April 13 – Daily Notes – Amanda

listening

Today’s proverb reminds us of something we all know but struggle to practice. We should listen first and speak later. Words can be destructive, especially when we aren’t even sure what we’re talking about.

Joshua 7:16-9:2:

  • 16-26 – Achan took riches from another nation and was punished for it. Dating as far back as Abraham, the Israelites were supposed to refuse the riches of other nations so they wouldn’t be tempted to credit that nation with their blessings.
  • 1-17 – The Israelites attempted to conquer Ai before but were vulnerable because someone in the camp had been unfaithful. Like all things that start badly, God made good out of it. The people of Ai were overconfident and pursued the Israelites into an ambush.

Luke 16:1-18:

  • 10-13 – Convicting passage. We often think our small bouts with unfaithfulness are no big deal. Instead, God asks us to be faithful in the little things so we can be entrusted with the big stuff. Our small decisions and actions do matter.
  • 14-15 – Pharisees were held in high regard in society. They were much more holy than most people according to the law and could look down on others. Jesus reminds them that the law matters but most things that we exalt are not what matter to God.

Psalm 82:1-8:

  • 3-4 – These are commands God gives us throughout Scripture. Serving those who are unable to serve themselves is later described as the purest form of religion.

Proverbs 13:2-3:

  • We should be slow to speak and quick to listen. Our words are often destructive and are best not spoken.

April 6 – Daily Notes – Amanda

impossible

Do you ever feel like you’re being asked to do the impossible? Or that what God is calling you to, whether it’s simply to be faithful, or to make a major move of some sort, is simply impossible? Today, in Deuteronomy, Moses reminds us that anything God asks of us, he will make possible. It may not be easy, but he will give you the strength and ability to fulfill what he’s called you to.

Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20:

  • 4 – The Israelites could not yet fully understand the great provision God had offered them.
  • 10-15 – Though God had already established this covenant of making the Israelites his people, through Moses, Moses is now explaining it to the Israelites.
  • 19 – This reliance on heritage and being a part of the covenant, but purposely continuing in sin was also something John the Baptist and Jesus warned against.
  • 6 – The Israelites outward sign of covenant was male circumcision, but here he calls them to make the same commitment with their heart – an inward renewal.
  • 11 – We are often under the illusion that what God calls us to do is actually impossible, yet Moses reminds us that we are able.
  • 19-20 – The phrase “life and death, blessing and curse” is repeated frequently in Deuteronomy. This means it’s something we should pay attention to. We very clearly have free will to decide to choose life and God’s blessings or not.

Luke 11:37-12:7:

  • 37-41 – Once again, the Pharisees are much more concerned about ritual and outward symbols. Jesus is concerned with the cleanliness of the heart.
  • 1 – Leaven is the part of the bread that activates and causes it to rise. Jesus explains to the disciples that the Pharisees do not practice as they preach.

Psalm 78:1-31:

  • Vs. 21-24 – Though the Lord was angry with the Israelites because they didn’t trust him, he still provided manna for them to eat.

March 27 – Daily Notes – Amanda

cats

In today’s Deuteronomy reading, God knows the Israelites will be afraid to face their enemies who are bigger and stronger. He needs them to know that he is with them and he will make a way for them. He reminds them of the way he made away for them as they escaped the Egyptians. Our memories of what God has done for us previously can help is tremendously in trusting him with our next steps.

Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20:

  • It is difficult to read that entire people groups were destroyed by God’s command. We wonder where God’s mercy is, but verse 10 reminds us that his punishments were in return for people who hated and mocked him. In fact, God’s love and protection for the Israelites should be seen as an extension of immense mercy since they also often disobeyed God. We can also extend this thought that anything good that comes to us is an act of great love from God since we too disobey and mock him continually.
  • 1-5 – Moses explains to the Israelites why they must wipe out the other people groups. God commands this in order to protect them from the temptations they will certainly fall to to worship other gods.
  • 17-19 – God knew that the Israelites would be fearful to face those they were to fight, but they are reminded of God’s intervention with the Egyptians so they can have confidence that he will be faithful again.
  • 3 – Though the Israelites were so worried about food throughout their time in the desert, God provided miraculously to help the Israelites rely on him, not food. Jesus also quotes this verse when tempted by the devil in the desert.
  • 11-20 – A great reminder for us today that God is the giver of all of our gifts and we shouldn’t abandon him once we’re comfortable.

Luke 7:36-8:3:

  • 36-40 – Jewish custom, at the time, did not allow men to touch or speak to women they weren’t married or related to. It is also presumed that this woman was a prostitute, which added extra scandal to the mind of the Pharisee.
  • 41-50 – This is not encouragement to sin more so we can be forgiven, but instead to be aware of our sinful nature and need for forgiveness so we can be grateful for the gift we’ve been given.
  • 2-3 – Just like he focused on Mary’s perspective rather than Joseph’s in the birth narrative, Luke tends to include and highlight the participation of women in ministry.

Psalm 69:1-18:

  • When David seems to be abandoned by everyone, he still has God to reach out to.

February 26 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Leviticus 19:1-20:21:

  • 9-10 – This was an ancient way of assuring the poor had food.
  • 13-14 – Care for people with special needs
  • 27 – This is why Hassidic Jews have the long, dangling, curly side burns and beards.

Mark 8:11-38:

  • Note the religious leaders and Jesus were constantly at odds. The religious leaders were nervous about Jesus’ movement getting traction. They constantly tried to discount his ministry.
  • 33 – A harsh criticism of Peter, but Jesus knew what he was here to do.
  • 34 – What is your cross?

Psalm 42:1-11:

  • Note that this Psalm is not written by David but it still, though filled with lament, begins and ends with praise.

February 24 – Daily Notes – Amanda

change-of-plans

It may be a bit confusing that we’re reading Leviticus, where we learn that all kinds of things, including a number of creatures, are unclean. And now, in Mark, we hear Jesus going back on that and saying, “Actually, no, there are no unclean animals. They’re all fine to eat. The truth is, in Jesus, the holiness people were trying to achieve by following the law, was fulfilled. Thus, what was unclean is now made clean.

Leviticus 15:1-16:28:

  • Some things that we consider very personal must have been more public in their culture to help others avoid becoming unclean because of you.
  • 19-30 – Women were unclean during their period but did not have to give an offering for it. Women did have to give a sin offering if they had some other type of blood discharge.
  • 8 – “Azalel’s” meaning is unknown.
  • 20-22 – The goat that is set free into the wilderness is where we get the term “scapegoat”. All the sins were placed on this goat though none were actually his.

Mark 7:1-23:

  • 1-7 – The Pharisees were so tied to the law that they continually watched the disciples to see when they would trip up. Jesus calls out the flawed thinking of the Pharisees by quoting Isaiah in verses 6-7. It is easy to give God lip service, but it matters much more where our hearts are committed.
  • 14-19 – Jesus declares all foods clean. Earlier in our reading in Leviticus, many animals, birds, and swimming creatures were deemed unclean to eat.

February 4 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Exodus 19:16-21:21:

  • 22 – Consecrate themselves – to cleanse themselves of sins through ceremonial washings because God cannot be near sin
  • 3 – begins the 10 Commandments
  • 12 – honor your father and mother is the only commandment that comes with a promise
  • 20 – Our fear of God and his power is often what keeps us from sinning. Many of us have lost this fear
  • 1-11 – Slavery passages are obviously problematic. This could be a case, like divorce, that was a practice the Israelites were already engaged in and the law simply gave parameters on how it could be done as faithfully as possible.

Matthew 23:13-39:

  • 13-36 – The scribes and Pharisees are criticized for following the laws and forcing others to but forgetting the things God really valued – justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
  • 25-26 – There are many references throughout the New Testament that remind us that a clean heart is better than clean hands.
  • 37-39 – Prophets had been sent to Jerusalem and ousted by the religious leaders. Jesus suffered the same fate.

Psalm 28:1-9:

  • Throughout most of his Psalms, David expresses his great trust in God despite his current circumstances.

January 23 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 46:1-47:31:

  • 2 – Once again, a servant of God hears his voice and responds, “Here I am.” It should be an aspirational goal that we begin to respond to God’s callings with “Here I am.”
  • 26-27 – Now all of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt where Joseph was in control.
  • 9 – This is an interesting admission. Though Jacob clearly served God in a variety of ways and was blessed abundantly. Jacob should not be viewed as a moral role model, but an example of God using flawed people for his grand purposes.
  • 23-26 – Because of Joseph’s shrewdness, the Egyptian government is able to sustain all the people through the famine and gain all the land. He then implements a 20% tax to ensure the Pharaoh will have enough grain forever.
  • 27 – This is how the Israelites ended up in Egypt, which eventually put them in slavery. Check out the full explanation here.

Matthew 15:1-28:

  • 1-9 – Once again, The Pharisees are tied to the law to justify themselves. They continually seek out ways to questions Jesus’ actions, but Jesus rarely answers to them. Like now, he calls them out for their own sins. Here Jesus recognizes the Pharisees denying their elderly parents’ financial support in order to gain wealth while saying their giving to God.
  • 10-11 – A common theme throughout the New Testament is that good trees bear good fruit. Jesus uses this again to explain that you can tell the heart of a person based on what comes out of them.
  • 21-28 – This is a difficult passage. The unnamed woman is a gentile and Jesus originally denies her request claiming that his mission is strictly for the Jews. It is interesting that he says this while withdrawing from the Jews to a city filled with gentiles. It is possibly he was simply testing her faith because he doesn’t send her away like the disciples encourage him to do. Ultimately, her persistence and faith are rewarded.

Psalms 19:1-14:

  • 7-11 – David delights in God’s commandments and the laws that govern him. The law is perverted by religious authorities, particularly in Jesus’ time, to allow them to withhold love, mercy, and goodness. When we delight in and see the goodness in the law, we don’t have that tendency.

Proverbs 4:14-19:

  • 14-15 – We often allow ourselves to get too close to temptation assuming we are strong enough to withstand it. The proverb wisely encourages us to avoid it altogether.

January 12 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 26:17-27:46:

  • 1-29 – Rebekah and Jacob tricked Isaac to bless him instead of Esau. Jacob had already tricked Esau out of his birthright and now he attempts to steal his father’s dying blessing. Jacob is sneaky and a liar and yet, he seems to be blessed over and over.
  • 30-42 – When Esau lost his birthright, it was, in large portion, his own fault. In this case, however, he was simply obeying his father and due to his mother and brother’s trickery, he loses his blessing as well. Esau’s anger is understandable.
  • 46 – Jacob has to flea because of his and his mother’s deceitfulness. Rebekah is afraid Jacob will marry a Hittite woman while he is among them, but if that were to happen it would be a consequence of her sin.

 

Matthew 9:1-17:

  • 1-8 – The Pharisees think Jesus is blaspheming because they don’t realize his divinity and think forgiveness is not something he can offer.
  • 10-13 – The Pharisees were far more concerned with the practices of holiness while Jesus was focused on redemption. Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea saying, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” In other words, God desires for us to offer love and grace that lead to change rather than simply going through the motions.
  • 16-17 – The new emphases of the faith Jesus brought could not be contained by the constraints of the old law and practices.

 

Psalm 10:16-18:

  • 17 – There are a number of times when Scripture mentions God hearing the cries of the afflicted. Most notably, God hears the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, which starts the process of a mass exodus.

 

Proverbs 3:9-10:

  • 9 – It is easy to give from the leftovers of our abundance, but it takes real trust to give God your first and bust.

January 3 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Genesis 5:1-7:24:

  • 24: The book of Hebrews also mentions Enoch and how, because he pleased God, he did not experience death but was simply taken.
  • 25-27 – Methuselah is the oldest recorded person in the Bible.
  • 6 – A powerful verse suggesting the extreme extent of man’s wickedness and the degree to which it pains God.
  • 8-9 – Noah seems to be the only person on earth who is purposefully walking with God.
  • 22 & 7:5 – It is noted throughout the Bible when people follow God’s instructions exactly. This should be our goal too.

 

Matthew 3:7-4:11:

  • 7-10 – John recognized that the Pharisees and Saducees were not getting baptized to put their faith in the Lord, but simply to check the box like they tended to do. Their lives did not bear the fruit of a life of repentance.
  • 14 – John understandably felt unworthy to baptize Jesus.
  • 17 – A powerful image for any witnesses that day as Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit and publicly professed by God.
  • Note that the devil twists the meaning of Scripture to try to tempt Jesus. If we don’t know Scripture, how much more could the devil do this to us?

 

Psalms 3:1-8:

  • Though David continually faced formidable foes, he is just as frequently confessing his faith in God’s ability to protect him.

 

Proverbs 1:10-19:

Temptation is so enticing and it knows our weak spots. Ultimately, sin destroys us.