Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day 119: Numbers 4

SCRIPTURE: Numbers 4

Levi had three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. This chapter gives the details of what the descendants of those three were each responsible for doing when it comes time to move the tabernacle. The men between the ages of 30 and 50 were numbered and could officially serve in the tabernacle. Out of the 22,000 male Levites, 8580 were eligible to serve.

This ends the census. (sigh of relief for those with "numberphobia" ;) )

Keep Reading!!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Day 118: Psalm 26

READING: Psalm 26


We read last week, in Psalm 25, David’s humble prayer that God would forgive his iniquity and guide and teach him. He asked, “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in You.” (NIV) In this chapter David asks God to examine him, to see if that prayer was answered. He asserts his integrity, an integrity not based on his own merit, but on God’s mercy and help.

Some commentators believe that David was asking for God’s vindication or judgment here because he was being falsely accused and slandered.


Do you hear the echoes of Psalm 1 here? “I do not sit with deceitful men, nor will I go with pretenders. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.” (vv. 4-5).

What does David focus on, look at? God’s love. (v. 3) What guides David? God’s truth. (v. 3) What does David talk about? What God has done! (v. 7) Where does David love to be? Near God in His house. (v. 8) David sums it up in v. 11: “ But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.” Even as he continues to follow God with his whole heart he asks for God’s grace and redemption.

“Faith is the root and sap of integrity. He who leans upon the Lord is sure to walk in righteousness. … Faith trusts God to accomplish his own decrees. Why should I steal when God has promised to supply my need? Why should I avenge myself when I know that the Lord has espoused my cause? Confidence in God is a most effectual security against sin. Therefore I shall not slide.” Spurgeon


Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind. May Your love be ever before me and may I continually live in Your truth. As I walk before you with a heart and mind yielded to You, please show me grace and mercy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Numbers 3 - Duties of the Levites

READING: Numbers 3

In this chapter the arrangement and duties of the Levites were assigned.
  • Moses with Aaron and his sons set up camp along the east side of the tabernacle.
  • Sons of Kohath were on the south side.
  • Gershon's sons occupied the west side.
  • Merari's sons were on the north side.
Then God has Moses do some math!

At the Passover, God had spared the firstborn of all the Israelite families, but required that they all be dedicated to Him. So now they counted all the firstborn sons, age one month and older, and there were 22,273.

Rather than take each firstborn son into God's service, God assigned the tribe of Levi to take their place. So, they counted the tribe of Levi, and there were 22,000.

The Levites would take the place of all the firstborn sons of Israel, but there weren't quite enough of them. So the remaining 273 firstborns were ransomed at five shekels apiece.

REFLECTION: God is being very particular! You might think He would overlook the 273 extra firstborns. After all, it's not their fault they number more than the Levites. Who would notice 273 out of 22,000? I find it easy to rationalize that way. I have to be careful not to think lightly of what is due to God. All that I have and all that I am really belongs to Him for His service. I need to guard against keeping even a little bit for myself.

Lord, You have ransomed me and made me Your own. Let me serve You with all that I am, all that I can do, all that I have. Amen.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Day 116: Numbers 2


In this chapter, God organizes the camp of Israel around the tabernacle.
  • The tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun were to set up camp on the east side of the tabernacle and would set out first whenever Israel moved.
  • On the south side were the camps of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. They would move behind the first three tribes.
  • The tabernacle with the Levites would follow next.
  • Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin set up camp to the west of the tabernacle and followed behind the Levites.
  • On the north side were Dan, Asher, and Naphtali. They would bring up the rear whenever Israel moved.
There isn't a lot to this chapter, but it does demonstrate God's supremacy and sense of order. He arranged the Israelites around the tabernacle, around Himself. His presence would be at the center of the people. And he arranged the people so they could move in an orderly fashion whenever He told them to move.

Lord, be at the center of my life. You have purchased me with your blood and deserve the place of supremacy over me. Thank you for being a God of order. Let my life reflect order, not chaos, as I follow You. Amen.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Day 115: Proverbs 5

READING: Proverbs 5


This chapter is about temptation, specifically sexual temptation. But I wonder if the adulterous woman portrayed here isn’t a metaphor for other temptations as well – temptations that lead us away from wisdom, from the fear of the LORD.

C.S. Lewis points out that Satan, with cheap promises of easy satisfaction, tempts us with a perversion of what God made wonderful and good. This chapter illustrates that. The father counsels his son to stay away from the adulterous woman. She entices with promises of pleasure, of sweetness. The fruits of yielding to her are dishonor, ruin, and regret. This is true of adultery; it is also true of yielding to other sinful lusts.

Verses 15 – 20 are a wonderful metaphor for the satisfaction of sex in marriage. There’s not simply quick pleasure there, but a deep well of thirst quenching refreshment. Marital sex, though perhaps not glittery, offers real sustenance. Promiscuous sex is a glitzy container that is empty and moldy inside. And if the adulterous woman is also a metaphor for all temptations, then these verses point out the fulfillment, the lifegiving refreshment of clinging to God and His wisdom.

Proverbs 5 ends with a reminder that God sees and weighs our behavior. Frequently a person is entrapped, however, by the consequences of his own sin and his refusal to discipline himself and forsake them (vv. 22 – 23).

FURTHER STUDY (if you want!)

Paraphrase in your own words what the “adulteress” is like underneath her attractive exterior. Are there any other temptations that could be described in the same way? Are there are some temptations that are like that for you?

Notice the contrast between the fruit of the two choices in this chapter. Contrast the picture in vv. 3 – 14 with the picture in vv. 15 – 23. Where would you rather live?


Father God, You know what gives us true satisfaction and You have shown us the way. Help us to listen to Your Word and exercise good judgment. Help us to see through the glitz and empty promises of sins that seduce us.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day 114: Numbers 1

The book of Numbers isn't really about numbers, so it won't be as boring as you might think. Granted, there are a few chapters that deal with census numbers, but there are many more chapters telling the narrative of the next 39 years of Israel's wanderings in the wilderness. The Greek and Latin titles are both "Numbers" (arithmoi and numeri, respectively), which is why the English title is "Numbers." But the Hebrew title for this book is "in the wilderness," taken from the opening line of the first verse. So, don't let the title of this book or the first few chapters scare you; it's not all about numbers! Let's dig in and watch how God continues to develop a relationship with His people.

Numbers 1


This book opens one year and one month after the Israelites fled Egypt. God told Moses to take a census counting all the males age 20 and over, those who would be able to go out to war. God also appointed a specific man as head over each of the twelve tribes. Notice the Levites are not numbered among the fighting men, since they are dedicated to God's service in the tabernacle. Each tribe is counted and listed, with the total number of fighting men being 603,550. Based on this number of men qualified for the army, it is estimated that the population of the whole nation was somewhere between two and three million.

This chapter ends with the statement, "Thus the sons of Israel did; according to all which the LORD had commanded Moses, so they did." Do I obey God, even in the things that seem unimportant to me? When God is the one giving commands, it is not my place to determine whether the commands are valid or worthwhile to carry out. It is my job just to do what He says.

Father, help me to be obedient to You, even in the "little things" of life.

Please bring comfort to the hearts of those who love Bruce and are mourning their loss. We do not mourn as those who have no hope, but we do suffer great sadness at the loss of a loved one. You are a God of comfort and compassion. Let Your presence and love be felt. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Day 112: Psalm 25

READING: Psalm 25


This psalm by David is an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with the twenty-two successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Scholars aren’t sure why the acrostic psalms were written that way. It’s quite possible that the acrostics functioned as a mnemonic device, and made the psalm easier to memorize.


Trying to word what I’ve meditated on in this psalm is like trying to pour all the water in a teapot into a thimble! Can’t be done. There’s way too much. So I’ll content myself with a few comments.

1. David needs help; he needs deliverance from his enemies and guidance, and he needs forgiveness. So he turns to God – lifts his soul to God. “To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. / O my God, in You I trust,”… “ Then he appeals to God’s character, to who God is, not why he himself deserves help. Look at the basis of his request:

v. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, / For You are the God of my salvation; / For You I wait all the day.

v. 6 Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses

v. 7 According to Your lovingkindness remember me,/ For Your goodness' sake, O LORD.

v. 8 Good and upright is the LORD;

v.9 He leads the humble in justice, /And He teaches the humble His way.

v. 10 All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth/ To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.

v. 11 For Your name's sake, O LORD,/ Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

David doesn’t ask God to guide him because he deserves it; his appeal for God’s help is not based on his own goodness. Rather he focuses on God’s character in laying out his request and he reminds God that he belongs to Him. David’s appeal to be heard is not based on who he is, but on whose he is.

2. Twice David mentions the need to fear God, to reverence God, to give God the awe-filled trust that He deserves. Verse 12 says, “Who is the man who fears the LORD? / He will instruct him in the way he should choose.” And verse 14: "The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, / And He will make them know His covenant.” Other versions translate verse 14: “Friendship with the LORD is reserved for those who fear him” (New Living Translation).; “The LORD confides in those who fear him” (NIV). Fearing God leads to drawing close to Him, to intimacy with Him. Wow!

3. I counted three times, throughout the psalm, that David mentions his sin and/or asks God for forgiveness. “Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;/
According to Your lovingkindness remember me, / For Your goodness' sake, O LORD
.” (v. 7) “For Your name's sake, O LORD, / Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” (v.11) “Look upon my affliction and my trouble, / And forgive all my sins.” (v. 18)

Here are what others have to say about this:

Spurgeon said, in commenting on this psalm: “It is the mark of a true saint that his sorrows remind him of his sins, and his sorrow for sin drives him to his God.”


“ ‘Oh,’ says Pharaoh, ‘take away these filthy frogs, this dreadful thunder!’ But what says holy David? ‘Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant!’ The one would be freed from punishment, the effect of sin; the other from sin, the cause of punishment. And it is most true that a true Christian man is more troubled at sin than at frogs and thunder; he sees more filthiness in sin than in frogs and toads, more horror than in thunder and lightning.” From Jeremiah Dyke's "Worthy Communicant," 1645.


"Pharaoh more lamented the hard strokes that were upon him, than the hard heart which was within him. Esau mourned not because he sold the birthright, which was his sin, but because he lost the blessing, which was his punishment. This is like weeping with an onion; the eye sheds tears because it smarts.” … William Secker

4. Two times, in the beginning of the psalm in v. 5 and at the end, in v. 21, David says he will wait for God. He is assured that God will work – doesn’t know how or when – but after recounting the character of His God, his waiting appears expectant and patient rather than doubting and impatient. He is still needy and troubled, but he will continue to obey in integrity and uprightness and trust His God.

What have you reflected on in this psalm? I would like to hear. There’s so much.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS (for me and for you)

When I am troubled or in need where do I turn? If I turn to God, on what basis do I appeal to Him – on the basis of my character or His? Do I fear Him? Am I humble and teachable (meek)?

Am I more concerned about the effects of sin on me (the frogs!) than I am about having committed the sin (the hardness of heart the caused my sin)?

When I pray for guidance or for rescue from my enemy (Satan), do I wait with the trust and assurance that my God, who saved me, is working, and will do what is right with lovingkindness – according to His character?


LORD, help me to turn to You – to lift my soul to You – when I have a need. Help me to reverence and trust You so that I can be your friend, so that I can get to know You. Help me to continue to follow You in integrity while I wait patiently on You.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Leviticus 25 - Sabbath Rest for the Land and Year of Jubilee

READING: Leviticus 25

Levitcus 25 discusses two commandments of the Lord regarding 1) the idea of Sabbath rest for the land, and 2)the Year of Jubilee.

The land, commands the Lord, requires a Sabbath rest just as His people do. Just as we are to rest on the seventh day, the land which belongs not to people but to God alone (v. 23) also requires a rest every seventh year. So while people can farm their land for six years, the land must be left fallow for the seventh year. I remember reading somewhere that leaving the land fallow every seventh year keeps the crops from using all the land's nutrients. Our Lord is so perfectly practical and has made His land to rest every seven years so it can truly produce its best for His people.

The Year of Jubilee requires that when a week of Sabbath rests has passed (7X7=49), the next year, the 50th, will be the Year of Jubilee. The Hebrew word for "jubilee" is defined in Strong's as: "clamor, i.e. acclamation of joy or a battle-cry; especially clangor of trumpets, as an alarum." So the 50th year is to be a year of joy and celebration, and the Lord commands that many things should happen in that year, such as the proclamation of liberty for Hebrew slaves and the return of land to original "owners" (although God Himself is the true owner of land, v. 23). The land is to remain fallow once again for the jubilee "shall be holy unto you" (v. 12). Did you know that part of verse 10 is inscribed on the Liberty Bell? I didn't -- "PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF LEV. XXV X" -- how cool!

In verse 23, God proclaims, "... for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me." He is the true Owner of His Creation, as He made it. We can use land with the knowledge that it doesn't truly belong to us but to Him Who made it.

Isaiah 61:1 mentions several of the themes we read in Leviticus 25; the former verse states, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." In the fourth chapter of Luke's Gospel, Jesus reads this verse aloud in the synagogue in Nazareth, and then states, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." When Jesus stopped reading in the middle of the second verse of Isaiah 61, he was indicating that the day of vengeance (i.e., Final Judgment) had not yet come.

Leviticus 25 also gives the Lord's direction regarding redeeming the poor and servants. The Lord cares for ALL of His people, and those who need Him the most are by no means forgotten; the commandments given by the Lord concerning the poorest and slave classes of society are such that allow the Hebrews to raise themselves out of their situations and better their lots. His mercy is manifold; His grace and lovingkindness are manifold. I love that our Lord is intimately concerned with the lives of His people and wants the very best for them.

O Lord, we thank You that You give us rest each Sabbath. Help us to take advantage of this weekly Sabbath and use it to rest our bodies and refresh our spirits in You, just as your land is refreshed when it lays fallow every seven years. May we also celebrate the Jubilee -- the joy in the forgiveness of our debts, of our total restoration to freedom and liberty from slavery -- the Jubilee that comes to us each and every day since Christ rose again, bringing us perfect restoration both now and evermore. Amen.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day 108: Leviticus 22


This chapter continues to set the standards for the priests, and then goes on to set the standards for the sacrifices themselves. A priest was to serve only while he was ceremonially clean. If a priest ministered while unclean, he would profane the sacrifice being given. There is a link here between the priest and the sacrifice he offers. The sacrifice itself must also be without defect. A defective animal would not be accepted by God as a sacrifice.

The priest and the sacrifice both had to be clean and without blemish in order for God to accept the sacrifice given. This was completely fulfilled by Jesus. "For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:13-14)

Jesus was both the perfect priest and the perfect sacrifice. His offering is a much more effective one, because this one-time offering of Christ was enough to last forever and it could truly cleanse our consciences.

And for what purpose are we cleansed by Christ's sacrifice? The Hebrews passage above says that it's so we can serve the living God. And 1 Peter 2:5 says, "you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

"I urge you, therefore, brothers . . . to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

Do you present yourself as an acceptable sacrifice to God?

Lord, thank you for providing the perfect priest as well as the perfect sacrifice in order for me to be truly cleansed. May I continually give my life to you. Through Jesus, Amen.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Day 105: Psalms 23 & 24

READING: Psalm 23 and Psalm 24


David began as a shepherd and died as a king and these two psalms reflect on how God is our Shepherd (Psalm 23) and our King (Psalm 24). David, who knew what it was to shepherd sheep, used that metaphor in Psalm 23 to show God’s qualities and how He relates to us. And David was king of Israel and wielded quite a bit of power in his day, yet in Psalm 24 he praises God as the mighty King of Glory, rather than focusing on himself. Scholars believe that David wrote Psalm 24 to be sung in celebration of the Ark of the Covenant’s arrival at Jerusalem (II Samuel 6), and that it was sung antiphonally. Check out its arrangement in balanced or parallel phrases. I had a good time imagining it being sung! After reading Exodus and Leviticus I have a glimpse of just what that Ark meant to the Israelites.


I am so familiar with Psalm 23 that sometimes I miss just how meaningful and beautiful it is. I’ve read it this time in a version that’s a bit unfamiliar to me and that has helped me see it with new eyes. The psalm doesn’t tell us that we will have green pastures and still waters all the time, but it does say that when we go through the valley of the shadow of death our Lord will be with us, giving us comfort. He is with us so that we don’t have to be overpowered by fearing what evil can do to us. How does reflecting on God as your Shepherd affect your thoughts about your present and future? Soak your heart in the words of this psalm.

A phrase that has hit me is that He “guides us in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake”. Somehow it is reassuring to me that His guidance is not dependent on fickle me – not for my sake – but for the sake of His own unchanging name or character.

Psalm 24 opens by telling us that God is creator and owner of this world and all that is in it, including people. What does that have to do with the next few verses, about who can come into His presence? Don’t verses 3- 6 mean more to you after reading about the requirements and sacrifices in Leviticus? I am so grateful that Jesus came once for all to be my sacrifice, my Savior, to enable me to come directly to God, to draw near to Him. The rest of the psalm is David’s joyful response to the presence of his God and King entering his city! That same King: strong, mighty, invincible - lives in me. What is my response?


Thank-you, LORD, for being both my tender and loving Shepherd and my mighty Warrior King.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Day 104: Leviticus 18 & 19

Leviticus 18 & 19


These two chapters begin instructions for the practical living out of the people of a Holy God. They are expanded and amplified instructions of the Ten Commandments given earlier in Exodus. Note that God does not distinguish between the secular and the sacred – it is all the same to Him. Purity is expected and demanded. It is interesting to note that Chapter 18 is read aloud each year on the Day of Atonement.
Over and over through this section, the Israelites are reminded of their status as God’s People. They are warned not to follow the ways and practices of the pagan Canaanites. God reminds them of His Authority to issue this code by the repeated phrase “I am the LORD your God.”
There are interesting and explicit instructions in chapters 18 & 19. What stands out to you? Being familiar with these instructions will help you as we continue our reading through the Bible - for instance 18:24-28 will help you understand why the Israelites will experience the Exile and 19:9-10 will help you understand the gleaning in the book of Ruth. And 19:18 is “love your neighbor as yourself” which Jesus quotes later on!!


So what are we to do with all these regulations now that Christ has come? We now have the Spirit to guide us – we don’t need codes to show us the way of holy living. My husband is currently trying to do some improvements to some rental property we own. The unit was built about 50 years ago but the improvements must be made according to the building codes of today. If he were to make the improvements according to the codes of the 1950’s, the project would never be approved. He can read and study them all he wants and he might even find some things that are the same for today but it isn’t the set of building codes that are currently in effect. I think the same is true when we approach this Old Code/Testament/Covenant in the Bible. They are interesting and give us insight into the actions of Old Testament characters and the view of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, but we are not to build our life around them since we are now under a New Code/Testament/Covenant. Hebrews 10 says that Jesus took away the first covenant and established a second covenant. It says that we can approach God by a new way. God has a new code in effect. In many ways this new way is easier – not so many rules to remember. But in other ways, this new way, this law of the Spirit (Romans 8) seems hard – I need to consult the Spirit in ALL things and ask Him to guide me in living a daily Holy life – I need to live to a higher standard – I am not just to abstain from murdering others but I am to abstain from having evil thoughts about others. Impossible? Yes, on my own. But with the Spirit living in me it is possible!


Dear God, I am thankful that you sent your Spirit to live in me. I have your Guidance and Power to live a holy life that is pleasing to you and a blessing to others. Reading the Law reminds me of my sinfulness and leads me to the Cross and your provision. Help me to seek you in all my ways – help me to breathe you.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Day 103: Leviticus 17 & 18

Leviticus 17 & 18


Chapters 17 and 18 mark a dividing place in the book of Leviticus. Chapters 1-17 are sometimes known as the Basis for the Divine-Human Relationship. That means that the rules and code for how man was to approach a Holy God were laid out – hence the emphasis on sacrifices and cleanliness. Chapters 18-27 are going to focus on the way to live daily for a Holy God. We will find practical ways the Israelites were to live out their devotion to God. We will see that God makes no distinction between the secular and the sacred – all of life is to be lived for Him. Because the two chapters are so different from each other, let’s look at them separately.

Leviticus 17 – The Life is in the Blood!!


This chapter gives the regulations against the consuming of blood. The Israelites were not to eat meat that did not have its blood drained – doing so was to result in being cut off from the community. This seems a little gross to talk about in 21st century first-world United States where all our meat comes packaged in nice containers at the store, but for the Israelites this was serious consideration and work. This was not a new concept…if you remember, God introduced this idea after the Flood in Genesis 9. Blood was to be treated reverently as it was the symbol of life. It was sacred as it was the means through which atonement was made for one’s life (Lev 17:11).

Scarlet Thread

Haven’t you wondered why we keep referring to references to Christ as the Scarlet Thread? Well, here it is! Jesus had to shed his blood for us – it was the way for our atonement and redemption! Hebrews 9:22 gives further insight – “all things are cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Only the Blood of Christ was sufficient to pay for all sin for all time. This must be understood or the death of Christ seems merely gory rather than absolutely necessary.

If you are interested…there is a great Bible Study by Jennifer Kennedy Dean called The Life Changing Power of the Blood of Christ where she asserts that the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus was necessary to drain his blood thus satisfying the Law here in Leviticus 17. check it out at http://www.prayinglife.org/


It must be understood that God demanded blood sacrifice in order to understand the necessity and efficacy of the death of Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus cleanses and removes the stain, scar, mildew of sin. Ephesians 1:7 says that through his blood we have the forgiveness of sins. I am glad to have this passage in the admittedly tedious book of Leviticus to help me understand what Jesus did for me on the cross. I am so grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus whose blood pays for my sin for all time. It is a finished work!

Leviticus 18

Just read it for today. Tomorrow you can check out the blog for thoughts on chapters 18 and 19 since they are related. Key thing to remember as you read: these laws were never intended to be the basis of salvation!


Father God, thank you for your amazing provision of Atonement through the lifeblood of the Son. Forgive me for skipping over the “bloodiness” of the cross because it makes me queasy - it is wholly sacred to you. Thank you for your Holy Word which helps me understand your great plan and the meaning of the death Jesus.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Day 101: Leviticus 15

READING: Leviticus 15

This chapter talks more about the illnesses that make a person unclean. These are illnesses that result in a discharge. Note that the illnesses required that a sin and a burnt offering be made after the person was well (just like in the previous chapters). The natural secretions in verses 16-24, however, did not require any offerings.

These chapters make me very thankful that we live in the age of modern medicine! Many of the illnesses mentioned in these chapters can easily be treated today. We don't have to wait them out like they did back then. God has given man the ability to figure out a lot about how the human body works. (But they have only scratched the surface.)

There's a related story in Mark 5:25-34.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bible Book Club Builds a Tabernacle

We had great fun at the BBC last night as we constructed a 90:1 scale down model of the Tabernacle. My kids and husband helped out prior to and after the Book Club too and had fun!

Laura, Cathi, and Amy

Amy, Laura, Cathi

Monday, April 7, 2008

Day 98: Psalm 22

READING: Psalm 22


This psalm is one I’ve turned to when I’m in despair, when I don’t sense God’s presence, when I don’t get any response from Him. I am so thankful that the Psalms include ones like this – where I can experience the community of grief, so that I don’t have to think that there’s something wrong with me when I go through those times of fogginess and darkness and loneliness.

This psalm is also what’s called a Messianic psalm. It foreshadows what actually happened to Jesus at his death. Turn to the account of Jesus’ crucifixion in Matthew 27: 27 – 56. Compare the following passages:

Psalm 22: 7 9 (NIV) “All who see me mock me;/ they hurl insults, shaking their heads!/ ‘He trusts in the LORD;/ let the LORD rescue him./ Let him deliver him,/ since he delights in him.’ "


Matthew 27: 41 - 44 (NIV) “In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himeslf! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him….”

And these:

Psalm 22: 18 (NIV) “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.


Matthew: 27: 35 (NIV) “ When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


Psalm 22: 1 (NIV) “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

with this

Matthew 27: 46 (NIV) “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Jesus experienced the absence of God, His Father. He knew, more than any of us ever will, what it meant to be mocked and ridiculed, what it meant to be alone and in anguish of heart.

Compare this psalm, especially vv. 1; 6 – 9; 12 – 18 with the accounts in the Gospels of Jesus’ death.


Look at the cycle of this psalm with me.

David begins in vv. 1- 2 with an anguished cry to God: “Where are you? Why have you left me? Why don’t you answer me? I’m calling and calling, but I get nothing from you.” (Becky’s paraphrase!)

Have you been there? I have.

Next David says this (vv. 3 – 5): “YET You are Holy God; You are the whole focus of the praise of our people – I KNOW you have helped your people in the past – when they cried you delivered them; I remember that.” (That was my paraphrase, too.)

David stops in the midst of his despair and focuses on God – who He is and what He’s done. He may not remember at this point what God’s done for him in the past, but he knows the stories of what God has done for His people. He CAN recall that.

Then, in vv. 6 – 8: “Where’s all the strength I’m supposed to have? I feel helpless, just like a worm, not like someone who trusts in you. Everyone is looking at me and mocking me because I’m not experiencing Your help, God. What kind of message is that?” (Becky’s paraphrase still.)

He answers himself (vv. 9 – 11): “BUT You are the one who gave me life; from my birth you have given me trust in you. Please come help – there’s no one else who can!” (My paraphrase)

Look at verses 12 – 18. In them, David cycles back into focusing on the strength of his enemies; those who are troubling him. He puts into words how he’s feeling, what despair looks like. He has no strength.

BUT! Then he stops those thoughts and turns to God. “But YOU, O LORD…” (v. 19) Again he prays, “O my Strength, come quickly to help me.” (NIV) He remembers that he doesn’t have to be strong. God is his strength. (Hey! It doesn’t depend on ME!... Jesus’ yoke is easy.)

From here on the psalm is one that focuses on God. David decides that he will praise God and lift His Name up. He actually consciously decides, even before God changes his circumstances, to magnify God. (vv. 19 – 23) And God does answer him. (v. 24)

God gives David (and us!) the praise of his mouth! David’s praise is not only about God, but it is from God. (v. 25)

David ends this psalm, a psalm that began in despair and loneliness, in praise and exultation. Verses 26 – 31 speak of how God satisfies those who are poor (hear an echo of the Beatitudes here? “Bessed are the poor in spirit…”); how one day EVERYONE will bow down to God as ruler over all! This psalm ends in such a note of hope: “They will proclaim HIS righteousness to a people yet unborn – for HE has done it!” Spend some time at the end of the psalm.

David wrote this psalm, sang this psalm, without knowing that God actually came in the flesh to give us hope. That suffering Savior did defeat death. It is because of Him that we can hope. He has done it!


This entry is getting way too long so I’m going to end. But I hope that each of you who reads this will take some time to really read this psalm, especially in the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I hope you’ll remember it with me for those times when you feel that you have no strength and that God is far from you.


Lord God, be close to me. You are my Strength. I will remember You when I am lonely and helpless and hopeless. I will recall Your actions in this world in the lives of your people in the past. I will declare Your praise even before I feel Your presence. I wll remember that You gave Jesus life and returned Him to Your right hand after His anguish on the cross. You alone are my HOPE!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Day 95: Proverbs 4

READING: Proverbs 4


In chapter 4 the father continues to give his instructions, asking his children to pay attention and heed them (vv. 1 – 9). He seeks to motivate his children to understand what he has learned: that growing in wisdom is the key to truly living. Wisdom is pictured as a beautiful and generous woman who will bestow gifts on those who value her – on those who hold onto her.

In the middle verses of this chapter (vv. 10 – 19) two paths are described and contrasted– the path of wisdom (godliness) and the path of the wicked (hostility toward God – self centeredness). How are the two paths pictured and what are the results of following each of them?

The last several verses (vv. 20 -27) reiterate the importance of paying attention to the father’s teaching and give several important instructions. Notice what they are. Did any of them especially speak to you?


Because I’m writing these comments on BBC I have meditated quite a bit on this chapter this week. I’ve read it in several versions; I’ve looked up the Hebrew meaning of many words; I’ve mulled quite a few of the verses over in my mind throughout the last several days. It has been good – a true blessing for me. So what are some of my thoughts from this chapter that I’ve reflected on? (I won’t bore you with all of them! And I’d love to hear some of your thoughts.)

1. I actually snorted when I got to verse 7 in my first reading this week! “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom.” It almost sounds like an ironic joke – like the way to get rich is to get money! (Yeah, right…) But the more I’ve thought about the statement, the more I see its truth. The first step in becoming wise is to decide get wisdom – to value it enough to be determined in getting it. We have a choice which path to choose and the first thing is to determine to pursue the path of wisdom – something that may not always be easy.

2. I have verse 18 underlined in my Bible – it’s a verse I’ve loved for a long time. “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” The more we walk in wisdom the more wisdom (light) we have. The light of wisdom becomes more and more established in us as we continue to walk in it.

3. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (v. 23) I have a nightshirt that has this verse written on the front. It’s a good verse to ponder. We are told to watch over, to guard our affections and desires, our mind, with extra carefulness, like they’re in a prison (that Hebrew word translated “diligence” means literally to guard as in a prison, to confine). Why? Because our affections and desires are what feed the rest of us, like a spring of water. We don’t want that spring poisoned.

4. Just something interesting that I found out about v. 24: “Put away from you a deceitful mouth”. That phrase “deceitful mouth” means distorted speech. I don’t know about you, but that adds a shading to the meaning of “deceitful” that I hadn’t considered before. Distortion is a way of deceiving. It is very easy to present information in a distorted way – to slant it in a way that benefits the speaker’s perspective, rather than in a truthful manner.

5. And finally, vv. 25 - 26 tell us “ Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. ” That word translated “watch” means literally “weigh” or “make level” (as in checking a weight) and implies careful consideration and deliberation. The word translated “path” can also be translated “track” or “course” or “trench” – I get the idea of a route that is taken over and over again. Could this mean our habits? We are to be careful, to be deliberate about what we do over and over again – doing so will help the whole way of our life to be secure and steady – not easily knocked down. (That idea keeps coming up over and over again for us in Psalms and Proverbs.) I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1-2 as I read this passage. Hebrews 12: 1-2 says, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”


Make lists from Proverbs 3- 4 of what characterizes a person of wisdom and what the benefits of wisdom are.

It is important that we are doers of the word and not hearers only. If we only hear, but don’t do, we are deceiving ourselves. (James 1: 21 – 25)


Help us to want wisdom, Lord, to be determined to get it. Incline our hearts to desire YOU! You are the giver of wisdom, the way to wisdom. Help us as we read your Word to not only hear it, but to obey it. We don’t want to fool ourselves by reading your Word without being changed by it. Reveal our hearts to us so that we can steadily live for You.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Day 94: Leviticus 9

Priestly Service Begins

SCRIPTURE: Leviticus 9

After being consecrated and spending a week at the doorway of the tent of meeting, Aaron and his sons began their duties as priests. There was a series of offerings to present to God first:

  1. Aaron offered a sin offering for himself (vs. 8-11) to atone for his own sins against God.
  2. Aaron offered a burnt offering for himself (vs. 12-14) to offer himself as a sacrifice to God.
  3. Then he presented a sin offering for the people (vs. 15) as atonement for their sins.
  4. Then a burnt offering for the people (vs. 16), dedicating them to God.
  5. Then a grain offering for the people (vs. 17), for recognizing God's provision of sustenance.
  6. And a peace offering for the people (vs. 18-21) to have communion with God.
These sacrifices had to be made in order to establish relationship with God. Atonement had to come first, before there could be communion.

Then Moses and Aaron came out and blessed the people. The glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, and fire came from the LORD to consume the burnt offering.

After this series of sacrifices, the people are blessed, truly blessed. Atonement has been made for their sins. For the first time. Ever. These people had lived among the Egyptians, where they didn't really know the LORD. Now they have seen Him work wondrous miracles, "pass over" them, lead them through a sea, take them to a mountain, and explain His holy standards to them -- not only through written law, but also through the visual and experiential illustrations of the tabernacle.

At this point, I think I would have been overwhelmed with my sinfulness and with God's holiness! What an incredible experience to see Aaron walk out and realize atonement had been made for that sin! My sins are covered. Payment has been made. I am dedicated to God. He provides for me. And I can commune with Him. WOW!!

LORD, you require perfect holiness, which I cannot attain. Yet you made provision for my sin. Through the blood of Jesus, my sins are atoned for, once for all. You are an amazing God!! I am yours, LORD. Let me live in communion with You, serving You always. Because of Jesus, Amen.