Preach To Yourself

Daily Scripture readings for July, set #20:

Leviticus, chapters 14-15
Psalm 42
Matthew 19:1-15
Acts 26:1-18

Today, while trudging through the Leviticus chapters on cleansing leprosy, I noticed these verses in chapter 14: “When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession, then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, ‘There seems to me to be some case of disease in my house’” (vs 34-35). Does ALL leprosy come from the Lord? The text doesn’t specify an answer to those question, but it’s very clear that the Lord envisions an instance where the leprosy in Israel comes directly from him.

I heard a sermon a few years ago by C.J. Mahaney that focused on Psalm 42. He made special mention of verses 5 and 11, which are very similar to each other. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (vs 5). Mahaney pointed out the inner dialogue present in these verses, as the Psalmist speaks truth and encouragement to his own soul. The idea of “preaching to yourself” has become a very helpful thing in my life.

Jesus lays down some pretty clear teachings on marriage and divorce in Matthew 19. I’m not going to comment on those, but instead make note of the disciples response that Jesus’ teachings are so strict/uncommon/difficult that they deem marriage in general to be something that maybe isn’t such a good idea after all. Jesus responds to this in verse 11: “But he said to them, ‘Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.'” Whoa. Is Jesus actually agreeing with the disciples’ feelings about marriage? Is he saying that it really is better to not marry, but that lifelong singleness is something that is only given to a certain few? That perspective, although unpopular to us these days, seems to be exactly what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7.

Acts 26 finds Paul, amidst all the judicial drama, finally having a chance to give his defense before King Agrippa. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that he goes straight for the Gospel, spelling out his testimony of how Jesus became his Lord. Paul sees right through the tension of a high court and the stress of appearing before a king with his life on the line. His sights are set squarely on making every moment of his life an opportunity to spread the message of salvation through Christ. Wow.

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