September 19 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Isaiah reminds us that our strength comes in repentance. Though it’s difficult and sometimes feels weak to admit wrong, do it anyway. Plus, Chicago encourages you to as well.

Isaiah 30:12-33:12:

  • 15-17 – Judah’s strength, and ours for that matter, is in repentance and humility before the Lord. Our strength is through him.
  • 19-22 – Though the Israelites had faced a difficult time of oppression, God promises them that they will be restored to him. Vs. 21 is a powerful explanation of how God leads us through the Holy Spirit.
  • 1-9 – The Kingdom of Judah feared the Assyrians, but God reminds them that their fear is misguided. They can trust in the protection of God no matter how scary their opponents are. They have no need to fear.
  • 15-20 – Though so much of Isaiah speaks of punishment and difficulties the Israelites and other nations have brought upon themselves, there are glimmers of hope, like this passage, that remind the Israelites that there will be restoration one day.
  • 1-12 – Once again, Assyria is in trouble.

Galatians 5:1-12:

  • 1 – Christ died for us in order to set us free from the slavery of sin. Yet some of the Israelites were trying to put themselves back under the yolk of the law.
  • 5-6 – We are no longer under any covenant other than that of Christ’s death and resurrection. We do not need to conform to those laws or practices, but simply need to rely on the grace of Christ.
  • 7-12 – Like at the beginning of the letter, Paul is shocked that the Galatians have so quickly forgotten or turned away from what he taught them.
  • 12 – This is obviously a little harsh, but also a play on the fact that those he opposes are teaching circumcision.

Psalm 63:1-11:

  • 1-8 – David’s desire for God is unmatched by other followers. He equates his need for God with his need for sustenance.

September 15 – Daily Notes – Amanda

cat wedding

When we get married many of us are thrown off by the way our spouses do things: squeezing toothpaste from the middle of the tube, loading the dishwasher differently, opening present on Christmas Eve, etc. Jews had become Christians and gentiles who had become Christians entered into a similar marriage. They had to decide on how certain things needed to be done. Addressing these discrepancies is a major purpose of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

Isaiah 19:1-21:17:

  • 1-15 – This is the prophecy against Egypt, who was the nation that enslaved Israel.
  • 16-25 – These sections elaborate on what’s going to happen and let them know that they will be turned to the Lord.
  • 1-6 – Yes, you read that right. Isaiah walked around naked and barefoot. This was to represent the humiliation Israel’s enemies would feel upon defeat.
  • 1-17 – These are prophecies against Babylon, Dumah, and Tema. Though Dumah and Tema are fairly unknown, Babylon would soon overthrow the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Galatians 2:1-16:

  • 7-8 – Peter’s mission was to share Christ with the Jews while Paul’s was to share Christ with the gentiles. They were equally important missions.
  • 11-14 – The “circumcision party” was a group of people who believed that salvation still required the outward symbol of circumcision. These were folks who were Jewish but became believers. Paul did not believe circumcision was necessary.
  • 15-16 – Paul lumped circumcision in with any other work someone said was required for salvation.

Psalm 59:1-17:

  • David clearly trusts God in the midst of enemies who are hunting him to kill him. David does hope for his enemies to be punished for what they’ve done to him.

Proverbs 23:13-14:

  • Though we may not agree with the method, it is clear that the Proverbs believe in disciplining and teaching children the right way.

July 17 – Daily Notes – Amanda

superheroes

Who do you admire? Is there someone who can always sway you? Maybe a personal hero or someone you simply see as an authority figure? In today’s Romans reading, Paul is smart to call upon the experiences of Abraham and David, who his Jewish audience would have considered heroes, to convince them to live faithfully. Who would someone need to reference in order to convince you?

1 Chronicles 24:1-26:11:

  • 1-19 – This is a way of organizing the priests so their duties can be split up. “Sons of Aaron” is always referring to priests.
  • 1-31 – Like the priests, David divided the musicians to all have a certain role.

Romans 4:1-12:

  • 2-3 – Paul had to point out that Abraham, a Jewish hero, was not under the law and never earned righteousness. His belief in God was what was counted to him as righteousness.
  • 4-8 – Paul tries to make the difference between what we’ve earned and what is freely given to us. Paul is smart to use heroes of the faith like Abraham and David to prove his points. They were held in very high esteem.
  • 9-12 – Circumcision was not in and of itself capable of giving us salvation. It is faith that confirms salvation.

Psalm 13:1-6:

  • This seems like a last ditch effort of David. He cries out hoping the Lord will hear before he is overtaken. He finishes up with praise and remembering God’s faithfulness.

April 6 – Daily Notes – Amanda

impossible

Do you ever feel like you’re being asked to do the impossible? Or that what God is calling you to, whether it’s simply to be faithful, or to make a major move of some sort, is simply impossible? Today, in Deuteronomy, Moses reminds us that anything God asks of us, he will make possible. It may not be easy, but he will give you the strength and ability to fulfill what he’s called you to.

Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20:

  • 4 – The Israelites could not yet fully understand the great provision God had offered them.
  • 10-15 – Though God had already established this covenant of making the Israelites his people, through Moses, Moses is now explaining it to the Israelites.
  • 19 – This reliance on heritage and being a part of the covenant, but purposely continuing in sin was also something John the Baptist and Jesus warned against.
  • 6 – The Israelites outward sign of covenant was male circumcision, but here he calls them to make the same commitment with their heart – an inward renewal.
  • 11 – We are often under the illusion that what God calls us to do is actually impossible, yet Moses reminds us that we are able.
  • 19-20 – The phrase “life and death, blessing and curse” is repeated frequently in Deuteronomy. This means it’s something we should pay attention to. We very clearly have free will to decide to choose life and God’s blessings or not.

Luke 11:37-12:7:

  • 37-41 – Once again, the Pharisees are much more concerned about ritual and outward symbols. Jesus is concerned with the cleanliness of the heart.
  • 1 – Leaven is the part of the bread that activates and causes it to rise. Jesus explains to the disciples that the Pharisees do not practice as they preach.

Psalm 78:1-31:

  • Vs. 21-24 – Though the Lord was angry with the Israelites because they didn’t trust him, he still provided manna for them to eat.

March 28 – Daily Notes – Amanda

baby boy

To us circumcision is something that happens and basically is never spoken of again. To the Israelites it was an outward sign of their commitment to the God of Israel. In today’s Deuteronomy reading, Moses takes it a step further. He asks the Israelites to circumcise their hearts and get rid of their stubbornness. He lets them know that an outward symbol is no longer enough, there commitment to God must be in their hearts as well.

Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22:

  • 4-5 – Self-righteousness is always a struggle for people who consider themselves “good people”. The Israelites could have easily started to see they’re blessings as based on their own skill and righteousness instead of because of God’s faithfulness.
  • 6-21 – Moses recounts the unfaithfulness of the Israelites in making a golden calf as God was making a covenant with them through Moses up on the mountain.
  • The Ark of the Covenant, which the Israelites carried around with them, contained the 10 Commandments tablets.
  • 12-13 – A good goal for anyone who wants to follow God.
  • 16 – The Israelites used circumcision as an outward sign of their connection with God. Moses now calls them to an inward commitment to God.

Luke 8:4-21:

  • 1-18 – The parable of the four soils is told and then explained to the disciples. We will all hear the good news of Jesus, but each of us will receive it differently.
  • 10 – Jesus quotes Isaiah here. This sounds as if Jesus told parables so people wouldn’t understand. Instead, Jesus told parables to give people opportunities to search for the truth, like the disciples, if they wanted to. For those who didn’t care to try, they didn’t receive the condemnation of willfully disobeying God’s instructions because they simply did not understand.
  • 16-18 – When we hear and understand the good news, we share it.

Psalm 69:19-36:

  • This Psalm seems very vengeful, which does not seem like it fits with God’s loving character. Remember, though, that this is David, a human, writing to God. This shows how honest we can be with God.

January 27 – Daily Notes – Amanda

 

selfish

Well, actually, today’s Proverb would disagree with this line of thinking. Today’s Proverb instructs us not to share – our spouse that is. Today’s Proverb teaches us not to share spouses. This sounds like a pretty obvious point, but clearly it’s been a problem since at least Solomon’s days – heck, at least Abraham’s. Remember in Genesis when he lied and said Sarah was his sister?

Exodus 4:1-5:21:

  • 1-9 – God performs a few smaller miracles to prove to Moses his power and that he was with him.
  • 10-17. Moses continues to balk at the idea of confronting the Pharaoh. God rebuts his excuse of not being eloquent by explaining that God made his mouth and can make it do whatever he wants. Moses continues to make excuses so God allows Aaron, his brother, to accompany Moses.
  • 21-23 – These verses are a quick summary of what is about to go down through the plagues, hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, and Passover.
  • 24-26 – Though a confusing and disturbing story, it seems that Moses had not fulfilled the Lord’s command that all Israelite males be circumcised. In positions of leadership, we are held to a higher standard of faithfulness and Moses wasn’t meeting the minimum. Zipporah’s quick thinking resolves the issue and ends the conflict.
  • 29-31 – Moses and Aaron had to first get the Israelites on board before they confronted the Egyptians.
  • 1-21 – Moses and Aaron’s initial presence and request is actually detrimental to the Israelites as Pharaoh, in his anger, makes their work even harder on them.

Matthew 18:1-22:

  • 1-6 – Jesus, once again, flips culture on its head. It is not a great ruler or the most faithful disciple who Jesus calls the greatest. It is a weak, vulnerable child. Jesus explains that causing a child to sin is an error deserving death. We must responsibly care for those with whom we’ve been entrusted.
  • 7-9 – Temptations are unavoidable because there is evil in the world. This makes it clear how detestable it is to tempt someone else and possibly cause them to sin. And it explains the lengths to which we should go, though somewhat hyperbolic, if something causes us to sin.
  • 10-14 – This is similar to the parable of the Prodigal Son. When a sinner returns it should be the case that both God and the righteous rejoice. Instead, we often wonder why we, the faithful, don’t get more celebration. This reminds us that we’re all sinners.
  • 15-17 – This is the proper way to call out a believer for sins. All should be done in love.
  • 21-22 – Peter comes to Jesus looking for a limit. Jesus explains that grace should be limitless.

Psalm 22:19-31:

  • This portion of the psalm shows how our lives should work: God gives us a variety of blessings and we praise him. David is a great example to us of how to be faithful in praise as we receive God’s continual blessings.

Proverbs 5:15-21:

  • Key point – be faithful to your spouse and what you’ve been given. It sounds like it’s teaching people not to share, but this is one area where that’s legitimate advice.

Jan. 7 – Genesis 16:1-18:19

 

Genesis 1-11 is about how the world became such a mess.  Genesis 12 begins the story (which is still unfolding) of what God is doing to fix the mess.  God’s plan is laughable: he will save the world through one man’s family.  That man is Abram (later called Abraham).

pablo-9

 

 

There is a problem, however: “Abraham and Sarah [his wife] were old, advanced in years, and “the way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.”  In Genesis 15, we read how God made a covenant with Abram and promised Abram as many children as there are stars in the sky, and that through that family would God bless the whole world.  So the fact that Abraham and Sarah still do not have children is a major problem.

In Genesis 15, Sarah takes matters into her own hands and decides to have Abraham father a child through her servant.  He does, and unsurprisingly the servants pregnancy causes problems in the family.  Whenever we decide to use our means to achieve God’s ends, it always goes badly for us.

16:6, One of the original sins of men is passivity.  That was Adam’s sin at the Fall–“It was the woman YOU gave me, Lord”–and that’s Abram’s sin here (along with the obvious sin of lust.”  He agrees to do what he knows is wrong by sleeping with the maid, and then he refuses to speak up for her.  I think this verse is heartbreaking.

16:11-14, Circumcision is like a gang tattoo: it’s meant to signify your allegiance.  Think of the significance, then, that baby boys are circumcised before they know what it signifies.  What this means is that God’s covenant comes to us first, before we deserve it or earn it.  It is a covenant of grace.

16:18-19, Abraham wants God to make the covenant with his son Ishmael, the first-born.  But, as we’ll see over and over again with the patriarchs, God subverts primogeniture and chooses the younger son.  God has a way of subverting human expectations.

17:17 – Abraham thinks God’s plan is ridiculous.  And he’s right.  But, God works in ridiculous ways.

18:1-8 – Note the picture of ancient Near Eastern hospitality: Abraham drops what he’s doing to care for his guests.

18:1 – It’s a very mysterious guest that Abraham entertains, but though we know it is a divine guest, Abraham does not.  (The event is referenced in Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”)

–AF

January 7 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 16:1-18:19:

  • 2 – Note that God did not tell Abram to make a child with Hagar. Abram listens to Sarai, his wife, about how to fulfill God’s plan instead of trusting God to take care of it.
  • 11 – Like we find our Jewish and Christian roots in Isaac, Abraham’s son, Muslims find their roots in Ishmael.
  • 5 – There are many cases of biblical characters’ names being changed when something significant happens to them. Names defined identity in this culture so a name change was a big deal.
  • 1-14 – God defines the terms of his covenant with Abraham. He promises to make Abraham’s offspring countless. In return, he asks that all males in Abraham’s family be circumcised as an outward sign of their commitment.
  • 14 – Each of us should memorize the first half of this verse.

Matthew 6:1-24:

  • 1 – Our good deeds should not be for show.
  • 9-13 – The Lord’s Prayer. This is a perfect example of how to pray: adoration, asking for what we need, asking for forgiveness, and asking for God to lead us towards holiness.
  • 19-21 – What we treasure is where we place our value. It is not wrong to have things, but we should hold God and his will high above anything we could possess.
  • 24 – It seems so easy to split our loyalty, but we are not truly loving God if we are loving something else equally.

Psalm 7:1-17:

  • 3-9 – Clearly David is confident that he is on God’s side and obeying God’s will in the situation he’s referring to. He even asks God to judge him according to his own righteousness, which I don’t feel like any of us would be willing to do.

Proverbs 2:1-5:

  • We often make attempts to seek God through a variety of means, but what if we sought him like silver and hidden treasure? How much more would we find him if we sought him with that kind of fervor.