My Spirit and My Times

Today’s reading is Psalm 31.

“Into your hand I commit my spirit,” David says in Psalm 31:4. That sounds beautiful. I want to do that. But what does it mean? Practically, how do I commit my spirit to the Lord? Perhaps Psalm 31:15 gives us some insight. David also says, “My times are in your hand.” That is, my circumstance, my life events, my days, my nights, my seasons, my weeks, my years. If “my times” are in God’s hands, doesn’t that imply my behavior during those times is in God’s hands? Paul provides a great example of this in 2 Corinthians 12:10. Having become convinced of God’s grace in his life through a thorn in the flesh, he says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In other words, “My circumstances are in the Lord’s hands. If He decides to make me sick, if He decides to make me go through a shipwreck, if He decides to put me in prison, if He decides to make me abound in prosperity, I’ll trust Him that He is doing what is right; and I’ll just obey Him no matter what.” Of course, Jesus demonstrates this on the cross. He even quotes it (Luke 23:46). Even if God puts me on a cross. Even if I’m thrown in a fiery furnace or a lion’s den. Even if the fig tree doesn’t blossom, there is no fruit on the vine, the produce of the olive fail, the fields yield no food, the flocks and herds get destroyed, I will rejoice in the Lord (Habakkuk 3:17-18). He’ll get me through. I trust Him. My job will just be to do whatever He says and rejoice in Him no matter what. I know in the end, He’ll work it out for His glory and my good. My spirit and my times are in the Lord’s hands. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 31.

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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The Lord’s Earth

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.

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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Wait! Who Did You Call a Fool?

Today’s reading is Psalm 14.

Yesterday, I felt pretty self-satisfied. After all, I’m no fool. I believe in God. I go to church. I pray and read my Bible. But wait…what’s that you say? There is none who does good? Is it really so bad you had to say it twice? God looked down from heaven to see if any understand and seek after him and He couldn’t find any? Not a single one? How many of them have turned aside? All of them? But wait, that means you’re talking about…me! Yup! In fact, no less than the apostle Paul quotes this psalm in Romans 3:10-12 as part of his argument that you and me and everyone else are sinners in need of a Savior. I have been a fool. I, alongside everyone else, have diminished God in my own mind and heart. I, alongside everyone else, decided at some point in my life that God was inconsequential, His will didn’t matter, His promises were not true, His law was not supreme. And I decided to neglect and ignore His direction, His pleading, His instruction to do what I wanted to do instead. I am a fool. I need a Savior. Praise God! He sent One to Zion!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 14.

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The Kingdom Unchained

Today’s reading is Acts 28.

I can’t believe Luke ended this history where he did. What a downer. Paul is awaiting his audience with Caesar. The “trial” has been going on for years now. He’s traveled from Jerusalem to Caesarea, from Caesarea to Rome. He’s been before the Jewish Council, before Felix, before Festus, before Agrippa. He has been through a shipwreck. Couldn’t Luke just go ahead and let us know the outcome of Paul’s trial? It may be that Luke was actually writing during this imprisonment. That hindrance to the missionary journeys may have been just the sabbatical from travel Luke needed to write his two books. But still, makes me wonder why the Holy Spirit worked things out to end this book right here. I mean the main character is in prison. That’s not how you expect a story to end. Except, that’s not true. The main character in the story is not in prison. The main character is not Paul. The main character is the Word of God, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. And here is what is amazing. Paul is in prison, but even in chains, he is teaching anyone and everyone he can. He is proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is in chains, but the Gospel of the Kingdom is unchained. On the surface, it may look like the Jews or Rome is winning. After all, they’ve got Christianity’s greatest ambassador locked up. But they are not winning, because they can’t lock up the Kingdom. It is growing. It is succeeding. It is winning. And that is still true today. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 1.

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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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Taking Courage from the Brethren

Today’s reading is Acts 28.

Who knew? Paul needed encouragement. I’ve always viewed Paul as one of those lone wolf, “Me and God got this,” always at the top of his game fellows. I mean, I know it has been a hard couple of years for Paul, but God has promised a trip to Rome (something he’s always wanted) and God just saved him and all his buddies from a shipwreck. And through all of that, he is constantly encouraging others. What kind of encouragement did he really need at this point? And yet, Luke says when he saw the brethren who came out to meet him from Rome, he thanked God and took courage. Even Paul needed a pick me up. Even Paul needed a shot in the arm. Did you notice where he found it? He found it from his brethren. Paul had written to Rome before, but he had never been there. It’s possible some brethren he knew from his travels had made their way to Rome. But for the most part, these are folks he hasn’t met. They heard about his coming and came out to meet him. And it encouraged him. Never underestimate the need your brothers and sisters have to be encouraged. They may put on a stiff upper lip, but we all need encouragement. And never underestimate what encouragement your presence will be if you just show up to be of service and support. Paul needed it. The people around you in your congregation need it too.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 28.

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Give Thanks for Even the Small Blessings

Part of me wonders what the crew and prisoners thought when Paul started giving thanks for the food he was eating. I mean, it looks like we are all going to die. I know you claim your God is going to save us, but I’m still in doubt. I’d be thankful for the storm to quit. I’d be thankful if some sign showed itself in the heavens demonstrating we are going to be delivered. I’d be thankful if God’s hand reached out of the sky, lifted me up, and brought me to dry land. But as it is, we are still in the middle of a storm-tossed ship and you want to thank God that you are getting to eat a final meal? That seems a little backwards. But isn’t that life? Sometimes we are in the midst of all kinds of difficulties and hardships. There are really big picture problems surrounding us. We have begged God to deal with them, but nothing has happened yet. In the middle of all that, we need to pay attention to the small blessings. We are still getting to breathe because of God’s mercy, grace, and providence. We are eating a meal because God has provided it. We have clothes to wear because of God’s provision. We have friends, brethren, family. The list goes on and on. Sure, there are times when God hasn’t responded to our big requests. In those moments, Satan wants us to believe God is ignoring us. He isn’t. The small blessings are still happening. Every good and perfect gift comes from God, even the small, regularly provided gifts that we take for granted. Don’t forget to thank God for those.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 27.

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Obey God, OR You Can’t Be Saved

Today’s reading is Acts 27.

What an interesting occurrence. God had already declared that there would be no loss of life among the crew and prisoners. But when the sailors were seeking to escape the ship, Paul said, “If those guys leave, you can’t be saved.” In other words, if you don’t obey God, you can’t be saved. No doubt, the sailors didn’t earn their deliverance by staying on the ship. They were still saved by grace. The captain was still saved by God’s grace. Paul was still saved by God’s grace. However, if they had ignored God’s will about this, they would not have been saved by God’s grace. When it comes to our salvation, we need to understand, we don’t earn salvation by obeying God, but if we decide to ignore God’s Word and will, we won’t be saved. Trust in God’s grace and serve the Lord faithfully.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 27.

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Inspiration

Today’s reading is Acts 27.

In Acts 27:10, Paul perceived if they traveled away from the Fair Havens, it would mean great loss of not only the ship and cargo, but of their lives. However, by the time we finish the chapter, we learn nobody died. What’s up with that? Isn’t Paul inspired? No. Paul is not inspired. The Scriptures are inspired. We need to recognize the difference. Inspiration does not mean everything Paul ever said came from God. Inspiration means God got what He wants in the Scriptures. Paul didn’t walk around spouting God’s Word. Certainly, as a prophet, some things he said were a result of that gift. Most definitely, the letters we have left behind, since they are Scripture, were what God wanted written. But this statement was Paul speaking from his own wisdom and knowledge of sea travel. He was a smart man. Without God’s intervention, what he said would obviously have been true. However, it wasn’t God’s message to the captain or the people. The message from the angel, of course, was God’s Word. That message was God-breathed; it was inspired. Apostles, prophets, people are not inspired, God’s message is. We need to maintain the difference.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 27.

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