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TFTBR - March 2021

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01 March 2021

Leviticus 5; 6
Psalms 105
1 Corinthians 14


The book of Leviticus goes into great detail about how the people were to become a law abiding people by obeying the laws God was giving them. Tragically, apart from the Levites, the grown up people who had experienced life in Egypt, even though they had been slaves, never humbled themselves to keep faith with the God whose great power they had witnessed.

It is most interesting to look back to the time when the Bible was first translated and printed four to five hundred years ago. This was the time when Kings and Queens began to lose their absolute powers and detailed laws began to be put in their place by the Parliaments that were set up. Those formulating the laws often took their guidance from many of the principles in the laws God gave to Moses some 3,000 years earlier. Our generation has forgotten all that - and that God said, “Woe unto them who become wise in their own eyes” [Isaiah 5:21]

Today Leviticus 6 starts with these words, “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving his neighbour in …’” There follows various types of wrong doing – for e.g. “he has oppressed his neighbour or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing (giving an oath) falsely – in any and all the things that people do and sin thereby ” [Leviticus 6:2,3]

We need to notice the point that all wrong-doing was seen by God as “a breach of faith against the LORD”

In God’s eyes all wrong doing by those who bear his name are sins against him. David immediately acknowledged this when made aware of his sin. [2 Samuel 12:13] So all our wrongdoing is “a breach of faith”, a lapse in the commitment we gave when we committed our lives to serve our Lord - and God became our heavenly Father. A verse in today’s Psalm particularly jumped out as we read it, “Seek the LORD and his strength: seek his presence continually” [Psalm 105:4]. The more we succeed in doing this, the more we will not sin. Remember, all wrongdoing “is a breach of faith.”
- DC

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02 March 2021


Leviticus 7

Psalms 106

1 Corinthians 15




Today’s Psalm 106 is a remarkable survey and summary of God’s relationship with his chosen people and the lessons they learned or failed to learn in succeeding generations. The survey begins with their time in Egypt when they became numerous but at the same time lost their vision of their patriarchs: “yet he saved them for his name’s sake that he might make known his mighty power” [Psalm 106:8]


As a result “they believed his words; they sang his praise” [Psalm 106:12]. But it did not take long before “they forgot God, their Saviour, who had done great things in Egypt … and awesome deeds by the Red Sea” [Psalm 106:21,22]. Those who were faithful eventually arrived in the promised land but the next generation “did not destroy the peoples as the LORD had commanded” [Psalm 106:34] The fatal result was “they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did.” [Psalm 106:35]


We look back on history and see how those who started to serve God soon made the same mistake. Religious Jews have repeated this Psalm down the Centuries and verse 47 has been answered! This says, “Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.” [Psalm 106:47] God heeded and they have been gathered. But how many today realize it has been an act of God in directing a whole sequence of events? Just a few appear to realize.


Christ came 2,000 years ago and in many ways history has repeated itself in subsequent events. Christ’s church started with tremendous enthusiasm so that masses of pagans came to believe in Christ! But the vision faded and was lost, succeeding generations making the same mistakes as ancient Israel. With the printing of the Bible there came a reformation and an extensive rediscovery of the ways of God. But once again people who had become godly have “mixed with the nations”. They now forget that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” [Philippians 3:20] In all our unavoidable involvement with human citizenship let us have in mind the words of God’s prophet Jeremiah, “I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” [Jeremiah 10:23]


- DC

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03 March 2021


Leviticus 8

Psalms 107

1 Corinthians 16




Today we completed reading 1st Corinthians. Two verses about love caught our eye in this final chapter. 1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Let all that you do be done in love” – but in 1 Corinthians 16:22 we read, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!” How do we show our love for the Lord? Well, we cannot show love for someone we do not know!


We need to have a relationship with someone if we are to love them in a personal sense – love is the cement that binds a relationship together. This verse is a challenge! It indicates there is no middle position- we either love or we do not.


Immediately before Paul had written, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” [1 Corinthians 16:13] The only statement there that is not fully clear is the first. “Be watchful” – what are we to be watchful for? When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane he chided Peter saying, “could you not watch with me one hour” [Matthew 26:40] Watch for what? Peter had no idea that they were coming to arrest Jesus! But Jesus said, “Watch with me”, Jesus in the agony of knowing what was about to happen in obeying his Father’s will, would be strengthened, at least in some measure, by their nearness and support. He was still a normal human being at that stage, “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” [Hebrews 4:15]


So Paul meant that the Corinthians should “watch” in support of one another, even more so when situations became difficult – surely a message for us!.


Finally we should note that, after writing, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed” he immediately wrote, “O Lord come!” This takes us back to the words of Jesus about conditions in the final days; he told his disciples, “Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” [Matthew 24:12,13]


Let us all endure and say to each other the words Paul used to end this Epistle,


“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus, Amen.” [1 Corinthians 16:24]


- DC

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04 March 2021


Leviticus 9; 10

Psalms 108; 109

2 Corinthians 1; 2




Modern manufacturing and advertising salesmanship has become very ingenious in what they produce and encourage the public to buy – at least that is so in what we call the ‘western’ world. Many of these things are far from essential, for example, the expensive things that are promoted to make us smell nice, to create pleasing aromas of various kinds.


This thought came to our minds as we read the opening chapters of Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians. Paul, after his strictures in his first letter about aspects of their behaviour has a number of positive encouraging things to say. He writes, “I made up mind not to make any painful visit to you” [2 Corinthians 2:1], then adds “I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love I have for you.” [2 Corinthians 2:4] This is the spirit of a parent in dealing with a wayward child they still love. When there is need for deserved words, and even actions, of disapproval, all such must still be done with a loving spirit.


Paul says, “Thanks be to God who … through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved’ [2 Corinthians 2:14,15] What great examples of a loving attitude should we be toward one another. Even when we feel the need to point out behaviour that is not good, it is essential that we do it with a loving spirit.


But what of others who despise and even sneer at the name of Christ? Well Paul says, “we are (also) the aroma of Christ … among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” [2 Corinthians 2:15,16]. Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” [John 9:5] True believers represent Christ in this world and must do their best to be both a “light” and an “aroma” that is evident in the increasing darkness around us.


- DC

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05 March 2021
Leviticus 11
Psalms 110; 111; 112
2 Corinthians 3; 4
The Psalms are constantly full of challenging words. There are so many positive thoughts in them. But our lives are often invaded by situations that provoke negative thoughts. We need the positive inspired words of the Psalms, Israel's Hymn Book that David began to compile more than 3,000 years ago. They are a great stimulus to positive thinking.
"The righteous will not be moved," [Psalm 112:6]. That is, he or she will not collapse, especially in times when they "walk through the valley of the shadow of death" [Psalm 23:4], wrote David. "He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm trusting in the LORD" [Psalm 112:7] "The fear (awe) of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding" [Psalm 111:10].
The foundation of a life worth living before God, is to be in awe of what God must be and to realize that he seeks to have a relationship with us. The recognition of this was the springboard to David's life so that he could begin the Psalm with the words, "I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart" [Psalm 111:1]. It became the springboard to Paul's life. Also that of James, who had spurned belief in his half-brother Jesus [John 7:5], but, he like Paul, came to realize that what they saw as bad news then, turned out to be the best possible life-changing good news for a fully meaningful life and an even greater life that is to come.
James writes about those who doubt, "the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways". [James 1:6-8] Such a person's heart is not firm, he or she will be afraid of bad news. James continues, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he (or she) has stood the test he will receive a crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." [James 1:12]
- DC
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06 March 2021


Leviticus 12; 13

Psalms 113; 114

2 Corinthians 5; 6; 7




Remember how the disciples showed Jesus the grandeur of the Temple [Mark 13:1,2] and he shocked them by saying it was all going to be destroyed! Now see how today's reading in 2nd Corinthians makes the point of how the temple was replaced. There is a new kind of Temple where God wants to dwell and that is the most important thing in the life of a believer.


Paul writes, "we are the temple of the living God, as God has said …" [2 Corinthians 6:16]. But remarkably, Paul then quotes words of God that we are going to read later this month in Leviticus. And what did God say to Moses that Paul felt he should quote in his letter?


"I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go from out from their ( i.e. the unbelievers) midst and be separate from them … then I will welcome you and I will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me says the Lord Almighty." [2 Corinthians 6:16-18]


Now notice what Paul adds after quoting these words from Leviticus 26:11,12. "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" [2 Corinthians 7:1]


Paul is saying that we, our minds and heart, are God's spiritual temple in which he seeks to live! What occupies our minds, what are the things we meditate upon? Now it is vital that we are positive in our reaction to this fact – how utterly wonderful to have God in our very being, watching over us! In answering this question we see how important it is that we read God's word every day. Take time to note how at the beginning of Chapter 6 Paul quotes from Isaiah 49:8 – "now is the day of salvation"


Think of the hymn Islip Collyer wrote,


We know the end, we know the way,

And some with life he will endow,

Shall we be will him on that day?

We make the answer now.



- DC

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07 March 2021


Leviticus 14

Psalms 115; 116

2 Corinthians 8; 9




We come across this phrase in today's Psalm 116:11 It is an encouraging Psalm, it starts, "I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live"


Yet there are times when we struggle to call on God, we seem to be overwhelmed by events. The same happened to David, who is almost certainly the writer of this Psalm. We read in Psalm 116:6 "When I was brought low, he saved me. Return O my soul to your rest, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you"


David talks to himself, telling himself to rest upon the Lord, to remember all the times God has dealt bountifully with him. Count your blessings, we say – and sometimes sing. Then we come to verse 11, "I said in my alarm, 'All mankind are liars'" Does that seem an odd thing to be alarmed about? We think he means that he cannot trust anyone. He could not trust his own brothers, remember what they said to him when he came to the army camp when Goliath was challenging Israel? [1 Samuel 17:28] Saul's son Jonathan was his closest friend; do you remember how he lamented when Jonathan was killed in battle?


Last week we read in Corinthians of the frictions between members, some were even taking each other to court "To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud – even your own brothers! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?" [1 Corinthians 6:7-9] NO, they were blind to that fact! We must not be similarly blind.


Remember how the Psalm started? "I love the LORD …" If we can say that with all our heart, then we will not be alarmed and distressed by those around us who do not do the same – and who show they are not doing it by their words, their lies. Have a look at what David says after lamenting that all men are liars – in particular meditate on what "the sacrifice of thanksgiving" means in practice. [Psalm 116:17]


- DC

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08 March 2021


Leviticus 15

Psalms 117; 118

2 Corinthians 10; 11




A person with leprosy in Bible times was expected to cry out 'Unclean, unclean" so that people would know not to touch him or her for fear of contagion and their own infection. The word 'Leprosy' covers a multitude of skin infections, some serious, so not and we read in the last 2 days in Leviticus of the Priest's responsibility in determining which were serious and the action to prevent infections from spreading. Today's chapter [Leviticus 15] is about the precautions to be taken with sick people and others who had bodily discharges with the object of preventing the spread of other infections and disease.


We also read that if those unclean with a "discharge" touch anyone "without having rinsed their hands in water" then the person touched is also regarded unclean until the evening and needs to "wash his clothes and bathe himself" [Leviticus 15:11] They also had to cleanse the drinking and other vessels they used.


Now it is only about 200 years since our world discovered how infections spread and the great importance of hygiene; before then countless needless deaths and plagues occurred. In the 19th Century we read that a few medical men, suddenly realizing that the Bible had such laws given by God 4,000 years ago became convinced it really was a divine revelation from God and followed the way of life and belief found in the Bible.


In today's 2nd Corinthians reading in chapter 11 we see a spiritual counterpart as Paul laments that some were easily "led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ." He then writes, "if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus that 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." [2 Corinthians 11:3-5] Then he writes, "such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ." [2 Corinthians 11:13] Sadly; it is the same today – and many accept an "unclean" gospel – but some, by God's grace, come to realize this and go through a cleansing process. But there is, of course, a limit to the spiritual counterpart; note what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.


- DC

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09 March 2021


Leviticus 16

Psalms 119:1-40

2 Corinthians 12; 13




Psalm 119 is very special. When we were young we used to just think of it as an extra long chapter, the longest in the Bible, 176 verses, impossible to read at one go. And nor should we try to read it like that! God's word is food for the mind, we should savour it and "eat" it slowly. This Psalm is like tender tasty 'meat' causing much reflection on our ways before God. It is surprising have often the word 'way' or 'ways' occurs in it.


David, like all of us, is on a journey through life, we all have to decide the best WAY to take, what career path to try to follow. We must recognise there is a spiritual career path too! Well our decisions are based on our aims, and an important part of our decisions is how far into the future we are looking.


Now look at the words of this Psalm. "Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast …" [Psalm 119:1-5]


In some modern versions, such as the New English Bible, they use the word "Happy" instead of "Blessed", interesting, what is the way to true happiness. What is it to be happy?


"How can a young man (or woman) keep his way pure?" David asks! His 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." [Psalm 119:9-11] Think about that! How much of God's word do we have in storage? We prove how much, by how much we can bring out when it is needed.


David later writes, "Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness … Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways." [Psalm 119:29,30, 37] In many ways this Psalm contains the essence of the prayers of David; examples on which to model our prayers.


- DC

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10 March 2021


Leviticus 17; 18

Psalms 119:41-80

Luke 1




Today we began reading Luke’s Gospel. The father of John the Baptist is inspired by the Holy Spirit to say, “you child will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.” [Luke 1:76]. He speaks of “a horn of salvation” that God “has raised up” [Luke 1:69] “that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us” [Luke 1:71]. Now this was not fulfilled in the First Century because the nation rejected their ‘horn of salvation.”


These words still have to be fulfilled! The scene in the Middle East today appears to be ‘setting the stage’ for Christ to return and fulfil these words and establish his kingdom and so fulfil the rest of the words Zechariah was inspired by the Holy Spirit to say – “that we being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness …” [Luke 1:74,75]


That time may be very near as the enemies that surround God’s land and others nearby now sense they have the support of the majority of nations in their hatred of Israel. We see the abject weakness of the United Nations to take any action.


Those who have a sure faith in God’s word note Mary’s words in magnifying the Lord, “his mercy is for those who fear him” but “he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts” [Luke 1:50,51] Let all who truly believe and fear God look for his mercy and guidance as our world plunges into distress and darkness and is completely oblivious to the “light of the world” that is about to shine forth.


- DC

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11 March 2021
Leviticus 19
Psalms 119:81-128
Luke 2
“How sweet are your words to my taste. Sweeter than honey … ” [Psalm 119:103] What makes them sweet? Most children like sweets! Why? Because they enjoy the taste. Do we enjoy the “taste” of God’s words? Do we feel their value to us in our hearts and minds?
They present a great variety of thoughts to us. This variety serves a whole variety of needs for the different circumstances we have and will encounter in life.
With the stresses and strains that life presents to so many people, more and more are seeking medical help and, as a result, quite a variety of so called specialists now exist. But efforts to wisely treat the problems and provide effective medication has met with only limited success.
What a wonderful Psalm 119 is. If we had no other Psalms, it would go a long way to fulfilling human needs for deep meditation. We understand that in the days when only men like the scribes were trained to read and write and hand written scrolls were most precious, some people trained their memories to learn all the Psalms by heart!
Look at verse 97 and onwards, “Oh how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment make me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers….” [Psalm 119:97-128] The Psalmist then declares, “I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word” [Psalm 119:101]
Now note verse 126, “It is time for the LORD to act for your law has been broken” [Psalm 119:126] – and we reflected on the fact that exactly one year ago today the world was shocked, numbed, by the awesome effects of a 9.0 earthquake and resultant tsunami that critically afflicted Japan. It has still a long way to go to overcome the effects, if it ever will! Was this the final outworking of judgement on a nation that unleashed the Pacific war 70 years ago? God knows. How long before it is time for the LORD to act to bring the whole world to its knees?
Paul told the Romans, “because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgements will be revealed.” [Romans 2:5] Romans 2:7 gives us the contrast! “To those who by patience and well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality he will give eternal life.” The Psalms are a great help to us in doing that.
- DC
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12 March 2021


Leviticus 20

Psalms 119:129-176

Luke 3




Today we completed reading that marvellous Psalm 119. As we read God’s word day by day how wonderfully true it is that “the unfolding of your words gives light” [Psalm 119:130]. The rest of that verse says, “it imparts understanding to the simple.” Do the wise not need understanding? Reflect on the Proverb we will read later this month! “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” [Proverbs 3:7,8]


The Psalmist’s prayer is similar, “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” [Psalm 119:133] It is tragic that the word iniquity, that is, sinful ways, describes the way of life around us more than ever. It is even more tragic when new human laws allow behaviour that God hates. We read today in Leviticus 20 of how adulterers in God’s nation were to be put to death [Leviticus 20:10] and “if a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death …” [Leviticus 20:13]


God’s attitude is summed up in Leviticus 20:23, “You shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them.” Returning to Psalm 119 we noted its concluding words, “Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word … Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation …. Let my soul live and praise you.” [Psalm 119:169; 119:173-175]


Finally in Luke we read John Baptist’s words of the ultimate judgements on evil that God will send Jesus to accomplish. We must be close to the fulfilment of these words. “His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” [Luke 3:17] Our meditations on the Psalms will help us to be among the wheat.


- DC

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13 March 2021


Leviticus 21

Psalms 120; 121; 122; 123; 124

Luke 4




Those who read God’s word regularly are naturally inclined to watch world events, especially in the Middle East, to see if they can fit them into some prophecy. The disciples looked to Jesus in expectation of developments toward the establishment of his kingdom: two of them even asked if they could sit on either side of him in the kingdom [Mark 10:37]. But those in the synagogue who heard him quote a particular portion from the scroll of Isaiah [Luke 4:17] which he unrolled until he “found the place where it was written” were puzzled at what he chose to read; even more so when “he rolled up the scroll … to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled .. ’” [Luke 4:20-21]


We ponder the passage he read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me , because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor: he has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” [Luke 4:18-19]


Is it clear to us what the passage means? Who bothers to preach to the poor, they had no money to put into the treasury! There is a spiritual meaning too, deliverance to those who are captive to sin, and of those who are spiritually blind. But most people, including the disciples, were focussed on themselves and what the reality of the kingdom would mean for them when it came!


But there is work to be done first, this is still “the year of the Lord’s favour”! In Luke 4:43 we read how Jesus kept moving on to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” We follow in his footsteps and today a final effort is being made to preach to people all over the world, even in the remotest parts. But surely too, it is wherever opportunity occurs such as to our workmates and neighbours! And after that? Just as the arrest and death of Jesus took place so suddenly, so also his return. How meaningful for us today are his words, “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with … cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap” [Luke 21:34] What are we watching?


- DC

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14 March 2021


Leviticus 22

Psalms 125; 126; 127

Luke 5




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” in 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

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15 March 2021


Leviticus 23

Psalms 128; 129; 130

Luke 6




In Luke 6 from verse 20 we have Luke’s selection from the sayings of Jesus in what we usually refer to as ‘the Sermon on the Mount’ [Matthew 5; 6; 7] These are essential principles for those aiming to truly follow Christ. Jesus has some challenging questions! “If you love those who love you what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” [Luke 6:32,33] Christ challenged his hearers to achieve higher standards of behaviour than the example set by the religious leaders.


It is of some credit that in our era several countries, such as our own, have a multitude of social welfare organisations, in addition to Government initiatives, to help those who are called ‘under privileged.’ Their poverty is sometimes caused by some misfortune, a health breakdown or accident; but it is often a result of the their own foolishness or laziness. A great deal of money is spent in prodding people’s consciences to give to these welfare organisations – and much good work is done by the Salvation Army and similar organisations. In what are called ‘third world’ countries, the problems are greater – the gap between the rich and the poor is often enormous!


The true followers of Christ should not need to have their consciences prodded! They need to have the principles he taught always in mind as they encounter different circumstances; they must not be coldly calculating in the things they will or will not do. Life is a real challenge for those who are well blessed, even more for those with an abundance of this world’s goods (remember the parable about the one who built bigger barns - Luke 12:18!). We noted Jesus’ words, “woe to you who are rich for you have received your consolation” [Luke 6:24]


The Apostle Paul gives sound advice to the Galatians that is good for all ages, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially those who are of the household of faith” [Galatians 6:10]


- DC

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16 March 2021


Leviticus 24

Psalms 131; 132; 133; 134

Luke 7




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 …” [Revleation 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 1st 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

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17 March 2021
Leviticus 25
Psalms 135; 136
Luke 8
Today’s readings in Leviticus 25 contains instructions from the LORD as to how the nation was to function when they settled in the promised land. Laws were given to ensure they treated the land properly so that the soil continued to yield good crops. They were to 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 seventh made good sense. The soil could rejuvenate. The word Sabbath means “rest.”
It is only in recent generations that farmers have been able to use lots of extra chemical fertilisers to increase land productivity: but they have sometimes 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 of 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 was divided by Joshua into territories for each tribe. Each of these territories would then be divided again into the ownership of families within the tribe, and then again to heads of households. If land was sold by an owner who became poor or had some urgent need, this would be only until the next Jubilee Year. We read of various laws designed to help those who became poor. It is summed up in verse 46 “you shall not rule over one another ruthlessly” [Leviticus 25:46] The law was very good, but the people frequently did not put it into practice very well. God’s messages through the prophets sometimes 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 in much of the world today is fundamentally unhealthy because it cultivates a spirit of greed in building up greater and greater possessions, disadvantaging others. 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, it is a principle all believers should bear in mind, for not only is the land God’s, those who take on the name of Christ must realize they are too! Paul wrote, “You are not our own, for you were bought with a price ... your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20] Which reminds us of our thoughts yesterday.
- DC
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18 March 2021


Leviticus 26

Psalms 137; 138; 139

Luke 9




I remember searchlights as a boy. Beams of light would sweep across the sky from near where I lived. They were searching for enemy planes, if they found one they would lock on to it and the gunners would try to shoot it down. Anti-aircraft gunners were right near the house of my wife Fran (I did not know her then), it was a test of faith and her mother had a very firm faith and this gave “peace of mind” to her two children.


We were reminded of this by our reading of Psalm 139 today. “Oh LORD you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up … you search out my path” [Psalm 139:1-3]. But David realizes that God’s power to “search” and to “see” extends far beyond what we do physically. He writes, “you discern my thoughts from afar … even before a word is on my tongue …” [Psalm 139:4]


Young people today would describe as ‘awesome’ the thought that God knows our thoughts before we even put them into words. That really is a searchlight on the mind. We cannot limit the meaning to David personally, it applies to all who believe they have a relationship with God as David knew he did. There is even more than this! David has an inspired perception of God’s all-embracing creative work! We read, “For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … your eyes saw my unformed substance.” [Psalm 139:13,14,16].


Today, clever men have unravelled most of the secrets of DNA and the human genome. So how remarkable it is that David was inspired to write 3,000 years ago about his “unformed substance”, that is, his DNA. Finally, note how the word ‘search’ occurs again at the climax of the Psalm, Search me O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Psalm 139:23,24]


As we look back on our lives do we recognise the times when God tested and tried us? Do I, do you, fear to sense God’s searchlight on our thoughts? He does not “search” to shoot us down, but all of us have had times when we needed to be redirected. We are straying off course and need to adjust our direction; or even abruptly halted in our tracks as happened to David on one occasion. Some have ignored God’s efforts to redirect them – to their prospect of “the way everlasting” in grave danger. It was a heart-wrenching experience for David. We all want God to lead us “in the way everlasting” and his searching our hearts – is part of that leading but so many are not conscious enough of this. Are you?


- DC

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19 March 2021


Leviticus 27

Psalms 140; 141; 142

Luke 10




Jesus spoke in parables, stories that were not necessarily factual because their purpose was to drive home some principle about God’s purpose in our lives. In Luke 10 we encounter some one sentence parables, perhaps we should call them phrases that are clearly symbolic of something literal. He did many miracles in Capernaum and other cities. He makes a challenging statement, “If the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago ..” [Luke 10:13]


Capernaum had been the scene of many miracles, but it did not spark a spirit of awe and wonder leading to humility and repentance! They pursued Christ for more mass feeding on loaves and fishes – and the Master lamented, when they found him on the other side of the lake, he told them, “you are seeking me not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the fill of the loaves.” [John 6:26]


This attitude leads Jesus to say, “… you Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades” [Luke 10:15]. What does this mean? This town had experienced a display of heavenly powers which it failed to humbly appreciate with heart-felt awe and humility. God’s reaction to their failure would result in them going “down to Hades” That is “Hell” in the old A V Bible, the grave, in many modern versions. The fundamental meaning of “hell” was in times past a place or thing covered over – as in the word Hel-met. Capernaum was covered over – for some 1700 years - until archaeologists uncovered its ruins.


In Luke 12 Jesus makes a most significant point; “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.” [Luke 12:48] The people of Capernaum failed this test, “much was given” to them in an abundant evidence of heavenly powers. Jesus’ disciples are sent out on a successful preaching and healing mission and when they return - note what Jesus says! “I saw Satan like lightning fall from heaven” [Luke 10:18]. Again, obviously not to be understood literally! We have seen the symbolic meeting of heaven! This means that the adversaries (satans) of Jesus, those seeking his discredit and destruction, were “disarmed” by the demonstrations of heaven’s genuine power. The religious leaders should have been heaven’s representatives in leading the people, but they were continually discredited. We await the days to come, convinced they are now near, when the earth will see widespread evidence of divine power on earth for, as we read in Hebrews 6:4, “the heavenly gift” in the time of the Apostles were “the powers of the age to come.”


We will see in Luke 11 how Jesus ridicules their attempts to deny his heavenly powers [Luke 11:15-23], he ends by saying, “Whoever is not with me is against me ...” It is clear there is no neutral position to take when it comes to our personal relationship with Jesus. Are you “for” or “against” Jesus? Do not hesitate between “two opinions” – remember the lesson in 1 Kings 18:21.


- DC

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20 March 2021


Numbers 1

Psalms 143; 144

Luke 11




We have quite a number of statements by Jesus that challenge our understanding in today’s 11th chapter of Luke’s Gospel. We pondered the meaning of several parables, but their conclusions usually gave us a vital clue. Then we read that “as he said these things, 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!’” [Luke 11:27]


Jesus immediately responds by putting this into its true perspective. Human beings are forever putting fellow humans up as statues, they need people they can look up to, especially when they are dead! India is full of statues of Ghandi! But many living people also love to be looked up to – it feeds their ego. But note that the New Testament makes no mention of the mother of Jesus after Acts 1:14. It was only human legends, written centuries later, that put her on a pedestal.


But how did Jesus respond to the woman who ”raised her voice”? We read, “But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” [Luke 11:28] Today people all over the world can “hear” the word of God by reading it in their own language, if they so desire. It is obvious that the Old Testament, which Jesus repeatedly quotes, is an essential part of God’s message to human beings. Hearing/reading “the word of God” is a wonderful blessing, it opens our eyes to the purpose of life – and of our own lives. But we must take special note of his 3 final words - “and keep it.”


Finally, in Luke 11:23 we read an ominous point he made, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” There is no neutral position! Only those who are “with” Jesus have a sure and certain guide for their lives, they have a destination in view. Those who think they can stand forever at the crossroads pondering which way to go are in danger of being run over! Look at Luke 13:5


- DC

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21 March 2021


Numbers 2

Psalms 145; 146; 147

Luke 12




All three Psalms 145; 146;147 and our chapter in Luke [Luke 12] today were greatly thought provoking; a great number of verses were very challenging – personally – to read. Some people are sceptical of the statement, “the LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” [Psalm 145:17] cynically saying that if there is such a God who is all powerful, he should stop bad things from happening, especially to good people.


The verses which follow help us to correct our thinking from such ‘tunnel vision.’ They tell us, “The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. He fulfils the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The LORD preserves all who love him …” [Psalm 145:18-20] Look at the lives of those who really served God such as Paul, how true are these words of his life after he was converted.


Some only call on God when circumstances in their life are getting desperate; but they have no ‘rock’ established in their minds as a firm foundation for an unshakeable belief in God. They have not been calling “upon him in truth”? How many do? The next Psalm [Psalm146] tells us, “put not your trust in princes, in … man in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans (thoughts) perish” [Psalm 146:3,4] Yet how many are trying to find “princes,” leaders, they hope they can have confidence in! They are doing that in the USA and France right now.


Only those who genuinely love God and show that love in how they live their lives have a future beyond the grave. In Luke we saw how Jesus told his disciples, “do not be anxious about your life … what you will eat …nor be worried … instead seek his kingdom, and all these things will be added to you.” [Luke 12:22,29,31] They will be wonderfully “added” when his kingdom comes. Finally, we noticed a special verse in the Psalm 147, “the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” [Psalm 147:11] May we all live so that our Lord takes pleasure in us.


- DC

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22 March 2021


Numbers 3

Psalms 148; 149; 150

Luke 13; 14




Chapters 13 and 14 that we read today in Luke’s Gospel repeat in several ways, the ‘picture’ that - following in the footsteps of Jesus requires a special perception on the meaning of our lives – the need to see it from God’s point of view. But how many dedicate their minds to doing this, especially those who think they believe in Jesus?


The first step in doing this is a sense of awed humility. How immeasurably great is the being that caused all that exists – to exist.


Some of those listening to Jesus thought that all misfortunes were caused by God as a punishment for sin. A tower had collapsed and killed 18 people and Jesus said, “those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think they were worse offenders than all the others … No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:4,5] We notice that he uses the word “perish” and not “asleep in Jesus” which is how the cessation of mortal life of true believers is described. (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14; John 11:11-13)


As Jesus “went on his way through towns and villages teaching … someone said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’” [Luke 13:22,23] As always, Jesus does not give a straight ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer. He says, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” [Luke 13:24]. This relates to the “broad way” which the masses find it easy to travel (see Matthew 7:13).


The time will come, we read in Luke, when they will “knock at the door saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence and you taught in our streets.’” [Luke 13:25,26] The parallel to this in our days could be to say, ‘We had a Bible in our house and we did go to church most Sundays.’


In Luke 14 we read the challenge of Jesus when “great crowds accompanied him, he turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes even his own life, he cannot be my disciple’” [Luke 14:25,26] The Saviour sees our lives in two absolutes – love or hate – useful salt, or useless salt. (see Luke 14:34,35) A thing is either good and useful or it is of no value to our Lord, because it cannot be used in any effective way. So, will “those who are saved be few?”


Luke 14:16-24 contain a fascinating parable Jesus spoke in response to a statement “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” [Luke 14:15] This parable illustrates that those with the right attitude of mind are being sought for God’s kingdom – and the final request to the servants is, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” [Luke 14:23] There is good reason to see this as happening now with God’s word being available in every language; as example the Farsi language involving Iranians and Pakistanis.


But the climax to all our thoughts is to turn the focus back on ourselves and ask, what am I doing so that I will be among the few that are saved?’ Having an awed sense of humility lays the foundation for this and prayerful Bible reading and meditation is one of the greatest ways forward to increase the firmness with which we hold “the plough” [see Luke 9:62]


- DC

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23 March 2021


Numbers 4

Proverbs 1

Luke 15




Today we start reading the Proverbs; what a rich source of ‘thought provokers’ they contain! The disadvantage of reading a whole chapter at once is that each usually contains such a rich variety of points for wise thinking and meditation that to seriously try to comprehend an entire chapter at one time can give you a sort of ‘mental indigestion’!


Our minds focussed on the latter part of the first chapter from verse 23. “If you turn at my reproof, behold I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” [Proverbs 1:23] Solomon is personifying wisdom and in the New Testament we see Jesus as the embodiment of Divine wisdom. James writes of “the wisdom from above” [James 3:17].


So it is essential we embrace wise thinking and therefore wise living. This leads to spiritual blessings, it may also lead to material blessings, but these can lead to distractions as see in the progress and end of Solomon’s life.


Our chapter then goes on to spell out the contrast! “Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you … like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind when distress and anguish come upon you.” [Proverbs 1:25-27]


These words could be so true in the experience of the present world and the time will come when the wise will look back on those overwhelmed by calamity and say, “because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel … ” [Proverbs 1:29-30] As a result, “they shall eat the fruit of their way” [Proverbs 1:31] which is like saying they proved themselves to be useless trees because they produced useless fruit.


It is impossible to stay in a neutral position, to be neither for or against God’s ways! Put your car in neutral and it goes nowhere! The last 2 verses tell us, “the complacency of fools destroys them but whoever listens to me will dwell secure …” [Proverbs 1:32-33] We must not be complacent, just drifting along with no destination in our sights.


- DC

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24 March 2021

Numbers 5
Proverbs 2
Luke 16
The 2nd chapter of Proverbs is one of the most thought provoking in the entire book. Meditate on the sequence of ‘ifs’ in the first 4 verses. “IF you receive my words … IF you call out for insight and … understanding …. IF you seek it like silver and search for it … then you will find …” [Proverbs 2:1-4]
What will you find if you have tried to do this? The answer in verse 5 is, “then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” [Proverbs 2:5] That is, experience a state of awe in your mind as you start to grasp the enormity of what the Creator must be in his existence and actions! This is far different from an academic understanding of the nature of God, even from a scriptural perspective. A truly seeking person must develop “the knowledge of God,” that is, a knowing insight into what God is – it is ‘seeing’ and as a result possessing an overwhelming vision of that which overwhelms normal human thinking.
When the LORD first spoke to Job, after all Job’s reasoning with his friends, God says, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” [Job 38:2] It is the “knowledge” Solomon is speaking of in our Proverbs reading. Job confesses, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things to wonderful for me, which I did not know … but now mine eye sees you” [Job 42:3,5] Notice how Paul expresses it; “having the eyes of our hearts enlightened that you may know …” [Ephesians 1:18]
So, in our Proverbs chapter Solomon wants us to experience the awe of seeing God and then to be ready to grasp the relationship we can have with God, as Job ultimately did! We read “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding … he is a shield to those who walk in integrity … watching over the way of his saints” [Proverbs 2:6,8]
So, if we seek in this way then “wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul” [Proverbs 2:10]; furthermore, “ … understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men (and women) of perverted speech … who rejoice in doing evil … who are devious in their ways.” [Proverbs 2:11-15]. Today we encounter such people more than ever, also those who have no spiritual strength to fight off these influences, so we need to be conscious every day that our Lord is “watching over the way of his saints” looking for them to find more and more of “the knowledge of God.” Reading and meditating on God’s word every day lays a foundation for that consciousness.
- DC
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25 March 2021
Numbers 6
Proverbs 3
Luke 17
Our reading in Luke 17 intrigued us with the answers of Jesus to a question by the Pharisees as to “when the Kingdom of God would come?” [Luke 17:20] Jesus gives two apparently different answers – first to the Pharisees and then “to the disciples” [Luke 17:22]
He tells the Pharisees “the kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” [Luke 17:20,21] What does he mean? We concluded, after comparing these words to what he said to the disciples, that he means, in effect, don’t expect to see signs that will alert you - because the kingdom will come so suddenly to be dramatically unexpected in your midst.
He explains to his disciples that first there will be a long period “when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.” [Luke 17:22] He warns them, “they will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day.” [Luke 17:23,24]
He likens this event to the suddenness of the flood (for the ungodly) in the days of Noah [Luke 17:27] and the dramatic overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah when only Lot and his daughters escaped because the angels came. His wife could have escaped too – but she tarried too long! Note how Jesus says [Luke 17:32,33] “Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it”
What does Jesus mean? In the parallel passage in Mark there is an explanation so that we understand that those who are intent on preserving their lives, lacking faith in God’s word, as Lot’s wife did to God’s words through the angels, they will lose eternal life. In Mark’ gospel we read, “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man (or woman) to gain the whole world and forfeit his (eternal) life? … whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him (or her) will the Son of man also be ashamed when he comes …” [Mark 8:35-38] Let us not be ashamed!
- DC
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