The Two Counsellors

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

While it is perfectly legitimate to pigeonhole the genre of a psalm as you start to study it, if you forget that the labels we attribute to psalms are not God-inspired, you can miss the trees for the forest. This happens for many with Psalm 36. Is it a wisdom psalm? Is it a praise psalm? Is it a lament? There are elements of each of these genres in this psalm. These attempts to pin down a genre cause some to suggest this psalm is a hodgepodge of multiple ancient psalms thrown together without unity.

That, however, misses the big picture of what is going on here. Once again, we are being taken back to the very first psalm. However, this time there is a twist.

In Psalm 1, the two people being counseled are contrasted: the blessed and the wicked. The blessed listen to God, the wicked listen to…well…other wicked people. In Psalm 36, the two counsellors are contrasted: God and sin.

In this psalm, David personifies sin much like Paul does in Romans 7. Sin counsels and leads. But sin’s counsel is deceptive and destructive. On the other hand, God also calls to David. David knows God’s counsel is anchored in steadfast love and faithfulness. He is no fool. He chooses God to be his counsellor. More than that, he chooses God to be his defender against Sin and those who heed its counsel.

In Psalm 1, we had a choice between ways. In Psalm 36, we have a choice between guides. Choose wisely!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.


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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Father, Son, & Holy Spirit

Today’s reading is Luke 3.

What an amazing scene at Jesus’s baptism. Jesus has been immersed while praying, and the heavens are opened. In that moment, we see all three persons of the Godhead–the Son being baptized as the Spirit descends in the form of a dove and the Father speaks from heaven. There are many ways folks have tried to illustrate the triune nature of God. All of those illustrations fall short somewhere. And the skeptics say, “See, this just doesn’t make any sense at all.” But isn’t this struggle actually to be expected? God is beyond space and time. He lives in a “dimension” beyond ours. We have no scope of reference to understand even the realm of His existence, let alone the nature of His existence within it. Doesn’t it stand to reason that trying to explain His infinite existence in finite terms to limited minds is going to be practically impossible? Would we honestly expect that explanation to be easily grasped? It would be like a 3-dimensional cube trying to explain its nature to a 2-dimensional square.

Cube: “I’m six squares placed at right angles to each other so that every edge connects to the edge of another square and forms a unified whole.”

Square: “O, so you’re six squares?”

Cube: “Well, actually, I’m one cube.”

Square: “Wait! What?”

Cube: “Try this. Imagine a million squares stacked on top of each other to form a kind of square that extends up.”

Square: “What is up?”

Cube: “You know, extending into space above the plane on which you exist.”

Square: “What is space? And what do you mean ‘above’?”

Cube: “Just try to imagine one square laying flat on top of you and another and another and another on up to a million.”

Square: “Okay, okay. I don’t know what ‘on top” means. But you’re saying you’re a million squares, not six squares?”

Cube: “No, I’m one cube.”

Square: “Which is it? Are you six squares or one cube?”

Cube: “Yes.”

My point is not that God is three persons added together to make one God. The point is simply to see that the struggle we have to understand the Triune God makes perfect sense. If He were easy to understand and comprehend, it would likely mean we made Him up. Keep studying. Keep working at it, but don’t let the skeptics get you down. This struggle to understand God is exactly how it should be.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 3

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Agree in the Lord

Today’s reading is Philippians 4.

We finally find out why Paul has written more than just a thank you note to the Philippians. There are sisters in the congregation at odds. He doesn’t explain what the conflict is. He doesn’t address who was right and who was wrong. He simply instructs them to agree in the Lord and calls on his “true companion” to help them do so. His reminder that they had once labored side by side with him in the gospel ties back to his initial exhortation in Philippians 1:27, that they all strive side by side for the faith of the gospel. Let’s face it. When people get together as we do in congregations, feelings eventually get hurt. Toes get stepped on. Conflicts arise. This entire letter has been written to explain how to deal with that. Paul’s answer? Everyone be of one mind. Everyone develop the mind of Jesus Christ who left the glories of heaven and endured the shame of the cross for us. That is what Euodia and Syntyche needed to do. That is what everyone who was siding up behind one or the other of them needed to do. It is what we need to do. Praise God for Jesus and His holy mind.

Tomorrow’s reading is Colossians 1.

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The One Mind

Today’s reading is Philippians 2.

As a congregation, we are a unit. Like a phalanx of soldiers in battle, we must act as one; governed by one mind, led by one spirit. And now Paul reveals the one mind with which we must act. We must act with the mind of Christ. The mind that did not think equality with God was a think to be clutched and gripped tightly. The mind that emptied itself of self. The mind that took the form of a servant. The mind that obeyed to the point of death. The mind that went even to the extreme shame of death on a cross in order to serve us. That is the one mind. Do not misunderstand. Unity of belief and doctrine is important, but the one mind that will win this fight is the mind of Christ that surrenders not only to God but in service and sacrifice to each other.

Tomorrow’s reading is Philippians 3. Continue reading “The One Mind”

One Mind, One Spirit

Today’s reading is Philippians 1.

As did the Philippians, we have opponents. Really we have one true opponent and those who surrender to him whether knowingly or unknowingly. But what an opponent. Remember what we learned about our enemy and his minions from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians? They are beyond our ability to fight. And yet we must fight. Paul explains to the Philippians one key to the fight. While a congregation is made up of many individuals, it must fight the enemy as a unit. It must fight as one body. But that is demonstrated by having one mind and one spirit. Like a single body led by one spirit and governed by one mind, a congregation of God’s people must strive side by side for the faith of the gospel as one. The fight against the enemy is hard, let’s not make it worse by getting at odds with one another. One mind. One spirit. United. Let that be our goal.

Tomorrow’s reading is Philippians 2.

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Only One Good News

Today’s reading is Galatians 1.

There are plenty of things parading as good news, but only one really is good news. There are plenty of things that offer hope, but only one that really is hope. There are plenty of things that claim to give good guidance and help through life and into eternity, but only one that really shepherds you into God’s presence. Do not be deceived. Do not be duped. Do not be taken in. Get in God’s Word for yourself. Learn the one, the only, the true Good News that comes from God Himself through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. Then walk in the hope that only God can give and look forward to an eternity that only God’s will experience. And hang on to it no matter what anyone or anything else says, offers, or promises. God’s good news works. And it is the only good news that does.

Tomorrow’s reading is Galatians 2.

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God’s Way, Not Mine

Today’s reading is Acts 15.

Today’s reading contains what is to me one of the most shocking events in all the Bible. It isn’t shocking to me that people, even Christians, disagreed. It isn’t shocking that they debated. The shocking point to me is  when it says, “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church…” Despite the disagreement and debate, this congregation came to unity. That shocks me. It has been my experience when people disagree, they don’t come to unity, they dig in and polarize even more. Just look at the American religious landscape with hundreds of denominations all claiming to be Christian. The key in Acts 15 is these brothers and sisters were more concerned about following God’s way than proving their own way. I need to learn that. God’s way works, not mine.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 16.

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Love Your Brothers and Sisters

Today’s reading is 1 John 5.

“I just can’t stand brother ______________!” “I despise sister _______________!”

Hey, I get it; brothers and sisters can be a pain sometimes. Sometimes they are weird. Sometimes they are mean. Sometimes they are having a bad day. An off moment occurs, and we decide we don’t like them and don’t want to be around them. However, John gives us a pretty clear litmus test. If we don’t love those who are born of God, we don’t love God. Perhaps the best thing to remember is sometimes we are a pain. Sometimes we are weird. Sometimes we are mean. Sometimes we have bad days. Don’t we want our brothers and sisters to love us anyway? Maybe we need to talk to the brother or sister about the behavior that upset us so much or maybe we just need to get over it and not take it personally. In any event, we must not deceive ourselves. If we love God, we’ll love His children.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 John 1.

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Jesus Prayed for Us

Today’s reading is John 17.

“I do not ask for these only,” Jesus prayed, “but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” Do you know who Jesus is praying for right there? He is praying for you and me. We believe through the words of these apostles. That is so cool. Nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus was praying for us. Of course, what did He pray? That we would be united. Our unity in Him is a huge testimony to the world that God really did send Jesus. Of course, this can’t be just some kind of stated unity, it needs to be the kind of unity the Father, Son, and Spirit actually had. That being said, it should really blow our minds that when Jesus prayed for us, He prayed for unity. Let’s lean into that prayer, get out Jesus’s Word, and get united.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 18.

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Holy Kiss

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 13.

We get so caught up in the kiss part of 2 Corinthians 13:12, that we miss the context that led to it. Paul has just told the Corinthians, despite all the sin and struggle that had been going on in the congregation that they needed to aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace. At the end of this, he teaches them to greet with a holy kiss. The emphasis is not that the Christian greeting is to be with a kiss, that was actually just the common greeting. What distinguished it among Christians was the holiness. The greeting kiss was not to be a sham, covering up hate, irritation, frustration, disunity, disharmony, it was to be holy. That is, it was to be sincere, loving, comforting, harmonious, filled with peace. Whether you actually greet someone with a kiss or not, the greeting is to be holy. Make sure to keep it that way.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 1.

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