Today we start Hosea. It is a fascinating book where Hosea is a model of faithfulness to God. Can you imagine being asked to marry someone you knew was going to cheat on you to help God paint a picture? I’m not sure I’m strong enough. But Hosea was faithful even though Gomer would never be. What are the limits to your faithfulness?
- 1-3 – God uses Hosea’s life as a microcosm of how Israel had treated God. Just as Israel was unfaithful to God, Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea.
- 4-9 – The children of Hosea and Gomer also each represented a portion of Israel’s relationship to God.
- 1-15 – This is an explanation of the punishment Israel will receive for its unfaithfulness.
- 16-23 – This section describes how it will be when the Israelites are restored to God.
1 John 5:1-21:
- 3 – This is powerful because often we feel that if we obey God our lives will be boring and lifeless, but this reminds us that following God’s commands is actually beneficial and freeing for us.
- 13-15 – When we believe in Christ, we receive eternal life. We also have a connection with him so that he hears our prayers.
- 18 – When we accept Christ we are to be transformed, which means we change and leave behind sins and walk towards righteousness. This, of course, is a process.
- 1-8 – The psalmist gives credit to God for protecting the Israelites and realizes that they would not have succeeded without the help of God.
- 6 – This verse depicts the weight of sin and the freedom in righteousness.
Everything in the New Testament from Romans up until Revelation is written as a response – or, more accurately, many responses to issues going on in the times they’re written. Many are specifically addressing issues early believers faced. 1-3 John are no different.
When is the last time you felt completely vulnerable and like you had no control over a situation? In today’s psalm, the psalmist likens the vulnerability of needing to mercy to that of a servant’s position to his master. Vulnerability is difficult for us, but it’s often good for us. We need, at times, to recognize there is nothing we can do to earn or acquire God’s mercy.
- 36-45 – The king of the north will not honor God, but will offer his affections wherever he finds favor. Ultimately, he will die defeated and alone.
- 1-12 – The man in linen explains what will happen in the end times, but Daniel doesn’t understand. The man in linen tells him that it’s ok, he’s not supposed to.
1 John 4:1-21:
- 1-6 – This section encourages us to use discernment in who we trust and listen to. It also explains the difference and reminds us that the Spirit of God is greater than the spirits of the world.
- 7-12 – The love we have for one another is love from God. God loved us first which then shows us how to love others.
- 18 – This is how we can decipher what is true love – it does not operate on fear.
- 1-2 – This is an act of total submission. Just as a servant looks to its master, so the psalmist is looking to God for mercy despite his sins.
- 2 – The righteous treat people well, but the wicked are hard on the people.
Salvation is a free gift, not a free pass. We are not offered salvation so we can keep sinning and not have to worry about it. Today’s 1 John reading reminds us that salvation is actually intended to transform us and shape us more into the likeness of Christ so we don’t keep on sinning.
- 2-35 – This section describes the struggle between the northern king and the southern king. It is describing a time that is to come, not one that has passed. Daniel has a great deal of prophecies that have come to pass and also some that we’re still waiting on.
1 John 3:7-24:
- 3 – “Little children” is how God is referring to us, his children. Not necessarily to children as defined by age
- 16-18 – Jesus didn’t just talk about loving us, he showed us by dying for us on the cross. If we simply say we love our neighbors, our words are worthless. We must show it with our actions.
- 19-24 – Salvation through grace does not exempt us from following God with our lives. We are still to follow his commands and live according to his will – actually even more so because of the gift of salvation.
- 1-9 – Imagine the Israelites marching up to Jerusalem during one of the appointed festivals singing these words. To us, these are just words in the Bible, but to them, these words were part of their rituals.
- 1 – When we don’t listen to correction, we are doomed to destruction.
We are in the final month of our year of reading the Bible! You can practically see the finish line!! It’s within reach. Keep pushing!
This week, we get to spend some time in the John(s)…sorry for the potty humor. We’ll work through 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. These are three short letters likely written by the author of the gospel of John.
Some highlights from the Johns are an emphasis on having sound doctrine within Christianity, a reminder for unity within the church, and the significance of Christ’s incarnation to our salvation.
One particular highlight in 1 John is the thesis of the “why” of how we’re called to live. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Love for others can be hard, especially when they seem undeserving, but if we fall back on this simple verse, we’re empowered to love simply because we were first loved.
We still have a lot of good stuff to read, so push through these last days of the plan. It will be well worth it.
True repentance requires sincerity and taking responsibility. It is undoubtedly difficult, but absolutely necessary to achieve full restoration. In today’s reading Daniel sets a great example of repentance for not only himself, but also the entire nation of Israel. Do you need to practice repentance for anything?
- 3-15 – Here Daniel repents for all of Israel. His repentance is sincere and takes responsibility understanding that it is the sins of the Israelites that caused their exile.
- 16-19 – Daniel pleas with God for forgiveness and restoration. He longs for the day when God’s sanctuary will be restored.
1 John 2:18-3:6:
- 18-23 – The antichrists seem to be people denying that Christ was the Messiah. They had, at one time, been connected with the believers, so they looked the part, but were not true believers.
- 1-3 – It’s pretty incredible to think of ourselves as children of God. We have been adopted into his family because he loves us and wants us.
- 1-7 – These are poetic words describing the way God cares for and protects us. It’s good for us to remember where our help comes from because we often look everywhere else but to God for help.
- 27 – We are blessed to be a blessing. When we fail to use those blessings to help others, we often cease to receive those blessings.
Though we often associate the Bible with difficult concepts and miraculous occurrences, so much of it follows along with common sense. Look at today’s Proverb, for example. Of course it makes more sense to rely on the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God rather than our own very limited knowledge. Why do we struggle to do so?
- 15-26 – Like Revelation in the New Testament, Daniel has some apocalyptic literature. This vision interpretation, which reveals what will happen to various nations, is expected to happen long after it was written.
1 John 2:1-17:
- 1-6 – In order to say we follow Christ, we actually have to do the things he did. It’s ridiculous to say that we’re believers and not live as he taught us to.
- 8-11 – This is convicting. If we hate our brothers and sisters (biological, spiritual, etc.) we can’t claim to be faithful. Darkness is sin and the light is walking with Christ.
- 15-17 – Loving the world means putting those things first and, in essence, worshipping them. We worship things when our thoughts, time, energy and resources go towards those things.
- 1-4 – A deceitful tongue, whether ours or someone else’s, is always destructive.
- 25-26 – When we really think about it, it does seem ridiculous to choose to follow our own finite wisdom instead of that of the God of the universe.
Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize the remainder of Daniel. Today’s reading marks a major shift in the content of Daniel. The second half of the book focuses on apocalyptic literature. It is the only Old Testament book with a significant emphasis on the apocalypse.
- This chapter shifts the book from the stories we learned as kids to the apocalyptic portion of Daniel.
- 1-8 – Foreign powers are no longer depicted favorably in Daniel.
- 9 – The Ancient of Days is God.
- 19-27 – The fourth beast represents Antiochus. Antiochus rises to power overtaking the faithful folks for a time, but ultimately, God prevails.
1 John 1:1-10:
- 1-4 – Here John confirms that God was made flesh in the person of Jesus. And John wants to share that message with everyone, which will make his joy complete.
- 5-7 – We can’t call ourselves faithful and continue to blatantly walk in sin. There’s also a rockin DC Talk song about this.
- 157-158 – The psalmist doesn’t allow others to turn him away from his commitment to God’s law.
- It’s pretty incredible that this is by far the longest psalm and it is almost exclusively about the psalmist’s love and commitment for God’s word.
- 23 – This contrasts a true friend versus someone who just offers lip service. One is helpful. The other is not.