Jump to content


Photo

TFTBR - March 2018


  • Please log in to reply
23 replies to this topic

#1 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 04 March 2018 - 02:01 AM

01 March 2018
 
Leviticus 5; 6
Psalms 105
1 Corinthians 14 
 
"IT IS SHAMEFUL FOR A WOMAN TO"
 
We reflected at length on the verse that includes the above quotation in reading 1 Corinthians 14 today. So many churches, apart from the Catholic church, now allow women to speak, and in some cases take quite prominent roles. The words, "it is shameful for a woman to speak in church" are in 1 Corinthians 14:35.
 
Have we taken the quotation out of its context? The previous verse says, "the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says." We conclude this means "silent" in the sense of not addressing the congregation. 1 Corinthians 14:29-33 are about "prophets" speaking "and let the others weigh what is being said."
 
Do we understand what prophets were in the early church? While there are one or two occasions where there is a prophet in the NT that predicted the future [Acts 21:10,11], its primary meaning, as is the meaning here, is the expounding of God's word.  1 Corinthians 14:31 says, "you can all prophecy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged."
 
Returning to our thoughts on the role of women, we see the part they played in the life of Jesus, noting that all his disciples were men and he sent as many as 72 out two by two to preach [Luke 10]. There is just one passage which seems to be constantly quoted by those who seek to justify seeing an equal role for women in the church.  
 
This is Galatians 3:27-28 where Paul writes, "For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
 
What does he mean "neither male nor female"? We noted he also said, "neither slave or free." Does a slave, when he or she is baptised into Christ now have equality in this life with those who are free? Of course not, it is clear that the sense in which they are one, is that they together have all become children of God and are all heirs together "of the grace of life" [1 Peter 3:7]. The same principle applies to men and women. 
 
Finally, the last verse in today's reading tells us, "all things should be done decently and in order. " We must respect the order that was established in that first generation that laid the foundation for us to follow today. It is shameful that so few now follow the foundation that was established in the First Century.
-------
- DC


#2 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 04 March 2018 - 02:04 AM

02 March 2018
 
Leviticus 7
Psalms 106
1 Corinthians 15 
 
"THOSE WHO ARE OF HEAVEN"
 
Our reading of that well known and oft quoted chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, graphically illustrates a principle that is made again and again in God's word – that there is no "middle" way: our ultimate future is black – or - white. Paul goes to great pains to emphasize this: some in Corinth were doubting that Christ's resurrection literally happened, this would be the continuing influence of the convictions they had had as pagans, one it was hard to put out of their minds, still having pagan friends would not help! How can you say there is no resurrection of the dead, he challenges them, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" [1 Corinthians 15:12,14]. 
 
Paul then contrasts "the first man Adam" with "the last Adam (who) became a life-giving spirit" [1 Corinthians 15:45]. Those who do not become related to "the last Adam" – to Christ - will remain related to the first Adam. Paul then uses the contrast between heaven and earth (i.e. dust) – we are related to one or the other.  He says, "as was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven" [1 Corinthians 15:48-49].
 
Do we "feel" we "are of heaven"? It is one thing or the other. Of course, it in no way means we go to heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:35-45 make that very plain; the "natural body" becomes a "spiritual body" when it is raised to life again. But, just as the world around us is showing even more plainly that it is "of the dust" – so we must respond by making it more and more evident that we are among "those who are of heaven." 
 
The final verse of this chapter challenges us, as it challenged them, that we should show this in a particular attitude to life. "Therefore," writes Paul, "my beloved brothers, (and that includes sisters) be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain."
-------
- DC


#3 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 04 March 2018 - 02:06 AM

03 March 2018
 
Leviticus 8 
Psalms 107 
1 Corinthians 16  
 
"THUS SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS ..."
 
Four times in our Psalms reading today [Psalm 107] we come to a verse that requests a certain action. “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love , for his wondrous works to the children of men.” [Psalm 107:8,15, 21, 31]. Then the Psalm ends with the statement, “Whoever is wise let him attend to these things: let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.”
 
So in being “wise” we get our minds to understand and appreciate the actions of the LORD in attending to – or responding to – the actions or inaction of human beings in the way they live their lives in the sight of God, whether they “see” their Creator – or blindfold themselves – or are simply indifferent toward him.
 
When you think about it there are clear comparisons to that of children toward their parents as they grow up. And of course there is often considerable failure,, especially these days, in the “wisdom” of human parents in the way they train their children, But we are dealing with the wonderful divine parent, isn’t this the reason why we call him our “Heavenly Father.”
 
Psalm 107:17 states, “Some were fools through their sinful ways and because of their iniquities suffered affliction.” We can see parallels in these words with life today. Our world has totally ceased to look to God’s word; they have more or less abandoned belief in him and so the time will come, as verses 26, 27 tells us,when “their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end.” [Psalm 107:26-27]
 
This is the spirit that is starting to ‘swamp’ our world more and more; with what astonishment will the world see divine action taking place to prevent humans from destroying God’s creation and, in the process, themselves. The prophets warn of God’s ultimate actions, for example through Jeremiah he speaks of the time coming when “the LORD has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh … Thus says the LORD of hosts; Behold disaster is going forth from nation to nation …” [Jeremiah 25:31-32]
 
At that time as verse 42 of our Psalm states, “The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.” [Psalm 107:42] Let us make sure we are among those who “thank the LORD … for his wondrous works” in bringing peace out of utter chaos. 
-------
- DC


#4 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 04 March 2018 - 02:08 AM

04 March 2018
 
Leviticus 9; 10 
Psalms 108; 109 
2 Corinthians 1; 2  
 
"FIRE CAME OUT FROM BEFORE THE LORD"
 
We have a degree of concern about the references to "fire" when God shows his extreme anger with this Godless world at the return of Christ. See 1 Corinthians 3:13 in last week's readings and more specifically 2 Thessalonians 1:8 and 2 Peter 3:7. Our thoughts on this were spurred by the account of how 2 sons of Aaron were dramatically destroyed by fire as we read Leviticus 9; 10 today. Aaron and his sons were being "Sanctified" for their roles in serving in the Tabernacle that had just been built.
 
"Sanctified" means being recognized as holy; being set apart from the commonplace, treating situations with all reverence. This must be the attitude of all those who seek to truly serve God. This was a dramatic and disastrous result from a failure to do this, God means what he decrees. All the wonder of the actual presence of God in the tabernacle was demonstrated as worship in it began, "the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offerings …" [Leviticus 9:23-24]. As a result human attitudes of reverence and humility should have been paramount. The reaction at the time was totally understandable, "they shouted and fell on their faces" [Leviticus 9:24]. What will happen when our Lord returns to earth?
 
Aaron had four sons, all were involved in assisting their father and we now read how tragedy overwhelmed two of them. Nadab and Abihu "each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD which he had not commanded them" [Leviticus 10:1].
 
The result was terrifying for they "died before the LORD as fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them" [Leviticus 10:2]. Moses then says to Aaron, "Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified" [Leviticus 10:3].  
 
There is a vital lesson here for everyone who seeks to serve God and have a close relationship with him: this applies to Christians just as much as to Israelites. We know that the teaching of a "different gospel" to "distort the gospel of Christ" [Galatians 1:6-7] causes Paul to warn, "let him be accursed" [Galatians 1:9] who does this – so what happened to two of the sons of Aaron was a lesson for all ages.
-------
- DC


#5 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:34 AM

05 March 2018
 
Leviticus 11
Psalms 110; 111; 112
2 Corinthians 3; 4
 
"… WE DO NOT LOSE HEART"
 
Do you ever lose heart? Does life sometimes seem to be full of too many difficulties, too many frustrations? When we feel like this we should read these verses in Paul's Second letter to Corinth. So many times Paul was confronted with very difficult situations that would have threatened to daunt the strongest personality. 
 
Remember, for example, when he was unjustly thrown into prison at Philippi [Acts 16:22-24]. He and Silas were sitting in the darkness in the inner prison with their feet fastened in the stocks. They were "praying and singing hymns to God" [Acts 16:25] and these hymns were almost certainly Psalms.  
 
So what do we read today that Paul wrote to encourage others? "For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more … so we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen … the things that are unseen are eterrnal" [2 Corinthians 4:16-18].
 
It could well have been that the Psalms today were some of the hymns that Paul and Silas were singing. "Blessed is the man (or woman) who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments … Light dawns in the darkness for the upright. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid" [Psalm 112:1,4,6,7,8].
 
May this become our outlook on life – as we are surrounded by more and more godlessness but anticipating we will soon see God fulfilling the words we also read today, "The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgement among the nations …" [Psalm 110:5,66]. 
 
Let us read God's word every day and build up our faith so that "we do not lose heart." 
-------
- DC


#6 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:36 AM

06 March 2018
 
Leviticus 12; 13
Psalms 113; 114
2 Corinthians 5; 6; 7
 
"IF ANYONE IS IN CHRIST …"  
 
Our key verse is 2 Corinthians 5:17: "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God …" What a challenge for "the old" to pass away! Paul is not writing to Jews but to Gentiles! How vital for Gentiles - (ourselves) to become a "new creation"! 
 
Paul gives a particular reason for doing this! "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he (or she) has done in the body, whether good or evil" [2 Corinthians 5:10]. Now notice that Paul does not say what he or she has done in the world - but what they have "done in the body"! He means, of course, "the body of Christ."  
 
Remember what we read in 1 Corinthians 12:27 last week! "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." Paul's challenge was for them to each ask themselves whether they had really become a "new creation"? Paul gave them ­ from Christ ­ "the message of reconciliation" [2 Corinthians 5:19] How could those who have come out from Gentile darkness - fail to develop a consciousness of the real ­ the true ­ God! They must become a "new creation"! They had to become "reconciled" to the true God ­ and leave behind pagan "idols." And isn't our world today ­ full of  "idol worship"!? Human idols! 
 
This means they must overcome their previous spirit of godlessness. Their example surely puts urgent questions into our minds! We are surrounded by godlessness ­ especially if we watch much TV! Let us renew our efforts to become totally "a new creation" by becoming totally "in Christ." This is not achieved in a day ­ but our daily reading and meditation on God's word lays a vital foundation.
-------
- DC


#7 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:39 AM

07 March 2018
 
Leviticus 14 
Psalms 115; 116 
2 Corinthians 8; 9  
 
"OF THEIR OWN FREEWILL"
 
Paul's letters to the Corinthians are the most detailed and intimate of all that he wrote to places he had visited. It is evident as we read 2 Corinthians 8; 9 that he has built up a close relationship and understanding with them. He tells them of the believers in Macedonia, of which Philippi and Thessalonica are principal cities and their "readiness" in serving the Lord. Then he tells the Corinthians "about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part" [2 Corinthians 8:1-2].
 
In the next verse Paul drives home the point, "For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own freewill." 
 
Paul uses the word "boasting" ­ but it is boasting in a good sense ­ about the example of others of dedication and "giving" of time and effort, not just money. In mentioning this Paul seeks to inspire others to do the same. Of course, it becomes a bad thing if it degenerates into a "competition" and self-righteousness. The principle is stated in the Proverbs, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth" [Proverbs 27:2]. 
 
Paul states the principles involved very clearly in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." 
 
What a contrast this is to the mechanical process of tithing that had developed under the Law of Moses and the way the religious leaders of Jesus' day practiced it ­ also today! Some churches distort the scripture to justify pressuring their members to tithe ­ and yet, as we have noted previously, tithing in the nation of Israel was a sort of income tax for the running of the nation, for the Levites were responsible for much more than overseeing worship; an example is in our Leviticus reading today [Leviticus 14] in the containing and eradicating of forms of leprosy (mildew?). 
-------
- DC


#8 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:40 AM

08 March 2018
 
Leviticus 15 
Psalms 117; 118 
2 Corinthians 10; 11 
 
"IF YOU ACCEPT A DIFFERENT GOSPEL"
 
We are now nearing the climax of Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians. He becomes increasingly blunt in the way he expresses his thoughts: having carefully reasoned out the true gospel and the need to live a Christ-like life he now bluntly challenges them: he says, "I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a pure and sincere devotion to Christ" [2 Corinthians 11:3].
 
Our awareness of that which is "pure and sincere" is only obtained by our "sincere devotion" to God's word, leading us to make every effort in keeping our thinking "pure" – as a foundation to maintaining true belief and behavior. 
 
In the next verse Paul rebukes them for their lack of diligence in remaining true to their convictions of belief at their conversion - "for if someone," writes Paul, "comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough." 
 
Paul's rebuke to them has had its parallels ever since his day. There are those who "disguise themselves as servants of righteousness," but says Paul, "Their end will correspond to their deeds" [2 Corinthians 11:15].
 
We can see in these verses that it is both "deeds" and believing a "different gospel" that were a problem in Corinth – and this has continued to be a critical problem ever since. Our constant and diligent reading of God's word is the best way for us to ensure we are "not led astray" and that we maintain, as with Paul, "the meekness and gentleness of Christ" [2 Corinthians 10:1].
-------
- DC


#9 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:40 AM

09 March 2018
 
Leviticus 16 
Psalms 119:1-40 
2 Corinthians 12; 13 
 
"WITH MY WHOLE HEART ..."
 
Today we started reading Psalm 119. The longest chapter in the Bible. The phrase "whole" arrested our attention, it is in Psalm 119:2,10,34 in today's portion. The point comes across most powerfully that the real way to approach God is to do it with all our being, with total commitment of mind. 
 
Psalm 119:2 says "Blessed are those who keep his testimonies who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!" If the Psalmist is David, which many presume it is, we note how he then exclaims, "Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!" [Psalm 119:5]. 
 
The question and answer given in Psalm 119:9-11 are ones we should memorize – and we are sure they apply to young women as much as to young men. The question is, "How can a young man keep his way pure?" And the answer, "By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." 
 
David experienced times of depression. The Psalmist writes, "My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!" [Psalm 119:28]. So God's word, as well as inspiring our mind to keep out (or get rid of) impurities, is a source of strength when we are depressed. He declares, "I cling to your testimonies O LORD …. I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!" [Psalm 119:31-32]. 
 
Our hearts and minds need enlarging for them to contain all the precepts, knowledge and wisdom we gain over time from God's word, this process pushes out all unwholesome thoughts. 
 
"Give me understanding that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart" [Psalm 119:34]. The word "law" is all embracing, it is not just a set of rules to be kept (and added to) as those opposed to Jesus practiced. 
 
Finally, glancing ahead to Psalm 119:57, the Psalmist declares, "The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words. I entreat your favour with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay …"
 
We must follow his example with our whole heart!
-------
 DC


#10 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:42 AM

10 March 2018
 
Leviticus 17; 18 
Psalms 119:41-80 
Luke 1 
 
"SO KEEP MY CHARGE NEVER TO …" 
 
Leviticus does not make pleasant reading, but there are many things in the Bible which make us feel uncomfortable – for our own good. We could not fail to notice, in reading Leviticus 18, the parallel with much human behaviour these days. The LORD tells Moses about his abhorrence of many of the ways of life in Egypt – and in leaving Egypt, God expected his people to leave that way of life behind.
 
The chapter ends with the words, "So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never make yourselves unclean by them. I am the LORD your God." 
 
What were these abominable customs? One was, "You shall not lie (have sex) with a male as with a woman" [Leviticus 18:22]. There is also a long list of sexual relationships which are wrong. God says, "You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan to which I am bringing you …. For by all these, the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean" [Leviticus 18:3,24].  
 
Our world today has become more than ever unclean in the sight of God – will he one day do to our world as he did to the nations in the days of Moses? There are indications in Scripture that he will, but let us concentrate on ourselves – and the demands that we stay "clean." 
 
This is the spiritual hygiene which we saw emphasized yesterday as we started reading Psalm 119. We read more of this today and we see that the Psalmist was conscious his ways needed some cleansing for he writes, "When I think of my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law ... I am a companion of all those who fear you" [Psalm 119:59-62]. Notice that last sentence! Instead of being a companion to those who have no thought for God, he seeks the companionship of those who do. The Psalmist also recognises that troubles can be a blessing in disguise when he sees they caused him to rely on God. He says, "It is good for me that I was afflicted that I might learn your statutes" [Psalm 119:71] and "in faithfulness you have afflicted me" [Psalm 119:75]. 
 
Food for our own careful thought at all times, but especially when our lives encounter difficulties and we seem unable to cope with them and we pray, "Let your steadfast love comfort me … Let your mercy come to me that I may live; for your law is my delight … I will meditate on your precepts" [Psalm 119:76-78]. 
-------
- DC


#11 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:44 AM

11 March 2018
 
Leviticus 19 
Psalms 119:81-128 
Luke 2 
 
"MY MEDITATION ALL THE DAY"
 
The intensity of spiritual thought to be found in Psalm 119 invites our deepest reflection and meditation. The Psalmist is contemplating how the reality of his relationship with God penetrated all spheres of his life. As we read this Psalm it impels us to treasure God's word as the springboard of all our really worthwhile meditation. "How sweet are your words to my taste. Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way" [Psalm 119:103-104].
 
How much does our meditation lead us to hate every false way? The philosophy of today is not to "hate"  anything, everything is to be tolerated. The uninspired human heart stumbles along in its blindness.
 
Can we say with the Psalmist, "Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day … I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation" [Psalm 119:97-99]. He tells God, "Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart" therefore "I hate the double minded, but I love your law" [Psalm 119:111,113]. What a human inclination it is these days to be double-minded, our politicians are good at that, but they are only reflecting the attitudes of the many, but the Psalmist, who – let us not forget – is addressing God, says, "All the wicked of the earth you (will) discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear (awe) of you …" [Psalm 119:119-120] and asks, "Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love" [Psalm 119:124].
 
Do we ask that? Our readings in Luke's Gospel details one person who was particularly aware of that – and overwhelmed by that! We read yesterday of Mary saying, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices …" Today we read the testimony of the shepherds who came to see the babe lying in a manger and told Mary of their experience and what they had heard. And Mary "treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart" [Luke 2:19]. When Mary and Joseph bring the babe to Jerusalem, Simeon a "righteous and devout man ... Blessed them and said to Mary ... Behold this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed … so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" [Luke 2:25,34,35].
 
Thoughts revealed? Well, just look at the reactions of those jealous of Jesus! Look at the heart searchings of those who started to follow him and then left [John 6:60,66]. Yes, God can read all thoughts, he can see how well we are responding to the teaching of Jesus and whether we are meditating like the Psalmist! Or are we meditating at all? It takes someone like David to meditate all the day? 
 
But God knows what is happening in our hearts. Your heart?
-------
- DC


#12 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:46 AM

12 March 2018
 
Leviticus 20 
Psalms 119:129-176 
Luke 3  
 
"REJOICE AT YOUR WORD" 
 
Today we completed reading the 176 verses of Psalm 119.  What impressed us was how often the Psalmist stresses the value of knowing God's word. There is no point in reading God's word if what we read has no effect on us. We read today, "The unfolding of your word gives light; it imparts understanding …" [Psalm 119:130] and leads to the plea for God's help to "keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me" [Psalm 119:133]. 
 
Those with a firm relationship and reliance on God then feel great dismay at the attitudes they see around them; the Psalmist becomes very emotional about this, "My eyes shed streams of tears , because people do not keep your law … my zeal consumes me because my foes forget your words" [Psalm 119:136,139]. 
 
There have been many times in history – and again today in countries like Pakistan - where "foes" arise to make life difficult for those who follow Christ. The Psalmist says, "I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts … your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live" [Psalm 119:141,144]. 
 
He sees more than the continuation of the struggles of this mortal life, he looks forward to the time when he may live eternally and because of this he declares, "The sum of your word is truth my heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil … great peace have they who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. I hope for your salvation, O LORD …" [Psalm 119:160-166]. May God's salvation be our hope and peace of mind, so that our "steps" in this life are sure and firm.
 
In Luke's gospel today we read of John Baptists' message to the crowds that came out to be baptized … "Bear fruits in keep with repentance" [Luke 3:7-8] he told them. God's call to people has not changed, but the foundation attitude of those who respond to the call is that they say to God, "I rejoice at your word."
-------
- DC


#13 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:49 AM

13 March 2018
 
Leviticus 21 
Psalms 120; 121; 122; 123; 124 
Luke 4  
 
SONGS OF ASCENTS "PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM!"
 
Today we have 5 short Psalms to read and they are all called "A SONG OF ASCENTS." Among the Jews these and the ten Psalms which follow are generally understood to be the songs that were sung as they went up to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. In some cases they would be coming from distant lands remember the man from Ethiopia that Philip was sent by the Spirit to meet? "he had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning" [Acts 8:27]. Also on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, visitors from as far away as Rome [Acts 2:10] had come to Jerusalem for the feast. 
 
Recall Isaiah's vision! "It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains … and many people shall come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD" [Isaiah 2:2-3].
 
So what did the pilgrims going up to Jerusalem sing about? Do these Psalms foreshadow at all the future going up to Jerusalem? The first one [Psalm 120] is, "In my distress I cried to the LORD and he answered me. Deliver me O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue" [Psalm 120:1-2].  
 
This is the frame of mind among those who do not know God that those going up to Jerusalem leave behind! Psalm 121 states, "My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth … The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore" [Psalm 121:2,7,8]. That will be true when Jesus returns and the kingdom is established.
 
Psalm 122 has familiar words to most of us, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls …" [Psalm 122:6-7].
 
Imagine the time to come "in the latter days"! But these surely are the latter days! How much longer before this SONGS OF ASCENTS will have the fullest meaning and be sung by the redeemed with all their heart. "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore" [Psalm 125:1-2].
-------
- DC


#14 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 18 March 2018 - 02:45 AM

14 March 2018
 
Leviticus 22 
Psalms 125; 126; 127 
Luke 5  
 
"DO GOOD O LORD, TO THOSE WHO ARE GOOD"
 
We continue to read the Psalms which up to Psalm 130 are each captioned, "A SONG OF ASCENTS."  These are short songs which are believed to have been sung as people ascended up to Mount Zion to the Temple to worship. "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever" [Psalm 125:1]. They would then sing, "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people …" [Psalm 125:2].
 
The essential focus of this song are these words, "Do good O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts" [Psalm 125:4]. We note it is "in their hearts" the place where only God can see as he "surrounds his people." But what of those who slip after being upright? The next and last verse states, "But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with the evildoers! …" 
 
Those trying to be upright today are surrounded by those whose ways are "crooked" to various degrees, "Mount Zion" is not on their radar screen. The strength we need to prevent us from turning aside is greatly helped when we find a quiet half an hour each day to read – and meditate on what we have read - in God's word.  
 
Then, as the next Psalm puts it, the time will come when we can look back and say, "The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad" [Psalm 126:3]. This leads to a thought provoking point in the final verses, "Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for the sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him."
 
Let us "sow" God's seed, firstly in our own hearts, and then encourage others to do the same. It is inevitable that there are times of weeping in our mortal life – and these are times of great sadness if there is no prospect of "shouts of joy" when our time comes to ascend Mount Zion in an all glorious reunion with others who have maintained upright hearts, or who have recovered from stumbling, to join in the ascent up God's holy mountain. 
-------
- DC


#15 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 18 March 2018 - 02:46 AM

15 March 2018
 
Leviticus 23 
Psalms 128; 129; 130 
Luke 6 
 
"BUT WITH YOU THERE IS FORGIVENESS"
 
Our Psalms and Luke readings today link together in encouraging us to think and live positively in a world that buffets us with false values. There are times when these greatly affect us and they threaten to be overwhelming. These Psalms provide us with encouragement should that be our experience. Psalm 130 is an outstanding example: "Out of the depths I cry to you O LORD … be attentive to the voice of my -pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared" [Psalm 130:1-4].
 
Then the question arises, what counts as iniquities? In the days of Moses and ancient Israel the people would look to the 10 commandments; but Jesus, as we read in Luke 6 today describes Christ-like behaviour as being much more than avoiding bad behaviour like stealing and committing adultery. 
 
Jesus taught, "But I say unto you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you …" [Luke 6:27-28]. Then Jesus lays down what is often called 'the golden rule' saying, "as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them" [Luke 6:31].
 
It has always been the greatest challenge to live as God requires. David knew this. Jesus came to spell it out in plain language – and live it - to set us an example. With gratitude we remember David's words – and see his life as an example, especially for us, if we stumble off the narrow pathway that Jesus described [Matthew 7:14]. 
 
We therefore need more especially to remember David's words that God is "feared" because with him "there is forgiveness." He is not feared because he is an angry God, rather he is feared ("held in the deepest reverence" it means in this context – because he is a loving God). 
 
Tomorrow's Psalm 131 is specifically by David. He writes, "O LORD, my heart is not lifted up … I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me" [Psalm 131:1-2].
-------
- DC


#16 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 18 March 2018 - 02:47 AM

16 March 2018
 
Leviticus 24 
Psalms 131; 132; 133; 134 
Luke 7  
 
"... UNTIL I FIND A PLACE FOR THE LORD" 
 
Psalm 132 provokes much personal thought.  "Remember, O LORD, in David's favour, all the hardships he endured, how he swore to the LORD and vowed … I will not enter my house or get into my bed, I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob" [Psalm 132:1-5]. This strongly reminds us of the words of Jesus, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our abode with him" [John 14:23].
 
What a wonderful vision of the unseen! Is it truly real? We read Jesus' words in Revelation, "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him …" [Revelation 3:20]. Do we read the Bible in a way that causes us to "hear"? Jesus seeks to make his abode in our heart! Each of us should ask ourselves, how "comfortable" would Jesus be in our hearts? 
 
We find such questions disturbing! But think; why do Jesus and his Father seek to come? Is it not to strengthen and shed light so that the "spirit of the living God" has its' effect "on tablets of human hearts" [2 Corinthians 3:3] – and a wonderful result of this is that the dark spots in our hearts disappear!
 
The opening statement in the Psalm "I will not (even) enter my house …" makes us think of both Abraham and David. With Abraham "the LORD brought him outside and said, 'Look toward heaven …'" [Genesis 15:5]. And surely David also looked toward heaven when, as a young man he was keeping the sheep. An experience which resulted in Psalm 19; notice how it begins, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." 
 
So the first step in finding "a place for the LORD", before we close our eyes in sleep each night, could be to go outside and look toward heaven and meditate. After that there are several appropriate Scriptures to meditate on as we prepare to close our eyes in peace for a night of rest. In his First Letter the Apostle John makes the point, "Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us" [1 John 3:24]. 
 
Paul understood this, he told the Ephesians they were "being built together into a dwelling place for God by the spirit" [Ephesians 2:22], evidently a work in progress! He makes the point in Romans 8 "all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God" [Romans 8:14]. To really "find a place for the LORD" is a totally humbling experience and lays the foundation for really "living" a true life "in Christ."
-------
- DC


#17 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 18 March 2018 - 02:48 AM

17 March 2018
 
Leviticus 25 
Psalms 135; 136 
Luke 8
 
"FOR THE LAND IS MINE"
 
Today's readings in Leviticus 25 are the words of the LORD about how the nation is to function when they settle into the promised land.
 
First there are laws to see that they treat the land properly so that the soil continues to yield its increase. They were work the land for 6 years "but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD" [Leviticus 25:4]. This policy of ploughing a field for 6 years and letting it rest on the 7th made good sense. The soil could rejuvenate. 
 
It is only in recent generations that farmers have been able to use lots of extra chemical fertilisers to increase land productivity. But at the same time they have made mistakes, and in trying to make the land too productive, some have ruined it. The chapter goes on to tell us that after 7 cycles or 7, making 49 years, the 50th year was to be a Jubilee Year, a very special year when "each of you shall return to his property" [Leviticus 25:13]. God said, "The land shall not be sold in perpetuity for the land is mine" [Leviticus 25:23].  
 
When they arrive in the promised land, as we will read in May, the land will be divided by Joshua into territories for each tribe. Each of these territories are then divided again into the ownership of families within the tribe, and then again to heads of households and individuals. If land was sold because of some urgent need, this was only until the next Jubilee Year. We read of various laws designed to help those who became poor. It is summed up in Leviticus 25:46 "you shall not rule over one another ruthlessly."
 
The law was very good, but the people often were not, and did not put it into practice very well. God's messages through the prophets often address this failure. In Isaiah we read, "Woe to those who join house to house and add field to field" [Isaiah 5:8]. The whole spirit of capitalism as practiced today in much of the world now is wrong; it cultivates a spirit of greed in building up more and more wealth. 
 
But God's principle for Israel was, "the land is mine" – they were the tenants to whom he had let it out. Surely the same will apply in the Kingdom of God. When, on Monday week, we come to Luke 18, take special note of Luke 18:25: what kind of riches do we have today?
-------
- DC


#18 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 18 March 2018 - 03:13 AM

18 March 2018
 
Leviticus 26 
Psalms 137; 138; 139 
Luke 9
 
"... KNOW MY HEART"
 
Do you, do I, want God to really “know my heart”? The concluding words of David’s Psalm 139 are some of the most challenging in Scripture. It seems obvious that David wrote it when he had formed a most intimate relationship with God, he declares, “How precious to me are your thoughts O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” [Psalm 139:17-18]
 
David’s meditations in this Psalm are most meaningful, he had a sense of really being “with God” and God, with him. How intensely personal is his closing appeal to the Almighty, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” But that leading by God comes at a price – the surrender of self, of our human inclinations - to God’s leading.
 
David surely knew what Moses wrote at God’s direction, we read it today in Leviticus 26. The first 13 verses list all the blessings to come on the nation if they will truly serve their God who has delivered them from slavery in Egypt. “I will make my dwelling among you,” says God, “I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” [Leviticus 26:11-12]
 
David was leading the people to do this – he would have fallen asleep in death convinced that his son Solomon would complete what he had begun in making the nation, God’s people. His Psalm explains a vital underlying factor in serving God, that, observing God’s laws, must be followed by an attitude of heart and mind that achieves a personal relationship with God. Sadly, the rest of Leviticus 26, which details the actions of God when there is a failure to obey his laws, came terribly true for most who journeyed to the promised land under Moses.
 
Our awareness - of the white and black of the paths of life – is vital for our eternal health: they are excellently summed up in the words of Jesus in the last verse of our Luke [Luke 9] reading. “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Our innermost thoughts as we prayerfully read God’s word each day will keep us looking forward.
-------
- DC


#19 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 25 March 2018 - 04:30 AM

19 March 2018
 
Leviticus 27 
Psalms 140; 141; 142 
Luke 10  
 
"WHEN MY SPIRIT FAINTS ... THEN YOU KNOW MY WAY" 
 
In contrast to the wonderful spiritual perceptions of Psalm 139 which we read yesterday, today we have a Psalm which is, in some ways, the opposite. The superscription at the start says it was a prayer of David when he was in a cave. Twice David was in great peril hiding in caves; once when he fled from the King of Gath and the second when he was hiding from Saul at Engedi. Imagine being totally on your own, hiding. In such circumstances you are totally perplexed as to what to do next, your "spirit faints."
 
David writes, "I cry out to the LORD … I plead for mercy to the LORD … I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!" [Psalm 142:1-3]. God knew his way – yet David had lost sight of this and laments, "no refuge remains for me; no one cares for my soul" [Psalm 142:4]. 
 
In the next verse David seeks to regain his vision, "I cry out to you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!'" [Psalm 142:5-6].  
 
Such is our human nature that while we can at times climb to spiritual heights – and then, in times of distress, lose sight of the wonder that our Lord Jesus and our Heavenly Father should always be our portion, our refuge so that when we are cast down and our "spirit faints" within us we can say to God, "you know my way." 
 
Our reading in Luke today also provides a useful lesson; it is the failure of the people of Capernaum to appreciate the wonder of "the mighty works" that had been done there. In a sense, this city had been "exalted to heaven" [Luke 10:15] because of what they had witnessed. Jesus means that this experience should have caused great repentance and humility. 
 
But it didn't, so Jesus says, "You shall be brought down to Hades (the grave)" [Luke 10:15]. Today clever scientists are discovering more and more of the incredible wonders of creation – yet they explain them all away as evolution! We can see the comparison! 
 
They, and all who agree with them, will suffer the same fate as Capernaum! Let us open our hearts as we read God's word every day and be "exalted to heaven" - seeing the meaning of life from a heavenly perspective. What wonders await those who do and who "know (Christ's) way" – and how soon now will that be evident to the whole world – but nearly all are scoffers. God's way will become evident –but too late for them!
-------
- DC


#20 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14140 posts

Posted 25 March 2018 - 04:32 AM

20 March 2018
 
Numbers 1 
Psalms 143; 144 
Luke 11  
 
"BLESSED RATHER ARE THOSE WHO ..."
 
Very soon we will be reading the Proverbs of Solomon. We thought of this when we saw the reference Jesus made to Solomon in today's Chapter 11 of Luke's gospel. He made reference to the accounts in the Old Testament of the wisdom from God that Solomon received and how, such as the queen of Sheba, "came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon" [Luke 11:31]. But, said Jesus, "behold something greater than Solomon is here."
 
Jesus was very popular and sought after – but was it for a good spiritual reason? "When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, 'This generation is an evil generation …'" [Luke 11:29]. And our generation?  When "a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, 'Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed' he responded by saying, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it'" [Luke 11:27-28].
 
So many people want something physical to look at to "worship." It is tragic that idol worship practices have made their way into much of Christianity, this has been specially evident in all the publicity about the Pope – from time to time. And how Cardinals can misbehave! In contrast, how many want to hear the word of God and keep it! Today, when it is so easy to read it (or hear it read) how rarely is the opportunity taken!
 
Jesus said, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world" [John 9:5]. The light continues in God's word! In today's chapter, did you notice how Jesus states, "after lighting a lamp (no-one) puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light" [Luke 11:33]. Jesus then warns, "be careful lest the light in you be darkness" [Luke 11:35]. Or, becomes darkness! We turn on a light to make use of it!
 
God's word gives light to our world, but it is no use seeing the light if we are not going to make use of it. Beware lest the Bible becomes an "ornament" on the bookshelf that we are pleased to have, but, could it become, or maybe already is for some, little better than having an image of Mary!?  
 
Oh no, but think, although, we make use of it on Sunday to take with us and turn up the readings but is that all? Do we only eat food one day of the week? Our minds need constant good food – even more so today with so much junk food around! May we all loudly hear (in our hearts) the words of Jesus, "Blessed rather are those who hear (read) the word of God and keep it."
-------
- DC





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users