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.

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The Lord’s Plan

Today’s reading is Psalm 33.

“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.”

Did you catch that the psalmist purposefully contrasts the Lord’s counsels and plans with the counsels and plans of the nations and the people? Can the author of Psalm 33 have made any clearer connection back to Psalms 1 and 2 than this? Psalm 1 contrasts the counsel of the wicked with the law of God. Psalm 2 connects the counsel of the wicked to the vain plottings of the kings and nations. Now, we find it all rolled up into one statement. The Lord is bringing to nothing the plans and counsels of the nations and people, but His own plan and counsel is certain to happen. Nothing can stop it.

In fact, as much as the people and nations try to hinder the Lord’s plans, the more they actually bring His plans to fruition. Nothing and no one demonstrates that more than Jesus. In fact, that is the very point of the apostles’ prayer in Acts 4:23-31. There, they quoted Psalm 2, but now we know Psalm 2 and Psalm 33 are connected. The Jews with their San Hedrin council, their scribes, and their Pharisees conspired to bring about the demise and death of Jesus. The Romans with their governors, kings, and soldiers were the tools used by the Jews to accomplish their nefarious counsels. Yet, in the end, though they were trying to defeat Jesus, all they did was lead Him to His throne.

The apostles recognized God’s ability to bring the counsel of the nations to nothing and to frustrate the plans of the people was not just about Jesus on the cross but also about their work in the face of persecution. And that was definitely true, wasn’t it. The Jews and the Romans both tried to bring Christianity to an end through their persecutions. But instead, their persecutions just fed the flames of spiritual fervor that spread throughout the Roman Empire.

Can we recognize the same is true today? If God can take the crucifixion and turn it into a resurrection, if He can take a persecution and turn it into a dissemination, then He can take anything we deal with in our countries and turn it into victory. So many Christians are wringing their hands today as we enter a period called post-Christian by the pundits. There is no need. The same Lord who conquered chaos at the creation, who defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea, who conquered Jericho and the Promised Land, who raised Jesus from the dead, who gave the apostles victory even as they were martyred is still God today. His plans and His counsels stand firm. May we stand in them always.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 34.

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 “The Lord’s Plan”

But David Always Fled to the Mountains!

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

So, I’m struggling with what many commentaries say about this psalm. Over and over, they claim David is being given advice to flee to the mountains when he is being attacked, but he refuses. My one problem with this is David always fled to the mountains. When Saul was threatening him, he literally fled to and hid in the mountains. When Absalom conspired against him, David fled across the Jordan. Trying to make this a literal counsel received by David that he rejected will only work if we assume there was some other time of attack not recorded in the Scripture in which David decided not to flee. Which leaves me asking, what on earth is this about? Perhaps it isn’t intended to be taken literally, but metaphorically. That is, perhaps the point of the psalm is not about some time David refused to run to the mountains, but rather a time when he refused to take refuge in himself. Perhaps it is a time when the counselors were claiming God was no longer on David’s side, the foundations had collapsed, the righteous can no longer rely on being righteous. But David refused. Relying on God when Saul was chasing him meant hiding in the mountains and in other places. Relying on God when Absalom was conspiring against him meant fleeing across the Jordan. What neither time meant was deciding to fight his own way. With Saul, it didn’t mean striking God’s anointed, even when a good opportunity presented itself. With Absalom, it didn’t mean killing folks like Shimei along the way. Even when counselors were concerned that God was no longer looking out for David and it was time for him to look out for himself, David put his trust in the Lord. I need to do the same. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 11

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The Whole Counsel of God

Today’s reading is Acts 20.

Paul was walking in the footsteps of Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 3:16-21, God explained to the prophet that if he didn’t warn folks when God gave warning, God would punish the people, but He would require the people’s blood at Ezekiel’s hand. Paul said he was innocent of the blood of all people, because he withheld nothing. He taught the whole counsel of God. He taught it publicly and privately; he was the same on the stage as he was at home. He taught it to Jews and to Gentiles. He taught everything that was profitable, holding nothing back. He taught God and the word of His grace. He taught faith and repentance. He did not cease to admonish. Even through tears, he proclaimed the gospel. May we walk in his footsteps, holding nothing back. Letting everyone know about the judgment to come and the salvation in Jesus Christ. May we be innocent of the blood of all people as well.

Next week’s reading is Acts 21.

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