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!

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I Love Your House!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

Have you ever walked into a friend’s house for the first time and just been blown away? It’s layout is cool. The d├ęcor is fabulous. It’s cozy. You just love it. You wish it was yours, and you start mentally jotting down ideas about how to improve your house. Psalm 26 is all about that. Except it isn’t simply a friend’s house, it is the Lord’s house. “O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.” For David, this referred to the tabernacle. After Solomon, it spoke of the temple. But for us, it is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:19-22 demonstrates that the collection of all Christians whether Jews or Gentiles is the temple of the Lord. Ephesians 3:19 is the prayer that this modern temple will be filled with the fullness of God, that is, being filled with His glory. While this refers to the universal church, the sum collection of all disciples of all places and of all times, we mostly interact with this temple at a congregational level. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying each congregation is a temple of the Lord, but our interaction with the temple (the universal church) is on that congregational level (the local church). This entire psalm is about “going to church.” No, it isn’t about going to a church’s building. Rather, it is about gathering with the church, the assembly, the brothers and sisters. It is about gathering to worship the Lord God with our spiritual family. Whether we are gathering to pray, sing, read Scripture, break the Bread of Life, or break the bread of communion, or a combination of these things, David demonstrates the attitude we should have. Do you look forward to Sunday? Do you look forward to congregational gatherings, classes, worship, singings, prayings just because it is time with God’s church, time in God’s house, time in the midst of God’s glory? Or is it a checklist item you want to mark off as quickly as possible and get out of the way so you can get on with all the other things you think are more important? No doubt. It’s a growth process. But may we all get to where we can say, “I love Your house, Lord!”

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.

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!

Continue reading “I Love Your House!”

The Only One Qualified

Today’s reading is Psalm 15.

Well, we’re in a bit of a quandary, aren’t we? Only the blameless get to dwell with the Lord. We water that down a bit so we can pretend we fit. However, we look at Psalm 15 as a mirror, and we can’t even see ourselves in it. Oh, we try hard. Sure, we are better than some people at it. But when the reality settles on us, we know there is really no hope for us. We start to turn away in sadness like that young ruler who had many possessions. We stop to wonder, “But who qualifies? Does anyone?” Yes! One is qualified: Jesus Christ, the righteous, the incarnate Son of God. He fulfilled every bit of this description of God’s welcome guest. He had every right to live on God’s Holy Mountain. And yet, what did He do? He died on God’s Holy Mountain. Every bit of the judgment for not fulfilling Psalm 15 was poured out on the only One who was qualified according to it. Why? To prepare a dwelling place for us (John 14:1-4, 24). The righteous requirement of the Law is that sinners die. Those who are unqualified don’t get to dwell with God. But Jesus, the only qualified one who knew no sin, died a sinner’s death fulfilling the righteous requirement of the Law. Those who die with Christ fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law in Him (Romans 8:4). And through that grace of fulfillment, we are granted access to God’s Tent on His Holy Hill. Again, none of this means we ignore the Psalm 15 qualifications for dwelling with God. Rather, through Jesus’s death and God’s Holy Spirit of grace we meet the qualifications. Yes, we still often fail at these qualifications, but we hang on to Jesus and keep climbing God’s mountain. By God’s strength and grace we will summit the Holy Hill and we will dwell with the Lord. Hallelujah! So my big question for you is not how good you are at being blameless, but have you died with Christ? Do you even know how? If you are interested in learning how, read Romans 6:1-4. Then shoot us a message. We’d love to help you take up your residence on God’s Holy Hill.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 16.

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What are You Waiting For?

Today’s reading is Acts 22.

I’m not writing for everyone today. Today, I’m writing for you who have not been immersed in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins. I have one question. What are you waiting for? It’s what Ananias asked Saul. Honestly, it is the only question you need to answer. Are you waiting for better health? What if it doesn’t come? Are you waiting to be more holy? I can promise you that won’t happen unless you are baptized for the remission of your sins. Are you waiting to see if you can really measure up? You can’t. That is why you need Jesus, His grace, His strength, His gift of the Holy Spirit that all come through baptism for the remission of your sins. Are you waiting to be convinced you are a sinner? If you don’t already believe that, may I suggest considering how the sin of pride may be your downfall? Are you just not sure you want to give Jesus full allegiance? Well, that is a problem. I encourage you to count the cost. But may I remind you the cost Jesus paid for you? He stepped off His heavenly throne, came into the world, lived as one of us, and then died on a cross to fight the battle against death on your behalf. And He won! Just as God defeated Pharaoh’s army while Israel simply marched through the sea, Jesus defeated death, sin, and Satan. Why would you do anything but give your allegiance to Jesus? What are you waiting for? Comment below and we’ll figure out how to help you give your allegiance to Jesus in baptism today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 22.

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Focus on God, Not Places

Today’s reading is Acts 7.

In Acts 6, the Jews had accused Stephen of speaking against the temple in Jerusalem. You would think that they could start getting creative with their misleading accusations, but they were essentially making the same accusation against Stephen they had against Jesus (see Matthew 26:61). The interesting thing is this accusation actually may not be completely off base. Stephen may well have been saying Jesus would destroy the temple. After all, that is exactly what Jesus did in 70 AD. In his sermon, Stephen does not make a defense saying, “No, you’ve completely misunderstood me. I would never say the temple is going to be destroyed.” Instead, just as he was weaving together stories that showed we should focus on God and not men, he wove together stories that explained we should not focus on holy places, but on the God who made them holy. As Stephen told the stories of the men God used, he also told stories of the places God met them. The God of glory (don’t forget that the glory of the Lord dwelt in the temple) met Abraham not in Jerusalem but Mesopotamia. God was with Joseph, of all places, in Egypt. God first met Moses, not at the temple in Jerusalem, but on Mt. Sinai. Further, God told him to take off his shoes because it was holy ground. There is a subtle reminder that even when they got into the Promised Land it wasn’t until David that the tabernacle was brought to Jerusalem. We know it had been in Bethel, in Shiloh, and in Kiriath-Jearim. Finally, it wasn’t until Solomon that the temple was built. The point behind all of these stories is simple. As important as the temple was, it really wasn’t the temple that was important, but the God who dwelt there–the God who made the temple Holy. Because the Jews had focused too much on the temple, they had missed God when He came into their midst in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. We must not make that mistake. The focus is not on holy places, but on the Holy God. Hang on to Him no matter where He leads.

Today’s reading is Acts 7.

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Repent and Be Baptized

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Here it is, the first proclamation of the post-resurrection gospel. Jesus was raised from the dead and is King. He is the Messiah, the Christ, the Lord, the King. “But what are we to do,” the crowds cry out. This is not polite plea for more information. This is no quiet request to know how to get saved. This is a desperate cry. “We killed the King, what are we to do?” Do you think they expected Peter to have a response? Don’t you know they expected to hear, “Well, nothing. I mean, what could you do? You killed the Messiah. You’re toast.” That, however, is not what they heard. Peter responded by saying, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Here is the very first time people responded to the gospel message that Jesus was the resurrected Lord and King. What was the response? Repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins. Every other story we read in Acts about forgiveness, salvation, submission to King Jesus is predicated on this very first explanation of the gateway into the kingdom. It’s odd to me. Many people today will turn to all kinds of passages to explain to people what they should do when they want to surrender to Jesus as king. But they won’t turn to this, the very first time it ever happened for anyone. Why? Because this one doesn’t say what they want it to say. It doesn’t say, “You don’t have to do anything. If you’re chosen, God will do it.” It doesn’t say, “All you have to do is believe.” It doesn’t say, “Repeat this prayer after me.” It says, “Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins.” May I ask you a very simple question. Have you repented and been baptized for the remission of your sins? That is, have you decided to let Jesus be your King and then been immersed in water in order to let Jesus forgive you? If not, why not surrender to King Jesus the same way the very first kingdom citizens did? Why would you try to accomplish that any other way? There is no way to enter the kingdom but God’s way. Can we help you enter today?

Next week’s reading is Acts 3.

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Holy Spirit Evangelism

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

What prompted one of the greatest evangelistic events in all of Christian history? Or perhaps I should say “Who.” The Holy Spirit. About 3000 souls were added to Jesus Christ on that very first day of Pentecost all because the Holy Spirit attracted the attention of myriads of people dwelling in Jerusalem. The Spirit caused the noise of a tornado and then caused the apostles to speak in tongues. All of this attracted and grabbed attention of listeners. I think if we are going to come anywhere close to having that kind of addition to Christ’s church today, we are going to need the very same starting place. That is, we need the Holy Spirit to grab the attention of people in order for them to listen. That being said, I don’t believe the Spirit is going to grab our community’s attention with the sound of a tornado or with our speaking in tongues. However, I do believe the Holy Spirit will grab people’s attention by bearing and growing His fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). When we demonstrate that Spirit empowered fruit, living in ways that are so incredibly different from how the worldly live, some of the worldly will wonder why and how (see 1 Peter 3:15). They will want to know exactly what is our hope? Then, as we share our hope with them, some will repent and be ready to glorify God on the day of visitation. However, where will it begin? It will begin with the Holy Spirit attracting the world’s attention. May we sow seed to the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-9) so our lives will burgeon with the Spirit’s fruit.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 2.

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Devoted to Praying

Today’s reading is Acts 1.

I have no desire to make any of us feel guilty. However, today I can’t help but notice how the apostles and other disciples behaved as they awaited the coming Holy Spirit. “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14, ESV). I have to ask myself a tough question. If Luke were writing about me, could he remotely record, “Edwin was devoting himself to prayer”? Then I have to ask about my congregation. If Luke were writing about us, could he remotely record, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer”? That is, not only are the Christians in the congregation praying regularly, but are we devoted to praying together as a congregation? I have no doubt Luke could record that we are devoted to learning. Between sermons, classes, “short” talks, and even Lord’s Supper devotionals, our devotion to teaching and learning is clear. But what about prayer? What about prayer together? Recently, I was pondering the seemingly universal decline in the attendance of Sunday night assemblies. I think it is clear that fewer and fewer Christians view what their congregations do in a second assembly on Sunday evening as really all that important. It makes me wonder what would happen if we turned Sunday evening assemblies into times to be devoted to praying. Would the attendance increase? Would your attendance increase? Would your participation increase? Or would the thought be, “Oh, they’re only praying tonight”? Again, I have no desire to heap any guilt upon us. I just can’t help but pondering and doing some self-examination. Would Luke remotely be able to claim I’m devoting myself to prayer? What about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 1.

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Wanted: Sinners!

Today’s reading is Luke 5.

I remember talking to a man who had decided to pursue Hinduism. He told me, “I wanted to be a Christian, but I’m not good enough for that.” I wish I had known then what I know now. I would have told Him about the Great Physician. As a doctor is looking for sick people, not well people, Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous, the holy, the godly, the good enough. He came looking for sinners. He came to call sinners. He came to call those who are not good enough. No doubt, He calls us unto repentance. He doesn’t call us to linger in our own sinfulness. But Jesus isn’t roaming the streets looking for the righteous. He’s looking for sinners like me. He’s looking for sinners like you. Praise the Lord! Let’s answer His call.

Next week’s reading is Luke 6.

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Better Off Than Apostles

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 13.

The apostles seem like super Christians to my mind. It seems to me like they had every benefit and blessing because they wrote by inspiration and had miraculous gifts. No wonder they were able to excel in Christ’s kingdom. And yet, Paul explains that those gifts were only in part. They were not the whole. His knowledge was partial. His prophesying was partial. It wasn’t complete. But the day was coming when the complete would come. And it has. The complete knowledge has been revealed. God gave it all. Further, He ultimately had it bound up and given to each of us in the form of our Bibles. How amazing is that? The reality is we are better off than the apostles. That is, when we know our Bibles, we know as much and more than the apostles. We have the whole thing. Let’s read it like there is nothing else we need. And let’s be amazed at God’s grace.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 14.

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