A Psalm We Can Relate To

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

Psalm 38 is intense. It almost seems like everything negative that could happen to a person is happening to David in this psalm.

He’s having spiritual problems, health problems, relationship problems. He is sick with an intensity that is overwhelming. He mentions pain, infection, weakness. He has a relational isolation that is almost insurmountable. His enemies are after him like vultures who sense a near death. His friends and companions have started distancing themselves. Even his family is standing far off. To top all of this off, his sin and guilt stands in the way of fixing any of these other things.

We can argue all day long about whether or not to take the intensity of this psalm literally. Is David using poetic license to simply tell us how he feels in some moment? Or is he literally this sick, this isolated, this spiritually destitute?

The answers to those questions don’t matter nearly as much as the recognition that we’ve all been in those situations. Maybe we’ve never had all of them at the same time. Maybe never to that intensity. But then again, maybe we have been in all those situations, to that degree, and all at the same time. Whatever the case, there is no escaping this psalm. We can’t say, “Well, David doesn’t understand what it’s like to be me. He hasn’t experienced the kind of struggles and problems I’ve faced.”

This is a psalm we can relate to. Whatever problem we are facing, this psalm includes it. And here’s the key. What did David do with it? He took it to God in prayer. Even that sin problem in his relationship with God, he took it to God in prayer. Even though he was certain all his other problems were caused by his sin problem, he went to God in prayer anyway.

I can relate. You can too!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 38.

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Can you think of any kinds of problems folks might face that aren’t included in this psalm? If so, what do you think we should do with those problems?
  3. What do you think keeps Christians from praying in the face of these kinds of problems?
  4. Look at Psalm 38:9, 15, what faith prompted David to go ahead and take all these problems to the Lord?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

The Future of the Blameless, Upright Man of Peace

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

Psalm 37 is not a foretelling of Jesus. We don’t read Psalm 37 and start looking for someone who fulfills certain verses so we can know that person is the ultimate Messiah.

However, when you have a man on trial as a criminal and you can’t actually get real testimony against Him…

When you bring a man before the magistrate, governor, or king and they have to say, “I find no wrong in Him”…

When the governor’s wife is sending him messages to leave this innocent man alone…

You might want to remember the psalm that says:

Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

Psalm 37:37-38

Certainly, it looks like there is no future for that innocent Man up there on that cross. But understand, things aren’t always what they seem. Just as the sprawling green tree isn’t actually as blessed as it appears, the Man hanging on the tree is not what He appears either.

He isn’t going to perish. He isn’t going to vanish away. Even if you kill Him, He has a future. But you will be cut off. You will be judged. You will be destroyed.

As we look back at Jesus, we should see how He lived this psalm. We should see His example in the face of enemies. He didn’t fret. Rather, He committed Himself and His way to the Father. He trusted God and waited on Him. He didn’t wait on Him until the very last second, see that He was going to die, and decide to take things into His own hands. He waited on the Father until time ran out. Then on the third day, we all discovered time doesn’t run out for God.

Do we ever look around at the wicked who appear blessed in this modern world and fret? Do we get all bent out of shape because if somebody doesn’t do something, they might start taking away our political rights and they might even start to imprison and kill us? How did Jesus handle it when that happened? Perhaps we should take a page out of His book. You know, a page out of the psalms. Maybe specifically we should take out page 37.

Really, it’s going to be okay. God’s got this. Even if you die, you win. That’s the way it worked for our King. That’s the way it will work for us.

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Read through the psalm again. Now that you are thinking about the blameless and upright man of peace, Jesus, what else do you see in the psalm that makes you think of Him?
  3. How did Jesus live by this psalm for His whole life including His death?
  4. What will our lives look like when we follow His example and this psalm?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Delight Yourself in the Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

I can’t spend a week in Psalm 37 without commenting on vs. 4. It’s my second favorite verse in the whole Bible. My favorite is Psalm 73:25:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

But a close second is Psalm 37:4:

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

They kind of go together, don’t they?

I misunderstood this passage for the longest time. I thought David was saying, “If I learn to delight in the Lord, I’ll get everything I ever wanted. I’ll get the big house, the nice car, the great family, the cool job. I’ll become a world famous author, an internationally known speaker, and, oh yeah, a mega-billionaire! Woohoo!”

But wait! Didn’t that list of desires actually demonstrate what I really delight in? If I want God just so I can get houses, cars, gadgets, family, better relationships, more money, fame, etc., then I don’t actually want God, do I? I want those things. God just becomes a means to an end instead of the end itself.

It’s a conundrum. If I work really hard to delight in the Lord so I can get all that stuff, my goals and desires defeat any delight I am pursuing in the Lord. In that situation, I don’t get any of it.

I have a choice. I can give up on delighting in the Lord and just pursue what I really delight in. I might even get and enjoy some of those things for a while. But then I don’t get the Lord. And none of those other things last forever. They will all burn up in the end. And I will burn with them as I hold on to them.

Or, I can learn to delight in the Lord. When I really delight in the Lord, the desires of my heart will be the Lord. Then I get the Lord, and I’ll be delighted. He may give me some of that other stuff or He may not. That’s really His business. But when I delight in the Lord, I’m super happy having the Giver and whatever gifts He gives me, I’ll be happy with. Whatever gifts He doesn’t give me…well…so what? I have the Giver. I’m delighted.

What are you delighting in today?

Today’s reading is Psalm 37

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why are things like houses, cars, clothes, relationships, jobs, money, gadgets, gizmos, and games so much easier to delight in and desire than God?
  3. Take a look at James 1:14-15. Why is it important to get this desire and delight thing in proper perspective and order?
  4. How do you think we can increase our delight in God?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Stay Cool

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

When I hear “fret not,” as the first words of this psalm are translated in the ESV, I think about getting anxious and worried. However, the term is literally about heat. It is more like, “Don’t get overheated.” And that picture had a similar connotation for the Hebrews as it does for us. Heat accompanies anger. We might say things like, “Don’t get fired up.” Or “Don’t get hot under the collar.” In fact, this word is translated as “kindled” in several places when it talks about anger being “kindled” (see Psalm 106:40; 124:3).

Can you understand why someone might get angry when they see wicked people? Of course, we might get angry at the wicked themselves. When they perform their wickedness, it is an affront to God and it is often hurtful to us. Remember in Psalm 35 when we noticed the connection to David’s anger at Nabal? Just looking at external circumstances, Nabal appeared to be blessed while David appeared to be cursed. After all, Nabal had a fantastic, thriving ranch. David was on the run. When Nabal, that worthless, wicked fellow, refused to help David, David was incensed. His anger burned. And can’t we understand it? Aren’t we almost alongside him, egging him on? He almost took vengeance and vindication into his own hands. By God’s providence, Abigail intervened and cooled David’s anger. It was a blessing. Then God dealt with Nabal. He had been spreading like a green tree, 10 days later he could not be found and his wife was marrying David.

However, is there anyone else with whom we might become angry when the wicked appear blessed? Of course, we might get angry with God. He promised that we, His people, the righteous who worship Him and honor the work of His hands would be the green trees, blessed and fruitful. When we are on the run under the oppressive hand of the wicked, we may begin to believe God isn’t holding up His end of the covenant. And that is angering.

Psalm 1 was the gateway to the psalms explaining that those who meditate on God’s law are the blessed trees, and those who don’t are wicked chaff that get blown away. Psalm 37 brings in the healthy dose of reality that this distinction doesn’t always take place immediately. Even Psalm 1 was actually talking about what was to come at the end of the paths we chose, not the beginning. In fact, if it happened at the beginning, the choice of sin wouldn’t even be tempting, would it?

Whether we are talking about our reaction against the wicked themselves or against God who seems to be letting the wicked slide, we need to remember James’s teaching in James 1:20:

The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

So, when you see the wicked prosper, stay cool. God will deal with it in His time.

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why is it so easy to get angry at the wicked people and at God when we see wicked people seem to be blessed?
  3. What kind of sins can seething in our anger lead to? (Hint: you might look at Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32)
  4. In Psalm 37:1-9, David gives five positive statements about what we should do instead of fretting or getting overheated. What are they? How do we do them?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

When the Wicked Look Like the Blessed

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

David says:

I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.

Wait! What? That’s not right. Wicked people are chaff driven by the wind. They are not green trees, spreading out and growing. Just reread Psalm 1.

Yet, David has seen wicked trees. They look a lot like the fruitful trees of the blessed. They have their eye on the blessed, the righteous. They are doing what they can to afflict the righteous, to cut them off, to put them to death. All the while parading about like blessed trees. However, they are diseased.

David’s wise lesson on this? Don’t fret. They may look like a tree for a short time. But give it some time; the wicked tree will disappear. That is, though it appears to be a solid, stable tree, it will demonstrate that it is actually no more substantial than the chaff the wind blows away.

In fact, we Christians might remember Jesus’s own teaching here. You will know the tree by its fruit. And the tree that doesn’t produce healthy fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire (see Matthew 7: 17-20).

When you see the wicked looking like the blessed, don’t get bent out of shape. Just wait on the Lord. He’ll set things to rights in His time. And those who are His will be the ones truly blessed.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 37.

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the following questions with your family.

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Have you ever seen a time when wicked people looked like they were blessed?
  3. How does Satan use these seemingly blessed wicked people as a threat to God’s people?
  4. How does Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 7:17-20 help you respond when you see wicked people who appear blessed?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Like King, Like People

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

Do you remember how last week we recognized that Psalm 36 carried us back to Psalm 1? Psalm 1 contrasted two people, two ways, and two destinations. Psalm 36 contrasted two counsellors or guides: Transgression and Yahweh.

At this point in our study of the Psalms, will it surprise you to discover Psalm 37 carries us back to Psalm 2? In Psalm 2, David, the King, the Lord’s anointed is promised victory. Other kings and nations scoff at David and Yahweh. But Yahweh laughs in the heavens at their fruitless and powerless plots to escape the plans of Yahweh. They have but one choice. Give allegiance to the Lord’s anointed or perish in judgment.

Psalm 37:12-13 makes the connection most clearly:

The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

In other words, this wisdom poem proclaims to the reader, “Do you remember how God was going to bless your King? Guess what! He’s doing the same for you. Like King, Like People.”

Today, spend some time thinking about your King. How did God treat Him? What was God’s plan for Him? How did God ultimately bless and give Him victory? Then meditate on what that means for you and me, His people.

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 37.

PODCAST!!!

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

A New Approach

Starting today, we will take a new approach to this section that has historically been devoted to “A Word for Our Kids.” Rather than providing a second message of devotion, trying to focus more on children, we want to help you as parents lead a spiritual discussion with your children, helping you develop your skills of spiritual conversation with your family. We pray this is a blessing for your family.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Do you think it is important for us to repeatedly notice all the connections between the various psalms? Especially the connections back to the first two psalms? Why or why not?
  3. Who is our King and how was He treated? What does that suggest about what we will likely face in life?
  4. How did God vindicate our King? What does this suggest about how and when God will ultimately vindicate us?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Life and Light

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

David is explaining why we want to listen to God instead of Transgression. Transgression only leads to evil. Its way is simply not good.

God, however, is the fountain of life. Transgression doesn’t bring life. It only brings death. God is the light. Not only that, by His light we see all other light. It is like that principle from C.S. Lewis when he said something along the lines of, “I believe in God for the same reason I believe in the sun. Not because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.” Without God, we would be blind. And that is exactly what sin does. It blinds us.

How do we gain access to this life and light? The apostle John tells us in John 1:4. Talking about the Word of God whom he later reveals as Jesus, John writes, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). No one can get close to the Father except through Jesus. He is the life. He is the light. He is the refuge. His is the house of abundant feasting. His is the river of delights. He will increase God’s steadfast love to those who make knowing Him their life. He will deliver from the arrogant foot and the wicked hand that threaten to mislead and derail us.

Jesus is our Guide! We might even say, our Shepherd. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 37.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “Life and Light”

You Must Go Through the Door

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

Do you remember that song, “It’s so high, you can’t get over it. So low, you can’t get under it. So wide, you can’t get it around it. You must go through the door”? There have been different versions of this with different emphases throughout the years. Some versions refer to heaven, some to God’s love, some to the church, but they all essentially make the same point. You either enter by the door, or you’re stuck on the outside.

I can’t help but think of this song when I read Psalm 36. God’s steadfast love and faithfulness are so high they extend to the heavens and to the clouds. That is, you can’t get over them. His righteousness is high and wide like a mountain range. You can’t get over it or around it. His judgments are so deep they are like…well…the great deep. That is, you can’t plumb their depths even if you were to swim to the bottom of the ocean. You can’t get under them. (I admit it, I might be stretching to make the point about width, but surely you can still hear the song in this psalm.)

Look, you can try all you want to sneak in, over, around, under, but there is only one way. Just walk through the door into God’s steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, and judgments. David even provides a hint of this when he says, “Man and beast you save, O Lord.” Can you think of the event to which David is referring? Of course, the flood, when God saved man and beast in the Ark.

Do you get the picture? You either get into God and His Ark of safety His way, or you are going to be on the outside in the rain. There is no sneaky, cunning, crafty, stealthy way to get what God is offering. You won’t make an end run around God’s will and word. You might as well just do what He says. Give Him your allegiance. Take shelter under His wings. There is no other place of safety.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “You Must Go Through the Door”

Paul, On Sin

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

David speaks of Transgression’s first deceitful counsel. “You don’t need to fear God.” Notice, Transgression doesn’t advise, “You don’t need to believe in God.” Rather, he counsels, “You don’t need to believe God matters.” David says that for the person who listens, “There is no fear of god before his eyes.”

Did that statement sound familiar to you? It might. Paul quotes it in his dissertation on sin in Romans 3:18. For David, this lack of fear is the foundation for a life that sinks deeper and deeper into sin. For Paul, it is the culmination of sinful attitudes and behaviors. Either way we recognize the entire package of sin and its deceitful schemes.

Sin doesn’t have to convince us God doesn’t exist. Sin only has to convince us God doesn’t matter to our lives today. He isn’t watching. He doesn’t care. We can hide our sin from Him. We can always repent tomorrow. Everybody does it.

Ooh! Let’s stop and think about that last justification. Because that is actually part of Paul’s declaration on sin. His whole point in Romans 3 is that both Jews and Gentiles sin. The passages he quotes, including Psalm 36:1, stop every mouth and make the whole world accountable to God (Romans 3:19-20). Hold on, Sin told me my iniquity cannot be found out. Sin told me I’d never be held accountable. Sin lied.

In fact, consider one of Sin’s most insidious lies. “Don’t worry about me being in your life,” Sin says. “That’s why Jesus died.” Can you tell why that one is so insidious? Because it contains more than a kernel of truth. Your sin is the reason Jesus died. But Sin, Transgression, Satan want you to believe Jesus died so you would never be held accountable for your sins. They want you to believe Jesus died so you can keep living in sin. To Sin, Jesus’s death means sin doesn’t matter. But that isn’t what Paul teaches, and that isn’t what David was teaching.

Jesus did die because you sin. However, He didn’t die to let you continue in sin. He died to let you repent of your sin. He died to strengthen you to abandon your sin. He died to empower you to overcome your sin. Paul explains in Romans 6:1-4, that when we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death. When we are raised, we have died to sin. We must not continue to live in it. Rather, we live a new life by the power of Jesus’s resurrection.

But understand this. After you are baptized, Sin and Satan are going to pull out all the stops trying to convince you to come back into their arms. Don’t listen. Jesus died to set you free from sin. Don’t let His death be in vain for you. Hang on to Jesus. He will set you free.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Continue reading “Paul, On Sin”

From Bad to Worse

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

Imagine yourself at the fork of two paths where two guides encourage you in opposite directions. You know one of them leads where you ultimately want to go, but the other looks fun. It is more pleasing to the eye. It doesn’t look quite as difficult. “Besides,” the guide for that path tells you, “after you’ve had all your fun on my path, you can always hop over to the other path. Just look at how close together they are.” They do seem pretty close. That sounds like a pretty solid plan.

The problem is the guide is lying. That isn’t how it works. Once you start walking on Transgression’s path, you get farther and farther from God’s path. While it is true you always have the option to repent and make your way to God’s path, the farther down Sin’s path you go, the more settled, the more deceived, the more entrenched you become. It is not that repentance becomes less of an option, it simply becomes less likely.

David shows us the path in sin, reminding us again of the very first psalm. In Psalm 1, we see the general settling and entrenchment of the wicked. They start by walking according to the counsel of the wicked, progress to standing in the way of the sinner, and finally settle down to sit in the seat of the scoffer. In Psalm 36, Transgression begins with flattery. “No one will know. You won’t get caught. It’s not that big of a deal. Just this once.” But it is trouble and deceit that ends by having evil thinking and plotting at all times, even when lying in bed. The wicked, no doubt, always assumes eventually they’ll get back to God’s path. But they end up on an evil path that is increasingly difficult to abandon.

That voice telling you today’s sin doesn’t matter that much is lying. Don’t trust it. Trust God. He knows the way of the righteous. His steadfast love is precious. He delivers.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “From Bad to Worse”