"Have faith in God."
Faith is the foot of the soul by which it can march along the road of the commandments. Love can make the feet move more swiftly; but faith is the foot which carries the soul. Faith is the oil enabling the wheels of holy devotion and of earnest piety to move well; and without faith the wheels are taken from the chariot, and we drag heavily. With faith I can do all things; without faith I shall neither have the inclination nor the power to do anything in the service of God. If you would find the men who serve God the best, you must look for the men of the most faith. Little faith will save a man, but little faith cannot do great things for God. Poor Little-faith could not have fought "Apollyon;" it needed "Christian" to do that. Poor Little-faith could not have slain "Giant Despair;" it required "Great-heart's" arm to knock that monster down. Little faith will go to heaven most certainly, but it often has to hide itself in a nut-shell, and it frequently loses all but its jewels. Little-faith says, "It is a rough road, beset with sharp thorns, and full of dangers; I am afraid to go;" but Great-faith remembers the promise, "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; as thy days, so shall thy strength be:" and so she boldly ventures. Little-faith stands desponding, mingling her tears with the flood; but Great-faith sings, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:" and she fords the stream at once. Would you be comfortable and happy? Would you enjoy religion? Would you have the religion of cheerfulness and not that of gloom? Then "have faith in God." If you love darkness, and are satisfied to dwell in gloom and misery, then be content with little faith; but if you love the sunshine, and would sing songs of rejoicing, covet earnestly this best gift, "great faith."
"It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man."
Doubtless the reader has been tried with the temptation to rely upon the things which are seen, instead of resting alone upon the invisible God. Christians often look to man for help and counsel, and mar the noble simplicity of their reliance upon their God. Does this evening's portion meet the eye of a child of God anxious about temporals, then would we reason with him awhile. You trust in Jesus, and only in Jesus, for your salvation, then why are you troubled? "Because of my great care." Is it not written, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord"? "Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make known your wants unto God." Cannot you trust God for temporals? "Ah! I wish I could." If you cannot trust God for temporals, how dare you trust him for spirituals? Can you trust him for your soul's redemption, and not rely upon him for a few lesser mercies? Is not God enough for thy need, or is his all-sufficiency too narrow for thy wants? Dost thou want another eye beside that of him who sees every secret thing? Is his heart faint? Is his arm weary? If so, seek another God; but if he be infinite, omnipotent, faithful, true, and all-wise, why gaddest thou abroad so much to seek another confidence? Why dost thou rake the earth to find another foundation, when this is strong enough to bear all the weight which thou canst ever build thereon? Christian, mix not only thy wine with water, do not alloy thy gold of faith with the dross of human confidence. Wait thou only upon God, and let thine expectation be from him. Covet not Jonah's gourd, but rest in Jonah's God. Let the sandy foundations of terrestrial trust be the choice of fools, but do thou, like one who foresees the storm, build for thyself an abiding place upon the Rock of Ages.
Today's reading: Numbers 35-36, Mark 10:1-31 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Towns for the Levites
1 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. And give them pasturelands around the towns. 3 Then they will have towns to live in and pasturelands for the cattle they own and all their other animals.
4 “The pasturelands around the towns that you give the Levites will extend a thousand cubits from the town wall. 5Outside the town, measure two thousand cubits on the east side, two thousand on the south side, two thousand on the west and two thousand on the north, with the town in the center. They will have this area as pastureland for the towns.
Cities of Refuge
6 “Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone may flee. In addition, give them forty-two other towns. 7 In all you must give the Levites forty-eight towns, together with their pasturelands. 8The towns you give the Levites from the land the Israelites possess are to be given in proportion to the inheritance of each tribe: Take many towns from a tribe that has many, but few from one that has few.”
9 Then the LORD said to Moses: 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 11select some towns to be your cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone accidentally may flee. 12 They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that anyone accused of murder may not die before they stand trial before the assembly. 13 These six towns you give will be your cities of refuge. 14 Give three on this side of the Jordan and three in Canaan as cities of refuge. 15 These six towns will be a place of refuge for Israelites and for foreigners residing among them, so that anyone who has killed another accidentally can flee there.
16 “‘If anyone strikes someone a fatal blow with an iron object, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death. 17 Or if anyone is holding a stone and strikes someone a fatal blow with it, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death. 18 Or if anyone is holding a wooden object and strikes someone a fatal blow with it, that person is a murderer; the murderer is to be put to death. 19 The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when the avenger comes upon the murderer, the avenger shall put the murderer to death. 20 If anyone with malice aforethought shoves another or throws something at them intentionally so that they die 21 or if out of enmity one person hits another with their fist so that the other dies, that person is to be put to death; that person is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when they meet.
22 “‘But if without enmity someone suddenly pushes another or throws something at them unintentionally 23 or, without seeing them, drops on them a stone heavy enough to kill them, and they die, then since that other person was not an enemy and no harm was intended, 24 the assembly must judge between the accused and the avenger of blood according to these regulations. 25 The assembly must protect the one accused of murder from the avenger of blood and send the accused back to the city of refuge to which they fled. The accused must stay there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the holy oil.
26 “‘But if the accused ever goes outside the limits of the city of refuge to which they fled 27 and the avenger of blood finds them outside the city, the avenger of blood may kill the accused without being guilty of murder. 28 The accused must stay in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest; only after the death of the high priest may they return to their own property.
29 “‘This is to have the force of law for you throughout the generations to come, wherever you live.
30 “‘Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.
31 “‘Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer, who deserves to die. They are to be put to death.
32 “‘Do not accept a ransom for anyone who has fled to a city of refuge and so allow them to go back and live on their own land before the death of the high priest.
33 “‘Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34 Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the LORD, dwell among the Israelites.’”
Inheritance of Zelophehad’s Daughters
1 The family heads of the clan of Gilead son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, who were from the clans of the descendants of Joseph, came and spoke before Moses and the leaders, the heads of the Israelite families. 2 They said, “When the LORD commanded my lord to give the land as an inheritance to the Israelites by lot, he ordered you to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. 3 Now suppose they marry men from other Israelite tribes; then their inheritance will be taken from our ancestral inheritance and added to that of the tribe they marry into. And so part of the inheritance allotted to us will be taken away. 4 When the Year of Jubilee for the Israelites comes, their inheritance will be added to that of the tribe into which they marry, and their property will be taken from the tribal inheritance of our ancestors.”
5 Then at the LORD’s command Moses gave this order to the Israelites: “What the tribe of the descendants of Joseph is saying is right. 6 This is what the LORD commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within their father’s tribal clan. 7 No inheritance in Israel is to pass from one tribe to another, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal inheritance of their ancestors. 8 Every daughter who inherits land in any Israelite tribe must marry someone in her father’s tribal clan, so that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of their ancestors. 9No inheritance may pass from one tribe to another, for each Israelite tribe is to keep the land it inherits.”
10 So Zelophehad’s daughters did as the LORD commanded Moses. 11 Zelophehad’s daughters—Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milkah and Noah—married their cousins on their father’s side.12 They married within the clans of the descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in their father’s tribe and clan.
13 These are the commands and regulations the LORD gave through Moses to the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho.
1 Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
The Little Children and Jesus
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Ezra, Ezrah [Ĕz'ră]—help or my helper.
- The head of one of the twenty-two courses of priests that came up from exile with Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Neh. 10:2-8; 12:1, 13). Probably the Azariah of Ezra 7:1.
- A descendant of Judahthrough Caleb (1 Chron. 4:17).
- The famous scribe and priestdescended from Hilkiah the high priest (Ezra 7:1-25).
The Man Who Honored Scripture
Ezra or 1 Esdras, as he is called in the Vulgate, was the son or grandson of Seraiah, the high priest who was slain after the taking of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:18, 21). As a priest, he was descended from Zadok and from Phinehas ( Ezra 7:1-6). He was also a ready scribe (Ezra 7:6, 11, 12, 20), which occupation implied three things:
He was a student and as such had a duty to himself to study the will of God as revealed in His Word, that he might hide it in his own heart (Ezra 7:10).
He was an interpreter with a duty to his own generation in teaching his fellow exiles what he had learned. In this way he gave the “sense” of the Word ( Neh. 8:2-8).
He was a copyist, which meant that this learned man had a duty to his own race in multiplying and preserving intact the very words of God (Ezra 7:10, 11).
Ezra was also an able administrator. He conducted the Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem in peace and safety, and establishing himself as their leader, reformed them with a vigorous hand. Summarizing his life and labors, we can say that this Old Testament reformer was:
I. A man of deep humility and self-denial (Ezra 7:10-15; 10:6).
II. A man of great learning with a fervent zeal for God’s honor (Ezra 7:10; 8:21-23).
III. A man of great trustworthiness ( Ezra 7:13, 26).
IV. A man anxious to commend his cause to others (Ezra 8:2-20).
V. A man who knew how to pray ( Ezra 8:21; 10:1).
VI. A man deeply grieved over the sins of the people (Ezra 9:3;10:6).
VII. A man who spared no pains to bring the people to repentance.
Traditional history says that it was Ezra who instituted the Great Synagogue, became its first President, settled the Canon of Jewish Scripture and began the building of synagogues in Jewish provincial towns. Ezra lived to a good old age, dying like Moses at the age of 120 years.
Ezra was a studious, prayerful ecclesiastic who set his heart to realize definite ideals:
To know the Law of Jehovah. What a passion was his to ascertain, explain and administer that Law!
To will to do the Law. Ezra not only taught the Law but urged the people to serve the Lord with heart, mouth and mind.
The key words of the Book of Ezra are Restoration, Reorganization, Reformation. The emphasis is upon the preservation of the national and religious life of the people. The leading ideas of the book are:
The Purity of Worship
The Sanctity of the Sabbath
The Power of Prayer
The Faithfulness of God
Order in Religion and Delight in Praise
Mutual help in Service
The Purity of Common life.
Important note: This morning's edition of "Everything New" contained a broken link to the subscription page for Mel's "Knowing Him" Easter devotional. The link has been corrected below; you can find the subscription page here. We apologize for the error.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CANNOT DO FOR OURSELVES
In the 11th century, a wise Christian by the name of Anselm wrote a small book called Cur Deus Homo, Why God Became Man, and in it he offered a straightforward interpretation of salvation. Anselm said that only man should solve the problem of sin-but only God could. Who ought to suffer the consequences for the mistakes and crimes of human beings? Human beings, of course. But the problem is, we cannot really pay for our own sins. We were designed as creatures of perfect goodness and nobility. So every failing, every negligence, every assault against another person puts us deeper and deeper into a moral deficit. No one can make up for all that.
No one, that is, except God.
Only man should solve the problem of sin, but only God could. And so God became man. Now Christians don’t believe this because it is a neat, logical solution. It is, rather, because of the whole eye-opening, mind-blowing, assumption-shattering experience we have had with Jesus Christ since he came. Jesus’ claims about why he came, in other words, have proven true many times over in the lives of countless human beings from almost every culture in the world.
The weeks leading up to Easter are a great time to grow in the knowledge of Christ as Savior and Lord.
Philippians 3:10 says “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead.” This is what we need today!
You are invited to receive via email a three-week daily devotional I have written, focussing on the Christ who died and rose for us. It begins March 22.
“Knowing Him: An Easter Devotional” is your opportunity to grow in the grace and power of Jesus. Use the link below to sign up. If you get the message “Update Your The Brook Network Profile,” just follow the steps it indicates.