June 18, 2018: Righteous Are You

June 18, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 10-11, Psalm 119:137-144, Luke 5:27-32, Philippians 2:12-18 Psalm 119:137-144: It is almost a truism to say that what God does is right—but we nonetheless often question whether that truism is true in actual fact. Some of the parts of the Bible may seem to us harsh or difficult to understand. Some of what happens in this world (all of which we believe is somehow or other under God’s sovereign control) is undeniably harsh, painful, and difficult to understand. And yet, in the words of the psalm, “Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules” (119:137). In fact, this issue of God’s “right-ness” or his “righteousness” is the key thread throughout this section of the psalm. It occurs twice in verse 137 to set the tone for the following verses. It occurs twice in verse 138 (“You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness.”) Similarly,…

Continue Reading >

June 17, 2018: Your Testimonies Are Wonderful

June 17, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 8-9, Psalm 119:129-136, Luke 5:17-26, Philippians 2:1-11 Psalm 119:129-136: Sometimes perhaps you ask yourself if it is really worth getting up early or staying up late to read the Bible. When there are so many other things going on in your life, so many pressures, and such business and demands, is it really worth using your precious time to read the Bible? Or, what makes the Bible so “wonderful” (119:129)? This section of the psalm interweaves two answers to that question, and then because of those answers, the psalmist is passionately committed to the Bible. The two answers he interweaves are: #1 It gives us understanding. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (119:130). If we want to understand life, then we will read and study the Bible. #2 It shapes our character. “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let…

Continue Reading >

June 16, 2018: When the Going Gets Tough

June 16, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 6-7, Psalm 119:121-128, Luke 5:12-16, Philippians 1:21-30 Psalm 119:121-128: It is hard when you believe that you have done what is right to still be surrounded by opposition or difficulty. And yet that is the experience of many of us at least from time to time. Why do bad things happen to good people? Part of the answer to that is that we are not really good at all. But there still seems to be a non-linear relationship between difficulty and trouble and whether someone is deserving of such difficulty and trouble. This part of the psalm does not answer that problem, but it does show a person wrestling with the conundrum that such a non-linear association generates. “I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors” (119:121). So the psalmist asks for help. Have you done that about the situation you are…

Continue Reading >

June 15, 2018: My Flesh Trembles for Fear of You

June 15, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 4-5, Psalm 119:113-120, Luke 5:1-11, Philippians 1:12-20 Psalm 119:113-120: One of the hardest things for people today to get their minds around is the negative side. We tend to appreciate the positive, the affirmation, the association with what is uplifting—and rightly so. We should emphasize hope and joy and peace and love. No doubt. But, in order to do that, we also need to resist the negative. That is, the evil, the nasty, the vicious, the anti-God and the anti-Christ, the unworthy, the vile—all the forces of darkness. In this part of the psalm, you find both the psalmist’s pursuit of God’s law, in all its beauty, but also his resistance to that which is anti-God, sinful, and likely to push him away from his relationship with God. The truth is that we need to resist the devil for him to flee from us, and we need to put…

Continue Reading >

June 14, 2018: Light to Your Feet

June 14, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 1-3, Psalm 119:105-112, Luke 4:38-44, Philippians 1:1-11 Psalm 119:105-112: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (119:105). Perhaps the most important, and summary, verse in this whole psalm—and for your life too! Let its truth sink deep into your mind and bring integrity and integration to your life. Where do you go when you are looking for guidance? The latest blog. The latest political insight from a talking head. The oldest teaching from some dead Puritan or father of the church. The first and foundational and fullest source for all guidance is not your personal intuition or the wisdom and expertise of authority. The first and foundational and fullest source for all guidance is THE BIBLE. Read it. Think biblically. Use biblical categories to find answers to current problems. Don’t cede the ground to other categories or assumptions. Start with the Bible. Shine…

Continue Reading >

June 13, 2018: What Makes the Bible So Special?

June 13, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 21-22, Psalm 119:97-104, Luke 4:31-37, Ephesians 6:10-24 Psalm 119:97-104: What is it that makes the Bible so special? Many different answers could be given to that. One of the clearest is found in the Coronation Oath sworn by the Queen of England in 1953: “We present you with this Book, the most valuable thing this world affords Here is Wisdom Here is the royal Law These are the lively Oracles of God.” But as profound as those statements are, the Bible itself has words that surpass them when it describes itself. Famously, 2 Timothy 3:16 says: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The psalm in front of us this morning, though, takes the subject from a different tack again. Here, the psalmist gives…

Continue Reading >

June 12, 2018: Firmly Fixed

June 12, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 21-22, Psalm 119:89-96, Luke 4:31-37, Ephesians 4:13-30 Psalm 119:89-96: When the going gets tough, the tough get going—or so we are told. Certainly, extremity of situation does reveal character. This is one of the reasons why it is important to build character in the quiet lull of normal life so that you can be ready to withstand the storm of suffering when it comes. When it comes, not if it comes. But the real gift of suffering, if we may phrase it like that, is that when suffering is received correctly, with faith and perseverance, it teaches you things, it shapes your character further, and it gives you new perspective and insight. The “affliction” which this psalmist is facing had taught him one overriding truth: the preciousness of God’s Word. “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction” (119:92). “Forever, O Lord,…

Continue Reading >

June 11, 2018: Help Me!

June 11, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 19-20, Psalm 119:81-88, Luke 4:13-30, Ephesians 6:1-9 Psalm 119:81-88: Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you cannot take it anymore? You have been burdened by so many things, so much criticism, or such great calamity that you feel that you are at the end of your rope? The psalmist is somewhere close to that in this part of the psalm. He is “longing” for God’s salvation, “longing” for his promise (119:81-82), because he has “become like a wineskin in the smoke” (119:83). What an evocative description! Spluttering, hot, unpleasant! What is more, those who oppose him (“the insolent”) “have dug pitfalls” for him (119:85). They are out to get him, and there are traps everywhere. They also “persecute him with falsehood” (119:86). He really is in a tough spot. What can he do about it? In many ways, in this psalm that is all…

Continue Reading >

June 10, 2018: What to Pray When You Suffer

June 10, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 15-16, Psalm 119:73-80, Luke 3:21-38, Ephesians 5:1-21 Psalm 119:73-80: This part of the psalm continues with the psalmist’s reflection upon and resolution regarding his own suffering. Consider: “I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (119:75). Or again: “Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood” (119:78). Apparently, the psalmist was not only suffering physically, but also was being accused of some wrong or had some wrong being done to him. There was relational as well as physical suffering. The old rhyme—“sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me”—has never been true. In fact, the verbal wrong—the “falsehood” spoken against you—can feel almost as painful as the metaphor by which we often describe it: a stab in the back. In this situation the psalmist is praying for some particular…

Continue Reading >

June 9, 2018: The Purpose of Suffering

June 09, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 13-14, Psalm 119:65-72, Luke 3:1-20, Ephesians 4:25-32 Psalm 119:65-72: The problem of suffering is one of the great perennial questions posed to Christians. How can a good God allow bad things to happen to good people? Asked like that, the question appears to be unsolvable. Either God is not really God (omnipotent), or he is not really good, or both. Which is it? But the problem of suffering needs to be asked in the correct form. Namely: how is it that a good God does not immediately send to hell his sinful creation? The answer is that he has found a way to redeem them through the sacrifice of his own Son at the cross. All this is theological and apologetic background to the particular aspect of this section of Psalm 119 that we have before us today. The psalmist has been “afflicted.” In layman’s terms, that means he…

Continue Reading >