Are you a leader in any arena? If so, you’ll notice that leadership comes with responsibility. If you’re a leader, that means you have followers and that ultimately means that you are, at least in part, responsible for those who follow you. In today’s Ezekiel reading we see examples of good and bad leadership. Ezekiel heeded the call of leadership and shared God’s message with the people. At the same time, many religious leaders led people away from God and towards other gods. Leadership should always be taken seriously.
1-9 – Ezekiel was tasked with sharing God’s messages of repentance to Israel. If he did so and the Israelites did not turn away from their sins, their destruction was on their own heads. If Ezekiel didn’t share the message, their destruction was on him.
10-20 – God does not and did not delight in destroying people. He gave them every opportunity to turn around, but they continued to choose not to.
2 – This is not referring to shepherds of white fluffy animals, but the leaders of the Israelites who were supposed to be leading them towards God.
7-10 – God was not pleased with the leaders’ negligence towards the people, so God committed to rescuing the people.
20-24 – God is referring to Jesus here when he talks about bringing all his people together under one. Jesus was in the line of David.
1-2 – This reminds us to be kind and caring to everyone in our midst.
4-5 – The things believers should and shouldn’t do stay pretty consistent throughout the New Testament.
15-16 – To be faithful we need to praise God and serve others.
1-8 – A great deal of the Bible is focused on who we should focus on and worship. Too often we get distracted and choose to offer our affections elsewhere.
These tools and metals are referring to a purifying process. This is to suggest that a fool cannot be separated from his folly.
In today’s Ezekiel reading Egypt is promised a punishment partially because they put themselves in place of God. It seems silly. They took credit for creating the Nile. But don’t we put ourselves in the place of God all the time? We try to control things that we should hand over to God. We make decisions without consulting God. We assume that our finances are our own instead of a blessing from God. Let’s read today’s Ezekiel passage closely today.
1-21 – This is a prophecy against Egypt. Notice that in verses 9 and 10, it is explained that Egypt’s punishment is partially because the people tried to put themselves in the place of God by saying they created the Nile.
1-26 – The explanation of Egypt’s punishment continues and the hearer is assured that by the end of what Egypt will face, they will have no doubt who God is.
32-38 – All these folks who lived by faith faced very difficult challenges and hardships. Following God does not make life easy or simple. It is the opposite. Life is often more difficult when we follow God, but the reward in the end is well worth it.
1-2 – The “cloud of witnesses” is all the people who have gone before us and shown us what faithful living looks like. Our ultimate example is Christ who was willing to sacrifice himself in order to obtain the joy of the Lord and a place next to God.
7-11 – Discipline is a form of love because it protects us and guides us to the version of us God intended.
This psalm highlights many reasons why it is good and beneficial to fear and obey God. Too often we see it as a burden that squashes us.
As believers, we are called to help hold one another accountable and to spur each other on towards faithfulness.
Proverbs has a lot of relationship advice – from friendship to marriages to parenting. Today’s tip on marriage is to pay attention to the signs someone gives you BEFORE you marry them! A wise man does not marry a woman who has proven herself hateful and quarrelsome. It just doesn’t make sense.
1-36 – Tyre was a wealthy city because it was located on a port. But their wealth was where they placed their pride, which ultimately led to destruction. This section is a lament over the rise and fall of Tyre.
1-10 – This is a prophecy against the prince of Tyre because he has placed himself above God. This is always going to be a bad idea.
11-19 – The King of Tyre had at one time been in God’s good graces, but had since turned to unfaithfulness and had become a laughing stock.
20-23 – The city of Sidon was also unfaithful and set to be destroyed. Tyre and Sidon, in the New Testament are often used as examples of what not to be, similar to Sodom and Gomorrah.
24-26 – God promises to bring Israel back together after Israel and return to it.
26 – This verse should stop us in our tracks! Because of their deep and abiding faith that God’s promises are true, all these people acted faithfully with the willingness to wait for their rewards. Are we willing to do the same?
1-3 – Let’s give thanks to the Lord for his great Word that we get to read in order to connect with him! Let’s do it even when it’s hard to find time to read!
15-16 – This is simply encouraging men to make wise choices about the women they choose. A combative nature would most likely be evident before marriage.
The grace we receive through Jesus’ sacrifice is a free gift we cannot earn. Hebrews tells us, however, we do have a role to play. Our job, after we’ve received salvation is to pursue sanctification – the process of becoming more like Christ by turning away from our sins. But once you’ve received such a wonderful gift, wouldn’t you want to become more like the giver?
1-17 – God has Ezekiel prophesy against Jerusalem letting them know that God has drawn his sword and will soon slay the wicked. This has to be terrifying to hear.
18-32 – God will use the Babylonians and Ammonites to wield his sword against Jerusalem.
6-12 – God reminds the leaders of Israel of their sins. It is known that the Babylonians and Ammonites, who God would use to destroy Jerusalem, also had great sins against God’s law, but since they were not God’s chosen people, they were not subject to God’s law.
18-19 – Dross of metals is the impurities that float to the top when purifying it. When you melt silver, impurities rise to the top and are scraped off to assure the purity of the precious metal. Israel has now become the throw away portion of what was once precious.
5-7 – Jesus did not offer sacrifices other than himself. Jesus says that God does not desire sacrifices and offerings because the Israelites were using them incorrectly. They weren’t allowing themselves to be changed by the sacrifices but were simply using them as a chance to continue sinning.
11-14 – Jesus’ sacrifice of himself offers us righteousness. It is our job though, to pursue the process of sanctification. This is the process of systematically turning away from sin and becoming more like Christ.
1-6 – So many of the psalms are simply talking about how God deserves our praise. Note that there are always reasons listed why he deserves it. This one uses some of the phrases some of the others use, “your steadfast love is great”, “your faithfulness reaches to the clouds”. Try not to allow yourself to read over these quickly because you’ve heard it before. Think about what those things actually mean, it may compel you to offer God a little more praise than normal.
Humans are designed to walk away from danger, but without wisdom, we tend to ignore our natural urgings. Wisdom keeps us safe.
Both our New and Old Testament readings talk about covenants today. As we’ve discussed, covenants are agreements between two parties (God is always one of them in the Bible) where both sides have something to uphold. Our Old Testament reading shows God’s faithfulness to his covenant with Israel despite their total lack of regard for their end of the bargain. Then in the New Testament reading we see God’s new covenant through Christ. This is the covenant we’re under. Our part of the bargain is to receive Christ’s salvation and live accordingly. Let’s make a renewed commitment to our portion of the covenant today.
44-58 – The Israelites looked down on places like Sodom and Samaria for their sins and because they did not have the special bond with God that the Israelites had. Here God puts the Israelites in their place by placing them lower than those nations.
59-63 – As poorly as the Israelites have held to their covenant with God, God reiterates his commitment to the covenant.
11-21 – These verses explain the parable found earlier in the chapter. The parable tells of Jerusalem/Judah’s unfaithfulness. They trusted in the power of other nations instead of that of God. Judah’s fate for unfaithfulness is destruction.
22-24 – Yes! We’re talking about Jesus here. All kinds of people will find rest with Christ and social statuses will flip flop.
This section describes the new covenant that was established through Christ.
8-12 – Jeremiah 31:31-34 is quoted here.
13 – This is to say that the original covenant is now replaced by the new. Christ’s covenant is what we live under. God’s first covenant wasn’t bad, this one is kind of like a new edition that we should adhere to from now on.
This psalm is another example of God’s faithfulness repaid by Israel’s lack of faith and unfaithfulness.
30-31 – Often acts of faithfulness are “counted as righteousness” to the person who is faithful.
7 – This is very true of our culture. We are not “hungry” for anything because all our needs are met so we tend to be ungrateful for what we have. Those in need are often grateful for anything and everything made available to them.
Do you remember learning, in elementary school, that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile? It is kind of surprising that we have to make special effort to frown. This is kind of like when we think about what Hebrews tells us today – it is easier to stray from God’s path than to remain faithful. Shouldn’t it be easier to remain faithful? Unfortunately, there are a lot of outside forces pulling us away from faithfulness. This is why we need to surround ourselves with other faithful folks to help bounce us back on the righteous path.
1-3 – This gives the context of Ezekiel’s visions from God, which he is now prophesying.
4-28 – This sets the scene of what Ezekiel sees as he receives his visions. The creatures, wheels, and dome, all play a part in showing God’s majesty as he speaks to Ezekiel.
2 – Ezekiel, more than any other prophet, makes the Spirit an emphasis.
2:8-3:3 – Ezekiel is twice instructed to eat a scroll. This is, in effect, asking him to fill himself with the word of God.
12-15 – God’s wind takes Ezekiel from the sweetness of ingesting God’s scrolls back to the stark contrast of the harsh reality of the exiles. Ezekiel becomes bitter.
1-6 – Moses, like David and Elijah, was highly revered for his acts of faithfulness by Jewish people. The author, here, is explaining that as great Moses was, Jesus is higher.
12-15 – It is harder to live faithfully than it is to fall away because temptation and complacency are constantly pulling us away from faithfulness. This encourages us to help each other stay faithful.
16-19 – The author encourages the believers to learn from the Israelites wandering in the desert’s mistakes.
This psalm offers a series of the many ways God provides for his creation. Each is so thoughtful and intricate.
24-26 – Hate in our heart can be masked by kind sounding words, but will eventually shine through.
If you’ve ever gotten a stomachache from eating too much ice cream, you know how true today’s Proverb is. God gave us so many good things, but we tend to take those good things, over indulge, and make them harmful. Let’s receive our blessings humbly and without trying to make them more than they are intended to be.
1-15 – Jeremiah prophesied against the city and those heard it were not pleased. They threatened to kill him, but he made it very clear that if they did, God would certainly enact the prophecy against them.
8-15 – Though it may sound odd, since God normally did not want the Israelites to serve other kings, he encourages them to serve Nebuchadnezzar. Presumably, this is after Nebuchadnezzar’s change of heart towards God.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-18:
6-12 – Paul warns against laziness and continues to ask Christ followers to follow his example.
15 – This is a powerful verse on how to treat believers who are not acting as such. We are still called to care for them.
8-13 – This psalm beautifully expresses all the good attributes that come from God and how abundant they are and available for our good.
Good, practical advice. Too much of a good thing, is bad.
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.