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Read Your Bible In A Year August 2

Posted on August 2, 2011 at 7:24 AM Comments comments (5)
The Bible readings for today are Psalms 58 - 60 and Romans 7.  Through these Psalms, David once again speaks from the heart.  His prayers are so down to earth.  He calls a spade a spade, and maybe he gives us an insight to how we can communicate with God.  I sense our prayers can become so routine, rather than straight from the heart.  God wants to know our deepest feelings, and rather than pretend or cover these feelings up, David teaches us it is far better to be totally honest with the God who knows us intimately.
"With God we will win the victory!"  David believed this, and we can know it, too.  God has indeed won the victory through Jesus Christ.
In Romans 7, Paul tells of the struggle he faces, and I am sure it is one we can all relate to.  No matter what we are faced with in life, we can know for certain that Jesus is with us always.  God will deliver us, through Jesus Christ our Lord!
As much as we want to obey God, sometimes we do sin against Him.  Satan loves it when we kick ourselves and get down and out over sin, because then he can place the pressure on us to stay down.  Yet when we sin, we must remember the words John wrote in his first letter.  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness."
In Christ, we have the victory.  Claim it and live it out every da.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Praise God!

Read Your Bible In A Year August 1

Posted on August 1, 2011 at 5:30 AM Comments comments (3)
Today's Bible readings are Psalms 54 - 57 and Romans 6.  The Psalms are wonderful reading.  The thoughts expressed by David can often reflect how we sometimes feel.  David cries out to God and God always hears his prayers.  In his daily struggles, by turning to God, David can rise above the challenges at hand and honour God.  In fact, David can even praise God.  These Psalms are also very personal.  God is interested in each one of us - personally.  However, we need to cry out to God and not run away from Him.  God knows us intimately, and He longs for us to reach out to Him.  David wrote, "God is my helper."  God is always there for us - we are never alone even though we may feel like it.  David also wrote, "Give your burden to the LORD."  What weighs heavily upon your heart today?  Don't hold onto it - give it over to God.  Even through David's trials, he still trusted in God.  And David could cry out to God morning, noon and night!  How wonderful that God is available 24/7.  God's love is unfailing.  His faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  I am sure you can find so many other gems from Psalms 54 - 57 that you can take on board for yourself, but these are just a few that I have wanted to share with you.  "Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.  May your glory shine over all the earth."  I hope you can join me in saying a big AMEN to that.
In looking at Romans 6, Paul talks about how we were once slaves to sin, but now we can be slaves to righteousness.  How is this possible?  It is all possible through Jesus Christ.  Now we can be dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus.  Sin is no longer our master for we have been set free by God's grace.  Praise God for His love!  The final verse from this chapter sums it up beautifully, where Paul wrote these words.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."
Eternity with God or eternity away from God.  The choice is ours.  God has done everything for us through His Son Jesus.  God offers us a gift.  Like any gift, we can either accept it or reject it.  Acceptance of God's gift means eternal life.  Rejection of His gift means eternal death.  So why is it that people refuse this free gift of eternal life?  Sadly, some reject the notion of a loving God.  By rejecting God, they reject His free gift.
The world needs to hear the truth - God's truth.  Will you make a stand for your Lord and Saviour and reach out to one other person with this offer from God?  We live in a time of grace, may we not waste a moment.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 68

Posted on March 10, 2011 at 6:12 AM Comments comments (4)
The Bible readings for March 9 are Deuteronomy 7 – 9 and Mark 12:1 – 27.  In Deuteronomy, Moses continues to tell the Israelites what to do in obedience to God.  God’s blessings would rest upon them should they be obedient, but if disobedience, there would be severe consequences.  Throughout their wilderness journey, the Israelites have already experienced blessings and punishments.  God was not going to change His ways just because the Israelites would finally cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan.  God required obedience from His chosen people, and disobedience would result in punishment.  Often, they were a stubborn people, and Moses advises them to change their ways and simply obey God.  God would clear away many nations ahead of the Israelites.  These seven powerful nations could not stand against the might of God.  God wants the Israelites to completely destroy these nations.  If they chose to make treaties with them, then it would be possible for the Israelites to worship other gods.  God chose the Israelites to be His own special treasure.  They belong to God, and He calls them to be holy.  Obedience to all God’s commands is so important.  Moses longs for the Israelites to learn from the past.  Obey God.  Remember His goodness.  Learn from your mistakes.  Never take God for granted.  Don’t be proud, and don’t forget God.  Moses had much to say to the Israelites.  He pointed them to God to encourage and remind them that He is on their side.  He will fight their battles.  As He has done in the past, so He will do in the future.  But, it all hinged on their obedience to God.  Allow God to speak to you through these words of Moses.  If these words are challenging you, then let me encourage you to repent and turn back to God for He will not fail you.  In Mark, Jesus challenges His the Jewish leaders with His stories.  He also deals with the Pharisees, supporters of Herod and the Sadducees, who all try to bamboozle Him into making a fool of Himself.  In the story of the evil farmers, Jesus pointedly refers to the Jewish leaders.  Of course, He does not mention them by name, but His inference is clear and the Jewish leaders certainly picked up on it.  Although they realised they were the wicked farmers, they were unable to touch Jesus because He was popular with the crowds.  I imagine they were bristling with anger, and there was nothing they could do.  Jesus saw through them and in their darkness, they disliked intently the light shining upon them.  They longed to hide away, but it was too late.  Jesus had found them out.  Next comes the question about paying taxes to the Roman government.  As Jesus sincerely teaches the way of God, it seemed appropriate to them to ask Jesus if it was right to pay taxes to the Roman government.  They buttered Jesus up and tried to sneak under His guard.  Jesus was way ahead of them, and using a coin to illustrate His point, asks whose picture and title are stamped on the coin.  “Caesar’s,” they replied.  Jesus then makes the wonderful statement:  “Give to Caesar what belongs to him.  But everything that belongs to God must be given to God.”  In failing to stump Jesus, they discovered they were amazed at His answer.  Jesus could still teach a valuable lesson even when being challenged in an underhand manner.  The final section of today’s reading deals with the resurrection.  If a woman married so many times, who would be her husband in the resurrection?  Again, Jesus deals with this question by giving an answer that totally flips their benign ideas on their head.  When the dead rise, they won’t be married.  When a believer is married to an unbeliever, it is impossible for the unbeliever to share in eternity with the believer.  So what Jesus says here makes sense.  We will recognise people in the resurrection, but it will not be the same as here on earth.  God is the God of the living, not of the dead.  In not believing in the resurrection, the Sadducees made a serious error.  The Old Testament is clear – God said to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Issac and the God of Jacob.”  He is indeed the God of the living.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 67

Posted on March 8, 2011 at 5:41 AM Comments comments (5)
The Bible readings for March 8 are Deuteronomy 4 – 6 and Mark 11:20 – 33.  Although Deuteronomy is a bit repetitive, it is still good for us to hear what God wanted of His people again.  Humans tend to forget things, so it is good for Moses to remind the people of Israel of what God has done for them, and how He expects them to live.  Although these words may sound familiar to us, I am still amazed at what I am learning because God makes it fresh for me.  Rather than being bored by God’s Word, I am excited as I pick it up each day and hear Him speak to me.  Thinking of the preciousness of God’s Word, I was disappointed to see a New Testament ripped to shreds and its pages blowing in the wind.  The Gideons would have handed out this Bible to a secondary school student in our local area.  Moses was keen for God’s Word not to fall on the ground, or upon deaf ears.  God had an important message for His people, and Moses was often the messenger to bring this message.  Of course, sometimes God delivered the message Himself from fire or from heaven.  The Israelites had God to themselves, and unlike the gods of the other people living in the area, the Israelite’s God is real!  He is the creator, and therefore the Israelites were not to make a idols out of any materials, or in the image of anything He had created.  In Deuteronomy 4, Moses urges Israel to obey God.  He also warns them against idolatry.  Following this, he tells them there is only one God.  God is God.  Idols are a waste of time.  They will not do anything.  Only God could bring the Israelites out of Egypt and to the land of Canaan, the land He promised Abraham, Issac and Jacob.  The other day we read about the cities of refuge, and now Moses sets up three similar cities on the eastern side of the Jordan River.  In Chapter 5, Moses reminds them of the Ten Commandments and in chapter 6, Moses issues a call for wholehearted commitment.  Wholehearted commitment is something we could all put into practise.  If every Christian was 100% on fire for God, and totally devoted to Him, just imagine the difference there would be in this world.  These words of Moses, echoed by Jesus in the Gospels, are relevant for us today.  “Hear, O Israel!  The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”  God’s love for us is amazing, and in response, He calls us to love Him, too.  Wholehearted commitment – it sounds like a good place to start in a flourishing relationship with God.  In Mark, do you remember how Jesus cursed the fig tree?  The next day, as Jesus and His disciples walked towards Jerusalem, Peter noticed that the fig tree was withered from the roots.  A healthy, leafy specimen of fig tree is now useless.  Peter calls Jesus’ attention to it, and Jesus is able to use this as another teaching moment about faith, and how to pray in faith.  Jesus is not saying that we can automatically obtain anything we want if we just think positively.  In these words, Jesus means that anything is possible with faith because nothing is impossible for God.  To be in a position for God to answer our prayers, we must be believers.  We must not hold a grudge nor pray with selfish motives.  Trust God.  He is reliable.  Walking through the Temple area in Jerusalem, Jesus is pounced upon by the leading priests, teachers of religious law and other leaders.  Jesus cleansing the Temple did not go down well with these people, and they wondered by whose authority Jesus drove out the merchants from the Temple.  Jesus would happily answer this question, if they could answer a question He has for them.  “Did John’s baptism come from heaven or was it merely human?  Answer me!”  Put on the spot, they discussed this question among themselves.  It turns out whatever answer they gave would undermine their authority in the Temple.  They were caught between a rock and a hard place, so they declined to offer an answer.  Instead, they said, “We don’t know.”  Because they did not give an answer, neither did Jesus give an answer to their question.  The Messiah is in their midst, and they are blind to His presence.  Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus today and every day.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 66

Posted on March 7, 2011 at 6:31 AM Comments comments (3)
The Bible readings for March 7 are Deuteronomy 1 – 3 and Mark 11:1 – 19.  In Deuteronomy, Moses gives us a wonderful account of the journey of the Israelites from Sinai to the east of the Jordan, where they prepared to enter the land of Canaan.  Some of these reports we have heard already, but Moses tells it in such a way as to grab our attention afresh.  From the start, we see that a journey that would normally take eleven days actually took forty years.  I sense Moses wants to reinforce how powerful God is, and remind the people that God can certainly be trusted.  All the Israelites had to do was believe God’s promises.  He was giving the land to them, the land He swore to give to Abraham, Issac and Jacob, and to all their descendants.  God is faithful, and He was handing the land to them on a platter.  It was theirs for the taking.  Moses tells the people not to be afraid or discouraged.  God would give them the land.  From the moment they sent out scouts to check out this land is the time when doubts began to emerge.  It all sounded credible, but in reality, it was an excuse to put off entering the land of Canaan.  When ten of the scouts return with a biased report, the people began to fear what lay ahead.  They took their eyes off God – who He is and what He can do – and trusted in man.  This proved to be a fatal choice.  With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, not one of that generation entered the land of Canaan.  This is why for forty years the Israelites wandered about the wilderness, until the time was right.  Moses recounts the victories the Israelites had over the people in these areas.  These victories were won because God was on their side.  If God be for us, who can be against us?  Learn from the experiences of Moses and the Israelites.  Learn to trust God and His Word.  In Mark, Jesus reaches Jerusalem.  Prior to entering the city, Jesus instructs two disciples to bring a colt to Him.  Everything was in readiness for the coming of the King.  The crowds celebrated the arrival of Jesus, and there was much excitement at His coming.  Of course, their idea of the coming Kingdom differed to how Jesus saw it.  On His arrival, Jesus entered the Temple and looked carefully at everything.  What He saw must have upset Him, but as it was late in the afternoon, Jesus went out to Bethany with the twelve.  The next morning, Jesus curses the fig tree.  A seemingly insignificant fact, yet it is recorded here for a very good reason.  Tomorrow we shall discover more about this.  Returning to Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers.  His actions caused an uproar, and no doubt the money changers and stall keepers were not impressed.  Jesus reminded them of the purpose of the Temple.  “My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.  People could not find God in such a place, because in reality it was no more than a market place.  The leading priests and teachers of religious law were very concerned, and began planning to kill Jesus.  They did not like the attitude of Jesus, and saw Him as a troublemaker.  After all, they controlled what took place in the Temple, and Jesus had upset the balance of power markedly.  Yet they also were controlled by fear – fear of Jesus because of the adoring crowds who loved Jesus’ teaching.  To finish off this section, come evening, Jesus and His disciples once again leave the city.  Mark is very specific in regards to the events of this final week.  As we journey through this week, may we take note of all that is written and once again praise God for Jesus our Saviour.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 65

Posted on March 6, 2011 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (3)
The Bible readings for March 6 are Numbers 34 – 26 and Mark 10:32 – 52.  Today, we finish off our reading of the book of Numbers.  It comes to an abrupt end, but right at the end we are reminded that “These are the commands and regulations that the LORD gave to the people of Israel through Moses while they camped on the plains of Moab besides the Jordan River, across from Jericho.”  Although Moses was so close to the land of Canaan, he would not enter it.  He had led the people of Israel this far, and Joshua would be the one to lead them into Canaan.  One thing we do learn from the book of Numbers is that there was a succession plan.  God had everything in control.  God gave to Moses the boundaries of the land.  Once more, notice the precise detail with which God organises everything.  The people appointed to divide the land would be Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and one leader from each of the tribes.  God chose each of these men to fulfil His purposes.  This is an important point to consider.  Too often we elevate men and women to positions of leadership without waiting upon God for His guidance.  God made sure the Levites were cared for.  Cities of refuge were also set-up so anyone who accidentally killed a fellow human could run to for protection.  Cold-blooded or intentional murder was punishable by death, but the cities of refuge were a safe haven for someone who accidentally causes another’s death.  The cities of refuge represented God’s concern and provision for justice in a culture that did not always protect the innocent.  God’s strict laws about murder and its consequences demonstrated His justice; murder was never taken lightly.  But proof of guilt was required.  In the meantime, suspects might need to stay in a city of refuge to protect themselves from the retaliation of the deceased’s family or tribe.  This demonstrates the balance between God’s justice and mercy.  While we are not to grow tolerant of sin and we are to seek justice, we can only be sure that justice is served when the truth about a matter is sought out.  To finish the book of Numbers, we have information relating to women who inherit property.  I like how the heads of the clan of Gilead saw a problem, and determined to find a solution.  Rather than sit back and complain about how unfair a situation might be, why not determine to find a solution with Gods help.  If things had been let go, I well imagine there might have been some bitterness amongst the tribes.  However, because of the action taken by the heads of the clan of Gilead, this was averted.  In Mark, Jesus is closing in on Jerusalem.  Knowing His death was fast approaching, He reminds the disciples again of what to expect.  Yet death is not the end – for Jesus says that after three days He will rise again.  The disciples could understand talk of death, but rising again?  Now that was a different kettle of fish.  It must have been so hard for them to get their heads around Jesus rising from the dead three days after He died.  Evidently James and John weren’t too upset by Jesus’ words.  Here we find them chatting to Jesus, asking to sit in places of honour next to Him.  It is interesting that the disciples become so self-centred after Jesus shares about His suffering, death and rising to life.  Previously, they argued amongst themselves who was the greatest.  Now, the Sons of Thunder try to have prominent positions in Jesus’ glorious Kingdom.  No wonder the other ten disciples were indignant when they found out what James and John had been chatting to Jesus about.  Jesus takes control of the situation, and talks about being a servant.  Jesus came to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.  Our ambition should not be to attain position or power but to serve one another.  Finishing off Mark 10 is the story of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus.  Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus for mercy.  While others tried to silence him, Bartimaeus became even louder.  Eventually, Jesus heard him and called him over.  Jesus knew his need, but He still asked the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”  Bartimaeus wanted to see.  Immediately, Jesus healed him.  Having been healed by Jesus, he was not going to let him go.  Bartimaeus followed Jesus down the road, no doubt praising God for his sight.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 64

Posted on March 5, 2011 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (7)
The Bible Readings for March 5 are Numbers 31 – 33 and Mark 10:1 – 31.  God tells Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites for leading the Israelites into idolatry.  After this, Moses would die.  It must have been a strange feeling knowing that your time on earth was ending.  Of course, it happens to all of us at some time, but knowing it was approaching rather quickly might have led to some heartache for Moses, that wonderful leader of the Israelites over forty years.  From what we know of Moses, he seems to have taken it all in his stride.  We read recently how God had shown him the land.  We know that through his disobedience at an earlier event that God had declared then he would not cross the Jordan River.  God was in control and He would do what would be best.  Twelve thousand men went into battle, under the leadership of Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest.  They killed all the men, captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as their plunder.  On returning, Moses was furious to see they let the Midianite women live.  After all, these women caused Israel to sin.  Moses gave orders to execute all the women except the virgins.  Since the war was a holy judgment by God, the Israelites had to remove whatever uncleanness had resulted from their contact with the enemy.  Those who handled dead bodies needed to be ceremonially cleansed.  Articles of clothing were purified by washing.  Metal articles were purified by passing them through fire and then washing them.  Next came the division of the spoils.  When the soldiers realised they had not lost one man in battle, they made an additional offering to express their thanks to God.  The offering was placed in the Tabernacle, as a reminder that the people of Israel belonged to God.  Two and a half tribes chose not to cross the Jordan and settle in Canaan as they were happy with the good pastures east of the Jordan.  Initially, Moses thought they were pulling out completely, weakening the Israelite’s resolve and thus incurring God’s anger upon all the tribes.  This was not the case, as soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh would still go to battle to help defeat the people in Canaan.  They kept their promise, and did as they told Moses they would do.  Do you remember how we looked at promises yesterday?  This is a good example of how to keep one’s word, thereby honouring God in the process.  Numbers 33 is an interesting chapter.  It traces the Israelites journey from Egypt, on the morning after the first Passover celebration, right through the next forty years of wandering about in the wilderness until the time came for the Israelites to cross the Jordan into Canaan.  God gave Moses orders for the Israelites as to what they were to do once they arrived in Canaan, as well as warnings if they did not obey God’s command.  The division of the land was also discussed, and the land would be divided up according to the size of each tribe.  This was a fair way of handling a potentially awkward situation.  In Mark, we read about divorce, marriage, children and worldly riches.  These have already been dealt with in a reading from Matthew’s Gospel several weeks ago, so I do not want to repeat myself here.  However, I do want to say that it is clear from these verses that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman, for God made them male and female.  I recently signed a petition against gay marriage, and I trust every Christian would be willing to make a stand on such an important area of family life.  I have heard the argument that Jesus does not talk about gay marriage, and therefore, it must be okay.  I totally disagree with this reasoning, for although Jesus did not talk about gay marriage, He did define marriage as being between a man and a woman.  How important it is to have childlike faith.  Jesus blessed the children, and He longs to bless us, His children, too.  To finish off this section is a rather sad story about a rich man who chose his self-righteousness and worldly wealth over following Jesus.  Yes, he longed for eternal life, but he refused to look to the One who made this possible.  Sometimes, there are possessions that take our time and attention over Jesus.  May we not make the mistake of relying on the things of this world or our self-righteousness over Jesus.  Trust Jesus and know the peace of forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 63

Posted on March 4, 2011 at 8:19 PM Comments comments (2)
The Bible readings for March 4 are Numbers 29 & 30 and Mark 9:30 – 50.  Once again, God instructs Moses with what He required of the people of Israel when they celebrated their various festivals and special days.  It is all very repetitive, but God wants it done this way.  I sense God wants to see what sort of attitude the people have towards Him as they bring their offerings and make their sacrifices.  The outward expression of service should be reflected in the inward attitude of the heart, and vice versa.  There is a valuable lesson here for all of us who attend church Sunday by Sunday.  Why do we do what we do?  What is my heart attitude to attending church?  If we go to church out of a sense of tradition, then we run the risk of simply doing something for the sake of it.  Our worship becomes empty and meaningless, rather than a time of soaking in God’s presence.  In chapter 30, God talks to Moses regarding the laws about vows.  Moses reminded the people that they must keep the promises they made – to God and to one another.  In ancient times, people rarely signed written contracts; a person’s word was binding.  Keeping a promise signifies the sincerity and faithfulness of a life devoted to pleasing God.  It also builds trust, which is an important foundation for committed human relationships.  Without the trust that comes from a promise kept, community structures would (and do) become unstable.  How do people see you and me?  Would our families and friends say we are a person of our word?  Are we trustworthy in any situation?  I am sure it is easy to say ‘yes’ to these questions, but scratch the surface a bit harder and see if this is truly the case, or perhaps our standards have slipped and not only do we let down our families and friends, but also God, our Heavenly Father.  In Mark, Jesus again predicts His death.  Of course, He does more than this – He also predicts His resurrection.  The death of Jesus would not finish Him off – He would be raised from the dead, and if you are no longer dead, then it makes sense that you must be alive!  Praise God we know that Jesus is alive.  Travelling to Capernaum, the disciples are having a discussion amongst themselves.  Perhaps Jesus was walking on ahead, enjoying a bit of solitude, but still completely aware of what the twelve were talking about.  It seems it was more than a discussion – it was an argument about who which of them was the greatest.  These twelve men wanted to arrange a pecking order among them.  If you have one extreme as the greatest, then at the other end of the spectrum you have to have the least – and no one ever wants to be picked last.  Think back to your primary school days, when the captains of the sports team would pick their teams from the class – it was never good to be the last person standing, because if you were not chosen, you simply joined the team more as an afterthought than a serious decision.  When Jesus asked them what they were discussing, they remained silent.  Knowing everything that was said, Jesus addresses the situation by making a statement that turns being a worldly leader on its head.  “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”  The privilege of being first suddenly seems to lose its allure from a worldly perspective.  However, from Jesus’ perspective, being a servant is the only way to be.  He then puts a little child among them.  Lovingly, He takes the child in His arms, and says to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf welcomes Me, and anyone who welcomes Me welcomes My Father who sent Me.”  If you climb to the top, in your haste you may hurt people along the way.  Keep it simple.  Look out for the needs of others ahead of your own.  If your action is going to hurt someone, then stop and choose another way.  As Christians, we must live in the world but we are not to participate in the evils of the world.  I believe this is the point Jesus is making here.  Don’t get caught up in the way of the world, simply follow God and walk in His ways.  John is alarmed a man was using the name of Jesus to cast out demons, and not being a member of their group, they told him to stop.  Jesus denounces this attitude, for anyone who performs miracles in Jesus’ name will struggle to speak evil of Jesus.  I love these words of Jesus.  “Anyone who is not against us is for us.”  Now this may surprise you, but it also means Christians of different denominations to our own.  Jesus goes on to give some warnings of the consequences of sin, and leading people into sin.  How careful we have to be as Christians that we remain faithful to the One who has called us to become His children.  As Christians, we need to remain salty and live in peace with each other.  Unsalty salt is of no value – so please, Jesus, keep us salty every day.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 62

Posted on March 3, 2011 at 6:06 AM Comments comments (1)
The Bible readings for March 3 are Numbers 26 – 28 and Mark 9:1 – 29.  In Numbers, we begin with the second census of all the men of Israel who are twenty years old or older, to find out how many of each family are of military age.  This census took place after the plague had ended.  The numbers had dropped since the first census was taken.  The Israelites are gathered across the Jordan River from Jericho.  The time was fast approaching when the Israelites would inherit the land God had promised to give them.  With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, all others from that first census would die in the wilderness.  Now Moses is concerned as to who would lead the Israelites following his death.  God gave Moses the opportunity to climb the mountains and look out over the land He would give the people of Israel.  Moses knew God would keep His promise, and though He would not set foot in this land, He knew the people of Israel would.  God called Joshua to lead the people, and Moses did as God commanded.  He presented Joshua to Eleazar the priest and the whole community.  Laying hands on him, Moses commissioned Joshua to his responsibilities.  It is very clear that Joshua is the new leader and it means there would be a seamless transition.  There would be no need of a vote or fight over who would be the leader.  As the time drew near for the Israelites to settle in their new land, Moses stressed the need for constant devotion to God through the various sacrifices and festivals.  In chapter 28, these included the daily offerings, Sabbath offerings, monthly offerings, offerings for the Passover and offerings for the Festival of Harvest.  As we have noticed over recent weeks, God gave Moses specific details so the people could worship and honour God in the right way.  These were God’s commands, and the Israelites needed only to obey.  Anything less was disobedient and dishonouring to God.  In Mark, we read of the transfiguration.  Six days have passed since Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah, and now Peter, James and John would witness an amazing meeting between two Old Testament men of faith and Jesus.  Jesus talked with Moses and Elijah.  What an incredible moment for these three disciples to be present.  I feel sure they were all blown away by the experience, and good old Peter opens his mouth and blurts out an unnecessary suggestion.  To top it all off, a cloud came over them and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to Him.”  As they looked around, only Jesus was with them.  Moses and Elijah were gone.  I wonder how quickly their hearts were beating.  This voice from the cloud – what did it all mean?  If it was God speaking, then Jesus is the Son of God!  No wonder they should listen to Him.  Time will show they still struggled to really listen to Jesus, for they tended to put their own earthly definition on Jesus’ words.  Although they chatted amongst themselves about what they witnessed on the mountain, they found it hard to completely understand what Jesus meant by talking about “rising from the dead” and Elijah.  Coming back to the crowd, Jesus finds the teachers of religious law locked in a verbal battle with the other disciples and surrounded by a crowd of people.  On seeing Jesus, the soon forget about the argument and run to Jesus.  Jesus wants to know what is going on, and so one of the men speaks up and tells Jesus what the problem is.  His son is possessed by an evil spirit, and the disciples could not cast out this evil spirit from the boy.  Thankfully, Jesus can.  “Do something if you can,” says the man.  “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?”  Jesus asked.  Then Jesus goes on to clarify this point.  “Anything is possible if a person believes.”  The man responds, “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!’  Jesus goes on to heal the boy completely.  I sense that sometimes we are like this boy’s father.  Rather than trusting in Jesus 100%, we use a small two letter word “IF,” thereby offering an escape clause for Jesus.  However Jesus does not need us to add “IF,” He simply wants us to believe, for as He said, anything is possible if a person believes.

Read Your Bible In A Year Day 61

Posted on March 2, 2011 at 7:27 AM Comments comments (5)
The Bible readings for March 2 are Numbers 22 – 24 and Mark 8:14 – 38.  Our focus moves from Moses and the Israelites to Balak, Balaam and his donkey, as well as his prophecies.  Balak was concerned the Israelites would devour everything in sight, like an ox devours grass.  Looking at the situation, Balak felt it best if Balaam cursed the Israelites, for then he may be able to defeat them and drive them from the land.  God makes it very clear to Balaam that these Israelites are blessed by Him, and cursing them is a no-no.  Balak heard Balaam’s response, and was not satisfied with it.  Four times Balaam prophesied blessings upon the Israelites, and not the curses Balak so desperately desired.  Of course, Balaam and his donkey is an important part of this story.  Now there is one talking donkey I have heard speak in the Shrek movies, but in this case, Balaam’s donkey is empowered by God to speak.  The donkey is taking Balaam to meet Balak, something that God was not keen on Balaam doing.  Along the journey, an angel of God appeared three times, and each time the donkey acted in an odd manner.  Now, Balaam was unable to see the angel, until such time God opened Balaam’s eyes.  Balaam beat the poor donkey for its disobedience, unaware an angel was trying to block his way.  Balaam realises his sin, and chooses to return home.  God has different ideas.  In allowing Balaam to meet with Balak, Balaam could only speak the words God gave him to say.  Hence only blessings flowed from Balaam’s mouth for the Israelites.  Jesus Christ is even foretold in Balaam’s final prophecies.  In Mark, the disciples are concerned about the one loaf of bread they have with them in the boat.  Out of the seven basketfuls of food left over from Jesus feeding the four thousand, the disciples appear to have only grabbed one extra loaf for themselves.  Jesus uses their thinking about bread to redirect their thoughts to the Pharisees and Herod.  “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod,” Jesus said.  These men were evil influences, teaching the people wrong things and hypocritical in their actions.  We need to be aware today of similar people who distort the truth of God’s Word, and whose actions do not come from a faith in Jesus.  I love how people brought a blind man to Jesus, and that they begged Him to touch and heal the man.  Interestingly, Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village.  This is a very personal moment.  Jesus spent time with this man.  The healing came in two stages.  In the first instance, he could see, but not clearly.  In the second, he could see everything clearly.  Jesus sent him home, and told him not to go into the village on his way home.  As Jesus and His disciples walk along, Jesus asks them, “Who do people say I am?”  Hearing the responses, Jesus takes it a step further.  “Who do you say I am?”  Good old Peter blurts out, “You are the Messiah.”  Jesus did not refute this, but instead warned the disciples not to spread this to the crowds.  Following on from Peter’s declaration, Jesus opens up to the disciples about what will happen to Him.  He would be killed, and three days later would rise again.  How hard it must have been for the disciples to hear Jesus talk of such things, and Peter especially took exception at these words.  Peter does not think it a good idea for Jesus to talk the way He is, and Jesus tells Peter in no uncertain words that He is seeing things from a merely human point of view, and not from God’s.  Jesus came to fulfil Mission 3:16, but for now, Peter was unaware of what this entailed.  He soon realised Jesus was fair dinkum about what would take place in the future.  Receive Jesus now and have life eternal.  Push Jesus aside now and you miss out on being with Jesus for eternity.  It is in this life we choose to either follow or ignore Jesus.  The decision we make now will affect where we spend eternity.

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