No Restraint

Today’s reading is Psalm 40.

Why did David believe God would not restrain Himself from mercy? …from steadfast love? …from faithfulness? …from preserving him?

David had sinned. His iniquities had overtaken him. His iniquities were more than the hairs of his head. With this being the case, why would he ever think God would deliver him?

Because when the Lord had delivered David in the past, David had not restrained his praise. He had told the entire congregation, that is, the entire nation, about God’s power, mercy, deliverance. He had sung God’s praises. He had proclaimed God’s mercies. He didn’t just think about them. He didn’t just meditate on them. He told them.

Because David had no restraint in acknowledging God, he was certain God would have no restraint in saving him.

Certainly, there are plenty of areas in which we need to restrain ourselves. But in the area of God’s praises, let us practice no restraint.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 40.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why do you think anyone would ever restrain themselves from praising God?
  3. What kind of reasons do you have for praising and thanking God?
  4. What kind of reasons does our family have for praising and thanking God?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

I Will Guard My Tongue

Today’s reading is Psalm 39.

David kicks off our psalm with a resolution. “I’m going to keep my mouth shut.” I don’t know all the details of why David made this decision. The only thing I know for sure is his declaration that he wanted to keep from sinning. He especially wanted to keep from sinning in the presence of the wicked.

Perhaps they were tempting him to sin with his tongue. Perhaps he was afraid of giving them a reason to discredit him. Perhaps he was afraid of giving them a reason to discredit God. Perhaps he was afraid of giving them an opportunity to justify their own sins. Perhaps he was angry at them, but knew that to respond verbally with his anger would be sinful.

I don’t know the ins and outs. However, I know this, even though he struggled, he was on to something. In James 3, we learn the tongue is a troublesome little creature. Even in this psalm, we learn James told the truth when he said it was impossible to tame. David tried to tame it, but got so worked up he had to speak. James tells us the tongue is a deadly poison, a world of unrighteousness, staining the whole body. Considering he also told us that pure and undefiled religion means keeping ourselves unstained from the world (James 1:27), we see keeping that tongue muzzled might be pretty important.

But here’s the good news for David. When he finally got to the point of no longer being able to keep his silence, instead of something sinful in the presence of the wicked, he turned to God and prayed. There’s probably a great lesson in that all on its own.

Obviously, we are going to speak. We can’t walk through all of life without ever talking. But between Psalm 39 and James 3, we should probably learn to do a lot more thinking and praying before we start talking.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 39.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What are some of the sins of the tongue?
  3. Why do you think it is so hard to tame the tongue?
  4. What advice would you give to help our family speak in a godly way to one another and to others?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

You Better Believe We Can Find Jesus in Psalm 38

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

What do you mean you don’t think we can find Jesus in Psalm 38? Have you even read it?

“There is no soundness in my flesh…there is no health in my bones…my wounds stink and fester…I am utterly bowed down and prostrate…I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.” Doesn’t that sound like Jesus on the cross?

“O Lord, all my longing is before you…My heart throbs; my strength fails, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest of kin stand far off.” That doesn’t remind you of Jesus at His trial and then His crucifixion?

This psalm is about someone who has enemies laying snares for him, meditating treachery against him. Yet, the whole time he is silent before them. He has vigorous foes and enemies who hate him wrongfully. They render him evil though he has done good for them.

Seriously?! You can’t see Jesus in this?

“Well, Edwin, I mean, yeah those things sound like Jesus, but what about all the sin in this psalm? Jesus didn’t sin. Maybe we can find Jesus in most of the psalms, but surely, we aren’t supposed to find Jesus in this one.”

This struggle is what makes this psalm so profound, especially when we read it through the lens of Jesus. After all, this psalm sounds exactly like Jesus…except for the sin. David went through all this bad stuff, but he did so because of sin. How did God respond to that? He responded by coming into this world and enduring all the bad stuff just like David did. Except Jesus did it without sinning. Jesus went through every bit of this psalm, just like David. Except without the folly. And because Jesus did it without folly and sin, He was able to offer the sacrifice that allowed David to get the forgiveness he was seeking in this psalm.

Jesus came into the world and His life looked just like ours except without sin. He went through what we go through. He faced the struggles. He dealt with the physical trauma, the emotional torment, the relational turmoil. He even went through death. What’s the one difference? He didn’t sin. And because He didn’t, we can turn to God and find forgiveness.

Praise God! We can, in fact, find Jesus in Psalm 38.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 39.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Are you surprised to find Jesus in Psalm 38?
  3. What comfort do you get from recognizing Jesus throughout the psalm, but with the one major difference that all the sin stuff doesn’t apply to Him?
  4. How does finding Jesus in this psalm help us recognize that God really is, as the last verse says, “my salvation”?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Felt Needs vs. Real Need

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

David had some felt needs. (In case you’re not aware, that is modern lingo for talking about the needs people feel and express, actually looking for an answer, as opposed to needs they don’t yet recognize.) He was sick. Really, really sick. His relationships were in a mess. A really, really big mess. His enemies were circling. And his personal demise seemed imminent. Really, really imminent.

But David had a real need. He was guilty of sin. What he really needed was forgiveness. His sin had separated him from God. What he really needed was to get back to oneness with the Lord. Far too often we spend all our time focusing on our felt needs or trying to address people’s felt needs, and we end up ignoring the real need.

I don’t want to completely dismiss the idea of felt needs. After all, as Psalm 38 demonstrates, sometimes God uses these felt needs to draw our attention to our real need. However, please understand that while resolving our real need will sometimes resolve our felt needs, resolving our felt needs will never resolve our real need.

Allow me to explain. When I’m sick, eating healthier, exercising more, losing weight, going to the doctor getting medicine, will never resolve my biggest real need. Getting healthy will not bring me forgiveness. I might live 100 years because I got healthy, but I’ll die in my sin and spend eternity in hell separated from God. Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying if I get forgiven I’ll never be sick. But sometimes, my sickness is caused by my sin, and turning to the Lord will resolve that felt need as well. However, what if it doesn’t? What if I turn to the Lord, receive forgiveness, but die because of my sickness next week? Well…I died forgiven. When I come face to face with God, I’ll be part of His kingdom forever.

Or consider this. When my marriage is a wreck, learning communication skills, problem-solving skills, relationship improving techniques, romantic ideas will never resolve my biggest real need. Growing a happy marriage will not bring me forgiveness. I might stay blissfully married for 75 years and raise socially well-adjusted and professionally successful children, but I’ll die in my sin and spend an eternity in hell separated from God. Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying if I get forgiven, my marriage and family will automatically become great. But sometimes, my relationship problems are caused by my sins, and turning to the Lord will resolve that felt need as well. However, what if it doesn’t? What if my spouse is just a rebel and won’t serve the Lord no matter how much I grow to? What if I turn to the Lord, find forgiveness, forsake my sins, but live in an unhappy marriage for the next 50 years? Well…I’ll die forgiven. When I come face to face with God, I’ll be in His kingdom for eternity.

It is true, sometimes God uses felt needs to get us to think about our real need. Many people decide to seek God when they are sick or when their marriage is on the rocks. But understand no matter what your felt needs are, your real need is the same as everyone else’s. You need forgiveness. And God is offering that. Won’t you turn to Him and receive it?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 38.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What are some of the pressing needs you feel in your life right now?
  3. Will turning to God and doing what He says help with any of those? How?
  4. How has God helped us with our real need?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

My Sins and My Relationships

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

As we learned yesterday, Psalm 38 is a huge comfort when I’ve sinned. It reminds me in no uncertain terms that I can go to God, turn my sins over to Him, and find salvation. However, I don’t know how you read it, but this psalm doesn’t cause me to say, “Oh, cool, I can sin all I want.” In fact, it makes me want to avoid sin as much as possible.

Why? Because I see from this psalm how sin impacts my relationships.

First and foremost, it puts distance between my God and me. I’m no longer walking hand in hand with Him. We aren’t facing everything together. In fact, instead of God and me taking on the world, spreading His kingdom, finding victory, God has to take a break, turn my way, and start trying to get me back on to His team. When I sin, I’m messing up my relationship with God and wasting His time and mine. We could have been accomplishing great work together, instead, it comes to a screeching halt until I get back in gear.

Second, it impacts my relationship with friends and family. Now, we can argue all day long whether the friends, companions, and nearest kin who started standing aloof were right in their response. But, be honest, even if at the end of that discussion we all agree those folks were wrong, is that going to take away the hurt and damage our sin caused the relationships? Of course not. Better to avoid the whole thing by avoiding the sin.

Third, it gives ground to my enemies. You better believe that the enemies of God’s people are on the lookout. They are looking for anything they can latch on to in order to see God’s people fall. They are sharks who smell blood in the water. When I sin, I give them reason to discredit me, reason to discredit my God, and reason for them to rejoice at my demise. I don’t want that. Do you?

Finally, it messes up my relationship with myself. I want to spend my days in joy. Sin forces me to wallow in sorrow. Sure, I had some momentary pleasure in just about every sin I’ve ever committed. But I can tell you with 100% conviction, there is not a single sin that I ever committed that I look back on now and say, “I’m glad I did that.” Not one. This idea that you’ll enjoy your sin for a while and then turn to God later and get the best of both worlds is bogus. It just isn’t true. When you realize what your sins have done, you’ll realize the best sin’s world has to offer is despair, demise, and death. You’ll wish you had avoided it. I promise you. I’ve been there, I know.

Yes, it is fantastic that God will forgive me and welcome me home as His child and not just as a servant even when I’ve gone off into the far country and spent my inheritance recklessly. But is it really getting the best of both worlds to sin for a while and then turn to God for forgiveness. Nope!

If you’re wallowing in your sin right now, turn to God. He’ll forgive you. But if you’re in God right now, don’t turn back to sin. You’ll regret it. I promise.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 38.

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!

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. How have sins impacted your relationships with others?
  3. Why is “sowing your wild oats” and planned repentance a really, really bad idea?
  4. Are you a sinner who needs God’s forgiveness? If so, what sins have you committed?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Not in Anger, Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

Even though I’ve read another psalm that begins with almost this exact same first verse, I’m completely stunned by it. I was stunned by it at Psalm 6, but I’m even more stunned by it here in Psalm 38. I’m more stunned here because there was no sin in Psalm 6. Now, in Psalm 38, David knows he is a sinner. He knows his own sin is part of the problem. He knows he actually deserves all the other problems he is facing. He is certain all those other issues are actually God’s discipline for his sin.

But how does he start? By telling God how to handle his business! I mean, I can hardly even process that. I want to be able to explain this, to outline reasons why this is okay. But, frankly, I’m scared to try to quantify this because I might get it wrong and lead you to pray something you shouldn’t. The only thing I can say is this is grace. This is what mercy looks like.

God has every right to be angry at David. He has every right to judge and punish David. And for David to come to him in that moment and try to set limits on God’s anger and discipline? What on earth is David thinking?

But, wow! What comfort this brings me. When sin is the foundation of my problem, the very last thing I want to do is come to the Lord. I want to hide from Him. I want Him to forget about me. I am afraid to start making too much noise lest He turn His gaze on me and decide to take final action against me and my sin. But David? David knows there is only One who can do anything about his sins. And so, even though his sins are the root of the problem, He turns to God and asks Him for more mercy and grace.

And God lets him!

Please, don’t miss this most important part. In all your study of the psalm about its genre, its verses, its words, its connections to other passages, don’t miss the most important part. This psalm exists! Not only did David write it, God included it in the psalter.

When I sin, and I have, I can come to God and ask Him not to punish me like I deserve. Wow!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 38.

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Are you shocked by Psalm 38:1 at all? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think Psalm 38 is saying every time I’m sick it is because of sin? Why or why not?
  4. How does David actually confront his sin according to Psalm 38:18?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Delight Yourself in the Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

I can’t spend a week in Psalm 37 without commenting on vs. 4. It’s my second favorite verse in the whole Bible. My favorite is Psalm 73:25:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

But a close second is Psalm 37:4:

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

They kind of go together, don’t they?

I misunderstood this passage for the longest time. I thought David was saying, “If I learn to delight in the Lord, I’ll get everything I ever wanted. I’ll get the big house, the nice car, the great family, the cool job. I’ll become a world famous author, an internationally known speaker, and, oh yeah, a mega-billionaire! Woohoo!”

But wait! Didn’t that list of desires actually demonstrate what I really delight in? If I want God just so I can get houses, cars, gadgets, family, better relationships, more money, fame, etc., then I don’t actually want God, do I? I want those things. God just becomes a means to an end instead of the end itself.

It’s a conundrum. If I work really hard to delight in the Lord so I can get all that stuff, my goals and desires defeat any delight I am pursuing in the Lord. In that situation, I don’t get any of it.

I have a choice. I can give up on delighting in the Lord and just pursue what I really delight in. I might even get and enjoy some of those things for a while. But then I don’t get the Lord. And none of those other things last forever. They will all burn up in the end. And I will burn with them as I hold on to them.

Or, I can learn to delight in the Lord. When I really delight in the Lord, the desires of my heart will be the Lord. Then I get the Lord, and I’ll be delighted. He may give me some of that other stuff or He may not. That’s really His business. But when I delight in the Lord, I’m super happy having the Giver and whatever gifts He gives me, I’ll be happy with. Whatever gifts He doesn’t give me…well…so what? I have the Giver. I’m delighted.

What are you delighting in today?

Today’s reading is Psalm 37

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why are things like houses, cars, clothes, relationships, jobs, money, gadgets, gizmos, and games so much easier to delight in and desire than God?
  3. Take a look at James 1:14-15. Why is it important to get this desire and delight thing in proper perspective and order?
  4. How do you think we can increase our delight in God?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Stay Cool

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

When I hear “fret not,” as the first words of this psalm are translated in the ESV, I think about getting anxious and worried. However, the term is literally about heat. It is more like, “Don’t get overheated.” And that picture had a similar connotation for the Hebrews as it does for us. Heat accompanies anger. We might say things like, “Don’t get fired up.” Or “Don’t get hot under the collar.” In fact, this word is translated as “kindled” in several places when it talks about anger being “kindled” (see Psalm 106:40; 124:3).

Can you understand why someone might get angry when they see wicked people? Of course, we might get angry at the wicked themselves. When they perform their wickedness, it is an affront to God and it is often hurtful to us. Remember in Psalm 35 when we noticed the connection to David’s anger at Nabal? Just looking at external circumstances, Nabal appeared to be blessed while David appeared to be cursed. After all, Nabal had a fantastic, thriving ranch. David was on the run. When Nabal, that worthless, wicked fellow, refused to help David, David was incensed. His anger burned. And can’t we understand it? Aren’t we almost alongside him, egging him on? He almost took vengeance and vindication into his own hands. By God’s providence, Abigail intervened and cooled David’s anger. It was a blessing. Then God dealt with Nabal. He had been spreading like a green tree, 10 days later he could not be found and his wife was marrying David.

However, is there anyone else with whom we might become angry when the wicked appear blessed? Of course, we might get angry with God. He promised that we, His people, the righteous who worship Him and honor the work of His hands would be the green trees, blessed and fruitful. When we are on the run under the oppressive hand of the wicked, we may begin to believe God isn’t holding up His end of the covenant. And that is angering.

Psalm 1 was the gateway to the psalms explaining that those who meditate on God’s law are the blessed trees, and those who don’t are wicked chaff that get blown away. Psalm 37 brings in the healthy dose of reality that this distinction doesn’t always take place immediately. Even Psalm 1 was actually talking about what was to come at the end of the paths we chose, not the beginning. In fact, if it happened at the beginning, the choice of sin wouldn’t even be tempting, would it?

Whether we are talking about our reaction against the wicked themselves or against God who seems to be letting the wicked slide, we need to remember James’s teaching in James 1:20:

The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

So, when you see the wicked prosper, stay cool. God will deal with it in His time.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why is it so easy to get angry at the wicked people and at God when we see wicked people seem to be blessed?
  3. What kind of sins can seething in our anger lead to? (Hint: you might look at Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32)
  4. In Psalm 37:1-9, David gives five positive statements about what we should do instead of fretting or getting overheated. What are they? How do we do them?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

When the Wicked Look Like the Blessed

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

David says:

I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.

Wait! What? That’s not right. Wicked people are chaff driven by the wind. They are not green trees, spreading out and growing. Just reread Psalm 1.

Yet, David has seen wicked trees. They look a lot like the fruitful trees of the blessed. They have their eye on the blessed, the righteous. They are doing what they can to afflict the righteous, to cut them off, to put them to death. All the while parading about like blessed trees. However, they are diseased.

David’s wise lesson on this? Don’t fret. They may look like a tree for a short time. But give it some time; the wicked tree will disappear. That is, though it appears to be a solid, stable tree, it will demonstrate that it is actually no more substantial than the chaff the wind blows away.

In fact, we Christians might remember Jesus’s own teaching here. You will know the tree by its fruit. And the tree that doesn’t produce healthy fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire (see Matthew 7: 17-20).

When you see the wicked looking like the blessed, don’t get bent out of shape. Just wait on the Lord. He’ll set things to rights in His time. And those who are His will be the ones truly blessed.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 37.

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.

Discuss the following questions with your family.

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Have you ever seen a time when wicked people looked like they were blessed?
  3. How does Satan use these seemingly blessed wicked people as a threat to God’s people?
  4. How does Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 7:17-20 help you respond when you see wicked people who appear blessed?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Paul, On Sin

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

David speaks of Transgression’s first deceitful counsel. “You don’t need to fear God.” Notice, Transgression doesn’t advise, “You don’t need to believe in God.” Rather, he counsels, “You don’t need to believe God matters.” David says that for the person who listens, “There is no fear of god before his eyes.”

Did that statement sound familiar to you? It might. Paul quotes it in his dissertation on sin in Romans 3:18. For David, this lack of fear is the foundation for a life that sinks deeper and deeper into sin. For Paul, it is the culmination of sinful attitudes and behaviors. Either way we recognize the entire package of sin and its deceitful schemes.

Sin doesn’t have to convince us God doesn’t exist. Sin only has to convince us God doesn’t matter to our lives today. He isn’t watching. He doesn’t care. We can hide our sin from Him. We can always repent tomorrow. Everybody does it.

Ooh! Let’s stop and think about that last justification. Because that is actually part of Paul’s declaration on sin. His whole point in Romans 3 is that both Jews and Gentiles sin. The passages he quotes, including Psalm 36:1, stop every mouth and make the whole world accountable to God (Romans 3:19-20). Hold on, Sin told me my iniquity cannot be found out. Sin told me I’d never be held accountable. Sin lied.

In fact, consider one of Sin’s most insidious lies. “Don’t worry about me being in your life,” Sin says. “That’s why Jesus died.” Can you tell why that one is so insidious? Because it contains more than a kernel of truth. Your sin is the reason Jesus died. But Sin, Transgression, Satan want you to believe Jesus died so you would never be held accountable for your sins. They want you to believe Jesus died so you can keep living in sin. To Sin, Jesus’s death means sin doesn’t matter. But that isn’t what Paul teaches, and that isn’t what David was teaching.

Jesus did die because you sin. However, He didn’t die to let you continue in sin. He died to let you repent of your sin. He died to strengthen you to abandon your sin. He died to empower you to overcome your sin. Paul explains in Romans 6:1-4, that when we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death. When we are raised, we have died to sin. We must not continue to live in it. Rather, we live a new life by the power of Jesus’s resurrection.

But understand this. After you are baptized, Sin and Satan are going to pull out all the stops trying to convince you to come back into their arms. Don’t listen. Jesus died to set you free from sin. Don’t let His death be in vain for you. Hang on to Jesus. He will set you free.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “Paul, On Sin”