Righteousness of God

The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god. Psalm 24:4

Part of the Ten Commandments is in verse 4:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image Exodus 20

Having clean hands and pure heart, that’s what the Work of Christ was all about. He dirtied His hands on our behalf, and purified our hearts.

Are we then sinless? Absolutely not. We have been bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. I don’t begin to understand the theological implications of that action, but I do know this:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Commit that verse to memory, and it will change the way you think about sin and righteousness.

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Missed Opportunity

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place? Psalm 24:3

It’s an interesting question, particularly if you don’t know the answer already. It’s actually a question many seek to answer apart from God. The age-old question is this: how do you get to heaven? The answers to that question are as varied as the people who ask them.

If, though, you had 30 seconds to answer this question, what would you say to the unbeliever that (1) he would understand, (2) is not full of Christian-ese (things we talk about within the walls of the church but would be misunderstood outside), and (3) something that provokes thought?

About 20 years ago I was standing in a long line outside of a church to see Michael Card in concert. The line was literally wrapped around the building. A gentleman passing by stopped and asked, “what’s going on in there?” My answer was short and pathetic: “there’s a Christian concert in there.” Almost immediately after he nodded, I thought of a dozen much much better things I could have said:

We’re going to worship the God of the Universe in song
We’re going to ponder the beauty and glory of God Almighty
We’re going to praise the God of Abraham Isaac, and Jacob

So, again, how would you answer the “how do you get to heaven” question?

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Like a Rose

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters. Psalm 24:1-2

King David begins this psalm with a proclamation: everything we see and everyone we meet was created by God, but the world itself should never be the object of worship.

It means we shouldn’t be worshiping celebrities, intellect, gifted people, social status, wealth, magnificent structures, Mother Nature, Father Time, or anything else we can see. It wasn’t made to be worshiped. They were all – including us – were made to glorify God.

If you’ve ever seen copies of George Frideric Handel’s compositions, you’ll immediately notice one thing. Throughout the arrangements, he’s written “to the Glory of God, to the Glory of God.” Even as he was writing it, he had to give God glory. But he also seemed to realize this: it would indeed be possible to worship something other than God.

When you’re tempted to keep the praise to yourself – as Handel probably had been tempted to do – smell the rose (in this case, praise) and then offer it up to God.

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Choices At the Table

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever. Psalm 23:5-6

Picture this: you’re invited to a party and the host motions for you to come to the front. On the way you pass your enemies. They glare at you as you pass them. Your host smiles and ushers you to a seat near the front, lavishes you with gifts and food. You glance around and your enemies are fuming. That the picture I have of this verse.

But it doesn’t end there.

After you’ve eaten the food and opened the presents, you realize that you can be feasting like this in the presence of your host every day of your life. When you fall your host will be by your side to pick you up. When you weep, your host will weep with you. While your days may be stressful and busy, you can always go to the head of the room day in and day out. And your enemies, they’ll watch and fume as you walk past them.

The truth is, this is the life we can choose to live if we wanted. No, not all our days will be cheery and stress free. Not all our days will end in praise to God. But those days are there if we choose.

You see, we can choose to be bitter or we can choose to let it go. We can choose to walk with Christ moment by moment or we choose not to (or anywhere in between). We can choose to dwell in the house of the Lord or we can choose to stand outside the house and hope someone notices us.

While I know the answer to this question should be obvious, maybe it’s not: which pathway do you choose?

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Front Row Seat in the Darkest Valley

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

At any one time during the year there are a number of wars, skirmishes, and civil unrest occurring in the world. We only hear bits and pieces of it in between American Idol and Academy Award nominee updates.

The most prominent civil unrest is what is happening in the Ukraine. They are experiencing what King David called the darkest valley. I’ve seen photos of clergymen standing in between the government forces and the protesters. It’s certainly an interesting and dangerous place to be in!

Pray for these clergy and those under their care. We cannot know the intricacies of their politics but we do know that God is alive and well in the affairs of men and women. Pray that God’s rod and staff will comfort those Believers who are in turmoil right now.

I’ve included a live stream link of what is happening in Kiev Ukraine right now.

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