Exodus 17:8-19:15 ~ Matthew 22:34-23:12 ~ Psalm 27:7-14 ~ Proverbs 6:27-35
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Old Testament - Today in Exodus chapter 17 we read about the Israelites defeating Amalekites. We are introduced to Joshua in verse 9. Joshua is from the tribe of Ephraim and he has a strong faith in God and loyalty to Moses, along with leadership skills. He will be Moses' successor who leads the Israelites into Canaan 40 years later. Below is a painting from 1915 by Hungarian artist Adolf Fenyes of "The Jews Defeating Amalek's Army":
Verse 12 reminded me of how oftentimes we cannot always do things on our own - we oftentimes need our friends help: "Moses' arms finally became too tired to hold up the staff any longer. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side, holding up his hands until sunset." Who are your Aaron and Hur? Who is holding you up your arms when they get tired? And whose arms are you holding up when their arms get tired?
In Exodus chapter 18 we read about Jethro's visit of Moses and Jethro's wise advice to Moses. This chapter has been pointed out to me as something I should take heed of a couple of times over this past year or so... Like Moses in this chapter, I think I have a hard time delegating! :) But, indeed, Jethro's advice in verses 17 & 18 about how Moses was settling every single case is something I need to reflect upon often: "This is not good!" his father-in-law exclaimed. "You're going to wear yourself out--and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself." How about you? Are there areas of your life where you are doing too much? Where you need to delegate to others? Where you need to "let go and let God"? Are you wearing yourself out? Will you follow Jethro's advice to Moses? Great advice on how to avoid "burnout" in our lives as based on Exodus chapter 18 titled "The Tyranny of the Urgent" is online at bible.org at this link. Below is an image of Moses as the judge of the people's cases from today's readings:
Exodus chapter 19 is a significant chapter because the Israelites arrive at Mt. Sinai! Exodus chapter 19 verse 3 all the way through Exodus chapter 24 verse 18 is what is called by many commentators "The Sinaitic Covenant." You'll recall that we have already read about the Noahic Covenant in Genesis 9:8-17, the Abrahamic A Covenant in Genesis 15:9-21, and the Abrahamic B Covenant in Genesis 17. Per the NIV Study Bible, this Sinaitic Covenant was "made with Israel as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and as the people God has redeemed from bondage from Egypt. This Sinaitic Covenant is a conditional divine pledge to be Israel's God on the condition of Israel's total consecration to God as his people who live by his rule and serve his purposes in history." Tomorrow we read about the Ten Commandments! Welcome to Mt. Sinai!
New Testament - If you are into memorizing Scripture at all, Jesus' teaching Matthew chapter 22 verses 37-40 is certainly worth memorizing! "`You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."" So, I think it is fair to say that if you learn nothing else this year in the One Year Bible, please at least learn these 3 verses above. :) However - I am quite sure you will learn these 3 verses and so much more this year! Then, of course, to take things beyond just learning - we need to be applying the learnings from the Bible this year in our lives. How about these two commandments from Jesus above - think you've learned them? Now, can you practice applying them to your life each and every day? How will you go about doing this? How will you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind? How will you love your neighbor? Commentary on verse 39 entitled, "Is Self-Love Biblical?" is online at bible.org at this link.
In Matthew 22 verse 44 Jesus quotes and teaches from Psalm 110. An interesting trivia note is that Psalm 110 is the most frequently quoted Old Testament chapter in the New Testament. Must be an important Psalm, eh? It's a surprisingly short Psalm I think, in light of this trivia note. We'll read this Psalm later this year - or you can read it now at this link.
Matthew chapter 23 verse 5 is referring to exaggerated phylacteries: "Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear extra long tassels on their robes." From bible-history.com - "Phylacteries (tephillin) are strips of leather to which is attached a very strong, square box made of parchment and painted black. The box contains four parts of the Torah written on parchment: Exodus 13:1-10 and 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21. According to Deut 6:4-9 two phylacteries were used, one for the head and one for the arm. These (called frontlets in Deuteronomy) were put on in such a way that one box rested on the head, between the eyes (seat of the mind) and the other on the left arm opposite the heart (seat of the actions and the emotions, denoting that one loves the Lord with one's heart)." This definition and a good picture of what phylacteries look like is at bible-history.com at this link. And another image is here:
Psalms - I love verse 11 today - "Teach me how to live, O LORD. Lead me along the path of honesty." Teach me how to live... what a beautiful prayer! God - Teach us how to live! Lead us along the path of honesty! Teach us how to live... And Psalm 27 verse 14 today is wonderful for us to meditate upon: "Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD." Is there an area of your life where you feel like you are waiting for the Lord to show up? Do you believe that the Lord will show up? I pray that this Psalm will encourage within you the virtue of patience. The Lord will show up. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs chapter 6 verses 27 & 28 we read: "Can a person scoop fire into their lap and not be burned? Can a person walk on hot coals and not blister their feet?" How do these Proverbs speak to you? For me, it reminds me of the old adage – "If you play with fire, you're going to get burned!" And, I believe that if there is unchecked sin in our life, we are literally playing with fire. The sin will burn us. If there is a sin in your life you are struggling with, will you pray unceasingly to God to heal you of the sin? And will pray to God to lead you to any resources or counseling or corrective measures that you should take to facilitate the healing process? Will you allow God to discipline you with his holy and healing love? Will you stop scooping fire on your lap? Will you stop walking on hot coals?
Worship God: Today's readings in Matthew about the great commandments reminds me of the beautiful Chris Tomlin song "Praise the Father:"
Do you Praise the Father? Click here and Praise the Son!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on five verses of Scripture today: ""Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."" Matthew 22:36-40 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you would love God with all of your heart, soul and mind each and every day. Pray that you would love your neighbor as yourself.
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: In Matthew chapter 23 verse 5 above, I don't think Jesus was demeaning phylacteries in and of themselves - but, he was demeaning those that used phylacteries only for "show," for the wrong motives - the wrong motive of people noticing us instead of giving the glory to God. Which can lead us to this question in our lives today - are there any "religious things" that we do in our life just for "show"? Just so that others will honor us? I think this is such a fine line and something that we have to monitor all of our lives. Are you monitoring yourself when it comes to your faith to make sure you are not doing anything for "show" or for the wrong reasons? Have there been times in your past where you have done things just for "show" when it comes to your faith? How did you catch yourself / notice that you were doing something just for "show"? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!