Saturday, April 14, 2012

Leviticus Covers Infectious Skin Diseases

Today's Reading:
  • Leviticus 13:1 - 59
  • Proverbs 10:10
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Leviticus 13:1 - 59
Today's reading was morbidly interesting as it talked about infectious skin diseases and later mildew and mold.  Processes were given for how and when a person should be quarantined when they had a skin disease.

This makes a lot of sense to me, especially if problems such as contagious skin diseases were prevalent in that time.  I did, however, find one thing that struck me as bizarre.  In verse 3:13, it says that if a person's entire skin turns white, well then they are clean because their skin is white.  I guess this would refer to people who were losing melanin (Vitiligo).  Regardless the process was interesting and I can see how it would serve a purpose.

The reading ended with talks of mildew and mold in clothing and items.  There was a quarantine process for that also.  I almost find that more interesting because today we know the health dangers of mold and mildew, yet I doubt they knew how bad it was health wise to be breathing in the spores, or even an awareness that those things were alive and blowing spores around in the first place. 

Proverbs 10:10
People who wink at wrong cause trouble, but a bold reproof promotes peace.
You want to stay out of trouble? Don't invite it!  Don't encourage it!  Simple enough advice for me to follow.

Friday, April 13, 2012

True Faith in Jesus Heals; The Relation Between Sickness and Faith

    Today’s Reading:
  • Mark 5:21 - 43
  • Psalm 38:1 - 22
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Mark 5:21 - 43
Today's short reading told of two very powerful miracles performed by Jesus.  A woman who had been constantly bleeding for 12 years merely touched the robe of Jesus and was instantly healed.  Unlike the other stories of Jesus healing people, this was significant because he did not approach her to heal her -- she approached him and merely touched his robe.  She had absolute faith that if she was only able to touch his robe that she would be healed.  Jesus stopped the crowd when he felt the healing happen.  He praised her for her absolute faith. 

This reminds me of a previous reading in Matthew where Jesus told his disciples that if they had true faith, they could move mountains (21:21).  The power of true faith as it pertains to healing and works of the Lord really inspires me to keep studying the word and truly grow my faith.

The other miracle performed by Jesus in this reading was quite profound.  A man named Jairus pleaded with Jesus to come to his house to heal his daughter who was deathly ill.  By the time they arrived at his house, the daughter had died.  Jesus had all the people leave the house except for a few.  He then went to the girl's bed and commanded her to get up.  Not only did the girl come back to life, but she immediately got up and started walking around, as if she had never been ill in the first place.  That is such a tremendous miracle -- the girl was dead after being extremely ill and Jesus comes along and she is instantly resurrected and well.  I lack words to describe the power of a miracle such as that.  Jesus is truly wonderful and superior in an indescribable way.

Psalm 38:1 - 22
In this Psalm of David we see a man's sin is festering as a physical illness in his body.  We are told that his wounds are festering and infected, he is wracked with pain and has a burning fever.  Throughout my readings so far I see two causes to illness and disabilities -- the most usual cause are satanic in nature, and the second cause are the results of the sins of a person or a community.

All of this just leads me to wonder how often sickness and faith are related to each other.  Of course in the bible I have yet to see Jesus heal someone of a common cold -- that's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about illnesses that are serious, chronic and/or terminal of nature.  The more I read about these things the more I want to know about this topic so that I can be armed and ready when myself or a loved one are facing such a terrible thing.  I have so much learning yet to do!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

That Which is Unclean to Eat

Today's Reading:
  • Leviticus 11:1 - 12:8
  • Proverbs 10:8 - 9
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Leviticus 11:1 - 12:8
Chapter 11 of Leviticus gives us a list of unclean animals, insects and sea creatures.  Before today, when I think of things unclean to eat, I think only of one animal -- the pig.  I didn't realize that so many other animals, insects and creatures were unclean.  Some of the ones that surprised me are rabbits, owls, ravens, bats, eagles, octopi (sea creatures who do not have both fins and scales),  grubs and ants.

My mind of course wondered at what point these restrictions were taken away in the New Testament.  A small excerpt in my study bible points to Acts chapters 10 and 11, so I flipped there to find out more.  There we see that Peter had a vision three times over where Peter was told to eat things which were unclean.  Peter refused, yet the Lord told him not to rebuke unclean things that the Lord has made clean.

I do hate reading things out of context of the whole, but I look forward to when I get to study those verses within the entire context of which they are written.  So much to look forward to in my future studies.  No matter how much I learn, I always want to learn more!

Proverbs 10:8 - 9
Since there are only two verses today, I will quote them.  Here are Proverbs 10:8 and 10:9:
The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.
People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.
Who would have thought that reading Proverbs would be like a dose of the ultimate Confucius says?  Both of those verses are very true, aren't they?  The wise look for direction in the things they do, those that refuse it most often find out that they should have taken it after all.  People with integrity inherently do the right thing, therefore they aren't going to fall victim to the scandals and problems of their own making.  Those deeds of those who "follow crooked paths" often catch up to them later.

Of course good people can be accused of horrific things and it can seem that those who do crooked or evil things might rein untouchable in all their glory.  But if I've learned anything so far from the bible, it's that God is with those who are godly and those who are not often fall, and of course will never have an eternal reward.  And even when things seem to be going terribly wrong for those who don't deserve it, there is always a plan -- just look at Joseph for a classic example of that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jesus Casts out a Legion of Demons

    Today’s Reading:
  • Mark 4:26 -  5:20
  • Psalm 37:30 - 40
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Mark 4:26 -  5:20
Today I read the story of how Jesus casts demons out of a man and sent the evil spirits into a herd of pigs.  I have heard the story before, but reading it was much more interesting.  The bible says this man was possessed by numerous demons.  Chains could not hold him down, and he lived in burial caves, crying out as he cut himself with stones.  The description of the man makes me think of the creature Gollum from Lord of the Rings.  

So we have a man who behaves more like a creature -- living in burial tombs, crying in pain, inhuman strength that snaps the chains he is bound in, and along comes Jesus.  What surprised me is that this man first ran to Jesus and bowed before him.  I guess that the man was in there somewhere, enough to realize that here came someone who could help him become free.

The spirits spoke as one to Jesus.  They acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God, and they told him that their name was Legion because they were many.  The spirit begged Jesus not to be sent away to be tortured, so instead Jesus cast the demons into a herd of 2,000 pigs.

I wonder, were there actually 2,000 demons inside that one man?  Or were there enough there to enter a majority of the pigs, and the rest freaked out?  Regardless of the number of demons, the result was that all 2,000 pigs went crazy and ran off a cliff and into the lake, drowning. 

Another thing that interests me about this story is the reaction of the people.  When these people heard what had happened they became afraid and asked that Jesus leave them.  I guess I could understand their fears, especially if they had been witness to these demons speaking to Jesus and then being flung into a herd of a couple thousand pigs that suddenly ran themselves straight off of a cliff.  

It's a story that seems to come right out of a horror movie. Perhaps that's why I'm so intrigued by it -- horror movies are my favorite genre.  Now I can add "horror" to the long list of genres that make up the bible.  Such an interesting book.  And in this book is the story of Jesus -- such an interesting, awe-inspiring, miracle healing, demon exorcising, compassionate and wise man, who is not just a man but one with God.  I cannot wait until I have read all of the stories contained in this book.

Psalm 37:30 - 40
These verses tell us that God is with those who are godly and the wicked, while thriving temporarily, will eventually be destroyed.  The following three verses were really beautiful and sum up this reading, so I will end by quoting Psalm 37:35 - 37:
I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil.  But when I looked again, they were gone!  Though I searched for them, I could not find them!  Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Striving to Be Godly

Today's Reading:
  • Leviticus 9:7 - 10:20
  • Proverbs 10:6 - 7
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Leviticus 9:7 - 10:20
I was reading through more descriptions of how various animals were sacrificed and offered to the Lord.  Each example of this remarked how the person (usually Moses, but sometimes Aaron or one of his sons) performed the steps just as the Lord commanded. 

Then, out of nowhere, Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu created a fire that was not how the Lord commanded them to, and they immediately burned up and died before the Lord (10:1 - 2).  I have to wonder what exactly they did wrong.  Obviously whatever it was, it was significant.  I searched through my study bible for more insight and there wasn't much to be offered.  It suggests that perhaps the source of the fire was a pagan source, and at another point it suggests that perhaps the two priests were drunk due to the warnings in 10:8.

We can speculate all we want to but in the end we just won't know what happened there.  It was bizarre for this to intercept what I figured would be an entire reading consisting solely of descriptions of sacrifice rituals.  It just goes to show how strangely engaging the bible is to read.  Just when you think you might start to get bored, you get hit with something new.  Perhaps it's a tragedy, or an instance of God's wrath, or some sudden insight that pulls back the blinders from your eyes.  It certainly keeps me on my toes!

Proverbs 10:6 - 7
Here we are given more reasons to strive to be godly.  We are told that those who are godly are showered with blessings and that people have pleasant memories of the godly.  As a contrast, those who are wicked have violent intentions and their name rots away after they are gone.

I certainly want to be remembered fondly and showered with blessings.  The other alternative doesn't sound like it's anything worth aspiring towards, does it?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Becoming a Fertile Crop for the Lord; Footprints in the Sand

    Today’s Reading:
  • Mark 3:31 - 4:25
  • Psalm 37:12 - 29
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Mark 3:31 - 4:25
Jesus told the Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed.  I recall reading this parable in Matthew and how it struck me then.  It imposed in me a desire to be crop planted in fertile soil.  To do so I must become fertile and really multiple my crop to bring more people to the Lord.  I don't know how well I've done so far, but I do know that I'm doing something about it right now.  For one I am posting to this blog everyday.  I don't know if it really has helped anyone, but I know I wasn't called to do it for no reason.  And secondly, by studying the bible, my greatest personal block for sharing my faith will soon be gone -- I will no longer be afraid of giving someone misinformation, or being unable to even attempt to answer a question due to lack of knowledge of the word of God.

This project I've taken on feels so huge, some days I think I just can't sit down and study today.  And yes, some days I do skip.  But other days I sit down (like today) and I get going, and I'm reminded why I'm doing this.  It's to help myself, it's to help others.  It's to become a fertile crop.  It's to bring people closer to the Lord.  It's to bring myself closer to the Lord.

Thank you Lord for leaving this wonderful book for all of us to gain knowledge of you; for all of us to gain wisdom; for all of us to gain love and peace; and for all of us to learn about your Son and what is expected of our lives so that we can obtain forgiveness.  Amen.

Psalm 37:12 - 29
These verses are quite simple and beautifully stated. They tell us how the Lord does not abandon the godly.  It tells us that the Lord delights in the lives of the godly.  How wonderful it would be to have God take delight in my life!  When I think of the Lord, I think of all the ways I fail, all the things I need to strive to do better.  I don't think of the possibility that the Lord might take delight our lives.  We are also told that the godly will stumble, but they will never fall, because the Lord is there to hold our hand.  It reminds of the "Footprints in the Sand" poem, one of my favorite writings of all times.  It's so wonderful to know that the Lord is there to hold our hand and to carry us when needed.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Working for the Lord

Today's Reading:
  • Leviticus 7:28 - 9:6
  • Proverbs 10:5
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Leviticus 7:28 - 9:6
Aaron and his sons were anointed as priests in today's reading.  The process sounded quite gruesome -- the slaughter of multiple animals, draining and sprinkling of blood, removal of fat, etc.  Aaron and his sons then stayed at the entrance to the Tabernacle for 7 days and 7 nights.  After that their ordination was completed. 

Proverbs 10:5
Since there is only one verse to read in Proverbs today, I shall quote it:
"A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during the harvest is a disgrace."
I can certainly see how a person who stands aside while everyone else does the work would be a disgrace, and unwise on top of that.  Aside from just applying this to everyday work, we could also apply it to our spiritual work for the Lord.  Don't stand aside while others work for the Lord, find your way and figure out what you should be doing also.  Integrate it completely into your life.  If you need help getting started, I've got a great place to look -- crack open your bible and start reading!  Pray to the Lord to open your heart and reveal your path and He will.  I shall strive not to be unwise and a disgrace to the Lord.