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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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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The God Who is Mindful

Today’s reading is Psalm 8.

Think about Yahweh God. His glory is above the heavens. To even look at man, He must look down through the heavens. How inconsequential we must be? As Isaiah 40:22 says, to the one who sits above the circle of the earth, we are no more than grasshoppers. In fact, grasshoppers seem a bit large for the comparison. Isaiah 40:12, 15 explains that God measured out the waters for all the oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams of the earth in the hollow of His hand. The nations, however, are nothing more than a drop in a bucket. If the nations are a drop in the bucket, how much less consequential am I, a mere citizen of one nation? God enclosed every bit of dirt, sand, rock, and dust of the mountains, hills, and all land in the entire earth on His scales. But the nations are nothing more than dust on a scale. They are inconsequential in weight on that scale. God doesn’t even have to wipe them off to get an accurate measure of what He is weighing. If that is the nations, how much less consequential am I, a mere citizen of one nation? And yet, God is mindful. He has always demonstrated Himself thus. He remembers His covenants and agreements. He does not forget. He delivers His people. He does not ignore. He hears the pleas of those who cry out to Him. It is almost unfathomable and yet we see the evidence of it again and again and again. And David is likely basking in the amazing victory over Goliath and in awe that God was mindful of the youth who stepped onto the battlefield with a staff, a sling, and five stones. Yet, there lay Goliath’s body. And there stood David victorious because God was mindful. Hallelujah! We serve the God who is mindful. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 8.

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The Lord’s Love

Today’s reading is Psalm 6.

What is the basis for God’s grace even when he is angry? His steadfast love. That is how steadfast His love is. Even when He is angry, He still loves. Every time we read about God’s steadfast love, we should remember the proclamation of His name in Exodus 34:5-8. God is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. It is really amazing to me how often His “name” comes up in Scripture. The faithful knew the name of God and their faith was anchored in it. God had revealed Himself to Moses and the faithful trust God that He was telling the truth. Not for the sake of my righteousness, not for the sake of my good deeds, not for the sake of my attempts to pay God back, not for the sake of my reputation, but for the sake of His own love, God delivers and forgives. That is, God loves even when He is angry because that is exactly who He is. It is His name. It is His nature. Don’t misunderstand. That doesn’t mean no one will be condemned. He will by no means clear the guilty. Those who linger in sin, keeping God at arm’s length, not seeking the grace and love He has to offer will be judged as they deserve. But why on earth would you want to be that person? Turn to God. Cast your sins and your cares on Him. He loves. He is gracious. He will forgive. He will deliver.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 6.

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The Lord’s Grace

Today’s reading is Psalm 6.

Yesterday, we hinted at David’s only option in the face of God’s anger. Today, we get to see the option fully. He can beg for God’s grace. Like the tax collector in Jesus’s story, he can, without making excuses, plead for mercy. His soul is troubled, so much so that it is impacting him physically. Or perhaps it is going the other way. Maybe the Lord’s discipline is taking the form of physical sickness that is having its necessary impact spiritually. Either way, he knows the only solution is the grace of God. However, notice one specific question. “How long?” We’ve addressed this question in the psalms before. This time, it is David asking how long until the grace becomes actualized. That is, how long until his situation changes because of God’s grace. Please, grasp this part of it. Some believe that because the response doesn’t come immediately, God has said no or worse, God isn’t even out there. But David didn’t believe either. He knew God is, and He knew God rewards those who seek Him. He knew his only hope was God’s grace. He would ask for it until it happened, and he would believe it was coming the whole time. It is that faith in God’s coming grace that kept him praying. It will keep us praying as well.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 6.

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Faith in the Midst of the Lord’s Discipline

Today’s reading is Psalm 3.

The heading of this psalm claims it was written when David fled from Absalom. 2 Samuel 12:11-12 makes one thing painfully clear. Absalom’s rebellion was part of God’s discipline against David over his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. As David flees Jerusalem, he seems to have a painful awareness he deserves these circumstances and it may be that God has decided to fully turn the kingdom over to Absalom (see 2 Samuel 16:5-14). In this context, David writes this psalm. Does that shock you like it does me? He knows he is being disciplined for his own sin. He knows he deserves everything he is receiving. But what does he do? He prays for mercy, deliverance, and salvation anyway. Because that is the kind of God he believes in. He believes in a merciful, saving, delivering God. Honestly, I don’t know what you are facing right now. I don’t know; you may be in a mess of your own making. You probably do deserve every bit of hardship, suffering, and trauma you are experiencing. Maybe not, but maybe. But our God isn’t one who saves people who deserve it. Our God isn’t one who delivers those who have earned it. He saves those who call on Him, those who know they have no place to turn but Him. Praise the Lord! He saves and delivers people like David, people like you and me.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 3.

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Who Saved the Sailors?

Today’s reading is Acts 27.

God tells Paul through the angel that He has granted all the people on the ship and their lives will be saved. God is clearly going to save all these people. However, the text goes on to say that all the people either swam or found flotsam and jetsam to hang on to. Through those means, they all got to shore. So, here’s my question. Who saved these men? Did they save themselves? Or did God save them? No doubt, God saved them. He said He would. Yet, if they hadn’t swam or grabbed pieces of shipwreck, they would have died. But it was by God’s strength they could swim. It was by God’s providence they had floating pieces of junk to hang on to. To be truthful, this is one of those situations in which we see that we can’t quantify man’s effort versus God’s grace. I don’t know exactly what God did with each of these people. I can’t tell you how much of this was God’s grace versus man’s effort. I know this: if the people hadn’t swam or grabbed the flotsam, they would have died. I know this: if God hadn’t saved them, they would have died. This is very much like salvation. If I don’t follow God in faith, I won’t be saved. If God won’t save me, I won’t be saved. While we can certainly name some different aspects of our involvement and God’s work, we can’t quantify everything God does to save us. Yes, we need to swim. However, we need to give God thanks for His saving work realizing we haven’t saved ourselves by swimming. Praise God for His saving grace.

Next week’s reading is Acts 28.

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Error Has Consequences

Today’s reading is Acts 19.

I know we are in a completely new chapter this week. But have you ever wondered why there were 12 “disciples” who weren’t actually disciples in Ephesus in Acts 19? Why were there men so devout that Luke gives them this label, but then describes them in terms to demonstrate they can’t really be what he has called them? Again, remember according to Matthew 28:19-20, disciples are made through water baptism in Jesus’s name and correct teaching. The chapter break may throw us off, but surely we are told about these men right after we were introduced to Apollos and his baptism error because the latter is based on the former. Error has consequences. Apollos’s error had consequences. I know there has for a long time been a huge debate about what actually constitutes a “false teacher.” Is a false teacher someone who gets teaching incorrect or does a person have to have some false motives and insincerity to be a false teacher. If the latter, we’d never classify Apollos as a false teacher. If the former, maybe. But doesn’t this whole story demonstrate the debate about the definition of false teacher is a red herring? Whether you label Apollos a false teacher or not, his error had consequences. These men were sure they were serving the Lord, they were sure they were disciples. However, they weren’t. Their confidence was false whether their teacher was or not. They needed truth. After all, truth is what sets us free. Let’s hunt for truth always.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 19.

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