Not a Bone was Broken

Today’s reading is Psalm 34.

Did you see Jesus at the end of this psalm?

He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Psalm 34:20

In John 19:36, we learn Jesus died relatively quickly on the cross. This kept the soldiers from breaking His legs. John says that was to fulfill the Scripture that says, “Not one of his bones will be broken” (ESV).

Certainly, this is part of Jesus fulfilling the Passover sacrifice (see Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12). Yet, Jesus is fulfilling our psalm as well.

Now, I know that sounds odd based on where we started the week. We explained that this psalm is David’s meditation on a moment when he stumbled and fell, but God delivered him anyway. Jesus didn’t stumble and fall. Why would we ever say this psalm is about Him? Good question.

The answer is very simply this. Even though David stumbled and fell, he learned how he was actually supposed to act. He used the experience to turn around and teach the coming generations how they were supposed to live. What did Jesus do? He lived that way. Where David failed, Jesus succeeded.

Jesus lived in fear of God and in wisdom. Jesus lived without deceit and without evil. Jesus sought peace and pursued it. Jesus took refuge in the Father. He committed His spirit into the hands of God. He faced many afflictions, but the Lord delivered Him from them all. And very specifically, despite all His afflictions, not a bone was broken. And because He succeeded, even though He died under Rome’s condemnation, His life was redeemed from the grave because of God’s approval and power. He was condemned by Pilate to die on the cross; He was justified (declared innocent) by God through the resurrection.

From David who failed and from Jesus who succeeded, we learn the same lesson. Trust the Lord. Take refuge in Him. Do what He says. It will be worth it in the end.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 35.

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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Prayer: 99% of the Fight

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

The king has told you to get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be hard. But you can’t sleep. Tomorrow may be your last. The sentries are doing their jobs, making sure no enemy sneaks in and attacks at night. But still, you can’t leave the job up to them. You sit outside your tent watching, trying to hold down your supper, talking nervously with the other soldiers who can’t sleep either. In the distance, you see the campfires of the enemy dotting the landscape like stars across a completely clear sky. Their number suggests thousands of enemies. Not only that, they suggest thousands more than you know are on your side. Not only that, you’ve heard the stories. The enemy has horses and chariots by the thousands. They are skilled with these ancient tanks. They have plowed through other armies as a plague of locusts through fields of grain. What are you to do? Psalm 20 contains the answer. You pray! Not because you have no hope. Not because that is all that is left to you. No. You pray because your one hope is Yahweh, the God of Jacob. The God who listens in the day of distress. Your first line of defense is prayer. This is exactly the picture of Psalm 20. Israel is about to engage in battle, led by her King. But Israel does not go into battle unprepared. Oh, her preparations are not about sharpening swords or greasing chariot axles. Her preparation is prayer. Israel’s hope is not in the size of her army. Israel’s hope is not in the skill of her soldiers. Israel’s hope is not in chariots and horses. Israel’s hope is the Lord God. Therefore, victory is assured. And so, you can’t sleep. But that is okay, because you need to be awake to pray.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Edwin Crozier and Andrew Roberts that expands on this post.

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Holy Heroes

Today’s reading is Psalm 16.

I love the New Living Translation of Psalm 16:3: “The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!” When we take refuge in God, we look up to the right people. It is so easy in our day and age to idolize actors, athletes, authors, singers, and that new phenomenon that graces social media, the influencer. We might look up to world leaders, social activists, community organizers. And, no doubt, any one of these folks may have some qualities worth emulating. However, we need to choose our heroes carefully. And the greatest characteristic we need to be looking for is whether or not they are following Jesus. Are they one of the saints? I get it. Many saints have clay feet (actually, don’t we all?). In fact, we may see some people in the world who seem to have life together better than some of the saints we go to church with. Yet, it would be better to imitate the poor begging bum on the side of the road who is following Jesus than the successful millionaire in the gated community who isn’t. Can anyone say, “Rich man and Lazarus”? Finally, we need to be aware we can’t take refuge in God if we don’t delight in God’s people. Most of the time, when people think they are making it “Just me and God,” they are actually practically living “Just me.” And that never works. Who are your heroes?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 16.

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The Most Joy

Today’s reading is Psalm 4.

Today’s question is simple, but challenging. What brings you joy? For some, it is large crops. That, of course, represents success, prosperity, feasting, partying. How many folks assume that if all that is in line, then God must be on their side. But David knew better. God brought David joy. Certainly, we are going to see psalms in which David is sad, even despondent. But when David was full of joy there was only one place it came from. It came when he was fully convinced God was with him. He didn’t have to have a bumper crop to know God was on his side. He didn’t have to have some kind of physical, financial prosperity to know God was on his side. He simply had to have faith. Back to our question. What brings you joy? Money? A promotion at work? Passing a test? A new car? New clothes? A great meal? What brings you joy? If all these things were taken away, could you have joy? If all these things were taken away, would you have joy knowing God is still with you? What brings you the most joy? May it always be God. Then you can have joy no matter what else happens.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 5.

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Perspective Matters

Today’s reading is Acts 14.

In yesterday’s post, we talked about all the hardships Paul and Barnabas went through on this missionary journey. Today, notice the report they gave about it. “When they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” The report wasn’t about all the Jews had done to them. It wasn’t about all the pain they had experienced. It wasn’t about all the suffering they went through. It wasn’t about all the rejection they faced. It was about the miracles and the acceptance of so many Gentiles. I don’t want to blow PMA smoke as if the key to success in any endeavor is simply to maintain a positive mental attitude. However, I think it is important to recognize when it comes to conviction, faithfulness, perseverance in the face of opposition and persecution, perspective matters. If we focus on the rejections and hardships, we’re going to give up. When we focus on the working of God and the doorway of faith that folks are actually walking through, we’ll stick with it. Paul had a persevering perspective. I want to develop one too. How about you?

Next week’s reading is Acts 15.

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Herod vs. the Word

Today’s reading is Acts 12.

Today’s thought is very simple. Herod wanted to stamp out the church. He wanted to stop the spread of the Word. So, he executed James and thought he was going to execute Peter. James went to be with the Lord. Peter escaped. Herod died, eaten by worms. The Word of God increased and multiplied. Here we are nearly 2000 years later, the Word is still growing, increasing, and multiplying. Herod isn’t even food for worms anymore. Let’s just understand that no matter who attacks the Word, the Word will win. Don’t abandon the Word.

Next week’s reading is Acts 13.

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When Prayer is Working

Today’s reading is Luke 22.

I once read the report from a “scientific” study that claimed it had proven prayer doesn’t work. The study followed heart surgery patients divided into certain groups based on being prayed for or not and the patients’ knowledge of being prayed for or not. Negative heart and health events following surgery were tracked. There was practically no statistical difference in the number of negative events post-surgery between those who had been prayed for and those who hadn’t, whether they knew they were being prayed for or not. “Aha!” the scientists cried. “Prayer doesn’t work!” I could write multiple posts on how unscientific the study actually was, but that is really beside the point. The fundamental problem was the people conducting this study did not truly understand the purpose of prayer, and, therefore, didn’t know how to judge if it was working. The people conducting this study thought prayer was working when people got what they asked for. That is not the case, and Jesus’s prayer on the Mount of Olives demonstrates this. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done,” He prayed. Jesus actually demonstrates the primary purpose of prayer is not to get what we ask for, but to bend us to God’s will. Prayers is not working when we get what we ask for. Prayer is working when we become more like God through our praying, when our will aligns more perfectly with His because of our praying. God did not take the cup from Jesus. Did that mean His prayer didn’t work? Of course not. His prayer worked because when it came time to drink the cup, Jesus surrendered to the will of His Father. His prayer strengthened Him to fight the temptation and aligned Him even more perfectly with the will of the Father. His praying worked. As shocking as it may be, prayer isn’t about conforming God to our will, it’s about us conforming to His. Let’s keep praying; let’s keep conforming.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 22.

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An Upside-Down Kingdom

Today’s reading is Luke 7.

I caught something today I’ve never thought about before. When Jesus is describing John, He says, “Those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.” The thing is–John is part of a King’s court. He is the herald of the greatest King ever. Yet, he still lived in the wilderness, ate locusts and wild honey, and was rough as a cob. What’s up with that? Jesus’s kingdom is upside-down. It isn’t about advancing to luxury and leisure. It is about advancing to the role of servant. The greatest servant in the whole kingdom is the King Himself, who stepped off His heavenly throne, lived as a poor man on earth, and suffered as if He were a criminal all to save us. Is it any surprise His great herald is a man like John? The good news for us is to become a citizen of the Kingdom, we don’t have to climb the ladder of corporate success. We do not have to be financial tycoons. We do not have to be counted great in the eyes of the world. We do not need to advance up the ranks to hit the top. In fact, that is not advancing in the kingdom at all. We must grow to be the least, the smallest, the servant, and we will be great in Christ’s kingdom. In fact, we will become greater than the King’s herald. What is your advancement strategy today?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 7.

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I Think I Can

Today’s reading is Matthew 17.

Sadly, more Americans base their lives on “The Little Engine that Could,” than on Jesus Christ. You know the story. The little train engine started up the hill and slid back down and tried again and again. Finally, as it started up for a final attempt, it repeated to itself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…” and finally did. And now another generation knows that success comes from believing in ourselves. I’m sure there are some aspects of life where that really does work. However, it won’t work for spiritual success. When the apostles couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus wasn’t telling them, “If you just believe in yourselves more.” He was telling them, “If you believe in Me.” When we are climbing up the spiritual hill, repeating “I think I can, I think I can” will only lead to failure. We can’t. If we could, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die and God wouldn’t have needed to send the Holy Spirit. Rather, we need to declare again and again, “I know Jesus will; I know Jesus will.” Then take another step in the faith that Jesus will give us the strength to take that step and then another and then another. And in those moments when the enemy knocks us down and tries to convince us we can’t, get back up and repeat, “I know Jesus will; I know Jesus will.”

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 18.

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Free

Today’s reading is Acts 28.

I love the way Acts ends. Don’t get me wrong. I hate that Paul is in prison. I would much rather he be free to travel. However, what I love about it is the Jews were doing everything they could to keep Paul from preaching and keep the gospel from spreading. But even with Paul under house arrest in Rome, the proclamation of the kingdom and the teaching of Jesus Christ is free. It is progressing with boldness and without hindrance. That is how amazing and powerful the gospel is. Even when its #1 teacher is stuck under the watchful eye of Roman guards, the gospel is still progressing and growing. You know what that means? We have no excuses about spreading the gospel today. Let’s get busy.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 1.

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