Exodus 12:14-13:16 ~ Matthew 20:29-21:22 ~ Psalm 25:16-22 ~ Proverbs 6:12-15
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Month One - Today we wrap up Month One of our One Year Bible readings in 2009! Congratulations! Your marathon pace is looking great. The wonderful habit of reading from God's Word every day is starting to settle into place in your life. Keep your eyes forward on the path before you this year and your eye on the prize! As Paul tells us in Philippians 3:14 – "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Let us each press on toward the goal!
Old Testament - This is a big day in our readings today - The Israelites officially begin their exodus from Egypt! Today in Exodus chapter 12 we read about God instituting the Festival of Unleavened Bread along with Passover. These both are still observed today by practicing Jews. Verse 14 states the importance of these festivals to the Israelites: "You must remember this day forever. Each year you will celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD."
Chapter 12 verses 29 & 30 tell us: "And that night at midnight, the Lord struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died." Below is Dutch painter Laurens Alma Tadema's "Death of the Pharaoh's Firstborn Son" from the year 1872:
Verses 37 & 38 are amazing: "That night the people of Israel left Rameses and started for Succoth. There were about 600,000 men, plus all the women and children. And they were all traveling on foot. Many people who were not Israelites went with them, along with the many flocks and herds." 600,000 men equals probably at least 1.2 million people all together - and probably close to 2 million. This is a massive Exodus! Verse 38 is very interesting in that some Egyptians were joining the Israelites in this Exodus! Think these Egyptians believed in God?
In Exodus chapter 13 we read about God's instructions for the dedication of the firstborn. Note that based on this law that Jesus, the firstborn of Mary & Joseph, was dedicated to God in the Temple in Jerusalem as we read in Luke chapter 2 verses 21 through 24: "On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”" I think it's also interesting to note that Mary & Joseph did not present a lamb, but a pair of doves or two young pigeons. This portion of the law came from Leviticus chapter 12 verse 8: "If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering."" Below is an image of Jesus being dedicated in the temple:
Bible.org's commentary on "The Passover and the Plague of the Firstborn" is at this link.
New Testament - Today in Matthew chapter 21 verse 22 we read these words from Jesus: "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."" This is a powerful verse if you really stop and think about it... Do you believe Jesus' teaching here? Do you believe that if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer? I do believe this... but then there is always in the back of my mind - "but what about so-and-so who was ill and was praying in belief that they would be healed. But then they weren't..." I don't have any easy answer on this one. I have to believe there are probably some good resources out there for this tough question? If you know of any resources / books on this subject of prayer - or, more specifically, unanswered prayers - please post up in the Comments section below? Thanks.
Whoo-hoo! Today is Palm Sunday in our Gospel reading today! :) Hosanna in the Highest! Hosanna means "Save Now" - Amen!
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 21 titled "The Triumphal Entry" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 25 verse 22 really stood out to me today: "O God, ransom Israel from all its troubles." As I read this, the Christmas carol, "O Come O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel" comes to my mind. Indeed, God would answer this prayer of King David's and send his Son to ransom Israel!
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 6 verse 14 today tells us: "Their perverted hearts plot evil. They stir up trouble constantly." This is a powerful reminder of the utmost importance for us to guard the condition of our hearts continually!
Worship God: I realize we're 1 month past Christmas, but hey, it's never too early for Christmas 2009 carols is it?? :) Based on my Psalm 25 reflection above, here is a wonderful video produced by ChristianityToday.com of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" with some incredible artwork:
Do you know Emmanuel? Click here and be ransomed!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture this week: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15 NIV
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: It's interesting to me how fast January 2009 seems to have flown by. February 2009 is now before us. I don't know about you, but I set some big goals and resolutions for 2009 and somehow I'm suddenly a month behind on progress on those goals. However, even though I am feeling behind on some goals for 2009, I know that ultimately my life is in a very good place because I am moving forward with my relationship with God. Reading and studying God's Word every day is a higher priority than any of my other goals and resolutions. Those other goals and resolutions can wait. My relationship with God cannot wait. As long as I am in a growing and loving relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, nothing else really matters. How about you? Are there some goals and resolutions for 2009 that you feel like you might be behind on? Do you agree that reading from God's Word each day and growing in your love relationship with God is more important than those goals and resolutions? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!