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.
In today’s Acts reading, Paul has been imprisoned, which obviously sounds terrible. How would you handle it? I know I’d probably whine and get down and defeated. Paul acts differently. He takes the time to explain why he does what he does. He had been a faithful Jew who strictly obeyed the law, but Christ’s love and grace were powerful enough to convert him and then to cause him to share that good news with others. What opportunities do you have to share your faith story?
2 Kings 22:3-23:30:
3-7 – The temple, due to sinful leadership and neglect, had fallen into disrepair so Josiah used his position as king to restore it.
14-17 – The prophetess Huldah lets Judah know it too will be destroyed because of its sin.
18-20 – Because King Josiah had been faithful and repentant, he would die before the destruction occurred.
1-24 – Josiah took the law he found in the temple very seriously and methodically destroyed any remnants of anything dedicated to any other God.
4-16 – Paul addresses his captors by sharing his conversion experience and why he switched from devout Jew who persecuted Christians to tireless Christian from a Jewish background.
This Psalm contrasts a person who’s delight is in the law of the Lord versus someone who is wicked.
11 – Solomon makes it clear that wealth is a false sense of security.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s 1 Kings reading includes a very cool story where we see God show up in power just when it seemed like the bad guys were going to win out. This story also shows us that God doesn’t have to conform to our ideas and constructs. In our understanding, wet wood doesn’t burn. In our understanding, dead people don’t come to life. God disagrees.
1 Kings 18:1-46:
7-16 – Though Obadiah was a high-ranking official in Ahab’s kingdom, he followed the Lord. Obadiah, here, fears that Elijah will not present himself to Ahab and Obadiah will look like a liar and be killed.
22-24 – Though we are not normally supposed to put God to the test, Elijah, a prophet of God, was clearly intended to do this.
27 – Elijah taunts the prophets of Baal as they desperately try to get Baal to show up.
39 – God’s power, which proves to be far greater than Baal’s, turns people’s hearts back to him.
2 – Yes, the “circumcision party” sounds like a terrible party, but this isn’t actually referring to a party with balloons and confetti. This is simply referring to a group of people who held to Jewish law and custom, but were believers in Christ.
4-18 – It’s beautiful that these Jewish believers find great joy in God extending his grace and salvation to gentiles as well.
26 – The term “Christian” means “little Christs”.
This is a psalm recounting a variety of reasons why God is praiseworthy and other gods are not. You could replace verse 8-12 with all the wonderful things God has done for you that give you reason to praise him.
12 – Well, I think that sums up how undesirable and destructive folly is.
We often envision characters in the Bible as having been perfect. Why would they put their stories in the Bible if they weren’t? Well…the story going on in 2 Samuel will set you straight real fast. Also, if you want to feel better about your family dynamics, dive right in.
2 Samuel 14:1-15:22:
1-11 – Very similarly to Nathan’s story about the poor man who had one lamb, the woman from Tekoa tells a story that parallel’s David’s situation with his sons. Amnon is dead and Absalom is banished but would be killed if he returned.
27 – Absalom named his daughter after his sister.
28-33 – Absalom slowly works his way into good standing with his father David.
1-12 – Absalom is smart and sneaky and begins to build a following so he can overtake the throne.
13-22 – David recognizes the danger of Absalom having a large following. Though he doesn’t give up the throne, he does retreat so he can’t be found.
2 – Many wonder how Judas knew where to find Jesus. Though we view Judas as a horrible person because he betrays Jesus, as a disciple, he was actually a close friend of Jesus’ and knew his patterns and regular places.
10-11 – Another example of Peter’s zealous action. Once again he wants to stop Jesus from his fate. Though certainly done with good intentions, Jesus reminds him that he has a greater purpose that Peter will not be able to stop.
14 – Look back on May 20th, John 11:49-50. It’s still uncertain if Caiaphas believed in Jesus as the Messiah or not, but he clearly had insight into what was to come.
15-17 – This is the only mention of another disciple going with Peter to the trial. It is interesting that his name is not mentioned. Some people believe that this disciple as well as the “beloved disciple” is John, the writer of the gospel.
97-104 – Though the psalmist sounds like a bit of a bragger here, note that he’s actually attributing all his success and righteousness to God’s law.
105 – A beautiful image of God’s word making our path through life easier and more clear. And it is responsible for a rockin Amy Grant song.
9 – A great image of the relationship we’re allowed to share with God in creating our future.
Amnon commits an egregious sin against his half-sister and though David is hurt and angered by Amnon’s actions, he doesn’t punish him. The most likely cause? Because David had sexual sin in his past as well and felt as if he couldn’t judge Amnon. Do you see how our sins affect us far beyond the initial act? And they don’t just affect us, but many around us as well. Though are sins are forgiven, consequences are real.
2 Samuel 13:1-39:
2 – Amnon and Tamar were half brother and sister. They shared David as their father.
3-14 – Jonadab’s plan is successful and Amnon rapes Tamar. In verse 13, Tamar even pleads with Amnon to ask David if they can marry one another so this won’t be a violation. Amnon still overpowers her.
15 – Not only does he violate her, but then he kicks her out of bed and hates her fiercely. Amnon’s sexual sin begins to cause a downward spiral of destruction.
20 – Once a woman was no longer a virgin, whether by choice or not, she was cast aside. Absalom’s kindness towards Tamar was far better treatment than most women received.
21 – David is angry but does nothing to Amnon. He may have felt unworthy to judge or enact justice upon Amnon because he had committed his own sexual sin.
26-33 – Absalom takes matters into his own hands and kills Amnon. Though Amnon’s sin was egregious, Absalom’s actions are also sinful.
6-20 – Jesus’ final prayer for his followers.
20-26 – Now Jesus prays for all those who will come to believe as the disciples continue to share the gospel after Jesus’ death. Isn’t it cool to know that Jesus prayed for us?
81-88 – The first section is crying out to God for help because the psalmist is being persecuted by those who don’t follow God’s commands.
89-96 – The psalmist has a deep reliance on God’s word and laws. The psalmist also seems to remind God of his own faithfulness while asking God to return the favor.
6 – We often wonder how we can quit a certain sin or be more faithful. This proverb gives good insight – fear the Lord and you can turn away from evil.
Today’s psalm reminds us of a pretty crucial concept and one that is questioned a lot. We believe that God is a good God and thus does good things. The two make sense together. You can’t really believe one without the other. Often, the fact that bad things happen is used as an argument that God is not good. But what if there’s more to the story than what we can understand? What if God is working those bad things for good, like he says he will? The psalmist raises a good point that we could all stand to think about.
2 Samuel 12:1-31:
1-6 – It’s hard not to love the little lamb just from reading Nathan’s story. With good reason, David is enraged at the injustice of the rich man taking the poor man’s beloved lamb and David demands revenge.
7-15 – David’s sin against Uriah and God was egregious. Nathan helps him see this through his story of the lamb. Nathan explains David’s punishments for his sin.
15-23 – David is faithful through his son’s short life calling on the Lord for grace. Though God is gracious in not killing David, his son still dies.
24 – Note that David’s sin did not cause God to take the throne away from him or his family. Solomon will become the 3rd king of Israel.
5 – One major theme throughout John is where Jesus came from and where he’s going. He continually alludes to going somewhere and no one seems to understand what that is.
7 – The Helper that is to come is the Holy Spirit.
16-22 – Jesus will go away when he’s crucified but will only be gone for a short while until he’s raised from the dead.
29-32 – Though the writing had been on the wall for a while, the disciples finally understand where Jesus is going and where he came from. They finally recognize who he truly is.
33 – A beautiful reminder that even though there is trouble in the world, and the faithful will face persecution, we have hope in our Savior.
You can feel the tension in the psalmist’s writing. He is both angered by the way his enemies have treated him, but also fully committed to God’s law. We often feel this tension between doing what our sinful nature would lead us towards and remaining faithful to God.
68 – A great reminder that God both is good and does good. If we believe one we must believe the other.
70 – I wonder if we ever approach God’s law with “delight”.
4 – God does not create us wicked, but we sin and fall short. Thus the need for a day of judgment.