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.

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Unto You, O Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

The previous psalm explained that whoever lifts up his soul to what is false is not allowed to ascend the holy hill of Yahweh. As if in response, this psalm begins with a clear “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” In the previous psalm, this kind of person would receive blessing and righteousness from the Lord. In this psalm, the psalmist is asking the Lord to hold true to His word. “Let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” However, it is more than a request, it is also a confident assertion. “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.” He ends this psalm the same place he begins. His foes are many. They are violent and hateful. But he takes refuge in the Lord and waits on Him. Therefore, he asks and expects the Lord to guard his soul and keep him from shame. Today, we recognize that suffering and struggle, whether from enemies or from some other source, isn’t an indication of shame nor does it lead to shame. Paul tells us our suffering produces endurance, our endurance produces character, character produces hope, and our hope does not put us to shame. Further, we are confident this is true because God’s love has been poured into our hearts and the Holy Spirit has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5). The next time you sing “Unto thee, O Lord,” remember there is no shame with the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 25.

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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We Will Sing and Praise Your Power

Today’s reading is Psalm 21.

Psalm 21 begins and ends with the strength of the Lord. It begins with the king exulting in the Lord’s strength. It ends with the people of the king exalting the Lord and His strength in song and praise. The Lord’s response to our praying deserves, in fact demands, a response from us in praise. We asked Him for victory and He gave it. He deserves praise. The Lord’s supremacy over the powers that assail us deserves, in fact demands, a response in praise. And we, more than any of the ancient Israelites who prayed Psalm 20 and witnessed the victory of Psalm 21, have reason to praise. How can we not when the victory of our King was the victory over sin and the grave? C. Hassell Bullock in his comments on this psalm reminds of a hymn written by Robert Lowry: “How Can I Keep from Singing?”

My life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the clear, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die? I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round? Songs in the night he giveth.
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his! How can I keep from singing?

Robert Lowry
“How Can I Keep from Singing?”
Quoted (though rearranged) from C. Hassell Bullock, Teach the Text Commentaries, Psalms vol 1, p 155

Isn’t the psalmist really saying exactly that? We see Your power, Your response, Your victory, Lord; how can we keep from singing?

Next week’s reading is Psalm 22.

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Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier 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 Lord’s Praise

Today’s reading is Psalm 6.

Where praise of God is there is life. Where true life is there is the praise of God. It’s one of the subtle, yet powerful messages throughout the psalms. Why does David want deliverance? Not so he can continue being king. Not simply so he can continue living. But because in the grave, God is not praised. Among the dead, God is not praised. The point is in the realm of the dead, the praise of God doesn’t do anyone else any good. God needs to be praised where it can impact people and change their lives. And those who are dead no longer impact the living. As you read through the psalms, you will see this again and again and again. The number one concern is not prolonged life, healed bodies, or even healed souls. The number one concern is praising the Lord. But again and again, we will read that where the dead are, there is no praise of God. Only where life is do we find the praise of God. And the implication is profound. Only where we find the praise of God do we find true life. The question is are you truly alive?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 6.

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Our Real King

Today’s reading is Psalm 5.

David, king of Israel wrote this psalm, but when He cries out to the Lord, he says, “My King and my God.” How humbling it must be for a king to bow before another and say, “My King.” But there it is. It doesn’t matter if I’m the boss, the mayor, the CEO, the governor, a doctor, a lawyer, the President, or the Queen, I need to follow David’s example. Whatever role I play in this world, at home, on the job, in the community, there is a real King in authority over me: God. But taking this a step further, can anyone who has read John’s account of the gospel not hear the echoes of Thomas’s confession to Jesus in John 20:28? “My Lord and my God,” Thomas confessed. Yes, yes, the wording is slightly different. But notice how often “Lord” is used in Psalm 5 around David’s confession. What had Thomas come to believe having witnessed the resurrected Jesus? Jesus is King, Jesus is God, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Yahweh. Jesus is the King and God to whom David was offering his psalm. We have a real King. His name is Yahweh; His name is Jesus. Today, let us give Him our complete allegiance.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 5.

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A Shield About Me

Today’s reading is Psalm 3.

It’s one of my favorite songs: “Thou, O Lord, art a shield about me. You’re my glory. You’re the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3 is the basis of that song. But think about when David is writing that. The heading doesn’t say “When David was marching back into Jerusalem after Absalom’s rebellion.” It doesn’t say, “When David mourned Absalom’s death.” It doesn’t say, “When God defeated Absalom.” The heading says, “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.” David is on the retreat. Shimei is cursing him. In fact, many “Shimeis” are cursing David. David seems to have no defense. Remember, he isn’t digging in and fighting. He’s fleeing Jerusalem. He’s giving up the ship. But even in that moment, what does David believe. “You, O Lord, are my shield.” It’s one thing to say that while sitting safely in your palace. Its one thing to sing that after the victory has been won. It is truly a different thing to claim that while the battle is raging and you are fleeing for your life. “God, I don’t know how You are going to do it. To everyone else in the world, it looks like I’m defeated. Honestly, right now, I kind of feel defeated. But I know this. You are my shield. You are my salvation. I’m just going to do what You say.” That is when we need to sing this song. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 3.

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You Are My Son

Today’s reading is Psalm 2.

When the second psalm was written, it was read in the context of the king of Israel. The Gentile kings around David had a choice. They could be like Hadadezer, king of Zobah and the Syrians in 2 Samuel 8:3-8, fighting against God’s Anointed Son, and be judged and defeated. Or they could be like Toi king of Hamath, kissing and giving allegiance to the Son in 2 Samuel 8:9-12, and be blessed for it. However, ultimately, the New Testament demonstrates Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed of God. This psalm is ultimately pointing to Him. He is the Son of God, declared to be such at His baptism, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and most importantly in His resurrection. The kings and queens of the earth and even we, the kings and queens of our own little lives, have a choice. We can either rage against Jesus or we can kiss the Son, surrendering our allegiance to Him. We can pay homage to Him, worshiping Him, serving Him. Those who rage against Him will perish in the way. Those who take refuge in Him will be blessed. The choice is yours.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 2.

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On the First Day of the Week

Today’s reading is Acts 20.

A couple of important things for Christians happened on the first day of the week. Jesus rose from the dead. Christ’s kingdom was established. It should not be at all surprising then to discover that Christ’s congregations meet on the first day of the week. We see it here in Acts 20. The first day of the week is not the New Testament Sabbath. No, the Sabbath is always the seventh day of the week; though, under the New Covenant, Sabbath observance is not bound. However, the first day of the week is the day Christians gather within their congregations to remember Jesus, His death, and resurrection by breaking bread together. And, of course, the bread that we break is a participation in the body of Christ and the cup that we bless is a participation in the blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). We aren’t here talking about getting together for a potluck, but participating in the Lord’s Supper, in communion. When it is the first day of the week, congregations need to gather to break bread in the Lord’s Supper; if congregations are gathered to break bread in the Lord’s Supper it needs to be the first day of the week. That is what we see from churches in the New Testament, that is what we need to see from churches today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 20.

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“We Also Are Men”

Today’s reading is Acts 14.

If a person was simply out to gain followers, influence, money, praise, glory, when people started treating him as a god, you’d expect him to revel in it. You’d expect him to stick around there and get as much out of it as possible. You wouldn’t expect him to shut it down as quickly as possible. Yet, some people try to claim Paul was basically like modern televangelists. He was faking and making the whole of Christianity up. However, look how he behaves when he is offered everything a faker would want. In Lystra, after healing a man lame from birth, the people believe he and Barnabas are the gods Hermes and Zeus. But the two men go out of their way to put an end to that. Why? Because they aren’t faking. They really believe. They are really working from God. They aren’t just trying to trick the people. It’s another one of those events that reminds us to ask, “If Christianity didn’t grow up just the way Luke says, how did it happen?” If we can’t come up with a feasible way to explain all these events through natural means, then we are left with the only testimony that makes sense, the Bible record.

Today’s reading is Acts 14.

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