February 11, 2018: Radiance in Suffering

February 11, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 30-31, Psalm 34, Matthew 14:22-36, Acts 20:13-38 Psalm 34: The context of this psalm, we are told, is extraordinary. Read the story in 1 Samuel 21:13. Evidently, whatever God's sovereign rescue means, it does not mean something that is in contradiction to David taking initiative-bold, strange initiative-to the extent of pretending to be insane to save his life! We are to cry to God for help, for sure, but also take initiative ourselves. It used to be said: work as if it all depended on you, pray as if it all depended on God. Better to say: work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you to will and act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13). In other words, the fact that you are working is a sign that God is at work in you. Which means, like David does,…

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February 10, 2018: Shout for Joy!

February 10, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 27-29, Psalm 33, Matthew 14:1-21, Acts 20:1-12 Psalm 33: There is something about joy that is "befitting" or suits or goes along with being righteous and "upright." The Psalms tell us to "shout for joy in the Lord, oh you righteous." Because those who trust in God are trusting in God, the source of all joy, it is therefore suitable, befitting, compatible, for such people to be joyful. And therefore we are told to "shout" for joy. So much for only quiet singing! No, we are to shout-hear the volume!-to God in praise! It all comes down to God's "word" (33:4). This word shows God's character as "faithful." It shows that God loves "justice." It shows that the earth is "full of the steadfast love of the Lord." That does not mean that nothing bad will ever happen on the earth. It means that anywhere on the earth we can…

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February 9, 2018: Blessed Is the One Whose Transgression Is Forgiven

February 09, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 24-26, Psalm 32, Matthew 13:44-58, Acts 19:23-41 Psalm 32: Contrary to expectation, blessing (happiness, joy, the best life) comes neither from a pretended sinless perfection, nor from a free-wheeling, licentious lifestyle. Blessing is not to be able to follow all the rules all the time without mistake. Blessing is also not to do whatever you want whenever you want however you want. Blessing is not pretending to be able to live always as perfectly righteous in everything. Nor is blessing rebellion. We tend to think that these are the only two options: being the older brother who stays at home with his father and does exactly what he thinks is right; or being the younger brother who squanders his money in loose living. But there is a third option, a gospel option, and that third way is to recognize our own need and ask God for forgiveness. "Blessed is the…

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February 8, 2017: Be Strong and Take Courage!

February 08, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 21-23, Psalm 31, Matthew 13:24-43, Acts 19:1-22 Psalm 31: Another psalm where David is calling out to God for help. David is looking for "refuge" (31:1-2, 19). Why is this such a common theme in David's psalms? Why might we suppose that a person of prominence, a public leader, a warrior, a king no less, was likely to feel the need for protection against enemies on a regular basis. It is also true that while we are saved when we first trust in Christ, we keep on needing to be saved on a daily basis too. There are three tenses to salvation in the Bible for the Christian: we were saved when we became a Christian (justification); we are being saved as we follow Christ (sanctification); and one day we we will be saved when we enter glory with Christ (glorification). All along we need to take "refuge" in God.…

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February 7, 2018: Give Thanks to God Forever!

February 07, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 19-20, Psalm 30, Matthew 13:1-23, Acts 18:18-28 Psalm 30: David is praising God. We are often told that we should do likewise, that we are to praise and worship God. We are not equally often told why. But here in this psalm, there is not only an example of David praising, there is also a lesson about why David praises. He is praising God “for you have drawn me up” (30:1). In other words, God “healed” him, he “restored” him, he did not let his enemies triumph over him (30:1-3). This theme of praise given to God because of his rescue is specified more precisely in the middle part of the psalm. “His anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (30:5). There are times when it seems we are under God’s discipline,…

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February 6, 2018: Even with Peace

February 06, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 16-18, Psalm 29, Matthew 12:38-50, Acts 18:1-17 Psalm 29: Worship has unfortunately been mired in controversy down through church history. Worship in the form of the Orthodox, the Roman Catholic, the Protestant? Worship as high church, low church? Worship as traditional or as contemporary? Real biblical worship at least starts with this proposition: it is to “worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness” (29:2). That is, worship is about exulting in and celebrating the utterly special, beautiful, and glorious (29:9) person of God. We are called to “ascribe” to God glory and strength: not because he needs our approval! But because this is true. And it is part of the enjoyment of God to celebrate the beauty of God. When you enjoy something or someone, you tell others about that something or someone; “wow, that was good; I so enjoyed that.” And with God, when we enjoy him, we…

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February 5, 2018: Call on Him

February 05, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 13-15, Psalm 28, Matthew 12:22-37, Acts 17:16-34 Psalm 28: What do you do when you need strength and protection? Perhaps you are in such a situation this morning. As you look ahead through the day, there are challenges that you are likely to face which appear beyond your resources. There are enemies who are likely to attack you from which you need protection. What do you do? Learn from David and “call” to the Lord. “To you, O LORD, I call” (28:1). There are times and reasons to call upon other people for help. Perhaps a mentor. Perhaps reading a book or a blog on the issue that you are facing. But the first thing to do, and the best thing to do, is to call on God. This means praying to him. Asking him. Seeking him. How? In the first two verses David outlines an urgent plea to…

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February 4, 2018: Wait for the Lord

February 04, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 10-12, Psalm 27, Matthew 12:1-21, Acts 17:1-15 Psalm 27: With God as your light and salvation, what is there to fear? When God is the stronghold of your life, of whom is there to be afraid? One of the great marks of a truly godly person is that they do not fear people. When you spend time in the presence of the Almighty, the might of humans is by comparison puny. You desire His approval, not theirs, and with his protection you have nothing and no one to fear. “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident” (27:3). Is there an “army” or “war” that has come against you? Look to God, and do not fear. Because of this David desires “one thing.” “One thing I have asked of the LORD, that I will seek after:…

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February 3, 2018: Vindicate Me

February 03, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 7-9, Psalm 26, Matthew 11:20-30, Acts 16:16-40 Psalm 26: David is asking for help. In particular, “vindication.” His record has been sullied by some slander. He is being accused in some way or other. He does what the godly do in such situations: he asks God for vindication. “It is mine to avenge, I will repay,” says the Lord. We do not take vengeance into our hands, but trust God to be the judge. Ultimately, we know that we are not people of unsullied lips either. But there are times when the right is clear on our side in a particular situation, and it is appropriate, good, and needed to ask God to intervene—as David does here. David prays with confidence based upon his faithfulness to God’s covenant with his people, and with David in particular. God’s “steadfast love” is before his eyes. This is the hesed covenant loyalty of…

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February 2, 2018: The Refuge You Need

February 02, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: Exodus 4-6, Psalm 25, Matthew 11:1-19, Acts 16:1-15 Psalm 25: David lifts up his soul; that is, he trusts in God, asking that his enemies would not triumph over him. Perhaps you need to do that this morning. Perhaps you are surrounded by enemies seeking to prevent you from following God. Would you lift up your soul to God to ask him for refuge today? Be confident: “none who wait for [God] shall be put to shame”! But lifting up our soul to God does not mean only a cry to God for help. It also means asking God to teach us his paths, verse 4. A follower of God is a learner from God. A person who longs for God longs to be taught by God. Would you this morning find time to study the Bible? Sometimes the guilt of our past comes back to plague us. The way we…

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