Apparently apathy is more offensive to God than even abject defiance. This is what today’s Revelation reading explains. Those who ride the fence and choose not to choose whether or not they will follow God are an affront to God. Unfortunately, this defines the majority of our culture. Let’s not be part of that group.
- 7-9 – A plumb line is used in building to keep things straight. Israel, against the plumb line, is clearly proving to be off the mark.
- 14-16 – It is not clear if Amos is saying he’s still not a prophet or if he’s simply trying to distance himself from all the false prophets. “Prophet” is not always a good thing in Scripture.
- 1-14 – Amos condemns anyone who is unfair towards others in business and those who take advantage of the poor. He explains that there will be an unusual punishment for their behavior. It will be a famine, but not one of physical provisions, but of God’s voice.
- 1-6 – God’s power is established and the fact that it is impossible to hide from his will.
- 13-15 – Once again, the book ends with hope that God will restore and renew.
- 7-13 – The letter to the church at Philadelphia is a positive one because they have remained faithful.
- 14-22 – This may be the harshest indictment on any of the churches addressed. Laodicea’s church is lukewarm, which is viewed more negatively than even being cold towards God. They basically are choosing not to choose. This does not please God.
- We are to humble ourselves and allow God to lift us up when appropriate.
Because one time isn’t enough to hear this song, enjoy the musical version of a portion of today’s psalm:
- 1-3 – Remember, Nebuchadnezzar turned his allegiance to God after witnessing the miracle of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego not burning up in the fire.
- 4-27 – The king calls on Daniel to interpret his dream and it’s not favorable. Daniel must have been understandably scared to deliver the bad news to the king.
- 28-37 – Nebuchadnezzar still takes credit for the power of Babylon, which destroyed Israel and captured their people. God humbles him and reminds him who is truly in control.
2 Peter 1:1-21:
- 3-4 – God gives us insight into faithful living and what he wants from us for our own good and so we can follow him.
- 19-21 – This confirms that prophecies were given by God through the Holy Spirit. At this point, many prophecies had come true, but this was encouragement to continue to trust those that hadn’t.
- 97-104 – The psalmist continues to show great love for God’s commands. He realizes that this is where he can receive wisdom and protection.
- 105 – A familiar and beautiful verse proclaiming the great help Scripture can give us.
- 17 – Guilt of this kind of sin cannot be taken away.
Are you more or less likely to live faithfully when in difficult situations? If we’re honest, most of us are less likely to live faithfully. We tend to grasp at anything that may be a way out of our current situation. But now that we’re reading Daniel, we have an excellent example of what it looks like to live faithfully in the worst of circumstances. We can learn a lot from this book.
- 1-2 – This is to set the scene that this story will happen while the Israelites are in exile.
- 8-16 – Like in many other stories in Scripture, it is important to trust in God for provision and not to rely on others in any way. Eating the king’s food and drinking his wine would have been a way of relying on and trusting in the Babylonians.
- 8-9 – The king asks the wise men to tell him what his dream means, but he refuses to tell them the dream.
- 20-23 – Daniel’s prayer is one of humility and seeking God’s wisdom and provision.
1 Peter 3:8-4:6:
- 13-15 – The way we live our lives is a big part of our witness. We must live righteously so people don’t have anything to question, but if they do anyway, we must be ready to share the gospel.
- 1-6 – As believers, we are called to live like Christ and leave behind our old ways.
- 67 – When we encounter God, it should show through a change in our lives.
- We harden our hearts through perpetually choosing sin over faithfulness. Perpetually choosing sin is guaranteed to destroy us.
Don’t miss today’s reading! There is a ton of great stuff in here! It’s even hard to decide what to entice you with here, but I’ll go with this: if you think you’re beyond restoration or repair, read today’s Ezekiel passage. God raises dry bones back to life! No one is beyond forgiveness! No one can stray so far that God can’t redeem them! That means you too!!
- 1-14 – Ezekiel’s prophecies over the dry bones give hope that God can restore Israel even though their situation seems hopeless and their nation seems lifeless.
- 15-23 – God promises to reunite Israel and Judah and to, once again, be their God.
- 14-23 – Though Gog had seen success against Israel, God makes it clear that Israel will rise again and it will not bode well for Gog.
- 22-25 – Reading Scripture alone is not enough. We must also live what it tells us to do. Otherwise we are like a foolish person.
- 27 – If we truly want to follow God we must care for the most vulnerable in his name.
- 1-9 – We tend to want to associate with those who are powerful and can lift us up, but God does the opposite. He lifts up the lowly. God is calling us to share in his work.
- 10-13 – We tend to want to make our sins seems less egregious, but once we have sinned, we are sinners.
- 14-17 – This can be confusing because we know that faith in Christ is what saves us. We can’t save ourselves through works. This does not mean we’re not supposed to do the works though. Our salvation is intended to make us more like Christ, how worked diligently to care for those in need and bring others into God’s family.
- Why do we praise the Lord? Because he loves us.
- When we’re entrapped in sin, we constantly have to watch our backs and wait for the other shoe to drop. When we are living faithfully, there is freedom from this fear.
Hebrews has a steady message throughout it (as does this throwback song from my early youth group days) – Jesus is the answer. Before Jesus, God offered a variety of ways for people to be connected to him. The temple, the commandments, the law, covenants, sacrifices, and the list goes on…but then Jesus came. Jesus fulfilled the law. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus tore the temple curtain that created separation. Jesus is now all we need to be fully connected with God.
- 8-13 – This section mentions “profaning the Sabbath” as a way of dishonoring God. This is what the religious leaders in Jesus’ day thought he was doing when he healed on the Sabbath. But there’s a big difference. Jesus’ “work” on the Sabbath was to love and care for God’s people. “Profaning the Sabbath” is for one’s own gain.
- 15-17 – God did punish the Israelites by not allowing them into the Promised Land, but he could have, with justification, wiped them out right then. Instead, he simply made them wait to enter the Promised Land. The next generation was allowed in.
- 30-31 – The reason God says he won’t answer the Israelites’ inquiries is because they have spent their time crying out to every other god at every opportunity.
- 40-44 – The Israelites will have to endure punishment but the Lord promises to bring them back to himself and restore them.
- 11-14 – The Holy of Holies, which was once separated and humans couldn’t enter except the high priest once a year, was now permanently available through Christ. His blood was far more sufficient than animals’.
- 23-28 – It’s interesting that the word “copies” is used. This is helpful when we think that the law and the temple and sacrifices weren’t bad things. They were very helpful, but they were merely copies of the real deal – Jesus. Now we have the real deal and don’t have to rely on the copies anymore.
- 33-42 – It is a theme throughout the Bible that God brings the proud to humility and lifts the humble up. It is common for things that are commonly understood to be flipped on their head. This is clear through this passage and made most clear through Jesus’ ministry.
Enduring trials and trusting God to take care of you doesn’t mean you have to pretend to enjoy the trial. Trials are hard. They’re not fun. God wants us to be honest with him about our pain and difficulties and then to trust him with the outcome. Jeremiah shows us a good example of this in our reading today. He willingly accepts persecution but is not excited about it. Faithfulness does not equal fake-ful-ness (yes, I made that up myself).
- 1-13 – Jeremiah proclaims the coming destruction of Judah because they have worshipped false gods.
- 1-6 – God told Jeremiah he would be persecuted but that God would ultimately protect him and destroy his enemies. Passhur the priest is the first example of this.
- 7-18 – Jeremiah is confident in God’s protection of him, but is still not excited about the suffering he will endure.
- 2-14 – Jeremiah does not have good news for King Zedekiah and his crew.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-28:
- 9-11 – God created us for a purpose and that purpose is to know and follow him, not to walk towards destruction.
- 12-19 – God calls us to gentleness and humility and Paul gives us good specifics on how to accomplish this.
- Asaph calls for God to take care of his enemies.
Hastiness comes up again as a bad thing. Wisdom definitely falls in line with patience and thinking through things.
Death is fascinating and terrifying all at the same time for a lot of us. “Who done its” are all over television and yet, when faced with death, many of us experience crippling fear. This is nothing new. Paul, in today’s 1 Thessalonians reading, addresses the Thessalonians’ fear of and/or questions about death.
- 19-4 – Jeremiah continues to harp on how ridiculous and wrong it is for people to worship idols that people can make.
- 5-13 – Jeremiah contrasts the idiocy of trusting in a person with the wisdom of trusting in God. He also lists the consequences.
- 14-18 – This portion is very reminiscent of a psalm asking for protection and also for destruction of his enemies.
- 19-27 – Jerusalem had a choice to be faithful and flourish or to be unfaithful and face destruction.
- 18 – Like God told Jeremiah, he started facing persecution from his own people.
- 19-23 – Jeremiah hopes for the destruction of his enemies. Unlike Jesus who wanted God to forgive his enemies, Jeremiah wants them to be punished for what they’ve done.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3:
- 2-8 – A theme throughout Paul’s letters is a call to holy living. Sexual morality and giving oneself to substances, and anger/self control are standard topics addressed.
- 13-18 – Those who “are asleep” are people who have died. The Thessalonians must have been concerned about what happened when people died and what could be expected after death.
- 6-10 – God asks Israel to remember the good things he has done for them so they will follow him.
- 11-16 – The people did not obey and God lets them know what they’re missing out on.
- Jesus gives similar advice on choosing where to sit at a banquet. Choose humbly and be pleasantly surprised if you’re honored.
Prove it! This is yelled across many a junior high lunch table as one testosterone-rich adolescent boy claims he can do something that he most likely cannot. This is also basically what Paul says to the Philippians. Prove your salvation in front of others by living righteously and faithfully. This should be true of our lives too. If we are saved, it show in our words, actions, and decisions.
- 1-22 – God explains in great detail all the ways Israel will be restored to glory. When they went into exile God and the Israelites became a laughing stock. That would soon change.
- 1-2 – Jesus quotes this passage exactly in Luke 4:18-19 in his first public sermon.
- 1-11 – God declares his year of favor. Debts are forgiven. Those who suffer and mourn will be comforted…and a lot of other great stuff.
- 1-5 – God continues to proclaim wonderful restorative acts for Israel.
- 27-30 – Paul calls the Philippians to live with integrity in their faithfulness so that others who are watching would be convinced of their salvation.
- 1-11 – Paul calls the Philippians to humble themselves and serve in a similar fashion as Jesus did.
- Note that this psalm is written by David’s son, Solomon, the third king of Israel.
- Solomon asks for blessings for the king. This is presumably when he is starting out as king because it says that David’s prayers have now ended.
- We cannot claim ignorance and pretend not to know that people are moving towards death and destruction. If we ignore them, it says God will do the same to us.
Do you know that person who always offers to help after the work is done or always “wishes” they could help? Those sentiments are pretty meaningless – about as productive as a dog chasing his tail. That is how God feels about sacrifices to Him when people go on sinning and worshipping other gods. The sacrifices don’t mean anything. They’re empty. It sure makes you think, are our offerings of worship and service, at times, pretty meaningless?
- 1-8 – This is a prophecy promising to return Jerusalem to what it was intended to be.
- 9-11 – A call to arms to prepare to bring the Israelites back from exile.
- 17-2 – Jerusalem is being urged to wake up and prepare for restoration.
- 6 – So often, including the prophet Isaiah, biblical characters have responded with “here I am”. Here God explains that he will answer in this same way when it’s time for Israel to be restored.
- 7-12 – The “good news” this passage refers to is the salvation of Jerusalem. This beautiful, poetic explanation is a great reflection of the beauty of salvation.
- 1-12 – Now read this again recognizing that it is foretelling Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
- 1-5 – Following Christ is an act of allowing ourselves to be transformed to look more and more like him. We cannot continue on sinning and say that we are being transformed.
- 6-14 – There are lots of folks who will try to steer us off our pursuit of following Christ. This is easiest when our sins are hidden. When we bring them to the light they are far easier to deal with.
- 22-33 – This passage is often disliked and/or ignored in modern society. But if both spouses choose to love and respect one another as Scripture calls us to, both parties get a really good deal.
- 19-28 – David asks God to punish his enemies.
- 30-36 – Several times in Scripture God asks for humility or obedience instead of a bunch of meaningless sacrifices. David promises to do just that.
Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Or worse, have you ever betrayed a friend? In today’s psalm, David feels the pain of betrayal at the hands of a friend. Though this is always the risk, we know that God designed us to be in relationship and that, though betrayal is excruciating, the benefits of relationship are worth the risk.
- 11-15 – The Lord becomes a safe place to those who follow him but becomes a stumbling block for those who oppose him.
- 1-7 – A prophecy describing the Messiah that is to come. Enjoy this musical interpretation of this powerful prophecy.
- 8-21 – This foretells the coming demise of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Though God’s hand is still available, the people continue to walk towards evil and destruction.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10:
- 7-9 – Most theologians believe that Paul did have some sort of infirmity that he wanted to get rid of but could not. This kept him humble and may have also been a hindrance from moving quickly and traveling easily.
- 10 – It is often our difficulties that cause us to better relate to others with difficult conditions. They also allow us to be more thankful. Paul also realized that these are often the places where we are actually strongest.
- 12-15 – David was betrayed by a friend, which, as we all know, hurts much more than when we’re hurt by an enemy or stranger.
- 16-19 – David has great trust in the Lord to take care of him despite the ill intentions of his enemies.
- Though wealth seems to bring earthly status, it is fleeting and not worth spinning our wheels over.