February 25

Leviticus 6:9, 12-13 (NIV) 9"Give Aaron and his sons this command: 'These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar.

12The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 13The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.

Exodus 29:39f God lit the fire. We must guard that flame carefully and tend it well. Keep it on the altar. It is for God that it burns. Don't be zealous for any other thing. God has a flame in His heart for us, the same one that took Jesus to the cross. To not have one for Him in our heart is the height of ingratitude and selfishness.

The sacrifice was performed both morning and evening. It remained on the altar through the night. We should send up our prayer sacrifice at least this often and always be a living sacrifice. Ex 39:42 "There I will meet you and speak with you."

Three times in 5 verses we are told to keep the fire burning. The spiritual picture is clear. You probably remember the children's song, "Don't let Satan blow it out, I'm gonna let it shine. Let is shine, let it shine, all the time." I bet you didn't realize that song goes all the way back to Leviticus. If the fire goes out, the one that God lit, there is always the temptation for man to relight it. We need the fire of God in our sacrifice, not the fire of man. Man's fire is zealous but ends up glorifying man and not God. The altar of our hearts should always be prepared for sacrifice on the flame that God lit in us.

Meditation: Is the fire on the altar of my heart burning with God's fire?

February 25

Matthew 12:48-50 (NIV) 48He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" 49Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

The Gospel account rarely mentions the family of Jesus after he visited Samaria. After the resurrection there was a change, but during His ministry they did not follow Him. This is the rare exception. Jesus must have been speaking to a packed crowd in a building. His family sent word in that they wanted to speak to Him. Jesus response was not a rejection of his family. He was teaching a deep truth. Family that matters most are those that do the will of the Father in heaven.

We don't seem to grasp the fullness of that truth today. Our assemblies are more like a place where we get together with like-minded friends than family. There are many exceptions. Small groups tend to grow more family minded. If you are not in a small group of around a dozen, seek one out. Take time in those groups to pray for one another's concerns. Encourage one another to do the will of the Father even when the price is high. Then stand by and support one another.

Do you consider those who do the will of the Father your mother and brother and sister? It is not that they profess the same mindset, or conform to the same style, or are in the same social class. The unity is built around obedience to God. In that, you share the same Spirit. You share the same experience of walking by faith and not by sight. You share the same struggle with the rejection and misunderstanding of men. You don't even need to share the same culture or language. It is the same love that beats within your heart. You have the same Father and the same desire to please Him, therefore you are brothers, forever!

Consider: Do you have a spiritual family?