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.
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!”
Today’s reading is Psalm 25.
The previous psalm explained that whoever lifts up his soul to what is false is not allowed to ascend the holy hill of Yahweh. As if in response, this psalm begins with a clear “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” In the previous psalm, this kind of person would receive blessing and righteousness from the Lord. In this psalm, the psalmist is asking the Lord to hold true to His word. “Let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” However, it is more than a request, it is also a confident assertion. “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.” He ends this psalm the same place he begins. His foes are many. They are violent and hateful. But he takes refuge in the Lord and waits on Him. Therefore, he asks and expects the Lord to guard his soul and keep him from shame. Today, we recognize that suffering and struggle, whether from enemies or from some other source, isn’t an indication of shame nor does it lead to shame. Paul tells us our suffering produces endurance, our endurance produces character, character produces hope, and our hope does not put us to shame. Further, we are confident this is true because God’s love has been poured into our hearts and the Holy Spirit has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5). The next time you sing “Unto thee, O Lord,” remember there is no shame with the Lord. Praise the Lord!
Tomorrow’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!
Continue reading “Unto You, O Lord!”
Today’s reading is Psalm 18.
And here we are again. We read a psalm that throws up a red flag right in the middle of it. David claims God gave him the victory because of his own personal righteousness. Because he had kept himself from guilt and uncleanness. And at this point we commentators scramble. How can this be true? Perhaps back in the days of Saul, David could make some claims to righteousness; he hadn’t committed his truly horrendous sins yet. Or perhaps he was only referring to some kind of relative righteousness. Sure, he was a sinner, but not quite as bad as his pagan enemies. Or maybe righteousness here shouldn’t be seen as…well…you know…real, true, complete righteousness. Maybe it is more just talking about the fact that he pursued righteousness by relying on God and His law even when He sinned. Then there is the old tried and true reliable possibility that David is only referring to the particular sin he was accused of by his enemies in the particular instance when they were chasing him. And all of these statements can be construed as true when we read this psalm in the light of David. But perhaps David isn’t simply talking about himself. Perhaps, like so many of the psalms, this is supposed to grab our attention and make us think of someone else. Someone who could actually say all these things literally. And perhaps this psalm actually makes the claim more clearly than just this dissonance between the psalm and the actual life of David. Look at how the psalm ends: “For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing to your name. Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.” Wait! Who is this offspring? This seed? Who is the anointed (Hebrew: Messiah)? Hmmm. Can it be? Of course it is. While Psalm 18 refers to David in limited, figurative, metaphorical ways, it applies to His seed in very literal ways. We should not be surprised that death encompassed Jesus or that Sheol entangled Him. And neither are we surprised when Jesus was drawn out from the torrents of death, rescued from His enemy, and then beat death and Sheol as fine as dust. And exactly why was Jesus able to take this place in history? Because He, of all men, was exactly what this psalm claims. He was righteous. His hands were clean. He kept the ways of the Lord. He did not wickedly depart from God. God’s rules and statutes were always before him. He was blameless. He kept His way completely from guilt. Praise the Lord! Because of an indestructible life, death could not destroy Him. Therefore, throughout all the nations His name is proclaimed and His God is proclaimed. In fact, in case you think I’m just going off the ranch trying to make this apply to Jesus, you might check out Romans 15:9. Paul thought this was really about Jesus as well. Praise the Lord! Though we are among the nations, we have a mighty, victorious King!
Next week’s reading is Psalm 19.
Continue reading “The Seed”
Today’s reading is Psalm 15.
Well, we’re in a bit of a quandary, aren’t we? Only the blameless get to dwell with the Lord. We water that down a bit so we can pretend we fit. However, we look at Psalm 15 as a mirror, and we can’t even see ourselves in it. Oh, we try hard. Sure, we are better than some people at it. But when the reality settles on us, we know there is really no hope for us. We start to turn away in sadness like that young ruler who had many possessions. We stop to wonder, “But who qualifies? Does anyone?” Yes! One is qualified: Jesus Christ, the righteous, the incarnate Son of God. He fulfilled every bit of this description of God’s welcome guest. He had every right to live on God’s Holy Mountain. And yet, what did He do? He died on God’s Holy Mountain. Every bit of the judgment for not fulfilling Psalm 15 was poured out on the only One who was qualified according to it. Why? To prepare a dwelling place for us (John 14:1-4, 24). The righteous requirement of the Law is that sinners die. Those who are unqualified don’t get to dwell with God. But Jesus, the only qualified one who knew no sin, died a sinner’s death fulfilling the righteous requirement of the Law. Those who die with Christ fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law in Him (Romans 8:4). And through that grace of fulfillment, we are granted access to God’s Tent on His Holy Hill. Again, none of this means we ignore the Psalm 15 qualifications for dwelling with God. Rather, through Jesus’s death and God’s Holy Spirit of grace we meet the qualifications. Yes, we still often fail at these qualifications, but we hang on to Jesus and keep climbing God’s mountain. By God’s strength and grace we will summit the Holy Hill and we will dwell with the Lord. Hallelujah! So my big question for you is not how good you are at being blameless, but have you died with Christ? Do you even know how? If you are interested in learning how, read Romans 6:1-4. Then shoot us a message. We’d love to help you take up your residence on God’s Holy Hill.
Next week’s reading is Psalm 16.
Continue reading “The Only One Qualified”
Today’s reading is Psalm 5.
David had a real problem. He was beset by enemies. How was he going to know what to do next? How was he going to know how to respond? He made it clear in Psalm 5:8: “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.” He understood very clearly he would not make it into the Lord’s house apart from the Lord’s love and leadership. He may have meant this very literally. If this psalm was written during Absalom’s rebellion, David was separated from the House of the Lord. He would only get back to Jerusalem and to the Tabernacle if the Lord led him back there. Or, if he wrote it some other time, he may have been speaking metaphorically. In either case, he understood he wasn’t going to forge his own way into God’s House and God’s blessing. He had to follow the Lord. Notice it is because of the enemies he needs God to make the way straight. That is, the enemies are deceivers. They are liars. They are trying to direct David away from God. The only solution is if the Lord will lead. The take away for me is there are two ways: one is through the counsel of deceivers and liars and the other is through the counsel of the Lord. Wait! That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? And that is the point. Just like in the first psalm, the only way that works is the Lord’s Way. The only way to know the Lord’s Way is through the Lord’s Word. Don’t be deceived by the wicked, sinful, scoffers. Follow the Lord only. His way works. His Word works!
Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 5.
Continue reading “Follow Your Real King”
Today’s reading is Acts 24.
Did you catch what Paul spent his time talking to Felix about? Righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment. Most folks today would tell us that isn’t the place to start. Paul should have talked about love, grace, mercy. Paul should have shown Felix how he was on Felix’s side and won the right to speak to him about those other things by just being his friend. But Paul dove right in. And notice Felix’s response. He was alarmed, frightened, scared. Folks today would tell us we should never preach in such a way as to produce those kinds of emotions. Yet, that is exactly what Paul did. I obviously don’t know the exact sermon Paul preached, but it must have gone something like this. “There is a judgment coming on you Felix. It won’t be pretty because you aren’t righteous and you lack self-control. What you need is a righteous Savior and you need the Spirit of God to empower you to self-control. Turn to Jesus as your King before it is too late.” Felix was scared, but wouldn’t buy it. Do you?
Next weeks’s reading is Acts 25.
Continue reading “Righteousness, Self-control, and the Coming Judgment”
Today’s reading is 2 Timothy 3.
I just want you to know how glad I am that you take part in this daily devotion and Bible reading plan. Truly, there is almost nothing you can do that is more important than being in God’s Word on a regular, even daily basis. In our modern world, we often look for new and sophisticated ways to improve and grow. But the reality is: the number one way for us to grow is simply to be in the sacred, holy writings of God. They will teach you. They will reprove you. They will correct you. They will train you in righteousness. They will provide all you need to make you complete, equipped for every good work. I’m so glad you’re reading today. May I encourage you to keep reading no matter what. And if you miss some days or weeks or however long, don’t beat yourself up. Just pick it back up and read again.
Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Timothy 4.
Continue reading “Keep Reading”
Today’s reading is Matthew 5.
Try to imagine how the Jews heard Jesus’s statement that their righteousness really needed to surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees. Today, their hypocrisy has been so highlighted, it doesn’t seem that hard to surpass them in righteousness. However, when Jesus said this, their seeming strict adherence to the Law, their Bible knowledge, their ability to argue the finer points, seemed to set them far ahead of all their compatriots. They were the cream of the spiritual crop. But Jesus says despite all the righteousness they seemed to have, our righteousness must surpass theirs. Then He gives a list of comparisons to shine the light on surpassing righteousness. Don’t just avoid murder, avoid anger. Don’t just avoid adultery, avoid desire. Don’t divorce, stay married. Don’t just keep oaths, always mean what you say. Don’t even the score, sacrifice. Don’t just love those who love you, love your enemies. Then, and only then, will our righteousness surpass the Pharisees’. Uh oh. I’m in trouble. I’ll never make it. And that is why I need Jesus. If my path to God is my surpassing righteousness, I’ll never make it. If Jesus is my path to God, He will grant me and grow me in surpassing righteousness. I can’t out Pharisee the Pharisees; even if I could, it wouldn’t get me any closer to God. I need Jesus. How about you?
Monday’s reading is Matthew 6.
Continue reading “Surpassing Righteousness”
Today’s reading is Romans 8.
Many misunderstand Romans 8:4 when it talks about how the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us through Jesus Christ. It is not, as many suspect, that Jesus’s perfectly righteous life is imputed to us and through His perfect life the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled. As shocking as it may seem to you, based on the flow and context of Romans, the righteous requirement of the law here is not a perfectly righteous life. In Romans 1:32, we were told God’s righteous decree is that sinners deserve to die. In Romans 6:23, we are told the wages of sin is death. In Romans 7:1-4, we are told we are freed from the law by death. However, we are freed not by our own death, but by the death of Jesus. And this is the righteous requirement of the law that is fulfilled in us by Jesus. The law righteously requires that sinners die for their sins. Through Jesus’s death, that righteous requirement is fulfilled in those who live according to the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the body. It is not that Jesus’s perfect life is imputed to us but rather His sacrificial death. Praise the Lord!
Monday’s reading is Romans 9.
Continue reading “Righteous Requirement of the Law”
Today’s reading is Romans 1.
Today, we read the central verse of our theme for the entire year. Paul was unashamed of the gospel. There is so much we could say about that. Remember, Paul was unashamed because the gospel is uparallelled–it is the power of God. The gospel is unsurpassed–it is for salvation. The gospel is unlimited–it is for all who believe. The gospel is unbiased–it is for the Jew and the Greek. The gospel is untarnished–it is the righteousness of God. No wonder Paul was unashamed. Let us also be unashamed and share this powerful good news with as many as we can.
BTW: You can delve more into each of these by listening to our sermon series: “Unashamed.” Click Here to find all five lessons.
Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 2.
Continue reading “Unashamed!”