Have you ever tried to stop a moving train with only your toughness and strength? I hate to break it to you, but it won’t work. In different words, Gamaliel explains this to the Pharisees in today’s Acts reading. If the movement of the early church apostles is of God, they’re not going to have a whole lot of luck trying to stop it.
1 Kings 2:1-3:3:
- 1-4 – David encourages Solomon to follow the Lord and that this will result in having someone in his line remain on the throne.
- 5-9 – David asks Solomon to avenge the wrongs done to him that he did not avenge himself.
- 13-25 – Adonijah’s request to receive part of the king’s harem, Abishag, is a clear play at taking over the throne. Solomon recognizes this move and squelches it quickly.
- 26-27 – Abiathar’s life is spared because he served David faithfully, but, because he sided with Adonijah, and because God had promised to remove Eli’s family from the priesthood, he is removed from the priesthood.
- 28-35 – The only exception to the asylum offered through grabbing the horns altar was if your sin was done with deliberate intent. Solomon felt justified because Joab’s murders were committed with intent.
- 1-6 – Ananias did not die because he only gave part, but because he presented it as the whole while holding some back. He lied about his gift to God.
- 17-18 – They are arrested because the religious leaders told them not to teach in Jesus’ name.
- 33-42 – Gamaliel gives wise counsel that the religious authorities ought to just leave the disciples alone because the effort will die unless it’s from God and if it’s from God they won’t be able to stop it.
- This is another psalm that was probably sung or recited while the Israelites traveled to Jerusalem for one of the three annual festivals that required a pilgrimage.
- And this is why we should seek God in all things.
It is often after we get ourselves into a great mess that we think to cry out to God. Today’s psalm talks about facing the snares of death and then calling out to the Lord to rescue. Our lives would be a whole lot easier if we would stay in communication with God in order to keep ourselves out of the trouble in the first place.
1 Samuel 24:1-25:44:
- 2-7 – David had such respect for the authority God had given Saul that he felt guilty for even cutting his robe. He also refused to kill Saul even though Saul was trying his best to kill him.
- 8-22 – David’s kindness and grace turn Saul’s heart. He stops chasing David and confirms that he will one day be king.
- 1-17 – Even though David and his men had been very kind to Nabal’s men, Nabal is hateful and inhospitable to David, which was unusual for their culture. Unless you were enemies, hospitality was understood.
- 18-35 – Abigail, with quick thinking and great hospitality, saves her household from the consequences of her husband’s hatefulness. She also saved David from making a hasty decision and killing Nabal’s household.
- 40-44 – David was married to Michal and now has taken both Abigail and Ahinoam as wives. Saul, though, dissolves David’s marriage to Michal, in his absence, so David now has two wives. This was culturally acceptable.
- 24-30 – The Jews wanting Jesus to explain his identity plainly is ironic since this gospel, far more than any other, has clearly revealed Jesus’ identity.
- 26-27 – Jesus’ sheep were those who believed in and followed him.
- 31-42 – Once again the religious authorities attempt to stone Jesus because they think he is blaspheming while others continue to believe in and follow him.
- 3-4 – Notice that the psalmist experienced great pain and torment and then cries out for God to deliver him. Why is it that it often takes so long for us to finally cry out to God?
- 12-14 – It’s impossible to repay the Lord for all the great things he does for us. The psalmist chooses to thank God for his salvation and to acknowledge God’s work in his life in front of others.
The story in John today is incredible! The young man Jesus heals makes a powerful statement of faith as he testifies to what Jesus has done in his life. As the Pharisees, trying to indict Jesus, question the young man, he replies to them by saying, “All I know is I once was blind but now I see.” He basically says, “you do the math.” We all have a “I once was ________ but now I ________” story. What if we all shared them?
1 Samuel 20:1-21:15:
- 1-23 – Once again, Jonathan puts himself at risk to act as a go-between for David and Saul. David feared attending Saul’s dinner because Saul most likely wanted to harm him so Jonathan would feel out his father. Note that Jonathan makes a covenant with David here so that David won’t destroy all of Jonathan’s family. This becomes significant later.
- 41-42 – Jonathan and David were grieved that they would no longer get to see each other since Saul confirmed that he wanted to kill David. David had to flee, but they agreed that they would remain friends.
- 1-6 – David and his crew eat the holy bread which is supposed to be reserved only for the priests, but they were very hungry. Jesus refers to this when the religious leaders get mad at him for picking grain on the Sabbath.
- 2 – It was common belief that any physical or mental disability was caused by sin.
- 5 – Another I am statement. Jesus refers to himself as “the light of the world.” This is why he says it is day now – because he was present. He’s referring to “night” as when he is no longer on the earth.
- 21-23 – Whether the parents knew the healing was from Jesus or not, they were more afraid of the religious leaders than they were loyal to Jesus.
- 25 – A beautiful statement of faith! This is one we can all take note from. When people argue the validity of God or the saving power of Christ, all we need to say is, “I don’t know much. All I know is I once was blind but now I see.” Feel free to fill in your own story of “blindness”.
- 34 – The religious leaders find a way to discount the man’s story saying he is simply a sinner and they can’t learn anything from him.
- These psalms simply recount various ways God is great. This is a great way to write your own psalm of praise. Simply recall the various ways God has been great in your life.
- 16-17 – Beautiful verses explaining where real value lies.
Other than Penecostal churches, in modern Christianity, we talk very little about the Holy Spirit, mostly because we don’t know much about it. The Holy Spirit is mysterious and powerful and that often scares us. But Jesus describes a Holy Spirit as a gift to be given and calls the Holy Spirit “even greater” than him. In verse 37-39 of today’s John reading, there’s a very cool description of what happens to people when the Holy Spirit comes. What does that description mean to you?
1 Samuel 13:23-14:52:
- 23 – A garrison is a group of troops stationed in a certain area to defend it.
- 6 – Jonathan had faith that God could offer them victory even though only he and his armor-bearer were opposing the group of Philistines.
- 7-15 – Throughout the Bible, many characters have opportunities for God to confirm or deny that something will happen. Here, the Philistines response is Jonathan’s cue for whether or not he will have victory.
- 24-30 – Saul makes a hasty decision to deny his troops food. This is obviously problematic because they were engaged in strenuous activity. Saul also doesn’t assure that Jonathan knows about the oath. Saul’s quick, ill-advised decisions have now caused problems twice.
- 36-37 – Like Jonathan, Saul reaches out to the Lord for guidance in battle. Unlike with Jonathan, God does not give an answer.
- 38-44 – Because of Saul’s hasty oath, Jonathan must die since he unknowingly ate when he wasn’t supposed to. Saul offers to cast lots so that he might take the fall, but the sentence falls on Jonathan.
- 45-46 – The Israelites speak out against the injustice against Jonathan because they believe him to be responsible for the great victory over the Philistines.
- 31 – Meant to be a sarcastic question with the understanding that Jesus was the Christ.
- 37-39 – The Holy Spirit was given to the believers on Pentecost after Jesus ascended to heaven.
- 41-42 – Clearly the crowd did not know where Jesus was born or what his lineage was.
- 45-52 – The Pharisees’ sense of status made them believe that they would be the first to recognize a Messiah and that he would play by the same rules as them.
- 1-20 – David asks for punishment for those who he’s been kind to but have shown hate to him.
- 21-31 – David, once again, puts his trust in God to protect and provide for him in the midst of enemies.
- 5 – Each one of us could probably recall a specific piece of advice from our parents we did not listen to and wish we would have. Wisdom is knowing to listen to that advice.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We should be slow to speak and quick to listen. Our words are often destructive and are best not spoken.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- When David seems to be abandoned by everyone, he still has God to reach out to.
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.
- 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.
- 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.