Tuesday, May 31: Leviticus 20- Holy & wholly.

After another set of laws comes off Moses’ quill, the chapter ends with an overarching sentence. Verse 26: You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

My first thought was that our call to be holy is a call to be wholly (i.e. 100%) the Lord’s.

God’s call and aspiration for us as His people is to be holy (wholly) His, no inclusions or other religious mix-ins allowed. No divided allegiances or even going it our own way. We are to be totally given over to following the Lord. And while no one lives up to this completely, which is why God had given the various sacrifices to atone for lapse, the call is absolute. You shall have no other gods before me or alongside of me, directs the Lord. You are to be holy to me.

And holiness means we have been set apart and the laws God has given define God’s set-apart-ness. Sexual morals, how the community treats its parents (elders), the kinds of sacrifices it is allowed to offer (no child sacrifice of Molech), etc. define the people of God.

Today, as people of the New Covenant, we, too, are to be holy (wholly) to the Lord and the law we are to follow is the law to love one another… to love as God has loved us and to love our neighbor as we would love ourselves.

Love is to be the hallmark of the Christ-follower, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35).

How will I live out God’s love in me to others today? I don’t exactly know, I do not know what situations will arise, but I know love should affect my words, actions, thoughts, demeanor, and activities. Love is to be wholly encompassing, a tall order and, yet, it is God’s call for my life as his child.

Oh, God, may I be up to the challenge of living holy (wholly) unto You today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, May 30: Leviticus 19- Rules.

Every society has rules to live by. When a young person seeks a driving permit they have to take a permit test. The goal of that test is to evaluate their knowledge of basic driving laws. The test has absolutely nothing to do actual driving; rather it is designed to make sure that they understand the basic rules of the road, which allows thousands of cars to zip all over the country in relative safety.

Rules are important and foundational to community living.

Today’s reading is all about rules. Some are restatements of the 10 Commandments or other laws already given. Some advance and give clarity to rules previously stated and some introduce new laws.

The Lord’s desire was for His people to live in a flourishing society and these were His collection of rules for life.

As a person of the New Covenant I am not bound by these rules and laws, but listening to them provides some understanding of God and His heart for people. For example… verses 9-10 don’t glean to the edges of your field. God builds into His community care for the wayfarer, traveler and poor. There was to be a sense of humanity and care for others embedded into the culture of His people.

I can learn from this and examine my life to see if I, too, carry a care for the poor and needy in my life as Israel was to have in theirs…

Verse 18, Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge… there is direct connection to life in any time period with these words. Forgiveness and reconciliation are foundational to any lasting relationship. We mess up and hurt one another but repairing the damage is what keeps families and societies together over time. God knows this and shows us a way forward. Relationships are important to the Lord…

Are there people I need to forgive? This is an appropriate question as I ponder this verse.

Not every law leads to this kind of God understanding and personal reflection (see 27, do not cut the hair on the sides of your head…). However simple, to race past all these laws as antiquated means I will miss understanding much about the Lord and also miss some challenges to godly living.

Some questions for my (and your) future pondering of OT laws...

Where did the laws and rules read today intersect with your life?

What did the rules and laws read today tell you about the Lord, God, Almighty?

Oh, God, thank You for Your Word… a light for my path and a window to better know who You, my Lord and my God, are. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen


Saturday, May 27: Leviticus 18- .

If you are establishing a human society, at some point you will have to set up appropriate sexual boundaries for the society. And this is precisely what the Lord does in this chapter. God establishes the sexual morays for Israel.

Rather than examining the specifics, I was drawn to the Lord’s opening remarks. Verse 1-3: The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.

God’s people have different sexual standards than other people.

In our 21st century world we are facing raging changes in sexual morays in the general culture. Homosexuality is no longer taboo and I just heard a radio blurb that someone in Utah is challenging the law against polygamy. Honestly, I am not surprised. And as the morays change, I don’t see why this person will not win the court battle. The world’s sexual standards are changing!

But, verses 1-3 reminds me, Christ-followers standards do not need to change with the changing winds in our society. No matter where our world and its standards go, we are to hold ourselves captive to the teaching of God’s Word in the Bible!  This is true in all areas of life, not merely our sexual standards.

We are to live faithfully to the Lord no matter what society deems is appropriate.

Additionally, my heart says that I have to be careful not to expect and hold society to God’s standards. Christ-followers absolutely are held to God’s standards, but people who believe other things… no, I cannot hold them to God’s standard. I cannot legislate fidelity to God’s ways through human regulation!

There is plenty here for me to chew this morning…

Will I live according to God’s way or my society’s way? Will you?

Lord, help me to resist the pressure –intentional and unintentional –to succumb to the standards and ways of the world, rather than living according to your revealed will and way. Lord, there can be so much pressure to conform… buying habits, socializing habits, thought patterns. Lord, help me to stay strong and follow Your way.

And also, Lord, help me to be a light and witness to you in a way that invites rather than condemns. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, May 26: Leviticus 17- .

How hard it is to change. We get used to life one way and then change is thrust upon us or we embrace a change, yet the pull of the old ways remains. Change is hard. Just ask a smoker trying to quit or someone whose doctor says they need to lose weight and change their eating habits. Old habits die hard.

Israel, used to sacrificing to ‘god’ out in the field, is now being directed to make all sacrifices at the tent of meeting and to the LORD. Our God is a jealous God… Commandment Numero Uno: You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 5:7). This means Israel must relearn her sacrificial pattern. Sacrifice only to the Lord and only at the tent of meeting with someone from the priesthood of Aaron.

Some rules have simple punishments for being broken; this rule, however, carries a taxing punishment, being cut off from God’s people! Banishment, removal from God’s covenant family. The Lord is not playing around here. He demands all worship. Period.

How do I translate this to the 21st Century? 

No dabbling with other gods… no horoscopes, no practicing religious activities of non-Christian religions, no new age readings, crystals or meditation. (Meditation can be confusing, because Scripture itself calls us to meditate on God and the things of God (Psalm 48:9, etc.). New Age/Eastern religious mediation calls for people to empty themselves.  Meditation from a Bible perspective calls us to fill ourselves with the things and thoughts of the Lord. Same English word, polar opposite in practice.)

For friends in Africa, devotion to God alone can mean ceasing to participate in certain tribal rituals and this can cause definite family problems. Faith in God can cost mightily.

The call of God is to go all in with the Lord and to let go of previous, past and other religious activities.

God is asking each of us to examine our lives to see if we are maintaining any religious practices outside of Christ and if so… cut them off. Now.

Lord, expose any dalliance I might have with other gods, intentionally or unintentionally.  Show me, Lord, so that I might live with utter fidelity to You and You alone. Through Jesus, my Lord and Savior, I pray. Amen.



Thursday, May 25: Leviticus 16- God is there.

Verse 2 captured my attention. The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.

I stewed on the thought that God would manifest His presence over the atonement cover. God would be in that place. That it is amazing!  God who made the earth and everything in it, God who created the heavens and all that is beyond it determined to put a slice of Himself in that space over the atonement cover. WOW!

There is little wonder that Aaron had significant rituals to follow before he could enter that space and he could only enter that place on one prescribed day a year! Human beings cannot just waltz into the presence of God. Confronted with absolute holiness we, sin-filled human beings, die!

And the fact of the presence of God in that space separated Israel from all other peoples. Israel was God’s chosen and one declaration of God’s choice was that God manifested His presence among them.

Jesus said, For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20). The presence of God with us… WOW.

Believers are filled with the God the Holy Spirit (Acts 2, and 4:8, 31, 13:9, 52, etc.). The presence of God with us personally day by day. DOUBLE WOW.

Quietly, questions rose to the forefront of my thoughts,

Do I reverence God in me, God present in us as the Israelites reverence God in the tabernacle?

Do I understand what a gift and what a ‘setting apart’ God presence means for me, for us who believe in Jesus?

A hush fell over my thoughts as I recognized the gift of Himself God has given me…

Oh, precious Lord, words escape me… Amen.


Wednesday, May 24: Leviticus 15- God supplies.

I was taken aback by all the water and the washing. Hygienically this was all very good, but it was quite a surprise. I don’t know the Middle Eastern culture; Muslims do have numerous ritual washings. And Jesus notes the ritual washings of the Jews; so maybe, culturally, Middle Easterners wash and bath frequently. I just don’t know. But I was surprised by the prescribed washing in water.

I remember visiting Plymouth plantation.  The people explained that people, then, bathed only twice a year! They thought you could wash your skin off. I guess this is why I was so surprised by all the washings.

I wondered where they got all the water they needed in the desert? Somehow God supplied what they needed…

And isn’t that the truth?  God supplies what we need for both faith and life. God really does supply.

I found myself considering the many ways God supplies…

Today is my anniversary.  What a gift my wife has been throughout the years. She is a gift of inestimable value!  Thank You, Lord, for the gift of my wife and the MANY ways she breathes Your life into me. God supplies… J

I spent the next moments considering so many ways God supplies.  There have been many times in my life when God directly supplied a specific need.  I don’t know how many years I look back and wonder how we did all we did or paid all our bills.  Where did the money come from? God supplies.

And so my morning went, thinking about the many ways and many times God supplied what was needed. And many times, maybe even most times, God supplied through a gift from some person who may or may not have known my particular need.

The wonder of God…

Lord, thank You for Your provision. As I have received, Lord, I pray that I am open and available to every prompting You send my way to provide for other brothers or sisters in need. As you have blessed me, may I be a blessing to others as You lead. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, May 23: Leviticus 14- Washed in the blood.

Molds and skin rash diseases… these are important community health issues, but they are not the most inspiring devotional reading. But for the people being prepared to move into their promised land, these are important community regulations.

Devotionally, I found myself considering the concept of two animals, one slaughtered and the other set free (see verse 53). The symbolism is intriguing. One is offered for sin, the second bird, after being dipped in the blood mixture of the sacrificed bird and used in the ritual of cleansing, is set free.

The bird that is set free is “washed in the blood of the sacrifice” before it is set free. Similarly, we, who are in Christ, are washed in the blood of the lamb (Jesus) and then we are set free. We are freed from the punishment our sins deserve and we are free to live in relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In this obscure OT ritual we have a moment of foreshadowing what is to come in the great atonement of Jesus.

I sat for a while and contemplated the gift of Jesus. I have been set free because He was sacrificed.  What a gift! What a wonderful, amazing and underserved gift.

Praise to the Lord, the almighty the King of creation. O my soul praise him for he is my health and salvation…

Lord, Jesus, You are my salvation, literally. Without Your gift on the cross I would be doomed to separation from You, the Father and the Spirit, both now and for all eternity, but that is not the case. Your gift of grace has restored my connection with You, washed away my sins, given me a new heart, one with which I can love You.  You have given me a calling to share what You did for me with others, who, too can be forgiven and redeemed by Your sacrifice on the cross!

Halleluiah!  What a Savior!  Halleluiah!  What a God. Amen and amen.


Monday, May 22: Leviticus 13- Care for His community.

It may seem strange to us but the regulations on skin diseases and mold was a major measure of community care. Abiding by these rules would save many people from infection and disease. Even today rules like these exist.

Mold is a huge issue in housing. Landlords are required to mediate mold and homeowners must do the same when they sell.

And skin diseases… my son wrestled and any wrestler with a skin rash needed a doctor’s note to wrestle. To this day molds and rashes are significant issues.

God shows His care for the people by naming these and providing a process of ‘quarantine’ and remediation.

Realizing how much God cared for His OT people, prompted me to think about ways God cares for His people to this day. God’s rules and regulations are for our benefit. Following His way smooths the road of life.

The admonition ‘do not let the sun go down while you are still angry’ comes to mind. How much better life is, especially with those people close and important to me, when I follow this admonition?  Stuff happens and even the closest relationships have rough spots. Making amends quickly is great advice. And when I follow it, life is better! Always!!

God’s ways are like that… they really are excellent life-rules to live by.

One of the joys of spending time in God’s Word regularly is that God’s ways are constantly being embedded into my life…

Lord, thank You for the wonder and gift of Your Word. I know that I know more than I live. I still go my own way too often. So, Lord, I pray and ask for strength and courage to live Your way… it really is the best way. I know that, but I still fall. Forgive me and renew my strength to get up and follow You more and more closely every day of my life. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, May 21: Leviticus 12- Do I play favorites?.

I understand the message in this chapter. After birth a woman is ritually impure 1-2 weeks. She then must remain home for 1-2 months before going to the tabernacle to offer sacrifices to be made ritually pure. I don’t understand why the sex of the child affects the durations mentioned, but that is what God established. And God is God.

I wonder if this ritual, impurity, is a gift to the child. The mother’s attention is not divided between home and worship, but placed solely on the child for nurture and care during the time away from the tabernacle. I wonder but I am not certain.

I appreciate God’s heart for people of less means in the final verse of this chapter. But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean’ ” (8).

God takes great care in His OT law to provide access to Himself for all people, wealth is no barrier. Sacrifices cost… but God sets up a sliding scale! Wealth, status, power, importance do not garner spiritual favors with God.

Do I play favorites? Do I make wealth or some other human distinction a criterion for personal friendship or importance in my church? Hmmm…

Pierce my heart and search me with Your spotlight, Oh, God. Root out sin and the sin of favoritism and bigotry, that I might reflect Your love for all people. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Friday, May 20: Leviticus 11- Set apart for God.

Dietary rules… I must admit these do not stimulate me to love God or love neighbor. This is especially true since the NT lifts all dietary food restrictions for Christ-followers (see Mark 7:19, Acts 10:9-15, Romans 14:20).

And while this may be true, Leviticus 11 is still God’s Word and profitable to read and study. (2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.)

So, Lord, what is my useful and profitable nugget for today?

These rules set the people apart. Israel had rules to follow that were different than the peoples of the land into which they were moving. God’s people are ‘set-apart’ people. We are to march to the drumbeat of a different drummer than people who believe and follow other core beliefs or gods. Even though today Christ-followers ‘set apartness’ isn’t distinguished by the food we eat, we should be set apart by the way we love. People still won’t understand, but we like our Israelite OT brothers and sisters, we live to please the Lord, NOT our culture. ‘Set apartness’ is still a characteristic of following the Lord.

Another thought, these rules, particularly the ones involving dead animals, provide a measure of hygienic protection. There is some protection built into these laws. God cares for His people. Just like the 10 Commandments provide protective guardrails for life and community, some of these rules provide guardrails against disease.

So, today I am reminded that God cares for me and desires good for me. And God set me apart to live for Him.

Lord, help me to live a healthy ‘set apart’ life so that my living invites people to find and follow You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Thursday, May 19: Leviticus 10- For the wages of sin is death.

Nadab and Abihu discovered the literal truth of Romans 3:23a, For the wages of sin is death… They did what God had forbidden and the fire of God consumed them there on the spot.

Thankfully, God does not generally execute His absolute justice at the moment of sin… if He did so, all of us would be dead.

But as His community was forming God chose to make a dramatic statement to the whole community that His Word and instructions are to be honored! Period. As the account continues, Moses explains to Aaron and his priest sons that they cannot grieve like everyone else in the community. As priests, they stand before God in a unique way and this doesn’t allow for grief like everyone else.

Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not let your hair become unkempt and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the Israelites, may mourn for those the LORD has destroyed by fire (6).

A comment in the middle of Moses’ warning triggered pondering. Moses said, you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community. I get the ‘you will die’ comment; they would be disobedient and deserve God’s punishment. However, it was the next part that shocked me, and the LORD will be angry with the whole community. Why would God be angry with the entire community because one person sinned?

Is this the flip side of being the mediator between the community and God? Do the priests represent (stand in for) the community and therefore, when they sin their sin counts against everyone? Is it that their sin is seen as representative of the sin in the community? I don’t know the exact reason, but I can read what God said.

As a pastor, is God angry with my church community when I sin? As a father –head of the household –is God angry with my family when I sin? Is it every sin or only the sins committed when acting as pastor of the parish or father of the household?

I simply don’t know, and I may be pushing the text way beyond its intended understanding, but it is pressing me to think and act even more seriously and intentionally when I stand in my circles of authority, whether in parish or home or…

Headship and leadership carry tremendous responsibility… this is the basic truth God is bringing to me this morning.

Oh, God, give me the wisdom and the strength to carry your mantle of leadership faithfully and well. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, May 18: Leviticus 9- Response to the glory of God.

What would a God-lover do in the presence of the glory of God? The people of Israel found out. After Aaron completed the sacrifices for himself and the people, Moses explains, …the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown (23-24).

What did the people do?  They spontaneously shouted for joy and fell facedown.

Shouted for joy… when they witnessed the glory of God they shouted for joy. I imagine the people shouting, “God, You are great! God, You are wonderful! Halleluiah! Praise be to You, Lord.” When the presence of God fell praise, adoration, and joy exited their heart in shouts of praise!!!

Fell facedown… even as praise exited their lips… they were overcome by God’s wonder and glory and they fell before Him. They prostrated themselves before the Great One.

I was touched by these two actions…in the face of God the people of God gave praise and humbled themselves!

Oh, the wonder… to see the glory of God. Oh, that I would see the glory of the Lord before I enter eternity.

It hit me that when I open God’s Word, I see God’s wonder. God left us His written word. When I gather with the community of faith for worship, God’s presence is with us.  How might I display joy and humility in those settings?

Humility… I need to make the conscious decision that the Word of God read, pondered and preached will direct my life. God’s Word directs me.  I do not judge it, I sit under it!

Joy… sing mightily, read and gather with interest, knowing God will meet me and us!

These are starters, more pondering can be done…

Lord, You are present with me. I don’t have to wait for some ‘special’ event. You are with me. Your Holy Spirit dwells in me.  Right now I bless You. I lift up Your name and declare, You are the great God above all gods and You are my God!!!

I will sit before You and surrender to Your will and way. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, May 17: Leviticus 8- Devotion.

Moses describes the wonderfully elaborate ordination of Aaron and his sons. I thought about the important place that priests played in Israel’s life. The dramatic the ceremony communicated honor to the priests while recognizing the utter devotion to the Lord required of the priests.

Devotion to God, that phrase stuck to me…

Like the priests, I can go through rituals that communicate devotion to God and these are important, but the confirming witness of my devotion to God is how I live day by day. Will I wake up my next morning and live faithfully throughout the hours of my day?  Will I do that day after day, week after week, as long as I have life and breath?

Devotion to the Lord is proclaimed in rituals and confirmed through living.

On Sunday I proclaimed my devotion by attending worship.  Now I am confirming my devotion through my attention to Scripture and my living throughout the remainder of today…

How about you?

Oh, God… give me strength to live for You. …  Amen.


Monday, May 16: Leviticus 7- Cost of love.

I sat and thought… all these offerings. Burnt offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings, fellowship offerings, thank offerings… how many have I read about these last 7 days?  Then there are rules when you offer animals and other rules when you offer grains. Oh, my, rules, rules, rules.

It is wonderful that the Lord gave all these offerings so people can stay connected, so the affairs of life, which are filled with sin, can be atoned for, so that people have ways to thank and express love for the Lord. But there are so many rules, I get confused.

Now I’m sure people of the day didn’t get confused, it was their world; it is not my world. But still…? When Israel is settled, most people will have a long travel to the temple, and all of these offerings become more difficult to execute properly.

Then I thought about the expense of all this… offerings, whether animal or gain, cost particularly when you are an agrarian society that lives fairly close to hand to mouth. Beyond this there were regulations like the tithe. All in all staying faithful had a significant cost.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, love costs. Loving my wife or children costs… it costs time, it costs effort, it costs money. Why am I surprised that loving God would cost, too.

Loving God today should cost me in similar ways… it should cost me time… time spent with the Lord and the Lord’s people and doing the Lord’s business. I shouldn’t be surprised when my relationship with the Lord costs me effort… effort to serve Him well, effort to get to know Him and to serve His people and His world. Again my relationship with the Lord will cost money… money in offerings, money living God’s honest way, not cheating, money for helping others and doing the good deeds that honor the Lord…

So, today I began taking an inventory of my willingness to maintain my relationship with the Lord… am I paying the costs and doing so willingly and lovingly from the heart?

How about you?

This is where my musings took me this morning…

Lord, I pray for a heart full of thankfulness for all You have done for me. I pray that my heart will be brimming with love and desire to put whatever is necessary into my relationship with You, no matter the cost… I love You, Lord, and I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, May 14: Leviticus 6- Perpetual offering.

Two verses in the middle of the chapter prompted my heart and mind to ponder. Verses 12-13: The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.

Once the tabernacle was up and running it was to have a perpetual offering upon it. How they did this as they moved is a mystery to me. However,  laying that tidbit aside, the idea of perpetually having fire burning and offering cooking drew me to thought.

There was always to be the aroma of devotion and praise rising up to the Lord. God is so worthy, that there should never be a moment when His praises are not being sent up to Him by His people. Never a moment! Animals to sacrifice was not a factor. Having wood to keep the fire going was not a factor. Priestly labor or the disposal of ashes was not a factor… God has given His word. Human unfaithfulness was the only potential disrupter… if the priests didn’t do what they were charged to do.

The idea of perpetuity stuck me… there are no fires anymore. There are no sacrifices any more. Jesus has offered the once for all sacrifice and we, His people, are to be perpetually praising Him by offering our lives in service to Him.

My prayers, and that of the church around the world, my good deeds (Matthew 5), my love for others, coupled with the same from saints everywhere… all of this is to be the constant perpetual aroma of praise rising to the Lord God Almighty always. 

It took effort by the priest to see that the fires and offerings were perpetually burning.  Am I employing the same diligence to see that my prayers, deeds and love are continually making praise ascend to my God in glory?

More pointedly will I live today in such a way that my life is praising God and will I do that tomorrow and the next and the next… perpetually until I am with saints in glory standing before the throne of God in eternity?

How about you? Is your life a perpetual praise offering to the Father, Son and Spirit? …

As the prayer of St Francis goes,  

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy....

I pray in Jesus name. Amen


Friday, May 13: Leviticus 5- I am responsible.

Two words resonate from the text as I read this morning, ‘unintentionally’ and ‘responsibility’.

The theme of unintentional sin continues in today’s chapter. We certainly have all faced this situation and it is a gift to be relieved of the burden of the guilt. Thank You, Lord.

Still my heart carries concern for intentional sin. I know I am not above the committing of intentional sin. But I set that aside since I wrestled with it yesterday and it does not appear to be addressed in this chapter.

On to my second touch point… responsibility. It is clear that God holds people responsible for their actions, whether or not they realize they are sinning in the moment or not, we are responsible. And when a person realizes they have sinned, they have a course to follow to find atonement.

Good news, there is no time requirement. When you realize you have sinned you can make atonement. If you discover your sin a day later, a week later, a year later you can make atonement and be set free.

Tough news, I am responsible whether I realize it or not. I am responsible for knowing God’s rules so that I know when I break them. Also, there seems to be no extenuating circumstances. I either broke the rule or not, the ‘why’ I broke the rule doesn’t seem to come into play. The burden of self-examination is HUGE.

I feel the weight of the Law pressing down on me.

No wonder Jesus’ Words were so stunning… my burden is easy and my yoke is light (Matthew 11:30). Sin is still sin, responsibility is still responsibility with Jesus. But the constant need for animal sacrifice every time I sin or am guilty is lifted. Instead, I have a constant relationship with God –no priests or intermediaries required. I, we, can talk and confess and move forward hour by hour as needed.

Jesus, thank You for Your yoke. Thank You for every day regular connection I can have with You, the Father and the Spirit through faith and belief in You. Thank You for the forgiveness of all sins. I think again of 1John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. When we confess, You forgive us from ALL unrighteousness. The burden of neurotic self-examination is lifted. Praise be to You, Lord, Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit. Amen


Thursday, May 12: Leviticus 4- Unintentionally.

The word popped off the page as if it were a flashing neon sign, “Unintentionally. Unintentionally.”

It appeared in the first sentence and then headlines each paragraph and example there after. “Unintentionally. Unintentionally.”

Verses 1-2:  “Say to the Israelites: ‘When anyone sins UNINTENTIONALLY and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands— (emphasis mine).

My first reflection was how wonderful it was for God to provide a way out from under sin.

But then a touch of reverent fear built up in me. But there are times when the unintentional/intentional line is blurry –in the heat of an argument when I curse or say a demeaning word like “you fool” (see Matthew 5:22).  Is that intentional or unintentional???

And then there are other times when I cross the sin-line intentionally. I calculate a ‘white’ lie to get out of a situation or stretch the truth or leave out some piece of information to make a deal.

Is there no sacrifice for these sins? Were Israelites doomed to carry the weight of these intentional sins on their consciences forever?

Immediately I found love for my Gracious Savior Jesus racing to my heart. Through Jesus the word ‘unintentiona’l is removed from God’s gift of forgiveness. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). God makes no distinction whether the sin is intentional or unintentional, Believers are forgiven in Jesus!!! What a gift!  What a savior!

My third reflection is that sin is nothing to be trifled with. Sin is serious business and this led me to spend some moments in introspection and confession. Intentional or unintentional, I want to seek the forgiveness of God… and be free from the weight of sin.

Oh, God, help me to search me, to be honest with how I am and how I live and to confess those ugly, sin-filled parts of me. Then, Lord, I ask You to search me for Your eyes are more true and Your judgments fully honest. Search me and tell me, that I might confess to You… In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, May 11: Leviticus 3- The personal investment of sacrifice.

All of these sacrifices cost: lambs, goats, herd animals represent significant expenses. Then there was your time bringing the animal to the tent of meeting (and eventually the temple). Another ‘cost’ was the sense of investment you had to make when you placed your hands on the animal as it was slaughtered.

Sacrifices cost. And sacrifices were personal… your animal, your time, your emotion.

I bounced in my thoughts today; we can do so many things virtually. We don’t have to be present to pay someone or to speak with someone. And while phone calls have some connection with tone, pacing and intonation audible, email, texting and the like carry far less depth of communication. And while phone and Internet allow us to stay connected when separated by distance, they are not the same as being there in person.

I am wondering if our ability to communicate over distance is disrupting the personal nature of a relationship with God.

On the one hand God is distant, so maybe these forms of communication aid in connecting with God who is unseen. But I am wondering if they allow me to be further removed from the Lord than my OT brethren were.

I can click a link and give to church or mission.  Am I really invested? Where is the sense that I lay my hands on the offering as it is given??

I can listen to preachers on the screen in front of me.  Am I really invested? I don’t ever have to look that person in the eye or shake their hand and respond to what they spoke about.

When was the last time I (you) personally invested in mission, in helping some brother/sister in Christ or a neighbor? When was the last time you gave a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name (Matthew 25)?

Oh, Lord, with all the wonders of the modern world, please don’t let me drift from You. Connection may look differently in my 21st century world than in the BC world of Moses, but I am praying and asking for grace to stay truly connected to You. I pray this through Jesus, my Lord. Amen.


Tuesday, May 10: Leviticus 2- The aroma of Christ.

 “ ‘When anyone brings a grain offering to the LORD, their offering is to be of the finest flour. They are to pour olive oil on it, put incense on it and take it to Aaron’s sons the priests. The priest shall take a handful of the flour and oil, together with all the incense, and burn this as a memorial portion on the altar, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the LORD (1-3).

There was an interesting tidbit in Moses’ explanation of grain offering that caught my attention. All grain offerings included incense. But this incense was only added to the Lord’s memorial portion of the offering. It was not to be part of the portion the priests kept for themselves. This way only God’s portion created an aroma pleasing to the Lord when it was roasted on the altar.

Offerings to the Lord are to create a pleasing aroma… an aroma, if you will, that the Lord can enjoy and delight in. And this aroma is unique to service for the Lord… it is special to and for God.

I pictured women who have some very expensive perfume, the kind that is only used on select special occasions and never ordinary days. That is what this was like… the Lord’s portion of a grain offerings was very special and was set apart with incense that made a pleasing aroma which indicated it was for the Lord.

My thoughts clicked to a New Testament passage where Paul writes, But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

My life is to generate the pleasing aroma of Christ as I live. Where I live and walk and find myself I am to be producing Christ’s aroma.

When I am alone, Christ’s aroma is to be wafting out of me… my thoughts, my actions, my dreams should smell of Jesus.

When I am with other people, Christ’s aroma is to be wafting out of me… my thoughts, my actions, my interactions, my motivations should smell of Jesus.

I am to bring Jesus and Jesus’ aroma with me wherever I am.

How I live matters. The things I say matter. The attitudes I convey matter. My life matters. I am important to filling this world with the aroma and knowledge of Jesus…

If you are a Christ-follower then how you live matters, too…

Think about this.

Oh, Lord, please forgive me my sins.  Wash away from me the stench of sin so that the aroma of Jesus might ooze from my life as I go about my day today. May my life today advance the cause of Christ.  I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, May 9: Leviticus 1- Life is a messy affair.

The sacrificial system was a bloody, messy affair. Slaughtering animals, sectioning them, burning some parts, washing others, pouring blood here, not there. Birds were pulled apart by the wings…

I tried to imagine the priestly garments and the altar, with blood splashes here and everywhere. Like I said, the sacrificial system was a messy affair.

As I think about it, life is a messy affair. Because of human sin we hurt one another, stain one another, curse one another, speak ill to and about one another. Relationships start and grow and break and are wounded.  So, somehow it seems right that the system that keeps us connected to God, mirrors the mess we have made of life.

I thought about the symbolism of placing one’s hands on the animal to be sacrificed. Symbolically the individual identifies with the animal to be slaughtered. It is as if the person is saying, ‘I offer this animal in my place. What You, God, do to it, should be done to me.’

That is powerful imagery. Atonement is personal. Atonement is costly. And atonement, like this, shows grace, a lesser offered in place of a greater.

That last sentence makes me think about the wonder of Jesus’ gift of atonement for us, because on the cross the greater is offered for the lesser.

Thank You, Jesus, for giving Your life for mine and all who believe and trust in You. Thank You, thank You, thank You. In Your name, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, May 7: Psalm 99- Forgiveness and justice together.

This Psalm sings of the greatness of our God and with delight from some great names who worshipped Him. It is from of this context that the Psalm proceeds concluding with these words, which bored into my thoughts.

LORD our God,

you answered them;

you were to Israel a forgiving God,

though you punished their misdeeds.

Exalt the LORD our God

and worship at his holy mountain,

for the LORD our God is holy (8-9).

Particularly it was the thought that the Lord is a forgiving God, though He punished misdeeds.

It occurred to me that often I have trouble putting together the thoughts of forgiving and punishing. It is as if I see them as mutually exclusive.  When you forgive you remove the consequences of the wrong. But this Psalm allows me to move in a different direction.

It acknowledges both grace (forgiving) and justice (punishment).

My thoughts flipped to the cross. In order to forgive us God didn’t abandon justice, instead He moved our punishment onto Jesus. Thus both justice and grace were fulfilled.

Wow, my moment in Psalm 99 has become an appreciation for the Lord and how He works! God answers us with forgiveness and justice…

Thank You for the cross, Lord. Thank You for the nail scared hands. Thank you for who You are and how You answer us with forgiveness even as You execute justice. I Love You, Lord, and I owe my life to You. Amen and Amen.


Friday, May 6: Psalm 98- Count your blessings.

Thanks to the groupings of Psalms I am reading this week.  I am ushered once again into praise for the Lord.  What a grand way to walk through this week. No matter what happens throughout my day, God’s Word is ushering me to the heights of praise and adoration as I start my day again today.

Verse 1 is my launching pad today: Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

Certainly the Lord has done marvelous things… The words of an old hymn came to mind:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

It seemed wise and good to spend some time this morning counting and naming some of God’s marvelous deeds, His blessings that have touched my life and the lives of His people throughout the ages.

I start with salvation… God saved me and all His people by grace through faith in Jesus. Nothing I have done could have merited this most marvelous of God’s deeds

The presence of the Holy Spirit and all He brings, assurance, leadings, power, gifts, fruit…

Creation, the wonder and beauty of God’s world.  I look outside and see flowers bursting forth after winter, animals scurrying as the dawn rises, colors and hues of every kind…

Call and care of the patriarchs, how the Lord called and delivered Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, formed a people, and gave His Laws and Word.

Ah, the word of God, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The Lord God giving and preserving His Word so we can all read it for ourselves and hold it close and know how the Lord would have us live.

My family… each one is a gift, a marvelous gift from the Father.

The Church, the family of God and that I was raised by a family in the church… gifts all gifts

And so my morning began naming some of the marvelous deeds the Lord has done for me and for His people. So many more came to mind that I did not write. God’s marvelous deeds are all around us. Taking time to name and appreciate some of them was a joy this morning…

All praise to Him who reigns on high, who sets the prisoners free…

Thank You, Lord God, for opening my eyes to some of Your many marvelous deeds. Through Jesus Christ, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, May 5: Psalm 97- My subversive role as a worshipper of God .

For the third morning in a row I am transported to the heavenlies… worshipping the God who is due ALL worship. This God above all gods.  Our God reigns.

The Lord is austere and mysterious… hidden in clouds and darkness (2) with fire before and around Him consuming all enemies (3). He makes the lightening (4); mountains melt before Him (5).

How does one describe the Almighty?  The above does quite well in my opinion.

And so the Psalm builds to verse 9, For you, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. The Lord is almighty!

Then comes a twist, verse 10 opens with an admonition. Let those who love the LORD hate evil… This immediately brought me from the heavens to the earth.

How am I supposed to live, in light of who the Lord is? I am to hate evil?  I am to oppose evil?  I am to stand against evil? I am to stay away from evil?  I am to undermine evil?  I am to stop evil? 

Forced to gaze at my world I see too much evil.  Do I overcome evil with good as Paul directs in Romans 12:21? My weapons are not the weapons of the world, but the weapons of God. And with God good triumphs over evil. Jesus’ goodness and cross defeated evil on the cross and I am to be a cross-bearer in this world.

This twist surprised me… worship should lead me to service, serving the world with the goodness of God. Overcoming evil by God. Loving where the world hates. This is my subversive role as a worshipper of God.

Lord, I have much to process here. A new way to live… Give me strength for this calling. This calling to stand out from the crowd of non-believers by believing through goodness and love. May I be up to this, Lord.  I can be, through Your power, the power of the Holy Spirit within me. For this Holy Spirit power, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, May 4: Psalm 96- Transported back to Sunday worship again.

Sing to the LORD a new song;

sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, praise his name;

proclaim his salvation day after day.

Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

he is to be feared above all gods … (1-4)

Today’s Psalm took me back again to Sunday’s worship. As I began to read, my heart soared in worship and praise of our Great God!!!

It was as if I was transported right back into the glorious community worship of our God… the congregation singing out in full voice to the Lord, God, Almighty.

My heart began to pound with exuberance for the Lord. Our God is a great God, the God above all gods!

What a wonderful reminder that our God reigns every day, and every day is a day to praise and worship Him.

Lord, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank You for the inspiration and reminder of Your greatness. Thank You for the visceral reminder of the people of God praising You. Thank You for the joy You have placed in my heart for You. Thank You for this wonderful Psalm, a Psalm which has for millennia ushered Your people into heartfelt worship and praise of You. Halleluiah. Amen


Tuesday, May 3: Psalm 95- My heart soared in worship.

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;

let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving

and extol him with music and song.

For the LORD is the great God,

the great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth,

and the mountain peaks belong to him.

The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,

let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;

for he is our God

and we are the people of his pasture,

the flock under his care (1-7a).

My heart soared in worship as these words pierced my morning. Thoughts of singing God’s praise ushered me back to Sunday when I stood among the people of God singing my God’s praises.

It is wonderful that I can praise and worship the Lord on my own during the week, spending time in God’s Word and praising Him in thought and prayer. But these times do not replace those times when I am with God’s people singing His praise, praying, taking part in the sacraments, attending to God’s Word and giving my offering to Him.

Oh, being part of God’s body, praising God in one heart and mind and voice!

Today’s Psalm transported me back to my last time with the body… praises rising, giving glory to the Lord!

Then in verse 7b came a surprising shift through the end of the Psalm… a correction not to grow weary or hardened of heart.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,

“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,

as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,

where your ancestors tested me;

they tried me, though they had seen what I did (7b-9).

This shift reminds me that true and full praise of God is much more than the words of my lips; it is the living of my life.

Praising God in song is wonderful, but it MUST be matched by faith-filled living. True praise happens moment by moment as I choose to follow the Lord in what I say and do. True faith keeps my heart supple in the Lord’s hands… I follow His lead, accept His correction and love Him fully, no matter what He asks.

Lord God, thank You for the glory of worship, of being transported back to my time with the saints. And thank You for the reminder of the Word to remain connected to You, the vine and source of my life…

Praise to You, Father, Jesus, Spirit… to You and in Your name, I pray. Amen.