Numbers 4:1-5:31 ~ Mark 12:18-37 ~ Psalm 48:1-14 ~ Proverbs 10:26
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Old Testament - Today in Numbers chapter 4 we read about the duties of the Kohathites, Gershonites and the Merarites! Reading this chapter reminded me of the church where I used to work - where we had to set up and tear down the sanctuary each Sunday, because we were holding services in a rented community center building. And truly, most Sundays my days felt like verse 31 and the Merarites: ""Their duties at the Tabernacle will consist of carrying loads." But, even though this task of carrying loads back then and today may seem "menial" at first glance, the task was of utmost importance for the community's worship! So, I hope this chapter can be an encouragement to you if at times you feel like you are simply "carrying loads" at your church - keep in mind it is a holy task that the Merarites faithfully conducted before you in the time of Moses!
New Testament - I have heard Jesus' teaching about the 2 greatest commandments in Mark chapter 12 verses 29-31 summarized as simply Love God & Love People: "Jesus replied, "The most important commandment is this: `Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' The second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these.""
Here is a very interesting note about Jesus' quote above from Deuteronomy 6:4 that starts '"Hear, O Israel!" - This verse begins what is known as the Shema - which was named after the first word in this verse and means "Hear." The Shema became the Jewish confession of faith, which was recited by pious Jews every morning and evening and it is still recited in synagogue services today. More very interesting information about The Shema from a Jewish website is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 48 is a celebratory Psalm of Mount Zion in Jerusalem, as verse 8 reads: "We had heard of the city's glory, but now we have seen it ourselves- the city of the LORD Almighty. It is the city of our God; he will make it safe forever."
I like verse 10 a lot in this Psalm: "As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth." I have had the good fortune to travel many places on this planet, and I will admit that it always encourages me to no end when I see God being praised and worshiped in other cultures. I always try to visit churches wherever I travel on Sundays, and I love seeing how different cultures worship God. One of the most memorable experiences was in the Dominican Republic in a very impoverished community. I honestly don't know that I have ever seen a congregation worship God so wholeheartedly than I did that day in the DR. It was beautiful. The other thing I am reminded of when traveling is that when we are in relationship with Jesus, God is always with us no matter where we go. When we're 35,000 feet above the ground in an airplane, God is with us. When we're in the middle of nowhere that has no church - God is with us. So, no matter where we go, if God is with us, we have the opportunity to praise God's name to the ends of the earth! Even if you're traveling to some far off locale where no one else around you would praise God, will you?
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 10 verse 26 teaches us: "Lazy people are a pain to their employer. They are like smoke in the eyes or vinegar that sets the teeth on edge." I think this gives each of us a chance to reflect upon how diligently we work for our employers. I think about this a lot. I know there are friends of mine that surf the net at work or send personal emails or play video games. I suppose some of this is okay, if you really are counting it as "break time" and not letting it eat into the actual hours you are supposed to be working. I would simply say that I think this is a very slippery slope for each of us - wasting time at work on personal stuff or games on the computers. I pray that each of us are so diligent to not start down this slope at work... and if we are on this slope already, to get off of it immediately! Actually, while I'm going on this tangent, I'll keep going... :) A friend of mine once gave me some very wise advice. He was in a job that he really didn't like. He knew he wouldn't be there long, and he was looking for other jobs - outside of work time. But, when he was at this job he was still giving it 100% - he was working hard. I asked him why he was working so hard if he knew he was leaving soon. He simply said to me, "Mike, if you pick up bad habits in one job, let me guarantee you that you are going to carry forward those bad habits to your next job. Don't kid yourself and think that you can turn those bad habits off overnight. You can't. I don't want to carry forward any bad habits when I land my dream job." Wow... what amazing wisdom from my friend here! I also kind of wonder that if we have bad habits at work, if they will also carry over into our personal lives? I think they might... I think we'd all do well to meditate on this Proverb and ask ourselves are we really working an honest day's work each and every day for our employer?
Worship God: Today's readings in Mark today about the two greatest commandments reminded me of The City Harmonic's song "Manifesto:"
Have you ever sang loud Amen's like this song? Click here and sing Amen forevermore!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on three verses of Scripture today: ""The most important commandment," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you will love God today with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. Pray that you will love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. Pray that God would show you today who your neighbor is and that you will love them.
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: Based on my reflections in the OT, have you ever had volunteer duties at your church that were less than glamorous duties? :) Do you think that maybe these duties were actually very glamorous to God, even if they weren't glamorous to the world? Do you make it a habit of volunteering at your church regularly? What are some volunteer things you do for your church to help "carry the load" of your church's ministry? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Love, Trust and Obey Jesus,