Thank God for the New Covenant

Today’s reading is Psalm 42.

This son of Korah has apparently been carted off away from the temple of the Lord. He isn’t able to perform his Levitical duties. He can’t serve as a gatekeeper or serve in song in the worship of the Israelites. He feels cut off from God because he can’t get to the temple. I read how disheartened and despairing he is. It’s moments like this I’m thankful for the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

In John 4:21, Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” I recognize, of course, Jews could turn toward the temple from any location and pray to God. I have no doubt they recognized a sense in which God was with them everywhere they went. However, when worship was so temple centered, it left the feeling that when one couldn’t get to the temple, one couldn’t get to God.

I’m thankful for our New Covenant. I’m thankful for Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice ripped the veil before the Most Holy Place. I’m thankful that I live in a covenant in which by Jesus I am able to stand in the Most Holy Place before God wherever I am. Its why Paul and Silas could be beaten and lying in a prison, but still sing praise and pray to God.

We are never separated from God. He is always with us. We can pray to Him from anywhere. We can worship Him in any location. We don’t have to despair because we can’t get to a temple. We are the temple. God is with us, in us.

Praise the Lord for the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 42.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. No doubt, part of the psalmist’s feeling disconnected from God had to do with being disconnected from the people he used to worship with. See vs. 4. If you weren’t able to worship with the church this Sunday, would you feel like this psalmist? Why or why not?
  3. Why is worship so amazing and something to look forward to? Why is it something to miss when we don’t get to do it?
  4. What are some other reasons you are thankful for Jesus and His New Covenant?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

If You Don’t Like the Weather…

Today’s reading is Psalm 42.

I was born in Mountain Home, Idaho. I don’t remember anything about it. We move to England when I was two. I remember a little about that. We moved to Goldsboro, North Carolina when I was 6, I remember that a lot better. Since that time, I’ve lived in 11 different cities for at least six months. In every place I’ve lived (and most places I’ve visited), people have tried to clue me in to what their home is really like. And in every single place someone has said to me, “That’s one thing about this town. If you don’t like the weather, just wait around for five minutes, it’ll change.” They say it like it’s the only place in the world where that happens. But I assure you, where you live is not the only place in the world like that. The world is just like that.

In fact, Israel must have been like that. In the first half of Psalm 42, the psalmist is like a deer panting for streams of water in a drought. But by vs. 7, he’s in the middle of a flood. “Deep calls to deep” brings to mind the chaotic waters at the beginning of creation. There is so much water the psalmist is now overwhelmed by the waves and the breakers. They go over him. He went from dehydrating to drowning in a matter of seven verses.

And that is life. Sometimes we are so drained and exhausted, emotionally, physically, spiritually. At other times, we are simply beaten to death by the rough breakers of life. We are being tumbled over as life hits us with one wave after another.

In both cases, we feel forgotten and abandoned. We think God should be doing more. Or God should be doing something we can see and feel. However, like the psalmist said even in the midst of this flood, “By day God commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” We may not feel it. We may not sense it. But it is happening.

Hang on to the Lord. He hasn’t left you. You will praise the Lord again.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 42.

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Is the weather crazy where you live?
  3. What is the difference between times of life that feel like a drought and times of life that feel like a flood?
  4. What advice would you give to others to rely on God during either kind of time?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Who Is in Control?

Today’s reading is Psalm 41.

Underneath Psalm 41:8 is an interesting claim. The ESV says the friends claim a “deadly thing” has been poured out on David. The word for deadly is similar to the word “Belial.” It is the word that means “worthless” (1 Samuel 25:25) and can also mean “destruction” (Psalm 18:4). It contains an underlying idea that David’s sickness is actually caused by demonic or unclean spirits. This actually brings up an amazing point we find in the Psalms.

In the ancient Near East, we learn that when folks from other nations wrote psalms, poems, laments, they often attributed their sicknesses and troubles to evil spirits, jinn, demons just as David’s enemies here do. But take a look at to whom David attributes control over his illness. Once again, David believes his illness is theosomatic. That is, he believes it is God’s discipline for his own sins.

I know it gives us just a bit of trouble to place God as the ultimate power behind all the things we read about in the psalms. However, the great blessing of that realization is God is the one in control. He is sovereign. If God is the one who is ultimately behind all these, then God is the one we must turn to when we face them.

No, this doesn’t mean every sickness we face is God’s specific discipline for a specific sin. Further, it doesn’t mean God is simply striking people with sickness right and left. But it does remind us God is the one in control. God is the one who can provide the healing. God is the one who can provide the deliverance. David’s sickness was not under the control of Belial, therefore David wasn’t going to die.

Whatever we face, whether it is because of our sins or just because of time and chance, it isn’t under the control of the enemy. It is under the control of God. Turn to Him. He is the one who can deliver. He is the only one who can deliver. He will deliver.

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 41.

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why are you glad that God is in control?
  3. Why is it hard to hang on to God when we are really sick or when enemies attack?
  4. What advice would you give to encourage others to hang on to God even when life is difficult and painful?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

My Enemies

Today’s reading is Psalm 41.

It hurts when you find out friends are actually enemies. To your face they say nice things, behind your back they spread secrets and lies. When you are around, they feign care about your life. In their hearts, they wish you were dead. When you are providing the meal, they eat your bread. When you are in your sickbed, they abandon you.

Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Hurts like crazy, doesn’t it? David knew what that was like.

Friends are great. We all need them. But always remember who your actual hope is. God is the best friend. When friends fail us, God never will. Even when our friends become enemies, though they hurt us, they will not shout in triumph over us.

God always wins. Therefore, when we are with God, we always win. Hang on to your truest friend no matter what.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 41.

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What benefits and blessings do your friends provide you?
  3. Why does it hurt so bad when friends betray us?
  4. What advice would you give to help us make God our best friend?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Blessed is the Man

Today’s reading is Psalm 40.

Here it is again. “Blessed is the man.” Sisters, please, don’t be upset. Women in this setting will be blessed also. These psalms are written from the king’s perspective. While they have application to all of God’s followers, male and female alike, they are primarily about the king.

But it is good to see a survey of this blessed person so far.

Psalm 1:1: “Blessed is the man [whose]…delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Psalm 2:12: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

Psalm 32:1: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

Psalm 32:2: “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity…”

Psalm 33:11: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”

Psalm 34:8: “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

Psalm 40:4: “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!”

What more is there to say? We may not be the king. But we can be this person. And we will be blessed.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 40.

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!

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Which of the “blessed” statements in the psalms so far is your favorite? Why?
  3. What comfort do you get from these beatitudes in the psalms?
  4. What do all these beatitudes have in common?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Help Me, Yahweh! You’re My Only Hope!

Today’s reading is Psalm 39.

My life is fleeting. Money isn’t helpful. I’m actually just a sojourner. Then what is this life all about?

David asks the question this way, “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?” That is, “What hope do I have?” His answer? “My hope is in you.”

Honestly, this is were we find Jesus. What was David really waiting for? Jesus. Jesus removes transgressions. Jesus removes our scorn. God removed the stroke from us and placed it on Jesus.

Looking forward, David didn’t fully understand exactly what his hope was. Looking back through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we do. What hope do we have in money, houses, cars, retirement accounts, gizmos, gadgets, etc.? What hope do we have in this life? What hope do we actually have in the future generations? What hope do we have? Yahweh is our only hope. Jesus is our only hope.

But what an amazing hope He is! Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 40.

PODCAST!!!

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

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Do you see Jesus in this psalm in any other ways than mentioned in the devo above?
  3. What other things do people put their hope in besides Yahweh and Jesus? What does that look like?
  4. What does putting our hope completely in Jesus look like in our daily lives?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Delight Yourself in the Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 37.

I can’t spend a week in Psalm 37 without commenting on vs. 4. It’s my second favorite verse in the whole Bible. My favorite is Psalm 73:25:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

But a close second is Psalm 37:4:

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

They kind of go together, don’t they?

I misunderstood this passage for the longest time. I thought David was saying, “If I learn to delight in the Lord, I’ll get everything I ever wanted. I’ll get the big house, the nice car, the great family, the cool job. I’ll become a world famous author, an internationally known speaker, and, oh yeah, a mega-billionaire! Woohoo!”

But wait! Didn’t that list of desires actually demonstrate what I really delight in? If I want God just so I can get houses, cars, gadgets, family, better relationships, more money, fame, etc., then I don’t actually want God, do I? I want those things. God just becomes a means to an end instead of the end itself.

It’s a conundrum. If I work really hard to delight in the Lord so I can get all that stuff, my goals and desires defeat any delight I am pursuing in the Lord. In that situation, I don’t get any of it.

I have a choice. I can give up on delighting in the Lord and just pursue what I really delight in. I might even get and enjoy some of those things for a while. But then I don’t get the Lord. And none of those other things last forever. They will all burn up in the end. And I will burn with them as I hold on to them.

Or, I can learn to delight in the Lord. When I really delight in the Lord, the desires of my heart will be the Lord. Then I get the Lord, and I’ll be delighted. He may give me some of that other stuff or He may not. That’s really His business. But when I delight in the Lord, I’m super happy having the Giver and whatever gifts He gives me, I’ll be happy with. Whatever gifts He doesn’t give me…well…so what? I have the Giver. I’m delighted.

What are you delighting in today?

Today’s reading is Psalm 37

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.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why are things like houses, cars, clothes, relationships, jobs, money, gadgets, gizmos, and games so much easier to delight in and desire than God?
  3. Take a look at James 1:14-15. Why is it important to get this desire and delight thing in proper perspective and order?
  4. How do you think we can increase our delight in God?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Paul, On Sin

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

David speaks of Transgression’s first deceitful counsel. “You don’t need to fear God.” Notice, Transgression doesn’t advise, “You don’t need to believe in God.” Rather, he counsels, “You don’t need to believe God matters.” David says that for the person who listens, “There is no fear of god before his eyes.”

Did that statement sound familiar to you? It might. Paul quotes it in his dissertation on sin in Romans 3:18. For David, this lack of fear is the foundation for a life that sinks deeper and deeper into sin. For Paul, it is the culmination of sinful attitudes and behaviors. Either way we recognize the entire package of sin and its deceitful schemes.

Sin doesn’t have to convince us God doesn’t exist. Sin only has to convince us God doesn’t matter to our lives today. He isn’t watching. He doesn’t care. We can hide our sin from Him. We can always repent tomorrow. Everybody does it.

Ooh! Let’s stop and think about that last justification. Because that is actually part of Paul’s declaration on sin. His whole point in Romans 3 is that both Jews and Gentiles sin. The passages he quotes, including Psalm 36:1, stop every mouth and make the whole world accountable to God (Romans 3:19-20). Hold on, Sin told me my iniquity cannot be found out. Sin told me I’d never be held accountable. Sin lied.

In fact, consider one of Sin’s most insidious lies. “Don’t worry about me being in your life,” Sin says. “That’s why Jesus died.” Can you tell why that one is so insidious? Because it contains more than a kernel of truth. Your sin is the reason Jesus died. But Sin, Transgression, Satan want you to believe Jesus died so you would never be held accountable for your sins. They want you to believe Jesus died so you can keep living in sin. To Sin, Jesus’s death means sin doesn’t matter. But that isn’t what Paul teaches, and that isn’t what David was teaching.

Jesus did die because you sin. However, He didn’t die to let you continue in sin. He died to let you repent of your sin. He died to strengthen you to abandon your sin. He died to empower you to overcome your sin. Paul explains in Romans 6:1-4, that when we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death. When we are raised, we have died to sin. We must not continue to live in it. Rather, we live a new life by the power of Jesus’s resurrection.

But understand this. After you are baptized, Sin and Satan are going to pull out all the stops trying to convince you to come back into their arms. Don’t listen. Jesus died to set you free from sin. Don’t let His death be in vain for you. Hang on to Jesus. He will set you free.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “Paul, On Sin”

From Bad to Worse

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

Imagine yourself at the fork of two paths where two guides encourage you in opposite directions. You know one of them leads where you ultimately want to go, but the other looks fun. It is more pleasing to the eye. It doesn’t look quite as difficult. “Besides,” the guide for that path tells you, “after you’ve had all your fun on my path, you can always hop over to the other path. Just look at how close together they are.” They do seem pretty close. That sounds like a pretty solid plan.

The problem is the guide is lying. That isn’t how it works. Once you start walking on Transgression’s path, you get farther and farther from God’s path. While it is true you always have the option to repent and make your way to God’s path, the farther down Sin’s path you go, the more settled, the more deceived, the more entrenched you become. It is not that repentance becomes less of an option, it simply becomes less likely.

David shows us the path in sin, reminding us again of the very first psalm. In Psalm 1, we see the general settling and entrenchment of the wicked. They start by walking according to the counsel of the wicked, progress to standing in the way of the sinner, and finally settle down to sit in the seat of the scoffer. In Psalm 36, Transgression begins with flattery. “No one will know. You won’t get caught. It’s not that big of a deal. Just this once.” But it is trouble and deceit that ends by having evil thinking and plotting at all times, even when lying in bed. The wicked, no doubt, always assumes eventually they’ll get back to God’s path. But they end up on an evil path that is increasingly difficult to abandon.

That voice telling you today’s sin doesn’t matter that much is lying. Don’t trust it. Trust God. He knows the way of the righteous. His steadfast love is precious. He delivers.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.

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.

Continue reading “From Bad to Worse”

Asking God to Be God

Today’s reading is Psalm 35.

The first few verses of Psalm 35 seem odd to us. They picture God as lawyer and warrior. Someone is contending against me (and that is actually a legal term), contend against them for me. Someone is fighting against me, rise up and fight them for me. He really digs into the warrior metaphor in vss. 2-3, asking God to take up shields and weapons, and saying to David, “I will be your salvation!”

Then there are vss. 5-6 asking the Lord to have His angel chase the enemies away like chaff before the wind (yes, you should remember Psalm 1:4 here). What is going on here?

Let’s not read this in a vacuum. Look in Exodus 23:20-33. I’ll provide some excerpts.

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared for you…But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries…I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you…

David didn’t just make up his prayer on the spot. He wasn’t just thinking of all the things he could say and created these ideas. David knew the Torah.

What is he doing in these prayers? He is asking God to be God. He is asking God to be for him, what He promised to be for Israel. He is asking God to be what God has already said He would be for His people.

Do you want to pray more effectively? Take a page out of David’s book and ask God to be in your life what God has declared He is.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 35.

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!

Continue reading “Asking God to Be God”