Though Esther is a unique book, it’s understandable why it was included in Scripture. The Jews narrowly escaped total extinction by an evil man and a weasel king. Purim is still celebrated by Jews today as they remember God’s incredible provision and creativity in assuring that they were not wiped out.
10 – The Jews choosing not to plunder their enemies is supposed to be a sign that this was a holy war.
23-28 – Purim is a Jewish holiday still observed to this day. It is one of their most joyous occasions as they celebrate avoiding extermination at the hands of Haman.
1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13:
1-13 – Known as “the love chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13 is popular at weddings. It is actually helpful in all walks of life when thinking about what it means to love. If you want to know if you’re being loving or if someone is showing you love, place it up against these requirements.
1 – We do tend to envy wrongdoers because it often seems they get good things easily and are able to take shortcuts. We want their ease of success and don’t always recognize that that success is often short-lived and always dishonoring to God.
David continually encourages the hearer of this psalm not to worry about those who are unfaithful and to focus on waiting on the Lord.
23 – Our mouths tend to get us into trouble. It is wise to watch our words and think through them carefully.
Today we begin Ezra, which begins telling the story of the Israelites returning from exile. It’s not the smoothest transition and God handles it in some surprising ways, but the Israelites finally get to return to their given land and restoration with God.
Ezra begins the same way 2 Chronicles ends. It explains that God calls a non-Israelite king, Cyrus, the King of Persia, to return the Israelites from exile and build a new temple since the old one was destroyed when the Israelites were exiled.
This is an account of all the Israelites left who needed to move back to their own land.
1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5:
18-25 – Humility, self-sacrifice, and relying on grace as opposed to our own abilities seems crazy to those who haven’t received salvation through Christ. We see it as freeing and life-giving, but that is not the case for those who seek other things for value.
26-31 – We see this throughout Jesus’ ministry and his disciples’ after him. He flips all cultural norms on their heads. Just look at the Beatitudes or the parables.
1-5 – Paul did not seek to impress or argue people into faith, but simply to share his experience with salvation.
8 – David commits to following God’s command to seek him no matter what else is going on.
10 – David knew what it was to be forsaken by a parent. Of his 8 brothers, he was the only one not presented as the possible next king when Samuel was looking for one of Jesse’s sons to anoint.
13 – This is a clear sign of hope and a promise we can hold onto.
22 – Interesting that our Psalm reading ended with “wait for the Lord” and the Proverb reading began with it. God must be speaking to us.
People joke that there’s no instruction manual for parenting or for general life. Seemingly, the toughest things we have to do get the least amount of instruction. That’s only partially true. God doesn’t just plop us down in life and tell us to figure it out. Like today’s psalm explains, everything we need to know for salvation and successfully navigating life is available us through Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
2 Chronicles 30:1-31:21:
1-9 – It’s comforting that even when we fail to do what we’re supposed to do, when we choose to return to God, he accepts us.
18-20 – God’s extreme kindness shows here as people come and eat Passover without cleansing themselves. This harkens to the way Jesus handled the law. He always rewarded faith and always showed love even if the law had to be bent a little.
26-27 – It had been a long time since Solomon. Hezekiah’s commitment to restoring Passover, even though imperfect, was pleasing to God.
9-10 – Like when it was time to build the tabernacle in Exodus, the faithful Israelites bring more than enough offering.
5-7 – Just as Christ accepted us in our weakness, we are to invite in those whose faith is not as strong as ours. These are the folks we should not make stumble but should bring into the fold.
17-22 – Paul takes pride in the work God has done through him to bring those who had never believed in Christ to salvation.
8-9 – God does not fling us out into the world to figure everything out on our own. He shows us the way to him. Also, the early Christians were known as “The Way”.
13 – Laziness doesn’t pay. We have to work to take care of ourselves.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These words were some of Jesus’ last on the cross. But they were also spoken by David in today’s psalm many generations before. What kind of pain and struggle would it take for you to say words like this? How abandoned and rejected would you have to feel?
2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21:
6 – The “ways of the kings of Israel” were not good. There were next to no faithful kings of Israel after David.
15 – This sounds like an unpleasant punishment.
9 – Even though Ahaziah was unfaithful and was punished and killed because of it, he was given a proper burial to honor the faithfulness of his grandfather.
10-11 – It is extremely significant that Jehoshabeath hides and saves Joash. God had promised to sustain King David’s line. Athaliah nearly destroys this by killing off all of the royal family, but Joash is saved, which saves David’s line.
16 – Jehoiada became a mentor figure for Joash since Joash was just a child when he started his reign as king.
13-14 – This may seem like a strange technique, but if the Jews saw the new gentile Christian’s closeness to God, maybe they too would want to be saved.
17-20 – Olive trees are unique in that new ones grow up alongside old ones and share their roots. So an olive tree being “grafted in” actually meant that it connected itself to the nourishment and life that the established tree already had.
30-31 – Though it seemed unfair that the Israelites’ hearts had to be hardened for gentiles to have a chance at salvation, now it was coming full circle and gentiles were causing Jews to come to salvation.
33 – We should all memorize this verse for the times when we’re confused at how God is working and wondering why he does things the way he does.
1 – Jesus quotes this on the cross. We’re not certain which situation caused David to say it.
2-5 – David is able to lean on his experience with God’s faithfulness to sustain him even though he feels that he is currently crying out and getting no response.
What an encouragement to live faithfully so our children can see it, learn from it, and be blessed.
Have you ever tried to memorize Scripture? Maybe your favorite verse? Maybe you and a friend memorized a short passage together? I think we should all try it! It’s incredible when you face a situation and a Bible verse pops into your head and it speaks directly to that situation. So let’s all try it. You can start with 2 Chronicles 20:21 from today’s reading. You’ll read it a lot throughout Scripture and it’s a great reminder.
2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37:
1-2 – It was not good that Jehoshaphat made a pact with Ahab, who was not faithful to God.
5-12 – Jehoshaphat, here, is the model for trusting God in a terrifying time. He remembers the faithfulness of God in the past and uses that as assurance that God will be faithful again, and he sought help from the Lord instead of others.
21 – Memorize the sentence beginning “Give thanks to the Lord…”. It is repeated throughout Scripture and should be one you have on the ready when in need.
14-21 – Paul makes it clear that God is more than willing to reveal himself to anyone and everyone. He continues to be faithful even in the midst of peoples’ disobedience.
1-2 – We can’t swing the pendulum too far the other way and assume that God now rejects all Jews because they’re not gentiles. God saves people regardless of their background.
11-12 – This is very interesting! The question is did God put blinders on the Israelites so they wouldn’t believe and salvation would have to be opened up the gentiles? Because if the Israelites had been faithful, God may not have needed to open salvation up to others.
Leaders are leaders for a reason. They have influence and people choose to follow them whether they recognize their choice or not. The Bible is full of good and bad leaders and their quality tends to define the quality of their constituents – particularly in the arena of faithfulness. In today’s 2 Chronicles reading, we see examples of both, but note that King Jehoshaphat takes it further than most. He not only leads his people towards faithfulness, but extends his reach to those surrounding him. I wonder your reach could extend?
2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34:
6 – Taking down the high places, where false god worship often occurred, seemed to be the final act of faithfulness that even most of the faithful kings failed to complete.
7-10 – Throughout 1&2 Kings we see the faithfulness of the people closely follow the faithfulness of the king. Hear King Jehoshaphat takes it a step further and has his officials teach those in the surrounding lands about God.
1-3 – It was unusual for Israel and Judah to work together during their split. There were reasons they split.
16 – This phrase “sheep without a shepherd” is used often when people don’t have anyone to follow. Jesus called the Jews that when he started his ministry. The Israelites were often called this when they were not following God.
11-22 – Ahab’s prophets guaranteed he would have victory at Ramoth-gilead, but Micaiah explains that they all have a lying spirit and that, due to Ahab’s unfaithfulness, God intends for Ahab to fail. Ahab didn’t really believe Micaiah because he hadn’t liked previous prophesies he’d given.
29-34 – Ahab did everything he could to avoid his fate, but what God speaks is true.
25-26 – Hosea is a prophet and a book of the Bible. Hosea was called to marry a promiscuous woman so his life could serve as a microcosm of God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful Israel.
30-33 – Most human sin points back to our desire to rely on ourselves instead of relying on God.
9-13 – This is a quick summary of salvation.
Most of David’s Psalms are focused on his own troubles, needs, and praises. This one is clearly meant for the whole group.
7 – A powerful declaration. Might be something nice to hang above your door frame.
3 – Avoiding unnecessary conflict is wise. Fools tend to rush into it.
How do you see God? Where do you connect with him most? For many people, including myself, God is very clearly revealed through nature. Getting out in creation shows the intricacy and majesty of God’s work. Give it a try sometime. And while you’re out there, read today’s psalm.
2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14:
1-8 – Faithful kings like Abijah make faithfulness look so easy and rewarding. It makes you wonder why other kings chose not to be faithful.
1-7 – Azariah gives Judah a pep talk encouraging them to continue to be faithful to the Lord.
8-15 – Asa heeds Azaraiah’s prophecy and turns the people of Judah to God.
2-9 – Though Asa had tried to remain faithful to God, he still wanted to hedge his bets.
6-8 – Where lineage use to determine your place in the family of God, now salvation did. It was available to those who descended from Abraham as well as those who did not.
10-13 – This passage is to solidify the point Paul makes in verses 6-8. Just being born as a descendant of Abraham does not assure that you are part of God’s family. Jacob was chosen to continue the line. Esau was not.
14-18 – This doesn’t tend to sit well with us. We don’t like readingna that people are chosen and not chosen, but we have to trust that God is for our good and is in control. Many of the greatest sins throughout Scripture are based on trusting something more than we trust God.
1-2 – There are several Scripture passages suggesting that God is revealed and glorified through nature.
1-11 – These take time to praise God for a variety of reasons.
12-13 – After praising God, David makes his requests of the Lord.
We all are in need of salvation. Today’s Romans reading reminds us that when we receive salvation, the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Isn’t that incredible!?! The Spirit of the living God lives within us, guides us, and is our advocate! If you’ve been reading and haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, please email me at email@example.com. I’d love to talk with you.
2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19:
17-18 – Solomon and Hiram worked together to control the trade routes through the Mediterranean. This was highly lucrative.
1-9 – The queen of Sheba’s visit both affirmed Solomon’s wealth and wisdom, and was most likely a strategic move on her part to get in on the trade route action.
1-15 – This story, also found in 2 Kings, is the sinful decision to not listen to wise counsel, which led to the ultimate split of Judah and Israel, which led to the exile of both parts of the Israelites. Our decisions have consequences.
9-11 – The good news of Jesus! Though our flesh is sinful, as believers, the Spirit is within us. It is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
14-17 – Through salvation we are adopted into God’s family.
This Psalm is still about when God released David from all of his enemies, including Saul.
While yesterday’s half of the Psalm spoke directly to all the greatness of God, today’s looks a little more at how God’s greatness was able to make David great.