Let Him In!

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Those final verses of Psalm 24 are a conversation between the gates of the temple and the triumphal procession of Yahweh. The temple was charged to open wide its gates and its doors to allow the King of glory entrance. But this should give us pause for a moment. Where is that temple? Can this song be sung today? That temple has been shaken out of the way so what cannot be shaken could remain. The kingdom that cannot be shaken remains. And so does the temple that cannot be shaken. What temple is that? That, my brothers and sisters, is us. We are that temple. According to Ephesians 2:19-22, we the believers in Jesus Christ, whether from among the Jews or from among the Gentiles, are the temple of the Lord. We learned yesterday of Israel’s great failure. We must not also fail. We are to be the dwelling place of the King of glory. He should dwell in our hearts. He should dwell in our churches. He should dwell in His church. We must lift up our heads, open our hearts and our minds to give Him entrance. We must open our lives to give Him free reign. He is the King of glory. He is mighty in battle. And when we give Him entrance, He will fight on our behalf and we will be victorious. God be praised! Our King is great! Let Him in !

Next week’s reading is Psalm 25.

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Rebuking the Nations

Today’s reading is Psalm 9.

I have no idea when Psalm 9 was written. It sounds like it could have been written during the days the Philistines were attacking David while Saul was trying to have David killed in 1 Samuel 18. Or it could be when the Philistines were attacking the newly established king David in 1 Chronicles 14. Then again, it could be around the time of 1 Chronicles 18, when David fought Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, Ammonites, Amalekites, and Zobahites. It could really fit in 1 Chronicles 19 when David was wishing to honor Hanun son of Nahash the Ammonite, but his men were dishonored. So Joab and David respectively lead the Israelite army in battles to defeat the Ammonites and Syrians in response to this poor treatment. David was attacked, dishonored, and fought against many times. Of course, I think he did his fair share of attacking himself. What gave him confidence in these battles? In Psalm 9, David remembered Israel’s past. God had rebuked the nations. David remembers the conquest of Canaan under Joshua and the amazing victories God gave then. He knew what God’s promises had been. He knew what God’s promises to him were. He knew how God had handled all of His promises in the past. Therefore, he could praise God and give Him thanks with his whole heart even when he was facing affliction, even when he was in the middle of the battle, even if some things didn’t quite go his way. Perhaps it would behoove the nations today to know that when they go against God’s people, God’s people always win. Just as Psalm 8 had said, God is mindful; God does care. God especially cares about His anointed people. May the nations stand rebuked. We do not take up arms to fight military battles. We do not trust in men to win the war with political battles. But, nations beware! God always wins!

Today’s reading is Psalm 9.

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You Are My Son

Today’s reading is Psalm 2.

When the second psalm was written, it was read in the context of the king of Israel. The Gentile kings around David had a choice. They could be like Hadadezer, king of Zobah and the Syrians in 2 Samuel 8:3-8, fighting against God’s Anointed Son, and be judged and defeated. Or they could be like Toi king of Hamath, kissing and giving allegiance to the Son in 2 Samuel 8:9-12, and be blessed for it. However, ultimately, the New Testament demonstrates Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed of God. This psalm is ultimately pointing to Him. He is the Son of God, declared to be such at His baptism, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and most importantly in His resurrection. The kings and queens of the earth and even we, the kings and queens of our own little lives, have a choice. We can either rage against Jesus or we can kiss the Son, surrendering our allegiance to Him. We can pay homage to Him, worshiping Him, serving Him. Those who rage against Him will perish in the way. Those who take refuge in Him will be blessed. The choice is yours.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 2.

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On Seeing and Hearing

Today’s reading is Acts 28.

The prophecy from Isaiah quoted by Paul can be really confusing. After all, he quotes from a passage in which God told Isaiah to make the people’s eyes blind and ears heavy so they wouldn’t understand and repent. What is that about? And why is Paul quoting it? In Isaiah’s context, the point is that the Israelites have gone into idolatry (see Isaiah 2:8) and are becoming like their idols, blind and deaf (see Psalms 115:4-8; 135:15-18). Their blindness is so bad that even the proclamation of the truth doesn’t open their eyes but causes them to shut their eyes even harder. It will do so until God judges them. In Paul’s context, the Jews were repeating their past errors. This time, they weren’t idolizing statues. Rather, they were idolizing their own traditions, the temple, and Moses. Luke has been making this case all the way through the book of Acts. Now we are just seeing the conclusion. Because the Jews had made idols out of various aspects of God’s work with them, they misunderstood God’s work with them. Because they idolized and became fixated on Moses, the temple, and the Law, they missed what they were all pointing to. They missed Jesus Christ. But the significant point is if they don’t open their eyes and ears to the truth, judgment is coming again. And it did. In 70 A.D., God brought judgment on the Jews for rejecting Jesus and choosing their idolatry, destroying Jerusalem at the hand of the Romans. Of course, that was them, what about us? Our take away is we need to keep our eyes and ears open to the truth. Let us not make idols out of our methods, our traditions, our ideas, our favorite teachers, our buildings, our plans, or any other thing no matter how good it is or how God has used it. Let’s remember Jesus is God and let Him save us. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 28.

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The Sect Spoken Against Everywhere

Today’s reading is Acts 28.

I half expect the Jews from Jerusalem to have sent a letter about Paul to the Jews of Rome. After all, even after two years of imprisonment in Caesarea, they were still trying to kill Paul. I expect them to try to get the Jews in Rome to finish the job. Perhaps they figured in Rome, Paul couldn’t cause any problems for them. Whatever the case, the Jews of Rome declare they haven’t been given any heads up about Paul, but they do know he is part of a “sect” spoken against everywhere. Today, we often live in fear that we will do something to cause the world to speak against us. But let’s face it, when we are doing everything right, Christ’s church will be spoken against everywhere. Let’s remember: our duty is to save souls, not win popularity contests. And let’s remember: just because we aren’t winning popularity contests, doesn’t mean we won’t save souls. After all, Christ’s church was spoken against everywhere in Paul’s day, but it was growing like crazy. God can do the same today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 28.

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Sent to the Gentiles

Today’s reading is Acts 26.

Okay, okay, I know we all already know Jesus was sending Paul to the Gentiles. We’ve beaten to death what a wonderful blessing that is for us today. However, do you realize Luke has finally made something clear to us that he hadn’t in the previous recounting of this event? In the initial account of Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-18), Luke doesn’t reveal Jesus telling Paul what his mission will be. Rather, He tells Ananias. In Paul’s recounting of his conversion in Acts 22, he doesn’t reveal that Jesus made this plain on the road to Damascus either. In fact, Ananias doesn’t make it very plain. Rather than saying, “You will go to the Gentiles,” he says, “You will be a witness for him to everyone…” Sure, that includes the Gentiles, but Paul doesn’t make the commission to the Gentiles plain until he reports about his vision of Jesus in Jerusalem some time later. However, in this third account of Paul’s conversion, we learn that Jesus told Paul from the very beginning what his mission was going to be. It is all about going to the Gentiles. None of this is a contradiction. None of this is Paul mixing up the story. Rather, we see that there is a bigger picture of rhetorical progression Luke is working on as he orders these narratives. He has included this repetition of Paul’s conversion with an increasing emphasis on going to the Gentiles until he reveals that it was Jesus’s goal for him from the very beginning to drive home one of the main points of Acts. In general, the Jews are not accepting the gospel. It is moving to the Gentiles. And the Jews are going to be judged for their rejection. If any Jews wish to be saved from the coming judgment on their nation, they had better get with the program, surrender to Jesus, and accept Gentiles into the fold. This whole book is going to end with that message. Luke’s planning may be subtle, but this rhetorical tool is effective. The gospel is going to the Gentiles. That wasn’t a backup plan. That wasn’t a fill in the gap idea. It was always Jesus’s intent for that to happen. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 26.

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Sent to the Gentiles

Today’s reading is Acts 22.

Once again, a sermon in Acts gets interrupted. This time, the crowds can no longer stand it when Paul says he was sent to the Gentiles. Remember, this whole mob got started when some Asian Jews convinced the crowd Paul had brought a Gentile into the temple. When he mentions the Gentiles, it sets them off again. But what a great point for us. All of the Old Testament had actually pointed to this. Even from the promise to Abraham to be a father of many nations and a blessing on all nations to the major and minor prophets with their explanations of the nations coming into the house of the Lord, the Jews should have known the day was coming in which Gentiles would receive a blessing. What a blessing it is for us. I imagine most of my readers are Gentiles. We get to be part of the Jesus blessing. We get to be part of the house of the Lord. We get to be part of the kingdom of Christ. Wow! Praise God for sending Paul to the Gentiles! Praise God for Paul being willing to go despite the trouble he experienced for it. We get to hear this message today because of this instruction in the very beginning. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 22.

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All People Every Must Repent

Today’s reading is Acts 17.

Paul had said he was proclaiming to the Athenians the God they didn’t know. That is, the God of whom they were ignorant. As he gets to the end of his sermon, he points out God overlooked times of ignorance, but is now commanding repentance of all people. That is, the Athenians had lived in their ignorance of God long enough. Now it was time to repent. It was time to get to know God. Repentance is often described as a change of mind. It should lead to a change of action. Some describe it as a change of the will. In a very New Testament sense, it is a change of masters, of kings. God no longer ignores my ignorance of Him. Rather, Jesus Christ having been demonstrated to be God’s King by the resurrection, I must get to know Him. I must change my life to submit to Jesus, to God. I don’t just change my behavior because I realize it has hurt people or it hasn’t been producing the results I want. Rather, I change my thinking and my behavior because my King, Jesus, says my behavior needs to change. That is New Testament repentance. And God is commanding it of Jews, of Gentiles, of everyone, including you and me.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 17.

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“So They Remained for a Long Time”

Today’s reading is Acts 14.

“But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers” (Acts 14:2). What do you expect to come next? Maybe something like “So Paul and Barnabas decided to move on to the next town”? But that isn’t what happened. Instead it says, “So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord.” The text doesn’t say they just kind of happened to stay a while coincidentally. Rather, because there was opposition they stayed and continued teaching. Granted, the goal is not to raise up opposition. The goal is not to frustrate people or just push back against them. However, there are times when the reason to stay and the reason to keep up the work is exactly because there is opposition. Whatever the case, may we always boldly proclaim the word of the Lord. May God always bless our proclamation.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 14.

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A Light to the Gentiles

Today’s reading is Acts 13.

What a glorious message for us to hear. Jesus was not merely a light for the Jews. He is a light to the Gentiles as well. He brought salvation not simply to the biological descendants of Abraham, but also to the ends of the earth. The great news is I’m a Gentile. Maybe you aren’t, but I’m guessing you are. Since we’ve grown up with Christianity, we can miss how amazing this is. But the Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch didn’t miss it. They began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord. I pray we never get so used to this message we forget how amazing it is that we get to be part of it. Let us rejoice. Let us glorify God and His Word.

Next week’s reading is Acts 14.

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