~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Leviticus 13:1-59 ~ Mark 6:1-29
Psalm 39:1-13 ~ Proverbs 10:10
Old Testament - Today in Leviticus chapter 13 we read about contagious skin diseases and mildew. Quite a chapter. It does make sense to me that this level of detail is given by God on these topics. These instructions were health instructions for the community of Israel as a whole. Zondervan's commentary notes that "the ceremonially unclean were excluded from the camp (the area around the tabernacle and courtyard), where the Israelites lived in tents. Later, no unclean persons were allowed in the temple area, where they could mingle with others." I look at this from the standpoint that they did not have medicines back then to heal people of these contagious diseases - and as such, the only way to keep the diseases from spreading to the entire population was to isolate the sick. I know this doesn't sound compassionate on the surface... but was there a better option at that time? In the New Testament we read about Jesus curing people of leprosy, which was thousands of years later. It's obvious that skin diseases were a major issue in Moses' day and through Jesus' day - as was mildew during Israel's rainy season of October through March - particularly along the coast and by the Sea of Galilee where it is very humid.
On a side note, leprosy is still in existence in our world today, though at much lower incidence rates than ever before. It is a sad disease to learn about... I did a google image search on the word leprosy and was pretty shocked by the pictures. The World Health Organization's website says this - "Today, diagnosis and treatment of leprosy is easy. Essential work is being carried out to integrate leprosy services into existing, general health services. This is especially important for communities at risk for leprosy, which are often the poorest of the poor and under-served. Full control of leprosy has eluded mainly in some parts of Angola, Brazil, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, and United Republic of Tanzania." More info on leprosy in our world today is at the World Health Organization's website at this link.
All of a sudden now these 3 verses about Jesus and leprosy in Matthew chapter 8 verses 1 through 3 really stand out to me... - "When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy."
New Testament - Today in in Mark Chapter 6 verse 4 we read – “Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” I guess what this verse reminds me of is that sometimes when we really move forward in our faith, our friends (“hometown” from the verse above) and our relatives can sometimes not understand what on earth is going on with us. I think there are phases of our walk with God where really it becomes very personal – between us and God – and through that process God will often transform us. And our friends and relatives may not appreciate our change – just as Jesus’ friends and relatives did not appreciate his ministry in this verse. I just hope that this verse can be of comfort to you if by chance you are having challenges at times reconciling your faith and your changed heart with your friends & relatives expectations of who you were in the past. Know that you are on the right path. As long as you are staying focused on God and his will for your life, you may have to accept some loss of “honor” (per the verse above) in your status with your friends and relatives. You may not seem to be as “cool” or “fun” as you once were in your friends’ eyes. But – if in God’s eyes you are loving Him with all of your heart and you are loving your neighbors as yourself, then you are eternally cool and fun in the Kingdom of Heaven. And that’s where it really counts. Where are you truly seeking “honor” in your life today? In the eyes of your friends and relatives – or in God’s eyes?
An image for verses 18 & 19 - "John kept telling Herod, "It is illegal for you to marry your brother's wife." Herodias was enraged and wanted John killed in revenge, but without Herod's approval she was powerless." -
Psalms - Today in Psalm 39 verse 5 we will read – “My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath." This verse is a powerful verse for each of us to meditate upon as well. How does this verse speak to you? Do you feel like life moves fast sometimes? If so, how are you spending your time? Are you being intentional about how you invest your time? Are you being intentional about your work? Your friends? Your finances? Volunteering? Serving others? Loving others? Watching TV – or not watching TV? (Have I gone off on my “Kill Your Television” soap-box yet this year?… J I’ll save it for a future post…) If life really is “but a breath” – are you spending your breath wisely? With your breath are you constantly loving God with all your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself?
I love verse 7 of this Psalm - "And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you." Is this true of your life today? Are you putting your hope anywhere else?
Proverbs chapter 10 verse 10 is a great reminder that in the long run it is so much better - more peaceful - to stand up to an injustice or wrong. We should not let things slide. I think this can apply to our own lives as well. If we know we ourselves are doing something wrong, we should not just "wink" at our wrong. But we must reproof it and confess it and let Jesus heal it.
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!