Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's Love Got to Do With It? Numbers 1-4; Mark 12:1-44

Mark 12: 30-31: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

I do love God more than any earthly thing. This is something easy for me to say. The harder thing is to proclaim that I love my neighbor as much as I love myself. There are few people in my life that I can truly say this about. Most other people I sometimes love, on a conditional basis. Other people I don’t love at all.
These are the ones that rub me the wrong way, make fun of me, degrade me, or lie to me on a regular basis. These are the people who seem hopeless and lost, but Jesus calls me to love them just the same. And so I reach out, with empty hands, at my whit’s end on how to love them, and ask my God to reveal some good in these creatures. I ask him to help me love them with a love that could only possibly come from him, because on my own the feelings would be closer to hatred then love. And he answers and gives me a love for them that is amazing and past all understanding. He’s just amazing like that.
Is there anyone you need to reach out and love today? Ask God for help, he’s ready and waiting to help you love them, when you can’t on your own.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Leviticus 26-27; Mark 11:19-33

"I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid" (Leviticus 26:6).

I’ve been thinking today about the stress in my life. At first glance it wouldn’t seem like my life isn’t all that bad. I spend my days taking care of the house, running errands, and freelance writing. As much as I think I’m relaxed, I allow myself to be stressed by my lists and deadlines and relationships. I stay busy every day, hardly ever stopping to relax. All the time I have a reminder of the stress in my frequent tension headaches. Doctors can’t help them, medicine can’t help them… it seems as if they’re without a cure. Yesterday at church I asked for prayer about my tension headaches. As my pastor was praying for me, he encouraged me to find peace in my daily life, with the hope that this would relieve the tension in my neck.
Peace. A word I honestly don’t know the meaning of. And so I began a search to see what God’s word has to say on this topic. In my search, I came up with 247 times that a form of the word peace was used in the New International Version of the Bible. This is what I found:
Our God is a God that promises peace for those who love him, as Leviticus 26:6 tells us. He desires for us to live peaceful lives. It’s a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22), a desired state of the heart: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15), something we should seek: “He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it” (1Peter 3:11) and a way to guard our hearts from the evil one: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
I pray that each of you would have a renewed sense of peacefulness in your life today. It certainly is a wonderful thing to let go of the stresses of the world and to grasp onto the peace of God.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Leviticus 25; Mark 11:1-18

Can you imagine what it would have been like on that day, to stand there in Jerusalem, waving a palm branch as the King of Kings rode through the city on a donkey? What a thrill it would have been to shout out praises and worship him. And how sad that the same people who worshiped him so whole-heatedly would soon turn their back on him. I’d liked to say that it would be different for me. That I still would have followed Jesus, instead of turning on him and having him crucified. But, I can’t condemn those people back in Jerusalem, because I, too, have doubted him from time to time. When times are happy I jump around, full of praises for my savior. When things don’t go as planned, I start to doubt his sovereignty. I start to take matters into my own hands, instead of worshiping him in the good times and in the bad.
Oh how I want to worship him in any and every situation. This is my prayer today, that when the next hardship comes my way, I will be able to depend on the Lord like never before.
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14a).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leviticus 23-24; Mark 10:32-52

“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43-44).

From an early age society has taught me to be independent and self-serving. In this world there is little room for humbleness and servitude. Many people will step on your toes and push you out of the way to succeed. For them, wealth, power and fame are the epitome of success.
Jesus has an entirely different viewpoint on success. In eyes, the truly successful are the servants of all. This is not easy, in any meaning of the word. Being a servant is one of the most humbling things a girl can do. But it’s what my Jesus calls me to do. Whether this means folding laundry and cleaning toilets, making food for someone who is on bed rest, or whatever else God wants me to do today, I am ready and willing to be a servant.

Ever since I read Mark 10:43-44, the words of the song, “Make Me a Servant” have been running through my head. I haven’t been able to find the author of the song, but I’d like to share the lyrics with you, just the same. May this be the prayer of your heart today:

“Make me a servant, humble and meek
Lord, let me lift up, those who are weak.
And may the prayer of my heart always be;
Make me a servant, make me a servant,
Make me a servant, today.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Leviticus 21-22; Mark 10:1-31

“The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, 'Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, 'Who then can be saved?' Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God' (Mark 10:24-27).

Sometimes things seem hopeless. I know I’ve been struggling with a situation as of late that never seems to improve. I’ll do well for awhile, and then fall back into the old temptations once again. It seems as if I have to give this issue back to God over and over again. At times this is extremely frustrating. That is why I found these verses today to be so encouraging.
God did the impossible by cleansing me from my old nature and giving me eternal life. If he can do this, I know he can handle this other struggle in my life. The verses above do not say that with God “some” things are possible. The verse says that “all” things are possible.
Today I praise God that he really can take care of this issue in my life. He is ready and waiting for me to surrender it to him, and to move on with life, praising him for continued healing.
What seemingly impossible issue do you need to give over to God today?

Lord, thank you that with you, there truly is nothing impossible.

Salt Anyone? (Leviticus 19-20; Mark 9:30-50)

"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50).
This verse left me wondering what it means to be “salty” as a Christian. Strong’s Concordance tells us that the Greek word for “salt” is halas. We all know that salt is used both to season and preserve food. But in the Greek, it could have also been used to mean something different. Along with the expected definitions, Strong’s also suggests that halas could mean “wisdom and grace exhibited in speech.” How interesting.
Shortly before these words in Mark 9:50, Jesus had been talking about stumbling blocks and Christians. He warned us against causing our fellow believers to fall. Then he has this statement about Christians and saltiness. Perhaps he was calling all of us to show grace and wisdom in the way we approached different situations. With wisdom and grace, our eyes might be opened to areas of struggle for our brothers and sisters. Without wisdom we would act hastily and foolishly.
For me, it is often my tongue that get’s me into trouble first. In the past, I’ve been known to tease and taunt, or to give into a situation too easily. Christ is calling us to live salty lives, not governed by our tongue, but by the wisdom and grace that comes from the Holy Spirit.
I know that I need the Holy Spirit to bring some saltiness into my life today, what about you?

Lord, thank you for these verses today, that encouraged me to take a closer look at how I’ve been acting as a Christian. Please bring renewed saltiness into my life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leviticus 17, 18; Mark 9:1-29

Today’s reading takes us through some more blood ordinances in Leviticus and then turns to the Transfiguration and the casting out of a demon. The verse that struck me the most was the last verse, Mark 9:29 that says, “This kind can only come out by prayer.” The disciples had tried to cast out the demon on their own, but they were doing it on their own, without praying to God for help. Without praying, they were useless. What a good lesson for them, and for me.
Sometimes I forget to truly ask God for help in different areas of my life. I go about my day, proclaiming his goodness, but never truly asking for his help and guidance.
Have you ever been in a similar circumstance? Do you need to pray to God for help today? May we never underestimate the power of simple prayer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Leviticus 15, 16; Mark 8:22-38

Leviticus 15 was rather tough to read. Some of the examples were graphic. I have to admit I skimmed through the verses pretty fast, moving on to Leviticus 16, and hoping for something better. I wasn’t disappointed. Today’s reading in Leviticus 16 gave us the beautiful image of the Day of Atonement. The Hebrew translation of the word atonement is kaphar, which means: “to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation.”*
Once a year the Israelites had a day in which they celebrated the fact that their sins were forgiven. On this day a goat was taken, called the scapegoat. This goat was symbolically released into the wilderness, serving as a symbol for the people. This goat didn’t deserve the penalty placed on him. But I believe through him, God was showing the people that sins never go unpunished. Someone or something had to pay the price.
Until Jesus came into the world, that price was meant over and over by animals. God knew that these animals would never be enough to forgive his people of their sins, once and for all. Instead, he gave his own son up as the ultimate scapegoat. Jesus, like the goat, was undeserving. His life was unblemished and pure. Yet, he gave up everything for you and for me. That day in which he died on the cross was our “Day of Atonement.” On that day he covered all of our sins so that we could be reconciled with our perfect God.
I’m so thankful for the price Jesus paid for you and for me.
I’m so thankful that he was the scapegoat so that I could fellowship with my God.
What about you?

*Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for kaphar (Strong's 3722)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2009. 15 Oct 2009. < http://
Strongs=H3722&t=NASB >

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Leviticus 14; Mark 8:1-21

Leviticus has always been one of those books I avoided. It was full of rules and regulations that seemed boring and unrelated to my present day circumstances. Yet they are there, so what do I do with them? How do I read this book of the Bible and still get something out of it. Why would God even give all of these rules to the Israelites?
1) God should be reverenced and feared. He wanted the Israelite people to give him the honor and respect due him, thus he laid down specific laws on how men should approach him in his tabernacle and how he should be worship.
Reading all of these regulations for the building of his tabernacle, I couldn’t help but be in awe. The tabernacle must have been a glimpse of heaven on earth. As I read about the somewhat disgusting ritual of sacrifices, I couldn’t help but be thankful that I don’t have to go through the daily process of offering up sacrificial lambs at a temple. Instead, I can be eternally grateful that the Lamb of God paid the ultimate sacrifice for me.
2) Human beings are sinful. They always have been. In our sinful state we need some clear boundaries of what is right and what is wrong. These Old Testament boundaries included the Ten Commandments, along with all of the other rules and regulations set down in the Pentateuch. These rules gave the Israelites something to base their lives upon. They could clearly see the boundaries God had put in place. Although some of these boundaries are no longer applicable, others are things we follow on a day-to-day basis, like how to treat our spouse, prepare food, deal with infectious diseases, and clear up mould. These rules were for their own good, even if it was hard to hear at times.
This book of rules has much to offer you and me. I’m excited to see what we’ll read about next, and how we might be able to apply it to today’s culture and times.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Leviticus 13; Mark 7:14-37

There’s snow on the ground as I write this today. Yes, I know it’s only October, but for some reason, God decided to let it snow today. I find a fresh snow-fall so beautiful. It’s so white, so pure. It reminds me of that verse in Isaiah 1:18 that says: "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
On our own, we are dirty and impure. But Jesus did something wonderful for us. He came into this world and died for our sins. His death and resurrection paid the ultimate price. Now we are free to stand before the Lord, no longer blemished and impure, but clean and white.
I’m so thankful for that price that was paid for me, and for you as well. On my own, I’d never measure up. Without God I’m like that dirt outside my window that somehow missed being covered by the snow this morning. With God I’m the grass, completely white and beautiful.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Leviticus 11-12; Mark 7:1-13

Today’s reading, both in Leviticus and Mark, was about clean and unclean things. In Leviticus God sets up rules about food the Israelites can and cannot eat. God also gives purification rituals for women who just had a baby. These rules were set in place so that the Israelites would have guidelines to follow in their lives and would learn to obey God. In the book of Mark, Jesus talks to some Pharisees who were so caught up in rituals, that they were neglecting to truly worship God.
The balance between ritual and respect is such a tedious one. Even in my own life, there are things I do, because I’ve always done them that way. I no longer think about why I say certain prayers, or wear certain clothes to church on Sunday.
For me, today’s reading was a reminder to focus on what’s really important in life. This sort of living doesn’t focus on the rules of Christianity, but instead focus on the God we love and serve and the people we’re called to preach the good news to.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Leviticus 8-10; Mark 6:30-56

We serve a God of the impossible. He raises people from the dead, heals them from sickness, feeds thousands of people, and walks upon the water. He does the impossible, so why is it so hard to believe?
For me, at least, it’s hard for me to believe in the impossible at times because I’m stuck in this world where everything is measured and figured and explained away. It’s hard for me to comprehend things that are past my brains capabilities. It’s hard for me to understand that God has always existed and always will, because I live in a world where each of our days is numbered. It’s hard for me to understand. I could go crazy trying to figure everything out. And so I don’t. I live by faith, not by sight (1 Corinthians 5:7).
To close my thoughts for today, here’s a few verses to consider:
• “How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out” (Job 36:26).
• “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).
• Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
• “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Leviticus 6-7; Mark 6:1-29

I sometimes wonder how I would of responded, if I had seen Jesus face to face. Would I have doubted who he was, like the people in Mark 6:1-6, or would I have believed? These people were from his hometown. They grew up around Jesus. They saw his character, how he treated others, the miracles he did. They heard the words he spoke. Yet they didn’t believe he was the Messiah. Instead, they saw him as Jesus the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon. They couldn’t get past his humanity to understand his deity. They missed out on knowing their Savoir face to face.
I hope that I would have responded in faith. I know that if I saw him today, I would fall to my feet and worship him. He has done so much for me, how could I do anything else?
What will you say to Jesus when you see him face to face?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Leviticus 3-5; Mark 5:21-43

After today’s reading, I feel like singing a song. What a wondrous God we serve! Leviticus showed us the Old Testament version of sin atonement. Mark shows us a Savior who came, once and for all, to be the ultimate atonement for sin. As he walked throughout the earth, he showed his true power and majesty. He showed that he truly is a compassionate, healing God. We only have to believe. The story of the bleeding woman is such a beautiful one. This lady believes that by even touching the robe of Jesus, she will be healed. She has such a simple faith. Sometimes I wish I had a faith such as hers. I often find myself consumed by doubt, thinking that I need to fix things on my own, instead of trusting in Jesus to do the impossible.
Do you have something impossible on your heart today? What area of your life do you need to give over to God?

Lord, thank you that you are a God that heals. Please help me to have the faith to believe in things that seem impossible.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Psalms 90; Leviticus 1-2; Mark 5:1-20

In a world where love fades away, it’s hard to understand that there’s a kind of love that doesn’t.
In a world where people have become jaded, it’s hard to understand a love that doesn’t leave them or forsake them.
In a world where love is conditional, it’s hard for people to understand the unfailing love of God.
In a broken word, it’s hard for me to express what this love is like, but it’s real. This kind of love comes from God, who sees the entire picture. This kind of love isn’t conditional on how I act day in and day out. If it was, I would fail miserably. God loves each of us completely, and always will. He loves us so much that he gives us a choice when it comes to accepting this love. He allows us to chose salvation through Jesus Christ, or reject it. If we accept his love, his promise is clear, he will love us continually, forever.
In Romans 8:28-29, the Apostle Paul tells us this: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As for me, my heart is so glad that I know about such a love. Without it, I don’t know how I could wake up and face each day. Like the Psalmist, I want this to be my prayer: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”