Channeling Moses

Today’s reading is Psalm 27.

Bible trivia: I asked the Lord to let me see His face. He set me on the rock. He covered me. I saw his goodness. I asked the Lord not to abandon me, but to go with me. Who am I?

That’s right! I’m Moses. We can read about this in Exodus 33-34. Israel had sinned with the golden calf and the Lord was threatening to abandon them. Moses interceded and asked to see the Lord’s glory. God explained no one could see His face and live, so He placed Moses in the cleft of the rock, covered him, then passed by and let him see His goodness. Finally, He agreed that he would go with Moses and Israel. Now, here’s the really cool part. God demonstrated His presence in Exodus 40 by having His glory fill the tent of meeting. By day it was a pillar of smoke, by night a pillar of fire.

But wait! Psalm 27 shows that it is David too. David is channeling Moses in this psalm. Why was David so completely confident in his Psalm 27 prayer? Because he knew what kind of God he served. He knew how the Lord had worked with Moses, he was certain God still worked that same way. He knew the Lord would let him see His goodness. He knew the Lord would set him on the rock and cover him with protection. He knew the Lord would not forsake and abandon him but bestow His presence and favor. It’s what God does. It’s what God has always done. It’s what He still does. Praise the Lord!!!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 27.

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David’s #1 Goal

Today’s reading is Psalm 27.

David is surrounded by enemies and violent false accusers. He is facing war. An enemy army is encamped around him. What is his #1 goal? Defeating the enemy? Saving his skin? Prolonging his life? Proving his own manliness, strength, and military might? Returning to kick back in the palace and be served by the masses? Nope! Being in the house of the Lord. Gazing on the beauty of the Lord. Seeing the face of the Lord. Immerse yourself in this picture. The commanding king is on the battlefield and what most upsets him about having to face this battle is not really his own personal danger. The most upsetting part for David is this battle keeps him away from the Lord’s house. Remember Psalm 23:6? David wanted to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. But today, an enemy army stands between him and that house. Peter tells us we can cast all our anxieties upon the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-7). My prayer is that I will grow to the point where I understand that the real issue with every other anxiety, every other attack, every other struggle is that they are distracting me from the beauty of the Lord and drawing me out of the house of the Lord. I pray I will grow to the point that my #1 concern, my #1 goal is to be in the Lord’s house, gazing upon His beauty and favor, glorying in the sight of His face.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 27.

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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I Love Your Grace!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

As we recognized yesterday, David loves the Lord’s house. This sets this psalm up in the middle of a series of psalms starting with Psalm 23. The Shepherd’s psalm ends with the declaration, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” But who gets to actually dwell in that house? Psalm 24 provides the answer: one who has clean hands and pure heart. But wait, I’ve already messed that up. Is there any hope for me? Psalm 25, the first psalm to explicitly mention the psalmist’s own personal sin, anticipates and answers that objection. Our God is merciful, gracious, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (reminding us of God’s own declaration in Exodus 34:6-7). Because of God’s mercy and grace, I can climb His holy Hill and dwell in His house despite my failures and sins. And now Psalm 26 talks about life in God’s house. Before we jump to David’s integrity (a topic for tomorrow), notice how David actually got into God’s house. “Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.” In whose faithfulness? David’s faithfulness? No, in God’s. This is another reference back to Exodus 34:6-7. In other words, David isn’t saying, “I’ve been so amazing, I deserve to be in Your house, Lord.” He is remembering the principles we learned in the previous psalm. He has walked in the Lord’s love and faithfulness. He has called on God’s mercy and grace. As Psalm 5:7 explained, David has entered the Lord’s house not because of his own awesomeness, but “through the abundance of your steadfast love.” It is no wonder that David’s prayer about his own integrity still ends with a request for God to “be gracious to me.” The only way to dwell in God’s house is by His grace. Don’t you just love God’s grace? David did. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.

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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I Love Your House!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

Have you ever walked into a friend’s house for the first time and just been blown away? It’s layout is cool. The d├ęcor is fabulous. It’s cozy. You just love it. You wish it was yours, and you start mentally jotting down ideas about how to improve your house. Psalm 26 is all about that. Except it isn’t simply a friend’s house, it is the Lord’s house. “O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.” For David, this referred to the tabernacle. After Solomon, it spoke of the temple. But for us, it is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:19-22 demonstrates that the collection of all Christians whether Jews or Gentiles is the temple of the Lord. Ephesians 3:19 is the prayer that this modern temple will be filled with the fullness of God, that is, being filled with His glory. While this refers to the universal church, the sum collection of all disciples of all places and of all times, we mostly interact with this temple at a congregational level. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying each congregation is a temple of the Lord, but our interaction with the temple (the universal church) is on that congregational level (the local church). This entire psalm is about “going to church.” No, it isn’t about going to a church’s building. Rather, it is about gathering with the church, the assembly, the brothers and sisters. It is about gathering to worship the Lord God with our spiritual family. Whether we are gathering to pray, sing, read Scripture, break the Bread of Life, or break the bread of communion, or a combination of these things, David demonstrates the attitude we should have. Do you look forward to Sunday? Do you look forward to congregational gatherings, classes, worship, singings, prayings just because it is time with God’s church, time in God’s house, time in the midst of God’s glory? Or is it a checklist item you want to mark off as quickly as possible and get out of the way so you can get on with all the other things you think are more important? No doubt. It’s a growth process. But may we all get to where we can say, “I love Your house, Lord!”

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.

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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Clean Hands and Pure Hearts

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

We’ve decided to lay down our tools for building our own personal hill. We’ve decide there really is a hill to climb. But we are still left with the question of who actually gets to climb it. The God who “dwells” on this hill owns everything because He created it all. Surely, not just anyone can make their way into His presence. A similar question was asked in Psalm 15. Almost every bit of that qualification list had to do with the worshipers relationship with others. This list, however, seems to give the other side. This one is mostly about our relationship with God. The four qualifications: 1) Clean hands. 2) Pure heart. 3) Worship God only. 4) Honest; though, considering the list, this is probably more about not profaning God’s name (see Leviticus 19:12). Isaiah seems to have these same principles in mind in the context of Isaiah 59:3. God doesn’t listen to the worship offered by those with defiled hands. Paul makes this same point in 1 Timothy 2:8 when he points out men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger and quarreling. While this statement demonstrates prayer with uplifted hands was a norm for Christians in the New Testament, his main emphasis is those uplifted hands were supposed to be clean. Perhaps the most pointed allusion to this passage is often overlooked by commentators and search engines (maybe because the Greek words aren’t the same as those in the LXX for Psalm 24:4). In James 4:8, James says sinners need to cleanse their hands and purify their hearts. But, contextually, this was part of drawing near to God so He will draw near to us. This is part of submitting ourselves to God and resisting the devil. It is part of humbling ourselves before God. And the pure heart actually means to be single-minded, which, of course, means our mind doesn’t go after other masters. We don’t become friends with the world or with false gods. But here is a fantastic principle we need to grasp. The person of Psalm 24:4 is not the sinlessly perfect person who has brought his/her own righteousness to lay out before God. After all, who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9). Rather, this person is blessed with “righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalm 24:5). If we humble ourselves before God, He will exalt us (James 4:10). In other words, even the clean hands and pure heart are not made that way by our own strength, but are made so by the strength and grace of God as we resist the devil and draw near to the Lord. Who can ascend the Holy Hill? The one who resists the devil and draws near to the Lord. The one who seeks the face of the God of Jacob. Why the God of Jacob? Because Jacob was the one who sought the Lord’s blessing and simply would not let go no matter how much it hurt and how much it cost him until he got it (see Genesis 32:22-32). In other words, we were wrong in the beginning. Anyone can climb this Holy Hill. That is, anyone who really wants God more than he or she wants anything else. What do you want?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

PODCAST!!!

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The Lord’s Guest

Today’s reading is Psalm 15.

God answers David. Again, scholars will say this is some temple liturgy with the worshipers asking if they can come in and the priest responding. Maybe that is how the psalm was used. I don’t know. But I know how the psalm is written. God is asked a question, and the answer is given. And honestly, it is not at all the answer I expect. I expect the answer to be all about how the questioner relates to God. I expect things like “He who worships purely,” and “She who never takes My name in vain,” and “He who prays three times per day,” and “She who has no other gods before me,” and so on. But that isn’t God’s answer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this psalm is representative and not exhaustive. That is, this is a snapshot giving a general sense, not a doctoral dissertation explaining every detail. However, everything on this list is about the worshiper’s relationship with other people. This person is honest, loyal, trustworthy, dependable, supportive, discerning, kind. It reminds me of Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 5:23-26. There, Jesus explains if we are worshiping God, but remember our brother or sister has something against us, we are supposed to go take care of that first, then come worship God. In other words, the guest of the Lord treats other people the way the Lord would. The guest of the Lord doesn’t assume that hanging out in the temple makes up for mistreating people. As always, the point of this is not to say if you love your neighbor, it doesn’t matter how you love God. The point is if you don’t love your neighbor, you don’t love God. So now I have to ask, based on how I treat others, am I welcome in the Lord’s house?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 15.

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Oh Lord, May I Come In?

Today’s reading is Psalm 15.

“O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell in your holy hill?”

What amazing questions. Who would ask questions like these? Who would even want to sojourn in the tent of the Lord or dwell on His holy hill? Are these questions I would ask? Are these questions you would ask? This is important. Before we jump to the answers, we need to examine ourselves to see if we are even really asking the questions. Scholars will tell you this psalm must have been some kind of worship entry or temple entry liturgy. Maybe. I don’t know. I can’t shake the imagery of David asking God, “Can I be Your roommate?” Who really wants that? That would be a bit of drag, wouldn’t it? I mean, could I still watch the movies and tv shows I watch now? Could I have the parties I enjoy having now? Could I rock out to the same songs I love to get into? Wouldn’t I want to be sneaking out, hoping God won’t ask me where I’m going tonight or what I’m up to? There is only one kind of person who really asks the psalmist’s questions: the person who has decided they want God more than they want anything else. I want to be that person. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 15.

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God's Hand, Not Mine

Today’s reading is Acts 7.

Over the last two days, we’ve noticed Stephen’s not so subtle messages about not focusing on holy men and holy places, but on the God who made them holy. In both of those streams of thought, Stephen brings together an interesting contrast. In his look at Moses, in Acts 7:25, he explains that at one time Moses had supposed the folks would know God was delivering the people by Moses’s hand. Of course, we know that didn’t happen. Then in Acts 7:35, we see this Moses was sent as redeemer and ruler by the hand of the angel (that is, of the Lord) to lead the people out of Egypt. Granted, the play on the word “hand” is not in the original Hebrew, however the meaning is. I appreciate the ESV bringing it out. Israel wasn’t led out of bondage by the hand of Moses, but by the hand of the Lord. In Stephen’s look at the temple, in Acts 7:48, Stephen highlights that the temple was made by men’s hands. This was a jab against the Jews because it hearkened back to their time worshiping the golden calf which was the work of their own hands (Acts 7:41). The Jews were actually doing the same thing with the temple they had done with the calf. They had made the temple into an idol. Then Stephen quotes Isaiah 66:1-2, in which God explains His hands had created the entire world. That is, God can treat any place He wants as Holy. In both streams of thought, Stephen makes a contrast–our hands vs. God’s. And in both streams, he highlights a struggle I have. I can get fixated on what my hands can accomplish. I can start to think that what my hands have built, what my hands have forged, what my hands have constructed, what my hands have done is really, really important. Not so. God’s hands are the power. God’s Kingdom, Christ’s Body, the Spirit’s Temple will not be built by my hands, but by God’s. I may be an instrument He uses. I hope and pray so. The power is not in my hands, but God’s. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 7.

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Focus on God, Not Places

Today’s reading is Acts 7.

In Acts 6, the Jews had accused Stephen of speaking against the temple in Jerusalem. You would think that they could start getting creative with their misleading accusations, but they were essentially making the same accusation against Stephen they had against Jesus (see Matthew 26:61). The interesting thing is this accusation actually may not be completely off base. Stephen may well have been saying Jesus would destroy the temple. After all, that is exactly what Jesus did in 70 AD. In his sermon, Stephen does not make a defense saying, “No, you’ve completely misunderstood me. I would never say the temple is going to be destroyed.” Instead, just as he was weaving together stories that showed we should focus on God and not men, he wove together stories that explained we should not focus on holy places, but on the God who made them holy. As Stephen told the stories of the men God used, he also told stories of the places God met them. The God of glory (don’t forget that the glory of the Lord dwelt in the temple) met Abraham not in Jerusalem but Mesopotamia. God was with Joseph, of all places, in Egypt. God first met Moses, not at the temple in Jerusalem, but on Mt. Sinai. Further, God told him to take off his shoes because it was holy ground. There is a subtle reminder that even when they got into the Promised Land it wasn’t until David that the tabernacle was brought to Jerusalem. We know it had been in Bethel, in Shiloh, and in Kiriath-Jearim. Finally, it wasn’t until Solomon that the temple was built. The point behind all of these stories is simple. As important as the temple was, it really wasn’t the temple that was important, but the God who dwelt there–the God who made the temple Holy. Because the Jews had focused too much on the temple, they had missed God when He came into their midst in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. We must not make that mistake. The focus is not on holy places, but on the Holy God. Hang on to Him no matter where He leads.

Today’s reading is Acts 7.

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The Glory of God

Today’s reading is Revelation 15.

When the Babylonians took Solomon’s temple apart, the glory of God was gone. When Zerubbabel and Joshua rebuilt the temple, however, there was no visible manifestation of the Lord’s glory. When Herod refurbished the temple, there was no manifestation of the Lord’s glory in the temple. However, under Jesus Christ, the sanctuary not made with hands in the heavens is full of the glory of the Lord. Here is the picture of victory. In fact, it is the same picture that demonstrated victory in Exodus. We often think the crossing of the Red Sea is the climax of Exodus. Not so. The climax is when the glory of the Lord enters the tabernacle. God had sent the plagues on the enemies, He had delivered Israel through the Red Sea, He had brought them to Mt. Sinai. But the climax is when God shows His abiding presence by entering the tabernacle. That is exactly what is going on here. God has sent plagues of judgment and will continue to do so in the next chapter. But the real glory is that He is in the midst of His people. He takes residence in the sanctuary, which is His church. The promises of restoration are fulfilled not in a temple rebuilt on earth, but in the heavenly temple of God’s house. Praise the Lord! He dwells with His people.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 16.

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