Reading #1 – Deuteronomy 8
Reading #2 – Psalms 103
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 12
Reading #4 – Mark 11
Reading #5 – 1 Samuel 4
Deuteronomy 8 – Call to Remember and Obey. Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors (1). The nation was about to enter the land and this would become a time of great danger not from the foes, nor the wild animals, but by complacency. Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg Address spoke the same concern about “complacency” which comes when peace sets in and all of the struggles are but a distant memory. Complacency will cause us to put down our defenses and rest on our laurels. For over 40 years, the nation was led through the baron wasteland of the desert with no steady source of food to hunt for so G_d provided food from heaven, the manna which means, “what is it”. Now the people were entering a lush valley filled with the very best foods, clean water, and a rich source for growing vegetables and fruits. But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. 20 Just as the LORD has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed if you refuse to obey the LORD your God (19-20).
Psalm 103 – A Psalm of David. Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s (1-5). G_d’s goodness to us should compel us to praise him. G_d will never force adulation and nor will crush those who won’t. We are given the autonomy to live and die by our choices. David understood the metrics of the kingdom and knew what it was like to receive chastisement and what it was like to live under His blessings. In our life, we too are afforded the same blessings as David not because we are “someone special” but that we are special to G_d whether we chose to acknowledge Him or not.
Ecclesiastes 12 – Remember Your Creator in the Days of Your Youth. What we do in our youth, we pay for when we get older. In our youth, we ate whatever we chose, did those things which were dangerous, and played on the jagged edges for the thrills. In our youth, we develop habits that we carry well into old age like, excessive drinking, eating, and promiscuity; yet, when getting older those habits become our prisons for which we are stuck. We must, therefore, develop habits of righteousness in our life by living for G_d so that in our old age those habits will become the life source for which we can cling to. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it (6-7).
1 Samuel 4 – Where is the Glory. Israel was at war with the Philistines which would last well into the time of David. In the first battle, the nation was severely trounced by the formidable nation Philistia and so they brought the ark of the covenant into the battle. It is funny that we as humans think about G_d only when our lives are upside down or we are about to face a tremendous test. When life is at its best, it is “G_d who” but when we are in trouble, it is “G_d where are you”? The teacher admonished the people to “Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. 7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7).” If the only time we remember Him only in the good times, we become arrogant in our beliefs. So the ark was taken and the Hophni and Phineas were killed in battle just as Samuel had prophesied. When the aged Eli heard the commotion, he trembled and when he heard that the ark had been taken, he fell over off of the fence and broke his neck. Hophni’s wife was in labor during the battle and gave birth to a son and with her dying breath uttered, “She named the child Ichabod (which means “Where is the glory?”), for she said, “Israel’s glory is gone.” She named him this because the Ark of God had been captured and because her father-in-law and husband were dead. Then she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the Ark of God has been captured (21-22).”
Mark 11 – Jesus’ Triumphant Entry Into Jerusalem. For him to enter “triumphantly”, he must have won the battle which he did by surrendering himself to the mission that G_d had for him from the very beginning. On the mountain top, he had met with Moses and Elijah the two most prominent men in Israel’s history who had also met with the greatest disappointment. Moses had failed at the waters of Meribah and Elijah had surrendered his post on the mountain just when he was on the verge of another great victory the defeat of Ahab and Jezebelle. To ride on the back of a donkey implied royalty, not something he took upon himself but by the commission of G_d his Father. Jesus was not liked by the leadership because he was a fire spark that could not be stopped even by the tricks of the Devil. Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 28 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. 30 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me (27-30)! Jesus knew who he was and was fully convicted of his relationship with G_d and would never surrender to the whims of mankind no matter who it was. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8