Drama, drama, drama. Look forward to some power struggles, persecution, and more as Paul and the rest of the gang head out to share Jesus with the world.
The Holy Spirit is kind of like the Cooper Manning, Petyon and Eli’s brother, of the trinity. Cooper is extremely successful and a huge asset to their family, but simply doesn’t get as much publicity. The Holy Spirit, our advocate and guide, is worth knowing. Take a look at this video.
Have you ever been scared to share your faith? You didn’t want to offend someone or thought they might not be open to it? In today’s Acts reading, Stephen gives us a great example of how evangelism should go. The Holy Spirit gives us an opportunity – we’re put in the right position or feel an urge to say something – and then we should just go for it. When we think about it as good news, which it is, it gets a whole lot easier.
1 Kings 9:1-10:29:
- 1-9 – God makes it clear what he requires of Solomon and his line and the consequences if they disobey.
- This section is intended to show the vast wealth and resources that Solomon had. Clearly this was a time of plenty for Israel. Solomon and his relationship with God were responsible for it.
- 14-17 – It seems odd that the Samaritans received Christ and chose to be baptized but weren’t able to have the Holy Spirit until the apostles came.
- 26-38 – Philip was led into a clear evangelism opportunity by listening to the Spirit. We often wonder if we are supposed to share our faith or not in certain situations, but if we trust the Spirit to guide us, it will become clear.
- 3-4 – Our sins make us unworthy of connection with God, but he does not count them against us because of his grace.
- Throughout Scripture there is a theme of birthright and status not guaranteeing that you receive that is due to you. God does not judge as we judge, he looks at the heart.
Can you imagine if 3,000 people came to faith from a sermon today? That would be incredible!! Peter’s explanation of Jesus as the Messiah was convincing enough to help tons of people put their faith in Christ. And just think, this is way before any type of mass communication or even microphones. The good news was that powerful then and it still is today!
2 Samuel 22:21-23:23:
- 21-7 – David’s song of praise to God continues from yesterday’s reading.
- 25-27 – David portrays God’s reactions as equivalent to the actions of the human. Good behavior receives favor. Poor behavior receives punishment.
- 1-7 – These were not David’s last words before death but the last of that song. We see that later he asks for a drink.
- 14-17 – Bethlehem was David’s hometown so he wanted something from home. His request caused people to break through the camp and apparently blood was shed. David was not pleased at the consequences of his request.
- 1-4 – At the end of the gospels, Jesus tells the disciples he is going away but will send a Helper who is even better than him. The entrance of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of that promise.
- 17-21 – Peter interprets the prophecy from Joel correctly. Now that the Holy Spirit is present, the disciples began to see even more miracles and powerful conversions.
- 22-36 – Peter speaks directly to Israelites who did not believe in Jesus but who revered David. David was a national hero and all the connections the Messiah was supposed to have to David were fulfilled in Jesus.
- 37-41 – About 3,000 of the Israelites confessed Christ as Savior and were baptized. Whether they were convinced by the resurrection, guidance of the Holy Spirit, or proven connection to David doesn’t matter. They’re conversions are a testament to the lengths to which God will go to be in connection with humanity.
- 42-47 – These new believers became the first Christian church. These verses are often used as a basis for how we should run churches today.
- This psalm is written for Jews making their pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem for one of the three annual festivals (Passover, The Feast of Weeks, The Feast of Booths) that required being at the temple.
- 20 – Yay! That’s us!!
Think of this as the greatest sequel ever. It is the story of Jesus continued, but through the Holy Spirit. And unlike most sequels, the new character they introduce is just incredible. Though all hope was lost at the crucifixion, Acts proves that Jesus was nowhere near finished.
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.
In my old age I’ve learned a few things. One is that it is far better to humble yourself than to have someone else do it for you. Our Proverb reminds us of that today. It says “humility comes before honor”. Maybe today, instead of tooting your own horn, take a humble position on your skills, abilities, or possessions. If someone honors you anyway, great! I know I’d rather be lifted up than give someone a reason to smack me down.
2 Samuel 7:1-8:18:
- 1-17 – David felt guilty that his house was nicer than God’s. He intended to build a temple, but God doesn’t want him to. God also establishes a covenant with David and his son who will be king after him. God promises to keep David’s line in the throne forever.
- 18-29 – David humbly accepts God’s blessing of his house.
- 15-17 – Jesus is telling the disciples that the Lord will send the Holy Spirit to counsel and guide believers when Jesus is no longer on earth.
- 27-29 – It would have been very scary for Jesus to simply leave and the disciples to not understand where he went. He offers them peace and tells them what will soon happen so the completion of what Jesus says will help them believe in his identity even more.
- 37 – How many worthless things are our eyes drawn to?
- The psalmist clearly has great love for God’s word and law. He is committed to them and recognizes how effective they are in leading him to truth and blessings.
- The phrase “humility comes before honor” is reminiscent of Jesus explaining that at a dinner party you should take one of the lesser seats. Often the host will move you to a place of more honor, but if you assume and take a place of honor, often times you will be humbled to a lesser seat.
John focuses a lot on the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Want to know how they stay so connected? Find out here!
One of the major misconceptions in Christianity and modern culture is what love is. Today’s reading in John regarding the adulteress woman make it clear. We often think love is total, no-questions-asked acceptance and support. When that is not love at all. In the story Jesus offers the woman mercy, knowing she has sinned, but he doesn’t say, “and it’s cool that you sinned.” He says, “Go and sin no more.” He loves her where she is and then instructs her to pursue holiness, which is God’s best for her. That is love.
1 Samuel 15:1-16:23:
- 1-3 – Through Samuel, God makes his instructions to Saul very clear. He is to completely destroy the city of Amalek including livestock, etc.
- 7-9 – God’s specific instruction was to destroy everything of the Amalekites. Saul spares the king and the best of the livestock because they were valuable to him. It is clear that he did not do what God asked.
- 10-11 – This is only the second time we hear God “regret” something. The first is just before he has Noah build the ark when he says that he regrets creating humans because they’re so wicked.
- 22-23 – The idea of God wanting obedience more than offerings becomes a theme throughout Scripture. It is talked about in Hosea as well as by Jesus to the religious leaders. We cannot purposely choose disobedience and then get out of it with burnt offerings.
- 24 – Humans trusting anything and everything other than God is also a theme throughout Scripture. It’s the basis of the first sins of Adam and Eve and continues throughout Scripture.
- 1 – Note that Jesse is from Bethlehem, which becomes the birthplace of Jesus. This is not a coincidence.
- 6-7 – Samuel and even most of us today, expect our leaders to be tall, strong, and attractive. Saul fit the part as did Eliab and Eliab was the oldest son, which would make most sense as a leader. But God judges us differently. He doesn’t care about our appearance, but about the contents of our heart.
- 10-13 – This is a fairly quick story considering its significance. David must have felt rejected that the priest comes to your family and your father doesn’t even bother to have you meet him. Also, imagine the jealousy of the 7 older brothers who were not chosen as king. Note that David received the same Holy Spirit who guides believers today.
- 14-23 – Some may ask why God would torture Saul with an evil spirit, but God also provided the means by which he could be soothed from it and it also provided a way for David to get near the king.
- 53-11 – There is a portion in Mark and this portion in John that both say they were not included in the earliest manuscripts. This means that they were not included in the first written accounts of these gospels. They were either found later or possibly written later. It is important to note that those who formed and finalized the canon felt that this portion of Scripture was beneficial for salvation and knowledge of Christ.
- 2-11 – Yet again, the religious leaders try to catch Jesus disobeying Mosaic Law. Instead of condemning the woman based on Mosaic Law, he finds a faithful way to show grace. It is key that he does not condone her sin. He forgives her and then instructs her to leave that sin behind.
- 12 – One of Jesus’ “I am” statements that reveals something about who he is. Light shines in the darkness and reveals sins. Life is found when we are freed from sin.
- 13-20 – John puts a large emphasis on where Jesus was from and where he was going. He and the Father seem to be the only ones fully in the loop and the religious leaders are totally out of it.
- This Psalm was most likely written for David’s appointment as king of Israel and the priest’s installation. It was most likely used for subsequent kings’ initiations too.
Can you say that again please?!? Actually, in the Bible, you never have to ask. If something needs to be emphasized or if the speaker or writer wants to make sure you notice something, they repeat it. For instance, in today’s John reading, Jesus says, “truly, truly”. This means, “Listen up!” At other times, like in Luke 15, there are three parables in a row with a similar message. When you see things repeated, pay attention!
- 1-6 – Clearly the Israelites are running amuck. Stealing, making idols, having household gods.
- 12-13 – It seems odd that Micah, though he clearly wasn’t living for God, would be able to ordain and would see great value in a connection with God through a priest.
- 14-20 – What would initially be expected is that the Danites would discover the household gods and carved images and destroy them, but instead, they take them and take Micah’s priest as well.
- 5 – Anytime you see, “truly truly” it signifies that you should listen to that. This is placing emphasis on what is about to be said.
- 2-8 – Being born of water and the spirit references when John the Baptist said he baptized with water, but Christ would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit. When we receive Christ as our Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit as our guide. This is necessary for salvation and faithful living.
- 16-17 – Some of the most crucial words that our faith revolves around. Through belief in Christ, we receive salvation and eternal life because Christ came to save, not condemn.
- 18-20 – It is easy to love the darkness because it is easy and we can hide in it, but the light exposes us.
- One of the ways we can pray is through adoration. This is the process of telling God how great he is. This can be done through listing attributes, describing your connection with those attributes, and/or recounting God’s greatness through the great things he has done. This Psalm is a great example of the last option.
- These two verses work together to juxtapose how the poor are often treated versus how we are intended to treat them.