Unto You, O Lord!

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.


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How Long?

Today’s reading is Psalm 4.

How long? That is actually a pretty common question in the Bible. It is used repeatedly by God and His representatives asking people (especially Israel) how long they would rebel and disobey. However, we find it frequently in the psalms as men ask God how long He will punish them or how long He will wait to fulfill His promises. Here, David is asking the people who are troubling him, “How long will you turn my honor into shame, loving vain words and telling lies about me?” When someone gets to the point of asking, “How long?” it has gone on for a while. Most people can tolerate a little. “Okay, someone told some lies about me. It caused a bit of a mess. But enough is enough. How long is this going to linger?” Or “I get it, nobody’s life can be roses and daisies all of the time. Into every life some rain must fall. But come on, how long will I have to face this storm?” I think it is important for me to recognize that the saint’s life is not free from storms, free from trouble, free from turmoil. We will experience pain. We will experience setbacks. We will experience betrayals. Not just moments of pain, setback, betrayal, but even seasons. In fact, we may get to the point of saying, “How long?” But God is still with us. God is still listening. God is still responding. He may not be working on our time table. We may even get to the point of despairing that He is working on any time table. But He is. Wait for Him. Hang on to Him. He will make us to dwell in safety. He will protect. He will guide us home to Him. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 4.

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Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 6.

We tend to romanticize Paul’s suffering. What I mean is we think it is very cool that Paul was willing to suffer so much for Jesus. But what if a fellow asked to preach for your congregation who had just been let out of prison for being at the center of a riot? And it wasn’t the first time that had happened? The powers that be in the culture were letting it be known that he was a arrogant troublemaker? He can’t seem to go into a town without some trouble being stirred up? And now he has decided to preach for your congregation? It doesn’t seem so cool at that point, does it? And that is exactly what Paul was defending against. His opponents were trying to convince the Corinthians to dismiss Paul as a troublemaker. Surely, if he was really on God’s side, these awful things would not be happening to him. They were trying to heap shame on Paul and any who would listen to him. But Paul turned it on its head. His suffering was, in fact, his calling card of authenticity. After all, isn’t that exactly what happened to Jesus? What else could we expect to happen to his greatest spokesperson? Let us be unashamed not only of Christ and the gospel but even of the “shame” that will be heaped on any who proclaim it. That has been the way proclaimers have always been treated. Let us lift them up and lift up the gospel no matter the consequences.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 7.

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Blinded from the Light

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 4.

We’ve all heard about being blinded by the light. In fact, Paul had experienced that once. But what about being blinded from the light? The god of this world is actively working to blind the folks we speak to from the light. Keep that in mind when folks call us names, belittle us, shame us. They will call us haters. They will call us evil. They will come up with names to describe God’s doctrines that sound awful in their attempts to get us to back off from God’s teaching in the Bible. How should we respond? With love and kindness and truth. We do not need to be quarrelsome. We must continue to be courteous to all (see Titus 3:1-2). But we do not need to be ashamed either. We will be afflicted, but not crushed. We will be persecuted, but not forsaken. Let us believe and speak as Paul did. Let us not lose heart because the light momentary affliction we will feel here is preparing an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Yes, the god of this world is fighting against us, but our God always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 5.

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Not Ashamed

Today’s reading is 2 Timothy 1.

Jesus was arrested and killed as a common criminal. Paul was arrested and imprisoned as a common criminal. In many places, Christians were hunted down and treated like common criminals. After a while, that repeated treatment had to wear on Christians. Were they nothing more than common criminals? Paul told Timothy to be unashamed, but to share in that suffering because no matter what the world thought or how it treated them, Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality. Here in American Christianity, few Christians are arrested and treated like common criminals, but the common message is Christians are haters and intolerant. We are portrayed in media and entertainment as ignorant, backwards, outdated, irrelevant. After a while, that repeated treatment wears on Christians. But we need not be ashamed. Ours is the wisdom of God that brings light and life to those who will surrender. God is able to guard us and keep us. Suffer without shame because in the end we will be vindicated.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Timothy 2.

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