We all hate admitting when we’re wrong. People might think we’re dumb or think we’re often wrong if they don’t have a good sample size. We want to seem competent and with it and we like to prove why we’re better than others. Today’s proverb reminds us, though, that the humility of admitting fault can free us and others in so many ways.
- 1-12 – Clearly this imagery is meant to be a metaphor for something else. Leading Ezekiel through the water of increasing depths may represent God leading us through deeper and deeper depths of trust. The good fruit growing out of the temple’s waters could represent God providing good things for the people.
- 13-23 – The land had to be re-divided between the Israelite tribes now that Israel is back from exile.
- 10 – The temple, though the original one was destroyed, was still designed to be the center of the Israelites’ existence.
- 35 – The Lord is There is one of the many names God is given throughout Scripture to describe something he has done for his people.
1 Peter 2:11-3:7:
- 11-12 – We know God doesn’t want us to fall to temptation and sin, but we rarely think of how negatively it affects us and we often fail to see the benefits of living faithfully.
- 18-25 – It seems ludicrous and completely unjust for us to endure punishment or suffering for something we’re not guilty of, but that’s what Christ did and sometimes we are called to endure as well. (These types of verses have also been used to justify things like domestic abuse. That is not what is intended by this passage.)
- 1-2 – Our kindness and goodness can often draw others to Christ.
- 3-6 – Outward beauty is fleeting, but inward beauty will always be beneficial.
- 54-56 – This speaks of a time when God’s word was a comfort when the psalmist was out of his element. God’s word can do the same for us.
- 13 – It is so hard to admit where we are wrong, but it brings freedom for us and others.
Are you a leader in any arena? If so, you’ll notice that leadership comes with responsibility. If you’re a leader, that means you have followers and that ultimately means that you are, at least in part, responsible for those who follow you. In today’s Ezekiel reading we see examples of good and bad leadership. Ezekiel heeded the call of leadership and shared God’s message with the people. At the same time, many religious leaders led people away from God and towards other gods. Leadership should always be taken seriously.
- 1-9 – Ezekiel was tasked with sharing God’s messages of repentance to Israel. If he did so and the Israelites did not turn away from their sins, their destruction was on their own heads. If Ezekiel didn’t share the message, their destruction was on him.
- 10-20 – God does not and did not delight in destroying people. He gave them every opportunity to turn around, but they continued to choose not to.
- 2 – This is not referring to shepherds of white fluffy animals, but the leaders of the Israelites who were supposed to be leading them towards God.
- 7-10 – God was not pleased with the leaders’ negligence towards the people, so God committed to rescuing the people.
- 20-24 – God is referring to Jesus here when he talks about bringing all his people together under one. Jesus was in the line of David.
- 1-2 – This reminds us to be kind and caring to everyone in our midst.
- 4-5 – The things believers should and shouldn’t do stay pretty consistent throughout the New Testament.
- 15-16 – To be faithful we need to praise God and serve others.
- 1-8 – A great deal of the Bible is focused on who we should focus on and worship. Too often we get distracted and choose to offer our affections elsewhere.
- These tools and metals are referring to a purifying process. This is to suggest that a fool cannot be separated from his folly.
How many times this year has Scripture revisited God rescuing the Israelites from Egypt? It is their constant pillar reminding and assuring them of God’s faithfulness. What is yours? What event or circumstance do you look back on when you struggle to trust? A particular time God provided for you in a specific way? A time when you were rescued from a bad situation? A miracle that can’t be explained in any way but God? Think about that today, particularly if you’re facing a trial.
- 31-34 – God declares a new covenant with the Israelites since the last one was broken and forgotten.
- 1-5 – Zedekiah was the king of Judah appointed by the king of Babylon.
- 6-15 – Jeremiah’s opportunity to buy the field was proof sent from God that he would fulfill his promises of restoration.
- 16-23 – Note how many times God’s rescuing Israel from Egypt is revisited in order to offer hope of God’s faithfulness in the future.
- 26-35 – Judah’s sin had greatly grieved God. They worshipped idols offered sacrifices to other gods just like the foreign nations.
- 36-41 – God’s anger morphs into abiding love as he describes drawing his people back to himself and making them his own again.
1 Timothy 3:1-16:
- 1-7 – Overseers (or leaders in the faith) have higher standards they must live up to.
- 8-13 – Deacons, a different level in church leadership, also had a higher standard to live by. Their wives were also held to an elevated standard.
- 1 – Here, and then again in verse 13, the psalmist declares that he is faithful in prayer despite feeling left and forsaken by God. That kind of commitment can only stem from knowing that God will eventually come through.
- 20 – Know your audience. A heavy heart needs you to mourn with it. Don’t make it worse.
- 21-22 – Kill them with kindness.
Today, in both Jeremiah and 2 Thessalonians, we see the need to differentiate between God’s messages and false prophecies. These days, this is still a struggle. False prophecies, messages that will lead us astray, are sneaky and sound helpful, but ultimately they lead us away from God instead of towards him. It is important for us to rely on the Holy Spirit to hear God’s true messages.
- 23-24 – God explains that he is near and sees the actions of people. He is not far away or oblivious to peoples’ actions.
- 28-32 – God makes a clear delineation between the prophets he has given a message to and those who he has not. He does not support the messages of those he has not.
- 33-40 – Asking for a “burden” of the Lord is asking for a prophecy, but this is a play on words so that God flips it around and makes the person the burden.
- 1-10 – The good figs are those who were faithful throughout exile and the bad figs were those who did not repent in exile.
- 1-14 – Jeremiah’s prophecy maps out the details of Judah’s exile and why they’re happening.
- 27 – The prophecy encourages the people to drink of destruction. They’re intended to endure the destruction of their own doing until they can take no more and then God will end it.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-17:
- 1-12 – This warns the Thessalonians not to be deceived by those trying to lead them off course, but to be prepared for the return of Christ.
- 1-4 – This section encompasses the joy and comfort found in the presence of God. All are cared for there, even the seemingly insignificant sparrow.
- 10-12 – There is nothing greater in life than spending time in God’s presence.
- Instead of trying to win battles with power, often we need to use kindness.
As a culture, we are terrible at trusting God. Most of it is due to our conditioning. We have the means to take care of most things ourselves. We might pray about a situation, but ultimately we know we’ll be the ones to fix it. When we lose a job, we pray about it, but when we get a new job we normally credit ourselves with our diligent work. Prayer was mostly lip service. In today’s psalm, David trusts God in a dire situation. We can learn a lot from his depth of reliance on God.
- 5-19 – God used Assyria to punish Israel when Assyria toppled Israel, but now God is speaking against them because they have overstepped their bounds and are going after Jerusalem.
- 20-23 – Though the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom were occupied by Assyria and only a few remained, they were able to have hope because God said they would eventually be able to return to relying on him.
- 24-27 – God assures Judah that they will not be overtaken by Assyria like Israel was.
- 1-16 – This is another Messianic prophecy. The root of Jesse refers to Jesse, David’s father. Jesus was from David’s line and thus part of Jesse’s family. This passage refers to the great power and influence the Messiah would have.
2 Corinthians 12:11-21:
- 14-15 – Paul describes himself as a type of spiritual father to the Corinthians explaining that he was not trying to get anything from them. He was just trying to offer them salvation. His goal was to give to them, not take away.
- 20-21 – Paul was fearful that the Corinthians were not actually living faithfully and he would be confronted with a failure in his ministry.
- David, though faced with a life-threatening situation, is able to put his full trust in God. He makes a powerful statement saying, “what can flesh do to me?” He understands that God is in control no matter how scary circumstances look.
- This is a warning against false kindness and false generosity.
I have come to hate the word “deserve”. It wreaks of entitlement and, honestly, what do we actually deserve? In today’s Job reading, Job is trying to rebut Elihu. Job argues that just because we live righteously, we are not guaranteed blessings. We live righteously because that’s what we’re called to do. We don’t, then, deserve a reward for doing so.
- 1-37 – Elihu continues to assert, like Job’s friends, that God cannot do anything unjust. He also contrasts Job with someone who repents suggesting that Job has not and needs to. They continue to assume that Job has sinned to cause all this destruction.
- 1-16 – Elihu continues to argue with Job and correct him for saying that righteousness doesn’t earn a reward from God.
- 1-33 – Though Elihu, for the most part sings praise to God for his greatness, he also calls himself “perfect in knowledge”, which seems to equate himself with at least the knowledge of God. This seems counter to the majority of his thoughts.
2 Corinthians 4:1-12:
- 5 – This is something we must make sure we are doing. We are not trying to bring glory to ourselves or promote ourselves as saviors, but to share Christ with the nations.
- 7 – We are the jars of clay. Jars of clay are fragile and hold the thing that is important. We have the Holy Spirit inside us.
- 8-12 – Though Paul and his companions had received a lot of persecution and difficulty, they were still able to share the gospel. Nothing had been able to destroy them.
- 1-3 – These three verses explain the importance of sharing our faith with younger generations. The Sons of Korah believed in God’s power and provision because their fathers told them how he had displayed it.
- 11-12 – Kindness and graciousness will always gain you favor, while hateful words are eventually found out.
We’ve talked about the Levites quite a bit previously, but today’s 1 Chronicles reading focuses on them pretty heavily. This passage, in particular, is just another reminder to us that God is faithful in caring for each of us individually. Way back in Joshua when Moses passed out land to each tribe? Remember that the Levites got no land? But, they got special offerings and each tribe was to distribute land from their own inheritance to the Levites. God doesn’t forget us or leave us to fend for ourselves. Everybody gets a piece.
1 Chronicles 5:8-6:81:
- 18-26 – These are two examples of immediate action in opposite directions based on the tribe’s faithfulness or lack there of. When the 3 tribes were seeking God, they were rewarded with victory. When they were unfaithful, they were punished with exile.
- Chapter 6 is a series of lists of the Levitical priests. The tribe of Levi is set apart as sacramental priests and we often hear of them in conjunction with particular kings.
- 31-32 – You can imagine that these men sang some of David’s psalms.
- 54-81 – Remember that when Moses was handing out inheritances of land parcels to each tribe, the Levites did not get one because they received the tithes of the people. Instead, each tribe was to give the Levites portions of their land to live on. This is the explanation of what land the Levites got.
- 4-8 – The Jews longed for a Messiah. This is what Paul is referring to in verse 6 when he talks about a promise they hoped in. Most Jews simply did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
- 19-23 – Paul, having been a very devout Jew his whole life, knew all the prophecies and what faithful Jews believed. He is able to appeal to them using the testimonies of Moses and the prophets, whom the Jews greatly revered, to confirm what he was preaching.
- 28-29 – Paul basically drops the mic here. He wants King Agrippa to become a Christian as well as everyone else within earshot.
- 32 – It is not absurd to think that Paul knew he could have gotten out of prison quicker if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar, but did it anyway because his ultimate goal was to evangelize in front of more people, particularly those at the top.
- 5 -–Sheol was where ancient Jews believed all people went after death. It was not a pleasant place. David is asking for his life to be spared because he would not be able to praise God from Sheol.
- While it is many of our tendencies to blame God when we face difficult times, David sought God’s help in difficult times.
- This is very similar to Proverbs 12:14 where it explains that kind, honest words reap a good harvest like a farmer who plants good seed.