The scripture for today, August 2 (8/2), is Matthew 8:2 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lor if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out hishand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.’ “
People in Jesus’ day who had leprosy had to live outside of town in what we would call a leper colony. And if someone without leprosy started getting close to them, they were required to call out, “Unclean! Unclean!”
But here was a man who apparently pushed his way through a crowd where he didn’t belong. He didn’t ask Jesus if he could heal him; he asked if he was willing to. After all, he was “unclean”. Remarkably, Jesus said yes.
Then Jesus did another remarkable thing: He touched the man. He touched the leprosy. Not only was he willing to be seen with an unclean man, he was willing to touch him.
Jesus still does this today. When we come to him with a diseased heart wondering if we are good enough, Jesus reaches out across the centuries and touches us. And his voice echoes across the centuries and says, “I am willing.”
No matter how much sin mars your life, Jesus still today can say, “Be clean.”
The scripture for today, June 26 (6/26) is 1st Chronicles 6:26ff as found in the Old Testament of the Bible.
“Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son and SAMUEL his son. The sons ofSamuel: JOEL the firstborn and Abijah the second son.”
This is a little long, but I think you will enjoy it.
The prophet Samuel came from a musical family who descended from Levi’s son Kohath. Samuel’s son listed in this scripture was Joel. Verse 33 called the son of Joel and grandson of Samuel “Heman the musician”. Just what did Heman the musician do?
David told the Levites to appoint “singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps, and cymbals“. Heman was the first one they appointed (I Chronicles 15:16f) and he had two assistants ~ Asaph and Merari (I Chronicles. 6:39, 44). David put them in charge of the music in the house of the Lord and they performed their duties according to the regulations (verses 31f).
So what David appointed was a choir and orchestra. When David first appointed them, Heman had 120 relatives in his clan, and his assistants had 220 and 130 in their clans (I Chronicles. 15:5-7; 19-22; 27-28) so they had a total of 470 musicians. Wow! And these musicians had a full-time job!
They were to minister before the Lord “according to each day’s requirements” of sacrifices as written in the Law of Moses. Heman and the others were responsible for sounding the trumpets and cymbals and playing the other instruments ~lyres, harps, and cymbals(15:19-21) ~ for sacred song (16:37-42). In addition to playing the prescribed lyres, harps and cymbals, trumpets were to be sounded to announce sacrifices, etc. (16:4-6).
By the time David was old, there were “four thousand…to praise the Lord with the musical instruments” (I Chronicles 23:5)! What an amazing choir and orchestra they had by this time! Remember, they were all male Levites, and were to help Aaron’s descendants, the priests, in the temple every day and at special feasts (verse 28, 30f). And what instruments were they still playing? Cymbals, lyres andharps “for the ministry at the house of God” (I Chronicles. 25:1 & 6).
Years later after David died and his son Solomon had completed the grand Temple in Jerusalem (II Chronicles. 5:1), “all the Levites who were musicians…stood on the east side of the altar dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres, accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison as with one voice to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and the other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord” (verses 12-13).
Can you imagine such an orchestra and choir? The tinkling of the harps and lyres, with cymbals keeping the tempo, and trumpets calling attention to it all? And all those singers! Was God pleased? Indeed he was, for in the form of a cloud “the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God” (verse 14).
All this occurred around 1000 BC. Three centuries later when Hezekiah was king, the same instruments were being played ~ cymbals,harps and lyres (II Chronicles. 29:25f). Why? Because they were prescribed by David, Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet as commanded by God through his prophets. (Acts 2:29-30 says David was a prophet too.)
So we see that during Old Testament times, God commanded that they have full-time musicians to sing and play during daily sacrifices and special feasts and they had to be male Levites and they had to play cymbals, harps and lyres, sometimes accompanied by trumpets.
What a family Samuel had! And I’ll bet he was musical himself. How proud he would have been of his descendants.
Interestingly, although God specified every detail of the instruments that had to be played in the Old Testament, nothing like that was specified in the New Testament. Did God forget? Perhaps God took us to a higher plain in the New Testament era. We do know that in I Corinthians 14:15, we are told to both pray and sing with mind and spirit.
About 40 years ago when my father died, the funeral was in a little country church. The music consisted of a small group from the congregation who sang hymns without the accompaniment of an instrument. They were not good performers ~ they twanged a lot and sometimes were a bit off key. But it was some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Why? Because their singing was accompanied by their heart. They were telling my family, “We love you,” and I really felt they did.
And in Ephesians 5:19 we are told to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heartto the Lord.” The term “make music” in the original Greek language of the New Testament is to play on strings. Since we are to make music in our hearts, then we are to play on theinstrument of our heart. How beautiful!
God looks down at our singing ~ no matter how good or feeble ~ and says, “I can tell you love me.” And that’s all that matters.
The scripture for today, June 20 (6/20), is Matthew 6:20f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
In describing heaven, terms are used like pearls, diamonds, emeralds, gold, and so on. So, certainly, God is not against riches. Otherwise, he would not have described heaven with those terms.
So, what is the problem? We must ask ourselves, “If I lost everything tomorrow, could I face life?”. We may say yes, but what about friends who are now unsure they want to associate with someone with nothing? So, it is not only a greed problem, but a social problem. It is a problem of losing both our possessions and our friends.
We could solve this problem by moving out into the country where possessions and social status don’t mean so much. Or we could stay where we are and just change our choice of friends. Our new friends may be truer friends than we ever had before and may need us more.
Lastly, if we lost our job, our car, our home ~ our identity ~ would we be so devastated that we would contemplate suicide as some have done? Or would we be able to look around us and see what we can do without having possessions and without having a job to occupy our time?
There are always things we can do for others. Is that truly where our heart is? In that case, loss of everything will not bring catastrophe. Rather, it can give opportunities to reveal what stuff we are made of deep down inside where our true treasure is ~ in our heart.
The scripture for today, June 5 (6/5), is Deuteronomy 6:5as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Jesus said this is the greatest of all the commandments (Mark 12:29). He didn’t say that any of the Ten Commandments were. He chose one of the over 600 commandments God gave to Moses in the Old Testament. It might have been lost in the crowd, but Jesus called it out and gave it special attention.
Although we no longer keep the Old Testament Law of Moses, we do have the New Testament Law of Jesus. There aren’t as any commandments, but there are some. Sometimes Jesus’ law repeats something in the Old Law such as the one above, so we keep it. But it was his choice what to carry over, not ours.
Some people don’t even know that they’re obeying any of the Laws of Moses. Well, then, all we have to do is read that Law and see if we recognize anything we’re doing.
Do we love the Lord our God enough to no longer keep even one of the commandments in the law of Moses, or do we say the church cannot function if it gives up certain ones? Do we love the Lord our God enough to keep all of the commandments of Jesus or do we say the church is too modern now to keep certain ones?
Let us not be like the clay telling the potter what to do. Let us love the Lord our God—not ourselves–with all our heart, soul and strength.