I Love Your Friends!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

We mentioned Psalm 1 yesterday. Remember it again today. That psalm made a distinction between the blessed and the wicked. But there is more to the choice than just being the blessed or being the wicked. David understands that if He is going to dwell in the Lord’s holy habitation at the summit of the Lord’s holy hill, he has to be careful who his friends are. In Psalm 15, another psalm that questions who can dwell in the Lord’s house (similar to Psalm 24), David recorded that the holy hill dweller is one “in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord.” In a day and age, such as our own, dominated by the concept of tolerance, we can lose sight of the fact that the Lord does not tolerate everyone. Those who pursue what is false, hypocrites, evildoers, and those who practice wickedness are not tolerated by the Lord in His own house. And while nothing makes God happier than for these to repent, submit to Him, and then come live with Him, nothing will make God bring these into His house while they continue in their sin. And so, back to Psalm 1, the person who walks with the wicked, hangs out with the sinful, settles down with scoffers will not be blessed. David loves Yahweh. He loves worshiping Yahweh. He loves those who worship Yahweh in truth. He knows that if he hangs out with the impenitently sinful and rebellious now, he will be hanging out with them for eternity. He loves the Lord and those who love the Lord. He loves the Lord’s friends. While we can never go out of the world (see 1 Corinthians 5:10), and while we certainly must develop relationships with the impenitently sinful in order to lead them to repentance, we must make sure our closest relationships are those who have their closest relationship with Yahweh. And doesn’t that just make sense? I mean, it is kind of hard to dwell in Yahweh’s house if I’m having to constantly abandon it to hang out with my best friends. Who are your best friends?

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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What are You Praying For?

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

Alright. I’ve got a tough and challenging question for you. First of all, let me say, if you are praying, I don’t want to say anything to discourage you. I’m super glad you have a habit of prayer. That is awesome. But now that you are praying, I want to challenge you to think about where you focus your prayers. It is true that you are allowed to bring to God whatever is on your heart. Pray for your needs and your wants. Cast all your cares upon God even when you are not sure if God would even care about that or not; lift it up to Him. He is our Abba, our Father, He wants to hear it. But this psalm presents a challenging question to me. Do I ever pray for what was top on this psalmist’s mind? Think about it, he is facing enemies who are violently hateful. And it is true that the psalmist gets around to praying for protection from them. But do you see where his prayer request first focuses? “Make me know your ways, Lord.” “Teach me your paths, Lord.” Lead me in your truth, Lord.” “Teach me, Lord.” How many of your prayers are anchored here? In fact, while the psalmist gets to talking about protection, it is very clear that the psalmist believes the protection comes not simply from God acting in the lives of the enemies. It comes from knowing the way of God. It comes from knowing God’s word and will. God protects us by showing us His path, His way. And, of course, considering Psalm 1, doesn’t that just make sense? Those who know the way of the Lord are like a tree planted by waters, but the way of the wicked perishes. Too often, I just go about studying and trying to figure things out on my own and then expecting God to pick up my messes. Perhaps I should start with, “Lord, make me to know Your way.” How about you?

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

PODCAST!!!

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

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Save, O Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 12.

Since Psalm 3, David has been begging God to rise up and save. There was the oasis of pure praise in Psalm 8, but otherwise, in one scenario or another David has been asking for deliverance. And why shouldn’t he? In Psalm 1, the declaration was that the one who meditated on God’s Law would be blessed. In Psalm 2, The declaration was that God’s anointed would be vindicated. Almost every psalm since then has shown the psalmist in the exact opposite situation begging for God to do what He said He would in those first two psalms. Then we get to this psalm in which it feels to David like it is as bleak as it can possibly be. There are no godly ones. No one is loyal and faithful. All around the wicked prowl. All David can see is vileness. In fact, David pictures the surroundings just like Noah’s. He alone is faithful while the thoughts of everyone else are only evil continuously. And what does the Lord do? He rises up. He judges. He vindicates. He delivers His people, His anointed from the perverse generation that surrounds them. Wait! That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Do you remember what Peter proclaimed on Pentecost in Acts 2:40? “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” How did people respond to that? “Those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). “Save us, O Lord,” we cry, “from the perverse generation that surrounds us.” And so He sent Jesus who rose up and delivers. The question is will we be buried and rise up with Him in baptism? Will we go through the separating waters like Noah? Will we hang on to Him no matter what like David? The Lord does arise and save! Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 13.

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The Lord Tests

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

David doesn’t believe the foundations are destroyed, and he refuses to destroy them by abandoning them. But not all of the foundations can be our favorite. It won’t surprise me if this one falls at the bottom of our favorites list. However, it is one of the foundations. The Lord tests the righteous. In other words, when the counselors tell him the jig is up, God must not be on his side anymore, he needs to toss his uppity morals and righteous principles out the window because they obviously aren’t doing him any good, David responds by saying, “Don’t you know the Lord tests His people?” There are obviously going to be bad times. God lets us into the crucible, sometimes He even puts us there. Why? Because He fell asleep on the job? No. Because that is precisely where we need to be. It is actually for our good. Like gold or silver in a crucible, God sends us through the fires so the slag can rise to the top. That is the only way it can be skimmed off. The question is when the slag rises to the top, will we let God skim it off, or will we cling to it, defending it, acting like it isn’t that bad, like we can’t be blamed for what we do while in the fires of testing? Deuteronomy 8:16 tells us God provided manna for Israel while they wandered in the wilderness in order to test them, to do them good in the end. Certainly, when the devil tempts us, his goal is to make us fall. However, when the Lord tests us, His goal is to expose us, refine us, and grow us. Walking through the fire is not a time to abandon the Lord, it is a time to rely on Him even more. The Lord tests even the righteous. It’s one of the foundations. Don’t abandon it.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 11.

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The Lord Knows the Way of the Righteous

Today’s reading is Psalm 1.

The main principle of Psalm 1 is that we don’t get to choose where our path goes, we only get to choose which path we get on. When we choose our path, the choice of our end has been made. And the way of the wicked will perish. Grasp the picture here. The psalmist doesn’t say the wicked will perish, but the way of the wicked will perish. That is, the way the wicked chooses is like a path in the Everglades that promises to lead you safely through, but in the middle leads into the boggy swamp which sucks in every one who tries to pass through. Or you might envision a path in a desert that promises to lead to the oasis, but ends up only giving a mirage that turns out to be death for any who try to pass that way. However, God knows the way of the righteous. That is, the way that the Lord directs is the way of righteousness. It is the way to righteousness. It is the way to salvation. Today, we stand at the head of two paths. Both promise life, but only one delivers. That is God’s way. Which way are you walking? Know this. It will never be easier than today to get on God’s way. If we can help you do so, let us know.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 2.

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The Wicked Will Not Stand

Today’s reading is Psalm 1.

The first psalm talks a lot about the blessed. But it also talks about someone else. It talks about the wicked. None of us like to think we are the wicked. But the psalm leaves no wiggle room. As good as we think we are, as good as we have tried to be, as good as others might think us to be, if we are not those who meditate on and delight in God’s Law, we are the wicked. And the wicked are the complete opposite of a tree that stands next to a stream of water. Instead, they are like the chaff that has been crushed out of the wheat that when it is tossed up in the air gives driven away by the gentlest of breezes.  We have a choice, delight in God and His Will or be driven away from God like chaff. Which choice will you make?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 1.

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Blessed

Today’s reading is Psalm 1.

Blessed! While many define “blessed” as if it is the same as “happy,” blessed is so much greater. Happy is an emotion based on the fickle nature of what is happening to us and the happenstances of life. Blessed is a favored status, having received a gift or favor from one who has the power to bestow such grace no matter the circumstances. The psalmist tells us about one who is blessed, not merely happy. This one is blessed by God, the one with all power to bestow the greatest blessings. Who is the one so blessed? The one who avoids the counsel of the wicked, steers clear of the way of the sinners, and eschews the seat of the scoffer. This is so important because, let’s face it, the wicked, the sinner, and the scoffer are all promising happiness. We pursue their ways because we think we will gain blessing at the end of them. But that is not so. Blessing comes only at the end of God’s path. Be blessed today, follow God’s way. It always works.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 1.

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Faithful and Wise Servant

Today’s reading is Matthew 24.

Did the same person who told us the parable about the 11th hour workers also tell the story about the wicked servant who capitalized on the Master’s delay by beating his fellow servants and by eating and drinking with drunkards? Yep! While it is true that the person who sincerely comes into the vineyard in the 11th hour will receive grace upon grace, it is also true that the person who capitalizes on the Master’s delay, purposefully holding off, planning to get things straightened out just in the nick of time before the Master arrives, will get caught unawares and will receive judgment upon judgment. Of course, be sure, the one honored here is the faithful and wise servant, not the perfect and sinless servant. There is a huge difference between the stumble of a faithful and wise servant and the procrastination of the wicked servant. But we need to be honest. Many wicked servants justify their delay by claiming, “Hey, nobody’s perfect. We all sin.” The issue is not really how you are doing on the day of the Master’s return. The issue is how are you conducting your life. We don’t need to straighten up today because the Master may return today. We need to be faithful and wise today because that is the right thing to do. We also need to understand that if we think we’ll have time to get everything right sometime off in the future so today we can delay and procrastinate, we’re wrong. There won’t be time because the Master will return when we least expect it. I don’t know what hour of the day it is for you. The thing is, neither do you. It may be the first hour. It may be the eleventh. Either way, what God deserves is faithful and wise service right now. No matter how we spent yesterday, let’s spend today in faithful, wise service to the Lord.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 25.

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Blessing, Harmony, Peace, and Honor

Today’s reading is Romans 12.

I imagine you are reading this on the same device you access social media. When you move from this post to Facebook (or you may be reading it there), Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other platform you socialize virtually on, please remember today’s reading. Bless those who persecute and curse you. Don’t curse them in return. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but at least communicate with harmony. Don’t repay evil for evil, give good instead. Honor others and do what is honorable. Be at peace as much as it depends on you. Sure, there are plenty of people who are going to do bad, evil things. Don’t respond in kind. Overcome evil with good. One of the true life-changing differences the gospel makes is not how we treat the people most like us and whom we most like. It is in how we treat people who don’t like us, are not like us, and whom we don’t like all that much. And what better place to start that gospel life change than right now while you are online? After all, Jesus didn’t die for a bunch of people who were nice to Him.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 13.

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