February 26, 2024
 
 
 
Written by Larry Stockstill
 
 
 
 

As one of the two great commandments Jesus quoted from the Old Testament, this rule consists of five simple words that embody everything else: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” For New Testament believers, the Holy Spirit automatically teaches their hearts to do all that relates to this commandment. But for those who were under the Law, God had to spell out exactly how they should behave.

Leviticus 19 tells us that God instructed His people to be generous (vv. 9-10) and to leave something in the fields for the poor. He commanded them not to steal, lie, or deceive one another (vv. 11-13). He told them to respect the helpless (v. 14) and not to take advantage of them. He directed them to judge their neighbors fairly, not showing favoritism (v. 15). Finally, He told them not to slander, harbor hatred, or seek revenge (vv. 16-18). As simple as these commandments sound, they gave practical steps to the admonition to “love your neighbor.”

Love is the fulfilling of the Law and the highest of God’s commandments. In all your relationships, apply this “royal command” (James 2:8). God will bless you, and others will love you in return!

 
 
SCRIPTURES:

 

Leviticus 19:1-20:21

Various Laws

19 The LORD said to Moses,2“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.

3“‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.

4“‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.

5“‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the LORD, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf.6It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up.7If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted.8Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the LORD; they must be cut off from their people.

9“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.10Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

11“‘Do not steal.

“‘Do not lie.

“‘Do not deceive one another.

12“‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.

13“‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.

“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

14“‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD.

15“‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

16“‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.

“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.

17“‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

18“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

19“‘Keep my decrees.

“‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.

“‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.

“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

20“‘If a man sleeps with a female slave who is promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed.21The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the tent of meeting for a guilt offering to the LORD.22With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the LORD for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven.

23“‘When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten.24In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD.25But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the LORD your God.

26“‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.

“‘Do not practice divination or seek omens.

27“‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

28“‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.

29“‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.

30“‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD.

31“‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

32“‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.

33“‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.34The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

35“‘Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity.36Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt.

37“‘Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the LORD.’”

Punishments for Sin

20 The LORD said to Moses,2“Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him.3I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name.4If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death,5I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.

6“‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people.

7“‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God.8Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

9“‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.

10“‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

11“‘If a man has sexual relations with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

12“‘If a man has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.

13“‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

14“‘If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.

15“‘If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

16“‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

17“‘If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They are to be publicly removed from their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible.

18“‘If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people.

19“‘Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible.

20“‘If a man has sexual relations with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless.

21“‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.

 

Mark 8:11-38

11The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.12He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.”13Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod

14The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.15“Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

16They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”

17Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?18Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

“Twelve,” they replied.

20“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

They answered, “Seven.”

21He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

24He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.26Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah

27Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

29“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

30Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus Predicts His Death

31He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.32He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The Way of the Cross

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.35For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.36What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?37Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

 

Psalm 42

BOOK II

42 As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
3My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
4These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

5Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

6My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

8By day the LORD directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

9I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

 

Proverbs 10:17

17Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
    but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

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