“Thank You!”

Today’s reading is Psalm 21.

In Psalm 20, a pre-battle blessing was prayed for the king. Psalm 21 seems to be it’s companion. In Psalm 20:4, the requested blessing was that God grant the king his heart’s desire. In Psalm 21:2, the psalmist acknowledges God had done exactly that. Once again, we are saying that while each psalm is its own literary unit, we can see why the compilers of the psalms placed these two together. And what a powerful lesson they give when taken that way. When the trouble is upon us, we are quick to ask. But when the request is granted, do we always remember to acknowledge God? Do we always remember to thank Him? Do we always remember to praise Him? You would think everyone would be thankful for every gift, wouldn’t you? But do you know about the 10 lepers in Luke 17 that begged Jesus for healing? As they went on their way, they all were healed, but only one returned to give thanks. I doubt any of the nine thought of themselves as ungrateful people, but only one returned. I’m sure they were all excited, but only one returned. Where were the nine? Certainly, victory in battle is a pretty big thing. We’d imagine the nation would never forget to thank God for that. Remember, however, that Paul encourages us to be thankful in all circumstances, not simply the really, really big ones (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Are you breathing today? Have you thanked God for air? Is your blood flowing today? Have you thanked God for blood flow? Are you saved in Jesus today? Have you thanked God today for that victory? We could, of course, go on and on and on. But let us especially remember to thank God when He does respond to our requests, whether big or small.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 21.

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A Prayer for Our Brothers and Sisters

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

I have to make a confession. As I’ve read this psalm over and over again in preparing these posts, I’ve been reading it in an Irish accent. It just reminds me of those ancient Irish blessings/prayers. You know the ones I’m talking about:

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Irish Blessing

Of course, we can offer up an Irish blessing like that for one another. But we could never offer up the Psalm 20 blessing for one another. After all, that is a prayer for the King. Or can we? In fact, this psalm is a prayer we can offer for one another. First, we can offer it for one another because the prayer for the King was actually a prayer for the nation of followers over which the King is head. That is why vss. 7-8 moves from “you” to “we” and “us.” We trust in the Lord. When we do, it is not only the King who rises and stands upright. We do. The psalm begins with the request that the Lord will answer the King, it ends with the shift that He will answer us when we call. Second, in a very real sense, we are anointed by the Lord as well (see 1 John 2:20, 27). Thus, we are Christians or little Christs or little anointed ones (see Acts 11:26). According to 1 Peter 2:9, we Christians are a chosen race, a “royal priesthood.” That is, we are anointed priestly kings. In Revelation 1:6, we have been made “a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.” Again, we are anointed kingly priests. You don’t have to pray Psalm 20 with an Irish accent, though like the song “Be Thou My Vision,” an accent makes it more fun. However, we can and we should pray these blessings for one another. What a wonderful prayer. Would you pray it for me today? I’ll pray it for you.

Today’s reading is Psalm 21.

PODCAST!!!

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A Prayer for OUR King

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

We may think Psalm 20 is really not for us. It is an interesting look at a historical prayer that could have been used back in the days of Israel’s monarchy, but not today. Not so. We can…we should pray Psalm 20. But let us not dumb it down as if we should use this psalm to pray for the leaders of our earthly nations. Of course, we should pray for them. But we pray for them passages like 1 Timothy 2:1-7, not Psalm 20. This is a prayer for God’s anointed. And as much as it was a prayer for David, it is a prayer for our King, Jesus. It was the prayer the apostles should have been praying that night they were sleeping in Gethsemane. And while Jesus has already won that the greatest of victories, we recall Ephesians 6. We recall we are the army our King is leading into battle against the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. We know the heart’s desire of Jesus and we know His plans–to conquer every foe until the very last is conquered and He turns the kingdom back over the Father. And we can pray for the Father’s blessing on these plans, because they are the Father’s plans as well. Therefore not only will our King stand upright, but we will rise and stand upright. We know God will give our King victory, which actually means God will give us victory. This psalm is not antiquated. It is very modern. We need to be praying it for our King, Jesus. Let us prepare our banners to rejoice in the victory. There is no way our King will lose; there is no way we who give our allegiance to Him will lose. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

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A Prayer for the King

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

As we’ve intimated over the past two days, Psalm 20 is a prayer for the King of Israel before he goes out to battle. It is a prayer of blessing. And what a prayer it is. Though it is spoken to the King himself, originally David, it is a prayer to God. The blessing assumes the King himself is praying and asks the Lord to answer when the King calls on Him. It is a fearful thing when the King goes out to battle. A land without a King is a like a flock without a shepherd. So, they pray for God’s protection for their King. The main prayer is seen in the requests that help come from the sanctuary and support from Zion. The prayer is not for armed reinforcements. The hope is not that more soldiers will make it to the battlefield from Jerusalem in time. No; Zion was the dwelling place of Yahweh. It was where He chose to make His name dwell from the time of David. The prayer is that Yahweh Himself will fight the battles of the King. Israel had a long history of Yahweh fighting their battles. It started with the ten plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea. We see it when Moses held up his staff with the help of Aaron and Hur and Joshua prevailed. We see it when Joshua and Israel marched around Jericho. We see it when Gideon’s 300 fought the Midianites. But we also see it when the armies of Israel just marched to battle and fought hand to hand. In all these circumstances, God was fighting for them. The assumption in the prayer is that the King’s plans and desires coincide with God’s. That his plans are for victory of God’s people. And this prayer is offered in faith because they are putting their trust in God, not in horses and chariots. Which means the prayer is also offered in obedience. In Deuteronomy 17:16, the King was precluded from multiplying horses, and in Deuteronomy 20:1-4, God told Israel not to fear when they faced large armies with horses and chariots. Thus, when Israel prayed this prayer, they could know it would be granted because they offered it in obedience and faith. What an amazing prayer Israel could offer for David and what amazing confidence they could have in their God. And as David was off with his armies, those who remained behind could prepare their banners because they knew they would be able to fly them. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

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The God of Jacob

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

In Genesis 34, Simeon and Levi did the unthinkable. They carried out a plan and attack against an entire city-state in Canaan, wiping out all of their men in a single night raid. Jacob became petrified. He looked at his tiny family in comparison to the other city-states of the Canaanites and said, “You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household” (Genesis 34:30, ESV). In the next chapter, however, God calls Jacob to go to Bethel to make good on the promise Jacob had made as he was fleeing Esau years earlier. Jacob tells his family to put away their idols and even give up the jewelry they might use later to re-forge their idols. And then he says, “Let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answer me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone” (Genesis 35:3, ESV). Then the text lets us know that Jacob’s fears were completely unfounded: “And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob” (Genesis 35:5, ESV). Years later, David writes Psalm 20. A prayer Israel can pray when he is leading her armies to war. And what is the blessing they seek? “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble [distress]! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” (Psalm 20:1, ESV). Do you see why Israel would call on the “God of Jacob” for their king and for their armies? Do you see why we can call on the “God of Jacob” for our churches and our brethren? We have nothing to fear. The God who protected Jacob from the provoked people around him, the God who had been with Jacob as he fled Esau and as he plundered Laban, the God who saw Jacob through his days of distress is our God. He will be with us wherever we go. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

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Prayer: 99% of the Fight

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

The king has told you to get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be hard. But you can’t sleep. Tomorrow may be your last. The sentries are doing their jobs, making sure no enemy sneaks in and attacks at night. But still, you can’t leave the job up to them. You sit outside your tent watching, trying to hold down your supper, talking nervously with the other soldiers who can’t sleep either. In the distance, you see the campfires of the enemy dotting the landscape like stars across a completely clear sky. Their number suggests thousands of enemies. Not only that, they suggest thousands more than you know are on your side. Not only that, you’ve heard the stories. The enemy has horses and chariots by the thousands. They are skilled with these ancient tanks. They have plowed through other armies as a plague of locusts through fields of grain. What are you to do? Psalm 20 contains the answer. You pray! Not because you have no hope. Not because that is all that is left to you. No. You pray because your one hope is Yahweh, the God of Jacob. The God who listens in the day of distress. Your first line of defense is prayer. This is exactly the picture of Psalm 20. Israel is about to engage in battle, led by her King. But Israel does not go into battle unprepared. Oh, her preparations are not about sharpening swords or greasing chariot axles. Her preparation is prayer. Israel’s hope is not in the size of her army. Israel’s hope is not in the skill of her soldiers. Israel’s hope is not in chariots and horses. Israel’s hope is the Lord God. Therefore, victory is assured. And so, you can’t sleep. But that is okay, because you need to be awake to pray.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Edwin Crozier and Andrew Roberts that expands on this post.

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Protect Me from Sin

Today’s reading is Psalm 19.

Yesterday, I wanted to make the connection between the Lord’s Word and our words. But to do so, I did jump over one of the most important aspects of the connection. We skipped over the important operation of the Lord’s Word in our lives and the mechanism by which it makes my words acceptable. Why do I need the Lord’s Word? Because I am a sinner. In that state, my outlook is skewed and my perspective distorted. In that state, my words and my thoughts are full of error and folly because they can be no other way. The only tool that will correct this is the Lord’s Word. Just as no one is hidden from the sun’s daily shining sermon, there is nothing in anyone of us that is hidden from the piercing glare of the Lord’s Word. The Lord’s Word uncovers my errors. The Lord’s Word unearths my secret sins. The Lord’s Word restrains me from presumptuous and rebellious sin. The Lord’s Word is what will make me blameless and keep me innocent of great transgression. As Hebrews 4:12-13 explains, the Lord’s Word is as a double-edged sword. It is living and active and is so effective it can even divide between things we aren’t even sure we know how to distinguish (for instance, the soul and the spirit). No one and nothing is hidden from its sight. We are all exposed when we open God’s Word. And that sounds painful, doesn’t it? I’ll be honest. It is. Being pruned by the two-edged sword rarely, if ever, feels pleasant in the moment. But in the end, when we are branches in The Fruitful Vine yielding the peaceful fruits of righteousness, we will rejoice with joy inexpressible. Let us cry out to God to protect us from sin, but then let us dig in to His Word and let Him do His Work with it.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

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My Words

Today’s reading is Psalm 19.

Yesterday, we learned about the significant power of God’s Word. In fact, one blog post was not even remotely enough to mine the depths of what this week’s psalm shares about God’s Word. But we must move on to see the impact the Lord’s Word must have on us. The Lord’s Word is not supposed to remain in the pages of a book. If it is going to do all that David claimed, it must find its way into my mouth and my meditations. My words and my thoughts need to be anchored in it. The Lord is my Rock and my Redeemer, but only if the Lord’s Word is the bedrock upon which my life is being built, only if the Lord’s Word is the soil in which my life is planted and growing. My life is only about God if my days are spent in His Word. Don’t just read God’s Word, saturate your life with God’s Word. Let it change your words. Let it change your thoughts. Let it occupy your heart, mind, and life. There is no television show, no song on the radio, no movie, no book, no magazine, no blog, no Instagram feed so great and powerful as God’s Word. Do not let any of those things have more impact on your words and thinking today than God’s Word. You are here today. So, I assume the Lord’s Word is important to you. Keep it up. I promise you, it will be worth it.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 19.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Edwin Crozier and Andrew Roberts that expands upon this post!

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The Lord’s Word

Today’s reading is Psalm 19.

In another study, we’ve talked about our job as a branch. That is, our job is simply to abide in Jesus, being the conduits through whom His power, strength, and life flow in order that the Vinedresser can bear fruit through us for His glory (see John 15:1-11). One of the three super-charged activities of Jesus-abiding is to abide in His Word and let His Word abide in us (John 15:7). In Psalm 19, we discover why this mutual abiding is so powerful. The psalm uses six terms to describe the Lord’s Word (Torah/Law, testimony, precept, commandment, fear, rules [ESV]). These terms encompass every aspect of the Lord’s Word from the generic to the specific (Torah to commandment), from its source to our response (God’s testimonies to our fear), from where it provides limitations to where it provides equipping (precepts to rules/judgments). This sixfold repetition is not supposed to send us down a rabbit hole of trying to figure out the nuanced differences between the terms, but rather to help us see that David is talking about the Word, all the Word, every aspect of the Word, every feature of the Word, and the Word in its entirety. The Word is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true. Can anything else to which we have constant physical access make these claims? Notice what the Word accomplishes. Like the good shepherd of Psalm 23:3, it revives the soul. Like the Proverbs, it wisens the simple. Like a great victory or great feast, it rejoices the heart. Like a dab of honey after a long day of battle, it enlightens the eyes (see 1 Samuel 14:24-30). Like nothing else but God alone, it endures forever and, by implication, is the means by which we will endure forever. And again, like nothing and no one but God, it is altogether righteous; that is, it sanctifies us. And David claims if a pile of gold was behind Door #1, a feast of the sweetest foods behind Door #2, and God’s Word behind Door #3, he would choose Door #3. He would choose that not because abiding in the Word would get him gold and feasting, but because the Word is greater riches and more satisfying than those other two choices. With all this on the table, why would we do anything but abide in the Word of the Lord? We can abide in no other way.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 19.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation with Edwin Crozier and Andrew Roberts that expands on this post!

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The Sun’s Daily Sermon

Today’s reading is Psalm 19.

We already know the Lord has set His glory above the heavens (Psalm 8:1). This week we learn the Lord’s glory shines from its heavenly perch down through the heavens. The sun, the moon, the stars, the vast expanse of what we moderns call space says nothing, but at the same time declares everything. And they leave every inhabitant of our world without excuse. Sadly, when many ancients looked to the heavens, they saw many gods. Instead, they should have seen the handiwork of the one God. The sun is not a god. It is the creation of God. And everyone has seen it. They have felt its warmth. They have seen its light. In fact, they have not simply seen the sun’s light, but as C.S. Lewis famously pointed out, they have seen everything else by the sun’s light. And in the sun, in the moon, in the stars, the Lord has given His testimony to everyone in the world. How can any of these things be if Someone didn’t put them there? It is the Someone behind these things that we should worship. And if Someone would put these things here so perfectly designed to care for us and provide for us, doesn’t it also stand to reason that Someone would actually want to communicate with us? Of course it does. We should be looking for that communication. The key is God has left Himself a witness. Atheists often want to claim God hasn’t spoken loudly or clearly enough. David points out He has. If we won’t hear His voice, it’s not because He hasn’t been communicating, it’s because we have closed our eyes and our ears. Let’s keep our eyes and ears open.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 19.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to listen to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Edwin Crozier and Andrew Roberts that expounds on this post.

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