We often think of sins as unrelated, individual decisions. I needed to lie in that situation so I did. Now it’s over. Today’s Proverb reminds us that that simply isn’t true. Sin becomes habit and we get comfortable doing it. It then leads us onto shaky ground, normally looking over our shoulder and wondering when we’ll get caught. Choosing faithfulness, however, brings us strength and stability as we stand on solid ground.
- 1-16 – This is the continuation of the prophecy against Gog. Gog had not appeared in Scripture until the last chapter. Gog is an individual who has opposed Israel and will be punished because of it.
- 21-29 – God explains that though Israel was disobedient and he punished them, he will soon restore them back to prominence and proliferation.
- 1-17 – This is a vision Ezekiel is given regarding what the new temple should look like. The new temple ends up being built in the same place as the old temple and it stood until 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed it.
- 18-26 – Our faith is not helpful if it is inactive. True faith cannot actually remain inactive. If we have faith in Christ, it is transformative and causes us to begin to live more like Christ. Works are inevitable.
- 2-12 – James spends time discussing how difficult it is to tame the tongue, but that if we do, it controls our whole selves. We all know how difficult it is to keep our speech pure, uplifting, and beneficial to others.
- 5-7 – The psalmist has such confidence in God’s ability to take care of him despite the circumstances because he had experienced God’s protection before. Instead of forgetting God’s faithfulness, he used that memory to build his faith for the future.
- Disobedience and sin lead to instability, but faithfulness leads to strength.
Do you ever feel like the critics know more about our faith and the Bible than we do? I remember being confronted by an atheist when I was in college. He talked to me about biblical contradictions and I realized he knew more about the Bible than I did. Paul encourages Timothy, in today’s 2 Timothy reading, to always be prepared to defend the gospel because others will always be ready to attack it. I’d encourage all of us to do the same.
- The next two chapters are a pronouncement of judgments on various lands including Moab and Ammon.
2 Timothy 4:1-22:
- 1-5 – Timothy needed to always be ready to share and defend the gospel because the opposition always was.
- 9-18 – Paul deals with practical matters but asserts his certainty that God would protect him no matter what opposed him.
- 6-11 – God’s faithfulness to the Israelites despite their wanderings is reiterated.
- A list of foolish people and how foolish it is to entrust foolish people with anything.
The destruction and terror Jeremiah has been preaching for so long is now impending. This would be terrifying! But God promised to protect Jeremiah and those who had been good to him. So does he? Yes! Of course! Even when things look terrifying, we can trust that God will stay true to his promises. If he’s promised protection, he’ll protect us. If he’s promised healing, we’ll receive healing. We can trust that his promises are true. We see it over and over in Scripture.
- 1-10 – The impending destruction of Jerusalem has finally come. The Babylonians, as prophesied, overtake the Israelites.
- 11-18 – Amidst the destruction, God still takes care of Jeremiah and has King Nebuchadnezzar protect him. God also promises to protect Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern.
- 1-6 – Jeremiah is given the option of where he wants to be. He chooses to stay in Judah.
- 1-10 – Ishmael, a member of the royal house of Judah, kills Gedaliah, the governor Babylon had placed over all that remained in Judah. This was a very dangerous act by Ishmael.
2 Timothy 1:1-18:
- 1-2 – Timothy was a protégé of Paul’s.
- 6-7 – Faith can be taught to us, like it was to Timothy, but we still have to claim it for ourselves, as Paul is encouraging Timothy to do.
- 8-14 – Paul teaches Timothy to cherish the faith and testimony he’s been given and to be willing to suffer for it.
- 12-17 – Having already established the power of God, the psalmist asks God to provide for and sustain him and to bless the work that he does.
- 1-16 – The psalmist encourages others that God will protect them. Even when it looks hopeless and when others around them are being killed, God is in control.
- 2 – If a curse is cast but has no cause, it will not come to fruition.
It’s hard for most of us to understand persecution for our faith. The worst we normally have to face is someone ridiculing us for our beliefs. In today’s 1 Thessalonians reading, Paul praises the Thessalonians for enduring persecution for the gospel. As you read it, take a second to pray for those around the world who daily face persecution for the gospel.
- 13-22 – There were many false prophets who were opposing what God was saying through Jeremiah and they were leading the Israelites astray. God tells Jeremiah what to say in response to the false prophets.
- 1-9 – God is not backing down in coming after the false prophets and everyone who follows them.
- 10-21 – Jeremiah is afraid of the people and God confirms his commitment to and protection of Jeremiah. God’s response in verses 19-21 are very powerful.
- 1-15 – The first 13 verses are very bad news for the Israelites. They will face a great deal of destruction. The last two verses give hope, though, that they will eventually be returned to God’s intent for them.
1 Thessalonians 2:10-3:13:
- 13-16 – The Thessalonian believers clearly faced a great deal of persecution as they initially pursued Christ. Paul, multiple times, expresses gratitude for their faithfulness in the midst of it.
- 17-5 – Paul explains why he hasn’t visited Thessalonica again, but why Timothy visited instead.
- 1-13 – Asaph, the psalmist, asks God why he would bother bringing the Israelites out of Egypt only to forsake them later.
- 14-19 – Asaph asks that God returns to the people and restores them.
- 2-3 – God’s mind is far greater than that of a king, but a king’s mind is greater than that of a common person.
- 4-5 – Kings, in order to be faithful and successful, should be taken away from bad advisors and influences.
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.
As we wrap up Isaiah, it is incredible to think back on the month or so it has taken us to get through this powerful book. Isaiah rejects and then accepts his call, preaches destruction and exile for the Israelites, preaches eventual restoration for the Israelites, and sprinkles little hints of what to look for in a Messiah throughout. And while it is, at times, a difficult book to trudge through, A) you did it! and B) it offers both immediate and eternal hope.
- 6-12 – God continues to paint the picture of Jerusalem’s coming salvation. He speaks of preparations for that day and makes promises that the Israelites will no longer be defeated.
- 1-6 – God speaks of how he took vengeance on his enemies.
- 7-19 – The speaker changes to someone who is remembering how merciful God has been and then asking for more of that mercy.
- 1-12 – They continue to ask to see God’s power in saving them and bringing them out of trouble.
- 1-16 – God juxtaposes the treatment of his servants with that of those who choose not to serve him. God’s servants will receive great blessing while the others will receive great pain.
- 19-24 – Timothy was a young man Paul had taken under his wing. Paul commissioned him to spread the gospel as well.
- 2-4 – Once again Paul explains that living by the Spirit is far more necessary than circumcision. He reminds his readers that he, as a Jew, is circumcised so he can say this out of truth and not jealousy.
- The entire psalm, but with a crescendo in verses 25-26, are attesting to the confidence the psalmist has in God as his hope, salvation, and protection.
- This portion makes a very tangible comparison of how wisdom benefits us.
Today we start Philippians. Like Ephesians and Galatians, this is a letter Paul wrote to a church he had interest in. If you ever talk to someone who wants to grow deeper in their faith and isn’t sure where to start in the Bible, Philippians is a great place to send them. It is short, simple, and to the point.
- 1-14 – The Lord makes it clear what kinds of worship he prefers. True worship is never routine and meaningless. He asks for us to care for those in need as an act of worship.
- 1-19 – God will not tolerate injustice and he is clear that he will punish those who oppress others.
- 17 – Note the similarity to the Armor of God from Ephesians.
- 21 – God makes a new covenant with the new Israel. Though this is not the covenant of Christ yet, it is a new way for God to connect with his people.
- 1-6 – Paul begins most of his letters with a warm greeting and encouragement on how thankful he is that the recipients of the letter are partnering with him in living out and spreading the gospel of Christ.
- 12-14 – Though other believers may have been concerned about facing similar persecution as Paul, he assures them that it has been worth it because of how it has advanced the gospel.
- 21 – Paul offers several poetic yet slightly cryptic sayings like this throughout his letters. Paul basically means that if he’s alive, he’s going to be serving Christ. When he dies, he’ll get to be with Christ.
- 1-16 – The psalmist is confident in the Lord’s ability to save him from his enemies because he is able to reflect on other times God has taken care of him.
- 17-24 – The psalmist praises God in advance for taking care of him and even promises to tell others of God’s great deeds.
- 10 – This verse calls out all those who feel strong in their faith or otherwise who then topple over when difficulties come. The strength of our faith is determined when tested.
What have been the most formative times of your life? For me and for many I know, formation, and especially transformation, often comes during times of trial. Though God does not send us trials for this purpose, he does use the trials to bring about his purposes. In Isaiah, God explains that the Israelites have been refined through the significant trial of exile.
- 11-25 – The Lord establishes that he is God and there are no other gods above or beside him.
- 1-13 – God points out the ridiculousness of worshipping something you’ve created yourself. He lists off a few reasons that these gods clearly have no power. Humans created them. They can’t even control themselves.
- 1-15 – God chastises the Babylonians for mistreating the Israelites when they were in captivity and explains that they will be punished.
- 1-11 – The Lord explains that he was refining the Israelites through their trials. This is often a painful process but is necessary for our growth and faithfulness.
- 1-7 – Paul urges the Ephesians to be of one mind and heart. He reminds them that they were all saved by the same means and should use this as a bond.
- 11-16 – God had equipped the Ephesian believers through a variety of helpers so they could mature in their faith and not be swayed so easily by false prophets or temptations.
- 27 – Saul, the first king of Israel, was from the tribe of Benjamin, which would put that tribe in the lead.
- The psalmist calls on God to protect and prosper the Israelites and rounds everything out with praise for God’s abilities.
This is not my recipe, but I get compliments every time I make it. You should try it. It’s great for barbecues, potlucks, and the like. I’d suggest the addition of a little bit of salt. You see, when we find things that are good, whether it’s a movie, recipe, or thought, we tend to share it. This is what the psalmist is calling us to do today. When God does something great in your life, tell others. Make it known so they might experience Him too.
- 1-8 – Hezekiah started out faithful, but like several other kings, made some poor choices in his later years. He shows off his wealth to his Babylonian visitor. It seems that the sin in this is trying to befriend Babylon in an effort to have an ally against Assyria. God wants Judah to seek him as their only ally.
- 1-31 – God offers comfort to his people and assurance that he will care for them. There are several beautiful passages within the chapter that can speak comfort to us today.
- 3 – This verse is quoted regarding John the Baptist who was called to prepare the way for Christ.
- 8-10 – God continues to comfort the Israelites of Judah assuring them that he will hold them up and keep them safe.
- 3-10 – Paul praises God for allowing he and his fellow believers to know God and his grace. He thanks God for his plan of salvation.
- 15-23 – This is Paul’s prayer for the church that the Ephesians would understand God’s great works and the gifts he had given them.
- 5-7 – We see another reference to God’s great act of parting the Red Sea. The psalmist, who has great faith, knows that God’s acts are incredible and invites other simply to come and see what the Lord has done.
- 16-17 – Not only does the psalmist want the reader to see God’s good works, the psalmist also wants to tell personally of the great things God has done.
- Here the proverb tries to warn of the temptations and consequences of lust.
Today we learn the Fruit of the Spirit! This is the great stuff we produce when we’re living by the Spirit. Here’s a very annoying song to help you remember what you’re intended to produce:
- 13-22 – God continues to reassure Judah that they don’t have to fear Assyria but that he will restore the righteous of their land.
- 1-14 – The prophecies continue to look to the future when all enemies of God’s people are taken care of.
- 1-22 – Assyria attacks Jerusalem. King Hezekiah has confidence that God will prevail and the Israelites will be saved from the hands of the Assyrians.
- 13-15 – Just because we are not under the law anymore does not mean our lives are meant to be a free for all. Our freedom in Christ should lead us to become more like Christ. One way we can do that is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
- 22-23 – The “fruit of the Spirit” are the things that our lives should produce when we are living through the Spirit. Paul states that neither Jews nor Gentiles would have laws against someone producing these wonderful things.
- Like in many of his psalms, David longs for God, who he relies on for protection and sustenance, to punish all his enemies and all those who do not follow God. He has such confidence in God to do so.