Channeling Jesus

Today’s reading is Psalm 27.

A really profound occurrence takes place in John 2:18-22. When asked what sign Jesus would work to demonstrate His authority to cleanse the temple, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” That really confused everyone, but John goes on to explain that after Jesus was raised from the dead, the apostles understood what He meant. He wasn’t actually talking about the temple in Jerusalem, but the temple of His own body. What makes this scenario so profound is the realization that the resurrection changed everything. It changed how the apostles heard what Jesus said. It even changed how they read Scripture, including the Psalms. In fact, it should change how we read Scripture. It is true that there are some psalms that we all recognize as Messianic; that is, psalms foretelling what the Messiah would be like. There are psalms that are not as clearly foretelling, but something doesn’t seem to quite fit until the Messiah comes on the scene and fulfills the psalm literally. But there are other psalms that aren’t really foretelling anything, but once we know Jesus’s resurrection and listen to them through that filter, we hear Jesus all over them. That is Psalm 27. That is especially true when we get to “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” When David wrote this about himself, no doubt, he was referring to the fact that God was going to grant his request. He wasn’t going to die in battle. He was going to get to Jerusalem and see the tent of the Lord again. Jesus, who was forsaken by everyone, who went to the cross at the hands of soldiers and false accusers, feared nothing. He entrusted His soul to His Father. He went to the cross and died. But on Sunday morning, He saw the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living. He waited through the cross. He waited through the grave. He waited until the third day. And then He arose the conquering hero over sin, Satan, death, and the grave. And if this is how Yahweh delivers His one and only Son, how much more should we expect the same? David had confidence God would deliver him because of how God had worked with Moses and Joshua. We can have confidence because of how God delivered our King Jesus. No matter how dark it gets in your life, no matter how the enemy tries to blot out the sun, God is our light, He is our salvation, He is our stronghold. Hang on to Him. He will always come through. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 28.


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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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.


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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Israel’s Great Failure

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Some believe this psalm was written when David had the Ark brought to Jerusalem. Others believe it was when Solomon brought the Ark into the temple. Still others believe it was written much later and simply a memorial of these trips. Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight at all. The bigger point that we should see is not about the Ark of the Covenant at all. The bigger point is about the King of glory! And who is the King of glory? Jesus, of course! Certainly, when He was first brought to the temple there were a couple of people who tried to point out the reception He should receive (think Anna and Simeon). And the second time He came to the temple, teachers were astonished. However, when Jesus grew up, He should have been hoisted on the shoulders of the people, brought into the temple this song being sung. When He cleansed the temple of the money changers, He should have been lauded and applauded. He should have been asked, “What else shall we do to serve You, King of Glory?” He should have been praised and worshiped universally. The people should have realized He was actually too big to be housed in that temple. But, instead, the Jews believed they were defending the temple by keeping Jesus out of it. Instead of marching Him up Zion’s hill and letting Him take His rightful place on the throne of God in the Holy of Holies, they marched Him up Golgotha’s hill outside the gate and nailed Him to a cross. He was and is the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, strong and mighty, mighty in battle. And Israel failed. Their hands were defiled with the blood of Jesus. Their hearts were divided against their true King. They did lift up their souls to what was false. They did swear deceitfully. And they did not receive their blessing. But as many as did receive Him and believed in His name were given the right to become children of God and subjects of the one, true King of Glory, Jesus Christ. Which choice have you made?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.


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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 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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“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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The Hand of the Lord

Today’s reading is Acts 11.

Why did the Antioch church have so much success with the gospel? Because the hand of the Lord was with them. How will we have success with the gospel today? The hand of the Lord needs to be with us. I know I have to remember this all the time. Sometimes…okay, I’ll be honest, a lot of the time, I get caught up in my own arrogance and pride thinking my ideas are the best, my plans are greatest, my work is what is needed to grow my home congregation. It’s just not true. What is needed is the hand of the Lord. If the hand of the Lord is with us, He can use anyone, any plans, anyone’s work. No doubt, like those Christians, like Barnabas, like Saul, we need to work. We need to plan and then act out the plans. But we always need to remember who the author of the success really is: the Lord. Let’s simply thank the Lord that He lets us be involved.

Next week’s reading is Acts 12.

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The Parenthesis Closes

Today’s reading is Acts 11.

Acts 11:19 sounds vaguely familiar. Oh yeah. It says something very similar back in Acts 8:4. Both mention those who were scattered and preaching due to the persecution surrounding Stephen. This second one adds the detail that some people started preaching to Gentiles. The technical term for Luke’s rhetorical device here is inclusio. Good luck finding an excuse to use that in a sentence. I typically refer to it as a parenthesis or bookends. You have the same statement made at the beginning and the end. That means everything in between is supposed to be seen as a unit. And that is the point. Luke was giving a series of arguments to prepare us for the shift from Christianity being dominated by the Jews to being dominated by the Gentiles. But the entire parenthesis essentially has one point. We see the salvation of a Samaritan sorcerer, an Ethiopian Eunuch, the Priest’s persecutor, and even a Caesarean Centurion. The message is quite simple. If these guys can be saved, anyone can be saved. If these guys can be saved, you can be saved. If these guys can be saved, I can be saved. Praise the Lord!

Today’s reading is Acts 11.

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