The Israelites who returned from exile had high hopes on them. But…they failed miserably. Here’s how:
Christ’s sacrifice set us free from sin and death and took us out from under the weight of the law. We now receive salvation as a free gift offered through God’s grace. But Paul reminds us, in Ephesians, that our freedom should be used to become more Christlike and to serve more selflessly. Freedom was not extended so we could use it frivolously and sin more simply because we can. Let us, as believers, use our freedom for the good of others and glory of God.
- 1-17 – God acknowledges that he did allow the Israelites to go into exile, but tells them that he is going to restore them and their enemies will not be able to overtake them anymore.
- 1-13 – The words to the Israelites are restorative and healing. God paints a picture of taking great care of the Israelites.
- 1-13 – Here the Lord explains what happens if sinners don’t repent. He continues to mock all kinds of idolatry.
- 5-9 – Though we are free, this is a good word for how each of us should work too. We are to work hard for good. That good will be returned to us.
- 10-17 – These verses remind us that God gives us all kinds of tools to protect us from any attacks that might come our way. We simply have to use them.
- David is quick to encourage the hearer to praise God and remain humble that God is the one with the power.
- This goes further than don’t do evil. Don’t even plan to do evil.
Posting a few days late, but the content still applies. If you’ve ever been confused about why and how the leadership structure of Israel works – here you go!
We forgot to take a picture, but this is kind of what our cake looked like! Delicious! Thank you, Christina!
Today, in our reading from Luke, we encounter Herod…but in fact, it’s just one of several Herods involved in Jesus’ life at various times. Check out this resource, which will shed a little more light into the Herods.
- 8-10 – God reminds them of the good things he’s done for them and that they still disobeyed him. The Israelites seem to have a short memory when it comes to who is worthy of their worship.
- 13-14 – Gideon was young enough that he had not seen God’s power and miracles. Because of the Israelites’ unfaithfulness he had only seen Israel forsaken by God. He, understandably, struggled to trust that God could overtake the Midianites who oppressed them at the time.
- 24 – Many times in Scripture, when someone would experience God’s power or goodness, they would name that space after what they had experienced. Gideon names this “The Lord is Peace” or “Jehovah Shalom”.
- 28-31 – Gideon’s dad Joash makes a great argument. If Jerubbaal is truly a god, he shouldn’t need you to defend him. Certainly, this argument saved his son’s life.
- 36-40 – This may sound like Gideon was testing God, which we are not supposed to do. Gideon asks humbly for God to confirm that his plan is to save Israel through Gideon.
- 54-62 – Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times and though Peter was certain he wouldn’t, he did. Though Peter gets a bad wrap for this, note that he was the only disciple who followed Jesus to his trial.
- 66-71 – The church leaders were doing all they could to assure Jesus could be charged with blasphemy. Though he never called himself the Son of God in this passage, he says enough for them to jump on.
- 1 – Pilate was a low-level Roman leader. He was basically like the mayor of Longview, TX.
- 7 – This is not the same Herod that wanted to kill him when he was born.
- 6 – If you can’t think of a reason to praise God, simply praise him for creating you.
- 8 – The Israelites’ sins at Meribah and Massah both happened as they wandered in the desert. Most of the Israelites’ history and testaments tended to refer back to their 40 years of wandering.
- 10-11 – The Israelites sinned while in the desert causing them not to enter the Promised Land until later generations could enter instead.
Today’s Psalm reminds us to look to our past to gain hope for our future. This may seem odd to those of us with troubled pasts, but we’re not looking for our own successes or failures, we’re looking for God’s faithfulness. When we see God’s faithfulness in our past, it reminds us that he will be faithful again and again.
- 1-19 – Moses clearly explains to the Israelites what is required of them and what the outcomes of both decisions will be. They can choose obedience and blessings or disobedience and curses.
- 20-68 – All of these verses describe the breadth of curses the Israelites will receive if they choose not to follow the Lord’s commands. Every aspect of their lives will be slowly destroyed.
- 17-23 – The people who accused Jesus of casting out demons by the devil’s power were simply trying to come up with any reason to explain away his abilities. Jesus explains how this can’t possibly be the case because why would Satan send some one who was constantly opposing his work. Jesus also requires that if these people call into question Jesus’ means of exorcism, they would need to call into question Jewish exorcists’ means as well.
- 27-28 – Jesus consistently redirects people to his main point. He’s not arguing that his mother should not be blessed, but instead redirecting this woman and the crowd to what he came to earth to teach.
- 29-30 – Jonah’s message to Nineveh was to repent or be destroyed. Jesus’ message was basically the same for the Israelites.
- This Psalm is a reminder to those who feel lost or forgotten by God to look back on his faithfulness in the past to give them hope that he is near and still faithful.
- 19-20 – God’s faithfulness to the Israelites in the desert seems to be the event later Israelites looked to the most as a sign of God’s faithfulness.
- Think about how true this has been in your own life. Careless words can be so hurtful and wise words so healing. This can be a reminder to us to choose wise words for others.
In today’s Deuteronomy reading, God knows the Israelites will be afraid to face their enemies who are bigger and stronger. He needs them to know that he is with them and he will make a way for them. He reminds them of the way he made away for them as they escaped the Egyptians. Our memories of what God has done for us previously can help is tremendously in trusting him with our next steps.
- It is difficult to read that entire people groups were destroyed by God’s command. We wonder where God’s mercy is, but verse 10 reminds us that his punishments were in return for people who hated and mocked him. In fact, God’s love and protection for the Israelites should be seen as an extension of immense mercy since they also often disobeyed God. We can also extend this thought that anything good that comes to us is an act of great love from God since we too disobey and mock him continually.
- 1-5 – Moses explains to the Israelites why they must wipe out the other people groups. God commands this in order to protect them from the temptations they will certainly fall to to worship other gods.
- 17-19 – God knew that the Israelites would be fearful to face those they were to fight, but they are reminded of God’s intervention with the Egyptians so they can have confidence that he will be faithful again.
- 3 – Though the Israelites were so worried about food throughout their time in the desert, God provided miraculously to help the Israelites rely on him, not food. Jesus also quotes this verse when tempted by the devil in the desert.
- 11-20 – A great reminder for us today that God is the giver of all of our gifts and we shouldn’t abandon him once we’re comfortable.
- 36-40 – Jewish custom, at the time, did not allow men to touch or speak to women they weren’t married or related to. It is also presumed that this woman was a prostitute, which added extra scandal to the mind of the Pharisee.
- 41-50 – This is not encouragement to sin more so we can be forgiven, but instead to be aware of our sinful nature and need for forgiveness so we can be grateful for the gift we’ve been given.
- 2-3 – Just like he focused on Mary’s perspective rather than Joseph’s in the birth narrative, Luke tends to include and highlight the participation of women in ministry.
- When David seems to be abandoned by everyone, he still has God to reach out to.
The law that Moses gave the Israelites was very just. If you sinned, you paid for it. If you sinned against someone, you had to give them back an equal amount. In our Luke reading today, Jesus introduces different ways to extend grace. Grace is like the greatest buy one get one free sale ever! You get far more than you deserve. If someone steals your cow, instead of asking for it back, give them another. It was revolutionary then and it still is today.
- Note that God had given specific land to people other than the Israelites, namely Lot and Esau. Esau was from the same family as the Israelites, but wasn’t included in the Promised Land because he gave up his birth right as a young man.
- As the Israelites were faithful in trusting God and respecting the borders he gave them, he was faithful in giving them what he promised.
- 13-16 – The full list of disciples. Most often they are listed with only a few of them together.
- 20-26 – Matthew’s account of the beatitudes only includes blessings while Luke’s records blessings and woes.
- 27-31 – God’s law given to Moses for the Israelites was based on justice. If you kill your neighbors cow, you give him one that’s just as good. But Jesus introduces opportunities to offer grace and to give people better than what they deserve.
- Much of Jesus’ teaching was countercultural.
- The Psalmist asks that God be gracious to him so that he can then make God more known. This should be the purpose for the blessings we request.
- If you look for trouble, you’ll find it.
Today’s Psalm reminds us how vast, great, and capable our God is. Is the God who set the earth in motion, raised the mountains to their heights, and created boundaries for the oceans overwhelmed by our problems? Of course not! He is able to care for you no matter what is going on.
- 50-56 – God actually gives an explanation here for why he’s asking the Israelites to drive other people out of their land. If people are left, they will hinder the Israelites.
- 2 – Earlier in Numbers God explained that the Levites would not receive an inheritance, but instead would receive what was offered to God. This command is another way God provided for the Levites.
- 11 – They had specific cities of refuge for people who accidentally killed people, but God makes it clear what defines an accidental death and who should not have access to the cities of refuge.
- 16 – We often think we’re too busy to pray or spend time with God. This is clearly an indictment on that because Jesus needed to teach and heal crowds of people and yet he made a point to get away and pray.
- 22 – The scribes and Pharisees had not audibly expressed their concerns, but Jesus knew them anyway. They must have been a little thrown off when Jesus addressed their unspoken criticisms.
- 26 – When we see God move, whether in our lives or someone else’s, we are moved and amazed.
- Seeing God’s power, creativity, and control in nature can remind us of what he can do in our lives. What can be so big in your life that the God who built the mountains and controls roaring seas can’t handle?
Did you know that the same person who wrote Luke also wrote Acts, the first book after the gospels? There are all kinds of fun tidbits to learn about Scripture that are great conversation starters at cocktail parties…well…maybe. Anyway, enjoy the beginning of Luke! It’s a great one!!
- 1-19 – Here we see something sacrificed being used later to cleanse and restore an unclean tent.
- 3 – The Israelites always seem to recall events that they once complained about as better than their current circumstances. It most commonly is tied to lack of provisions or fear of danger.
- 6-13 – The older Israelite generation had already been forbidden from the Promised Land. Now, because he did not obey the Lord completely, Moses and Aaron are also forbidden. Moses was told to strike the rock once but he struck it twice. He also tried to take credit for what the Lord would do by providing water. He said, “Shall we bring water” when it was only the Lord’s work.
- 28-29 – Even though the Israelites complained and rebelled a lot, clearly they loved Aaron.
- 1-4 – The writer of Luke is an intelligent, orderly person intent to write a logical, organized version of the story of Christ’s life. He also addresses his letter to Theophilus.
- 9 – Only one priest entered the holy of holies at a time. An extensive cleansing ritual occurred before the priest entered.
- 17 – John the Baptist was often considered the second coming of Elijah.
This obviously isn’t Jesus. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t wear sweaters and sit on folding chairs, but Jesus was a little Jewish boy who learned the same Scriptures of the Old Testament we learn today. He even memorized the Torah as all Jewish children are required to do. Often it’s hard to view Jesus as a human, but when he quotes Psalm 22 while on the cross in today’s reading from Mark, it reminds us that he learned Scripture and turned to it when in agony.
- 22-26 – It might be weird for us to think about unintentionally sinning because we normally know when we’re making choices that probably aren’t pleasing to God. They truly might have worn something with mixed fabrics unintentionally or broken some other law that they made a mistake on. God made atonement for these sins fairly easy and universal.
- 15 – Normally Moses is defending the Israelites to God and asking for mercy. This time, Moses seems to have had enough of their complaining and asks God not to respect their offerings.
- 23-32 – Korah, Dathan, and Abiram got swallowed up by the earth as a sign that they truly didn’t follow the Lord.
- 15 – Key phrase – “wishing to satisfy the crowd.” We often do things to satisfy a crowd that hurts our relationship with Christ.
- 19 – Striking his head with the reed was intended to force the thorns deeper into Jesus’ head.
- 23 – At the last supper Jesus explained that he wouldn’t drink wine again until he drinks it with his disciples in his father’s kingdom.
- 35 – Jesus quotes Psalm 22 here.
- 38 – The temple curtain separated the holy of holies, where one could encounter God, from the areas where sinful people could be. Jesus’ death literally broke down that barrier.
- 39 – Not insignificant that it is a gentile who recognizes Jesus’ identity.
- David was in actual physical danger when he cried out to God with this Psalm.