March 2 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Here’s a rockin youth group song from way back when that’s based on the story of Blind Bartimaeus. Quality tunes here, folks. Clearly he gets winded towards the end – he’s just rocking so dang hard.

Leviticus 25:47-27:13:

  • No matter who we serve, we are ultimately to serve the Lord.
  • 21-22 – These consequences sound severe, but the Lord will not be mocked or pushed aside. He will not allow us to go on sinning against him.
  • 44-45 – Though he would punish Israel for their unfaithfulness when necessary, God would not forget Israel or his covenant with them.

Mark 10:32-52:

  • 35 – A pretty bold request.
  • 42-45 – We are often concerned with status and being recognized for our skills and accomplishments. Jesus calls us to serve if we hope to lead.
  • 52 – Many who were healed or who had demons removed would go and tell about what Jesus did. Bartimaeus, on the other hand, followed him.

Psalm 45:1-17:

  • Loving righteousness and hating wickedness is rewarded by God.

February 12 – Daily Notes – Amanda

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Moses spends 40 days in the presence of God, fasting the entire time. Jesus, too, completed a 40 day fast. Fasting is a fairly foreign concept to us American consumers. It’s not just about powering through the time and not eating. We are supposed to allow our desire for food, or whatever we’ve given up, to remind us of our need for God. As much as we want food, we want God more.

Exodus 34:1-35:9:

  • 10 – God makes another covenant with Israel.
  • God was very explicit not to leave any remnants of other gods in their land so they weren’t tempted to worship them.
  • 26 – We are called to give to God off the top. Give to him first before we buy or pay for other things.
  • 28 – Jesus also did a 40 day fast.
  • 30-35 – It is believed that Moses’ face shone from the glory of the Lord.

Matthew 27:15-31:

  • 15-23 – It must have been so hurtful to Jesus that the crowds asked for a criminal to be released instead of him.
  • Crucifixion was already a humiliating punishment, but the soldiers saw to it that Jesus was even more humiliated than normal.

Psalm 33:12-22:

  • 16-17 – Just like today, people of ancient Israel put their hope in everything but the Lord.

Proverbs 9:1-6:

  • Wisdom is something we can all gain if willing.

January 17 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 35:1-36:43:

  • 10 – God gave Jacob a new name and thus his 12 sons become the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • 11-12 – God’s words to Jacob are very similar to those in his covenant with Abraham. This seems to be a reaffirmation of God’s covenant with Abraham’s family.
  • 22 – This would have been like stealing.
  • Sometimes we get lost in the genealogy because, these days, who knows anyone further back then their great-grandparents? In Israelite culture, however, your lineage was a big part of your honor or shame. It could give you status and importance or take it away.
  • 31 – The Israelites were designed not to have a human king but for God to be their only king. They didn’t get a human king until Saul many many generations later.

Matthew 12:1-21:

  • 1 – According to Mosaic law, Jews were not supposed to do any work. Anything as simple as cooking, lighting a candle, etc. would be considered work.
  • 3-8 – The Pharisees put their greatest stock in following the law and had no room for exceptions. In verse 7, Jesus, for the second time, quotes the prophet Hosea explaining that God’s true desire was for the faithful to show mercy to others, not to receive a rote ritual out of obligation.
  • 6 – Jesus is referring to himself as the something that is greater than the temple.
  • 9-14 – God’s law was written for our good, not to see if we could be good enough. When laws were followed over love of people, they ceased to be good.
  • 17-21 – Matthew was intent on showing prophecies fulfilled. Here is another prophecy Jesus fulfilled.

Psalm 15:1-5:

  • 2-5 – These give examples of what a blameless man, who would be worthy of dwelling with the Lord, would do.

Proverbs 3:21-26:

  • Worry and anxiety are so common in our world, but this proverb reminds us that our hope and confidence are in the Lord. If that is true, we can rest peacefully.

January 15 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 31:17-32:12:

  • 24 – This seems like an odd instruction.
  • 34-35 – This is yet another instance in Jacob’s story where lies and deceit seem to be effective. Clearly Jacob’s story is meant to show us how God can use imperfect people for his glory and our good. Rachel’s excuse is pretty ingenious – she uses the one excuse that men are universally afraid of.
  • 45-49 – The pile of rocks was used as a divider between Jacob’s land and Laban’s.
  • 6-7 – Jacob had every reason to be afraid. He had stolen Esau’s blessing and tricked him out of his birth right. The last time Jacob heard anything about Esau it was that Esau wanted to kill him and that’s why Jacob had to go to Laban in the first place.
  • 12 – Jacob reminds God of the covenant he made with the Israelites that was now extended through Jacob.

 

Matthew 10:26-11:6:

  • 28 – It is easy to allow our fear of man to overcome our devotion to God.
  • 34-37 – This should not be taken as Jesus’ desire to separate families, but instead, Jesus’ desire for people to be devoted to him above all else. It is easy to be devoted to Jesus in certain areas but to hold other areas of our lives back from him.
  • 38-39 – “Bearing a cross” is often trivialized as a minor issue or inconvenience. Roman’s used the cross as a humiliating punishment. To truly take up your cross, you must be willing to give yourself completely to the cause of Christ no matter what social, financial, or permanent consequences you face. It is also interesting to think about how Christ made this comment long before he was actually crucified. No one knew yet that he would live this out literally.
  • 2-3 – John the Baptist wanted to confirm that Jesus was actually the Messiah because he hoped that would mean his release.
  • 4-6 – By quoting Isaiah, which he does again in Luke 4:18-19, Jesus knows that John will recognize that he quotes all of it but that “prisoners are set free.” John would not be set free from prison before death.

 

Psalm 13:1-6:

  • Here David is clearly in deep distress but still is able to end his psalm of lament with speaking of God’s trustworthiness, salvation, and worthiness to be praised. This is not always easy to do, but David is a great example of how to.

January 11 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 24:52-26:16:

  • 52-61 – This seems so strange to us because we would never allow a stranger to take your daughter away to marry some other stranger. But to them, marriage was essential for women and having a house full of children and countless offspring, which is the blessing her mother and brother give her, was the greatest gift possible.
  • 23 – This was unusual. Normally the oldest son received the power and blessings.
  • 29-34 – Esau’s birthright, as the oldest son, was the choice land and livestock, and more. In his haste, he allowed a temporary condition to cause long-term destruction.
  • 2-5 – God extends and confirms the covenant he made with Abraham to Isaac.
  • 6-7 – Interesting that Isaac commits the same sin as his father.
  • 12-16 – This is not the only time the Israelites will grow to be numerous and powerful and the people who’s land they’ve settled in feel threatened. This is the same reason the Egyptians enslave the Israelites later on.

 

Matthew 8:18-34:

  • 18-22 – Though both men wanted to follow Jesus, the scribe who volunteers is met with resistance because Jesus knows he will not be open to his nomadic, unsettled lifestyle. The disciple, however, was called by Jesus. It was cultural practice to honor the dead by burying them, particularly a parent. Jesus shows that his way will be countercultural and the disciple will need to choose which path to follow.
  • 23-27 – The disciples, even though they had dropped everything to follow Jesus, still often worried and feared. Jesus continually reminds them, in a variety of ways, to trust him.
  • 28-33 – This story is reminiscent of when Abraham prayed to God and convinced him to have mercy on the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah. Here, though, the one requesting something of Jesus and changing his mind, is a demon.
  • 34 – Jesus has significantly disrupted the townspeople’s norms and scared them with his power so they ask him to leave.

 

Psalm 10:1-15:

  • The psalmist seems to be describing someone who is wicked and sinning purposefully. And seemingly, it is someone who is sinning and wicked towards him. Though the judgment and request for punishment sounds harsh, we would probably feel the same way towards our true enemies.

 

Proverbs 3:7-8:

  • Rarely do we think about the benefit of acting wisely and fearing the Lord. This proverb describes these things as having a physical benefit.

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).

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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.

Jan. 6 – Genesis 13:5-15:21 – Andrew

If you miss Genesis 15, you miss the point of the entire Old Testament!

15:1-24 – This chapter contains the mysterious and absolutely essential account of the covenant God makes with Abram (who gets a new name, Abraham, as a result).  The entire rest of the Bible is a consequence of this covenant.  So, why is this important?

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Forgive me for quoting myself, but I wrote a blog post about this on my personal blog 2 years ago that I’d like you to read: http://andrewforrest.org/2015/01/23/take-the-abraham-quiz/.

Here’s the point.  Note that God, in making the covenant with Abraham, promises to also uphold Abraham’s side of the agreement!  God is committing to be cut in half if the covenant is violated.  Jesus is God’s response to the failure of humanity to keep the covenant, and Jesus was crucified–cut in half–because humanity couldn’t keep the covenant.  The entire scripture is about the covenant God made with Abraham, and how God uses Abraham’s family to bring salvation to the entire world.

See below for other brief glosses on today’s reading.

13:18 – “The oaks of Mamre.”  This description will occur throughout the rest of Genesis, and I always find it interesting to think about how striking these trees must have been to be used as a place designation.

14:14 – “318 of them.”  Abraham is extremely wealthy–he has 318 trained fighting men working for him.

14:17-24 – Melchizedek has long puzzled commentators:

“Who is the mysterious king-priest Melchizedek? He is not mentioned in the genealogies of Genesis. Announced as a priest of God most high, he appears out of nowhere to officiate over Abraham’s victory celebrations, and he disappears just as suddenly. As Calvin observes, ‘This Melchizedek, whoever he was, is presented before us, without any origin, as if he had dropped from the clouds, and . . . his name is buried without any mention of death.'” -R.R. Reno, Genesis

The author of Hebrews in the New Testament sees Melchizedek as a Christ figure, but we’ll wait until we get to Hebrews to discuss him.

–AF