Today’s proverb warns us not to follow the habits and actions of fools. This seems obvious, but sometimes it’s far too easy. Fools get attention. Fools sometimes find short-term success. Fools seem to skate through life. But foolishness doesn’t honor God and honoring God should be our ultimate desire.
- 1-6 – Jeremiah agrees to seek God for the leaders who seem desperate to know his will.
- 7-22 – Jeremiah instructs the leaders not to go to Egypt or they will die, but he feels certain that they will still go because they haven’t obeyed anything else he’s said.
- 1-7 – Johanan and the other commanders did not believe Jeremiah and took the remnant of Judah, including Jeremiah, to Egypt.
- 1-23 – Jeremiah explains that Judah’s destruction was because they worshipped other gods. They argue with him, but he confirms that this was the reason.
2 Timothy 2:1-21:
- 1-7 – Just like every pursuit has its difficulties, following Christ has its own. Paul encourages Timothy to accept these struggles.
- 15 – We will all be held to account one day regarding what we did on earth. Paul encourages Timothy to be able to stand with confidence before the Lord because of what he has done.
- 17-18 – Paul warns Timothy of all those intent on preaching a false gospel. Paul had, and Timothy would, face much opposition.
- 20-21 – Just because you started out dishonorable doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. God can cleanse any of us.
- 1-9 – The psalmist recounts all the ways that the Lord is great and worthy of praise.
- 1-5 – Many of us could stand to revere God more like the psalmists did.
- 3-4 – We are not to mimic the fool or we will have the same fate.
This week we have a bit of a dichotomy in our reading. Paul praises the Thessalonians for their faithfulness to Christ. Jeremiah preaches destruction to the Israelites for their lack of faithfulness.
One major point for why the Thessalonians were faithful and the ancient Israelites were unfaithful is attached to their willingness (or lack there of) to endure difficulties for their faith.
Over and over Paul praises the Thessalonians for enduring persecution for their faith and their diligence in sharing the gospel. On the other side, Jeremiah explains that the Israelites continually seek out idols and, when given the opportunity, turn towards the sinful practices of other nations.
What do we tend to fall back on when times are tough? Faithfulness or anything else?
Today, as we finish Isaiah, and read today’s psalm, we realize just how big of a deal exile was to the Israelites. To us, it’s an event in history. To them, it was the end of everything they’d known and they didn’t know if what they’d known would ever return. In order to understand the story of God’s people, it is imperative that we understand the weight and impact of the exile.
- 10-14 – People should rejoice with Jerusalem because God is restoring the city.
- 18-24 – God explains specifically what will happen to the Israelites who make it through the judgments. They will be considered the remnant. They will see others who were rejected due to their sin not to gloat but to understand God’s judgment even better.
- 4-11 – Paul explains that he would have every reason to be confident if self-righteousness were an option. He has all the boxes checked. He realizes that salvation through faith in the resurrection is the only righteousness he needs.
- 13-14 – Ultimately Paul was pressing on for an eternal prize.
- 17-18 – It should be each of our goals to be able to walk in a manner that allows us to ask others to follow us. So many would seek to be spiritual leaders but fall off the track easily.
- 1-8 – The psalmist mourns over the Israelites’ exile. God has turned away from the Israelites, the temple has been destroyed, and he wonders how long this will continue.
- 9-23 – The psalmist is reminded of the great things God has done, proving his ability, and asks God to restore the Israelites.
- This warns against sliding into a pattern similar to those who seek to harm righteous people. Those unhealthy patterns ultimately lead to destruction.
Today is a nature themed day. In Isaiah, we read about God making the sun move backwards, and in our psalm, we read of God’s provision for the earth. Isn’t it fascinating how creation works? God’s intricate design allows us to breath air that plants then filter so we can breath it again. Water evaporates and then condensates in clouds so it can rain and provide for plants, animals, and us. It’s pretty incredible when you really think about it.
- 1-7 – Hezekiah is a faithful king and reaches out to Isaiah to seek his help in calling upon God in his time of distress.
- 4 – “Rabshakeh” is the Assyrian king’s chief cupbearer, which would make him a very high-ranking official.
- 14-20 – Hezekiah is not pleading to God based on his own merit, he is pleading to God’s sovereignty and goodness. He also asks that God save his people so that God may be glorified. This should be our desire in everything we ask God – that he might be glorified through showing his goodness.
- 21-35 – God responds to Hezekiah’s prayer.
- 36-38 – God told the people of Judah they didn’t need to worry and then he proved it.
- 1-22 – Hezekiah pleads to the Lord to extend his life and the Lord does.
- 7-8 – There is one other account of God stopping or moving the sun. It is found in Joshua 10 when Joshua needed the sun to stand still in order to defeat their enemies.
- 1-5 – We are to care for our friends and help each other out with our difficulties. We have to be careful not to allow this practice to cause us to take on the other person’s sins though.
- 7-10 – From the good we do in the world, good things come. This might mean we are blessed or someone else is, but good comes.
- David gives God praise for all the ways he provides for the earth. God not only created nature but he made it beautiful and beneficial. He deserves praise for this.
- It makes sense that a father would delight in a wise, righteous son.
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 cool thing about reading the Bible this way is sometimes you can see direct connections between the Old and New Testament or between the New Testament and the Psalm, etc. Today, our psalm is very similar to the message of Job. Like Job, the Israelites in the psalm are wondering what they could have possibly done to feel so rejected by God. You may have felt this at some point. Hopefully you can reflect on your readings and realize, God is never too far away and always meets us when we are most in need.
- 1-24 – Elihu speaks of the majesty of God based on his workings in nature.
- Chapters 38 and 39 are a series of God proving his omnipotence, power, and control over the universe. He does this to remind Job that he is in no position to question God, his actions, or his motives.
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10:
- 15 – The more people know God and receive his grace, the more people will offer him praise and thanksgiving. It’s a beautiful cycle.
- 17-2 – These verses remind us that we shouldn’t focus on the fleeting things that are earthly because we have far greater eternal things waiting for us.
- This section is similar to Job. The Israelites can’t think of how they may have brought affliction upon themselves and yet they feel rejected by God. This is most likely not referring to the exile when God did reject Israel for a while because then Israel’s sins had been explained to them over and over before God acted.
Today’s reading in Nehemiah reminds us how easy it is to get distracted from God’s purposes and plans for us. These days, we have far more avenues for distraction than the post-exilic Israelites. What do you do to keep yourself focused on God’s purposes for your life?
- 1-14 – It is easy to get distracted from the work God has set out for us to do, but Nehemiah was faithful in refusing to be distracted from finishing the restoration of Jerusalem’s wall.
- 6-60 – This is a listing of the people who returned to Israel from exile in Babylon.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13:
- Much of Paul’s instruction in this first letter to the Corinthians regards caring for those who aren’t as far along in their faith development. Though our faith may be strong enough to withstand certain temptations, others’ may not be. We are called to cater to their needs in those situations.
- We are to offer our praises to God because he is able to do great things and he does great things.
Even for faithful folks, it’s easier to focus and spend our time on the things that are most imminent, those that we can see and touch. Even more than that, we tend to have things that scream for our attention. Those demand that we give them our time and attention. In today’s Romans reading, we are reminded of how easy it is to give ourselves over to whatever idol is placed before us. But we must remember that none of these things will satisfy like worshipping God.
1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36:
- 1-24 – David prepares a huge celebration for the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.
- 29 – This is the same story that’s found in 2 Samuel 6 when David dances undignified before the Lord as the Ark of the Covenant returns to its rightful place and people.
- 8-36 – Like Moses, Mary, Zechariah, and others, David has a song for the Lord to praise him for a specific situation but also uses that time to praise God for his overall goodness.
- 20 – This verse explains that God’s character and attributes are revealed through creation – aka we can know that he gives us new life when we see leaves reappear on trees in the spring, or we can see his power and majesty through the mountains, etc. This is an answer to many people who wonder about people who have never heard about God. They have seen him all around them.
- 22-23 – It is easier to worship the things we see, touch, and are familiar with. This is why the Israelites wanted some tangible thing, even just a golden calf, to convince themselves that there was a god to worship and take care of them.
- 24-27 – Four times in a row, Paul explains that people exchanged God’s perfect plan for something counterfeit. He explains that God gave the people over to the counterfeit thing they desired.
- 28-32 – Those who are not righteous not only practice these things that are listed, but they also encourage others to practice them as well.
- The psalmist seems to be describing someone who is wicked and sinning purposefully. And seemingly, it is someone who is sinning and wicked towards him. Though the judgment and request for punishment sounds harsh, we would probably feel the same way towards our true enemies.
- This is also the psalm of people who, in frustration, watch others get away with bad things.
- Once again we’re confronted with our bias towards wealth. Poor men tend to be left in a lurch by everyone where as people come out of the woodworks for someone with money or influence.
Are you a terrible singer? Can’t carry a tune in a bucket? That’s ok! You can’t tell me you don’t belt it out in the shower or when alone in your car. Praising God is the perfect time to stretch out those vocal chords. Today’s psalm reminds us that we’re all called to give God praise through song. He deserves it and loves it…even if you sound awful.
2 Kings 18:13-19:37:
- 16 – Gold that was, at one time, given as an offering to the Lord to build his home amongst the Israelites, was now stripped off and given to a foreign king. The change in the state of affairs is drastic.
- 19-25 – A message is sent from the king of Assyria to Hezekiah, the king of Judah, taunting him and saying that God will not be able to save Judah.
- 28-35 – Hezekiah was a king faithful to the Lord. Clearly the king of Assyria is trying to do everything he can to get the people of Judah to turn against Hezekiah and God.
- 36-1 – Hezekiah’s men all tore their clothes as a sign of deep sorrow and disgrace. They were afraid that the king of Assyria might be right.
- 6-7 – Isaiah, the next great prophet, assures Hezekiah and his men that God will rescue them and the king of Assyria will actually die in his own land.
- 10-13 – The king of Assyria’s bullying tactics are convincing. All the other kings Assyria had gone up against had fallen. Granted, their gods weren’t God.
- 29-31 – God gives Judah a sign that he actually is speaking and they can trust him.
- 10-14 – Though Christian persecution was rampant in Jerusalem, Paul knew he had to go there. All his companions tried to convince him not to, but he was well prepared to face persecution for the sake of the gospel.
- 3 – We are to praise the Lord with song…even if we’re not that talented. Just make a joyful noise.
Oh dear sweet Azariah, you almost had it! In today’s 2 Kings reading Azariah realizes, as should have been very clear by now, that partial faithfulness is actually not faithfulness at all. Azariah seems like a good king and does a lot of faithful things, but he draws the line at destroying worship implements of other gods, which would have helped protect his people from worshipping other gods. Partial faithfulness is also partially unfaithful.
2 Kings 15:1-16:20:
- 1 – Azariah was also known as Uzziah, who we’ll hear about in the book of Isaiah.
- 4-5 – Though Azariah was faithful in a lot of ways, he did not destroy the opportunities for the Israelites to worship other gods. His punishment was leprosy.
- 12-13 – Shallum was no longer in the same family as the previous kings.
- 16 – This kind of terror and violence was foretold by Elisha. Because Israel had strayed so far from God, Hazael of Syria and others were able to get in and cause total chaos and destruction. Elisha and God were not pleased by these consequences, but they knew and warned that Israel’s sins would lead them to this type of harm.
- 37 – Not only had Israel split in two (Israel and Judah) politically, but now Israel has joined forces with Syria to attack Judah. Remember, that Israel and Judah are all descendants of one family.
- 10-16 – King Ahaz, the new king of Judah, builds an alter replicating the one in Assyria. This is not an altar to God, but to one of the Assyrian gods. The king of Assyria then dictates what types of offerings the people of Judah should offer.
- 19 – After each king’s profile it says that the rest of what that king did is written in a different book. The writers of 1 and 2 Kings only included what the king did in relation to God and the covenant the Israelites had with God.
- 13-20 – The Ephesians had seen Paul cast out evil spirits and some people wanted to do the same by using magic. It backfired and caused a lot more people to follow Jesus.
- 23-27 – It is no new thing that people are persuaded to be unfaithful in order to secure or grow their finances.
- 32-34 – A case of mob mentality.
- 35-41 – The mob is disassembled, but the issue is not resolved.
- This psalm is a series of urges to praise God followed by reasons why he is worthy of praise.