Both our New and Old Testament readings talk about covenants today. As we’ve discussed, covenants are agreements between two parties (God is always one of them in the Bible) where both sides have something to uphold. Our Old Testament reading shows God’s faithfulness to his covenant with Israel despite their total lack of regard for their end of the bargain. Then in the New Testament reading we see God’s new covenant through Christ. This is the covenant we’re under. Our part of the bargain is to receive Christ’s salvation and live accordingly. Let’s make a renewed commitment to our portion of the covenant today.
- 44-58 – The Israelites looked down on places like Sodom and Samaria for their sins and because they did not have the special bond with God that the Israelites had. Here God puts the Israelites in their place by placing them lower than those nations.
- 59-63 – As poorly as the Israelites have held to their covenant with God, God reiterates his commitment to the covenant.
- 11-21 – These verses explain the parable found earlier in the chapter. The parable tells of Jerusalem/Judah’s unfaithfulness. They trusted in the power of other nations instead of that of God. Judah’s fate for unfaithfulness is destruction.
- 22-24 – Yes! We’re talking about Jesus here. All kinds of people will find rest with Christ and social statuses will flip flop.
- This section describes the new covenant that was established through Christ.
- 8-12 – Jeremiah 31:31-34 is quoted here.
- 13 – This is to say that the original covenant is now replaced by the new. Christ’s covenant is what we live under. God’s first covenant wasn’t bad, this one is kind of like a new edition that we should adhere to from now on.
- This psalm is another example of God’s faithfulness repaid by Israel’s lack of faith and unfaithfulness.
- 30-31 – Often acts of faithfulness are “counted as righteousness” to the person who is faithful.
- 7 – This is very true of our culture. We are not “hungry” for anything because all our needs are met so we tend to be ungrateful for what we have. Those in need are often grateful for anything and everything made available to them.
Growing up, whenever a crazy driver would speed by us, my mom would annoyedly say, “Teenagers.” Teenagers get a bad rap. They smell weird, their hormones make them say and do weird things, and they’re often mean to their parents. But! Teenagers, young adults, kids, and anyone else who doesn’t feel like they get the respect they deserve, should read 1 Timothy 4. Paul explains how you can earn that respect and leadership despite your age.
- 1-13 – God promises to restore peace to Jerusalem.
- 14-26 – Other nations had mocked Israel because it seemed that God had forgotten them and had broken his covenant with them. God promises to restore his covenant with them by placing David’s line back on the throne. We know that this eventually happens permanently through Jesus.
- 8-22 – God explains his punishment on all those who did not stick with their covenant. One portion of the covenant was to release slaves at a proper time. Many failed to do so.
1 Timothy 4:1-16:
- 1-5 – Paul consistently taught against certain foods being unclean or certain practices and rituals being necessary for salvation. He believed salvation was through faith in Jesus alone.
- 6-10 – There were some people in that time that believed holiness came through physical training. While taking care of one’s body is important, it is not a path towards salvation.
- 12 – The quintessential youth group verse – this verse is advice from Paul to Timothy of how to conduct himself even though it would be initially hard to gain respect because of his youth.
- 13-16 – Great advice on how to lead faithfully.
- 5-13 – One thing we seem to be missing, in general, in our culture, is awe and reverence of the Lord’s majesty. This psalm seems to indicate awe and reverence.
- 10 – References to “Rahab” are often indicating Egypt.
- 24 – Choose your spouse wisely.
How many times this year has Scripture revisited God rescuing the Israelites from Egypt? It is their constant pillar reminding and assuring them of God’s faithfulness. What is yours? What event or circumstance do you look back on when you struggle to trust? A particular time God provided for you in a specific way? A time when you were rescued from a bad situation? A miracle that can’t be explained in any way but God? Think about that today, particularly if you’re facing a trial.
- 31-34 – God declares a new covenant with the Israelites since the last one was broken and forgotten.
- 1-5 – Zedekiah was the king of Judah appointed by the king of Babylon.
- 6-15 – Jeremiah’s opportunity to buy the field was proof sent from God that he would fulfill his promises of restoration.
- 16-23 – Note how many times God’s rescuing Israel from Egypt is revisited in order to offer hope of God’s faithfulness in the future.
- 26-35 – Judah’s sin had greatly grieved God. They worshipped idols offered sacrifices to other gods just like the foreign nations.
- 36-41 – God’s anger morphs into abiding love as he describes drawing his people back to himself and making them his own again.
1 Timothy 3:1-16:
- 1-7 – Overseers (or leaders in the faith) have higher standards they must live up to.
- 8-13 – Deacons, a different level in church leadership, also had a higher standard to live by. Their wives were also held to an elevated standard.
- 1 – Here, and then again in verse 13, the psalmist declares that he is faithful in prayer despite feeling left and forsaken by God. That kind of commitment can only stem from knowing that God will eventually come through.
- 20 – Know your audience. A heavy heart needs you to mourn with it. Don’t make it worse.
- 21-22 – Kill them with kindness.
As many of you have thanked me for these notes or mentioned something you noticed about them, I am continually thankful for your faithfulness. This, of course, makes me feel very biblical because, Paul, in many of his letters, including today’s 2 Thessalonians reading, thanks God for various believers’ faithfulness. Know that your faithfulness in reading studying Scripture is blessing me immensely! Thank you!!
- 1-10 – God, once again, gives the house of David (the king of Judah) the opportunity to repent.
- 30 – This verse is problematic because it seems to have God break his promise that the line of David would always be in power. But wait…
- 1-2 – Judah’s rulers were supposed to care for the people but they led them into destruction instead.
- 5-6 – Who does this sound like God is describing? JESUS!! This is a messianic prophecy, which fulfills God’s covenant that David’s line would always reigns and solves the problem of corrupt leadership for Judah.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12:
- 1-4 – Paul and his companions continue to be thankful for the faithfulness of the Thessalonians.
- 5-10 – The Thessalonians faced great persecution because of their faith. Paul encourages them that their suffering would be justified and rectified by Jesus.
- 1-8 – Asaph calls upon God to aid God’s people against their enemies.
- 9-18 – Asaph knew he could ask this because he had seen God squash enemies for the sake of his people before.
- These verses give clear, simple ways to bless and harm others.
Today we start Philippians. Like Ephesians and Galatians, this is a letter Paul wrote to a church he had interest in. If you ever talk to someone who wants to grow deeper in their faith and isn’t sure where to start in the Bible, Philippians is a great place to send them. It is short, simple, and to the point.
- 1-14 – The Lord makes it clear what kinds of worship he prefers. True worship is never routine and meaningless. He asks for us to care for those in need as an act of worship.
- 1-19 – God will not tolerate injustice and he is clear that he will punish those who oppress others.
- 17 – Note the similarity to the Armor of God from Ephesians.
- 21 – God makes a new covenant with the new Israel. Though this is not the covenant of Christ yet, it is a new way for God to connect with his people.
- 1-6 – Paul begins most of his letters with a warm greeting and encouragement on how thankful he is that the recipients of the letter are partnering with him in living out and spreading the gospel of Christ.
- 12-14 – Though other believers may have been concerned about facing similar persecution as Paul, he assures them that it has been worth it because of how it has advanced the gospel.
- 21 – Paul offers several poetic yet slightly cryptic sayings like this throughout his letters. Paul basically means that if he’s alive, he’s going to be serving Christ. When he dies, he’ll get to be with Christ.
- 1-16 – The psalmist is confident in the Lord’s ability to save him from his enemies because he is able to reflect on other times God has taken care of him.
- 17-24 – The psalmist praises God in advance for taking care of him and even promises to tell others of God’s great deeds.
- 10 – This verse calls out all those who feel strong in their faith or otherwise who then topple over when difficulties come. The strength of our faith is determined when tested.
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.