Who is the most boring character in all of Scripture? Many people would say Samuel even though he is instrumental in the development of Israel and its leaders. If you’re looking for a scandal, deceit, and drama, Samuel is not your guy. He was faithful throughout his service, respected by his people, and followed God’s directions even when they were difficult. But here are a couple of things to watch for in this week of our readings in Samuel:
- Hannah, Samuel’s mother, prayed fervently for a child but promised to dedicate him to God
- Samuel was raised primarily by Eli the priest
- In a time when God didn’t speak much, he chose to speak to Samuel
- When the Israelites begged for a king, God told Samuel they weren’t rejecting Samuel, but God
- Samuel anointed Saul as the first King of Israel
This week in John, we’ll read the first of the 12 times Jesus says, “I am…”. This time he says, “I am the bread of life.” Though some of his “I am” statements are cryptic, he reveals himself, in part, through these statements. If our goal is to know and follow Jesus and to become more like him, these “I am” statements are crucial. Look for these throughout the rest of John’s gospel to try to piece together clues into who Jesus is and what he’s about.
Psalm 106, which we’ll read Monday and Tuesday, recounts God’s faithfulness in getting them out of Egypt and caring for them in the wilderness. It’s important to note that the writer of the psalm was not a slave in Egypt, did not witness the water’s part, and never wandered in the desert with Moses. But someone told him about it and those stories gave the writer faith that he shared with others. This is all the more reason that we must share our experiences with God with others.
We have now started our fifth month of reading! That means we are a third of the way through the Bible! That’s no small feat. Keep up the good work and let us know how your commitment to Scripture has impacted your life.
Welcome to John! He starts his gospel off with a bang. Clearly referring to the beginning of Genesis, he starts off with, “In the beginning…”. John’s gospel, from the beginning, and throughout the entire book, is very different from the other three gospels. While each gospel has a specific purpose, John’s is stated at the end. He explains that this gospel was written so that we would believe that Jesus was the Messiah. So…read carefully.
- 1 – Being the son of a prostitute was shameful in their culture, but it’s clear that God is willing to use him anyway since he was a mighty warrior. You may also notice that people’s tribes are mentioned quite a bit in this book. Because the Israelites had mixed with other people groups so heavily, it was important to differentiate who were actual Israelites by mentioning their tribe.
- 24 – Ancient cultures believed that the side with the mightier god would win a battle. This is why Jephthah calls out the Amorites god, Chemosh.
- 30-40 – Note that God does not ask for this sacrifice from Jephthah, he foolishly offers it up and it costs him the life of his daughter. This is why we are to give and do what God asks of us, not decide for ourselves what God wants.
- John’s gospel is different from the other 3, which are known as the Synoptic Gospels. They all draw from each other, while John’s gospel does not as much. John’s gospel is where we find the “I am” statements. These are statements where Jesus says, “I am…” and reveals something about himself.
- 1 – “The Word” is Christ. This explains to us that Christ has been present from the beginning. He did not enter into existence at birth, but always been just as God the Father has always been.
- 6-8 – This refers to John the Baptist. Many wondered if he was the one they had waited for, but he was not, he simply came to prepare the way for Christ.
- 9-13 – Christ came first to save the Jews, his own people, but many did not recognize him or believe that he was the Messiah. All who did were made children of God.
- 14 – “The Word became flesh” explains the coming of Christ as a human. Instead of the birth narrative we read in Matthew and Luke, this explains the coming of Christ.
- 17 – Moses gave the law. Grace and truth came through Jesus. The law did not make room for grace, but God offered that through Christ.
- 20-23 – John does not claim to be anything he’s not, but quotes Isaiah, a verse the religious leaders would have certainly known, and explains that he’s preparing the way for the Messiah to come.
- This Psalm of David would be an excellent one to read or recite when faced with temptation or to start your day with the intent of living righteously. “I will ponder the way that is blameless.” “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”
- 14 – There are a number of references in the New Testament to bad sources only producing bad fruit and good sources only producing good fruit. We cannot expect to produce great things if our hearts are not great as well.
If you need a reason to jump back into our daily readings, this week will give it to you. We’re starting 2 new books! One today, and one on Friday!
In the Old Testament, we’re finishing out Judges and beginning Ruth. In Judges, you will read about a very famous judge named Samson. Samson was known for his strength, but it’s also noteworthy that he’s a Nazirite. This is a special form of priest – John the Baptist was one too – who holds strictly to certain standards. Nazirites didn’t drink alcohol, cut their hair, come in contact with dead things, and much more.
And Ruth is a fascinating book! If you want to learn what it means to be loyal or see how God can use anyone, even if they seemingly have nothing to offer, this is the right book for you. Ruth is also one of only two books with a female lead character, so pump up “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and get to reading.
And today we get to start the final gospel, John. John is very different from the other three gospels, which tend to share stories and sound somewhat similar. John uses more poetic language. It even begins with a brief poem. Here are a few things to notice in John:
- A “beloved disciple” is mentioned frequently. It’s assumed this “beloved disciple” is John, but no one knows for sure
- There is no narrative of Jesus’ birth, but he is introduced as “the Word”
- Jesus makes a number of statements attempting to define himself that start with the words, “I am…”
Note also in your Proverbs readings this week the continued emphasis on acting and speaking slowly and avoiding rash decisions. This isn’t always natural for us, but it is wise.
Keep up the good reading! We’re already at Week 18! Before we know it, we’ll be half way finished!!
In today’s reading, Moses asks for God’s name. He responds, “I AM WHO I AM”. To ears in our culture, this may sound like a sarcastic or defensive response. Instead, God is sharing his eternal nature and the consistency of his character. I am who I was. I am who I am. I am who I will always be. Let God’s response be a comfort to you.
- 11-15 – Moses acted out in anger and though he thought he got away with it, people saw. Though he had grown up in Pharaoh’s house, he was still a Hebrew who had now killed an Egyptian.
- 23-25 – God heard the Israelites’ cries and acted accordingly. This gives us hope that God hears our cries for help as well.
- 1 – Jethro and Reuel are the same person.
- 2 – One of the many ways God goes beyond the laws that confine us.
- 4 – One of the many characters who answers God’s call with, “Here I am.” This is a statement of readiness and openness.
- 9-12 – It is pretty incredible that Moses, when the God of the universe makes a request of him, gives a simple excuse of not having authority. Clearly God is his authority.
- 14 – “I AM WHO I AM” has great meaning. Mainly it means that God is the same God he was yesterday, is today, and will be forever. There is no other word that can define him fully.
- 19-20 – It’s not that God wanted to send down plagues on the Egyptians, but he knew it would be necessary in order to get Pharaoh to cooperate.
- 12 – John the Baptist was seen as the second coming of Elijah, but he too was rejected.
- 14-21 – Once again, the disciples’ faith fails to be effective. Jesus, however, is able to step into the gap the disciples’ faith leaves and heals the boy. This is similar to when Peter’s faith is not strong enough for him to walk on the water. Jesus fills the gap.
- 24-27 – Jews struggled with Roman taxation. Jesus instructs Peter to pay the tax, but shows God’s ultimate power and sovereignty by providing the payment in a fish’s mouth.
- 1 – Jesus quotes this verse when on the cross and about to die.
- 8 – This too is reminiscent of the Roman soldiers mocking Jesus that he should be able to take himself down from the cross.
- 16-18 – Though written by David centuries before Jesus walked the earth, this psalm lists several events of Jesus’ crucifixion – here: pierced hands and feet and casting lots for his clothing.
- This is the continuation of yesterday’s urges to avoid temptation. This portion explains the aftermath of when temptation is not avoided.
Yay! You’ve made it to the second book of the Bible! This is an incredible story of God’s love and provision for his people – so incredible in fact, that it is the story most referenced by later biblical characters. Pretty impressive!