Reading #1 – Mark 14
Reading #2 – Psalms 66
Reading #3 – Proverbs 25
Reading #4 – Isaiah 44
Reading #5 – 1 Chronicle 21
1 Chronicle 21 – David Takes a Census. According to Mosaic Law, taking a census required the people to give a ransom for their life (Exodus 30:12). In 2nd Samuel 24:1, it says “Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He incited David against them to say, “Go count Israel and Judah (1). In 1 Chronicle 21:1, it says “Satan rose against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. This creates a little bit of confusion for the reader until he/she considers two very important things about scripture: 1st G_d tempts nobody (James 1:13), 2nd if G_d did command that a census be taken, he would have followed through with clear guidance so that there would be no argument (James 1:15), and 3rd He would not bring destruction when He gave the command (1 Corinthians 14:33). At issue, though, David knew the law of G_d so this was an act of rebellion. When David was confronted, he confessed immediately and took responsibility for his actions. And David said to God, “I am the one who called for the census! I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep—what have they done? O LORD my God, let your anger fall against me and my family, but do not destroy your people (17).” Regretfully, G_d honored that prayer because the sword remained against David’s family all of the ways through to the exile in 586. The altar that David built to sacrifice to the Lord G_d would be the grounds on which the 1st Temple would be built. Aranuagh offered the land for free along with everything David would need for a proper sacrifice but David refused because what we offer to G_d must come from us or it is someone else’s offering. But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the LORD. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” So David gave Araunah 600 pieces of gold in payment for the threshing floor (24-25). The Temple grounds would belong to Solomon after David’s passing.
Psalms 66 – A Song. When we are in trouble, we will promise to do ____ if G_d would simply come to our rescue and make this _____ go away. Unfortunately, many of us make promises that we will not carry through on. Mosaic law states “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for He will most certainly require it of you, and a delay would cause you to sin (Deuteronomy 23:21). When G_d leads us through a storm, we should be compelled to tell the world about it. Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! Sing about the glory of his name! Tell the world how glorious he is. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Your enemies cringe before your mighty power. Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs (1-4).” Being carried through a storm is not the only aspect of G_dly living as G_d’s power does not stop there. Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. When we are in trouble because of sin, whether intentional or not, we owe it to ourselves to confess it and ask for forgiveness. G_d, unlike us, is not on a timetable and we will stay where we are as long as it takes. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me (16-20).
Proverbs 25 – Pearls For Life in an Ungodly World. Much of the book of Proverbs was written by Solomon and transcribed by the advisors to King Hezekiah of Judah (1). Solomon had wisdom but what he needed to compliment the “wisdom” was discernment and faithfulness of which Solomon had to exercise to develop them in his life (2 Peter 1:5) but he didn’t. If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring (26). We can memorize the entire book of Proverbs and we can quote them until we are blue in the face but until the words sink deep in our heart and flow out into our life, they are simply “Pearls” that someone else will make use of. Remove the impurities from silver, and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith. Remove the wicked from the king’s court, and his reign will be made secure by justice (4-5). When we go over the edge into sin, all that we did, what we said, and what we sang becomes another life that we lived as sin and righteousness are counterproductive to each other. Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound (20).
Isaiah 44 – Israel’s Savior (Continued). If Israel was pendulum at this juncture, they would have been to the farthest side from G_d. The nation was in exile, Jerusalem was destroyed, and the stage was set for Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem. The LORD who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the LORD.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the LORD’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own (2-5).” When we come to the Lord, many things have to be dealt with and among them are the “idols”. The term “idol” is anything that stands between you and G_d as to divide so, the idol can be our jobs, our homes, trinkets, and treasures that we think will save us. The wealthy man’s wealth was his idol (Matthew 19:23-24). G_d has a way of dealing with the idols of our heart and that is getting us to see how futile they are. However, until we come to the point in our life where we can see how foolish we have been for relying on something we made to save us. The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie (20)?” No matter how ardent we were about our idols, when we can see with unvarnished eyes the futility of our ways, only then will we let go of the idol and hold onto the hand of G_d. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision (judgment)! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision [when judgment is executed] (Joel 3:14).
Mark 14 – Jesus Anointed at Bethany. The woman who poured the rich perfume on Jesus was pouring out her prized possession. Judas decried the waste of pouring out an item that could have been used to buy food for the poor. Yet, this woman wasn’t interested in what the item could buy but to be forgiven for the idol she held. But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed (6-9).” Jesus was about to be crucified at the hands of the Romans and the religious leaders so it made sense to prepare his body for it. I think, though, there is a deeper implication and that is, this “alabaster box” was the woman’s prized possession and she poured out as an act of repentance by letting go of it to make things right with the Father and she didn’t want to wait until it was too late and she was forgiven. In the same way, we hold grudges against people until they too are gone, and then it is too late to say “I am sorry here I pour out the very thing I had against you or that I held over your head so that it is no longer a prized possession and you can go to your grave in peace (Matthew 18:18)”.