February 18 “Is the Gospel a one-time thing?”

gospel

When do we need the Gospel? Is it a one-time thing? Does it have anything to do with our walk with God?

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 7 & 8
Psalm 24.7-10
Proverbs 9.10-12
Mark 1.1-22

Leviticus 7 & 8:

Only by His grace

We’ve been reading about all the offerings under the Levitical system. Notice that a sin offering had to be made for Aaron and his sons just like all the rest of the people (8.14). Even those God has placed in the ministry as leaders today are imperfect men and women. They are neither sinless nor infallible.

All of us must walk constantly in the truth of the Gospel. You might think, “Well, I accepted the Gospel once so that has nothing to do with me any longer.” It is true that when we accept the Gospel, the free gift of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, His forgiveness and cleansing, and are made His sons and daughters, it’s a one-time decision. But it is, also, true that until we get to heaven, we will still have the pull of sin constantly at work in us (Rom. 7.13-25). Continue reading

February 17 “How to raise little hypocrites”

 

hypocrites

What is your goal in parenting? Is it to have well-behaved children? Be careful … raising little hypocrites can be easier than you might think.

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 5 & 6
Psalm 24.1-6
Proverbs 9.7-9
Matthew 28.1-20

 

Leviticus 5 & 6:

Open my eyes, Lord

Sometimes we find it challenging to read about all the sacrifices and the instructions for them. But it is important to remember that 2 Timothy 3.16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable …” Notice those words “all” and “profitable.” God inspired these passages and included them in His Holy Scriptures for a reason. We need to remain faithful and open our hearts to the truths contained in them.

Anytime we are reading a passage that is less exciting to us we can ask God to show us what He has for us in the passage. There are always nuggets for us if we are willing to dig for them.

The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119.18).

Ask yourself, “Is there a command I need to obey here? Is there a sin I need to forsake? Is there a relationship I need to reconcile? Is there a truth I need to understand?”

 

Sacrifice alone

With that in mind, notice Leviticus 5.5, “And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”

Even at this point in history, sacrifice alone was just religion. It had to be accompanied by faith, repentance, and obedience.

How does that verse speak to us today? Continue reading

February 16 “Defending the faith”

Defending the faith

Could you defend what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 3 & 4
Psalm 23
Proverbs 9.1-6
Matthew 27.55-66

Leviticus 3 & 4

The messy business of sin

Before we talk about defending the faith we’ll discuss our Old Testament reading.

The primary theme in Leviticus is holiness. God is holy and He has commanded us to be holy just as He is (1 Pet. 1.14-16).

The need for holiness is attested to by the complicated systems of sacrifices and offerings. The animal sacrifices made temporary atonement for the sins of the priests and the people.

And what a “messy” and costly business the sacrificial system really was.

But then, I’m reminded that sin itself is “messy” business! Think of all the messes we make in our lives: our friendships, our marriages, our families, our finances, and every area of life. It’s not always “pretty” and our only remedy is Christ. When we see our complete failure to be holy and understand that He died as the perfect Sacrifice for all who believe and receive, we can exchange His righteousness for our sin.

But sometimes God has to allow our choices in life to bring about their natural consequences (Gal. 6.7-8) before we’re willing to see our need for Him.

Even as believers, he allows a certain amount of hardship in our lives. Not because He’s spiteful or unloving, but because He is our Father and we are His children. Like any good father, He trains and disciplines His children precisely because He loves us! Continue reading

February 15 “Life, death & sacrifice”

sacrifice

God asks us to offer up ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom. 12.1). How freely do you give yourself? Do you hold back parts of your heart and life for your own use or do you offer it all to Him?

Also today, read about loving death and rejecting life.

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 1 & 2
Psalm 22.22-31
Proverbs 8.32-36
Matthew 27.27-54

Leviticus 1 & 2

Our once and for all sacrifice

Well, here we are starting a new book. Leviticus is the third book of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), also called the Books of Moses.
Three of the themes which run through this book are: God’s holiness, mankind’s sinfulness and the need for a sacrifice. Of course, the sacrifices offered here in Old Testament times were only temporary coverings for sin. They point to the ultimate sacrifice Jesus Christ, the only sinless, perfect, once and for all, sacrifice.

What we offer in return

I noticed several things as I read these two chapters. First, twice in chapter one the Israelites were told to bring an animal “without blemish.” These were to be the best of the herd or flock. They were not to say, “Well, we might as well sacrifice this one, he’s probably not going to make it anyway.” They were to give Him their best. Continue reading

February 14 “What is love?”

love

What is love? Is it what greeting card writers want us to believe? Is it some irresistible attraction? Is it something we fall into and out of?

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 39 & 40
Psalm 22.16-21
Proverbs 8.22-31
Matthew 27.1-26

Exodus 39 & 40

Manifesting His presence

In these two chapters the tabernacle was completed and once it had been set up, the glory of the Lord filled it. What an incredible thing to be able to “see” the glory of the Lord as a cloud by day and fire by night or to see it fill the temple!

So how is God’s presence manifest today?

Today we are His tabernacle or temple. When we accept Christ as our Savior, God in the person of the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. 1 Corinthians 6.19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Continue reading

February 13 “Mirror … mirror”

Mirror ... mirror

Mirror … mirror … How many times today have you checked yourself in the mirror? What’s more important to you: how you look to others or the progress of God’s work?

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 37 & Exodus 38
Psalm 22.9-15
Proverbs 8.12-21
Matthew 26.51-75

Exodus 37 & 38

Mirror … mirror … how many times have you looked today?

Bezelel and the others God had blessed with the talent and ability to craft the furniture and implements for this magnificent temple continued with their work. God was using all this beauty to give His people a little glimpse of His beauty and creativity and glory.

But one little verse jumped out at me as I read this passage. Verse 38.8, “He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” He made them from the mirrors of the serving women. Think about it. These were nomadic people living in a desert environment. But they were also women … women who experienced love and marriage and jealousy and a desire to look attractive to their husbands, or perhaps potential husbands. Continue reading

February 12 “More Than Enough”

What would happen if God’s people freely gave of all the gifts and abilities He has so graciously provided? Would there once again be more than enough, or even, too much as there was in Moses’ time?

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 35 & 36
Psalm 22.1-8
Proverbs 8.6-11
Matthew 26.26-50

Exodus 35 & Exodus 36:

All who had willing hearts

Several things in these two chapters caught my attention. First in chapter 35:

22 They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought them. 24 Everyone who offered an offering of silver or bronze brought the LORD’s offering. And everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it. 25 All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. 26 And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ hair. 27 The rulers brought onyx stones, and the stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate, 28 and spices and oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done. Continue reading

February 11 “Who truly is a friend of God?”

Friend of God

Perhaps you’ve heard the Phillips Craig & Dean song, I am a Friend of God. It’s a great song. Once I hear it, I find myself humming it for days. But who truly is a friend of God?

Today’s Readings:

Exodus 33.1-23 & Exodus 34.1-35
Psalm 21.8-13
Proverbs 8.1-5
Matthew 26.1-25

Moses, friend of God

Exodus 33.1-23 & Exodus 34.1-35

Chapter 33.7, 9, 11:

Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting … And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses … So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.

Like Moses, if we seek to meet God, He will meet with us. In this case, He not only met with Moses, but God spoke to him as a man speaks to his friends. We talk and sing about being “a friend of God,” but Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” We are not friends of God because we are His children. All the Israelites were His people, but only Moses was called His friend. We are His friends when we are His children and obedient to His Word” (Jn. 15.14). Continue reading

February 10 “Sheep and goats”

Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. The sheep will go into the kingdom of heaven and the goats into everlasting fire. And, often, only God knows the difference.

Sheep & goats

Today’s Readings:

Exodus 31.1-18 & Exodus 32.1-35
Psalm 21:1-7
Proverbs 7:24-27
Matthew 25:31-46

This calf just jumped out

Exodus 31.1-18 & Exodus 32.1-35

Moses had been on the mountain top communing with God. As he’s preparing to come down to the people, God reveals the fact that the people have turned away from Him and begun to worship a golden calf. Not only are they worshipping a pagan god, but they are having a drunken and, probably, sex-filled party. God in His perfect justice and sinless anger is ready to destroy them for their wickedness.

But Moses intercedes for the people as a type of Christ. Christ would be the One by whose mediation God would one day reconcile to Himself all who believe!

Just a side bar, don’t you just love Aaron’s statement about how the golden calf was created! “And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.” As if it just jumped out of the fire! But as with so many things we see in the Old Testament, we’re not so different. Continue reading

February 9 “Minimum payments on our sin”

minimum payment on our sin

The Old Testament sacrificial system only provided a temporary covering for sin, like making minimum payments on our sin debt. Even though we no longer sacrifice bulls or lambs, many of us live much the same way, thinking a good deed there or showing up at church once in a while will keep the Creditor off our backs. Only to have the interest, the guilt and consequences of sin, pile up. But there is good news …

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 29.1-46 & Exodus 30.1-38
Psalm 20.6-9
Proverbs 7.6-23
Matthew 25.1-30

The Final Sacrifice

Exodus 29.1-46 & Exodus 30.1-38

Imagine … this Sunday morning before going in to worship, you have to stop outside the church and sacrifice a bull, then take some of the blood and put it on the altar with your finger and pour the rest of it on the altar. Afterwards you take the fat that covers the intestines, the fatty part of the liver, and the two kidneys and burn them. Then you take the bull’s waste, the skin, and the rest of the flesh out in the parking lot to be burned! All this after baking bread, having oil poured on your head, and taking a ritual bath! (And you thought just getting the family out of the house was hard!)

It’s a funny picture, but a serious subject. Why would God require all of that? And why would He want us to understand? Because it pictures the seriousness and the cost of sin. Continue reading