April 15 – Daily Notes – Amanda

beautiful landscape

Sometimes we just need a change in perspective. Our world has convinced us that everything is urgent, which often pushes out what’s important. In today’s psalm, the psalmist begins it by stating how magnificent it is to be in God’s presence. The psalmist even states how he longs to spend time with the Lord. If we could shift our perspective from the urgent to something more like the psalmist, we’d be a lot better off.

Joshua 11:1-12:24:

  • 15 – There are a number of times where Scripture describes someone doing everything exactly as they were instructed, or in this case, leaving nothing undone. One hundred percent compliance is what God wants from us.

Luke 17:11-37:

  • 17-19 – All 10 were healed, but only one praised God for it. Each of us receives blessings, but few of us remember to give God thanks for the blessings he’s given.
  • 20-21 – Living on earth, we are caught in what is often called the “already but not yet”. This means we can experience some of God’s Kingdom here on earth: grace, joy, selfless love. But we are also still waiting for the fullness of God’s kingdom because we still experience pain, suffering, and injustices here on earth.
  • 31-37 – These verses are where the idea of the rapture derives. Many believe that when Jesus comes again, believers will be taken up with him instantaneously and non-believers will be left behind.

Psalm 84:1-12:

  • 1-2 – So often we feel as if we have to make time for God or that time with him is simply an item on a checklist. The Psalmist here has a very different view of God and what a gift it is to be in his presence. He says that his soul longs and faints to be in the presence of God.
  • 10-12 – Beautiful imagery of the blessing it is to be in God’s presence, the way he cares for and protects us, and how he gives us good gifts.

Proverbs 13:5-6:

  • We view most sins as harmless, but this verse explains that sin can overthrow us and lead to our ultimate demise.

April 14 – Daily Notes – Amanda

temptations

Temptations are all around us. They’re so sneaky that at times, we don’t even know we’re being tempted. And though sin can be avoided, temptation cannot always be, but it is incumbent upon those of us who are believers to not create or introduce temptations to others. Instead, it is our job to lead others closer to Christ.

Joshua 9:3-10:43:

  • 14-15 – Note that the Israelites and Joshua did not ask God what they were supposed to do in this situation.
  • 19 – This is the reason the gospels say to “let your yes be yes and your no be no” and not to swear by God or anything else. They’ve made a promise with the Hivites that was not sanctioned by God and could cause them to have to disobey God’s instructions later.
  • 12-15 – Sometimes it is hard for us to believe in some of the miracles described in the Bible, but we are told that with God all things are possible and we know that he is not constrained by the same things we are.

Luke 16:19-17:10:

  • 19-31 – We are often consumed with our own comfort on earth, but this story clearly tells us that comfort on earth is fleeting. It is our job to help comfort the afflicted while on earth and then enjoy comfort in heaven.
  • 1 – Temptations are inevitable in life, but far be it for us to provide those temptations for others, particularly those who are earlier in their faith journey.
  • 3-4 – We are not to judge, but we are to lovingly call people out for their sins. We are also called to forgive as we’ve been forgiven.

April 13 – Daily Notes – Amanda

listening

Today’s proverb reminds us of something we all know but struggle to practice. We should listen first and speak later. Words can be destructive, especially when we aren’t even sure what we’re talking about.

Joshua 7:16-9:2:

  • 16-26 – Achan took riches from another nation and was punished for it. Dating as far back as Abraham, the Israelites were supposed to refuse the riches of other nations so they wouldn’t be tempted to credit that nation with their blessings.
  • 1-17 – The Israelites attempted to conquer Ai before but were vulnerable because someone in the camp had been unfaithful. Like all things that start badly, God made good out of it. The people of Ai were overconfident and pursued the Israelites into an ambush.

Luke 16:1-18:

  • 10-13 – Convicting passage. We often think our small bouts with unfaithfulness are no big deal. Instead, God asks us to be faithful in the little things so we can be entrusted with the big stuff. Our small decisions and actions do matter.
  • 14-15 – Pharisees were held in high regard in society. They were much more holy than most people according to the law and could look down on others. Jesus reminds them that the law matters but most things that we exalt are not what matter to God.

Psalm 82:1-8:

  • 3-4 – These are commands God gives us throughout Scripture. Serving those who are unable to serve themselves is later described as the purest form of religion.

Proverbs 13:2-3:

  • We should be slow to speak and quick to listen. Our words are often destructive and are best not spoken.

April 12 – Daily Notes – Amanda

touching the stove

Today’s Luke, Psalm, and Proverbs reading all have a similar theme. There is wise instruction, which would offer protection, but the hearer refuses to listen. In the Prodigal Son parable, the young man squanders his inheritance and leaves his father’s home. In the psalm, the Israelites are finally allowed to feel the consequences of their wayward ways, and the proverb reminds us that when we are wise we listen to the faithful instruction of those who love us. Seems like God might be trying to tell some of us something…

Joshua 5:1-7:15:

  • 1 – Clearly other nations had heard of the power of the God of Israel. Though they worshipped other gods, they knew of the wonders God had performed.
  • 10-12 – A powerful illustration that God provides for us in different ways, but he always provides.
  • 15 – The parallels between Joshua and Moses continue. When God called Moses from the burning bush, he also told Moses to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground.
  • 1-25 – Joshua toppling the walls of Jericho is a fairly familiar story, but often we don’t know why or when it happened. Now we see that Jericho was part of the Promised Land that Israel was to take it over.
  • 25 – Phrases like, “to this day” in Scripture remind us that the stories of the Bible were told by actual people about actual events. This culture had an oral tradition meaning they passed down their history and faith through telling stories to one another. These stories were repeated again and again. Clearly, when the book of Joshua was written down, Rahab was still living under Israelite protection.

Luke 15:1-32:

  • The three parables in this section all have to do with God’s willingness to pursue anyone who is sinning and straying. It also describes the joy that occurs when anyone repents from their sins and chooses to follow Christ.
  • 12 – This is the younger son basically telling his father he wishes he was dead because inheritances were not normally distributed until the father was dead.
  • 15-16 – This would have been detestable to the Jews listening to Jesus because Jews viewed pigs as unclean animals.
  • 22 – The ring the story speaks of is a family ring designating that the son is fully embraced back into the family.
  • 11-32 – This familiar parable, often called, “The Prodigal Son,” is easy to relate to. A wayward child sins and then returns and is welcomed back by a gracious, loving father. The older, faithful brother is angry because the younger son’s shortcomings are seemingly being celebrated simply because he’s returned home. It is easy for us to relate to the father or the younger son. It is hard for us to relate to the older son, though most likely, that’s the role that many of us play.

Psalm 81:1-16:

  • 12 – It is explained that God finally gave the Israelites what they wanted. They didn’t want to obey God’s commands, but they didn’t think about how that meant God could no longer protect them. This is like when a parent finally allows their disobedient child to experience the consequences of their actions.

Proverbs 13:1:

  • This Proverb relates perfectly to the parable of the Prodigal Son as well as the Psalm. Both the father to the son and God to the Israelites gave wise counsel on how to live. They had the choice to listen or to choose their own way. When we choose our own way, we suffer the consequences.

April 11 – Daily Notes – Amanda

deja vu

In today’s Joshua reading, the Israelites probably thought they were having deja vu when God allowed Joshua to part the Jordan River so the people could cross into the Promised Land. Of course, God was showing that he was leading Joshua just like he led Moses and showing the Israelites that he would go with them into this new land just like he did into the desert.

Joshua 3:1-4:24:

  • 3 – The Ark of the Covenant contained the 10 Commandments and represented the presence of the Lord. It is appropriate that it would enter the land before the Israelites representing God going before them.
  • 7-13 – God established Joshua as the new leader so he could be exalted and respected like Moses. It is not insignificant that God proved himself and Joshua as leaders in the same way he did for Moses when they were fleeing from the Egyptians.
  • 1-7 – God made it impossible for them to forget what he had done for them and the sign he had given to them that he would take care of them. He had them build a memorial so that even those, in future generations, who hadn’t seen the miracle, would ask and be told of God stopping the Jordan River and bringing the Israelites to the Promised Land.

Luke 14:7-35:

  • 7-11 – The ancient Israelites were a part of a “honor/shame” society. Every action and scenario as well as possessions contributed to your honor or shame. This instruction from Jesus asks his hearers to forego that norm and to purposefully put yourself in what would be considered a shameful position instead of trying to claim a position of honor.
  • 12-14 – In order to receive honor, you needed to be associated with other honorable people. The poor, crippled, and lame were not people of honor. Again, Jesus calls us to forego the things that are elevated in our society.
  • 15-24 – This parable describes how Jesus originally came to save the Jews but was rejected so his message and salvation was opened for all who would accept.
  • 26-27 – Jesus uses strong language to help his hearers understand that they must offer full devotion to him. There devotion cannot be split.
  • 33 – This is hard to hear, but often we try to be partially or minimally devoted to Jesus. We’d like to hang on to everything else that is fun or seemingly beneficial to us. Jesus reminds us that it’s not possible to do both.

Psalm 80:1-19:

  • 4 – Because exile continued for generations, though they begged God to save them, the Israelites felt that their prayers went unheard.
  • 8-13 – The Psalmist asks why God would bother saving the Israelites from Egypt and allowing them to flourish only to later allow them to be devastated by other nations.

April 10 – Daily Notes – Amanda

left out

The Israelites were the chosen people of God. They were protected by him in war and provided for by him for all their needs. But then their sins led them to exile where they were rejected and alone. Today’s psalm recounts the Israelites’ experience in exile.

Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24:

  • 8-12 – As easily spooked as the Israelites were, you can imagine that Moses’ death would have had the potential to send them into hysterics wondering if God would still show up for them. In God’s great wisdom, he had already begun to raise a new leader, Joshua, into power so the Israelites could have someone to follow.
  • After four books worth of wandering in the desert, the Israelites are finally about to enter the Promised Land.
  • 5-9 – God’s initial instructions to Joshua tell him how to lead the people of Israel. He must follow all the commands Moses relayed to him from God. He must also be strong and courageous. This command is repeated 3 times in rapid succession. Any time something is repeated 3 times, it means it’s something you need to pay particular attention to.
  • 1-24 – Rahab is unlikely heroine in the Bible. She is a prostitute and is not an Israelite. However, she cares for the Israelite and asks only for safety in return. Because of her kindness and protection of the Israelite spies, she is rewarded. She is even mentioned in Matthew’s lineage of Jesus. She is the mother of Boaz who marries Ruth, who has a book of the Bible written about her.

Luke 13:22-14:6:

  • 22 – As early as chapter 9, the gospel writer describes Jesus as heading towards Jerusalem. Here we see it again. This does not mean it is a ridiculously long journey that takes all this time. It is simply that Jesus, starting then, was on his mission towards the cross.
  • 24-30 – Many religious folks wanted to rely on their devotion to the rules to buy their ticket to God’s kingdom. Jesus is letting them know that following the rules would not be enough and soon he would be gone and they would have missed their chance to have a place in the kingdom.
  • 34 – Jesus was sent first to the Jews and Jerusalem was their hub. Unfortunately the Jews rejected Jesus over and over again and would not allow him to protect them.

Psalm 79:1-13:

  • This Psalm refers to the Israelites’ experiences during exile. The Babylonians conquered them and all the nations assumed the Israelites’ God who normally protected them had disappeared.
  • 13 – So often throughout the Bible the Israelites are referred to as the sheep of God’s pasture. They were God’s original chosen people and the original ones that Jesus came to save. Thankfully Jesus expanded his ministry to gentiles as well.

Proverbs 12:26:

  • Humans are, by nature, selfish beings. We often fail to think about how our actions will effect others. This Proverb reminds us that our actions can lead people into righteousness or lead them astray.

What to Expect – Week 15

leave-it-to-beaver

What stories do/will you tell your kids? Are they stories about how your grandpa used to always take you to the same river to fish on weekends? Or how you got your first crush? Or how your mom used to celebrate your birthday with a special dessert? Without fail, we pass down memories to our kids, but we’re not always intentional about which memories we pass down. In this week’s Joshua reading (hooray! A new book!), God instructs the Israelites to build a monument so generations of their offspring will see it and ask why it’s there.

This is the week when Moses dies and Joshua officially takes over. Though Moses’ death was certainly sad because he had been the leader of the Israelites for decades, his death was necessary for them to move into the Promised Land. The monument the tribes of Israel built commemorated God’s faithfulness in bringing them out of Egypt, through the desert, and into the Promised Land.

This week in Luke, we read a great deal of Jesus’ teachings. Some to pay particular attention to are found in Wednesday’s readings. These three parables teach us the lengths to which God will go to welcome a sinner into his fold. Maybe you need to hear this personally or maybe you know someone who does. Take a second or two and send it if there’s someone who needs to hear that hopeful message today.

Also, this week’s Psalms can teach us a lot about faithfulness and what happens when we’re not. The Israelites rebelled against God over and over expecting him to keep his end of the bargain when they refused to. As it turns out, when we don’t hold up our end of the deal, we have to face the consequences on our own.

This week will lead you right up to Easter! I’d encourage you to read the story of Jesus’ sacrifice in addition to your daily readings to be prepared for the greatness of the resurrection.

April 7 – Daily Notes – Amanda

miyagi

Whether you’re teaching someone to paint the fence or run the nation of Israel, mentoring is beneficial. In fact, mentoring is crucial to the continued success of civilization. One generation passes down knowledge, skill and experience to the next. In today’s Deuteronomy reading, we see Moses pass the torch to a young, faithful, military leader, Joshua.

Deuteronomy 31:1-32:27:

  • 1-6 – Moses hands the reigns over to Joshua and reminds he and the Israelites that God goes with them and won’t forsake them so they have no reason to fear.
  • 16-18 – As Moses is about to die, this must have been hard information to hear about the people he loves and has led for so long.
  • 23 – Joshua was qualified to take over for Moses because he was a great military leader, when the 12 spies went to check out the Promised Land, only he and Caleb trusted that God would protect them against the larger inhabitants of the land, and he was called and appointed by God.
  • 1-27 – Though all of Deuteronomy is a type of farewell speech from Moses, this section is his song regarding the unfaithfulness of the Israelites during his tenure. At the end he says that if it were up to him he would have destroyed them.

Luke 12:8-34:

  • 10 – Though this is a confusing verse, one explanation is that if one were to reject Jesus while he was on earth, the Holy Spirit was still to be unleashed at Pentecost and could still reveal the identity of Christ to that person. If however, you were to reject the Holy Spirit, there were no other persons of the Trinity to be sent.
  • 13-31 – Jesus is not denouncing savings, clothing, or food and drink. He is, however, denouncing seeking these things first and not God. We often fall into the trap of providing for ourselves at the expense of building ourselves up spiritually first.

Psalm 78:32-55:

  • This Psalm recounts the Israelites’ tendencies to half-heartedly return to God when they faced consequences for their unfaithfulness. We often question God’s punishments but fail to recognize the unfaithfulness of humanity. We also often point the finger at biblical characters like the Israelites and the disciples who perpetually fail God and fail to see that we do the same thing.

Proverbs 12:21-23:

  • 22 – When we do the things God calls us to (i.e. serve the poor, love our neighbor, honor our parents, etc.) he is delighted in us. This is how we please God.

March 10 – Daily Notes – Amanda

monsters inc

Verse 5 of today’s Psalm is powerful. “There they are, in great terror where there is no terror!” We fear so many things that have absolutely no power over us. We fear that people will not accept us, or that our children will not get into the right kindergarten, or that we won’t be able to maintain the standard of living we hope for. We create terror where there is no terror. God is good and is in control. Fear not.

Numbers 14:1-15:16:

  • 1-4 – When things get scary, we often revert to whatever was comfortable even if it was bad for us. For the Israelites it was Egypt.
  • 18 – As Moses appeals to the Lord to forgive the Israelites for their continued unfaithfulness, he uses a phrase that people will repeat throughout the Bible, “the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…”.
  • The Israelites’ unfaithfulness results in them not getting to enter the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua get to and later generations get to, but those who have continually been unfaithful despite God’s provision, are punished.

Mark 14:53-72:

  • 61-63 – This is the first time Jesus openly calls himself the Son of God. He normally followed people’s questions about his identity with a question. The chief priests believed this gave them grounds to charge him with blasphemy.
  • 66-72 – Peter was convinced he would never deny Jesus. His denial and the fulfillment of what Jesus said gives Peter great grief.

Psalm 53:1-6:

  • We allow ourselves to fear so much in the world that truly can’t harm us. God is in control and takes care of us.