The Colossians wanted to be faithful but there were a lot of things trying to pull them away from Christ. I think we can all relate.
Who is in your mission field? This may sound like a strange question, but you may not be called to the poorest, lowliest, most remote tribe. But that shouldn’t stop you from ministering to the people in your realm. Your mission field may be the stock brokers in your office, the middle-class teenagers in your classroom, or the Starbucks barista who serves you coffee everyday. Today, in Ephesians, we see that Peter and Paul ministered to different groups, but both did God’s work faithfully.
- 18-20 – God was not trying to redeem the people in the same way they’d grown accustomed to, but he was going to provide for them in a new way.
- 1-8 – God is always actively working in taking what is dead and giving it life. We see dry ground but he is able to pour out his Spirit on it and give it new life.
- 9-20 – God makes it clear how silly it is to worship idols that you create with your own hands. The same elements that make the idol could have also been used to make food or to burn and give warmth, but we don’t worship those things.
- 8-10 – It is just as useless and out of place for us to question God’s work as it is for a pot to question the work of the potter.
- 6-7 – Paul’s specific mission was to share the gospel of redemption with gentiles. Some others, including Peter, felt called to share the gospel with Jews.
- 14-19 – It’s funny that we now often fear offending people by sharing the gospel. The gospel is meant for our good. Knowing Christ means knowing the vastness of God’s love, which is a blessing.
- 20-21 – The power of God is impossible for us to fully imagine. He can do all things.
- 1-10 – There are certain benefits and blessings God’s people receive that are not available to those who do not follow him.
- A sinful life often looks glamorous, but it leads to trouble and should not be envied.
Isaiah reminds us that our strength comes in repentance. Though it’s difficult and sometimes feels weak to admit wrong, do it anyway. Plus, Chicago encourages you to as well.
- 15-17 – Judah’s strength, and ours for that matter, is in repentance and humility before the Lord. Our strength is through him.
- 19-22 – Though the Israelites had faced a difficult time of oppression, God promises them that they will be restored to him. Vs. 21 is a powerful explanation of how God leads us through the Holy Spirit.
- 1-9 – The Kingdom of Judah feared the Assyrians, but God reminds them that their fear is misguided. They can trust in the protection of God no matter how scary their opponents are. They have no need to fear.
- 15-20 – Though so much of Isaiah speaks of punishment and difficulties the Israelites and other nations have brought upon themselves, there are glimmers of hope, like this passage, that remind the Israelites that there will be restoration one day.
- 1-12 – Once again, Assyria is in trouble.
- 1 – Christ died for us in order to set us free from the slavery of sin. Yet some of the Israelites were trying to put themselves back under the yolk of the law.
- 5-6 – We are no longer under any covenant other than that of Christ’s death and resurrection. We do not need to conform to those laws or practices, but simply need to rely on the grace of Christ.
- 7-12 – Like at the beginning of the letter, Paul is shocked that the Galatians have so quickly forgotten or turned away from what he taught them.
- 12 – This is obviously a little harsh, but also a play on the fact that those he opposes are teaching circumcision.
- 1-8 – David’s desire for God is unmatched by other followers. He equates his need for God with his need for sustenance.
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.
The old saying, “choose your friends wisely” is never more true than in Job. Job has three friends who continually try to convince him that any suffering he’s facing is because of his sin or the sins of those around him. They try to explain things they have no knowledge of, and ultimately, they do no strengthen Job’s faith, but cause him to question it. Do your friends encourage your faith?
- 1-22 – Job’s friend, Bildad, has a similar response. He tells Job his kids had sinned against God and thus got what they deserved. Bildad encourages Job to turn back towards God because surely then God would not reject him.
- 9:1-35 – Job continues to show reverence to God and admit that he doesn’t know the depths of reasoning that God does.
- 11-1 – Zophar is Job’s third friend.
1 Corinthians 15:1-28:
- 3-11 – Paul recaps the gospel to the Corinthians and assures them that it doesn’t matter who they initially heard the gospel from.
- 12-19 – The idea that people would not one day be resurrected had gotten out amongst the Corinthians. Paul squashes this.
- 8-16 – David admits his own weaknesses and struggles and confesses that all those around him torment him.
- 28 – Though it is inconvenient and hurtful to be lied against, it will pass away.
Salvation offers us a new family, makes us a new creation, and enters us into the new covenant. Sounds like a pretty great deal to me!
When’s the last time you shared the gospel with someone? This is a rare occurrence for modern day Christians. We are afraid that the gospel is offensive and will upset people. Paul, in writing his letter to the Romans, and on every other day of his life (post conversion) realized the gospel was good news. The fact that we have a Savior who lived and died for us is a great thing! Let’s remember that as we approach others who might not know it.
1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17:
- 19-40 – At the time the chronicler is talking about, David was still not king. He had a great deal of men who chose to defect from Saul to him.
- 10 – David was extremely faithful in asking the Lord what to do before doing something.
- 1-7 – There is a lot of information crammed in these verses.
- 1) Paul is writing this.
- 1-2) Paul was set apart to be an apostle of Jesus.
- 2) We knew the truth of the gospel – aka Jesus’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection – because it was revealed through the prophets.
- 3) Jesus was descended from David.
- 4) Jesus was God in flesh and God’s power raised him from the dead.
- 5-6) Jesus empowers apostles to bring others to him, including many who would hear this particular message.
- 7 – This letter was written to the people of Rome.
- 8-15 – Paul had been eager to go to Rome, where he was a citizen, because he had heard of the faith of many there and wanted to help strengthen that faith.
- 16-17 – We often see the gospel as offensive and we’re afraid to share it. Paul knew that it was good news and brought life. He was not ashamed.
- There are several terms like “Higgaion” and “Selah” whose meanings are not certain. They are presumed to be some sort of musical term since the Psalms often have instructions such as that they are “for the choirmaster”.
- 4 – Just a few verses earlier, the author tells the reader to choose your friendships carefully and here explains that we often choose our friends for the wrong reasons.
Have your sins ever impacted someone else? (The answer here is “yes”.) You cheated on a test and it messed up the curve for others. You stole from a store and the cashier got in trouble. You cheated on your spouse and it broke up your family. Our sins are not simply our own problem. As Israel and Judah are being rejected by God and destroyed by other nations, it’s hard not to remember Jeroboam’s selfish acts as he was taking over his portion of the kingdom. He chose to listen to bad advice and it hurt the Israelites for generations to come.
2 Kings 17:1-18:12:
- 6-18 – After a steady series of sinful kings and repetitive sinning by the nation, God allows the Assyrians to capture all the Israelites and take them to their country. This makes it clear that they are now separated from God because they no longer have their promised land or any of their identifying marks that were to set them apart for God.
- 21 – The split of the two kingdoms of Israel, the sinfulness of the country, and the eventual exile of both kingdoms (only one has happened so far) all trace back to Jeroboam’s sinfulness.
- 34-40 – The Israelites had been given every opportunity to choose to live faithfully. They continued to choose not to and broke every part of their covenant with God. Because of this, God allowed them to face the consequences of all their unfaithfulness.
- 1-4 – Hezekiah is king of Judah and chooses to live faithfully.
- In case you’re getting confused about Paul’s journeys – where he’s been and where he’s headed, here is a map of all his travels Oh, and who knew, but there’s a board game of Paul’s journeys as well, for some good old fashioned holy family fun.
- 7-12 – Peter was able to raise Tabitha from the dead and Paul raises this young man. It seems like it was the right thing to do considering Paul had literally bored him to death.
- 18-35 – Paul, on this his third of four journeys, knows his ministry on earth is coming to an end, but he is satisfied with his work and is willing to suffer persecution in order to share the gospel.
- In Romans 1:20, Paul explains that every part of creation testifies to God’s greatness somehow. This psalm seems to confirm that.
- A creative way of saying our mouths write checks our rears can’t cash.
Today is the last day of the marathon psalm, Psalm 119! But isn’t it a great one!?! It becomes so obvious the deep and abiding love the psalmist has for Scripture. It is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. Throughout the psalm, the writer makes it clear that he believes the law of God’s word is perfect and can guide us to live in a righteous manner. What would it look like if our love of Scripture was this deep?
2 Samuel 18:1-19:10:
- 33 – David is deeply grieved at the loss of his son. Just like with Saul, he is able to forgive Absalom for wanting to kill him.
- 1-8 – Joab is angry with David and explains to him that it won’t sit well with his followers that he is more saddened by Absalom’s death than happy for their hard work in victory.
- 4 – Like at Jesus’ trial, this disciple other than Peter is unnamed, but present.
- 6-7 – An interesting note on Jesus’ burial cloths being left behind in the tomb is that when Lazarus was raised from the dead, he came out of the tomb still wrapped in burial cloths. Whether significant or not, it’s an interesting contrast.
- 14 – No one who encounters Jesus after his resurrection recognizes him immediately.
- 24-29 – We, like Thomas, often need proof in order to have faith. Jesus reminds Thomas that those who believe without seeing are blessed.
- 30-31 – It’s powerful to think that the gospels were written so people like you and me would believe in Jesus.
- Psalm 119 is, by far, the longest psalm in Scripture. Over and over again, in a variety of ways, the psalmist explains his deep love and commitment to Scripture. This truly must have been a great, devoted love.
When you think of Jesus, what do you think about? Maybe the crucifixion? Maybe his teaching? Forgiveness? Kindness? One of the things we rarely think about is his humanity and him feeling like we feel. We rarely think about when he got angry, or when he was excited about something. And in today’s reading, we get to read about his raw, human emotion. His friend died so he was sad and he cried. Though it’s hard to fathom, Jesus was human just like us.
1 Samuel 26:1-28:25:
- 1-5 – Clearly Saul’s compassion for David did not last long as he starts to pursue him once again.
- 8-12 – David has a second chance to kill Saul. Once again, he refuses because Saul was anointed by the Lord and David felt that it wasn’t his place to raise a hand against him, but God’s.
- 13-16 – Abner was the leader of Saul’s army. David calls Abner out and makes it clear that he had not properly protected Saul. Since David had these items kept so close to Saul, Abner would know that David could have harmed him as well.
- 21-25 – Once again, Saul is humbled by David’s mercy and stops pursuing him.
- 3-7 – When Saul can no longer hear from the Lord he turns to other, unsanctioned ways of learning his future.
- 8-19 – Samuel explains the reason God cut Saul off, which would prove it was Samuel since others didn’t know that Saul was cut off or the reason why. Samuel confirms that Saul and his sons will die the next day and will lose to the Philistines.
- 1-4 – These are the same Mary and Martha from the story when Martha does all the work and Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. As this passage states, Mary is also the one who anoints Jesus’ feet. Clearly they knew Jesus well and followed him faithfully.
- 5-16 – The disciples try to keep Jesus from returning to Judea because it is dangerous there. Jesus wants to go raise Lazarus from the dead and he knows his disciples’ faith will be strengthened by seeing it. This is why he says that he’s glad, for their sakes, that Lazarus died.
- 25-27 – Jesus offers another “I am” statement. Martha believes in the resurrection of all believers that is to come, but Jesus lets her know that he determines when resurrection occurs. Martha knows Jesus’ identity and has faith in his abilities.
- 35 – The shortest verse in Scripture. Also, one of the most obvious displays of Jesus feeling human emotion.
- 39 – Even those of us who believe deeply in Jesus’ abilities are hindered by our own understanding. Martha thought of the earthly facts – dead bodies decay and stink – she wasn’t thinking that all things are possible through Christ.
- 49-53 – Caiaphas had insight into Jesus’ future though it doesn’t indicate whether, at this time, he was for or against Jesus.
- We are designed to be in relationship at all times. We are not to trust others above God, but we are to seek wise counsel from those who are in active relationship with God.