Psalm 49:1-20 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations" (Ps. 49:11, KJV). It is the nature of man to feel he will never die. That inward thought says, "You'll never die."
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Numbers 4:1-5:31 As I read this scripture I saw something I missed in my former readings over the years. All the treasures and holy things that were used in the service of the Lord were covered first with a blue or purple cloth, and then were covered with badgers' skin. The covering had to be placed upon the instruments of sacrifice and worship before they could be taken to another location. This action of covering is symbolic of how important covering is in our lives. We are living sacrifices, and our act of worship is to daily offer our bodies to the Lord as instruments of His righteousness, peace, love and joy.
Mark 11:27-12:17 We have had the privilege of having two exchange students live with us—a Chinese girl and a Russian boy. Both became like a daughter and son to us, and they called us Mom and Dad. Our Chinese daughter has returned to China where she lives with her parents and sister. What a joy it has been to be enriched by two of God's precious treasures. People are God's inheritance, and we have learned over the years that in order for us to fully enjoy God, we must also take pleasure in His treasures.
Mark 11:1-26 The question often is asked, "Why are some prayers never answered?" The answer to this question is that God does answer every prayer that reaches His throne room and every prayer He hears. Some prayers, however, never reach His throne room. Prayers prayed in unbelief do not avail anything. James tells us that a double-minded man can expect to receive nothing from God.
Leviticus 25:47-27:13 We used to sing the song, "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing." This passage in Leviticus tells of the showers of God's blessings that will flow from His throne room upon us. However, all the blessings listed here are conditional. Most of the promises of God are conditional. He promises so much in His Word to us, but for the promises to be fulfilled in our lives we have a part. Both the Old Testament and New Testament have the same main condition expressed for the fulfillment of the blessings and promises. The condition we must meet is to walk in God's ways and keep His commandments.
Proverbs 10:20-21 When you go to the doctor, usually the first thing he says is, "Stick out your tongue." Your physical condition often will be shown by the condition of your tongue. The same is true about your spiritual condition. What you speak with your tongue reveals what is hidden in your heart. Some of the spiritual diseases that are revealed by what we speak are bitterness, jealousy, pride, anger and so forth.
Psalm 44:1-7 We end our readings for the month of February on a very positive note. In this psalm David reveals what sustained him throughout his life of trials and temptations. What sustained David was his love and trust relationship with the Lord. Because David was secure in his relationship to the Lord, he was able to release all into the hands of the Lord. There were times when David felt distant from God, but the truth that God commanded His lovingkindness always toward David gave David the anchor he needed to keep him from being overwhelmed by his circumstances. He constantly rehearsed and reviewed the marvelous works of the Lord and all the times the Lord had strengthened him.
Psalm 43:1-5 Yesterday we saw the emotional, mental and physical pain David was experiencing because his enemies were coming against him. He was depressed, but he made the decision with his will to praise the Lord even in the midst of a very low time in his life. All depression is caused by some kind of oppression. Granted, depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in our system, and this can be treated medically. However, whether we are depressed because of a chemical imbalance in our system or circumstances that surround us, Satan takes advantage of us in our weakened state. He oppresses us with all kinds of deceptive thoughts.
Psalm 42:1-11 David wrote this psalm when he was going through a depressed state. He says, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the help of my countenance" (Ps. 42:11, KJV). David is telling himself to praise God even when he does not feel like it. The world has grabbed this principle, and motivational seminars usually include a section on "self talk." God's Word relates this principle often. An example is, "Let the weak say I am strong" (Joel 3:10, KJV). There has been an emphasis over the years on making positive confessions rather than negative ones. Sometimes if we are not careful, we curse ourselves by declaring negative things over us. I know when I keep saying I'm tired, it seems I get more tired. David tells himself to hope in God.
Psalm 41:1-13 Our church has always given to some ministry that feeds the poor, and often members of our church will go down to the inner city and serve meals to the poor. We also have orphanages in India and Mexico that house many children who otherwise would be living in poverty on the streets. I believe the fact we have always been faithful in giving to the poor is the reason we have never experienced any financial crisis of consequence.
Mark 7:1-23 There was a song in the musical Fiddler on the Roof called "Tradition." As this Jewish father sang this song, this message was immediately conveyed: Life is full of traditions. Traditions can be meaningful, but sometimes they get in the way of the effectiveness of God's Word in our lives. I can remember one Christmas when my sister Nancy and her husband visited us. We knocked ourselves out trying to fulfill all the traditions her family and mine always observed during this season. Keeping traditions can sometimes become very burdensome. As you listen to the song "Tradition" in the film, you can hear the frustration and weariness in the voice of the father. He too had worn himself out trying to keep all the traditions. Keeping traditions can also sometimes prevent us from seeing the newness and freshness of life.
Mark 6:30-56 The disciples had just witnessed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. They saw over five thousand people fed from five loaves and two fishes. Now they were in the boat rowing to the other side when the winds came against them. Suddenly they saw Jesus walking upon the sea. They thought it was a spirit, and they were afraid. They were amazed when the winds ceased after Jesus boarded the boat. Mark records, "And they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened" (Mark 6:51-52, KJV).
Psalm 39:1-13 The tongue is a mighty weapon that can be used for good or for evil. When I was in Mexico teaching some young children, I asked them if they would like to disarm the devil. They all shouted, "Yes, we hate the devil." Then I instructed them to stick out their tongues. They followed those instructions. Then I gave them an instruction they could not follow. "Now," I said, "pull out your tongue." Laughter broke out as some of them did yank on their tongues. Of course, we cannot pull our tongues out, but if we could, we would disarm the devil.
Proverbs 10:8-9 Recently I seemed to be hopelessly lost in a town that I knew nothing about. My only hope was to stop at a gas station to ask for directions. What a feeling of relief I had when I knew how to reach my destination. I knew the road signs and landmarks to watch for as I made each turn. Before I asked for directions, it seemed that every turn I made was wrong, and I was going further away from my destination instead of closer to it.
Mark 4:26-5:20 When we look at Jesus and the life He lived on earth, we see His mind was filled with faith. Worry and doubt were not part of His life. He was able to sleep through the storm because He trusted in the Father, whom He knew controls the storms of this life. Fear overcame the disciples in the boat because their focus was on the storm instead of their heavenly Father, who sits on and even rides upon the clouds. Faith comes when we learn to glance at the storms (the trials and testing in our lives) and gaze upon Jesus. The moment we encounter a difficulty on this earth we need to look at it briefly and then focus our eyes heavenward. Paul exhorts us to set our affections upon things above.
Mark 3:31-4:25 We learned yesterday about how fruit is cultivated in our lives. The key to cultivating any of the nine fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is to spend quality time with Jesus daily. This is how we prepare the soil of our hearts to receive His Word. Only the Holy Spirit can water the seed of God's Word and cause it to grow and produce.
Psalm 37:1-11 Yesterday the psalm we read shared about God's character. Today Psalm 37 shares about the character of a meek person. Two people in the Bible are spoken of as meek men. The Bible tells us that Moses was the meekest man that ever lived. Of course, Moses was not divine as Jesus is. But we also know that if we want to see the complete character trait of meekness demonstrated, we must look to Jesus. Jesus exhorted us to learn of Him because He is meek and lowly of heart. Can we learn meekness? As we observe the lives of Jesus and Moses in the Bible, we can learn much about meekness. However, the key to learning about meekness is to come to Jesus. Jesus issues the invitation for us to come to Him daily and let the Holy Spirit teach us all about meekness. Meekness will only be formed in our own lives as we submit ourselves to growing in intimacy with the Lord by spending quality time with Him daily. This psalm tells us the benefits of meekness and exactly how meekness is demonstrated in our lives.
Psalm 36:1-12 This psalm says so much about the character of God. One of the tactics of Satan is to try to bring doubt in our hearts about God's goodness. So many times I have heard the enemy whisper, "If God is so good, why did He let this happen?" To defend ourselves against this tactic we need to know what the Bible says about the character of God. This psalm gives a great character sketch of God.
Mark 1:29-2:12 "And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean" (Mark 1:40, KJV). The motivating force in Jesus was to do the will of the Father. His first love was the Father, and everything He did on earth was first to please His heavenly Father. In this passage we see Jesus' great love for the Father as He put the Father and His will first and obeyed the Father. Many people came to Jesus for healing and deliverance, and He healed all who came to Him, but He knew that His Father had called Him to preach. First He obeyed the Father in fulfilling His call, but He also was moved with love for the people. When the leper approached Him, he was moved with compassion.
Mark 1:1-28 In order to follow someone or something, one has to leave something or someone. When Jesus said to Simon and Andrew, "Come, and I will make you fishers of men," they did just that. They forsook their nets and followed Him.