Salvation is a free gift. We can’t earn it. That is so freeing…but…it should free us to do more good, live more like Christ, and serve more. It should not, in our minds, give us free license to sin more because, hey, what’s the harm? Be grateful for your free gift and act accordingly.
- 18-25 – These festivals and others are spelled out in Numbers 23.
- 1-18 – The prince had special instructions on how to handle offerings and other rituals in the temple.
1 Peter 1:13-2:10:
- 14-21 – Our call is to live like Christ. Because he lived a holy life, we are to do so as well. We know this is a worthy call because he died and rose again.
- 1-3 – We are to turn away from our sin and long for God’s goodness and guidance.
- 9-10 – We should take it seriously and act upon it that we were saved.
- 36-37 – A difficult prayer to pray because it might mean we actually have to turn from our selfish ways and live for God.
- 11 – Wealth does not equal wisdom.
How many times this year has Scripture revisited God rescuing the Israelites from Egypt? It is their constant pillar reminding and assuring them of God’s faithfulness. What is yours? What event or circumstance do you look back on when you struggle to trust? A particular time God provided for you in a specific way? A time when you were rescued from a bad situation? A miracle that can’t be explained in any way but God? Think about that today, particularly if you’re facing a trial.
- 31-34 – God declares a new covenant with the Israelites since the last one was broken and forgotten.
- 1-5 – Zedekiah was the king of Judah appointed by the king of Babylon.
- 6-15 – Jeremiah’s opportunity to buy the field was proof sent from God that he would fulfill his promises of restoration.
- 16-23 – Note how many times God’s rescuing Israel from Egypt is revisited in order to offer hope of God’s faithfulness in the future.
- 26-35 – Judah’s sin had greatly grieved God. They worshipped idols offered sacrifices to other gods just like the foreign nations.
- 36-41 – God’s anger morphs into abiding love as he describes drawing his people back to himself and making them his own again.
1 Timothy 3:1-16:
- 1-7 – Overseers (or leaders in the faith) have higher standards they must live up to.
- 8-13 – Deacons, a different level in church leadership, also had a higher standard to live by. Their wives were also held to an elevated standard.
- 1 – Here, and then again in verse 13, the psalmist declares that he is faithful in prayer despite feeling left and forsaken by God. That kind of commitment can only stem from knowing that God will eventually come through.
- 20 – Know your audience. A heavy heart needs you to mourn with it. Don’t make it worse.
- 21-22 – Kill them with kindness.
When we cheer for or celebrate the tragedies of others, God is not pleased. Today’s proverb reminds us of that. We may disagree with the person or their actions or principles, but we are not to find joy in their misfortune. Try to remember this nugget of wisdom next time you think someone “gets what they deserve”.
- 4-10 – Like several others called by God, Jeremiah has an excuse of why he can’t possibly be God’s instrument. God disagrees and assures him that he will.
- 13-14 – Babylon is to the north and eventually fulfills this prophecy.
- 18 – Jeremiah will be protected by God as long as he is serving God.
- 1-30 – Through Jeremiah, God remembers the connection he had with Israel and then how sharply they turned from him. They cannot deny how much they’ve forsaken him because he gives specific examples.
- 2 – Just so you don’t feel dumb, here are phonetic spellings of the two names here: You-o-de-uh and Sin-te-kay.
- 4-7 – When we release things to God in prayer, we are free not to worry anymore. God’s peace can comfort us and give us confidence that the situation will be resolved.
- 8 – This verse reminds us where our minds should be. We allow so much filth into our thought life, it is hard to be focused on the good, true, and pure.
- 10-13 – Paul doesn’t speak simply in “what if’s”, he had learned to trust God with a little or a lot.
- This psalm delineates the differences in the treatment of the righteous and the wicked.
- 17-18 – Everyone is God’s child. We should not gain joy from another’s misfortunes.
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.
The theme of several of the readings today seem to put us in our place. We are human and finite. God is big, powerful, and ultimately in control. And while this could be read as limiting or squashing us, like it did for David, it should give us hope. The ultimate outcome is not in our hands. We don’t have that kind of pressure. But we serve the God who is in control and who has our best in his plans and has the power to bring those plans to fruition. God in control is a good thing.
- 12:1-13:19 – Job contends that he has become a laughing stock and recognizes the power of God.
- 13:20-14:22 – Job switches into a prayer to God. He is clearly incredibly discouraged. He even asks, in verse 14:13, for God to let him die for a while until God’s wrath subsides so he can then come back and serve God with joy. Job makes a valiant effort at remaining faithful.
- 15:1-35 – Eliphaz speaks to Job again, now with more force. Eliphaz begins to accuse Job of thinking of himself more highly than he ought.
1 Corinthians 15:29-58:
- 29 – Though it’s uncertain what this means exactly, it’s presumed that the Corinthians had started the practice of being baptized on behalf of people who didn’t come to faith before they died.
- 29-34 – This argument against those who say there is no resurrection from the dead for people continues from yesterday’s reading.
- 45 – Paul, once again, compares Adam and Jesus. They are considered the first man and the last man. One brought death, the other brought life.
- 55 – This verse is quoted in the Charles Wesley hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.
- Jeduthun, who this psalm is written to, was a Levite appointed to be one of the masters of music by King David.
- 4-7 – Though David’s words seem somewhat hopeless, talking about how minor our lives are, he continues to put his hope in the Lord.
- Powerful and reassuring words that we can work and strive, and it’s good for us to do our part, but ultimately, the Lord determines and owns victory.
There are double-standards in the world. Some are frustrating and unfair, while others are totally necessary. In today’s 1 Corinthians reading there is a justified double-standard. It is that believers are held to one moral standard while non-believers are not. We cannot expect non-believers to abide by God’s commands, but we as believers should and should even help one another do so. Yes, it’s a double-standard, but it is a necessary one for believers and non-believers alike.
- 21-23 – Ezra told the Babylonians God would take care of them on their journey, so now he had to put his money where his mouth is. This is why he has the people all call on the Lord through fasting and prayer.
- 31 – God hears their prayers for protection on their journey and answers them.
- 1-2 – The Israelites, and particularly the priests, had just finished traveling safely, because of God’s provisions, and have just completed their burnt offering, and immediately they’re breaking one of the main laws God has given them – to be set apart.
- 6-15 – Ezra’s prayer is honest and forthcoming. He confesses God’s goodness to his people and that they continue to sin against him. Particularly starting in vs. 13, Ezra seems to be very humbled by God’s graciousness in continuing to care for them despite their continued lack of faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13:
- 9-11 – This is an interesting perspective. This is encouraging us not to try to avoid all sinners or even those who are still caught up in sin, but to avoid those who call themselves believers and are currently engaging in any of the sins listed. As believers we are called to a higher standard.
- 12-13 – Our moral law and faithfulness to Christ is not to be expected of those who do not believe, but we are to hold our own to Christ’s standards.
- 5 – Jesus repeats the first part of this verse when dying on the cross.
- 6-8 – David continually gives acknowledgment and praise to God for providing protection from his enemies.
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.
Today we finish up Romans and you’ll notice Paul ends by trying to connect believers together. In most of his letter conclusions he attempts to connect the churches with other believers he’s worked with. We should take a note here. It’s important, as believers, to be connected with other believers.
2 Chronicles 33:14-34:33:
- 1- Strangely, Josiah is not the youngest king to ever start his reign. Joash started ruling at age 7.
- 8-13 – Unfaithful kings tended to let the temple fall into disrepair. Both boy kings took the offerings of the people to put it to temple reparations.
- 27-28 – Even though the people had been evil, the king still had love for them and would have been pained to see them suffer.
- 8-16 – In Paul’s conclusion to the Romans, he is doing his best to connect the believers with others they might encounter.
- 17-19 – Satan does not like it when people are faithful and make faithful decisions. He tries to deceive and turn them with things and people who seem holy-ish.
- 2 – This is a pretty scary prayer to pray. This is inviting God to look into all the part of us we normally try to hide.
- Often the person who tells you great gossip will tell yours as well. Better not to associate with them at all.
God does not give us everything we want. That is not said anywhere in the Bible. It does say that God gives us good gifts. It does say that we need to ask and seek God. It does say that he has great plans for us. Today’s Romans reading has a verse that is often misconstrued as, “God will give you anything you ask for.” Be sure to read the whole verse…and the ones surrounding it for that matter.
2 Chronicles 11:1-13:22:
- 1-12 – Like we learned in 2 Kings, Rehoboam, Solomon’s son split off and took only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. This is the portion of Israel that the line of David still possessed.
- 1-5 – Once Rehoboam allowed the Lord to bless and establish him, he abandoned God and his law. Though this sometimes works for a while, ultimately it leads to failure. God made it clear that Rehoboam would fall to Shishak as punishment.
- 4-12 – Abijah, the new king of Judah, from the line of David, is at war with Jeroboam. At this time, Abijah makes it clear that he and the people of Judah are actually following God’s commands while the people still known as Israel are not.
- 24-25 – If we can already see the fruition or completion of something, we do not have to hope it will happen. We already know it will. We can only have hope when we can’t see the end result.
- 26-27 – This is encouragement for us when we say we don’t know how or what to pray. We can trust that the Spirit will give us the words to pray.
- 28 – This is a verse that gets misquoted and misinterpreted often. Note that there are some important caveats. The person has to love the Lord and they have to be called according to his purpose. We cannot simply decide we want something to happen and God grants it. He is not a genie. We have to be working for his purpose out of our love for him. In those cases, God works all things together for good.
- 29-30 – The word “predestined” tends to trip people up. This passage is explaining that God, in his sovereignty, knows us before we can know him and he calls us to become more like his son who is the ultimate model for us.
- 31 – Something to remember when it seems like evil is winning.
- 35-39 – Powerful encouragement that nothing is stronger than the grip with which God holds onto us. He will not allow anything to separate us.
- This is still the Psalm where David is released from his enemies and the pursuit of Saul.
- David continues to give God praise for rescuing him and allowing him to overcome his enemies. This is an excellent Psalm for those who feel that evil is winning in some part of their lives.
- Sometimes circumstances allow or force us to discontinue faithfully listening to wise counsel. Just look at Rehoboam’s story from yesterday’s reading. He ceased to hear instruction to be kind to his constituents.
Sin and temptation are tough. There are so many that are flashy and draw us in. They promise to satisfy but leave us feeling empty. At the same time, as believers, we desire to follow God and obey his commands. We know his ways are better than the alternative, but those flashing lights are awfully enticing. It can feel like we’re in a bit of a tug-of-war. Paul felt the same way.
2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10:
- 18-21 – Solomon’s humility and awe of God’s willingness to dwell among people is eye opening. It truly is incredible that God has offered to dwell in this house made by humans among them.
- 22-42 – Solomon pleas with God to hear his people’s various prayers. This seems to be a type of dedicating prayer for the temple.
- 32-33 – These verses aren’t familiar to our cultural point of view. We have always been taught to welcome the outsider into church because we want more people to know Jesus. God’s people, the Israelites, had a much more exclusive mind set. The temple was built by them for them to connect with and worship their God.
- 11-22 – God confirms his pleasure in the temple and Solomon’s having built it. He assures Solomon of his loyalty to him, but also explains the consequences if Solomon is not faithful.
- 8-9 – This is an interesting delineation. Solomon is ok with having slaves from other people groups but refuses to have Israelite slaves. They, instead, become soldiers.
- 14-20 – An extremely convicting passage that could have been written by any one of us. We don’t want to sin, but that is our nature because we are human. Our flesh is weak and easily swayed.
- 21-25 – Most of us can probably relate to this kind of turmoil. We love God and want to serve him but also want to sin and are drawn to it.
- 1-8 – When people talk about their pasts being too much to overcome or wondering if the church will get struck by lightning if they walk in, you can point them to these verses. Salvation through Jesus is about life, not condemnation.
- David must have felt such relief. He had run from Saul so long and was constantly at war. You can almost hear the deep exhale in his words.
- David’s words explain the great power with which God works.
- 24 – This verse is basically repeated in Proverbs 26:15. Clearly Solomon was not pleased with laziness and did not believe it displayed godliness or wisdom.