We tend to pursue anything and everything but that which has been give to us. Today’s Proverb encourages us to, in essence, stay in our own lane. When we are faithful with what we’ve been given, God blesses that. But when we seek out everything else but what’s in front of us, we spin our wheels and run into trouble.
- 15-18 – To have a more beloved wife was not uncommon in this society. Think back to Jacob’s wives Leah and Rachel and how Rachel was much more loved and her sons were favored by Jacob.
- 1-4 – The term “brother” is not limited to your biological brother, but anyone you were in relationship with. Technically all were descendants of Abraham so “brother” is an appropriate term.
- A parapet is a wall along the edge of a roof. This was necessary because roofs were flat and sometimes people would sleep on top of the roof when it was hot.
- God was intent on keeping the Israelites pure. Most of the laws and requirements for stoning were aimed at this goal.
- 51 – Though it will take him about 10 chapters to actually get to Jerusalem, his purpose until then has been set to get himself to Jerusalem for his eventual death.
- 58-62 – A hearer of this message at the time would know that the excuses Jesus is quoting would have been illegitimate ones. He wanted people who were committed to sharing the good news.
- 2 – A powerful indictment on all of us who are unwilling to do the work of spreading the gospel.
- We are to care for and work with what God has given us. Too often we seek out anything else we think might bring us pleasure. These are vain pursuits.
Today we see Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ “inner circle” (which is apparently also the name of a popular Jamaican reggae group – thus the picture) in action. These were the three disciples invited most closely into Jesus’ life and ministry. Today they experience the transfiguration, a powerful experience where they saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus up on a mountain. It must have been incredible to be in Jesus’ inner circle.
- 1-5 – What a great amount of trust this must have taken for this tribe. They were not allowed to try to provide for themselves or store up for themselves. Instead, they had to rely on the peoples’ devotion to God.
- 21-22 – This definition of whether a prophet was false or not was certainly fairly tricky considering much of what prophets said didn’t happen until long after they were dead.
- 21 – This verse represents justice.
- 1-4 – Yet again, the Lord asks the Israelites to trust him completely. It’s important to remember all the ways he had been faithful to them beforehand in order for them to trust him in these large ways.
- Peter, James, and John were the inner circle of the disciples. They were most often included and more seemed to be expected from them.
- 28-36 – This event is known as the Transfiguration. Jesus’ form was transformed in the presence of God. He shown with the glory of God.
- 46-48 – There is great irony that this conversation comes just after they are unable to cast out a demon and unable to understand what Jesus is telling them.
- 49-50 – Sometimes doing the work of God comes before having love for God.
- 25-26 – Beautiful verses about the importance of full reliance on God.
- 27-28 – The rewards or consequences based on what you choose.
There have been a number of famous declarations throughout human history, a personal favorite is the Declaration of Independence, which our forefathers signed in 1776. But in today’s Luke reading, we find a declaration far more significant in the life of one man as well as human history. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, is the first of his followers to recognize and vocalize that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah the people were expecting. Each of us, in our own ways, must also make this declaration confessing Jesus as the Christ and as our Savior. If you want to talk about that, let me know.
- 5-6 – Eventually God will choose Jerusalem as the place where the Israelites were to offer Passover sacrifices.
- 21 – Asherah poles were built in homage to another god.
- 2-5 – Keeping the Israelites worship pure was a high priority and taken very seriously.
- Later, when the Israelites actually ask for a king, God says it is because they are rejecting him. They want to be like the other countries around them when God has set them apart to be different.
- 10-17 – This story is also found in Matthew and Mark. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the synoptic gospels. The writers most likely worked from each others accounts to help create their gospels.
- 18-20 – Peter is the first of Jesus’ followers to declare him as the Messiah.
- 23-24 – A powerful image of following after Christ even to the greatest of lengths. It does us no good ultimately to live a good life but never know or follow Christ.
- Solomon was the son of David who took over as king after him. He was known for his wisdom.
- 1-7 – A prayer all leaders should pray.
As has been a continual theme throughout the first 5 books of the Bible, known as the Torah, God asks the Israelites to go to any and every length to avoid temptations that would draw them towards other gods. We think some of them sound extreme, but we could probably stand to cut a few things out of our lives that tempt us away from God.
- 1-3 – We often wonder if God puts us through tests. Though our theology would lean towards “no”, this is an example of the Israelites’ faith being tested through false prophets.
- 6-11 – The Israelites were instructed to go to any length to not be led away from God. We could probably cut certain things out of our lives in order to avoid being tempted by other gods.
- The rules Moses is telling the Israelites are not new ones. He is reiterating ones that were given in Leviticus.
- 28-29 – Their tithe was used to take care of those who could not take care of themselves.
- 1 – The 7th year was known as the Jubilee when all debts were forgiven and possessions were returned to their rightful owner.
- 6 – It was important for the Israelites not to borrow from anyone else so that no one else could boast that they had contributed to Israel’s wealth or prosperity. God alone was the giver of their blessings.
- 13 – This continual reminder should keep Israel from ever having pride in their own accomplishments but in God’s alone.
- 48 – Here Jesus attributes the woman’s healing to her own faith. Sometimes he would attribute the miracle to the person and sometimes to God. What makes this difference?
- Jesus tells Jairus and his wife not to tell of the miracle he performed but he did not tell the bleeding woman not to tell anyone.
- 20-21 – Often we feel alone and desperate when we are at our lowest, but this reminds us that God raises up again in time.
Jesus’s true identity was revealed to different people in different ways. We see that throughout the gospels and particularly in today’s Luke reading. That probably means he can reveal himself to us in a variety of ways as well. How did he reveal himself to you?
- 1-7 – Our response to God’s faithfulness should be obedience.
- 26-28 – We would often prefer that God just present the blessing and not present a curse as well. We want freewill when it gives us freedom, but don’t like it when it allows us to fail.
- One theme that is emphasized over and over in the first few books of the Bible is not to get involved with the nations that God wants the Israelites to destroy. God seems very concerned that they will allow the other nation to influence them and eventually the Israelites will worship the other nations’ gods.
- People came to understand Jesus’ identity through all types of experiences: casting out demons, calming the waves, healing, forgiving of sins, etc. His identity can be revealed to us in a number of ways as well.
- Wives can choose to bless their husband or harm them. This manifests in a variety of ways.
Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”, Marc Antony’s speech beginning “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”, and now you’ll know Moses’ Deuteronomy. This is Moses’ most important speech. It is also his farewell speech. Check it out:
To us circumcision is something that happens and basically is never spoken of again. To the Israelites it was an outward sign of their commitment to the God of Israel. In today’s Deuteronomy reading, Moses takes it a step further. He asks the Israelites to circumcise their hearts and get rid of their stubbornness. He lets them know that an outward symbol is no longer enough, there commitment to God must be in their hearts as well.
- 4-5 – Self-righteousness is always a struggle for people who consider themselves “good people”. The Israelites could have easily started to see they’re blessings as based on their own skill and righteousness instead of because of God’s faithfulness.
- 6-21 – Moses recounts the unfaithfulness of the Israelites in making a golden calf as God was making a covenant with them through Moses up on the mountain.
- The Ark of the Covenant, which the Israelites carried around with them, contained the 10 Commandments tablets.
- 12-13 – A good goal for anyone who wants to follow God.
- 16 – The Israelites used circumcision as an outward sign of their connection with God. Moses now calls them to an inward commitment to God.
- 1-18 – The parable of the four soils is told and then explained to the disciples. We will all hear the good news of Jesus, but each of us will receive it differently.
- 10 – Jesus quotes Isaiah here. This sounds as if Jesus told parables so people wouldn’t understand. Instead, Jesus told parables to give people opportunities to search for the truth, like the disciples, if they wanted to. For those who didn’t care to try, they didn’t receive the condemnation of willfully disobeying God’s instructions because they simply did not understand.
- 16-18 – When we hear and understand the good news, we share it.
- This Psalm seems very vengeful, which does not seem like it fits with God’s loving character. Remember, though, that this is David, a human, writing to God. This shows how honest we can be with God.
In today’s Deuteronomy reading, God knows the Israelites will be afraid to face their enemies who are bigger and stronger. He needs them to know that he is with them and he will make a way for them. He reminds them of the way he made away for them as they escaped the Egyptians. Our memories of what God has done for us previously can help is tremendously in trusting him with our next steps.
- It is difficult to read that entire people groups were destroyed by God’s command. We wonder where God’s mercy is, but verse 10 reminds us that his punishments were in return for people who hated and mocked him. In fact, God’s love and protection for the Israelites should be seen as an extension of immense mercy since they also often disobeyed God. We can also extend this thought that anything good that comes to us is an act of great love from God since we too disobey and mock him continually.
- 1-5 – Moses explains to the Israelites why they must wipe out the other people groups. God commands this in order to protect them from the temptations they will certainly fall to to worship other gods.
- 17-19 – God knew that the Israelites would be fearful to face those they were to fight, but they are reminded of God’s intervention with the Egyptians so they can have confidence that he will be faithful again.
- 3 – Though the Israelites were so worried about food throughout their time in the desert, God provided miraculously to help the Israelites rely on him, not food. Jesus also quotes this verse when tempted by the devil in the desert.
- 11-20 – A great reminder for us today that God is the giver of all of our gifts and we shouldn’t abandon him once we’re comfortable.
- 36-40 – Jewish custom, at the time, did not allow men to touch or speak to women they weren’t married or related to. It is also presumed that this woman was a prostitute, which added extra scandal to the mind of the Pharisee.
- 41-50 – This is not encouragement to sin more so we can be forgiven, but instead to be aware of our sinful nature and need for forgiveness so we can be grateful for the gift we’ve been given.
- 2-3 – Just like he focused on Mary’s perspective rather than Joseph’s in the birth narrative, Luke tends to include and highlight the participation of women in ministry.
- When David seems to be abandoned by everyone, he still has God to reach out to.
In today’s Deuteronomy reading we find the passage our children’s ministry is based on: Deuteronomy 6:4-9. It encourages us to be so immersed in the Bible that it is natural to teach it to our children as we spend time with them daily. I’d say reading the Bible every day for a year is a pretty great way to start the immersion.
- Moses reminds the Israelites of the 10 Commandments the Lord gave them. This is a bit of an extended version of the commandments.
- 4-9 – This is the passage our children’s ministry uses as a guide. It encourages parents to pass down to the faith to their children and encourages families to keep God’s Word at the forefront.
- 10-15 – We often take pride in the things we have even when we did not earn or work for them. This often leads to relying on entities other than God.
- 16 – Jesus quotes this when he is tempted by the devil in the desert.
- 25 – When we put our faith into action, it is counted to us as righteousness.
- 11-17 – This woman would have been in bad shape. Widows relied on male relatives to take care of them after their husbands died and this was her only son who had just died.
- 18-19 – John believed that Jesus was the Messiah but needed confirmation.
- 22-23 – Jesus quotes the same part of Isaiah that he did in the synagogue in chapter 4. But he leaves one significant line out: that the prisoners would be set free. John was in prison at the time and would most likely understand that Jesus was saying he would not be released, but that Jesus was the Messiah.
- 26-27 – Jesus confirms that John was the messenger the prophets foretold and he is the Messiah for whom the messenger was to prepare the way.
A theme you may have noticed, which will be prevalent this week, is that God did not want the Israelites to associate with other people groups in any significant way. To us this may seem exclusive and even hateful towards those people. Entire people groups were wiped out in order to avoid these associations. But these people groups weren’t victims of McCarthyism. God wasn’t accusing or attacking these people without substantial evidence. We see, over and over, the Israelites engaging with other nations and beginning to take on their customs and even worship their gods. God knew the Israelites would be easily swayed and would lose their loyalty to him. Setting the Israelites apart was a way of protecting them.
This week’s Luke readings will definitely keep you engaged with parables, healings, and tons more! Two cool things to look for and think about for a while are:
1) Peter’s recognition and admission of Jesus as the Messiah – Peter’s admission is the first of any of Jesus’ followers. People were still saying he might be Elijah or some other prophet, and obviously many people were thinking he was a heretic. Peter, as he tended to do, steps out in faith and declares Jesus’ identity.
2) Jesus telling a woman that her faith has healed her – Throughout Scripture there are different explanations of why people are healed. Some just seem to be miracles from God without any other explanation. Some are based on the faith of someone else asking for a friend or loved one and others, like the healing we’ll read about on Thursday, are attributed to the faith of the person healed. What do you notice as the difference between the healings? Is there any? If so, why?
Finally, some of our Psalms this week are very raw. They are filled with rage and malice and can be jarring to us. Try to remember that these Psalms are not God talking, but a human, like you and me. This is not necessarily something to model ourselves after, but to remind us that God knows us at our best and worst, and we are sinful.
Keep up the good reading! You’re doing great!!