Today’s portion of Revelation may have been written specifically for 8 year old boys. There’s a battle scene, Jesus on a horse, a beast, and a dragon. So, let your inner 8 year old boy out for this one.
- 1-5 – This oracle explains that Judah and Jerusalem will both be a challenge for anyone who possesses them and tries
- 10 – Most people would consider this a prophecy fulfilled by Jesus.
- 1-6 – This alludes to Christ’s death when people are freely forgiven of their sins.
- 7 – The church is believed to be the bride of Christ.
- 10-21 – Jesus is portrayed as a warrior on a horse. This begins the battle between Christ and the evil forces led by the beast, dragon, and false prophets. We see steady progress of Christ towards victory.
- 1-6 – The psalmist calls for us to offer praise to God and then gives reasons why we should.
- 4-7 – Here, leaders are instructed not to get drunk because it can only harm their reign. Instead the proper place for mind-altering drinks is listed.
Forgiveness is real and available to us. In today’s Revelation reading we see those who have previously sinned now welcomed in to praise God. They’re welcomed because they’ve repented and been forgiven. Our sins don’t have to define us or define our outcome. Our job is to repent. God is faithful to forgive.
- 1-5 – This establishes that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem and will bring peace.
- 6-8 – Here God makes it clear what he’s asking of his people. He’s asking them to seek justice and offer love and kindness. He is not interested in empty sacrifices.
- 9-16 – Here God explains the punishment that is to come for those who have not obeyed him.
- 1-8 – The angels assure that the faithful people of the earth are protected before the destruction begins.
- 13-17 – Here a series of people who have sinned, repented, and been forgiven are welcomed in to praise God.
- 1-12 – These verses recount a number of examples of God’s power, greatness, and faithfulness. Like in most of these accounts, the parting of the Red Sea is mentioned.
- 15-18 – Once again, the worship of idols is proven to be worthless.
- 5-6 – God’s words are good, true, and helpful. We tend to want to change them up to better suit us, but this is wrong.
In today’s Amos reading, we find a sentiment repeated numerous times in Scripture and it’s one we could still stand to hear today. Our rituals and meaningless checkmarks do not please God. God doesn’t care how the package is wrapped, he cares what’s in the package. In other words, he wants our hearts to be devoted to him. That is how faithfulness is determined, not by how many faithfulness boxes we check.
- 4-13 – The prophet lists all the ways God attempted to get the Israelites’ attention and draw them back to him that failed. He follows that with an ominous statement of “prepare to meet your God” and it doesn’t sound like he means in a good way.
- 21-27 – This sentiment is repeated several times in Scripture. God doesn’t care about our rituals and us fulfilling our obligations if our heart is not following him. He wants the rituals and offering to be given out of love and devotion for him.
- 20-23 – Some of the church of Thyatira had begun to engage in sins such as adultery and eating foods offered to idols.
- 24-29 – The vision makes for an allotment for people in the church who had not yet fallen into deep sin. There seems to be great hope for these folks.
- 1-6 – It is clear that God will not condemn whole people groups when there are still faithful people in the midst. Instead he is separating the faithful from the unfaithful while still giving the unfaithful opportunities to repent.
- 1-4 – This is another one of the psalms associated with pilgrimages to Jerusalem. It seems important that those Israelites knew that they could be forgiven if they sought God’s forgiveness.
True repentance requires sincerity and taking responsibility. It is undoubtedly difficult, but absolutely necessary to achieve full restoration. In today’s reading Daniel sets a great example of repentance for not only himself, but also the entire nation of Israel. Do you need to practice repentance for anything?
- 3-15 – Here Daniel repents for all of Israel. His repentance is sincere and takes responsibility understanding that it is the sins of the Israelites that caused their exile.
- 16-19 – Daniel pleas with God for forgiveness and restoration. He longs for the day when God’s sanctuary will be restored.
1 John 2:18-3:6:
- 18-23 – The antichrists seem to be people denying that Christ was the Messiah. They had, at one time, been connected with the believers, so they looked the part, but were not true believers.
- 1-3 – It’s pretty incredible to think of ourselves as children of God. We have been adopted into his family because he loves us and wants us.
- 1-7 – These are poetic words describing the way God cares for and protects us. It’s good for us to remember where our help comes from because we often look everywhere else but to God for help.
- 27 – We are blessed to be a blessing. When we fail to use those blessings to help others, we often cease to receive those blessings.
In today’s reading, Ezekiel continues to describe his vision of the second temple. Though the details may seem tedious and like you’ve heard it all before, note that he talks about the separation between the holy and common in the temple. Isn’t it incredible that, when Jesus was crucified, the temple curtain was torn and anything that separated us from God was removed!?! Praise God for making a way to connect with us!
- 13-20 – The separation between the holy space and the common space was torn when Jesus died for our sins.
- 43:6-9 – The temple cannot hold the fullness of God, but simply his footstool.
- 1-6 – Those who are rich and cruel on earth have already experienced their blessings.
- 12 – We shouldn’t need anything or anyone else’s trustworthiness to assure our own. Instead, we should simply be trustworthy so people will trust us.
- 16-18 – Righteous prayers can seek forgiveness and healing and receive them. Prayers are powerful. This passage gives evidence of that
- 1-8 – The psalmist seems so eager to follow God’s commands and understands that blessings come from obedience.
- 6 – Though this sentiment is unpopular in our society, wealth is far less important than integrity.
Not everything we deal with or face is directly mentioned in the Bible. Gun violence is not mentioned…because there were no guns at the time. Today’s Ezekiel reading gives us a solid, though not exhaustive list of sins. Though we can’t get yes and no answers on every one of our questions on sin through this list, it does give us a good set of guidelines to start from.
- 5-9 – There are many more laws listed in other parts of the Old Testament, but this list is meant to be general guidelines. If you’ve done these things, God will look with favor upon you.
- 10-13 – Though not an exhaustive list of sins, definitely avoid these things.
- 14-20 – This is good news! There had been instances of people being punished for their parents’ sins.
- 26-29 – This reminds us that God is just and forgiving. Israel was the wicked one with every opportunity to turn away from sin. God would have forgiven them.
- This section explains the significance and practices associated with the Israelites’ temple. Jesus referred to himself as the temple when talking about being resurrected in three days. The past few days of Hebrews reading has explained how Jesus is a new edition of God’s plan to be connected with his people. This is a continuation of that.
- 32-43 – These are a continuation of the examples of Israel’s unfaithfulness.
- 44-48 – But there’s always hope in the end! God still offers forgiveness and opportunities for restoration.
- To have a friend you have to be a friend. And place a lot of value on those who are close and actually helpful rather than those who should be on paper, but actually aren’t.
Today’s psalm reading gives us a helpful insight into the culture of the ancient Israelites. It was widely believed among many cultures of that time that if bad things happened to you, you were not cared for by your god or that your god did not have the power to bless you. The psalmist asks for God to take away their punishment so other nations would stop taunting them and recognize the power of God. We now know (whether we like it or not) that our consequences for our sins do not reflect weakness in God.
- 1-4 – Jeremiah, like many other faithful people, complains to God that, at times, unfaithful people prosper.
- 5-13 – God’s response to Jeremiah is not ideal. He lets him know that things will get worse and that Jeremiah will be attacked by some of those closest to him.
- 1-11 – God gives Jeremiah a very tangible sign of his plans for Judah who once clung to him but now has fallen into pride, which would ultimately lead to destruction.
- 15-27 – God threatens to send Judah into exile unless they turn back to God. Particularly in verse 23, he does not seem hopeful for a good outcome.
- 1-10 – This is talking about an actual drought on the land. People felt forsaken when they were not provided for through rain and plentiful crops.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:9:
- 1-10 – Paul states how grateful he is for the good things he has heard about the faith of the Thessalonians. Though they received the gospel amidst persecution, Paul had already heard evidence of them spreading the gospel to others.
- 1-9 – Paul confirms that his intentions in sharing the gospel with the Thessalonians were pure. He justifies this with examples.
- This psalm confesses the sins of the people and asks for God’s forgiveness and that he would end the consequences. Other nations are taunting them as if their consequences mean that God is not caring for them.
- It is easy for us to become lazy and to fall into destruction. It usually starts small and builds without us noticing.
You know when you have an older sibling and they get in trouble a lot? That’s supposed to deter you from falling into their same traps. This should have been the case for Judah as they watched Israel continually sin against God and eventually get defeated by Assyria. This should have changed Judah’s ways…but it didn’t. They fell into the same trap. Jeremiah reminds them they had every opportunity to turn it around.
- 1-10 – The wife’s “whoredom” is describing Israel’s tendencies to worship other gods. Judah saw Israel’s unfaithfulness and instead of learning from it, emulated it.
- 11-18 – God speaks of how he will forgive Israel and allow them to return to him.
- 19-25 – God calls Israel to repent.
- 1-8 – Judah is called to repentance but there is question if the Lord will actually forgive them.
- 3-4 – Paul often tells the churches that he thanks God for their faithfulness. It seems to be a true boost for him to have others also pursuing righteousness and sharing the gospel.
- 11-14 – Paul encourages the Colossians to draw on the strength and knowledge that God has removed them from darkness and given them the light of Christ. This allows them to spread the good news and care for others.
- The psalmist speaks of God’s great power and encourages people to trust in that.
- Kings were chosen and anointed by God. If you weren’t on the side of the king, you weren’t on God’s side and would most certainly face destruction. Just think back on how David handled people who mistreated Saul even after Saul was unfaithful and rejected by God.
Though today’s Proverb isn’t to the point of McCarthyism, it does try to establish that the company we keep does influence who we are. If greed is a great temptation for us, we should not associate with those who get rich unscrupulously. If we struggle with lust, we shouldn’t hangout with people who frequent strip clubs. It makes good sense when you think about it.
Song of Solomon 5:1-8:14:
- 2-8 – Her lover comes to visit her but her teasing jokes accidentally send him away and she is unable to find him.
- 1-9 – His loving descriptions of her get a little racy.
- 6-7 – The woman declares that she and the man are inseparable. She also explains that the force of love cannot be resisted.
2 Corinthians 9:1-15:
- 6-8 – Sowing sparingly or bountifully doesn’t have to do with amount. Rather, it is about our willingness to give of what we have and trust God with what we’ve been given. We should not do so begrudgingly but cheerfully.
- 10-12 – Paul makes it clear that everything we have is from God and that God gives to us so that we can bless others.
- 1-6 – David is confronted with his sin and is in anguish.
- 7-12 – David asks God to forgive and cleanse him from his sins.
- 13-17 – David explains how he will act in response to God’s forgiveness.
- We have to be careful with the company we keep. They can tend to influence us into their own sin if we have any weakness in that particular area.
How do you know if you’re saved? You must become a new creation. In other words, you can’t live the same way and be the same as you were before and be saved. Salvation transforms us into the new creation God originally intended. Just think of it as baking eggs into a cake. You can’t get those eggs back, but they’ve now become something so much better!
- 1-14 – God seems angry that Job would not respond to him. Job had had so many questions for God in his previous speeches but is unwilling to speak in God’s presence.
- 40:15-41-34 – God describes both the Behemoth and the Leviathan. The original words are related to something like a hippopotamus and a crocodile, but also could have been mythical type creatures. They are both very strong and powerful and cannot be contained. The point is how much bigger and stronger they were than Job but that God was still the master of them.
- 1-6 – Job finally speaks and it is with utter humility.
- 7-9 – Ultimately Job is justified from his friends’ accusations and is able to pray for their forgiveness.
- 10-17 – Though Job went through a lot, God blesses him for his faithfulness even in the midst of terrible difficulty.
2 Corinthians 5:11-21:
- 11-13 – Paul had been accused of boasting in himself and even of not being in his right mind. He says that if any of these accusations are at all true, it is solely for the sake of winning these people for Christ.
- 17 – We cannot be saved and remain the same as we were before. That old self is no longer, but we are made into new creations in Christ.
- 18-19 – We can have complete reconciliation to God through Christ. Our sins are no longer counted against us.
- Some translations say this song was intended for a royal wedding.