Grace is a funny thing. Some churches emphasize it more than others, but for many of us it’s hard to comprehend, hard to accept, and hard to offer to others. Grace is intended as a free gift, one that cannot be earned. God offers grace to us through the death and resurrection of Christ. We can’t earn our sins away. We can only accept God’s free gift. Ephesians explains it nicely. Check it out.
- 17-24 – God promises to take care of those in need and also challenges other gods to try to do the same. He taunts other gods asking them to do something good or bad if they’re capable.
- 1-9 – Some believe this is referring to the call of servants and general and what God would have each of us do. Others focus this on a particular servant and most often associate the passage with Christ. In Jesus’ first public address found in Luke 4, he quotes verses 6 and 7.
- 18-25 – Israel, who God originally called to be his servants, failed to hear and see God’s messages.
- 1-13 – Such comforting words God speaks to his people reminding them that he will restore them and that he calls them by name. God is always faithful in his promises.
- 1-2 – The price for sin is death. When we sin but have not accepted God’s grace and forgiveness through Christ, we are dead in our sin.
- 4-10 – God offers us grace, which is a free gift, so no one can consider themselves higher or greater than anyone else. We are all in need of the good gifts of God through salvation.
- 18-22 – Though grace should humble us, it also exalts us to equality with all the saints. We are heirs to God’s kingdom with Jesus and all the saints.
- 1-2 – It is interesting that the psalmist asks that Gods’ face to “shine upon them”. People did not see God but when Moses was in God’s presence, his face shone afterwards. We also know that, when Jesus spent time with God on the Mount of Transfiguration, his clothes shone after being with him.
- Warnings against indulging in alcohol in excess. We lose our ability to control ourselves and thus cannot give God control.
Ok all you lovebirds, get ready. Song of Solomon is written as a conversation between two people in love. If you need a pickup line, some sweet nothings to write in your spouse’s anniversary card, or just a reminder of how much you love your significant other, this is the biblical place to land. Try these out, “you are a sachet of myrrh” or “you are like a gazel or a young stag” or “your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes”. You can’t go wrong.
Song of Solomon 1:10-4:16:
- The identifications of who is speaking are different in different translations based on what is thought to be happening. Translators agree that it is a conversation. Many believe it is between a bride and a groom, but from the conversation it is clear they’re in love.
- 1-17 – The man and woman flirt and plan to meet up. They are not shy about expressing how attracted they are to one another.
- 1-7 – I mean…what girl doesn’t want to be described like this? “Thank you for saying my teeth look like shorn ewes…”. But truly, this entire passage, particularly the beginning and end are such loving descriptions.
2 Corinthians 8:16-24:
- Titus was one of Paul’s co-laborers. He was a trusted friend of Paul’s. Paul is letting the Corinthians know that Titus and two others will soon come to Corinth to raise money and spread the gospel.
- 24 – Paul gives the Corinthians encouragement to live up to all the great things he’s been saying about them.
- 7-15 – The psalmist quotes God as saying that he does not need our sacrifices. He has all he needs because he made all things. He does, however, accept our sacrifices as offerings of thanksgiving.
- The poor and powerless are easy to steal from and oppress but this proverb reminds us that God has their back and will right the wrongs done to them.
Have you ever been on a seesaw when the weight distribution on either end is way off? One person ends up doing all the work. It’s not the other person’s fault. They just physically can’t get down to the ground. This is a crude analogy of what Paul’s talking about when he encourages believers not to marry nonbelievers. They are simply not equally matched when it comes to their spiritual lives.
- 9-12 – These verses are key in helping us understand the importance of friendship and being in relationship in general. We are designed to lean on others and have them lean on us as well.
- 13 – The things that we value, wealth and power, are not always the things that benefit us most.
- 1-3 – These verses encourage us to enter God’s presence with reverence and awe. We are to listen for God first instead of assuming we know what he wants and how we should act.
- 4-7 – It is better not to tell God we’re going to do something and not do it than to never promise anything at all. This is similar to the parable Jesus tells in Matthew 21.
- 1-6 – Possessions truly don’t matter. Most of the time, when we have lots of things, we’re worried about maintaining possession of those things and often don’t enjoy them. This is a waste of life.
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7:
- 14-18 – These verses are often used when explaining why believers should not marry nonbelievers. Similar arguments could be made for going into business with nonbelievers. Believers cannot expect nonbelievers to have the same priorities, beliefs, and understandings as them. As believers we are called to be transformed and to put Christ first. This effects every aspect of life.
- 5-7 – Paul’s unquenchable joy is so apparent here. He explains to the Corinthians the difficulties he has faced, but continues to rejoice in hearing of other believers joining in the battle with him.
- Our God is worthy of our praise. We should sing to him and honor him with song.
- God does not take kindly to the powerful oppressing the weak in any circumstance. He calls us to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the child, and the one who is new to the faith.
One of the great benefits of reading the Bible in its entirety is seeing the prophecies and expectations over centuries fulfilled in Christ’s coming. In today’s 2 Corinthians reading, Paul maps out a number of these fulfillments. What prophecy that Jesus fulfills is most powerful to you?
- 2-7 – Job believes if he could get an audience with God, God would agree that he had been far too righteous to receive such a harsh and heavy hand.
- 1-25 – Job explains that often, throughout life, the poor have difficulties and the wicked reap the benefit. He seems to explain that God doesn’t seem to be watching, but in the end he explains that everyone is brought low in the end.
- 1-6 – Bildad quickly retorts that God is simply greater than humans and cannot be compared.
- 1-6 – Here Job resolves not to turn his back on God, but to remain faithful.
- 7-23 – Here Job lays out how he hopes his enemies are treated in the end.
2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11:
- 20 – All the sacrifices, laws, and prophecies given for thousands of years were fulfilled in Christ. We know that everything God promises us becomes a “yes” through Christ and his offer of salvation.
- 1-4 – Paul’s intentions did not go over well with the Corinthian church. His visit seems to have caused them pain when he meant for it to show them his love for them.
- 5-11 – Paul urges the group to forgive those who sin against the group. Amongst believers, this is very important so the devil doesn’t have an easy way in.
- 1-3 – Here David explains how God will repay those who have cared for the poor in life.
- 4-13 – This is encouragement not to listen to what others say of you, but to believe what God says about you.
- 6 – It is difficult to guide and discipline a child. In our society, it is even harder to assure they are raised in the faith. As difficult as it is in the moment, it is the easiest way to assure they will be faithful for a lifetime.
Job is a tough book to read for a number of reasons, but there are a number of takeaways. One major one is in today’s reading. Job reminds us that the Lord gives and thus it is God’s right to take those things away as well. He confirms, though that either way, whether in blessing or wanting, the name of the Lord should be blessed. Here’s a musical version of the same concept:
- 1 – “Blameless and upright” is a description very few people in the Bible receive. Noah, before the flood, was described in a similar way.
- 5 – Job even hedged his bets by sacrificing for his children just in case they were sinful without his knowledge.
- 6-12 – Satan challenged God saying that Job was only faithful because God had, until then, protected him and all his things. God disagrees and allows him to torment Job in order to prove his faithfulness.
- 20-22 – After all the turmoil and trauma Job received back to back to back, he grieved but did not curse God like Satan said he would.
- 3-6 – This time God allows Satan to strike Job with any kind of personal illness as long as he doesn’t kill him.
- 9 – This must be what Proverbs warns against when it talks about basically anything being better than living with a quarrelsome wife.
- 10 – It is obviously much easier to receive the good God gives us, but Job reminds us that we can’t expect the good without being willing to receive bad too.
- 3-26 – Job basically wishes he was never born.
1 Corinthians 14:1-17:
- 5 – Speaking in tongues, unless it is interpreted for the body, is intended to be between that person and God.
- 16-17 – Speaking in ways others can understand is important in the larger body. Paul gives the example that it then allows someone to say “amen” in agreement with what you’ve said. They can only do that if they understood what was said.
- 14-17 – These verses basically explain that wicked people and the Lord are at war over the poor and needy. The wicked try to take them down while the Lord makes sure to lift them up.
- 23-24 – Even though we stumble and struggle at times, if we are faithful, the Lord keeps us from total destruction.
- 26 – What a powerful verse! When we are lazy and sloth-y, we tend to constantly want and need. The righteous, on the other hand, are willing to give and give abundantly.
Can you say that again please?!? Actually, in the Bible, you never have to ask. If something needs to be emphasized or if the speaker or writer wants to make sure you notice something, they repeat it. For instance, in today’s John reading, Jesus says, “truly, truly”. This means, “Listen up!” At other times, like in Luke 15, there are three parables in a row with a similar message. When you see things repeated, pay attention!
- 1-6 – Clearly the Israelites are running amuck. Stealing, making idols, having household gods.
- 12-13 – It seems odd that Micah, though he clearly wasn’t living for God, would be able to ordain and would see great value in a connection with God through a priest.
- 14-20 – What would initially be expected is that the Danites would discover the household gods and carved images and destroy them, but instead, they take them and take Micah’s priest as well.
- 5 – Anytime you see, “truly truly” it signifies that you should listen to that. This is placing emphasis on what is about to be said.
- 2-8 – Being born of water and the spirit references when John the Baptist said he baptized with water, but Christ would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit. When we receive Christ as our Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit as our guide. This is necessary for salvation and faithful living.
- 16-17 – Some of the most crucial words that our faith revolves around. Through belief in Christ, we receive salvation and eternal life because Christ came to save, not condemn.
- 18-20 – It is easy to love the darkness because it is easy and we can hide in it, but the light exposes us.
- One of the ways we can pray is through adoration. This is the process of telling God how great he is. This can be done through listing attributes, describing your connection with those attributes, and/or recounting God’s greatness through the great things he has done. This Psalm is a great example of the last option.
- These two verses work together to juxtapose how the poor are often treated versus how we are intended to treat them.
We would all like to identify with the sheep in Matthew 25, but there are still hungry people, those who are cold in the winter, and those who sit lonely in prison. So who are we really? Read and find out.
- 1 – Aaron and his sons become Israel’s priests.
- 2 – The priestly garments are made “for glory and for beauty.” The tabernacle was built in similar fashion as are sanctuaries today. Places and things that represent God should do so to reflect who God is including his majesty and beauty.
- 42- Other than the fig leaves in the garden, this is the first time underwear is mentioned.
- 31-46 – A famous passage calling us to serve those who are the least in our society as if we were serving Christ.
- 6-13 – Interesting placement after the mandate to serve the least of these and then the woman is praised for using expensive things on Jesus that could have been used for the poor. This is a case of doing what is good versus doing what is best.
- Encouragement to call on and trust in God even in the worst of circumstances.