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.

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The Consistent God

Today’s reading is Psalm 18.

All throughout Psalm 18, David links back to earlier events. Perhaps the coolest connection is in vs. 16 when he says God “drew me out of many waters.” The only other place the word translated “drew me out” is used is when Moses was drawn out of the water in Exodus 2:10. In other words, God is dealing with David just as He did Moses. Then there is so much language that is reminiscent of events like judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, the Exodus, victories during the conquest period. Hailstones as in the plagues and in conquest victories. Foundations of the earth laid bare under the channels of the sea as in the crossing of the Red Sea. Lightning, thunder, shaking earth as in Israel’s time at the base of Mt. Sinai and also judgment on Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. If God is anything, He is consistent. He cares for His people. He keeps His Word. He delivers. He judges. He is not erratic or fickle. With God, you know exactly what you are going to get. Granted, you don’t always know exactly when you are going to get it. However, you do know it will be at the best possible time for His glory and our good. But this is how God treats His people, all of His people, of all times, in all places. We don’t have to fear we are going to be an exception. Of course, He’s also consistent in His dealings with His enemies. Sure, He is patient. The judgment is rarely administered immediately. And too many take that patience as a clue for tolerance or escape. But God is consistent in judgment of enemies as well as salvation of His people. Hang on to that. Don’t let go.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 18.

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The Trustworthy God

Today’s reading is Psalm 18.

Let’s face it. I can actually place myself in the shoes of a skeptic and view the Psalms as a hot mess. Back in Psalm 2 God promised His anointed one, His king, that while the enemies would plot, they did so in vain. They were going to be judged, and so they need to quickly reconcile with the king. But then psalm after psalm after psalm shows David begging for God to go ahead and do what He promised. Many of the psalms show the psalmist in that interim place between the promise being given and the promise being fulfilled. After a while, a reader begins to wonder if the promise ever does get fulfilled. Oh sure, the psalmist always believes it will. The psalmists consistently demonstrated their faith by continuing to call out to and rely on God. But does God ever actually fulfill His promises? Psalm 18 answers with a resounding YES!!! The Lord is in His holy temple; He does hear; He does respond. Remember in Psalm 11 when David refused to follow the counselors who said he needed to flee like a bird to his own mountain, relying on his own strength? David claimed one of the foundations that would not be shaken is God’s residence in His holy temple. He is testing the sons of men. He will rain coals on the wicked. He will deliver the upright. And now in Psalm 18, David’s trust and perseverance is rewarded. God is exactly what David thought Him to be. God is trustworthy. Yes, He works on His time table. Yes, there are moments when it looks like He is going to lose. Yes, sometimes the wicked counselors seem to have a point. But Psalm 18 is a thrilling reminder God really is in His holy temple in the heavens, has us under His watchful eye, and when the time is best, He does keep His Word, fulfill His promises, and shines forth like the sun. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 18.

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Vows and Oaths

Today’s reading is Acts 23.

I wonder if the would-be assassins of Paul died of dehydration a few days after Paul made it to Caesarea. They should have. That is how serious taking vows is. Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4-6 says, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few…When you vow a vow to God, do not delay in paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?” That paragraph really speaks for itself. These guys spoke hastily. They made a rash vow. Of course, it wasn’t simply because they didn’t pull off their mission, but also because God was on Paul’s side. It is a lesson for us today though. Be careful what you vow.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 23.

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Beware Judas

Today’s reading is Luke 22.

What is up with Judas? How could this happen? Why did Jesus even let him into the group? There are plenty of opinions regarding how this happened. I think the most likely is Judas made it into the group because he was just as qualified to be in the group of disciples and apostles as the other 11. Think about it. We tend to see Judas through the negative lens because we know how the story ends for him. However, it is clear none of those who worked with him saw him that way. He was set up to be their keeper of the purse, the treasurer if you will. None of the other apostles questioned his sincerity and loyalty. When Jesus says someone at the table would betray Him, each disciple was concerned it would be himself. None of them said, “I knew you shouldn’t have let Judas in.” And this leads us to the warning we need to consider. When we say that we need to beware Judas, we are not saying that we need to watch everyone around us carefully and see if we can weed out the traitors around us. No. We need to watch ourselves. We need to fearlessly and thoroughly examine our own hearts. We need to find where the chinks in our loyalty to king Jesus are because the enemy will exploit them. The enemy will lead us down a primrose path that ends with betraying our King and ultimately destroying ourselves. Beware Judas, not the Judas out there, but the Judas within. We must never think it couldn’t be me. We need to be radically honest with ourselves and with our King. That is the only way to beware Judas.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 22.

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Loyal Stewardship

Today’s reading is Luke 16.

We’ve notice the first two points of Jesus’s three point lesson on stewardship. His first point was about shrewd stewardship. That is, using our material goods as a means to prepare for eternity. His second point was about faithful stewardship. That is, using our material goods the way the one who actually owns them wants them to be used. And now His third point: Loyal Stewardship. Sadly, many stewards forget who they are serving. They spend so much time with the money and material goods, they begin to serve the money and the material goods. This can especially happen when we lose sight of Jesus’s second point about stewardship. If we think financial stewardship means doing everything we can to be “wise” with our money, making more money and saving more money, we can imperceptibly get to the point of letting money be our God. Of course, if we abandon all concept of stewardship and think money is simply the ticket to the fun life, we end up letting money be our God then as well. We cannot, however, have two gods. Sooner or later, they will come face to face with each other and we will have to choose. We will either sacrifice our money for God or we will sacrifice God for our money. Jesus’s third point is make this choice wisely. We can use our money now to prepare relationships for our eternal dwellings, but we won’t be able to take our money with us to pay for eternal dwellings. Only God can save us, deliver us, and usher us into those eternal dwellings. If that means sacrificing our money, so be it.

Today’s reading is Luke 16.

A Word for Our Kids

Hey kids, Jesus said you cannot serve God and money. I wish I had said the following first, but I read it somewhere. However, I thought it might help you. Jesus didn’t give advice. That is, He didn’t say, “You shouldn’t serve God and money.” He doesn’t give instruction. That is, He didn’t say, “Do not serve God and money.” He doesn’t even give a command. That is, He didn’t say “Thou shalt not serve God and money.” He simply stated a fact. “You cannot serve God and money.” You can’t do it. Try as you might, serving God and money won’t happen. You will serve either one or the other. Now, you can be like some and try to prove Jesus wrong. But that won’t work. Eventually, one of the two (or something else) will be god of your life. You will choose one to rule you and for which you will sacrifice everything else. Make sure that one is the one, true God.