Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Numbers 20-24; Mark 15:26-47;Mark 16

Hello All. I know this is a bit off topic, but even after reading the sections of scripture for yesterday and today, I still had something else on my heart, so bear with me.

After seven months we said goodbye to our cat today. We admitted defeat and returned him to the Humane Society. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t teach an old cat new habits. As hard as we tried to train him, he wouldn’t stop biting.
It was hard to admit defeat. A part of me never wanted to give up, but I had too. It was hard for me to admit that enough was enough. My husband and I had tried everything we could think of, but the cat wouldn’t change. He was an old cat with set ways, ways that didn’t a line with our lifestyle.
I know there will be other pets. I know that we will be fine without him. But for right now, at this moment, I wish we didn’t have to let go. I wish that our cat was always the cuddly, affectionate cat he was 98% of the time. And I wish he wasn’t a demon cat for the other 2%. Why can’t there be a perfect cat? Why are cats imperfect, just like us humans?
The only answer I can come up with is that we live in an imperfect world. Sometimes we can’t change the habits of an animal, as hard as we try. That’s just the way it is. Sometimes we just have to let go of a pet, as much as it might pain us to do so.
This imperfect world is messy. We saw some of that messiness in yesterday and today’s reading. Sometimes this messy world really hurts. That’s why I’m thankful for a God that understands what I’m feeling. Defeated. Melancholy. Sad. I’m thankful for a God who sent his son to die on the cross and save me from my sins. I’m thankful that one day, all of the imperfection and pain of this world will pass away (Revelation 21:4). I’m thankful for a God that meets me where I am each and every day.
“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD” (Psalm 139:1-4).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Numbers 17-19; Mark 15:1-25

I’m in need of some cleansing today. In fact, I’m in need of cleansing everyday. Everyday I do things I wish I wouldn’t do. I say things I don’t want to say, I act a way I shouldn’t act, I am once again tempted by the same old sin. Everyday I need to be washed anew.
I love the picture of the cleansing water in Numbers 19. When the Israelites sinned, a sacrifice had to be made. The ashes from that sacrifice, mixed with water, were something the Israelites could visually pour over themselves in an act of cleansing. This was a physical act of a spiritual change in their hearts. Through the sacrificial cleansing they were forgiven. For them this was a process they had to go through time after time. It wasn’t until Christ’s death on the cross that all of the sins of the world were forgiven. Christ became the ultimate living water for each of us. Jesus revealed this living water to the Samaritan woman in John 4:13-14: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Through his death on the cross Christ gave us everlasting living water. This water cleanses us more completely than any act of sacrifice we could ever do. This water is complete. It covers every sin we’ve ever committed and ever will. Daily I’m in need of this reminder that his living water covers me and purifies me day by day. Daily I’m in need of the reminder that this earth and all of its woes will one day pass away.: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17). Until then, I pray for cleansing as I face each day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Numbers 15-16; Mark 14:54-72

God is love. This statement is true, the problem is that sometimes we, as Christians, forget that while our God is a God of love, he is also our Righteous Judge. This judge deserves our fear and reverence, the type of things that make us squirm in our seats a bit more. We’d rather focus on the happy moments, but the Bible reminds us that there are consequences when we don’t give God the fear he deserves. Psalm 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” ( NIV). We read of such fools in today’s reading. Numbers 16 records the escapades of the rebellious Israelites, who were punished because of their lack of fear for the Lord. They “treated the Lord with contempt” (Numbers 16:30) instead of with the fear he deserved. They tried to take matters into their own hands and rebel against God’s chosen leaders. Because of this they paid the ultimate price. Some of the men were swallowed up in a pit, others were consumed by fire, and still more were killed by a plague. It’s not a happy picture.
I myself want to daily live a life that puts God first and foremost. I want to fear him with every breath I take, giving him the respect that is due him. What about you? What does fearing the Lord mean to you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Numbers 12-14; Mark 14:27-53

Numbers 14:24 “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Numbers 14:25).
I admire Caleb. While the rest of the spies were afraid and spread that fear throughout the Israelite camp, Caleb (and Joshua) stood up and proclaimed that the Lord would provide. While the other spies went on and on about the giants of the land and how scary they were, Caleb told the people that they could “certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30). What bravery, what trust in God’s provision. God honored Caleb by giving him a special gift. He would be one of only two people that would make the entire trip from Egypt to Canaan. Because of the Israelites lack of faith, the original groups fate would be thus: “In this desert your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.” (Numbers 14:29-30). Caleb, Joshua, and the descendants of the original group would one day have the honor of entering the promise land. Until then they would have to wait in the desert for the unfaithful to die out. What an awful consequence for the sins. I could say that they got what they deserved, but I have to take the plank out of my own eye first (Matthew 7:3).
How often to I find myself griping about the very life God has given me? How often do I wish that things could be different? How often to I fail to give thanks to my Lord for all that I have? And how often to I worry, instead of trusting that He will provide in the future?
Today’s reading has certainly given me a lot to think about. What about you?

Lord, help me to be more like Caleb, not complaining or worrying, but instead trusting that you will provide in any and every situation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Numbers 9-11; Mark 14:1-26

I love the story of Jesus’ anointing at Bethany. Mark 14:1-11 tells us about a woman who broke a very expensive bottle of perfume and poured it over Jesus’ head. Even though the others rebuked her for this seemingly foolish act, she knew that she was worshiping her Savior. She had complete trust in him and what he would do for her. She was anointing him for his emanate burial. At least to a certain degree, she saw understood what was going to happen and was not afraid to give him the honor he was due.
Fear is a thing that often holds me back. It holds me back in secular settings, in moments when I could profess my faith. It holds me back in worship services, when I don't go forward and kneel at the altar because I’m worried about what people will think. Fear holds me back from truly believing that God can do the impossible, much like Moses who doubted that God could provide enough meat to feed all the people (Numbers 11:21-23). I loved God’s response to Moses here. God says, “Is the LORD’s arm too short?” In other words, is there anything God can’t handle?
What a great reminder that God’s arm reaches everywhere, to every point of our lives. He is more than able to provide for each of and heal us of our fears and physical ailments. He is God after all. He doesn’t want our doubt, but instead wants our faithful surrender, as we sit at his feet and worship him.

Are you fearful of anything to today? How could you more fully worship God today?

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Wake Up Call: Numbers 5-8; Mark 13:1-37

"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!' " (Mark 13:35-37).

Jesus warns us in these above verses to be alert and ready for his emanate turn. Oh how I look forward to those days in eternity, where there will be no more sickness, no more hardships, and no more death. Won’t that be wonderful? Until then, we are warned to not sleep through our Christian lives, but to live every moment for Christ.
What does sleeping mean in the above verse? The Greek work for sleeping used in verse 36 is “katheudō” which means to literally fall sleep or to metaphorically “yield to sloth and sin or to be indifferent to one’s salvation.”*
There have been times in my life when I have definitely been “indifferent” to my salvation. You see, I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I’ve read the verses, sung the hymns, and heard the way a proper Christian should act over and over again. This causes me to become callous to the things of God. From time to time, God has to shake me and remind me of the tremendous gift he gave me in my salvation.
He wake me up to the fact that he didn’t create me to live a mediocre, Christian life, but to live a life that is completely and utterly fulfilling and joyful. He has to wake me up to the fact that he didn’t create me to just mingle in my Christian circles, but to reach out and touch the unlovable and share with them the amazing love of Christ. He has to wake me up to the fact that life as a Christian should never be ordinary, but extraordinary.

Are you spiritually asleep today? How do you need to wake up?

*Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for katheudō (Strong's 2518)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2009. 2 Nov 2009.