Do you realize that the Bible is a love letter to us written by God? The Bible was God breathed! God’s breath is what turned the clay or dirt into Adam! The Holy Spirit which has been described like wind has enabled people across the years to speak for God! The Bible was inspired by God and written by men filled with the Holy Spirit! God worked in each writer so that they could write His revelation without error! We get to hear each author’s personality and style through the message God gave them to deliver! To get so many writers to produce such content using their own personality, style, and talent to align and have no error, the Holy Spirit worked in and through each of them to ensure the right message would be delivered to us! Now translators do their best to give us versions we can read and understand but it’s the originals that are without error. We know the other translations have gotten updated over time based on new revelations and information they find. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit worked in and thru so many people over so many years to produce our Bible! Specifically, the Bible was written over a period of roughly 2,000 years by 40 different authors from three continents, who wrote in three different languages. These facts alone make the Bible one of a kind, but there are many more amazing details that defy natural explanation. God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine! The Bible is a love story from Jesus! The Bible is about Jesus! Old and New Testament speak to us about Him! The Bible testifies about Jesus!
Day 49: Bible In One Year 2017 Devotional, Psalm 22:22-31, Mark 3:31-35, Mark 4:1-29, Exodus 23, Exodus 24
Your Love Letter
1. Proclaim the victory of Jesus … Psalm 22:22-31
22I will declare your name to my people;in the assembly I will praise you. 23You who fear the Lord, praise him!All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! 24For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one;he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. 25From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows. 26The poor will eat and be satisfied;those who seek the Lord will praise him—may your hearts live forever! 27All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, 28for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. 29All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. 30Posterity will serve him;future generations will be told about the Lord. 31They will proclaim his righteousness,declaring to a people yet unborn:He has done it! –from Psalm 22
Psalm 22 speaks to who Jesus is and what He would go thru on the cross in the verses before today’s reading! Though there was pain and suffering, we get encouragement from today’s reading! So let’s rejoice in the Lord for Jesus has done it, He conquered the grave! He paid the price that our sins can be forgiven! He rose and is now sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me! Jesus spoke that we can take hope because He overcame the world! So when you face troubles, take heart for Jesus has overcome the world! When you face trials of many kinds, consider it pure joy! Jesus told us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance and when we let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
This psalm, which starts off with despair and suffering (v.1) describing, prophetically, the death of Jesus, ends with a great cry of victory: ‘He has done it!’ (v.31). God ‘has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help’ (v.24).
This victory will lead to people all over the world turning ‘to the Lord’ (v.27). All the nations will bow down before him (v.27b). This victory will be proclaimed: ‘They shall come and shall declare his righteousness to a people yet to be born – that he has done it [that it is finished]!’ (v.31, AMP; John 19:30).
Not only does the resurrection of Jesus bring great victory, it also brings about a familial intimacy. The word translated ‘my people’ in Psalm 22:22 is an intimate one, referring to close companions, and it is usually translated as ‘brother’ or ‘relative’. In the New Testament, the writer to the Hebrews specifically relates this to our relationship with Jesus (Hebrews 2:11–12). Jesus declares to us, his people, that he is in our midst, and sees us as his brothers and sisters, part of his family. –from Day 49: Bible In One Year 2017
2. Embrace the words of Jesus … Mark 3:31-4:29
31Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” –from Mark 3
1Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” 9Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” 10When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12so that, “ ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ ” 13Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14The farmer sows the word. 15Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” 21He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” 24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” 26He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” –from Mark 4
We are being called! Jesus wants us to do God’s will in the world we are located! Jesus’ calling on our lives is to spread the good news of the kingdom of God! So let’s pick up that calling today and share the good news of the kingdom of God by the words we speak and the actions we take for faith without works is dead! So let’s be God’s arms embracing, let’s be God’s hands helping, let’s be God’s feet going, let’s be God’s mouth speaking, let’s be sharing the love of God to everyone God brings into our lives today! We have been adopted into God’s family when we receive Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior! We have been grafted onto the branch who is Jesus so that we may receive His promises, be filled up with the Holy Spirit and produce good fruit for the glory of His kingdom!
So consider the heart of the people you are with today! Some till, some sow, some water, but God will make it grow! Some people may not be ready for the good new you have to share! Some may be like path and so will need other efforts before their hard heart will be ready to receive the hope that is within you! Some may be like rocky ground which has some soil and the hardness has begun to be broken but there is more work to be done and that message may not stick, they may be encourage but once life starts up again it fades! Some may be within an environment where they aren’t able to grow in the encouragement and as such it gets choked out of them! Don’t allow the weeds to make you lose hope though, what would you do in a garden to help your plants grow? It may mean you need to help get rid of the weeds that are trying to choke out the hope! It may mean you need to help them through the times of worry, deceitfulness, desires, temptations, and other things that would choke the word and hold them back from their full potential. Some are ready though, the hardness of the path has been broken up, the rocks have been removed, the weeds that would try to choke out the hope are pulled out, and now they are left with good soil and each seed of hope and of faith and of truth and of love take root and produce good fruit!
Jesus sees you as part of his close family. He wants all of us to have the closest possible intimate relationship with him – like a brother or sister or mother (3:31–35).
In this passage we see that this relationship is nurtured through the word of God, both by hearing the word and by putting it into practice: ‘Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother’ (v.35).
Jesus speaks about the power of his own words, which are the words of God. Much of his teaching comes to us in stories. Everybody enjoys a good story. The meaning of a ‘parable’ is contained within the story. People go to sleep during abstract preaching but wake up for a good story. A story has the power to get through to us before our defences come up.
The parable of the sower shows the power of words to change lives. If you ‘hear the Word [and] embrace it’ (4:20, MSG), you will be like ‘seed sown on good soil, [who] hear the word, [and] accept it, and produce a crop – some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown’ (v.20). You will ‘produce a harvest beyond [your] wildest dreams’ (v.20, MSG).
We see again and again on Alpha the extraordinary power of the words of Jesus to totally transform lives and make them fruitful. Not only are the lives of those who hear affected, but many other lives are too as people bring their friends to hear the words of Jesus.
If the words of Jesus do not have any effect, then the fault lies with the hearer. At times, my life is so shallow that his words do not take root (vv.4–6). At other times, problems in my life or opposition (‘trouble or persecution’, v.17) take me away from a close relationship with Jesus. At other times still, ‘the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful’ (v.19).
Jesus goes on to stress over and over again the importance of words and of hearing his words: ‘Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you – and more [besides] will be given to you who hear’ (v.24, AMP).
The more time you invest in studying and applying God’s word to your life, the greater benefit you will experience. Make this a high priority. Give time to embracing the words of Jesus and you will not regret it.
The parable of the growing seed shows that once the words of Jesus have been planted in your life, you can expect to bear fruit. You reap later. You may need to be patient while you wait for the harvest. But you can be sure that if you keep on sowing the seed, you will reap far, far more than what you have sown. The harvest will come (v.29). –from Day 49: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Be a minister of the covenant of Jesus … Exodus 23:1-24:18
Laws of Justice and Mercy
1“Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.
2“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.
4“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. 5If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.
6“Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.
8“Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.
9“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.
10“For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
12“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.
13“Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.
The Three Annual Festivals
14“Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.
15“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
“No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
16“Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.
“Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.
17“Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord.
18“Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast.
“The fat of my festival offerings must not be kept until morning.
19“Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.
“Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.
God’s Angel to Prepare the Way
20“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. 23My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. 25Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.
27“I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.
31“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. 32Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”
–from Exodus 23
The Covenant Confirmed
1Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, 2but Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him.”
3When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” 4Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.
He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord. 6Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. 7Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.”
8Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
9Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.
12The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”
13Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”
15When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. –from Exodus 24
Consider all that we are to do! Consider all that we aren’t to do! Consider all the celebrations we should share! Align to God’s will and plan and purpose and follow after Him! Rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice! Stick with God and allow Him to lead and guide your every word, thought, step, and action!
The 10 commandments shows us how much we need a savior! The 10 commandments help try to keep us safe and protected! The 10 commands give us instruction to set the bar! Jesus calls us to raise the bar now that He has paid the price once for all! So let’s step up our lives to raise the average so that God’s purpose and plans for good will be shared and performed as we walk out as the body of Christ! Do give up! Don’t lose hope! Put your hope and trust in God! Don’t allow your eyes or your ears or your feelings to trick you into doing something wrong! Turn to God! Lean not on your own understanding, put your trust in God!
God’s relationship with his people was defined by the covenant (the agreement between God and the people) on Mount Sinai. In the covenant relationship, God committed himself to his people and asked them to respond by committing themselves to him. He called them to live lives that would keep them close to him in this covenant relationship.
In particular, we see how high on God’s agenda are the issues of justice and poverty (23:1–12). There is so much injustice in the world today. In many parts of the world it is almost impossible for the poor to get justice. People are often thrown in prison on false charges with little or no redress. Some legal systems are dominated by bribery. If only these words were adhered to: ‘Do not deny justice to your poor… Have nothing to do with a false charge… Do not accept a bribe’ (vv.6,8).
It is really hard to go against the crowd and the culture. But it is no defence to say, ‘Well, that’s the culture – everybody does it – so there’s no alternative.’ God says, ‘Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong… Do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd’ (v.2).
Covenants in the ancient world were frequently ratified by the eating of a meal (‘they ate and drank’, 24:11). The covenant is sealed by the shedding of blood. Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant’ (v.8). Under the old covenant God committed himself to his people and required of them that they follow his law given to them on the tablets of stone (v.12).
The prophets foretold that one day there would be a new covenant written not on tablets of stone but on our hearts (for example, Jeremiah 31:31–34). Jesus explained to his disciples how this new covenant was going to be made possible through his blood (Mark 14:24). You celebrate this new covenant through a meal each time you receive Holy Communion and hear the words: ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood’ (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
The book of Hebrews describes in great detail how Jesus is the ‘mediator of a new covenant’ (Hebrews 9:15). Under this covenant all of your sins are forgiven (v.15) and you have a relationship with Jesus that goes on forever (13:20).
Through Jesus you are a minister of the new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6). The old covenant ‘came with glory’ (v.7). The ‘glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai… to the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire’ (Exodus 24:16–17). St Paul writes, ‘Will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?… And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:8,18).