Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Category: Bible (Page 1 of 74)

A New Covenant Was Needed

February 18 – Today’s Readings – Leviticus 4-6 and Psalms 48

Colossians 2:13-14 reads, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all your sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against you and that stood opposed to you; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (NIV)

As we read Leviticus, and the “Law of Moses” being spelled out in detail, I am reminded that Christ “cancelled” this code and it’s regulations – He nailed it to the cross. This, of course does not do away with the Law, because every detail of the Law remains in full force for those not released from it’s grip. The Law was meant to bring knowledge of sin and to propel people toward salvation by grace and faith. Leviticus spells out all the details of ceremonial Law that people had to try to fulfill in order to please God. This was of course an impossible task – unless a Perfect Lamb of God came. In Jeremiah 31 and portions of verses 31-34 we read; “The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts…I will be their God, and they will be my people…For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

It’s always amazing to me that the Gospel, as we know it, was preached so clearly in the Old Testament. They looked forward to this deliverance from sin and bondage to the law but didn’t see its fulfillment till Jesus came.

On to Psalm 48 and the name “Zion” – This word is used many times in Scripture and evokes all kinds of memories. Zion was first a Jebusite stronghold that David captured when he became king. Over a period of time the name became synonymous with the Tabernacle of David, then with the location of the Temple of Solomon, then the whole City of Jerusalem and finally even the entire Nation of Israel was referred to as Zion.

In symbolic terms, “Zion” can be thought of as the gathering of God’s people for the purposes of praise, worship, prayers, and receiving the Word of God. It has to do with the glory of God intersecting with us in a place of great beauty. Its no wonder that the Psalmist says Zion is “the joy of the whole earth”. (Psalm 48:2) When God shows up in a “Zion” kind of way, nations are drawn to His glory. “Indeed, of Zion it will be said, ‘This one and that one were born in her’”. (Psalm 87:5) Once you have been born into real praise and worship, you are part of the family of Zion and you will never be satisfied with a Christian gathering that does not exalt Jesus in worship.

Questions:

1. In your own words, describe how you can be free from religious bondage or legalistic religion.

2. How does “Zion” happen in your life?

Leviticus – Don’t Panic, Relax

February 17 – Today’s Readings – Leviticus 1-3 and Psalms 47

Welcome to the Book of Leviticus! Now before you start to panic, relax – there’s lots of good stuff in here! Hang in! You’ve taken on a noble cause to know the Word of God better and to see The Lord more clearly in the pages of Scripture.

I’d like to focus first of all on what happened in the first verse of Leviticus – “The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting.” Here we find a pattern that I believe still exists today. When we set aside a place called “the tent of meeting”, whether it is a worship gathering or a prayer meeting / bible study, or a private prayer time – God’s desire is to communicate with us there. Typically He waits till we have set our hearts on seeking and knowing before He begins to lay out His thoughts for us but one thing is certain, He does want to be heard. The “tent of meeting” is a place were we specifically want to hear and listen. Hearing the voice of God is one of the greatest adventures of Christianity but we often begin to move so quickly and in so many directions that we don’t slow down to receive His guidance. This of course ought not to be. We should constantly have our ear “tuned” to the voice of the Spirit but I for one usually need “listening time” to be directed by the Lord. The tent of meeting in my life allows me to refocus and make sure that Holy Spirit is leading – and that it’s not just my ideas and programs.

Let me ask you a personal question. When you come to a worship service, do you close yourself in with God to the point where you are not just speaking or singing or being entertained but truly listening to what He wants to say to you? – Or are you focused on the dynamic of the service – the words to the new song – or making sure you are saying the things you think you ought to be saying? Yes, we offer our thanksgiving, our praise and our worship to the Lord in such a setting but we must not forget the other half of the “conversation” – Him speaking to us. You really should never have to wait for the preached Word, although this too is vital in our meeting with God. The Lord wants to speak to you about what’s on His heart – about how you can do life better – this is the moment when He converses with you “out of the tent of meeting”.

Speaking of our praise and worship – how did you enjoy these words from Psalms 47 – “Clap your hands…shout…shouts of joy…sounding of trumpets…sing praises…sing to Him a Psalm. This sounds like a recipe for a very lively, loud and expressive worship service – lets never be ashamed to “get into it” when we are worshipping. This is an intensely Biblical thing to do. What excitement (and anointing) we feel when the entire Church is exuberant in their worship. What a magnificent experience when God speaks in worship or through the Word.

Questions:

1. Where do you find your “tent of meeting” experiences?

2. What can you do physically, emotionally or spiritually to make your worship time a more Biblical thing?

Mark, Young And Fightened

February 16 – Today’s Readings – Mark 15-16 and Psalms 46

In Mark 14:51&52 we find a young man who was with Jesus and “the boys” in the garden. He was probably asleep because he was wrapped in a bed-sheet but when all the kafuffle occurred at the arrest of Jesus. All this young guy could think of doing was to wrap the bed sheet around himself and sneak along after the crowd. Unfortunately for him, someone spotted him, and believing he was a co-conspirator, gave chase and caught him – or at least they thought they had him. He he athletic (or small) enough to pull free, leaving the sheet in his pursuer’s hands as he ran away naked. Why would this account be found in the Gospel of Mark and not in any other Gospel? Perhaps its because Mark, himself was that young man, and as the author of the book he felt a special need to express the shame and humiliation that overwhelmed him on that terrible night.

This same young man (John Mark) was the fellow who went with Paul and Barnabas on their first major missions trip, then went home early much to Paul’s displeasure. (Acts 12:25, Acts 13:5, Acts 13:13) The great Apostle then developed a negative attitude towards Mark and refused to work with him for many years. Much later in his ministry, Paul finally relented and asked for Mark by name because he was “profitable in the ministry”. (2 Timothy 4:11)

Why am I telling you all this? So that you can be encouraged – because if God can use John Mark, the “running away naked” man – the “running away from ministry” man, then He most certainly can use you! (O you of little faith)

Imagine how the young impressionable Mark must have felt when he witnessed Pilate trying to release Jesus and the crowd demanding the release of the despicable murderer, Barabbas, in His stead. Think for a minute of the differences between these two men. One who had committed no sin and the other who was chief of sinners. Now, we normally think of Barabbas as a “bad” man and are indignant that the Jews could possibly send Jesus to His death and release “that guy” – that is – until we realize that Barabbas is all of US, and that Jesus was sent to His death in OUR stead. The Lord was flogged, mocked, crowned with thorns and then was beaten on the head with a staff and spit on. Ultimately they hurled insults at Him and drove spikes through His hands and feet. After thrusting a spear through His side, they left Him to die – all for me the guilty one – Barabbas. Imagine how Barabbas felt as he pondered this “exchange” – maybe he was already too drunk to even think about it while Jesus was on the cross, dying for his sins. Maybe Mark saw Barabbas in the coming days, and realized the incredible truth of salvation through the death of the perfect Lamb of God.

Lets never get so proud as to forget that we have been saved from the most severe judgment – eternal separation from God.

No wonder Mark finally “made it” in the ministry – he had seen and heard the real truth about Jesus.

Questions:

1. If Mark was in the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, what other valuable lessons might he have learned there?

2. If God saved you, do you think he could have saved Barabbas too? What would that “salvation” entail for Barabbas?

When (not if) Jesus Returns

February 15 – Today’s Readings – Mark 13-14 and Psalms 45

Chapter 13 of Mark reveals a glimpse of the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world. Considering how important a topic this is and that the time of Christ’s return is near, we usually don’t focus much on the things Jesus actually said about this event. When Christ came the first time, born as an infant and the servant of all, He became the most influential figure in all the history of mankind. The entire world reorganized around His coming and His message. He became the most loved (and perhaps hated) individual to ever walk the earth – and He still is. When (not if) Jesus comes again, we will see Him as a completely different manifestation of God.

The high priest in Mark 14:61 asked Jesus, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” The Lord responded; “men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory”. This is a sure fact. He is coming as The Ruler of the universe and The Judge of all the earth!

Another fact is certain – that “the gospel must first be preached to all nations”. (Mark 13:10) Now this should bring out some kind of emotional or physical response from us. Scripture says that Jesus Himself doesn’t know the time of His coming, but He does know the pre-requisite, – WE must share the gospel! This is no longer a convenient option for us – it is a requirement.

The other task assigned to us from Chapter 13: 32-37 is to “keep watch” because we don’t know when He will come but we do know that it won’t be at a time we expect. “Sleeping on the job” is not an option. It is vital that our relationship with Jesus be real and vital all the time. This is not a difficult task however and neither is sharing the gospel because we have, resident within us, the power of God! Jesus said; “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Consider for a moment what the work of the Holy Spirit is. He gives us power to live overcoming, victorious, red-hot Christian lives and He sets us up with all kinds of “witnessing” appointments. He is the resident commander in chief – the voice that brings our conscience alive – the strength of our spirit-man, which we require in order to do what’s right. When the Lord returns, it will be well with us, for we are in Christ. He lives and incessantly makes intercession for us. How can we miss the mark if God sets a course for us, keeps us on target, and brings us back on target when we sin. He has provided “more than enough” for us to rule and reign in Christ till He returns.

Questions:

1. Give an example of how the Holy Spirit “set you up” to share your faith this last week.

* Assignment; We have pleasant February weather so do a little “prayer walk” around your neighborhood or your apartment, praying for the inhabitants and asking God for opportunities to share your faith with your neighbours.

Some Of Jesus’ Thoughts On Giving

Today’s Readings – Mark 10-12 and Psalms 44

Mark chapter 12: 28-44 (in part) reads this way; “As he taught, Jesus said, ‘Watch out for the teachers of the law … they devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.’ Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth; this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

The religious law in Israel contained strict rules about how to give, when to give, what percentage to give and what happened if you didn’t give. The obvious problem here was that the poor and destitute were losing their homes and their lands in order to meet the legalistic demands being placed on them by the religious leaders. The widows Jesus was referring to were probably just trying to please God the best way they knew – by giving all that they were told to. Instead of having compassion on the poor, these leaders coveted the little they could get from these widows and orphans. Jesus said they devoured widows’ houses and covered up their sin under a cloak of religion. It’s not so much that God had anything against the poor people giving offerings. In fact some of the great accounts of Scripture have to do with that very thing. The poor widow in this passage put a fraction of a penny in the offering and Jesus got all excited, telling everyone that she gave the biggest offering of all. The widow in 1 Kings 17 was about to die when the prophet asked her to make him a cake first. How insensitive! Yet, God used this offering to not only sustain the widow and her son, but also the man of God who received it from her. Paul commended the Macedonians in 1 Corinthians 8 because they gave out of “extreme poverty”, although he was more excited about their whole hearted surrender to the Lord than in their giving. Giving then is never something to be done from adherence to rules but out of a deep trust in God.

Whatever and whenever He urges us to give, whether it be two “mites” or two million dollars, I believe that our gifts must come from our trust in God. Never has my church seen a greater percentage of giving people than when there was a fresh stirring of the Spirit amongst us – the giving reflected what the Spirit was doing in the people. So too, a true gauge of spiritual life in a person or a church is how that person or church deals with money. Because giving is such a part of the heart of God, it is sure that people who know God will be givers.

 

Questions:

  1. Share about a time in your life when you felt impoverished but the Holy Spirit asked you to give an offering anyway.
  2. Tell a story about a situation you have seen when someone was wonderfully blessed of God after giving in response to the Holy Spirit.

 

 

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