Life Is a Vapor: March 15-21: Read through Leviticus, Numbers, and Acts

You are a vapor. A mere shadow. As such, you and I are fading flowers and must be ready to meet the eternal God, the Giver of life and breath and the Judge of the living and the dead. In order to be ready, we must believe the gospel, or good news, of Jesus. By God’s grace and through faith in Him, we’re saved. We’re transferred from death to life, from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the Son He loves.

As you read Leviticus 16 this week, you’ll read about the Day of Atonement which was the one day of the year in which the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies to meet with God. This day also involved special rituals. The high priest would offer a sacrifice for his sin and his family’s sin. Then he would take two goats. By lot, one would be sacrificed for the sins of the people, and the other would become the scapegoat. The high priest would place his hands on the head of the goat and confess the nation’s sin and rebellion and then send the goat into the wilderness, symbolically removing the sin of the people. All this was a foreshadow of Christ. He was the perfect Great High Priest. He was sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people, and He was the scapegoat on whom was laid the sins of the people. As the scapegoat was sent out into the wilderness, so Jesus was sent outside the city of Jerusalem to the cross.

Christ is our only hope of salvation, and it’s from this position of gracious security that the early disciples such as Paul and Silas and Barnabas and John Mark stepped out of their comfort zones to spend their lives for Christ and His gospel. As you read about their ministry this week, consider stepping out of your comfort zone to spend your life for Christ. Is your life being exhausted for Jesus or exhausted for your own agenda?

This week you’ll read…

Leviticus 15-21: To read more about the Day of Atonement, check out the links below.

Numbers 15-21: One of your chapters this week will focus on some disgruntled Israelites who became dissatisfied with the leadership and began seeing themselves as more important than they were. People were led astray by Korah’s actions, and he literally led a group of followers to an early grave. Are you good at submitting to the godly leaders in your life? Are you willing to follow God’s plan even if it takes you out of the limelight?

Psalms 37-39: “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday” (Psalm 37 in The Christian Standard Bible).

“Yes, every human being stands as only a vapor. Yes, a person goes about like a mere shadow. Indeed, they rush around in vain, gathering possessions without knowing who will get them. Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you” (Psalm 39 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Acts 15-21: “Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening” (Acts 16 in The New Living Translation). Are you being persecuted for your walk with Christ? Are you persevering with Jesus even when it gets tough to walk with Him?

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Unserious Christian?: March 8-14: Read through Leviticus, Numbers, and Acts

We’re either for God or against Him. We’re either gathering or scattering. We either treat God as the holy God He is or have a flippant attitude toward God and sin. We’re either progressing or regressing in our walk with Christ. We’re deceiving ourselves if we think there’s a middle plateau for the unserious Christian. Did I just use those two words together—unserious and Christian?

In Acts, we’ll see this week that a major persecution of the Church begins after the stoning of Stephen, and the Church scatters from Jerusalem to neighboring areas and beyond to escape the onslaught. One of those places was Antioch (in modern-day Turkey), and it was in Antioch where the believers were first derisively called Christians. Obviously, these believers were anything but unserious back in that day of persecution, yet in our modern context, Christianity is coupled with so much lack of sobriety that the early church possibly wouldn’t recognize many claimants to be their brothers or sisters in Christ.

As you read this week about Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10) and complainers and faith-slackers (Numbers 11-14) and then read about serious believers (Acts 8-14), examine your life. Is your Christianity marked by grace and holiness? Is your faith alive and working? Maybe you’ve become distracted by the cares of or your love for the world. Consider getting serious and doing an about-face if that’s the case.

This week you’ll read…

Leviticus 8-14: Nadab and Abihu were the elder sons of Aaron, the high priest. As such, they were priests as well, but had more limited roles than Aaron. God killed them with fire after they offered strange fire to Him. If you want to read more about the “strange fire” incident, click the link below.

What is the meaning of the strange fire in Leviticus 10:1?

Numbers 8-14: Moses deals with complainers and unbelief as they near the Promised Land. Keep this verse in mind for this passage. “Now without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Psalms 34-36: “Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34 in The Christian Standard Bible).

“Lord, Your faithful love reaches to heaven, Your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, Your judgments like the deepest sea” (Psalm 36 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Acts 8-14: Acts is such an exciting book of the Bible. It’s easy to see why so many people count it a favorite. Events this week include these. Saul persecutes the Church, and it scatters. Philip goes to Samaria to evangelize and later has an encounter with an Ethiopian. Saul has his Damascus Road experience. Peter ministers and brings the gospel to the Gentiles. James, one of the Twelve, is martyred. Peter is imprisoned for preaching Christ and is released by an angel. Paul and Barnabas take their first missionary journey.

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

What Are You Offering to God?: March 1-7: Read Leviticus, Numbers, and Acts

Have you given an offering to the Lord? Maybe it was money, time, or worship. In Leviticus and Numbers, you’ll read about various offerings which were God-prescribed ways to offer something to Him for various reasons: showing devotion to God, acknowledging sin and repentance and desiring forgiveness, and showing thanks to God for His provision and for fellowship, or peace.

The awesome thing about these Old Testament offerings is that when Jesus came, He fulfilled the Old Testament ceremonial law, so there’s no more need for shedding blood to cover our sin since the perfect sacrificial Lamb died once for the sin of the whole world. The Old Testament priests and sacrifices foreshadowed the ultimate Sacrifice who was simultaneously our Great High Priest. Therefore, as you read Leviticus, remember that it’s not outdated laws from another time but a picture of your redemption realized in Christ. This is what Peter understood after the resurrection, and then he proclaimed boldly this gospel to the crowds on the day of Pentecost which you’ll read about in Acts along with so many other historical accounts of disciples telling the gospel story.

This week you’ll read…

Leviticus 1-7: The following links will explain the various offerings.

Numbers 1-7: “May the Lord bless you and protect you; may the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the Lord look with favor on you and give you peace” (Numbers 6 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Psalms 31-33: Sometimes we get the mistaken notion that God was not merciful or gracious in the Old Testament. The truth is that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Read about God’s grace in Psalm 32 this week as King David recalls his sin. “How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!” (The Christian Standard Bible)

Acts 1-7: You’ll experience the exciting birth of the church as the Holy Spirit falls upon the believers and empowers them to share the gospel even in the face of persecution.

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Glory: February 22-28: Read through Exodus, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke

Glory! Preachers sometimes use this term in exclamation regarding a great biblical thought. Glory is used of valorous soldiers in war. No guts, no glory. Of course, God is the most glorious and the One who deserves every bit of glory from us. When we try to take credit for our noble feats, we get into trouble as we steal the show from the Lord. He gave you the strength, breath, and mental ability to get the job done, so we should give the credit to the One it’s due.

God’s glory can be displayed visibly to humans, and light is a common manifestation of God’s glory. You’ll read about Moses’ radiant face after he’d spent time with God on the mountain and at the tabernacle. Jesus revealed His glory to Peter, James, and John on a mountain. In our Luke reading this week, we’ll hear of Jesus’ resurrection which surely displayed some of the Lord’s glory. In your Zechariah reading, the prophet prophesies of the end times when God observably wields His glorious power as King over all the earth. In Revelation, that glory is displayed in the eternal city as light in the absence of the sun and moon.

Let us not neglect to deflect back to the Lord any glory given to us. He’s our Creator and Sustainer and deserves all the glory. After all, pride is not appropriate attire for a Christian.

This week you’ll read…

Exodus 34-40: In a passionate display of anger, Moses threw down and broke the first stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, so Moses meets with God again and new ones are made. Following God’s instructions, the tabernacle gets built and God’s glory fills it up.

Psalms 26-30: “The Lord is my light and salvation—whom should I fear?” (Psalm 27 in The Christian Standard Bible)

Zechariah 8-14: As you’re reading in Luke of Jesus’ arrest, torture, and crucifixion, you’ll also read Zechariah prophesy hundreds of years in advance of Jesus’ coming to earth as a baby, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zechariah 13 in The Christian Standard Bible). That is exactly what happened and what Jesus prophesied as well as He quoted Zechariah’s words, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matthew 26 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Luke 19-24: In addition to the events surrounding the end of Jesus’ life, we see Jesus encounter and save Zacchaeus the tax collector. We also see the marvelous encounter of the resurrected Christ with the men on the way to Emmaus.

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Hard-Headed: February 15-21: Read through Exodus, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke

When I was younger, my dad made this ridiculous claim that I was hard-headed. I didn’t think so, but now I have some of my own kids. Maybe it wasn’t so ridiculous after all. Humanity has a sin problem and coming with that is a varying degree of hard-headedness. You’ll read about some of this this week with the Israelites in the wilderness after the Red Sea deliverance, admonishments given by Zechariah, and reprimands from Jesus to the Pharisees. Are you ever hard-headed with God? Do you need to turn from your hard-headedness right now?

This week you’ll read…

Exodus 27-33: God continues to give Moses many instructions on top of Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, but the Israelites break their word in impatience and unbelief. “God said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites, “You’re one hard-headed people”’” (Exodus 33 in The Message Bible).

Psalms 21-25: Psalm 23 is a favorite psalm for many and is used at many funerals. “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have…” (Psalm 23 in The Message Bible). God has done so much for us. He’s our shepherd. He leads us, protects us, provides for us, corrects us, teaches us, and more. When we’re in Him and looking to Him, we realize that we’re in need of nothing else.

Zechariah 1-7: Zechariah, son of Berechiah, was a prophet around 500 years before Jesus was born on the earth. Zechariah was murdered by his countrymen, maybe the last prophet martyred in the Old Testament. Jesus referenced Zechariah to the religious leaders, “Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation—and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse. You can’t squirm out of this: Every drop of righteous blood ever spilled on this earth, beginning with the blood of that good man Abel right down to the blood of Zechariah, Barachiah’s son, whom you murdered at his prayers, is on your head. All this, I’m telling you, is coming down on you, on your generation” (Matthew 23 in The Message Bible). In Zechariah this week, you’ll read eight visions which he received from the Lord.

Luke 13-18: Jesus teaches many parables in this week’s reading, and He hangs out the Pharisees’ dirty laundry for all to see. After all, they like to be seen by people. He chides them in His parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. He rebukes them concerning their love of money, too, and He heals people on the Sabbath which caused quite a ruckus with those rule-keepers. Again, in Matthew 23, Jesus harshly chastises these men about things such as these in Luke, “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?” (The Message Bible)

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Love: February 8-14: Read through Exodus, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke

Love. This is a week of much romantic love on display as we approach Valentine’s Day on February 14. By the way, if you’re not prepared to lavish love on your significant other, consider this a reminder. God will deliver the Ten Commandments to His people in your reading this week, and you’ll hear about love from the lips of Jesus as well. However, have you ever thought of the Ten Commandments as God’s love on display to His people? A while back, I read a good little book by Ron Mehl called Right with God: Loving Instructions from the Father’s Heart which is a condensed version of his book called The Ten(der) Commandments. He points out that before Moses was given the Ten Commandments, God told Moses what to say to the Israelites before presenting the Ten to them. Exodus 19 reads this way in The Message Bible: “As Moses went up to meet God, God called down to him from the mountain: ‘Speak to the House of Jacob, tell the People of Israel: “You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep My covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be My special treasure. The whole Earth is Mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.” This is what I want you to tell the People of Israel.’” Do you see how awesome God’s love is to Israel? Now He has lavished His love on all who will surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. Whatever you’re going through, know today that if you’re in Christ, you’re deeply loved.

This week you’ll read…

Exodus 15-26: God provides. We learned that with Abraham on the mountain as he was about to sacrifice his son Isaac, but God provided a ram for him. God was only testing Abraham. In Exodus, we see God providing for the entire Israelite community which was in the millions of people. “The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand able-bodied men on foot, besides their families” (Exodus 12 in The Christian Standard Bible). As God provides food and water, He leads them into victory over the Amalekites and leads them to Mount Sinai where Moses and the people receive the Ten Commandments and other laws.

Psalms 19-20: See the sun in the day. Observe Orion’s Belt or the Big Dipper in the night sky. All these speak without speaking of a marvelous Creator. “God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening. Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, but their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere” (Psalm 19 in The Message Bible).

Micah 2-7: “Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6 in The Christian Standard Bible).

Luke 7-12: You’ll begin and end the week with love as you read about love on February 7 where Jesus links love for God and forgiveness from God. Then you’ll be reminded of love on February 14th because it’s Valentine’s Day. Whether you have a Valentine or not, you have a God who loves you greatly. “Let me be your Valentine/Hold you close and call you Mine/Wipe every tear from your eyes/And when your heart breaks/Know, My love, I’ll find a way/To give you all you need/Just trust in Me” (“Valentine” by Broken Vessels on their album Deeper).

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.

Smaller Bites: February 1-7: Read through Exodus, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke

When my youngest daughter was in preschool, I’d have to get on to her for shoving a whole Chick-fil-A nugget in her little mouth. She couldn’t even close her mouth as she chewed. I tried teaching her to take smaller bites. Taking a big bite out of something is one way to get it done, but we can also take smaller bites. This reading plan can be taken either way, but anyone can jump in each month since every month is a completely new plan with only Psalms bleeding over from month to month. In February, you’ll read completely through Exodus, Micah, Zechariah, and Luke and Psalms 16-30.

This week you’ll read…

Exodus 1-14: God is miraculous, and, in your reading this week, you’ll see for the first time in the Bible God’s use of people in displaying His miracles to the world. Moses is born, leaves Egypt under duress, is called by God at the burning bush, and then goes back to Egypt as God’s agent (with Aaron) of deliverance for His people through the display of God’s might in 10 plagues against Pharaoh and his gods. Ultimately, Pharaoh and his army are destroyed at the Red Sea after the Israelites walk through on dry ground.

Psalms 16-18: “Paint grace-graffiti on the fences” (Psalm 17 in The Message Bible). If you look for God’s grace, you’ll see it displayed everywhere. The souls of redeemed rebels and sinners are often tattooed or tagged with God’s grace-graffiti. Are you looking for people’s imperfections or for God’s grace on display?

Micah 1: It’s easy to get comfortable in our lives and forget God or at least put Him on the backburner, but God is not unresponsive to our complacency and sinfulness.

Luke 1-6: A miracle conception happens for the old couple Zach and Lizzie, and the virgin conception and birth occur to bring the Savior, the ultimate grace-graffiti artist, into the human world. The Artist displays God’s grace, tagging the sick and sinners with God’s grace as He heals, forgives, and teaches.

MSG are daily readings linked to The Message Bible on BibleGateway.com.

CSB are daily readings linked to The Christian Standard Bible on BibleGateway.com.

NLT are daily readings linked to The New Living Translation on BibleGateway.com.