Ah, it’s Saturday morning, once again. So nice to have a few hours to just sit and do nothing constructive. And then after a bit, I decide it’s time to get serious and do some devotional reading.
Things seem to be getting gradually better in the scenario involving Christi’s mother and step-dad. That’s a relief. If we can just keep it stabilized, it will keep getting better, I think. Christi is gathering information on assisted living places for them.
Okay, so here goes…
Today’s Bible readings:
Jesus miraculously feeds 4000 people. Then the Pharisees come to him, looking for a “sign from heaven.” Does anyone else see the absolute asininity of this request?? I mean…that’s pretty much all Jesus has been doing the whole time. Nevertheless, after a deep sigh, he tells them that “no sign will be given to this generation.”
Think also, though, about what drove the multitude of people out to hear this message. The message that Jesus had was compelling. It was distinctive from the tired old legalism that the Pharisees were teaching. Can we emulate that today? We have the same message, right? Or at least, we should. Perhaps we don’t…perhaps that is why people are not flocking to hear it. Perhaps we have changed the original message.
Chapter 15 describes the law the “Sabbatical Year.” Basically, at the end of every seven years, all debts would be released. But there is a warning, also. Since the Lord has commanded that they should always open their hand to their brother who becomes poor, he warns that they not “harden your heart of shut your hand against your poor brother” just because the Sabbatical Year is nigh. The command, in verse 11, says, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.
Also at the end of the seventh year, any Hebrew brother or sister that has been sold as a slave is to be released and furnished “liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your wine press.” However, if that slave desires to stay, then the master would take an awl and pierce the ear of the slave against the doorpost.
Chapter 16 gives laws about Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths. There is a warning against showing partiality in justice (boy, have we “gone south” with that one!!) and then, a section begins about “Forbidden Forms of Worship,” that is continued in chapter 17. Another awkward chapter break.
We’re back into the Psalms after finishing Job. Psalm 42 is a beautiful Psalm, a favorite of many.
1 To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah. As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation
7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
It is also the inspiration for this song:
A note from Dennis Jernigan in Daily Devotions for Kingdom Seekers. We don’t get to decide if God loves us. I love the way he puts that. God loves us. He decides that, not us. I can go around all day long thinking I’m not worthy of God’s love because of this or that or the other. It doesn’t change a thing! I don’t get to decide! I have two choices. I can embrace God’s love, or I can reject it. But I cannot change the fact that he loves me. And I can’t do anything to either increase or decrease that love. The pressure of trying to do things so that God will love me is eliminated! He loves me. Period. Hallelujah!
Father, thank you for loving me! And I praise you that I can’t change that! I don’t want to change that. I do confess that there are times when I don’t feel worthy of that love. But I know that your love is there, whether I feel worthy or not.
I pray that I will always thirst after you, Father. Sometimes, I know how that psalmist felt in Psalm 42. There are times when I can feel my spirit panting with thirst for your spirit! And my soul becomes cast down. But then your spirit says to me, “Hope in God!”
I pray that we would have more of an “open hand” to our brothers and sisters, Lord. Christi and I are relatively generous, at least with financial and physical resources. Perhaps we could do better with our time…we are selfish with that. But I pray that we would be even more generous, when opportunities arise.
I also pray for our churches. I pray for your Church! I pray that the message of the Church would be the same message that Jesus had. I do believe that we have changed the message over the years and added to it (which, in effect, actually subtracts from it!). People flocked to Jesus, being drawn by his magnetic character and the astonishing difference of the message he preached. Let us recapture that message and that character.
I pray for Christi as she continues to research places for her mom and Don. I pray for our time together later today, that it will be refreshing and fun; relaxing and rejuvenating. I love Christi with all my heart, Lord. I know I don’t always do the best at showing it, but she is the joy of my heart. I pray that we will enjoy our time with each other immensely today.
Remember the liberating truth that we do not get to decide whether or not God loves us.
Grace and peace, friends.