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Feburary 2010

GODSGRAZINGFIELD DEVOTIONS   Feburary 2010
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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                                      February 1, 2010

Good Morning!
To hunger and thirst after righteousness does not mean a passing feeling, a passing desire, it means something that keeps on until it is satisfied.

SEEK UNTIL SATISFIED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS:
Matthew 5:6a. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Real hunger is something deep, it is painful. It is something that causes suffering and agony. Hunger or thirst pervades our every thought, our every action. The Psalmist described it, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” Psalms 42:1-2.

To be hungry is not enough; I must be starving to know what’s in the heart of God for me. When the Prodigal Son was hungry, he went to feed upon husks—but when he was starving he turned to his father. To hunger and thirst really means to be desperate--to be starving—to feel life ebbing out. Happy, happy, blessed, to be congratulated are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.

“For they shall be filled.” We should strive to be in the right places and doing the right things to receive food for our souls. Blind Bartimaeus could not heal himself—but he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing thru Jericho—so he took his stand on the road where Jesus would pass by him (Luke 18:35-43). Hunger and thirst will make you climb a sycamore tree, or cry out when all try to make you keep quiet. Let’s put ourselves on the road where Jesus is passing. Jesus is very likely to pass through your Church this Sunday—those who are there are likely to be fed.

To hunger and thirst after righteousness is to crave the fellowship of Godly people, to talk to them, spend some time with them, to keep close to them. That person who hungers and thirst after righteousness will have a desire to read and study God’s Word. Finally, that person who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is a person who meets regularly and constantly with God in prayer. Great men of God gave the best time of their day to God. “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalms 16:11

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Exodus 27 28  -----Matthew  21 :1-22

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                                  February 2, 2010

Good Morning!
A Christian is to have a sense of pity.

MERCIFUL IS PITY PLUS ACTION:
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

This is what a Christian should be like, merciful. In fact Jesus is saying that this is the Christian’s character. The Christian faith is not something on the surface of a person’s life—it is not a coating or a veneer—the Christian faith begins at the core of our lives. The born again experience brings into us a new nature.

We are not only to have a sense of pity but a desire to relieve the suffering. One of the great examples in the Bible is the story of the Good Samaritan. A man fell among thieves who robbed him and left him by the road-side wounded. The ‘Do-Gooders’ came by, a Priest and a Levite, they saw him and passed him by. But a certain Samaritan came by and saw him and had compassion on him, he went to him and bound up his wounds, set him on his own beast and brought him to the inn and took care of him. That was pity, plus action. Not only did he have pity, he did something about it. Others saw it—maybe even had a certain amount of pity but did nothing.

“For they shall obtain mercy.” Jesus, coming into the world, was the supreme example of mercy. In Him, “Mercy and Truth have met together” (Psalms 85:10). God saw the miserable, wretched condition that His creation had sunk to. He saw the suffering, and in spite of the Law-Breaking, Mercy was the thing that moved Him to action. He didn’t have to send His son—but He had Mercy.

Today Mercy must go to every island, climb every mountain, search every valley, cross every desert, to every nation, tongue, and people—Mercy says I’ll go, on one condition—I must be carried in the hearts of men and women. Mercy will not cross the street on its own.

Mercy there was great, and grace was free, pardon there was multiplied to me, there my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.”

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Exodus  29  30  ---- Matthew  21 : 23 - 46

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                                February 3, 2010

Good Morning!
Jesus puts the emphasis on the heart and not upon the head.

ONLY THOSE WITH A PURE HEART SHALL SEE GOD:
Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

This is one of the most fascinating utterances that ever fell on human ears. It has been the text of 10,000 sermons, there have been volumes written in an attempt to explain it. So we cannot hope to exhaust the complete resources of this Beatitude in one morning, or in a whole year.  At best we hope to grasp something of its central meaning. Until the time of the advent of Jesus the vision of God had eluded all but a handful of people. Very few of the Old Testament characters actually admit to seeing God. Of the Major Prophets only 2 had visions of God, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, and of the Minor Prophets only one, Amos. So to ‘see’ God is of such rare occurrence that even the promise of seeing Him sounds exciting.

Today we want to emphasize the conditions more than the promise. “Blessed are the pure in Heart,” this is the very essence of the religion Jesus brought, purity of heart, “A pure heart.”  He does not commend those who are intellectual; His interest is on the heart. The heart is the fountain out of which the issues of life flow. Jesus says, “For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, these are the things which defile a man” (Matthew 15:19-20). The seat of all of man’s troubles come from an unclean heart.

The heart (by nature, the unregenerate heart) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins,” (Jeremiah 17:9-10). We can ‘see’ God only when we are pure in heart. What the Gospel proposes to do is to bring us out of the terrible pit and raise us up to heaven.

One of the best definitions of purity is given in Psalms 86:1 “Unite my heart to fear Thy name.” Our trouble is our divided heart. One part of me wants to know God and worship God and please God—but another part of me wants something else. The ‘pure’ heart is the heart that is no longer divided. Let us say with David, “Unite my heart to fear Thy name.” Make it one! Make it single! Take out the hidden flaws! Let it be whole, let it be one, let it be sincere, let it be entirely free from hypocrisy.

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Exodus  31 32 33  --- Matthew 22 :1 - 22

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                             February 4, 2010

Good Morning!
Nothing that is unclean or impure, or has any defiling touch about it, shall enter into the heavenly Jerusalem.

“CLEANSE ME FROM MY SIN:”
Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

Blessed are those whose hearts are cleansed: for they shall see God. Cleansed is another meaning for the word ‘pure’ that Jesus used here, or ‘without defilement.’ The Apostle Paul in Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see God.” We ask, “How can my heart be cleansed?”

“Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:2; 7, 10). Although David realized his need for cleansing, the Law had no provisions for it. That’s why David continually bemoaned the fact—“My sin is ever before me” (v. 3).

The law only rolled one’s sins ahead one year; it did not ‘cleanse’ one from their evil heart. Thank God the coming of Jesus Christ brought a new hope for every one. It is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ that makes it possible for our hearts to be clean and pure. Our hearts can never be pure without the blood of Jesus Christ working in it. John says, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1:5b).

Let us join with Robert Lowry in his great hymn.

“What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! Precious is the flow,
That makes me white as snow.
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

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Exodus 34  35   ---- Matthew 22 :23 -- 46

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                            February 5, 2010

Good Morning!
The great need in the world today is for peacemakers.

LORD, HELP ME TO BE A PEACEMAKER:
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

In this Beatitude we have the results of the previous Beatitudes at work in our lives. We have become peacemakers. Now I must say that everyone who belongs to Jesus’ kingdom is a peacemaker. A peacemaker is a person who stands out as being different from the rest of the world. They are different because they are the children of God. They are different because they hunger and thirst after righteousness. They are different because their hearts have been made pure by the blood of Jesus Christ.

We have talked about the un-regenerated heart in a day or so ago, Jeremiah tells us it is desperately wicked, Jesus tells us from out of it proceeds evil thoughts, murders, wickedness and a host of other evils. That’s why we have so many wars, that is why there is always the threat of war. Sin took peace from the earth. Why did the League of Nations fail? Why does the United Nations seem to be failing? The source of the failure is the heart of man. A new heart and nothing but a new heart can possibly deal with the problem.

James says, “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:18). We should practice being peacemakers. First and foremost it means that you learn to control your tongue, learn when to speak, learn how to speak. James also says, “Let every man be swift to hear, and slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:10). Never repeat things when you know they are going to do harm. Never say an unkind word. Paul says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceable with all men” (Romans 12:18).

As Christians, as friends, as neighbors, or family members, we should go out of our way to look for ways of making peace. First be at peace with yourselves, then, and then only, can we be at peace with one another.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

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Exodus 36 37 38    ------ Matthew 23 :1 -- 22

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                         February 6 & 7, 2010

Good Morning!
Because you are a Christian you are more likely to suffer persecutions.

SUFFERING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE:
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus is telling these people what is likely to happen when they put the Beatitudes into practice in their lives. The spirit that is in the world hates the Christian way of life. That spirit, of the world, has always been against Christ and His children. It is “Anti-Christ,” or “Anti-God.” Paul says, “It is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). John says, “Even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:3). It was in the Garden of Eden, it put Jesus on the cross, and it is still at work today.

There have been many grievous periods of persecution at various times in the history of the Church. In this Beatitude Jesus was preparing His followers for their life of service for Him. On no occasion did Jesus promise an easy way of life. Paul says, “Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecutions” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus asks us to “Take up the cross and follow Him.” A cross is a sign of hardships, a symbol of suffering and death.

Hebrews 12:35-38 tells the story of men, women and children of whom the world was not worthy. Who are these? They are the God’s people, people living by faith and persecuted for righteousness sake. Down through the ages Jesus comes to us, still bearing His cross and challenging each of us to take up our cross and follow Him.

But remember there is a promise that Jesus left those who suffer for righteousness sake and that they would be called the children of God. We may not be asked to suffer unto death, as many were, but each of us will have a certain amount of trials and tests because of our relationship with Jesus, but take heart there are permanent rewards for bearing the cross that is placed upon us. Paul called this reward “A crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8).

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Exodus  39  40 –  ---   Matthew 23 :23 – 39

Leviticus  1  2  3   ---  Matthew 24 :1- 28

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                          February 8, 2010

Good Morning!
As a Christian your influence must be felt, seen, and experienced by everyone.

THE REAL VALUE OF A CHRISTIAN:
Matthew 5:13 “Ye are the salt of the earth:” 14. “Ye are the light of the world.”

In these two illustrations, Jesus is describing our place, or role in the world—the reason we are here. He could have willed it that we would be translated, like Enoch or Elijah, the very moment we were saved--no suffering, no persecution, but he has left us here for a purpose. “Ye are the salt of the earth,” “Ye are the light of the world,” therefore recognize the responsibilities which have fallen upon you. Our Lord is thinking of the moral tone which His followers are to give to humanity. Living as Jesus asks us to—living the Sermon on the Mount—living a Christian life—nothing less will give the light the world must have.

We are left here to keep the world from being completely rotten or decayed, and without the Christians, which are in the world it would be in total darkness. The world does not know the real value of those who live as Christians. We are here to hold back the night, we are here to take the stench out of society.

Jesus made these statements to, seemingly, the most unimportant people of His day. It was not made to kings, or priests, or leaders, or men of high distinction. It was made to people who were “poor in spirit.” To those who “mourn,” to the “meek,” to those “who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” to the “merciful.” It was made to those who had a “pure heart,” to the ‘peacemakers,” to those “who were persecuted for righteousness, “YE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE ON THE EARTH.”

Jesus was not concerned that the group was small on that day upon the mount—a pinch of salt is enough to flavor this society. Church we don’t have to be many in numbers—all Jesus asks of us is to be real salt. We redeem society by being what He asks us to be—real Christians. God told Abraham that 10 righteous men would save the city of Sodom. The Christian either redeems the world—or the world robs him of his Christianity. This Sermon will keep you from your sins—or your sins will keep you from this Sermon.

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Leviticus  4  5  ---- Matthew  24 : 29 --51

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                       February 9, 2010

Good Morning!
In The Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches us that God’s Law will last forever.

JESUS IN DEFENCE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT:
Matthew 5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

Jesus did not want the people of His day to misjudge Him or have the wrong opinion of Him. So twice in His ministry He made this statement. “Think not…” “Do not misjudge Me, I am not come to destroy the Law.” His teachings and actions were so different from the accepted idea of the Messiah at that time, that no doubt He aroused Jewish fears. He seemed to threaten both the Mosaic Law and the Temple. 

The law, as given to the Children of Israel, consisted of three parts, the Moral, the Judicial, and the Ceremonial. The Moral Law consisted of the Ten Commandments, the moral principals which were laid down by God, once and forever. Then there was the Judicial Law, which is the legislative law given for the nation of Israel in its peculiar circumstances at that time. This Judicial Law indicated how men were to behave in relationship to others. Finally there was the Ceremonial Law—consisting of burnt offerings and sacrifices and all the ritual and Ceremony in the Temple.

Jesus was emphasizing that the Old Testament was the Words of God given to men and therefore must come to pass. They will be fulfilled—almost all of the Old Testament was fulfilled in Christ. He became the sacrifice. He was the High Priest. He was the Temple. By His death on Calvary He has fulfilled all the types and shadows in the whole Ceremonial Law. He was The Scape Goat which was led into the wilderness bearing the sins of the people.

The Moral Law was different. Here God was laying down laws that are permanent and perpetual. It’s a relationship that must always exist between God and Man—written in stone by God’s finger. All through the New Testament it teaches that sin is a transgression of God’s Law. So the Moral Law, the Ten Commandments still apply to us. Jesus went on to say, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:19).

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Leviticus  6  7  ---- Matthew  25 :1 -- 30

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                        February 10, 2010

Good Morning!
“I say.” Twelve times in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus asserts His authority.

JESUS SPEAKS OF HIS AUTHORITY:
Matthew 5:20 “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Just think of it—this Man of Galilee weighed the religious leaders of His day in His balances, and found them wanting. “For I say unto you,” twelve times in this sermon. Who gave Him the right? If two Jews of that day quarreled, and one of them could claim, “but the Law says” the argument was over. But Jesus says, “I say unto you.”

His claims of authority were challenged many times by those religious leaders. Just before Jesus ascended into heaves he reinforced his authority. “All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18b). His authority, or right to judge, is still being challenged by religions of the world.

There was a new age when Jesus came. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews 12:18-21, spoke of the grandeur of the sights and sounds of Mount Sinai. Yet He spake of something greater. “But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.   (Hebrews 12:22-24).

There was a new law when Jesus came; the Old Law was inscribed on table of stone, the New Law is written on the tables of the heart. Jesus was saying that the Kingdom of Heaven was going to peopled with people whose everyday living was holier that the standards which religion had set. The Pharisees kept the law but had lost the spirit of the law. Jesus had looked into their hearts and it was not right.

Jesus was saying, “I have not come to reduce the demands of the Law but to enforce the Spirit of the Law.”

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Leviticus  8  9  10  ---- Matthew 25 :31 -- 46

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                         February 11, 2010

Good Morning!
In this section of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5: 21-47) we see the true nature of sin—where and when it originates in our lives.

ANGER IS MURDER IN THE HEART:
Matthew 5:21 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:”

Here Jesus proceeds to give six instances of the way in which the Law of His Kingdom fulfills and thereby supersedes, the Mosaic Law. Jesus teaches in these verses (Matthew 5:21-47) that it is not altogether action which brings sin, but motive, feelings, and thought. In this Sermon 12 times He does not hesitate to say, “But I say unto you.” He speaks with divine authority and when He says, “But I say unto you,” it has all the power of heaven behind it. This Sermon became the Eternal Word of God—forever written in heaven. He is presenting the truth of God.

He claims the authority of God—and this claim is continued throughout the New Testament. It is important that we realize the authority with which lies behind this Sermon. Jesus was not a mere teacher of the law, He was not a mere man, not just another prophet, He was God manifest in the flesh.

This portion of scripture (Matthew 5:21-47) follows the verse which tells us that our religion must exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees. As no human court held one liable for mere anger, our Lord’s thoughts are turned now to Divine Law. He seems to say that anger is murder in the heart. He tells us that the angry heart is as much in danger of the judgment of God as the murderous hand, and angry, malicious, and hurtful words can bring us in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:22).

Seeing that the consequences of an angry spirit are so terrible, our Lord is insisting that it is so important to lose no time in seeking reconciliation with a person whom one has injured. So important in fact that the very holiest act must be put off until the reconciliation be made (Matthew 5:23-24).

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Leviticus  11  12  -------Matthew  26  :1 -- 25

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                   February 12, 2010

Good Morning!
Resentful feelings must be banished from our lives.

RECONCILLATION, THE FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS WITH GOD:
Matthew 5:23. “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24. Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.”

There is an altar for a gift—thank God for the altar—but upon this altar we must first offer ourselves. On the altar we make personal sacrifices of possessions, resources, feelings, ability, and above all our bodies (Romans 12:1). The altar and the gift are recognized as the heights of religious activities. Able, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, Samuel, David, and Solomon are but a few who sacrificed on an altar.

We ask the question “Is there anything which takes precedence over the giving at the altar?” Yes, even Holy as the coming to the altar is. In our approach to the altar we must first look into our hearts—search our hearts—soul searching  (1 Corinthians 11:31-32). Don’t rush this process—allow God to speak to us. Jesus says “there rememberests.” It is at that moment God prompts our memory of our shortcomings—our failures—our sins.

Let us remember that brother or sister whom we have wronged, berated, slandered, or “oughted.” We cannot have true worship while we hold wrath, anger, hatred, grudges or even “ought” in our hearts. These rob the costliest gift of all its value. The “oughts,” like the “mote” seem so trivial yet God takes note of each of them.

“Leave there thy gift..”
“Go thy way;”
“First be reconciled to thy brother.”

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Leviticus  13   -  Matthew  26 :26 -- 50

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts               February 13 & 14, 2010

Good Morning!
Life is short let us not have quarrels and differences between people which will bring us to the judgment.

THE DANGER OF POSTPONING RECONCILIATION:
Matthew 5:25 “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.”

We are all on our way to the judgment—“we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Therefore we must seek forgiveness from those whom we have offended, and we must forgive those who have offended us while we are on our way during the journey of life.

“Agree with...” And not with a merely formal reconciliation, but reconciliation based on a permanent kindly feeling towards him—a sort of plea bargaining. “Quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him;” It is human nature to put off reconciliation, but Jesus warns us against procrastination--“Quickly.” As time goes on the heart becomes harder towards reconciliation. These things are a malignancy in our hearts and it eats away at our feeling and we become bitter towards them.

Do not think that because they move many miles away or other circumstances come up to separate us from them that the case is resolved. “Whiles thou art in the way with him;” Life is uncertain, and opportunity is passing hour by hour. With some we only travel a short time with—don’t let them drift apart from us without seeking reconciliation. The opportunity may never arise again until we meet them at the Judgment Bar of God. Jesus tells us that if it be carried beyond that limit of opportunity within which the quarrel can be made up—then mercy will be absent—after that only justice.

“Lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge…” The “adversary” brings the sinner to the bar. “And the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee thou shalt by no means come out thence, until thou has paid the uttermost farthing.” Then, we ask, when we are cast into the pit, can the uttermost farthing be paid, when we cannot now pay our share of the debt?

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Leviticus   14  ---------  Matthew  26 :51 -- 75 
Leviticus   15  16 ----- Matthew  27  :1 --- 26

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                            February 15, 2010

Good Morning!
The Pharisees and Scribes had reduced the Ten Commandments to the mere physical act.

THE EXCEEDING SINFULNESS OF SIN:
Matthew 5:27 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

The Pharisees had forgotten the whole spirit of the law—in fact they had forgotten the tenth commandment which said. “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” They had neglected to take this commandment in conjunction with the command not to commit adultery. Here again we have our Lord’s teaching with regard to the nature of sin. The whole purpose of the Law, as Paul reminds us in Romans 7:13b “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” In other words to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

Unless we understand the exceeding sinfulness of sin we can never understand why Jesus had to die on the cross. Why did Luke say “it was necessary for Christ to die?” (Luke 24:26).  It was because of sin. The problem of sin was so great that God had to deal with it. It is sad but most of the Christian world has never taken seriously this tremendous teaching of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. This doctrine is found from beginning to end in the Bible, and unless we have a clear understanding of this doctrine we shall never truly understand the plan of salvation.

Sin is deceptive; sin deludes us, and fools us and tries to make us happy and contented with ourselves. Paul says in Romans 7:7b, “for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” The Law had always stressed the importance of the heart, and theses people had forgotten it. Don’t let lust, or covetousness, get in your heart. Jesus is saying to these people, “you have reduced the Law to acts and deeds.”

It was sin in the human heart which Jesus came to make people aware of and to deal with it. Your sin, my sin was so grievous—so “exceeding sinful” in God’s sight—it took the precious blood of Jesus Christ to take the stain away. What a price—but nothing less would do. We must be washed in the blood of Jesus the guilt is so great.

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Leviticus  17  18  ------ Matthew  27 :27 -- 50

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                          February 16, 2010

Good Morning!
Let us put our soul and its eternal destiny before everything else.

JESUS SPEAKS OF SPIRITUAL SURGERY:
Matthew 5:29. “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

A real doctor, interested in his patient, will find what causes the shortness of breath and treat the cause of all your problems. The same way a God called, God sent, minister will tell you the cause of all your problems. The man of God will tell you that you have heart trouble—a coronary risk. Sometimes he tells you that you must have surgery—something in there must come out—something in there must be altered. In the above scriptures Jesus speaks of spiritual surgery.

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out,” If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee.” From this statement we realize the “exceeding sinfulness of sin.” Jesus tells us that we can be guilty of sinning in our mind. Some would never be guilty of committing an act of adultery—but will watch it being performed on T.V. or movie, and let their mind become involved in it. It becomes sin in the mind, sin in the heart. Paul sends an indictment upon such as do these things. “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:32).

“Right hand…” “Right eye...” Precious things. We all know the importance of the right hand or the right eye, but Jesus is saying, “If the most precious thing you have is the cause of sin in your life, get rid of it.” If it becomes a stumbling block – it must go. It is important that we understand what Jesus is saying about sin, and the terrible danger which confronts us as the results of sin. The soul of man is eternal—the soul is the real you. The body will perish but the soul will live in eternity. O, the things we do to pamper this body! Jesus says, “It is profitable for thee that one of thy member should perish…” that we should be cripples while we are here, in order to make certain that when we get there we shall stand in his presence with joy and with glory.

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Leviticus  19  20  ----  Matthew   27 :51 -- 66

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                            February 17, 2010

Good Morning!
Jesus brought us a new law of love.

LOVE YOU ENEMIES:
Matthew 5:44. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:”

This is the sixth instance in which Jesus gives of the way in which the Law of His Kingdom fulfills, and supersedes, the Mosaic Law. The scribes and Pharisees said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy.” Now nowhere in the Old Testament can we find such a statement. Leviticus 19:18 “But thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Gradually over the years this word neighbor had come to mean only an Israelite. So the Jews were taught to love Jews—he’s your neighbor. At the same time they came to regard everybody else as an alien. The Scribes and Pharisees had expanded this feeling as not only an alien but an enemy.

They went so far as to suggest that it was their business, almost their right and duty to hate all such people. The Jews regarded all others as dogs, and many Gentiles despised Jews. There was this “middle wall of partition (fence, barrier)” (Ephesians 2:11-18) dividing their world and causing great animosity. This was broken down in Christ Jesus, abolished, and the world was reconciled through his death on Calvary.

“Love you enemies,..” We could call this verse the very climax of Christian living. In fulfilling this verse we rise to the very heights, the pinnacle of a Christian experience. “That ye may be the children of the Father.” In fact when this verse is fulfilled in us—we have just become “children of God.” We could call this verse “The Christian experience in action.”

In the previous verses (38-42) Jesus is only asking us not to take action against those who take action against us. “Don’t hit back, don’t seek revenge, give up your cloak, go the second mile, etc. But now in verses 43-48, Jesus is not only asking us not to do anything to them, He is asking us to do something for them—don’t’ hit them--love them, don’t curse them—bless them, don’t seek revenge—do good to them, don’t wish the worst to come upon them—pray for them. Paul carried this over into his teachings, “if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:” (Romans 12:20)

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Leviticus  21  22  --------- Matthew  28

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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 GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                       February 18, 2010

Good Morning!
Jesus tells us that our treatment of others must never depend upon what they are or what they do to us.

PRAY FOR THOSE WHO ARE CONTENTIOUS:
Matthew 5:43b. “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

There are people who are evil, foul and unjust—nevertheless God sends rain upon them and causes the sun to shine upon them, their crops are fruitful like the crops of the good people—they have certain benefits in life which are common to all men. God does not bless the Christian farmer only—no at the same time He blesses the efforts of the unjust.

The Apostle John carries this further when he says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). What made Him do it? Was it because the world loved Him? Was it because the world was lovely, or even loveable? No, God loved us in spite of ourselves. God’s love was totally outside of our actions.

I hope none of us has an enemy. Is there someone who ‘bugs’ you? Someone who rubs you the wrong way? Someone who digs you? Every time you see them, every time you hear their voice, every time someone calls their name—something rises up in you. Someone at work? A boss? A neighbor? An in-law? A church member? Jesus says, “Do good to them that hate you.”

Our prayers for God to save the world are fine—but we need to be specific in our prayers—praying with a purpose. “And pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Pray for the person who is ‘bugging’ you. Pray for those who are rubbing you the wrong way—call their name to God. Pray for the employer or boss that persecutes you, Lord fill him with Your Spirit. Maybe you have an in-law you can’t get along with, pray for him or her. Pray for the church member who won’t speak to you. The neighbor who is hard to get along with, pray for them. Someone prayed for John Newton, a despicable slave trader, and he later wrote, “Amazing Grace.”

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Leviticus  23  24   --------- Mark 1 :1 -- 22 

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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 GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                         February 19, 2010

Good Morning!
God comes, and listens, and sends the answer “When thou hast shut thy door.”

CLOSET PRAYER:
Matthew 6:6 “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

In this verse Jesus is not attracting all night prayer meetings or non verbal utterances such as Hannah used in her petition (1 Samuel 1:12-13). There are many instances where people wrestled with God in prayer. But in this verse Jesus is concerned with the proper attitude, and the proper attitude in our prayers. Jesus is telling us not to pray to attract the attention of others—neither be time conscious. We are not to boast about how long we prayed or how often we pray, just to blow one's own horn.

There are many prayers recorded in the Bible, some short, some long. Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple is one of the longest prayers, 43 verses (1 Kings 8:23-66), Habakkuk’s prayer consisted of two verses (3:17-18). Today we want to think about, “When thou hast shut thy door,..” There are some things which must be “shut out” when we pray. “Shut thy door.”

You shut out and forget about other people—whether praying in public or praying in secret this is one door which must be shut. God does not hear a prayer which is prayed to impress other people. “I wonder if Bro. ….. is hearing my prayer, I want them to know that I prayed all-night last night.” Shut that door. My door must be shut on self, and thinking about self, and priding myself in how well I pray, and all the pretty phrases I use in my prayers. All this will try to crowd into your prayer closet. When you are alone or on a busy street it is possible to “shut the door” and be alone with God.

Miracles happen behind closed doors. Elisha told the widow, When thou art come in thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shall pour out (oil) into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.” Behind closed doors she poured oil until all the pots and pans in the neighborhood were full (2 Kings 4:4). We must come with confidence—God is more ready to give that we are to receive. Come with the simple confidence of a child. Remember God is our Father.

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Leviticus   25  --------- Mark  1 :23 --- 45 

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                   February 20 & 21, 2010

Good Morning!
“After this manner therefore pray ye:”

THE LORD’S PRAYER:
Matthew 6: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11. Give us this day our daily bread. 12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

Not a day has passed without these words being repeated since that far time when Jesus taught them to His disciples. They are the first we learned as children, and they are the last to be forgotten by men who have lost all else of religion. They are recited by every Christian denomination.  People who differ on a hundred points of doctrine are joined by the Lord’s Prayer. Only eternity will reveal the far-reaching influence this prayer has had upon the people of the entire world. This prayer has been translated and written in almost every known tongue and dialect on earth.

The English speaking world shall be eternally grateful for the beauty and simplicity of the King James Version. You would hardly recognize some of the other translations. Many times down through the ages the Lord’s Prayer has been set to music in various melodies and sung. I love the modern melody—but I’m not sure the Lord intended for it to be sung—it’s a prayer. When it is sung we focus on the singer—his voice range, the melody, the tremendous highs and lows of which only a few can reach, ending in a crescendo which almost raises one off their seat.

“After this manner pray ye,..” Prayer is beyond question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest when, upon his knees, and he comes face to face with God. Nobody walks with God very long without a consistent prayer life. It’s the very heart-beat of Christianity. Almsgiving is excellent, it is a noble activity, everyone should feel led to help his fellow-man in this world. Again fasting is a very high and noble activity. Yet almsgiving and fasting fade into insignificance when in comparison to prayer. Our prayer life is the ultimate test of a person’s spiritual condition. It seems that everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer. A person can speak to others much easier than he can speak to God.

We would like to spend a few mornings with you looking into the Lord’s Prayer.

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Leviticus  26 27    ----- Mark  2 
Numbers  1  2  --------   Mark  3 :1-19                                                                     

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                       February 22, 2010

Good Morning!
Like headings in a sermon or lesson—the Lord’s Prayer does not contain all we need to say but it gives us the outline to follow.

THE LORD’S PRAYER:
Matthew 6:9 “After this manner therefore pray ye:”

The shame should come upon us because we have so little to say to God. So when we have left the realm of activities and outward dealings with other people—and close the door on our prayer closet—and we are alone with God—this is when we are aware of where we stand in a spiritual sense.

What to say to God. How do we start our prayers? We all have longed to know more about how to pray. The disciples felt this inadequacy—that is what prompted the Lord’s Prayer. “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). There is no question that this is our greatest need—we all need instructions on how to pray—what to say, what to pray for. The Lord’s Prayer has the answer to both of these questions.

First of all the Lord’s Prayer is a pattern for prayer. “After this manner therefore pray ye,..” The amazing thing is that it covers everything in principal. There is a sense in which you can never add to the Lord’s Prayer—nothing is left out. That does not mean that when we pray we are to simply repeat the Lord’s Prayer and stop there. Our Lord himself was our pattern in everything—and many times He spent whole nights in prayer. Luke 6: 12-13 speaks of one of those all-night prayer sessions.

What made our Lord spend the whole night in prayer? The next day He was to make some of the greatest decisions of His entire ministry—decisions that would not only affect Him but the entire world. The next day He chose His Twelve Apostles. He felt this so important that the night before He never closed His eyes in sleep. What about us when we take the steps we are called upon to take? Sometimes which are irrevocable, or unchangeable? Many times under no better guidance that our own impulses and passions. Sometimes we make our choice of people, and things which will decide our destiny—it’s worth praying about.

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Numbers  3  4  ---- Mark  3 :20 ----35 

 
James & Mary Lee Thornton

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 GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                       February 23, 2010

Good Morning!
We need to be concerned about the way we approach God in our prayers.

LET US BEGIN OUR PRAYER BY PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING:
Matthew 6:9 “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

There are at least three kinds, or types of prayers—prayers of adoration or praise, prayers of petition or request, and prayers of intercession. The Lord’s Prayer contains all of these. Today we want to think about the first—prayer of adoration or praise. The first four sentences and the last sentence of this prayer address the sovereignty of God and His role in our life. Only three sentences deal with petitions for our benefit—and these in the middle of the prayer. These petitions for bread, forgiveness, guidance, contain all we really need. So the bulk of the Lord’s Prayer is adoration or praise.

First let us consider our approach to God. Paul says, “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16). “Let us come boldly..” This does not mean rush in and out of His presence. It means to come with calm assurance. We should enter into the spirit of prayer—meditation, adoration and praise. The important thing to get from this—no matter what our condition or circumstances may be—no matter our desire or need, we must never start with ourselves—we should never start with our petitions.

It does not matter how desperate they may be—no matter how much tension we are under, physical illness, war, calamity, some terrible problem confronting us—never fail first to adore Him—praise Him. It’s the Bible way—HIS HONOR—HIS GLORY FIRST. The Psalmist says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise, be thankful unto him and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4). We must pause before we speak in prayer. Take time to shut some doors, and open up your mind to God. So it might be a good way to start by saying nothing.

Job in his wretchedness had been talking a great deal (37 chapters) he and his friends. He felt that God was dealing unkindly with him. Job had expressed himself freely. In chapter 38 God breaks in and talks to him. God talks to him in close quarters, and begins to reveal himself to Job. Job was dumbfounded. “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth” (Job 42:4).

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Numbers  5  6  -------  Mark  4 :1---20

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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 GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

 Today’s First Thoughts                              February 24, 2010

Good Morning!
In the next several days we will be focusing on the death and resurrection of Jesus. As this is the most important event in human history we will spend some time on it.

IT WAS NECESSARY FOR JESUS TO SUFFER DEATH AND RISE AGAIN:
Luke 24:46 “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved (was necessary for) Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:” (KJV)

First we will look into the reason why Jesus had to come to earth and to suffer and die on the cross of Calvary. The Bible does give us the answer to these questions. God had a plan from eternity past, before there was a heaven and earth, to resolve the separation of man from His grace and favor which sin would bring. Before the fall of man God had a plan in place to bring about man’s redemption.

In Revelation 13:8 we read about, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” In other words, in the mind and plan of God, before the world was created, He would provide the Lamb, which would be His Son, to die to take away the curse of sin. The sending of His Son to bring about the redemption of man was not a back-up plan, or an after thought, it was planned before creation. That’s the reason Jesus said “thus it behoved (was necessary for) Christ to suffer.”

God, in His omniscience, and His foreknowledge, knew that Adam and Eve would sin and thus bring a breach in their relationship with Him. He also provided a way for that breach to be resolved, and that was by a blood sacrifice. God slew an animal, and shed its blood onto the earth, to cover Adam and Eve’s sin exposed bodies. Thus to cover the first sin by mankind God set the plan in motion which would, “in the fullness of time,” bring about the ultimate sacrifice of the shedding of the blood of The Lamb of God on Calvary.

We find these words of Jesus to Pilate when he was sitting in judgment of Jesus, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world,” (John 18:37). He, who from eternity had lain in the bosom of the Father, came to give His life to redeem mankind back to God.

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Numbers  7  8   -----   Mark 4 :21 --- 41

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                              February 25, 2010

Good Morning!
From the most ignominious sufferings, we see the most glorious triumph emerge; and from the most dreadful of deaths, a divine and never-fading life arise.

JESUS FORTELLS HIS DEATH:
Luke 18:31. “Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33. And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 34. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” (KJV)

These words were spoken by Jesus as He was journeying towards Jerusalem. His earthly ministry was over and within ten days He would be hung on a cross to suffer and die. Although He knew what lay ahead, “when the time was come that He should be received up, He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). There was a time fixed for the sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus, and He knew well enough when it was, and had a clear and certain foresight of it, and yet was resolved to see it through. When He saw His death and sufferings approaching, He looked through them and beyond them, to the glory that should follow; He looked upon it as the time when He should be received up into glory. He looked upon it as His translation to a better world, which made it very desirable.

The “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” approaches the altar of burnt-offering. Bonds, the scourge, the crown of thorns, and the cross, present themselves to our view in the distance; the seven words uttered by Jesus on the cross, sound in our ears, like intimations of liberty and joy to the sinful race. From the most appalling scene the world ever witnessed, a paradise of peace springs forth.

Our Prayer: Father, unlock for us the gates to the sanctuary of Thy passion, and in the awful scenes of Thy sufferings, enable us to discover the mystery of our eternal redemption.

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Numbers   9  10  11 ---  Mark  5 :1 --- 20

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                            February 26, 2010

Good Morning!
An anointing of Jesus’ body was to take place while He was still alive, since there was no time for it after His death due to the late hour of the day before the Sabbath.

THE ANOINTING:
John 12:1. “Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany,”  3. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 7. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.”

Six days before the Passover, and, consequently, four days before the awful day of crucifixion, we find our Lord among friends in the village of Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, who held a feast for Him and his disciples, and Martha is serving. This would be the last of His many visits to this peaceful setting where He had so many times enjoyed the fellowship and meals with friends. Simon sits as a living monument of the divine fullness which dwelt in Jesus. Also at the feast was Lazarus whom only a short time before Jesus had raised from the dead.

Not long after Jesus had sit down, Mary approaches Him carrying a container of very precious and costly ointment, or perfume, which she brake to pour all of it on the head and feet of Jesus, she does not intend to pour out a few drops only, but that it should be wholly an emblem of her devotion to the Lord of Glory, then humbly bends herself down and wipes His feet with her hair. The whole house was filled with the fragrance and we may well believe that this aroma also ascended up even into the throne room of heaven. The whole circle of guests at Bethany is deeply touched by Mary’s act of devotion, all except one.

Judas, alone, rejects this grateful odor, and had words of discord. He knows how to value the spikenard, but is unable to appreciate the love that provided it, for he is wholly destitute of such feeling. But our Lord appreciates the act of Mary and He has caused Mary’s deed to be recorded in Holy Scripture and said, that “wherever this Gospel is preached in the world, that which she did shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” And this is truly come to pass. “Against the day of my burying hath she done this” (John 12:7). “She hath come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying” (Mark 14:8).

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Numbers  12 13 14  -----  Mark  5 :21 -- 43 

James & Mary Lee Thornton

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GOD'S GRAZINGFIELD DAILY DEVOTION

Today’s First Thoughts                      February 27 & 28, 2010

Good Morning!
Observe how Jesus is attended, a royal entry is prepared for Him.

JESUS’ ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM:
John 12:12. “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13. Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. 14. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15. Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.”

We find Jesus after passing through Jericho and on arriving at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples into the village near them, where they would find an ass tied, and a colt with her. These they were to loose and bring to Him. He tells them, if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, the Lord hath need of them.” He says, “the Lord,” and not “the Master” only, or “Jesus of Nazareth.” “The Lord” is a title of majesty, a name of dignity, by which He elevates Himself high above every other creature, and declares Himself to be Jehovah. “The Lord hath need of them.”

The colt is led away. The disciples lay their garments upon it as a covering, and the Lord seats Himself upon the animal in order to ride into Jerusalem. This may not sound so royal, why not a golden chariot? Why not a gilded stallion? (This will come later (Revelation 6:2). Our Lord by this act, testifies something greater respecting Himself than would have been the case had He suddenly placed Himself upon a royal throne, or had made His entry into the Holy City beneath a gilded canopy, and arrayed in a purple robe.

Jesus had in mind an ancient divine prophecy. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass”   (Zechariah 9:9). By this entry Jesus testifies that the prophet’s words are being fulfilled in His Own Person. And all Jerusalem also seemed to testify to this fact.

On His entry into Jerusalem we have a new, powerful, and actual proof that Jesus was the true Messiah announced by the prophets, and at the same time the only begotten Son of the Father, our Mediator and eternal High Priest. “Hosanna.”

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 Numbers  15  16       ---- Mark  6 :1 --- 29 

 Numbers  17 18 19  ---- Mark  6 :30 - 56

 James & Mary Lee Thornton

                               

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