November 19 – Daily Notes – Amanda

solid-ground

We often think of sins as unrelated, individual decisions. I needed to lie in that situation so I did. Now it’s over. Today’s Proverb reminds us that that simply isn’t true. Sin becomes habit and we get comfortable doing it. It then leads us onto shaky ground, normally looking over our shoulder and wondering when we’ll get caught. Choosing faithfulness, however, brings us strength and stability as we stand on solid ground.

Ezekiel 39:1-40:27:

  • 1-16 – This is the continuation of the prophecy against Gog. Gog had not appeared in Scripture until the last chapter. Gog is an individual who has opposed Israel and will be punished because of it.
  • 21-29 – God explains that though Israel was disobedient and he punished them, he will soon restore them back to prominence and proliferation.
  • 1-17 – This is a vision Ezekiel is given regarding what the new temple should look like. The new temple ends up being built in the same place as the old temple and it stood until 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed it.

James 2:18-3:18:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Psalm 118:1-18:

  • 5-7 – The psalmist has such confidence in God’s ability to take care of him despite the circumstances because he had experienced God’s protection before. Instead of forgetting God’s faithfulness, he used that memory to build his faith for the future.

Proverbs 28:2:

  • Disobedience and sin lead to instability, but faithfulness leads to strength.

November 11 – Daily Notes – Amanda

soap opera

If the Bible was a soap opera, it would win all the daytime Emmys. Even in today’s psalm, David talks to God about someone he was once very close to but now has been betrayed by. David is the same man who killed a giant, was hunted down by his predecessor, had an affair and had his mistresses husband killed, which eventually led to his firstborn dying. The list goes on and on.

Ezekiel 23:1-49:

  • 1-21 – This message from God compares Jerusalem and Syria to two promiscuous sisters. These two people groups were first God’s, but then they offered themselves to many others and ultimately God turned away from them because of their unfaithfulness.
  • 22-35 – Jerusalem’s consequences for unfaithfulness are spelled out.

Hebrews 10:18-39:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Psalm 109:1-31:

  • 1-20 – David is clearly angry at someone who he once felt close to but has since betrayed him. This psalm, because of the anger and hatred toward someone, is often avoided in church services and reading plans.
  • 21-29 – David asks for God to care for him even though this enemy has persecuted him.

November 9 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Hebrews has a steady message throughout it (as does this throwback song from my early youth group days) – Jesus is the answer. Before Jesus, God offered a variety of ways for people to be connected to him. The temple, the commandments, the law, covenants, sacrifices, and the list goes on…but then Jesus came. Jesus fulfilled the law. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus tore the temple curtain that created separation. Jesus is now all we need to be fully connected with God.

Ezekiel 20:1-49:

  • 8-13 – This section mentions “profaning the Sabbath” as a way of dishonoring God. This is what the religious leaders in Jesus’ day thought he was doing when he healed on the Sabbath. But there’s a big difference. Jesus’ “work” on the Sabbath was to love and care for God’s people. “Profaning the Sabbath” is for one’s own gain.
  • 15-17 – God did punish the Israelites by not allowing them into the Promised Land, but he could have, with justification, wiped them out right then. Instead, he simply made them wait to enter the Promised Land. The next generation was allowed in.
  • 30-31 – The reason God says he won’t answer the Israelites’ inquiries is because they have spent their time crying out to every other god at every opportunity.
  • 40-44 – The Israelites will have to endure punishment but the Lord promises to bring them back to himself and restore them.

Hebrews 9:11-28:

  • 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’.
  • 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.

Psalm 107:1-43:

  • 33-42 – It is a theme throughout the Bible that God brings the proud to humility and lifts the humble up. It is common for things that are commonly understood to be flipped on their head. This is clear through this passage and made most clear through Jesus’ ministry.

October 9 – Daily Notes – Amanda

fake muscles

Today’s psalm reading gives us a helpful insight into the culture of the ancient Israelites. It was widely believed among many cultures of that time that if bad things happened to you, you were not cared for by your god or that your god did not have the power to bless you. The psalmist asks for God to take away their punishment so other nations would stop taunting them and recognize the power of God. We now know (whether we like it or not) that our consequences for our sins do not reflect weakness in God.

Jeremiah 12:1-14:10:

  • 1-4 – Jeremiah, like many other faithful people, complains to God that, at times, unfaithful people prosper.
  • 5-13 – God’s response to Jeremiah is not ideal. He lets him know that things will get worse and that Jeremiah will be attacked by some of those closest to him.
  • 1-11 – God gives Jeremiah a very tangible sign of his plans for Judah who once clung to him but now has fallen into pride, which would ultimately lead to destruction.
  • 15-27 – God threatens to send Judah into exile unless they turn back to God. Particularly in verse 23, he does not seem hopeful for a good outcome.
  • 1-10 – This is talking about an actual drought on the land. People felt forsaken when they were not provided for through rain and plentiful crops.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:9:

  • 1-10 – Paul states how grateful he is for the good things he has heard about the faith of the Thessalonians. Though they received the gospel amidst persecution, Paul had already heard evidence of them spreading the gospel to others.
  • 1-9 – Paul confirms that his intentions in sharing the gospel with the Thessalonians were pure. He justifies this with examples.

Psalm 79:1-13:

  • This psalm confesses the sins of the people and asks for God’s forgiveness and that he would end the consequences. Other nations are taunting them as if their consequences mean that God is not caring for them.

Proverbs 24:30-34:

  • It is easy for us to become lazy and to fall into destruction. It usually starts small and builds without us noticing.

October 8 – Daily Notes – Amanda

I made it myself

One point Jeremiah touches on today and will continue to hammer home, is the ridiculousness of idolatry. Why would you worship something you can make and then can make again if something happens to that one. In other words, why would you worship something less powerful than you?

Jeremiah 10:1-11:23:

  • 1-25 – This chapter states how ridiculous it is to follow and worship idols. With the power of God, why would anyone want to worship anything else?
  • 1-23 – God knew the Israelites, though they had given themselves to a slew of idols, would cry out to him in times of trouble. He assures them that he will not hear their cries.

Colossians 3:18-4:18:

  • 19-22 – Paul gives the Colossians a model for how to keep households operating in a loving and functional way.
  • 23-24 – We often choose not to work hard or we try to take our frustrations out on our boss or company. Instead, we must remember that we are ultimately working to please God. We should remain faithful in our work because of this.
  • 14 – This is the same Luke who wrote Luke and Acts.

Psalm 78:56-72:

  • The psalm continues to speak of Israel, their unfaithfulness, and the consequences. This section ends with the hope of David coming as their faithful king to shepherd the people.

Proverbs 24:28-29:

  • This proverb simply teaches us to be trustworthy and not to seek revenge.

October 7 – Daily Notes – Amanda

find differences

There are all kinds of ways we attempt to separate ourselves from others we disagree with or don’t approve of. This is nothing new. In today’s Colossians reading Paul lists a number of identifiers the Colossians had used to separate worthy from unworthy, good from bad. Paul reminds them that knowing and following Christ trumps all of these delineations.

Jeremiah 8:8-9:26:

  • 8-22 – The Israelites are feeling the consequences of their sin and unfaithfulness. They’re wondering if there is any remedy as they realize God is far from them at this point.
  • 1-6 – Jeremiah is grieved because of the sins of his people. He mourns because of their disconnection from God.
  • 7-11 – God’s response does not give much comfort.
  • 12-22 – The Israelites are called to mourn over their unfaithfulness.
  • 23-26 – God makes it very clear what he’s looking for. He lets the people know that they are not just to be circumcised in body, but also in heart. He is looking for faithful followers.

Colossians 3:1-17:

  • 1-10 – Paul lays out the differences between what the Colossians should focus on versus what is meaningless. They should focus on the things of God and walk away from sinful nature.
  • 11 – Commitment to Christ trumps any other delineation.
  • 12-17 – Beautiful verses! Definitely ones to memorize. Similar to the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, against these good things, there is no law.

Psalm 78:32-55:

  • This portion of the psalm recounts that the Israelites were not faithful despite the many reasons they should have been. It then recounts many of the reasons.

Proverbs 24:27:

  • Many of the proverbs remind us to be diligent, to plan, and not to act rashly. This one follows a similar theme. Plan and prepare first, then act.

September 23 – Daily Notes – Amanda

amazing grace

Grace is a funny thing. Some churches emphasize it more than others, but for many of us it’s hard to comprehend, hard to accept, and hard to offer to others. Grace is intended as a free gift, one that cannot be earned. God offers grace to us through the death and resurrection of Christ. We can’t earn our sins away. We can only accept God’s free gift. Ephesians explains it nicely. Check it out.

Isaiah 41:17-43:13:

  • 17-24 – God promises to take care of those in need and also challenges other gods to try to do the same. He taunts other gods asking them to do something good or bad if they’re capable.
  • 1-9 – Some believe this is referring to the call of servants and general and what God would have each of us do. Others focus this on a particular servant and most often associate the passage with Christ. In Jesus’ first public address found in Luke 4, he quotes verses 6 and 7.
  • 18-25 – Israel, who God originally called to be his servants, failed to hear and see God’s messages.
  • 1-13 – Such comforting words God speaks to his people reminding them that he will restore them and that he calls them by name. God is always faithful in his promises.

Ephesians 2:1-22:

  • 1-2 – The price for sin is death. When we sin but have not accepted God’s grace and forgiveness through Christ, we are dead in our sin.
  • 4-10 – God offers us grace, which is a free gift, so no one can consider themselves higher or greater than anyone else. We are all in need of the good gifts of God through salvation.
  • 18-22 – Though grace should humble us, it also exalts us to equality with all the saints. We are heirs to God’s kingdom with Jesus and all the saints.

Psalm 67:1-7:

  • 1-2 – It is interesting that the psalmist asks that Gods’ face to “shine upon them”. People did not see God but when Moses was in God’s presence, his face shone afterwards. We also know that, when Jesus spent time with God on the Mount of Transfiguration, his clothes shone after being with him.

Proverbs 23:29-35:

  • Warnings against indulging in alcohol in excess. We lose our ability to control ourselves and thus cannot give God control.

September 16 – Daily Notes – Amanda

family praying

Watching your kid hit his first homerun, win an award, or get an ‘A’ is exciting and exhilarating. But none of these things come close to comparing with watching your child walk faithfully with God. Today’ proverb helps remind us that this is the ultimate success in parenting.

Isaiah 22:1-24:23:

  • 1 – “Valley of vision” refers to Jerusalem. There is irony in this title because Jerusalem had always been referred to as on top of a mountain – which was both physical and figurative.
  • 1-14 – This prophecy is aimed at Judah. God saved them from Assyria’s attacks and they felt they were home-free so they began celebrating instead of mourning their sins like God called them to do.
  • 14-25 – Shebna was an officer for King Hezekiah but his sin was so great that he was demoted. This is an indictment on him.
  • 1-18 – This prophecy is against Tyre and Sidon explaining their impending destruction.
  • 1-23 – This chapter ends the prophecies against various cities and begins an apocalyptic section.

Galatians 2:17-3:9:

  • 20-21 – Some of the most beautiful verses in Scripture that are often misunderstood. This is to say that Paul’s flesh and sinful nature died with Christ on the cross and now Christ’s righteousness should live through him. We don’t get to say we’re saved by Christ and then go on living the same way as before.
  • 1-6 – Paul implores the Galatians to live out their salvation and not to try to be justified by works or to live simply as if they were never saved.

Psalm 60:1-12:

  • This psalm cries out to God because they are being punished for their sins. It ends with the knowledge and understanding that God is powerful, in control, and will certainly restore them.

Proverbs 23:15-16:

  • It is a parent’s greatest joy to see their child walk faithfully.

August 26 – Daily Notes – Amanda

sweep the leg

Job makes a good point in today’s reading. It is one that many of us, who are trying to live faithfully, have thought about at some point. Punishment and suffering don’t always seem to coincide with sin. In fact, many sinful people seem to get ahead because of their sin. Throughout Scripture God calls us to faithfulness and promises to reward it. That reward may not come in this lifetime, but we know that God’s promises are true and we can trust him.

Job 20:1-22:30:

  • 1-29 – Zophar continues to tell Job about the fate of the unfaithful. He explains that they start off wealthy and blessed but God takes that away because of their unfaithfulness. This suggests that this is what is happening to Job.
  • 1-34 – Job responds to Zophar in disagreement. He explains that wicked people seem to do just fine and that wickedness and negative life results do not seem to coincide.
  • 1-30 – Eliphaz once again tries to get Job to see his sin, because, due to what is happening, it must be abundant. Eliphaz encourages him to try to get back to right relationship with God.

2 Corinthians 1:1-11:

  • Second Corinthians is Paul’s second letter to the church of Corinth. It is the same church he wrote to in 1 Corinthians, not two separate churches.
  • 3-7 – Paul is referring to persecution against Christians when he talks about the suffering he endures for the salvation of the Corinthians.

Psalm 40:11-17:

  • David is clearly in turmoil here and is weighed down by many burdens, but he ends with faith that God will take care of him. This is a good lesson for each of us. Times get difficult and we can feel weighed down, but we can always turn to God.

Proverbs 22:2-4:

  • 2 – Both the society of the original hearers of these proverbs as well as our current society tend to rank people. Money is one of the biggest ranking scales. But God sees beyond our monetary wealth.
  • 3-4 – Throughout Proverbs there is a continual juxtaposition between the wise and the foolish, their actions, and their results. These verses continue to spell this out.