Wait! Who is Blessed?

Today’s reading is Psalm 32.

I love Psalm 32, don’t you? It’s so comforting. However, most of my life, I’ve read it in a vacuum. I love it’s message about forgiveness. I bask in it and then move on. But now that we are walking through the psalms slowly, one at a time, this psalm explodes with new meaning.

Do you recall the doorway into the psalms: Psalm 1? The entire psalter started with a beatitude. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…” It paints the picture of the person who doesn’t take counsel from the wicked, sinful, scoffers, but simply meditates in God’s Word. There are the blessed, and there are the wicked. And let’s face it, at the end of Psalm 1 there is a small part of us thinking, “Blessed is the man who has never violated God’s Law.”

While reading that first psalm, we might be able to convince ourselves we fit. We like God’s Word. We think about it a great deal. We try hard to follow it. However, having worked our way through all the psalms so far, we have been disabused of that notion. We aren’t perfect. We aren’t sinless. There have been plenty of times God’s law and will were not our meditation. There have been plenty of times we have listened to the counsel of the wicked. Where does that leave us?

Enter Psalm 32. “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a second beatitude. “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

Praise God! The blessed are not the perfect, they are the forgiven.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 32.


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

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Blessed be the Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 28.

To really grasp how powerful and profound Psalm 28 is, we need to walk back through the story this last set of psalms has been telling. In Psalm 23, David summarized his journey from pasture to palace and ends with his commitment to dwell in the Lord’s house forever. That leads to a meditation on who can actually dwell in the Lord’s house in Psalm 24. The answer is those with clean hands and pure hearts. That leads to an anticipated objection in Psalm 25. “What if I’ve already defiled my heart and befouled my hands?” The Psalm 25 answer is Yahweh is merciful and forgiving because of His steadfast love and faithfulness. This leads David to beg for help from God in Psalm 26. We miss it because we tend to think of requests for testing as requests for God to learn how awesome we are. But these are refining fire tests that actually pull the slag to the surface and scrape it off. They are tests that grow us and purify us. David realizes that growing through these tests and refinements is walking in the paths of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness (see Psalm 26:3). And it causes David to hang out at God’s reconciling altar allowing his hands to be washed in innocence. This causes David to make a request: “Do not sweep my soul away with sinners” (Psalm 26:9, ESV). However, in Psalm 27, David is surrounded by enemies and false accusers. This concerns him because he has asked the Lord to let him dwell in His house forever, but these enemies seem to be standing in the way between David and the Lord’s house. He is struggling as he walks through these battles and confrontations. He longs to see the Lord’s face, but he fears the Lord may forsake him and turn him away in anger. And if you had committed the kind of sins David had, wouldn’t you be afraid of that as well? But he hangs on. He restates his faith and declares he will wait for the Lord. And now in Psalm 28, David takes up his request again. In fact, this almost seems like an entire psalm dedicated to restating Psalm 26:9 (“Do not sweep me away”). How is this going to end for David? Will he get to be in the Lord’s house forever? Will the Lord remember David according to the mercy for which David is begging or according to the works of his hands? And then we get to Psalm 28:6: “Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.” This is not merely David’s faith that God has heard. This is his reaction to the previous declaration that God will tear down the enemies for not regarding the Lord. David knows the distinction has been made. Some commentators, thinking David’s life is in danger, think this psalm was written during the time of Absalom’s rebellion. Frankly, I think it fits much better the time when Nathan told him, “The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). And when I grasp how this psalm is the climax of David’s concern about his own sins and his eternal destiny, that is when I gain comfort. Because isn’t his concern mine as well? I have seen David, an awful sinner, forgiven by God. I know I too can turn to God. I can regard the work of His hands above my own. I can call out to Him, and He will hear me as well. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 28.


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

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When I Awake

Today’s reading is Psalm 17.

WOW!!! Is this to be read simply as an evening prayer in which David expects to awake from his night’s sleep and be face to face with God and be satisfied with God’s likeness? We should find it intriguing that this “likeness” or “form” of God which David believes will satisfy him is something that goes beyond what idolaters received from their gods. After all, David is not allowed to carve or cast a likeness or image of God (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16, 23, 25; 5:8). Further, this calls to mind the face to face conversation Moses was able to have with God (Numbers 12:8). Was David simply claiming he expected God to give him a face to face response the following morning? I know there are many who want to claim the Old Testament presents no concept of the afterlife, but I think we have pretty strong evidence that David believed in some kind of afterlife. I have no doubt it wasn’t as fully developed as we have in the New Testament. But he was well aware that because the Lord was his portion, his portion wasn’t in this life. He would sleep. But he would awake (see Daniel 12:2). And when he awakes, he is going to be in the very presence of God. His enemies are filled with treasure and satisfied with children. He is going to be satisfied with the very presence of God in eternity. And when that is my hope and my satisfaction, I can endure a whole lot of enemies surrounding me. In fact, I can realize that the Lord may deliver me not from death, but through death. While I pray that the Lord will arise and conquer my enemies, I can rest in the comfort that I will arise and my enemies can do nothing about it. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 17.

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The Revelation of the Gospel

Today’s reading is Acts 22.

I know I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know when I say that Paul is telling this Jewish crowd about the defining moment of his life. It’s a moment he mentions over and over again. In Acts, he brings it up two different times. It occurred back in Acts 9, but he mentions it here in Acts 22, and brings it up again in Acts 26. He talks about it in 1 Corinthians 15:8, when he defends his apostleship (even though he was as one born out of due season). This is what he is talking about in 1 Timothy 1:12-16, when he discusses Jesus’s commission on his life. It is actually what he is talking about in Ephesians 3:3, when he claims the mystery was made known to him by revelation. And it is what he wrote briefly about in Galatians 1:11-17 when he explains that he did not receive the gospel from men but received it through a direct revelation of Jesus Christ. He goes on to explain in Galatians 1:16 that he did not merely mean that He learned the gospel because Jesus Himself revealed it to him. No, he means he learned the gospel because Jesus Himself was revealed to him. On that Damascus road, the light of the Son blinded him, but now only through that revelation could he truly see. Jesus was revealed, the veil was lifted, the gospel had shown into his heart, how could he do anything but proclaim the resurrected savior and king Jesus Christ? Never forget, the gospel is Jesus. Jesus is the gospel. May we see the gospel. May we see Jesus. May we proclaim the King as Paul did, that His light may dawn and continue to enlighten the whole world.

Today’s reading is Acts 22.

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Resurrection: The Message of Salvation

Today’s reading is Acts 13.

I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m reminded of it again in this sermon. In the modern day, we tend to believe the message of salvation is basically, “Jesus died for your sins.” Certainly, there is basis for that. We find it in 1 Corinthians 15:3. However, that is almost never mentioned in Luke/Acts. Rather, in Luke’s gospel account of Jesus and historical account of Jesus’s early kingdom, the saving message of Jesus is that He was raised from the dead. In Luke/Acts, the import of the death is that a person has to die to be raised from the dead, but the main import for the message of salvation is that God raised Jesus from the dead. Don’t misunderstand, it is not that Luke ignores the atoning and sacrificial nature of Jesus’s death. Rather, it is that Luke emphasizes that what indicates Jesus’s death is more than just another death among a long litany of people who have died is that on the third day, Jesus arose. It is through a man that was raised from the dead that forgiveness is proclaimed. After all, if He can be set free from death, He can set us free from sin and guilt. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 13.

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Hey, God, Look at Me

Today’s reading is Luke 18.

Let’s make sure we always understand exactly why the tax collector was justified and the Pharisee was not. The Pharisee was not condemned because he avoided extortion, injustice, and adultery. He was not condemned because he fasted twice per week and gave tithes of all that he got. That is, the Pharisee was not condemned for thinking God’s law was important, for attempting to obey it, or for attempting to demonstrate his devotion by doing spiritual things above and beyond God’s law. He was supposed to be like this and so was the tax collector. Additionally, the tax collector was not justified because he was a sinner. He was supposed to avoid sin and needed to be rebuked for it. If we are not careful, we might get the idea that God doesn’t care if people obey His law and folks who dismiss His will are automatically justified. The Pharisee was humbled and condemned because of self-exaltation. The tax collector was exalted with justification because in humility he turned to the Lord. The Pharisee was not condemned for keeping God’s Law, but for thinking he was special, set apart, and deserving of praise because of the particular laws he kept instead of being humble regarding the ones he had not and seeking God’s mercy in that humility. The tax collector was not justified for dismissing God’s will, but for realizing how important God’s law is and knowing he could do absolutely nothing to make up for how badly he had broken it. Jesus is not saying, “If you want to be justified, ignore God’s law, just say the right prayer.” He is saying, “If you want to be justified don’t think the rules you’ve kept make up for the rules you’ve broken. Humble yourself before God, realizing only His mercy can justify you.”

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 18.

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Hope for the Gentiles

Today’s reading is Luke 8.

I know we are reading in Luke today, but Isaiah 65:1-7 is a fascinating passage. There, the Lord explained He was ready to be sought by those who didn’t ask for Him or seek Him. He said “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation not called by His name. These people provoked God despite His calls to them. They sacrificed to demons (noted in the LXX, the Greek version of this passage). They sat in tombs. They ate pig’s flesh. And they told the Lord to “Keep to yourself, do not come near me.” Therefore, God explained He would repay them for their iniquities. Does any of this sound familiar? It’s like Jesus’s time in Gerasa, a city in the Greek region called the Decapolis, was modeled after this passage. The Gerasenes learn of the miraculous deliverance of the demon possessed man. However, instead of being in awe over the miracle, they were scared because of their financial loss in the pigs. They demand Jesus leave. Considering Isaiah 65, what might we expect for the Decapolis Gentiles? Judgment. Quick, brutal, complete, avenging judgment. However, how does this story end? As He leaves, Jesus sends the man delivered from Legion into the region to tell them what God had done for him. There is hope for the Gentiles, even for these Gentiles who rejected Jesus. This is the Savior we serve. Praise the Lord! There is hope for us.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 8.

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Wanted: Sinners!

Today’s reading is Luke 5.

I remember talking to a man who had decided to pursue Hinduism. He told me, “I wanted to be a Christian, but I’m not good enough for that.” I wish I had known then what I know now. I would have told Him about the Great Physician. As a doctor is looking for sick people, not well people, Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous, the holy, the godly, the good enough. He came looking for sinners. He came to call sinners. He came to call those who are not good enough. No doubt, He calls us unto repentance. He doesn’t call us to linger in our own sinfulness. But Jesus isn’t roaming the streets looking for the righteous. He’s looking for sinners like me. He’s looking for sinners like you. Praise the Lord! Let’s answer His call.

Next week’s reading is Luke 6.

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He Preached Good News

Today’s reading is Luke 3.

“With many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.” That’s what Luke says about John the son of Zechariah. However, did you actually read what he had just preached? “His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Certainly, there is some good news in there for the wheat, but what about the chaff? In today’s climate, I’m not sure if this would qualify as good news. Not to mention, part of his preaching was specifically against sins like that which Herod and Herodias were committing. Not only did that get him arrested, it ultimately got him executed. This may not be what we would put on a marketing poster for the gospel, but while it is good news, not all of it is pleasant news. The good news includes salvation, but that is only good news because there is judgment from which we need to be saved. We may not like to hear about the wrath and fiery judgment, but without that bad news, the good news is just news. In fact, if it weren’t for the bad news, the good news wouldn’t even be news. Judgment is coming, but, praise God, Jesus came to gather the wheat and save those who would believe in Him from the judgment. That is good news. You can be part of it. Are you?

Next week’s reading is Luke 4.

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Good News of Great Joy

Today’s reading is Luke 2.

When Luke was written, “gospel” or “good news” was not a religious word. It was a political word. That is, “gospel” or “good news” usually referred to some great news about the emperor, the empire, or victory. It was the word used to describe the birth of the coming emperor or the ascension of a new emperor or the victory of the emperor over Rome’s enemies. When the angels used this word to describe the birth of Jesus, it was a powerful word for those Jewish shepherds. The anointed King of Israel, the descendant of David was born. He would be both Lord and Savior of the Jews. Rome would not be able to withstand this King. It was very much a challenge to the politics of the day. It was good news of great joy because finally the real King had been born, and victory over all enemies was coming. What good news of great joy this still is today. Our King was born. He lived. He conquered. He reigns. Follow Jesus today. He is the Savior. He is the Lord. He is the King. He is the Emperor. He is the only way to victory over and salvation from every enemy, including sin and death. And that is good news of great joy.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 2.

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