May 24 – Daily Notes – Amanda

so mean

Why is God so mean?! Well…is he actually mean? Or does he simply expect us to follow his commands? A story in today’s 2 Samuel reading where Uzzah touches the ark to steady it from falling is a tough one to swallow. However, Uzzah knew the rules and chose not to follow them. Does that make God mean? Or Uzzah disobedient?

2 Samuel 4:1-6:23:

  • 2 – Benjamin keeps getting mentioned because that was the tribe Saul came from.
  • 5-12 – David’s wish was not to blot out all of Saul’s family from the earth. Others were simply misguided in thinking this. David had great honor for Saul and was best friends and had made a covenant of friendship and family loyalty with Jonathan.
  • 3-5 – Due to Abner’s efforts when he was on Team Saul, David did not start ruling over all of Israel until after he ruled in Judah for 7 years.
  • 6-10 – The Jebusites were so confident in their fortress’ strength that they taunted David’s army saying even the blind and lame could ward off attacks on the city. David ends up successfully taking the city.
  • 11-12 – David recognized where his power and blessings derived. This caused him to seek God’s guidance and follow his commands.
  • 1-4 – The ark of God (also known as the ark of the covenant) had been captured by the Philistines in a previous battle. David’s ability to return it to its rightful owners, the Israelites, was a huge accomplishment.
  • 6-7 – Though Uzzah was simply trying to steady the ark, it was well known that the penalty, even for Levites, for touching the ark, was death. Uzzah could have avoided this by carrying the ark on his shoulder with the rest of the Levites like he was supposed to and/or knowing the law of the ark better.
  • 14-15 – David’s attire is mentioned because his wild dancing most likely meant that he unintentionally exposed himself while dancing. He worshipped with such passion that he didn’t care about the consequences. Here’s an oldie but a goody based on this passage.

John 13:31-14:14:

  • 34-35 – Often people don’t recognize our faith. The main culprit is that we do not love one another.
  • 36-38 – Peter truly believes in his commitment to following Christ, but Jesus already knows Peter’s limits.
  • 6-7 – Another “I am” statement declaring that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Because they know and believe in Jesus, they also know the father.
  • 10-11 – This is clear proof of God as Trinity. The father and son are inseparable in substance and are fully connected. Knowing the Son means knowing the Father as well.
  • 13-14 – This passage begs the question, “well, what about when our prayers aren’t answered.” Many would argue that the prayer wasn’t in alignment with God’s will and this may be true. The great comfort in all this is that all earnest prayers come to fruition in eternity where there is no suffering or pain or hardship.

Psalm 119:17-32:

  • 25-32 – This is a perfect prayer for us as we attempt to read and understand God’s word. If our true prayer is to gain insight and to be strengthened by God’s word, he will surely give us these things.

Proverbs 15:31-32:

  • We often know the wise choice, whether it’s been told to us or it’s just obvious. It’s our choice to follow wisdom or choose another way.

What to Expect – Week 21

Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” should be David’s theme song. He was the 8th son, Saul tried to kill him multiple times, and this week, we’ll read about Saul’s death, which should have meant David’s reign would start without a hitch. But it didn’t. Ish-bosheth, Saul’s only remaining son, causes a serious disruption, which almost leads to an early split of Israel.

It makes you wonder, what trials and difficulties you would face to fulfill what God had called you to?

Then, in our reading in John, we find one of Jesus’ most bold yet simple statements. In 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is a statement that has been white-washed, sanitized, and shape-shifted in our culture until it has no meaning. For some reason, it has even become offensive. But why? It is not as if it is secretive. It’s not even exclusive. Instead, it is a clear if/then statement. If you want to get to the Father, you need to do so by way of Christ. If you don’t, that’s your choice. The context doesn’t suggest that he’s joking or speaking in hyperbole. Instead, it is clear and decisive. But don’t miss verses 1-3 just above it. They remind us that there’s plenty of room in God’s house. He wants us to take the way through Jesus, there’s space for you and me too.

This week, you can also look forward to spending most of your time in Psalm 119. It is the longest psalm, by far, but it is packed to the gills with great pieces of truth. Take, for instance, Thursday’s reading. Verse 37 asks God to turn our eyes from worthless things. Ugh, couldn’t we all stand to ask that!?!

So, now that you’re about to start your 6th month of reading, what have you enjoyed most? What’s one thing you learned for the first time?

We’ve already gotten through so much of the Bible and there’s so much great stuff left to go. Let’s keep moving towards the finish line. It’s well worth it!

May 20 – Daily Notes – Amanda

emoji faces

When you think of Jesus, what do you think about? Maybe the crucifixion? Maybe his teaching? Forgiveness? Kindness? One of the things we rarely think about is his humanity and him feeling like we feel. We rarely think about when he got angry, or when he was excited about something. And in today’s reading, we get to read about his raw, human emotion. His friend died so he was sad and he cried. Though it’s hard to fathom, Jesus was human just like us.

1 Samuel 26:1-28:25:

  • 1-5 – Clearly Saul’s compassion for David did not last long as he starts to pursue him once again.
  • 8-12 – David has a second chance to kill Saul. Once again, he refuses because Saul was anointed by the Lord and David felt that it wasn’t his place to raise a hand against him, but God’s.
  • 13-16 – Abner was the leader of Saul’s army. David calls Abner out and makes it clear that he had not properly protected Saul. Since David had these items kept so close to Saul, Abner would know that David could have harmed him as well.
  • 21-25 – Once again, Saul is humbled by David’s mercy and stops pursuing him.
  • 3-7 – When Saul can no longer hear from the Lord he turns to other, unsanctioned ways of learning his future.
  • 8-19 – Samuel explains the reason God cut Saul off, which would prove it was Samuel since others didn’t know that Saul was cut off or the reason why. Samuel confirms that Saul and his sons will die the next day and will lose to the Philistines.

John 11:1-53:

  • 1-4 – These are the same Mary and Martha from the story when Martha does all the work and Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. As this passage states, Mary is also the one who anoints Jesus’ feet. Clearly they knew Jesus well and followed him faithfully.
  • 5-16 – The disciples try to keep Jesus from returning to Judea because it is dangerous there. Jesus wants to go raise Lazarus from the dead and he knows his disciples’ faith will be strengthened by seeing it. This is why he says that he’s glad, for their sakes, that Lazarus died.
  • 25-27 – Jesus offers another “I am” statement. Martha believes in the resurrection of all believers that is to come, but Jesus lets her know that he determines when resurrection occurs. Martha knows Jesus’ identity and has faith in his abilities.
  • 35 – The shortest verse in Scripture. Also, one of the most obvious displays of Jesus feeling human emotion.
  • 39 – Even those of us who believe deeply in Jesus’ abilities are hindered by our own understanding. Martha thought of the earthly facts – dead bodies decay and stink – she wasn’t thinking that all things are possible through Christ.
  • 49-53 – Caiaphas had insight into Jesus’ future though it doesn’t indicate whether, at this time, he was for or against Jesus.

Proverbs 15:22-23:

  • We are designed to be in relationship at all times. We are not to trust others above God, but we are to seek wise counsel from those who are in active relationship with God.

May 18 – Daily Notes – Amanda

cartoon sheep

How do you know when God’s talking to you? How can you understand if what you think you’re supposed to do is God’s will or just your own desires? In today’s reading from John, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd. He says sheep follow shepherds because they know his voice. We can know God’s voice based on whether or not it lines up with God’s character and if it aligns with what we know of God through Scripture and prayer.

1 Samuel 22:1-23:29:

  • 2 – David clearly had many of the same characteristics as Jesus. The low and broken were attracted to him.
  • 11-19 – We are not guaranteed that doing the right thing will have positive consequences. The priests protected David, but were ultimately killed by Saul.
  • 2 – David consults God to see what God’s will is before he acts.
  • 3-5 – The fear of the people causes David to hesitate, but the Lord confirms his desires and David obeys.
  • 6-14 – David and his men could have easily been trapped and ambushed in Keilah, but the Lord watched over him. Notice David’s extremely open and close relationship with God. He asked God for specific information and God does not hesitate to share with him.
  • 24-29 – Note that God makes the impossible possible. Saul is closing in on David and something urgent arises right at the right time.

John 10:1-21:

  • 3-4 – Sheep know their shepherds voice so they follow his instructions. Note that we just read an example of this with David. He was close with God and knew his voice so he had open conversations with him and knew where God was sending him and what he was calling him to do.
  • 7-9 – Another I am statement. Basically, Jesus is the passageway to God. He is also that which closes us off from things we do not need to participate in.
  • 10 – A very clear comparison between the thief and Jesus. One steals, kills, and destroys, the other brings abundant life. Seems like an easy choice.
  • 11 – Another I am statement. Jesus, as the good shepherd, will and does lay down his life for our good.
  • 16 – This explains that not only Jews will be saved, but gentiles as well. They are from different flocks, but both will be saved.

Psalm 115:1-18:

  • 1 – Psalms lend themselves to songs because many were used as songs in worship. This psalm inspired this early 2000s gem.
  • 4-8 – A perfect explanation of why graven images and various idols are worthless. They seem to have so much to offer (we’re obviously talking about our own “idols” here too), but fall short and leave us empty.

Proverbs 15:18-19:

  • 18 – Yet another example of prudence and wisdom being associated with rational thought out responses.

May 17 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Hand of witness on Bible in courtroom

The story in John today is incredible! The young man Jesus heals makes a powerful statement of faith as he testifies to what Jesus has done in his life. As the Pharisees, trying to indict Jesus, question the young man, he replies to them by saying, “All I know is I once was blind but now I see.” He basically says, “you do the math.” We all have a “I once was ________ but now I ________” story. What if we all shared them?

1 Samuel 20:1-21:15:

  • 1-23 – Once again, Jonathan puts himself at risk to act as a go-between for David and Saul. David feared attending Saul’s dinner because Saul most likely wanted to harm him so Jonathan would feel out his father. Note that Jonathan makes a covenant with David here so that David won’t destroy all of Jonathan’s family. This becomes significant later.
  • 41-42 – Jonathan and David were grieved that they would no longer get to see each other since Saul confirmed that he wanted to kill David. David had to flee, but they agreed that they would remain friends.
  • 1-6 – David and his crew eat the holy bread which is supposed to be reserved only for the priests, but they were very hungry. Jesus refers to this when the religious leaders get mad at him for picking grain on the Sabbath.

John 9:1-41:

  • 2 – It was common belief that any physical or mental disability was caused by sin.
  • 5 – Another I am statement. Jesus refers to himself as “the light of the world.” This is why he says it is day now – because he was present. He’s referring to “night” as when he is no longer on the earth.
  • 21-23 – Whether the parents knew the healing was from Jesus or not, they were more afraid of the religious leaders than they were loyal to Jesus.
  • 25 – A beautiful statement of faith! This is one we can all take note from. When people argue the validity of God or the saving power of Christ, all we need to say is, “I don’t know much. All I know is I once was blind but now I see.” Feel free to fill in your own story of “blindness”.
  • 34 – The religious leaders find a way to discount the man’s story saying he is simply a sinner and they can’t learn anything from him.

Psalm 113:1-114:8:

  • These psalms simply recount various ways God is great. This is a great way to write your own psalm of praise. Simply recall the various ways God has been great in your life.

Proverbs 15:15-17:

  • 16-17 – Beautiful verses explaining where real value lies.

May 16 – Daily Notes – Amanda

batman

You know when a little kids tells you he’s Batman? It’s cute, but you know he’s actually not and you just play along with it. Well…this is pretty much exactly the opposite thing that happens with Jesus in today’s John reading. He calls himself “I am” and says he came before Abraham, the original, and highly lauded patriarch. The religious leaders did NOT think it was cute and did not go along with it…but it was true. He truly was “I am”.

1 Samuel 18:5-19:24:

  • 7-9 – David’s success pleased Saul until it threatened his own.
  • 10-11 – The first, but not last, time Saul tries to injure or kill David.
  • 16 – David “went out and came in before them” meaning he led them in battle. He did not hide behind, but led them with courage. This built trust and affection for him.
  • 20-29 – Saul thought that he could set David up for failure and possibly death by sending him to battle Philistines in order to win his daughter as a wife. Instead, David succeeded in the mission and received Saul’s daughter as a wife.
  • 1-7 – Jonathan took a large risk in speaking favorably about David to Saul, his father. Saul had tried to injure and kill David previously.
  • 8-10 – David’s favor with Saul was short-lived and he was forced to flee again when Saul tried to injure him again.

John 8:31-59:

  • 34-36 – Being a slave to sin means that it has power over you and controls you. Sin is that powerful. When we allow it into our lives and takes power over us. Jesus is the only one who can free us from this slavery.
  • 42-43 – Jesus is much more open in the gospel of John about his relationship to God – specifically, father/son.
  • 52-53 – The Jews held Abraham in such high esteem that it was impossible for them to view this man from Nazareth as greater than Abraham.
  • 58 – Jesus refers to himself here as “I am” which is what God referred to himself as when Moses asked who, should I tell the Pharaoh, sent me. This makes the Jews mad and further solidifies that he is the Son of God.

Psalm 112:1-10:

  • This psalm describes someone who is living a righteous, upright life. The key component to all the greatness is fearing God and following his commands. This is reiterated throughout Scripture.

Proverbs 15:12-14:

  • When we are already steeped in sin, we often avoid those who are wise or righteous because we don’t want to be called out and have to abandon our sin. This behavior becomes a deeper and deeper hole we dig for ourselves.

What to Expect – Week 20

power transition

Transitions of power are often difficult. No one wants to lose power. Saul was no exception. He was God’s first chosen king to lead His people. He was anointed and appointed and blessed to do the job. He was also given specific instructions…and then disobeyed them. As we know, when God gives specific instructions, he expects people to follow them, specifically. For the rest of the week in 1 Samuel, we will read about the slow, painful, violent transition of power from Saul to David. Don’t worry though, the transition will take much longer than a week’s worth of reading – it’s that good and that intricate.

As you read, make notes of the contrasts between Saul and David. Saul looked much more royal on paper, but, as we’ll read, God doesn’t look at outward appearances. He looks at the heart.

This week, in John, we’ll read a few more of Jesus’ “I am” statements that we wanted to watch out for in John. A couple of them come in a description of Jesus and people compared to sheep and a shepherd. He makes so many comparisons and pulls out so many details, that you might get lost, but I encourage you to focus in on at least one. I suggest thinking a lot about how sheep follow the shepherd because they know his voice. Do you know God’s voice? If not, how can you get to know it? If so, are you listening?

The Psalms and Proverbs continue to run us through a range of emotions and opportunities to gain wisdom. You won’t want to miss them. Don’t worry, the ever-popular theme of Proverbs to take your time on actions and decisions pops up again. I think God means it.

So, happy reading! Take time to learn God’s voice through Scripture. You’re doing great! Keep it up!!

May 14 – Daily Notes – Amanda

ashamed woman

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.

John 7:53-8:20:

  • 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.

Psalm 110:1-7:

  • 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.

May 10 – Daily Notes – Amanda

sorrow

The Psalms are full of David’s anguish, there is a whole book in the Old Testament called “Lamentations” and they do just that – lament. But can you think of anything more heart-wrenching than the God of the universe telling someone else, “They haven’t rejected you as their leader. They’ve rejected me.” God’s people, the Israelites, who he had care for and provided for, let him know they had a better plan than his. Let that sink in.

1 Samuel 8:1-9:27:

  • 4-7 – Verse 7 is one of the saddest in all of Scripture. God’s plan was for him to be the king of Israel so they wouldn’t need a human king. God knew that this was the very best plan for them, but the Israelites rejected his plan and wanted to go with their own.
  • 19-21 – God spent generations and generations trying to set the Israelites apart. The point was to have them be separate and dedicated specifically to God. Here they decide they want to be just like the other nations and operate as they do.
  • 21 – This culture put emphasis on shame and honor. Someone from the smallest clan in the least of the tribes would not normally be honored by getting to eat with a prophet. Saul was surprised why he was receiving such an honor.
  • 25 – Roofs were sturdy and used as an open second floor in many ancient, middle-eastern homes. It was quite common for people to sleep on the roof.

John 6:22-42:

  • 25-34 – Particularly in verse 29, the people question Jesus basically asking what’s special about him. Moses had provided manna in the desert for their ancestors. What could Jesus do? Jesus explains that the bread he provided was actually from God.
  • 35 – Throughout the rest of John’s gospel, there will be a number of “I am” statements from Jesus. Each reveals a little more about his true identity as God’s Son, the Messiah, the Savior. This one speaks specifically to how Jesus provides for and fills us.
  • 40 – This relates back to our reading on 5/8 in chapter 5 when it talks about a resurrection of all people when Jesus returns.
  • 41 – Basically, Jesus is the way God will provide salvation and eternal life for believers.

Psalm 106:32-48:

  • This portion of the psalm recounts the Israelites’ unfaithfulness in the Promised Land.
  • 44-48 – Once again, we see God’s grace in rescuing his people when they cry out to him. Despite a series of sin and forgiveness, God continues to love and provide for Israel.