February 12th – “Power In The Blood” [Bible reading: Ex 34:1-35:9; Mat 27:15-31; Ps 33:12-22; Prov 9:1-6]
“And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children.’” – Matthew 27:25
This took place after Jesus had been arrested and found Himself now standing before Pilate. We’re told that Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, he knew that He was on trial only because the religious leaders were full of “envy” (Mat 27:18, 23). Pilate was even warned by his own wife, who had had a dream about Jesus, to have nothing to do with this “just” Man (vs 19). He didn’t want to be accountable for Jesus’ death. However, in this verse we see that the people who had gathered had no problem accepting full responsibility. They basically cried out, “Go ahead and blame us, His shed blood will be on us, not you!” Later, in Acts 5, we read how the apostles had been jailed for preaching in the name of Jesus, then miraculously freed from jail they went right back to preaching in His name. When they were arrested a second time they were brought before the high priest who asked them, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” (Acts 5:28). Ironic, that they were now complaining for the very thing they had asked for… the very thing they cried out to Pilate.
Truly, Jesus’ shed blood would be on us. Acts 20:28 states, “...the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Ephesians 1:7 says that we “have redemption through His blood” and Romans 5:9 declares, “…having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Without even knowing what they were saying, the people were speaking prophetically of how Jesus’ shed blood would be upon them and their children. Today, as in Acts 5, some don’t wish for the very thing they most need, while others are continuously grateful for the sacrifice that Jesus made that we might have redemption and justification (forgiveness). Truly, there’s still power in the blood.
“Father, thank You once again for Your forgiveness. Leviticus 17:11 and 14 declares that the life of the flesh is in the blood. And in Your precious blood I am washed whiter than snow. Your love for me is truly amazing. I love You back.” – Michael
February 13th – “All Stirred Up” [Bible reading: Ex 35:10-36:38; Mat 27:32-66; Ps 34:1-10; Prov 9:7-8]
“Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart…The rulers brought onyx stones, and the stones to be set in the ephod and the breastplate, and spices and oil…” – Exodus 35:21-22a,27-28a
This is such a neat thing! God was setting up His Tabernacle, His home, and the people were bringing stuff to go in it. Notice, however, that Moses didn’t have to plead with the people. He didn’t have to beg them and pass an offering bucket. He allowed the Holy Spirit to move upon whomever’s hearts were “stirred“, and that were “willing“. This is an important lesson for us: We must ask the Lord to stir our hearts for the things He’d want us to do, and then we must be willing to obey.
I wonder if too often we “give” out of a sense of obligation… or even guilt? Wouldn’t it be better if we only gave unto the work of the Lord once we have taken the time to seek His face and His perfect will, and then allowed His Spirit to “stir our hearts“?
Also notice that the “rulers“… the leaders of all these people… were giving too! In fact, they were giving MORE than the people were giving! This is always how it should be. Leaders should be those who set the example to the people following them of what it looks like to give sacrificially, showing that the Lord is stirring the leaders’ hearts too. It wasn’t “Do as I say, but not as I do” with these leaders, they were living what they were preaching!
“Father, stir up my heart for the things that stir up Your heart. I want a “willing spirit” to come alongside the projects and ministry that You desire. If You’ve given me any amount of influence, I pray that I would always set an example as a man who is willingly submitted to Your will. Thanks for being on the move, for building Your kingdom in so many places around the earth. Show me where I can have an impact for it, and help me to bring You massive amounts of glory with the way I live my life. I love You.” – Michael
February 14th – “Ancient Inspiration” [Bible reading: Ex 37:1-38:31; Mat 28:1-20; Ps 34:11-22; Prov 9:9-10]
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. ” – Psalm 34:19
The fact that ‘bad things happen to good people‘ is just that… a fact. Scholars believe that David wrote these words during a season of his life where his life was in jeopardy. As a man who loved God, trusted God, and had been used by God on multiple occasions, he acknowledged that bad stuff was going down in his life. However, he also admits that in the end, the Lord would rescue him. Much like Job who said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21)… we see, time and time again throughout Scripture, men and women who underwent serious trials, yet maintained a radical trust in a God that they could not see. How were they able to do this?
Most Bible scholars believe that the oldest, or earliest, manuscript in the entire Bible is the Book of Job. If this is the case, it’s very possible that David, and many other Bible heroes knew of this story and thought of it as they went through their struggles. David had, as an example, Job – a man who had gone through unimaginable trials, yet maintained his faith in God. I wonder if when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the king’s idol, even when their lives were threatened with being cast into the fire, and said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18), if they had Job’s story resonating in their minds?
So too, today, when I am going through struggles and trials in my day-to-day life, I have stories that resonate in my mind. Stories from Scripture that remind me that there were other “righteous” folks who went through tragedies, yet maintained their love for and their trust in God. This is why Scripture is so very important. It has a supernatural way of speaking to exactly where I’m living. As I endeavor to walk in Christ and live for Him today, I must be a man that picks up the Bible and digs in. Why? Because it’s there in God’s Holy Word where I receive ancient inspiration that immediately becomes present-day motivation… to persevere… to endure. Truly, the Lord was real back then, and He is real today… and He will deliver!
“Father, You are my strength and my shield. I admit that I’m weak and cannot make it without Your Spirit. Thank You for Your Word. Help me to glean from it today as I apply it’s message and examples to my life. I love You.” – Michael
February 15th – “Hey, I Know You!” [Bible reading: Ex 39:1-40:38; Mark 1:1-28; Ps 35:1-16; Prov 9:11-12]
“Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, ‘Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!’” – Mark 1:23-24
There are some very interesting things here: First, I find it odd that this man was “in their synagogue” and possessed by a demon. I wonder how many services he had attended before anyone knew that he was demon-possessed? I wonder how many services people with demons today attend our churches and nobody knows? It took Jesus showing up for the truth to be revealed, and so too, it is going to take Jesus showing up in our church-services for the darkness in our churches to be exposed. Second, the demon knew exactly Who Jesus was. It referred to Jesus’ humanity by calling Him “Jesus of Nazareth“, but then it referred to Jesus’ deity by referring to Him as “The Holy One of God“. Maybe this is what James was referring to when he declared, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!” (James 1:19)
How many people attend churches all over the world today that are just like this demonized man: they faithfully attend religious meetings, know all about Jesus and Who He is – even tremble at the idea that they will have to give an account for their life on the Day of Judgement – yet they are totally lost?
“Father, I know so much about You, but I long to truly know You. I know you are the Holy One of God, but I want to KNOW the Holy One of God… and I believe there is a difference. Reveal Yourself to me in deeper and more intimate ways. Make me sensitive to Your voice. Fill me with Your Spirit. Walk with me everywhere that I go today so that there is more of You in me than me. I love You.” – Michael
February 16th – “Hands-On Faith” [Bible reading: Leviticus 1:1-3:17; Mark 1:29-2:12; Psalm 35:17-28; Proverbs 9:11-12]
“Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.” – Leviticus 1:4
Leviticus has been accused as being ‘boring’. It has many specific and tedious rules concerning the proper ways in which to make a myriad of sacrifices. All of which don’t seem to apply to where and how we are living today in the twenty-first century. However, each and every one of these requirements can, and do, point to the ultimate sacrifice that was made by our Lord on the Cross of Calvary. In understanding that fact, a closer look at some of these rituals can give us a better understanding of what God has done for us. In the case of this little verse, we see that the person who desired forgiveness of sins had to bring an unblemished animal to the tabernacle, of his own free will, and offer it as a sacrifice to be killed. This animal’s sacrifice would then be “accepted on his behalf to make atonement for” his sins. ‘Atonement‘ simply meant, ‘appeasement with God by removing sin and impurities‘. There would later be a ‘Day of Atonement’ (yom kippur – Lev 16:30). What’s interesting is that the person bringing the animal had to “put his hand on the head of the burnt offering“. Why would this be important? It was simply for the sake of identification. The person was symbolically implying that “This animal is now for present purposes myself, and its life is my life“. It was this act that made it an “acceptable” offering on his behalf.
Another thing that would happen as a person placed their hand on the head of the animal was that they would ‘feel‘ the animal. That may seem obvious, but think about if it were you: As your hand lay on the animal’s head, you’d feel its fur, you’d feel it moving, you’d feel it breathing. You’d become keenly aware that this was a LIVING sacrifice. You wouldn’t be able to shake the fact that this was a LIVE animal that was about to be killed… on YOUR behalf… because of YOUR sin.
Sometimes I think people today take Jesus’ sacrifice for granted. We’ve heard the story so many times… heard how He died so many times, and in so many ways… we’ve seen the movie, heard about it in songs, and sat through the Easter play on so many occasions… it has lost its impact upon us. Even when we take communion, we can tend to let our minds wander and simply go through the motions. Paul warned us not to do that: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” – 1 Corinthians 11:27. What does “an unworthy manner” mean? Could it be that we can become so hardened by repetition that we simply go through the motions? What if we could place our hand upon Jesus’ head, as He was being crucified… If we could feel his sweaty and blood-matted hair, poke our finger on his crown of thorns, feel Him heave for a breath, hear Him whisper “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing“? I wonder if we’d take His sacrifice for granted then? I believe, we must constantly remind ourselves that Jesus was the sacrifice for “our” sins, and that He died on “our” behalf. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” – 1 John 2:2 (NIV).
“Father, You paid a price that You did not owe. I owed a price that I could not pay. Help me remember to never take what You’ve done for me for granted. Today, may I live my life as a living sacrifice for You. I love You.” – Michael
February 17th – “Questioning Authority” [Bible reading: Leviticus 4:1-5:19; Mark 2:13-3:6; Psalm 36:1-12; Proverbs 10:1-2]
“Then He said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they kept silent.” – Mark 3:4
The Pharisees (that title literally means, “separated ones“) strictly observed the written and oral law, believed in angels and resurrection, opposed Greek influence, and were esteemed by the people. They were constantly in conflict with Jesus, probably for a number of reasons; The crowds were beginning to follow Him, He was performing miracles and they weren’t, and He seemed to care more about what was happening within the hearts of people than what they looked like or acted like on the outside. These Pharisees loved to “appear” righteous and one of the best ways they did this was to do nothing on the Sabbath Day. Jesus, however, would do whatever was necessary on ANY day, as long as it was something His Father wanted Him to do (John 5:19). Jesus recognized that they guys were not questioning His ability to heal, but only wanted to know whether He would dare to do ‘something’ on the Sabbath. So, rather than rebuke them or say anything in His own defense, He does what He often did… He asked them a question.
Sometimes asking good questions is the secret to getting good answers and sometimes asking good questions just makes people ‘think’. Jesus was a Master at asking questions: “Who do men say that I am?” “Woman, where is your husband?” “What do you wish for Me to do for you?” “How can Satan cast out Satan?” “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me?” His questions were never meant to confuse or skirt an issue, but they were always meant to help people think more clearly about something.” I am often tempted to to provide instant answers when people ask me questions. Perhaps I should learn from ‘The Jesus School of Communication‘ and simply slow down to ask a few good questions instead?
“Father, I think it might be my own pride that makes me feel as though I must have an answer to every question. Please give me wisdom, but not necessarily all the answers. Wisdom from You might just be slowing down and asking a question. I want to respond as You’d respond… to whatever I encounter today. Thank You for never leaving me or forsaking me and for empowering me to be a light for You. I love You.” – Michael
February 18th – “Why Wait?” [Bible reading: Leviticus 6:1-7:27; Mark 3:7-30; Psalm 37:1-11; Proverbs 10:3-4]
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.” – Psalm 37:7
Over and over within the Scripture we see that we are to be those that “wait” on God. Lamentations 3:25-26 declares, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Of course, the most famous passage that mentions waiting is found in Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Because these Scriptures, and many others, admonish us to ‘wait‘ on God, we should probably know what in the world it looks like for us to do so. The word “wait” is the Hebrew word “qawa“ which means, ‘ to hope in, to hope for, to be gathered with, and to look for‘. It comes from another Hebrew word, “quavah“, which means ‘to bind together as by twisting‘. Putting all this together, we can begin to get an idea of what it means to be those who “wait on the Lord”.
Our lives can be so entangled with this world, our culture, material stuff, our jobs, responsibilities, hobbies, relationships, and more. When this happens, our relationship with God can seem to get pushed further and further down the scale of what’s important. Many times prayer, reading the Bible, and simply spending quiet moments where we set aside time to listen for His voice can happen less and less. We must stop and assess what is happening by asking some important questions; “What am I looking to?”… “Who am I gathered with?”… “What is my life bound together with, twisted up in?”… is it Jesus?
Why are so many Christians weak? Why do so many Christians seem to stop walking with the Lord? Why do so many Christians give up running the race? Could it be that they’re not “waiting” on God? Could it be that they’ve allowed their lives to become so entangled with this world, when what they really needed was to take a ‘time-out’ and become twisted up with Jesus again? The promise of Scripture is that when we’ll do that… when we’ll rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him… good things will happen.
“Father, today I will slow down and wait. You alone are my Hope. You alone are the One I look to. You alone are the One I want to be twisted up with. I love You.” – Michael