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Read Your Bible In A Year Day 60

Posted on March 1, 2011 at 7:56 AM Comments comments (3)
The Bible readings for March 1 are Numbers 19 – 21 and Mark 8:1 – 13.  In Numbers 19, God gives the Israelites new instructions regarding the preparation of the water to be used in the cleansing ritual for any who came in contact with a dead body.  In chapters 20 and 21, various events are recorded, ranging from rebellion, death, punishment, war and victory.  In ways, this is a sad section of Numbers.  After years of obedience to God, Moses failed to trust God when it came to God demonstrating His holiness to the people of Israel.  Leading up to this, we read of the death of Miriam.  In the wilderness, there was no water for the people to drink, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron.  They mumbled and grumbled about the lack of water and food.  In response, Moses and Aaron turned to God.  God told Moses to assemble the community, and as the people watched, Moses was to command the rock to pour out its water.  This was God’s doing, and He would use His power to achieve such a result.  Unfortunately, Moses took it a step further, and in anger, struck the rock twice, which God had not commanded.  Notice Moses does not include God in this miracle.  “Listen, you rebels!  Must we bring water from this rock?”  Moses was claiming the credit, when in reality God enabled the water to pour out from the rock.  Because of their lack of faith, God told Moses and Aaron they would not lead the Israelites into the land He is giving them.  Over the journey, Aaron had certainly disobeyed God previously, so I do rather feel sorry for Moses.  He had endured much at the hands of the Israelites, and remained faithful to God.  Sadly, in this one instance, he sinned against God and missed something special.  Aaron also missed out, and died at Mount Hor, where the people mourned for 30 days on hearing of his death.  Even after victory over the Canaanites, the people of Israel grew impatient and began to murmur against God and Moses.  God sent poisonous snakes among them, and many were bitten and died.  They soon changed their tone, and came to Moses, realising they had sinned by speaking against God and Moses.  They asked Moses to pray for them, that God would take away the snakes.  God told Moses to make a replica snake, and attach it to the top of a pole.  Those who were bitten simply had to look at it to be healed.  Jesus refers to this passage in John chapter three.  As the Israelites journeyed, they came across various enemies, and with God’s help they gained the victory.  Through these chapters we are once again reminded that God is good all the time.  In Mark, Jesus feeds four thousand people.  Even though the disciples had seen Jesus feed five thousand men previously, they still wondered how they could feed so many people.  It was impossible from a human perspective.  Enter Jesus.  Using what was available – in this case, seven loaves of bread – Jesus too them, gave thanks to God, broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples to distribute among the people.  Some fish were also found, and Jesus blessed them and told the disciples to pass them out, too.  This time, there are seven basketfuls of food left over.  You see, Jesus does not do things in half measures; He blesses us so much more than is imaginable.  Having fed the crowd, He sends them on their way, and hops in a boat and sails to the region of Dalmanutha.  On hearing Jesus had arrived, the Pharisees came to argue with Jesus.  To prove Jesus was from God, they demanded Jesus perform a miraculous sign.  Jesus sighed deeply, made a brief comment and then got back into the boat and left them, and crossed to the other side of the lake.  Jesus was in their midst, and they offended Him.  They pushed Him away, and how sad it is today when people still push Jesus away.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 59

Posted on February 28, 2011 at 5:24 AM Comments comments (44)
The Bible readings for February 28 are Numbers 16 – 18 and Mark 7:14 – 37.  Here we are at the end of another month.  How are you travelling with our Bible readings?  I must say I am enjoying them, and each day I look forward to what God has in store for me.  Today is no different.  Rebellion seems to be a common word in Numbers, and this time Korah, along with a few of his mates, incited a rebellion against Moses.  As we know, they were not just rebelling against Moses – they rebelled against God.  Korah and his mates wanted equality for all the people of Israel.  Why should Moses and Aaron be set apart by God, when He is with all the people?  They challenged Moses’ and Aaron’s authority and leadership.  What’s more, these Levites, for Korah was the son of Levi, wanted to assume priestly duties, rather than merely continue to serve in God’s Tabernacle.  Although we are all equal, God equips each of us differently to carry out the tasks He has set for us.  Far better to obey God than to aspire to be something we are not supposed to be.  Moses was willing to see which way God would go – would Moses be leader, or would Korah and his co-conspirators get their way?  We soon discover the answer, for Korah and his mates, their households and followers who were standing with them, along with all their belongings were swallowed up by the ground.  Following this, a blazing fire from God burnt up all the remaining two hundred and fifty leaders who were sympathetic to Korah’s cause.  The next day, the whole community began muttering against Moses and Aaron – yet again.  You would have thought they might have pulled their heads in, having witnessed God’s awesome power once more.  By this stage, God wanted to destroy them all, with the exception of Moses and Aaron.  Once again, Moses and Aaron pleaded with God for mercy for His people.  Even so, 14,700 people died in a plague.  Next, we see the budding of Aaron’s staff.  God instructed Moses to collect twelve staffs, one from each of Israel’s ancestral tribes.  Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man chosen by God.  The people needed to respect God’s will, and He hoped this would make it clear once and for all.  Aaron’s staff is the one that started to bud, a sure sign he was chosen by God.  God again gives specific instructions to Aaron initially, and then Moses, in regards to the duties of Priests and Levites.  They had different roles to play, but nevertheless important roles to play for God.  In Mark, Jesus continues talking about what makes a person clean or unclean.  Food does not make one unclean, but rather what we say and do.  Food is good to enjoy, and is a necessary part of life.  Jesus warns that it is the thought-life that defiles us.  This list of words given by Jesus goes to show that each of us is capable of committing most vile acts.  These things make us unacceptable to God, much like the rebellion of Korah and his mates.  Jesus is then astounded by the faith of a Gentile woman.  She would not take no for an answer, and her challenge to Jesus’ words illicit a very positive response from our Lord.  He heals the woman’s daughter because she answered well.  Jesus then heals a deaf and mute man.  This time, Jesus took the man away from the crowd, and acted out a healing, instead of simply saying some words.  The words Jesus did say, “Be opened!” came to fulfilment, and the man could hear perfectly and speak plainly.  Again, Jesus tells the crowd not to tell anyone about what had just happened, but this had the opposite effect, because the people kept talking about Jesus.  They were completely amazed at Jesus, for, “Everything He does is wonderful.”

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 58

Posted on February 27, 2011 at 6:07 AM Comments comments (3)
The Bible readings for February 27 are Numbers 13 – 15 and Mark 7:1 – 13.  Things start to pick up for the Israelites, as God gets Moses to send out twelve scouts to survey the land of Canaan.  It looks like their life in the wilderness is about to end, and with God on their side, what could go wrong?  After forty days in Canaan, the scouts returned to Moses, Aaron and the people.  They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land.  In relation to the land, it was deemed a magnificent country - a land flowing with milk and honey.  They showed off some of its fruit as proof of this good soil.  This was a positive in their report, but now came the negatives, and according to ten of the scouts, there were plenty of them.  The people are powerful.  Cities and towns fortified and very large.  Descendants of Anak equal giants.  Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites and Canaanites populate the various regions of Canaan.  Of the twelve scouts, only two saw the possibilities.  Caleb stood up and tried to encourage the people to do it, for he knew they would win.  Ten other scouts shot him down, and in the end, the numbers won.  The people listened to the doomsayers, and not those willing to believe God.  So the people did what they did well – they rebelled against God.  They complained to Moses and Aaron with familiar words about Egypt, but in essence, they were complaining against God.  Eager to return to Egypt, they plotted among themselves to choose a new leader to take them back to a former life that now looked rosy – a life of slavery in Egypt at best, or death as punishment for the trouble they caused the Egyptians.  With their eyes off God, they were fearful and unwilling to remember His mighty power and saving works.  Moses pleads on behalf of the people, and God pardons the people because He is slow to anger and rich in unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion, although He does not leave the sin unpunished.  God pardons the people, but not one of those people twenty years of age and over will enter that land.  Caleb and Joshua would be the only exception to God’s ruling.  Furthermore, for forty years, they would wander about in the wilderness – a year for every day the scouts spent exploring Canaan.  The ten scouts who incited the rebellion were struck dead by a plague.  On seeing this, the people of Israel decided to change their minds and enter Canaan.  They realised they sinned and were now ready to enter the land God had promised them.  Once again, they are disobeying God.  God laid down the law very clearly, and still His people did not listen to Him.  Moses warned them, but they went on their way.  In their own strength, they were soon attacked and chased by the Amalekites and Canaanites.  This section concludes with laws concerning offerings, a stern reminder not to do any work on the Sabbath as seen by the stoning of one man who chose to gather wood on the Sabbath, and tassels on clothing to remind the people to obey God’s commands and be holy to their God.  When I think about the tassels, I liken it to wearing jewellery such as a cross.  The cross should remind us of whose we are and where we are going, and to live our lives according to His will.  Yet how easy it is to forget the symbol of the cross and sin against our Heavenly Father.  In Mark, Jesus teaches about inner purity.  The Pharisees and teachers of religious law had all sorts of rules and regulations when it came to every day living.  They were quick to notice that Jesus’ disciples didn’t always do what was expected of them – according to their rules and regulations, that is!  Jesus could see through the religiosity of the Pharisees and teachers of religious law  It may have all sounded wonderful, but they had no heart to obey God’s commands.  Their own manmade teaching took precedence over God’s commands.  We need to be so careful we do not fall into the trap of doing the same.  Each church denomination has a certain way of doing things.  However, the moment we consider man’s ways better than God’s ways, we are in trouble.  How sad it is when the building and its furniture become more important than God does.  Traditions can be beneficial, but not at the expense of a growing faith in Jesus Christ.  When we impose tradition on believers that are of no heavenly benefit, we begin to turn them away from faith in Jesus to earning their own way to get to heaven.  The Bible makes it very clear that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 57

Posted on February 26, 2011 at 7:21 AM Comments comments (2)
The Bible readings for February 26 are Numbers 10 – 12 and Mark 6:33 – 56.  The use of the trumpets indicated to the leaders and the people what kind of action they were to do.  For the leaders, the trumpets indicated a meeting for Moses and the leaders of the tribes of Israel, and for the people, the trumpets signified it was time to move on.  Interestingly, only the priests could blow the trumpets.  Later on, the sound of the trumpets would be a reminder to God to rescue His people from their enemies, and to remind God of the covenant He made with His people.  From rescuing the Israelites from Egypt and establishing a covenant with them, one might assume the Israelites had reason to be extremely grateful for all God was doing for them.  I am not one to judge their behaviour, because for some reason, people throughout the ages have complained about God.  Is it any wonder God became angry with the people?  The foreigners travelling with the Israelites were the first to complain about the lack of variety in their diet.  They reminisced about the abundance of food in Egypt, and soon the Israelites joined in the chorus of complaints.  Ah, the good old days!  Eating manna every day was, to coin a word used much these days, boring.  Instead of thanking God for His provision, the people began to look at what they did not have anymore, and this far outweighed anything God did for them.  Once we focus on the situation instead of God, we will soon find that we begin to mumble and grumble, rather than trust God.  Eventually, it took its toll on Moses.  He could not stand it any longer.  He wanted out.  So God provided assistance for Moses in the form of seventy leaders, who would each receive some of the Spirit that was upon Moses.  Moses was concerned at providing meat for the people, and God has a quiet chat to Moses.  “Is there any limit to My power?  Now you will see whether or not My word comes true!”  Our God is indeed a faithful God, as Moses discovered in the wilderness journey.  Today, God is just as faithful, and will keep His word for us.  God sends quail to the people, and there is sufficient meat for all the people.  But those who complained about the lack of meat and craved for meat from Egypt died in this place.  Not only did Moses have to deal with the grumbling of the people, his own siblings, Aaron and Miriam, also complained about him.  Moses was leader, and Aaron and Miriam were a bit upset that they were not on the same level as Moses.  After all, God not only spoke through Moses, He also spoke through them as well.  This is just another example of sibling rivalry.  God has a chat to the three of them, and makes it very clear that Moses is the one whom He will deal with in person.  Sometimes we can fall into the trap of being critical of a fellow Christian who has different gifts to what we do.  We need to remember we are not robots, but that each of us is different and God will gift us according to His will.  In Mark, Jesus does a couple of things that really stand out to His disciples, as well as thousands more in one instance  Yesterday, you might recall Jesus and the disciples going away for some R & R.  Well, that was the idea, but the crowds of people had a different idea.  What did Jesus do in this situation?  Did He ignore the crowds and go through with His original plan?  Jesus saw the needs among the people, especially the fact they were like sheep without a shepherd.  He who is the Good Shepherd devoted time to the people.  Later on in the day, the disciples are anxious to move the people on so they can find food, but Jesus has another idea.  “You feed them,” He said.  The disciples already know they are without the means to do so, but Jesus still wants them to see how much food they have for the task.  “Five loaves of bread and two fish,” is the reply.  You do not have to be a mathematician to realise this amount of food is not going to feed thousands and thousands of people.  However, add Jesus to the equation and you have a solution to the problem.  In fact, this can be said of any problem we are faced with in life.  Simply add Jesus and see what He can do.  Jesus took what little there was, asked God’s blessing upon it, and proceeded to feed everyone, and with more to spare.  Just as God fed the Israelites manna and meat in the wilderness, so too does His Son feed the hungry who gathered to hear Him speak.  One of Mark’s favourite words is ‘immediately,’ and he uses this word right after Jesus has fed the thousands.  Jesus made His disciples get in a boat and sail across the lake to Bethsaida, while He sent the people home.  After this, He went up into the hills to pray.  This is another reminder of the importance of prayer.  If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we?  The disciples are in their boat out in the middle of the lake, and Jesus is alone on land.  He noticed they were struggling with the weather and nautical conditions, so at about 3a.m., He came to them, walking on the water.  Instead of hopping on board the boat, He made as if to go past them.  The disciples thought they were seeing a ghost, and screamed in terror.  I live in a coastal town, and let’s face it, it is not every day you see someone walking on water.  Come to think of it, only Jesus has ever done so!  Jesus has words of comfort and hope for them.  “It’s all right.  I am here!  Don’t be afraid.”  Jesus was with them, and all would be okay.  Climbing into the boat, the wind stopped.  Jesus brings peace.  Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us.  Landing in Gennesaret, the people recognised Jesus, and they brought their sick to Him to be healed.  Jesus excited the people, and today, we also need to be excited by Jesus. 

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 56

Posted on February 25, 2011 at 7:28 AM Comments comments (1)
The Bible readings for February 25 are Numbers 7 – 9 and Mark 6:13 – 32.  Numbers 7 contains offerings of dedication from each of the twelve tribes over a period of twelve days.  In case you thought you were reading the same thing over and over again, you were not alone.  The only difference being the sentence that explained who was doing the offering and on whose behalf.  Moses would go into the Tabernacle to speak with God.  Moses had a unique relationship with God in that he was permitted into the Tabernacle to meet with God.  How wonderful that today we can come into the awesome presence of God anywhere and at anytime.  God even issued instructions regarding the lamps in the lamp stand, too.  Their light was to reflect forward so as to give good light in the Holy Place.  Next, the Levites are dedicated to serve God.  As we saw yesterday, the Levites were set apart for God.  Each of us has been set apart for God, too.  Having been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, we are set apart to serve our wonderful God.  Once again, we read about rules concerning the Passover.  To finish off Numbers 9, we see how the Israelites knew when to camp and when to travel.  Whenever the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and when the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle, the people stayed.  A simple instruction in reality, but I imagine it could have been a time of uncertainty for God did not follow a set pattern.  All the Israelites could do in response was to trust God for His guidance.  Maybe this is what God wanted to achieve.  Before we move on to Mark, I did omit mentioning the Aaronic or priestly blessing yesterday.  I love this blessing, and in a few lines, we have a wonderful picture of God.  God wants to bless and protect us, smile on us and be gracious to us, show us His favour and give us His peace.  With this image of God in our mind, let us go forward day by day realising He is with us and for us.  In Mark, we read about the death of John the Baptist.  Herodias had long borne a grudge against John the Baptist, and when the opportunity arose for her daughter to ask the king for anything, after consultation with her mother, she chose the head of John the Baptist.  Amazing what will make someone happy.  Surrounding this event, Mark talks about the disciples.  Sent out by Jesus, they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.  In themselves, they did not have the power or authority to cast out demons, but there is power in the name of Jesus.  The disciples returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told Him all they had done and taught.  Just imagine, if you will, the stories they told Jesus.  I love how Jesus wanted to spend time with His mates, far from the encroaching crowd.  Jesus realised they needed time to rest and to enjoy each other’s company.  Sometimes we can be so busy that we neglect the time out that we often desperately need.  Tomorrow, we will see if they managed to enjoy their peace and quiet.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 55

Posted on February 24, 2011 at 5:29 AM Comments comments (2)
 
The Bible readings for February 24 are Numbers 5 & 6 and Mark 6:1 – 12.  In Numbers, 5, some of the instructions from God are familiar, while others are new.  Purity in Israel’s camp was essential for a holy God to dwell among them.  Protecting marital faithfulness was also high on God’s agenda.  God well knew the damage that could be done by unfaithfulness.  God knows it, but sometimes we humans are a bit slow to get it.  As I have said before, praise God He forgives us even if some have committed adultery.  The Nazirite Laws are interesting and have nothing to do with being born in Nazareth.  A Nazirite vow was one of separation.  In other words, set apart to God in a special way.  In keeping their vows, a Nazirite chose to refuse wine and anything likely to produce it thereby showing their temporary refusal of the enjoyments of life.  At the same time, they would not lose control of themselves by drunkenness.  By not cutting one’s hair, a Nazirite made it clear to the general public that they were living under the conditions of the vow.  By not touching anything dead, a Nazirite emphasised to themselves and others the holiness that their service for God required.  At the end of the period of their vow, Nazirites offered sacrifices and shaved all hair from the head.  They were no longer bound by the three specific conditions of the Nazirite vow we have already looked at.  In Mark, we read about Jesus being rejected at Nazareth.  Nazareth was the hometown of Jesus, and the Sabbath after arriving back home, Jesus is in the synagogue teaching the people.  Those who heard Him were pretty amazed, for last time they saw Jesus He was just the carpenter.  Now they wondered how He could be so wise and perform all those miracles they had heard so much about.  Because they knew Jesus’ mother and brothers and sisters, they could not believe that Jesus was anyone special.  They just could not get their heads around the fact that Jesus was indeed someone special.  Consequently, Jesus could not do many mighty miracles among them.  He did heal a few sick people, but so amazed was He by their unbelief He was unable to do any more.  You might think this is uncharacteristic behaviour by Jesus, but we need to realise the majority of people in Nazareth have rejected Him.  It was essentially their choice not to have Jesus help them.  Their attitude did not stop Jesus from continuing His ministry, and He went from village to village teaching people about the Kingdom of God.  It was now time for Jesus to send out His twelve disciples, and He did so by giving them certain instructions.  And just as Jesus left Nazareth, so too did He give permission to His disciples to leave a village that did not welcome nor listen to them.  Maybe for us today it is a reminder that sometimes it is okay to move on, having done all we could for the Lord Jesus.  If people do not respond it is their call.  The disciples went out telling all they met to turn from their sins.  The word ‘sins’ is not a popular four letter word today, just like hell.  However, unless we tell people the truth, they will think they have no need of a Saviour.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 54

Posted on February 23, 2011 at 8:56 AM Comments comments (4)
The Bible readings for February 23 are Numbers 3 & 4 and Mark 5:20 – 43.  In Numbers, we read about the importance of the Levites as well as some of their duties.  Yesterday we saw the placement of the twelve tribes of Israel around the Tabernacle, today we see the Levites taking their positions around the back and sides of the Tabernacle, with Moses and the priests taking the front spot.  The Levites, Moses and the Priests were all situated closer than the twelve tribes.  It was the Levites role to maintain the Tabernacle and assist the priests in the religious duties, however only Aaron and his sons did the priestly work.  A census is taken of the Levites, and those aged between thirty to fifty years old did the actual work.  This work would consist of taking down the Tabernacle and packing it for transport.  Within the Levite tribe, three groups are mentioned.  Each of the clans had a specific role to play in relation to the Tabernacle.  God took great care in working out every fine detail to ensure everything would go smoothly.  In Mark, Jesus heals a woman who reaches out to him silently by faith and He raises Jairus’ daughter.  Faced with a large crowd, Jairus comes to Jesus and pleads with Him to heal her.  His daughter is only twelve and he is desperate for her to be made well.  Jairus knew she was dying, and what did he have to lose?  No doubt he had heard about Jesus, and he was willing to trust Him to do something.  Jairus turned to Jesus and this is something we need to do more often, too.  There was no more Jairus could do, so he turned to Jesus.  The crowd follows Jesus, probably eager to see just what He could and would do.  As they walk, there is one woman who has suffered for many years.  As we know from the law in Leviticus, because of her constant bleeding this woman would have been classed as unclean.  She wanted no publicity.  She simply wanted to be healed.  End of story.  She says to herself, “If I can just touch His clothing, I will be healed.”  She believed this was all it would take, and indeed, she was healed right away.  Jesus sensed healing power had gone out from Him, and He wanted the person who was healed to acknowledge the truth.  His eyes scan the crowd, wondering who would own up to touching Him.  This woman cannot remain silent.  Frightened, and trembling with excitement at being healed, she falls at Jesus’ feet and admits she was the one who He healed.  I do not know how she expected Jesus to react, but I do not believe she expected to hear Jesus say these words: “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.  You have been healed.”  What she had hoped for had come true and would not be taken from her.  What a story she had to tell her family and friends!  As Jesus is speaking to her, news came that Jairus’ daughter was dead.  No need to trouble Jesus now for there is nothing He can do.  Jesus thought differently.  “Don’t be afraid.  Just trust me,” He says to Jairus.  Strange words to say to someone who is grieving, but Jesus stays with Jairus.  Peter, James and John accompany Jesus into the home of Jairus.  The tears are flowing, and the wails are getting louder and louder.  Jesus cannot understand this, for as far as He is concerned, the child is not dead, but merely asleep.  They laughed at Jesus.  Evidently, they thought Jesus was a good comedian.  Five people witness Jesus bring this twelve-year-old girl back to life.  Three of His disciples and the girl’s parents see something so amazing that I wonder how they processed it all.  Jesus tells them not to tell anyone of what has happened, because He doesn’t want the crowds following Him for the wrong reasons.  He does not want to be a sideshow attraction.  Then Jesus does something very practical.  He tells them to give her something to eat.  This girl had been sick.  Because of her illness, she died.  Now, dead people do not need food.  Of course, this girl was no longer dead, but alive.  Look after her; care for her.  Feed her.  Jesus can do the impossible.  Trust Him.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 53

Posted on February 22, 2011 at 2:53 AM Comments comments (3)
 
The Bible readings for February 22 are Numbers 1 & 2 and Mark 5:1 – 19.  One thing you notice about Numbers in the opening chapters is exactly that – numbers!  In Numbers, Moses took a census twice.  This is where we get the English title Numbers.  However, the Hebrew title ‘In the Wilderness’ is probably more suitable, as the book covers the journey from Sinai to the borders of Canaan, and much of this journey was through the wilderness.  God told Moses to take a census of the whole community of Israel by their clans and families.  From the twelve tribes of Israel, 603,550 men aged 20 and over were able to go to war.  From these numbers, it is quite possible there were at least 2 million Israelites.  The Levites were exempt from the census as they were not required for military service.  Their role was to carry the Tabernacle and its equipment when they travelled, and to care for it and camp around it as necessary.  Theirs was a specific role, and one of great importance.  God arranged the twelve tribes in groups of three positioned around each side of the Tabernacle.  Each of these four groups had a flag bearing the name of the senior tribe of the group.  Whenever the Israelites moved, the Tabernacle accompanied by the Levites would be central in the march just as they were central in the camp, thus emphasising that God was always in the midst of His people.  God does everything for a reason, and we see this clearly in these chapters.  I know we have already looked at this particular passage in Mark’s Gospel when we were in Matthew, where Jesus healed a demon-possessed man, but I do hope to present a different angle from the one already explored.  The thing that stands out for me here is the authority Jesus has over the evil spirits.  When Jesus asked the question, “What is your name?”  The spirit replied, “Legion, because there are many of us here inside this man.”  There is no fear in Jesus, but there is fear in the evil spirits, even though they outnumber Jesus.  In fact, they are absolutely terrified coming face to face with Jesus, Son of the Most High God!  These evil spirits begged Jesus to send them to some distant place.  As we know, Jesus sent them into the pigs, and two thousand pigs, infiltrated by evil spirits, drowned in the lake.  When we are under spiritual attack, remember, there is power in the name of Jesus.  Say the name of Jesus and they will wilt because nothing can stand against Jesus.  Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.  When I preached last Sunday evening, I sensed that before I began my sermon, we all had to say the name of Jesus aloud three times.  In a way, this was acknowledging His presence, but also His power.  Let me encourage you to turn to Jesus and trust Him in everything, because He will never let us down.  Before I finish, I cannot go past verse 19.  The man who had been demon-possessed wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus says, “No, go home to your friends and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful He has been.”  Today, Jesus wants us to tell our family and friends what He is doing in our lives today.  Talk about our need of a Saviour because we have all sinned.  Talk about God’s love for us in providing Jesus to be our Saviour through His death on the cross and rising to new life.  Talk about Jesus, and see what happens.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 52

Posted on February 21, 2011 at 8:29 AM Comments comments (5)
 
The Bible readings for February 21 are Leviticus 26 & 27 and Mark 4:21 – 41.  Today, we come to the end of Leviticus.  At the beginning of reading Leviticus, I mentioned that I have struggled in the past with the repetitiveness that one finds throughout Leviticus.  However, I must say that I now see why it is included in the Bible.  God has shown me many new things through His precious Word, and I pray that you have also been blessed as you have listened for God’s voice.  In Leviticus 26, we find promises and warnings.  There are blessings for obedience, and punishments for disobedience.  God reminded the people to put into practice all they had been taught concerning Him, His Sabbaths and His sanctuary.  If the people obeyed God, He would bless them with agricultural prosperity, social contentment, victory over enemies, and a comforting sense of God’s presence.  However, disobedience would bring widespread disease, defeat by enemies, drought and destruction, until they realised their sin and turned back to God.  Looking from the outside in, you would assume they would choose God’s way and receive His blessings.  Sadly, time after time they turned away from God and disobeyed His commands.  Consequently, they experienced God’s hostility.  Later on in this chapter, we see that if the people continually failed to respond, God would increase their disasters.  Praise God that He keeps His covenant, and He never forgot the covenant He made with Abraham, Issac and Jacob.  Eventually, when the people confessed their sins to God, He would bring them back to their land according to the covenant He made with them.  Leviticus finishes off with a chapter on valuations for things vowed.  People often vowed things to God out of gratitude for His goodness to them, usually in some crisis they had met.  Once again, God gave specific instructions in relation to the vows brought before Him.  Throughout Leviticus, God wanted the Israelites to acknowledge Him in all aspects of life.  He would be their God, and He wanted the Israelites to be His people.  Today, God calls us to obedience, too.  So often, we choose the path of disobedience, and wonder why we are not blessed by God.  God still longs to bless us, and if we choose to obey Him, He will pour out His blessings upon us.  In Mark, Jesus continues to teach the people.  Using every day examples of the lamp and seeds, Jesus wants His listeners to realise the truths about the Kingdom of God.  He is not leaving them in the dark, but rather providing light, for He is the light of the world.  Our responsibility is to sow the seed, we cannot force it to germinate and grow.  Only God can do this, and once we realise the harvest is God’s responsibility, it helps us to be faithful servants who are willing to sow the seed.  On the lake, as the disciples are sailing across it with Jesus onboard, a fierce storm arose.  The disciples knew that Jesus could heal people and drive out demons, but they really had no idea He could control the forces of nature.  While the storm is raging, and the disciples are panicking, Jesus is sleeping at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion.  They wake Him up, fearing they would soon drown.  What happens next is nothing short of spectacular.  “Quiet down!”  The wind stopped, and the water calmed down.  Jesus questions the disciples, wondering why they were scared, and why they lacked faith in Him.  Like I said, this was something new, and they questioned among themselves, “Who is this man, that even the wind and waves obey Him?”  Jesus is God is the answer, but at this stage of Jesus’ ministry, the disciples were still coming to grips with Him.  Many people believe Jesus was just another man, thus denying the truth that He is the Son of God.
I believe in Jesus, I believe He is the Son of God, I believe He died and rose again, I believe He paid for us all.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 51

Posted on February 20, 2011 at 8:29 AM Comments comments (2)
The Bible readings for February 20 are Leviticus 25 and Mark 4:1 – 20.  Imagine farmers letting their land rest every seventh year.  To make money, there is often such intensive cropping that huge amounts of chemical assistance are pumped into the soil to enable it to keep producing successful crops for harvesting.  God wanted the Israelites to trust Him, and He would provide for them.  It also gave people the opportunity to recognize in a special way that God was the rightful owner of the land.  During this Sabbatical year, the land could also renew its powers of reproduction.  God knew what would work best, and it required the Israelites to follow His instructions.  The Year of Jubilee occurred every fifty years, where land was returned to the original owner.  This helped maintain the fairness of the original distribution of the land.  It prevented the poor from losing their family property permanently, and prevented the rich from gaining control of the whole land.  God taught the Israelites not to take advantage of each other.  Special guidelines were put in place, and I notice again in this chapter how God kept reminding the Israelites of how He brought them out of Egypt.  Throughout the previous chapters, God continued to remind the Israelites of the miraculous events of the past.  He kept bringing it back to what He had done for them.  It is all about God, and not themselves.  In Mark, Jesus teaches and explains the parable of the sower.  I love this parable, and with Jesus’ own explanation, it makes it much easier to understand.  The different soils that Jesus talks about give an indication that people will respond differently when they hear the Good News proclaimed from the pulpit, or one-on-one.  We cannot assume that one particular group of people will receive the Good News and flourish.  It really does depend on the attitude of the heart.  It is very easy to picture Jesus sitting in a boat, teaching the large crowd of people who gathered to hear Him speak.  What Jesus tells the people is an image of every day life for His listeners.  They could imagine the scene Jesus depicted, and fortunately, for us, we too can imagine the scene.  Whenever the Word of God is proclaimed, there will be those who reject it, others who think it wonderful and then lose their excitement, yet others will receive the message and then stagnate, and then there are those who hear and accept the Good News and their lives are transformed and they produce a huge harvest.  It is time to grow.  “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise.”