In today’s Amos reading, we find a sentiment repeated numerous times in Scripture and it’s one we could still stand to hear today. Our rituals and meaningless checkmarks do not please God. God doesn’t care how the package is wrapped, he cares what’s in the package. In other words, he wants our hearts to be devoted to him. That is how faithfulness is determined, not by how many faithfulness boxes we check.
- 4-13 – The prophet lists all the ways God attempted to get the Israelites’ attention and draw them back to him that failed. He follows that with an ominous statement of “prepare to meet your God” and it doesn’t sound like he means in a good way.
- 21-27 – This sentiment is repeated several times in Scripture. God doesn’t care about our rituals and us fulfilling our obligations if our heart is not following him. He wants the rituals and offering to be given out of love and devotion for him.
- 20-23 – Some of the church of Thyatira had begun to engage in sins such as adultery and eating foods offered to idols.
- 24-29 – The vision makes for an allotment for people in the church who had not yet fallen into deep sin. There seems to be great hope for these folks.
- 1-6 – It is clear that God will not condemn whole people groups when there are still faithful people in the midst. Instead he is separating the faithful from the unfaithful while still giving the unfaithful opportunities to repent.
- 1-4 – This is another one of the psalms associated with pilgrimages to Jerusalem. It seems important that those Israelites knew that they could be forgiven if they sought God’s forgiveness.
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.
We often assume God is not answering our prayers when we don’t get what we ask for. Often, God has a different, better plan. Maybe you didn’t get the job you were hoping for. Maybe God has something better in store for you and someone else is a better fit for that job you wanted. In today’s 1 Chronicles reading we are reminded that it was not David’s job to build God’s temple even though he wanted to. God had that plan for someone else and a different plan for David.
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17:
- 1-15 – Like we learned in 2 Samuel, God did not intend for David to build the temple. That would be Solomon, his son’s, job. God made promises to David, however, about building him up and establishing his kingdom long term.
- 16-27 – David humbly accepts the blessings God offers he and his family.
- 1-5 – We often misinterpret “judgement”. We think we’re not allowed to determine if something is good or bad, when in fact, we must decide this to function. When we are told not to judge others it is telling us that we should not and cannot condemn others. We too are sinners and do not have the authority to condemn.
- 12 – Those without the law are non-Jews. “The law” refers to the laws Moses handed down. Whether we sin against the law or against God himself, we are all sinners and are deserving of death.
- 13-16 – This passage can be more easily understood if it’s read like: 13(14-15)16. In short, this tells us that those who don’t even know the Mosaic law were able to fulfill parts of it. Doing what the law says and/or intends, whether you know what it says or not, is far more important than simply knowing it.
- 17-24 – Some Jews held their heritage as a reason why they were closer to God or more holy than gentiles. Paul calls them out recognizing that all, no matter their heritage, are only saved by faith in Jesus.
- 17 – There are a number of times when Scripture mentions God hearing the cries of the afflicted. Most notably, God hears the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, which starts the process of a mass exodus.
- Verses 8 and 9 stand in contrast with one another giving options for success and failure.
In today’s Deuteronomy reading, God knows the Israelites will be afraid to face their enemies who are bigger and stronger. He needs them to know that he is with them and he will make a way for them. He reminds them of the way he made away for them as they escaped the Egyptians. Our memories of what God has done for us previously can help is tremendously in trusting him with our next steps.
- It is difficult to read that entire people groups were destroyed by God’s command. We wonder where God’s mercy is, but verse 10 reminds us that his punishments were in return for people who hated and mocked him. In fact, God’s love and protection for the Israelites should be seen as an extension of immense mercy since they also often disobeyed God. We can also extend this thought that anything good that comes to us is an act of great love from God since we too disobey and mock him continually.
- 1-5 – Moses explains to the Israelites why they must wipe out the other people groups. God commands this in order to protect them from the temptations they will certainly fall to to worship other gods.
- 17-19 – God knew that the Israelites would be fearful to face those they were to fight, but they are reminded of God’s intervention with the Egyptians so they can have confidence that he will be faithful again.
- 3 – Though the Israelites were so worried about food throughout their time in the desert, God provided miraculously to help the Israelites rely on him, not food. Jesus also quotes this verse when tempted by the devil in the desert.
- 11-20 – A great reminder for us today that God is the giver of all of our gifts and we shouldn’t abandon him once we’re comfortable.
- 36-40 – Jewish custom, at the time, did not allow men to touch or speak to women they weren’t married or related to. It is also presumed that this woman was a prostitute, which added extra scandal to the mind of the Pharisee.
- 41-50 – This is not encouragement to sin more so we can be forgiven, but instead to be aware of our sinful nature and need for forgiveness so we can be grateful for the gift we’ve been given.
- 2-3 – Just like he focused on Mary’s perspective rather than Joseph’s in the birth narrative, Luke tends to include and highlight the participation of women in ministry.
- When David seems to be abandoned by everyone, he still has God to reach out to.
We would all like to identify with the sheep in Matthew 25, but there are still hungry people, those who are cold in the winter, and those who sit lonely in prison. So who are we really? Read and find out.
- 1 – Aaron and his sons become Israel’s priests.
- 2 – The priestly garments are made “for glory and for beauty.” The tabernacle was built in similar fashion as are sanctuaries today. Places and things that represent God should do so to reflect who God is including his majesty and beauty.
- 42- Other than the fig leaves in the garden, this is the first time underwear is mentioned.
- 31-46 – A famous passage calling us to serve those who are the least in our society as if we were serving Christ.
- 6-13 – Interesting placement after the mandate to serve the least of these and then the woman is praised for using expensive things on Jesus that could have been used for the poor. This is a case of doing what is good versus doing what is best.
- Encouragement to call on and trust in God even in the worst of circumstances.
- 24: The book of Hebrews also mentions Enoch and how, because he pleased God, he did not experience death but was simply taken.
- 25-27 – Methuselah is the oldest recorded person in the Bible.
- 6 – A powerful verse suggesting the extreme extent of man’s wickedness and the degree to which it pains God.
- 8-9 – Noah seems to be the only person on earth who is purposefully walking with God.
- 22 & 7:5 – It is noted throughout the Bible when people follow God’s instructions exactly. This should be our goal too.
- 7-10 – John recognized that the Pharisees and Saducees were not getting baptized to put their faith in the Lord, but simply to check the box like they tended to do. Their lives did not bear the fruit of a life of repentance.
- 14 – John understandably felt unworthy to baptize Jesus.
- 17 – A powerful image for any witnesses that day as Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit and publicly professed by God.
- Note that the devil twists the meaning of Scripture to try to tempt Jesus. If we don’t know Scripture, how much more could the devil do this to us?
- Though David continually faced formidable foes, he is just as frequently confessing his faith in God’s ability to protect him.
Temptation is so enticing and it knows our weak spots. Ultimately, sin destroys us.