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February 20, Day #51 – The LORD is My Shepherd

All of our readings for today contain several biblical principles that we need to apply to our hearts and lives. In Exodus 25-26, we see God instructing Moses in a variety of worship issues that will become a special part of the Israelites’ lives from this point forward. The Israelites are to bring offerings to God as their “hearts prompt them to give” (Exodus 25:2). Properly, we all owe God our very existence, thus, our hearts ought to prompt us often to give and to share with the Lord in His work. Here, in chapter 25, these offerings will be used for the construction of the ark, the table, and the lampstand – all of which point to Israel’s future Messiah and will be placed in the tabernacle. We also see at least four “I will” statements that confirm God’s presence and comfort to the Israelites: “I will … dwell [among you] (verse 8); … show you (verse 9); … give you (verse 16); … meet with you and give you” (verse 22). Sometimes, our daily lives may seem routine and mundane, but God is always here with us; He wants to “dwell with us, show us, meet with us, and give to us.” In chapter 26, we see the highly detailed instructions from God to Moses for the construction of the tabernacle and its environs. Everything about the tabernacle – the materials, dimensions, colors, symmetry, location, etc., - all serve the purpose of establishing (under the law) where and how the people were to meet with God. As such, the tabernacle is also a picture of Christ - Who is our Atonement. An atonement is a “covering,” and this word appears four times in Exodus 26 (cf., verses 13, 14, and 34). Christ’s sacrifice on the cross covers over our sins (cf., Psalm 32:1; Romans 4:7).

Psalm 23, of David, informs us that the Lord is always with us as we go through even the darkest days of our lives, and it affirms the truth of His divine presence and comfort. I am deeply thankful that, “even though I walk through the darkest valley,” He “is with me” (verse 4). This theme is also reiterated for us today in our Mark 4 reading as well. Even during the storm, Jesus was with them, and though He was asleep “on a cushion” (verse 38), He was nevertheless in full control. The disciples did not die, and they had no reason to fear. How often we are like that - fearful, but without any reason - for God “is with us” and has everything under His control. Indeed, our lives can often range from the stormy to the unexciting. As humans, we tend to cherish “the good old days” – forgetting that most of our days were pretty ordinary, but God is always with us – through our storms and through our tranquility. On this earth, we need to remember that we are still under the curse of sin. We cannot even comprehend its effects – reaching deep into our daily lives. However, we can be encouraged, knowing that God is always with us and heaven will not be like this life on earth.

Today’s passage from Mark 4:30 – 5:20 begins with the parable of the mustard seed, which follows yesterday's parable of the growing seed. In the same way that the farmer did not actually know how his seed grew, we also do not know how the kingdom of God grows. Jesus says that “it is like a mustard seed – the smallest seed” (verses 30-31). This seed is the Word of God – the Gospel – in which God has designed a mysterious, inherent law – a spiritual law – that defies human understanding. Only God knows how it works. This law operates when the Scriptures are shared and applied (i.e., planted) in the hearts of men and women, and it produces a massive increase – like the mustard plant. In this chapter, in addition to Jesus stilling the storm, we read about His healing of the demon-possessed man. We note that Jesus has no fear of him, and the man seeks Jesus out despite his legion of demons. Knowing Christ’s actual power and authority, the demons request that He send them into the herd of pigs – “about two thousand in number” (verse 13). This suggests a very large number of evil spirits that possessed and tormented this one man. These spirits were so evil and so wild as to drive the pigs - unable to control themselves - completely down “the steep bank into the lake” (verse 13). This man’s testimony was so important that Jesus told him to go back and report to his family and the people of the Decapolis “how much the Lord had done for him" (verse 19). All of our readings today constitute a unit that reflects the central power and authority of our Lord. May we be always faithful to praise Him!

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This is a beautiful illustration of the 23rd Psalms. It reminds me of the parchments I viewed at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. last year.

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