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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 1-8 – David’s desire for God is unmatched by other followers. He equates his need for God with his need for sustenance.
Have your sins ever impacted someone else? (The answer here is “yes”.) You cheated on a test and it messed up the curve for others. You stole from a store and the cashier got in trouble. You cheated on your spouse and it broke up your family. Our sins are not simply our own problem. As Israel and Judah are being rejected by God and destroyed by other nations, it’s hard not to remember Jeroboam’s selfish acts as he was taking over his portion of the kingdom. He chose to listen to bad advice and it hurt the Israelites for generations to come.
2 Kings 17:1-18:12:
- 6-18 – After a steady series of sinful kings and repetitive sinning by the nation, God allows the Assyrians to capture all the Israelites and take them to their country. This makes it clear that they are now separated from God because they no longer have their promised land or any of their identifying marks that were to set them apart for God.
- 21 – The split of the two kingdoms of Israel, the sinfulness of the country, and the eventual exile of both kingdoms (only one has happened so far) all trace back to Jeroboam’s sinfulness.
- 34-40 – The Israelites had been given every opportunity to choose to live faithfully. They continued to choose not to and broke every part of their covenant with God. Because of this, God allowed them to face the consequences of all their unfaithfulness.
- 1-4 – Hezekiah is king of Judah and chooses to live faithfully.
- In case you’re getting confused about Paul’s journeys – where he’s been and where he’s headed, here is a map of all his travels Oh, and who knew, but there’s a board game of Paul’s journeys as well, for some good old fashioned holy family fun.
- 7-12 – Peter was able to raise Tabitha from the dead and Paul raises this young man. It seems like it was the right thing to do considering Paul had literally bored him to death.
- 18-35 – Paul, on this his third of four journeys, knows his ministry on earth is coming to an end, but he is satisfied with his work and is willing to suffer persecution in order to share the gospel.
- In Romans 1:20, Paul explains that every part of creation testifies to God’s greatness somehow. This psalm seems to confirm that.
- A creative way of saying our mouths write checks our rears can’t cash.
Ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Sometimes, it is an honest, innocent mistake. Other times, however, we probably shouldn’t have been in that place in the first place. This is how David got himself in the biggest trouble of his life. He sees a beautiful woman bathing on a roof and even though she’s someone else’s wife, he has to have her. The thing is, though, he shouldn’t have been home to see her in the first place.
2 Samuel 9:1-11:27:
- 1-13 – It wouldn’t have been strange for a king to kill everyone in the line of the previous king to prevent them from trying to take back power. Instead, David holds true to the covenant he made with Jonathan and treats Mephibosheth like his own son.
- 1-4 – The Ammonites didn’t trust David’s kindness and they repay his servants with dishonor. Shaving half their beards would be a sign of dishonor and would make them look ridiculous and cutting off part of their garments was to expose and embarrass them.
- 12-14 – God blessed the Israelites with two simultaneous victories though both seemed like they would have been difficult.
- 1 – David was supposed to be in battle, but chose to stay home and send others out to do his work for him.
- 2-13 – Because David was in a place he shouldn’t have been, he was left open to sin. David tries to cover his sin up by bringing Uriah home so he could think the baby was his. Uriah is too honorable and refuses to enjoy the pleasures of home while the other soldiers are out at battle.
- 14-27 – David assures that Uriah will be killed in battle. This, to some degree, covers up David’s sin. The Lord, however, knows what David has done and is not pleased.
- 4-11 – Beautiful imagery reminding us that we must stay connected to Christ, the source of anything good that can come from us. When we are connected to him, we bear good fruit.
- 12 – Jesus repeats a commandment he gave in the reading two days ago. Repeating a commandment solidifies its importance.
- 17 – He repeats the command to love one another a third time. Clearly this is a crucial command that he intends for all believers to follow.
- 20-21 – Jesus prepares his disciples to receive the same persecution he has received. We, as believers, should expect the same if we are living like Christ.
- 22 – If the persecutors had not known Jesus, they could have claimed ignorance.
- 61 – The psalmist expresses the importance of remaining faithful to God even in the midst of hardship and oppression.
- A powerful explanation of our plans versus God’s. When we offer up our plans to God and give him ultimate authority, we are certain to see success.
In my old age I’ve learned a few things. One is that it is far better to humble yourself than to have someone else do it for you. Our Proverb reminds us of that today. It says “humility comes before honor”. Maybe today, instead of tooting your own horn, take a humble position on your skills, abilities, or possessions. If someone honors you anyway, great! I know I’d rather be lifted up than give someone a reason to smack me down.
2 Samuel 7:1-8:18:
- 1-17 – David felt guilty that his house was nicer than God’s. He intended to build a temple, but God doesn’t want him to. God also establishes a covenant with David and his son who will be king after him. God promises to keep David’s line in the throne forever.
- 18-29 – David humbly accepts God’s blessing of his house.
- 15-17 – Jesus is telling the disciples that the Lord will send the Holy Spirit to counsel and guide believers when Jesus is no longer on earth.
- 27-29 – It would have been very scary for Jesus to simply leave and the disciples to not understand where he went. He offers them peace and tells them what will soon happen so the completion of what Jesus says will help them believe in his identity even more.
- 37 – How many worthless things are our eyes drawn to?
- The psalmist clearly has great love for God’s word and law. He is committed to them and recognizes how effective they are in leading him to truth and blessings.
- The phrase “humility comes before honor” is reminiscent of Jesus explaining that at a dinner party you should take one of the lesser seats. Often the host will move you to a place of more honor, but if you assume and take a place of honor, often times you will be humbled to a lesser seat.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Loving righteousness and hating wickedness is rewarded by God.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 16-17 – Just like today, people of ancient Israel put their hope in everything but the Lord.
- Wisdom is something we can all gain if willing.
Other than the golden calf story, you may never have known that the second half of Exodus exists, but there’s plenty to learn here.