Isaiah reminds us that our strength comes in repentance. Though it’s difficult and sometimes feels weak to admit wrong, do it anyway. Plus, Chicago encourages you to as well.
15-17 – Judah’s strength, and ours for that matter, is in repentance and humility before the Lord. Our strength is through him.
19-22 – Though the Israelites had faced a difficult time of oppression, God promises them that they will be restored to him. Vs. 21 is a powerful explanation of how God leads us through the Holy Spirit.
1-9 – The Kingdom of Judah feared the Assyrians, but God reminds them that their fear is misguided. They can trust in the protection of God no matter how scary their opponents are. They have no need to fear.
15-20 – Though so much of Isaiah speaks of punishment and difficulties the Israelites and other nations have brought upon themselves, there are glimmers of hope, like this passage, that remind the Israelites that there will be restoration one day.
1-12 – Once again, Assyria is in trouble.
1 – Christ died for us in order to set us free from the slavery of sin. Yet some of the Israelites were trying to put themselves back under the yolk of the law.
5-6 – We are no longer under any covenant other than that of Christ’s death and resurrection. We do not need to conform to those laws or practices, but simply need to rely on the grace of Christ.
7-12 – Like at the beginning of the letter, Paul is shocked that the Galatians have so quickly forgotten or turned away from what he taught them.
12 – This is obviously a little harsh, but also a play on the fact that those he opposes are teaching circumcision.
1-8 – David’s desire for God is unmatched by other followers. He equates his need for God with his need for sustenance.
Did God make a mistake by asking people to follow the law? If we’re not supposed to follow it now, why were people intended to follow it way back when? Today’s Galatians reading explains that the law was good, and though people were not able to follow it completely, it kept them within parameters until God sent Jesus, the ultimate fulfillment of the law.
1-12 – This prophecy tells of a time when God’s people will be brought back together. He will redeem them and squash the other nations who are harming and oppressing them.
7-15 – Here, the Israelites recognize the benefits of following the Lord. They begin to seek out the Lord and recognize things like God making their paths straight.
1-13 – God is clearly going to restore the Israelites, even those lost in battles and exile. He has plans to save them despite how bleak it looks during their punishments of exile.
10-14 – Paul is explaining that it is impossible for humans to obey the law fully and the law, by its nature, requires us to obey it fully. Thus, if we attempt to be justified through the law, we are doomed to fail.
21-22 – Paul explains that God didn’t give the law to the people in order to doom them. It was designed for them to follow but since they were unable, he gave them Jesus.
1-4 – A key theme of David’s psalms is that he trusts in the Lord for protection. He has clearly experienced this to be true and believes that God will continue to protect him.
17 – We often do envy sinners. Life seems easier for folks who actively engage in sin and it sometimes seems like they have all the fun. We are to look to something greater and longer term.
In today’s Job reading, Elihu encourages Job to repent, but Job feels that he has nothing to repent of. Though Job may have been right, the conversation brings up a good point: we all require repentance. Repentance is hard because it means turning away from sin and sin is often enticing. So, if I may briefly play the role of Elihu, is there something you need to repent of today?
1-40 – Job makes a case for his high moral standards. He seems to be willing to accept his plight as punishment if sin can be found in him.
2 – Elihu is a new character and an Israelite.
6 – Age, experience, and establishment were highly revered in their culture. They saw the elderly as wise. We tend to see them as having lost their edge.
1-33 – Elihu tries to relate to Job so that Job will listen to him and then explains that God is continually trying to steer people away from sin. Elihu also suggests that Job’s experience may have been God giving him an opportunity for repentance.
2 Corinthians 3:1-18:
1-3 – This is to say that the faithful Corinthians were proof of Paul and his companions’ efforts to share Christ with the nations.
4-6 – “The letter” refers to the law. It led to death because people could not follow it and remain righteous while the Spirit is given to us upon salvation and thus gives life.
16-18 – The Spirit brings freedom from sin and death.
3 – This is actually a pretty bold request, because if God sends his light and truth to lead you, then that’s what you have to follow. We aren’t always willing to make that commitment.
These verses give the consequences of the actions mentioned in yesterday’s proverb and then offers an alternate option.
Speaking in tongues is one of those things that people use as an example of why Christianity is weird. Many Christians are even totally turned off by it. Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit, so it, in and of itself, is a good thing. The discomfort is often because we are simply not familiar with speaking in tongues or that gift is being used incorrectly. Paul goes to great lengths in our 1 Corinthians reading to explain how and when this special gift should be used. Hopefully this will clear up a little confusion and assuage some fear.
4:1-5:27 – Job’s friend, Eliphaz, suggests that it is Job’s sin that has brought his troubles about. While sin does bring on some of our afflictions, ancient cultures believed that all infirmities and difficulties (i.e. blindness or paralysis) were brought on by the sin of you or your parents.
6:1-7:21 – Job’s response asks to be shown whatever sin he has. He ends by asking God why he won’t take the pain and torment off of him.
1 Corinthians 14:18-40:
18 – Paul says this to explain that he’s not jealous of the Corinthians for being able to speak in tongues, because he can too. Paul spends a good amount of time explaining the proper use of tongues. Clearly the Corinthians were using them incorrectly.
20 – A good contrast. Be young in your knowledge and experience of evil. Be wise and mature in your thought.
22- This simply means that tongues gain the attention of unbelievers while prophecy serves that purpose for believers.
26-33 – Paul is trying to teach the Corinthians how to appropriately use their gifts so they can build up the body instead of confuse it.
31 – When the law of God is on our heart, it is considerably easier to follow it.
Proverbs says similar things in 15:8 and 15:29. Sacrifices from the wicked are not given with the heart that they are intended.
Our psalm today reminds us that our hope should remain in the Lord because he is the only one worthy of putting our hope in. This VBS song from last year reaffirms it:
61-65 – While yesterday’s reading was a list of Israelites who returned from exile in Babylon, these verses explain people who returned but could not prove that they were pure Israelites.
1-3 – There would have been a huge sense of restoration to the Israelites who were returning to the land given to them by God long before. They wanted to restore their culture as well. Ezra the priest reads the book of Moses’ law to them for hours and they’re all entranced by it.
9-12 – The Israelites were mourning for the many years when they were in exile and probably also for the ways they had not obeyed God’s law previously. Nehemiah and Ezra instruct them to, instead, rejoice because they have returned and God has restored them.
14-18 – The Feast of Booths was a time when the Israelites were to return to Jerusalem and stay in small booth-like structures to remember the Exodus.
1 Corinthians 9:1-18:
Paul had been criticized that he was taking money from other believers. He is defending that apostles too have to eat. He did not, however, take a salary so he couldn’t be accused of only preaching for the money.
12-19 – We put our hope in all kinds of things that are not the Lord. He is the only one who is worth putting our trust in and yet we are so hesitant to do so.
Because we are prideful, we often hate instruction or punishment. We rarely recognize that it is for our ultimate good and we need it to grow.
Sometimes the details found in Scripture are tough to slog through. The details of how the temple looked and was built are definitely included in that. BUT! Take a minute to think about if you were one of the people building it. Do you think you’d think it was a total drag to have to pay attention to such detail? Or do you think it would be both humbling and uplifting to get to honor God by building his house so he could welcome you into his presence?
2 Chronicles 4:1-6:11:
1-22 – Though it seems like a lot of tedious details to have to read, isn’t it incredible how much time, effort, and detail the Israelites went to to make the temple incredible for the Lord. This takes great faithfulness to care this much.
2-10 – The Ark of the Covenant moving into the temple signified God arriving in the temple.
13 – This sounds like a pretty cool job.
3-11 – It’s important for us as individuals, but also as the body, to publicly recognize God’s answers to prayer.
1-6 – Paul makes a great point that we have new life in Christ and that new life is no longer subject to the law.
12 – The law was not bad. It made the people aware of God’s expectations and what actions were sinful.
13 – Sin is still the harmful thing in our lives, not the law.
3 – How freeing to know that God could test your heart and not find sin!
6-15 – It is so clear that David meant it when he would describe God as his “strong tower”, “refuge”, etc. David repeatedly calls on the Lord for protection from his enemies.
22 – It is better to be poor in the eyes of the world rather than to be full of dishonor.
Many people wonder if God’s law was a mistake since we don’t adhere to all of it anymore. Did God make a mistake? Are we still actually supposed to be following it? Are modern day Christians so much smarter than ancient Jews who followed the law? The answer to all these is a confident no. Romans reminds us that the law and prophets were extremely beneficial because they pointed us all to Christ. Christ is the fulfillment of the law and all the prophets’ words.
1 Chronicles 22:1-23:32:
1-5 – Though God did not want David to build the temple, he knew Solomon was supposed to so he helped make preparations for it.
6-10 – God had different purposes for David and Solomon. David was King of Israel during a time of war and he established Israel as a major power. God granted Solomon peace during his reign so he could build the temple.
11-13 – The Ancient Israelites were always sure to speak specific blessings over their children, particularly before they died. We would be wise to take on this practice.
5 – It’s pretty cool that a specific job was just to offer praise to the Lord all the time. Seems like a pretty sweet gig.
26-32 – The Levites’ job was to be the priests who fulfilled the rituals required by God.
19-20 – The law made it clear to those under it what was sinful. Those not under the law were not always aware of what they shouldn’t do leaving them innocent.
21-22 – Paul makes it clear that the Prophets and the law that the Jews held in such high esteem were by no means worthless. They all pointed to Jesus who can provide righteousness for all.
23-26 – We’re all sinners and require God’s mercy offered through the grace given to us through Jesus.
31 – As we read in the gospel, Jesus came to fulfill the law. He didn’t eliminate it, he fulfilled it for us.
5-8 – Because we have failed and have not taken care of the poor and needy, God needed to step in. We tend to celebrate wickedness, but God shows us what is good and right.
We often assume God is not answering our prayers when we don’t get what we ask for. Often, God has a different, better plan. Maybe you didn’t get the job you were hoping for. Maybe God has something better in store for you and someone else is a better fit for that job you wanted. In today’s 1 Chronicles reading we are reminded that it was not David’s job to build God’s temple even though he wanted to. God had that plan for someone else and a different plan for David.
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17:
1-15 – Like we learned in 2 Samuel, God did not intend for David to build the temple. That would be Solomon, his son’s, job. God made promises to David, however, about building him up and establishing his kingdom long term.
16-27 – David humbly accepts the blessings God offers he and his family.
1-5 – We often misinterpret “judgement”. We think we’re not allowed to determine if something is good or bad, when in fact, we must decide this to function. When we are told not to judge others it is telling us that we should not and cannot condemn others. We too are sinners and do not have the authority to condemn.
12 – Those without the law are non-Jews. “The law” refers to the laws Moses handed down. Whether we sin against the law or against God himself, we are all sinners and are deserving of death.
13-16 – This passage can be more easily understood if it’s read like: 13(14-15)16. In short, this tells us that those who don’t even know the Mosaic law were able to fulfill parts of it. Doing what the law says and/or intends, whether you know what it says or not, is far more important than simply knowing it.
17-24 – Some Jews held their heritage as a reason why they were closer to God or more holy than gentiles. Paul calls them out recognizing that all, no matter their heritage, are only saved by faith in Jesus.
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.
Verses 8 and 9 stand in contrast with one another giving options for success and failure.