April 24 – Daily Notes – Amanda

handshake

Covenants are a big deal throughout Scripture. They are promises made between God and the people where both sides have a part to play. Today, we read about the covenant God makes with humanity through Christ and his blood. We are a part of that covenant. Our part is to accept the free gift of grace offered to us and God’s part is to offer us salvation.

Judges 2:10-3:31:

  • 10 – It was the job of the older generations to teach the younger generations the goodness of God. There are several times in Scripture where monuments are built or parents are instructed to teach their children the Scriptures. Clearly this generation had failed to do so.
  • 11-16 – God instructed the Israelite to drive everyone out of the Promised Land when they moved in because intermixing would tempt them to worship other gods. The Israelites did not completely obey and God was right.
  • 18-19 – The Israelites didn’t have any sort of all-encompassing leader or king. Instead, God raised up judges to try to help guide them.
  • 7-11 – Sometimes we struggle to understand why God would allow bad things to happen to the Israelites, but this makes it clear the Israelites served another king for 8 years and worshipped his gods. But when the Israelites cried out to God, he raised up a leader and returned to them.
  • 15-30 – An interesting story where it’s hard not to get distracted by the details. A couple of key points: 1) Ehud being left-handed allowed him to conceal his sword. Guards would have checked the left thigh for weapons. 2) When Israelites worshipped and honored God, he protected them and gave others over into their hands.

Luke 22:14-34:

  • 20 – There were several covenants between God and the Israelites in the Old Testament. This is the first found in the New Testament and is through the blood of Christ and is offered to everyone, not just the Israelites.
  • 28-30 – For the first time Jesus offers his disciples a position in eternity.
  • 31-34 – Peter is the most zealous disciple. He is committed to following Jesus anywhere, but Jesus knows that he even he has limits and weaknesses and he too will deny Jesus.

Psalm 92:1-93:5:

  • 1-3 – It is crucial for us to give God thanks and praise for all the good things he has done and for how good he is. He deserves it and it reminds us of where our blessings derive.

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 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

dog-licking-window

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