March 8

Read Deuteronomy 21 -- 23

In Today's Reading:

Laws concerning murder; female war captives, their marriage and divorce; another's property; sanitation; 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: You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep go astray, and hide yourself from them: you shall in any case bring them again to your brother (Deuteronomy 22:1-4).

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 beyond merely helping preserve the property of enemies or friends. Jesus commanded His followers: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you . . . That you may be the children of your Father which is 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 the opportunities for us to express His love.

Jesus illustrated this by saying: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves . . . leaving him half dead. . . . a certain priest. . . . And likewise a Levite . . . looked on 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 certain Samaritan wasn't looking for excuses as to whether the hurting man deserved being helped. He had compassion on him (Luke 10:30-34).

The Apostle John was led by the Holy Spirit to remind us we must not love in word, neither in tongue (talk); but in deed (action) and in truth (I John 3:18).

Word Studies:

21:4 strike off = break or behead; 21:5 every stroke = every case of dispute or violence; 21:15 hated = unloved; 22:8 battlement = guard railing; 22:19 amerce = punish with a fine; 22:30 discover his father's skirt = commit adultery with his father's wife.

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, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree (Galatians 3:13).

Prayer Needs:

Pray for: The International Shortwave Radio Broadcast in memory of Lola A. Sargent · Government Official: Sen. George Allen (VA) · Country: Seychelles (79,000) a group of islands in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and India · Major languages: English and French · Religious freedom · 89% Roman Catholic; 8% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Praise God for His mercy (Psalm 136:2).

Optional Reading: Luke 23

Memory Verse for the Week: John 3:15