February 21, 2018: Light and Truth

February 21, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 16-17, Psalm 43, Matthew 19:16-30, Acts 26:19-32 Psalm 43: Psalm 43 and Psalm 42 belong together. Psalm 43 ends with the same refrain that was repeated in Psalm 42: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him My salvation and my God” (verse 5; see Psalm 42:5, 11) But while Psalm 43 has a similar theme to Psalm 42, it picks up a different thread. The psalmist wants God to “vindicate” him (43:1). He wants God to “defend” him. In particular, he wants God to “send out his light and truth; let them lead me.” Perhaps you are in a situation where you are not only wondering “why” but also needing divine intervention. You sense that you need “vindication.” You need God’s “defense.” The psalmist is saying that the core of this intervention…

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February 20, 2018: Hope in God

February 20, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 14-15, Psalm 42, Matthew 19:1-15, Acts 26:1-18 Psalm 42: The psalm begins with a beautiful, famous picture—“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (42:1)—but the reality behind that picture is rather starker than is often considered. The point that the psalmist is making is in the same way that a deer is desperate with thirst in a desert, so he feels desperate for God—and cannot find him. Perhaps you feel like that this morning. Other people talk of their wonderful experiences with God, but to you at the moment he seems like such a stranger. What do you do about that feeling, that sense that God is distant from you? What do you do when your “tears have been your food day and night” (42:3)? The first thing the psalmist does is “remember” (42:4). He remembers the good times he has had…

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February 19, 2018: Blessed Is the One

February 19, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 11-13, Psalm 41, Matthew 18:15-35, Acts 25:13-27 Psalm 41: There are many motivations for generosity: a response to what Christ has done for us, an expression of genuine kindness, and even if somewhat less positively, the motivation of looking good by doing good. Charity is motivated by many wells of desires deep within the human heart. But one such motivation is alluded to here in the first few verses of this psalm: happiness. “Blessed is the one who considers the poor” (41:1). Perhaps you are someone with resources. Perhaps you are someone who has the means and wherewithal to give. In fact, everyone can give something. This is the lesson of Jesus’ story about the “widow’s mite.” What counts is not so much the amount we give as the amount we retain. God is looking for cheerful givers. And to give is “blessed”: more than mere passing happiness, it is…

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February 18, 2018: A New Song

February 18, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 8-10, Psalm 40, Matthew 18:1-14,Acts 25:1-12 Psalm 40: For U2 fans, this psalm is made more latterly renowned by a song they sang named “40”—whose lyrics are modeled on that of this song. But whatever the entrance way that leads you to this psalm, you are blessed if you linger here and learn its lessons! Note how David said he “waited patiently” for the Lord (40:1). What a hard lesson this is for us! Is there some hurt, disappointment, or troubling question that plagues you? Perhaps you do not have the answer because you are not yet ready to understand it. A child cannot grasp the full answers to his questions and must do with either a half-answer or no answer at all from time to time. Similarly, with us, even children of God, our questions sometimes require answers that are beyond the capacity of our brains to…

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February 17, 2018: Smile Again

February 17, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 5-7, Psalm 39, Matthew 17:14-27, Acts 24 Psalm 39: There are few things more provoking than someone acting in wicked foolishness—especially when they seem to get away with it. Perhaps you are facing some trial or trauma, and it is made worse by the “presence of the wicked.” Not only was what happened bad, but there are people who are wickedly misinterpreting what has happened, or they are misusing the situation for their own selfish gains. It is then tempting to speak too hastily and make things worse. And so David put a “guard” on his mouth. Sometimes the right thing to do is just to bite your tongue. Sometimes the right thing to say is to say nothing. Perhaps there is something that is frustrating you. Before you fire off an angry email or text message, put a guard on your mouth. Say nothing, nothing at all. But David…

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February 16, 2018: Make Haste to Help Me

February 16, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 1-4, Psalm 38, Matthew 17:1-13, Acts 23:12-35 Psalm 38:: Sin has real effects. Here David outlines the way his sin has impact, even on his physical state. Perhaps there is some sin that you are toying with in your mind. Surely it isn't that bad. Surely God will forgive me. Surely no one will notice. But here in this psalm, there is remedy against the temptation of sin from a person who has sinned and is suffering terribly because of it. It is sometimes said that there is no one more miserable than a sinning Christian. A person who is not a Christian who sins has a conscience, but they do not have the Holy Spirit within that is grieved by their sin. But a person who is a Christian and who sins is in a miserable situation. One theologian used to remark that God had not made it so…

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February 15, 2018: Take Refuge in Him

February 15, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 38-40, Psalm 37:23-40, Matthew 16:13-28, Acts 23:1-11 Psalm 37:23-40: Having told us to fret not because of the wicked, David now celebrates the path that is open before those who follow the Lord. Perhaps you wonder whether it really is worth it to commit your life to God. Perhaps there is some challenge that you are facing that means that you question whether the cost of following God is too high. Well, David here assures you that "The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way" (37:23). What could be better than having God establish our steps! This does not mean that the follower of God will never make mistakes or never experience trouble. It means that even when the righteous falls, God has him by his hand. "Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand"…

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February 14, 2018: Fret Not!

February 14, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 35-37, Psalm 37:1-22, Matthew 16:1-12, Acts 22 Psalm 37:1-22: When people attack us, a range of emotions rises up within us. One of the most common is to "fret." We worry what will happen to us. We are concerned as to whether we are safe. We fret about the impact on our career, or our family, or our own selves. Over and over again, then, the first half of this psalm that we are considering this morning tells us to "fret not." "Fret not yourself because of evildoers" (37:1). "Fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out his evil devices" (37:7). "Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil" (37:8). How are we to avoid such fretting? By instead trusting, committing, being still, and knowing God's plan. "Trust in the Lord, and do good" (37:3). Take a moment now to tell…

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February 13, 2018: The River of His Delights

February 13, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 34, Psalm 36, Matthew 15:21-39, Acts 21:27-40 Psalm 36: Why people act the way they do is a fascinating topic. Why do we act the way we do? It has driven the concerns of psychology, history, sociology, and much else besides. Have you ever wondered why it is that you do certain things or what it is that is really motivating you? Or perhaps you have wondered why it is that people can reject God or act in ways that are plainly-so it appears to us-wrong, even evil? The first part of this psalm describes the morphology of sin. What is really going on? How does someone, made in the image of God, commit barbarity? After all, "Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart" (36:1). There is something called conscience. But "there is no fear of God before his eyes." Without the fear of God as a present,…

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February 12, 2018: Contend

February 12, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 32-33, Psalm 35, Matthew 15:1-20, Acts 21:1-26 Psalm 35: What do you do when you have people who are out to get you? It is hard to go through life without any kind of conflict whatsoever. To some extent, we expect that there will be times when we come across people who don't like us or who are not our best friends. But there is a different level of opposition where there are people-individuals or a group-who are deliberately doing what they can to take you down. When they are twisting your words or plotting behind the scenes to sully your name, your reputation, and even physically hurt you. What do you do then? What is the right response for a Christian in such a situation? In this psalm, David is faced with people who are "contending" against him. They "without cause" "hid a net" for him. They "without cause"…

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