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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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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A Reason to Pray

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

Today, I want to share with you the second most important lesson I’ve ever learned about prayer. The most important lesson is that prayer, whatever aspect of prayer I’m practicing, is always about God’s glory and not mine. We find that all over the psalms. But the second most important lesson is demonstrated in this psalm. Many commentators talk about how hard it is to get a hold of this psalm. Is it a lament? Is it a meditation? Is it a prayer? Is it a praise? They struggle with the outline and wonder at the mixture of prayer and meditation. But the reality is this psalmist is not only teaching prayer, but teaching one of the number one keys to effective praying. This psalm goes back and forth between prayer to God and meditation on God because the psalmist is praying and then meditating on the reason for the prayer. This is part of prayer that I skipped for a very long time. When we plan our praying and embark on a prayer, we should consider, what about God would remotely make Him willing to respond to what I’m praying right now? What about God’s character, nature, word, will, promises leads me to believe God will remotely want to respond to what I’m laying out before Him? The psalmist anticipates a problem with his trek up God’s holy hill. I’m a sinner. He knows the only way to deal with that is if God forgives him. But why would God do that? Why should the psalmist remotely expect God to respond to the request to “Remember not the sins of my youth”? Why should the psalmist remotely expect God to forgive his sins and then protect him from his enemies? Because of Exodus 34:6-7. Because God had revealed to Moses and to Israel His very nature. His character. His name. His name is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving transgression, iniquity, and sin. And so the psalmist has a reason to pray this prayer. “Don’t remember my sins, Lord. Remember Your name.” And therefore, the psalmist asks the Lord to act for His name’s sake and pardon his guilt. That was the psalmist’s reason for this prayer. When you bow, what is the reason God should or would respond to the request you are making? Think it through. Tie it to the Biblical reason, and then offer it up to God. You’ll be amazed at what this practice will do to improve your praying.

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

PODCAST!!!

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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 Lord’s Earth

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

In Hebrew, the first word of Psalm 24 is Yahweh. “Yahweh’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and its inhabitants.” The emphasis is not on the earth or its fullness. It is not on the world and its inhabitants. The emphasis is on the owner: Yahweh. Yahweh owns all that is because He is the one who conquered the chaos and created the cosmos. Moses proved this in Exodus 9:29 when Yahweh was the one who started and stopped the hail, but no Egyptian god could (and that was demonstrated 10 times over). In recognizing this amazing ownership, Moses registered shock that God would settle His steadfast love on one family among mankind in Deuteronomy 10:14-15. David understood that since this was true, when he gave to God, he was only giving to God what was actually His already in 1 Chronicles 29:11-16. Based on this knowledge, Asaph grasped that God did not ask for offerings because of His own needs in Psalm 50:9-13. Because this is true, Paul was able to recognize that idols were nothing and no food actually belongs to an idol in 1 Corinthians 10:25-26. And this makes Yahweh distinct from the ancient gods. Yahweh is not a personal God. He is not a national God. He is not a territorial or regional God. He alone is God. He is not merely God on Zion, He is God everywhere. You cannot make Yahweh your God. He is your God. You can either recognize it now or recognize it later. I can tell you which one would be better. Yahweh is the only God! Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

PODCAST!!!

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The Lord is My Host

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

The Lord is my host. That imagery is not nearly as beloved today as yesterday’s shepherding imagery. However, that is exactly what our psalm moves to in vss. 5-6. I recognize and appreciate the view that the picture of shepherding persists throughout the whole psalm. And, in fact, it might. I could be wrong about this. However, as much as we can stretch the figures of vs. 5 to still apply to a shepherd with his sheep (preparing tableland pastures, anointing the head of the sheep with medicinal ointments, the cup of ointment being in abundance), these metaphors are most simply and most literally applied to the role of a host at a feast. When the Lord is our host, a sumptuous table is spread before us. Not only that, but the disturbing odors of the day in the hot sun are removed by the fragrant anointing oil that softens the skin and soothes the weariness. And the cup overflows. Like the Lord’s sheep led by the abundance of quiet waters, the Lord’s guest never waits for a refill and doesn’t have to worry that the supply of refreshment will be depleted. But as with the sheep and his Shepherd, being the guest of the Lord is not all sunshine and daisies. We feast under the threatening eyes of the enemies. We are in a scene of plenty, but there is danger. For the sheep, the rod and staff comforts. For the guest, it is goodness and mercy. And, we must recognize that goodness and mercy do not passively follow along. They pursue. They chase us down. In almost an inversion on the whole enemy picture, though enemies are present, they aren’t our pursuers. The Lord’s goodness and mercy are. So, why would I be a guest in anyone else’s house? Why would I feast with any other master? I will dwell in Yahweh’s house. After all, in His house, I lack nothing. Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 23.

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The Lord is My Shepherd

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

It has become, perhaps, the most beloved word picture in all of Scripture. Yahweh is my Shepherd. Because He is my Shepherd, I will not want. That is, I lack nothing. Not that I get everything I ever wanted, but I discover all the Lord provides is all I need. He provides me with comfort, contentment, peace, sustenance. He provides the safety that allows me to lie down, though I’m naturally skittish and characteristically frightful. Though I would typically drink down any muddy, parasite-infested gulp of water I can find, He leads me to quiet, still, refreshing waters. He gives guidance down good paths because it glorifies His name to do so. This is not to say that it is all sunshine and daisies or rainbows and buttercups with my Shepherd. Sometimes I wander, become downcast, get myself caught in the brambles and bushes, get bogged down in the headbutting order with my fellow sheep. It isn’t pretty. But, my Shepherd gently refreshes, renews, and restores me. Other times, He walks through the valley of the shadow of death. Death’s shadow is really, really dark and gloomy. Predators lurk everywhere. It is scary. I don’t always understand why He has led me that way. But I have learned He is still with me in the dark. His rod and staff protect me and discipline me, but it is always for my good. The Lord is my Shepherd. I’m a blessed sheep. Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 23.

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Thank the Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 7.

David’s final claim in Psalm 7 is “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness.” The point is not “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his sinlessness,” though I completely understand why some make that application. Of course, God is sinless. God always does what is right. But I encourage you to take a survey of the Old Testament claims about God’s righteousness. You will find that the point is deeper than always doing what is right, going on to always doing what God had committed to. God always delivers whom He promises to deliver and He always judges whom He promises to judge. He always keeps His word, His loyalty, His covenants. There is comfort in knowing God will deliver His covenant people who turn to Him despite their sins. There is also comfort in knowing God will judge His enemies who make war on Him and His people. There is great comfort in knowing God never blurs those lines or mistakes whom He is dealing with. Let’s always give the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness and sing the praise due His name.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 8.

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Who on Earth is This?

Today’s reading is Luke 8.

So, what’s the answer? Who is this that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him? This is so much more than a guessing game. This whole story calls to mind Psalm 107:23-32. In that passage, men went to do business in ships on the sea. There they saw the great deeds of Yahweh. He, that is, Yahweh commands the storms to rise until the men are at their wits’ end. Then they cry to Yahweh in their trouble and He delivers them from their distress. He then brings them safely to their haven. Can you see it? Here are men on the sea, witnessing the great power of the Lord raising up a storm. They are at their wits’ end and cry out to Jesus in their distress. What does Jesus do? He stills the storm, hushes the waves, quiets the waters, delivers them, and brings them safely to their haven. Who is this that commands the winds and the water, and they obey Him? He is Yahweh, Creator of heaven and earth, Lord of the land and the sea, King of storms. He is Jesus, which name literally means Yahweh is salvation. Praise the Lord! He is our Deliverer.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 8.

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