March 15, 2018: God and God Alone

March 15, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 1-3, Psalm 62, Matthew 26:1-16, Romans 9:19-33 Psalm 62: One of the great truths of life—if not the greatest truth—is that when all else fails, when everything else falls apart, there is one and only one person on whom you can rely. And that person is not yourself: it is God. God and God alone. That is the theme of this psalm. “For God alone my soul waits in silence” (62:1). “He alone is my rock and salvation” (62:2). “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence” (62:5). “He alone is my rock and my salvation” (62:6). Several times the same point is made from a slightly different angle. For instance, at the end of the psalm, David employs “parallelism” (a common Hebraic poetic device) to emphasize that it is God and God alone: “Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and…

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March 14, 2018: Hear My Cry

March 14, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 33-36, Psalm 61, Matthew 25:31-46, Romans 9:1-18 Psalm 61: Perhaps you need help today? One biographer of Winston Churchill said that he could imagine Churchill preaching, but he could not imagine him praying. There is something about the act of prayer that for many practically minded, successful people appears to be degrading and abasing—groveling even. We can take succor from such illusions of our own self-sufficiency until we find that we are facing a problem too big for us to handle. There are no, or very few, atheists in an airplane as it crashes. Few, if any, would not pray then. It is then of extraordinary relevance to such practically minded, successful people to read these psalm-prayers of David (like this one in Psalm 61) and realize that they were written by David. That is a warrior; that is a king; that is a rock star musician. This is someone…

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March 13, 2018: With God

March 13, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 31-32, Psalm 60, Matthew 25:14-30, Romans 8:18-30 Psalm 60: This is the record of a series of great victories on the part of David. And the lesson? God did it. “With God we shall do valiantly” (60:12). The psalm starts by giving a fair record of the situation. It’s bad news. Even the theologians have given up. “O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses” (60:1). And the army, “our defenses,” appears to be a mess; they are defenseless. “You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open” (60:2). Were there natural disasters too? Or was this “quaking land” a poetic way of describing the massive social chasms that were opening up in the fabric of society? Either way, it is also bad news. “You have made your people see hard things” (60:3). The people have had any illusions about everything being alright removed; they now…

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March 12, 2018: I Will Sing of Your Strength

March 12, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 28-30, Psalm 59, Matthew 25:1-13, Romans 8:1-17 Psalm 59: Yet again, David is in trouble. This time, men have been sent to his house to kill him. Michal, his wife, tells him about the plot, and David escapes out of the window of his house. It is an extraordinary danger, but the kind of danger with which David has become all too familiar. How does he keep on going when faced with such opposition? What is the source of his confidence, his power? It is the “steadfast love” (59:10, 17), the covenant love of the almighty God. He asks God to “deliver” him (59:1). There are people lying “in wait for his life” (59:3). They are incorrigible and unrepentant, thinking they can get away with their evil deeds without anyone noticing. “Who, they think, will hear us?” (59:7) But God instead “laughs” at them! (59:8). He holds all the nations—here…

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March 11, 2018: Vengeance

March 11, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 26-27, Psalm 58, Matthew 24:34-51, Romans 7:13-25 Psalm 58: Have you ever felt so angry with someone, or some situation in the world, that your thoughts turned to vengeance? Great literature, like parts of the classic Moby Dick, as well as contemporary movies, are replete with themes of revenge. It is clearly a common emotion. Often what makes it particularly powerful in an individual is the sense that human justice is inadequate. As David puts it here, “Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?” [“gods” meaning the rulers or lords or human judges]. “Do you judge the children of men uprightly? No, in your heart you devise wrongs; your hands deal out violence on earth” (58:1-2). In other words, not only is wrong done, but also those who do wrong appear to get away with it. It is that lack of justice which fuels the fire for revenge.…

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March 10, 2018: Be Exalted, O God!

March 10, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 23-25,Psalm 57, Matthew 24:15-35, Romans 7:1-12 Psalm 57:Once again, David is in trouble. This time he is hiding in a cave from the attacks of King Saul. Who among us has experienced this kind of extreme danger? But whatever the scale of difficulty you have encountered, difficulty it still is. And this psalm—and David’s experience—can still help. He starts with prayer for God to have mercy. “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me” (57:1). He does not begin with expostulating on his innocence, how undeserving he is, how unfair it is that he is going through what he is going through. Biblically speaking, we all deserve far worse than we experience in this life: outside of Christ, we all deserve literal hell. So it is right for us to cry out to God for mercy. Then David makes use of some evocative imagery to focus his mind (and…

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March 9, 2018: Trust in God by God’s Word

March 09, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 21-22, Psalm 56, Matthew 24:1-14, Romans 6:15-23 Psalm 56: David is facing another—or continued—attack. It is, according to the ascription, “when the Philistines seized him in Gath.” Having fled from Saul, he hides in the kingdom of Achish in Gath among the Philistines. They recognize him as the great general who had killed so many Philistines in battle. David fears for his life and pretends to be insane. And he escapes. You can read about it in 1 Samuel 21:10 and following. So when David says, “my enemies trample me all day long” (56:2), he means real physical danger. And there must have been emotional, verbal, relational pressure as well! What does David do about it? He tells us, and so important is the lesson that he repeats it. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I…

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March 8, 2018: Cast Your Burden on the Lord

March 08, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 18-20, Psalm 55, Matthew 23:25-39, Romans 6:1-14 Psalm 55: David is once again crying out to God in prayer. “Give ear to my prayer, O God” (55:1). This time it is for a particularly pernicious attack on him personally. How do you respond when someone attacks you? Learn from David’s example. He turns to God in prayer. The need is great “because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me” (55:3). He is internally disturbed, as so often we are when someone attacks us. “Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me” (55:5). He has a simple longing: escape! “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest…I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest” (55:6, 8). When we are under attack, we…

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March 7, 2018: Save Me by Your Name

March 07, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 15-17, Psalm 54, Matthew 23:13-24, Romans 5:12-21 Psalm 54: David had many reasons to despair. He faced enemies determined to kill. He was betrayed and attacked. In this instance “strangers have risen against me” and “ruthless men seek my life” (54:3). What would David do about this? What would you do? If you are faced by opposition, what is the right response? Perhaps this morning you are surrounded by “enemies.” You look towards the day ahead and you wonder how you will survive. Perhaps there is someone who is trying to “get you fired.” Perhaps there is someone who is attacking your character. Perhaps someone you have never even met is attacking you on the Internet. What do you? In this psalm, David models for us the instinct of the mature believer. “O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might” (54:1). In other words, when…

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March 6, 2018: Pray for Atheists

March 06, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Numbers 12-14, Psalm 53, Matthew 23:1-12, Romans 5:1-11 Psalm 53: Once again, the Psalms sing to us the hymn to an atheist. Why is it repeated? (See Psalm 14). In the end, we do not know. But it is possible that God in his sovereignty is emphasizing the importance of the message of this psalm by ensuring it is repeated in the Psalms book! And what is that message? “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (53:1). It is the ultimate irony for someone to use speech (a marker of our non-merely material status) and thought (another marker of our non-merely material basis) to deny the existence of a Creator. How ironic it is for the atheist to use self-talk—“says in his heart”—to deny the existence of that to which his self-talk itself witnesses! While the fool says in his heart, God “looks down” (53:2). See the unfathomable…

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