We are often like little kids who get told ‘no’. Like us, they are appalled that someone would correct them from doing what they want to do. Today’s psalm reminds us that God’s commands are blessings to us and help keep us safe and blessed. Instead of seeing them as cramping our style, we should see them as gifts to make our lives the best they can possibly be.
- 9-14 – Though the Levites responsibilities for the temple were not completely revoked, they were punished for leading others to worship foreign gods and idols.
- 28-31 – God assured that the Levite priests were well taken care of so they didn’t need to acquire wealth anyway other than how God provided for them.
1 Peter 1:1-12:
- 1-2 – This letter was written by Peter or by someone whose faith originated from Peter’s ministry. People often attributed their works to their teachers or leaders.
- 6-9 – We can rejoice even when we face trials because our salvation means we have ultimate hope.
- 18-24 – When do we ever beg for God’s rules and commandments? We forget that they are blessings to us and are meant for our good.
- 10 – Throughout Scripture we are warned against leading others into sin.
Chocolate. Money. Cell Phones. These things are all enjoyable and not bad in and of themselves. But any can easily become a god to us if we allow it to. Our proverb, today, reminds us what role our stuff should have in our lives.
- 27-43 – This was a large celebration, led by the Levites, to give thanks for the restoration of Jerusalem.
- 6 – Remember that Nehemiah has asked for leave in order to restore the walls of Jerusalem. At this point, he returns to the king.
- 15-18 – Working on the Sabbath disobeyed one of the 10 Commandments. Nehemiah reminds the people of this and explains that they are engaging in the same kinds of sinful acts that their fathers did which eventually sent them to exile.
- 23-27 – The children not being able to speak the language of Judah is just an example of how intermarrying caused the Israelites to lose their national purity.
1 Corinthians 11:3-16:
- 6 – Apparently short or shaved hair was a disgrace for women at the time. Paul is relating to the present culture to make his point.
- 11-12 – God brought man and woman’s dependence on one another full circle by having woman be created from man in the beginning, but now men come from women in birth.
- 1-6 – David seeks God’s help in his fight against his enemies. David is quick to trust God for help throughout the psalms.
- 17 – It is not bad to love pleasurable things, but it is bad to let them rule us.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good!” “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one.” “I once was blind but now I see.” God gave us five incredible senses. Today’s Proverb reminds us that we don’t just have these senses because they’re neat. We have them because they are just some of the ways that we get to experience God. Think about that the next time you see a beautiful landscape or hear a baby coo.
2 Chronicles 29:1-36:
- 5-11 – King Hezekiah was faithful and brought the Levites back to faithfulness as well.
- 24 – Israel had strayed for a long time from faithfulness. The Levites were cleansing everything completely so it could return to use in the worship of the Lord.
- 25-30 – This seems like a pretty spectacular worship service.
- 1-4 – There are times when we are called to rebuke others for their sins and bring them back. At this point, Jesus had deemed all food clean so eating certain things was no longer sinful. It was just a matter of point of view.
- 5-6 – Often we get angry with people who don’t hold to the same morals as us. Often it is more about us only upholding certain morals because of pride instead of doing so because of faithfulness to God.
- 20-21 – This is reason to abstain from certain things for the sake of others. Even though you don’t have a problem with alcohol or graphic movies, etc. if you know someone else does, you abstain for their sake.
- 3-4 – These are beautiful verses of what we should strive for so we can enter the presence of the Lord with confidence.
- 7-10 – A cool exchange asking questions of who it is that is worthy of such respect. It is our God, the God of Jacob.
- The Lord gives us our senses – these are just some of the ways he’s given us to experience him.
What do you currently do for someone who can’t repay you? I normally invite friends over for dinner who will eventually invite me over in return. I hangout with people who bring me joy. But today’s Proverb reminds us that we are to care for and serve those who have no means by which to repay us. When we do this, we know a far greater reward awaits us in heaven.
1 Chronicles 26:12-27:34:
- 29-31 – Some of the Levites were given jobs outside of the temple.
- 31 – David’s 40th year of reigning was his last.
- 23-24 – David was not asked to run this census of the people and God was not pleased that he did. These verses seem to attempt to absolve him of his wrongdoing because the census was never completed.
- 33 – It is funny that right in the middle of all the official positions and responsibilities is listed Hushai, the king’s friend, as if that is an official position too.
- 18-22 – It must have been difficult for Abraham to have faith that God would provide a child for he and his wife so late in life. His faith that God would fulfill his promises was considered his righteousness. We too can have faith that God has and will do the impossible for us too.
- 3-5 – It is not easy to rejoice in our sufferings, but it becomes easier when we realize what it results in.
- 7 – The good news is salvation does end up coming out of Zion. Jesus’ death and resurrection occur in Jerusalem.
- This is reminiscent of the separation of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. Those who served the poor and needy actually served Jesus. Though the poor person is not able to repay the generous person, the Lord is able.
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.
John 3:30 is John the Baptist speaking. He says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” What if that was our goal for the way we lived our lives? What if everything we did and every decision we made was with the goal of becoming more like Christ? What if we were more concerned with God being glorified than with our own recognition and success? Let’s take a verse from John the Baptist on this one.
- 1 – Stories continue to be started with the phrase, “when there was no king in Israel”. This should not be read as a negative. God did not intend for Israel to have a human king, but to be their king himself.
- 22-26 – This is almost identical to the story in Genesis 19 about Sodom and Gomorrah and the townsmen trying to have sex with the visiting angels. Clearly sexually assaulting a woman was seen as a far lesser crime than sexually assaulting a man.
- 27-30 – Obviously a very disturbing story, the Levite dismembers his dead concubine and sends pieces to every tribe. It seems his intention is to remind them of their sin and encourage them to speak out against one another when they commit such egregious sins.
- 23 – The first time in the whole ordeal when someone calls on God for direction.
- 43 – “Nohah” has a superscript 2 attached. When you look at the footnote it mentions the “Septuagint.” The Septuagint was a translation of the Old Testament, which was originally written in Hebrew, into Koine Greek, which is what the majority of the New Testament was originally written in.
- 25-30 – While John’s disciples viewed Jesus as competition, John recognized that he had simply paved the way for Jesus. His explanation in verse 30 of his relationship with Jesus is one that we should all model after.
- 34 – When God sends people they have his words because he fills them with the Spirit. Often we worry about “what to say”, but we need not worry because if we’re sent by God he will give us the words.
- The works and control of God are amazing. This Psalm chronicles some of the specifics.
- 22- 23 – The book of James tells us not simply to hear the word but also to do what it says. These verses are similar. We are not simply to talk, but also to do.
Today we see Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ “inner circle” (which is apparently also the name of a popular Jamaican reggae group – thus the picture) in action. These were the three disciples invited most closely into Jesus’ life and ministry. Today they experience the transfiguration, a powerful experience where they saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus up on a mountain. It must have been incredible to be in Jesus’ inner circle.
- 1-5 – What a great amount of trust this must have taken for this tribe. They were not allowed to try to provide for themselves or store up for themselves. Instead, they had to rely on the peoples’ devotion to God.
- 21-22 – This definition of whether a prophet was false or not was certainly fairly tricky considering much of what prophets said didn’t happen until long after they were dead.
- 21 – This verse represents justice.
- 1-4 – Yet again, the Lord asks the Israelites to trust him completely. It’s important to remember all the ways he had been faithful to them beforehand in order for them to trust him in these large ways.
- Peter, James, and John were the inner circle of the disciples. They were most often included and more seemed to be expected from them.
- 28-36 – This event is known as the Transfiguration. Jesus’ form was transformed in the presence of God. He shown with the glory of God.
- 46-48 – There is great irony that this conversation comes just after they are unable to cast out a demon and unable to understand what Jesus is telling them.
- 49-50 – Sometimes doing the work of God comes before having love for God.
- 25-26 – Beautiful verses about the importance of full reliance on God.
- 27-28 – The rewards or consequences based on what you choose.
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?
Remember these from Exodus? These were the priestly garments. They were worn by the Levites. The Levites were a tribe set apart to be the priests who handled sacrifices, atonement, and all sorts of other special tasks. Today’s Numbers reading gives us a helpful rundown of the Levites.
- 48 – God spared the rest of the people because Aaron guarded them.
- 8-11 – Aaron and his family are given everything that is offered to the Lord. They receive this instead of an inheritance because the Lord is to be their portion.
- The Levites also got no inheritance of the people of Israel. Instead, they got the tithes offered to God.
- 26 – The Levites were supposed to tithe off of the tithes they received. This is kind of like pastors tithing since they are paid by the tithes of the church members.
- It is significant that the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection are women. Women’s testimony in court or otherwise did not count.
- 16-18 – These verses have been used to justify some of the more extreme versions of Christianity.
- David feels particularly tortured because he is being betrayed by someone he once felt close to.
- 22 – A great reminder that we can cast our worries, burdens, difficulties, etc. on God and he will carry them for us.
Do you ever long for something you used to complain about? Like naps as little kids, now we would die for one in the middle of a long afternoon! In this week’s Numbers readings, the Israelites continue to long for what they begged to get out of. Their wanderings in the desert prove difficult and they think they’d rather be back in Egypt. You’ll also hear a talking donkey, learn the purpose of the Levites, and much more!
This week we also start a new gospel! Luke begins his gospel by explaining that he will provide an orderly, organized account of Jesus’ life and ministry. You’ll recognize his birth narrative from every Christmas Eve service you’ve ever been to. But you may never have noticed that there’s something different from the birth narrative in Matthew. Matthew focuses more on Joseph’s perspective while Luke focuses more on Mary’s.
Some other cool fun facts about Luke:
- Luke also wrote Acts, which we’ll read after John.
- Luke is known for its wide array of Jesus’ parables. Parables are found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but Luke has the most.
- In Luke, women play a larger role than in any other gospel.
- Luke contains both Mary’s Magnificat and Zechariah’s song – both beautiful praise pieces.
Enjoy this week! We’re making great progress! This is the 9th book we’ve started, so we’re doing great!!