I Love Your Ways!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

Do you recall how the Psalms began? “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2, ESV). Psalm 26 is David’s declaration that he is choosing the right path. He is not walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, or sitting in the seat of scoffers. He is walking in his integrity. Before we object too much, as I am usually wont to do, we should be aware God himself testified David walked in integrity in 1 Kings 9:4. I love Dale Ralph Davis’s explanation of this, “One might say he is not claiming to be without fault but without apostasy.” David refuses to turn to another god. He refuses to worship at another temple. He refuses to be guided by another’s counsel. He may not always quite live up to the standards of his God, but he always uses Yahweh’s standards as his guide, counsel, and meditation. And when he stumbles in his walk, it will always be the Lord’s counsel that calls him back and brings him to repentance. Therefore, this psalm begins and ends with a walk in integrity. He trusts the Lord and love’s living in the Lord’s house, so he will love and will walk the Lord’s way. This reminds us that God’s grace (yesterday’s love) is not cheap, and that there is another facet of His nature as declared in Exodus 34:6-7. God’s love not only abounds to the thousandth generation of those who love Him, but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the father’s iniquity on the children to the fourth generation. In other words, if I enter the Lord’s house and then start bringing rebellion, falsehood, stubbornness, idolatry, wickedness into it, He will kick me out. He will forgive my sin if I bring it to Him in humble submission. He will not forgive my sin if I decide that I’m just going to continue in it while I live in His house. Sadly, many people love the Lord’s house and His grace, but they do not love His ways. They want to walk their own ways, but still end up in the Lord’s house. It simply doesn’t work like that. If you love the Lord’s house, you must love the Lord’s ways. They go together. And He is ready to lead us in those paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.

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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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I Love Your Grace!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

As we recognized yesterday, David loves the Lord’s house. This sets this psalm up in the middle of a series of psalms starting with Psalm 23. The Shepherd’s psalm ends with the declaration, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” But who gets to actually dwell in that house? Psalm 24 provides the answer: one who has clean hands and pure heart. But wait, I’ve already messed that up. Is there any hope for me? Psalm 25, the first psalm to explicitly mention the psalmist’s own personal sin, anticipates and answers that objection. Our God is merciful, gracious, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (reminding us of God’s own declaration in Exodus 34:6-7). Because of God’s mercy and grace, I can climb His holy Hill and dwell in His house despite my failures and sins. And now Psalm 26 talks about life in God’s house. Before we jump to David’s integrity (a topic for tomorrow), notice how David actually got into God’s house. “Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.” In whose faithfulness? David’s faithfulness? No, in God’s. This is another reference back to Exodus 34:6-7. In other words, David isn’t saying, “I’ve been so amazing, I deserve to be in Your house, Lord.” He is remembering the principles we learned in the previous psalm. He has walked in the Lord’s love and faithfulness. He has called on God’s mercy and grace. As Psalm 5:7 explained, David has entered the Lord’s house not because of his own awesomeness, but “through the abundance of your steadfast love.” It is no wonder that David’s prayer about his own integrity still ends with a request for God to “be gracious to me.” The only way to dwell in God’s house is by His grace. Don’t you just love God’s grace? David did. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “I Love Your Grace!”

The Lord is Righteous

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

The third foundation David will not abandon and that has not been destroyed is the righteousness of God. That righteousness is demonstrated by God living according to His name. His name declares that He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, abounding in faithfulness, and forgiving. However, it also declares that He will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:6-7). Those who abandon God’s moral principles, pursuing and persisting in guilt will be judged. God’s righteousness is not primarily a declaration that God is always right. Rather, it is a declaration that God always lives according to His name. It would be folly for David to abandon God while he is living in the crucible of God’s testing. Why? Because He will always live according to His name. Everyone who abandons God, turns away from Him, pursues and persists in guilt, gets judged. Every single one. There are no exceptions, not even for David, King of Israel. God will rain down coals of fire and send scorching winds upon the one who loves and persists in violence. This means two things for David. First, the people who are pursuing violence toward him may appear to be getting away with it for now, but David knows in the end, the righteous God always judges those who love violence. Second, he wants no part of their sin. He doesn’t want to respond to them in like manner because he is no exception to God’s righteousness. It’s a foundation. God is righteous. And that is exactly the way we want Him to be.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 11.

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The Glory of Man

Today’s reading is Psalm 8.

David looks back to Adam. Though Adam was lower than the heavenly beings, the angels, or even the elohim, he was only a little lower. Adam was the crowning achievement of all God created. He was given dominion over all the creation (Genesis 1:26-28). He named the creatures. The plants were given to him for food. Ultimately, the animals were as well. He is free to use the animals as servants in accomplishing his work. Above all the rest of creation, man is made in the image of God. That is what grants him dominion. And for David, this is a reason to praise God. David understands that man is really not much higher than the rest of creation. Man doesn’t really deserve such dominion. But God has given it. Talk about delegation. And for that, God is majestic. Of course, for all the good David says about it, there is that little bit niggling at the back of our minds remembering that Adam didn’t do so well with his dominion. And yet, God is still mindful of man. How amazing is that?!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 8.

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Saving the Sinful

Today’s reading is Luke 7.

Simon’s ultimate problem was comparing himself to the wrong person in that room. It may well be that comparing sin for sin, Simon the Pharisee had not committed as many sins as the sinful woman. By human standards, he may not have even committed as awful sins as the sinful woman. The problem was he shouldn’t compare himself to the woman. He should compare himself to Jesus. That is what we need to keep in mind. Sure, I can find people around me that are worse sinners than I am. That can salve my conscience regarding my sins. But I don’t need to be salved, I need to be saved. Only Jesus can do that. Compare yourself to Him. Realize how holy He is. Then be amazed that He came to save the sinful. Reach out and take hold of Jesus’s hand. He won’t knock it away. He does know how sinful we are, but He wants us to touch Him anyway. Praise the Lord!

Monday’s reading is Luke 8.

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Grace is NOT Permission to Sin

Today’s reading is 1 John 3.

Whenever someone starts explaining that we are saved by the grace of God through our Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous and not through our own good works, someone else begins to fear that we are giving permission to pursue sin. Not at all. In fact, John’s first letter is a great demonstration of that. We read yesterday that if we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to fear that if we sin, we are lost. However, in today’s reading, John explains that if we take that as permission to sin and pursue sin and continue in the ongoing practice of sin, we are not the elect, saved of God, but are children of the devil. The grace and advocacy of Jesus is the power and strength to pursue righteousness despite our failures, it is not the permission to pursue sin despite God’s will. God’s grace offers nothing to those looking to get away with sin. It offers everything to those longing to overcome it. What are you longing for today?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 John 4.

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Beloved

Today’s reading is Romans 9.

We were not His people, but through His patience and grace, we are now His people. We were not beloved, but through His endurance and mercy, we are now His beloved. Wow! Think of what God has gone through over the eons to bring us to be His beloved. Think of the sacrifice He endured. Think of the love He has shown. We were not His people, but now we are children of the living God. Praise the Lord! Thank you, Jesus. That is good news.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 10.

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Free from Law

Today’s reading is Romans 7.

Paul gives an intriguing illustration. He explains that law is binding on a person as long as the person lives. Then he illustrates. A woman is bound to her husband by law as long as she lives. Thus, if she marries another man she is an adulteress. That is, she is violating the law of marriage. However, she doesn’t have to die to be free from that law. Rather, if her husband dies, she will be free from that law. In this illustration one person can be free from a law by the death of another instead of by their own death. And that is exactly how we are free from law. We have become free from law not because we died, but because Jesus died. Through His death, we have died to law and are free to serve in the Spirit. Don’t forget what we learned yesterday, being free from law doesn’t mean being free to sin in whatever way pleases us. It means being free from the sin the law bound us to in order to surrender to Jesus. That is something to be thankful for.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 8.

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Forgiveness

Today’s reading is Luke 17.

I get it. forgiving someone seven times in a day is tough. Forgiving someone seventy times seven, as we see in parallel passages, is tough. Like the apostles, when we hear that, we beg for God to miraculously increase our faith so we have the strength, commitment, and devotion to do what He has asked of us. But here is what is cool. God is not asking us to do anything He doesn’t do for us. He wants to forgive us so badly, He sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for the forgiveness. Don’t misunderstand. This isn’t permission to go sin seven times per day. But it is permission to seek God’s forgiveness if you have sinned even seven times in a day. This isn’t permission to go sin 490 times. But it is permission to seek God’s forgiveness even for the 490th time. And the point is not that 7 is the limit per day or 490 is the limit per lifetime. The point is not that God wants us to sin. But when we do sin, God does want to forgive us. Turn to Him and seek His forgiveness, then live as those forgiven. That might make it a little easier to turn around and forgive others like Jesus forgives you.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 18.

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Living the Gospel

Today’s reading is Luke 11.

To be ashamed means “to experience a painful feeling or sense of loss of status because of some particular event or activity.” To be unashamed, therefore means I don’t experience that painful feeling or sense of loss of status. We can be unashamed of the message of the Gospel. However, Jesus takes it to a whole new level in His prayer. “Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” It is one thing to be unashamed of the message that God will forgive anyone. It is an entirely deeper thing to be so unashamed that we will embody the gospel by forgiving others–to forgive others as Jesus has forgiven us without experiencing a painful feeling or loss of status. And isn’t that one of the greatest hindrances to forgiveness–a demand for my status, my place, my rights. Forgiveness says I can give all of that up without feeling I have somehow lost out or become less than. Remember, Jesus was at His greatest when He was on the cross providing the sacrifice that makes our forgiveness possible. I am unashamed to let people know about His forgiveness. Am I unashamed to live that very gospel and forgive others myself? That is living the gospel without shame.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 12.

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