Day Thirty-seven

Psalm 118, Leviticus 24, Isaiah 30:18‐32:20, Ephesians 3

Psalm 118

Ps. 118:8-9It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. – Psalm 118 is a bold declaration that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. And then the psalmist goes on to show us reasons that God is more to be depended upon than anything this world has to offer. I wish we’d remember that we can depend upon the Lord better than we can man, 100% of the time. It’s easy to lose sight of that when going through a difficult time or trial. But, God’s faithfulness is not dependent upon whether or not we believe that He will be faithful. He is. It’s part of His character. And, He will prove it over and over again.

Ps. 118:14The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. – Notice the word “become” that the psalmist uses in this verse. He was growing spiritually. He was beginning to understand the depths of God’s love and grace.

Leviticus 24

Leviticus 24 sets harsh punishments for blasphemy, calling for the stoning of the member of that society that blasphemed the name of God. God’s name is to be kept holy. In verses 17-23 the principle of “eye for an eye” punishment is laid out. I like this note that was included in my study Bible:

Lev. 24:17–23 These verses deal with the principle of lex talionis (Latin, “the law of retribution”). It is a form of ironic justice in which the punishment for the crime is found in the crime itself. The principle applies to everyone in Israel without exception (see Ex. 21:23–25; Deut. 19:21). It is unlikely that fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth actually implies mutilation as the punishment for the offender; rather, the value of the injured member will be the imposed fine (cf. Ex. 21:18–19). This law, when properly applied, guides the judges in assessing damages and sets a limit on the thirst for revenge. Since this is a rule for judges to follow, it should not be invoked in ordinary daily relationships (cf. Jesus’ stance, Matt. 5:38).

Isaiah 30:18‐32:20

Is. 30:18-32:20Is. 32:1-8 speaks of the wonderful coming reign of Messiah. It is quite a contrast to what Isaiah has been prophesying earlier. He promised that God will be gracious but gave specific warnings to those who travelled to Egypt, Assyria, and even the complacent women of Jerusalem.

Ephesians 3

Eph. 3:66 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. – If you like Indiana Jones, you’ve got to like Ephesians 3. Listening to Paul describe the mystery of the Gospel is like being in the first century. Gentiles are fellow heirs with Jews. That was and is a radical thought. It was earth shattering news. And, it’s the news that Paul loved sharing around the Roman Empire. God loves people and wants to see people forgiven and accepting His gift of salvation. What wonderful news!

Eph. 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – How cool is it that every family in heaven and on earth is named by the Father? What an awesome theological truth!

As I read Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, I prayed the same for the congregation that I am privileged to pastor. What beautiful things for a pastor to pray for those God has called him to shepherd.

Eph. 3:20-21 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Perhaps my favorite benediction in all of Scripture.

Day Thirty-six

Psalm 117, Leviticus 23, Isaiah 29:1‐30:17, Ephesians 2

Psalm 117

Ps. 117:1Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! – This short psalm is a beautiful example from the Old Testament of God’s plan to open salvation up to all who would trust in Him. My study Bible says that Paul quoted this verse in Romans 15:11 to help argue his point that Jewish and Gentile Christians should welcome one another and worship together. I’m grateful for these encouraging words.

Leviticus 23

This is a beautiful chapter in that it outlines the feasts that the Jewish people were to observe. These feasts are still observed across the Jewish world. I love that the weekly Sabbath was the first of those feasts that God gave instruction about. It is important to Him that we keep His Sabbath Day holy.

Isaiah 29:1‐30:17

Is. 29:13-16And the Lord said:“Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me,and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14therefore, behold,I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” 15Ah,you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” 16You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? – These are powerful words of warning to those who honor God with their lips but have hearts that are far from Him. Jesus used these very words to describe a group of Pharisees and Scribes in the New Testament (see Matthew 15:8-9). May He not have to say the same of us!

Ephesians 2

Eph. 2:4-104 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Paul begins this section of his letter to the Ephesians by reminding them of their life before Christ, which he describes as being dead in trespasses and sin. And then, in such stunningly beautiful words Paul writes about the riches of God’s grace. God’s grace is a gift. We can’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. And that is what is so wonderful about it.

Day Thirty-five

Psalm 116, Leviticus 22:17‐33, Isaiah 28, Ephesians 1

Psalm 116

Ps. 116:15Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. – It is beautiful to think about what the homecoming of a Christian is like. The psalmist tells us that the moments are precious to the Lord. He looks forward to our eternal arrival. But, He also wants us to live a life that glorifies Him here until our time has come. What are you most looking forward to about your eternal home?

Leviticus 22:17‐33

The second half of Leviticus 22 deals with offerings that are acceptable to God. He wanted the best, not animals that were lame or had defect. That tells us something about our God. He desires us to sacrifice, not just throw in a token gift every once in awhile.

Isaiah 28

Is. 28:5-6 In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, 6 and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. – As Isaiah declares the Lord’s judgment on Ephraim and Jerusalem he offers hope to those who are faithful to God. I’m encouraged when I think about the fact that God always has a remnant of people who are faithful to Him, no matter how dark the days can become. I’m also encouraged at the fact that the people still recognize the majesty and glory, the beauty and the power of Christ in these dark days.

Is. 28:29This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom. – How awesome that even given the difficult task of sharing these prophecies that Isaiah can rejoice in the wonderful counsel and excellent wisdom of God. Even though the religious elite may have scoffed at Isaiah, he wasn’t deterred. Why should he be? He knew that if God was for him, who could stand against him.

Ephesians 1

Eph. 1:3-6Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. – How beautiful that even before the foundation of the world, God, knowing that we would need to be redeemed, had a plan, in Christ, to redeem us. His desire is that all would come to salvation, but only those who come through Christ can be redeemed.

Eph. 1:16-23 – I love the depth of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church. I can’t help but wonder what the Lord might do if we prayed for each other in this way.

Day Thirty-four

Psalm 115, Leviticus 21:1‐22:16, Isaiah 26‐27, Galatians 6

Psalm 115

Ps. 115:1Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! – Chris Tomlin has written a beautiful song that uses Psalm 115:1 as part of the chorus. It’s called Not To Us. It’s important that as Christians we live our lives in a way that makes God look good. We need to be people of our word. We need to be people who show love and kindness. We need to show God’s grace to the world around us.

Day Thirty-three

Psalm 114, Leviticus 20, Isaiah 25, Galatians 5

Psalm 114

I did not add any notes to this chapter of my Bible.

Leviticus 20

God give his children specific rules regarding a number of sins in Leviticus 20. The key to the chapter is that God has called us to be holy. He is a holy God and expects the same from His children.

Isaiah 25

Is. 25:1O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.– Does God know the future? Yes! His plans will unfold, be sure of that. They always do. And, God’s plans are good. Are there difficult things that come? Sure. But, ultimately, God is glorified in His plans.

Galatians 5

Gal. 5:1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – So many people that I talk with say that they won’t submit their lives to Christ because they don’t want to be controlled by someone else. The sad thing is, they are controlled by something else — sin. Christ desires to set us free from bondage to freedom in Christ.

Gal. 5:22-23 – 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – These verses are so key to the Christian faith. If the Holy Spirit dwells within us, this is the fruit that we will produce. When I began my ministry as Senior Pastor at Woodbury Community Church I preached a nine week series through these two verses. There is so much to be learned about living our lives in the Spirit way. The fruit of the Spirit is everything mentioned here. We can’t pick and choose which of the fruit we want to display in our lives. It is all important and a true believer displays all of these characteristics.

Here is how I defined each of the virtues when I preached my series.

Love is the relentless pursuit of teh lifting up of others.

Joy is the result of living our lives with God’s priorities.

Peace is the ability to recognize the sovereignty of God in life’s ups and downs.

Patience is extending to others the grace that God has shown to us.

Kindness is knowing and acting upon the truth that small things done with great love will change the world.

Goodness is love in action directed towards God.

Faithfulness is following God no matter the cost.

Gentleness is the ability to love those who don’t love you or God so that they might be drawn to Christ.

Self-control is when we yield control of our lives to God.

Day Thirty-two

Psalm 113, Leviticus 19, Isaiah 24, Galatians 4

Ps. 113:3From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised – Have you ever sung the modern day worship song based upon this song? It’s one of my favorites. The simplicity of the words and the cry of the psalmist are humbling. God deserves our praise all day long. He is worthy of our praise.

Leviticus 19

Lev. 19:2 2 “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. – Leviticus 19 reminds me more of a chapter out of Proverbs than it does the Levitical law. The chapter is full of wise admonitions for the Children of Israel. It begins by telling the people to be holly, because God is holy,. This is not the first time that we have read this. God desires His people to be a generation that is set apart unto Him. We live lives that look different than the rest of the world, and He gives us the power to live pure lives.

Lev. 19:9-109 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. – What a beautiful principle. God wanted His children to take care of the poor and oppressed. It was important to Him that we not hoard everything we produce, but that some be left for those who were poor and destitute. This principle is seen lived out in the book of Ruth, when Boaz leaves out food for Ruth and Naomi.

Lev. 19:1818 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. – God makes it clear from the beginning that love is what He desires to see in us whether it is in our relationship with Him or others. This includes not holding a grudge against someone, even if you have the “right” to do so. Forgiveness is one of the legs that love stands on.

Lev. 19:3131 “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God. – I believe that Christians have become far to lax in our day in age when it comes to evil and the occult. There is no question that seeking out the advice of psychics, palm reader, etc. is forbidden in Scripture. I would extend this to exposing ourselves to things like witchcraft, paganism, etc.

Lev. 19:3232 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. – Do you have some elderly people that God has brought into your life? If so, thank the Lord. They are a gift to you. We need to honor those who are older than us. We need to honor their wisdom and experience. We need to seek them out. And, we need to help them when they have a need, sometimes before they even ask.

Isaiah 24

Isaiah 24 speaks about the judgement that shall come upon the entire earth when God pours out his wrath. I did not add any notes to this section of my Bible.

Galatians 4

Gal. 4:3-73 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. – These are some of the most beautiful verses in Scripture referring to the deep theological truth that God has adopted those of us who are followers of Christ as his daughters and sons. He has set us free from bondage to slavery and given us all of the rights and position of his children. We are princesses and princes in the kingdom of Heaven.

Day Thirty-one

Psalm 112, Leviticus 18, Isaiah 23, Galatians 3

Psalm 112

Ps. 112:7He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. – Psalm 112 is a psalm about the righteous. Verse seven particularly ministered to me today. There are many times that I fear bad news. In my natural self, bad news about any number of things can set me back. I’m challenged as I read this verse. The psalmist is talking about not fearing bad news about a battle, because ultimately God will prevail. But, I believe that the principle is transferable to other areas of our life as well. It comes down to trust. Do we trust that God is control or not? If God is in control then even bad news should not shake our faith. We need to look at it as an opportunity to grow in our walk with God and to strengthen our faith.

Leviticus 18

Lev. 18:29-3029 For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 18 records the laws concerning unlawful sexual relations. “But, everybody else is doing it,” may have been the cry of the Israelites. God wanted his people to be different than the rest of the world. A society’s lax attitude towards sexual sin is one of the markers that the society is in danger. The spread of sexually transmitted diseases, broken families, broken hearts, and more can be traced to sexual immorality.

Isaiah 23

Is. 23 – Isaiah’s oracle concerning Tyre and Sidon is interesting. This seaport region was a powerful city. Important to the trade routes of many countries, it was a wealthy city and a popular and sinful destination. The lack of the fear of the Lord would lead to their being punished but the chapter ends with the hope that at the end of 70 years, God would once again bless this city. He would make their goods holy. He would supply food, materials, etc. for His children through this punished region.

Galatians 3

Gal. 3:13-14Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. – I read this verse, coming out of the Easter holiday just ten days ago with a deep appreciation for what Christ did for me at Calvary. He became a curse so that I might be redeemed. It reminds me of the popular line from the song Amazing Love, which says, “I”m forgiven because He was forsaken. I’m accepted He was condemned. I’m alive and well and His Spirit lives within me, because you died and rose for me.”

Gal. 3:2828 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – What a beautiful picture of the ground being level at the foot of the cross. The cross changed everything. How beautiful that the grace of God now extended to Jews and Gentiles.