Day 190 Bible Reading Plan

Called to Be Separate

Called to Be Separate

Oh you guys. A tough read today, right? We are reading from Leviticus 17-20 and the Bible is not mincing words about God’s expectation about sexual practices and holiness. We are called to be separate in a world that bids us to conform. Oh how much our world needs to hear these words and understand the heart of God!

In Leviticus 17 God provides guidelines for His people regarding the importance of blood and forbidden sacrifices.

Easy English Bible Commentary:

“In Leviticus 17:1-2, These verses remind us that these are God’s rules. Moses did not make them up. The rest of the chapter gives three important rules that the Israelites had to obey:

(1) When the Israelites killed animals for meat, they had to offer them to God as peace offerings (verses 3-9).

(2) The Israelites could not eat the blood of animals (verses 10-12).

(3) The Israelites might hunt animals. Or they might find animals that were already dead. There were special rules about the meat of those animals (verses 13-16)”

Gotquestions.org:

“In Genesis 9 Noah receives a covenant from the Lord. Part of the covenant removed the prior restrictions against eating meat, allowing Noah and his family to kill animals for food. However, the allowance came with this proviso: “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it” (verse 4).

One reason God prohibited the consumption of animal blood in the Old Testament was to teach respect for the sacredness of life.”

Blood is Sacred.

Another reason for God’s command not to eat bloody meat undoubtedly concerned the sacrifices. Blood was the only atonement for sin (2 Chronicles 29:24; Hebrews 9:22); therefore, blood was seen as a sacred thing. God wanted to ensure that the blood of the sacrifices was always considered precious. To preserve the people’s appreciation of the sacrifices, God could not allow blood to become a common food.”

The humane treatment of animals may have been another reason why God told Noah not to eat meat with the blood still in it. God did not want mankind to act like the carnivorous animals, who caught their prey and began eating it immediately. Instead, they were to drain the blood from the carcass and thus ensure the animal was dead before it was consumed.

Further, some have suggested God may have given this command for health reasons. Blood present in meat means it is not fully cooked, and eating uncooked meat can lead to disease or sickness. We recognize this danger today, as attested by the USDA-mandated warnings found in modern-day menus: “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.” In ancient cultures, the risk could have been even higher, given the lower standards for food safety.”

The Value of blood.

Each human life is precious. Our sin led to death, which God made provision to cover our sins. We see these principles from Leviticus reiterated in several Scriptures:

Acts 15:29 (NLT)

“You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well.”

Genesis 9:4

“But you must not eat meat with its lifeblood still in it.”

Deuteronomy 12:16

“But you must not eat the blood; pour it on the ground like water.”

Acts 15:20

“Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood.”

Thanks be to God that Jesus poured out His blood on our behalf.

Romans 5:9, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”

Scripture of the Day: Leviticus 18:1-5 (NLT)

“Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord your God. 3 So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. 4 You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. 5 If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.”

Called to Be Separate From Our Culture

We are to be different from the culture around us. This will be hard. But it is what God expects of us. The CSB says “Do not follow the practices of the land of Egypt or where you live. And You must not follow their customs.” Leviticus 18 makes clear that pagan practices are not tolerated. There are clear guidelines regarding sexual activity and other pagan customs.

  • No incest.
  • No homosexuality
  • And no bestiality.

So when our culture today endorses any of this behavior, what are God’s people to do? Live by His word, not our culture. In a recent article on CNN, A Massachusetts city will recognize polyamorous relationships as part of new domestic partnership ordinance. What a slippery slope inappropriate sexual relations weave. Homosexual behavior is an abomination in God’s sight. God did not make Adam and Steve. And now polyamorous many many people can be in the sexual relationship together.

Called to Be Separate and Holy

From Easy English Bible Commentary – A wrong desire for sex can ruin people’s lives. So God showed people that wrong desires did not have to control their lives. Instead, they should obey God’s law. And then God’s law, which is good and perfect, will rule their lives. They will live by God’s law.

In Leviticus 19, God teaches us what holiness looks like:

Leviticus 19:1-2, “The Lord spoke to Moses: 2 “Speak to the entire Israelite community and tell them: Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”

Why would God have to give all of these rules? In the natural, our flesh is counter the ways of God. We need guidance. And oh, we need grace!

God’s laws still stand.

My heart was grieved reading many of the sins in Scripture today. Was yours? The sins of this world pull so many away. And while our culture may endorse sin, it never makes it right in God’s eyes.

While we no longer have to offer sacrifices, praise God!, God’s laws still stand. Christ fulfilled the law, but He did not abolish it. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God is still holt.

Here are just a few Old and New Testament Scriptures that highlight the truths of Leviticus 19:

Called to be Transformed, Not to Conform

Romans 12:2 ESV

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

1 John 2:15-17 ESV

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Called to Be Separate and Set Apart

Leviticus 20:7

“7 Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. 8 Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sets you apart.”

Leviticus 20:24

“I am the Lord your God who set you apart from the peoples.”

Leviticus 20:26

“26 You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be mine.”

These principles from God were not just for those who lived in OT times. These are not just legalistic rules. These are an act of love from the heart of God. Sin destroys us.

Called to Be Separate—Be Holy As I Am Holy

1 Peter 1:16 ESV

“Since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'”

1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.”

2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

Called to Be Separate—A Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2 ESV

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 13:14 ESV

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

Galatians 5:16 ESV

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Romans 1:1 ESV

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.”

2 Corinthians 6:17 ESV

“Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you.”

God calls us to be holy and provides guidelines because He loves us. When we follow the culture instead of God’s word, we will suffer the consequences. Resist the culture, not God. God made the world. He gets to make up the rules.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #190: Leviticus 17-20

Scripture of the Day: Leviticus 18:1-5

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Lev.17

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Day 189 Bible Reading Plan

Know Jesus, Know Joy

Know Jesus, Know Joy.

Got joy, friends? True lasting joy is IN the LORD. Not in circumstances, accomplishments, people, or relationships. We don’t have joy when we forget God’s grace. But when we have our joy in the right place, life makes sense. No Jesus, No Joy. Know Jesus, Know Joy.

We are in the book of Philippians today, chapters 3-4.

Paul starts off his letter with a reminder to have joy in the LORD. “In addition, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 2:1, CSB).

Our Joy is IN the LORD

This is our highest joy. Joy IN the LORD. Not in circumstances, accomplishments, people, relationships. Those things can bring temporary joy, but our joy is IN Jesus.

We see this appeal for joy also in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

The Greek word, Chairō defines this joy as “to delight in God’s grace (“rejoice”) – literally, to experience God’s grace (favor), be conscious (glad) for His grace. This is the source of our joy – we remember the incredible grace and forgiveness that God has given to us.

We don’t have joy when we forget God’s grace.

We need to stay in the place of remembering God’s grace. Paul then warns the church at Philippi against legalistic and divisive people in the church who insisted upon salvation being by circumcision, not by grace.

Our defining characteristic is not supposed to be outward measures and a return to trying to obey the law, but it is, as it says in Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh.”

Characteristics of what it means to know Jesus.

This also is our joy—we get to know Jesus!

Paul shares about how he prizes this joy of knowing Jesus and what it has meant to him in Philippians 8-11, “More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.”

It is what we consider things to be that makes a difference. “I also consider . . .

Paul considered everything as dung or garbage, as Paul put it, compared to knowing Christ.”

Know Jesus, Know Joy.

Do you feel that way about Jesus here this morning? Satan has a plan to distract us from our greatest joy and discourage us. But when we have our joy in the right place, life makes sense.

We can handle when life gets messy because when we know Christ, we know how He thinks and we become more like Him. Paul’s goal was simply to know Jesus. Above all else.

No Jesus, No Joy

There is no joy that lasts in anything other than in Christ. Where is our goal this morning? How will you achieve your goal? How will you know Him more? Just being in His word is a huge step in this direction.

Scripture of the Day: Philippians 4:4-7 

“4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

What is this fruit of knowing Jesus?

We get to know the God of this universe. People delight in knowing someone famous . . . cannot get more famous than this.

And we don’t have to worry. We have all we need. And we have peace. Paul concludes this letter talking about contentment.

Discontentment will steal our joy fast, won’t it?

Phil 4:10-13

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. 12 I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through him[d] who strengthens me.”

Got joy, friends?

True lasting joy is IN the LORD. Not in circumstances, accomplishments, people, or relationships. We don’t have joy when we forget God’s grace. But when we have our joy in the right place, life makes sense. No Jesus, No Joy. Know Jesus, Know Joy.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #189: Philippians 3-4

Scripture of the Day: Philippians 4:4-7 

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Phil.3

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Day 188 Bible Reading Plan

The Voice of Truth

The Voice of Truth

There’s a voice of truth that rings loud and clear—do you hear it? And there are also other voices seeking to subdue us. We are influenced by the world from the day we are born, steeped in deception. If there is no objective truth, how can we determine what is right? It is hard to find the truth especially in a world that is so subjective. What voices win out in your life, friends? What pressure pushes you to disobey God’s will? Will the voice of truth win? The truth is convicting. We cannot accept it and be the same. And we cannot choose both a lie and truth—we have to choose. When we accept Christ, we accept the truth.

The Voice of Truth Cannot be Extinguished with a Lie

We are finishing the book of Luke today, Luke 23-24. Christ is being accused before Pilate. They are accusing Christ of lying while they are lying about His character.

The Easy English Bible Commentary says:

“The Jewish leaders accused Jesus of three serious crimes. He tried to cause the people to act against the Romans. Then he told the people not to pay taxes to the emperor. And he said that he was Christ the king. The first two of these were clearly false. And Jesus did not say to the leaders that he was a king.”

Peer Pressure Cannot Kill the Voice of Truth

Reading from Luke 23:1-3, “Then their whole assembly rose up and brought him before Pilate. 2 They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.”

3 So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 4 Pilate then told the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no grounds for charging this man.” 5 But they kept insisting, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he started even to here.”

  • They reportedly found Jesus misleading people and stirring them up.
  • Luke reveals the lies they shared about Jesus supposedly lying but
  • Reading this same story in the book of John, we see an emphasis on truth:

What is Truth?

John 18:37-38 tells a different account of this, with more details: “Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” 38 What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.”

The Voice of Truth is Convicting

We are influenced by the world from the day we are born, steeped in deception. It is hard to find the truth especially in a world that is so subjective. If there is no objective truth, how can we determine what is right?

Pilate knew Christ was innocent and when he discovered that Jesus had started in Galilee, he sent Jesus to Herod, since Galilee was a part of his jurisdiction. Herod also found no basis for crucifixion and sent Jesus back to Pilate Picking up from Luke 23:13-23:

Loud Voices Cannot Silence the Voice of Truth

“13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You have brought me this man as one who misleads the people. But in fact, after examining him in your presence, I have found no grounds to charge this man with those things you accuse him of. 15 Neither has Herod, because he sent him back to us. Clearly, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will have him whipped[e] and then release him.”

18 Then they all cried out together, “Take this man away! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (He had been thrown into prison for a rebellion that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate addressed them again, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify! Crucify him!”

22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What has this man done wrong? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore, I will have him whipped and then release him.”

23 But they kept up the pressure, demanding with loud voices that he be crucified, and their voices won out. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand 25 and released the one they were asking for, who had been thrown into prison for rebellion and murder. But he handed Jesus over to their will.”

  • What voices win out in your life, friends?
  • Will pressure pushes you to disobey God’s will?
  • Or will the truth win out in our lives?

Which Jesus Do You Choose?

I had written a blog post in 2014 about something I had discovered in this passage. Every year I read this story, but this is the first time that I recognized Barabbas was named Jesus Barabbas. Upon researching his name, “Barabbas”, it literally means, “Son of the father”.

“Barabbas‘ name appears as bar-Abbas in the Greek texts of the gospels. It is derived ultimately from the Aramaic בר-אבא, Bar-abbâ, “son of the father”. Some ancient manuscripts of Matthew 27:16–17 have the full name of Barabbas as “Jesus Barabbas” and this was probably the name as originally written in the text.” (multiple sources – Hermeneutics Stack exchange, Britannica, etc.)

Two men with identical names but completely different natures. Both of them were named “son of the father”. One Jesus was the Holy son of God while the other Jesus Barabbas was a criminal – a thief and a murderer.

The people were given a choice – which Jesus would they choose?

A Counterfeit Jesus Cannot Save—But God.

They chose the counterfeit Jesus. The one who was a sinner just like them who did not make them uncomfortable in their sins. They did not choose the unpopular Jesus – the only Jesus that could truly set THEM free.

By setting the sinner free, they were enslaving themselves, and blind to the consequences of their choice. But God. Even though they did not choose Jesus Christ as their Savior, His death would set sinners free still.

I wonder if the irony was seen by any of them at the time. When they said, “let His blood be upon us and our children”, indeed it is only Jesus’ blood which could cover them. They thought they could handle the judgment and responsibility for crucifying God.

But they did not know that they were the very tool used by God to shed His innocent blood, which would indeed set all people free.

Pilate was given a choice.  He claimed innocence, but did he choose Jesus?  Knowledge of Him is not enough. People in the time of Christ were given a choice, too.  So are we.  False Christs abound today. They might not be clothed in garb that is easily recognizable, but comforts and idols abound, which are often chosen over the One true Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christ suffered as a criminal for us all.  What will be our choice?  To be identified with Him, to know of Him, or to deny Him? We do not have to have lived at that time of Jesus to make that choice. He is alive and drawing us near to Himself.  He fulfilled the righteous demands of God’s law and suffered cruelly in our place. And He died for you and I, friend.  That is the Savior I choose.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 24:44-48

44 “Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. 47 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ 48 You are witnesses of all these things.”

Application

  • God can open our mind to understand His word. We just have to ask.
  • But when we understand, we will have to choose.
  • What voices win out in your life, friends?
  • What pressure pushes you to disobey God’s will?
  • Will the truth win out in our lives?
  • The truth is convicting. We cannot accept it and be the same.
  • We cannot choose both a lie and truth and we will have to choose.
  • When we accept Christ, we accept the truth.
  • We are influenced by the world from the day we are born, steeped in deception. It is hard to find the truth especially in a world that is so subjective.
  • If there is no objective truth, how can we determine what is right?

Listen to this song, “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwsvqVmFV6Y 

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #188: Luke 23-24

Scripture of the Day: Luke 24:44-48

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Luke.23

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Scripture of the Day:

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Day 187 Bible Reading Plan

Wisdom is a Treasure

Wisdom is a Treasure.

But not everyone seeks after it. Wisdom is a treasure but not everyone finds it. Wisdom is a treasure but not everyone recognizes this truth.

Everyone was not born wise.

But we can acquire wisdom and common sense if we ask. Solomon shows us how to resist worldliness and become wise. Faith is not a passive activity. And wisdom is something we have to seek. 

Listen up, y’all! This is what Solomon is pleading with us to do.

Solomon told us to learn to be wise (Proverbs 2:2). Now, he tells us to keep wisdom in our hearts.

Solomon told us to accept wisdom (Proverbs 2:1). Now he tells us that Wisdom is like our sister. Keep it close to you.

Being a believer means we don’t just think about God – we live according to His word. How do we keep ourselves from becoming worldly?

Apply God’s word to our lives.

Faith is not a passive activity.

Reading from Proverbs 7:1-2

“My son, obey my words, and treasure my commands. 2 Keep my commands and live, and guard my instructions as you would the pupil of your eye.3 Tie them to your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your relative. 5 She will keep you from a forbidden woman, a wayward woman with her flattering talk.

Look at the words Solomon uses

Obey – submit to his word.

Don’t just hear the word – do it! We can’t do that if we are not in His word.

Treasure His commands

Do we prize His word above everything else?

Keep my commands

Keeping God’s commands is not just about a to do list, but about having His word in our hearts and applying His commands to our lives.

Guard my instructions

How do we guard His instructions? By having boundaries in our lives that help us to follow His word. And this guarding is as the pupil of our eye – we are going to be careful and observant about what threatens our faith.

  • This world is so hard.
  • There are so many temptations and satan operates by deception.
  • If he can get us to believe his lies, we take our eyes off of the prize.
  • In Proverbs 7 Solomon warns against the adulterous woman.
  • In our culture we see seductive poses and a belief system that says the life well lived is giving into the flesh.
  • But those who are in Christ know that following the flesh leads to death.
  • This book (the Bible) is our very life!

In Proverbs 8 there is a personification of wisdom.

All are not wise, but all can be.

All of us are not born with critical thinking skills or born wise. But that does not stop us from getting wisdom.

I told my children that they needed to seek wisdom. They had to ask God for it.

Proverbs 8:5-10 wisdom invites us and tells us how we get wisdom

“Learn to be shrewd, you who are inexperienced; develop common sense, you who are foolish. 6 Listen, for I speak of noble things, and what my lips say is right. 7 For my mouth tells the truth, and wickedness is detestable to my lips. 8 All the words from my mouth are righteous; none of them are deceptive or perverse. 9 All of them are clear to the perceptive, and right to those who discover knowledge. 10 Accept my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold.”

Proverbs 8:13, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech.”

Proverbs 8:32 holds a promise: “And now, sons, listen to me; those who keep my ways are happy.”

  • Happiness does not come from living a sinful lifestyle or from the world.
  • It comes when we seek God and His word. We were made for God not this world.

Scripture of the Day: Proverbs 8:33-36 

33 Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it. 34 Joyful are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home! 35 For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. 36 But those who miss me injure themselves. All who hate me love death.”

Everyone was not born wise. But we can acquire wisdom and common sense if we ask. Solomon shows us how to resist worldliness and become wise. Faith is not a passive activity. And wisdom is something we have to seek.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #187: Proverbs 7-8

Scripture of the Day: Proverbs 8:33-36 

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Prov.7

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Day 186 Bible Reading Plan

Your Story Isn't Over

Your Story Isn’t Over

Have you ever been sorry when you suffered consequences for something you have done? In that moment the sorrow has to do more with getting caught than for the sin. But your story isn’t over, friend.

This Psalm was written about when God’s people were filled with sorrow that their temple had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. The Psalmist is asking God to keep His promise, but God’s people had not kept their end of the promise.

Your Story Isn’t Over When Life Hurts

God’s people felt rejected by God because of their struggle, but it was them who had rejected God.

Psalm 74:1-2

“Why have you rejected us forever, God?

Why does your anger burn

against the sheep of your pasture?

2 Remember your congregation,

which you purchased long ago

and redeemed as the tribe for your own possession.

Remember Mount Zion where you dwell.”

The Psalmist keeps pointing out that the enemy was destroying “where God met with us.”

Sometimes when we read about the destruction and hardship on God’s people, we feel sad and don’t understand why they had to suffer and maybe think about our own lives and don’t understand why we have to suffer.

Your story isn’t over and God knows the end.

We have the benefit of seeing what happened after this Psalm.

I wrote an article yesterday on Ezra 1-6 and it was when the temple written of here in this Psalm was being rebuilt.

God brought His people back from exile after 70 years and he fulfilled His promise spoken in Jeremiah 29:10

“This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.”

God’s temple was rebuilt . . . only to one day again be destroyed in AD 70.

Consequences Are An Invitation

When God’s people went astray, He lovingly allowed consequences for their actions to bring them back.

It is when we are sorry for our sin that we are restored, though. Not when we are sorry for our consequences.

God is always faithful to keep His covenantal promises, but if we sin, we will feel rejection. If we do what is right we will be accepted. (Genesis 4:7)

Judgment is Coming

Psalm 75 -76 speak of God’s judgment.

Psalm 75 is about God’s people being thankful for God’s intervention and deliverance from the King of Assyria.

God’s judgment is sure. Sometimes we can feel like it takes too long, but we also as benefactors of God’s grace are grateful God has been patient with us.

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 75:4-7

4 “I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’

I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists!

5 Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens

or speak with such arrogance.’”

6 For no one on earth—from east or west,

or even from the wilderness—

should raise a defiant fist.[a]

7 It is God alone who judges;

he decides who will rise and who will fall.”

As we talked about God’s judgment yesterday in our Bible reading plan in the book of Ezekiel, we are reminded in this Psalm that God is still the judge and He is still on His throne.

We can feel like we can have no effect on what is happening now, but each one of us can live out our faith and choose to obey God.

God will judge nations but God will also judge every soul.

Commentary

According to the Easy English Bible Commentary, Psalm 76 is about

“Sennacherib who was the King of Assyria. Assyria was a very strong country to the north and east of Judah. About 700 years before Jesus came to the earth, Sennacherib attacked Judah. But God fought for Judah. Sennacherib did not win the war. Many of his soldiers died. The story is in Isaiah chapters 36 and 37; and also in 2 Kings 18 and 19.

Psalm 76 (like 46, 47, 48 and 75) is about what happened in this war. It tells us that God did not let the enemy destroy Jerusalem. In the psalm, there are two other names for Jerusalem: Salem and Zion, verse 2. “Salem” means “peace” (or no fighting); Zion is the name of the hill where the Israelites built their temple. The temple was the place where they met to praise God.”

Psalm 76:11-12 leaves us with an important lesson from all of the destruction:

“Make and keep your vows
to the Lord your God;
let all who are around him bring tribute
to the awe-inspiring one.[c]
12 He humbles the spirit of leaders;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.”

Application

  • God is still in control when life is hard.
  • Your story isn’t over. God will redeem it and He knows the end.
  • When we are in a tough spot, God is not finished with us yet.
  • God is still good when we suffer consequences for sin – our sin or someone else’s that impacts our lives.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #186: Psalms 74-76 Scripture of the Day: Psalm 75:4-7

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Ps.74

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Day 185 Bible Reading Plan

Stay on mission

Stay on Mission.

It is easy to get sidetracked in this world, isn’t it? But God wants us to stay on mission and to be His watchman.

Of all the things we dread in this world, the fear of God is greater. We will answer to Him how we lived. We need to warn people and help them understand the heart of God in their suffering so that they, too, can escape judgment and live worthy lives.

We are back in the book of Ezekiel today.

Bible Reading Plan Day #185:Ezekiel 31-36

God is telling Ezekiel to share with Egypt a message about a metaphor of Assyria as a tree. Assyria was no more despite it being one of the most beautiful nations. This was to serve as a warning to the other nations, specifically to Egypt in this chapter.

God is the one Who made both Assyria and Egypt beautiful, strong, and prosperous!

:9 “I made it beautiful with its many limbs.”

Stay on Mission—Be Aware of Pride.

The judgment on Assyria came because of the pride and wickedness of Assyria. This same pride and wickedness were found in Egypt, as it says in Ezekiel 31:9-10 (NET):

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because Egypt became proud and arrogant, and because it set itself so high above the others, with its top reaching to the clouds, I will hand it over to a mighty nation that will destroy it as its wickedness deserves. I have already discarded it.”

In Ezekiel 32 there are several significant phrases I noticed being repeated.

Ezekiel 32:24, “Now they will bear their shame with those who descend to the Pit.”

In Ezekiel 32:25, “They bear their shame along with those who descend to the Pit; they are placed among the dead.”

Ezekiel 32:30, “Despite their might they have gone down in shameful terror with the dead. They lie uncircumcised with those killed by the sword, and bear their shame with those who descend to the Pit.”

Stay on Mission – A Warning of Shame

  • This refrain is a mantra – a warning that shame and death are coming: they will bear their shame with those who descend to the Pit.”
  • No one likes shame. Shame is induced by an audience and the fear of man.
  • We cannot get rid of shame by denying it or covering it up. It remains unless we deal with it biblically.

And the people who this warning is to?

This is a refrain, as well, it is to nations who once spread terror in the land of the living.

  • Assyria in verse 23: “All of them struck down by the sword, those who spread terror in the land of the living.”
  • Elam in verse 24 and also in 25, “They went down uncircumcised to the lower parts of the earth, those who spread terror in the land of the living. Now they will bear their shame with those who descend to the Pit.”
  • Meshech and Tubal who were merchants mentioned in Ezekiel 27:13 who traded persons (slavery) and brass, “All of them are uncircumcised, killed by the sword, for they spread their terror in the land of the living.”
  • The warriors in verse 27 also brought terror in the land of the living.

Man’s Power Will End

Man thinks he is powerful, but his end will be destruction unless he changes his ways. I think the Bible repeats these phrases to get our attention. We need to wake up and realize that how we are living now has eternal consequences. Power in this world is temporary. Better to use any power we have surrendered to the LORD.

Because in Ezekiel 32:32, those who spread terror will know what real terror is from God Himself:

“Indeed, I terrified him in the land of the living, yet he will lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with those killed by the sword, Pharaoh and all his hordes, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Fear God, Not Man.

Friends, we live in a day and age where people are trying to exert terror over other people. But remember the admonition of Matthew 10:28,

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Friends, as it says in Hebrews 10:31, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Other translations say dreadful, fearful, terrible. There is nothing worse.

Don’t dread man. Dread judgment from God if you are abusing His grace.

Reading from Hebrews 10 in a little more context:

26 “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.””

Stay on Mission—Don’t Abuse the Grace of God.

Y’all, just because we are under grace does not mean we can abuse that grace. Just because we have been forgiven does not mean we don’t still need to repent and examine ourselves. The judgment in the book of Ezekiel might seem like it does not apply to us, but God’s judgment is still coming. We will stand before Him and be judged. Here are a few Scriptures speaking to this judgment:

Stay on Mission—We Will All Be Judged.

2 Corinthians 5:10 (NLT), “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.”

Job 34:11, “For according to a man’s deeds, He repays him; according to a man’s ways, He brings consequences.”

Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done.”

Romans 2:5, “But because of your hard and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Acts 17:31, “Because He has fixed a day on which He will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed, and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.”

No one likes to hear that judgment word today, right? Man likes to be his own God. But God has a problem with that. In humility, when we understand He is still holy, it will affect the way we live.

Christ bore the judgment of those who are in Him. Such good news! But we are accountable for what we did with what He gave. Which brings us to Ezekiel 33.

The calling of Ezekiel is a calling for us all. Will we stay on mission and be a watchman for sinners, to show them the grace of God that has come to all men?

Stay on Mission—Be a Watchman.

Ezekiel 33:7-10, “As for you, son of man, I have made you a watchman[h] for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them on my behalf. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you must certainly die,’[i] and you do not warn the wicked about his behavior, the wicked man will die for his iniquity, but I will hold you accountable for his death. 9 But if you warn the wicked man to change his behavior, and he refuses to change, he will die for his iniquity, but you have saved your own life.”

Stay on Mission—Guard Against Distractions

Life’s drama can be a distraction, but we need to wake up and realize we don’t live for this world. Don’t let all the shiny objects in this world lull you away from God. Don’t let life’s worries or man’s terrors keep you from God.

Seek after God and stay on mission, friends. The Scripture of the day follows the verses I just read.

Scripture of the Day: Ezekiel 33:10-11 

“10 Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: You are saying, ‘Our sins are heavy upon us; we are wasting away! How can we survive?’ 11 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?”

Don’t we see this today? People question God and wonder why suffering is allowed in.

We need to impart the message of Ezekiel. God does not want them to suffer. He wants them to repent and draw near. Hardship does not mean God does not love them. We need to encourage ourselves and others not to live for comfort or for this world, but to live to know and make known the One Who created us.

In Ezekiel 34, there is a warning to shepherds and a promise for God to be our Shepherd and to care for us. Then in Ezekiel 35, there is the judgment of Edom. Finally, in Ezekiel 36 we see the beautiful defense of God for His people and the restoration of Israel.

God is our righteousness. He will complete the work.

Ezekiel 36:24-28

“24 “‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries; then I will bring you to your land. 25 I will sprinkle you with pure water, and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative, and you will obey my statutes[u] and carefully observe my regulations. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave to your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”

Have you accepted His salvation?

Application

  • We wouldn’t have shame if we did not have an audience.
  • Fear God more than man.
  • We cannot get rid of shame by denying it or covering it up. It remains unless we deal with it biblically.
  • The deeds on earth will be judged. Man sins and is filled with pride thinking they will live forever, but, friends, let COVID-19 and the deaths surrounding this virus be a wake-up call to us all. Our time here is short.
  • Stay on mission. God is coming soon. These warnings from Scripture are real.
  • We need to warn people and help them understand the heart of God.
  • The warning is not about a bunch of rules, but about the deceitfulness of sin and the consequences of living a sinful life.
  • Variations of the refrain, “then you will know that I am the LORD” appear in these chapters of Ezekiel. May we be faithful to share the salvation of God so people will know that He is the LORD NOW.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #185:Ezekiel 31-36

Scripture of the Day: Ezekiel 33:10-11

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Ezek.31

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Day 184 Bible Reading Plan

God is our Rescue

God is Your Rescue.

Where do you go when life hurts? God is our rescue but we can go to so many things pursuing relief. But nothing can be our rescue—only God can. Don’t numb your pain. Go to God. Because God is with us we can say, “it is well”.

We are starting the book of 2 Kings today, which continues the account of the events that happened to Israel. 1 and 2 Kings used to be one book and were divided into to, perhaps due to length.

“The Book of 2 Kings is a history of Israel’s and Judah’s kings. Until Solomon died, there was one nation called Israel. But after his death, the nation divided into two kingdoms. The southern kingdom was called Judah. The northern kingdom was usually called Israel. The author of 2 Kings writes about the events in both of these kingdoms in turn.” (Easy English Bible Commentary).

In 1 Kings Elijah was the main prophet and now in 2 Kings Elisha comes center stage. But Elijah’s was not taken up yet at the beginning of our reading.

God is Your Rescue—Not a false god.

2 Kings opens up in a dramatic way. King Ahaziah, the son of King Ahab, had fallen through a window and wondered if he was going to die. And he went to the god of the Philistines for his rescue.

Reading from 2 Kings 1:2-5, “Ahaziah fell out the window of his second-story room in Samaria and was hurt. He sent messengers, telling them, “Go to Ekron’s god Baal-zebub, and ask if I will recover from this injury.” But the Lord’s messenger said to Elijah from Tishbe, “Go, intercept the messengers of Samaria’s king, and ask them, ‘Is it because there’s no God in Israel that you are going to question Ekron’s god Baal-zebub?

4 This is what the Lord says: You will never get out of the bed you are lying in; you will die for sure!’” So Elijah set off. 5 The messengers returned to Ahaziah. He said to them, “Why have you come back?” 6 They said to him, “A man met us and said, ‘Go back to the king who sent you. Say to him, This is what the Lord says: Is it because there’s no God in Israel that you’ve come to question Ekron’s god Baal-zebub? Because of this, you will never get out of the bed you are lying in; you will die for sure!’”

Seeking The Lord of the Flies Won’t Fly

Baal- Zebub was a god worshiped in Ekron. The Easton Bible Dictionary says “BAAL-ZEBUB means —fly-lord, the god of the Philistines at Ekron (2 Kings 1:2, 3, 16). This name was given to the god because he was supposed to be able to avert the plague of flies which in that region was to be feared. He was consulted by Ahaziah as to his recovery. Literally, Lord of the Flies.

After sustaining a potentially fatal injury, Ahab’s son Ahaziah went to consult the god Baal-Zebub (בַּעַל זְבוּב, ba’al zevuv), literally, “Lord of the Flies” (2 Kgs 1:1–2), who had a temple in the Philistine city of Ekron. Elijah severely reprimanded him for doing so (2 Kgs 1:1–2).

God is Our Rescue—Not the evil one.

In Mark 3:22, the Jewish scribes called Jesus “Beelzebul” (Βεελζεβοὺλ, Beelzeboul), referring to the chief ruler of evil; this term had its origin with the name of this Philistine deity.

Mark 3:22-24 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. 23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

Ahaziah sought help from a false god who had become the main god of the Philistines, from Baal. So today there are a lot of false religions as well as mysticism just like back then but there are some that perhaps have slipped in and been “ok” for people to inquire of.

God is our Rescue—Not our Zodiac Sign

Where do people seek help today? What are we steeped in our culture that we might not recognize has become a refuge and a rescue for us?

Horoscopes and astrology would be a parallel I would draw today. Even this past week I saw on Facebook that someone said that the Zodiac signs have shifted. I looked this up and confirmed it is the case.

Our Identity is in Our Rescuer

People were upset that they were no longer the same “identity”. Thank God my identity is not in a Zodiac sign. Neither is yours.

Isaiah 47:13 “Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels.  Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, Stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.”

God wants to be our refuge. He is the only one who can save. We can recognize false religions and astrology as being sinful, but sometimes we can go to things for our rescue instead of God.

God is our Rescue—not good things

Even good things on this earth cannot take the place of God. Watching Netflix ad nauseum. Eating chocolate. Immersing ourselves in work. all things I have done. None of these can rescue us. Don’t let yourself be numbed by even seemingly good things.

Elijah Resumes the Work of Elijah

“God had promised Elijah that Elisha would continue his work (1 Kings 19:16). In this chapter is the end of Elijah’s work as a prophet. But there is also the beginning of Elisha’s work as a prophet. Because of Elijah’s work, there were now groups of people in Israel who were loyal to God. Elisha would make those believers stronger. And he would deal with some of the troubles that remained in that country.” (Easy English Bible Commentary)

In 2 Kings 2, Elijah is taken up in a whirlwind and Elisha does not want him to go. But before Elijah goes, he asks if he can do anything for Elisha:

A Double Portion

2 Kings 2:9, “When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What do you want me to do for you before I’m taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Let me have twice your spirit.”

A double portion. This makes me think of Paul’s plea for us to ask God for gifts for the building up of the church.

1 Corinthians 14:1, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.”

1 Corinthians 12:31, “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.”

Have we asked God for a double portion? Asked for gifts in teaching that we might be used by Him to help lead others to Himself?

Why not ask like Elisha did?

Elisha does several miracles here in the first 5 chapters of 2 Kings. But it is the story of the Shunammite that challenges me today.

Scripture of the Day: 2 Kings 4:25-27 (NASB)

25 So she went and came to the man of God to Mount Carmel. When the man of God saw her at a distance, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Behold, there is the Shunammite. 26 Please run now to meet her and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’” And she answered, “It is well.” 27 When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came near to push her away; but the man of God said, “Let her alone, for her soul is troubled within her; and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.”

It is Well

This woman had no son. God used Elisha to make that ache become a reality and she had a son. Then the son died one day as his head began to hurt. The woman’s response is such a challenge to me in the face of suffering. God gives and He takes away. We don’t own anything. This is hard for us. We have eternity in our hearts living in a temporary world. And when it is taken away, what is our response?

Can we say, “it is well” when it does not seem so? Have you ever lost someone you love? We have eternity in our hearts in a temporary world.

How can we say it is well when we lose things? Because we will never lose our God.

God is Our Recue—God is with us

This is our hope – how we can say it is well – God is with us.

I had asked God to never let me go through a miscarriage. Don’t ever do that. I never wanted to go through that. And then when it happened, it was indescribable and inexplicable the peace God gave me following the surgery and traumatic loss.

It was after a miscarriage that I discovered a peace I had never known.

Psalm 119:67-72 reminded me of the love God had for me, even when I was afflicted.

In my most painful moments in this life, when what I thought I had was lost, God gave ne faith to say, “it is well”.

The very thing we dread, He is our Savior. He is our ever-present help in time of need.

Are we in the place of receiving miracles? We are if we depend on God, not man.

God wants to be our rescue.

Where do you go when life hurts? Don’t numb your pain. Go to God.

We have two different examples in today’s reading. Ahaziah went to a false god and the Shunammite woman went to God.

Application

  • Where do we go when life hurts?
  • Don’t numb your pain. Go to God.
  • And may we trust God at all times.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan                                    

Day #184: 2 Kings 1-5

Scripture of the Day: 2 Kings 4:25-27

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/2Kgs.1

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Bible Reading Plan: https://denisepass.com/bible-reading-plan/ 

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Day 183 Bible Reading Plan

We are made clean

We are made clean.

Not based on our own merit, but on God’s grace. And when we are made clean, will we help others to be, too?

Leviticus has some awesome lessons for us today. God has made us clean and made all things new. This is our greatest joy . . . being reconciled with God. Now may we be reconciled to one another to help one another live this crazy life in a fallen world.

When we can get discouraged at the hardness of life, we can remember that life was not meant to be about living the perfect life of comfort, but about having God as our comfort through all of life. When illness comes, our God is enough and He is still good. Sin nor pain have to separate us from God anymore.

As promised on the Bible time live, here is a link to a podcast episode that aired today about racism and reconciliation. Give it a listen and may we all accept one another: https://denisepass.com/bw125-pulling-the-grace-card-part-1/

We have been made clean . . . from disease!

Ok, we are back in the book of Leviticus today, chapters 13-16. Kicking off the day in Leviticus 13 with skin disease and being quarantined. Yay!

I was thinking yesterday as I watched a commercial about a medication (you know the ones where they speak a mile a minute telling you all of the bad side effects from the medicine, while the people in the ad look so happy?)

I was thinking that people don’t expect health problems.

Then when they happen we can become disillusioned and discouraged.  We expected more from life and think life was supposed to be perfect health and perfect relationships. As well as success.

Unicorns and roses?

TV shows and movies tell us this. We are supposed to be happy all the time. And with such expectations, the moments of sickness or pain can cause people to question or accuse God and become very discouraged, if not depressed because life is not all unicorns and roses.

It isn’t supposed to be about skin diseases and people dying. And thanks be to God that in Heaven there will be no more disease.

Life can be so hard, right? And here we are still in the midst of COVID-19 and the numbers are rising again. How are you all doing with this?

Living Life with Jesus.

Life was not meant to be about living the perfect life of comfort, but about having God as our comfort through all of life.

So why would a priest examine the skin and not a doctor? Were you wondering this as you read? The priest’s examination was not as a physician, but as one to ensure whether or not someone was contagious, protecting the people. I could not find an answer to that question but I did find that disease was seen as a punishment from God.

Remember Miriam spoke against Moses and ended up with Leprosy as discipline for 7 days.

Disease and Sin Separate Us.

Priests had to ensure that the disease was gone before people were allowed back into the crowds again. It’s funny, but now we are having to do this, right? Checking temperatures before people come into church.

As we live in community with one another, our illnesses impact one another.

As we live in community with one another, our sins impact one another, too.

And illness is a test. Will we trust God in the midst?

Being sick during this time period of history was not a fun experience. It separated you from others.

Being sick is no fun.

I remember when my kids were little and maybe wanted to get out of doing something, they might have said they did not feel well.

They hoped this would earn them extra special care from mom and maybe lounging and watching TV while eating homemade Chicken Noodle soup.

But if they were sent to their rooms and quarantined, they were bummed out. They missed out on the fun of community.

In the time when the book of Leviticus was written, if you were sick, you were not pampered but kicked outside the camp until you got better.

Leviticus 13:45-46

45 “The person who has a case of serious skin disease is to have his clothes torn and his hair hanging loose, and he must cover his mouth and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ 46 He will remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean. He must live alone in a place outside the camp.

Unclean!

We learn a little more about being unclean from Got questions.org. The Hebrew word translated “unclean” in Leviticus is used nearly one hundred times in this one book, clearly emphasizing “clean” status versus “unclean.” Animals, objects, food, clothing, and even people could be considered “unclean.”

Generally, the Mosaic Law spoke of something as “unclean” if it was unfit to use in worship to God. Being “clean” or “unclean” was a ceremonial designation governing the ritual of corporate worship. For example, there were certain animals, like pigs, considered unclean and therefore not to be used in sacrifices (Leviticus 5:2); and there were certain actions, like touching a dead body, that made a living person unclean and temporarily unable to participate in the worship ceremony (Leviticus 5:3).

Let’s look at what the priest did for one who was unclean and then a couple commentaries from Bible Hub for Leviticus 14:9:

New Living Translation

“Then the priest must present the sin offering to purify the person who was cured of the skin disease. After that, the priest will slaughter the burnt offering.”

English Standard Version

“The priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. And afterward he shall kill the burnt offering.”

Bible Hub Commentary

“And the priest shall offer the sin offering.–The other ewe lamb mentioned in Leviticus 14:10 the priest is now to offer as a sin offering, to expiate the sins which the restored leper had committed during his illness, having probably given vent to impatient and unbecoming expressions at his loathsome condition, not as due in consequence of having been in a state of uncleanness. The regulations in Leviticus 5:2-3, refer to cases when through thoughtlessness the unclean person forgot his duty.” (www.gotquestions.org)

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 19, 20. – The priest shall offer the sin offering. The sin offering is due, according to the regulation given in chapter Leviticus 5:3, in consequence of the man having been in a state of uncleanness. It is followed by the burnt offering and the meat offering, and then the man is restored to his state of legal cleanness, and of communion with God as well as with his fellows.” (www.biblehub.com)

Don’t Miss the Good News!

Y’all, I know the book of Leviticus is a bit hard to read at times, but let’s not miss the good news in this book! God made a way for the unclean too become clean.

It was a little more complicated in the Old Testament, for sure.

But we don’t need to have a priest as an intermediary between us and God. We can go directly to Him because Christ is our intermediary. And when we are unclean from sin, which separates us from God, we can be atoned for by the Lamb of God.

“For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

We are Made Clean By An Intermediary

A little about this role of being an intermediary from http://www.gotquestions.org:

“A mediator is one who mediates, that is, one who acts as an intermediary to work with opposing sides in order to bring about a settlement. A mediator attempts to influence a disagreement between two parties with the goal of resolving a dispute. There is only one Mediator between mankind and God, and that is Jesus Christ. In this article, we’ll see why God has a dispute with us, why Jesus is our mediator, and why we are doomed if we try to represent ourselves alone before God” (www.gotquestions.org).

“God has a dispute with us because of sin. Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). God hates sin, and sin stands between all of us and Him. “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). All human beings are sinners by virtue of sin we have inherited from Adam, as well as the sin we commit on a daily basis. The only just penalty for this sin is death (Romans 6:23), not only physical death but eternal death (Revelation 20:11–15). The rightful punishment for sin is an eternity in hell” (www.gotquestions.org).

“Nothing we could do on our own would be sufficient to mediate between ourselves and God. No amount of good works or law-keeping makes us righteous enough to stand before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). Without a mediator, we are destined to spend eternity in hell, for by ourselves salvation from our sin is impossible. Yet there is hope! “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

We Are Made Clean By Jesus

So friends, we are unclean before a holy God, but Jesus Christ, our high priest, has made us clean. This is the best news ever!

The role of the priest was significant and most significant of all he did was to make atonement for himself and God’s people. From gotquestions.org:

“The most important duty of the high priest was to conduct the service on the Day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month of every year. Only he was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place behind the veil to stand before God. Having made a sacrifice for himself and for the people, he then brought the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it on the mercy seat, God’s “throne” (Leviticus 16:14-15). He did this to make atonement for himself and the people for all their sins committed during the year just ended (Exodus 30:10). It is this particular service that is compared to the ministry of Jesus as our High Priest (Hebrews 9:1-28).”

The scripture of the day is taken from a section of Scripture where Aaron was serving for the day of atonement.

Scripture of the Day: Leviticus 16:1-2

“The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who died after they entered the Lord’s presence and burned the wrong kind of fire before him. 2 The Lord said to Moses, “Warn your brother, Aaron, not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; if he does, he will die. For the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—is there, and I myself am present in the cloud above the atonement cover.”

We are Made Clean By Avoiding Sin

I was thinking this morning about how one of the most important things I do as a parent is to warn my children of sin.

I shield them from it when they are too young to have wisdom enough to avoid it. And as they grow older, I counsel them and pray that they won’t be tricked by worldliness or sin.

But Aaron had lost both of his sons because of sin, the dread of every parent.

And here was God telling Moses to warn Aaron, too. It makes me wonder if Aaron’s own lackadaisical approach to things is what became a stumbling block for his sons.

Let’s all remember when Aaron said a calf popped out of the fire when Moses was with God on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Aaron had led God’s people to idolatry because he was afraid of the people.

Remove the Stumbling Blocks

What is it in my life that could be a stumbling block or myself or for others?

I was also thinking this morning how there are things I do not even see in myself that likely cause others to stumble.

May we not be a stumbling block to anyone, right? May God reveal the things we do not see.

Application

  • Life was not meant to be about living the perfect life of comfort, but about having God as our comfort through all of life.
  • When illness comes, our God is enough and He is still good.
  • Sin does not have to separate us from God anymore.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #183: Leviticus 13-16

Scripture of the Day: Leviticus 16:1-2

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Lev.13

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Day 182 Bible Reading Plan

God completes the work.

And yet we can strive, can’t we? When we try to complete the work of God in our own strength, though, it backfires big time. God completes the work as we humble ourselves and surrender to His Lordship.

We are starting a new book today – the book of Philippians!

Paul wrote this letter to the church at Philippi from jail. He wrote to thank the church for their help provided to him while in prison and to remind them to be united.

Paul is thanking the believers for their prayers and partnership. He endured a lot of opposition but the believers at the church of Philippi were faithful partners with Paul. Paul begins with an encouragement to the church at Philippi of who would complete the work began in them.

Scripture of the Day: Philippians 1:6

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

We can get caught up in good works even after we have received grace, can’t we?

Now God completing the work in us does not mean we don’t still work out our salvation with fear and trembling as Paul says in the very next chapter in Philippians 2:12:

“Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

But there is an awareness that we cannot accomplish this salvation. Anything good in us is from Christ alone. There is a dependency on Christ.

As it says in Isaiah 26:12 (NLT): “Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.”

God Completes the Work as we Obey.

This takes the pressure off in one regard, but also is such a good reminder that we are not to take the glory – and we need to be abiding in a relationship with Jesus in order to bear this fruit. And part of this working out our salvation is to endure suffering in this life. And to endure it well for the sake of Christ.

As it says in Phil. 1:29, “For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”

Paul taught them how to endure, stating that even being imprisoned served to advance the Gospel in v. 12-20:

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually advanced the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. 14 Most of the brothers have gained confidence in the Lord from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the word[d] fearlessly.

15 To be sure, some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of good will. 16 These preach out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, thinking that they will cause me trouble in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice 19 because I know this will lead to my salvation[e] through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Paul did not care about himself – just God’s glory and that the Gospel continued to be preached.

Is this how we live our lives?

It can be so hard not to get caught up in the worries of this life. And concern over what others think of us. Paul did not go there – he had many people who were against him, but he said as long as the Gospel was preached, that was all that mattered. Sweet surrender and such an example of standing for in Christ.

As it says in Philippians 1:27,

“Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel.”

Paul learned a secret – this life is not about us, but about Christ. If we live this life just for self, we miss it. But if we live for God, we gain eternity and live worthy lives here on earth.

Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

God Completes the Work as We Humble Ourselves

Friends, in Phil. 2 Paul shares one of the main keys to living this life.

Be humble. This means we don’t get easily offended – or how about not offended at all? Consider others as better than ourselves.

Phil 2:1-16

“If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.

God Completes the Work as We Have the Mind of Christ

“5Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

God Completes the Work to Do His Will

12 “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, 16 by holding firm to the word of life.”

We all fall short, but humility is not denigrating ourselves. Humility is acknowledging our shortcomings but not staying there. It means we repent and turn away from godless behavior. It means we have more concern for the person offending us than in being offended.

Humility is not something we can achieve

It is something Christ can work in us.

Be humble or be humbled.

I think it was C.S. Lewis who said, “Humiliity is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

From Gotquestions.org:

“The Greek word translated “humility” in Colossians 3:12 and elsewhere literally means “lowliness of mind,” so we see that humility is a heart attitude, not merely an outward demeanor. One may put on an outward show of humility but still have a heart full of pride and arrogance. Jesus said that those who are “poor in spirit” would have the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).

Being poor in spirit means that only those who admit to an absolute bankruptcy of spiritual worth will inherit eternal life. Therefore, humility is a prerequisite for the Christian.”

“Jesus was not ashamed to humble Himself as a servant (John 13:1-16), even to death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). In His humility, He was always obedient to the Father and so should the humble Christian be willing to put aside all selfishness and submit in obedience to God and His Word. True humility produces godliness, contentment, and security.”

Application

  • Be humble or be humbled.
  • Good works are not our salvation. Christ is.
  • God completes the work in us as we surrender to is Lordship.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #182: Philippians 1-2

Scripture of the Day: Philippians 1:6

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Phil.1

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Day 181 Bible Reading Plan

Be On Your Guard

Be On Guard

Do we live and give in this life as if Jesus is coming again soon? It’s easy to get side-tracked by worries and dramas of this life. But in today’s reading, Luke invites us to remember to be on guard and to make up our mind now how we will live out our faith.

Be On Guard with How We Give

On Sunday mornings how we respond to an invitation to give is very revealing. Jesus noticed the wealthy people, but He drew attention to the widow. She did not give from her abundance, but from her lack and she gave all she had.

What was her secret? Surely she needed that money, but she was not afraid.

The Value of a Gift is Not It’s Amount

Notes from the Blue Letter Bible said that “two mites is 1% of a denarii-1% of a day’s wage. She gave two mites, not just one. The widow might have kept one coin for herself, and who would blame her if she did? Giving one meant giving half of all her money. But in giving two mites, her giving has a certain recklessness about it.”

“Jesus praised this woman and said she gave more than all of them. How is that possible? In God’s eyes, the value of a gift is not determined by the amount. God does not need our money—but we need to give. It is our privilege to give to Him. A gift’s value is determined by the spirit in which it is given. God loves the cheerful giver. The value of a gift is determined by what it cost the giver; this is what made the widow’s gift so valuable. David refused to give God that which cost me nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).” (Blut-Letter Bible Notes).

Scripture of the Day: Luke 21: 10-18 (CSB)

10 Then he told them, “Nation will be raised up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to bear witness. v 16 You will even be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will kill some of you. 17 You will be hated by everyone because of my name, 18 but not a hair of your head will be lost. 19 By your endurance, gain your lives.”

Be On Guard With How We Live

We live in a time where we don’t know what words to share, don’t we? These verses appear right after Jesus’ disciples ask when the end of the world will come. Persecution will come. And in the face of that persecution, God will provide what we need so we have an apt word.

Be On Guard With How We Speak

13 “This will give you an opportunity to bear witness.”

Do we see persecution as an opportunity? Or a burden? Self is a burden. But being Kingdom-minded helps us to not worry about insults and to respond in humility. Do we see the times we live in now as an opportunity?

14 “Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, 15 for I will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”

Make up your minds ahead of time. Right now. We can decide how we will respond. And we don’t have to get caught up in the drama or in what people say. The Holy Spirit will give us the words.

Be on Guard With How We Think

Friends, as we read about the end times, what emotions do you feel? Sometimes we can feel like the end times are so far away, it is hard to keep watch for it. But Luke challenges and reminds us to keep watch in Luke 21:34-36

34 “Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly 35 like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Make Up Your Mind

Don’t let your minds be dulled by entertainment, friends. Recently I heard how video games and viewing porn wrecked a marriage. We can forget that we are on mission here, friends. Do not get involved in civilian matters! How we live matters!

We need to be on guard. When we are not on guard, we can get seduced to wickedness and be of no use to God.

I wonder if this is what happened to the chief priests and scribes. They were no longer on guard. They just got comfortable and accustomed to following a religion rather than following God. It can happen to anyone of us.

Luke 22:2 says, “The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put him to death, because they were afraid of the people.”

Be On Guard Against the Fear of Man

The leaders in the church were looking to kill Jesus – and why? Because of the fear of man.

After Jesus reveals the disciples’ need to be prepared for the end times and then Jesus revealed the betrayal during the Passover meal with His disciples, Luke ushers us into the betrayal of Jesus, and the denial of Jesus by Peter.

Friends, before this happened Jesus told them to pray that they might not fall into temptation. In conclusion, may we stay on guard and make up our minds now who we will serve, Amen? Right now we have an opportunity to witness. And Jesus is coming again soon. Will we be ready?

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #181:Luke 21-22

Scripture of the Day: Luke 21: 13-15

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Luke.21

Join me live at 8am ET: www.facebook.com/deniseduboispass

Bible Reading Plan: https://denisepass.com/bible-reading-plan/

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