Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28- The Holiday Calendar

February 28, 2011
Scripture Readings:
Leviticus 22:17-23:44; Mark 9:30-10:12;
Psalm 44:1-8; Proverbs 10:19
Nothing says holidays like a cheese log. ~Ellen DeGeneres

Leviticus 22:17-23:44
When the children were little I spent time considering what traditions we would form in our family for special holidays.  The year rolled along with a holiday to look forward to each season.  We would decorate heart cookies for Valentines’ Day, open small gifts and go to church on Easter, go to the beach for Memorial day week, and have a cookout for the fourth of July before going to a local fireworks display.  Fall brought us Labor Day at the pool, Halloween and Reformation Day parties at friends’ houses, and Thanksgiving filled with familiar foods and a thankfulness tree in the kitchen.  Finally, the year ended with Christmas and all the traditions associated with that wonderful time.  Each holiday was an opportunity to create family activities that defined us as a unit.  We confirmed our beliefs and celebrated what was important to us.  Each year’s festivities brought good memories and fellowship.
In today’s reading, God forms the holiday calendar for the nation of Israel.  Similar to a mother concerned for her family’s traditions, God uses these festivals and ceremonies to bind the nation of Israel together through thanksgiving to God and celebration of the gifts that He provides.  It should not surprise us that these holy seasons are each a picture of Christ or the nation of Israel’s relationship to God.  Here are the holy festivals dealt with in today’s reading and their symbolism:
·         Passover- the crucifixion and death of Christ
·         The Feast of Unleavened Bread- the fellowship we have with Christ because of His death
·         The Feast of the First fruits- the resurrection of Christ
·         Pentecost- the beginning of the Church
·         The Feast of Trumpets- Israel being brought back into the Land (this is in the future)
·         The Great Day of Atonement- the work of Christ upon the cross for us
·         The Feast of Tabernacles- the time when Israel is in the Holy Land (future time)
The Sabbath day is also reiterated to the Israelites, but that was established in the Garden of Eden.
I will briefly review that these holy days were designed to help Israel understand the providential work of God on earth to save mankind.  We have discussed how Jesus is our Passover Lamb.  Jesus is also the Unleavened Bread that had no “yeast” or sin in his life.  He was a perfect sacrifice.  Jesus is the first fruit of those raised from the dead.  As the Israelites gave their first produce to the priest as a sacrifice on the first day of the week, they created the picture of Christ resurrecting on the first day of the week.  He leads us in death and resurrection as our first fruit. 

The Holy season of Pentecost came 50 days after the Feast of First fruits.  It should be no surprise that the early church was given the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection.  Pentecost is the only feast where the Israelites were commanded to eat leavened bread.  Remember, leaven represents sin.  This feast represented the Church, which is not sinless like Jesus, but is here on earth and given over to sin. 
The Feast of Trumpets hearkens to the movement of the Israelites.  Seven trumpets were blown to mark the time that the Jews were to break camp and move towards the Promised Land.  Seven trumpets are blown in the book of Revelation to usher in the Great Tribulation Period.  Trumpets are connected with coming judgment.
The Day of Atonement was already explained in chapter 16.  This was the only festival of mourning for sin. This was also the most holy day in the Jewish calendar.  Jesus is our covering and atonement for our sins.  The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates a time in the future when Israel will live in the presence of God, just as He dwelt among them in the Tabernacle in the wilderness.  This celebration is a memorial remembering God’s care for them in the wilderness and also a prophetic anticipation of a time in the future when they will dwell in peace in the presence of God in the Promised Land.  Both Zechariah 14 and Revelation 21 deal with this prophecy.
So we see that God moved through the year with His children, guiding them to see who He was and what He would do for them to fulfill His promise to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This calendar shows that God will use the Israelites to bring the Redeemer Child to earth. 
Do you think the Israelites understood that their feasts and holy days were an eternal picture on earth of future events?  That is why obedience to these ceremonies was so important to God.  They were a living picture of Him.  Do you know that your life is a living picture of God?  It is.  What do people see in the picture you are painting with your life?
Mark 9:30-10:12
Jesus could have been an attention freak, tweeting about every movement he made and every miracle he performed had he lived in our modern world, but we see that Jesus avoids publicity and spends quiet time with the disciples in order to teach them about the future.  He  tries once again to explain that he must be killed and after three days, rise from the dead.  Instead of focusing on his teaching, the disciples are arguing about who will be the greatest in his Kingdom. 
Jesus takes this opportunity to teach a very profound spiritual principle: If you want to be the greatest, you must be the least.  If you want to lead, you must serve.  John speaks up and reveals that the disciples are being exclusive about who can proclaim attachment to and power from Christ.  The disciples are trying to control what goes on in the ministry. Jesus rebukes John for this attitude.  Jesus lets them know that if a person is not against Christ, he is for Christ. 
Jesus, once again, speaks of hell for those who harm children and cause them to fall away from God.  No other person except Jesus speaks of hell in the Bible. Jesus is our source for understanding this aspect of eternity.  Jesus believes hell is real.
Jesus then clarifies God’s position on divorce.  We have gone over why marriage is such a big deal to God.  He sees it as a living picture.  It represents His intimate relationship with the Church.  We will see in our Old Testament readings that Israel is pictured as the Wife of Jehovah. Jesus does not back down on the sanctity of marriage.  It should be noted the Apostle Paul in his epistles clarifies that remarriage is allowed after divorce for Christians whose spouses have been unfaithful.  Jesus does not sugar coat the Law.  If anything, he ups the ante to include proper attitudes in addition to proper behavior.  He does this to bring us to our knees about our sinfulness.  No one can keep all of these rules perfectly.  That is his point. We need a Savior.
How are you like the disciples?  Are you exclusive in your Christian circle of friends?  Do you go into control freak mode about ministry issues? Do you believe there is a literal Hell?
Psalm 44:1-8
This is a psalm of remembrance.  Have you ever written a letter of remembrance to God about what He has done in your life?
Proverbs 10:19
Wow.  How many people need to hear this message? Too much talking leads to sin.  Duh.
What did you notice today?  Please share your thoughts.

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27- Regurgitate, Hurl, and Vomit

February 27, 2011

Leviticus 20:22-22:16; Mark 9:1-29;
Psalm 43:1-5; Proverbs 10:18

Leviticus 20:22-22:16

Many years ago our family had the Christmas from hell.  We are somewhat unusual in that we almost never get stomach problems, stomach viruses or the flu.  Don't ask me why.  I have no idea.  But as a mother, I have rarely had to deal with puke.  That was not the case one Christmas.  I had baked a lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner.  The kids had played their violins for the Christmas Eve service at church.  We came home to eat and watch It's A Wonderful Life.  And it was a wonderful life until we went to bed that evening.  It began when my son said he didn't feel too good.  My daughter agreed.  I started to feel queasy in my stomach.  My husband went to bed with a headache.  Then, all hell broke loose.  Everything we had consumed came out of our bodies.  No carpet or toilet was left unscathed.  I will spare you any more details.  We had all caught the flu. Suffice it to say, I learned about vomit in spades!!

Today God uses the visual of vomit to describe what He intends to do to the Canaanites in the Promised Land.  He says that the land is going to vomit them out because of the detestable way they live their lives. Here is God's declaration in Leviticus 20:23-24, "Do not live by the customs of the people whom I will expel before you.  It is because they do these terrible things that I detest them so much."

After describing the Canaanites expulsion as vomiting, God ironically says that He will give the Israelites the land flowing with milk and honey.  We will see in our future readings that God is not a respecter of persons.  He will regurgitate the Israelites out of this land, too, when they begin to follow the pagan practices of these people.  The milk and honey will curdle in the land and be expelled (this is symbolic, of course).

In chapter 21 of Leviticus, Moses is again told to remind the priests of their obligations to live a holy and separate life.  Their lives are to be an example of the difference between the One True God and the pagan gods of the land.  Behavior matters.  A priest's behavior is set to an even higher standard.  Did you know that the New Testament states that as believers in Christ we are a nation of priests?  Listen to I Peter 2:9,
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
That means that you and I are obliged to live lives that reflect our relationship with God.  We are to be priests who are willing to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).  Scripture indicates that God desires mercy more than physical sacrifices of animals.  In other words, once Christ died for all, our priesthood is based on giving God our sacrifice of worship, attitudes, behaviors, and forsaking sins.  We are to die to self, in order to live for Him.  Our lives are to be living pictures of Christ's grace and obedience.

Leviticus is a book about holiness.  To be set apart is the theme God is presenting.  How does your life reflect that you are part of God's royal priesthood?  Have you noticed that God talks about idolatry and prostitution a lot?  He is zealous to be your one and only lover.  Are you a faithful priest? Would you consider yourself "set apart" for God?

Mark 9:1-29

Yesterday Jesus spent a lot of time sighing.  It was tiresome to him that no one understood or had faith.  Today we see Jesus giving Peter, James, and John an opportunity to increase their faith by seeing something miraculous.  Jesus describes it as, "...some of you will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."  Mark 9:1  Six days later, Peter, James, and John experience the Transfiguration of Christ on the mountain.  God declares to them that Jesus is His son that He loves.  Listen to him!  Jesus tells them not to tell anyone about this until he has risen from the dead.  Peter and the others discuss what he might have meant by "rising from the dead."  Who can blame them?  The Old Testament was not crystal clear on this.  Jesus was clarifying concepts they would not have fully understood.

They all discuss what the Old Testament meant by Elijah coming before the Messiah.  Jesus indicates that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of that prediction.  Many prophecies are actually fulfilled twice at different times. This is called the law of double reference. John the Baptist is an example of this. He prepared the way for Jesus to come the first time. Elijah will also come before the second coming of Christ to earth and prepare the earth for his second coming in glory. The Bible predicts that Elijah will return prior to Christ's second coming in Malachi 4:5-6.

You and I are in the same boat as Peter and the disciples with regard to the end times.  It is somewhat murky as to how it will all unfold.  But we can count on Malachi's prophecy to be true. Elijah will proceed the second coming of Christ.

Jesus also reveals, when healing a deaf and mute boy who was being tormented by an evil spirit, that certain casting out of spirits required a level of faith that includes prayer and fasting. The disciples were not quite mature enough for this.

Do you have faith to believe Christ without seeing results immediately?  Do you have to have a miracle in your life to trust Christ?  What about an immediate answer to prayer?  Does your faith falter if you don't get your way with God?

Psalm 43:1-5

Here is a formula for prayer when you are depressed...  Vs. 5 "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."
Admit your depression, give it to God, and then put your hope in His promises. It can help.

Proverbs 10:18

Do you hide your hatred?  God calls this lying.  I think the message here is that we must be honest with our emotions in order to deal with them.  If you hate, you should admit that.  Then you can begin to confess and work on the issues.  Honesty is the best policy.

What did you notice today?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 26- For THAT, You Must Die...

February 26, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Leviticus 19:1-20:21; Mark 8:11-38;
Psalm 42:1-11; Proverbs 10:17

Capital punishment would be more effective as a preventive measure 
if it were administered before the crime. 
 ~Woody Allen

Leviticus 19:1-20:21

For years debate has raged on about the morality of the death penalty.  Proponents see the death penalty as a deterrent to crime and a means of justice for the victim.  Opponents feel that the death penalty ignores the sanctity of all human life.  The opponents think that there is no justification for taking a human life.  Today we see that Holy God instituted capital punishment in Israel to emphasize the importance of obeying the Law. Obedience to God's laws reflects God's Holiness to the surrounding pagan nations and sets the Israelites apart from the Canaanites, who occupied the Promised Land that Israel was to occupy.

As the One who sets the standards for holy behavior, it does not get any clearer than God's statement in Leviticus 19:2, "You must be holy because I, the Lord your God am holy."

Moses reiterates and expounds upon the Ten Commandments.  This includes behaviors that fall under the categories of the commandments.  I won't repeat the list, but it has a wonderful provision for helping the poor by only harvesting the fields and vineyards once.  This would leave 10 to 20 percent of the crop for poor people to come and glean for themselves.  Notice that this discourages greedy capitalism and godless socialism.  With dignity and hard work, the poor could thank God for their provision. The wealthy could also thank God for the abundance that provided not only for themselves, but for others also. 

Honoring one's parents, treating one's neighbor with respect, avoiding slander, gossip and lying, avoiding idolatry through mediums and psychics, not doing superstitious hair cutting or tattooing, and not prostituting one's children are put forth as mandatory.  Dealing honestly in one's business ventures and treating foreigners as one's neighbors is also required.  God is establishing the ground rules for the Israelites to be a different kind of people than the Canaanites.

In chapter 20, God brings the hammer down on behaviors that require death.  Chapter 19 gives us a break down of the laws. Chapter 20 gives us the penalty for breaking that Law.  Here are broken laws that receive capital punishment:
  • Anyone who does a child sacrifice and offers their child to the pagan god Molech. (idolatry)
  • Anyone who consults a medium or a psychic. Lev. 20:27 (This is idolatry)
  • Anyone who curses their mother or their father.
  • Anyone who commits adultery, which includes sex with certain family members, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, and bestiality.
  • Murder (this is established in other passages)

The sacrificing of a child to Molech was part of the culture that the Israelites would find once they got to the land of Canaan.  The idol for this god was a sitting metal statue that would be heated to incinerate whatever was put into it.  The idol had outstretched arms and a hole beneath the arms where the lap would be. People would throw their babies as an offering into Molech's lap.  This practice was abhorrent to God. 

Although the death penalty for these sins may seeming like a harsh punishment, sin and death are inseparable companions. God is attempting to protect Israel from eternal death.  He is also establishing the Israelites as a people set apart for a purpose. Jesus came to fulfill these Laws and free us from the penalty of death that breaking God's holy laws mandates. Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writing of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose." (NLT)

Jesus took the death penalty for us. We each break God's laws in some way, but Jesus lived the law perfectly and was therefore our perfect, innocent sacrifice for sin. We are no longer under the stipulations of the Old Testament laws, which were fulfilled by Christ. As Christians, we are now obliged to follow the law of Christ which Christ stated in Matthew 7:12, "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets." (NLT) Christ's law is a law that brings freedom, rather than oppression and death. Through the power of God's Holy Spirit inside you, you can begin to practice this golden rule.

Is your life an example of being set apart for a purpose?  Are you following the ungodly practices of the culture around you?  How do you rely on the Holy Spirit to help you live a godly life?

Mark 8:11-38

Jesus seems exasperated today.  The Pharisees keep requesting a miraculous sign.  Jesus won't give it to them because he knows they don't have true faith in him. The disciples are lacking faith and don't seem to understand the source of Jesus' power.  They are seeing, but not understanding yet.  Jesus asks them, "Who do you say I am?"  Peter gives his confession that Jesus is the Messiah.  Jesus tells them not to tell anyone yet.  As we've discussed, Jesus does not want the people to try to make him a military leader/king and prevent his death on the cross. 

He begins to explain to the disciples that God's plan is for him to suffer, be rejected by the Jews and religious leaders, die, and rise again.  Peter scolds Jesus and says that he shouldn't say such things.  Jesus says, "Get thee behind me, Satan."  Why does Jesus say this to Peter?  Because Peter is thinking like the rest of the Jews who only want a military savior to free them from their bondage to the Romans.  Jesus intends to usher in freedom from their bondage to sin.  Peter's words represent a satanic mindset that would try to prevent Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection.  The Serpent from the Garden of Eden does not want his head crushed by the Redeemer Child born from the seed of Eve (Genesis 3:15).

Jesus is alone in understanding God's plan at this point in the story.  I can see why he did a lot of sighing today.

Does your brand of faith make Jesus sigh?

Psalm 42:1-11

Here is a psalm you can pray when you need a long drink of water on a hot day.  I believe Jesus was personally familiar with this psalm.  It was surely his heart at times.

Proverbs 10:17

Are you able to accept correction?  It is a pathway to life.  You have to swallow your pride to do this.  Peter had to do it in today's reading.  The ancient Israelites had to in the book of Leviticus.  You and I need to do it each day.

What did you notice?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Friday, February 25, 2011

February 25- Vampires Need Not Apply

February 25, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Leviticus 16:29-18:30; Mark 7:24-8:10;
Psalm 41:1-13; Proverbs 10:15-16

Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved. Noble, even. That ought to count for something.  
~Bella Swan   Twilight

Leviticus 16:29-18:30

Have you noticed how obsessed everybody is with vampires these days?  Twilight, the novel about Bella Swan falling in love with Edward Cullen who is a vampire, has swept the nation and the world.  Television is also jumping onto the vampire bandwagon.  Popular shows have included The Vampire Diaries, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and True Blood.  Human beings have always had a fascination with drinking blood.  Today in our reading we see that as part of the Mosaic Law the Israelites are forbidden from drinking blood like the pagan nations around them.  We also get regulations with regards to sexual behavior.  Both sets of rules tie to God's preservation of the Jewish nation and the effect that our physical lives have on spiritual realities.

In this portion of Leviticus, Moses instructs the Israelites that they are not to kill an animal at their own home.  Any animal killed for consumption was to be brought to the Tabernacle where a priest would kill the animal, drain the blood, and then give the remainder of the animal's body back to the person to take home and use.  Why is there this rule?  This rule was designed to prevent pagan idol worship.  The Jews had just received their freedom from Egypt and are about to go into the Promised Land of Canaan.  Both places were dominated by idol worship.  As part of the idol worship animals were sacrificed to goat gods.  Goats, in particular, were sacrificed.  The Israelites had participated in this worship while in Egypt.  God wanted this to stop!  Each time they killed an animal they were to be reminded of the One True God.  Bringing the animal to the Tabernacle to be killed would remind them of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who they worship.  This symbolically tied them to Christ each time they took the life of an animal.  Remember, the whole Tabernacle is a picture of Jesus Christ. Bringing an animal to the Tabernacle also reflected faith in the coming Savior.

If you are interested in knowing God's personality, here is one aspect for you to see.  HE IS JEALOUS FOR YOUR LOVE.  God is not interested in sharing you with pagan false idol-gods.  He wants you to love Him alone.  He wants your loyalty and passion.  This is a husband who gets jealous.  The Israelites were prone to cheat on their spiritual husband.  He was not happy about this.  You and I are prone to cheat on our spiritual husband.  He's not happy about that either.  These rules set relationship boundaries for the Israelites.  We can learn from today's rules, even though they do not apply to us now.  The lesson to me is...don't let anything get between me and God.  He loves me and wants my full attention and love.

The next regulation is not to drink blood.  You might have guessed that in addition to health issues, this is a highly symbolic requirement.  Leviticus 18: 11 states,
"for the life of any creature is in its blood. I have given blood so you can make atonement for your sins. It is in the blood, representing life, that brings you atonement."  (NLT)
The word atonement means "covering."  Going back to Genesis and Abel's righteous offering to God, we see that from the beginning, in order to picture what Christ would do to solve the problem of man's sin, God has required the shedding of innocent blood to cover sin.  Blood is sacred for that reason.  It was not to be consumed, because you do not consume the life of another creature.  Many pagan cultures to this day drink blood to receive power.  People eat death when they eat a dead animal. 

Jesus shed his blood to cover the sins of all mankind.  Jesus brings about a revolutionary teaching in the New Testament when he commands all believers to take Communion and remember him by drinking his blood and eating his flesh.  He is tying back to this regulation and now saying that those who believe in him are to partake of his death (bread/body) and drink the new resurrected LIFE (found in the blood) that only he can provide.  We are not only eating death when we take Communion, we are symbolically drinking new life that lasts forever!

Back in Genesis you may have wondered who Cain and Abel slept with in order to populate the earth.  They would have slept with their sisters.  We see throughout the writings of the ancient world that blood relatives have married and mated.  In many parts of the world today it is common for cousins to marry.  God allowed this practice for a period of time, but the Mosaic Law now forbids the Israelites from having sexual intercourse with blood relations.  God is once again setting the Israelites apart from other people groups and protecting them against disease and genetic problems so that the Messiah could come through their line.  Most of these rules are woven into the fabric of our own judicial system in the United States today.  If followed, these rules prevent sexual abuse and degradation in families.

Other forms of sexual perversion are dealt with in this chapter.  The domination of the pornography industry signals mankind's constant tendency to devolve into sexual perversion.  Remember, sex is intended to be a picture of our intimacy with God.  The marriage theme is constant in the Bible.  That is because our physical marriages are pictures of God's relationship with us.  Our love should be passionate, intimate and in the right context.  The love of a husband and wife should be one of trust, deep love, comfort, encouragement, and passion.  The sexual acts listed in this chapter do not comprise acts that God considers legitimate pictures of His love for us.  This is His universe and He makes the rules.  Perhaps you could form your own universe and make your own rules if you do not like His.

Have you accepted our modern take on sex, which by the way, is not modern at all, but actually ancient in its practices?  How can you practice intimacy with God in your life?  Does your marriage reflect your intimacy with God? If you are single, does your singleness reflect your intimacy and loyalty to God?

Mark 7:24-8:10

Today Jesus expels an evil spirit from a little girl, heals a deaf man, and feeds a hungry crowd.  Busy, busy, busy.  The story of the little girl being saved from an evil spirit is interesting because of the conversation Jesus has with the girl's mother. This woman comes to Jesus and makes her request.  It just so happens that she is a Gentile.  Jesus, being true to his mission to come to the Chosen people (Israel) first, tells her that he has come to help his own family, the Jews.  She counters that even the dogs get scraps from the Master's table.  Jesus says that she has given a good answer.  In the gospels, Jesus is healing Gentiles and Jews, alike.  So why did he have this conversation with this woman?  My belief is that Jesus is testing her faith.  Her answer shows humility, belief that he is the Master, and it reflects her persistence.  Are you picking up on the fact that Christ likes persistent requests asked with humility in faith?  Does your prayer life reflect these qualities?  The deaf man's friends reflect these same qualities.

Next, Jesus shows us that he is a living picture of the Law and the Psalms.  He has compassion on the poor and needy.  He feeds the hungry and always has pity on those in need.  Does your life reflect those qualities?  Do you find ways to help those less fortunate than you?  Do you have compassion for other people?

Psalm 41:1-13

Verse 1 says, "Oh the joys of those who are kind to the poor. The Lord rescues them in times of trouble."

Proverbs 10:15-16

Here, again, a theme emerges...The wealth of the rich is their fortress; the poverty of the poor is their calamity.

What would like to share today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 24- Being a Scapegoat

February 24, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Leviticus 15:1-16:28; Mark 7:1-23;
Psalm 40:11-17; Proverbs 10:13-14

A good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem.


Leviticus 15:1-16:28

Counselors of family dynamics will tell you that many dysfunctional families have roles that people play within the family.  One child may be the hero, while the other child is the scapegoat.  The scapegoat child is the family member who is blamed and shamed for all that is wrong within the family unit.  That person serves as the target for abuse, ridicule, and bullying.  The scapegoat is ostracized and isolated emotionally because that person carries the burden for the problems of the group.

Today we see where the term "scapegoat" originated.  It was initially God's idea, and as you might have guessed, Jesus Christ is the scapegoat for our sins.

Before we deal with scapegoats, we will review chapter 15 that deals with instructions for sexually transmitted diseases.  Having used leprosy as an image of the outward results of sin, God now uses sexually transmitted diseases as a picture of the corrosion of internal sins of the heart.  Because sexual sins are for the most part hidden, the diseases associated with those sins represent the deep hidden attitudes that plague humanity.  This is a vivid and appropriate picture of the depravity that afflicts our hearts.  Here are some facts about sexually transmitted diseases:
  • About 333 million new cases occur among young people around the world each year.
  • One in five people in the US have an STD.
  • One in four new STD infections occurs in teenagers.
  • One in four people will have an STD at some point during his or her life.
Humans beings have a significant problem with sexual sin.  What is supposed to be a sacred act that reflects a spiritual truth about intimacy has become a vehicle for lust, licentiousness, and disease.  This physical reality is a picture of what is also occurring in the human heart.

The picture of the priest at the Tabernacle ceremonially cleansing the person with the STD is a picture of Christ cleansing the oozing, running, puss-filled corruption of our hearts.  The sacrifice of an animal is once again the innocent death provided for the unclean person.  The water is the purification needed for cleansing.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the blood and water that cleanse us today.

After this graphic and repulsive chapter, we come to the ceremony which requires mourning and sorrow for sin.  God gives Moses the instruction for observing the holiest day in the Jewish calendar- The Day of Atonement.  No other ritual speaks more clearly of the wide gulf between God's holiness and man's sinfulness.  This observance is the strongest picture of Christ's redemptive work on the cross.  This is the only day of the year that the High Priest will enter the Holy of Holies and be in the presence of God. 

First, the priest prepares himself by dressing in priestly garments that are like the regular priestly robes.  He sets aside the glory of his High Priest outfit to identify with the regular servants.  Christ shed his glory and took on human form to become our atonement for sin.  The priest would sacrifice a bull to cover his sins and the sins of his family.  The bull's blood would be sprinkled where the priest would be serving. The High Priest was to do this totally alone with no assistance.  Like Christ, who faced death alone with the sins of the world cast upon him, the High Priest performs this solitary act.

The Tabernacle was prepared by the sacrifice of a goat.  The goat's blood would be sprinkled on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat.  Remember, this is the only time of the year that this is done in the Holy of Holies.  This sin offering was for the sins of the whole community.  The blood of the bull and the goat allow the priest to be in the Holy place with his and the communities' sins covered by a blood sacrifice.  This is a picture of Christ's shed blood giving us access to a holy God through his death. 

Next, the remaining live goat is positioned so that the High Priest can lay hands on its head and transfer the sins of the nation onto the animal. A long confession of sins is given during this part of the ceremony.  Having just read the cleansing laws, this must have been a gruesome list!  The animal is then sent into the wilderness as the scapegoat.  The sins of the nation are cast away from the Holiness of God at the Tabernacle.  This pictures Jesus who was our scapegoat.  During his death and before his resurrection, Jesus endured separation from his Holy Father.  Our sins caused his isolation and desolation.   Jesus was cast into the spiritual wilderness of separation from the light of God's presence. The blame and shame of our sins was upon him. He was our family scapegoat.

The Day of Atonement fell on the tenth month on the seventh day.  Remember, the seventh day represents a day of rest. After the ritual, the priest would burn the remains of the animals, wash himself, and rest from his labors.  Jesus is our purification, our washing, and our rest.  He alone gives us access to the Holy of Holies, not just for one day of the year, but forever!

As it says in Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."  And in Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need."

Today, you and I have access to a Holy God because Jesus is our Day of Atonement.  Have you confessed your sins today?  Do you come into the presence of God with boldness and humility?

Mark 7:1-23

The religious leaders have created rituals that go beyond what Moses has recorded in the Law.  Today they are upset that Jesus and his disciples do not practice the washing rituals they have devised.  Jesus rebukes them for not keeping the actual Law that requires that you honor your father and mother, but instead, keep these man-made rituals. 

Jesus reiterates that a person is defiled not by what they put in their mouths, but what comes out of the heart.  Your thought-life is what defiles you.  These attitudes that bring about murder, envy, strife, immorality, wickedness, deceit, lust, slander, and pride.  This is what defiles a person.

Do you find yourself being legalistic about church attendance, clothing, the type of Bible people read, etc.?  These have nothing to do with actual Scriptural principles.  These are man-made rules that do not deal with the attitudes of the heart.  Jesus is in the business of dying for our internal sins.  He is also in the business of living for our sanctification!

Psalm 40:11-17

Vs. only hope is in your unfailing love and faithfulness.   Vs. 17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now.

Those verses are a summary of the Day of Atonement.

Proverbs 10:13-14

Wise people treasure knowledge.

What did you notice today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23- A Bird In the Hand Is Worth Two In the Bush

February 23, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Leviticus 14:1-57; Mark 6:30-56;
Psalm 40:1-10; Proverbs 10:11-12

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two turtle doves.
-The Twelve Days of Christmas
Leviticus 14:1-57

Today we continue with the ceremonial cleansing of anyone who has been cured of leprosy.  It should be noted that what the priest performs in this chapter is not intended to cause the healing of the leprosy.  It is intended to be a sign. The priest is reacting. This ceremonial cleansing represents what Christ does for our sin in the following ways:
  • The priest went to the victim for the ceremonial cleansing, rather than the victim going to the priest. Christ came to earth to deal with our sin. We do not go to God, He comes to us.
  • The victim is an outcast from the community until this cleansing ceremony.  We are outcast from the family of God until Christ cleanses us from our unrighteousness.
  • A turtle dove is killed in an earthen vessel that is overrunning with water.  Christ was killed in his body (an earthen vessel) that was filled with the Holy Spirit (overrunning with water).
  • A living bird is dipped in the blood of the dead bird along with cedar, scarlet and hyssop.  Christ was resurrected and is alive after being sacrificed.  Cedar, scarlet and hyssop are pictures of the cross, which also speak of Christ's humanity. Hyssop is a disinfectant.
  • The live bird is permitted to fly away to freedom.  Christ's resurrection gives us the ability to fly away from the death that our sin required.
  • There is blood and water in this ceremony.  When Christ was pierced on the cross, both blood and water came out of his side.  The blood and the water represent his life and his spirit.
Friends, you and I have spiritual leprosy.  Christ's death and resurrection heal our spiritual leprosy. May Christ cleanse us of our disease.  May we be brought into the family of God through his cleansing sacrifice.

How does this ceremony reflect Christ's work in your life?

Mark 6:30-56

Things seem busy and crowded in Mark's gospel.  It is understandable that Jesus and the disciples would be getting into boats to find some space.  Today, Jesus performs the feeding of the five thousand.  He does this after the disciples have come back from their own ministry of miracles.  This pictures Christ's ability to provide for our needs.  The disciples could not begin to meet the needs of the people on the scale that Christ could.

Next, Jesus sends the disciples into a boat while he spends some time alone in prayer.  Notice that Christ fuels himself by spending time alone and by praying.  Do you ever carve out time to be alone and pray?  Do you ever fuel yourself spiritually?

He must have gotten some pretty good fuel, because the next thing he does is walk on water and save his disciples from a storm.  The winds calm down when Jesus gets in the boat. I don't know about you, but I want whatever he's fueling himself with! His prayer session and solitude continue to supply Jesus with miraculous power to heal all of the sick who swarm him when he gets to shore.

How do you get through the day spiritually?  Do you recognize prayer as a source of energy to heal your life?

Psalm 40:1-10

Use this psalm in prayer today.  Use this as fuel to make you spiritually strong. Notice in verses 6-10 the prophetic nature of the verses. This is the voice of Christ in Psalm 40:6-10.

You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
    Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand
    you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
 Then I said, “Look, I have come.
    As is written about me in the Scriptures:
I take joy in doing your will, my God,
    for your instructions are written on my heart.”
I have told all your people about your justice.
    I have not been afraid to speak out,
    as you, O Lord, well know.
I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart;
    I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.
I have told everyone in the great assembly
    of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Proverbs 10:11-12

Vs. 12  Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love covers a multitude of sins.  (Jesus' love covered all of my sins!)

What did you see today?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22- Unclean, Unclean!

February 22, 2011

Leviticus 13; Mark 6:1-29;
Psalm 39:1-13; Proverbs 10:10

Other men's sins are before our eyes; our own are behind our backs.
Leviticus 13

When I was young some of the kids in my neighborhood told me that if I touched a toad I would get a wart.  Needless to say, I avoided touching toads. It was with great consternation that I got a wart in third grade. I didn't want anyone to see the wart on my finger because they would think I had been fondling frogs and toads.  I would never do that. That would be gross, very unclean.

Today we see one of the strongest symbols of sin in the Scriptures- leprosy.  The laws for dealing with leprosy are full of imagery about mankind and our struggle with being unclean because of sin. According to J. Vernon McGee, leprosy is a type or shadow of sin in the following ways:
  1. It begins small.  "a bright spot"
  2. It progresses slowly, but surely. Leprosy will eventually be a living death, whereby the victim is consumed by the disease.
  3. Leprosy does not have sharp pain, but dull pain that keeps a person sad and restless.
  4. Leprosy is thought to be hereditary.
  5. Leprosy is a horrible condition.
  6. Leprosy becomes overtly obvious in loathsome ways.
Sin is like leprosy in our lives.  Sin starts small in children. It progresses slowly, but surely.  Sin will dull a person and keep them sad and restless. Sin will eventually cause a person not to feel anything.  Sin is handed down to us from Adam. It is hereditary. Sin is the horrible condition of people since the Fall. Sin becomes the ugly behaviors of abuse, neglect, immorality, anger, lying, revenge, bitterness, jealousy, rebellion, and all forms of pride.

Just as the victim of leprosy had to be set apart from the community, sin will cause a person to be set apart from God for eternity if no salvation from sin is received. The victim of leprosy had to cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" This is our cry until Christ saving death on the cross cleanses us from all unrighteousness. God provided ceremonial methods for diagnosing and recognizing leprosy in the nation of Israel.  Notice that He did not suggest methods for curing leprosy.  The point was to diagnose and declare the uncleanness of the disease.  This picture provided the Israelites with the problem, but not the solution. God provides a cure for sin today. The medicine, the cure, is Jesus Christ.

Do you have a bright spot or festering wound of sin in your life?  How do you intend to treat the problem of sin?  Christ is the great Physician.  He, alone, can cure the leprosy of sin in your life and bring you cleansed into the Kingdom of God.

Mark 6:1-29

Today Jesus is rejected in his hometown and does not perform many miracles there.  This does not stop him from performing them in other places, as well as equipping his disciples to do the same.  The people are trying to figure out if Jesus is Elijah, John the Baptist come back to life, or just another prophet. 

We also get a more detailed account of how Herod came to behead John the Baptist. This story shows that Herod was a prideful, arrogant, insecure putz.  He had to impress his dinner guests, so he agrees to Herodias' daughter's request for John's head on a platter to be brought to the banquet where she had entertained the crowd with dancing.  The story indicates he was drunk, lustful after the seductive dance, and too embarrassed  to back down at the young woman's challenge to his manhood.  Herod is an example of how NOT to conduct your life.

Herod's life is an example of the slow insidious effects of sin on a person.  Herod is a leprous individual.

Has sin infected your life like leprosy?  Have you taken the offer of cleansing that Jesus provides or have you, like the people in his hometown, rejected his offer?

Psalm 39:1-13

This psalm shows how difficult it can be to try to control sin with our own efforts.  Vs. 7 says, "And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you."

Proverbs 10:10

Don't wink at wrong doing like Herod did.  Have a bold reproof like Christ.

What did you notice today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 21- Bundles of Depravity

February 21, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Leviticus 11:1-12:8; Mark 5:21-43;
Psalm 38:1-22; Proverbs 10:8-9

A baby is God's opinion that life should go on. 
~Carl Sandburg

Leviticus 11:1-12:8

When I first moved to St. Louis back in the 1980's I found a church with a wonderful pastor named David Winecoff.  David was young, intelligent and outspoken.  I learned a lot from him in just a short amount of time.  One lesson in particular sticks out in my mind.  As the father of five young children, David used to remind the congregation that we are born sinners.  Never one to sugar-coat an idea, David would call his own babies "little bundles of depravity."  Wow.  This was so opposite of how I had grown up thinking of  "innocent" babies.  I never forgot that image or the message behind it.

Today the laws of Moses switch from focusing on the priests to focusing on the people.  We will get dietary laws and laws for mothers who have just had children.  In each case, we will see that David Winecoff had it right.  God sets these rules to remind us that we are each "little bundles of depravity."

You may remember that in Genesis 9:3 God changes the dietary rules on earth to allow humans to eat animals.  This was part of the process of insuring that man's days would be limited to approximately 120 years, unlike the long lives of human beings prior to the Flood.  Now we have God intervening in the dietary lives of the Israelites again for the express purpose of extending and preserving them as a people group.  The animal foods are divided into clean and unclean with the unclean being forbidden to the Jews.  This was for health benefits as the unclean animals are, for the most part, unclean feeders.  These animals would have been more prone to have low level parasites in their system which could cause parasitic diseases among the community.

It is interesting to note that the clean animals had split hooves and chewed the cud.  These animals were vegetable eaters and did not consume other animals.  Symbolically, this points to the sinless life of Christ.  In addition, some commentators believe that the split hoof of the clean creatures represent the set apart life of the nation of Israel and the life of Christ.  His holiness is apart from the world.  Finally, the word "meditate" in the Old Testament psalms, where it states that the godly will meditate on the Law day and night, is the same word used for "chewing the cud."  Just as these animals keep chewing the same food over and over, believers should "chew on" God's Word again and again.

These laws focus on the the external character of sin.  Sin is a result of coming in contact with something unclean.  These dietary laws were designed to keep the nation of Israel set apart from other nations on earth, healthy, and prepared to be the people group that would bring the Messiah to earth.

Next, God gives laws that reflect the internal character of sin within mankind.  Normally when you think of a woman giving birth you think of a nurturing woman and an innocent baby.  Today's reading reflects that God sees the birth of a child as an opportunity to recognize that not only is the mother a sinner in need of a savior, but the child she is bringing into the world is also in need of cleansing from sin.  The first period of uncleaness was for the baby.  The second period of uncleaness was for the mother.  Remember that Mary, the mother of Jesus, only participated in the second period of uncleaness at Christ's birth.  She brought two turtle-doves for her sin.  No offering was made for Jesus.

It is clear that David Winecoff had it right!  The ancient Laws of Moses confirm that God believes we are each born "little bundles of depravity." God is always painting a picture that shows that humans are in need of a Savior.  God intends to solve this problem!

Do you believe that man is fundamentally good?  How do you see the sinfulness of man, even in babies?

Mark 5:21-43

Jesus is in the business of healing.  Today we see two different incidents where Jesus heals.  As our reading begins, a local Jewish synagogue leader comes to Jesus because his daughter is dying.  Jesus follows Jarius to his house along with a huge crowd of people.  Within that crowd is another woman who needs healing.  The Bible tells us that she has been bleeding internally for twelve years!  Having just read the Old Testament Law, we now know that she would have been considered unclean for this long.  Knowing this, she does not approach Christ directly.  Instead, with tremendous faith, she merely touches his robe. 

Jesus feels his healing power go out of his body into someone.  I believe Jesus knew who had been healed, but he wants her to be recognized for her faith.  He wants to show that he comes to clean those who are unclean.  With compassion, Jesus tells the confessing woman that her faith has healed her.  Do you feel unclean and unworthy to go to Christ directly with your sins?  Learn from this dear woman that Jesus can also heal you and make you clean.  He will say to you, "Go in peace.  Your faith has healed you."

Next, messengers arrive to tell Jarius to forget it.  His daughter has died.  Jesus proceeds anyway.  Outside of the house, Jesus tells the crowd that the girl is merely asleep.  They laugh derisively.  Jesus goes in the house and tells the 12 year old girl to "get up." The girl is brought back to life.  Jesus then tells the parents not to tell anyone and to give her something to eat.  This incident is recorded because Jesus allowed Peter, James, and John to witness the miracle.

Do you sometimes feel "dead" in your soul?  Do you need Christ to bring you back to life?  He is the man of miracles.  He can bring the young and the old back to life. This miracle is a picture of a spiritual reality. Only through faith in Christ are we who are dead in our trespasses and sin brought to life through Christ. Our spirits are quickened and born again, and our trust in Jesus the Savior causes us to go from little bundles of depravity in the eyes of God to righteous new babes in the faith, pure through Christ's work on the cross, not our own efforts to be good.

Psalm 38:1-22

This psalm reminds me to grieve over my sin.  It reminds me that without Christ, I remain unclean.

Proverbs 10:8-9

vs. babbling fools fall flat on their faces.  People with integrity have a firm footing, but people on crooked paths will slip and fall.

Lord, keep me away from the crooked paths.  Let me stand on Christ the Solid Rock.

What did you get out of today's reading?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

P.S.  Twenty years ago today, I brought a beautiful "little bundle of depravity" into this world.  Today is my daughter Sarah's birthday!  I thank God for her today and every day!  I love you, Sarah!

Sarah, my daughter

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20- Willful Disobedience

February 20, 2011
Scripture Readings:
Leviticus 9:7-10:20; Mark 4:26-5:20;
Psalm 37:30-40; Proverbs 10:6-7
Whenever there is authority, there is a natural inclination to disobedience. 
~Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Leviticus 9:7-10:20

It is a beautiful sunny morning.  Jane is a confident young mother.  Her child, Sam, is the perfect baby.  Jane has nurtured and loved him.  Sam is developing nicely. As he sits on the floor playing with blocks in the warm and cozy kitchen, Jane prepares his breakfast.  Sam is around two years old and can murmur a few words.  He has learned dada, mama, and no.  Jane notices that Sam has moved over to the electrical outlet and it trying to put his finger in the socket.  She promptly goes to Sam and holds his hand.  Looking intently into his eyes, Jane says, “No, Sam.  Do not put your finger in the electrical socket. NO.”  Sam is startled.  He looks down and pouts.  Jane walks back over to the counter, but keeps her eye on Sam.  He lifts his eyes and gazes at her as his finger moves slowly back towards the socket.
Today in our reading we see willful disobedience that brings the swift judgment of God.  The men who disobey are not two year olds.  They are old enough to know better than to disobey, but their actions and tragic deaths are a lesson to the whole community of Israel and to you and me today.
Everything seems to be going smoothly.  Aaron and his sons have completed the sin offering, burnt offering, grain offering, and peace offering without a hitch.  The glorious presence of the Lord has come down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.  The people are so overwhelmed with God’s powerful presence that they fall flat on their faces in awe and worship. 
Then, Nadab and Abilu decide to put coals of fire in their incense burner and sprinkle some incense over it. They had been instructed in Exodus 30:34-38 the exact formula for the incense.  They had been told how and when to do this ritual.  We are not sure exactly which rule they broke.  Some commentators think that they used coals that were not from the altar.  They were supposed to only use fire coals from the altar for the incense burners.  Regardless, God, who is the consuming fire, blazes forth and burns them up.  This is a shocking incident. 
Moses speaks to Aaron after the incident and says, “This is what the Lord meant when he said, ‘I will show myself holy among those who are near me.  I will be glorified before all the people.’”
Aaron’s response to this was silence.  Although this response may seem odd, Aaron was probably in shock. His silence is a sign of humility and faith.
After this incident, Moses gives Aaron and his remaining sons the rule that they are never to drink wine or alcoholic drink before going into the Tabernacle.  Some commentators speculate that Nadab and Abilu were drunk when they sinned.  Regardless, this is a harsh reminder that God is a god of judgment.  As representatives of the people before God, these men had a responsibility to obey God’s rules regarding the sacrifices.
If these sacrifices and offerings are a picture of Christ, then Nadab and Abilu profaned the picture of Jesus that God was creating.  Their disobedience reflected more than willful disobedience, it reflected a lack of faith in following God’s way. Rather than relying on the Spirit of God in their lives, they were relying on alcohol and what they thought was right. They showed contempt for God and his regulations. God showed zero tolerance for this in the priesthood.
God can use physical death in the life of a believer to stop harmful living. Some people call this a severe mercy. For the most part, people today live under the age of grace brought forth by Christ.  This should not cause us to be slackers in our faith.  Obedience is a key characteristic of true faith in Christ.  Obedience prevents getting burned by our Consuming Fire.
How do you feel about the extreme nature of the punishment these men received?  How does this tie to the concept that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord?

Mark 4:26-5:20
Mark confirms in his gospel that Jesus taught the people only in parables and would later explain the parables to the disciples.  Remember the image of a small group bible study.  Jesus was their leader.  We will see him explain the whole Old Testament to them once he is resurrected. Jesus exemplified leadership through discipleship. The life of faith is the life of teaching the truths of Christ in a loving, committed relationship. The grace of God is taught as you walk by the road, sit in the living room, and eat in the kitchen together. This is what we see Christ doing with his disciples. Living life and modeling truth.
Next, Jesus shows his authority over nature when he calms the wind and the waves when a storm rises up on the lake.  Mark is making sure that the Gentiles who read this gospel are aware of Jesus’ power over nature.
Another demon possessed man comes out to meet Jesus once he lands on shore from the boat.  Following the pattern of all the evil spirits, he shrieks that Christ is torturing him and acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus asks what his name is. The demons answer that they are legions.  Think in terms of a Roman army regiment here. This poor man who no one could be around because of his extreme violence and super human strength was filled with evil spirits. The demons recognize that they are in a spiritual war and are troops with a mission. They also recognize that they are in front of the Commander of God's Forces. The demons beg Christ not to be sent into the abyss.  It should be noted that there are presently rebellious angels who are in the abyss that are released in the end times (See Revelation 9).  The abyss is a portion Sheol or Hades, also called  the place of the dead, where those who are not followers of Christ go when they die. Hades/Sheol is where both fallen angels (demons) and unsaved humans await the final judgment before being condemned to hell. 

Jesus asks the demons (fallen angels) if they would like to be sent into the pigs. They agree to this.  The pigs promptly run off the side of a cliff and die. The townspeople want nothing to do with Jesus.  What can we learn here? 
·        People can be possessed by evil spirits.
·        Demons have names and are individual creations with personalities and limited will.
·        Demons have knowledge of Jesus and his authority.
·        Demons are aware they will be judged one day.
·        Demons can possess an unsaved person and control that person’s actions and physical body.

These stories in Scripture teach us realities about things we are unable to see.  The spirit world is for the most part not accessible to us.  Jesus’ interaction with these demons is important for all believers.  We are not to fear demons.  If Jesus is our Lord, then his power within us keeps us safe from evil spirits. Remember, greater is he who is in us, than he who is in the world.
Do you fear the supernatural?  Do you spend time worrying about ghosts and demons?
Psalm 37:30-40
Vs. 30-31 The godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong. They fill their hearts with God’s law, so they never slip from his path.
Can you say this about yourself?
Proverbs 10:6-7
If you are godly, you are showered with blessings.  Have you counted your blessings today?
What did you see today as you studied?
Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton