March 8

Read Deuteronomy 21 -- 23

In Today 's Reading:

Laws concerning murders; female war captives; their marriage and divorce; another's property; sanitation and human relations

The Israelites had been taught that everything belonged to God and they were only caretakers of His possessions. Because of their covenant relationship with the Lord, they even were responsible for the welfare of their neighbor's property: If you see your brother's ox or sheep wandering, you must not ignore them: make sure you return them to your brother (Deuteronomy 22:1-4).

Under the laws of our country, we may not be held legally responsible for failing to prevent someone else's financial loss. But our stewardship responsibility to God requires that we respond to another's needs in a spirit of Christlike love.

In our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, He taught His followers to go far beyond merely helping preserve the property of a neighbor. As His followers, we must love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44-45).

The person we help may or may not appreciate or deserve the kindness shown. Our responsibility, however, is not to the person who needs our help but to the Lord, who is the true Owner of all creation, and who provides opportunities for us to express His love.

Jesus illustrated this by saying: A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They . . . fled, leaving him half dead. A priest. . . . (and) a Levite (the official minister of the temple) . . . saw him, (and) passed by. (Perhaps they had completed their religious responsibilities in Jerusalem and were on their way home to Jericho, the city of palm trees, where many of the temple priests lived. To stop and help this man could have defiled them and made them ceremonially unclean).But a Samaritan (who wasn't looking for excuses as to whether the hurting man was deserving of being helped) . . . had compassion. . . . and took care of him (Luke 10:30-34).

The apostle John was led to remind us: We must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth (I John 3:18).

Christ Revealed:

Christ died on a tree (cross) in our place, submitting to the penalty of death imposed by the law for our sins (Deuteronomy 21:23). In the evening He was taken down from the cross, signifying the law had been satisfied (John 19:31). Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree (Galatians 3:13).

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Sen. George Allen (VA)· Country: Somalia (7 million) on the Horn of Africa · Major languages: Somali and Arabic · Islam is officially favored and all other religions are opposed · 99.8% Muslim; .1% Christian · Prayer Suggestion: Recognize the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness and praise Him (Psalms 100:4-5).

Optional Reading: Luke 23

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:13