Do you realize the fun? Do you realize the adventure? Do you realize the promises?


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? Are you trying to make it thru in your own strength?

Do you realize that God has a plan for you? Do you realize that God’s plan is to give you a hope and a future? Do you realize that God’s plan through Jesus is to get to spend eternity with you? Do you realize with God when we face troubles of many kinds, we can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world? Do you realize with God when we face trials of many kinds, we can consider it pure joy because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance and that when we let perseverance finish its work so that we will be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Do you realize by inviting Jesus into your life and following after Him the benefits that come along with that? Have you ever heard about “more than you could ever ask or imagine”? Have you ever heard about “exceedingly, abundantly more”? Have you ever heard about “pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing”? Have you ever heard of “blessings”? Have you ever heard about how in our weakness God’s strength is revealed? Have you ever heard about joy and realized it is different and better than happiness?

Do you realize you can walk in the joy of the Lord no matter the circumstances of life that come your way? Do you realize that the joy of the Lord can be your strength? Do you realize we can have something even greater than happiness? We can be blessed! Blessings go beyond what you can ask for and even imagine! I have learned that I can’t outgive God! I have been blessed with things that money just can’t buy!


The Favour of God — Day 74: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 34:1-10, Luke 1:39-56, Numbers 2:10-34, Numbers 3

1. Praise God for all his favour … Psalm 34:1-10

1I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

–from Psalm 34

Did you catch that? What those who seek the Lord will lack? That’s right “no good thing”! did you catch that? When we seek Him, we will find Him! When we seek Him, He will deliver us from all fear!

Have you tasted how good the love of God is? Have you seen how great His love for you is?

If not, why not invite God into your life! Pursue after Him! then tasted and see how great is His love for you!

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading in this way…

In this psalm, David praises God for all the favour his relationship with God has brought to his life. He praises God ‘at all times’ (v.1) not just when things are going well or it is convenient to do so: ‘I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise. I live and breathe God; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy’ (vv.1–2, MSG).

In particular, he praises God for:

Answered prayer

David writes, ‘I sought the Lord, and he answered me’ (v.4a). God helped him in times of trouble, ‘When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot’ (v.6, MSG).

Freedom from fear

David continues by explaining exactly how God had answered his prayers in this instance: ‘he delivered me from all my fears’ (v.4b).

Those who fear God are delivered from all their fears. ‘Fear [of] the Lord’ (v.9a) is the equivalent of ‘seeking the Lord’ (compare verse 9b, ‘those who fear him lack nothing’ with verse 10b, ‘those who seek the Lord lack no good thing’).

David does not say we will lack nothing, but he does say, ‘Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing’ (v.10b). Or as The Message puts it, ‘Worship opens doors to all his goodness’ (v.9b, MSG).

Radiant faces

One of the things I noticed, even before I was a Christian, was the radiant expression on the faces of many Christians. ‘Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame’ (v.5).

Angelic protection

‘God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray’ (v.7, MSG). It’s an amazing thought that as you pray and worship God you experience angelic protection.

‘All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise,’ wrote C.S. Lewis. ‘… delight is incomplete till it is expressed.’

–Day 74: Bible In One Year 2017

2. Believe God’s promises of favour … Luke 1:39-56

39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song

46And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

–from Luke 1

Will you trust in God? Will you believe His Word? Will you live out your life based on what you are hoping for because of your faith in God? Will you live out your life based on what you haven’t seen yet because of your faith in God? Favor doesn’t mean without problems as we know from Jesus’ Word that in this world we will have troubles, but He tells us how we can take heart because He has overcome the world! Favor doesn’t mean without trials, it just means that we know that we can consider it pure joy when we are walking thru it together with God!

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading in this way…

In some ways the favour on Mary is unique: ‘Blessed are you among women’ (v.42a). Mary is:

The mother of the Lord

Mary carried in her womb the Son of God, Jesus the blessed one (v.42b). When Elizabeth comes into the presence of the foetal Jesus she is ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (v.41). ‘Joy’ is the characteristic response to Jesus – even the baby ‘leapt with joy’ in the womb (v.44).

Recognised for all future generations

‘From now on all generations will call me blessed’ (v.48). Mary has been known as ‘the Blessed Virgin Mary’ ever since.

Jesus’ DNA came from a combination of Mary and the Holy Spirit. He was the genetic son of Mary. He must have looked like her. He must have had some of her physical features. She brought him up. She trained and taught him. For thirty years she was the dominant female influence on his life.

The pinnacle of faith

‘Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’ (v.45). Mary believed that what the Lord said to her – something unique and humanly impossible – would happen. As the angel had said to Mary, ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ (v.37).

For Mary, what God had promised was as good as done: ‘For the Mighty One has done great things for me’ (v.49). Corrie ten Boom said, ‘Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.’

Of course, in many ways, Mary was unique. Yet in some ways the favour she talks about can apply to you and me. We are blessed by a saviour (‘God my Saviour’, v.47). The promise to fill the hungry with good things (v.53) – the promise of God’s favour to satisfy our spiritual hunger with his provision – applies to you and me.

–Day 74: Bible In One Year 2017

3. Experience now the favour of God’s presence … Numbers 2:10-3:51

10On the south will be the divisions of the camp of Reuben under their standard. The leader of the people of Reuben is Elizur son of Shedeur. 11His division numbers 46,500.
12The tribe of Simeon will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Simeon is Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai. 13His division numbers 59,300.
14The tribe of Gad will be next. The leader of the people of Gad is Eliasaph son of Deuel.
16All the men assigned to the camp of Reuben, according to their divisions, number 151,450. They will set out second.
17Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in their own place under their standard.
18On the west will be the divisions of the camp of Ephraim under their standard. The leader of the people of Ephraim is Elishama son of Ammihud. 19His division numbers 40,500.
20The tribe of Manasseh will be next to them. The leader of the people of Manasseh is Gamaliel son of Pedahzur. 21His division numbers 32,200.
22The tribe of Benjamin will be next. The leader of the people of Benjamin is Abidan son of Gideoni. 23His division numbers 35,400.
24All the men assigned to the camp of Ephraim, according to their divisions, number 108,100. They will set out third.
25On the north will be the divisions of the camp of Dan under their standard. The leader of the people of Dan is Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. 26His division numbers 62,700.
27The tribe of Asher will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Asher is Pagiel son of Okran. 28His division numbers 41,500.
29The tribe of Naphtali will be next. The leader of the people of Naphtali is Ahira son of Enan. 30His division numbers 53,400.
31All the men assigned to the camp of Dan number 157,600. They will set out last, under their standards.
32These are the Israelites, counted according to their families. All the men in the camps, by their divisions, number 603,550. 33The Levites, however, were not counted along with the other Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.
34So the Israelites did everything the Lord commanded Moses; that is the way they encamped under their standards, and that is the way they set out, each of them with their clan and family.

–from Numbers 2

The Levites

1This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses at the time the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.
2The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 3Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests. 4Nadab and Abihu, however, died before the Lord when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai. They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.
5The Lord said to Moses, 6“Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. 7They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle. 8They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle. 9Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him. 10Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”
11The Lord also said to Moses, 12“I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, 13for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”
14The Lord said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai, 15“Count the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.” 16So Moses counted them, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.
17These were the names of the sons of Levi:
Gershon, Kohath and Merari.
18These were the names of the Gershonite clans:
Libni and Shimei.
19The Kohathite clans:
Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.
20The Merarite clans:
Mahli and Mushi.
These were the Levite clans, according to their families.
21To Gershon belonged the clans of the Libnites and Shimeites; these were the Gershonite clans. 22The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 7,500. 23The Gershonite clans were to camp on the west, behind the tabernacle. 24The leader of the families of the Gershonites was Eliasaph son of Lael. 25At the tent of meeting the Gershonites were responsible for the care of the tabernacle and tent, its coverings, the curtain at the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26the curtains of the courtyard, the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, and the ropes—and everything related to their use.
27To Kohath belonged the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites and Uzzielites; these were the Kohathite clans. 28The number of all the males a month old or more was 8,600. 29The Kohathite clans were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle. 30The leader of the families of the Kohathite clans was Elizaphan son of Uzziel. 31They were responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain, and everything related to their use. 32The chief leader of the Levites was Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest. He was appointed over those who were responsible for the care of the sanctuary.
33To Merari belonged the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites; these were the Merarite clans. 34The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 6,200. 35The leader of the families of the Merarite clans was Zuriel son of Abihail; they were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle. 36The Merarites were appointed to take care of the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts, bases, all its equipment, and everything related to their use, 37as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs and ropes.
38Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east of the tabernacle, toward the sunrise, in front of the tent of meeting. They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death.
39The total number of Levites counted at the Lord’s command by Moses and Aaron according to their clans, including every male a month old or more, was 22,000.
40The Lord said to Moses, “Count all the firstborn Israelite males who are a month old or more and make a list of their names. 41Take the Levites for me in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites, and the livestock of the Levites in place of all the firstborn of the livestock of the Israelites. I am the Lord.”
42So Moses counted all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the Lord commanded him. 43The total number of firstborn males a month old or more, listed by name, was 22,273.
44The Lord also said to Moses, 45“Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are to be mine. I am the Lord. 46To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, 47collect five shekels for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. 48Give the money for the redemption of the additional Israelites to Aaron and his sons.”
49So Moses collected the redemption money from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. 50From the firstborn of the Israelites he collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel. 51Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.

–from Numbers 3

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading in this way…

Enormous care had to be taken because of the huge responsibility and great blessing of God’s presence being in the midst of his people. The ‘Tent of Meeting’ (where God’s presence dwelt) was ‘set out in the middle of the camps’ (2:17). Everyone was given a role and a responsibility. In particular, a certain group of people were ordained (the Levites) to full-time ministry. They were ‘ordained to serve’ (3:3); they were ‘given wholly’ to God (v.9).

The life of God’s people literally revolved around the presence of God. It was the key to their identity, their successes and their blessedness.

We see in this passage though that God’s presence with his people was also limited. The people were barred from the sanctuary (v.10), the heart of God’s presence. The extraordinary message of the New Testament is that this separation has now been removed.

You can now experience the full blessings of God’s presence with you. This theme of the blessing of God’s presence is a recurring one throughout the Scriptures. Jesus brings God’s presence to us (John 1:14a). Jesus has given you the Holy Spirit, who is God’s empowering presence dwelling within you (1 Corinthians 6:19). We experience God’s presence especially when we gather together (Matthew 18:20). One day you will know God’s presence face to face (Revelation 21:3, 22:4).

–Day 74: Bible In One Year 2017

 

Do you realize there is a war taking place for you?


You realize there is a battle taking place, right? You know that you will have troubles, right? You know you will face trials, right? Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security thinking you can be sitting on the beach while the battle goes on around you because you are ignoring it. Imaging sitting on a lounger on the beaches of Normandy as the world war was taking place, you could see it so you would probably get out of there, right? Now consider the battle and the war are taking place in the spiritual realm, so it’s not against flesh and blood. It doesn’t make it any less dangerous! It doesn’t make it any less important, in reality it is more important! Consider how when Daniel was praying the answer was on the way but there was a spiritual battle that delayed the answer getting to him for 21 days. You may have heard of spiritual warfare, it is for real! So let’s rally together! Let’s join forces with Jesus putting on the full armor of God! Not shorts and flip flops, let’s put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Don’t be fooled! Don’t be tricked! Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security! Be prepared! Be prepared in and out of season to give an answer for the hope that is within you! Be prepared for the day of Jesus’ return keeps getting closer, we don’t know the day or the time, so just be ready! Be prepared so that you will be able to escape the attacks and stand before Jesus! Be prepared, praying without ceasing, being alert and thankful, seeing what is going on and covering others who are in need too. Be prepared and on guard because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. In this world we will have troubles, but take heart for Jesus has overcome the world! Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

Ever had times where you went thru temptation, doubt, fear and anxiety? How about times of sadness, great loss and bereavement? What about times of struggle over health, sleep, finances, work and relationships? Have you experienced times of opposition and criticism?

Today’s devotional calls out these battles:

our battle being against a triple alliance: the world (‘the enemy around us’), the flesh (‘the enemy within us’), and the devil (‘the enemy above us’).

— Day 73: Bible In One Year 2017


The Battles of Life — Day 73: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 33:12-22, Luke 1:26-38, Numbers 1, Numbers 2:1-9

1. Trust in God … Psalm 33:12-22

12Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
14from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
15he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
16No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.

–from Psalm 33

The battle isn’t against flesh and blood, so we can’ be trying to fight the battle in our own strength! So we need to put our hope and trust in God, the battle belongs to the Lord! Whether we take hold of the Word from 2 Chronicles or 1 Samuel, we need to trust in God and remember that the battle belongs to the Lord! So let’s not be leaning on our own understanding! So let’s not be putting our hope in ourselves, in horses, in chariots, in the power of the military, but rather, let’s put our hope and our trust in God! It’s not all about numbers, it is about God! So don’t put your trust in something because it has the numbers, but rather trust in God! Don’t put your trust in something because the size, but rather trust in God! Trust in the Lord with all your heart! Lean not on your own understanding! In all your ways acknowledge Him!

2. Unite around the King … Luke 1:26-38

26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37For no word from God will ever fail.”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

–from Luke 1

So let’s unite together with Jesus our King! our Lord! our Savior! The battle taking place is focusing on Jesus! The battle even to the end when the final battle takes place will be lead by Jesus who will come out victorious and those of us who choose to align ourselves and purse after Jesus will get to spend eternity with Him! People today are battling over who Jesus is! Have you invited Jesus into your heart? Have you received Him as your Lord and Savior? That is the battle that is taking place today! Who do you say Jesus is? Similar to back in the days of the disciples when the battle was around “who is Jesus”. The battles shouldn’t be between our brothers and sisters in Christ!

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading as follows…

The theological battles of the twenty-first century are not those of the eleventh century, which divided Catholic and Orthodox churches. Nor are the battles those of the sixteenth-century reformation. The battle today is the same as the battle of the first century: is Jesus the universal Saviour?

Luke sets out right at the start of the Gospel a number of claims about Jesus (vv.31–35):

Saviour

The angel says to Mary, ‘You are to call him Jesus’ (v.31). The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘saviour’.

Messiah

He is the long-awaited Messiah in the line of David. The angel says, ‘The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end’ (vv.32–33).

Son of God

The angel goes on, ‘He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High’ (v.32). Jesus’ birth was unique, as is explained by the angel in these verses. Mary was a virgin, and so a ‘normal’ conception was clearly impossible (v.34). Instead she was told, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you’ (v.35a). The angel then immediately explains why this is so significant: ‘the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God’ (v.35b). We see here how Jesus is both fully human (born in the normal way), and yet also fully God (conceived by the Holy Spirit).

Christians from all churches – Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Pentecostal – believe in Jesus as our Saviour, the Messiah and the Son of God. To be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ. All followers of Jesus are children of God (John 1:12). This makes us brothers and sisters. Furthermore, if we belong to Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in each of us (Romans 8:9).

This is what unites us as Christians. Therefore, the battle should never be with our brothers and sisters in Christ. In-fighting distracts and destroys. We need to focus on the real battle, which is around the King.

Mary sets a wonderful example of the right attitude. For Mary, the Lord is with her (Luke 1:28), within her (v.35) and over her (v.38). While, of course, Mary is unique as the mother of Jesus, all believers can know this same connection with the Lord.

The way we fight the triple alliance of the enemy is with the triple alliance of the Lord.

First, just as the angel tells Mary that ‘the Lord is with you’ (v.28), so Jesus’ last words to his disciples were, ‘I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20). Whatever circumstances you face, you need not fear. The King is with you.

Second, the Holy Spirit is within you. As the Holy Spirit came upon Mary (Luke 1:35), to bring about a physical birth, so the Holy Spirit comes upon you, to bring about a spiritual birth. You are a child ‘born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (John 1:13).

Third, the King is over you. You are called to be the Lord’s servant. Mary’s response is one of strong, courageous, fearless and dignified trust. She is the model of faith. In the greatest and most decisive act of faith in history she offered herself to God as a clean page on which he could write what he wanted. I love the translation in the Living Bible: ‘I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants’ (Luke 1:38).

— Day 73: Bible In One Year 2017

3. Listen to God … Numbers 1:1-2:9

The Census

1The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 2“Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. 3You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army. 4One man from each tribe, each of them the head of his family, is to help you. 5These are the names of the men who are to assist you:
from Reuben, Elizur son of Shedeur;
6from Simeon, Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai;
7from Judah, Nahshon son of Amminadab;
8from Issachar, Nethanel son of Zuar;
9from Zebulun, Eliab son of Helon;
10from the sons of Joseph:
from Ephraim, Elishama son of Ammihud;
from Manasseh, Gamaliel son of Pedahzur;
11from Benjamin, Abidan son of Gideoni;
12from Dan, Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai;
13from Asher, Pagiel son of Okran;
14from Gad, Eliasaph son of Deuel;
15from Naphtali, Ahira son of Enan.”
16These were the men appointed from the community, the leaders of their ancestral tribes. They were the heads of the clans of Israel.
17Moses and Aaron took these men whose names had been specified, 18and they called the whole community together on the first day of the second month. The people registered their ancestry by their clans and families, and the men twenty years old or more were listed by name, one by one, 19as the Lordcommanded Moses. And so he counted them in the Desert of Sinai:
20From the descendants of Reuben the firstborn son of Israel:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, one by one, according to the records of their clans and families. 21The number from the tribe of Reuben was 46,500.
22From the descendants of Simeon:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were counted and listed by name, one by one, according to the records of their clans and families. 23The number from the tribe of Simeon was 59,300.
24From the descendants of Gad:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 25The number from the tribe of Gad was 45,650.
26From the descendants of Judah:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 27The number from the tribe of Judah was 74,600.
28From the descendants of Issachar:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 29The number from the tribe of Issachar was 54,400.
30From the descendants of Zebulun:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 31The number from the tribe of Zebulun was 57,400.
32From the sons of Joseph:
From the descendants of Ephraim:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 33The number from the tribe of Ephraim was 40,500.
34From the descendants of Manasseh:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 35The number from the tribe of Manasseh was 32,200.
36From the descendants of Benjamin:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 37The number from the tribe of Benjamin was 35,400.
38From the descendants of Dan:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 39The number from the tribe of Dan was 62,700.
40From the descendants of Asher:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 41The number from the tribe of Asher was 41,500.
42From the descendants of Naphtali:
All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 43The number from the tribe of Naphtali was 53,400.
44These were the men counted by Moses and Aaron and the twelve leaders of Israel, each one representing his family. 45All the Israelites twenty years old or more who were able to serve in Israel’s army were counted according to their families. 46The total number was 603,550.
47The ancestral tribe of the Levites, however, was not counted along with the others. 48The Lordhad said to Moses: 49“You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites. 50Instead, appoint the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle of the covenant law—over all its furnishings and everything belonging to it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they are to take care of it and encamp around it. 51Whenever the tabernacle is to move, the Levites are to take it down, and whenever the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall do it. Anyone else who approaches it is to be put to death. 52The Israelites are to set up their tents by divisions, each of them in their own camp under their standard. 53The Levites, however, are to set up their tents around the tabernacle of the covenant law so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelite community. The Levites are to be responsible for the care of the tabernacle of the covenant law.”
54The Israelites did all this just as the Lord commanded Moses.
–from Numbers 1
1The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2“The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”
3On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard. The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. 4His division numbers 74,600.
5The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Issachar is Nethanel son of Zuar. 6His division numbers 54,400.
7The tribe of Zebulun will be next. The leader of the people of Zebulun is Eliab son of Helon. 8His division numbers 57,400.
9All the men assigned to the camp of Judah, according to their divisions, number 186,400. They will set out first.
–from Numbers 2

So don’t be afraid! So don’t be intimidated!

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading as follows…

The battles of life need not intimidate you. All the way through history, God’s people have faced obstacles and challenges. The book of Numbers is about how God’s people prepare for battle.

In Exodus we see the people of God as a liberated people. In Leviticus we see them as a holy people. In Numbers we see them as a fighting force. In the chapters for today we see a military emphasis that sets the tone for the whole book.

When we read this through the lens of Jesus, we see that the Christian life is a spiritual battle. The apostle Paul describes this as a battle against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). You are liberated by the cross. You have been made holy but you have a battle on your hands. As the people of God in the Old Testament prepared for their battles, be prepared.

In this passage we see three keys:

Take instructions from God

‘The Lord spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the Desert of Sinai’ (Numbers 1:1). God can speak to you even in the very dry periods of your life, or in a place that seems completely godless. Of course, it is not enough simply to hear God’s instructions – act on them too. This initial set of instructions ends with the report that the people of God ‘did all this just as the Lord commanded Moses’ (v.54).

Raise up good leadership

The leaders were appointed from the community (v.16), and represented it (v.4), but ultimately they were chosen by God.

Leadership is key in every level and section of society. Parents are leaders in the home. Teachers are leaders in schools. We need good leadership in the church, marketplace, judiciary, government, media, arts and so on.

Mobilise the people

Everyone had to be listed (‘by name, one by one’, v.2). This expression occurs over and over again in the passage. Each individual matters to God and has an important part to play in his plans. What at first seems to be dry statistics is in fact a key tool in mobilising and equipping the entire people of God.

Eugene Peterson writes in his introduction to the book of Numbers, ‘We need organisational help. When people live together in community, jobs have to be assigned, leaders appointed, inventories kept. Counting and list-making and rosters are as much a part of being a community of God as prayer and instruction and justice. Accurate arithmetic is an aspect of becoming a people of God.’

— Day 73: Bible In One Year 2017

Do you know the rules to be able to enjoy life?


Do you realize that there are rules for life? Do you realize that the rules are to set boundaries out of love? Do you realize the rules aren’t to keep you from having fun but are to actually grant us freedom? Do you realize the rules aren’t to keep us from having fun but rather to keep us safe? Do you realize the rules are to help us live our lives to the full?


Loving Boundaries — Day 72: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Proverbs 7:1-5, Luke 1:1-25, Leviticus 26:14-46, Leviticus 27

1. God’s loving boundaries … Proverbs 7:1-5

1My son, keep my words
and store up my commands within you.
2Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
3Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and to insight, “You are my relative.”
5They will keep you from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words.

–from Proverbs 7

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading as follows…

God does not invite us to follow his laws, he commands. But these are not the commandments of a dictator, they are the commands of love designed to ensure justice, peace and fullness of life.

The writer of Proverbs is like a parent encouraging their children and passing on God’s commands to them. He urges his children: ‘Store up my commands within you’ (v.1); ‘Keep my commands and you will live’ (v.2a); ‘Keep my law… as the apple (the pupil) of your eye’ (v.2b, AMP); ‘Write them on the tablet of your heart’ (v.3b). This is what the Holy Spirit does. He writes God’s laws on your heart and gives you the ability to keep them (Jeremiah 31:33–34).

God’s commands bring ‘wisdom’ – and wisdom should be our ‘intimate friend’ (Proverbs 7:4, AMP). They bring ‘insight’ (v.4), and they keep us out of trouble (v.5).

–from Day 72: Bible In One Year 2017

2. The example of others … Luke 1:1-25

1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled, 2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
19The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
21Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
–from Luke 1

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading as follows…

One of the things that has helped me most in my life is the inspiring example of others. Sometimes it has been older people who, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, have lived their life ‘walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord’ (v.6, AMP). Other times it has been young people who, like John the Baptist, had been filled with the Holy Spirit and power. Anyone, at any age, can be an inspiring example.

Luke was an educated man, a historian and traditionally thought to have been a doctor. He is the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers. This is the first volume of his two-volume work, ‘Luke – Acts’.

Luke made a careful investigation of the events surrounding Jesus (v.3). He wrote ‘an account’ based on ‘eye witnesses’ (vv.1,2) so that you ‘may know the certainty of the things you have been taught’ (v.4). You can have a certain confidence about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

He starts his account with the birth of John the Baptist. In particular, he begins with John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth: ‘Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly’ (v.6). (It is worth noting in passing that there is absolutely no suggestion that Elizabeth was barren because of some sin in their lives – quite the contrary.)

Finally, their prayer was heard (v.13). When we pray, God hears more than we say, answers more than we ask, gives more than we imagine – in his own time and in his own way. They waited a long time for their prayer to be answered. If God makes you wait you are in good company.

God granted their request for a child – who brought them joy and delight. God gave Zechariah ‘a vision’ (v.22) of what would happen. John the Baptist was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit even before he [was] born’ (v.15). He was ‘to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous’ (v.17).

God’s desire is to set the world back to the wise ways of living and away from the chaos that comes from disobedience to his commands. Jesus is the one who makes this possible. John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus.

–from Day 72: Bible In One Year 2017

3. The blessing of boundaries … Leviticus 26:14-27:34

14“ ‘But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. 17I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.
18“ ‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. 19I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. 20Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.
21“ ‘If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. 22I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.
23“ ‘If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, 24I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over. 25And I will bring the sword on you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands. 26When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.
27“ ‘If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, 28then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. 29You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. 30I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. 31I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings. 32I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. 33I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. 34Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.
36“ ‘As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them. 37They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them. So you will not be able to stand before your enemies. 38You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. 39Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their ancestors’ sins they will waste away.
40“ ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, 41which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. 44Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God. 45But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.’ ”
46These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the Lord established at Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses.

–from Leviticus 26

Redeeming What Is the Lord’s

1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate a person to the Lord by giving the equivalent value, 3set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels3 That is, about 1 1/4 pounds or about 575 grams; also in verse 16 of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel3 That is, about 2/5 ounce or about 12 grams; also in verse 25; 4for a female, set her value at thirty shekels4 That is, about 12 ounces or about 345 grams; 5for a person between the ages of five and twenty, set the value of a male at twenty shekels and of a female at ten shekels; 6for a person between one month and five years, set the value of a male at five shekels of silver and that of a female at three shekels of silver; 7for a person sixty years old or more, set the value of a male at fifteen shekels and of a female at ten shekels. 8If anyone making the vow is too poor to pay the specified amount, the person being dedicated is to be presented to the priest, who will set the value according to what the one making the vow can afford.
9“ ‘If what they vowed is an animal that is acceptable as an offering to the Lord, such an animal given to the Lord becomes holy. 10They must not exchange it or substitute a good one for a bad one, or a bad one for a good one; if they should substitute one animal for another, both it and the substitute become holy. 11If what they vowed is a ceremonially unclean animal—one that is not acceptable as an offering to the Lord—the animal must be presented to the priest, 12who will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, that is what it will be. 13If the owner wishes to redeem the animal, a fifth must be added to its value.
14“ ‘If anyone dedicates their house as something holy to the Lord, the priest will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, so it will remain. 15If the one who dedicates their house wishes to redeem it, they must add a fifth to its value, and the house will again become theirs.
16“ ‘If anyone dedicates to the Lord part of their family land, its value is to be set according to the amount of seed required for it—fifty shekels of silver to a home of barley seed. 17If they dedicate a field during the Year of Jubilee, the value that has been set remains. 18But if they dedicate a field after the Jubilee, the priest will determine the value according to the number of years that remain until the next Year of Jubilee, and its set value will be reduced. 19If the one who dedicates the field wishes to redeem it, they must add a fifth to its value, and the field will again become theirs. 20If, however, they do not redeem the field, or if they have sold it to someone else, it can never be redeemed. 21When the field is released in the Jubilee, it will become holy, like a field devoted to the Lord; it will become priestly property.
22“ ‘If anyone dedicates to the Lord a field they have bought, which is not part of their family land, 23the priest will determine its value up to the Year of Jubilee, and the owner must pay its value on that day as something holy to the Lord. 24In the Year of Jubilee the field will revert to the person from whom it was bought, the one whose land it was. 25Every value is to be set according to the sanctuary shekel, twenty gerahs to the shekel.
26“ ‘No one, however, may dedicate the firstborn of an animal, since the firstborn already belongs to the Lord; whether an ox or a sheep, it is the Lord’s. 27If it is one of the unclean animals, it may be bought back at its set value, adding a fifth of the value to it. If it is not redeemed, it is to be sold at its set value.
28“ ‘But nothing that a person owns and devotes to the Lord—whether a human being or an animal or family land—may be sold or redeemed; everything so devoted is most holy to the Lord.
29“ ‘No person devoted to destruction may be ransomed; they are to be put to death.
30“ ‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. 31Whoever would redeem any of their tithe must add a fifth of the value to it. 32Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord. 33No one may pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If anyone does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.’ ”
34These are the commands the Lord gave Moses at Mount Sinai for the Israelites.

–from Leviticus 27

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading as follows…

God loves you. He does not want you to get hurt and mess up your life and the lives of other people. That is why he gives you his instruction manual and warns of the dangers of living outside of his loving boundaries.

The last verse of Leviticus summarises what the whole book is about: ‘These are the commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai for the People of Israel’ (27:34, MSG). His boundaries were intended to bring blessing.

Today’s passage describes the disastrous results when God’s people ‘will not listen to [him] and carry out all these commands’ (26:14). ‘If you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you…’ (v.15).

We see the chaotic world that results from ‘stubborn pride’ (v.19). The relationship with God is broken. Prayers do not get through. God says, ‘I will… make the sky above you like iron’ (v.19). Disobedience is draining, ‘Your strength will be spent in vain’ (v.20). However successful you are materially, it does not satisfy: ‘You will eat, but you will not be satisfied’ (v.26b). These are described literally as ‘the curses of disobedience’.

God gives every possible opportunity to repent. He puts all kind of obstacles in our way to persuade us to turn back to him (vv.18,21,23,27). In his faithfulness, and in spite of continual rejection, God is always ready to receive us back if we confess and humble ourselves (vv.40–42).

This all points forward to Jesus. The sad thing about all these commands is that no one is able to keep them. It is clear in these verses that God knows that the people will break them and bring all these curses upon themselves. Yet that is not the end of the story, God promises that even then he will act to save and redeem his people (vv.42–45). Ultimately God did this by taking the curses of the law upon himself.

It is only as we see the background to all of this that we understand quite how amazing the cross is and how much Jesus took upon himself by becoming a curse for us, and the extraordinary blessing of being justified by faith and receiving the promise of the Spirit (Galatians 3:10–14).

God’s Holy Spirit changes us as he writes his boundaries on the tablets of our hearts. As Paul says, ‘Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh’ (5:16). God’s Spirit produces within you the fruit of ‘love, joy, peace’ and much more besides (v.22).

The boundaries were given out of love. Jesus summarises the commandments, ‘Love the Lord your God… and… love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37–40). ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). In love, he died for you and now he gives you his Holy Spirit to enable you to follow his commandments by living a life of love.

–from Day 72: Bible In One Year 2017

 

Do you confidence that what we hope for will actually happen? Do you have assurance of things you cannot see?


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

  1. 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.

–Leviticus 25

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!

Forgiveness…


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

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading from today’s word as follows…

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

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading from today’s word as follows…

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 …
Leviticus 23:1-24:23

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.

The Sabbath

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

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading from today’s word as follows…

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