Archive for : February, 2020



Numbers 34
Numbers 35
Numbers 36
Mark 9:33-50

We have read in Matthew and in Mark that Jesus sometime withdrew to a “solitary place” for personal prayer and time of contemplation.  And today we see another example He sets for us – at times we may also need to withdraw with others for a time of study — a retreat of sorts:

Mark 9: 30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.



Numbers 31
Numbers 32
Numbers 33
Mark 9:1-32

Mark 8: 31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

I begin with this passage from Mark 8 because I think it provides a bit of insight into what we read today:

Mark 9: After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them

Do you see what Peter did in Mark 8?  As we discussed last year during our Bible Class on “Fearless” Peter was placing Jesus in Peter’s “box” of being an earthly king who could not be killed.  And today we read that Jesus revealed himself as who he is – the light of the world!   There could be no denying that this “man” they were following was different from what they expected – certainly not an earthly king.



Take Time to Reflect on the Impact of the Scriptures You Have Read …



Numbers 28
Numbers 29
Numbers 30
Mark 8

When you read chapter 28 with all of the sacrifices and memorials the Lord commanded (via Moses) the Israelites to observe were you like me in thinking “I have already read these commands in Exodus and Leviticus why are they repeated?”

This is where I think it is so important for us to keep in mind the time-line of Israel.  Yes, these commands were given earlier but to a different group of Israelites.  Remember they are now ready to enter the Promised Land after 40 years of travel.  And due to their disobedience, the earlier generation has all died.  So, Moses repeats the Lord’s command to a new population.  There could be no excuse for failing to follow the commands of the Lord!



Numbers 25
Numbers 26
Numbers 27
Mark 7

Did you note that in the passages from Mark the word “tradition” was used at least six times? And no doubt that we all observe at least six traditions be they family, work, school or even within the Body of Believers.  And there is nothing wrong with traditions unless they fall within the two admonishments Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and teachers of the law:

Mark7:  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 

 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

And how do we know if our traditions “nullify the word of God?”  First you have to know the word of God and secondly, compare the tradition to the truth of the Word.  If the tradition intuitively “feels wrong” compare it to God’s teaching. 



Numbers 22
Numbers 23
Numbers 24
Mark 6:30-56

Since today’s reading in Numbers is focused on the actions of Baalam and of course as children we read of the “talking donkey” segment I thought it would be worthwhile to shed some light on who Baalam was.  I mean was he a true prophet of God or was he one of the ungodly men the Lord used to fulfill His plan?  James Coffman provides an apt discussion:

His name, Balaam, means “devourer, destroyer, or devourer of the people.” In 2 Peter 2:15,16, Balaam was referred to as having “forsaken the right way,” indicating that certainly, at one time, he was in the right way. Also, it is clearly declared in the narrative before us that “the Spirit of God” enabled him to deliver valid prophecies. Thus, there was surely a period of his life when he walked in the truth, even praying that his “latter end” be like that of the faithful. Peter also called Balaam a prophet (2 Peter 2:16).

However, upon the occasion of Balaam’s death, when he was slain along with the enemy opposing Israel, Joshua referred to him as “the soothsayer” (Numbers 13:22), a description that fits both the beginning and the final period of Balaam’s life. Soothsayers were proscribed under the law of Moses, and the practice of that art was utterly forbidden to Israel.

Despite God’s use of this prophet in the matter of frustrating the desires of Balak, however, this favor of God was insufficient to keep Balaam in the right way. The reason for this stated in the N.T. is that “he loved the wages of the unrighteousnesss.” Balaam evidently thought to make amends for his failure to give satisfaction to Balak, and this he did by advising Balak to accomplish the destruction of Israel by seducing them to commit adultery with the daughters of Moab. The manner in which this seduction was carried out is reported in Numbers 25. Balaam also joined forces with the Moabites against Israel and died in the battle that resulted in their defeat. The account of this evil counsel which originated with Balaam is in Numbers 31:16. That this was one of Balaam’s greatest sins is evident in the fact that in the message of the Holy Spirit to the church at Pergamum (Revelation 2:14), one finds this: “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there some that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.”



Numbers 19
Numbers 20
Numbers 21
Mark 6:1-29

Numbers 20:  The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. 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.”

This episode occurred in the 40th year of the Israelites wandering in the desert.  Soon afterwards they entered Canaan.  As we have read Moses and Aaron were leading several million people and endured significant criticism (today’s reading for example.)  In my mind Moses and Aaron had earned their way into Promised Land.   But did you note who “took credit” for bringing forth the water – “we” meaning Moses and Aaron – they did not obey God instruction to “speak to that rock.”  They were disobedient. 

The message to me is that today we cannot earn our way into our promised land, heaven.  And that the only way in to obey the will and instruction of God.



Numbers 16
Numbers 17
Numbers 18
Mark 5:21-43

Have you ever faced a moment of absolute fear?  Maybe it was while awaiting a medical diagnosis, news from a sick child, or one of those 3:00 a.m. telephone calls – when good news is seldom delivered.  I think we have all had those moments.  In today’s reading we see a father experience that feeling and, then, Jesus providing counsel that applies to all believers:

Mark 5:  35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”



Numbers 13
Numbers 14
Numbers 15
Mark 5:1-20

Mark 518 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolishow much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Did you notice a bit of contrast in this episode?  Not only did Jesus remove demons he also created a missionary.  And when He acts in our loves are we as willing to tell the story.?



Take Time to Reflect on the Impact of the Scriptures You Have Read …



Numbers 10
Numbers 11
Numbers 12
Mark 4:21-41

Mark 4: 26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

My Bible “margin notes” record two important descriptions of God’s Kingdom in these verses.  First, we are responsible to sow but no matter what we do afterwards the Kingdom of God will grow on its own.

Second, within the Kingdom all believers can find shelter



Numbers 7
Numbers 8
Numbers 9
Mark 4:1-20

Mark 4: 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

In these two verses I see a strong warning for believers today.  Did you note what caused these people to be “unfruitful.”  In my mind it is one word – priorities.  For these people allowed worries or wealth or desire to become their priority – not striving to help grow “fruit” for the Kingdom. 



Numbers 4
Numbers 5
Numbers 6
Mark 3

Mark 3:Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

There are several very powerful events described by Mark in this chapter.  In my mind the episode of the healing of the man with the “shriveled hand” speaks volumes to the state the leaders of the nation had fallen.  Jesus question is very simple “should we do good on the Sabbath?” 

And we see his righteous anger when there is a moment of “thunderous silence” as the leaders refuse to answer or to demonstrate mercy. 



Numbers 1
Numbers 2
Numbers 3
Mark 2

If you are like me you marveled a bit at the details the Lord gave Moses for the organization of His people.  And if you are like me you must have wondered why so much detail?  One commentator from “Biblical Hermeneutics” provides the following thought:

Militarily, it’s not a bad layout assuming they marched as they camped and were generally headed east. Judah, the largest, is in front. Dan, the second largest, is in the rear. The smaller tribes are between them. No idea if that was the point of the organization, but Numbers 1 suggests there was a military reason.

Again, we see anther example of how the Lord provides for His people – and that reality has not changed today.



Joshua 4
Joshua 5
Joshua 6
Luke 2:21-52

Luke 2:  48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

In his commentary Coffman highlighted what to me was a very subtle but significant reality about this statement of Jesus.  The “house” he referenced was the temple, recognized by the people as being the house of the Lord. 

So, per the Inspired Word we see that even at this very early age and at his first public appearance Jesus is clearly stating that He is the Son of God



Leviticus 25
Leviticus 26
Leviticus 27
Mark 1:29-45

A Depression Tactic:  Federal agricultural programs launched during the 1930s changed how and what Nebraska farmers planted by paying them to plant certain crops or paying them not to produce a crop at all – letting the land lie idle (fallow).

I begin with the above paragraph because this technique used to help end the devastation of the American Great Depression was a command of Godly wisdom from the Lord to care for His people. 

Leviticus 25: But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.



Leviticus 22
Leviticus 23
Leviticus 24
Mark 1:1-28

If someone asks me for my opinion for the first gospel they should read I refer them to Mark.  Mark is an action biography of what Jesus did – not so much as what he taught (as does Matthew and Luke.)  And in today’s reading we see Jesus baptized and immediately tempted.  It occurred to me that this is the same way Satan tries to work in the life of new believers.  When we arise from the waters of baptism we are making a choice between being obedient to God or or to Satan.  And Satan does not like to lose! 



Take Time to Reflect on the Impact of the Scriptures You Have Read …



Leviticus 19
Leviticus 20
Leviticus 21
Matthew 28

Leviticus 19:  When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

In the past several chapters we have read multiple regulations and laws established by the Lord for His chosen people.  My request is that you read this one and “park it” in your mind for remembrance when we read a further significant episode in the history of the nation. – We will see that the Lord greatly cares for His people.



Leviticus 16
Leviticus 17
Leviticus 18
Matt 27:32-66

Did you note that even as Jesus was dying on the cross Matthew continues to describe to his audience (intended for mostly Jews) the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy that Jesus is indeed to Son of God?

Matthew 2735 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  — Psalm 22:18

Matthew 27: 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)  — Psalm 22:1