As we wrap up Isaiah, it is incredible to think back on the month or so it has taken us to get through this powerful book. Isaiah rejects and then accepts his call, preaches destruction and exile for the Israelites, preaches eventual restoration for the Israelites, and sprinkles little hints of what to look for in a Messiah throughout. And while it is, at times, a difficult book to trudge through, A) you did it! and B) it offers both immediate and eternal hope.
- 6-12 – God continues to paint the picture of Jerusalem’s coming salvation. He speaks of preparations for that day and makes promises that the Israelites will no longer be defeated.
- 1-6 – God speaks of how he took vengeance on his enemies.
- 7-19 – The speaker changes to someone who is remembering how merciful God has been and then asking for more of that mercy.
- 1-12 – They continue to ask to see God’s power in saving them and bringing them out of trouble.
- 1-16 – God juxtaposes the treatment of his servants with that of those who choose not to serve him. God’s servants will receive great blessing while the others will receive great pain.
- 19-24 – Timothy was a young man Paul had taken under his wing. Paul commissioned him to spread the gospel as well.
- 2-4 – Once again Paul explains that living by the Spirit is far more necessary than circumcision. He reminds his readers that he, as a Jew, is circumcised so he can say this out of truth and not jealousy.
- The entire psalm, but with a crescendo in verses 25-26, are attesting to the confidence the psalmist has in God as his hope, salvation, and protection.
- This portion makes a very tangible comparison of how wisdom benefits us.
Today we learn the Fruit of the Spirit! This is the great stuff we produce when we’re living by the Spirit. Here’s a very annoying song to help you remember what you’re intended to produce:
- 13-22 – God continues to reassure Judah that they don’t have to fear Assyria but that he will restore the righteous of their land.
- 1-14 – The prophecies continue to look to the future when all enemies of God’s people are taken care of.
- 1-22 – Assyria attacks Jerusalem. King Hezekiah has confidence that God will prevail and the Israelites will be saved from the hands of the Assyrians.
- 13-15 – Just because we are not under the law anymore does not mean our lives are meant to be a free for all. Our freedom in Christ should lead us to become more like Christ. One way we can do that is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
- 22-23 – The “fruit of the Spirit” are the things that our lives should produce when we are living through the Spirit. Paul states that neither Jews nor Gentiles would have laws against someone producing these wonderful things.
- Like in many of his psalms, David longs for God, who he relies on for protection and sustenance, to punish all his enemies and all those who do not follow God. He has such confidence in God to do so.
Today’s Isaiah reading talks about folks who play the part and go through the motions but don’t actually live faithfully or love God fully. This is still an issue in churches today. We show up and perform faithful looking acts, but have no intention of allowing ourselves to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.
- 16-18 – Here Isaiah refers to a cornerstone. Some believe that this is a Messianic prophecy like when Jesus is referred to as the cornerstone on which others will break themselves.
- 23-29 – Just as the farmer knows the proper ways to care for his crops, God knows the proper ways to care for his people.
- 9-12 – The Holy Spirit reveals more of God to those who believe.
- 13-16 – Many people claimed to love and follow God, they even participated in many of the rituals, but their hearts and actions were not faithful.
- 22-24 – God foretells a time when the Israelites will return to faithfulness.
- 23-29 – People, as we still do today, were constantly looking for what separated them or made them better or more worthy. Paul makes it clear that once you have been baptized into the faith, we are all equal in the sight of the Lord and heirs to God’s inheritance.
- 4-7 – Jesus’ being a Jew and being born under the law gave him legitimacy to the Jews.
- 1-7 – David repeats himself regarding his trust in who God is and how he offers great protection. It might be helpful sometimes to repeat to ourselves reasons why we trust in God.
- Solomon did not advocate laziness.
I have come to hate the word “deserve”. It wreaks of entitlement and, honestly, what do we actually deserve? In today’s Job reading, Job is trying to rebut Elihu. Job argues that just because we live righteously, we are not guaranteed blessings. We live righteously because that’s what we’re called to do. We don’t, then, deserve a reward for doing so.
- 1-37 – Elihu continues to assert, like Job’s friends, that God cannot do anything unjust. He also contrasts Job with someone who repents suggesting that Job has not and needs to. They continue to assume that Job has sinned to cause all this destruction.
- 1-16 – Elihu continues to argue with Job and correct him for saying that righteousness doesn’t earn a reward from God.
- 1-33 – Though Elihu, for the most part sings praise to God for his greatness, he also calls himself “perfect in knowledge”, which seems to equate himself with at least the knowledge of God. This seems counter to the majority of his thoughts.
2 Corinthians 4:1-12:
- 5 – This is something we must make sure we are doing. We are not trying to bring glory to ourselves or promote ourselves as saviors, but to share Christ with the nations.
- 7 – We are the jars of clay. Jars of clay are fragile and hold the thing that is important. We have the Holy Spirit inside us.
- 8-12 – Though Paul and his companions had received a lot of persecution and difficulty, they were still able to share the gospel. Nothing had been able to destroy them.
- 1-3 – These three verses explain the importance of sharing our faith with younger generations. The Sons of Korah believed in God’s power and provision because their fathers told them how he had displayed it.
- 11-12 – Kindness and graciousness will always gain you favor, while hateful words are eventually found out.
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.
Job is a tough book to read for a number of reasons, but there are a number of takeaways. One major one is in today’s reading. Job reminds us that the Lord gives and thus it is God’s right to take those things away as well. He confirms, though that either way, whether in blessing or wanting, the name of the Lord should be blessed. Here’s a musical version of the same concept:
- 1 – “Blameless and upright” is a description very few people in the Bible receive. Noah, before the flood, was described in a similar way.
- 5 – Job even hedged his bets by sacrificing for his children just in case they were sinful without his knowledge.
- 6-12 – Satan challenged God saying that Job was only faithful because God had, until then, protected him and all his things. God disagrees and allows him to torment Job in order to prove his faithfulness.
- 20-22 – After all the turmoil and trauma Job received back to back to back, he grieved but did not curse God like Satan said he would.
- 3-6 – This time God allows Satan to strike Job with any kind of personal illness as long as he doesn’t kill him.
- 9 – This must be what Proverbs warns against when it talks about basically anything being better than living with a quarrelsome wife.
- 10 – It is obviously much easier to receive the good God gives us, but Job reminds us that we can’t expect the good without being willing to receive bad too.
- 3-26 – Job basically wishes he was never born.
1 Corinthians 14:1-17:
- 5 – Speaking in tongues, unless it is interpreted for the body, is intended to be between that person and God.
- 16-17 – Speaking in ways others can understand is important in the larger body. Paul gives the example that it then allows someone to say “amen” in agreement with what you’ve said. They can only do that if they understood what was said.
- 14-17 – These verses basically explain that wicked people and the Lord are at war over the poor and needy. The wicked try to take them down while the Lord makes sure to lift them up.
- 23-24 – Even though we stumble and struggle at times, if we are faithful, the Lord keeps us from total destruction.
- 26 – What a powerful verse! When we are lazy and sloth-y, we tend to constantly want and need. The righteous, on the other hand, are willing to give and give abundantly.
Yesterday we talked about how God can use any gift he’s given us, using Esther’s beauty as an example. Today, in 1 Corinthians, we look at gifts of the Spirit. These are gifts specifically designed to build up the body of Christ. If you haven’t done a Spiritual Gifts Inventory to figure out your specific gifts, here’s one. Take a few minutes to explore the gifts God has given you.
- 1-3 – Sackcloth and ashes were signs of mourning.
- 4-9 – Esther was distressed by Mordecai’s actions and the fact that he was mourning. She still did not know about the decree to destroy the Jews. Mordecai sent the news through Hathach, the eunuch.
- 11-17 – In order to talk to the king about the decree, Esther had to break the law and risk her life. The king would be well within his rights to have her killed when she approached him.
- 14 – A powerful statement from Mordecai that Esther may have been put in her unique position for this specific purpose.
- 10-11 – Haman must have been fuming as he had to honor the man that he was hoping to have killed.
1 Corinthians 12:1-26:
- 3 – This is to say that the Spirit of God cannot speak against Jesus so if we truly have the Spirit within us, we cannot speak against Jesus.
- 4-11 – We are all given different gifts from the Spirit and these gifts are intended for the building up of the body of Christ.
- 12-20 – All our gifts are meant to work together for the good of the group. We shouldn’t feel bad or be jealous that we don’t have certain gifts. Instead we should use our gift to our best ability in order to benefit the whole.
- 5-9 – These verses explain what all the Lord offers to us. There are vast benefits to loving and serving God. The verses before this, however, profile those who do not honor and love God.
Obedience is a tricky thing. We often want to obey partially, but that is actually not obedience. The good news is, as our proverb tells us today, we have the Holy Spirit to act a little like bumpers on a bowling lane when our obedience starts to slip. Thank goodness for all the checks and balances God has put in place for us.
- 6-17 – King Cyrus had approved the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, but King Artaxerxes, his predecessor had halted the progress. Now the leaders trying to get it built again were appealing to Darius to allow them to search for the gold and silver vessels used in worship in the original temple.
- 6-12 – King Darius makes a decree putting all the building plans back in progress.
- 16-22 – It would have been a huge celebration for the Israelites to return to their land, dedicate the temple, and celebrate Passover again. It is hard for us to relate to how significant that would have been for them.
1 Corinthians 3:5-23:
- 5-9 – This is great encouragement for people investing in the faith growth of the next generation or anyone really. We are called to be faithful in giving them the information they need. God is responsible for growing it and making it flourish.
- 16-17 – It matters how we treat the dwelling place of the Lord. This is both true of our physical bodies as well as our holistic health.
- We are quick to minimize the power and majesty of God. We look to other things in our lives, or even ourselves, to do the work of God. This psalm reminds us of the power of God and how he should be praised for it.
- 27 – It is the Spirit’s job to test our hearts and help convict us in the places where we are not obeying God.
Do you ever thank God for something before it happens? This takes a great deal of trust to do it genuinely. It means that you truly believe that God will fulfill your need. This is how today’s psalm is written. A requested is made and, presumably, before the prayer is answered, David thanks God for answering it.
- 2 – Zerubbabel and Shealtiel were both in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew.
- 8 – The Levite men were in charge of overseeing the construction of the temple, but considering how long they had been in captivity, some of them would have never seen the original temple.
- 11 – We see this sentence used in praise over and over, particularly in the Psalms.
- 1-3 – Zerubbabel and Jeshua knew that they were intended to be set apart. We don’t know what the adversaries intended to do, but they aren’t allowed to be a part of the temple build.
- 7-16 – Artaxerxes succeeded Cyrus as king of Persia. Some of his advisors discouraged him from allowing the Israelites to leave exile and return to and rebuild Jerusalem.
- 17-24 – Artaxerxes halts the rebuild of the temple. This must have been a devastating blow to the Israelites who were trying to reestablish their identity.
1 Corinthians 2:6-3:4:
- 11-13 – The Spirit is our advisor on the things of God. The Spirit gives us insight into how God is leading us and what he would have us do.
- 1-4 – Paul is calling out the Corinthians for not having matured spiritually. There are many things he had not taught them because they were not ready for it.
- This Psalm is split into two parts. Verses 1-5 are asking God for help, while 6-9 are thanking God for the help. It is most likely that David is thanking God in advance and simply believing that God will take care of the problem.
- 24 – This is a very intriguing question. It is basically that God guides our paths and leads us to where we need to go. If he is capable of that, who are we to expect to understand why or how he does it?