Reading: Psalm 31:19-24
This Psalm is a wonderful meditation on how much God loves us. We cry out to Him and He is loyal to those who love Him. We are to be strong and courageous because He loves us, and we put our hope in Him. Our love to God is a response to His love for us. He loves us, so we show our love back by putting our trust in Him and following His Words. We can seek shelter from Him in times of storms and trials. Trust in Him and show your love in response to His.
Reading: Mark 15:1-32
The outpouring and agony of love Jesus puts out for us is immeasurable and I fathomable. As we see His death play out, we notice all the things He is for us. Our Savior, our Messiah, our Lord...when we realize just how much we need His love and sacrifice, we can begin to live our lives in such a way of humility and love that gives back to Him. And though we are in eternal debt to Him, we can begin to have an attitude and a heart that is like Christ. No one deserves the gift He gives to us, but the unconditional love He pours out is both humbling and emotional. We can only live for Him and give back to His mission by sharing that love with others who so desperately need it in our world.
Reading: Leviticus 21:1-22:33
The importance of the holy priests being presentable before God tells us Who God is and why Jesus was sent as a sacrifice for us. Just as Jesus was the most Holy One, so the priests had to be holy as well. Jesus was baptized as a sign to all the being clean and new before God is very important. We don't have to have it all together, but we need to be striving out of love to come to Jesus with a heart of longing to do His will. Jesus was also heavily and obviously dedicated to God. The priests also needed to be dedicated and devoted to God.
This love we bring back to Him is a sign of our acceptance of His love towards us. When we live our lives in such a way that we accept His will, His authority, His love and His grace, we will be able to fully embrace a life that is full out for Him. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for us. He took away all the routine and ritual, but we still need to live holy lives for Him.
God's love spans further than we can imagine for each and every one of us. Our mission in life is to accept that love by giving love back to Him. We love others, share His love and gift with them and strive to love each day for Him. May we feel His love and give unconditional love back.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Reading: Proverbs 6:30-35
Human nature can be rough to deal with. All throughout Proverbs we are warned about giving into the temptations of human nature that is bad. Today, we are deeply warned that adultery and money are a couple of the worst forms of temptation. Though all sin is equal, because the foot of the cross is level, we will learn throughout life that some sins have worse consequences than others. Though lying and murder may seem like they are not equal, they are in God's eyes. However, the consequences and the path in life you need to go down after these things can be very different. Adultery can ruin lives, marriages, trust, etc. The consequences of adultery are pretty steep. Though all sin is as equally bad as the next according to God's law, we need to remember that the consequences can vary greatly.
Reading: Mark 14:43-72
Moments of Weakness
As human beings, we can be pretty stupid at times. There isn't anyone I know that hasn't had a moment of weakness in their life. We see many of them in this reading. Judas, who betrays Jesus for money. The disciples who fled the scene when Jesus is in trouble. Peter who denies Jesus 3 times, as Jesus predicted. The people who lie about Jesus and the accusations against Him. We are all dumb sometimes, making choices that aren't always in our, or God's, best interest. Emotions can cause us to say and do dumb things. Circumstances can put us in horrible moods and make us forget our purpose here. The world itself can taint the most vulnerable heart. We need to be careful in those moments of weakness, and remember the consequences.
Reading: Leviticus 19:1-20:27
God's Laws to guide
The monotonous reading of the rules can seem repetitive and boring at times, but there is a reason God put them in the Bible. We read of the greatest 2 commandments in the New Testament, which are love The Lord with all your heart, mind and strength, and the second being love your neighbor as yourself. God doesn't want us to have to face the life consequences of our sin, and He wants us to know how to love Him and our neighbor. These lists of rules were a guideline for His people. But rules are never the way to salvation. You can't earn that. Rules are a response to salvation. Because we love God, and because His love is in us, the rules will just fall into place. When we become Christians, we will still struggle with temptation and sin, but we will know that conviction better, because God lives in us. When we truly love Him, we will strive to love our neighbors, and show Him our love too. Human nature may push back with the peer pressures and temptations of this world, but we can thrive on God.
Our tendencies are to fall into temptation and sin. That's just how it is in a fallen world such as ours. But God has made a way for us to be with Him. Though every sin is equal in His eyes, the consequences of each sin can drastically vary from one to the next. When we have God's love in us, the rules will simply fall into place. They are a response, not a way of earning God's love or salvation.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Reading: Psalm 31:9-18
...But I trust You.
David certainly faced his plethora of challenges. Whether he was running from his enemies, dealing with the sin in his life, or facing illness, grief, terror or sorrow, he would always turn to God. We will certainly face struggles. Our choice lies in either trusting in God, or turning from Him. We can cry out and whine about our struggles as David did, and rightfully so, but we need to remember that God has it under control. The growth we'll gain through hardship is priceless and it builds a strong character. Trust God and praise Him in the storms of life.
Reading: Mark 14:17-42
Not my will, BUT Yours.
Jesus feared for what was to come. He prayed to His Father asking Him to take this bitter cup away from Him, but He said He wanted His Father's will, not His Own. So Jesus knew what His Father needed Him to do, and He obeyed. Because of this obedience He saved us from the wrath of our sin and separation. When we pray for God's will, and not our own, how much do you mean it? Even if God's will was for you to be betrayed by a friend, put to a cruel death and face disloyalty, would you still obey? We need to ask God what His will is in our lives, and strive to follow it. May we not disobey where He tells us to go, what He tells us to do, who He tells us to speak to, or who we are to listen to. He knows the big plan. We don't. Though for the moment it seems like His will is wrong or too hard, we will see the fruit of it if we obey.
Reading: Leviticus 17:1-18:30
But we are set apart.
The world is filled with peer pressure. Everyone seems to have the "do what feels right" mindset. God calls us to be set apart for Him, and not to conform to the ways of this world. We live in a world without many sexual boundaries. When you represent God and respond to His love for you, it will show in the way you live and act in this world. God's law is not a way to salvation, but a response to it. When we allow His love to pour through us, we will be able to live in this world in response to Him and being set apart for Him, no matter what the rest of the world is doing.
Using the word "but" in a phrase can sure mean many different things. Whether it's our segue to an excuse or a way of expressing empowerment about someone or something, the conjunction sure is powerful. We are Christians, but we live in a tough world. We are in this world, but we are not of it. We may face struggles, but God will pull us through. Keep these things in mind as you continue down life's road.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Reading: Psalm 31:1-8
We face week after week of trials and hardships at times. We see how David did too, but he trusted in God through them. David calls God his Rock, his Refuge, and his Rescuer. Even though David had to face trial after trial, he still trusted God to rescue him. We need to do the same when we seem to face never-ending bouts of hardship. Trusting God to get us through is the hope we have in Him. He is your Rescuer. He has already been your ultimate Rescuer; let Him rescue you from the daily trials too.
Reading: Mark 13:32-14:16
We are to love Jesus for rescuing us. Think about it; if someone rescued you from your death and put their life to end instead, wouldn't you be eternally grateful and love that person? I know I would! The woman who sacrificed a whole bottle of expensive perfume for anointing Jesus before His death was costly and showed great love. Though she was mocked for her sacrifice, Jesus stood up for her and commended her humility, telling everyone that it would be remembered and talked about throughout time. The perfume she broke for Jesus was worth a whole year's wage. Have you been able to show such humility for the One Who is your Ultimate Rescuer?
When we have a heart that is in love for Jesus, we will automatically have a heart that is in love with others. Our passion for Christ is our passion for the lost, the poor, the needy...
Reading: Leviticus 15:1-16:34
Jesus is our ultimate rescuer from sin. We see in Leviticus the processes it took to cleanse oneself from sin. The goat referred to in this reading is a lot like the symbol of Christ dying for us. The people laid hands on the goat and put all their sins on it, the killed it to take the sin away. This process was not only messy, but I'm sure it got repetitive and became quite the ritual. Because of Christ's perfect life and sacrifice, we are able to live with our sin laid upon Him. He died to take them away and to wipe out the sin of the world. Talk about the Ultimate Rescuer!
We can count on God to pick us up when we're facing tough struggles. We can love our Ultimate Rescuer, and we can see the plan that God has been plotting since the beginning of humanity. Give thanks for the rescue you've received!
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Reading: Psalms 30:8-12
David sings of the great turnaround in his life, praising God for the miracles He has performed in turning David's mourning into joy. God has a remarkable power and ability to restore and turn our lives around. He can restore a marriage, take away addiction, heal the very sick, and make us new in Him.
He deserves our utmost praise and thanksgiving for performing such miracles in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones.
Reading: Mark 13:1-31
Jesus warns of the big turnarounds that will happen in the world. He warned us to not be deceived by false prophets and messiahs, but to hold on to truth. The world will be filled with famine, earthquakes, disasters. The sun won't shine and the moon won't give light. But the big turnaround to all this darkness is that those are signs for Jesus coming back to earth. Jesus warns us about persecution, distress and deception. We are to hold tight to Him and His words no matter how hard things can get.
Remember that there is an ultimate turnaround in Jesus. Cling to this hope and truth in your life, even when you face the dark and hard days.
Reading: Leviticus 14:1-57
We can see quite a contrast from Leviticus to today. The reason is the great turnaround Jesus made in history. Atonement and cleansing oneself of sin was very important in Old Testament times. But because Jesus came to be our ultimate cleanser, and redeemer, we no longer need to go through the ritual of it. Jesus created a huge turnaround in the culture and in history by way of the cross. He can turnaround the culture's view on marriage, crime rates, sin, society, anything! We've seen the biggest turn around yet through the cross, and we will see another big turn around when He comes back. Trusting and relying on His truth are what will set us free.
We all need a turnaround in one area of our lives or another. Jesus came to be that turnaround in history. He will be coming back to turnaround the world again. Be ready for His turnaround in your life and for the turnaround He will bring when He returns.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Reading: Proverbs 6:20-29
What you allow into your inner life is what will result in coming out. The Proverb here tells us to tie our parents' instructions around our necks and bind them to our hearts. When we remain faithful with our hearts when it comes to God and marriage, we will have no problem staying faithful to our spouse. God says that lust and adultery begin in the heart. When we can guard our hearts from this temptation, we will have a faithful marriage. The heart is an important aspect of how we carry ourselves through life. Our motives, desires, and temptations start there. Guard your heart above all else. It is how you will find the right ways in life.
Reading: Mark 12:28-44
Love with your whole heart.
Jesus tells us that the most important commandment is to love The Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. The second greatest is to love your neighbor. When we are in a relationship with God, our hearts overflow with love to Him and our neighbors, because that is the result of God's love in us.
Outward vs. Inward Appearance
The religious leaders were always concerned with abiding by the law and looking good to others around them. God cares about what you look like from the inside, or from your heart. When your inner motives line up, the outward appearance will match up. Many times, our hearts may want a relationship wi God, but to show it can be scary. Maybe you're embarrassed about what your peers or coworkers would think. Outward appearance will always match the motives and life of you inward self.
We read about the widow who only have two coins, but they were all she had, and the rich people who gave a portion of their income. Jesus notices this woman and tells how this pleases The Lord. When we are generous to others around us, or to God, we will be blesses. Jesus calls us to lose our lives, possessions, everything for His cause. Giving up what we have, and all we have to Him is a heart motive that can be hard in today's culture.
Reading: Leviticus 13:1-59
Being Healthy and Holy
Leviticus is all about being healthy and holy. We see how they were careful what they ate, what they spread, and how they presented themselves before God. One thing that the religious rulers in the New Testament struggle with is believing that the laws and the outward appearance are what make you holy. Jesus threw the idea of love from the heart at them though. When you have God's love in you, the rest falls into place. Many look at laws the other way around. In order to gain holiness, they believe they need to follow all the rule to earn it. In truth though, you need God's love, then the laws and rules will fall into place as a response to God's love. Inward motives will reveal with outward motives.
Having a good heart filled with God's love will reveal our outward appearance. Check the motives of your heart before focusing on the way you look on the outside.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Reading: Psalm 30:1-7
David, as you know by now, faced many trials and hardships. Here he talks about the big picture though. He praises God for all those times he was rescued and he worships Him for what He has done in his life. David states that though God gets angry, He still loves us, so it only lasts for a moment. In the big picture of life, that anger and direction leads us down better paths to come. David also says that weeping only lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning. We will all face trials and those hard periods of life throughout life. But when you look at your life as a whole, those moments were only there for awhile, and they formed you into the person you are now.
When we look at the big picture of life, those trials won't seem so harsh. Many can still be very painful, but you know you will get through them. Focus on God's big picture in your life. Take one day at a time, but don't dwell in the hardships for long.
Reading: Mark 12:13-27
Jesus had a view of eternity. He wasn't focused on the matters of this world and the things of it, but on what would please His Father. When the religious leaders attempt to trap Him again with the tax question, as we also read about in Matthew, we see Jesus' amazing answer that told them to give it to the one whose face was on the money. And give to God what is His. Clinging to the treasures of this earth won't get you into eternity, only Jesus can do that.
Again, the religious leaders try to trap Jesus with the marriage question and the laws Moses laid out. What they don't understand is that they don't know the scriptures or the power of God. The Sadducees didn't believe in the resurrection, so the mistake is on them. We need to focus on our individual hearts, and remember where our end goal is- in heaven. We can't live lives worrying about the family name and whose wife belongs to who (hopefully this issue has resolved itself anyway) but on God and His work in us and through us.
Reading: Leviticus 11:1-12:8
We need a big picture of history to fully understand the meaning of the cross. We've seen Leviticus as a book of tedious rituals, which reveals just how sacred and holy God is. Because of the way the people had to approach God, we should see just how meaningful and sacred it should be to us. But also through this, we can definitely see the significance of the cross in the big picture of history. To learn fully about holiness and the importance of it is a goal throughout the Old Testament. But once Jesus died for us, we have been made holy through Him. The importance of being set apart from this world is big in the Christian walk. We are in this world, not of it. The big picture lies within that thinking, and we still strive to be set apart for Christ.
The big picture is a good way to view things as we go through this world. We aren't to worry about tomorrow, but we are to remember what Christ did for us, and what our main purpose of being on this world is. Remember the big picture when you face trials and temptations in life.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Reading: Psalm 29:1-11
There is great authority in the voice of The Lord. This Psalm goes over just the authority behind God's voice. This tells us to listen to it. Though God has authority and can command the winds, waves, etc. to listen, He has given is free will, thus we chose to listen.
This Psalm is so descriptive of how powerful God is. He gives His people strength and blesses them with peace. How encouraging is that? When we submit to God's authority and will in our lives, we will find strength to face daily battles and peace in the midst of hardship. His authority is not to harm, but to help and to guide us. Allow His authority in your life.
Reading: Mark 11:27-12:12
We see the authority Jesus holds as He is asked about His authority. The Pharisees couldn't allow Him to have that kind of power, even though they Jesus had cleverly answered their question of His authority with another question. They were cornered and couldn't get Him to admit guilt in their eyes.
The parable of the farmer also shows how all of God's true followers were persecuted and killed by the Pharisees. They realize the meaning of this parable, and want even more reason to kill Jesus.
Jesus spoke the words of God, and it angered people. In fact, it led Him to His death. As Christians, we have the authority to speak out for God in a way the promotes and pleases Him. We may be ridiculed, mocked and made fun of, but we need to remember where our authority and purpose comes from. Jesus is our example. He was killed for speaking out for His Father, but God still won, because it was part of the plan. Because He died, we are saved.
Reading: Leviticus 9:1-10:20
Seeing the authority and heavy responsibilities of the priests really shows just how sacred it is to be in God's presence. The offerings, sacrifices and rituals the people had to complete over and over really showed how important it was to approach God with clean, pure hearts. We see Aaron's sons are killed by God because of their mistake in disobeying God's commands. God took the process very seriously, and we are to come to Him with sincere hearts even today.
Jesus has given us the authority to come to God's presence without the offerings, the sacrifices and the rituals. We still face Him in holiness, striving to be right in His eyes. Thank God for the gift we have to be in His presence, and to have the authority to have a relationship with Him.
We are granted much authority as Christians, as well as responsibility. We are to listen to God's powerful voice, speak for God in proclamation of His greatness, and come to Him with sincere hearts. Because of God's love, it is possible to live in a deep relationship with Him.
Reading: Psalm 28:1-9
We Build Relationship through Prayer
When we are in a close relationship with our friends and family, we actually talk to them! The same concept goes with building a close relationship with God. Prayer doesn't need to be this complicated act or ritual. It is a simple task of relationship that can be done in any way. When we go to God in prayer, we are simply talking and listening to Him - it is full communication with Him. You could just follow the many models laid out for us in the Bible to start, or just pray to God, adoring Him, confessing sins, thanking Him, and praying for others. Jesus gives us the model with the Lord's Prayer, but there are many Psalms that can be prayed as well. Just talk to God and listen for His voice, and your trust and reliance on Him will grow. We see David in constant communication throughout Psalms with God. He wrote his prayers. You can do this too, so you can also see how they've been answered. Just stay in touch with God throughout your day!
Reading: Mark 11:1-25
We Build Relationship through Passion
A passionate relationship with God means we will do anything and all for Him. When Jesus rides in on a donkey, the people cheer and cry out to Him, showing their love and passion for Him. Our praise to God and our cheerful welcoming of Him, no matter how humble, shows our passion for Him.
Our passion for Him will be revealed through the fruit we produce for Him. When we live lives that follow God and His commands, our lives will reveal it. The fruit we bear will prove we want to do what Jesus did. May not always be perfect, but we try daily and make that choice daily to do what He did, and honor God with our lives.
Our passion for God won't smear His face and Name in the mud. The money changers in the temple did not have a right heart for God. When we misuse His name and use it to further our agendas, we fail Him, and our passion is for ourselves. We need to watch how we live our lives. Does your life as a Christian give God a good name? Are you out for your own agenda, or to further the name and purpose of God? Our passion will reveal the way we live.
Reading: Leviticus 7:11-8:36
We Build Relationship with God through Jesus
As we've been learning and reading the last few days, Jesus came to close the gap between us and God. Because of Him, we have an even higher advantage than the Old Testament priests had at building that relationship because we don't need to worry about the rituals and the veil between us and God. We can go to Him directly, as Jesus died to eliminate that veil. Priests needed to go through a long ritual to be worthy to come to God on behalf of their people, but Jesus made us all worthy in God's eyes by taking our sin and sacrifice. We just need to accept His gift and we can build the relationship through Him.
Relationships can be tough. But building a relationship with God is easy. When we pray and have passion for Him, we will find ourselves living a life that is pleasing to Him. Jesus made that all possible for us through His death on the cross.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Reading: Proverbs 6:12-19
Sin is detestable and wicked in God's eyes. This part of Proverbs 6 lays out just how much God hates it. When we fall short- and we will in a broken world- we need to come to Jesus and remember what He did for us, and why we're forgiven. He has made us right through His death on the cross. Without it, we would be separated from Him and have to be following the rituals similar to those we've been reading in Leviticus. Thank Him for His amazing love, and remember today how wonderful He is in that He loves us so much, He died the ultimate deaths to take away that separation.
Reading: Mark 10:32-52
We need to see the result of the cross. Jesus knew He came to suffer, serve, save and substitute. His mission was to suffer for us. He knew that though great leaders sometimes make their people suffer, He came to be a leader Who suffered.
He came to serve. Again, many leaders do it the other way around in that they expect to be first and to be served. Jesus lives and teaches another concept- to be last and to serve. In this mindset, He gave up His life in service to us.
He came to save. Jesus sets us free by redeeming us from our sin. He saves us from eternal separation from Him and offers us this gift freely.
He came to substitute. Jesus didn't believe His death was accidental or tragic. He knew the substitution of suffering He was taking on our behalf. He states in this reading that the cup He must drink from is bitter. He took that bitter wrath of God from us and endured it for us.
We must see. Like Bartimaeus, we need to have faith and our eyes will be opened to just how significant the cross is for us. A perfect sacrifice in Jesus is what washes away our sin and separation. Until we have faith and see it, we will have a hard time following.
Reading: Leviticus 5:14-7:10
The reason Jesus came to die for us is huge. We can see how big of a deal sinning is by reading Leviticus, and how the people had to make it a point to set things right with God when they sinned. Even though today it doesn't seem like as big of a deal, we can still see that it is. Jesus came to pay our debt and be our sacrifice to cleanse us from our sin. Because He died for us, we can live in true relationship with Him. He closed that gap that separates us from Him. That is a BIG deal.
We need to understand the true significance of the cross and Jesus' death for us. Until we do, we can't fully appreciate what it means to us. We need to have our eyes opened to Him, and to have faith in Him.
Reading: Psalm 27:7-14
Mercy in Struggles
David was one who knew about struggles. He cried out to God for help in struggles, and for mercy in those situations. He always trusted that God would come through and have mercy on him when he experienced some of the lowest of lows. And David would always praise God and acknowledge Him for coming through. David knows that God makes a better parent than his own mother and father. In verse 10, he expresses that he trusts God to stick close to him more than he trusts his own parents to. When we hold on to this mentality as we face our valleys, we can trust in the mercy and protection, as God promises to never leave us. Some parents may only give their children love, mercy and protection when they feel their kids deserve it, but God gives it always and unconditionally. Just trust in Him.
Reading: Mark 10:13-31
Mercy for the Children
Jesus held high regard and commanded us to towards the little children. He calls us to be like them in terms of faith, enthusiasm, openness, and forgiveness. In a culture that didn't hold children in high attention, Jesus turned the tables and commanded we give them high priority. When we translate this into the church, we can see that children deserve our time, energy, resources and facility. Not only are they our future, but we can learn so much from them.
Mercy for the Poor
Jesus tells the rich man that in order to follow Him, he needs to sell all of his possessions for the poor. Even though the rich man tells Jesus he knows the law, Jesus still tells him that he can't follow Him until he sells his stuff. Jesus holds caring for the poor very high. When we neglect them, we are told we will be neglected.
Mercy for the Rich
Though Jesus told the man he couldn't follow Him until he sold his stuff for the poor, we read that Jesus still felt compassion and loved him. Jesus shows this man grace by having compassion on him, but truth must follow as he must know that wealth cannot hold your heart, as well as God. Jesus cared about him getting it right.
Mercy for the Persecuted
Jesus cares for those who are mocked and persecuted in His name. Their faith is so great, and they know because of their faith, they will have eternal life. This reward far exceeds what this world and life have to offer.
Reading: Leviticus 4:1-5:13
Mercy for the Guilty
We have seen through Leviticus so far the rituals that the people had to do in order to make themselves right with God. Seemed pretty messy, if you ask me. God showed mercy on us by sending His Son to be our ultimate sacrifice, so we no longer had to endure the ritual of religion, but accept the mercy of relationship. Jesus had mercy and compassion on us. He followed through with His Father's plan, when He could have opted out at anytime. The mercy we don't deserve as guilty people before God is the greatest gift we could ever accept.
Mercy is a character of God. He grants mercy all around, whether we deserve it or not. He commands us to show mercy to those around us, as He has given it to us freely. May we accept His great gift, and share it with those around us.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Reading: Psalm 27:1-6
Worship Him for His Holiness
The holiness of The Lord comes with His many characteristics. Holiness is to be set apart, or separated. David shows just how holy God is in the first part of Psalm 27. We know from other readings that David has faced much opposition and attack in his life. Bit we read this Psalm and see how calm and worshipful he is, as he states in verse 3 that he is confident. Other versions say he is calm. He goes into the longing of wanting to dwell with The Lord and see Him in His glory. David knows how powerful worship is. When we take time to fully, deeply worship God, we can forget about our fears, problems and temptations, because we know how confident we can be in The Lord. David says the God will conceal him and hold him up when troubles come.
David expresses worship for the beauty of The Lord. When we think beauty, we may jump to outward appearance, but here we see a beauty through the holiness of God. Because of His holiness, we get to experience the beauty of being lifted from those distractions of life. Worship Him and pray the prayer that Psalm 27: 4 suggests.
Reading: Mark 9:33-10:12
Love a Life, Devoted to Holiness
We are called to live lives of holiness. We are not of this world, but we are in it, and the way we live will either reflect or reject a life of holiness. Jesus lists a few characteristics of a life devoted to holiness:
Humility- You've heard how important it is over and over. Jesus was serious about humility. In a world that doesn't practice humility often, we need to be a light in that aspect. When the disciples are arguing over who is the greatest among them, their humility probably needs to be checked. Don't let rivalry eat up your humility.
Love- Jesus demonstrated a great love for all. He shows us by accepting the little children and demanding we do the same. Jesus doesn't only show love for those who can give back to Him. He loves all for who they are. We are to follow this example with the people (and children) around us.
Tolerance- We read of an incident where the disciples tell Jesus they told someone to stop using His name because they weren't part of their group. Jesus then makes it very clear that we are to be tolerant and accepting of all other Christians, whether or not they come from our church, our denomination, or our organization. The high school cliques do not work here.
Discipline- Our tolerance for sin in our lives, however is unacceptable. Jesus tells the disciples that if anything causes sin, they are to cut it off. Though He didn't literally mean to hurt ourselves by cutting off our hands and other parts, but He is expressing how important it is to cut sin out of our life. If there is a group of friends that doesn't have the beat influence on you, and causes you to sin, perhaps you should find new people to hang out with. Be careful where you go, what you look at and what you say.
Peace- We are to strive for peace among each other. This doesn't mean conflict won't arise, but we are to handle it correctly, as we will read about later on this year. Jesus wanted His disciples to get along. When we have conflict within the church, it can take away from the bigger mission or vision that is trying to happen. We need to establish peace with each other so we can get to the important things in the church.
Faithfulness- Jesus speaks very highly and importantly of marriage, telling us that separation is wrong. There is a trait of faithfulness in one's life when they can be with the same person through it. God's intention for marriage is a life-long commitment. What He brings together shouldn't be broken.
As you can see, many of the above traits don't always align with the traits of our culture or world. We need to remember that we need to live lives of holiness, set apart for the work and lit of God, no matter how ridiculous it seems to those around us.
Reading: Leviticus 1:1-3:17
Be Holy Before God
As we start out in Leviticus, we can see how the people had to make themselves right before God. Though we no longer have to sacrifice animals, we can see how incredibly significant Jesus' death on the cross was for us. Every time someone sinned in the Old Testament, they had to sacrifice an animal. Now, when we sin, we ask forgiveness and because of the sacrifice made by Jesus long ago, we are set right with Him. We are called to have our lives right before God, setting ourselves apart from this world. When we mess up, we need to set it right. Be holy before God, and remember the sacrifice He made for us so we can be joined with Him again.
Holiness is a very important trait of God and His followers. We need to live in this world, set apart and shining for Him. May we worship Him for His holiness, live lives of holiness and make ourselves holy and right before Him.
Friday, March 1, 2013
Reading: Psalm 26:1-12
Making God your Celebrity
How many times in our culture do we idolize people who are just like us, but have an amazing skill? None of them can measure up to God and the glory He deserves. In this Psalm, we read about David longing to do right in God's eyes. David was a great king himself, and while other kings of the time ordered people to worship them, some kings ordered people to look to God. Even the greatest of kings, like David, made God the celebrity in their eyes. We all have slip-ups, like David, but David knows to run back to God and do what it takes to make it right with Him. When we are giving God all our worship, glory and obsession, we'll have it in our hearts to please Him always. Don't run after people who are like you and me. Run after a God Who is beyond us and deserves all the fame.
Reading: Mark 9:2-32
Jesus Celebrity Style VS the World's Celebrity Style
When Jesus takes Peter, James and John up to the mountain, they witness a remarkable event of the transfiguration. Through this, you can surely see the power and glory that Jesus had. Though this great event took place, Jesus swears the men to secrecy. Celebrities will put themselves out there, showing off all the great things they can do. We can see the humility Jesus lived on. Totally opposite of what the media endorses today.
We see the great acts of service Jesus does for those in need, especially with the boy who was possessed. Jesus may draw crowds like many celebrities do today, but He gives the credit to God every time. Though some celebrities today may do this, it is rare for them to pass off their greatness. Jesus drew crowds with a mission and purpose in mind. Today, we thrive on the entertainment factor, and though many people may have crowed around Jesus for a show, that wasn't His intent.
Jesus is also willing to suffer and sacrifice for us. Not many of us, let alone celebrities would give up their luxury and comfy lifestyles. Again, the ways of this world hardly align with the ways of Jesus.
Choose carefully who you will follow when it comes to committing yourself to a lifestyle.
Reading: Exodus 39:1-40:38
God's Glory Revealed
When the tedious work of the Tabernacle is completed, the people get to see God's glory fill the entire place. God is so worthy of our tedious and hard work. When we allow Him to dwell in our hearts, His glory will shine through our lives. No celebrity can give us the radiance that only God can. He alone is worthy of all our glory. May we work tediously to create a dwelling for Him in our hearts and lives, so His glory can be revealed to all around us.
No celebrity is as great as God. We should never deny God the glory He deserves. When we allow Him in and follow Him throughout our lives with a passionate heart for His work, we will see a glimpse of His glory.