November 21 – Daily Notes – Amanda

holy of holies

In today’s reading, Ezekiel continues to describe his vision of the second temple. Though the details may seem tedious and like you’ve heard it all before, note that he talks about the separation between the holy and common in the temple. Isn’t it incredible that, when Jesus was crucified, the temple curtain was torn and anything that separated us from God was removed!?! Praise God for making a way to connect with us!

Ezekiel 42:1-43:27:

  • 13-20 – The separation between the holy space and the common space was torn when Jesus died for our sins.
  • 43:6-9 – The temple cannot hold the fullness of God, but simply his footstool.

James 5:1-20:

  • 1-6 – Those who are rich and cruel on earth have already experienced their blessings.
  • 12 – We shouldn’t need anything or anyone else’s trustworthiness to assure our own. Instead, we should simply be trustworthy so people will trust us.
  • 16-18 – Righteous prayers can seek forgiveness and healing and receive them. Prayers are powerful. This passage gives evidence of that

Psalm 119:1-16:

  • 1-8 – The psalmist seems so eager to follow God’s commands and understands that blessings come from obedience.

Proverbs 28:6-7:

  • 6 – Though this sentiment is unpopular in our society, wealth is far less important than integrity.

November 20 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Monday

You woke up this morning, right? Great! Then you have reason to give God praise. You were given this day as a gift! Now praise him for it and go out and treat it as the gift that it is.

Ezekiel 40:28-41:26:

  • 28-49 – This is a continuation of Ezekiel’s vision of what the new temple should look like. Like the first time it was built, there are very specific instructions regarding all the details.
  • 1-4 – The Most Holy Place was a place where only the chief priest could go once a year. It was separated from the rest by a curtain. This curtain was torn in half when Jesus died and bridged the gap between us and God.

James 4:1-17:

  • 1-3 – This is inviting us to ask God for things. Note that we are to ask for things not to fulfill our selfish wants, but for God’s glory and for our good and the good of others.
  • 4-10 – Friendship with the world entails loving things and loving what the world tells us we need more than we love and follow God. Instead, we are to draw near to and worship God.
  • 13-17 – We are to submit everything, even our futures, to God’s will.

Psalm 118:19-29:

  • 24 – No matter our circumstances, we can always rejoice because God made this day and gave it to us as a gift.
  • 29 – This is an exclamation repeated often in Scripture. It is a reminder that God is constant in his faithfulness and that we are loved.

Proverbs 28:3-5:

  • 5 – This is an interesting point. If we seek the Lord, he steers us to what is good and pleasing in his sight.

November 19 – Daily Notes – Amanda

solid-ground

We often think of sins as unrelated, individual decisions. I needed to lie in that situation so I did. Now it’s over. Today’s Proverb reminds us that that simply isn’t true. Sin becomes habit and we get comfortable doing it. It then leads us onto shaky ground, normally looking over our shoulder and wondering when we’ll get caught. Choosing faithfulness, however, brings us strength and stability as we stand on solid ground.

Ezekiel 39:1-40:27:

  • 1-16 – This is the continuation of the prophecy against Gog. Gog had not appeared in Scripture until the last chapter. Gog is an individual who has opposed Israel and will be punished because of it.
  • 21-29 – God explains that though Israel was disobedient and he punished them, he will soon restore them back to prominence and proliferation.
  • 1-17 – This is a vision Ezekiel is given regarding what the new temple should look like. The new temple ends up being built in the same place as the old temple and it stood until 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed it.

James 2:18-3:18:

  • 18-26 – Our faith is not helpful if it is inactive. True faith cannot actually remain inactive. If we have faith in Christ, it is transformative and causes us to begin to live more like Christ. Works are inevitable.
  • 2-12 – James spends time discussing how difficult it is to tame the tongue, but that if we do, it controls our whole selves. We all know how difficult it is to keep our speech pure, uplifting, and beneficial to others.

Psalm 118:1-18:

  • 5-7 – The psalmist has such confidence in God’s ability to take care of him despite the circumstances because he had experienced God’s protection before. Instead of forgetting God’s faithfulness, he used that memory to build his faith for the future.

Proverbs 28:2:

  • Disobedience and sin lead to instability, but faithfulness leads to strength.

What to Expect – Week 47

james bond

If you want a book that packs a punch, you’ve got one this week. You probably already know that as we started it Friday. James is clear, concise, and calls us out for a number of our greatest foibles.

Do you struggle with controlling your words? Do you speak out in anger? Do you gossip? James has an answer for that.

Do you ever feel like you’re doing a lot of good things but still feel distant from God? Do you wonder why your “good works” aren’t getting more recognition? James has an answer for that.

If you want to know how to live faithfully while keeping the main things the main things, James is perfect for you. Enjoy!

November 18 – Daily Notes – Amanda

too far away

Don’t miss today’s reading! There is a ton of great stuff in here! It’s even hard to decide what to entice you with here, but I’ll go with this: if you think you’re beyond restoration or repair, read today’s Ezekiel passage. God raises dry bones back to life! No one is beyond forgiveness! No one can stray so far that God can’t redeem them! That means you too!!

Ezekiel 37:1-38:23:

  • 1-14 – Ezekiel’s prophecies over the dry bones give hope that God can restore Israel even though their situation seems hopeless and their nation seems lifeless.
  • 15-23 – God promises to reunite Israel and Judah and to, once again, be their God.
  • 14-23 – Though Gog had seen success against Israel, God makes it clear that Israel will rise again and it will not bode well for Gog.

James 1:19-2:17:

  • 22-25 – Reading Scripture alone is not enough. We must also live what it tells us to do. Otherwise we are like a foolish person.
  • 27 – If we truly want to follow God we must care for the most vulnerable in his name.
  • 1-9 – We tend to want to associate with those who are powerful and can lift us up, but God does the opposite. He lifts up the lowly. God is calling us to share in his work.
  • 10-13 – We tend to want to make our sins seems less egregious, but once we have sinned, we are sinners.
  • 14-17 – This can be confusing because we know that faith in Christ is what saves us. We can’t save ourselves through works. This does not mean we’re not supposed to do the works though. Our salvation is intended to make us more like Christ, how worked diligently to care for those in need and bring others into God’s family.

Psalm 117:1-2:

  • Why do we praise the Lord? Because he loves us.

Proverbs 28:1:

  • When we’re entrapped in sin, we constantly have to watch our backs and wait for the other shoe to drop. When we are living faithfully, there is freedom from this fear.

November 17 – Daily Notes – Amanda

temptation

The line in the Lord’s Prayer that asks God to “lead us not into temptation” is sometimes problematic for people. They wonder if that suggests that God leads us toward sin. Today’s James reading assures us that God does not lead us toward sin but towards righteousness because he doesn’t want us to sin. The line in the Lord’s Prayer is referring back to Jesus’ temptation and recognizing that we are not strong enough to handle what he did.

Ezekiel 35:1-36:38:

  • 1-15 – Mount Seir was a series of mountains marking the southeastern border of Judah. Clearly the people that inhabited the region had disobeyed God and would face punishment and the land would be made desolate.
  • 15 – So many of the prophecies and oracles end with the statement, “then they will know that I am the Lord” or something similar. The destruction and difficulty God was sending to these nations had a purpose. Clearly they were previously unaware that God was God alone, or they were simply unwilling for that truth to inform how they lived.
  • 8-15 – Not all the prophecies were bad. God promises to reestablish and repopulate the mountains of Israel. Here too he says that they will know he is God, but this time it’s because of the good he does for them.
  • 26 – A powerful verse describing how we become when we choose sin over and over again and then how God restores and transforms us.

James 1:1-18:

  • 2-4 – It is difficult to look at trials this way when we’re in the middle of them, but we can often look back at past trials and how God has sustained us through them. Hopefully, then, in the next trial we will remember God’s faithfulness in previous trials.
  • 12 – To remain steadfast is to remain faithful to God.
  • 13-15 – God does not desire for us to sin, so he does not lead us to sin.
  • 16-18 – These verses are the perfect answer to verses 13-15. God gives good gifts, not opportunities to sin.

Psalm 116:1-19:

  • 1-2 – God’s faithfulness to us should lead us to more faithfulness to him.

Proverbs 27:23-27:

  • 23-27 – The investment you put in those with whom you’re entrusted will benefit you later.

November 16 – Daily Notes – Amanda

take me to your leader

Are you a leader in any arena? If so, you’ll notice that leadership comes with responsibility. If you’re a leader, that means you have followers and that ultimately means that you are, at least in part, responsible for those who follow you. In today’s Ezekiel reading we see examples of good and bad leadership. Ezekiel heeded the call of leadership and shared God’s message with the people. At the same time, many religious leaders led people away from God and towards other gods. Leadership should always be taken seriously.

Ezekiel 33:1-34:31:

  • 1-9 – Ezekiel was tasked with sharing God’s messages of repentance to Israel. If he did so and the Israelites did not turn away from their sins, their destruction was on their own heads. If Ezekiel didn’t share the message, their destruction was on him.
  • 10-20 – God does not and did not delight in destroying people. He gave them every opportunity to turn around, but they continued to choose not to.
  • 2 – This is not referring to shepherds of white fluffy animals, but the leaders of the Israelites who were supposed to be leading them towards God.
  • 7-10 – God was not pleased with the leaders’ negligence towards the people, so God committed to rescuing the people.
  • 20-24 – God is referring to Jesus here when he talks about bringing all his people together under one. Jesus was in the line of David.

Hebrews 13:1-25:

  • 1-2 – This reminds us to be kind and caring to everyone in our midst.
  • 4-5 – The things believers should and shouldn’t do stay pretty consistent throughout the New Testament.
  • 15-16 – To be faithful we need to praise God and serve others.

Psalm 115:1-18:

  • 1-8 – A great deal of the Bible is focused on who we should focus on and worship. Too often we get distracted and choose to offer our affections elsewhere.

Proverbs 27:21-22:

  • These tools and metals are referring to a purifying process. This is to suggest that a fool cannot be separated from his folly.

November 15 – Daily Notes – Amanda

anger

Bitterness, when allowed to fester and build, will slowly destroy us. Bitterness forms when anger and resentment are not dealt with. Today’s Hebrews reading warns us of this. We must process and deal with these feelings because it ultimately harms us more than anyone we’re angry with.

Ezekiel 31:1-32:32:

  • 1-18 – Egypt once grew to great prominence, particularly when Joseph was there and stored and sold grain during a 7-year famine. Because of its prominence, Egypt became prideful and turned from God. Because of this, Pharaoh was doomed to death.
  • 1-15 – The lament over Egypt in yesterday’s reading had a similar conclusion, “then they will know that I am the Lord.”

Hebrews 12:14-29:

  • 15 – “Roots of bitterness” are formed when we allow anger and resentment to build up in our hearts. These are often formed when we feel someone else is getting away with sin and when we are punished for our own sins.
  • 25-29 – Hebrews is warning us of the importance of listening for, obeying, and accepting God. God is described here as a consuming fire.

Psalm 113:1-114:8:

  • Our God is worthy of praise and there are none beside him. Nothing else we could worship or revere compares to the greatness of God.

Proverbs 27:18-20:

  • 18 – The one who works at something, gains the reward.

November 14 – Daily Notes – Amanda

playing God

In today’s Ezekiel reading Egypt is promised a punishment partially because they put themselves in place of God. It seems silly. They took credit for creating the Nile. But don’t we put ourselves in the place of God all the time? We try to control things that we should hand over to God. We make decisions without consulting God. We assume that our finances are our own instead of a blessing from God. Let’s read today’s Ezekiel passage closely today.

Ezekiel 29:1-30:26:

  • 1-21 – This is a prophecy against Egypt. Notice that in verses 9 and 10, it is explained that Egypt’s punishment is partially because the people tried to put themselves in the place of God by saying they created the Nile.
  • 1-26 – The explanation of Egypt’s punishment continues and the hearer is assured that by the end of what Egypt will face, they will have no doubt who God is.

Hebrews 11:32-12:13:

  • 32-38 – All these folks who lived by faith faced very difficult challenges and hardships. Following God does not make life easy or simple. It is the opposite. Life is often more difficult when we follow God, but the reward in the end is well worth it.
  • 1-2 – The “cloud of witnesses” is all the people who have gone before us and shown us what faithful living looks like. Our ultimate example is Christ who was willing to sacrifice himself in order to obtain the joy of the Lord and a place next to God.
  • 7-11 – Discipline is a form of love because it protects us and guides us to the version of us God intended.

Psalm 112:1-10:

  • This psalm highlights many reasons why it is good and beneficial to fear and obey God. Too often we see it as a burden that squashes us.

Proverbs 27:17:

  • As believers, we are called to help hold one another accountable and to spur each other on towards faithfulness.