Is your life exciting? Is your life complete? Is your life fun? Is your life an adventure? Are you trying to go it alone? Are you trying to figure it all out on your own?… More
I remember that year when God called me to start blogging. It was an interesting time as I was prepared to put together a blog where I would share family stuff with family and friends as a private site. But God called me to make it publish and so I told Him if I am to make it public, He needs to help me write it and give me topics and categories and content and …. and so He told me to blog about my morning readings. That year back in 2005, my reading began in the book of Revelation. And hence the name for the blog From 2005 to Eternity. When you start at the end of a book you learn how it will end. When you start at the end of the book you learn how the rest of the book will get wrapped up. In my case, I started at the end of the Bible and learned about the end and why I can have trust and hope for me, for my family, and for other believers in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I also learned about the importance and the urgency of sharing the love of God with the world around me in order that they may hear the Good News and make the decision for themselves to accept the gift of Jesus and start their own relationship with God! I realized that my blog was going from a casual update on the state of my family to other members of the family and friends to something the world needed to know and hear and learn and believe! I know where I will end up! I know I will be spending eternity with God! I know that I will get to see Jesus face to face! I know heaven is for real! I know many details about heaven! I also know that there will be people left behind who will still have a chance to choose to follow and receive Jesus after the believers are taken away from the earth. I know that there will be some who will choose after that point to believe and be saved. I know that there will be others who will still resist and battle against the truth of God. I know that God’s hope is that everyone will believe and be saved, but we each need to make that decision for ourselves. God loves us so much that He sent Jesus, His one and only son, that everyone who would believe in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life! He sent Jesus the first time not to condemn the world, but that through Him the world would be saved! So we need to believe in Jesus, we need to follow after Him, we need to be baptized in His name! I am confident in what I believe in! I know and trust that God’s Word is true! As I continue my journey God has given me glimpses into what I have to look forward to – like getting to see my other 2 daughters in heaven – during the reading of the book “Heaven is for real”. I still remember having the conversation about children with God as I felt a connection with Philip the evangelist who had 4 daughters that were prophetess based on my reading and my daughter at the time. I remember asking Him if I would have 4 daughters or if I would have a son, either way would be fine but just wondered. That morning my reading brought me to the story of Abraham and the promised son Isaac. Today we have 2 daughters and 1 son, but on that journey we had 2 pregnancies where we lost the babies. But I know now that I will get to see them and meet them in heaven! I know that they got to skip the trials and the journey on earth and spend eternity with God! I have an assurance of what I have not yet seen! God is good and alive! God is with us! God loves us! God’s plans are good! God’s plan is to give us a hope and a future! We need to make a decision! Have you chosen? Will you choose before it is too late? If you haven’t why not decide today and ask Jesus into your heart and into your life?
Be Confident About Your Future – Day 71: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional. Psalm 33:1-11, Mark 16, Leviticus 25, Leviticus 26:1-13
- The plans of the Lord … Psalm 33:1-11
1Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
4For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
6By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7He gathers the waters of the sea into jars7 Or sea as into a heap;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
8Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the people of the world revere him.
9For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
–from Psalm 33
Looking back as the psalmist does to the past, I am able to have confidence in the future! Looking back at the past, remembering what Jesus has done in and through my life gives me hope and confidence about the future! Looking back at what God has been able to do and teach me builds up my faith and trust that He is for me and not against He, He has a plan for me and it is good, He will never leave me nor abandon me, His plans will stand firm forever! Humans may make plans that may fail, but God’s plans are firm forever! If we are willing to partner with God and be obedient to the prompting of His Spirit, then we can make plans and God can guide our steps. And when we go off course, if we are willing to listen, He will get us back on track. So let’s not lose hope but rather let’s trust in Him, let’s praise Him, let’s worship Him, let’s be living sacrifices that show the world around us the greatness of our God! Let’s show His arms extended by the way we live! Let’s show His love by the way we live! Let’s reflect the love of God into the world around us so that we can shine for Him all the days of our lives!
2. The power of the resurrection … Mark 16:1-20
Jesus Has Risen
1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
9When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
12Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
14Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
15He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
19After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
–from Mark 16
I know that Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve! I know that Jesus came with a purpose on purpose to make a way where there didn’t seem to be a way! I know that Jesus came to teach us how to truly live and how to truly serve! I know that Jesus came and conquered the power of sin and of death by becoming the ultimate sacrifice! I know that He overcame the world and on the third day rose again! I know that He is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us! His sacrifice opened the way for us to enter into the Holy of Holies as the curtain tore when He gave up His spirit on the cross and removed the barrier allowing all of us the ability and opportunity to enter into the presence of God and start building a relationship with Him! We are all important to God! We are all created in the image of God! Jesus is real! Jesus is alive! The tomb is empty! Jesus wants to have an intimate relationship with you so that every day in every way, you are walking and talking with Him!
3. The promises of God … Leviticus 25:1-26:13
The Sabbath Year
1The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, 2“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. 3For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. 4But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. 5Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. 6Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, 7as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.
The Year of Jubilee
8“ ‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
13“ ‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.
14“ ‘If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. 15You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And they are to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. 16When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what is really being sold to you is the number of crops. 17Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.
18“ ‘Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. 19Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety. 20You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?” 21I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. 22While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.
23“ ‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers. 24Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.
25“ ‘If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold. 26If, however, there is no one to redeem it for them but later on they prosper and acquire sufficient means to redeem it themselves, 27they are to determine the value for the years since they sold it and refund the balance to the one to whom they sold it; they can then go back to their own property. 28But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.
29“ ‘Anyone who sells a house in a walled city retains the right of redemption a full year after its sale. During that time the seller may redeem it. 30If it is not redeemed before a full year has passed, the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to the buyer and the buyer’s descendants. It is not to be returned in the Jubilee. 31But houses in villages without walls around them are to be considered as belonging to the open country. They can be redeemed, and they are to be returned in the Jubilee.
32“ ‘The Levites always have the right to redeem their houses in the Levitical towns, which they possess. 33So the property of the Levites is redeemable—that is, a house sold in any town they hold—and is to be returned in the Jubilee, because the houses in the towns of the Levites are their property among the Israelites. 34But the pastureland belonging to their towns must not be sold; it is their permanent possession.
35“ ‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. 36Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. 37You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit. 38I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
39“ ‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.
44“ ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
47“ ‘If a foreigner residing among you becomes rich and any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to the foreigner or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, 48they retain the right of redemption after they have sold themselves. One of their relatives may redeem them: 49An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in their clan may redeem them. Or if they prosper, they may redeem themselves. 50They and their buyer are to count the time from the year they sold themselves up to the Year of Jubilee. The price for their release is to be based on the rate paid to a hired worker for that number of years. 51If many years remain, they must pay for their redemption a larger share of the price paid for them. 52If only a few years remain until the Year of Jubilee, they are to compute that and pay for their redemption accordingly. 53They are to be treated as workers hired from year to year; you must see to it that those to whom they owe service do not rule over them ruthlessly.
54“ ‘Even if someone is not redeemed in any of these ways, they and their children are to be released in the Year of Jubilee, 55for the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
1“ ‘Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the Lord your God.
2“ ‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.
3“ ‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. 5Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
6“ ‘I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. 7You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. 8Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.
9“ ‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. 10You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. 11I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. 12I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. 13I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.
–from Leviticus 26
What’s next on this earth? I am not sure, but I know that whatever comes my way, God will be with Him and He can use any of it for good! He can take what the devil plans for evil and turn it around for good! He can take what others may plan for evil and turn it around and use it for good! I have so many testimonies of what God has been able to do in and through me by the grace and to the glory of Jesus! Yes, in this world we will have troubles, but we can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world and hence we are able to have hope and the benefits here on earth even before the ultimate rewards of heaven and eternity with Him! Thanks to Jesus we can consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds, because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance and that by letting perseverance finish its work we can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Let’s live lives of forgiveness! Being forgiven! Forgiving others! Being loved! Loving others! Serving one another! Let’s be considerate and honest to one another, treating everyone with the respect they deserve! Remember we don’t own anything and so we need to be good stewards of what God has given to us!
Do you realize that it takes a miracle to forgive? Do you realize how hard it is to forgive others? Do you realize what it takes to be forgiven? Do you realize what it takes to forgive? What does it to to come to the point of realizing that you need to be forgiven? What does it take to let “it” go and to be able to truly forgive someone? How much would it take for you to forgive others? Now, what about you? Do you realize you need to be forgiven too? What would need to happen for you to realize who you need to be forgiven by? Would it take a huge about of guilt? Would it need to get to be as bad as the bitterness and anger it took for you to forgive? Forgiveness is the key to true freedom! Don’t carry around the burden of bitterness and anger! Don’t give the devil a foothold into your life by opening up the door! Ask for forgiveness before the guilt gets unbearable! Offer forgiveness before the bitterness and anger eat you up from the inside out! And don’t keep count or keep track! Remember how Jesus said not 7 times but 7×70 times! He doesn’t want us to keep track!
Do you need forgiveness? Do you realize how important relationships are to God? He even said that if you come to give an offering and realize that your brother or sister has something against you, go and reconcile and then come back to offer your gift. Let’s be ambassadors of peace! Let’s be willing to have the conversations and mitigate the build up of bitterness, anger, or guilt by talking to one another because sometimes the other person doesn’t even realize what they have done and once they do they will apologize and the relationship can be reconciled and restored! Don’t get stuck in the trap of the devil who tells you they don’t deserve it! Instead forgive them for your sake removing the foothold the devil is trying to get a hook into! I have used an example in the past that not forgiving someone is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die, it makes you feel worse and has no affect on them. Forgiveness helps you! It helps when you give it and when you receive it! Jesus provided it with the ultimate sacrifice so we could be reconciled back to God! Will you care enough for others as we are called to love one another to be able to forgive them?
The forgiveness through Jesus tore the curtain giving us direct access to God! So let’s share this opportunity and in this opportunity by being people who forgive and are forgiven! Let’s be people who ask for and give forgiveness! Let’s also not just take forgiveness for granted, but rather take it seriously and work hard to avoid missing the mark and requiring forgiveness! We’ve all missed the mark and hence we need a savior! Jesus came once for all so that we could be rescued, saved, and forgiven!
Breathless Wonder — Day 70: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Psalm 32, Mark 15:33-47, Leviticus 23, Leviticus 24
1. Experience the relief of forgiveness … Psalm 32:1-11
1Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
6Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
7You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
10Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
–from Psalm 32
Do you ever find it difficult to forgive other people or even to forgive yourself for something you have done? The key to forgiving others and yourself is, knowing how much God has forgiven you. Forgiven people forgive.
As C.S. Lewis pointed out, ‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’ As far as forgiving ourselves is concerned, he wrote, ‘If God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him.’
Through Jesus, God has made total forgiveness available to you and me. In this psalm, we see the huge difference that God’s forgiveness makes.
Release from the hand of judgment
David describes the spiritual agony of not being forgiven: ‘My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer’ (vv.3–4).
Transparency with God
The route to forgiveness is simply to come to the Lord with no mask or pretence: ‘Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” – and you forgave the guilt of my sin’ (v.5).
A fresh start
David describes the enormous blessing of knowing you are forgiven: ‘Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit’ (vv.1–2).
Imagine that in our diaries were recorded, not just our engagements and meetings, but also all of our sins. The first two verses of this psalm give us three pictures of what God does with your sins. First, ‘the Lord does not count’ your sins against you (v.2). He acts as though they do not exist.
Second, they are ‘covered’ (v.1). It is as if God gets out his heavenly ‘Tipp-Ex’ and covers over the sinful entries in your diary: ‘Your slate’s wiped clean’ (v.1, MSG). Third, they are ‘forgiven’ (v.1a). Literally that word means ‘removed’ or ‘taken away’. The pages relating to your sins are ripped out and destroyed. ‘You get a fresh start’ (v.1, MSG).
The apostle Paul quotes this psalm as evidence that through the death of Jesus for you, God credits you with righteousness by faith and that forgiveness is not something that you can earn by good works (see Romans 4:6-8). Through the cross, God restores you to a right relationship with him. Therefore you can pray to him (Psalm 32:6a). He becomes your ‘hiding-place’ (v.7a). He protects you from trouble (v.7b). He guides you (v.8) and his ‘unfailing love surrounds’ you (v.10).
This is not earned by good works. It comes to the person who trusts in him by faith (v.10). A proper understanding of the Old Testament shows that the path to forgiveness is repentance and faith.
Forgiveness is not a reason to sin – it is an incentive not to sin. We want to stay on God’s paths. He promises that he will guide you: ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you’ (v.8).
He does not want you to be difficult to guide like a horse or a mule that must be controlled by bit and bridle (v.9). He wants you to avoid the pain of resisting the Holy Spirit. If you follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit you will avoid unnecessary pain. He wants you to hear his voice daily, listen to his instruction, walk in his ways and trust in his love.
from Day 70: Bible In One Year 2017
2. Thank Jesus for paying the price of forgiveness … Mark 15:33-47
33At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
35When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
The Burial of Jesus
42It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
–from Mark 15
Take time today to thank Jesus for dying for you. Jesus paid a very high price for our forgiveness. Forgiveness is not easy, but Jesus made it possible.
Jesus did die on the cross for you
Sometimes people suggest that Jesus did not really die on the cross but recovered in the cool of the tomb.
However, Pilate checked that he was indeed ‘already dead’ (v.44a). The centurion who had overseen the crucifixion confirmed that Jesus was actually dead. Roman soldiers were experts at carrying out crucifixions. The centurion would also have faced severe punishment himself if he let a living prisoner go.
Joseph of Arimathea ‘took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock’ (v.46). Joseph would have noticed if Jesus was still alive and breathing. He would not have buried a living Jesus.
Jesus was ‘God-forsaken’ because of our sins
‘… darkness came over the whole land’ (v.33). Jesus cried out, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ (v.34a). Mark retains the original Aramaic words of Jesus, which mean, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (v.34b). As we have seen earlier in the Bible in One Year, this is a quote from Psalm 22, which ends with a great victory (see BiOY Day 46).
Jesus opened the way for forgiveness and entry into the presence of God
The curtain of the temple (see in today’s Old Testament passage, Leviticus 24:3), which was what separated people from the presence of God, was torn in two supernaturally by God from top to bottom. It was sixty foot high and at least, one inch thick. The fact that it was torn from top down (where humans could not reach it) emphasises that it was God who caused it to be torn.
This symbolised the fact that through the death of Jesus you are given access to God, because your sins are forgiven. God credits you with righteousness and allows you and me the immense privilege of an intimate relationship with him.
from Day 70: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Understand that forgiveness is earned not by us but for us …
The Appointed Festivals
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.
3“ ‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.
The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
4“ ‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 8For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’ ”
Offering the Firstfruits
9The Lord said to Moses, 10“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. 11He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. 12On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect, 13together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah13 That is, probably about 7 pounds or about 3.2 kilograms; also in verse 17 of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin13 That is, about 1 quart or about 1 liter of wine. 14You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
The Festival of Weeks
15“ ‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. 16Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. 17From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord. 18Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the Lord, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings—a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 19Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering19 Or purification offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering. 20The priest is to wave the two lambs before the Lord as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to the Lord for the priest. 21On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
22“ ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’ ”
The Festival of Trumpets
23The Lord said to Moses, 24“Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’ ”
The Day of Atonement
26The Lord said to Moses, 27“The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves,27 Or and fast; similarly in verses 29 and 32 and present a food offering to the Lord. 28Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. 29Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”
The Festival of Tabernacles
33The Lord said to Moses, 34“Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.
37(“ ‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the Lord—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. 38These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord’s Sabbaths and38 Or These festivals are in addition to the Lord’s Sabbaths, and these offerings are in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the Lord.)
39“ ‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. 40On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’ ”
44So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed festivals of the Lord.
–from Leviticus 23
Olive Oil and Bread Set Before the Lord
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. 3Outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 4The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord must be tended continually.
5“Take the finest flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah for each loaf. 6Arrange them in two stacks, six in each stack, on the table of pure gold before the Lord. 7By each stack put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be a food offering presented to the Lord. 8This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. 9It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in the sanctuary area, because it is a most holy part of their perpetual share of the food offerings presented to the Lord.”
A Blasphemer Put to Death
10Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. 11The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.) 12They put him in custody until the will of the Lord should be made clear to them.
13Then the Lord said to Moses: 14“Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. 15Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; 16anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.
17“ ‘Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death. 18Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life. 19Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: 20fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. 21Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a human being is to be put to death. 22You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God.’ ”
23Then Moses spoke to the Israelites, and they took the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him. The Israelites did as the Lord commanded Moses.
–from Leviticus 24
We see in the Old Testament how seriously sin is taken. It is not a trivial matter. And forgiveness is not to be taken for granted.
Justice required an equivalence: ‘Life for life’ (24:18); ‘fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ (v.20). This was never intended for personal relationships but for the law courts to prevent escalating violence.
It showed the need of the appropriateness of a penalty for sin (incidentally, it was under the law of blasphemy, vv.10–16, that Jesus himself was condemned to death as we saw in Mark 14:64).
Again, in this passage we see Jesus’ death foreshadowed. Forgiveness of sins requires sacrifice, it requires a lamb. The lamb must be perfect, ‘without defect’ (Leviticus 23:12).
As we have seen (BiOY Day 43 and Day 66), St Paul describes Jesus as ‘our Passover lamb [who] has been sacrificed’ (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Forgiveness cannot be earned by us. On the Day of Atonement, ‘atonement is made for you’ (Leviticus 23:28). It is not made by you but for you. This is the radical and revolutionary teaching of the whole Bible. When you understand how forgiveness is made possible through Jesus, it takes your breath away and it totally transforms your life.
from Day 70: Bible In One Year 2017
Last week was #Inspire2017 conference week. We had great speakers come and share and inspire all the attendees to the evening services as well as to the One Day conference that took place on Thursday. Wednesday night we were blessed to get to hear from Matthew Barnett from the LA Dream Center as he shared his lessons learned by running 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days.
Around the world…
I wanted to share my notes from that service for you to ponder…
To many risk is a negative word, but realistically we need to realize that risk is a virtue and requires faith! Don’t be afraid to take a risk!
Progress isn’t about isn’t about moving fast, it’s about continuing to make ground.
In South America…
Don’t hold back and lose your chance to do your best. Don’t be afraid of success or prosperity. Keep succeeding in the good times. Seize the moment.
In North America…
Family and friends provided support. Family and friends make us perform at a higher level. Home court advantage. You need people in your life to help you win and reach higher.
Tore his patella. The end of your breakdown is where you find the breakthrough. There is clarity of thought at the end of the breakdown. Consider little goals to help you accomplish God’s BIG goals. Find small victories to help you stay motivated.
Along the way of life, don’t worry about how much farther you have to go. The goal is faithfulness, not about where you are going. Decide to win. It will take time.
Galatians 5:15 says “serve one another humbly in love”. God will send you angels of mercy along the way. God gives you endurance along the way.
When you finish the race God has more medals/blessings we didn’t even know about. Don’t quit. God can resurrect you from the lowstest of lows to the highest of highs.
What is it saying to the world hearing through your life? What is your life song singing about God? What is your life song singing to God? If we are to live as living sacrifices to God, then how is our life being lives so that it is a song of praise to God? When you are going thru challenges and troubles are you crying out to God in faith? When you are facing trials are you trusting in God? Do you believe that your God is greater than any problem that could come your way? I remember learning to trust God when things felt bigger than me. I remember learning to forgive others as God forgave me when I am mistreated. I remember the freedom that came when I started my journey with God and allowed Him to free me from things I never understood or realized were holding me back. So now I know that no matter what comes my way, I can trust in God! I can lean on Him and not my own understanding! I can believe Him at His Word! I can talk with Him directly thanks to Jesus who at the cross gave it all for me and tore the curtain that kept me from being able to enter into the Holy of Holies where we can walk and talk with God intimately!
What does your soul cry out to God through out each day?
In the days of slavery in the United States, southern slaves were living under brutal conditions. They composed some deeply moving songs with haunting melodies, rich with emotion. These ‘spirituals’ were songs of hope and anticipation. They were the soul-cry of the slave longing for freedom.
They embraced Jesus as their Saviour and Lord and, in the midst of almost unbearable suffering, they experienced his grace, peace and hope for the future. From this relationship they were able to sing:
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
In the New Testament passage for today, we see the background to the extraordinary claim of the New Testament that the one ‘they crucified’ is in fact my Lord. God is described in the Old Testament as ‘The Lord’.
The original Hebrew word for ‘Lord’ (YHWH) had no vowels and was not vocalised. It was considered too sacred to pronounce. For that reason, when vowels were added to the original Hebrew texts they weren’t added to ‘the name’ (YHWH). There has been much debate in modern times as to what vowels should be used – it used to be thought it should be ‘Jehovah’, but most scholars now think ‘Yahweh’ is more accurate.
In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, this sacred name (YHWH) is translated ‘Kyrios’ (Lord). It really is quite extraordinary, therefore, that the New Testament writers (who were Jewish monotheists) made this fundamental Christian affirmation that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (Kyrios) (Romans 10:9; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Acts 2:36) and that our Lord has been crucified for us.
— Day 69: Bible In One Year 2017
Soul-Cry — Day 69: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Psalm 31:19-24, Mark 15:1-32, Leviticus 21, Leviticus 22
1. Love the Lord … Psalm 31:19-24
19How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. 20In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues. 21Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. 22In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. 23Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. 24Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
–from Psalm 31
David urges, ‘Love the Lord, all his faithful people!’ (v.23a). To love the Lord is the first commandment. This is a two-way relationship of love. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Our love is a response to his love.
David writes, ‘Praise be to the Lord, for he showed his wonderful love to me’ (Psalm 31:21a). Meditate on how much God loves you. ‘What a stack of blessing you have piled up for those who worship you’ (v.19, MSG).
He hides you in the ‘shelter of [his] presence’ (v.20a), he keeps you safe in his dwelling (v.20b). He protects you from ‘accusing tongues’ (v.20b). He hears your ‘cry for mercy’ when you call ‘for help’ (v.22b). ‘God takes care of all who stay close to him’ (v.23, MSG). Therefore, you can ‘be strong and take heart’ (v.24a), even when things seem difficult. ‘Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up’ (v.24, MSG).
— Day 69: Bible In One Year 2017
2. Jesus is Lord … Mark 15:1-32
1Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
2“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
3The chief priests accused him of many things. 4So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”
5But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
6Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
9“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.
12“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.
13“Crucify him!” they shouted.
14“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
15Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
16The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
21A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
27They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. 28It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment. 29Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
–from Mark 15
‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ I find it heart-rending to read the account of the abuse, torture and crucifixion of Jesus. They crucified my friend and my Lord. Jesus is:
Jesus accepts the title of ‘king of the Jews’ (Mark 15:2). The soldiers use it as a term of abuse (v.18) and it is the name written on the cross as the charge against him (v.26). However, Jesus is the fulfilment of the great longing of Israel and the many promises of a Davidic king (see Isaiah Chapters 9 and 11). He is a king with a difference.
He is handed over to Pilate out of envy (‘Sheer spite’, Mark 15:10, MSG) by the religious leaders. Be careful of envy. It is sometimes described as the ‘religious sin’.
Jesus is subject to insults and false accusation. If you are slandered or bad-mouthed be thankful that God allows you, in a tiny way, to enter into the sufferings of Jesus and pray that God will help you to respond as he did – with love and forgiveness.
It is ironic that the religious leaders mocked him and described him as ‘this Christ’ (vv.31–32), because that is exactly what he was and is. The English term ‘Christ’ is derived from the Greek ‘Christos’, which translates the Hebrew ‘Mashiah’ or ‘Messiah’. Both the Greek and the Hebrew literally mean ‘anointed’. We have seen Jesus as the anointed High Priest of God. Here we see him as the anointed King.
Again we see the extraordinary irony of the mocking words of both the passers-by, ‘Come down from the cross and save yourself!’ (v.30), and the religious leaders, ‘He saved others… but he can’t save himself!’ (v.31). This was exactly true – in order to be the Saviour of the world he could not save himself. He had to go through the agony of the crucifixion in order to save you and me.
The incident with Barabbas provides us with a picture of what Jesus has done as Saviour of the world. Barabbas, like me, was guilty and deserved punishment. He was ‘in prison with the rebels who had committed murder in the uprising’ (v.7). Jesus, on the other hand, was totally innocent. As Pilate remarked, ‘What crime has he committed?’ (v.14). Yet Barabbas was ‘released’ and set free, whilst Jesus was ‘handed… over to be crucified’ (v.15). The innocent one faced the punishment of death so that I, the guilty one, could go free. We may not be murderers like Barabbas, but all of us need rescuing by the Saviour of the world.
In yesterday’s passage we saw how when Jesus was asked by the High Priest, ‘are you the Messiah, the Son of the blessed one?’ he answered, ‘I am’ (14:61–62). The high priest’s response was to accuse Jesus of blasphemy – that is claiming to be God. Why was this? When God revealed his name YHWH to Moses (Exodus 3:14–15), he also explained its meaning. It comes from the Hebrew phrase ‘I am who I am’ or simply ‘I am’. The high priest’s response to Jesus’ statement in Mark 14:62 suggests that Jesus was declaring himself to be none other than YHWH (the Lord) (see also John 8:58).
This amazing truth is the background behind St Paul’s extraordinary soul-cry in Philippians 2:5–11 (which forms the basis of the prayer below).
Lord, help me to have the same attitude as Jesus, who humbled himself and became obedient to death. Thank you that you exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.
— Day 69: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Worship the Lord … Leviticus 21:1-22:33
Rules for Priests
1The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean for any of his people who die, 2except for a close relative, such as his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother, 3or an unmarried sister who is dependent on him since she has no husband—for her he may make himself unclean. 4He must not make himself unclean for people related to him by marriage, and so defile himself.
5“ ‘Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies. 6They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the food offerings to the Lord, the food of their God, they are to be holy.
7“ ‘They must not marry women defiled by prostitution or divorced from their husbands, because priests are holy to their God. 8Regard them as holy, because they offer up the food of your God. Consider them holy, because I the Lord am holy—I who make you holy.
9“ ‘If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.
10“ ‘The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not let his hair become unkempt or tear his clothes. 11He must not enter a place where there is a dead body. He must not make himself unclean, even for his father or mother, 12nor leave the sanctuary of his God or desecrate it, because he has been dedicated by the anointing oil of his God. I am the Lord.
13“ ‘The woman he marries must be a virgin. 14He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people, 15so that he will not defile his offspring among his people. I am the Lord, who makes him holy.’ ”
16The Lord said to Moses, 17“Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. 21No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’ ”
24So Moses told this to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites.
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Tell Aaron and his sons to treat with respect the sacred offerings the Israelites consecrate to me, so they will not profane my holy name. I am the Lord.
3“Say to them: ‘For the generations to come, if any of your descendants is ceremonially unclean and yet comes near the sacred offerings that the Israelites consecrate to the Lord, that person must be cut off from my presence. I am the Lord.
4“ ‘If a descendant of Aaron has a defiling skin disease or a bodily discharge, he may not eat the sacred offerings until he is cleansed. He will also be unclean if he touches something defiled by a corpse or by anyone who has an emission of semen, 5or if he touches any crawling thing that makes him unclean, or any person who makes him unclean, whatever the uncleanness may be. 6The one who touches any such thing will be unclean till evening. He must not eat any of the sacred offerings unless he has bathed himself with water. 7When the sun goes down, he will be clean, and after that he may eat the sacred offerings, for they are his food. 8He must not eat anything found dead or torn by wild animals, and so become unclean through it. I am the Lord.
9“ ‘The priests are to perform my service in such a way that they do not become guilty and die for treating it with contempt. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.
10“ ‘No one outside a priest’s family may eat the sacred offering, nor may the guest of a priest or his hired worker eat it. 11But if a priest buys a slave with money, or if slaves are born in his household, they may eat his food. 12If a priest’s daughter marries anyone other than a priest, she may not eat any of the sacred contributions. 13But if a priest’s daughter becomes a widow or is divorced, yet has no children, and she returns to live in her father’s household as in her youth, she may eat her father’s food. No unauthorized person, however, may eat it.
14“ ‘Anyone who eats a sacred offering by mistake must make restitution to the priest for the offering and add a fifth of the value to it. 15The priests must not desecrate the sacred offerings the Israelites present to the Lord 16by allowing them to eat the sacred offerings and so bring upon them guilt requiring payment. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’ ”
17The Lord said to Moses, 18“Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: ‘If any of you—whether an Israelite or a foreigner residing in Israel—presents a gift for a burnt offering to the Lord, either to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering, 19you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats in order that it may be accepted on your behalf. 20Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf. 21When anyone brings from the herd or flock a fellowship offering to the Lord to fulfill a special vow or as a freewill offering, it must be without defect or blemish to be acceptable. 22Do not offer to the Lord the blind, the injured or the maimed, or anything with warts or festering or running sores. Do not place any of these on the altar as a food offering presented to the Lord. 23You may, however, present as a freewill offering an ox or a sheep that is deformed or stunted, but it will not be accepted in fulfillment of a vow. 24You must not offer to the Lord an animal whose testicles are bruised, crushed, torn or cut. You must not do this in your own land, 25and you must not accept such animals from the hand of a foreigner and offer them as the food of your God. They will not be accepted on your behalf, because they are deformed and have defects.’ ”
26The Lord said to Moses, 27“When a calf, a lamb or a goat is born, it is to remain with its mother for seven days. From the eighth day on, it will be acceptable as a food offering presented to the Lord. 28Do not slaughter a cow or a sheep and its young on the same day.
29“When you sacrifice a thank offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. 30It must be eaten that same day; leave none of it till morning. I am the Lord.
31“Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. 32Do not profane my holy name, for I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who made you holy 33and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord.”
There is a great emphasis in this passage on the ‘holy name’ (22:2) of God. In chapter 22 God says to his people ‘I am the Lord’ nine times (vv.2–3,8–9,16,30–33). Why does God emphasise his name in these verses?
Names were very significant in the ancient times. They were believed to tell you something important about the person in question. As we have seen, God’s name was no exception. The name YHWH declared the uniqueness and greatness of God.
God’s name also reminded the people of his unique relationship with them. It was a name that had been revealed to Moses as a sign of God’s promise to be with his people (Exodus 3).
Each time God declares ‘I am the Lord’ it reminds the people both of his greatness and of their relationship with him. Each of the laws in the chapter is built upon these truths, and is designed to point towards them.
The theme of Leviticus 21 is God’s holiness and the need for the priesthood in order for the people to be able to approach God. In the New Testament we see that Jesus is the Great High Priest and it is through him that we approach God. Jesus is:
The high priest had to be ceremonially clean (21:11b). Jesus was morally perfect. Jesus is ‘completely holy, uncompromised by sin’ (Hebrews 7:26, MSG).
Dedicated to God
The High Priest had to be dedicated to God (Leviticus 21:12), as Jesus was (Luke 2:22).
The anointed one
The High Priest had to be anointed with oil (Leviticus 21:12) as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit at his baptism. He is the anointed one: the Christ.
If we are reminded of the need for a perfect priest in chapter 21, we are also reminded of the need for a perfect sacrifice in chapter 22. The sacrifice has to be ‘without defect’ (22:19,21). Jesus was both the perfect priest and the perfect sacrifice.
As we take these three passages together we can meditate on the extraordinary soul-cry: ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ (Philippians 2:11) and on his extraordinary love for us demonstrated by his crucifixion on our behalf, and our appropriate response to ‘Love the Lord’ (Psalm 31:23a).
— Day 69: Bible In One Year 2017
From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks! What is coming out of your mouth and what is it saying about the state of your heart? Your heart is also align to what you treasure! So what are you saying that is revealing what is in your heart as it relates to what you treasure? Are your words speaking of your trust in God? Are you careful what you allow into your heart in order to keep from allowing it to be filled with things that will hurt you and hurt others? Have you invited Jesus into your heart? Have you asked Him in to help you see things the way God sees things? Have you asked Him in to help you know His good, pleasing, and perfect will? Have you asked Him to help you have a pure heart? Will you invite Him in to be your strength and portion forever? Have you invited Him in so that He will give you peace that goes beyond understanding to guard your heart? Have you invited Him in so that your heart won’t be troubled and so that you won’t be afraid? Will you invite Him into your heart so that He will give you the desires of your heart? When you speak are you giving thanks to God? When you speak are you glorifying God? When you speak are you praising God? When you speak how is it reflecting the greatness of God? Are you in a bad place? Is your heart broken? Call out to God! Invite Jesus into your heart! Allow Him to bring you hope, peace, and love! Invite Jesus into your heart so that your spirit can be renewed! Don’t be hard-hearted! Invite Jesus into your heart! Let’s allow the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to God!
We all need help! We all need wisdom! We all need discernment! We all need a savior!
As today’s devotional calls out our natural tendencies aren’t always for the best! Today’s devotional speaks to our need for Jesus to come and save us! He came to save us! He didn’t come to condemn the world, He came that through Him we can all be saved!
My Human Nature — Day 68: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Proverbs 6:30-35, Mark 14:43-72, Leviticus 19, Leviticus 20
Today’s devotional puts it this way…
The Nobel Prize winner and most important Russian literary artist of the second half of the twentieth century, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008), who was imprisoned for eight years for criticising Stalin, wrote, ‘The line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor through classes, nor between political parties… but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts.’
We are all created in the image of God. Human beings are capable of acts of great love, courage and heroism. Yet, not one of us (apart from Jesus) is without sin. Do you know what’s in your heart?
–from Day 68: Bible In One Year 2017
1. Human nature and its weakness … Proverbs 6:30-35
30People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.
31Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house.
32But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself.
33Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away.
34For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.
35He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse a bribe, however great it is.
–from Proverbs 6
All sin breaks God’s law and is therefore serious. But there are gradations of sin. Some sins are far worse than others.
The writer of Proverbs makes this point by using the example of a person who steals because he is starving. Yes, even this is wrong and there is a price to pay (vv.30–31).
But the writer says the consequences of adultery are far more serious. It leads to ‘shame’ (v.33b), ‘jealousy’ (v.34a), ‘revenge’ (v.34b) and to the destruction of lives, particularly the adulterers themselves: ‘Soul-destroying, self-destructive… a reputation ruined for good’ (vv.32–33, MSG).
The writer says, ‘jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge’ (v.34). Human nature has not changed in thousands of years.
There is nothing wrong with sex or money. But there are many temptations that surround them both. Several of the laws in the Old Testament passage for today were developed to put boundaries around them, safeguarding their proper use.
–from Day 68: Bible In One Year 2017
2. Human nature and its results … Mark 14:43-72
43Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
44Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50Then everyone deserted him and fled.
51A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
Jesus Before the Sanhedrin
53They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
55The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’ ” 59Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
60Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
63The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64“You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
Peter Disowns Jesus
66While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
68But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
69When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
71He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
72Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
–from Mark 14
Sinful human nature led to the death of Jesus. The challenge is to live differently:
Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He said, ‘The one I kiss is the man’ (v.44a). He went up to Jesus and ‘kissed him’ (v.45).
In the Greek, the word for hypocrisy is the same word as the word for mask (masks were used in Ancient Greece for acting). On the outside Judas was wearing a mask of love for Jesus. In reality, he was betraying him to be crucified. The kiss was the ultimate act of hypocrisy.
Joyce Meyer writes about what she calls the ‘Judas kiss test’ – the test of being betrayed by friends we have loved, respected and trusted. Most people in positions of leadership for any length of time are likely to have experienced this. You need to ‘forgive the offender and not allow him or her to cause you to fail or delay in doing what God has called you to do’.
Speak the truth
Because there was no evidence against Jesus they had to rely on false testimony. Yet it appears that many were prepared to testify against him (v.56). Having practised as a barrister I have observed first hand that some are still prepared to give ‘false testimony’ in a court of law.
Corrupt judges are still a feature of the world today. They knew, or ought to have known, that Jesus was entirely innocent yet ‘they all condemned him as worthy of death’ (v.64b). It must be terrible to live in a society without the rule of law, where judges cannot be trusted.
Identify with Jesus
I can sympathise totally with Peter’s denial of Jesus. He was really determined not to do it, yet he failed. I know how weak my own human nature is.
The account of Peter’s denial can only have come from Peter himself – who with extraordinary openness and vulnerability reveals his own weakness and failure.
When Jesus was in serious trouble, ‘Everyone deserted him and fled’ (v.50). Probably Mark, the author of the Gospel, was the young man who, ‘wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind’ (vv.51–52).
Although everyone else had fled (v.50), Peter is brave and committed enough to make his way ‘right into the courtyard of the High Priest’ (v.54), albeit following at a distance, in sight of Jesus and the trial. I suspect that by this point I would have been with the rest of the disciples – halfway to Galilee!
Yet, there are haunting words about the self-indulgence of the great apostle Peter. While Jesus, his friend and leader, was taken to trial, Peter ‘sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire’ (vv.54,67).
As Peter saw what was happening to Jesus and what he was going to have to suffer, Peter increasingly distanced himself from Jesus (v.54a). Having started in that direction the next step was to deny him. Having set out on a course that involved lying, he ended up saying, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about’ (v.71b).
I am sure Peter didn’t intend to go so far when keeping his distance from Jesus, but for all of us one sin can easily lead to another and, before we realise it, we end up doing things that we deeply regret. When Peter realised what he had done ‘he broke down and wept’ (v.72c).
–from Day 68: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Human nature and God’s law … Leviticus 19:1-20:27
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
3“ ‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.
4“ ‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.
5“ ‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. 6It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up. 7If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. 8Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the Lord; they must be cut off from their people.
9“ ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.
11“ ‘Do not steal.
“ ‘Do not lie.
“ ‘Do not deceive one another.
12“ ‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
13“ ‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.
“ ‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.
14“ ‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.
15“ ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
16“ ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
“ ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.
17“ ‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.
18“ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
19“ ‘Keep my decrees.
“ ‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.
“ ‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.
“ ‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.
20“ ‘If a man sleeps with a female slave who is promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. 21The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the tent of meeting for a guilt offering to the Lord. 22With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the Lord for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven.
23“ ‘When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden.For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. 24In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. 25But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the Lord your God.
26“ ‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.
“ ‘Do not practice divination or seek omens.
27“ ‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
28“ ‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.
29“ ‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.
30“ ‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.
31“ ‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.
32“ ‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.
33“ ‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
35“ ‘Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. 36Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.
37“ ‘Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the Lord.’ ”
–from Leviticus 19
Punishments for Sin
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. 3I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. 4If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, 5I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.
6“ ‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people.
7“ ‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. 8Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.
9“ ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.
10“ ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.
11“ ‘If a man has sexual relations with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
12“ ‘If a man has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.
13“ ‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
14“ ‘If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.
15“ ‘If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal.
16“ ‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
17“ ‘If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They are to be publicly removed from their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible.
18“ ‘If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people.
19“ ‘Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible.
20“ ‘If a man has sexual relations with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless.
21“ ‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.
22“ ‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. 23You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. 24But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations.
25“ ‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you. 26You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.
27“ ‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’ ”
–from Leviticus 20
Today’s devotional reflects on this part of today’s reading as follows…
‘God wants us to live pure, clean lives that flow like pure, clean water because God alone is your source’, writes Joyce Meyer. This part of Leviticus has been called ‘the holiness code’ – ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy’ (19:2).
Because human nature has a wayward side there is a need for law. As in any society there are civil and criminal laws. Some of these laws are specific and directed at the problems of Ancient Israel. Others are broad and generally applicable to most societies.
The ceremonial laws are now obsolete, the dietary laws having been superseded by Jesus and the sacrifices fulfilled in his death. The civil laws are not necessarily appropriate to other nations. Some were humane, and others severe. They seem to have been necessary for the earlier stages of Israel’s history, but they are not all of permanent or universal validity.
The moral law, as expanded and deepened by Jesus, and as illustrated in the apostolic letters – especially in their positive parallels to the law’s prohibitions – is still in force as a revelation of God’s will for his people.
The moral law is summed up by Jesus as ‘Love the Lord your God… and… love your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10:27). This goes back to our passage for today, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18b). The moral law was that God’s people should be holy (v.2b). The rest of the law instructs us how to love our neighbour as ourselves and how to be holy.
The moral laws applicable to us now would include the laws to protect the poor (v.10), the laws against racial discrimination (for example vv.33–34), as well as the more obvious ones about theft (v.11), fraud and robbery (v.13a) and so on.
There are often important principles that have very real applications today. For example, ‘do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight’ (v.13b) is a challenge to us to pay all of our bills on time. There is an increasing tendency to delay the payment of bills until the final reminder. God’s people are called to be different. This is but one tiny example of what it means to be a holy people.
To keep your heart pure you need to turn away from the things that spoil your life. Among the more obvious sins listed here (vv.3–31) is one about being a ‘dispenser of gossip’ (v.16, AMP) and ‘holding grudges’ (v.18, AMP). Keep confidences and try not to hold anything against anyone. Holding a grudge is like allowing someone else to live rent free in your head.
There are also warnings about the dangers of ‘witchcraft’ (v.26b). Avoid reading horoscopes, consulting psychics, fortune-telling, palm reading, tarot cards and every other kind of occult activity (vv.31). If you have meddled in any of these things you can be forgiven. Repent and get rid of the things associated with that activity such as books, charms, DVDs and magazines (Acts 19:19).
Another aspect of the law is that it brings sin to light and leads to repentance and reliance on the grace of God. As I read all these laws I see how hard they are to live up to, how far short I fall of God’s standards and how much I need his forgiveness and the help of his Holy Spirit.
–from Day 68: Bible In One Year 2017