Obedience is a tricky thing. We often want to obey partially, but that is actually not obedience. The good news is, as our proverb tells us today, we have the Holy Spirit to act a little like bumpers on a bowling lane when our obedience starts to slip. Thank goodness for all the checks and balances God has put in place for us.
6-17 – King Cyrus had approved the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, but King Artaxerxes, his predecessor had halted the progress. Now the leaders trying to get it built again were appealing to Darius to allow them to search for the gold and silver vessels used in worship in the original temple.
6-12 – King Darius makes a decree putting all the building plans back in progress.
16-22 – It would have been a huge celebration for the Israelites to return to their land, dedicate the temple, and celebrate Passover again. It is hard for us to relate to how significant that would have been for them.
1 Corinthians 3:5-23:
5-9 – This is great encouragement for people investing in the faith growth of the next generation or anyone really. We are called to be faithful in giving them the information they need. God is responsible for growing it and making it flourish.
16-17 – It matters how we treat the dwelling place of the Lord. This is both true of our physical bodies as well as our holistic health.
We are quick to minimize the power and majesty of God. We look to other things in our lives, or even ourselves, to do the work of God. This psalm reminds us of the power of God and how he should be praised for it.
27 – It is the Spirit’s job to test our hearts and help convict us in the places where we are not obeying God.
Have you ever wanted to pray for someone but not known how? It’s easy for that to happen. Often we know someone is struggling but don’t know how. Other times people just pop into our brains and we feel the urge to pray for them. If this happens to you, pray 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 over them. It’s a pretty great prayer for anyone.
2 Chronicles 35:1-36:23:
1-19 – There had been significant periods of time, while under bad kings, that the Israelites did not observe Passover. This may seem like tedious information, but it’s showing that the Israelites were doing their best to be faithful here.
20-22 – Josiah was faithful for most of his life, but in the end, he tried to oppose the will of God and died trying.
9 – Jehoiachin is different than Jehoiakim. It’s easy to read quickly and miss that subtle transition.
15 – These “messengers” were the prophets. In the gospels, particularly in parables, there are often people who are trying to bring messages who are ignored or rejected. These characters represent the prophets as well.
22-23 – King Cyrus, a king who is not an Israelite, is called to return the exiles to their land and rebuild the temple.
1 Corinthians 1:1-17:
This is Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Note that letters to different churches tend to have different emphases. He is trying to teach the churches how to live and grow faithfully. Every church has its own hangups in that regard.
4-8 – This is a beautiful way to pray for someone you love and want to encourage.
10-17 – Paul encourages the Corinthians to stop focusing on divisive issues and to recognize that they are all called to and saved by Christ.
1 – Remember this when you have fear of any kind.
2-6 – David speaks with words of great confidence that God will protect him in any and every situation.
God clearly meant the “honor your father and mother” law.
People joke that there’s no instruction manual for parenting or for general life. Seemingly, the toughest things we have to do get the least amount of instruction. That’s only partially true. God doesn’t just plop us down in life and tell us to figure it out. Like today’s psalm explains, everything we need to know for salvation and successfully navigating life is available us through Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
2 Chronicles 30:1-31:21:
1-9 – It’s comforting that even when we fail to do what we’re supposed to do, when we choose to return to God, he accepts us.
18-20 – God’s extreme kindness shows here as people come and eat Passover without cleansing themselves. This harkens to the way Jesus handled the law. He always rewarded faith and always showed love even if the law had to be bent a little.
26-27 – It had been a long time since Solomon. Hezekiah’s commitment to restoring Passover, even though imperfect, was pleasing to God.
9-10 – Like when it was time to build the tabernacle in Exodus, the faithful Israelites bring more than enough offering.
5-7 – Just as Christ accepted us in our weakness, we are to invite in those whose faith is not as strong as ours. These are the folks we should not make stumble but should bring into the fold.
17-22 – Paul takes pride in the work God has done through him to bring those who had never believed in Christ to salvation.
8-9 – God does not fling us out into the world to figure everything out on our own. He shows us the way to him. Also, the early Christians were known as “The Way”.
13 – Laziness doesn’t pay. We have to work to take care of ourselves.
This link is in the notes as well, but seriously, if you’d like Amy Grant to tell you today’s main Acts story, do yourself a favor and watch this video:
1 Kings 19:1-21:
8 – Moses, Jesus, and now Elijah have all experienced 40 day fasts. Notice that each of them have just experienced or are simultaneously experiencing the power and glory of God. Jesus had just been baptized and received the Holy Spirit, Moses was on the mountain with God, and Elijah had just seen God consume a bull with fire.
11-12 – Often we miss God’s voice and what he’s calling us to do because we’re distracted by the chaos and the big shows. At times, we must be quiet and still to hear him in the whisper.
14-18 – Elijah felt very alone in his faithfulness to God and even feared for his life. God made it clear that he was not alone, but that God would take care of those who had been faithful while punishing those who had not.
19 – Elijah putting his cloak on Elisha symbolizes a transfer of power.
20-21 – Elijah’s response is unclear, but Elisha takes care of a few final things and then begins his life working with and learning from Elijah.
3 – Passover was also when Jesus was arrested and killed.
Though, at the end of today’s reading in John, Jesus is referring to himself as the temple, the actual temple really was destroyed, twice, in fact. In 586 B.C. the temple was destroyed when the Babylonians defeated and deported the Israelites. The Israelites then spent decades in exile. It was rebuilt but then destroyed in 70 A.D., after Jesus’ death, by the Romans. It has yet to be rebuilt. Currently a mosque is on that site and all that remains of the temple is the Western Wall also known as “The Wailing Wall”.
11-16 – Samson was known for his incredible strength.
18-20 – It is a common theme that Biblical characters have some sort of extreme, miraculous experience with God and then panic and cry out to God for something that seems like an easy fix. God always comes through in both the easy and the hard.
4-17 – Clearly Samson is smitten by Delilah because she continually betrays him and tries to trap him into being overtaken by the Philistines even though she acts like he is in the wrong for lying to her about his source of strength.
25-30 – Samson’s strength is restored and he’s able to use it to take down thousands of Philistines. His death is seen as honorable and as retribution for how the Philistines treated him.
1-11 – This is considered Jesus’ first miracle. It seems clear that Jesus does not feel ready to begin his ministry of miracles.
13-17 – In Matthew this story occurs in the last week of Jesus’ ministry, but also during Passover. This story is often referenced when confirming that Jesus felt true human emotions.
18-23 – The temple was in fact destroyed after Jesus’ death, in 70 AD, but here, Jesus is referring to himself as the temple.
A beautiful Psalm. One to focus on in a variety of situations, but particularly as a reminder of God’s abundant grace and great love for us.
9-10 – Even though Jesus had not come yet, God still offered grace. Though people received some punishments, the punishment for sin is death, so most Israelites were given the opportunity to repent and receive a second chance.
11-12 – A beautiful image of how God does not hold our past sins against us.
17 – There are several references in the Proverbs that equate quick decisions with foolishness. This would suggest that steadiness and quality of thought is considered more prudent in almost all cases.
Do you find yourself saying the same thing over and over in prayer? It’s fine if there’s a specific, ongoing prayer request, but what about the fairly meaningless fillers? Do you tend to drone on and on without a whole lot of meaning or thought behind it? Why not try to pray like Psalm 98:1 encourages us to? Try to offer God a new praise for each new blessing you receive. You will end up feeling much more connected to him through prayer.
2-8 – The Midianites were a powerful fighting nation, but God only sent Gideon with 300 men to fight them because he did not want them to be able to say that they defeated Midian by their own power. This sounds extreme, but it is extremely easy to believe we succeed on our own power.
20-25 – The trumpets and jars were used to scare the Midianite army into fleeing and God blessed the Israelites’ swords as they pursued the Midianites.
4-9 – The men of Succoth and Penuel did not believe that Gideon would defeat the kings of Midian so they refused to help the Israelite army. Because of this Gideon explains that he will repay them once he overtakes the Midianite kings.
18-25 – It was custom for Pilate to release one prisoner at Passover. The crowds chose a murderer and asked that Jesus still be killed even though no fault was found in him.
27 – Not everyone had turned against Jesus. He still had a faithful following who were distraught over his impending death.
28-31 – Jesus is saying that if these people will reject and crucify Jesus when he’s on earth, how much less will they honor him when he’s not present. In a way he’s saying, it would be better to not even have children than to have to watch them dishonor Christ so greatly.
34 – Even when he’s about to be crucified, he’s still offering forgiveness.
43 – An unlikely candidate, this is the only person, other than the disciples, Jesus explicitly tells that they will be in heaven with him.
1 – Though God loves to hear our prayers, it seemingly would honor him more if we offer new praise with each blessing instead of a generic blanket prayer for all our blessings.
4-9 – We can all find a joyful song to sing in praise to God. Even the oceans and rivers have their way of praising. No matter what ours sounds like, we should make a joyful noise to God.
8 – Our wisdom is not simply for good looks or just convenient. Our wisdom should be used to discern where God is calling us and where we should go.
Note the significance of Jesus, the lamb of God, shedding his blood for the people on Passover in relation to what happened on the first Passover.
Judges, for many generations, were the leaders of Israelites. It was not normally an authoritarian leader, but one who relayed God’s plans for the people and helped guide them in following God’s commands. They often led the Israelites into battles as well.
2 – Judah is the appointed leader after Joshua’s death.
6-7 – Based on the information in verse 7, Adoni-Bezek had his fingers and toes cut off because he had performed the same punishment on many other kings.
21-36 – The Israelites had been clearly instructed to remove the current inhabitants from their land, but many of the tribes allowed Canaanites to remain in their land. God wanted the Canaanites out of the promised land because they would influence the Israelites to form allegiances with other gods.
1-5 – God remains faithful in his part of the covenant, but the Israelites fail to do their part so though God will not forsake them, he will also not be able to protect them from the influences of the Canaanites.
6-9 – Joshua doesn’t die twice, it’s just two accounts of the same event.
3-6 – Though Jesus knew it had to happen, it still must have been extremely hurtful to Jesus that one of his chosen, closest friends and followers not only betrayed him, but sought out an opportunity to betray him.
7-13 – It is quite symbolic that Jesus is killed at the Passover. During the original Passover, the Israelites’ first born were saved by the blood of a lamb that was wiped on the doorframe. Christ’s blood, through his death, also saved all of us who choose to be covered by it.
1-7 – God can protect us from so many of our hardships and struggles. When we choose to abide in his shelter, we don’t have to worry about the consequences of sin, because we’re not choosing to sin. This is not to be mistaken as saying, when we abide in God nothing bad will ever happen to us.
This proverb encourages boundaries and discipline for children to assure they know and follow the Lord throughout their lives.
We all had an awkward adolescence…even George Clooney. Yikes! In today’s reading, we find the only story in the Bible about Jesus’ adolescence. Don’t get too nervous about the ending. No surprise, he finds himself in church.
The Israelites were meticulous with their record keeping.
41-45 – The pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover would have been a journey of several days and whole extended families and friends would travel together. It is not unusual that Mary and Joseph would assume that Jesus was somewhere in the group. But can you imagine the panic they must have felt when they thought they had lost the Son of God?
51 – This verse is placed here to assure the reader/hearer that Jesus wasn’t unkind or disrespectful of his parents. He was simply engaged in his long-term call.
This passage is the only canonical recording of Jesus’ childhood or adolescence.
This is warning not to make promises you can’t keep and specifically not to promise something that someone else is intended to keep because you can never guarantee it.
It’s easy to forget that Jesus was a man with feelings. It’s also easy to forget that the disciples were his friends – those he had spent all his time with teaching and training them. And one of them turns him over to be killed. Can you imagine the hurt you would feel if you were Jesus?
At this time the priesthood was passed down generation to generation. Priests came from the tribe of Levi.
We are in the middle of a series of very detailed descriptions. These are actually great blessings because we want to be able to worship God in a way that is honoring and pleasing to him. Detailed instructions make that much more likely.
1-10 – God begins to instruct the priests on how they should intercede for the people and lead worship and sacrifices.
It’s sad that Judas wasn’t coerced or forced into betraying Jesus. He sought the opportunity out himself.
20 – People literally reclined for meals. The original Passover was in a rush and people were not to recline or get comfortable as normal.
26-28 – Our practice of communion relates back to the last supper, which relates back to Passover.
39 – People often wonder how to pray for the things they want. We can ask for anything we want or need, but it is healthiest when we pray for these things while surrendering to God’s will first.