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March 25: Numbers 6 | Proverbs 3 | Luke 17

Reading 1 - Numbers 6:4

"As long as he is a Nazirite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins" (Num 6:4).

"Nazarites had taken, among other vows, one which debarred them from the use of wine. In order that they might not violate the obligation, they were forbidden to drink the vinegar of wine or strong liquors, and to make the rule still more clear, they were not to touch the unfermented juice of grapes, nor even to eat the fruit either fresh or dried. In order, altogether, to secure the integrity of the vow, they were not even allowed anything that had to do with the vine; they were, in fact, to avoid the appearance of evil.

"Surely this is a lesson to the Lord's separated ones, teaching them to come away from sin in every form, to avoid not merely its grosser shapes, but even its spirit and similitude. Strict walking is much despised in these days, but... it is both the safest and the happiest. He who yields a point or two to the world is in fearful peril; he who eats the grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little crevice in the sea-bank in Holland lets in the sea, and the gap speedily swells till a province is drowned. Worldly conformity, in any degree, is a snare to the soul, and makes it more and more liable to presumptuous sins.

"Moreover, as the Nazarite who drank grape juice could not be quite sure whether it might not have endured a degree of fermentation, and consequently could not be clear in heart that his vow was intact, so the yielding, temporizing Christian cannot wear a conscience void of offence, but must feel that the inward monitor is in doubt of him. Things doubtful we need not doubt about; they are wrong to us. Things tempting we must not dally with, but flee from them with speed. Better be sneered at as a Puritan than be despised as a hypocrite. Careful walking may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures of its own which are more than a sufficient recompense" (CHS).

Reading 2 - Proverbs 3:13,17

"Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding... Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace" (Pro 3:13,17).

"Peace: the more we grow in the Truth, the more we value it. This grows bigger and bigger to us, and everything else grows smaller. Godly peace, eternal peace -- peace with God. If we have this, we have everything. Nothing else matters: even this present life itself. It is freely available to all. It is entirely up to us whether we have it or not. External circumstances have no bearing on it. It is strictly between us and God. Like everything else in this orderly universe, it is the result of a cause. The entire scientific, industrial, agricultural world is built on the immutable fact that certain causes always bring certain results, from baking a loaf of bread to landing a man on the moon. A chemical formula always works exactly the same under the same conditions. Vary the conditions slightly, and you vary the result, and the variation of result is always the same for the same variation of cause. So it is with peace. Follow the exact, God-given formula, and it will come. Ignore the formula, or be careless about it, and -- though you move heaven and earth -- the result will never, never come. God gives us the formula very plainly: total love, total devotion, total service, total striving against sin in every form, aspect and manifestation. Beat your head forever against the inevitable if you wish, but for the Peace of God you will be forced to come at last to this. There is no other way" (GVG).

Reading 3 - Luke 17:3

"So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him" (Luk 17:3).

Examine yourselves more severely than you examine others (1Co 11:28).

If your brother trespasses, then rebuke him; but always stand ready to forgive him -- not just once or twice, but seven times in one day if need be! And the apostles, recognizing that such an attitude requires faith, pray Jesus to increase their faith. It is for us from time to time to exercise this kind of faith -- faith that, despite perplexing problems, all things will work together for the good of Christ's ecclesias; faith that our brethren will by God's mercy stand firm in the faith despite ever-present failings; faith that God will realize His plan without our constant brooding and worrying, or our presumptuous intervention in matters that do not directly affect us. Can we not develop such faith that God will do His part? This is the faith that pleases God, and without which He cannot be pleased!


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