Day 51 – February 20

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 23-24
Mark 2
Psalm 51

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?”   – Mark 2:5-7

In our first reading today from Leviticus 24:16, we saw what happens when a person blasphemes God; death by stoning. Now, members of the Sanhedrin, the Scribes, were present when Jesus spoke these words forgiving another’s sin. By doing so, he was making himself an equal with God.

The Jews believed that a person with an infirmity was a person who had sinned against God. The story of Job shows this attitude when his friends come to comfort him, and Zophar recommends to Job that it is his sin that has caused his current plight (Job 11:13-15).

Back to today’s gospel, the questioning of the Scribes is answered with Jesus’ action. It also makes us pause and ask, ‘Why did Jesus say his sins were forgiven if he planned to heal the man?’ Wouldn’t it have saved him a lot of trouble just to heal him and skip the dialogue?

Probably. But Jesus came to heal the souls of all men through His redemptive act of love on the Cross. His challenge to the understanding of the Scribes about sin and sickness, he antis up, when challenged about those whose company he keeps.

“Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard this and said to them [that], “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” – Mark 2:16-17

If he calls sinners and offers forgiveness through his healing them, Jesus demonstrates he is a physician not only of the body but of the soul. His signs and wonders keep pointing to a reality that Jesus was more than a prophet; his words and his works manifested the truth of God among us. If only we have eyes to see and believe.

May God bless you!

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Day 177 – June 26

Today’s Readings:

2 Chronicles 3-4
Acts 8:1-25
Job 21

…when Simon (the magician) saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! . – Acts 8:18-20

In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the church is starting spread out because of the persecutions taking place in Jerusalem. How, what is intended for evil actually brings about good, because disciples like Philip are taking their love for Jesus with them as they disperse, bringing the good news that they cannot keep for themselves. They went forth with the power of the Holy Spirit in them and worked many signs through prayer, that even Simon the magician was converted.

But Simon also shows us that even in the Church we can have misunderstandings of how to obtain power. It isn’t something earned, or something we can purchase with good works. The gifts of the spirit are just that, gifts, freely given for us to use for God’s glory.

Let us seek to do God’s will using our gifts. Not for our glory, or power, but that God and His love may be revealed to the world.

May God bless you.

Day 178 – June 27

Today’s Readings:

2 Chronicles 5-6
Acts 8:26-40
Job 22

“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them; 27 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel…” – 2 Chronicles 6:26-27

Notation: in the audio, King David is mentioned as the one praying for the people; it is in fact his son, King Solomon, in the dedication of the temple.

May God bless you.

Day 176 – June 25

Today’s Readings:

2 Chronicles 1-2
Acts 7:44-60
Job 20

When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. – Acts 7:58

Today we witness the first recorded martyrdom in the Church, and the reality of the life of the Christian faithful. Stephen is brought to trial because he makes the Jews uncomfortable in their living the Law. Stephen’s authentic living of faith and his bold proclamation of Jesus is too much for them, and they find reason to kill him. Here, at Stephen’s death, another man enters the picture. Saul, a zealous Jew, is to rise to be one of the great persecutors of the Christians, until He is confronted with Jesus.

Stephen’s death was senseless, and so seems to suffering of Job. Again we see God working his tapestry from the underside, the picture of His masterpiece hidden in the confusion of our daily life. Let us offer our lives like Stephen, trusting that God will use our small sacrifice to the benefit of His masterwork.

May God bless you.

Day 175 – June 24

Today’s Readings:

1 Chronicles 27-28
Acts 7:22-43
Job 19

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. – Job 19:25

Job protests the treatment he receives from his so called ‘friends’, and despite what he describes as an abandonment by God, he still testifies to his faith in God as the one who redeems.

To ‘redeem’ is to buy back, or to make up for the lack or wrong-doing of a person. We hear today Stephen, in the Book of Acts, telling of the sin of the people Israel, who chose to reject God and the consequences of that choice. And yet, despite the times when we too reject God, he waits in the wings for us to turn back to Him that we may be saved.

Job understood this. He placed all of his hope in that future event – the one we know all too well when we look upon the Cross of Christ – that even in the misery of Job’s current state, he would be at peace because God promised to redeem him and his people. May we have the patience of Job, and his faith, to approach the setbacks of life with courage, putting all of our trust in our future – a future bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.

May God bless you.