Day 50

God Loves Me

Wisdom Psalm 23:1-6
New Testament Mark 4:30-5:20
Old Testament Exodus 25:1-26:37

Introduction

High on the moors in the Welsh highlands, two ministers met a young shepherd boy who had impaired hearing and was illiterate. They explained that Jesus wanted to be his shepherd, who would always look after him as he, the boy, looked after his sheep. They taught him to repeat the words, ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1), using the fingers and thumb of his right hand to help him remember, starting with his thumb and then a finger for each word. They told him to pause at the fourth word ‘my’, and remember, ‘this psalm was meant for me’.

Some years later, one of them was passing through that same village and asked after the shepherd boy. The previous winter there had been terrible storms and the boy had died on the hills, buried in a snowdrift. The villager who was telling the story said, ‘There was one thing, however, that we didn’t understand. When his body was discovered he was holding the fourth finger of his right hand.’

The ‘parable’ illustrates the nature of God’s personal love for each one of us.

Many people today think of God as some great impersonal force. However, the God of the Bible is very different. His relationship with us is personal. St Paul wrote, ‘The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). He is ‘My God’ (Philippians 4:19). God loves me.

Wisdom

Psalm 23:1-6

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
  2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
  3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
  for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
  through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
  for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
  they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
  in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
  my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
  all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
  forever.

Commentary

1. My Shepherd

God cares for us like a shepherd cares for their sheep. There are times when I have felt spiritually drained. I love the fact that ‘He refreshes my soul’ (v.3a). Many times, I have written down situations in which I have needed guidance, and later I have been able to thank God because ‘He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake’ (v.3b). God has a great purpose for your life. Let him guide you along the right path for you. You don’t have to go through life full of fear, because he is with you (v.4).

2. My Host

The scene changes from a shepherd with his sheep to a host with his guest. This is a wonderful picture of what it is like to get alone with God in the midst of all the hassles of life: ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies’ (v.5a). He satisfies the hunger in your soul with a feast. Accept his invitation and spend time each day feeding your soul in his presence.

All of us will at some stage ‘walk through the valley of the shadow of death’ (v.4), facing our own death or the death of someone we love. Even then we need not be afraid because the Lord is with us (v.4).

I have often read this psalm to people who are very sick or dying. It is a great comfort to know that the Lord is near to us at all times: ‘Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’ (v.6).

Prayer

Lord, thank you for the way you have led me and protected me. Thank you that you satisfy my spiritual hunger and thirst with your presence and your love.

New Testament

Mark 4:30-5:20

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

Jesus Calms the Storm

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

5They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Commentary

3. My Lord

Have you ever been in a situation when suddenly, without warning, your life seems to be hit by a storm of hurricane proportions (4:37, AMP)?

The Sea of Galilee was notorious for sudden storms. The disciples knew that waves of that size could overturn their boat and take their lives.

Yet, Jesus was asleep (v.38). Sometimes when the storms come it appears that God is not doing anything. He does not seem to be answering your prayers or even listening to you. In times like this, your faith is being tested.

Eventually, Jesus calms the storm. He addresses the power behind the storms with words someone might use to a puppy: ‘Quiet! Be still!’ (v.39), showing he is Lord over nature. For the disciples, the passage starts with fear and ends with faith. A crisis tests your faith. Jesus wants you to learn to conquer your fears and trust him even in the middle of the storms of life. Choose faith over fear.

Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes he lets the storm rage and he calms you.

Next, Jesus demonstrates that he is Lord over the powers that try to destroy our lives. Somehow a demonised man (nicknamed Legion, 5:9) had ended up in a hellish place, self-harming (v.5) and chained by society (v.4), whose only answer was to lock him up. That was all they could do. The power of politicians, the state and the police is limited. Jesus did not judge or condemn the man. Rather he saw his potential to live in wholeness. Jesus gave an authoritative command and demonstrated his Lordship and power to set us free and heal us.

There were two distinct reactions from the people to the lordship of Jesus. The first was hostile (v.17). Commercial interests had been damaged. It can be rather uncomfortable when we see real power operating. On the other hand, some were interested (v.20).

One of the fascinating aspects of this story is that after Jesus had healed the demon-possessed man and set him free, the man begged to go with him (v.18), but Jesus did not let him (v.19).

I would have thought that this man would have benefited from some intensive follow-up with Jesus! However, Jesus gets him involved in evangelism straight away. He says, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you’ (v.19). And that is exactly what he did (v.20).

Don’t be overprotective of people who have recently come to faith. It’s sometimes good to get them speaking publicly about their new faith straight away. The next time Jesus came to the Decapolis, 4,000 people came to listen. This man’s testimony seems to have had a big impact.

Maybe this is why Mark places the story shortly after the parable of the mustard seed. The demoniac may have felt he had little to offer, but his life had a huge impact. Jesus says that God can do a lot with a very small seed – a mustard seed (4:31). ‘When planted, it grows’ (v.32).

The issue is not how much you have, but what you do with it. A mustard seed needs to be planted in the ground straight away or else it is lost. If it is planted, the growth is so strong it can go through concrete. The lesson is simple: use it or lose it. Use what you have and God will multiply it many times over.

Prayer

Thank you that you are Lord over all. Thank you that I can trust you in times of crisis and I do not need to fear.

Old Testament

Exodus 25:1-26:37

Offerings for the Tabernacle

25The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. 3 These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; 4 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 5 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; 6 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 7 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

The Ark

10 “Have them make an ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. 11 Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. 12 Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. 13 Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it. 15 The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. 16 Then put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give you.

17 “Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19 Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you. 22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.

The Table

23 “Make a table of acacia wood—two cubits long, a cubit wide and a cubit and a half high. 24 Overlay it with pure gold and make a gold molding around it. 25 Also make around it a rim a handbreadth wide and put a gold molding on the rim. 26 Make four gold rings for the table and fasten them to the four corners, where the four legs are. 27 The rings are to be close to the rim to hold the poles used in carrying the table. 28 Make the poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold and carry the table with them. 29 And make its plates and dishes of pure gold, as well as its pitchers and bowls for the pouring out of offerings. 30 Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.

The Lampstand

31 “Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. 33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.

37 “Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. 38 Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. 39 A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

The Tabernacle

26“Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker. 2 All the curtains are to be the same size —twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. 3 Join five of the curtains together, and do the same with the other five. 4 Make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and do the same with the end curtain in the other set. 5 Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. 6 Then make fifty gold clasps and use them to fasten the curtains together so that the tabernacle is a unit.

7 “Make curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle—eleven altogether. 8 All eleven curtains are to be the same size —thirty cubits long and four cubits wide. 9 Join five of the curtains together into one set and the other six into another set. Fold the sixth curtain double at the front of the tent. 10 Make fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and also along the edge of the end curtain in the other set. 11 Then make fifty bronze clasps and put them in the loops to fasten the tent together as a unit. 12 As for the additional length of the tent curtains, the half curtain that is left over is to hang down at the rear of the tabernacle. 13 The tent curtains will be a cubit longer on both sides; what is left will hang over the sides of the tabernacle so as to cover it. 14 Make for the tent a covering of ram skins dyed red, and over that a covering of the other durable leather.

15 “Make upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle. 16 Each frame is to be ten cubits long and a cubit and a half wide, 17 with two projections set parallel to each other. Make all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. 18 Make twenty frames for the south side of the tabernacle 19 and make forty silver bases to go under them—two bases for each frame, one under each projection. 20 For the other side, the north side of the tabernacle, make twenty frames 21 and forty silver bases —two under each frame. 22 Make six frames for the far end, that is, the west end of the tabernacle, 23 and make two frames for the corners at the far end. 24 At these two corners they must be double from the bottom all the way to the top and fitted into a single ring; both shall be like that. 25 So there will be eight frames and sixteen silver bases—two under each frame.

26 “Also make crossbars of acacia wood: five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, 27 five for those on the other side, and five for the frames on the west, at the far end of the tabernacle. 28 The center crossbar is to extend from end to end at the middle of the frames. 29 Overlay the frames with gold and make gold rings to hold the crossbars. Also overlay the crossbars with gold.

30 “Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.

31 “Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. 34 Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. 35 Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lampstand opposite it on the south side.

36 “For the entrance to the tent make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer. 37 Make gold hooks for this curtain and five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold. And cast five bronze bases for them.

Commentary

4. My Guide

Generosity is an act of the will. If you are passionate about God, you will give generously in order to see his name honoured. The people of God were able to raise the money they needed for the work of God from all ‘whose hearts [prompted] them to give’ (25:2b). They gave ‘willingly and ungrudgingly’ (v.2b, AMP). God’s love never forces you. He wants you to respond freely from your heart.

The tabernacle (‘tent of meeting’) was a provisional meeting place of God and his people. Theologically, the tabernacle as the dwelling place of God on earth is of immense importance. It is the first in the series of the dwelling places of God: tabernacle, temple, Jesus himself, the body of the individual believer, the church.

God promises to guide even about the fine details: ‘Make this tabernacle and all its furnishing exactly like the pattern I will show you’ (v.9). God is my guide, even in the details of life.

5. My Saviour

The writer of Hebrews explains that the sanctuary described here (Exodus 25:10 – 26:37) is ‘a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain”’ (Hebrews 8:5–6).

All these instructions for the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place were preparation for the saving work of Christ: ‘When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, so obtaining eternal redemption’ (9:11–12).

Through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, you and I have access to the Most Holy Place. Jesus is my Saviour.

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you are my Shepherd, my Host, my Lord, my Guide and my Saviour. Thank you that you love me.

Pippa adds

The storms of life seem to come out of nowhere, often when things are going along quite smoothly. It is easy for faith to be thrown away at that moment. But the disciples did the right thing, they went to Jesus. Even though he rebuked them for their lack of faith, he still sorted out the situation. And I like the fact that after the wind died down, it was completely calm (Mark 4:39).

Verse of the Day

Psalm 23:1–3

‘The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. |He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, |he refreshes my soul’
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

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