Scripture: You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13,14 NIV
Observation: Paul sums up for the Galatians God’s law.
Application: Paul had dealt with Galatian troublemakers who had reintroduced the notion of the need for circumcision. Paul had to reëducate them as to the futility of trying to be justified by the law. If they insisted on circumcision they were going to have to adhere to every single aspect of the law–an impossibility. Paul made that point and then instructed them that living by faith was living a life of love. Paul taught that we are to consider others before ourselves. When we love our neighbors as ourselves we fulfill the law just as Jesus taught.
Prayer: Father, help me to love others. I want to honor you by the way I love my friends and neighbors. Help me to be a blessing to someone else today. Amen
Scripture: Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? Galatians 4:8,9 NIV
Observation: Paul was concerned for the Galatians. They were apparently weak-willed.
Application: The Galatians willingly returned to their idol worship. How often do we forsake our first love? How often do we give in to our fleshly desires? When we do that we are saying that we are okay with being enslaved by the “weak and miserable principles” that ruled our lives before we knew Christ. We must stay true to our commitment to Christ and not forsake his sacrifice.
Prayer: Father, help me to stay true to you, my first love. Don’t let me slip back into my old habits. I ask this on Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Mark 16:1 NIV
Observation: Jesus’ female followers are going to the tomb to anoint him.
Application: Dictionary.com lists four definitions for the word anoint. Two are applicable to my reading today. First, to consecrate or make sacred in a ceremony that includes the token applying of oil; second, to dedicate to the service of God. Mark 16:1 NIV clearly states that the women were going to the tomb to “anoint” Jesus, not embalm him, that had already been done. John 18:38-40 NIV, “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.” Jesus was not embalmed as we know it today, however, his body was wrapped with linen strips soaked with embalming liquids as was customary at that time. I believe that the two Marys and Salome went to consecrate Jesus and to dedicate him to the service of God. Again Dictionary.com says to consecrate is to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity: to make (something) an object of honor or veneration; or to devote or dedicate to some purpose. I believe that their intent was anoint and consecrate Jesus to set him apart to God for our sake. However, before they got to the tomb God raised Jesus and he, himself set him apart for our sake.
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving us Jesus as our advocate to you and for anointing him for your purpose. Thank you Lord for setting him apart for our sake. Amen
Scripture: With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mark 15:37,38 NIV
Observation: Jesus dies on the cross.
Application: We all know the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Jesus was brought into this world to show us our way to God, to give all of us access to the Father by allowing himself to be sacrificed. He once and for all redeemed those who trust in him for that sacrifice. His claim of being the Son of God was disputed by the Jewish leaders and his following was a source of envy by them that very likely lead them to have him killed. At the time of his death God reached down and showed us by tearing the separator, (the curtain), from top to bottom, (from God to man), that Jesus was sent by God for the very reason that he had claimed during his ministry. What a great illustration God gave us at the moment of Christ’s death. We are now and forever able to have unrestrained access to the Father.
Prayer: Father, thank you for removing the separation so that I can be in your company. Help me to be worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice and your willingness to allow that sacrifice. Amen
Scripture: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22 NIV
Observation: That’s just plain old, good truth!
Application: I don’t really have a great lesson from today’s reading in Deuteronomy, Psalms, or Mark but I do know of a great passage in Proverbs. It tells me “he who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.” Proverbs 18:22 NIV I just think that today I’m going to let you know that I love my wife and I want to honor her. She has always been a woman that felt it was more important to help a friend in need or teach one of our children a life-lesson than it was to turn off a light switch or close a cupboard door. She’s not perfect like me, you see. I never make mistakes or leave anything out and forget to put it away. So because she isn’t perfect like me I end up nagging her about little, unimportant junk. Well yesterday it all came home to roost for me. My Honey is dealing with a thyroid illness and she just feels lousy most days. Saturday was an extremely bad day for her. So bad that we ended up going to the doctor to have some medication prescribed. As we were returning home from the ER last night my wife’s mortality hit me. One day I may not have her anymore and I know that I’d rather have a permanently turned on light switch than to be without her. With that said I realize that need to do a better job of loving her. Ephesians 5:25 NIV says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” I have failed miserably. I need to let go of the light switches and just love my wife because she is a gift from God and she deserves that. Please forgive me Laurie, I love you .
Prayer: Father, I don’t deserve the wife that you’ve blessed me with but I thank you for giving her to me. Please forgive me if I’ve taken her for granted and not loved her as you expect. Please help me to help her through her illness. Please heal her body Lord. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Scripture: Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either. Deuteronomy 1:37 NIV
Observation: Moses is recounting all the events of the previous forty years to the Israelites just before crossing the Jordan.
Application: Wait a minute. I’m not quite sure Moses’ memory is very right here. Yes, it’s true that he doesn’t get to cross the Jordan and enter the promised land and yes, it’s true that when God told him he would not enter the land he had just dealt with yet another episode of revolt from the Israelites, but I’m not exactly sure that the S.O.D.D.I. defense, (some other dude did it), works here. God clearly told Moses in Numbers 20:12, “But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’ ” God says right there, ” because YOU.” “Because you did not prove me holy…because you did it before the assembly…because you made it appear that water gushed from a rock due to your rage and not my mercy…you will not enter.” When I stand before God and he and I have a conversation I want to hear him say “well done” not “because you.” I want to prove the Lord holy by the fruit that I bear.
Prayer: Holy Father, I want to prove your holiness by my actions and attitude. Help me to honor you today. Amen
Scripture: Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.’ ” Numbers 35:34 NIV
Observation: God is once again speaking of the importance of remaining free of old influences.
Application: Yesterday my devotional spoke of the necessity of completely driving out the inhabitants of Canaan upon taking the land to make sure that the Israelites would not stray. I felt in yesterday’s devotional that that is the same attitude that God wants from us as Christians. Today, two chapters later, I read that the Lord says for the Israelites to not defile the land where he dwells with them. Once again I believe he wants us Christians to realize that our old self and our new self cannot dwell together. I know that when the Lord repeats something it is usually because he’s serious about the subject. Christians must take this seriously because God takes it seriously, “for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ ” 1 Peter 1:16 NIV
Prayer: Father, help me to be holy and to shun my old ways. Amen
Scripture: “ ‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’ ” Numbers 33:55,56 NIV
Observation: The Lord speaks through Moses to the Israelites about the importance of completely clearing away any influences that could cause them to stray after they entered the promised land.
Application: Just as the Israelites were to distance themselves from ungodly influence, the indigenous people from whom they were taking the promised land; we are to rid ourselves of the “old” when we enter the new promised land–life with Christ. We cannot be a house divided, if we tolerate any of our old self we become divided and we will fall. God want us to maintain our holiness because he is holy. James 4:7 NIV says, “submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We must submit and resist so that we can maintain our God-given holiness.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I give my life to you and I ask that you keep the devil and old influences far from me. Help me to be the holy new creation that you made when I accepted Christ. Amen
Scripture: Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 NIV
Observation: Jesus instructs his apostles about greatness.
Application: So you want to be great…huh? You want wealth, stature, prestige, adoration…you want greatness? Okay, then you need to start being driven, results oriented, you need to be ruthless. Don’t give an inch, you have to grind your competition into dust. You have to care only for yourself and your condition. You have to never share, you have to take and keep, and you have to never, never, never be concerned with the affairs of others…right? Well, not exactly. Jesus laid out the plan a bit differently. He said when they came to Capernaum, ” ‘…What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ ” Mark 9:33b-35 NIV We should consider all others before ourselves. We shouldn’t concern ourselves with earthly definitions of success we should only be concerned with how God views success. When we accomplish that then we will have reached our goal of being great by honoring God through serving others and when he is pleased we will have achieved greatness. Of course, if that is our attitude then we won’t be concerned with being seen as great. Our greatness will be in the humility of knowing that greatness belongs to God alone.
Prayer: Father, I don’t want to be considered great by man, I want to be considered great by you. I want one day for you to look at me and say to me “well done.” Help me to be humble and want greatness for you. Help me to serve others and to honor you as I serve. Amen
The following is a wonderful sermon about humility by the senior pastor of Millersville Bible Church in Millersville, Pennsylvania. We have also linked to his blog, “A Time to Think,” where you can find many of the pastor’s sermons.
The Greatness of Humility by Pastor Steven Cornell
Scripture: “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied. He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Mark 8:5-8 NIV
Observation: Jesus feeds the four thousand.
Application: A small amount of fish and bread does not a banquet make. However, a small amount of fish and bread and God feeds thousands. Don’t forget to thank the Lord for the provisions he provided for you today.
Prayer: Father, thank you so much for giving me a loving wife, God-loving healthy children, a good job, a home to live in, and a loving church family. Amen