities instructed every captain sailing to the south Pacific to search for any mutineers so that they could be arrested and deported to England to be punished for their crimes.
Later, when two British ships did visit Pitcairn’s Island.
They found such an orderly colony that they decided to disobey orders and not report their find of the Bounty survivors to London - although they did annex the Island as a British colony.
King George later sent Captain Waldgrave to visit Pitcairn’s. And Waldgrave wrote this:
“It was with great gratification that we observed the Christian simplicity of the natives. They appeared to have no guile. Their cottages were open to all and all were welcome to their food.”
A Church and a school were later built on the island.
Smith died in 1829 at the age of seventy, but by 1840, Pitcairn’s Island was still a thriving Christian colony.
A visitor at that time wrote as follows:
“I then walked round and questioned several of the people on the texts, and some of the chief Scripture facts and doctrines, and most of them gave ready and suitable answers. . . .
The islanders have prayers twice on the Sabbath; after which Mr. Nobbs reads sermons from Burder, Watts, Blair, or Whitefield.
There is also a Sabbath-school, a Bible-class is held on the Wednesday, and a day school every morning and afternoon
If God can use his book to convert the inhabitants of Pitcairn Island through an illiterate rehabilitated alcoholic, that book can transform our lives too
This morning I would like to look at Part 2 of Psalm 119
The key to Christian living is simply to seek God with all your heart
It doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes – but by seeking God with all our heart, it allow the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives
Psalm 119 gives us pointers
1. Get into the Scriptures regularly
“How can a young man keep his way pure
By living according to your word.” (Ps 119:9)
If we wish to live according to God’s word, we need to immerse ourselves in it.
“I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:11)
Commit Scripture to memory.
It is amazing how Jesus brings to mind Scripture that you have learnt at the appropriate time.
As the psalmist said in our Psalm:
“I will not neglect your word” (Ps. 119:16)
It is easy to say – I’ll do it tomorrow.
“I seek you with all my heart” (Ps. 119:10)
If you are so busy that it is difficult to find time for prayer – you are in good company.
Jesus did – so he used to get up early in
the morning and go away to pray.
3. Christian Meditation
Not all meditation is good – but meditation on the word of God is.
The Psalmist put it like this:
“I mediate on your precepts
and consider your ways (Ps. 119:15)
It is good to think about what we have read and ask God how we should apply it.
The great American evangelist of the 19th Century D.L. Moody was challenged by a minister in a prayer meeting in Bristol, England who said:
“The world has not seen what God can do with a man totally dedicated to God”
Those words gave Moody no peace until he responded to God by saying: “With God’s help I’ll be such a man!”
Let us pray:
“Do not allow me O Lord to waste this day in sin or folly. But let me worship you with great delight.
Teach me to know more of you and to serve you better than I have ever done before, so that I may be fit to dwell in heaven, where your worship and service are everlasting. Amen.”