An olive produces olive oil. An orange produces orange juice. This makes sense. Today’s proverb is interesting. It helps us understand that we can fake things for a while, but when push comes to shove, and things get really challenging, whatever is in us comes out. Kindness needs to be inside of us for it to come out when times are challenging. If bitterness and hate are inside us, that’s what will come out.
- 1-12 – These verses establish that Judah and Israel will be restored to greatness. The last few verses show the turning of the tides between those who are currently powerful and the Israelites.
- 7-16 – This is a difficult passage to understand. It is a vision that depicts a shepherd breaking covenants. Verse 16 speaks of a future shepherd who doesn’t seem to be describing Jesus.
- 17 – This verse makes it clear that the shepherd in the vision is not Jesus.
- 1-3 – This is basically describing Babylon in the worst possible fashion. It will be totally and utterly rejected.
- 4-8 – God will remove the Israelites from Babylon and it will pay for its wrongdoings against the Israelites.
- 3-4 – It makes so much more sense to put our trust in God than a human ruler who will die and no longer have any kind of power.
- 5-9 – These verses describe many of the reasons God is far superior to human rulers.
- When something is squeezed hard enough, whatever is in it comes out.
Like the three days Jesus was in the grave, in Revelation, there is a time when evil is winning. We know that it doesn’t win ultimately, but take a minute to think about the chaos, pain, and sorrow that would be associated with evil winning. Now take a minute to praise God that he wins.
- 6-12 – God declares to those who were taken into exile and have been in Babylon, that he will restore Jerusalem and that even others will turn to God because of God’s restoration of Israel.
- 1-10 – Part of restoring Jerusalem and the temple was restoring the priests. Joshua’s clean garments are symbolic of his return to God.
- 1-4 – The people should not be worshipping the beast or the dragon. They are not God. They are some of the many other entities that the world chooses to follow other than God.
- 5-10 – For a time, evil is allowed to prevail. Those who were not already saved began to follow the evil ruler. Because the saints were temporarily defeated, this was a test of their faithfulness and patient endurance.
- 11-18 – Like the people of the Lord were marked and sealed for Christ, now those who follow the beast are marked for him.
- 1-4 – So often our requests of God are to benefit just us. David’s request asks for God’s help to remain faithful.
- 8-10 – David also asks for safety from his enemies.
You need to turn back to God. Zechariah said so.
Are there things you long for? A new job? A spouse? A child? Do you long for God? This isn’t how we normally talk and maybe isn’t how we think or act either. But the cool thing is, the psalms, specifically today’s psalm, describe longing for God. This is a deep need and desire to be close to him. What might it look like for you to long for God.
- 24-30 – Daniel is careful not to take credit for the incredible act he will perform. He gives glory to God for this ability.
- 31-45 – Babylon had been a great power that had conquered Israel and other lands. God reveals that they will soon crumble despite their current might.
- 46-49 – Daniel and his friends worked for the king but still remained faithful to God.
- 13-18 – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are given another chance by the king. This is probably not an act of grace, but a desperate attempt to get everyone to do what he says. Even amidst the threat of certain death, they give a powerful response in verses 17&18.
- 24-25 – Many believe this fourth person with the three friends to be Jesus or an angel of protection.
- 24-30 – Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego’s incredible faith ends up turning even those who would openly and intensely defy God.
1 Peter 4:7-5:14:
- 8 – Ain’t that the truth?
- 10-11 – This is a great way of looking at our gifts – that they should be used to bless others. Often, we use our gifts for our own betterment or enjoyment.
- 12-19 – We are told to relish our sufferings if they are received due to faithfulness. Not all suffering is because we’ve been faithful.
- 6-11 – We are encouraged to always be ready for a time when Christ can raise us up. We must be watchful, however, for stumbling blocks along the way.
- 81-82 – People in the Bible frequently describe their desire for God as one of “longing”. We rarely long for God. We often feel as if we’re doing him a favor by praying, reading Scripture, or living faithfully. What if we saw our position more like the folks who wrote the Bible?
- 16 – Leaders are appointed to protect their people and have higher standards upon them.
It’s ok to feel sorrow. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to wonder where God is when you suffer. Lamentations proves it.
Just kidding! Do you ever tease someone with something a little bit mean and then cover it up by saying “just kidding”? The thing you said was still mean. And let’s be honest, you at least kind of meant it. Ellen Degeneres says, “if you’re joking, we should both be laughing.” Check out what Proverbs says about it today.
- 54-58 – The Lord declares the total destruction of Babylon.
- 1-11 – This account of Jerusalem’s destruction is actually a recap of the destruction before the exile. This is not another destruction.
- 12-23 – This recounts the destruction of the temple just before exile. This was the most devastating act.
- 24-30 – This is a recap of the people being taken into exile.
- 31-34 – This ending is the same way 2 Kings ended when we see a slight glimmer that there’s hope even in the face of devastating exile.
- 3-7 – A powerful testimony of the transformation brought on by God’s powerful grace.
- 8-11 – Clearly there were people struggling with all these things Titus is being warned against. Genealogies may have been bad because people were relying on their heritage for salvation instead of relying on Christ.
- A beautiful, easy to memorize psalm. This psalm is encouraging and reminds us how much God cares for us and that he is worthy of praise.
- A word of warning to all those who use the guise of joking to say hateful things to others.
You know when you watch someone succeed from dishonest gain and it seems so unfair? Babylon was a lot like that. They were committed to idolatry, took on a lot of unfortunate practices, and still seemed to win a lot of battles and gain a lot of ground. But in today’s Jeremiah reading, God offers great imagery explaining how their success will be short-lived.
- 2 – Winnowing was part of harvesting wheat. Winnowers would throw the wheat and chaff (trash) in the air. The wheat would settle into the container while the chaff would blow away. This reference is to say that Babylon is about to be blown away like chaff.
- 7-10 – Though Babylon had seen a lot of success, it’s end was coming. God proclaimed destruction on them.
- 17-19 – The comparison between worshipping God and worshipping manmade idols continues. It is laughable to worship something you can make yourself.
- 34-44 – Babylon’s glory would soon fade. What was once revered would now be a desolate laughing stock.
- 1-8 – Paul’s rules of how various people should act and live were not simply to have rules, but in order to assure no one could have anything to say against the believers.
- 11-14 – God’s grace is given to us for a purpose. It is to cause us to get rid of sinful acts and in order to redeem us and set us up for good works that will bless others.
- 9 – These kinds of verses remind us that we aren’t worshipping just to check a box or because God needs us. God’s holiness is so incredible that it causes us to need to worship.
- When we step into minor quibbles that are not our business it is ultimately harmful and unnecessary.
The last couple of verses of today’s 2 Timothy reading are pretty major. We all pick and choose what we want to emphasize in the Bible. There are parts we don’t like so we tend to discount them. There are parts we don’t want to follow so we conveniently forget about them. There are parts we want others to follow so we highlight and bold them. But this passage reminds us that all Scripture is from God and is intended for us to follow.
- 1-5 – God grants Baruch the promise of his life.
- 1-2 – The issue with Babylon destroying Egypt was the remnant of Judah, including Jeremiah, was in Egypt.
- 14-24 – God declares that powerful Egypt will soon fall to what has been a lesser power.
- 6-7 – Though they want God’s destruction to end, they know it won’t until he completes his purposes.
2 Timothy 2:22-3:17:
- 22-26 – Paul continues to teach godliness and gives the caveat that God does forgive wrongdoing while leading his followers back into holiness.
- 1-9 – Paul warns that there will be immoral opposition to the gospel.
- 16-17 – This is convicting when we think deeply about it.
- 1-11 – The Lord created us and knows what we’re up to – good or bad.
- Teaching wisdom to those determined to be foolish is a waste.
The destruction and terror Jeremiah has been preaching for so long is now impending. This would be terrifying! But God promised to protect Jeremiah and those who had been good to him. So does he? Yes! Of course! Even when things look terrifying, we can trust that God will stay true to his promises. If he’s promised protection, he’ll protect us. If he’s promised healing, we’ll receive healing. We can trust that his promises are true. We see it over and over in Scripture.
- 1-10 – The impending destruction of Jerusalem has finally come. The Babylonians, as prophesied, overtake the Israelites.
- 11-18 – Amidst the destruction, God still takes care of Jeremiah and has King Nebuchadnezzar protect him. God also promises to protect Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern.
- 1-6 – Jeremiah is given the option of where he wants to be. He chooses to stay in Judah.
- 1-10 – Ishmael, a member of the royal house of Judah, kills Gedaliah, the governor Babylon had placed over all that remained in Judah. This was a very dangerous act by Ishmael.
2 Timothy 1:1-18:
- 1-2 – Timothy was a protégé of Paul’s.
- 6-7 – Faith can be taught to us, like it was to Timothy, but we still have to claim it for ourselves, as Paul is encouraging Timothy to do.
- 8-14 – Paul teaches Timothy to cherish the faith and testimony he’s been given and to be willing to suffer for it.
- 12-17 – Having already established the power of God, the psalmist asks God to provide for and sustain him and to bless the work that he does.
- 1-16 – The psalmist encourages others that God will protect them. Even when it looks hopeless and when others around them are being killed, God is in control.
- 2 – If a curse is cast but has no cause, it will not come to fruition.
Humility in a leader is a great quality. Paul, in today’s 1 Timothy reading, offers up genuine humility explaining his own need for grace. Paul describes himself as the worst sinner so others can admit their own faults and then receive God’s grace.
- 1-4 – Hananiah, a prophet, prophesied that God would break Babylon. Because of their military dominance, Babylon was seen as fairly unbreakable.
- 5-17 – Hananiah was a false prophet and though Jeremiah hoped God would do what Hananiah prophesied, Hananiah was speaking out of turn and not honoring God and would die for it.
- 1-9 – Jeremiah offered a true prophesy letting the people know they should return to Jerusalem and flourish.
- 10-14 – Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most beloved and quoted verses in Scripture. We often forget that it is written to the Israelites as a promise to bring them out of exile, a painful experience of feeling lost and forgotten. God offers us promises of restoration in our most painful times.
- 15-23 – God did not take kindly to false prophets.
1 Timothy 1:1-20:
- 1-2 – This is a letter from Paul to Timothy, one of his most prominent protégés. Timothy was a young man who Paul would often send to churches in his place.
- 3-7 – Paul writes Timothy addressing some folks who seemingly had good intentions but have gotten off track.
- 12-17 – Paul admits his own need for grace, claiming to have been the worst sinner of all. He can understand the sins of others because of his own experiences.
- David bookends a series of praises to God with requests of God to hear him and to care for him.
- Don’t wear out your welcome.