“4 Ways to Enjoy True Abundance” February 28

 

4 Ways to Enjoy True Abundance

When the Nation of Israel followed God’s commands to observe a Sabbath year every 7 years and a Year of Jubilee every 50 years, God provided so much on the 6th year that it sustained them for 3.

With all the talk today about hard economic times, how can we learn to rest in God’s provision? Here are 4 ways to enjoy true abundance whatever the circumstances around us.

 

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

 

4 Ways to Enjoy True Abundance

 

Leviticus 25:

True Abundance & the Year of Jubilee

 

The idea of a Sabbath has always been an important principle in the Bible. God rested on the 7th day and has instructed us to take time to rest, as well. Sabbath isn’t just about rest, it’s also about refocusing on God.

The children of Israel were not only to observe a Sabbath each week. There was 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!

With all the talk today about hard economic times, what does the year of Jubilee picture for us? What can we do that will help us rest in God’s provision? Continue reading

“4 Ways to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal” February 27

 

4 Way to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal - How's your spiritual curb appeal? How do you look from the outside? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of the One who's living in you? If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we come up short, how do we change that? Here are 4 ways to improve your spiritual curb appeal.

How’s your spiritual curb appeal? How do you look from the outside? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of the One who’s living in you? If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we would come up short, how do we change that? Here are 4 ways to improve your spiritual curb appeal.

 

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

 

4 Ways to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal

 

Leviticus 23 & 24:

 

Does He really “occupy” your life?

 

As we continue reading through the book of Leviticus, I’m reminded that not only is “all Scripture” profitable to our everyday lives (1 Tim. 3.16-17), but we can begin reading anywhere and glean great, practical truths.

Leviticus 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, to be 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!

Here in chapter 23, notice 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.” The Old Testament feasts and sacrifices, in part, reminded them that the Creator God wanted to dwell with them.

That word “dwell” 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.

The word “occupy” stood out to me. Does He really “occupy” your life? Have you allowed him to take over the whole mansion or is He expected to stay in the back room most of the time? Maybe He’s only with you on Sundays? Or maybe you’d say “no, He’s here all the time! I’m always talking about God and church!”

 

Spiritual Curb Appeal

 

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 you?

And how does His residence look to others? Real estate agents talk about curb appeal, how a home (or mansion) looks from the street. How do you look to others? How is your spiritual curb appeal? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of God?

God wants a relationship with His people. He wants to live in us and through us so we can be salt and light to the world. What a privilege and what a responsibility! If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we came up short, how can we change that? Continue reading

“4 Keys to Waiting on the Lord” February 26

 

4 Keys to Waiting on the Lord - How well do you handle "waiting on the Lord"? Do you have an "I'm waiting ... I'm waiting ..." while you drum your fingers on the table attitude? Do you ever find yourself thinking, "I've prayed, but nothing seems to be happening!"How well do you handle “waiting on the Lord”? Do you have an “I’m waiting … I’m waiting …” while you drum your fingers on the table attitude? Do you ever find yourself thinking, “I’ve prayed, but nothing seems to be happening!”

Why does God allow us to wait, anyway? Can “waiting on the Lord” be a good thing? Can we learn to trust Him … really trust Him as a result? And if so, how? See today’s reading from Psalm 27.


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

 

4 Keys to Waiting on the Lord

 

Psalm 27.10-14:

Growing in the Waiting

 

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (v. 13).

When are we most tempted to lose heart? It’s often when we’re faced with difficult circumstances or life isn’t going the way we thought it should. Maybe we’re being attacked in some way and God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers.

David said he would have lost heart if he didn’t believe in the goodness of the Lord, not just in the promise of heaven, but here and now … in the land of the living.

Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that we don’t encounter problems or have struggles. Jesus said it this way:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

But we’re sometimes tempted to lose heart, become impatient, or take matters into our own hands, because we have failed to believe in His goodness toward us. We fail to trust that He knows what’s best and will bring it to pass in His perfect timing.

David had problems. He had enemies. But he believed that God’s faithfulness and goodness would prevail.

We, too, can go through troubles knowing that God will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13.5), that he will not give us more than we can handle without sinning (1Cor. 10.13), that He is using them for good (Rom. 8.28), that we are not alone, that others have gone through and are going through similar trials (1 Cor. 10.13), that we can count it all joy knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance, patience and maturity (Jas. 1.2-4) and as Jesus said, we can be of good cheer knowing that He has overcome them all!

Verse 14 tells us twice to “wait on the Lord.” This is not to be an “I’m waiting … I’m waiting … I’m waiting for You to do something, Lord!” while we drum our fingers on the table! This is a patient waiting and trusting in the Lord and His timing.

But how do we get there? How do we go from knowing these truths to KNOWING these truths? Here are 4 keys to growing in the waiting: Continue reading

“Secret Things & Religious Demons” February 25

 

Secret Things & Religious Demons - Do Satan and demons quote Scripture? Can they appear harmless, even religious? Are there secret things which God has not revealed and which we are forbidden from seeking to know apart from Him? How does this apply to fortune tellers, horoscopes, and others who claim to predict the future? Also, is there a connection between sexual immorality, human sacrifice, and abortion?Do Satan and demons quote Scripture? Can they appear harmless, even religious?

Are there secret things which God has not revealed and which we are forbidden from seeking to know apart from Him? How does this apply to fortune tellers, horoscopes, and others who claim to predict the future?

Also, is there a connection between sexual immorality, human sacrifice, and abortion?

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 19 & 20
Psalm 27.4-10
Proverbs 10.10-12
Mark 5.1-20

 

Secret Things & Religious Demons

 

Leviticus 19 & 20:

Moral & Social Standards

 

Here in chapter 19 we have many of the moral and social standards laid out or repeated:

Respect for parents (19.3).

Caring for the poor and needy (19.9-10). This was the law of gleaning. Long before there was welfare, God’s people were to leave some of the harvest in the field so the poor and the stranger were free to gather what was left.

Fair labor practices (19.13).

Not taking advantage of the disabled (19.14).

Justice and fairness (19.15-16).

Love for your neighbor (19.17-18).

Protection for women (19.20-22, 29).

Respect for the elderly (19.32).

Kindness to strangers (19.33-34).

Honesty in business (19.35-36).

Commands to not take part in any kind of witchcraft, fortune telling, predicting the future or any kind of divination (19.26-28, 31). These things were strictly forbidden and still are! No matter how good or how harmless it looks, it’s Satanic. In our New Testament reading you will see that even Satan can appear religious when it serves his purpose.

I’ve heard about fortune tellers and others involved in these things who tell people they Continue reading

“Why does the Bible talk so much about blood?” February 24

 

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

What about the different kinds of laws? Leviticus talks a great deal about the ceremonial laws including the blood sacrifices, but what about the moral laws having to do with sexual sin covered in chapter 18? Why is it one set of laws still applies and another doesn’t?

 

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

 

Why does the Bible talk so much about blood?

 

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 sins by covering 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 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. And 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 full of references to the blood of Christ and its significance. Continue reading

“What’s the Condition of Your Heart?” 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?What’s the condition of your heart toward God and His Word? 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?

 

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

 

What’s the Condition of Your Heart?

 

Mark 4.1-20:

The Parable of the Sower

 

The Parable of the Sower is perhaps the most important of Jesus’ parables. Jesus Himself said:

“Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (v. 13).

In it Jesus talks about four kinds of soils and relates them to the receptivity of our hearts to the gospel and God’s Word.

What kind of soil is your heart?

Is it the hard, often trod, wayside where it’s hard for truth to take root? Have you allowed the birds to come and snatch away the seeds because they never penetrated the soil?

Is it rocky ground? Do you let trouble and persecution keep the seed from growing and taking root? Are you more worried about what others might think?

Maybe the ground of your heart is crowded with thorns and thistles that use up the energy you need to become fruitful. Have you let the cares of this world (worry and anxiety) the deceitfulness of riches (always trying to get ahead) or the desires for other things (wanting what you want) to choke the Word so it bears little fruit?

Or are you good ground, someone who accepts the Word, believes it, trusts in it and allows it to bear much fruit? Praying that you are!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

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. It 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.  Continue reading

“Family, Friends & Fanatics” February 22

 

Family, Friends & Fanatics - Has your family ever thought you were crazy? Have they ever accused you of being a fanatic? If so, you're in good company! And what do sacrificed birds and leprosy have to do with your walk with God?Has your family ever thought you were crazy? Have they ever accused you of being a fanatic? If so, you’re in good company!

And what do sacrificed birds and leprosy have to do with your walk with God?

 

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

 

Family, Friends & Fanatics

 

Mark 3.20-35:

Ever been accused of being a fanatic? 

 

Dollarphotoclub mother pointing

Has your family ever thought you were crazy? Have they ever accused you of being a fanatic? Is so, you’re in good company! Look at verse 21, speaking of Jesus:

“But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind'” (v. 21).

This passage ends with a truth we need to remember when our family criticizes our fanaticism or the fact that God has led us to another church or into a deeper walk with Him.  Continue reading

“Contagious Sins” February 21

 

Contagious Sins - 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. Have you exposed yourself to some contagious sins? Are you guilty of spreading some sin to others?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.

Have you exposed yourself to some contagious sins? Are you guilty of spreading some sin to others?

 

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

 

Contagious Sins

 

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).

God used leprosy as an immediate judgment on sin numerous times in the Bible. When we get to the book of Numbers we will see Moses’ sister Miriam was struck with leprosy when she murmured against her brother. She was cleansed when Moses prayed for her.

We know that the Israelites frequently disobeyed God’s commands by involving themselves with the pagan culture around them, so at times, it may have been a judgment on sin, either in the individual’s life or on the nation, as a whole.

 

Contagious & Disfiguring

 

sin

What does this picture for us? As with sin, leprosy didn’t kill outright in most cases, but it greatly disfigured its victims. And like leprosy, sin is extremely contagious! Paul said

“Do not be deceived. ‘Bad company corrupts good morals'” (1 Cor. 15.33).

Not only can we catch sin from those we associate with, but we’re warned not be carriers!

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea” (Mk. 9.42).

Sins like anger, bitterness and gossip, as well as others, are highly contagious.

Just as leprosy resulted in separation from the rest of the people, sin separates us from others! First and foremost, It separates us from God. In the case of unbelievers, sin separates them from the life of God here and from spending eternity with Him. If we are truly believers we don’t lose our salvation, but it hinders our fellowship with Him when our hearts are clouded by sin.

There are, also, times when we are commanded to put sinners, even our brothers and sisters in Christ, outside the fellowship, or “camp,” where God alone deals with them (1 Cor. 5).  Continue reading

“Islam, Christianity & Cultural Invasion” February 20

 

Islam, Christianity & Cultural Invasion - Even as we watch acts of terrorism on the evening news in Europe, the Middle East, and here at home, we often feel somewhat insulated. Most of us, probably, can't imagine beheadings or people being burned alive here. But what if we were faced with the choice to stand up or betray Christ in the face of intense persecution?  And is there another kind of invasion going on? One that appears benign, but may be just as insidious?In recent years, the news has brought us reports of Christians around the world who are being beheaded and burned alive. Others have been imprisoned merely for preaching the Gospel or not being a Muslim.

In times past, Christians have been burned at the stake, sawed in two, and crucified. They have been shot, fed to lions, and forced to choose between their faith and their freedom. Many were gassed along with the Jews for harboring their Jewish neighbors.

The Bible teaches that in the last days, evil, including every kind of persecution will continue to grow.

Even as we watch acts of terrorism on the evening news in Europe, the Middle East, and here at home, we often feel somewhat insulated. Most of us, probably, can’t imagine beheadings or people being burned alive here. But what if we were faced with the choice to stand up or betray Christ in the face of intense persecution?

And is there another kind of invasion going on? One that appears benign, but may be just as insidious?

 

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

 

Islam, Christianity & Cultural Invasion

 

Leviticus 11 & 12

Little Things & Big Things

 

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 was 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.

The dietary laws, also, served to set them apart from the world around them. What sets you and me apart from those around us? What should set us apart?

Is it that we attend church on Sundays? I know many unbelievers who attend church every Sunday. They check off that religious box on their to-do list and think they are good to go for the rest of the week.

Is it that we don’t party or run around? I know people in cults who don’t drink or live immoral lives.

Is it because we call ourselves Christians? Or own a Bible? Or have joined a church? Or prayed a prayer once?

What really sets us apart?

Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13.34-35).

And in Matthew 7.16 He said, “You will know them by their fruits.”

They should know us by our fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) and by our love for one another.

Paul said Christians are to:

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2.14-15).

I have to admit there are times when I don’t look any different from the world around me. What about you?

These restrictions, also, helped keep them culturally unique, separate from the pagan nations around them.

 

Cultural Invasion

 

muslim womanThat thought grabbed my attention because of something I read about Muslims in Dr. David Jeremiah’s book What in the World is Going On?. Dr. Jeremiah quotes an Iraqi Christian by the name of Georges Sada. Mr. Sada says, talking about the words Fatah and Jihad, “… these doctrines express the belief that Allah has commanded them to conquer the nations of the world both by cultural invasion and by the sword.”

Did you get that phrase “cultural invasion”? He goes on, “In some cases this means moving thousands of Muslim families into a foreign land—by building mosques and changing the culture from the inside out, and by refusing to assimilate or adopt the beliefs or values of that nation—to conquer the land for Islam. This is an invidious doctrine, but it’s … being carried out in some places today by followers of this type of Islam.”  Continue reading

“Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye!” February 19

 

telephone pole“Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye and you’re worried about that speak of sawdust in your brother’s eye! You might wanna get rid of that pole and things might clear up a bit!”

 

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

 

Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye!

 

Leviticus 9 & 10

Logs & Specks

 

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:

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Jesus knew how to draw a word picture.

My paraphrase is, “Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye and you’re worried about that speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye! You might wanna get rid of that pole and things might clear up a bit!”

We all know what happens when we get something in our eye – our eyes water and it’s hard to see anything. Jesus said we must first see the sin in our lives, up close and personal and deal with it, or we are never going to see clearly to minister truth to anyone else.

 

Profane Fire

 

In chapter 10 we have a startling event in the midst of the newly begun temple worship. Nadab and Abihu do something so grievous to God that they are struck dead.  Continue reading