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June 19, 2024

Psalm 73:21-23

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

The antitoxin for envy and self-pity is humility. The psalmist first saw that his sin hurt him and then that it hurt others, but finally he sees he has been as arrogant toward God as the people he despised. There is in us a fierce, instinctive self-will as unthinking and inhuman as that of a wild beast. Augustine remembered stealing pears only because it was forbidden. Deep in us something snarls, "No one tells me what to do." Only by admitting this darkness within can the glorious word of grace - "yet" dawn on him (v.23). God never let him go. Only when we see the depth of our sin will we be electrified by the wonder of grace.


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

June 18, 2024

Psalm 73:15-20

If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.

The first step out of the sinkhole of resentment and envy is worship. The psalmist enters the sanctuary, and in the presence of the true God his sight clears and he begins to get a long-term perspective (vv. 16-17). He realizes that the rich without God are on their way to being eternally poor; the celebrities without God are on their way to being endlessly ignored (vv. 18-19). Without the confines of a dream, you may be very intimidated by some powerful being, but as soon as you wake, you laugh at its impotence to harm your real life. All the world's power and wealth are like a dream. They can neither enhance nor ruin a Chrisrian's deepest identity, happiness, and inheritance.


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

June 17, 2024

Psalm 73:1014

Therefore their people turn to them¬†and drink up waters in abundance.¬†They say, ‚ÄúHow would God know?¬†Does the Most High know anything?‚Ä̬†This is what the wicked are like‚ÄĒalways free of care,¬†they go on amassing wealth.¬†Surely in vain¬†I have kept my heart pure¬†and have washed my hands in innocence.¬†All day long I have been afflicted,¬†and every morning brings new punishments.

What have I gotten out of it? 

The psalmist concludes that a good life has not brought him wealth or freedom from troubles (verse 12) and therefore has been "in vain" (verse 13). But this unmasks his heart. His obedience was not a way of pleasing God but rather a means of getting God to please him. When we sat to God, "I'll serve you only if X happens," then it is X that we love, and God is just a necessary apparatus for obtaining it. The shock of this admission begins to clear his mind. In every difficult circumstance we may hear God saying to us: "Now we will see if you came to me to get me to serve you or so that you could serve me."

--Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

June 13, 2024

Psalm 72:8-14

May he rule from sea to sea and from the River[a] to the ends of the earth. May the desert tribes bow before him and his enemies lick the dust. May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him. May the kings of Sheba and Seba present him gifts. May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him. For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.

Healing the Nations

The races and nations - always at war with one another - now offer themselves in service (vv 10-11), not because they have been conquered but rather because they have been attracted like a magnet by the perfect justice and compassion of this king (vv. 12-14). No earthly king has ever been like this. This healing of racial strife and the elimination of poverty and injustice are the marks of God's kingdom, but governments, even the best ones, don't come close. Yet when Jesus was born, gifts were offered from afar (Matthew 2:1-12), and when the church was established, the races began to be unified (Ephesians 2:11-22) and the needy helped (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-36). The kingdom of God had entered history.

Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

June 12, 2024

Psalm 72:1-7

Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.  May he endure[a] as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. May he be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. In his days may the righteous flourish and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.

Only if you have experienced life in a country in which the state is corrupt and the rule of law has failed can you appreciate the blessing of good government. The great king depicted here brings social justice to the poor and the marginalized. The economy thrives because of good stewardship of assets and the deep trust among people that is necessary for commerce. God is a God who is deeply concerned about these things. But the heading says this is a psalm of "Solomon," and even he, David's son, became an oppressor of his people (1 Kings 12:4). So the psalm provokes us to long for a better king than the best government has ever been.

Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

June 10, 2024

Psalm 122

I rejoiced with those who said to me,¬†‚ÄúLet us go to the house of the¬†Lord.‚Ä̬†¬†Our feet are standing¬†in your gates, Jerusalem.¬†¬†Jerusalem is built like a city¬†that is closely compacted together.¬†That is where the tribes go up‚ÄĒ¬†the tribes of the¬†Lord‚ÄĒ¬†to praise the name of the¬†Lord¬†according to the statute given to Israel.¬†¬†There stand the thrones for judgment,¬†the thrones of the house of David.¬†Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:¬†‚ÄúMay those who love¬†you be secure.¬†¬†May there be peace¬†within your walls¬†and security within your citadels.‚Ä̬†For the sake of my family and friends,¬†¬† I will say, ‚ÄúPeace be within you.‚Ä̬†¬†For the sake of the house of the¬†Lord¬†our God,¬†I will seek your prosperity.

Those attending the annual festivals approached Jerusalem with joy! They loved the city and prayed for its flourishing. What Jerusalem was to the ancient Jews the church is to believers in Christ. When we come to faith in Christ, we become citizens in the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22-24; Philippians 3:20). The manifestation of that heavenly (and future) city is the counterculture of the Christian church, a society where the world can see human life lived according to God's will. Through the Gospel, different races and nations are "closely compacted together" (Ephesians 2:11-22). People who would never get along outside the church love one another inside it. We must joyfully seek out the church; the Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

June 5, 2024

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

God has a celebration meal with us not after we finally get out of the dark valley but in the middle of it, in the presence of our enemies. He wants us to rejoice in him in the midst of our troubles. Is our shepherd out of touch with reality? Hardly. Jesus is the only shepherd who knows what it is like to be a sheep (John 10:11). He understands what we are going through and will be with us every step of the way, even through death itself, where "all other guides turn back" (Romans 8:39).

--Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,