A Pagan Stands in Awe

King Balak of the neighboring country of Moab hired Balaam, a pagan prophet, to curse God’s people. Balak wanted to eliminate any threat that the Israelites would have against him and his land of Moab. Today’s reading is the account of what happened between God and Balaam. God declares to Balaam the unique blessing that God gives to his people.

The pagan Balaam stands in awe of the power of God. God is true to God’s word. When God blesses, who can curse?

The well-known hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” based on Lamentations, 3:22-23, expresses this when we sing in praise of God: “Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.” The Letter to the Hebrews, 13:8, expresses it this way: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

The Sabbath Torah Portion — Balak

Numbers 22:39—23:30

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer from today’s reading:
Speaking only what You want 23:12
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the second part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

On July 8, the Firestarters from the new edition of
The Bible Through the Seasons for families will be posted daily. 


Faith Connection

Crowds press about while Jesus is on his way to heal a young girl. A woman with a hemorrhage has one focus: “I’ve just got to come near him. Even if I touch the hem of his cloak, I’ll be healed.” She insists, refusing to allow the crowd to put her off. She keeps the focus, moving nearer and nearer to Jesus, as she crawls on the ground among the people.

Then the moment of contact: power flows forth from Jesus to heal her. It is like being jump-started. The good battery of Jesus’ power is “Ever-Ready”. However, there needs to be faith-cables of good conduction. The woman’s faith connected with Jesus’ healing power. Her faith saved her.

How are your cables? Are they broken or connected to Jesus?

Mark 5:21-43


This is the fourth of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, Year B
Fridays in Year B in the seasons of Epiphany, Pentecost and Kingdomtide are dedicated to the Gospel of Mark.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting Firestarters from the original version of The Bible Through the Seasons. 

The Light of Jesus Within

I once had a dear friend who needed healing in his foot. As a way of reminding himself of the Lord’s power to heal, he slept each night embracing the Bible. He wanted to touch the close, healing power of God.

For Paul too, Jesus was closer to him than all the persecutions pressing and seeking to crush him. He writes of the glory of all this to uplift the Corinthians.

Paul’s body-vessel was weak; so are yours and everyone’s. Thus we are reminded that the power of freedom is not our own, but given to us from God. God is the “furthest without” as well as the “closest within.” The light of Jesus shines within you.

2 Corinthians 4


This is the fourth of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, Year B
Thursdays in this season are dedicated to 2 Corinthians.


For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting Firestarters from the original version of The Bible Through the Seasons.


God’s Judgments

 

It is said in 1 Kings 4:32 that Solomon wrote 1,005 songs. Just two of them are attributed to him in the psalms: 72 and 127. Today’s is a song of glory in the Lord whom we celebrate in God’s Spirit released for us. Verse 10 of the psalm connects with the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. Adoration, praise, and glory, so fitting for Epiphany, now find their fulfillment in the complete power of Jesus risen and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Verses 18 and 19 celebrate the victory of the Lord and his domain over the earth. The last verse is a conclusion to “Book Two” of the psalms.

God’s tender mercies are here for you right now. Open your heart to the Lord who wants to show you his face and let you into his heart. The condition? …total surrender. Let go of any person, place, or thing that does not lead you to God.

Psalm 72


This is the fourth of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, Year B
Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms,
One each week over the three-year cycle.


For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting Firestarters from the original version of The Bible Through the Seasons. 

Solomon’s Prayer

Solomon’s greatness lies in his prayer. Here, as in later chapters, he can be a model for your prayer. He had his priorities in order as he presents himself as the new king. As you read the vivid story beginning in 3:16, marvel how a shift in the ways of looking at a situation can give wisdom.

Is there something or someone that you need to look at from a fresh point of view? Pray as did Solomon and wait for the Lord to show you. God will respond because in Christ Jesus, you are a priest, a prophet, and a king. You may find it helpful to write out your prayer, waiting for the Lord to share responses through your hands.

1 Kings 3—4


This is the fourth of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, Year B
Tuesdays are dedicated to Hebrew History and “The Writings.” For the rest of this season, we read 1 Kings.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting Firestarters from the original version of The Bible Through the Seasons. 

Tampering with the Sacred


One’s property for an Israelite was one’s inheritance. To tamper with this was to touch something sacred. Deuteronomy 27:17 proclaims, “Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.”

The wickedness of idolatry described in today’s passage tampers with the sacred boundaries of worshiping the Lord alone. Other interests, passions, and gods have come on the scene displacing the only spouse of the soul there is.

Reflect on forms of idolatry in your life. Repent. Cast them out in the name of the One who longs to share the divine inheritance with you. It is an affront to the living God to be indifferent to God’s love.

Hosea 5


This is the fourth of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, Year B
Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets.
During this season we read Hosea.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting Firestarters from the original version of The Bible Through the Seasons. 

The Calm Within


When there is a storm at sea, the surface is where it is felt. Far below, the water currents move silently, slowly, untouched by outer weather.

The disciples become frightened at the storm on the lake. They focus more on the waves outside of the boat, than on the One who is in the boat with them. The surface of their souls is tossed back and forth; they forget that deep inside their beings there already is a great calm.

Renew the gift of your life to Jesus. The Lord lives inside you. While he may be “asleep” to your situation that is tossing and turning you about, he is there. Go to that place of calm and cling to Jesus.

Mark 4:35-41


This is the fourth of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, Year B.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary.
We are reading from the Gospel of Mark until the First Sunday in Advent.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting Firestarters from the original version of The Bible Through the Seasons.