Seek the Lord! Before It’s Too Late!

Today’s reading is Psalm 32.

David isn’t bragging about his own forgiveness in the Lord. He is using it as a basis to teach everyone about forgiveness. He basically says, “Hey you guys! Look at me. I sinned. I sinned big. I didn’t want to talk about it. I tried to cover it up. But the Lord saw. He disciplined. I finally confessed. You know what God did? He forgave me.”

Then, in vs. 6, he turns to his audience and says, “Be like me. I know you all have sinned. Let my forgiveness be an example to you. Our God forgives. Seek Him while He may be found.” Whoa! Wait a minute! “While He may be found”? Does that mean there will come a time when He won’t be found?

Yes! That is absolutely what that means.

Folks who are postponing their repentance have no idea the danger they are putting themselves in. While it is true that you will be forgiven any time you repent and for anything of which you repent, you need to understand that the longer you push off repentance, the harder it is for you to do it. It is never easier than today to repent and seek the Lord. The more you sin, the more you postpone repentance, the harder your heart becomes, the harder it is for that shell to be broken.

Further, you have no idea when the full judgment for your sins is actually going to take place. Trying to wait until just before that moment of judgment to repent is not actually repenting. The days are evil. Make the most of today by repenting and confessing right now. You may not have tomorrow.

But if you do seek the Lord while He can be found, then the great rush of waters will not reach you. Yes, that ought to call to mind the great rush of waters that came in the days of Noah. Once the rain starts to fall and the Ark is closed, its too late to seek the Lord.

Seek the Lord! Before it’s too late!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 32.

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.

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The Lord’s Voice on Sinai

Today’s reading is Psalm 29.

While the Psalm 29 story of the storm mentions Sirion (another name for Mt. Hermon on the northern edges of Israel, see Deuteronomy 3:9), the quaking of that mountain and the flashes of fire should call to mind another historical moment of God’s powerful voice over a trembling mountain. This one is south of Israel: Mt. Sinai. We read about it in Exodus 19-20. However, I especially like how Moses describes the whole event when he retells it in Deuteronomy 5. God had called the people to be ready for the third day on which He would speak to them from the mountain. On that third day, He declared from the top of the mountain what we call The 10 Commandments. However, the people flat freak out. The cloud, the smoke, the fire, the darkness, and the thundering nature of God’s voice was more than they could stand. Moses says this is what happened: “And as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. And you said, ‘Behold, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die…Go near and hear all that the Lord our God will say, and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it'” (Deuteronomy 5:23-27, ESV). Both God and Moses agreed to this plan. However, the point of all this was that “God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20, ESV). In other words, the trembling of the mountain, the flashing of the fire, the thundering of the voice was intended to have one consequence. The people were supposed to recognize the power of God and His voice. This was supposed to prompt them to obey God’s voice always. Shockingly, they almost immediately forged the golden calf, a violation of commandment #2. And then later, in the wilderness of Kadesh, they refused to enter the Promised Land despite the voice of the Lord. May we learn from Israel’s failure. May we listen to the voice of God always. May we who are not in His holy temple, but are His holy temple cry out “Glory!”

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 29.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk podcast conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

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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.

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.

Continue reading “I Love Your Ways!”

In All Good Conscience? Really?

Today’s reading is Acts 23.

With a straight face, Paul told the Jewish council, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” Wait?! Isn’t this the guy who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen? Isn’t this the guy who chased down Christians and put them in prison? Isn’t this the guy who cast his vote against Christians and led many to their deaths? Yep. Good conscience, huh? Absolutely! Because when he did those things, he really thought he was pleasing God. He really believed that is exactly what God wanted from him. His conscience wasn’t a very good guide during those days, was it? This must be a lesson for us. A good, clean conscience is not our guide. “I’m okay with that,” doesn’t mean God is okay with that. Just because we are certain what we are doing is right with God, doesn’t mean it is. We can have a good conscience and still be lost, separated from God. What we need is the Word of God! Yes, we can train our consciences by God’s Word and our conscience can become a guide. However, let us never assume that because we have a good conscience about something it is obviously the right thing to do. Let us always compare our conscience to God’s Word.

Today’s reading is Acts 23.

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Obey God Rather than Man

Today’s reading is Acts 5.

It’s just that simple. Obey God rather than man. “Man” refers here to members of humankind, not to males. Of course, there are numerous reasons to obey man instead. I can see man. I can hear man. I can get ganged up on by men. Man can mock me. Man can threaten me. Man can bully me. Man can hurt me. Man can kill me. Worse, man can make me feel stupid. Yes, it may be shocking, but I would rather die than feel stupid. But, God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. You know what? I think I can handle feeling stupid if it means receiving the very presence of God via the Holy Spirit. God raised Jesus up from the dead. He exalted Jesus to His right hand and made Him Leader and Savior. I need both. I need a Savior and I need a Leader. Man can’t save me. Why would I let him lead me? Nope. Jesus is the Savior. I think I’ll let Him be my Leader too.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 5.

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Get Back Up When You Fall

Today’s reading is Acts 3.

Let’s think about the healed lame man for one more day. He responded to Peter in faith and accessed the healing grace of God meaning he could walk. He went walking, leaping, and praising God not just that day but for every day thereafter, knowing with every step he was walking because of God’s power and grace and not his own ability. No matter how he felt about the responsibilities of walking, he knew he had been healed, so he kept walking. And then…then the unthinkable happened. He tripped and fell. Who knows? Maybe he just stubbed his toe on a rock jutting out in the road. Maybe he simply got his feet tangled up with one another. Maybe some of the local kids made a game out of tripping up that old beggar man who used to be lame. However it happened, he is lying face down in the dust, that old familiar position. What do you think went through his mind in that moment? I can imagine what would go through my mind. “I knew it was too good to be true. I knew it couldn’t last.” But even with those fleeting thoughts, what did he need to remember? “I have been healed by the power of Jesus Christ. I’m a healed man. It is time for me to get back up and keep walking.” That is just like our salvation. We are going to trip. We are going to stumble. We are going to fall. For any number of reasons, we will find ourselves face down in the spiritual dust. And in that moment, Satan will whisper in our ears, “You knew it was too good to be true. You knew you couldn’t keep it up. You knew you couldn’t make it. You should just stay down here in the dirt and grime and filth of the ground with me.” But what do you need to do? You need to remember you are a healed Christian. You have been saved by the crucified blood of Jesus Christ. Your sins are washed away. You are healed. You need to get back up when you fall and walk like the healed Christian God has made you into. That is who you are. You aren’t the fallen sinner, you are the saved Christian. Get back up when you fall and walk like a healed Christian. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Acts 4.

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Like Children?

Today’s reading is Luke 18.

We find another one of those events in Jesus’s life that we have gotten so used to, we can miss how shocking it is. We love the passage about Jesus letting the little children come to Him. It is so sweet and cuddly. We think about how great it is that Jesus took toddlers into His arms. It is a Kodak moment custom made for a wonderful Hallmark movie. But are you catching how counter-cultural what Jesus says actually is? It wasn’t only counter-cultural in the ancient days, it is counter-cultural today. It isn’t counter-cultural because an adult is accepting children. It is counter-cultural because He is saying we need to b e like children to get into His kingdom. Who wants to do that? You want me to accept your kingdom like a child? You want me to just have faith in You and accept everything You say without question? You want me to be the subservient one who just does what I’m told because I don’t seem to know any better? Don’t we warn children to steer clear of people who say things like this? Can you understand why many mature, grown up adults would have a problem with this? The fact is if anyone else were saying what Jesus says here, it would be awful. If anyone else were saying this, we should run as fast and as far away as we could. But this is Jesus. This is God in the flesh. And we have a good God who has our best interests at heart, which He proved by dying on the cross for us. When He says it, it is amazing and comforting and incredible. I’m not saying we check our reason at the door. I’m not saying just blindly accept that Jesus is who He says He is. However, I am saying, having recognized that the evidence is in Jesus’s favor, if you are going to live your “Christian” life constantly second-guessing Him, wondering if His way really works or if you might have a better plan at least just in this one instance, then Jesus isn’t going to do you any good. There are very few people who are going to say, “Yep, I’m a little child. I’ll accept Jesus like that.” Most people will think that is infantile, naive, immature, and foolish. And most people will miss out on the kingdom. In fact, someone somewhere is reading this post and saying, “See, those Christians are so dumb. Not only are they weak, helpless sheep. They are naive, ignorant little children.” But it is sheep and children that Jesus saves, and I’m okay with that. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 18.

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Believe Enough

Today’s reading is Luke 5.

I vacillate on Peter’s faith in the account of the great catch of fish. Sometimes, I think Peter is demonstrating great faith in Jesus. Other times, I think it is just barely any faith. After all, he does what Jesus says, but not without first having to make sure Jesus knows he thinks it is pointless. But, he did what Jesus said. That is the key I always end up getting back to. Whether he had great faith or small faith, he had enough faith. He had enough faith to do what Jesus said. That is how much faith I need to have. I may struggle with my faith. I may not understand why Jesus has asked what He has. I may even complain about it and think it is pointless. In the end, I need to believe enough to do what Jesus says. Today, my goal is to believe enough.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 5.

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King of the World

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

Satan tempts Jesus to worship Him, but Jesus is not tempted by worshiping Satan. There is nothing about worshiping Satan that by itself is tempting. No, Satan tempts Jesus with the kingdoms of the world. However, the temptation was not actually being king of the world. God has already promised that to Jesus (see Psalm 2). The temptation is becoming king of the world, but avoiding God’s pathway. I don’t think Satan understood the plan of God. I don’t think he had foreseen the crucifixion. But he saw Jesus had left the throne of God and come into the world. He could see God’s way to the throne was awful for Jesus. Satan was supposedly offering Jesus a ticket back to the throne room of God. Whatever God’s plans for Jesus might be, Satan was saying he would give up without a fight and Jesus could bypass anymore hardship. He would just hand over the nations of Jesus would worship him. He could quit this whole incarnation and any other terrible thing God had planned for Jesus if He would just bow down. What a temptation! And isn’t that just how Satan does it. He offers us the easy way. He promises life, joy, peace if we will just take the shortcut. But Jesus knew better. The shortcut wasn’t worth it if it meant worshiping someone other than God. The same is true for us. The shortcut isn’t worth it if it means surrendering to someone other than God. Sure, Satan was probably lying. He always does. Sure, he promises the moon, but only gives dirt. That, however, is really beside the point in this story. Jesus chose the hard path because it was God’s path. God is the only one to be feared, reverenced, obeyed, and worshiped. Oh, how sad it makes me to think of the times I have failed at this even after learning better. But Jesus shows us the way to victory. No matter the past, follow His way today. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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Fear! No Fear!

Today’s reading is Luke 1.

Mary praises God saying, “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). Zechariah, on the other hand, says, “We, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (Luke 1:74). Which is it? Does He have mercy on those who fear or can we serve Him without fear? Yes! I admit, it is possible Zechariah is referring to a fear of the enemies. That is, he might be saying that because we are delivered from our enemies, we can serve God without fearing them. That is a lot like the prayer we hear so often in worship assemblies today saying, “Thank you for letting us gather here without fear of persecution.” My struggle with that is when Christianity started, that is exactly what all Christians faced. Perhaps we can read this as we have no reason to fear our ultimate enemy, Satan. There is definitely truth to that. I can worship God without fear that Satan is going to win. However, I think this struggle we have between scriptural commands to fear God and scriptural promises that we don’t need to fear God comes down to a very simple principle. It was one I was taught back in my college days when I was trained as a trim carpenter. A table saw is a powerful thing. One wrong move, and a finger is gone or an artery cut, and you’re bleeding out on the wood (my boss was always more concerned about blood getting on the wood than leaving my body). However, when you recognize the power and fear it–not a paralyzing terror, but a healthy fear–then you take the proper precautions. When you take the proper precautions, you don’t have to fear the saw. Another illustration comes to mind. When driving, if I fear getting a speeding ticket, I drive the speed limit. When I drive the speed limit, I don’t have to fear a speeding ticket. As odd as it sounds, my fear removes the need for my fear. God has mercy on those who fear Him. Because of that, we have no need to fear Him. Today, because you fear God, go forth without fear.

Next week’s reading is Luke 2.

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