Today’s Isaiah reading talks about folks who play the part and go through the motions but don’t actually live faithfully or love God fully. This is still an issue in churches today. We show up and perform faithful looking acts, but have no intention of allowing ourselves to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.
- 16-18 – Here Isaiah refers to a cornerstone. Some believe that this is a Messianic prophecy like when Jesus is referred to as the cornerstone on which others will break themselves.
- 23-29 – Just as the farmer knows the proper ways to care for his crops, God knows the proper ways to care for his people.
- 9-12 – The Holy Spirit reveals more of God to those who believe.
- 13-16 – Many people claimed to love and follow God, they even participated in many of the rituals, but their hearts and actions were not faithful.
- 22-24 – God foretells a time when the Israelites will return to faithfulness.
- 23-29 – People, as we still do today, were constantly looking for what separated them or made them better or more worthy. Paul makes it clear that once you have been baptized into the faith, we are all equal in the sight of the Lord and heirs to God’s inheritance.
- 4-7 – Jesus’ being a Jew and being born under the law gave him legitimacy to the Jews.
- 1-7 – David repeats himself regarding his trust in who God is and how he offers great protection. It might be helpful sometimes to repeat to ourselves reasons why we trust in God.
- Solomon did not advocate laziness.
Did God make a mistake by asking people to follow the law? If we’re not supposed to follow it now, why were people intended to follow it way back when? Today’s Galatians reading explains that the law was good, and though people were not able to follow it completely, it kept them within parameters until God sent Jesus, the ultimate fulfillment of the law.
- 1-12 – This prophecy tells of a time when God’s people will be brought back together. He will redeem them and squash the other nations who are harming and oppressing them.
- 7-15 – Here, the Israelites recognize the benefits of following the Lord. They begin to seek out the Lord and recognize things like God making their paths straight.
- 1-13 – God is clearly going to restore the Israelites, even those lost in battles and exile. He has plans to save them despite how bleak it looks during their punishments of exile.
- 10-14 – Paul is explaining that it is impossible for humans to obey the law fully and the law, by its nature, requires us to obey it fully. Thus, if we attempt to be justified through the law, we are doomed to fail.
- 21-22 – Paul explains that God didn’t give the law to the people in order to doom them. It was designed for them to follow but since they were unable, he gave them Jesus.
- 1-4 – A key theme of David’s psalms is that he trusts in the Lord for protection. He has clearly experienced this to be true and believes that God will continue to protect him.
- 17 – We often do envy sinners. Life seems easier for folks who actively engage in sin and it sometimes seems like they have all the fun. We are to look to something greater and longer term.
Yep, still in Isaiah. Settle in. We’ll be here for a while.
But, in the New Testament, in case you need a little reprieve from all the prophecies, we’ll look at two of Paul’s epistles (fancy word for letters – use it at parties – it will make you sound smart and holy). This week we read Galatians and Ephesians.
As you begin Ephesians, read it with this in mind: Paul was in prison when he wrote it. Even in the opening verses, as Paul exclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1:3). His joy and faith are evident.
Though I hope to never be imprisoned for my faith, I hope my joy and eagerness to share Christ are comparable to that of Paul.
Watching your kid hit his first homerun, win an award, or get an ‘A’ is exciting and exhilarating. But none of these things come close to comparing with watching your child walk faithfully with God. Today’ proverb helps remind us that this is the ultimate success in parenting.
- 1 – “Valley of vision” refers to Jerusalem. There is irony in this title because Jerusalem had always been referred to as on top of a mountain – which was both physical and figurative.
- 1-14 – This prophecy is aimed at Judah. God saved them from Assyria’s attacks and they felt they were home-free so they began celebrating instead of mourning their sins like God called them to do.
- 14-25 – Shebna was an officer for King Hezekiah but his sin was so great that he was demoted. This is an indictment on him.
- 1-18 – This prophecy is against Tyre and Sidon explaining their impending destruction.
- 1-23 – This chapter ends the prophecies against various cities and begins an apocalyptic section.
- 20-21 – Some of the most beautiful verses in Scripture that are often misunderstood. This is to say that Paul’s flesh and sinful nature died with Christ on the cross and now Christ’s righteousness should live through him. We don’t get to say we’re saved by Christ and then go on living the same way as before.
- 1-6 – Paul implores the Galatians to live out their salvation and not to try to be justified by works or to live simply as if they were never saved.
- This psalm cries out to God because they are being punished for their sins. It ends with the knowledge and understanding that God is powerful, in control, and will certainly restore them.
- It is a parent’s greatest joy to see their child walk faithfully.
When we get married many of us are thrown off by the way our spouses do things: squeezing toothpaste from the middle of the tube, loading the dishwasher differently, opening present on Christmas Eve, etc. Jews had become Christians and gentiles who had become Christians entered into a similar marriage. They had to decide on how certain things needed to be done. Addressing these discrepancies is a major purpose of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
- 1-15 – This is the prophecy against Egypt, who was the nation that enslaved Israel.
- 16-25 – These sections elaborate on what’s going to happen and let them know that they will be turned to the Lord.
- 1-6 – Yes, you read that right. Isaiah walked around naked and barefoot. This was to represent the humiliation Israel’s enemies would feel upon defeat.
- 1-17 – These are prophecies against Babylon, Dumah, and Tema. Though Dumah and Tema are fairly unknown, Babylon would soon overthrow the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
- 7-8 – Peter’s mission was to share Christ with the Jews while Paul’s was to share Christ with the gentiles. They were equally important missions.
- 11-14 – The “circumcision party” was a group of people who believed that salvation still required the outward symbol of circumcision. These were folks who were Jewish but became believers. Paul did not believe circumcision was necessary.
- 15-16 – Paul lumped circumcision in with any other work someone said was required for salvation.
- David clearly trusts God in the midst of enemies who are hunting him to kill him. David does hope for his enemies to be punished for what they’ve done to him.
- Though we may not agree with the method, it is clear that the Proverbs believe in disciplining and teaching children the right way.
Do you remember as a kid when your parents gave you rules you didn’t like? Didn’t you always think either they were just being mean or that it was to make things easier on them? The truth is, for the most part, rules are for the good of the child. This is similar to Paul’s message today in 2 Corinthians. He is asking them to remain faithful for their good, not for his own.
- 2 – The second half of this verse is repeated two other times in Scripture: Exodus 15:2 and Psalm 118:14. It is a powerful thought that God acts first as our strength and this leads him into the roll of our salvation.
- 13 – This begins a 10 chapter series of prophecies against various nations.
- 1-22 – This section is aimed at Babylon. In later years, Babylon would destroy Jerusalem and complete the exile of all of the Israelites out of their promised land. This hasn’t happened yet though.
- 3-23 – This prophecy is a bit of taunting toward the Babylonian king.
2 Corinthians 13:1-14:
- 1-3 – Clearly the Corinthians were questioning the validity of Paul’s message and it was showing in their actions.
- 5-10 – Paul is doing everything he can to ensure the Corinthians return to faithfulness. He assures them that he is not asking this of them for his own sake, but for theirs. He hopes to not have to come down on them when he visits.
- David writes this psalm as his life is in peril. He remains faithful through it and puts his trust in God. He even promises to tell others about these great things God has done.
- 10-11 – Moving a landmark amounted to stealing it. Entering the fields of the fatherless would be to wrong someone who is powerless. These wrongs would be avenged.
As a culture, we are terrible at trusting God. Most of it is due to our conditioning. We have the means to take care of most things ourselves. We might pray about a situation, but ultimately we know we’ll be the ones to fix it. When we lose a job, we pray about it, but when we get a new job we normally credit ourselves with our diligent work. Prayer was mostly lip service. In today’s psalm, David trusts God in a dire situation. We can learn a lot from his depth of reliance on God.
- 5-19 – God used Assyria to punish Israel when Assyria toppled Israel, but now God is speaking against them because they have overstepped their bounds and are going after Jerusalem.
- 20-23 – Though the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom were occupied by Assyria and only a few remained, they were able to have hope because God said they would eventually be able to return to relying on him.
- 24-27 – God assures Judah that they will not be overtaken by Assyria like Israel was.
- 1-16 – This is another Messianic prophecy. The root of Jesse refers to Jesse, David’s father. Jesus was from David’s line and thus part of Jesse’s family. This passage refers to the great power and influence the Messiah would have.
2 Corinthians 12:11-21:
- 14-15 – Paul describes himself as a type of spiritual father to the Corinthians explaining that he was not trying to get anything from them. He was just trying to offer them salvation. His goal was to give to them, not take away.
- 20-21 – Paul was fearful that the Corinthians were not actually living faithfully and he would be confronted with a failure in his ministry.
- David, though faced with a life-threatening situation, is able to put his full trust in God. He makes a powerful statement saying, “what can flesh do to me?” He understands that God is in control no matter how scary circumstances look.
- This is a warning against false kindness and false generosity.
Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Or worse, have you ever betrayed a friend? In today’s psalm, David feels the pain of betrayal at the hands of a friend. Though this is always the risk, we know that God designed us to be in relationship and that, though betrayal is excruciating, the benefits of relationship are worth the risk.
- 11-15 – The Lord becomes a safe place to those who follow him but becomes a stumbling block for those who oppose him.
- 1-7 – A prophecy describing the Messiah that is to come. Enjoy this musical interpretation of this powerful prophecy.
- 8-21 – This foretells the coming demise of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Though God’s hand is still available, the people continue to walk towards evil and destruction.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10:
- 7-9 – Most theologians believe that Paul did have some sort of infirmity that he wanted to get rid of but could not. This kept him humble and may have also been a hindrance from moving quickly and traveling easily.
- 10 – It is often our difficulties that cause us to better relate to others with difficult conditions. They also allow us to be more thankful. Paul also realized that these are often the places where we are actually strongest.
- 12-15 – David was betrayed by a friend, which, as we all know, hurts much more than when we’re hurt by an enemy or stranger.
- 16-19 – David has great trust in the Lord to take care of him despite the ill intentions of his enemies.
- Though wealth seems to bring earthly status, it is fleeting and not worth spinning our wheels over.
This portion of Isaiah isn’t the most uplifting…but ends with hope! Because there is hope! And if you read carefully, you’ll find a number of clues pointing to our ultimate hope – JESUS!!
We’ve talked about this before. I hate negative consequences!! Don’t you? If I have the opportunity, I like to shift the blame anywhere other myself. It’s easier that way. Unfortunately, we often blame God for the negative consequences of our sins. “Why would God let me lose my job!?!” we cry. When really the question should be, “Why did I break company policy hoping to get ahead?”
1 Chronicles 11:1-12:18:
- 4-9 – Jerusalem became the central city for the Israelites and remains so to this day, but it was not so until this conquest of David.
- 15-19 – Though David’s actions seem a bit ungrateful, he pours the water out as a drink offering because he considers himself not worthy of their extreme devotion. The reason David wanted the water in the first place is because he was originally from Bethlehem.
- Though you may not recognize or remember many of the names in the lists from today’s reading, recognize that the chronicler is reminding us that there were a great deal of capable, dedicated fighting men, particularly those dedicated to David’s service.
- 8 – Because of the snake incident, the people already thought Paul was a god. His ability to heal Publius’ father as well as the other ill people probably only solidified this thought.
- 16 – Remember that Paul is still technically imprisoned and awaiting trial in front of Caesar by his own request.
- 20 – He’s referring to Jesus as “the hope of Israel.”
- 25-28 – It would make sense that the Jews should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah since he fulfilled so many of the prophecies they knew. Many, however, were unable to see it. The gentiles didn’t have as many preconceived notions of who the Messiah should be, so they were more open to Jesus being it.
- 29 – Did anyone else notice that there’s no Acts 28:29? One does exist, and it’s pretty inconsequential, but many translations leave it out.
- 9-10 – Confirmation that when we seek God, he will be faithful to meet us. He does not hide from or forsake us.
- 1 – This is in exact contrast to how our society lives and thinks.
- 3 – So true!! How often do we blame God for the consequences we receive for our own poor choices?