Ezekiel 20:1-49 ~ Hebrews 9:11-28 ~ Psalm 107:1-43 ~ Proverbs 27:11
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Old Testament - Ezekiel chapter 20 verse 12 stands out to me today: "And I gave them my Sabbath days of rest as a sign between them and me. It was to remind them that I, the LORD, had set them apart to be holy, making them my special people." I like learning this - the Sabbath days of rest were given as a sign between God and his people. How are you doing on taking a day of rest each week? Would taking a day of rest each week - a Sabbath day - benefit your relationship with God? And with others? Would it benefit perhaps the other 6 days of your week? Below is a great painting titled "The Sabbath Rest" by the Jewish Polish painter Samuel Hirszenberg from the year 1894:
After verse 12 above, we read this from God in verse 13: ""But the people of Israel rebelled against me, and they refused to obey my laws there in the wilderness. They wouldn't obey my instructions even though obedience would have given them life. And they also violated my Sabbath days. So I threatened to pour out my fury on them, and I made plans to utterly consume them in the desert." The thing that stood out to me in this verse was "they also violated my Sabbath days." I don't get too caught up on which day of the week we take a Sabbath - as some may work weekends and have Mondays off, for example. Whatever the day is for you - do you have 1 day a week that you consider a Sabbath? Why might this be a smart thing to do? A healthy thing to do? A faithful thing to do?
In Ezekiel 20:40 we read: “There I will require your offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices.” What are your offerings, choice gifts and holy sacrifices to the Lord? Your life, your thoughts, your finances? Do you give a percentage of your income to your local church, ministries, and nonprofits? Would this perhaps be a "holy sacrifice" if you did so? Would this be a bold act of faith?
New Testament - Hebrews chapter 9 verses 27 & 28 today teaches us: "And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died only once as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people." This stands in stark contrast to the old covenant where the High Priest had to atone for the people's sins over and over and over again. With faith in Jesus, our sins are forgiven all at once - for eternity - and Christ does not need to forgive us of our sins over and over and over again. Faith in Christ is the one and only thing that matters. Do you believe this?
Psalms - Psalm 107 today is a wonderful Psalm of thanksgiving! Okay, be honest, who started busting out singing the Michael W. Smith worship tune "Forever" when you read verse 1? - "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." I did! That's a great tune... based on a great verse in a great Psalm. Listen to a short portion of the tune "Forever" for free at this link here - song #1 at this link. Sing it y'all!
Psalm 107 repeats a verse four times - starting with verse 6 here - ""LORD, help!" they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress." (then see verse 13, verse 19, and verse 28 - same verse) This is a great reminder to pray - and yes, it's great to pray during times of distress of course. But, how about praying during times of happiness & joy? Or even times of just regular blahs? I recently read much of the book "The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg (great book!), and it has a great chapter on prayer. It is so true that one of the best ways to truly know and love God is through prayer. Simple prayer. 5 minutes a day. Do you pray to God 5 minutes a day? When the storms of life come, do you cry out for help to Jesus? Do you know that he will always be there for you in the midst of the storm?
Proverbs - It is interesting to read Proverbs 27:11 as if God was writing this to each of us: "My child, how happy I will be if you turn out to be wise! Then I will be able to answer my critics." Are we spending our lives striving to be wise in God's eyes or the world's eyes? Do you think that God will be happy if you are wise? Do you want godly wisdom? Where will you find it? Below is an image of a young Jesus growing in wisdom with Scripture - think this made God happy?
Worship God: The image of Jesus calming the storm above in the Psalms reflection reminded me immediately of the incredible Casting Crowns song "Praise You in This Storm." I don't know what it is about all these storm songs on the radio that are resonating with me lately - MercyMe's "Bring the Rain" being my current favorite song - other than I know this: It's not a matter of "if" storms will come in our life. It's a matter of "when." Storms will come. And when they do, we have the option to try to weather the storms all on our own. Or we have the option to invite God into the storms with us. Well, I believe God's already there with us in the storms even if we don't realize it - so, I think we can simply open our hearts and praise God in the storms! He will never abandon us or leave us. Even in the midst of the worst storms this fallen world might bring, God is there with us. Will you praise God in the storms?
Do you believe there is a God who is worthy of being praised even in the midst of storms in your life? Click here to get to know God of heaven and earth who is worthy of being praised in the storms!
Please join me in memorizing a verse of Scripture today:
"Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the LORD made them holy." Ezekiel 20:12 TNIV
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you from today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Grace, love, peace, and joy!