Leviticus 27

Vs. 28, “But nothing that a person owns and devotes to the Lord—whether a human being or an animal or family land—may be sold or redeemed; everything so devoted is most holy to the Lord.”  It might be strange to have the book of Leviticus that speaks of God’s holiness end on vows/promises. The vow system was setup so that a person could substitute money for that which was given in dedication to God; this could be a person, animal, and property.  Another important aspect about vows is that they were entirely voluntary.  If a person felt much appreciation to the LORD or wanted to sacrifice something to help support the priests, this vow system was in place.  In our society today, we make many promises we might make in desperation, but never end up keeping.  However, voluntary vows were not something a person could just change their mind.  If a person could not fulfill the vow at that time, they had to give the priest the equivalent in money plus twenty percent more.  The evaluation of people was not based on any prejudice, but whether or not that person if devoted to the temple could have contributed towards productive work.

Regarding application…Keep Your Promises.  I’m reminded of this old movie I saw as a kid called the The End with Burt Reynolds.  As I remember it, Burt Reynolds character has incurable cancer and wants to commit suicide by drowning himself in the ocean. He is in a psychiatric hospital because people have learned about this and put him there to protect him from himself. Another patient is Dom DeLuise (I probably did not spell that right!). Reynolds makes a pact with his buddy that if he chickens out, his buddy will kill him. None of that is the part to laugh about.  But when Burt Reynolds gets way out deep in the water, planning to swim until he is worn out and cannot make it back, he thinks of his daughter and changes his mind and wants to live for her. He prays to God and promises that he will give him some ridiculous percentage of his assets if he helps him get back to shore, tired as he is, something like 50%. As he gets closer to shore and his feet touch the bottom for the first time, he cuts it to 40%. Closer in it gets to 30, 20, 10%. As he stumbles out onto the shore, he promises God that he will have to “drop in to see him sometime.” Then DeLuise jumps out from behind a rock with a big butcher knife and chases Reynolds down the shore, with Reynolds yelling: “80%, 80 %!”

Acts 20

Vs. 1, “When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia.”  Upon leaving Ephesus, we are given a brief summary of Paul’s final trips through Macedonia and his visit to Corinth.  It is believed that at Corinth, Paul wrote the letter to Romans we now have in our bible.  But Paul was getting opposition again he would now begin his journey back to Jerusalem.  He had collected offerings from the churches to bring back to help the Jerusalem church.  Paul makes his way and stays for a week in Troas (vs. 6).  It is here that we see the local church in Troas meet on Sunday to share in fellowship (vs. 7).  We also see an interesting miracle in Paul bringing Eutychus back to life after falling from a 3 story building (vs. 7-12).  In the latter of our chapter we see Paul’s stirring exhortations to the Ephesians elders of the church at Miletus (vs. 17-38).  It was an emotional and heartfelt farewell that should resonate in our own hearts today as we think of the times we had to say goodbye to those we love.

Regarding application…What do you Value?  Vs. 24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”  Like Jesus, Paul knew by going to Jerusalem that there was going to be suffering and trouble.  Yet, his life was a testament of putting other first and giving his life (vs. 35).  If we value our own life, we will not be able to finish the race!  There are many obstacles along the way and people who want to go against us (vs. 29), but let that not hinder us.  While it was sad that Paul was driven from many of the places where he tried to do ministry, he never lost sight of his ultimate goal.  It was to testify of the gospel of God’s grace (vs. 24).  Question: What are you valuing in your life?  What we value will dictate our direction and path in this life.  Think about the choices that lay ahead of you and honestly seek the Lord in where He may be leading you!

Luke 16

Vs. 1,Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.”  The rock band ACDC coined the phrase, “Money talks”.  Did you know that Jesus talked about money more than any other topic?  Scholars break it down to 1/6 of the time!  Having worked in the banking world for many years, I concur that money has been a very hot topic.  Having just finished the story of the prodigal son wasting away his father’s inheritance, we see Jesus give another parable on money (vs. 1-15).  Why would Jesus comment a dishonest money man?  Because this man realized the prospect of a bad future and acted shrewdly (wisely) to ensure he would be treated fairly later on.  If Christians would do likewise with our faith, we would be better of as well.  We then move on to the Rich man and Lazarus (notice how Luke did not address this as an actual parable).  When death came knocking at the rich man’s door, it was then that he realized the folly of his ways (vs. 19-31).

Regarding application…What Do You Value?  Vs. 15, “He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”  Question: What was it that is detestable in God’s sight?  The love of money.  We cannot love both God and money.  Yet, many foolishly think both can be achieved in this life.  I confess, there was a time that the allurement of financial success fell upon my heart.  I was working at a bank and moving up in the ranks.  I owned my own house and could see a very comfortable life.  I justified the success with the fact that I was still serving God in the local church in part-time ministry.  However, God knew my heart and by His grace he drew back to Him.  Perhaps my heart was a bit like Jonah’s who wanted to flee from obeying God’s will in my life.  It’s always a wise think to ask ourselves what do we value in this life?  Because as Jesus so aptly told us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.