~ 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 don't watch 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!