Like the minor prophets, the Johns are short books. Don’t make the mistake of skimming over them or discounting them because of their size. There is obviously a reason they were included and more words doesn’t always mean more important. So take the time to think on the 15 verses of 3 John today. See what you learn.
- 4-11 – Judah and Israel are unrepentant and fickle. God reflects that they act as if they love him, but that love only remains for a short time.
- 1-16 – This continues God’s lament over the Israelites’ continual choice not to repent.
- 1-14 – God is promising that Israel and Judah will reap what they sow. They continue to live unfaithfully and will soon receive what they’re asking for.
- 1-17 – Though painful to read, this section assures that Israel will be punished. Verse 17, in particular, confirms the rejection of Israel. We cannot expect to sin over and over and never face a consequence.
3 John 1-15:
- 5-8 – This section is encouraging all churches who followed John to accept and be open to traveling pastors and evangelists so they can all work within the same cause.
- 11 – The author has already explained what to do and then given an example of what not to do. This simply sums up that we should imitate the former.
- 1-3 – When the Lord does great things for us, others notice it and are changed when we choose to accept his blessings.
- 12 – If leaders give their subordinates an opportunity to be unfaithful, they will often accept.
Are there things you long for? A new job? A spouse? A child? Do you long for God? This isn’t how we normally talk and maybe isn’t how we think or act either. But the cool thing is, the psalms, specifically today’s psalm, describe longing for God. This is a deep need and desire to be close to him. What might it look like for you to long for God.
- 24-30 – Daniel is careful not to take credit for the incredible act he will perform. He gives glory to God for this ability.
- 31-45 – Babylon had been a great power that had conquered Israel and other lands. God reveals that they will soon crumble despite their current might.
- 46-49 – Daniel and his friends worked for the king but still remained faithful to God.
- 13-18 – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are given another chance by the king. This is probably not an act of grace, but a desperate attempt to get everyone to do what he says. Even amidst the threat of certain death, they give a powerful response in verses 17&18.
- 24-25 – Many believe this fourth person with the three friends to be Jesus or an angel of protection.
- 24-30 – Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego’s incredible faith ends up turning even those who would openly and intensely defy God.
1 Peter 4:7-5:14:
- 8 – Ain’t that the truth?
- 10-11 – This is a great way of looking at our gifts – that they should be used to bless others. Often, we use our gifts for our own betterment or enjoyment.
- 12-19 – We are told to relish our sufferings if they are received due to faithfulness. Not all suffering is because we’ve been faithful.
- 6-11 – We are encouraged to always be ready for a time when Christ can raise us up. We must be watchful, however, for stumbling blocks along the way.
- 81-82 – People in the Bible frequently describe their desire for God as one of “longing”. We rarely long for God. We often feel as if we’re doing him a favor by praying, reading Scripture, or living faithfully. What if we saw our position more like the folks who wrote the Bible?
- 16 – Leaders are appointed to protect their people and have higher standards upon them.
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.
The grace we receive through Jesus’ sacrifice is a free gift we cannot earn. Hebrews tells us, however, we do have a role to play. Our job, after we’ve received salvation is to pursue sanctification – the process of becoming more like Christ by turning away from our sins. But once you’ve received such a wonderful gift, wouldn’t you want to become more like the giver?
- 1-17 – God has Ezekiel prophesy against Jerusalem letting them know that God has drawn his sword and will soon slay the wicked. This has to be terrifying to hear.
- 18-32 – God will use the Babylonians and Ammonites to wield his sword against Jerusalem.
- 6-12 – God reminds the leaders of Israel of their sins. It is known that the Babylonians and Ammonites, who God would use to destroy Jerusalem, also had great sins against God’s law, but since they were not God’s chosen people, they were not subject to God’s law.
- 18-19 – Dross of metals is the impurities that float to the top when purifying it. When you melt silver, impurities rise to the top and are scraped off to assure the purity of the precious metal. Israel has now become the throw away portion of what was once precious.
- 5-7 – Jesus did not offer sacrifices other than himself. Jesus says that God does not desire sacrifices and offerings because the Israelites were using them incorrectly. They weren’t allowing themselves to be changed by the sacrifices but were simply using them as a chance to continue sinning.
- 11-14 – Jesus’ sacrifice of himself offers us righteousness. It is our job though, to pursue the process of sanctification. This is the process of systematically turning away from sin and becoming more like Christ.
- 1-6 – So many of the psalms are simply talking about how God deserves our praise. Note that there are always reasons listed why he deserves it. This one uses some of the phrases some of the others use, “your steadfast love is great”, “your faithfulness reaches to the clouds”. Try not to allow yourself to read over these quickly because you’ve heard it before. Think about what those things actually mean, it may compel you to offer God a little more praise than normal.
- Humans are designed to walk away from danger, but without wisdom, we tend to ignore our natural urgings. Wisdom keeps us safe.
Though we’re fine singing along with thousands of others to our school song or favorite band’s number one hit, we often feel weird singing praise to God. Today’s psalm gives us a good reason to though – simply because we are saved. God looked on us and offered salvation and that is reason enough to sing praises to him – even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first.
- 23-33 – A prophecy against Damascus.
- 1-20 – This prophecy declares that Judah, though unlikely, will eventually overthrow Babylon and Babylon will become a laughing stock.
- 5-9 – These are characteristics required for certain kinds of Christian leadership.
- Psalm 97 paints an incredible picture of God’s power. As you read, try to picture what it’s describing in your mind.
- 1-2 – Regardless of our circumstances, we have reason to praise God with a great new song simply because we have received salvation.
- This sluggard guy sounds awful! It does not sound like someone I want to be.
Paul makes it clear, in 1 Timothy, that it is the responsibility of the family to take care of their vulnerable members. The church is happy to assist when families are not capable, but this does not mean families should cast off their problematic family members knowing the church will pick up the pieces.
- 1-17 – The Rechabites, though not Israelites, had lived among the Israelites since they came into the Promised Land. God is disappointed that though they were able to remain faithful, the Israelites were not.
- 1-3 – Though God has declared destruction on Judah, he is clearly still giving them opportunities to repent.
- 20-26 – The Lord gave Jeremiah words to help the Israelites repent and Baruch read them to them. When the words were given to King Jehoiakim, he tore them up and burned them in the fire, a clear sign of disrespect.
1 Timothy 5:1-25:
- 1-2 – This is to show respect for your elders.
- 3-8 – God does not look kindly on abandoning family members. Widows were particularly vulnerable because they had no form of income. Their children and grandchildren, if they had any, were to take care of them.
- 9-16 – This is encouraging people who still have the ability to take care of themselves to do so so the church will have the means to take care of those who don’t.
- 19-22 – Sins of those in leadership are viewed more harshly because leaders have been given more authority and more responsibility.
- 19-37 – This portion of the psalm explains the special calling and blessing of David. The way the psalm describes him and the way the Lord saw him, definitely mimic descriptions of Christ.
- 26 – It is confusing when someone who is righteous chooses sin. This can cause non and new believers to stumble.
- 27 – Seeking one’s own glory is similar to being overindulgent.
Growing up, whenever a crazy driver would speed by us, my mom would annoyedly say, “Teenagers.” Teenagers get a bad rap. They smell weird, their hormones make them say and do weird things, and they’re often mean to their parents. But! Teenagers, young adults, kids, and anyone else who doesn’t feel like they get the respect they deserve, should read 1 Timothy 4. Paul explains how you can earn that respect and leadership despite your age.
- 1-13 – God promises to restore peace to Jerusalem.
- 14-26 – Other nations had mocked Israel because it seemed that God had forgotten them and had broken his covenant with them. God promises to restore his covenant with them by placing David’s line back on the throne. We know that this eventually happens permanently through Jesus.
- 8-22 – God explains his punishment on all those who did not stick with their covenant. One portion of the covenant was to release slaves at a proper time. Many failed to do so.
1 Timothy 4:1-16:
- 1-5 – Paul consistently taught against certain foods being unclean or certain practices and rituals being necessary for salvation. He believed salvation was through faith in Jesus alone.
- 6-10 – There were some people in that time that believed holiness came through physical training. While taking care of one’s body is important, it is not a path towards salvation.
- 12 – The quintessential youth group verse – this verse is advice from Paul to Timothy of how to conduct himself even though it would be initially hard to gain respect because of his youth.
- 13-16 – Great advice on how to lead faithfully.
- 5-13 – One thing we seem to be missing, in general, in our culture, is awe and reverence of the Lord’s majesty. This psalm seems to indicate awe and reverence.
- 10 – References to “Rahab” are often indicating Egypt.
- 24 – Choose your spouse wisely.
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.
Leaders are leaders for a reason. They have influence and people choose to follow them whether they recognize their choice or not. The Bible is full of good and bad leaders and their quality tends to define the quality of their constituents – particularly in the arena of faithfulness. In today’s 2 Chronicles reading, we see examples of both, but note that King Jehoshaphat takes it further than most. He not only leads his people towards faithfulness, but extends his reach to those surrounding him. I wonder your reach could extend?
2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34:
- 6 – Taking down the high places, where false god worship often occurred, seemed to be the final act of faithfulness that even most of the faithful kings failed to complete.
- 7-10 – Throughout 1&2 Kings we see the faithfulness of the people closely follow the faithfulness of the king. Hear King Jehoshaphat takes it a step further and has his officials teach those in the surrounding lands about God.
- 1-3 – It was unusual for Israel and Judah to work together during their split. There were reasons they split.
- 16 – This phrase “sheep without a shepherd” is used often when people don’t have anyone to follow. Jesus called the Jews that when he started his ministry. The Israelites were often called this when they were not following God.
- 11-22 – Ahab’s prophets guaranteed he would have victory at Ramoth-gilead, but Micaiah explains that they all have a lying spirit and that, due to Ahab’s unfaithfulness, God intends for Ahab to fail. Ahab didn’t really believe Micaiah because he hadn’t liked previous prophesies he’d given.
- 29-34 – Ahab did everything he could to avoid his fate, but what God speaks is true.
- 25-26 – Hosea is a prophet and a book of the Bible. Hosea was called to marry a promiscuous woman so his life could serve as a microcosm of God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful Israel.
- 30-33 – Most human sin points back to our desire to rely on ourselves instead of relying on God.
- 9-13 – This is a quick summary of salvation.
- Most of David’s Psalms are focused on his own troubles, needs, and praises. This one is clearly meant for the whole group.
- 7 – A powerful declaration. Might be something nice to hang above your door frame.
- 3 – Avoiding unnecessary conflict is wise. Fools tend to rush into it.
In today’s 1 Chronicles reading we read the way that we should approach all our offerings to God. Too often we hold tightly what we have thinking there is no way we could give up that much. We think we need what we have and fail to realize that we actually need to give back to God. We don’t give because God needs our time/money/resources. We give because it grows and benefits us to trust God enough to give him the time/money/resources we think we need so desperately. It was a gift from God in the first place. We are just entrusted with it for a time.
1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30:
- 2-8 – In David’s final year as king, he explains that he was chosen for a specific purpose. He was a king of war, but his family, from his line was chosen to be on the throne forever. This is culminated with Jesus coming from David’s line. Interestingly, there are things he wasn’t called to do. God has a specific purpose for each of us.
- 20 – These words David speaks to Solomon are familiar. We hear them in parts when Moses hands over leadership of Israel to Joshua and we hear them throughout the Psalms.
- 3-5 – Leaders have to put their money where their mouth is.
- 14 – This should be our attitude with our resources. We are simply giving from what God has given us.
- 6-11 – This confirms Paul’s explanation of why we can’t earn our way to salvation. Christ died for us when we were sinners, so none of us could say that we earned or deserved it. It also shows God’s incredible love for us.
- 12-17 – Paul juxtaposes Adam, who brought sin in the world, and Jesus, who brought the grace of salvation into the world.
- Remember that, in certain parts of the tabernacle/temple, sin could not be present, this is why there were cleansing rituals. This psalm spells out what kind of person could enter that space.
- Other translations say “while there is hope” instead of “for there is hope”. The writer urges the reader to discipline a child while they’re still moldable unless you want to contribute to their destruction.