Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 4: Deuteronomy 26 – 27; Psalm 76; Proverbs 12:15-17; Luke 10:38-11:13


            Deuteronomy: When Israel comes in the Promised Land, they are to bring some of the firstfruit of the land as an offering. The ceremony includes relating how their fathers went to Egypt, were brought out by the Lord, and gave them this land.
            A tenth of their produce in the third year is to be given to the Levites, fatherless, aliens, and widows. They must swear they haven’t eaten any of it and ask the Lord to bless them in the Land.
            Israel is to obey the commands with all their hearts and souls. The Lord has selected them as his treasured people. If they obey, he will set them high above all other nations to be a holy people.
            When they cross over the Jordon they are to set up a stone altar on Mount Ebal. They will offer burnt offering there. They will write all the words of the Law on the stones they have set up. Half of the tribes will stand on Mount Gerizim to pronounce blessings and half on Mount Ebal to pronounce curses.
            The Levites will recite a curse for breaking each of several points of the Law that have been given. The people will respond saying Amen after each curse.
            Psalm: God is great and known in Judah, as he has made his dwelling Jerusalem. He is majestic in light. He has destroyed attackers breaking their weapons, killing them and their horses. He is to be feared because no one could stand before him in judgment when he rose to save the afflicted of the land. So praise him, make vows, and bring gifts to him who is to be feared. This applies to princes and all kings of the earth.
            Proverbs: Fools always think they are right as they annoy others and lie. Wise people are honest, overlook the insults of fools, and listens to good advice.
            Luke: Jesus stays at Martha and Mary’s house. Mary sat at the Lord’s feet while Martha was distracted by serving. She asked Jesus to have Mary help but Jesus said Martha was anxious and troubled but Mary had chosen correctly to spend time with him.
            The disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. He then gave them the “Lord’s Prayer.” He then went on to tell a parable about a man asking a friend at midnight for bread. The man getting what he wants because of his persistence in knocking explains that persistence in prayer is rewarded. He also said that just as human fathers, who are evil, give good things to their children, our heavenly Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied” (Deut 26:12 NIV).
            Psalm: “But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?” (Ps 76:7).
            Proverbs: “A fool shows his annoyance at once” (Prov 12:16 NIV).
            Luke: “One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).


            Deuteronomy: If we tried to obey the laws for tithing, it would be hard to follow. The rules were complicated for us who don’t pay a lot of attention to the Old Testament. This third-year tithe was supposed to be devoted to the Levites, aliens, fatherless, and widows. The Pharisees didn’t do much better in understanding so they made up their own rules for tithing (Matt 23:23).
             We often rebel against tithing because we say it is an Old Testament law that no longer applies to Christians who are freed from the Law (Eph 2:13-16). When we do tithe, we often try to be like the Pharisees and get right down to the penny. However, we get fouled up when we can’t agree to tithe on our take-home pay or on our gross. To make matters worse, if we own a business, do we tithe on the income before or after expenses? If we have shares in a corporation, should we tithe on a portion of the company’s profits or just on dividends?
            You can see where this is going. We become legalistic when we analyze it too much. So why not just look at the principle of tithing? It becomes a whole lot easier and less of a burden when we give freely even more than a tenth of our income. Shoot for 50% and you’ll never have to think twice about whether or not you’re tithing. Just remember that a third (every three years) went to the Levites, aliens, fatherless, and widows. Remember those in the shelters, food banks, and other places as well.
            Psalm: This Psalm could be applied to the future when the Lord judges the world even though Asaph was probably speaking of a time when the Lord saved Jerusalem. The points of it are clear and one question stands out. Who can stand before the Lord and his anger in the judgment? Thankfully, we will be able to do that if we are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. Paul says we are not appointed to suffer his wrath (1 Thess 5:9). In addition, Jude tells us that in the judgment we will be able to stand before the Lord without fault and with great joy because of Jesus.
            Proverbs: A very annoying thing is drivers doing all sort of unsafe things. What is worse than them is when my annoyance flares up immediately and I break several commandments in a flash. If I do that, the Bible says I’m a fool. I’m not wise because I’m not overlooking an insult when they make obscene gestures because I’m following the speed limit and I’m in the right lane or when I make a mistake. It’s too bad there isn’t an “oops, I’m sorry” universal gesture that would be recognizable. The same thing applies to all sorts of situations in our lives. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can develop the fruit of a life that doesn’t flare up and prove our foolishness.
            Luke: Sometimes it is really hard to balance devotion to the Lord and serving the Lord. Martha was doing something good, serving and making sure that things were getting done so that there would be food, a place to sleep, and other things for her guests. I’m quite sure that Jesus wasn’t the only one in the house; the twelve and maybe more were there. It must have been driving Martha nuts!
            In our modern world, there are many distractions and we probably make Martha look like a slacker at times as we try to get everything done. Some people who serve in their church never really participate in the worship service because they are busy doing something else. I remember seeing one of the ushers in my previous church. He was in every service; he drove at least forty or fifty miles to attend. However, during the worship time, he was helping people find a place to sit. During the sermon he was counting the attendees. When did he actually have time to join in worship or hearing God’s word expounded?
            There are times when we need to be like Mary and take time to listen to Jesus. Luke followed this instance with Jesus explaining how to pray. Matthew records this at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry during the Sermon on the Mount. Luke may have placed this incident in Jesus’ life right after the Mary and Martha incident to emphasize to us the importance of taking time to be in the Lord’s presence.


            It’s easy to be a fool because of a flare up of annoyance. It doesn’t have to be outward. The Lord knows about my heart attitude and thoughts where I am often a fool. More time with Jesus will yield more fruit of the Holy Spirit and less foolishness.

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