February 28 “Our Jubilee”

The idea of a Sabbath has always been an important principle. It carries with it the idea of resting and of focus on God. The nation of Israel was to rest every 7th day, every 7th year, and the 50th year was to be a Year of Jubilee. But the Sabbath spoke of more than just rest. See our reading in Leviticus to see what the Sabbath and the Year of Jubilee pictures for us?

Julilee

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 25
Psalm 28.6-9
Proverbs 10.19-21
Mark 6.30-56

Leviticus 25:

The Year of Jubilee

The children of Israel were to not only observe a Sabbath each week. There was also to be a Sabbath year every seven years. This was a year for the land, as well as the people, to rest. This allowed the nutrients in the soil to be replenished while it kept the people focused on God. It was a reminder that everything, including the land, was the Lord’s. They were merely stewards over it. That is still true today with whatever the Lord has blessed us: jobs, property, talents, even our children.

Then every fifty years, after seven sets of seven years, there was to be a year of Jubilee! This was an additional year of rest from labor, but even more importantly, all the Israelites who had fallen on hard times were to be restored, released from indebtedness and given back family property. This would be even more important once they had gone in and taken possession of the Promised Land because God would allocate land to each of the twelve tribes for an inheritance.

An amazing thing would take place leading up to the year of Jubilee. On the sixth year God would provide such abundance that it would sustain the people for three years! What a beautiful picture of God’s provision! And what a great reminder to us with all the talk about hard economic times that if we keep God at the center of our lives, not pull back from His commands to give into the kingdom, put His agenda ahead of ours, and be generous with others, He will care for us.

Continue reading

February 27 “Keeping an eternal perspective”

Have you been hurt, rejected, or persecuted for your faith? How should a believer respond to such treatment? Check out today’s New Testament reading and see how keeping an eternal perspective makes all the difference.

eternal perspective

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 23 & 24
Psalm 28.1-5
Proverbs 10.17-18
Mark 6.1-29

Leviticus 23 & 24:

Does He really “occupy” your life?

Chapter 23 gives instructions concerning the feasts that Israel was to celebrate. These feasts acknowledged and helped them remember God’s sovereign work in their lives, just as Easter and Christmas should do for us. That’s part of the tragedy with the commercialization of those holidays. Easter has become more about bunnies and eggs and less about Christ’s resurrection. Christmas is more about “what will I get” than remembering that the Creator of the Universe humbled Himself to be born in a stable as a little baby with dirty diapers, to grow to be a boy who respected and obeyed His parents, and finally, to be a man who was willing to be beaten, stripped and crucified for me and you!

Notice that the feasts and the sacrifices involved food: meat and grain, oil and wine, things used in the preparation of a meal. Remember that God repeatedly told His people He desired to dwell with them. In Revelation 3.20 Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” 1 Corinthians 6.19 says that we are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” And in John 1.14 it says that Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us.”

That word “dwelt” comes from a root word meaning “to tent or encamp, to occupy (as a mansion) or to reside as God did in the Tabernacle of old. His dwelling with us speaks of protection and communion.

Does He really “occupy” your life? Or does He have to stay in the back room most of the time? Maybe He’s only with you on Sundays? Or maybe you say “no, He’s here all the time! I’m always talking about God and church!”

Then the question becomes, how are you doing at living your life in a way that makes Him pleased to be there? Are you going places, watching things, reading things, listening to things or saying things that grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in your “temple”? In other words, does your temple reflect the One who lives there? Continue reading

February 26 “Confident settled trust”

Hebrews 11.6 says without faith it is impossible to please God. But when we’re walking in faith, that confident settled trust in Him, we can have inner peace and joy in the midst of difficulty.

Confident settled trust

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 21 & 22
Psalm 27.10-14
Proverbs 10.13-16
Mark 5.21-43

Leviticus 21 & 22:

Standards for leaders

In chapter 21 we see the high standard that was set for the priests. God has always required more from those who would lead and teach His people (1 Tim. 3.1-13, Tit. 1.5-9).

Titus 1.5-9:

5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

In 21.5 we see commands not to shave their heads or cut their beards or their flesh. These were pagan practices associated with grief. God does not forbid anyone to mourn. In fact, Solomon said, there is a “time to mourn” (Eccl. 3.4) and Paul said we should, “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12.15). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5.4). But we are not to mourn as those who are without hope (1 Thess. 4.13). We need to remember that those who die in Christ will be with the Lord and we will be reunited with them one day. Continue reading

February 24 “Blood, sex & the fear of the Lord”

Animal sacrifices, circumcision, murder, the blood of Christ … why does the Bible talk so much about BLOOD?

blood

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 17 & 18
Psalm 27.1-3
Proverbs 10.9
Mark 4.21-41

Leviticus 17 & 18:

The sacrificial law

Blood … blood … blood … why does the Bible talk so much about blood?

When Adam and Eve sinned against Him, God Himself shed the blood of animals and symbolically covered their nakedness with the skins (Gen. 3.21).

When God confronted Cain for murdering his brother, He said, the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” (Ex. 4.10).

God commanded animal sacrifices of all kinds to cover the people’s sins and we see here in chapter 17 that He took it very seriously when that blood was offered to demonic gods (vv. 3-4, 7).

God commanded the men of Israel to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant they had with Him (Gen. 17.9-14) … more blood.

Not everyone understood; in Exodus 4 Moses’ wife called him a “bloody husband” when her son was circumcised (Ex. 4.25-26).

Then there were commands not to eat meat with the blood, commands to sprinkle blood, and just before the exodus, blood was applied to the frame of the door to protect God’s people (Ex. 12.7, 22).

And the New Testament is dominated by the importance of Christ’s shed blood. Continue reading

February 23 “What’s the condition of your heart?”

What’s the condition of your heart? Has the truth really penetrated and taken root? Are things that don’t matter for eternity preventing real spiritual growth? Is the seed bearing fruit?

condition of your heart

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 15 & 16
Psalm 26.6-12
Proverbs 10.8
Mark 4.1-20

Leviticus 15 & 16:

Only the blood of Christ

Chapter 16 covers the Day of Atonement. This was to be done annually because no matter how detailed the law for specific sins and sacrifices, there were continual sins of the heart and life, known and unknown, which were not covered. And it had to be done every year because the blood of bulls and goats didn’t do away with sin, only covered it temporarily.

Only the blood of Christ can do away with our sin permanently and allow us to have fellowship with God. Jesus was temporarily separated from God the Father when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matt. 27.46), so that we could be united with Him permanently.

Psalm 26.6-12:

Because of His sinless life

Verses 6 & 11, “I will wash my hands in innocence; so I will go about Your altar, O Lord, … But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; redeem me and be merciful to me.” Again this is not a claim of innocence based on David’s own merit, but a recognition that it is through God and His mercy that we are redeemed. But we must first acknowledge that we are sinners, unable to redeem ourselves, accept the truths of the gospel that Jesus lived a sinless life so that he could be that final sacrifice, that He died in our place, and that He rose again so that we could be raised to new life, no longer separated from God. That’s the only way David could or any of us can “stand in an even place” with confident faith and trust in the Lord. Continue reading

February 22 “Are you a fanatic?”

Has your family ever thought you were crazy? Have they ever accused you of being a fanatic? You’re in good company!

fanatic

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 14
Psalm 26.1-5
Proverbs 10.6-7
Mark 3.20-35

Leviticus 14:

Types & shadows

Well, more about leprosy! What on earth does this all mean to you and me today?

When we read the Old Testament we need to remember that the events, God’s dealings with His people, and the ceremonial laws were often types and shadows of things to come. Many of which were fulfilled in Christ’s life here on earth, as well as, His death, burial, and resurrection.

Verses 4-9 talk about the ceremonial cleansing of a leper after he had been healed:

4 then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. 5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. 7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field. 8 He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days. 9 But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows—all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he shall be clean.

Matthew Henry in his Commentary on the Whole Bible said the mixture of blood and water had its fulfillment in Christ’s death when blood and water came out of his pierced side. The slain bird represented Christ dying for our sins, and the living bird His resurrection. Dipping the living bird in blood of the slain bird illustrates the fact that without His death He could not have risen for our justification for sins.

The living bird was let loose just as the leper was no longer restricted from contact with people. He was free to go where he pleased. We have not only been forgiven of our sins, but are freed from the power of sin in our lives. We’re free to live a life that’s pleasing to God. Continue reading

February 21 “Sin: contagious & disfiguring”

Sin is disfiguring and highly contagious. Paul warned that we can catch it from others and that it’s better to be thrown into the sea with a weight around our necks than to be a carrier spreading it to others.

sin is contagious

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 13
Psalm 25.16-22
Proverbs 10.4-5
Mark 3.1-19

Leviticus 13:

Unclean! Unclean!

Leprosy! What could God possibly have for us in all the discussion of bright skin, white skin, scales and scabs?

Notice that God called this leprosy an uncleanness, not a disease. It was not the same disease we refer to today as leprosy (Hansen’s Disease). It is said that Pharaoh (of Moses fame) was infected with it and may have died from it. So it may have been associated with the plagues that God brought on the Egyptians. Even in the New Testament, when Jesus came in contact with lepers, it says He cleansed them, not that He healed them.

Leprosy in the Bible is a type, or a picture of, sin. When God delivered the nation of Israel from Egypt, he told them, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Ex. 15.26). Continue reading

February 20 “Could you be convicted?”

If Christianity were criminalized, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Could you be convicted?

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 11 & 12
Psalm 25.8-15
Proverbs 10.1-3
Mark 2.1-28

Leviticus 11 & 12:

The daily details of life

Chapter 11 contains all the dietary restrictions God set for Israel. They were being taught to obey God in the daily details of life. That’s a tremendous truth for us, as well.

In Luke 16.10 Jesus is talking about how we use our resources, but the principle is the same. He said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” If we’re not faithful in the little details of life, we won’t be faithful in the big things.

Would there be enough evidence?

Another thing these dietary laws served to do was to help them, and us, understand that as believers in the One True God, we are to be different, set apart from the world around us. Those around us should see a difference in us. Someone posed the question, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Continue reading

February 19 “The telephone pole in your eye”

“You’re worried about that speak of sawdust in your brother’s eye and you have a giant telephone pole sticking out of yours! You might wanna get rid of that pole and things might clear up a bit!”

telephone pole

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 9 & 10
Psalm 25.1-7
Proverbs 9.13-18
Mark 1.23-45

Leviticus 9 & 10:

First that telephone pole sticking out of your eye

The tabernacle is ready, the priests’ have been consecrated, “And Moses said to Aaron, ‘Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the LORD commanded’ ” (9.7). The next verse says, “Aaron therefore went to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself.”

As I mentioned yesterday, Aaron had to first deal with his own sin before God.

1 Peter 2.9 says about us, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We, too, as God’s holy priesthood, must deal with our own sin before we can see clearly to help anyone else—including our husbands and our children. Matthew 7.5 says, “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Continue reading