December 9th

1 Peter 1-2

  • 1:1-2— Peter is writing to house-churches scattered throughout the Roman empire- the language he uses here is intentionally comparing their lives to those of people who have been exiled from their homeland and live among strangers.
  • 1:13-15—These verses are antithetical to modern American culture and modern Western Christianity. We prefer to reject discipline and assume that since nobody is perfect, we don’t need to worry about being perfect either. Peter says otherwise- God’s people are supposed disciplined and should always be striving for holiness and perfection.
  • 2:9—This isn’t saying that God has chosen specific people to be Christians- instead, this is a reference to the covenant God made with the Israel in the Old Testament. Peter is stating that the old covenant now includes non-Jews

December 8th

James 4-5

  • 4:1-3 – 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.
  • 4:4-10 – 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.
  • 4:13-17 – We are submit everything, even our futures, to God’s will.

December 7th

James 1-3

  • 1:2-4 – 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.
  • 1:12 – To remain steadfast is to remain faithful to God.
  • 1:13-15 – God does not desire for us to sin, so he does not lead us to sin.
  • 1:16-18 – These verses are the perfect answer to verses 13-15. God gives good gifts, not opportunities to sin.
  • 1:22-25 – Reading Scripture alone is not enough. We must also live what it tells us to do. Otherwise we are like a foolish person.
  • 1:27 – If we truly want to follow God we must care for the most vulnerable in his name.
  • 2:1-9 – 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.
  • 2:10-13 – We tend to want to make our sins seems less egregious, but once we have sinned, we are sinners.
  • 2:14-17 – 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.
  • 2:18-26 – 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.
  • 3:2-12 – 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.

December 6th

Hebrews 11-13

  • Chapter 11 is often know as the “Hall of Faith”. It is a helpful list of many people in Scripture who acted faithfully because of their faith. We are often asked to take steps/leaps of faith. It is for our good and God’s glory that we are asked to take these steps. They’re scary, but worth it.
  • 11:1 – This helps us define what faith is and what it isn’t. We often want proof in order to have faith, but proof is not required for faith. Faith must come before proof.
  • 11:6 – It is interesting to think that faith is the root of pleasing God. We must have faith in order to please God.
  • 11:13-16 – The folks mentioned in this chapter all died still living faithfully. Each was seeking God’s best for them, a heavenly home, realizing that this life wasn’t all God had in store.
  • 11:26 – This verse should stop us in our tracks! Because of their deep and abiding faith that God’s promises are true, all these people acted faithfully with the willingness to wait for their rewards. Are we willing to do the same?
  • 11:32-38 – 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.
  • 12:1-2 – 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.
  • 12:7-11 – Discipline is a form of love because it protects us and guides us to the version of us God intended.
  • 12:15 – “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.
  • 12:25-29 – Hebrews is warning us of the importance of listening for, obeying, and accepting God. God is described here as a consuming fire.
  • 13:1-2 – This reminds us to be kind and caring to everyone in our midst.
  • 13:4-5 – The things believers should and shouldn’t do stay pretty consistent throughout the New Testament.

13:15-16 – To be faithful we need to praise God and serve

December 5th

Hebrews 9-10

  • 9:1-10—This section explains the significance and practices associated with the Israelites’ temple. Jesus referred to himself as the temple when talking about being resurrected in three days. The past few days of Hebrews reading has explained how Jesus is a new edition of God’s plan to be connected with his people. This is a continuation of that
  • 9:11-14 – The Holy of Holies, which was once separated and humans couldn’t enter except the high priest once a year, was now permanently available through Christ. His blood was far more sufficient than animals’.
  • 9:23-28 – It’s interesting that the word “copies” is used. This is helpful when we think that the law and the temple and sacrifices weren’t bad things. They were very helpful, but they were merely copies of the real deal – Jesus. Now we have the real deal and don’t have to rely on the copies anymore.
  • 10:5-7 – Jesus did not offer sacrifices other than himself. Jesus says that God does not desire sacrifices and offerings because the Israelites were using them incorrectly. They weren’t allowing themselves to be changed by the sacrifices but were simply using them as a chance to continue sinning.
  • 10:11-14 – Jesus’ sacrifice of himself offers us righteousness. It is our job though, to pursue the process of sanctification. This is the process of systematically turning away from sin and becoming more like Christ.
  • 10:19-25 – This passage explains how Christ broke down any barriers that separated people from God, giving them access to God directly. The author encourages believers to hold true to their hope in Christ and to spur others onto faithfulness and connection with God too.
  • 10:26-31 – Here, the author confirms the need for believers to have a transformed lives. Those who know the truth and continue sinning will be punished.

December 4th

Hebrews 7-8

  • 7:1-3 – Melchizedek was a special priest believed to have Christ-like qualities.
  • 7:11-17 – Melchizedek and the Levites were both unable to offer salvation as Christ did because their laws were not sufficient to offer salvation to all people.
  • 7:18-22 – This is a continuation of yesterday’s comparison between Melchizedek and Jesus. This continues to describe Jesus as superior to Melchizedek.
  • 7:28 – God still uses sinful people for his purposes, but we still have to look to Jesus, who was perfect, for salvation.
  • This section describes the new covenant that was established through Christ.
  • 8:12 – Jeremiah 31:31-34 is quoted here.
  • 8:13 – This is to say that the original covenant is now replaced by the new. Christ’s covenant is what we live under. God’s first covenant wasn’t bad, this one is kind of like a new edition that we should adhere to from now on.

December 3rd

Hebrews 5-6

  • 5:7-10 – This may sound like Jesus was, at one point, not perfect. This is not the case. Instead, these verses suggest that Jesus did not have an easy path but still had to live and experience the challenges of human life and gain knowledge and experience.
  • 5:11-14 – This is so true of all of us. We hear and should be moved and changed by the gospel. Often we just hear it and do not allow it to change us. This causes us to need to hear the same soft message over and over.
  • 6:4-8 – In a similar vein to the unforgivable sin mentioned in the gospels, if you are worried that you committed it, your desire for repentance and restoration with God is sign that you are not beyond restoration. Have no fear.
  • 6:9-12 – The author expresses hope for those hearing his words that they are still covered by salvation and should have eternal hope.
  • 6:20 – Melchizedek is mentioned several times in Hebrews. He was a high priest mentioned in Genesis 14:18 as having served a meal similar to communion to Abraham and God when they met. Some groups believed that Melchizedek was a human who lived without sin.

December 2nd

Hebrews 3-4

  • 3:1-6 – Moses, like David and Elijah, was highly revered for his acts of faithfulness by Jewish people. The author, here, is explaining that as great Moses was, Jesus is higher.
  • 3:12-15 – It is harder to live faithfully than it is to fall away because temptation and complacency are constantly pulling us away from faithfulness. This encourages us to help each other stay faithful.
  • 3:16-19 – The author encourages the believers to learn from the Israelites wandering in the desert’s mistakes.
  • 4:1-10 – We have a greater advantage towards faithfulness than those following Moses and Joshua did. Yet it is still possible for us to hear the good news and still fall short of all God intended for us. Many people hear the good news and still turn away from it.
  • 4:12-13 – Scripture is wonderful because it gives us opportunities to know God more, but once we know it, we are held accountable for what it teaches us.
  • 4:14-16 – Jesus faced the same things we face and came out of it without sin. We are not being asked to do anything he has not already done.

December 1st

Hebrews 1-2

  • 1:3-4 – What a lovely description of Christ!
  • 1:8-12 – Christ cannot be placed on the same level as the angels. He is, instead, set apart and above the angels.
  • 2:5-18 – Much of the reason Christ was able to initiate and offer us salvation is because he lowered himself to our level and made himself like us. He suffered through similar difficulties and experienced similar challenges.

November 30th

Philemon

  • This letter is from Paul to Philemon and Apphia. It is only one chapter long.
  • 1:8-16 – Paul is writing to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus who, while Paul was imprisoned, formed a special relationship with Paul. Onesimus had been a servant but was now to become a fellow laborer for Christ with Philemon.