~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Leviticus 20:22-22:16 ~ Mark 9:1-29
Psalm 43:1-5 ~ Proverbs 10:18
Old Testament - Today in Leviticus chapter 20 verses 23 & 24 we read - "Do not live by the customs of the people whom I will expel before you. It is because they do these terrible things that I detest them so much. But I have promised that you will inherit their land, a land flowing with milk and honey. I, the LORD, am your God, who has set you apart from all other people." These verses are another reminder that God's laws to the Israelites were given to set them apart from the pagans surrounding them and in Canaan. God's laws were given to differentiate what is right and wrong, in comparison to the pagan immoral customs. I wonder about this in our modern world today. As followers of Jesus, do you think we should be "set apart" from what the modern world tells us to do & how to live? Should we or should we not be living by the customs of our modern world? How are you living your life today? If someone examined your life, would they see that you are set apart from the customs of our modern world? Bob Deffinbaugh's commentary on Leviticus chapters 21 & 22 is at this link. A sermon from Peninsula Bible Church on Leviticus 21 & 22 is at this link.
New Testament - Today in Mark chapter 9 we read about the Transfiguration. I heard a wonderful sermon recently about the Transfiguration. The sermon basically was stating that the Transfiguration of Jesus into a dazzling white & God's voice showed to James, John, and Peter that Jesus was truly divine and the son of God. And, the sermon suggested this Transfiguration took place relatively closely to Jesus' arrest and death - as such, the Transfiguration was meant to give these 3 apostles the hope that even during the dark days that were soon to come during the arrest, trial and death of Jesus, that they truly were following the Messiah and that he would rise from the dead - although they didn't quite understand the rise from the dead part at this time. I think it is important for us to remember that we have the knowledge of the full story of Jesus, including his resurrection - hindsight is 20/20 - but the apostles did not know exactly what was going to happen at this paricular time. The Transfiguration was an incredible sign of God's control in all that was happening and would happen to his beloved son Jesus. Commentary on the Transfiguration is at bible.org at this link
Verse 24 is an amazing statement from the father of a possessed boy to Jesus- "The father instantly replied, "I do believe, but help me not to doubt!"" I have heard this verse mentioned by the late great writer Henri Nouwen. One of his simple prayers that he would pray very often - throughout his day - was simply, "Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief." I know that I have uttered this prayer on occasion in the past and it's been an amazing little prayer to pray - at any time of the day. Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief. (The Genesee Diary is the book by Henri where I believe I read about him praying this short prayer where he kept a diary when spending several months in a trappist monastery. This book is a great read!)
Psalms - I think Psalm 43 verse 5 starts off with a couple of questions that then answer themselves by the end of the verse - "Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again--my Savior and my God!" I would agree with what this verse is getting at. If I find myself to be discouraged or sad, it comes as no great surprise to me that I have been putting my hope in things other than God. I have been perhaps even praising false idols. And the sure fire way to be freed from the discouragement or sadness? To put my hope once again in God and God only. And to praise him again! I think this Psalm verse is a great reminder to make sure we are not placing our hope in anything other than God. For anything other than God will only leave us empty in the end.
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 10 verse 18 tells us - "To hide hatred is to be a liar; to slander is to be a fool." Powerful teaching for us to consider. Let us pray that we will not be foolish...
Comments from You & Question of the Day - What do you think of the image above in the Psalms section? I find it to be very powerful - and relates to the OT reflections on being "set apart." How do you set yourself apart from the world for God? Are there particular movies or TV or radio programs that you will not watch or listen to? Should we set boundaries for ourselves on what we will and will not watch? Personally, I will admit that I very rarely ever see a rated R movie these days. I just know what those movies will typically be trying to "sell" me - and I ain't buying. I do think that we should think about the Holy Spirit indwelling in us and how we might want to set ourselves apart on occasion of what we won't participate in, that the rest of the world wouldn't blink at participating in. What are some examples of how you try to set yourself apart from the world for God? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Leviticus 20 (NKJV)
But I have said to you, “You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.
You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.
And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.
The fact of separation goes back to the calling of Abraham -- God working through history to redeem mankind from the rebellion and sin of Adam.
According to the Torah, when God called Abram and Sarai in Genesis 12, God called them to be separate.
The notes here in the Artscroll Torah of Genesis are really excellent:
"...it is never easy for a person to start life again, especially when he has achieved status and prosperity...
God called Abraham 'lvri' which is from the word which means 'the other side.'"
Though this means Abraham was to physically live on the other side of the Euphrates, "the Sages interpret the title in a deeper sense, too."
"He [Abraham] was one side of a moral and spiritual divide, and the rest of the world was on the other."
"Righteous people must be ready to endure such isolation: popularity is pleasant, but it is also a snare BECAUSE THE NATURAL DESIRE TO WIN THE APPROVAL OF OTHERS CAN EASILY LEAD PEOPLE TO BEND THEIR PRINCIPLES."
WOW! I really like this. Am I... are we... really living a distinctly CHRISTIAN life that is seen as holy and dedicated to God?
Peter quotes from Leviticus in I Peter 1 (NKJV):
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14
as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Leviticus 21 (NKJV)
No man of the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, shall come near to offer the offerings made by fire to the LORD. He has a defect; he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
He may eat the bread of his God, both the most holy and the holy;
23 only he shall not go near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a defect, lest he profane My sanctuaries; for I the LORD sanctify them.’”
Regarding having a defect, I am amazed how Jesus reached beyond the limits of the law and ministered to lepers and others who were "unclean". He touched them, and He had no problem when the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of His garment for her healing.
I thank God that today people with physical defects CAN BE MINISTERS and priests unto the Lord. Think of Joni Erickson Tada who has a worldwide ministry to the handicapped. I met a man who is deaf who married a deaf woman, and he is a wonderful pastor.
On Focus on the Family, I heard the testimony of a pastor who has cerebral palsy who has a powerful preaching ministry.
THANK GOD FOR GRACE !
Psalm 43 (NKJV)
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
In a "microwave -- I need everything fixed right now" world, it is hard for us to deal with unpleasant emotions. They simply do not fit our idea of "the good life".
I am not always comfortable either when my soul feels down and is disquieted within me.
The excellent thing here is that the Holy Spirit shows me at least two (2) things about difficult emotions:
I can bring them to the Lord. I may be uncomfortable with them, but God is ready to listen and bear them with me. He is gracious and compassionate.
As I yield my will to the Lord-- to His mercy and goodness -- I can exercise spiritual authority over my soul and not allow my life to be determined by how I feel.
"For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God."
NOTHING CAN SEPARATE ME FROM THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS! Do I believe this?
I can! It is up to me, as I yield to the Lord, to believe this.
Of course, understanding our emotions can be a great tool to understanding something within us may be wrong and needs to be put into proper relationship.
Nothing is impossible to him who believes. MAY WE SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH THE LORD JESUS, so our unbelief can be overcome with faith. THEN WE CAN BE USED by God and be the people He called us to be IN THE FULLEST!
Posted by: Vance Brown | February 27, 2006 at 05:07 AM
I love the concept of all Christans being an active participant in the Church. My faith base (Catholic) has had its priesthood come under attack in recent years, none more so than the declined interest in the "Holy Orders". Vatican II in its wisdom has placed an emphasis on everyone to minister the wonderful message of God as revealed through his son Jesus. Unfortunately much of V2C is yet to move forward. Beloved John Paul valued Youth Day as a hot bed of potential priests, sisters and brothers. The future is only more promising because of his wisdom. Going to the web site of my church I see that there are so many "ministries" available that need help in our community. You need not be experianced or educated with a Masters of Divinity. You only have to have LIFE! "I am so into the direction of my participation in the faith!"
Yours in Christ
Posted by: Richard C | February 27, 2006 at 09:40 AM
WHY DID JESUS TELL EVERYONE NOT TO TELL ANYONE WHEN HE HEALED THEM? THEN THEY ALL TOLD ANYWAY. JUST WONDERING!
Posted by: PEGGY WILLIAMS | February 27, 2006 at 10:18 AM
My FINAL comment is this:
People can get the idea that "holiness" is only defined as SEPARATING from certain activities (i.e.- shorts, dancing, smoking, etc.)
Though there can be benefit in avoiding many of these things, IS HOLINESS REALLY DEFINED AS AVOIDING WHAT IS WRONG?
It occurred to me that it is easy to avoid what is wrong (unless there is an addiction). However, holiness is GOING ON TO PARTAKE OF WHAT IS GOOD IN THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST.
Prayer.. the personal relationship with the Lord Jesus...
Posted by: Vance Brown | February 27, 2006 at 11:03 AM
I am a couple of days behind on posting. On Saturday I got a little side tracked by a post that became unpublished as well as my response to the above mentioned post. I understands Mike's reasoning behind what he did. Without bringing it up again, lets just chalk it up to spiritual war fare. I remember that Satan was mentioned that day as well. Some feel that Satan does not exist. I believe that we as Christians must always be prepared and be able to defend against his flaming arrows. We need to put on our armor of God according to Ephesians 6:10-19. Verse 11 says "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" NIV. We must be prepared for Spiritual warfare at all times as we deal with the world. Even in places where you might think you are safe. It is reasurring the know that in all circumstances God is still always in control, and this is Mike's blog. He monitors it very well. We love ya Mike.
With that being said, I also wanted to comment to Rosyln who's post I was reading over the weekend. I am very sorry for your loss and will pray for Gods peace and comfort for you. I know that God has a special place in His heart for widows.
I haven't had a chance to read all the commentaries on Leviticus, as I know I will find them fascinating. One thing that comes to mind from yesterdays reading in chapter 19 particularly verse 33, chapter 20 and today in chapter 21 verse 5 talks about laws that were to be followed which would set the Israelites apart from the pagans. These verses mention hair styles refering to bald places on the head (not natural ones) shaving edges of the beard, cutting in the flesh (also known as peircing right?)and yesterday I recall that it said in Lev 19 that tatoos were an abomination. WOW! doesn't that speak volumns to today's youth? Shouldn't Christian youth be set apart from trying to look like the rest of the world? I even see many of todays comtemporary Christian music artists that don't look much different from many non-Christian youth of today. Should they blend in with them to relate to them better or have their own look to set themselves apart from pagans? Just a thought. What do the rest of you think? Am I just being an old fashioned middle aged person here? Didn't we look terrible as youths (the hippy look) Is this just a generational thing? Or do I need to remember that what is on the outside is not what makes a person unclean?
I would be interested in everyones thoughts on this and how they relate the verses we have read the last couple of days in Leviticus, to the customs of today.
Posted by: Laura Jones | February 27, 2006 at 12:32 PM
Re Laura Jones questions:
The big question for me while going through all this Law in Leviticus is how does it apply to us in totality? It seems to me either it applies altogether or we have been relieved of it by the New Covenant. We no longer have to appoint priests to sacrifice all sorts animals according to very specific procedures as atonement for our sin, because Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. We are called to repent of our sin and believe in Jesus and we are then redeemed, born again, into new life with Him. So the animal sacrifice bit does not apply in practice to us. Therefore, I think that the treatments for mildew on our leather belts and on the bricks in our walls also do not apply. So why should a rule about tattoos apply?
And if we apply special dress codes to set ourselves apart from the world as a holy people - who are we kidding?
God is looking at our heart, the motivation at the core of our being and what is coming out of there. We had this last Friday in Mark 7:14-23:
'Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.' "
'After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")
'He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' " (NIV)
Maybe tattoos fall under 'arrogance and folly' in this verse, or 'lewdness', depending on the design and position of the tattoo.
HOWEVER, we are called to be holy. To be in the world but not of the world. Eating with and caring for the prostitutes, drop-outs, tax-collectors, down and outs. But not falling into those traps ourselves. Caring for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. But offering ourselves soul and body as a living sacrifice.
So I think it depends on the setting of our heart. If we are focussed on pimping ourselves, our image, our position in the pecking order and tattoos are our idol in helping us do that - then they are out of order.
But if we are full of the Holy Spirit and flowing as a channel of God's love for all around us, but once upon a time we had a silly idea and got a tattoo and a couple of piercings, where is God's priority, what does He find in our heart?
Just my rambling thoughts,
Posted by: Andrew B | February 27, 2006 at 01:33 PM
Regarding being set apart: I am a Lady in Waiting, I don't date, therefore I have set myself apart & am waiting on God to bring my husband...in God's eyes...I already have Him & in my eyes, I have him by faith; which pleases God greatly.
I was asked this question just last week by a man (women usually don't ask this question), "You don't date?" No, I don't date as the world dates. I am pretty much alone with God & He is my Abba & He brings, approves that special man for my husband...He already knows Him, I don't...YET!!!
Great book of encouragement for single women/Ladies in Waiting..."Lady in Waiting/Developing Your Love Relationships" by Debby Jones & Jackie Kendall.
Ms. Jan aka LIW
Posted by: Jan | February 27, 2006 at 01:41 PM
Just a further rambling thought on love as God intended by comparison with life under the Law:
I was inspired this morning by the words of Sarah Brown and her art work at http://www.emergingcity.com/2006/02/the_cross_and_the_city_i_am.html
Posted by: Andrew B | February 27, 2006 at 02:16 PM
More rambling thoughts on Laura's question as I read through Ephesians about 'Living as Children of Light' - see Ephesians 4:17-24 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%204:17-24;&version=31;
So maybe tattoos ARE out for Children of Light.
Posted by: Andrew B | February 27, 2006 at 02:33 PM
I have always wondered how Peter knew that it was Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus?
Posted by: chilipepperkaren | February 27, 2006 at 05:35 PM
Regarding Mark 8:38 to 9:1--
When I first read Mark 8:38, and Jesus says "...when he comes in his
Father's glory..." I thought he was referring to his 2nd coming. But
after reading 9:1, when he says to the disciples "some of you will not
taste death before you see the kingdom of God come with power", he must
have been referring to something other than his 2nd coming since he said
it would happen before they all died. It seems to me there are three
likely possibilities of what Jesus was referring to here:
- His Transfiguration which would occur 6 days later (Mark 9:2-13)
- His resurrection (Mark 16)
- Pentecost (Acts 2; especially verses 36-47)
I'm leaning toward Pentecost, since it was when the Holy Spirit came to
the post-resurrection people; and the Christian church was being
established and beginning to grow.
Would appreciate hearing your opinion?
Posted by: Jeff | February 27, 2006 at 06:57 PM
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? (Romans 9:21 KJVR)
For the past two days I have been contemplating the Book of Leviticus as a whole, thinking that I’m missing something. Wondering and thinking that this whole book of laws, and dos and don’ts has to be just more than a laundry list of things not to do and the punishment or consequences of crossing the line and doing what you are told not to do. What is God not only trying to tell us but show us? Within all of these laws and commands are hints of God and us. Be perfect…I am perfect—Is more than just God telling us to be like Him which is impossible because we are not God.
I may be way off base and heading into the stratosphere by some accounts but I believe the Book of Leviticus gives God’s people their true value. Just like the instruction manual or the guidelines given to us when we purchase an appliance in order to maintain the warranty, which must be adhered to, or the warranty becomes void, this Book gives us the rules to keep God’s people in working order.
To be Holy is to be set apart, consecrated for a specific use, and pulled out of the realm of the ordinary and mediocrity into the realm of excellence and honor. This Book is all about our value to God and as such we must handle each other and ourselves in a specific way. This is not a foreign concept to us because we understand this when we have something of great value and we either lock it up or set it out of the way, secured if you will, protecting it from the everyday wear and tear of life.
People who have very expensive china are not supposed to put it in the dishwasher or handle it roughly. Even though one place setting may cost over $1,000 US dollars, you don’t handle it roughly. You don’t use harsh detergents to clean it and you definitely don’t store them with the other day to day dishes. People who have sets like this usually have little fitted covers to place each dish, cup and saucer in as well as the service and serving pieces. There is usually a cabinet purchased especially to hold these beautiful elaborate dishes. Silverware is placed in little velvet sleeves, and then placed in sliver lined boxes to protect the utensils. All of this we understand. Yet we fail to understand our value when we balk at maintaining our holiness.
Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP).
In Christ we become that Pearl of Great Price. In Christ we are vessels of honor not ones of dishonor. In Christ we are a chosen people a royal priesthood. In Christ we are so much more than we were when we were in the world.
The Book of Leviticus was the operating manual, before Christ, that pointed us to Christ. It showed the wonderful value God placed on His servants. How great and glorious the value placed on His Children. Our biggest problem as Christians is understanding the purchase price Jesus paid for us, thus we fail to understand our own value to God.
We must reevaluate what holiness is and stop looking at it as being a “kill joy” or a burden. Holiness is acting like whom we really are; holiness is shining forth in our true value. We are vessels of honor not dishonor. And the wonderful thing: If we happened to allow ourselves to be taken down to the mud puddle to be used to make mud pies, the value of the “vessel” remains, although covered in mud we just need a good washing.
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. (1 John 1:9 AMP)
Grace and peace,
Posted by: Ramona | February 27, 2006 at 07:14 PM
I think Mark 8:38 does refer to the Second coming and Jesus is commenting on Judgment. If you are ashamed of Jesus' words, and cannot accept him as Lord and Savior then He will be ashamed of you and your judgment will be damnation. Jesus has yet to return in his Father's glory, or with holy angels.
Mark 9:1 I think is talking about the transfiguration. My response to this is based on the Matthew account, but would apply here also.
From Jan 26th:
If you look at the Greek words for "coming" (Gk. erchomai) and "kingdom" (Gk. basileia) and tweak them with alternate meanings, then perhaps the verse reads like this:
"Verily I say unto you, There are some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man appearing in his royal majesty."
Peter and John commented on the transfigurion:
"We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain."
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only..."
On the mount, to those three (some), Jesus pulled back the veil and gave them a display of the glory He had promised.
Posted by: John | February 27, 2006 at 07:18 PM
I have been blessed with a very vivid imagination which is both a good thing and a bad thing. So I do have to be very careful about the things that I let my mind dwell on.
I believe that there is a mature "walking in the Holy Spirit" response to the world around us. There is such a huge contrast of walking in the flesh in Gal 5:19-21 and walking in the Spirit in Gal 5:22-24. I use these verses as checklists about what I will purposely allow to enter my mind by choosing to go to movies, watch tv or listen to music. If the themes of the program or movie starts to resemble the list in Gal 5:19-21, then I might have to turn off the tv or radio, or walk out of that movie. Even the news that is very gossipy or blogs or forums on the internet can pose some real problems to my soul if I focus on them. My life is much better when I am walking in the Holy Spirit and walking as a child of the light.
Regarding the tattoos: When they were young, my sons were not allowed to wear clothing with dark symbols or images like gang insignia, beer advertising, skulls, naked people, lewd sayings, dragons, snakes, etc. Many times I've heard them say to their friends, "my mom won't let me wear that" and then say to me "that's ok mom, I understand". But that is on clothing that can just easily be removed and tossed away. I feel a great burden for young people who are getting tattoos right now. It has become "dare me" and very competitive to have shocking things tattooed onto their bodies. My sons will not be getting tattoos as minors. Hopefully, they will make good choices by themselves as adults. Nevertheless, a lot of their friends even at church are sporting tattoos. The problem is that the kids can't just take them off when the rebellious season has passed. I've never met an adult who is proud of their tattoos of this negative type. In fact, I have met several who went to the trouble and expense of having them removed. For a Christian, I think that it just becomes a permanent reminder of their past-- and usually a mostly regrettable time in their lives. What was thought of as artistic expression may become a stronghold or foothold for the enemy in a person's life. (Eph 6:11, 4:17-27)
Posted by: Stacey | February 27, 2006 at 07:50 PM
"I have always wondered how Peter knew that it was Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus?"
If Peter did not recognize them, Peter (or one of the other two) probably asked Jesus.
Often it is mentioned Jesus taught or healed others without giving details. Gospel accounts of the same incident sometimes differ. Not in truth, but in perspective to what is germane or important to the theme of that particular gospel.
I would assume that not every word of every conversation is recorded in any of the Gospels. In this case: the important thing is not asking Jesus who the other two entities were, but Peter's request once the identities were established.
Once Peter made that request or inquired about building altars, God the Father stepped in and made it clear who was important, and who was not.
This was a moment where the power and glory of Jesus was on display, it was not about Moses and Elijah. They were incidental,and most place them there as a foreshadowing of the two messengers in Revelation, or at the very least representing the Old Testament (Prophets and Law) with the essence of the New Testament - Christ.
Posted by: John | February 27, 2006 at 10:24 PM
“ …Jesus' appearance changed, and his clothing became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly process could ever make it. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.” (Mark 9:2-4)
As per the text, Moses and Elijah talked to each other, maybe they greeted each other by name. But I think the most important part that we should not miss is this, three people stood before Peter, James and John, and these three represented the columniation, a convergence if you will, of the plan God had set in place since the fall of man, The Law (Moses), the Prophet (Elijah), and the Word (Jesus).
Posted by: Ramona | February 28, 2006 at 04:28 AM