Fear, to some degree, is something we all struggle with. Media, culture, and advertising thrive on this. If we fear, we feel out of control and tend to look to gain control through all kinds of options. But today’s Proverb reminds us that when we have faith, we have no need to fear. We can know that God has ultimate control and will take care of us and protect us fully.
- 1-9 – This portion of the prophecy declares that Edom will be humbled and brought low because of their pride.
- 10-18 – The violence Edom has inflicted on Judah is remembered and God promises to return Judah to prominence and warns Edom not to get too cocky despite their temporary victory.
- 5 – The number seven is used as a symbol of completion. The seven torches represent that the fullness of God was present.
- 8-11 – This section shows that eternity will be filled with God’s praises.
- 11-18 – This is God’s promise to keep David’s line in the throne forever. This is fulfilled with Jesus.
- 25 – Fear has no hold on us when we are grounded in our faith in Christ.
When is the last time you felt completely vulnerable and like you had no control over a situation? In today’s psalm, the psalmist likens the vulnerability of needing to mercy to that of a servant’s position to his master. Vulnerability is difficult for us, but it’s often good for us. We need, at times, to recognize there is nothing we can do to earn or acquire God’s mercy.
- 36-45 – The king of the north will not honor God, but will offer his affections wherever he finds favor. Ultimately, he will die defeated and alone.
- 1-12 – The man in linen explains what will happen in the end times, but Daniel doesn’t understand. The man in linen tells him that it’s ok, he’s not supposed to.
1 John 4:1-21:
- 1-6 – This section encourages us to use discernment in who we trust and listen to. It also explains the difference and reminds us that the Spirit of God is greater than the spirits of the world.
- 7-12 – The love we have for one another is love from God. God loved us first which then shows us how to love others.
- 18 – This is how we can decipher what is true love – it does not operate on fear.
- 1-2 – This is an act of total submission. Just as a servant looks to its master, so the psalmist is looking to God for mercy despite his sins.
- 2 – The righteous treat people well, but the wicked are hard on the people.
There was a show on Nickelodeon called “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” in the 90s. I couldn’t watch it then and I feel quite certain I probably can’t watch it now. I hate scary things. But our psalm today reminds us how to conquer fear – seek the Lord. Elsewhere in Scripture it says, “perfect love drives out all fear” and frequently when messengers of the Lord show up they’re first words are “fear not”. So, what are you so afraid of?
- 22-31 – The Israelites conquer several nations and have large growth in their population. Both of these fulfill God’s promises to their ancestors.
- 32-33 – This third of a shekel was in addition to the taxes already put in place by former rulers. This was above and beyond.
1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13:
- 19-23 – Paul found ways to relate to all people so he could better present the gospel to them. This should not be misunderstood that he took on other people’s sins to relate to them.
- 24-27 – If athletes are willing to put their body through intense training to win a race, particularly when only one person wins the race, isn’t it worth it for Paul to discipline himself in order to share the gospel?
- 13 – This is the verse often misquoted and misunderstood as saying, “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle.” Read it again. That’s not what it says. This is regarding temptation and it simply says he will give you a way out of the temptation when you face it.
- 4 – Clear instructions on how to handle fear. Seek the Lord.
- 8-10 – We can see and experience God’s provision in so many ways.
- This sounds similar to the gospel story regarding Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31.
Have you ever wanted to pray for someone but not known how? It’s easy for that to happen. Often we know someone is struggling but don’t know how. Other times people just pop into our brains and we feel the urge to pray for them. If this happens to you, pray 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 over them. It’s a pretty great prayer for anyone.
2 Chronicles 35:1-36:23:
- 1-19 – There had been significant periods of time, while under bad kings, that the Israelites did not observe Passover. This may seem like tedious information, but it’s showing that the Israelites were doing their best to be faithful here.
- 20-22 – Josiah was faithful for most of his life, but in the end, he tried to oppose the will of God and died trying.
- 9 – Jehoiachin is different than Jehoiakim. It’s easy to read quickly and miss that subtle transition.
- 15 – These “messengers” were the prophets. In the gospels, particularly in parables, there are often people who are trying to bring messages who are ignored or rejected. These characters represent the prophets as well.
- 22-23 – King Cyrus, a king who is not an Israelite, is called to return the exiles to their land and rebuild the temple.
1 Corinthians 1:1-17:
- This is Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Note that letters to different churches tend to have different emphases. He is trying to teach the churches how to live and grow faithfully. Every church has its own hangups in that regard.
- 4-8 – This is a beautiful way to pray for someone you love and want to encourage.
- 10-17 – Paul encourages the Corinthians to stop focusing on divisive issues and to recognize that they are all called to and saved by Christ.
- 1 – Remember this when you have fear of any kind.
- 2-6 – David speaks with words of great confidence that God will protect him in any and every situation.
- God clearly meant the “honor your father and mother” law.
I hate negative consequences, don’t you? I like to try to skirt around them as much as possible even though I totally deserve them. The sailors in today’s Acts reading are like that. They sailed far later in the season than they should have and have now put themselves and others at risk. They’re trying to figure out any way to not face the music. I can relate.
1 Chronicles 9:1-10:14:
- 2 – After a long time in exile in Babylon, the Israelites were allowed to slowly return to their land.
- 17-27 – The position of gatekeeper was one of honor. It was passed down through generations. This position guarded the gates of the temple and the chief gatekeeper manned the gate the king would enter through.
- 39 – This is Saul, the first king of Israel. We know he was from the tribe of Benjamin so that’s the tribe we’re talking about now.
- 1-7 – This is the event that finally allows David to become king. We read about this previously in 1 Samuel.
- 30-32 – The sailors were desperate and wanted to save themselves thinking they would be better off without all the other ship passengers. Paul recognizes their attempt and explains that if they leave the rest of the passengers are doomed.
- 33-36 – Whether because they were too busy with managing the storm or because they wanted to conservatively ration in case they had to be on the boat a lot longer, the people hadn’t been given food for a while even though they had it.
- 38 – With a lighter load, the ship could sail closer to shore because it would float higher.
- David writes this Psalm seemingly overwhelmed and in awe of the majesty of God’s creation and the goodness he shows to us through it.
- This is encouragement to choose friends carefully. You can’t be best friends with everyone and it’s not wise to try.
My mom heard me call my sister a “butthead” once. She told me never to say it again so I literally never did until I retold the story when I was in my 20’s. It was still difficult to say. Just because we sin once doesn’t mean we should continue on with that sin. It’s not as if that has to be your “thing”. Today’s 1 Samuel reading reminds us of why this is an important concept to understand.
1 Samuel 12:1-13:22:
- 1-5 – Some Bible scholars say that Samuel is the most boring character in Scripture. Basically, he never turns from God or is involved in a scandal of any sort. He is just steady. Not even his constituents can find fault with him.
- 8-14 – The Lord was continuously faithful in protecting and providing for the Israelites, but people are fickle, and when things got scary, they lost trust. They convinced themselves that a human king could protect them from other nations best.
- 20-22 – A good reminder that just because we’ve been sinful doesn’t mean we should keep on sinning and assume God is no longer for us. God redeems and restores over and over.
- 2 – There were many places called Gibeah in the area, that’s why Gibeah has been mentioned multiple times recently. Each Gibeah is qualified, for instance, this is Gibeah of Benjamin.
- 8-14 – Saul was not supposed to offer burnt offerings. That was the job of the priest. Saul was afraid of the Philistines and afraid that his supporters and army were abandoning him so he took matters into his own hands. Because of his lack of faith, his family line would not continue to be king.
- 14 – The description, “A man after God’s own heart” is only used about one person throughout Scripture, the next king: David.
- 19-22 – This sounds like a pretty difficult way to fight a battle.
- 2 – The Feast of Booths, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of the Ingathering, is the last of the 7 festivals Jews were to observe. During it, Jews put together a small, quickly built hut to eat their meals in. It is a time of remembering when their ancestors lived in small, quickly built huts for 40 years in the desert. It was later used to celebrate the harvest.
- 10-13 – Jesus’ ministry caused a huge ruckus amongst the religious authorities. He was starting a movement that didn’t fit in their constraints and they felt threatened.
- 16-18 – A good way to check ourselves. Are we seeking glory for God or for ourselves – a good way to know whether or not you should continue what you’re doing.
- 26-28 – The people of Jerusalem who begin to question if Jesus really was the Christ or not raise the point that they know where Jesus came from, which means he can’t be the Christ. They think they know where he came from as in Mary’s womb and Nazareth his hometown. But truly, Jesus comes from God.
- 4 – This beautiful description of God’s great love and faithfulness inspired a Third Day song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEF7IoQ3eUk
- This psalm is a mixture of David’s praise to God and remembering the reasons he deserves praise and a plea for help in war. Often we ask for the help without offering the praise or thanksgiving.
- We often think perverse words or thoughts are all in fun or can be stopped at any time. Instead, these words and thoughts are the fruit of what we are putting into ourselves. From a good tree comes good fruit. From a bad tree comes bad fruit.
In today’s Deuteronomy reading, God knows the Israelites will be afraid to face their enemies who are bigger and stronger. He needs them to know that he is with them and he will make a way for them. He reminds them of the way he made away for them as they escaped the Egyptians. Our memories of what God has done for us previously can help is tremendously in trusting him with our next steps.
- It is difficult to read that entire people groups were destroyed by God’s command. We wonder where God’s mercy is, but verse 10 reminds us that his punishments were in return for people who hated and mocked him. In fact, God’s love and protection for the Israelites should be seen as an extension of immense mercy since they also often disobeyed God. We can also extend this thought that anything good that comes to us is an act of great love from God since we too disobey and mock him continually.
- 1-5 – Moses explains to the Israelites why they must wipe out the other people groups. God commands this in order to protect them from the temptations they will certainly fall to to worship other gods.
- 17-19 – God knew that the Israelites would be fearful to face those they were to fight, but they are reminded of God’s intervention with the Egyptians so they can have confidence that he will be faithful again.
- 3 – Though the Israelites were so worried about food throughout their time in the desert, God provided miraculously to help the Israelites rely on him, not food. Jesus also quotes this verse when tempted by the devil in the desert.
- 11-20 – A great reminder for us today that God is the giver of all of our gifts and we shouldn’t abandon him once we’re comfortable.
- 36-40 – Jewish custom, at the time, did not allow men to touch or speak to women they weren’t married or related to. It is also presumed that this woman was a prostitute, which added extra scandal to the mind of the Pharisee.
- 41-50 – This is not encouragement to sin more so we can be forgiven, but instead to be aware of our sinful nature and need for forgiveness so we can be grateful for the gift we’ve been given.
- 2-3 – Just like he focused on Mary’s perspective rather than Joseph’s in the birth narrative, Luke tends to include and highlight the participation of women in ministry.
- When David seems to be abandoned by everyone, he still has God to reach out to.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.