Unto You, O Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

The previous psalm explained that whoever lifts up his soul to what is false is not allowed to ascend the holy hill of Yahweh. As if in response, this psalm begins with a clear “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” In the previous psalm, this kind of person would receive blessing and righteousness from the Lord. In this psalm, the psalmist is asking the Lord to hold true to His word. “Let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” However, it is more than a request, it is also a confident assertion. “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.” He ends this psalm the same place he begins. His foes are many. They are violent and hateful. But he takes refuge in the Lord and waits on Him. Therefore, he asks and expects the Lord to guard his soul and keep him from shame. Today, we recognize that suffering and struggle, whether from enemies or from some other source, isn’t an indication of shame nor does it lead to shame. Paul tells us our suffering produces endurance, our endurance produces character, character produces hope, and our hope does not put us to shame. Further, we are confident this is true because God’s love has been poured into our hearts and the Holy Spirit has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5). The next time you sing “Unto thee, O Lord,” remember there is no shame with the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 25.

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!

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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!!!

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

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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!!!

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

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Multiplying Sorrows

Today’s reading is Psalm 16.

God has competition. There are numerous other “gods” vying for David’s attention and ours. Surrounding David were nations that followed Baal, Ashtoreth, Molech, Chemosh, and on the list goes. Today, those gods don’t appeal to us very much. But the behaviors they often represented and sanctified still do. Jesus Himself seemed to suggest God’s biggest competition was money (see Matthew 6:24). But there are others: popularity, passion, pleasure, power all come alongside possessions promising us wonderful lives. However, we pursue these to our own folly and demise. They promise big, but they produce only multiplying sorrows. Oh sure, for a moment, these false gods provide some fun, but over the long haul they destroy our relationships, our lives, and our fellowship with the one, true, living God. David refused to even take the names of the false gods around him on his lips. That, of course, did not mean he was afraid to read their names or mention their names. Rather, he refused to honor them, praise them, glorify them. Neither would he mix their false religion with God’s true religion, drinking their blood offerings. This provides a great warning for us. It is easy for Christians to baptize some of the false gods by simply dubbing them blessings from the one true God. We might think if we’re faithful to God He will give us lots of money, get us the job promotion, let us have that vacation trip we’ve always wanted, the list goes on. We end up pursuing the career, the entertainment, the money all while keeping one toe in the waters of spirituality and then claiming we must be right with God because “Look at all these blessings.” Do not misunderstand, God does bless His people. But when we are pursuing the gifts more than the Giver, we are actually taking the names of the other gods on our lips and mixing their drink offerings with true worship. And this is perhaps the greatest multiplication of sorrow of all. Because in this latter case, we convince ourselves we are getting the best of both worlds, but in the end we get the best of neither. God does have competition. But, be aware, they are really no competition at all. When it comes to true blessing, peace, joy, and even pleasure, Yahweh God always wins hands down. Stick with Him no matter what is happening in the moment. In the long run, Yahweh always wins.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 16.

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The Lord Loves the Upright

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

Obviously, in an absolute sense, the Lord loves everybody. So it bothers us to hear He loves the righteous. Further, it really bothers us to hear that God hates the wicked. To us, that just doesn’t sound like God at all. However, in this psalm the use of hate is not to be take an as absolute, but as a relative. It’s like Luke 14:26, in which Luke records Jesus as saying we are supposed to hate our family. However, in Matthew 10:37, the same scenario is recorded as Jesus saying we must not love our family more than Jesus. Luke’s record of that event is not saying we are to absolutely hate our family. Rather, our love for Jesus is to be so great compared to our feelings for our family that what we feel for our parents, siblings, and even spouse looks like hate. In Psalm 11, the “hate” of God is not that He simply and absolutely hates wicked people. He actually loves them. He loves them so much He sent Jesus to die for them. He loves them so much He offered up a propitiation for them. But those who reject the sacrifice of Jesus, pursuing and persisting in guilt will be judged. That is what is meant by God’s hate in this psalm. He is righteous. He loves uprightness. That is, He blesses and rewards it. He loves the upright. That is, He blesses and rewards those who find uprightness in Him through Jesus. But He hates wickedness. That is, He judges, condemns, and punishes it. He hates the wicked. That is, He judges, condemns, and punishes the wicked. This is one of the foundations that has not been destroyed. As we learned earlier in the week, it would be silly for David, or anyone, to pursue and persist in wicked behavior because it is a foundation that God hates the wicked and loves the upright. That is, it is a foundation that God judges, condemns, and punishes the wicked and blesses and rewards the upright. Therefore, David will not abandon this foundation. We had better not either.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 12.

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Count Blessings, Not Sheep

Today’s reading is Psalm 4.

Maybe Irving Berlin was on to something (or Bing Crosby or Rosemary Clooney). When you’re struggling to sleep, instead of counting sheep, count your blessings. This psalm contrasts the person who is angry or agitated while in bed and the one who is able to both lie down and go to sleep. What seems to be a key? Is it life circumstance? Is it warm milk before bed? Is it deep breathing? The psalm begins with a plea for God to hear the prayer, but the second statement is, “You have given me relief when I was in distress.” That is, David, in the midst of his present distress, is able to sleep because he remembers how God has acted on his behalf during previous times of distress. That is, he counted his blessings. He not only mentions those previous times of blessing, but also talks about the joy he has in his heart because of the Lord’s presence with him. When trouble and stress are keeping you awake, spend some time recounting how God has already been taking care of you. Then put yourself in God’s hands for the night and go to sleep. What if that doesn’t work? Keep counting until it does.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 4.

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Give Thanks for Even the Small Blessings

Part of me wonders what the crew and prisoners thought when Paul started giving thanks for the food he was eating. I mean, it looks like we are all going to die. I know you claim your God is going to save us, but I’m still in doubt. I’d be thankful for the storm to quit. I’d be thankful if some sign showed itself in the heavens demonstrating we are going to be delivered. I’d be thankful if God’s hand reached out of the sky, lifted me up, and brought me to dry land. But as it is, we are still in the middle of a storm-tossed ship and you want to thank God that you are getting to eat a final meal? That seems a little backwards. But isn’t that life? Sometimes we are in the midst of all kinds of difficulties and hardships. There are really big picture problems surrounding us. We have begged God to deal with them, but nothing has happened yet. In the middle of all that, we need to pay attention to the small blessings. We are still getting to breathe because of God’s mercy, grace, and providence. We are eating a meal because God has provided it. We have clothes to wear because of God’s provision. We have friends, brethren, family. The list goes on and on. Sure, there are times when God hasn’t responded to our big requests. In those moments, Satan wants us to believe God is ignoring us. He isn’t. The small blessings are still happening. Every good and perfect gift comes from God, even the small, regularly provided gifts that we take for granted. Don’t forget to thank God for those.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 27.

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On Life, Death, and God’s Uneven Blessings

Today’s reading is Acts 12.

Well, that’s not fair. James gets executed, but Peter gets delivered. How can that be right? Surely God understands that whatever blessing you give to one child, you have to give to them all. And yet, James gets executed, and Peter gets delivered. Did this mean James wasn’t right with God, but Peter was? Of course not. Rather, it means God is not obligated to give the exact same blessing to every one of His children. He gives the blessings to us that will most glorify Him and most help us be glorified in the end. Rather than comparing our blessings with one another, we need to be like Peter and James. That is, use the blessings we have as long as we have them for God’s glory. And if God gives someone else different blessings, let’s be thankful they have the opportunity to glorify God with them. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 12.

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Eternal Life, Not Long Life

Today’s reading is Acts 12.

Wait! What? How on earth could this happen? James, cut down in his prime? How many more years of service could he have had? I mean, his brother John lived for decades longer. How could God let something like this happen to one of His children? More than that, how could God let this happen to one of the leaders of His children? Surely, if anyone was protected from such an early death it would be the apostles, right? This account of James’s execution orients us around God’s true promise. God’s true promise is Eternal Life, not long life. Do you catch the difference? It is understandable that the worldly hope for a long life. Once life is over, they have nothing to look forward to. But James, he had everything to look forward to. Being executed young didn’t take much of anything away from him. Actually, it just sent him to his hope sooner. Obviously, Christians aren’t suicidal. We are here to serve and glorify God as long as He wants us here. But, we aren’t bent out of shape about going to be with the Lord early either. After all, the promise is not a long life, but true life, eternal life, everlasting life. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 12.

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Blessed are the Readers

Today’s reading is Luke 11.

As Jesus was talking about replacing the spirits (which we discussed yesterday), a woman was moved to exclaim, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” Certainly, this is a wonderful and true claim for Mary (see Luke 1:45). However, this woman is actually expressing her own longing. It’s as if she is saying, “I wish you were my son. Wouldn’t that be the greatest blessing?” Jesus’s response is essentially, “You can be just as blessed as My mother and more so if you listen to My Word and follow it.” Do not miss that Luke reveals this blessing just after Jesus’s instruction to replace the evil spirits. Luke is not indicating that the Holy Spirit equals the Word of God or that the only way the Holy Spirit works is through the Word of God. However, he is pointing out that one thing we have control over that grants us access to the Holy Spirit and His guidance is how we react to the Word of God. If we want to replace the evil spirits, the bad habits, the sins in our lives with God’s Holy Spirit, we don’t just sit around hoping the Holy Spirit will take us over. No, we pursue that blessing by opening up the Word of God and drinking it in. That is one of the reasons having a Bible reading plan like this one is so important. I’m glad you are here. Keep reading with us. It is doing us more good than we can possibly know, but only if we are listening to it.

Today’s reading is Luke 11.

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