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bible reading apr 30

Bible reading for April 30. 

Numbers 7.

"And the LORD said to Moses, 'They shall offer their offerings, one chief each day, for the dedication of the altar.'" (Numbers 7:11)

A HOLY HOUSEWARMING. This passage reminds me of a kind of wedding shower, where gifts are provided in matching sets for the new couple.  Here, God's house is being dedicated and each tribe brings offerings -- sacrifices to be offered on the altar and matched utensils for ongoing service.  Twelve tribes on twelve days bring valuable gifts.  Judah is first (Gen 49:8) and then each following day the pattern is repeated -- of dedication, sacrifice, and feasting.  It was both solemn and celebratory. If you remember, the peace offerings were shared with all gathered at the tabernacle. So, it was twelve days of consecration to God and a community celebration at the same time. 

MY TAKEAWAY.  This may seem random, but in considering the public solemnity and joy of dedicating God's house, I think about the state of marriage in our nation.  Cohabitation is the growing norm for couples today.  Sure, there may be a wedding down the road, but many couples just want to set up an apartment, live together, see how it works, and then later make decisions, or not.  It seems to me that those who choose cohabitation not only desecrate God's plan for marriage (vows first, sex later, and a secure home for children) but also do disservice to themselves and others by marginalizing both the solemnity and joys of marriage.  The setting up of a new household should include promises of permanence and a generous celebration by the larger community.  Such consecration -- as seen in a traditional wedding -- sets apart this couple from others, and celebrates the value of this new home in society. Many today seem to believe that, if there is no public giving and honoring of vows, there will be no disappointment if the temporary arrangement fails.  American cohabitation is essentially an individual, private, no-risk venture -- it takes no risks, and therefore achieves no great honor or dishonor in the eyes of the surrounding culture.  Marriage, on the other hand, is a risk.  A successful marriage is a difficult achievement, but a high honor, and a haven for the generations to come.  Our society has chosen the easy road of cohabitation, and with it, no risk, no achievement, no honor, and a less secure future for children. 


Psalm 41.

"Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him..."  (Psalm 41:1) 

THE MISSING PSALM? Not really, I just neglected to include it in yesterday's reading!  This psalm concludes the first division of the Psalms.  There are five books (collections) of psalms just as there are five books of Moses.  In this psalm David is sick in bed, and feeling helpless while some of his powerful associates are wishing that he'd just go ahead and die.  He describes himself as poor, but likely the issue is not money. He is not economically deprived; he is feeling helpless and vulnerable, with no friend but God.   

NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY.  Poverty, that is, merely being without money, is not considered a virtue in the Bible.  It may be the result of injustice (Prov 13:23). Or it may be the result of laziness or foolish decisions (Prov 24:30-34). But faith and hope in God are like poverty in many ways: it is to feel helpless and to have nothing left but God's mercy.  Socially, believers in God (like poor people) can be viewed by others with some embarrassment, even by family and friends.  It is to be without worldly pride, resources, and respect.  To be a follower of Christ in this world often means to be without rich and powerful friends, and to be spurned, neglected, or taken advantage of. So, for the "poor in spirit" (as Jesus called them), their security and joy is not in the things they own in this world, but in the Lord himself. 

MY TAKEAWAY. Is it any wonder then that we go through humbling times?  It may be due to illness, lack of finances, loss of friends, lowered social status, or the scorn of the world.  Yet, it is when we're low, and broken, even humiliated, that we are most aware of our need for the Lord and his mercy. It is then that we see and realize God's wealth and power. He is the friend who never abandons us (Prov 18:24).           

Psalm 42 and Psalm 43.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation." (Psalm 42:5)

THANKS, I NEEDED THAT. Often in adventure movies you will see a character losing control of himself.  He is panicking, blabbering, and falling apart.  And then another character will go over and slap the guy in the face, and say, "Pull yourself together, man!"  Typically, the panicky guy regains control and says something like, "Thanks, I needed that!"   

TALK TO YOURSELF (42:5, 11; 43:5).  Some scholars believe that these two psalms (42 & 43) were originally one psalm. It may have been so, given the repeated refrain.  In both of these passages David talks to himself in the sense that he is confronting his own thought process.  Part of him knows what God has promised, and that part of him speaks, or takes control, of the part of himself that is giving in to doubt and gloom.  It's a kind of slap in the face. 

UNHAPPY IN LIFE? Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a physician-turned-evangelist of the last century. In 1954, speaking on the topic of spiritual depression, he said, "Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?" He continued, "The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself.  You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.  You must say to your soul: 'Why are thou cast down' -- what business have you to be disquieted?  You must turn on yourself, and say to yourself, 'Hope thou in God'..." (From Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life, by Jason Meyer, pp. 181, 189)  He goes on to say that we need to remind ourselves of who God is, what he has done, what he will yet do, and what we will see in the future: "Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation." 

MY TAKEAWAY. Sometimes I am praying about things (praying is good), when I may need to stop going over all my problems and to think through what God has already said in his word about my situation.  I need a mental slap in the face.  I need to recall, recite to myself, and think deeply on the truths of Scripture. And then to use those words to preach to myself.       

Image credit: Photo of dining room table setting in Sintra, Portugal, by Annie Spratt on Unsplash. 
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. 
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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