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!

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But I’m a Sinner!

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

Yesterday, we recognized a connection between Psalm 24 and who may ascend the Lord’s hill and Psalm 25, this week’s psalm. But there is another connection. It is almost as if this psalm were written or placed here as a response to the previous one. Or maybe it would be better said that it is placed here to deal with an anticipated objection. According to Psalm 24, the one who has clean hands and a pure heart can climb the Lord’s hill. In Psalm 25, we have the anticipated objection. “But what about me? I’m a sinner.” Psalm 25:7 is the first explicit mention from the psalmist of his own sinfulness (Psalm 6:1 implies it; Psalm 23:3 almost implies it). It is almost as if Psalm 25 is finally expressing the objection we’ve brought up on several occasions as we’ve gone through these psalms. I do lift my soul up to the Lord. I do trust Him. But I haven’t been perfect. I’m a sinner. My hands are befouled. My heart is defiled. I want to be clean. I want to be perfect. But I’ve blown it. What now? The great news is our God is merciful. Our God forgives. Our God loves. Our God is faithful and true to His covenant. Yes, we have failed. But we can lift our soul up to our God, seek mercy and we will go away justified. Honestly, it really defies reason. I mean, I know we’ve been trained up on 2000 years of Christianity and the love and forgiveness of the sacrifice of Jesus. But if you think about it, why would anyone expect the supreme power of the universe to be loving, merciful, and forgiving? We could much more expect Him to be exacting, demanding, and unsparing. And yet, He is not what we expect. He wants us to climb His hill and He will forgive us so we can. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 25.

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 “But I’m a Sinner!”

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 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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Barnabas: A Son of Encouragement

Today’s reading is Acts 9.

We started the week with the shocking choice of Saul, but we are seeing a whole cast of supporting disciples who made Saul successful. Without Ananias, Saul would have not even been a Christian. Without Barnabas, Saul would have been forever on the outskirts of the church. It took Barnabas, a son of encouragement, a merciful, compassionate, trusting disciple to bring Saul in and stick his neck out for Saul before the apostles. By the way, did you notice that it wasn’t the Holy Spirit who brought Saul before the apostles? It wasn’t the Holy Spirit who revealed to the apostles or the Jerusalem church that Saul could be trusted. It was Barnabas. Why? Because God works through people. We need to be the kind of people the Holy Spirit works through. We need to be the Barnabases that God uses to grow the church and comfort the brethren.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 9.

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Grace through Faith

Today’s reading is Acts 3.

The famous and well-known passage in Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” This has sparked all kinds of debate among those who claim Christianity. However, the lame man of our reading gives us the perfect picture to explain this. Did this man start walking because he was just so good at walking? Of course not. This man began walking by the grace of God. It was God’s power, not the man’s, not even Peter’s, that healed him. However, don’t read so quickly that you miss Peter’s statement “And his name–by faith in his name–has made this man strong whom you see and know.” Just picture yourself as a man lame from birth. How many attempts do you think you made to try to get up and start walking before you finally gave up to never try again? Every day, for as long as you can remember you have been carried by friends to the Beautiful Gate of the temple in hopes that God-fearing worshipers would take pity and provide you with something so you could eat that day. As you see a couple of promising donors, you ask for aid. One of them looks at you, reaches out his hand, and says, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” How would you respond? Me? I would smack his hand away and say, “Dude! If you’re going to help, help. Otherwise, don’t be joking around. Move along, you’re getting in the way of people who might actually help me.” However, that isn’t what this man did. At the name of Jesus, the lame man took Peter’s hand and rose up. This wasn’t a dead lift on Peter’s part. Peter didn’t hook his arms underneath the lame man’s shoulders and hoist him up. Peter grasps the man’s hand. In order to get up, the man must cooperate. He must exercise legs that have never worked. In other words, the man had a faith-filled response. The man accessed the grace of God to heal him by faith. And it wasn’t just any faith, it was a faith that acted, that took Peter’s hand instead of smacking it away, that pushed on his own legs as Peter tugged on his hand, that stood up and walked though every other attempt in his life had failed. This is grace through faith. Healing/salvation takes a faith-filled response, but when the healing occurs, we all know it is God who did the heavy lifting. It is God’s grace that did the work. That is our salvation. It takes a faith-filled response: baptism. But when we are saved, it is God who did the work of saving. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 3.

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Have Mercy On Me

Today’s reading is Luke 18.

In Jesus’s story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, we met a character who was certain he was doing enough and a character who begged for mercy. As the chapter continues, we meet a man who was certain he was doing enough and a man who begs for mercy. The rich ruler may have thought there was something lacking, but when he heard what it was, he went away sad (instead of justified). Then we meet the blind man who begs twice for mercy from Jesus. Can Luke be any clearer in the connections between Jesus’s parable and these actual men? When we read a contrived story, it may be hard to make real life applications. What would these situations look like in real life? We saw the Pharisee’s real life counterpart in the rich ruler. It looks like someone who thinks Jesus is a great teacher, but not great enough to actually obey when He says something really, really hard. Then we meet one of the counterparts with the tax collector in the blind man who cries out to Jesus despite the crowd trying to shush him, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” It looks like someone going against the crowd. It looks like enough faith to seek Jesus even when people are telling you to be quiet. And isn’t this another parallel to the children we read about after Jesus’s story? Just as folks tried to hinder the children, folks tried to hinder the blind man. Here is childlike humility and trust. His story in Luke ends by following Jesus and being a reason for the crowds to glorify God. And finally, if we can draw one more connection to earlier passages in Luke. Jesus says to the blind man, “Your faith has made you well.” This is the exact same phrase Jesus said to the sinful woman in Simon the Pharisee’s house in Luke 7:50 and to the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:48. Almost all miracle stories are salvation pictures. This is no exception. Without Jesus we are blind. But if we turn to Him for mercy no matter what the crowds say, we will find mercy, salvation, and justification. Praise the Lord!

Monday’s reading is Luke 19.

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