~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Leviticus 9:7-10:20 ~ Mark 4:26-5:20
Psalm 37:30-40 ~ Proverbs 10:6-7
Old Testament - Today in Leviticus chapter 9 we read about Aaron & his sons beginning their priestly ministry. I liked verse 24 as a closing verse to this chapter - "Fire blazed forth from the LORD's presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw all this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground." I think what this verse does for me is to really confirm that all of the Offerings we are reading about in Leviticus were ordained by God at that time and that what we are reading about in Leviticus is truly part of God's story. Not that I ever doubted this fact - but, when you read about God consuming the offering in fire in such a dramatic fashion, you realize that God was fully pleased with the priest's and the people's obedience. The Offerings are part of God's story - and are foreshadowing the final Offering of Jesus on the cross. Do you believe the Offerings are a part of our spiritual history?
In Leviticus chapter 10 we read about the disobedience of Nadab and Abihu. You'll recall 2 days ago that we read in Leviticus Chapter 6 verse 13 - "Remember, the fire must be kept burning on the altar at all times. It must never go out." Commentaries state that the fire was never to go out because the fire was started by God. Humans were not to bring man-made fire to the altar, or they would die. I realize that this can seem like a very harsh punishment for disobedience.... it may help to remember that we saw disobedience from others earlier in the Bible - and we'll see disobedience again later in the Bible - without the consequence of immediate death. But, in this case, disobedience brought death. Think about the risk of disobedience in our lives today. Yeah, sure, maybe we can get away with something dangerous 9 times out of 10 - but, there is always the risk that the 10th time could prove lethal. So - why take the risk of disobedience at all? Is it worth it?
New Testament - I love the parable of the growing seed in Mark chapter 4 verses 26-29. I equate the seed to be the Gospel, which is filled with so much power and truth and life that "the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmer's help, because the earth produces crops on its own." The Gospel message is so powerful on its own that it will produce a bountiful crop. Or - maybe the Bible is another way to look at the seed. Reading and studying the Bible will ultimately produce a bountiful crop in our lives. It can't help but not do so. What do you think the seed represents in this parable? I'll share with you that I have been thinking more and more about farming these days... and the wisdom in how farming works. You plant, you water, you care for the soil, you wait, the plant grows. And this takes time. And I contrast this with our society today - or myself - and how everything moves so fast. We want instant gratification. Now! :) We don't like to wait on anything. We don't like the concept of farming... and I'm afraid that this speed of life today can really be unhealthy - maybe superficial is the word I'm looking for. In any case, I think the patience and process of farming is something that has so much value for us even today. If we are struggling with sins or sadness or whatever, I think we absolutely need to take these things to Jesus for healing - but, we would do well to realize that Jesus may want to do some farming in our hearts. He may want to plant some seeds, and give the seeds some time to grow. Sure, maybe sometimes we'll get an instant gratification healing.... but I think more often than not we should be ready for some farming to occur in our hearts. And to thank God for the wisdom of this process...
Hmmm.... I think my little tangent on farming and being patient during the process above might play in well to Jesus' next parable of the mustard seed in verses 30 through 32 - "Jesus asked, "How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed. Though this is one of the smallest of seeds, it grows to become one of the largest of plants, with long branches where birds can come and find shelter."" I think if we can have faith in the seed that Jesus plants in our hearts - be it the Gospel, the Bible, healing - we will see an amazing plant grow that will ultimately bless others. From the tiniest beginnings, with patience and faith, can come the largest of plants. Will you let Jesus plant a needed mustard seed in your heart? And will you be patient and allow the seed time & space to grow?
At the end of chapter 4 we read about Jesus calming the storm...
Psalms - Psalm 37 verses 30 & 31 continue to read like amazing Proverbs - "The godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong. They fill their hearts with God's law, so they will never slip from his path." Are you filling your heart with God's teachings? Are you doing this so that you will never slip from his path? Are you offering good counsel to those around you? When others around you see you, do they see someone that clearly knows what is right from wrong?
Proverbs 10 verse 7 is so simple but so true... "We all have happy memories of the godly, but the name of a wicked person rots away."
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!