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 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.

April 9 – Daily Notes – Amanda

chicken or egg

Like the argument of the chicken and the egg, one of the biggest points of conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees was whether Sabbath laws trumped human need or vice versa. Today, in our Luke section, Jesus heals on the Sabbath. He clearly chooses human need over Sabbath Law.

Deuteronomy 33:1-29:

  • Moses offers blessings to each of Israel’s tribes based on the role they tended to play. Some were larger, some had great warriors, some were set aside for teaching God’s law to the rest of the people.
  • 29 – He rounds out his blessing with a reminder of how adeptly God cares for them and that they are truly set apart.

Luke 13:1-21:

  • 10-17 – The synagogue’s authorities yet again become enraged by Jesus’ actions because he “does work” by healing on the Sabbath. Jesus reminds them that they do too do work on the Sabbath, but have found a way to justify it, while he does work on the Sabbath to bless and love people.
  • 18-19 – There are many interpretations of why the mustard seed is a good comparison for the Kingdom of God. Some say that it’s because a mustard seed is tiny and grows quickly into something great. Others say it is because a mustard seed grows in a wild, uncontrollable fashion. Others say it is because the birds make nests in the mustard tree just like we can make a home and be welcomed into the kingdom of God.
  • 20-21 – Leaven activates ingredients do to what they’re supposed to do. Leaven also makes dough rise.

Psalm 78:65-72:

  • There are several times in Scripture where it describes God as silent. Before he calls Samuel and when there were no prophets for 400 years before John the Baptist arrived are some examples.
  • 68 – Judah was the tribe that both David and Jesus came from.

Proverbs 12:25:

  • Anxiety is normally equated with worry. The Bible often equates worry with a lack of trust. God continually gives us reason to trust as he continually proves himself faithful.

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 25 – Daily Notes – Amanda

scrooge mcduck

Many of us individually and all of us as a society are wealthy in comparison to the rest of the world. We, for the most part, have everything we need and many of the things we want. It is important that we do not begin to rely on these things as our hope our or salvation. Today’s Proverb warns us against this and shows us a better alternative.

Deuteronomy 4:1-49:

  • 1 – Listening and knowing what God calls us to do is good, but the doing is where faithfulness really comes in.
  • 9 – The people of ancient Israel passed down information by telling stories. God’s faithfulness was remembered through an oral tradition.
  • 25-29 – God knows that we will stray at times and he promises that when we discover the error of our ways and turn back and seek him that he will be there ready for us.
  • 32-40 – Moses reminds the Israelites that there are no other gods like our God and that he has proven himself and his faithfulness to them in a variety of ways.

Luke 6:39-7:10:

  • 39-40 – We cannot lead others in things that we don’t know. We have to have faith in order to lead others to faith.
  • 41-42 – It is far easier for us to recognize and address other people’s flaws than to admit and deal with our own.
  • 45 – We cannot expect to do good work for the Lord when our norm is to fill our hearts with filth.
  • 46-49 – Hearing God’s word and putting it into action prepares us for the difficult times.
  • 1-10 – A couple of significant things about this passage: 1) The centurion is a Roman official and yet has faith that even amazes Jesus. 2) This is one of the few stories where Jewish religious authorities are painted in a positive light.

Psalm 68:1-18:

  • 7-10 – So much of the Bible refers back to itself. This passage refers back to God’s provision for the Israelites in the desert. We too should seek comfort and build our faith on the goodness of God to people throughout history.

Proverbs 11:28:

  • Because we have so much, it is so easy for us to rely on our own wealth and abilities to take care of ourselves. This Proverb warns that this strategy will ultimately fail.

March 23 – Daily Notes – Amanda

leap of faith 2

We have been tainted by a very small group of people who take advantage of peoples’ faith, asking them to give money in order to prove their faith. These faithful folks are promised more financial blessings if they go ahead and give from what they have. Though today’s Proverb may sound like it’s saying the same thing, our blessings can come in a variety of forms and many blessings we receive are far more valuable than money.

Numbers 36:1/Deuteronomy 1:46:

  • The Book of Numbers was about counting the tribes, establishing rules to live and function by, and getting the Israelites to the Promised Land.
  • 9-18 – Until now, Moses was the Israelites leader, judge, and connection to God. In this statement he spreads the power amongst leaders and judges of the individual tribes.
  • 30-31 – It’s helpful to look back at God’s faithfulness in our past so we can be assured that he will continue to be faithful.
  • 39 – God kept his promise to give the Promised Land to the Israelites. He did not give it to the older generation because they were unfaithful, but saved it for the younger generation.

Luke 5:29-6:11:

  • 29 – Tax collectors were some of the most despised people in this society. They were known for charging way too much for taxes and gaining wealth at the expense of others.
  • 29-32 – This is true of us today as well. Jesus wants people who are willing to admit their failures and recognize their need for a Savior. He grants the wishes of those who believe they can handle things on their own and don’t need help.
  • 36-39 – Jesus’ new ideas and ways of practicing faith did not fit into the Pharisees’ older ways of thinking. Old practices were cherished and had value in that society, so bringing in a new way of acting/thinking was threatening.
  • 1-5 – Jesus uses David as an example because he was such a well-respected figure.
  • 1-11 – Jesus’ point was not to dishonor the Sabbath. He realized God’s desire for us to rest on the Sabbath was for our good. If some action was necessary for someone’s wellbeing, that trumped the need to rest.

Psalm 66:1-20:

  • It is important to celebrate the good things God has done in order to share his goodness and faithfulness with others.

Proverbs 11:24-26:

  • This should not be mistaken for “the prosperity gospel” that God wants to make all the faithful people rich. Vs. 24 might sound like this, but often we go richer and things far more important than money when we choose to trust God with our finances.

March 20 – Daily Notes – Amanda

pursuit

In today’s psalm, David sounds like a man who would not let anything stand in the way of his pursuit of God. He hungered and thirsted for God. This relentless pursuit leaves me feeling both convicted, “I don’t think I have that kind of passion.” and inspired, “I want to pursue God with that kind of fire.” What about you?

Numbers 30:1-31:54:

  • Killing the women and male children seems extremely harsh, but the Israelites were always tempted to mix with other nations when they weren’t completely wiped out. Moses reminds them of their indiscretions in Peor caused by their unwillingness to follow God’s commands completely.

Luke 4:1-30:

  • During Jesus’ temptation he is physically weak but is filled with the Holy Spirit. This can teach us a lot about what we truly need.
  • Both Jesus and the devil use Scripture. Jesus uses it to remain faithful to God. The devil twists it to try to cause Jesus to sin.
  • 18-19 – Jesus establishes his purpose throughout his ministry.
  • 24-30 – Jesus’ words are offensive to those in the synagogue because he is suggesting that they will not be healed. They try to kill him but clearly his purpose wouldn’t be fulfilled through that death so he is able to escape from them.

Psalm 63:1-11:

  • The fervor with which David seeks and longs for God is both convicting and inspiring.