Scripture reading for July 31st: 2nd Kings 13-14, 2nd Chronicles 25, Psalm 53, Matthew 12
Key Scriptures: Matthew 12:9-13 “He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked Him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”–so that they might accuse Him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Or how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” and the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.”
Jesus was a Jew, raised under the Law of Moses, and taught to honor the Sabbath by doing no work. The religious leaders opposed Jesus because He had healed on the Sabbath. They asked Him directly about healing on the Sabbath and Jesus asked them a question concerning helping their animals in trouble on the Sabbath. He then applied the obvious truth to human beings, who were much more valuable than sheep. He demonstrated God’s mercy by restoring the man’s withered hand on the Sabbath.
Psalm 53:6 “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of His people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad!”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your ministry of restoring those who stretch out their hands to You! I stretch out my hands today with courage, asking for continued restoration in my life.
2nd Chronicles 25:8 “But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy. For God has power to help or to cast down.””
Scripture reading for January 14th: Matthew 11, Psalm 10:1-8, Proverbs 3:7-10
Jesus centered his early ministry in the region around the Sea of Galilee where big crowds of people gathered to hear Him. Jesus had performed many miracles of healing and deliverance for those who came but many people refused to repent of their sins and believe in Him. Jesus spoke plainly to the crowds about their condition and the coming judgment on their sins if they failed to repent.
“Woe to you Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:21-24)
Miracles either open a heart to the Lord or harden the heart further when there is no response. They bring knowledge of God’s love and power in a visible form that makes a person more accountable to God. Proud hearts refuse to believe and make excuses for what has happened. In the end, the pride brings judgment. The church of Jesus Christ has been given power to lay hands on the sick and cast out devils as well as to see miracles come from the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We in the church often feel that this is the answer to all the problems and that great growth would occur if we could just see more miracles. This was not the case with Jesus Christ and His ministry in this part of Israel!
However, for those who will listen and come to Jesus, He promises true rest! “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Repentance and rest bring true salvation!
Scripture reading for February 10: Leviticus 24-27
In our culture, Golden anniversaries are special. When a couple has been together 50 years there is always a celebration! God also uses the 50th year as a special year. He called it the year of Jubilee! It was a year of freedom and restoration for all of God’s people. On the 50th year, debts were to be forgiven and property that was taken or bought from the original owner was restored and given back. On this year, no one was to work the land. The land would be left to rest and whatever grew without any human effort was to be used for food for the people. It was a blessed time that the people looked forward to. It pictured the reign of Messiah, when he would come and restore the fortunes and possessions of his people and vanquish their enemies.
The Jubilee was the culmination of 7 periods of 7 years. After 6 years, the Israelites were to rest their land for a year. God promised to provide enough for them in the 6th year to carry them through until the harvest of the 8th year. There were to be 7 cycles of 7 years and following the 49th year, on the Day of Atonement, the priests were to sound the trumpet and announce the beginning of the Year of Jubilee! (Leviticus 25:8-10) What a joyous occasion! God giving us a picture of his amazing restoration and rule of grace!
The problem was that the Israelites never took the Sabbath years every 7th year and they never did have a Year of Jubilee. They knew about it because of Leviticus but failed to do what God asked. When we fail to obey, God always has his way. The Israelites went for 7o years of captivity in Babylon so that the land where they had lived and neglected God’s command could have it’s rest! (2nd Chronicles 36:20-21) God has the final word!
In the New Testament we find the Jubilee in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4, verses 18-19. Jesus announces his calling and ministry by reading from Isaiah 61:1-2. The proclamation of the “year of the Lord’s favor” is a reference to “Jubilee”! Jesus is our Jubilee! In him, we have restoration and a return of our stolen property. God wants us to find our food, fulfillment, and blessing from his grace, not our own efforts! Jubilee is a picture of Jesus’ provision for every person who trusts in Him by faith!
This is good news for us today as well! We rest in what Jesus Christ has done for us. We take a sabbath rest every six days! We can remember the year of rest every seven years and be blessed with God’s grace to provide for us in supernatural ways. When we think of Jubilee–God’s promise of restoration and provision for his people, we can be happy and celebrate!
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1st Thessalonians 4:16-18
As we ponder the past week and our reading through Exodus, we are reminded in Exodus 20:8-11 of one of the reasons for keeping the Sabbath–a seventh day of rest. God wants us to remember his pattern of creation. He Himself set the pattern of working six days and resting on the seventh day. No work was to be done! It was a day holy to the Lord because He blessed it and made it holy. In New Testament times, the first day of the week was used for worship and rest in celebration of the resurrection. The main thing was to take one day out of seven, not necessarily Saturday or Sunday. In fact New Testament truth teaches that each day is the Sabbath day–a day to rest in Jesus! (Hebrews 4:6-11)
I was in a prayer group with some pastors this past week and one was telling how when we older ones grew up, Sunday was really a day of rest. Stores weren’t open and restaurants were closed. There were no movie theaters open and no TV in those days. The generation of our day doesn’t remember that day. A day of rest is foreign to them. They have no reference for the command of the Lord to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy! I believe we would be happier and healthier if we heeded this simple plan of the Lord. Take time to rest in the Lord and be refreshed for the week ahead! May you rest in Jesus Christ and his finished work each and every day!
“Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Another seventh day of rest has arrived. God himself wanted to rest. Man and woman need rest too! “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. (Mark 2:27) Resting is not the practice of many in the modern world we live in. I know that myself too well. I am a doer and have been taught that I shouldn’t waste time. Time is precious and there are many things to do. Church can even be busy. I am trying rest and reflect more this year and enjoy creation, my family and God. We find the invitation in Genesis to enjoy a Sabbath Rest every seventh day!
Looking back on the readings from Genesis 10-26, we have taken quite a trek through time and history. The world-wide flood sent by God began the history of man again with Noah and his family. We have this genealogy in Genesis 10. In Genesis 11, we find some of those descendants building the tower of Babel in defiance to God! How could man forget the lesson of the flood in just over 100 years with their grandparents as eyewitnesses of that judgment? Was it true even then that the generations didn’t communicate? It has been said that God’s church is always only a generation away from extinction! But God is merciful in judgment, scattering them over the earth by confusing their languages. Thus the nations are formed and God’s plan is moved forward.
The lives of Abraham and Sarah and their children take up the bulk of last weeks reading. They appear about 2000 years before Christ. God’s purpose is to make from this couple a great nation that He could be King over. They would be His people and He would be their God. Abraham believed God when God spoke to him. This is counted as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) Believing is the only ‘work’ we need to do to be right with God. We must work it out by obedient actions and attitudes in our walk of faith. Abraham and Sarah give me hope because they certainly weren’t perfect in believing or obedient actions. How about Sarah’s plan to give her maid Hagar to Abraham for sexual relations and children? How about Abraham twice asking his wife to say she was his sister and nearly sending her into an adulterous relationship just to protect his own life? How about Sarah’s anger at Hagar and mistreatment of her? How about Sarah’s laughter when the angel spoke of a child? And then the denial she later made when confronted? I’m thankful that God’s grace covers my sin when I confess, repent and trust in His son Jesus!
Isaac is finally born to parents whose bodies appeared ‘dead’ to the ability to reproduce! The sound of laughter filled this aged couple’s home! God specializes in the impossible! We simple need to rest in His ability to do what He says He will do!
“May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!” –Romans 15:13
May the Lord give you a blessed day of rest and enjoyment of creation, your family, and your awesome God!