Lord of All (Feb 21)

February 21

Lord of All

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 30:1-5 | Leviticus 11:1 – 12:8 | Mark 5:21-43 | Proverbs 10:8-9

Today’s Scripture Focus: Mark 5:21-43

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” [35] While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”  [36] Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mark 5:34-36 NIV). 

In yesterday’s reading we saw Jesus’ authority over nature (the calming of the storm) and over demons (casting the demons into pigs), in this reading we see his authority over sickness and death.  Indeed, he is Lord of all!

No sickness is too great for Jesus, the healer. Doctors seemed to only make her condition worse. “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (26). Jesus, in an instant, cured her completely.

Not even death is too great an obstacle. Jairus’ daughter was dead, but to Jesus it was as if she were only sleeping. With a gentle touch and a few words, she began to breathe again. “Immediately she stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished” (42).

Jesus is Lord of all. Whatever you are facing, know that he has authority over it. He is still able to calm the storm, push back the forces of darkness, heal a broken body and even to raise the dead.  Nothing is too difficult for Him! Take your situation to him. Trust Him.

Lord Jesus, I bow my knee to you and declare that you are Lord. You are my hope and in you I trust. I face this day knowing that nothing is too difficult for you. I place my concerns in your hands and trust you. Amen.

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Priestly Duties (Feb 20)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 20

Priestly Duties

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 29:1-11  | Leviticus 9:7-10:20 | Mark 4:26 -5:20 | Proverbs 10:6-7

Today’s Scripture Focus: Leviticus 9:7-10:20

“Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down. Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting.  When they came out they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people” (Leviticus 9:22-23 TNIV).

Aaron and his assistants begin their priestly duties. Of course this meant caring for the sacrifices that brought atonement for sin. We are reminded in this text that it also meant the ministry of blessing the people.

With all the struggles and difficulties life brings we all stand in need of blessing. Circumstances sometimes beat us up and put us in a place where we need a blessing. Often the wounding words of other people become as curses to us and we need a blessing to bring the healing to our wounded souls. Life is difficult and we find ourselves emotionally beat up and bruised by the words and acts of others. The world around us brings more than enough cursing. We need to be blessed. This is why this ministry of blessing the people is such an important part of the priestly duties.  

Therefore the priests were given the privilege and responsibility of blessing people. We see Aaron taking up that role several times in this text.  He does so as he offers the sacrifices. Then again, we see Moses and Aaron coming out of the tent of meeting blessing the people.

They were acting on the Lord’s instructions given to Moses: 

“This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Leviticus 6:23-26)

In the New Testament, God opens the priesthood to each of us. We are all part of his kingdom of priests. We are given the opportunity to bless others even as Aaron did. Don’t neglect your priestly duty of blessing. We all stand in need of the blessing.

Gracious Lord, I receive the blessing. Thank you for blessing and keeping me, continue to make your face shine on me—continue to be gracious; May you continue to turn your face toward me and give me your peace. Now, help me to bless others as I have been blessed. Amen.

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Rooted Firmly and Bearing Fruit (Feb 19)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 19

Rooted Firmly and Bearing Fruit

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 28:1-9 | Leviticus 7:28 – 9:6 | Mark 3:31-4:25 | Proverbs 10:5

Today’s Scripture Focus: Mark 3:31 – 4:25

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. [4] As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. [5] Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. [6] But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. [7] Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain (Mark 4:3-7 NIV).     

Jesus parable reminds us that there are many obstacles to our spiritual growth. God’s word given to us does not always produce a bumper crop. Sometimes the word is stolen. Sometimes because of “rocky soil,” the word gets started quickly but withers. Sometimes the thorns choke the word so that it does not bear grain.

Our first obstacle is Satan himself. He steals the word. If we don’t read or hear God’s word, he has already won the battle. No wonder he works so hard to keep us from reading and applying the word to our lives. Never underestimate the enemy. He is very good at tempting us with even good things that keep us from the best. He knows our weak and vulnerable places and he focuses on those. Stand firm and resist him.

Another obstacle to fruitful Christian living is “trouble or persecution.” As we go through the tough times of life, some who had started well lose ground. Anger, bitterness, discouragement and a whole host of other emotions cause our faith to wither. The word without faith only withers and dies. Yet the very same trials are intended to bring maturity and growth. Keep your eyes on Jesus in these trying times so that you do not lose hope. Persevere to the end.

Another obstacle to fruitfulness is “the things of this world.” Our possessions can easily become objects of worship. Materialism often makes thorns of houses, cars and other possessions. Hedonism produces thorns as we become consumed with the pursuit of pleasure. Jesus also mentions worry as a thorn. All of these thorns choke out the word and keep us from being fruitful.

Open your heart to Jesus and allow him to make your life fruitful. As you hear and obey his word, resisting the temptations, you will bear much fruit.

Almighty God, help me to be a fruitful disciple. Enable me to stand firm against all the schemes of the Devil. May neither the blessings nor the difficulties of life get in the way of the path of growth you have for me. May your word sprout and grow and be fruitful in me. Amen.

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Keep the Fire Burning

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 18

Keep the Fire Burning

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 27:7-14 | Leviticus 6:1 – 7:27 | Mark 3:7- 30 | Proverbs 10:3-4

Today’s Scripture Focus: Leviticus 6:1 – 7:27

“Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar (Leviticus 6:9 NIV). 

The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out (Leviticus 6:13 NIV).  

The aroma of the burnt offering was to go up to God always as a sweet savor to Him. It required the diligent attention of the priest so that it would not go out.

New Testament believers are called to be living sacrifices (Rom 12:1). The transformed life sends up an aroma pleasing to God.  The spiritual passion of our lives requires the same constant attention, as did the continuous burnt offering. Spiritual passion, like fire, tends to go out unless it is attended to regularly.

Spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation and the study of the Word help to tend the fire. The sacrifice of praise also fuels the passion. These disciplines keep our spiritual passion burning strong.

Fellowship with others who share your passion also keeps the fire burning. You don’t build a fire with one log. You build the fire by having several logs in close proximity. To keep the fire burning brightly you keep adding logs to the fire. So it is with our spiritual passion, it is difficult to remain strong apart from a group of others who will keep you burning bright.

Tend the fire of your spiritual passion–don’t let the fire grow dim.  “The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.”

O God, Consuming Fire, keep the fire on the altar of my heart burning bright, Help me to always tend the fire and keep it burning strong. May that passion set others ablaze. In fellowship with others with likeminded passion, may the flame intensify and grow. Amen

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Whom Shall I Fear? (Feb 17)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 17

Whom Shall I Fear?

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 27:1-6 | Leviticus 4:1 – 5:19 | Mark 2:13 – 3:6 | Proverbs 10:1-2

Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalm 27:1-6

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 KJV).

David often found himself in a place where he had to face his fears. Chased relentlessly by his enemies, he spent much of his life seeking a safe place to hide.  

David here reveals his secret to facing his fears: God himself is his place of safety, his stronghold, his fortress. The circumstances around him change constantly, but his relationship with God is rock solid. 

In the midst of darkness and confusion, the Lord is his light. In the midst of the battle, the Lord is the one who rescues and saves Him.  In the midst of uncertainty and fear, the Lord is the safe place where he can run.

He longs for times of worship and prayer—precious times spent in the presence of the Lord. As he cries out to God and worships him with all his heart, the fears melt away in the beauty of the Lord’s presence.  

Psalm 27:4 (NIV) One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 

When you face circumstances that tempt you to fear, it is good to seek his face; it is good to gaze upon his beauty. Remembering who he is, we can say with David, “The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?”

Almighty God, you are the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? I look to you and find rest. You are my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Ever Present Help. Remind me that perfect love casts out fear. Pour out your love into my heart now, I pray. Amen.

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A Solitary Place (Feb 16)

February 16

A Solitary Place

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 26:1-12 | Leviticus 1:1 – 3:17 | Mark 1:29-2:12 | 

Proverbs 9:13-18

Today’s Scripture Focus: Mark 1:29 – 2:12

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed” (Mark 1:35 NIV).

The day before had been incredibly busy for Jesus. Mark describes it this way: “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons.” He had been up late healing people and setting them free from demons. The whole town had been at his doorstep.

If it had been me, I’d have been tempted to sleep in the next morning–to hit the snooze button a few times at least. Jesus, however, did nothing of the sort. “Very early, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.” Jesus desired intimate conversation with his father and would not let a busy day or lack of sleep keep him from the joy of fellowship through prayer. He delighted in these times of conversation with the heavenly Father. Refocused and refreshed he was ready for the day ahead.

How much more true for you and me. We dare not neglect the solitary place—the place where we can get alone and meet with our Heavenly Father—to have intimate conversation with the one who loves us most. Find a quiet place and pour out your heart to him. Make it a daily practice and don’t let anything crowd out those special times in your schedule.

Loving Father, thank you for the restoration that comes from finding quiet places and spending time with you. May I always delight in these quiet moments. I quiet my heart before you now, so “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Amen.

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Dwelling Place (Feb 15)

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

February 15

Dwelling Place

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 25:16-22 | Exodus 39:1 – 40:38 | Mark 1:1-28| Proverbs 9:11-12

Today’s Scripture Focus: Exodus 39-40

“Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar; and it will be most holy” (Exodus 40:9-10 NIV).

With meticulous detail, every last instruction was followed in preparing a tabernacle for the Lord. Now it was time to consecrate the tabernacle–time to anoint it with oil and set it apart for holy use. And time to set apart the priests by anointing them for God’s service.

Then the glory of the Lord descended on the Tabernacle and Tent of Meeting. So much so that Moses couldn’t enter the Tent of Meeting.

All of this is a picture of what God longs to do in us today. God no longer “tabernacles” in a structure built by human hands. He “tabernacles” (lives) in us by His Spirit. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

He calls us to consecrate our bodies and become the vessels he can fill with His glory. He longs for you to give yourself wholly to Him; to become a holy vessel he will use for his glory.

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

He has set you apart for his purposes, allow him to fill you by His Spirit and use you for his glory!

Father God, I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice. May it be set apart as a dwelling place for your Spirit. May Jesus live and rule and reign in me. May my whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless as I await the coming of our Lord Jesus. I know you are faithful, and I trust you to do it. Amen.

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