Today we will change the order of our reading, starting with the New Testament portion.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: MARK 6:30-56
Mark 6:31 (NASB)
31 And He (Jesus) said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)
Jesus gives an important invitation to His disciples that should not be refused: To come apart from the busyness of our heavily scheduled lives and spend time with Him.
Come apart before you come apart!
The Lord is mindful of our need to rest, recharge, and be replenished; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
I hope that each of you are developing a habit of setting aside some time each day not just for READING the Word, but for FEEDING upon it.
Be sure to spend quality time with Him, so that you may abide in Him throughout the day.
By reading through the Bible you are getting a PANORAMA of THE STORY and meeting its HERO on every page.
Susannah Wesley, with at least ten children in the house, would seek a quiet time with the Lord despite the pressing distractions around her. Her sons, John and Charles, who would grow up to be mighty instruments in the Great Awakening of the 18th century, noted that if their mother could not find a room to retreat to, she would flip her apron over her head and create that interior seclusion where she could focus on speaking to the Lord in prayer and drawing wisdom and strength from Him.
We have already observed this principle in the Book of Leviticus. Moses and Aaron needed first to go INSIDE the Tent of Meeting where they could hear from God, bless Him, and be blessed by Him before they came OUTSIDE to minister to the people. They needed to enter into fellowship with the Lord before they could come out and bless them with ministry.
Leviticus 9:23 (NASB)
23 Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.
In the gospel of Mark, we see that the disciples did take Jesus’ suggestion.
However, it is doubtful that their time was as restful as they had hoped it would be. The crowds had soon caught up with them. Jesus sees the multitude as sheep without a shepherd and, filled with compassion, he begins to teach them many things.
As the hour grew late, Jesus’ disciples suggested that the crowd be sent away to get something for themselves to eat in the surrounding villages.
Jesus responds by challenging the disciples to feed them.
At first, the disciples look to their insufficient financial resources. They only have 200 denarii in their treasury (equivalent to the pay for 200 days of labor). Then Jesus asks how many loaves they have. They look to the meager supply at hand, replying, “Five loaves and two fish.” Jesus commands them to sit in groups of fifty. Then He takes the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven gives thanks. He breaks the loaves and the fish and as they distribute the food it is multiplied to feed all. There were 12 baskets full of leftovers. Jesus is teaching them that He is the same person who fed their forefathers manna in the wilderness (See John 6).
God supplied miraculously and abundantly for those upon whom He had compassion. We see that He is able to supply more than what is adequate. This is illustrated also in the miracles witnessed by Elijah (1 Kings 17:16) Elisha (2 Kings 4:7,42-44) and the miraculous catches for the disciples (Luke 5:6-7; John 21:6,11). May this encourage us all to make our requests known to God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)
WALKING ON WATER
The Sea of Galilee is subject to violent downdrafts and is known for its sudden windstorms. After the feeding of 5000 men, plus women, and children, Jesus departed to a mountainside to pray. The disciples were attempting to cross the Sea of Galilee and are caught in a storm trying to reach the other side. Between 3 and 6 AM (during the fourth watch) they see Jesus walking on water. Once again, the disciples are challenged as they see Jesus doing something that defies the natural order of things. They had been struggling all night to cross the sea and Jesus, having spent the bulk of the time in prayer, comes ‘walking’ on the water. There is no striving, struggling, or running in His advance. He is not hindered by the adverse circumstances. He is Lord over the circumstances.
The words that Jesus speaks to His terrified disciples should settle our hearts as well:
“Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” (Mark 6:50)
It could read, “Take courage, I AM, do not be afraid.” The Great I AM is in the midst.
Mark notes that it looked as if Jesus “intended to pass by them” (Mark 6:48).
The ESV Study Bible has a comment in the margin:
“The passage echoes the incident where God “passed” before Moses (the same verb, ‘parechomai’, occurs in the Septuagint of Exodus 33:19,22; 34:6) giving a glimpse of his glory. But it also echoes Job 9, where Job says that it is God who trampled the waves of the sea” (The Septuagint has ‘peripaton..epi thalasses’, ‘walking on the sea’, using the same words as Mark 6:48, and then also says “he passes by me” (Job 9:11). There is an implicit claim to divinity in Jesus’ actions.” (ESV Study Bible) (The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament).
OLD TESTAMENT READING: Leviticus 14:1-57
In centuries past, people have criticized the scrutiny demanded by the Book of Leviticus for the transmission of health problems through garments and buildings.
Today we know that Leviticus was right. The spread of mold and mildew impacts human health. Inspections of walls, ceilings, roofs and garments are not to be discounted. Detection of mold, asbestos, lead, carbon monoxide and radon is to be taken seriously.
God is interested in every area of our lives. He is concerned with the health of our bodies, our homes, and our relationships. He is concerned with what we wear and how we live.
He recognizes that as people we can easily be corrupted and spread corruption.
Yesterday we learned about the ceremonial procedures for the detection and cleansing of infectious skin disease and polluted garments.
Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, expressed the need for Christians to be on guard with a regular inspection of their lives and those around them. What can we do to save ourselves and our neighbors from potential disaster? Are we ready to take his recommended action to avert the sabotaging influence of inward and outward corruption? He admonishes believers to-
“save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:23)
A house that is infected with disease needed to be cleansed or destroyed. Mold and mildew in a home can cause lung problems, nausea, sickness, and structural problems.
Whatever in our lives that has been affected by the contamination of sin should be either cleansed or destroyed. Some old associations that have proven to be corrupting influences need to be inspected, and if they are not treatable, they need to be torn down altogether. Some relationships, old haunts, and old habits need to be utterly forsaken. The ways of the old nature need to come under the ban of the cross.
A house that is found upon inspection as being free from malignancy is to be publicly declared clean in a similar ceremony to that which we observed for the cleansed leper. The priest is to take two birds and cedarwood and a scarlet string and hyssop. One bird is to be slaughtered in an earthen vessel (a picture of Jesus killed in the earthen vessel of His body), its blood mingling with the running water. The live bird is to be dipped together with the scarlet thread and the cedarwood and hyssop, (the redemptive thread linking the act to all creation- from the cedarwood to hyssop). The blood mixed with water is to be sprinkled on the house seven times. The live bird, marked with the stains of the other Substitute’s death, is to be set free outside the city to fly into an open field. What a wonderful picture of both the sinner and his house being pronounced clean through both the death and life of the Substitute Redeemer.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- Psalm 40:1-10.
Psalm 40:6-8 (NASB) 6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”
We know this is a Messianic Psalm because Psalm 40:6-8 is quoted in Hebrews 10:5-9.
We can read this Psalm and get a sense of how life was sensed in Jesus’ human nature. He identifies with our life experiences and embraces them with a perfect disposition of trust in the goodness of His Father. He knows what it is like to be delivered from the miry pit!
Psalm 40:2-3 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.
May the story of the Psalmist encourage you. He brings you up (v.2a), He causes you to stand (v.2b) and He gives you a new song (v.3).
What new deliverance can you be singing about today?
Whereas verses 6-8 speak of Christ’s faithfulness to His mission to fulfill righteousness on our behalf, verses 9-10 speak of His faithfulness to speak to His church today through the ministry of His Word.
How does He speak to you today, revealing the good news of His grace in the fellowship of the congregation?
TODAY’S PROVERB: Proverbs 10:11-12- Love heals, and that healing can be applied with careful use of words.
Proverbs 10:11-12 11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. 12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.
Today we are praying for AUSTRALIA.
The Book Operation World gives a helpful list of answers and challenges to prayer. (p. 117-120)
Australia is the world’s 6th largest country by total area.
This island continent is the world’s driest, but better watered in the east, southeast, and southwest coastal regions, where most live in highly concentrated urban areas. There are three permanently inhabited dependent territories: Norfolk Island (35 sq. km; 2,037 pop), Christmas Is. (135 sq. km; 1,408 pop), Cocos Is. (14 sq. km; 591 pop).
The Aboriginal people spoke languages that can be classified into about 250 groups. Today the population are 67.9% Anglo-Australian; 16.9% European, migrants form nearly every ethnic group. 6.9% Asian, 2.6% Australian Aborigine.
28% of Australians were born overseas, increasingly from non-Western backgrounds.
A summary of Answers to Prayer:
Australia’s Christians, particularly evangelicals, are facing the challenges of a post-Christian and multicultural nation with faith, dynamism, and considered strategies. Recognizing social change and relative Christian decline, small but growing numbers of ministries and congregations are adapting to become more dynamic in reaching out to the majority population and to become more strategic and missiologically astute in reaching the immigrant minorities, who often come from other faith backgrounds. There is a long way to go, but a transition is becoming visible in Australian Christianity.
Challenges for Prayer
Australia is undergoing many changes, all of which place greater strains and tensions on the nation.
The Church in Australia faces a mighty challenge – to remain relevant. While over two-thirds of Australians identify themselves in some way as Christian, only 10% regularly attend church, and increasing numbers have negative attitudes toward the Church’s perceived intolerance and authoritarianism. Secularism is not so much the dominant ideology as is an individualized, New Age, pick-and-choose spirituality with no accountability. Almost all mainline churches face stagnation or decline, and growth even among evangelicals has slowed. Pray for reformation and revival of the Church, and for this to impact every sphere of society.
PRAYER: O Lord, You know our every need. You remember our frame. You know our limitations. You know we need rest. You know we need time with You. Thank You for this time of communion as we fellowship with Your Word and trust the Holy Spirit to illuminate Your truth to our understanding. As we pursue holiness, we want to be more conscious of the danger of being contaminated by the sin and expressive of the old Adamic nature.
Teach us not to lean on our own understanding and our own resources when You call us to obedience. You are faithful. You are the One who multiplies the fish and loaves and provides for the needs of the multitudes. Help us to cooperate with You as You work Your works today! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.