Today’s reading is Psalm 26.
We mentioned Psalm 1 yesterday. Remember it again today. That psalm made a distinction between the blessed and the wicked. But there is more to the choice than just being the blessed or being the wicked. David understands that if He is going to dwell in the Lord’s holy habitation at the summit of the Lord’s holy hill, he has to be careful who his friends are. In Psalm 15, another psalm that questions who can dwell in the Lord’s house (similar to Psalm 24), David recorded that the holy hill dweller is one “in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord.” In a day and age, such as our own, dominated by the concept of tolerance, we can lose sight of the fact that the Lord does not tolerate everyone. Those who pursue what is false, hypocrites, evildoers, and those who practice wickedness are not tolerated by the Lord in His own house. And while nothing makes God happier than for these to repent, submit to Him, and then come live with Him, nothing will make God bring these into His house while they continue in their sin. And so, back to Psalm 1, the person who walks with the wicked, hangs out with the sinful, settles down with scoffers will not be blessed. David loves Yahweh. He loves worshiping Yahweh. He loves those who worship Yahweh in truth. He knows that if he hangs out with the impenitently sinful and rebellious now, he will be hanging out with them for eternity. He loves the Lord and those who love the Lord. He loves the Lord’s friends. While we can never go out of the world (see 1 Corinthians 5:10), and while we certainly must develop relationships with the impenitently sinful in order to lead them to repentance, we must make sure our closest relationships are those who have their closest relationship with Yahweh. And doesn’t that just make sense? I mean, it is kind of hard to dwell in Yahweh’s house if I’m having to constantly abandon it to hang out with my best friends. Who are your best friends?
Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.
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 Friends!”
Today’s reading is Psalm 25.
The previous psalm explained that whoever lifts up his soul to what is false is not allowed to ascend the holy hill of Yahweh. As if in response, this psalm begins with a clear “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” In the previous psalm, this kind of person would receive blessing and righteousness from the Lord. In this psalm, the psalmist is asking the Lord to hold true to His word. “Let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” However, it is more than a request, it is also a confident assertion. “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.” He ends this psalm the same place he begins. His foes are many. They are violent and hateful. But he takes refuge in the Lord and waits on Him. Therefore, he asks and expects the Lord to guard his soul and keep him from shame. Today, we recognize that suffering and struggle, whether from enemies or from some other source, isn’t an indication of shame nor does it lead to shame. Paul tells us our suffering produces endurance, our endurance produces character, character produces hope, and our hope does not put us to shame. Further, we are confident this is true because God’s love has been poured into our hearts and the Holy Spirit has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5). The next time you sing “Unto thee, O Lord,” remember there is no shame with the Lord. Praise the Lord!
Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 25.
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 “Unto You, O Lord!”
Today’s reading is Psalm 24.
In Hebrew, the first word of Psalm 24 is Yahweh. “Yahweh’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and its inhabitants.” The emphasis is not on the earth or its fullness. It is not on the world and its inhabitants. The emphasis is on the owner: Yahweh. Yahweh owns all that is because He is the one who conquered the chaos and created the cosmos. Moses proved this in Exodus 9:29 when Yahweh was the one who started and stopped the hail, but no Egyptian god could (and that was demonstrated 10 times over). In recognizing this amazing ownership, Moses registered shock that God would settle His steadfast love on one family among mankind in Deuteronomy 10:14-15. David understood that since this was true, when he gave to God, he was only giving to God what was actually His already in 1 Chronicles 29:11-16. Based on this knowledge, Asaph grasped that God did not ask for offerings because of His own needs in Psalm 50:9-13. Because this is true, Paul was able to recognize that idols were nothing and no food actually belongs to an idol in 1 Corinthians 10:25-26. And this makes Yahweh distinct from the ancient gods. Yahweh is not a personal God. He is not a national God. He is not a territorial or regional God. He alone is God. He is not merely God on Zion, He is God everywhere. You cannot make Yahweh your God. He is your God. You can either recognize it now or recognize it later. I can tell you which one would be better. Yahweh is the only God! Hallelujah!
Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.
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 “The Lord’s Earth”
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.
Continue reading “On Seeing and Hearing”
Today’s reading is Acts 19.
Somehow Demetrius was able to say that Paul preached “Gods made with hands are not gods,” and yet the town clerk was able to say, “These men are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess.” That is amazing. After all, Paul had actually taught that Artemis wasn’t really a goddess. What do we see from that? It is not that Paul was wishy-washy. It is not that Paul was a chameleon, only saying what would keep him out of hot water. We’ve seen too much hot water in Paul’s life to think that. It is that even when Paul preached the truth on idolatry, the honest person recognized that Paul wasn’t a mean, in your face, jerk. He taught truth, but even when he disagreed, he was respectful. He didn’t belittle, mock, ridicule, demean. He was balanced. Certainly, some people still got mad–like Demetrius. However, the town clerk, when considering how the Christians acted and taught, recognized that the crowds really needed to be ashamed for their accusations that Paul was an evildoer. May we all accomplish such a balanced approach in our teaching and proclamation of the gospel.
Next week’s reading is Acts 20.
Continue reading “Balanced Preaching”
Today’s reading is Acts 19.
Did you notice Demetrius was upset because his wallet was being affected, but he started the riot about the magnificence and honor of Artemis? He got the people chanting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” He didn’t get them chanting, “Wealthy is Demetrius the silversmith!” But that is actually what he was concerned about. This gets to the heart of most persecution. The fact is throughout history people have disagreed on plenty of things even in the spiritual sphere. You can declare all day long that you think Artemis of the Ephesians is great. I disagree with you. I will even discuss it with you. But I don’t throw rocks at you, try to get you thrown in prison, or try to get you executed. Why? Because your being wrong about that is really no skin off my nose. It really doesn’t impact me at all. People don’t persecute folks because they believe the people are wrong. Persecution starts when people feel some kind of impact by it. But, we can’t get people behind us in the persecution when we share the real reasons we are upset. So, we develop smokescreens and red herrings. We get people worked up about the magnificence of Artemis because they’ll never persecute the group I’m upset at just because my income is decreasing. The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus killed not because they really cared about how wrong they thought He was, but because they feared He would prompt Rome to come and take away their position. The Jews typically persecuted Paul when he had more influence over the Gentiles than they did. And here, the proclamations are a smokescreen, a red herring to distract from the real issue that upset Demetrius. His wallet was affected. We Christians often think if we can just get people to agree with us, it will stop the persecution. The problem is not that they disagree; it’s that they have a vested interest in some aspect that Christianity opposes which keeps them from agreeing. So, don’t be surprised that even when we are being the most reasonable, respectful, kind, and courteous people we can be, folks still get angry and persecute.
Today’s reading is Acts 19.
Continue reading “On Smokescreens, Red Herrings, and Persecutions”
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.
Continue reading “All People Every Must Repent”
Today’s reading is Acts 15.
James recommended and the congregation wrote in its letter to the Gentile congregations impacted by the men who had gone out from Jerusalem, that they would lay no greater burden on the Gentiles than to abstain from 1) what has been sacrificed to idols, 2) blood, 3) what has been strangled, 4) sexual immorality. Does James mean Gentile Christians can steal? Can we murder? Not at all. On a general level, the point is that just because the Gentiles are not amenable to the Law, doesn’t mean every legal stipulation of the Law has been abrogated by the gospel. In specific, James is addressing the major baggage the Gentile of his day had to face. No, they didn’t have to surrender to the Law, but they weren’t allowed to hang out in idolatry. They needed to flee it. They needed to get away from idolatry and abandon all its accoutrements. As we have seen on multiple occasions, converts often want to bring their baggage in with them. We need to drop our baggage at the door. Be devoted to Jesus. Get rid of everything else.
Today’s reading is Acts 15.
Continue reading “No Greater Burden”
Today’s reading is 1 Timothy 6.
Do you, like I do, need more humility? We find the very first step of humility in today’s reading. Paul says if we disagree with the words of Jesus, we are puffed up. There it is. The first step of humility is to agree with Jesus. Anything else is arrogance. Anything else is an unhealthy craving for controversy. Anything else is lifting ourselves above our Lord. Of course, we all like to think we agree with Jesus. Let’s be careful to actually agree with Him and not just to agree with the culturally acceptable picture of Him. Let’s dig deep into humility. Let’s agree with Jesus.
Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Timothy 1.
Continue reading “The First Step of Humility”
Today’s reading is Matthew 22.
Are you sitting down? If not, please sit down. I’m about to share something with you that is going to be very shocking. In fact, I guarantee it is going to be hard for you to accept. When this post is over, I am almost certain you will think I’m wrong. But I’m not. It is right here in my Bible in black and white. I want to see today’s reading as a warning against an idol that I am sure you think cannot possibly be an idol. I say all this because even now as I type this, I myself am rebelling against it. I’m talking about the idols of marriage and family. Make no mistake. Marriage is extremely important. It is to be the daily picture to the world of Christ’s love and sacrifice for His bride, the church. You need to be working on it and in it. Parenting is extremely important. It is one of the first and fundamental ways we can fill God’s temple with image bearers for His glory. You need to be working on it and in it. However, marriage and family are not the most important things. Please, notice what Jesus says. As important as marriage and family are here on earth, they do not go into eternity. As hard as it may be to accept, in the end, you will not be resurrected to be reunited with your spouse, your parents, or your children. Yes, you will be reunited with and welcomed by the saints, the family of God, but you will not be moving into a mansion with your spouse in a neighborhood peopled by your earthly family. In the resurrection, we are like angels who neither marry, nor are given in marriage. So, do make your marriage and your earthly family a priority, but do not let them become THE priority, lest they become the idol that separates you from the One, True, Living God.
Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 23.
Continue reading “Beware a Shocking Idol”