In Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, for the most part, we have seen the best of people. People far and wide are sending supplies and money to help the victims with anything and everything they need. Good Samaritans drove down to Southeast Texas with their boats ready to rescue anyone they could. In 2 Corinthians, Paul encourages believers to do just this kind of thing, but continually. He asks them to share of their resources and assure everyone is taken care of. Sounds like a good plan to me.
- 8-10 – There is danger in the world, but wisdom can minimize the danger we face.
- 1-4 – The world is uncertain and bad things will happen, but we are called to faithfulness and generosity in the midst of the uncertainty.
- 13 – This is the gist of the whole book. Though so much of what we focus on and worry about is “a chasing after the wind”, we have this one purpose that matters – to follow God and keep his commandments. This could simplify a lot for us.
2 Corinthians 8:1-15:
- 3-5 – Paul is encouraging and challenging the Corinthians in their faith by sharing about the Macedonians’ faith in action. They were giving from what they had and committed to God and the apostles.
- 8-15 – Paul encourages the Corinthians to be generous with those in need. He is kind of preaching a common pot that everyone draws from so whether you put in lots or little, everyone ends up with what they need.
- 5-11 – Like the message of Ecclesiastes, the psalmist makes it clear that we cannot trust in our things. They cannot save us from death. Death comes to all of us.
Do you have any Scripture memorized? If not, and even if you have some, I’d encourage you to do your best to memorize Scripture. Today’s Proverb indirectly encourages it. There are probably songs you can start singing at the drop of a hat, or movie lines you can quote…that’s because you have them memorized and they’re on the tip of your tongue. When we treat Scripture like this, we are blessed through the comfort, hope, and joy Scripture brings and we can be a blessing by sharing it with others.
- 1-14 – Though not the most exciting message, this aims our sites at death because, ultimately, that’s where we’re all headed. The section also lets us know that joy is always accompanied by sorrow. God made both and we can’t really have one without the other.
- 19-22 – These verses make it clear that righteousness in humanity is very relative.
- 27-29 – In biblical poetry, women tend to be personified as either tempting seductresses or virginal and pure. This is most likely what’s going on here as Solomon explains the temptation of folly in the face of wisdom.
- 1-7 – Solomon continually retorts that what we achieve on earth is somewhat insignificant because we all die. But be sure to read through to the end to learn his final conclusion.
2 Corinthians 7:8-16:
- 9 – Paul is ok with the Corinthians feeling a little bit of pain because it led to the ultimate good of repentance.
- 13-16 – Though much of the content of Paul’s letters was rebuke and instruction, he delighted when new believers acted in Christ-like ways. This is why both he and Titus rejoiced.
- 1-8 – The psalmist calls on people to give God praise because of the great protection God had offered them in past situations.
- 9-14 – The reflections of who God is and what he has done cause the people to share of his goodness for generations to come.
- When we have words of wisdom on our lips, they are the ones that come out of our mouths first. This is the same reason we want to have Scripture memorized.
This is one of those books that’s not exactly known for its encouragement…but it is helpful, grounding, and full of great advice.
Second Corinthians runs throughout this week of reading, so I hope you’re enjoying Paul’s interactions with the various churches he supported.
This week in the Old Testament is a bit of a whirlwind! We’ll finish Ecclesiastes, get all the way through Song of Solomon (Fun Fact: Medieval Jewish Rabbis discouraged anyone under 30 from reading Song of Solomon because it was erotic.), and head into the prophets, starting with the granddaddy (not biologically, just size-wise) of them all: Isaiah.
One really cool thing to look for in Isaiah is the connection between it and the New Testament, particularly the gospels. Jesus quotes Isaiah more than any other book! Plus, Isaiah has a lot of beautiful prophecies that Jesus fulfills. Plus, if you’ve ever heard Handel’s Messiah, you’ll recognize a very poetic portion of chapter 9.
You’re doing great! You are now officially two-thirds of the way through the Bible! Keep it up!!!
Have you ever been on a seesaw when the weight distribution on either end is way off? One person ends up doing all the work. It’s not the other person’s fault. They just physically can’t get down to the ground. This is a crude analogy of what Paul’s talking about when he encourages believers not to marry nonbelievers. They are simply not equally matched when it comes to their spiritual lives.
- 9-12 – These verses are key in helping us understand the importance of friendship and being in relationship in general. We are designed to lean on others and have them lean on us as well.
- 13 – The things that we value, wealth and power, are not always the things that benefit us most.
- 1-3 – These verses encourage us to enter God’s presence with reverence and awe. We are to listen for God first instead of assuming we know what he wants and how we should act.
- 4-7 – It is better not to tell God we’re going to do something and not do it than to never promise anything at all. This is similar to the parable Jesus tells in Matthew 21.
- 1-6 – Possessions truly don’t matter. Most of the time, when we have lots of things, we’re worried about maintaining possession of those things and often don’t enjoy them. This is a waste of life.
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7:
- 14-18 – These verses are often used when explaining why believers should not marry nonbelievers. Similar arguments could be made for going into business with nonbelievers. Believers cannot expect nonbelievers to have the same priorities, beliefs, and understandings as them. As believers we are called to be transformed and to put Christ first. This effects every aspect of life.
- 5-7 – Paul’s unquenchable joy is so apparent here. He explains to the Corinthians the difficulties he has faced, but continues to rejoice in hearing of other believers joining in the battle with him.
- Our God is worthy of our praise. We should sing to him and honor him with song.
- God does not take kindly to the powerful oppressing the weak in any circumstance. He calls us to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the child, and the one who is new to the faith.
Today we start a new book, Ecclesiastes. Have you ever felt like you’re spinning your wheels? Not getting anywhere? Making futile efforts? You’re not alone. Solomon felt that way too at times. But through all his searchings and efforts, he ultimately found truth. Ecclesiastes is worth your time.
- 9 – “There is nothing new under the sun” is repeated throughout Ecclesiastes. This is used to remind us that the triumphs, tragedies, as well as daily successes and annoyances, are not new to us. Others have experienced them before us and others will after us.
- 12-16 – The traditional understanding is Solomon wrote this book. He is identified as a king, in the line of David, and having greater wisdom than anyone else. Some modern theologians argue that the language suggests that it had to have been written after the exile and thus was someone else. It has not been proven that Solomon didn’t write it. (We will refer to the writer as Solomon throughout the notes for simplicity sake.)
- 17 – “Chasing/striving after wind” is a repeated phrase in Ecclesiastes too. This simply means that it is a futile effort.
- 1-11 – First, Solomon sought out pleasure in wild living and material things. He found out, as many of us could tell him from our own experiences, that wasn’t going to work.
- 12-26 – Solomon then pursues wisdom and working hard to gain wealth. Both also prove to be pointless because it puts you in no better position when you die.
- 1-8 – These verses will sound familiar because of the popular song by The Byrds. These verses explain that God made everything to run in its course in its allotted time. We will face the good and the bad, but nothing should overwhelm or overtake us because it is passing.
2 Corinthians 6:1-13:
- 3-10 – Paul lists the merits of his ministry. Their boasting is not in their own accomplishments, but their ministry is legitimized by all God has brought them through and done through them.
- It is not the fault of the child that he is foolish. It is his nature. It is the job of the parent to discipline him and lead him to wisdom.
This week we finish Job and begin Ecclesiastes – Ecclesiastes is a fascinating book that accompanies Job and Proverbs in the wisdom literature.
We also spend time in 2 Corinthians. It’s important to note that 2 Corinthians is the second letter from Paul to the church he’s already written once (there aren’t two separate churches). Paul’s letters are written to various churches he either established or supports and each is addressing specific struggles that church is facing. Some struggle with unity, others with discerning how to balance their Jewish heritage with Christian beliefs, and others are unclear on the finer points of salvation.
When reading Paul’s letters, we must remember that they were written to a different group of people in a different cultural context, but the truths of faithfulness and connecting with Christ are still applicable today. I.e. Don’t get too hung up on the instruction not to wear your hair in a braid, but do absorb the encouragement not to do anything that would distract others in worship.