May 23, 2018: Why Love God?

May 23, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 20-21, Psalm 116, Mark 15:33-41, Galatians 5:1-12 Psalm 116: We are told often that we are to love God. But why? To ask such a question seems sacrilegious. After all, are we not meant to love God out of duty? Or, are we not meant to love God because he is eminently lovable? But then why do our affections sometimes not match our duties. What is it about God that should move us to be so loving towards him, to have our hearts, minds, affections, and wills move towards him in love? This psalm begins by saying, “I love the Lord, because….” There is a reason that is given for us to love God. And that reason is rescue. “I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as…

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May 22, 2018: Flee Idols

May 22, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 18-19, Psalm 115, Mark 15:16-32, Galatians 3:15-21 Psalm 115: The psalm starts with an insistence that all of us would do well to recall and regularly recite: “Not to us” but to God’s name be the glory (115:1). Service to God is not to be self-service. Ironically, sometimes it is possible to seem as if we are serving God, but really we are serving ourselves. Let us then this morning begin by stating it in the negative: not to us be the glory. And then affirm the positive: to God be the glory. The psalm then seeks to show God’s glory by comparing him to idols. The pagan “nations,” meaning those who do not know God, complain that God cannot be seen—he is not visible. Their idols, meanwhile, are physically present. But, the psalm retorts, idols can do nothing! “They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do…

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May 21, 2018: Tremble at the Presence of the Lord

May 21, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 16-17, Psalm 114, Mark 15:1-15, Galatians 4:1-20 Psalm 114: When we talk of “God’s presence,” we often think these days of something mild, pleasant, gentle. Certainly, the thought that “he leadeth me,” as the hymn puts it, has “heavenly comfort” to it. But according to this psalm, there is another side to the thought that God is present with us. “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord.” The psalmist is recording the extraordinary power with which God rescued his people from Egypt and the extraordinary power with which he provided water for them when they were in the desert, and his conclusion is that even the earth should tremble at the presence of the Lord. Could it be that our spirituality is insufficiently joyful because our theology is insufficiently trembling? God’s presence with us is a thought of great comfort—and of trembling. For he, the Lord, is…

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May 20, 2018: Praise the Lord!

May 20, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 14-15, Psalm 113, Mark 14:66-72, Galatians 3:15-29 Psalm 113: This psalm is obviously a psalm of praise. But it is one thing to say “praise the Lord”; it is another thing to be compelled with authenticity to praise the Lord. This psalm bridges the gap between instruction to praise and fuel for our praises. Consider these things: First, the extent of the practice of those who are called to praise. The “servants of the Lord,” all of them are to praise God. Do you serve God? Offer him praise! But not only are all those who serve God to praise God, they are to praise God for all time. This praise is from “this time forth and forevermore” (113:2); praise God now and forever. And not only is it infinite in extent, it is daily in intensity: “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of…

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May 19, 2018: The Fear of the Lord

May 19, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 13, Psalm 112, Mark 14:53-65, Galatians 3:1-14 Psalm 112: There are lots of theories around about how to be “successful.” Perhaps one of the most famous is called “how to win friends and influence people.” Another is called “the seven habits of highly effective people.” This is a mere taste of the numerous books, online resources, and seminars that exist to tell us how to be “successful.” Has anyone ever thought the Bible might have something to say about that? This psalm first gives the condition for such success, and then redefines what the nature of real success is. The condition is simple: “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord.” The fear of the Lord is the golden key to the palace of blessing. Whoever seeks to do well (truly well; we will redefine success in a moment) must first of all unlock that door to divine approval,…

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May 18, 2018: Why Praise God?

May 18, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 11-12, Psalm 111, Mark 14:43-52, Galatians 2 Psalm 111: Praising God is something that we know that we should do. After all, he is God so surely there must be a lot to praise. But we are not always as inclined to praise God as we would wish. Perhaps we do not feel “in the mood.” Or we cannot bring to mind enough sustainably credible reasons to praise God at a particular season in our lives—especially, perhaps, when we are facing suffering or difficulties. This psalm gives us 5 reasons to praise God. Here they are: #1 His works are great. What God has done is simply amazing. Look at creation. Look at the Grand Canyon. Look at the butterfly. Wow! #2 His providence is stunning. God provides for his people. We can go through tough times. We can face crises or depravation. But God comes through for…

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May 17, 2018: Don’t Unhitch

May 17, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 8-10, Psalm 110, Mark 14:32-42, Galatians 1 Psalm 110: What a mysterious psalm this must have seemed to Old Testament readers, for its prophecies and descriptions only really make sense in the light of the person of Jesus. Remember this, Christian, you cannot understand the Old Testament without the key that unlocks its doors: the Christ. And you cannot grasp the New Testament without understanding that the New Testament is a tissue paper of quotations from the Old Testament. The Bible of the early Christians was the Old Testament. This was their Scriptures. Who can possibly say that we should “unhitch” the Christian faith from the Old Testament when it is upon promises like this one that we know that Jesus is the Christ? Verse 1 is quoted by Jesus: The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” He…

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May 16, 2018: Encircled with Words of Hate

May 16, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 5-7, Psalm 109, Mark 14:12-31, 2 Corinthians 13 Psalm 109: What do you do when people lie about you, deceive you, turn your words into weapons against you, and generally attack and betray you? What is a Christian to do in such situations? Our Lord Jesus teaches us that we are to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.” All well and good—hard enough to achieve—but what of our feelings and of our wrestling with doubt and difficulties internally? Where do we turn when we are angry beyond words or reason; to whom may we utter the words in the dark that we dare not utter in the light of day? Psalms like this one give us an example of using the intimacy of our relationship to God to tell God exactly how we feel. Does David here step over the line at times in this…

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May 15, 2018: With God We Shall Do Valiantly

May 15, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 3-4, Psalm 108, Mark 14:1-11, 2 Corinthians 12:11-21 Psalm 108: What do you do when you are facing challenges that are beyond your own strength? How do you not quake at the threat of difficulty, or become overwhelmed by the emotion of a scary issue or troubling turn of events? David says that his “heart is steadfast”—steadfast here meaning firm. He is not quaking, he is not fearing, he is not running and hiding. His emotions are not all over the place. His thinking is not clouded. His heart is steadfast, firm. In fact, he sings with joy at the start of a day when he must face some significant challenges (108:1-3). The reason why his heart is steadfast is because his heart is resting in the faithfulness and steadfastness of the faithful God! “For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”…

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May 14, 2018: Oh, Give Thanks to the Lord!

May 14, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 1-2, Psalm 107, Mark 13:32-37, 2 Corinthians 2:1-12 Psalm 107: “Whoever is wise let him attend to these things.” What things precisely? This psalm is a fairly lengthy one, but it has a simple and straightforward—and very important—message. The pattern goes like this throughout the psalm: A: Some do various foolish, sinful, rebellious, even evil, things. B: They cry out to God for help. C: God rescues them. D: They give thanks to God. Over and over again, this A-D pattern is repeated throughout the psalm. In a sense, the psalm is saying this is the standard pattern of God’s people. We are rescued people. We are a people who when we cried out to God to rescue us, he came and rescued us. And we are therefore to be a grateful people. The psalm is also saying that if this is a standard pattern, it is also not…

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