How do you help someone follow Jesus? Paul makes it really clear in our 1 Corinthians reading. If I’m following Christ, I can simply invite them to follow me. There is obviously a big “if” involved though. I first have to make sure I’m following Christ in order to ask a perspective disciple to follow me.
- 3-19 – This is the list of people who settled back into Jerusalem.
- 1-26 – These are lists of the various priests and Levites post exile.
1 Corinthians 10:14-11:2:
- 14-22 – Paul urges the Israelites not to participate in the sacrifices offered to idols, but to remember that participating in communion makes us connected to all believers.
- 23-30 – Based on how hard Paul is hammering this point home, clearly the Corinthians were struggling with what was good and lawful to eat. His point is that nothing starts out unclean any longer. However, anything already sacrificed to idols is off limits.
- 1 – The perfect model of discipleship. I can feel confident in asking you to follow me if I am confident that I am following Christ.
- 18 – A good reminder when we or someone we love is heartbroken.
David insists on paying Araunah for his property though Araunah offers it up freely. David knew he needed to actually make a personal sacrifice in order to feel the weight of his sin. If he simply sacrificed Araunah’s property, he wouldn’t feel it. We often do not feel the weight of our sin unless we actually feel the consequences. This is why consequences are often ultimately beneficial.
2 Samuel 23:24-24:25:
- 1-9 – Though it seems that God instructs David to number the people, he must have done it differently than the Lord instructed him because ultimately the act is sinful.
- 14-17 – David offers the people up for his sin until he sees the destruction and then he tries to turn it back towards him.
- 21-25 – Though Araunah kindly offered to give David all he needed for the sacrifice. David knew he needed to have some skin in the game for his sacrifice to count.
- 1-10 – Note that when Jesus was alive, the disciples often had trouble healing people because of their lack of faith. Here, the disciples’ faith is strong enough to heal because their faith has been strengthened by the fulfillment of Jesus’ words and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- 16 – It wasn’t necessarily the faith of the lame man that caused him to be healed. It isn’t made clear if he had faith, but the disciples had faith enough for him.
- 2 – A servant would look to a master to instruct and provide for them. God mercifully instructs us and gives us what we need.
- 22 – Good sense is life giving because it assures we make decisions that will prosper us. Folly, on the other hand, comes when we listen to unwise counsel.
The Holy Spirit is often referred to as a burning fire or rushing wind. In Acts, the Holy Spirit is given to the early believers, so you can imagine that this book gets pretty rowdy. Just imagine a big group of new believers who are eager to spread the message of Christ as quickly as possible because they think he’s coming back soon. How eager would we be to share Christ if we had a similar mindset?
2 Samuel 20:14-22:20:
- 14-22 – Though Sheba’s fate is a little unsettling, the wise woman assures that her city is not attacked.
- 1-9 – It was not unusual for people to have to pay for the sins of their parents or grandparents. Saul’s offspring pay the ultimate price.
- 10-14 – Restoring Saul and Jonathan’s bones to their family to be buried where they belonged was an act to honor Saul.
- 2-20 – David’s song here is almost identical to Psalm 18. David gives glory to God for his victories and recalls his relationship with God over time.
- 1 – Acts is considered a second section of the gospel of Luke, most likely written by the same author.
- 11 – Jesus doesn’t die again after his resurrection. He simply ascends to heaven on a cloud and the disciples are told that this is how he will return as well. This is what we are to watch for.
- 12-14 – The disciples continued to pray and meet together after Jesus left.
- 21-26 – Matthias is chosen as the new 12th disciple to fill Judas’ place.
- Our pride often tells us we deserve or are capable of more than we’re called to. Humility allows us to wisely and graciously take what God gives us.
Think of this as the greatest sequel ever. It is the story of Jesus continued, but through the Holy Spirit. And unlike most sequels, the new character they introduce is just incredible. Though all hope was lost at the crucifixion, Acts proves that Jesus was nowhere near finished.
David is so close to becoming king over all of Israel, but things are never that simple, are they? Ish-bosheth is Saul’s son who is still alive and, in general, sons get to take over the crown. He even had a bit of a following supporting him. But there was one key thing missing from Ish-bosheth’s efforts to become king: God’s support. Be sure to read the whole story of what happened, it gets dicey.
2 Samuel 2:12-3:39:
- 12-28 – Though Judah and Israel would split into two nations after Solomon’s reign, they are technically still united during this story. Abner is simply loyal to Saul’s line and is trying to keep them in power, this is why David’s men are fighting against Abner’s.
- 2-5 – David had a lot of wives.
- 7-11 – Because of Ish-bosheth’s accusation, Abner abruptly switches allegiances and promises his efforts and loyalty to guaranteeing David’s reign.
- 20-30 – David believed Abner’s new-found loyalty to him, but Joab, one of David’s military leaders still had a score to settle with him. Abner felt that he was safe in David’s good graces, but Joab kills him. David washes his hands of any responsibility.
- 4-17 – Jesus lowers himself to the lowest household job. He becomes a servant to his followers to show them how they are to serve those they lead. Peter is resistant to Jesus’ acts of kindness because he doesn’t feel that this is an act meant for the Messiah.
- 23 – John’s gospel is the only one that singles out or even refers to a “disciple whom Jesus loved”. Some say it may be John referring to himself.
- This is, by far, the longest psalm.
- In this section of the psalm, a number of different tactics for remaining pure and faithful are mentioned: praising God for his law, guarding your path, following God’s commands, knowing God’s word.
Having a rough time with your mother-in-law? Well, whether you like her or not, all of us could learn a thing or two from Ruth, the main character of the book we start today. She’s pretty incredible and unbelievably loyal to her mother-in-law, Naomi. This is a fascinating story of how God works our small decisions into good for us and others.
Judges 21:1-Ruth 1:22:
- 1 – Giving someone in marriage seemed to be the ultimate way to mix cultures and to influence. God seems to see this as the ultimate threat. Thus the rest of Israel refuses to intermarry with the tribe of Benjamin.
- 13-24 – Because of the devastation of the tribe of Benjamin, they were on the brink of extinction because no other tribe would allow their daughters to marry Benjamites. This was their plan for providing wives without compromising their own daughters.
- 3-5 – A woman’s only source of wealth and protection were her male relatives. With Naomi’s husband and sons having died, she was extremely vulnerable.
- 16-17 – Though it was normally a bad thing for Israelites to intermarry, Ruth seems to be the exception to the rule. Instead of influencing her husband and his family to her Moabite gods, she becomes to loyal to Naomi and Naomi’s God.
- 7 – Procuring water was a woman’s job. It was unheard of for a man to speak to a woman he was not married or related to in public, but even more unusual because he was a Jew and she was a Samaritan. Jews hated Samaritans because they considered them half-breeds.
- 7-15 – Though Jesus is trying to offer the woman something much more important and life-giving than regular water, she cannot understand what he is offering.
- 16-18 – Jesus calls out the woman’s sins to prove that he is not an ordinary person.
- 25-26 – Jesus rarely reveals his true identity so explicitly and when he does, he tends to reveal it to the most unlikely characters.
- 35-38 – Jesus wanted his disciples to begin bringing people to salvation based on the work he and the prophets before him had already done. They didn’t have to do the initial work, but could push the message home.
- 39-42 – Jesus originally came to bring salvation to the Jews, but throughout his ministry he extended it to others as well.
- The Israelites shared the faithfulness of God with younger generations who had not seen it by telling the stories of his great works. This psalm is an example of that.
- Like one of the Ten Commandments, this Proverb encourages its readers not to bear false witness because it only leads to destruction.
The law that Moses gave the Israelites was very just. If you sinned, you paid for it. If you sinned against someone, you had to give them back an equal amount. In our Luke reading today, Jesus introduces different ways to extend grace. Grace is like the greatest buy one get one free sale ever! You get far more than you deserve. If someone steals your cow, instead of asking for it back, give them another. It was revolutionary then and it still is today.
- Note that God had given specific land to people other than the Israelites, namely Lot and Esau. Esau was from the same family as the Israelites, but wasn’t included in the Promised Land because he gave up his birth right as a young man.
- As the Israelites were faithful in trusting God and respecting the borders he gave them, he was faithful in giving them what he promised.
- 13-16 – The full list of disciples. Most often they are listed with only a few of them together.
- 20-26 – Matthew’s account of the beatitudes only includes blessings while Luke’s records blessings and woes.
- 27-31 – God’s law given to Moses for the Israelites was based on justice. If you kill your neighbors cow, you give him one that’s just as good. But Jesus introduces opportunities to offer grace and to give people better than what they deserve.
- Much of Jesus’ teaching was countercultural.
- The Psalmist asks that God be gracious to him so that he can then make God more known. This should be the purpose for the blessings we request.
- If you look for trouble, you’ll find it.
As if you didn’t already know that One Direction had a fragrance…
To be honest, I thought the bottle said “One Moment” instead of “Our Moment”. “One moment” makes me think of today’s Luke reading where the soon-t0-be disciples encounter Jesus one time. They have one experience with him and he tells them to follow him and they do. How many times did I have to hear about Jesus before I decided to follow him? But also, it makes me want to share Jesus with people as often as possible, because maybe they’ll just need one moment to get it.
- Moses sniffs out the fear of the leaders of the tribes of Reuben and Gad. They do not want to go to war to inherit the land God has promised to them. Eventually they come to a compromise where they will still fight, but leave their children and livestock behind.
- 3-4 – This is referring back to the original death of all the firstborns in Exodus. This is not a new series of first borns who die.
- 33-34 – Though most people did not recognize Jesus’ identity, spirits, both clean (the Holy Spirit inside of Elizabeth) and unclean, seemed to recognize him.
- 43 – Many people believe that Jesus’ sole purpose on earth was his death. Verses like this refute that and prove that Jesus’ life and ministry also held great importance.
- 10-11 – One encounter with Jesus caused these men to leave their regular life to follow Jesus.
- Jewish people consider pigs to be unclean. Wasting gold on an unclean animal is like wasting the beauty and goodness of a woman on someone who will throw themselves around as if they weren’t created in the image of God.
I find verse 40 in today’s Leviticus reading really funny. Can’t you see all the middle-aged Israelite men running up to Moses wondering what ritual cleansing they needed to undergo in order to stop their plight? “No, it’s cool man, you’re just going bald. Nothing to worry about.”
- Interesting that the priests even had power over medical conditions.
- 40 – You laughed at this one, right?
- 48 – The warp is the longitudinal thread in a woven fabric and the woof is the latitudinal thread.
- 1-6 – Instead of astonished and amazed at Jesus’ words and deeds, his hometown became angry because he was only a carpenter’s son from a small town.
- 10-11 – It was customary to welcome travelers into your home.
- 12-13 – The disciples watch Jesus for a while and then he invites them to be a part of his ministry.
At the end of today’s Leviticus reading, Moses reprimands Aaron’s remaining sons, the priests, for offering sacrifices incorrectly. Aaron is also concerned because, as a priest, he is to eat the sin offerings. If they were not offered correctly, they would not have been ritually clean, thus, he would not have been either. If he had then entered God’s presence, he would have died. Not because God is mean, but because he is holy. Holiness and uncleanness cannot mix.
- 1-2 – We’ve read in previous readings this year that the Lord does not desire sacrifice but mercy. Clearly God desires for us to follow his instructions exactly.
- 16-20 – Moses does his best to assure that the priests follow God’s instructions perfectly.
- 30-32 – The mustard seed does not form the largest tree, but it does grow extremely quickly and in wild fashion.
- 39-41 – Jesus, through his actions and words is consistently having to remind the disciples of his power and ability.
- 12-13 – Interesting that Jesus allows a demonic spirit to influence his decision.