~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Leviticus 7:28-9:6 ~ Mark 3:31-4:25
Psalm 37:12-29 ~ Proverbs 10:5
Old Testament - I found Leviticus chapter 7 verse 36 to be powerful as we read about a portion of the offerings going to the priests: "The LORD commanded that the Israelites were to give these portions to the priests as their regular share from the time of the priests' anointing. This regulation applies throughout the generations to come." I think this is something for us to consider today - most of us realize that a portion of our tithes and offerings to our churches goes to support our pastors, priests, ministers, clergy. And I believe this is rightly so. These clergy are doing holy work in our churches today. And I know from first hand experience from my past that church ministry work is not easy work. Yes, oftentimes it is joyful work and the most amazing & fulfilling work you can imagine. But, other times it can be really tough work as you can find yourselves on the front lines of spiritual warfare and working with people at very low points in their lives. So - I guess I say all of this to encourage you to not begrudge your clergy in your church for getting paid for their work. Aaron and his sons were "paid" here in Leviticus - and I think it is still proper for clergy to be paid today. (and trust me - most clergy that I know do not get paid an exorbitant amount by a long shot... :) I guess, while I am on this subject, I am also a bit familiar with the house church model today - and I do believe there are some leaders in this movement that are probably not getting "paid" financially. And I think this is great if you can sustain the model. But, personally, I wouldn't fault house church leaders for receiving compensation either. It is holy work that our clergy do. I think fair compensation for this work is fair. What do you think?
Today in Leviticus chapter 8 we read about the Ordination of the Priests. Many of you will recall that we read something very similar to this chapter earlier this year in Exodus chapter 29 - click on this link to review Exodus 29. In verse 14 today we read: "Then Moses brought in the bull for the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head."
Great commentary about Priesthood in the Old Testament is online at bible.org at this link.
New Testament - Mark chapter 3 verses 33-35 make an impact on me each time I read it: "Jesus replied, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" Then he looked at those around him and said, "These are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." This last sentence is a powerful proclamation from Jesus. If we are obedient to God's will in our life we are brothers and sisters and mothers of Jesus. Pretty amazing to think about! Jesus is not only our savior - but our brother. And later he calls us friends. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary puts it this way - "It is a great comfort to all true Christians, that they are dearer to Christ than mother, brother, or sister as such, merely as relations in the flesh would have been, even had they been holy. Blessed be God, this great and gracious privilege is ours even now; for though Christ's bodily presence cannot be enjoyed by us, his spiritual presence is not denied us."
Mark chapter 4's parable of the Farmer scattering seed is a parable that I am sure can convict each of us in various ways. Verses 16 through 18 I am afraid can sometimes represent all too well the "soil" of our hearts... "The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don't go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for nice things, so no crop is produced." The crowding out of the Good News by the cares of this life and the desire for nice things is where I am afraid we miss the mark too often. And when we succumb to theses cares & desires, indeed, no crop is produced. However - I do pray that there are moments in life where we can see the amazing power & truth in verse 20: "But the good soil represents those who hear and accept God's message and produce a huge harvest--thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted." I just pray for more consistency in our lives to live in verse 20 than in the previous verses... How is the soil of your heart? Which verses in this parable are you living in these days? Are you receiving God's Word into your heart? Will you allowing God's Word in your heart to produce a huge harvest?
Psalms - Psalm 37 verse 16 is powerful today - "It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and possess much." I don't know what I can add to this.... I think you probably get it. :) Do you live it? Verse 23 is so amazing... "The steps of the godly are directed by the LORD. He delights in every detail of their lives." I don't mean to infer that I am godly here... but, I will admit that there are times in my life where I really sense that God is directing my steps - and taking care of every detail. And basically, it feels like I am sort of just going with God's flow. Things are just happening beautifully. And I do sense the Spirit often during these times. My sadness in this area is that I don't realize that God is directing my steps all of the time. And that he is delighting in every detail of my life - most of the time... :) I pray you and I will come to a greater awareness of this in our lives each and every moment: "The steps of the godly are directed by the LORD. He delights in every detail of their lives."
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 10 verse 5 - "A wise youth works hard all summer; a youth who sleeps away the hour of opportunity brings shame" - for some reason reminds me of Paul's writings in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 2: "Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Is the hour of opportunity upon you now? Will you stay awake for it? Is now the favorable time? Is now the day of salvation? Are you awake?
Comments from You & Question of the Day - I realize that my reflections above in the OT section on clergy at churches receiving compensation might be controversial in some ways. What are your thoughts on your clergy receiving compensation? What are your thoughts on others in other types of ministry receiving compensation? Where do we draw the line of when ministry should be done with compensation or without compensation? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!