Asking God to Be God

Today’s reading is Psalm 35.

The first few verses of Psalm 35 seem odd to us. They picture God as lawyer and warrior. Someone is contending against me (and that is actually a legal term), contend against them for me. Someone is fighting against me, rise up and fight them for me. He really digs into the warrior metaphor in vss. 2-3, asking God to take up shields and weapons, and saying to David, “I will be your salvation!”

Then there are vss. 5-6 asking the Lord to have His angel chase the enemies away like chaff before the wind (yes, you should remember Psalm 1:4 here). What is going on here?

Let’s not read this in a vacuum. Look in Exodus 23:20-33. I’ll provide some excerpts.

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared for you…But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries…I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you…

David didn’t just make up his prayer on the spot. He wasn’t just thinking of all the things he could say and created these ideas. David knew the Torah.

What is he doing in these prayers? He is asking God to be God. He is asking God to be for him, what He promised to be for Israel. He is asking God to be what God has already said He would be for His people.

Do you want to pray more effectively? Take a page out of David’s book and ask God to be in your life what God has declared He is.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 35.

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 the King

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

As we’ve intimated over the past two days, Psalm 20 is a prayer for the King of Israel before he goes out to battle. It is a prayer of blessing. And what a prayer it is. Though it is spoken to the King himself, originally David, it is a prayer to God. The blessing assumes the King himself is praying and asks the Lord to answer when the King calls on Him. It is a fearful thing when the King goes out to battle. A land without a King is a like a flock without a shepherd. So, they pray for God’s protection for their King. The main prayer is seen in the requests that help come from the sanctuary and support from Zion. The prayer is not for armed reinforcements. The hope is not that more soldiers will make it to the battlefield from Jerusalem in time. No; Zion was the dwelling place of Yahweh. It was where He chose to make His name dwell from the time of David. The prayer is that Yahweh Himself will fight the battles of the King. Israel had a long history of Yahweh fighting their battles. It started with the ten plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea. We see it when Moses held up his staff with the help of Aaron and Hur and Joshua prevailed. We see it when Joshua and Israel marched around Jericho. We see it when Gideon’s 300 fought the Midianites. But we also see it when the armies of Israel just marched to battle and fought hand to hand. In all these circumstances, God was fighting for them. The assumption in the prayer is that the King’s plans and desires coincide with God’s. That his plans are for victory of God’s people. And this prayer is offered in faith because they are putting their trust in God, not in horses and chariots. Which means the prayer is also offered in obedience. In Deuteronomy 17:16, the King was precluded from multiplying horses, and in Deuteronomy 20:1-4, God told Israel not to fear when they faced large armies with horses and chariots. Thus, when Israel prayed this prayer, they could know it would be granted because they offered it in obedience and faith. What an amazing prayer Israel could offer for David and what amazing confidence they could have in their God. And as David was off with his armies, those who remained behind could prepare their banners because they knew they would be able to fly them. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “A Prayer for the King”

Prayer: 99% of the Fight

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

The king has told you to get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be hard. But you can’t sleep. Tomorrow may be your last. The sentries are doing their jobs, making sure no enemy sneaks in and attacks at night. But still, you can’t leave the job up to them. You sit outside your tent watching, trying to hold down your supper, talking nervously with the other soldiers who can’t sleep either. In the distance, you see the campfires of the enemy dotting the landscape like stars across a completely clear sky. Their number suggests thousands of enemies. Not only that, they suggest thousands more than you know are on your side. Not only that, you’ve heard the stories. The enemy has horses and chariots by the thousands. They are skilled with these ancient tanks. They have plowed through other armies as a plague of locusts through fields of grain. What are you to do? Psalm 20 contains the answer. You pray! Not because you have no hope. Not because that is all that is left to you. No. You pray because your one hope is Yahweh, the God of Jacob. The God who listens in the day of distress. Your first line of defense is prayer. This is exactly the picture of Psalm 20. Israel is about to engage in battle, led by her King. But Israel does not go into battle unprepared. Oh, her preparations are not about sharpening swords or greasing chariot axles. Her preparation is prayer. Israel’s hope is not in the size of her army. Israel’s hope is not in the skill of her soldiers. Israel’s hope is not in chariots and horses. Israel’s hope is the Lord God. Therefore, victory is assured. And so, you can’t sleep. But that is okay, because you need to be awake to pray.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “Prayer: 99% of the Fight”

One God is Greater than Many Enemies

Today’s reading is Psalm 3.

In the ESV translation of Psalm 3, the word “many” is used four times. “How many are my foes?” “Many are rising against me.” “Many are saying…there is no salvation for him…” “…many of thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” Wow! That’s many manys. But what does David do in the face of all those many enemies? He prays. Don’t get me wrong. I know within the recounting of Absalom’s rebellion and David’s response, David planned, took counsel, and reacted (see 2 Samuel 15-18). But underlying every bit of that war strategizing and war waging, David prayed. He knew one true and living God is worth thousands upon thousands upon many manys of enemies. As Joshua 23:10 says, one will put to flight a thousand, especially when that one fighting for you and with you is the Lord. How many enemies do you face? They are nothing compared to your one God. Hang on to Him! Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 3.

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Understanding Peter

Today’s reading is John 18.

Before we throw Peter all the way under the bus, did you notice he really was willing to die with Jesus? When the soldiers and guards came to get Jesus, Peter was true to his word. He pulled out a sword and was ready to fight against all odds for and with Jesus. This was a sacrificial, ready to die move. However, when Jesus demonstrated He wasn’t going to die in battle but was going to die in surrender, Peter caved. He was ready to die for Jesus on his own terms. He was ready to go down swinging, with sword in hand, dying on the battlefield. But he wasn’t ready to give up, lay down his sword, and walk to a cross. He wasn’t ready to die on Jesus’s terms. And this is where we end up following in Peter’s footsteps all while thinking we would never act like him. When we are ready to follow Jesus on our terms, but balk at His terms, we are being just like Peter. On whose terms will you serve Jesus today?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 19

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Soldier On in Love

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 16.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” This is soldier language. This is battle language. There is an enemy out there; be vigilant. The enemy will attack; stand firm. The attack will be frightening; act like men and be courageous. The attack will be powerful; be strong. I feel like I should make ape-like, grunting noises as I say all of that to show how strong and powerful we should be. But then Paul says something weird as the follow up: “Let all that you do be done in love.” Wait! What? That doesn’t sound like soldier, battle language. A soldier’s marching orders are not to go be loving. And yet, those are our marching orders. Yes, we are in a battle and we will have to stand strong. But the way we fight this battle is by making sure every action we take is based on love. Think of Jesus who was watchful, stood firm, acted like a man, and was strong as He went to the cross out of love for you and me. Soldier on in love. That’s what Jesus did.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 1.

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One Mind, One Spirit

Today’s reading is Philippians 1.

As did the Philippians, we have opponents. Really we have one true opponent and those who surrender to him whether knowingly or unknowingly. But what an opponent. Remember what we learned about our enemy and his minions from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians? They are beyond our ability to fight. And yet we must fight. Paul explains to the Philippians one key to the fight. While a congregation is made up of many individuals, it must fight the enemy as a unit. It must fight as one body. But that is demonstrated by having one mind and one spirit. Like a single body led by one spirit and governed by one mind, a congregation of God’s people must strive side by side for the faith of the gospel as one. The fight against the enemy is hard, let’s not make it worse by getting at odds with one another. One mind. One spirit. United. Let that be our goal.

Tomorrow’s reading is Philippians 2.

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Ready to Die

Today’s reading is Acts 21.

How many people throughout history have been willing to die for their king? It is not surprising at all to hear of a knight, soldier, ambassador who says he will put his life on the line for his lord and liege. And yet, we are surprised when we hear Paul say that about his King, Jesus. However, he is saying what so many others have said. Paul understood what was happening. This wasn’t just evangelism, personal work, missionary work. This was war. There was a battle between the forces of evil and his King. He was ready to step up to the fight. Of course, unlike literal war, the battle isn’t fought with sword and shield, but with the Word of God. He was ready to take the Word of God that he might be part of the enemy’s defeat and the deliverance of his prisoners of war. He was ready to die in service of his King. I have a long way to grow. Let’s grow there together.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 22.

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The Pain of the Gospel

Today’s reading is Luke 12.

Normally, with these posts I want to leave you pumped up. Today, I want to prepare you for the possible downside of sharing the gospel–especially with those you love most. Jesus said He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword. He explained that in a house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. There will be son against father and mother against daughter. Perhaps because my children are getting old enough to make spiritual decisions for themselves this hit me differently today. We often tacitly teach that if parents did their job properly, the whole family would follow Jesus. But Jesus says it will be common for a family to be divided. That is painful. I don’t want to accept that. Yet, there is Jesus saying it. The Gospel is peace, it is comfort, it is joy. But not everyone will accept it. And that is painful to God and those of us who love the rejecters. The closer the relationship, the more it will hurt. As far as I can see, there is only one way to find comfort in the face of this. God will always do what is right. We can trust Him. Sometimes the reactions of those we teach will be painful to us, but lets keep proclaiming the gospel anyway.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 13.

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Jesus Saves

Today’s reading is 1 Timothy 1.

Jesus saves. But whom does Jesus save? According to Paul, Jesus saves sinners. Jesus saves sinners like Paul, a murderous persecutor who stood by and monitored the coats of those who stoned Stephen–a mob martyrdom which was walking in the very footsteps and fulfilling all the hate and rebellion against God that the execution of Jesus did. That guy became an apostle, a missionary, and evangelist. Jesus saved and used that guy in amazing ways to disciple and make disciples. If Jesus saves sinners like Paul, Jesus saves sinners like me. Jesus saves sinners like you. Jesus saves sinners like the people you meet in your life to share the gospel with. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Timothy 2.

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