July 18 – Daily Notes – Amanda

serve the poor

What do you currently do for someone who can’t repay  you? I normally invite friends over for dinner who will eventually invite me over in return. I hangout with people who bring me joy. But today’s Proverb reminds us that we are to care for and serve those who have no means by which to repay us. When we do this, we know a far greater reward awaits us in heaven.

1 Chronicles 26:12-27:34:

  • 29-31 – Some of the Levites were given jobs outside of the temple.
  • 31 – David’s 40th year of reigning was his last.
  • 23-24 – David was not asked to run this census of the people and God was not pleased that he did. These verses seem to attempt to absolve him of his wrongdoing because the census was never completed.
  • 33 – It is funny that right in the middle of all the official positions and responsibilities is listed Hushai, the king’s friend, as if that is an official position too.

Romans 4:13-5:5:

  • 18-22 – It must have been difficult for Abraham to have faith that God would provide a child for he and his wife so late in life. His faith that God would fulfill his promises was considered his righteousness. We too can have faith that God has and will do the impossible for us too.
  • 3-5 – It is not easy to rejoice in our sufferings, but it becomes easier when we realize what it results in.

Psalm 14:1-7:

  • 7 – The good news is salvation does end up coming out of Zion. Jesus’ death and resurrection occur in Jerusalem.

Proverbs 19:17:

  • This is reminiscent of the separation of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. Those who served the poor and needy actually served Jesus. Though the poor person is not able to repay the generous person, the Lord is able.

June 24 – Daily Notes – Amanda

yoda

In today’s Acts reading we meet Timothy, Paul’s protégé. Paul mentors and trains Timothy to also be able to minister to early churches and spread the gospel. Paul prepares Timothy for pitfalls, allows him to watch his ministry and travel with him, and encourages him in his gifts. What if we each had a faith protégé?

2 Kings 6:1-7:20:

  • Here’s that chart of the kings again, just in case:  kings of Judah and Israel
  • 1-7 – This was not just a party trick or Elisha showing off. The man’s accident with the axe head was done while attempting to be more faithful. Elisha used God’s power to bless his faith.
  • 15-19 – Elisha’s servant is given special sight to see what’s going on. The Syrian army is not struck completely blind, but just blind to Elisha’s true identity.
  • 20-23 – Though a rare occasion in the Old Testament, the Syrians and Israelites are able to resolve the situation peacefully.
  • 25 – People are buying donkey heads and dove poop. Clearly the famine was really bad. They were so desperate they were eating the least desirable part of an unclean animal and paying high dollar for dove poop – which they were probably burning or using for other household tasks – not eating it.
  • 26-31 – While this story is absolutely horrifying – here is some background: Joram was the king of Israel. His sins as well as the sins of the people had gotten so out of control that some of the curses associated with breaking their covenant with God had started to occur. Though Joram’s response in verse 31 suggests that the famine and reactions by the people are God or Elisha’s fault, it was actually caused by the ongoing sin of the people.
  • 3-20 – The four lepers were Israelites, this is why they tell the king when the Syrians’ camp is empty. The Israelites, like Elisha prophesied, had abundant, affordable food.

Acts 15:36-16:15:

  • 39-40 – Church disputes happen because we’re human. Like this one, God works good through our failures. Now there are two teams ministering instead of the one they had before.
  • 1-5 – Timothy became Paul’s protégé. Paul circumcised Timothy, even though it was no longer truly necessary, to give him credibility with those he would minister to.
  • 10 – Note that the narrator goes from being simply a narrator to a participant by starting to use “we”. This is to indicate that Luke, the writer of Acts, has joined the mission team.

Psalm 142:1-7:

  • This psalm said it was written when David is in the cave. This is most likely talking about when he was hiding in the cave with some of his men and Saul came in to use the restroom. David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but only cut off a piece of his robe instead.
  • At this time David has been anointed as king but is on the run because Saul is still in power and is pursuing him to kill him.

Proverbs 17:24-25:

  • 24 – We often look to everything else to satisfy us, but wisdom will guide us faithfully where we are supposed to go.

June 23 – Daily Notes – Amanda

never let go

It is far easier to hold onto what we know and never let go, even if it’s not the best thing for us. Change is hard and scary and requires trust. Many of the Jews who became believers were excited about Jesus, but didn’t trust in grace for salvation completely. They wanted to dabble in faith and in trusting the law for holiness. Peter works to make it clear you have to choose one or the other.

2 Kings 4:18-5:27:

  • 18-25 – In yesterday’s reading, this child was promised to the woman as a gift from God, and now he dies. The woman’s faith is greatly tested. She puts him on his bed and shuts the door so no one else will know he died. She seeks Elisha to explain what’s going on with her son since Elisha was the one who told her she would have this child.
  • 32-44 – Note that there are three miracles in a row. A resurrection, providing food where there is none, and providing more food than there actually was. Any time there are three of something in Scripture, we should pay attention. Elisha is clearly connected to and filled with the power of God.
  • 9-10 – Though Elisha invites Naaman to his house, he does not let him in. This is strange considering the hospitality culture of ancient Israelites.
  • 11 – Naaman wanted a grand, miraculous healing and thought Elisha’s instructions were a farce.
  • 15-16 – It was not unusual for faithful Israelites to turn down gifts from other nations. This was to show their commitment to the provision of God and so no other nation or god could take credit for the Israelites’ well-being.
  • 20-27 – Gehazi did not trust the Lord for provision and saw an opportunity. He lied to both Naaman and Elisha and his punishment was receiving the leprosy Naaman had.

Acts 15:1-35:

  • 1-11 – Some Jews, who had become believers, still felt the need to cling to the law and the sign that they were set apart. Peter urges them that the law had not worked for salvation and so it is the grace of Jesus alone that saves.
  • 19-21 – Peter makes it clear that Jesus didn’t abolish faithfulness and living to please God. There were still standards. It was just important to know that the law wasn’t a means of salvation.

Psalm 141:1-10:

  • 3-4 – David gives God permission to help control his mouth and heart so he can be more faithful.
  • 5 – David also welcomes correction from faithful people.

June 16 – Daily Notes – Amanda

trump card

Peter was a faithful Jew. He followed Christ and taught others about him but still followed the laws he’d been given. In our reading in Acts yesterday and today, Peter’s world is turned upside down as God reveals to him that some of his laws were now secondary to assuring that people knew Christ.

1 Kings 15:25-17:24:

  • 25-26 – What’s worse than sinning yourself is also causing others to sin. Nadab sinned like his father and also drug the Israelites down with him.
  • The majority of today’s reading chronicles the parade of kings, their terrible choices, and their demises.
  • 29-33 – Ahab was the worst of the worst.
  • 1 – This is the same Elijah you’ve heard about. He is a powerful prophet.
  • 2-7 – This is Elijah, not Ahab, who is living by the brook and being fed by ravens.
  • 8-16 – As a widow, she would have had no source of income. It took a great act of faith to risk the little she had on a promise that she would be taken care of.

Acts 10:23b-48

  • 23-29 – Traditionally, a Jew wouldn’t enter the home of another people group. God made it clear to Peter that this was now ok and he no longer needed to keep these types of divisions.
  • 34-35 – Remember, Jesus explained that his first mission was to “the lost sheep of Israel” or Israelites who were not faithful. Peter continued that ministry, but now it is clear that ministry has been opened up to people other than the Israelites.
  • 44-48 – The Holy Spirit coming to the gentile believers was even more proof than Peter’s words that salvation was available for all.

Proverbs 17:9-11:

  • 10 – A wise person responds to rebukes while a foolish person can be told over and over and over.

May 13 – Daily Notes – Amanda

holy spirit dove

Other than Penecostal churches, in modern Christianity, we talk very little about the Holy Spirit, mostly because we don’t know much about it. The Holy Spirit is mysterious and powerful and that often scares us. But Jesus describes a Holy Spirit as a gift to be given and calls the Holy Spirit “even greater” than him. In verse 37-39 of today’s John reading, there’s a very cool description of what happens to people when the Holy Spirit comes. What does that description mean to you?

1 Samuel 13:23-14:52:

  • 23 – A garrison is a group of troops stationed in a certain area to defend it.
  • 6 – Jonathan had faith that God could offer them victory even though only he and his armor-bearer were opposing the group of Philistines.
  • 7-15 – Throughout the Bible, many characters have opportunities for God to confirm or deny that something will happen. Here, the Philistines response is Jonathan’s cue for whether or not he will have victory.
  • 24-30 – Saul makes a hasty decision to deny his troops food. This is obviously problematic because they were engaged in strenuous activity. Saul also doesn’t assure that Jonathan knows about the oath. Saul’s quick, ill-advised decisions have now caused problems twice.
  • 36-37 – Like Jonathan, Saul reaches out to the Lord for guidance in battle. Unlike with Jonathan, God does not give an answer.
  • 38-44 – Because of Saul’s hasty oath, Jonathan must die since he unknowingly ate when he wasn’t supposed to. Saul offers to cast lots so that he might take the fall, but the sentence falls on Jonathan.
  • 45-46 – The Israelites speak out against the injustice against Jonathan because they believe him to be responsible for the great victory over the Philistines.

John 7:30-52:

  • 31 – Meant to be a sarcastic question with the understanding that Jesus was the Christ.
  • 37-39 – The Holy Spirit was given to the believers on Pentecost after Jesus ascended to heaven.
  • 41-42 – Clearly the crowd did not know where Jesus was born or what his lineage was.
  • 45-52 – The Pharisees’ sense of status made them believe that they would be the first to recognize a Messiah and that he would play by the same rules as them.

Psalm 109:1-31:

  • 1-20 – David asks for punishment for those who he’s been kind to but have shown hate to him.
  • 21-31 – David, once again, puts his trust in God to protect and provide for him in the midst of enemies.

Proverbs 15:5-7:

  • 5 – Each one of us could probably recall a specific piece of advice from our parents we did not listen to and wish we would have. Wisdom is knowing to listen to that advice.

February 27 – Daily Notes – Amanda

church-lady

Verses 16-24 of our Leviticus reading today are pretty disturbing. We have to remember that many of the laws, like how to divorce, and this one about not letting people with physical deformities be priests, were to put parameters around things people were already doing. In the ancient Israelite culture, great importance was put on physical appearance (we can probably relate whether we like to or not) and God was trying to get people out of their own way.

Leviticus 20:22-22:16:

  • Being separate or set apart was important. God’s holiness sets him apart from humanity. God set the Israelites apart from other nations as his people. Some foods and other items were set apart to be holy enough or worthy enough for his people.
  • 1-9 – Priests had extra rules applied to them since they offered the sacrifices and had a special position.
  • 16-24 – Definitely a confusing passage in our current context. Like it said in 1 Samuel when David was chosen king, God doesn’t look at outward appearances but people do. This law was established so that people wouldn’t be distracted by their own judgment during worship.

Mark 9:1-29:

  • Moses and Elijah were two heroes of the Jewish faith. The disciples would have been awestruck by seeing these distinguished men.
  • 13 – John the Baptist was often compared to Elijah.
  • 24 – Often our problem is unbelief. We may believe in God’s power and ability in certain areas of life, but in others we think we need to handle it.
  • Note that in the story when the disciples don’t have enough faith to heal, Jesus does. Jesus often fills the gap when our ability ends.
  • 29 – This is true of many of our earthly problems.

Psalm 43:1-5:

  • 4 – Too often we ask for things of God and then fail to praise him for what he’s done.

What to Expect – Week 9

There’s a lot to look forward to this week! Finishing Leviticus and starting Numbers, getting into some of Marks parables, and some beautiful psalms that are relatable and noteworthy, and, of course, more wisdom and folly.

There are still a few significant laws to read through in Leviticus, but don’t be deterred! Think of God’s law like bumpers on a bowling lane. The laws keep you in the area that’s good for you and benefits the overall goal. For instance, this week, there’s a law teaching a certain way to reap your harvest. It may seem irrelevant to us, or could be construed as bossy or restrictive, but it actually was designed as an ancient way of feeding the poor. You just got bumped back in the lane.

In Mark, this week, we get to start delving into parables – Jesus’ somewhat cryptic stories that, when understood, help explain the nature and kingdom of God. We also continue through a number of miracle stories. One, in particular, depicts the disciples not being able to heal because of their lack of faith. Jesus steps in and completes the healing. Isn’t it comforting that in this story, as well as others like Peter walking on the water, when our faith falls short, Jesus steps in and fills the gap? I wonder what faith gaps of mine he’s filling?

Finally, be encouraged! After this week, we will have completed 4 books of the Bible. That may sound small considering there are 66 total, but a lot of them are very short and you’ve already learned a huge chunk of the history of how we got where we are today. You’re doing great!!

February 21 – Daily Notes – Amanda

confession

This may be what comes to mind when you think of “confession”, but today’s psalm is one of confession and is not given through a screen to a priest. Instead, this psalm shows us David pouring out the sins of his hear to God and ultimately remembering God as his hope and salvation. What if we approached confession that way today?

Leviticus 11:1-12:8:

  • Though these eating instructions may seem tedious, it is good for us to have order and design of what we can and cannot do. And, as we’ve said before, following the instructions allowed the Israelites to remain clean and able to be in the presence of God.
  • The differences between clean and unclean are based on what is good for us. This is somewhat reminiscent of when God gave the garden to Adam and Eve but designated one tree as not good for them.

Mark 5:21-43:

  • 28 – Clearly Jesus’ reputation preceded him if she had that much confidence in just touching his garment.
  • 30 – Jesus had great perception of his connection to God and his power that came from him because he knew when any left him.
  • 34 – Faith is often attributed with effectiveness in healing, miraculous acts, etc.
  • 35-43 – The first time we read of Jesus raising someone from the dead. Certainly Jairus had lost hope. Once again, Jesus tells them to keep quiet.

Psalm 38:1-22:

  • A Psalm that is helpful when we need to confess. Note that it still ends in praise addressing God as “my salvation”.

January 22 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 44:1-45:28:

  • 1-13 – The brothers had promised, even to the point of risking the lives of their own children, to bring Benjamin home safely to their father. Finding the cup in Benjamin’s bag must have been devastating.
  • 16 – Judah is most likely referring to their guilt due to selling Joseph and lying to their father about it for all those years.
  • 33 – Judah offers himself up as a replacement for Benjamin as a servant to Joseph. When the brother sold Joseph into slavery, it was originally Judah’s idea. Everything is coming full circle.
  • 1-3 – Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers just as they’re begging for him to release Benjamin.
  • 5-8 – A beautiful act of grace and understanding. Joseph recognizes that God worked good out of what others intended for evil. Joseph was in Egypt at the perfect time to sustain tons of people through the famine.
  • 25-28 – Jacob understandably had difficulty believing that Joseph could be alive since he had believed for many years that he was killed by an animal. He makes it one of his dying efforts to go and see him.

Matthew 14:13-36:

  • 13 – When Jesus heard about John the Baptist’s death he retreated.
  • 14-21 – This miracle story is included in all 4 gospels. Very few stories are in all 4.
  • 23 – Note how many times throughout the gospels they mention Jesus going off by himself to pray.
  • 28-33 – Peter gets a bad rap because he sinks, but notice that he’s the only one that trusts Jesus enough to even get out of the boat. Also, this is a clear instance of when our faith fails, Jesus fills in the gap and takes care of us. This also elicits belief in the witnesses.
  • 34-36 – Clearly the story from chapter 9 where the bleeding woman is healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment had spread.

Psalm 18:37-50:

  • This Psalm is about a specific instance of God rescuing David. He describes how God handled his enemies when Saul was chasing after him and trying to destroy him.

Proverbs 4:11-13:

  • This gives great confidence to those who do follow wisdom. You can feel secure in your steps forward.

January 6 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 13:5-15:21:

  • 8-13 – Because Abram was Lot’s uncle, he should have received first choice of the land, but he humbly allowed Lot to choose first. Lot chose the better land, but landed himself in a town that disobeyed God.
  • 19-24 – Abram wisely refuses riches from the king of Sodom so that he could not attribute his wealth and blessings to anyone or anything other than God.
  • 1-5 – God makes a huge, impossible sounding promise to Abram. He was old and had no children so it seemed impossible that his offspring would be numerous.
  • 6 – Abram’s faith in God’s ability to do the impossible was counted to him as righteousness. In Hebrews chapter 11 there is a list of various Bible characters who’s faith was credited to them as righteousness. Our faith in Jesus is our only hope for righteousness.
  • 13 – This refers to when the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt.

Matthew 5:27-48:

  • 29 – What lengths are we willing to go to in order to be blameless?
  • 31-32 – In Deuteronomy Moses gives the hard-hearted Israelites instructions on how to divorce because they were doing it anyway. Jesus makes divorce that much more difficult.
  • 33-37 – Letting your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’ asks you to be trustworthy on your own merit so you don’t have to put the responsibility on something else.
  • 38-42 – This kind of teaching would be jarring to the Jewish religious leaders because Jesus is changing up the teachings of Moses. The religious leaders did not realize that he wasn’t negating the laws, only making them more difficult by asking his followers to display additional mercy and grace.
  • 43-48 – It’s easy to love those we like. Jesus calls us to love like God loves.

Psalm 6:1-10:

  • 5 -–Sheol was where ancient Jews believed all people went after death. It was not a pleasant place. David is asking for his life to be spared because he would not be able to praise God from Sheol.
  • While it is many of our tendencies to blame God when we face difficult times, David sought God’s help in difficult times.

Proverbs 1:29-33:

  • There are consequences for not following the wisdom of the Lord. It gets us into trouble and while it’s easy to blame God for not saving us from the destruction, it’s harder to accept that it was by our own actions we received the consequences.