Channeling Jesus

Today’s reading is Psalm 27.

A really profound occurrence takes place in John 2:18-22. When asked what sign Jesus would work to demonstrate His authority to cleanse the temple, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” That really confused everyone, but John goes on to explain that after Jesus was raised from the dead, the apostles understood what He meant. He wasn’t actually talking about the temple in Jerusalem, but the temple of His own body. What makes this scenario so profound is the realization that the resurrection changed everything. It changed how the apostles heard what Jesus said. It even changed how they read Scripture, including the Psalms. In fact, it should change how we read Scripture. It is true that there are some psalms that we all recognize as Messianic; that is, psalms foretelling what the Messiah would be like. There are psalms that are not as clearly foretelling, but something doesn’t seem to quite fit until the Messiah comes on the scene and fulfills the psalm literally. But there are other psalms that aren’t really foretelling anything, but once we know Jesus’s resurrection and listen to them through that filter, we hear Jesus all over them. That is Psalm 27. That is especially true when we get to “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” When David wrote this about himself, no doubt, he was referring to the fact that God was going to grant his request. He wasn’t going to die in battle. He was going to get to Jerusalem and see the tent of the Lord again. Jesus, who was forsaken by everyone, who went to the cross at the hands of soldiers and false accusers, feared nothing. He entrusted His soul to His Father. He went to the cross and died. But on Sunday morning, He saw the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living. He waited through the cross. He waited through the grave. He waited until the third day. And then He arose the conquering hero over sin, Satan, death, and the grave. And if this is how Yahweh delivers His one and only Son, how much more should we expect the same? David had confidence God would deliver him because of how God had worked with Moses and Joshua. We can have confidence because of how God delivered our King Jesus. No matter how dark it gets in your life, no matter how the enemy tries to blot out the sun, God is our light, He is our salvation, He is our stronghold. Hang on to Him. He will always come through. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 28.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Let Him In!

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Those final verses of Psalm 24 are a conversation between the gates of the temple and the triumphal procession of Yahweh. The temple was charged to open wide its gates and its doors to allow the King of glory entrance. But this should give us pause for a moment. Where is that temple? Can this song be sung today? That temple has been shaken out of the way so what cannot be shaken could remain. The kingdom that cannot be shaken remains. And so does the temple that cannot be shaken. What temple is that? That, my brothers and sisters, is us. We are that temple. According to Ephesians 2:19-22, we the believers in Jesus Christ, whether from among the Jews or from among the Gentiles, are the temple of the Lord. We learned yesterday of Israel’s great failure. We must not also fail. We are to be the dwelling place of the King of glory. He should dwell in our hearts. He should dwell in our churches. He should dwell in His church. We must lift up our heads, open our hearts and our minds to give Him entrance. We must open our lives to give Him free reign. He is the King of glory. He is mighty in battle. And when we give Him entrance, He will fight on our behalf and we will be victorious. God be praised! Our King is great! Let Him in !

Next week’s reading is Psalm 25.

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Israel’s Great Failure

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Some believe this psalm was written when David had the Ark brought to Jerusalem. Others believe it was when Solomon brought the Ark into the temple. Still others believe it was written much later and simply a memorial of these trips. Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight at all. The bigger point that we should see is not about the Ark of the Covenant at all. The bigger point is about the King of glory! And who is the King of glory? Jesus, of course! Certainly, when He was first brought to the temple there were a couple of people who tried to point out the reception He should receive (think Anna and Simeon). And the second time He came to the temple, teachers were astonished. However, when Jesus grew up, He should have been hoisted on the shoulders of the people, brought into the temple this song being sung. When He cleansed the temple of the money changers, He should have been lauded and applauded. He should have been asked, “What else shall we do to serve You, King of Glory?” He should have been praised and worshiped universally. The people should have realized He was actually too big to be housed in that temple. But, instead, the Jews believed they were defending the temple by keeping Jesus out of it. Instead of marching Him up Zion’s hill and letting Him take His rightful place on the throne of God in the Holy of Holies, they marched Him up Golgotha’s hill outside the gate and nailed Him to a cross. He was and is the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, strong and mighty, mighty in battle. And Israel failed. Their hands were defiled with the blood of Jesus. Their hearts were divided against their true King. They did lift up their souls to what was false. They did swear deceitfully. And they did not receive their blessing. But as many as did receive Him and believed in His name were given the right to become children of God and subjects of the one, true King of Glory, Jesus Christ. Which choice have you made?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

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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.

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On Hills and Towers

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

When we realize everything that exists belongs to the Lord Yahweh, we are suddenly struck by an overwhelming question. Who among us could remotely ascend the hill of the Lord? Yet, isn’t that exactly where all of mankind wants to stand? As far back as Genesis 11, folks have wanted to ascend to the Lord’s domain, to dwell on God’s holy hill. Yet, they didn’t want to stand there as subjects invited into the Lord’s house. They wanted to stand beside Him as equals. They wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted to build their own holy hill that would rival any belonging to the Lord. What did they learn? The earth belongs to the Lord, not men. So do the heavens. The owner schooled them in new languages and scattered them across the face of His earth. And isn’t this exactly where mankind is today? It seems there are three kinds of people today. The first is busy building his own holy hill, whether it is a completely false religion or a personal version of Christianity. Few of these people are purposefully trying to stand with God as an equal, but in the end the person who follows his own religion is his own god. The second isn’t trying to build a holy hill at all. Rather, this person is trying to level the Lord’s Holy Hill as if destroying that hill will somehow mean he has proven God isn’t there. The third is merely climbing the Lord’s Hill. No doubt, this person makes mistakes, sometimes slides downhill, sometimes gets off the beaten path, but by the grace of God is making his or her way to be with the Lord. The earth is the Lord’s. Its inhabitants are the Lord’s. We only do what He gives us enough rope to do. Let us be careful, lest we get hung on the gallows of our own making. We need to climb the Lord’s Holy Hill on the Lord’s terms and stay there. Nowhere else is worth the climb.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

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The Meal of Thanksgiving

Today’s reading is Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:25-26 is a beautiful picture we might miss if we don’t remember the Law. Leviticus 7:16-17 provides the law for votive or vow offerings. What we often miss is these sacrifices weren’t simply slaughtered and burned. They were eaten. Psalm 22:25-31 is a beautiful picture of a votive sacrifice celebration. The delivered king invites the entire congregation of God’s people to gather and watch him offer his votive sacrifice. Not only do they get to watch, they get to eat the feast from the sacrifice. It is reminiscent of the feast Solomon offered at the dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8:62-66. There is sacrifice, feasting, joy, praise, worship. And while I do not want to claim this is a prophecy of the Lord’s Supper, I do want us to see that the Lord’s Supper is a fulfillment of this picture. That is, Psalm 22:25-31 is not teaching us to take the Lord’s Supper, but every time we participate in the Supper we are participating in the votive feast of peace and thanksgiving. Whether we are the afflicted or the prosperous, whether we were part of the Jewish congregation or have come to the supper from the Gentile ends of the earth, we eat and are satisfied. We praise the Lord and we worship. And we tell to the next generation “He has done it. It is finished.” Praise the Lord!!!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 23.

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