February 19

Exodus 31:13 (NIV) 13"Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

The Israelites had weekly Sabbaths (a day of rest), but they also had new moon Sabbaths and other special Sabbath days related to their feasts. On those days, there were restrictions as to how much they could do and how far they could go. All these were designed to have them take time to contemplate the God they served. They were to be still for a day to focus upon God. The above verse teaches that the reason for the Sabbath was to know who the LORD is and that He is the One who makes us holy. It seems that they missed the whole point of the exercise and concentrated on the rules surrounding the Sabbath instead of the purpose. They thought that keeping the rules made them holy, when it is clearly the LORD that makes them holy.

They had the example in Abraham who was declared right with God by simply believing in God before he had done anything the Lord asked. They also had the example of the man recording this passage, Moses. He was a murderer and failed miserably when he tried to do it his own way. But when we know we can't do it ourselves, that holiness is unattainable by our efforts, we finally look to the LORD who makes us holy. Though, at that time, they did not understand how, they simply needed to believe He would. It is the trust placed in God, not a detailed understanding of the process that makes men right with God, both then and now. He makes us holy. His work will transform our lives when our trust is placed in Him.

Meditation: Consider that it is the LORD who makes you holy.

February 19

Matthew 9:36-38 (NIV) 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

When you look at a crowd, what do you see? Jesus' heart breaks for them, because they are so helpless. That image of sheep without a shepherd is full of implications. They don't know where to go for food or water. There is no one to tend to wounds. The wolves come in whenever they please and devour as many as they like. We are harassed by our flesh from within, and the carnality of others from without. Then there is the Devourer. He is ready to give us what ever we lust after that will destroy us. Harassed and helpless!

Jesus used the analogy of a harvest loaded and ripe. If no one gets out there and picks it, the harvest is wasted. I have seen it happen when there is a bumper crop. The fruit is just waiting to be picked. But when you can't find enough help, and in our world today it is hard to find laborers that will work at a wage that makes it profitable, the fruit starts to drop to the ground. Those that will work give it their all every day and go home exhausted. The Fall winds come and shake the fruit off the tree. Finally the freeze comes and destroys what is left.

If you are willing to share the heart of Jesus, what should you do? Our first thought is practical. Run out and join them. But that is not what Jesus asked us to do. He requested that we ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into His harvest field. You have to know how to pick without damaging and wasting the fruit. Running out and trying to help is not the solution. Prayer is the answer! God is training the harvesters. Pray that He will send them. God wants you to participate through prayer, by praying His will into the earth.

Consider: Next time you see a crowd, what will you do?