Today’s Isaiah reading talks about folks who play the part and go through the motions but don’t actually live faithfully or love God fully. This is still an issue in churches today. We show up and perform faithful looking acts, but have no intention of allowing ourselves to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.
- 16-18 – Here Isaiah refers to a cornerstone. Some believe that this is a Messianic prophecy like when Jesus is referred to as the cornerstone on which others will break themselves.
- 23-29 – Just as the farmer knows the proper ways to care for his crops, God knows the proper ways to care for his people.
- 9-12 – The Holy Spirit reveals more of God to those who believe.
- 13-16 – Many people claimed to love and follow God, they even participated in many of the rituals, but their hearts and actions were not faithful.
- 22-24 – God foretells a time when the Israelites will return to faithfulness.
- 23-29 – People, as we still do today, were constantly looking for what separated them or made them better or more worthy. Paul makes it clear that once you have been baptized into the faith, we are all equal in the sight of the Lord and heirs to God’s inheritance.
- 4-7 – Jesus’ being a Jew and being born under the law gave him legitimacy to the Jews.
- 1-7 – David repeats himself regarding his trust in who God is and how he offers great protection. It might be helpful sometimes to repeat to ourselves reasons why we trust in God.
- Solomon did not advocate laziness.
The theme of several of the readings today seem to put us in our place. We are human and finite. God is big, powerful, and ultimately in control. And while this could be read as limiting or squashing us, like it did for David, it should give us hope. The ultimate outcome is not in our hands. We don’t have that kind of pressure. But we serve the God who is in control and who has our best in his plans and has the power to bring those plans to fruition. God in control is a good thing.
- 12:1-13:19 – Job contends that he has become a laughing stock and recognizes the power of God.
- 13:20-14:22 – Job switches into a prayer to God. He is clearly incredibly discouraged. He even asks, in verse 14:13, for God to let him die for a while until God’s wrath subsides so he can then come back and serve God with joy. Job makes a valiant effort at remaining faithful.
- 15:1-35 – Eliphaz speaks to Job again, now with more force. Eliphaz begins to accuse Job of thinking of himself more highly than he ought.
1 Corinthians 15:29-58:
- 29 – Though it’s uncertain what this means exactly, it’s presumed that the Corinthians had started the practice of being baptized on behalf of people who didn’t come to faith before they died.
- 29-34 – This argument against those who say there is no resurrection from the dead for people continues from yesterday’s reading.
- 45 – Paul, once again, compares Adam and Jesus. They are considered the first man and the last man. One brought death, the other brought life.
- 55 – This verse is quoted in the Charles Wesley hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.
- Jeduthun, who this psalm is written to, was a Levite appointed to be one of the masters of music by King David.
- 4-7 – Though David’s words seem somewhat hopeless, talking about how minor our lives are, he continues to put his hope in the Lord.
- Powerful and reassuring words that we can work and strive, and it’s good for us to do our part, but ultimately, the Lord determines and owns victory.
Good listening is a rare skill these days. We mostly listen just enough to jump in with our next point. Like today’s proverb says, real skill in listening comes when we listen to what the other person is saying simply to hear and understand them, not to then quickly offer our own opinion.
2 Kings 13:1-14:29:
- 4 – Jehoahaz repents in order to have relief from the constant attack of the Syrians.
- 5 – This “savior” was not the Messiah. This was someone who saved them from military attacks. It is uncertain who this was.
- 14-19 – Elisha gives Joash the opportunity to end their thumpings by Syria, but he does not complete the job and is limited to a temporary break in defeats.
- 21 – This is told simply to display the amount of God’s power Elisha possessed.
- 22-23 – Though Syria heavily oppressed Israel, the Israelites were not completely banished by God. The writer is telling us that at this point in history, the full covenantal curse (all the consequences of breaking their covenant with God) would come to fruition.
- 3-6 – Amaziah was a faithful king, but not quite as faithful as David. He avenges his father’s death according to Moses’ Law.
- 9-10 – In his reply, Jehoash refers to himself as a cedar – a revered, strong, established tree, and to Amaziah as a wimpy thistle.
- 24-28 – Apollos had not yet been baptized in the Spirit, and still needed a little refinement in his teaching. The believers took him under their wing to help him grow in his faith.
- 3-6 – We tend to place our trust in everything but God because we can see and touch them, but there is no salvation apart from the Lord.
- 7-9 – Very reminiscent of Isaiah 61, which Jesus quotes in his first sermon in the temple found in Luke 4.
- 2 – This is one of the key skills in listening. Listen to understand the other person, not to make your next point.
Can you say that again please?!? Actually, in the Bible, you never have to ask. If something needs to be emphasized or if the speaker or writer wants to make sure you notice something, they repeat it. For instance, in today’s John reading, Jesus says, “truly, truly”. This means, “Listen up!” At other times, like in Luke 15, there are three parables in a row with a similar message. When you see things repeated, pay attention!
- 1-6 – Clearly the Israelites are running amuck. Stealing, making idols, having household gods.
- 12-13 – It seems odd that Micah, though he clearly wasn’t living for God, would be able to ordain and would see great value in a connection with God through a priest.
- 14-20 – What would initially be expected is that the Danites would discover the household gods and carved images and destroy them, but instead, they take them and take Micah’s priest as well.
- 5 – Anytime you see, “truly truly” it signifies that you should listen to that. This is placing emphasis on what is about to be said.
- 2-8 – Being born of water and the spirit references when John the Baptist said he baptized with water, but Christ would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit. When we receive Christ as our Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit as our guide. This is necessary for salvation and faithful living.
- 16-17 – Some of the most crucial words that our faith revolves around. Through belief in Christ, we receive salvation and eternal life because Christ came to save, not condemn.
- 18-20 – It is easy to love the darkness because it is easy and we can hide in it, but the light exposes us.
- One of the ways we can pray is through adoration. This is the process of telling God how great he is. This can be done through listing attributes, describing your connection with those attributes, and/or recounting God’s greatness through the great things he has done. This Psalm is a great example of the last option.
- These two verses work together to juxtapose how the poor are often treated versus how we are intended to treat them.
Reading the word “priest” means a number of different things in Scripture. It is most commonly referring to Levitical priests. These are the descendants of Levi who were in charge of the liturgy of the temple. They had various jobs including playing music, tending to the temple vestments, etc. But there were other types of priests, such as Nazirites who had different jobs and regulations and didn’t require you to be born into a particular family. Today we’ll read about Samson, a Nazirite.
- 5 – Nazirites were set apart for God’s service and had special rules including never cutting their hair, drinking alcohol, or coming into contact with a dead body.
- 8 – A prayer we should all pray for our children.
- 12-19 – Though the riddle is a little odd, it was obvious that Samson’s wife had betrayed him and cared more for his people than for him by telling the men the answer. Only Sampson had had the experience with the lion and bees and no one else could have known the answer.
- 31-34 – The other gospels give accounts of John baptizing Jesus and the Holy Spirit descending and landing on him.
- 45-46 – This is the greatest evangelism tool ever – simply inviting someone to come and witness for themselves the goodness of God that you’ve witnessed. The context is that Nazareth was a small town not known for anything great.
- 51 – Jesus referring to the angel’s ascending and descending harkens back to Jacob’s dream of angels going up and down a ladder in Genesis 28. Jesus is intended to be the connection between heaven and earth, that’s why the angels are able to ascend and descend on him.
- The description just before the Psalm is helpful. This is a prayer that would be good for those who are afflicted and weary and need to offer their complaints to God.
- 16 – This is similar to the familiar phrase, “look before you leap.” The foolish tend to jump into things without weighing the consequences while the cautious are able to turn away from evil because they seek God’s wisdom first.
Sheep and shepherds are a big deal in Scripture. Like in other passages, today’s Numbers reading refers to the Israelites as “sheep without a shepherd.” Sheep without a shepherd are pretty hopeless. They can’t protect themselves or take care of themselves. The shepherd is crucial. When we get to John, Jesus refers to himself as “the good shepherd.” I wonder if there’s any correlation?
- 1-11 – All inheritance was passed down through male offspring until this story. This was probably shocking to the Israelites because women were seen as property, not landowners.
- 17 – In Matthew, Jesus looks at the people of Israel and has compassion on them describing them then too as “sheep without a shepherd.”
- Joshua becomes Moses successor. He also becomes the first official judge of Israel.
- John the Baptist was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that there would be one to prepare the way for the Lord.
- 7-9 – John is speaking to Jews who relied on their heritage as their means to righteousness and connection with God. John is explaining that their lives should reflect repentance and living for God.
- 10-14 – John’s teaching sounds a lot like things Jesus would say. He is teaching how to be honorable, generous, and humble.
- 22 – God’s confirmation of Christ’s identity.
- Beautiful imagery of God’s protection. David describes him as a “rock higher than I”, “refuge”, “strong tower”, “shelter of your wings”.
- This verse is problematic in that the Proverbs usually teach that unrighteous behavior leads to our downfall, but here it follows that suit except when speaking of violent men.
Obviously not every minute of Jesus’ life could be recorded. Mark takes that to the extreme…as in, he doesn’t even record the birth of Christ. If you ever want to give someone a version of Jesus’ ministry they can read in a week, Mark’s your guy.
- The passage says, “as the Lord had commanded Moses” several times. It is significant that the Israelites obeyed God’s instructions exactly. We also saw this from Noah when he built the ark. He followed God’s plan, “just as he instructed.”
- 20-21 – The ark of the testimony or Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God. It was, for obvious reasons, very valuable to the Israelites.
- 34-38 – God’s presence, in the form of a cloud, allowed the Israelites to know when to travel and when to stay put.
- 35 – Moses could not enter the tent while God’s presence was there because of his sins.
- Mark’s gospel moves much more quickly than any of the others. It is believed that it was the first gospel written around 70 AD. It was most likely written quickly because Christians were being badly persecuted during this time and the writer was just needing to get an account down.
- 2-4 – John the Baptist fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy about a precursor to Jesus who would prepare the way for him beginning some of his messages, particularly baptism and forgiveness of sins.
- 8 – Before John, there is not a lot of mention of the Holy Spirit.
- 9 – Note that Jesus appears in Mark as an adult. He tells nothing of his birth, childhood, or preparation for ministry.
- 11 – A powerful message from God to think about when people are baptized.
- 24 – Interesting that an unclean spirit is the first to recognize Jesus for who he is.
- David seeks revenge and God seems to grant it.