~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Leviticus 19:1-20:21 ~ Mark 8:11-38
Psalm 42:1-11 ~ Proverbs 10:17
Old Testament - Today in Leviticus chapter 19 we read about holiness! What a tiny but powerful little word - holy. This chapter is of interest to me in that I continue to struggle with the call to holiness in my life. I understand grace. I get grace. I'm good at receiving grace... :) But holiness? Well, that's a bit trickier for me personally. I guess where I am at these days in my walk with the Lord is really trying to balance grace and holiness. I know we are saved through grace, not works - but, I also believe there is a call to holiness in our lives once we have received that gift of grace. You know I love Bob Deffinbaugh's writings over at bible.org. I think Bob's writings on Leviticus chapter 19 titled "How to Spell Holy" at this link is up there with some of his best stuff. Please check out this link, and make sure you scroll down to read about Bob's take on "perversions of holiness" - 1. stained glass holiness 2. positional holiness 3. equating holiness with the miraculous 4. isolational holiness 5. holiness by redefinition. Great stuff!
You'll notice lately that I've been punting over to Bob on many of the Leviticus chapters. I'm honestly not finding as much time as I'd like to spend on study & prep as I'd like lately. But, I also think Bob's writings on Leviticus are powerful - and so here he is on Leviticus chapter 20 at this link. Actually, one quick powerful note on Leviticus 19:18 - "Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." Jesus quoted the underlined portion of this Leviticus verse as we see in Matthew 22:36-40: ""Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?" Jesus replied, " `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."
New Testament - The last few verses in Mark's readings today are some of the most powerful verses that each of us should really reflect upon in our lives today! I wish I reflected on these verses more often. Check out chapter 8 verses 34 through 38 and spend a few moments really reflecting on these verses and on how they speak to how you are living your life today: "Then Jesus called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. "If any of you wants to be my follower," he told them, "you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul? If a person is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in the glory of my Father with the holy angels."
These are incredible verses above! I think the first obvious question these verses open up to us is simply this - do you want to be a follower of Jesus? If the answer is yes, then the instructions that follow are simple and yet not always so easy in our fallen world: 1. give up your own selfish ambition. 2. shoulder your cross. 3. follow Jesus. How are you doing on these 3 points in your life today? And what a profound truth there is in that we will find true life if we give up our life for Jesus - the Good News. I actually have been thinking about this point quite a bit lately. And my thoughts have revolved around "my identity" - and where I get my identity from. I think so often I get my identity from my work or my ministry or my friends or my social life - the problem in all of this is that you'll keep seeing the word "my" in my identity. And I'm realizing more and more that my identity should be in Jesus alone. Jesus should be the identity. The reality. I think that I am really searching for true life in all the wrong places - in my work, in my friends, etc. And true true life is really only found in one place - Jesus. How about you? What is providing your identity in your life today? Do you think it is possible that your identity could simply be found in Jesus? Do you want this to be the case? I think each of us will do well to not be ashamed of Jesus and the Good News in these adulterous and sinful days... Below is an interesting diagram showing Christian levels of commitment, suggesting that verses Mark 8:34-38 are the "conviction" stage highlighted below. Which stage of commitment do you think you are at today?
Psalms - Today we read Psalm 42 verse 1, which is one of my favorite verses in the Bible! "As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God." That is so right on. Lately these days I have been longing for God more than ever - and I love that. I am thankful for that. There have been seasons in my life - which can certainly be called "dry" seasons - where I have not longed for God. Where I have not longed for the true Living Water. I just love the picture this Psalm verse paints in my mind - a deer in the wilderness is fleeing from hunters. It is literally dying of thirst as it runs. It is tired. It is weary. It is running from death. And it needs water. It pants for streams of water. Like this deer, I pray that I long for God in the same way. As I flee from sin. As I am tired. As I am weary. As I run from death. I need God. I long for God. How about you? Do you long for God these days as a deer longs for water? Are you consistently drinking from the true Living Water?
Proverbs - Proverbs 10 verse 17 is a wonderful reminder to allow God to change us, transform us and correct us along the Way: "People who accept correction are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore it will lead others astray." The second part of that Proverb is powerful too - if we don't accept correction, we'll not only be off the pathway, but we will be leading others astray too... that's a scary thought. If you don't accept correction, you'll be bringing others down with you!
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: Based on Proverbs 10:17 today, do you accept correction in your life? Do you accept correction from God? Do you accept correction from others in your life? Do you think that if you don't accept correction in your life that you will lead others astray? Can you think of an instance in your life where you ignored correction and it ended up being bad for not only you, but others around you? Can you think of an instance in your life where you heeded correction and it ended up being good for not only you, but others around you? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!