March 10 – Daily Notes – Amanda

monsters inc

Verse 5 of today’s Psalm is powerful. “There they are, in great terror where there is no terror!” We fear so many things that have absolutely no power over us. We fear that people will not accept us, or that our children will not get into the right kindergarten, or that we won’t be able to maintain the standard of living we hope for. We create terror where there is no terror. God is good and is in control. Fear not.

Numbers 14:1-15:16:

  • 1-4 – When things get scary, we often revert to whatever was comfortable even if it was bad for us. For the Israelites it was Egypt.
  • 18 – As Moses appeals to the Lord to forgive the Israelites for their continued unfaithfulness, he uses a phrase that people will repeat throughout the Bible, “the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…”.
  • The Israelites’ unfaithfulness results in them not getting to enter the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua get to and later generations get to, but those who have continually been unfaithful despite God’s provision, are punished.

Mark 14:53-72:

  • 61-63 – This is the first time Jesus openly calls himself the Son of God. He normally followed people’s questions about his identity with a question. The chief priests believed this gave them grounds to charge him with blasphemy.
  • 66-72 – Peter was convinced he would never deny Jesus. His denial and the fulfillment of what Jesus said gives Peter great grief.

Psalm 53:1-6:

  • We allow ourselves to fear so much in the world that truly can’t harm us. God is in control and takes care of us.

What to Expect – Week 5

Why did God choose the Israelites as his people and not the Egyptians or the Ammonites or the Philistines or any of the other people groups we’ve read about? I ask this question because this week, in our Exodus readings, we will see the stark contrast between the Israelites and the Egyptians. God continually makes it clear who his people are and who his people are not.

In general, this seems to be the way we ask questions about Scripture: why did God do it this way? Why didn’t God do it that why? Why does the Bible say this?

What if we spun our thoughts on Scripture to see a good, loving, and all-powerful God who actually knows more than we do? Instead of asking, “why did God send down the plagues on the Egyptians”, could we say, “wow, it’s incredible the lengths to which God went to save the Israelites from the Egyptians.”

Yes, some stories are more complicated than that, but what if our questions and comments sought to find the ways God redeemed, blessed, and protected his people? It would greatly alter our readings.

And make a note of this Biblical theme:
In Matthew’s parable on January 30th, a theme of righteous, purposeful inequality will continue. It’s one to think about and check ourselves on. Frequently, when those who have remained righteous see grace offered to someone who has failed or fallen short, they’re outraged. It’s not fair! I’ve been faithful and they haven’t! If we were truly righteous, wouldn’t we be rejoicing with God over the repentant sinner?

January 25 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10:

  • 15-21 – Our sinfulness has long-lasting consequences. We often face them long after the actual situation is over. Joseph’s brothers still have guilt and shame on them and assume their brother will now pay back evil for evil. Instead, Joseph recognizes his place in the situation and recognizes that God redeemed to good what his brother meant for evil.
  • 26 – Unlike his father, Joseph had made Egypt his home and was fine with being buried there.
  • 7-14 – With a new king and the death of Joseph, the Egyptians quickly forget the good Joseph did for them. As the Israelites grow in size and strength while they live in Egypt, the Egyptians grow fearful of them and eventually enslave them to keep them under control.
  • 15-16 – Pharaoh is trying to control the Israelite population and their ability to join enemies in war.
  • 17-21 – Sometimes faithfulness seems impossible. The midwives chose faithfulness even though it was in direct disobedience to the king.
  • 1-10 – Moses’ mother finds a way to give him a chance at life. Moses’ sister’s quick thinking allows his mother to nurse and care for him.

Matthew 16:13-17:9:

  • 13-20 – Peter is the first of the disciples to identify Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus blesses him because this was clearly revealed to Peter by the Father. Peter becomes the rock of the church and is given great authority going forward.
  • 21-23 – This is a quick transition between Peter being told he would lead the church to being called Satan. In this section, Peter puts his own plans for Jesus ahead of God’s.
  • 24-25 – Note that no one knew Jesus would take up an actual cross at his death. He is calling them to be willing to make the same kind of sacrifice he will soon make.
  • 28 – Though somewhat confusing, this is not intended to mean that some of the people standing there would still be alive when Jesus returned a second time. Though there are many interpretations, one feasible one is that Jesus is saying that some people would live to see Christ reign in the world. Many were alive as Pentecost and then the spread of the church began. Some even led it.
  • 5 – This is the same phrase recorded from Jesus’ baptism.

Psalm 21:1-13:

  • Note that many psalms filled with violence and seeking revenge still end with praise and exultation of God. Clearly praise was a fallback whether times were good or bad.

Proverbs 5:1-6:

  • This section gives a great description of just how seductive temptation can be. We would much more easily avoid temptation if it wasn’t attractive and sneaky. Before we know it, we have followed temptation into destruction.

January 23 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 46:1-47:31:

  • 2 – Once again, a servant of God hears his voice and responds, “Here I am.” It should be an aspirational goal that we begin to respond to God’s callings with “Here I am.”
  • 26-27 – Now all of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt where Joseph was in control.
  • 9 – This is an interesting admission. Though Jacob clearly served God in a variety of ways and was blessed abundantly. Jacob should not be viewed as a moral role model, but an example of God using flawed people for his grand purposes.
  • 23-26 – Because of Joseph’s shrewdness, the Egyptian government is able to sustain all the people through the famine and gain all the land. He then implements a 20% tax to ensure the Pharaoh will have enough grain forever.
  • 27 – This is how the Israelites ended up in Egypt, which eventually put them in slavery. Check out the full explanation here.

Matthew 15:1-28:

  • 1-9 – Once again, The Pharisees are tied to the law to justify themselves. They continually seek out ways to questions Jesus’ actions, but Jesus rarely answers to them. Like now, he calls them out for their own sins. Here Jesus recognizes the Pharisees denying their elderly parents’ financial support in order to gain wealth while saying their giving to God.
  • 10-11 – A common theme throughout the New Testament is that good trees bear good fruit. Jesus uses this again to explain that you can tell the heart of a person based on what comes out of them.
  • 21-28 – This is a difficult passage. The unnamed woman is a gentile and Jesus originally denies her request claiming that his mission is strictly for the Jews. It is interesting that he says this while withdrawing from the Jews to a city filled with gentiles. It is possibly he was simply testing her faith because he doesn’t send her away like the disciples encourage him to do. Ultimately, her persistence and faith are rewarded.

Psalms 19:1-14:

  • 7-11 – David delights in God’s commandments and the laws that govern him. The law is perverted by religious authorities, particularly in Jesus’ time, to allow them to withhold love, mercy, and goodness. When we delight in and see the goodness in the law, we don’t have that tendency.

Proverbs 4:14-19:

  • 14-15 – We often allow ourselves to get too close to temptation assuming we are strong enough to withstand it. The proverb wisely encourages us to avoid it altogether.

January 21 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 42:18-43:34:

  • 21-22 – Joseph’s brothers are still haunted by the evil they did to him so many years ago.
  • 28 – They assumed they would somehow be accused of stealing. They felt like God was repaying their evil.
  • 38 – Joseph and Benjamin were the only two sons from Rachel.
  • 16-25 – The brothers still have not recognized Joseph and are terrified that they are being lured into a situation where they will be punished for stealing the money they brought last time, even though they didn’t intentionally steal it. Why else would the overseer of all of Egypt want them to come to his house?
  • 30-31 – Joseph must have had a wealth of emotions. He was finally reunited with the brothers who had betrayed him as well as his youngest brother who would have been quite young when Joseph was sent away.

Matthew 13:47-14:12:

  • 47-50 – This sounds like a harsh judgment, but the hearers and now, the readers, have received warning after warning of what decisions we need to make and how we are to live.
  • 53-58 – As will continue to become clear, their culture was one of honor and shame. Everything about you either brought honor to you and your family or shame. Jesus came from a small town and a normal family. Those in his hometown saw nothing impressive or honorable about him.
  • 1-11 – John the Baptist was beheaded because Herod was weak. He did not want to have John killed, but he was clouded by drunkenness, the pressure of a crowd, and a hormonal spike caused by a young girl dancing.
  • 12 – We don’t often think of Jesus’ emotions, but he had to have been extremely sad about the death of his cousin and friend. We do know that Jesus knew John would die in prison because the message he sent to him earlier purposely failed to mention prisoners being released.

Psalm 18:16-36:

  • 20-24 – Most of us do not want the Lord to reward us based on our righteousness. Instead, we want the Lord to reward us based on the righteousness of Christ.
  • 36 – A beautiful image of grace. When the Lord makes our steps wide, it is harder to miss the places he intends for us to step.

Proverbs 4:7-10:

  • 10 – This verse offers a cause and effect. If you listen to and accept the words of wisdom you will receive a long life. We tend to like to know what we’re playing for, so this is helpful information.

January 18 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 37:1-38:30:

  • 3 – Joseph was also the firstborn of his beloved wife Rachel.
  • 4-11 – Joseph was, to some extent, set up for failure, but he also did not help himself by sharing a dream that indicated that he would rule over his brothers.
  • 13 – The response, “Here I am” runs throughout the Bible. It is a response of willingness and honor.
  • 18-24 – Reuben, the oldest brother keeps the other brothers from killing Joseph out of envy and anger. They throw him into a cistern, a deep pit meant to collect rain water, which was important in such an arid climate.
  • 28 – Through a long series of events we will soon read about, Joseph is taken to Egypt, where all the Israelites eventually end up enslaved. It is amazing how the brothers’ sin ends up in the enslavement of the whole nation.
  • 1-30 – This is a series of Judah and his family being sinful and facing the consequences. Two of his sons were killed for not doing right in the sight of the Lord. He was unfair to Tamar and she ends up pregnant by tricking him. Overall, it sounds very dysfunctional.

Matthew 12:22-45:

  • 22-28 – Jesus makes a good point of how he couldn’t possibly cast out demons by the power of a demon. This would clearly not work. But if the Pharisees admit that Jesus works by the power of God, they have to acknowledge his connection to God and ultimately that he has the same authority as God.
  • 31-32 – This is a difficult section, but the best explanation I’ve heard is: many people denied that Jesus was the Son of God when Jesus was alive. They, however, had another chance to be forgiven when the Holy Spirit was sent after Jesus died. Those who continued to denounce Jesus and the Holy Spirit once the Holy Spirit came, had no other option for revelation and would not get another chance to believe.
  • 35 – This is why we can’t expect to ingest all the evil things of this world and still produce good fruit. We will produce what we consume.
  • 38-41 – Even the Ninevites, who were considered extremely wicked, repented when Jonah brought a message of repentance. The people of Jesus’ day had a far greater witness in Christ than Jonah and yet they still didn’t believe.

Psalm 16:1-11:

  • 1 – David knew what it was to be protected or to take refuge in the Lord. This requires a great deal of vulnerability and trust.
  • 5 – David also realized that God was his provision. We often try to provide for ourselves.

Proverbs 3:27-32:

  • This is a variety of ways to live in harmony with those around you and to treat them with kindness and dignity. We are called to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

January 12 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 26:17-27:46:

  • 1-29 – Rebekah and Jacob tricked Isaac to bless him instead of Esau. Jacob had already tricked Esau out of his birthright and now he attempts to steal his father’s dying blessing. Jacob is sneaky and a liar and yet, he seems to be blessed over and over.
  • 30-42 – When Esau lost his birthright, it was, in large portion, his own fault. In this case, however, he was simply obeying his father and due to his mother and brother’s trickery, he loses his blessing as well. Esau’s anger is understandable.
  • 46 – Jacob has to flea because of his and his mother’s deceitfulness. Rebekah is afraid Jacob will marry a Hittite woman while he is among them, but if that were to happen it would be a consequence of her sin.

 

Matthew 9:1-17:

  • 1-8 – The Pharisees think Jesus is blaspheming because they don’t realize his divinity and think forgiveness is not something he can offer.
  • 10-13 – The Pharisees were far more concerned with the practices of holiness while Jesus was focused on redemption. Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea saying, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” In other words, God desires for us to offer love and grace that lead to change rather than simply going through the motions.
  • 16-17 – The new emphases of the faith Jesus brought could not be contained by the constraints of the old law and practices.

 

Psalm 10:16-18:

  • 17 – There are a number of times when Scripture mentions God hearing the cries of the afflicted. Most notably, God hears the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, which starts the process of a mass exodus.

 

Proverbs 3:9-10:

  • 9 – It is easy to give from the leftovers of our abundance, but it takes real trust to give God your first and bust.