Salvation is a free gift, not a free pass. We are not offered salvation so we can keep sinning and not have to worry about it. Today’s 1 John reading reminds us that salvation is actually intended to transform us and shape us more into the likeness of Christ so we don’t keep on sinning.
2-35 – This section describes the struggle between the northern king and the southern king. It is describing a time that is to come, not one that has passed. Daniel has a great deal of prophecies that have come to pass and also some that we’re still waiting on.
1 John 3:7-24:
3 – “Little children” is how God is referring to us, his children. Not necessarily to children as defined by age
16-18 – Jesus didn’t just talk about loving us, he showed us by dying for us on the cross. If we simply say we love our neighbors, our words are worthless. We must show it with our actions.
19-24 – Salvation through grace does not exempt us from following God with our lives. We are still to follow his commands and live according to his will – actually even more so because of the gift of salvation.
1-9 – Imagine the Israelites marching up to Jerusalem during one of the appointed festivals singing these words. To us, these are just words in the Bible, but to them, these words were part of their rituals.
1 – When we don’t listen to correction, we are doomed to destruction.
You woke up this morning, right? Great! Then you have reason to give God praise. You were given this day as a gift! Now praise him for it and go out and treat it as the gift that it is.
28-49 – This is a continuation of Ezekiel’s vision of what the new temple should look like. Like the first time it was built, there are very specific instructions regarding all the details.
1-4 – The Most Holy Place was a place where only the chief priest could go once a year. It was separated from the rest by a curtain. This curtain was torn in half when Jesus died and bridged the gap between us and God.
1-3 – This is inviting us to ask God for things. Note that we are to ask for things not to fulfill our selfish wants, but for God’s glory and for our good and the good of others.
4-10 – Friendship with the world entails loving things and loving what the world tells us we need more than we love and follow God. Instead, we are to draw near to and worship God.
13-17 – We are to submit everything, even our futures, to God’s will.
24 – No matter our circumstances, we can always rejoice because God made this day and gave it to us as a gift.
29 – This is an exclamation repeated often in Scripture. It is a reminder that God is constant in his faithfulness and that we are loved.
5 – This is an interesting point. If we seek the Lord, he steers us to what is good and pleasing in his sight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is a parent’s greatest joy to see their child walk faithfully.
There are double-standards in the world. Some are frustrating and unfair, while others are totally necessary. In today’s 1 Corinthians reading there is a justified double-standard. It is that believers are held to one moral standard while non-believers are not. We cannot expect non-believers to abide by God’s commands, but we as believers should and should even help one another do so. Yes, it’s a double-standard, but it is a necessary one for believers and non-believers alike.
21-23 – Ezra told the Babylonians God would take care of them on their journey, so now he had to put his money where his mouth is. This is why he has the people all call on the Lord through fasting and prayer.
31 – God hears their prayers for protection on their journey and answers them.
1-2 – The Israelites, and particularly the priests, had just finished traveling safely, because of God’s provisions, and have just completed their burnt offering, and immediately they’re breaking one of the main laws God has given them – to be set apart.
6-15 – Ezra’s prayer is honest and forthcoming. He confesses God’s goodness to his people and that they continue to sin against him. Particularly starting in vs. 13, Ezra seems to be very humbled by God’s graciousness in continuing to care for them despite their continued lack of faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13:
9-11 – This is an interesting perspective. This is encouraging us not to try to avoid all sinners or even those who are still caught up in sin, but to avoid those who call themselves believers and are currently engaging in any of the sins listed. As believers we are called to a higher standard.
12-13 – Our moral law and faithfulness to Christ is not to be expected of those who do not believe, but we are to hold our own to Christ’s standards.
5 – Jesus repeats the first part of this verse when dying on the cross.
6-8 – David continually gives acknowledgment and praise to God for providing protection from his enemies.
Crucifixion was a brutal and torturous death. It was designed to be painful and humiliating. One of the normal practices of the Romans was to eventually speed up the process and break the legs of the crucified person. The Romans didn’t break Jesus’ legs because he was already dead. Check out why that was important here.
2 Samuel 17:1-29:
1-14 – Ahithophel was an advisor to David but defected to Absalom’s side. Hushai was a false advisor to Absalom who actually was on David’s side. Hushai has built trust with Absalom, but is actually working towards his defeat.
There are a lot of names and places in today’s story (here’s a cheat sheet), which can make it hard to follow. It’s important to know that God continually provides protection and resources for David. He continues to keep him one step ahead of Absalom kind of like he did with Saul. Absalom has now lost his key advisor, Ahithophel, and is not using his proven military leader, Joab.
24 – This is a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18. If the Jews had been in charge of the crucifixion, they might have known that. The Romans would not have.
31-33 – Crucifixion would work faster if someone’s legs were broken. During crucifixion, what actually killed you was suffocation. As painful as it was, you would have to push yourself up with your legs on the nail in your feet or ankles and take a breath. If your legs were broken, you couldn’t push up and you would suffocate.
38 – “For fear of the Jews” refers to the religious leadership who was trying to squash the Jesus movement and ultimately orchestrated Jesus’ death.
146 – This seems like a more sincere version of the prayer many of us have prayed at some point, “Lord, save me from this one thing and I’ll serve you forever.”
The psalmist continually contrasts his commitment to and love for God’s word with those who do not have regard for God’s word.
The irony here is that at least half of the Kings of Israel are listed as “doing evil in the sight of the Lord.” The throne was established by God, but many of the kings fail to live up to their calling.
This obviously isn’t Jesus. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t wear sweaters and sit on folding chairs, but Jesus was a little Jewish boy who learned the same Scriptures of the Old Testament we learn today. He even memorized the Torah as all Jewish children are required to do. Often it’s hard to view Jesus as a human, but when he quotes Psalm 22 while on the cross in today’s reading from Mark, it reminds us that he learned Scripture and turned to it when in agony.
22-26 – It might be weird for us to think about unintentionally sinning because we normally know when we’re making choices that probably aren’t pleasing to God. They truly might have worn something with mixed fabrics unintentionally or broken some other law that they made a mistake on. God made atonement for these sins fairly easy and universal.
15 – Normally Moses is defending the Israelites to God and asking for mercy. This time, Moses seems to have had enough of their complaining and asks God not to respect their offerings.
23-32 – Korah, Dathan, and Abiram got swallowed up by the earth as a sign that they truly didn’t follow the Lord.
15 – Key phrase – “wishing to satisfy the crowd.” We often do things to satisfy a crowd that hurts our relationship with Christ.
19 – Striking his head with the reed was intended to force the thorns deeper into Jesus’ head.
23 – At the last supper Jesus explained that he wouldn’t drink wine again until he drinks it with his disciples in his father’s kingdom.
35 – Jesus quotes Psalm 22 here.
38 – The temple curtain separated the holy of holies, where one could encounter God, from the areas where sinful people could be. Jesus’ death literally broke down that barrier.
39 – Not insignificant that it is a gentile who recognizes Jesus’ identity.
David was in actual physical danger when he cried out to God with this Psalm.
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.