Though there’s always a lot to look forward to in a week’s reading, this week there is a special treat on Tuesday! If you want to be converted all over again, read Paul’s sermon in Acts, which he was surprisingly allowed to give in the synagogue. The apostles were under constant scrutiny and persecution at this time, yet Paul decides to lay out the entire story of our hope for salvation.
This sermon is so powerful and convincing, it makes me think, what was it for you that convinced you to accept Christ as your Savior? Was it a lightning strike moment or a slow process where you finally made a decision? Was it a certain phrase? A song? An experience?
Read Tuesday’s Acts reading and remember your decision for Christ all over again.
Today’s 1 Kings reading includes a very cool story where we see God show up in power just when it seemed like the bad guys were going to win out. This story also shows us that God doesn’t have to conform to our ideas and constructs. In our understanding, wet wood doesn’t burn. In our understanding, dead people don’t come to life. God disagrees.
1 Kings 18:1-46:
7-16 – Though Obadiah was a high-ranking official in Ahab’s kingdom, he followed the Lord. Obadiah, here, fears that Elijah will not present himself to Ahab and Obadiah will look like a liar and be killed.
22-24 – Though we are not normally supposed to put God to the test, Elijah, a prophet of God, was clearly intended to do this.
27 – Elijah taunts the prophets of Baal as they desperately try to get Baal to show up.
39 – God’s power, which proves to be far greater than Baal’s, turns people’s hearts back to him.
2 – Yes, the “circumcision party” sounds like a terrible party, but this isn’t actually referring to a party with balloons and confetti. This is simply referring to a group of people who held to Jewish law and custom, but were believers in Christ.
4-18 – It’s beautiful that these Jewish believers find great joy in God extending his grace and salvation to gentiles as well.
26 – The term “Christian” means “little Christs”.
This is a psalm recounting a variety of reasons why God is praiseworthy and other gods are not. You could replace verse 8-12 with all the wonderful things God has done for you that give you reason to praise him.
12 – Well, I think that sums up how undesirable and destructive folly is.
Peter was a faithful Jew. He followed Christ and taught others about him but still followed the laws he’d been given. In our reading in Acts yesterday and today, Peter’s world is turned upside down as God reveals to him that some of his laws were now secondary to assuring that people knew Christ.
1 Kings 15:25-17:24:
25-26 – What’s worse than sinning yourself is also causing others to sin. Nadab sinned like his father and also drug the Israelites down with him.
The majority of today’s reading chronicles the parade of kings, their terrible choices, and their demises.
29-33 – Ahab was the worst of the worst.
1 – This is the same Elijah you’ve heard about. He is a powerful prophet.
2-7 – This is Elijah, not Ahab, who is living by the brook and being fed by ravens.
8-16 – As a widow, she would have had no source of income. It took a great act of faith to risk the little she had on a promise that she would be taken care of.
23-29 – Traditionally, a Jew wouldn’t enter the home of another people group. God made it clear to Peter that this was now ok and he no longer needed to keep these types of divisions.
34-35 – Remember, Jesus explained that his first mission was to “the lost sheep of Israel” or Israelites who were not faithful. Peter continued that ministry, but now it is clear that ministry has been opened up to people other than the Israelites.
44-48 – The Holy Spirit coming to the gentile believers was even more proof than Peter’s words that salvation was available for all.
10 – A wise person responds to rebukes while a foolish person can be told over and over and over.
Can you imagine if 3,000 people came to faith from a sermon today? That would be incredible!! Peter’s explanation of Jesus as the Messiah was convincing enough to help tons of people put their faith in Christ. And just think, this is way before any type of mass communication or even microphones. The good news was that powerful then and it still is today!
2 Samuel 22:21-23:23:
21-7 – David’s song of praise to God continues from yesterday’s reading.
25-27 – David portrays God’s reactions as equivalent to the actions of the human. Good behavior receives favor. Poor behavior receives punishment.
1-7 – These were not David’s last words before death but the last of that song. We see that later he asks for a drink.
14-17 – Bethlehem was David’s hometown so he wanted something from home. His request caused people to break through the camp and apparently blood was shed. David was not pleased at the consequences of his request.
1-4 – At the end of the gospels, Jesus tells the disciples he is going away but will send a Helper who is even better than him. The entrance of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of that promise.
17-21 – Peter interprets the prophecy from Joel correctly. Now that the Holy Spirit is present, the disciples began to see even more miracles and powerful conversions.
22-36 – Peter speaks directly to Israelites who did not believe in Jesus but who revered David. David was a national hero and all the connections the Messiah was supposed to have to David were fulfilled in Jesus.
37-41 – About 3,000 of the Israelites confessed Christ as Savior and were baptized. Whether they were convinced by the resurrection, guidance of the Holy Spirit, or proven connection to David doesn’t matter. They’re conversions are a testament to the lengths to which God will go to be in connection with humanity.
42-47 – These new believers became the first Christian church. These verses are often used as a basis for how we should run churches today.
This psalm is written for Jews making their pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem for one of the three annual festivals (Passover, The Feast of Weeks, The Feast of Booths) that required being at the temple.
It is often after we get ourselves into a great mess that we think to cry out to God. Today’s psalm talks about facing the snares of death and then calling out to the Lord to rescue. Our lives would be a whole lot easier if we would stay in communication with God in order to keep ourselves out of the trouble in the first place.
1 Samuel 24:1-25:44:
2-7 – David had such respect for the authority God had given Saul that he felt guilty for even cutting his robe. He also refused to kill Saul even though Saul was trying his best to kill him.
8-22 – David’s kindness and grace turn Saul’s heart. He stops chasing David and confirms that he will one day be king.
1-17 – Even though David and his men had been very kind to Nabal’s men, Nabal is hateful and inhospitable to David, which was unusual for their culture. Unless you were enemies, hospitality was understood.
18-35 – Abigail, with quick thinking and great hospitality, saves her household from the consequences of her husband’s hatefulness. She also saved David from making a hasty decision and killing Nabal’s household.
40-44 – David was married to Michal and now has taken both Abigail and Ahinoam as wives. Saul, though, dissolves David’s marriage to Michal, in his absence, so David now has two wives. This was culturally acceptable.
24-30 – The Jews wanting Jesus to explain his identity plainly is ironic since this gospel, far more than any other, has clearly revealed Jesus’ identity.
26-27 – Jesus’ sheep were those who believed in and followed him.
31-42 – Once again the religious authorities attempt to stone Jesus because they think he is blaspheming while others continue to believe in and follow him.
3-4 – Notice that the psalmist experienced great pain and torment and then cries out for God to deliver him. Why is it that it often takes so long for us to finally cry out to God?
12-14 – It’s impossible to repay the Lord for all the great things he does for us. The psalmist chooses to thank God for his salvation and to acknowledge God’s work in his life in front of others.
How do you know when God’s talking to you? How can you understand if what you think you’re supposed to do is God’s will or just your own desires? In today’s reading from John, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd. He says sheep follow shepherds because they know his voice. We can know God’s voice based on whether or not it lines up with God’s character and if it aligns with what we know of God through Scripture and prayer.
1 Samuel 22:1-23:29:
2 – David clearly had many of the same characteristics as Jesus. The low and broken were attracted to him.
11-19 – We are not guaranteed that doing the right thing will have positive consequences. The priests protected David, but were ultimately killed by Saul.
2 – David consults God to see what God’s will is before he acts.
3-5 – The fear of the people causes David to hesitate, but the Lord confirms his desires and David obeys.
6-14 – David and his men could have easily been trapped and ambushed in Keilah, but the Lord watched over him. Notice David’s extremely open and close relationship with God. He asked God for specific information and God does not hesitate to share with him.
24-29 – Note that God makes the impossible possible. Saul is closing in on David and something urgent arises right at the right time.
3-4 – Sheep know their shepherds voice so they follow his instructions. Note that we just read an example of this with David. He was close with God and knew his voice so he had open conversations with him and knew where God was sending him and what he was calling him to do.
7-9 – Another I am statement. Basically, Jesus is the passageway to God. He is also that which closes us off from things we do not need to participate in.
10 – A very clear comparison between the thief and Jesus. One steals, kills, and destroys, the other brings abundant life. Seems like an easy choice.
11 – Another I am statement. Jesus, as the good shepherd, will and does lay down his life for our good.
16 – This explains that not only Jews will be saved, but gentiles as well. They are from different flocks, but both will be saved.
1 – Psalms lend themselves to songs because many were used as songs in worship. This psalm inspired this early 2000s gem.
4-8 – A perfect explanation of why graven images and various idols are worthless. They seem to have so much to offer (we’re obviously talking about our own “idols” here too), but fall short and leave us empty.
18 – Yet another example of prudence and wisdom being associated with rational thought out responses.
You’ve heard this story 1,000 times, but don’t skim over it. David and Goliath is told as a children’s story most often because we can be brave and that’s good stuff. But listen to the dialogue. What is David’s reasoning for facing a giant against all odds? Who was this David kid anyway? Take the time to read this story like it was the first time.
1 Samuel 17:1-18:4:
4 – Some say Goliath may have been up to 9 feet tall.
26-27 – David was most concerned that the Philistines were opposing God’s army, the Israelites. He couldn’t believe or stand this type of offense.
38-40 – It seems that Saul is trying to do all he can for David. Certainly he felt like it might look bad on him to send a young boy out to be killed by a veteran warrior who was also a giant.
45-47 – David went to battle in the name of the Lord with every confidence that the Lord would sustain and proper him against Goliath.
1-4 – Jonathan was Saul’s son but became David’s best friend. Theirs is one of the greatest stories of friendship in all of Scripture.
23-24 – Just like us, the people who lived when Jesus did also needed to believe that he was the Son of God and Savior of the world.
This Psalm lists off a number of reasons why God is great and worthy to be followed and praised. It gives hope to believers and reminds us of the lengths God will go to in order to care for his people.
10 – Proverbs 1:7 also says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This makes sense considering God leads us into protection and good things. To fear and obey him would obviously help us make wise decisions.
Sheol was the name of the place people thought the dead went. Abaddon was a angel said to be in charge of an army of locusts. He is also mentioned in Revelation.
The Psalms are full of David’s anguish, there is a whole book in the Old Testament called “Lamentations” and they do just that – lament. But can you think of anything more heart-wrenching than the God of the universe telling someone else, “They haven’t rejected you as their leader. They’ve rejected me.” God’s people, the Israelites, who he had care for and provided for, let him know they had a better plan than his. Let that sink in.
1 Samuel 8:1-9:27:
4-7 – Verse 7 is one of the saddest in all of Scripture. God’s plan was for him to be the king of Israel so they wouldn’t need a human king. God knew that this was the very best plan for them, but the Israelites rejected his plan and wanted to go with their own.
19-21 – God spent generations and generations trying to set the Israelites apart. The point was to have them be separate and dedicated specifically to God. Here they decide they want to be just like the other nations and operate as they do.
21 – This culture put emphasis on shame and honor. Someone from the smallest clan in the least of the tribes would not normally be honored by getting to eat with a prophet. Saul was surprised why he was receiving such an honor.
25 – Roofs were sturdy and used as an open second floor in many ancient, middle-eastern homes. It was quite common for people to sleep on the roof.
25-34 – Particularly in verse 29, the people question Jesus basically asking what’s special about him. Moses had provided manna in the desert for their ancestors. What could Jesus do? Jesus explains that the bread he provided was actually from God.
35 – Throughout the rest of John’s gospel, there will be a number of “I am” statements from Jesus. Each reveals a little more about his true identity as God’s Son, the Messiah, the Savior. This one speaks specifically to how Jesus provides for and fills us.
Having a rough time with your mother-in-law? Well, whether you like her or not, all of us could learn a thing or two from Ruth, the main character of the book we start today. She’s pretty incredible and unbelievably loyal to her mother-in-law, Naomi. This is a fascinating story of how God works our small decisions into good for us and others.
Judges 21:1-Ruth 1:22:
1 – Giving someone in marriage seemed to be the ultimate way to mix cultures and to influence. God seems to see this as the ultimate threat. Thus the rest of Israel refuses to intermarry with the tribe of Benjamin.
13-24 – Because of the devastation of the tribe of Benjamin, they were on the brink of extinction because no other tribe would allow their daughters to marry Benjamites. This was their plan for providing wives without compromising their own daughters.
3-5 – A woman’s only source of wealth and protection were her male relatives. With Naomi’s husband and sons having died, she was extremely vulnerable.
16-17 – Though it was normally a bad thing for Israelites to intermarry, Ruth seems to be the exception to the rule. Instead of influencing her husband and his family to her Moabite gods, she becomes to loyal to Naomi and Naomi’s God.
7 – Procuring water was a woman’s job. It was unheard of for a man to speak to a woman he was not married or related to in public, but even more unusual because he was a Jew and she was a Samaritan. Jews hated Samaritans because they considered them half-breeds.
7-15 – Though Jesus is trying to offer the woman something much more important and life-giving than regular water, she cannot understand what he is offering.
16-18 – Jesus calls out the woman’s sins to prove that he is not an ordinary person.
25-26 – Jesus rarely reveals his true identity so explicitly and when he does, he tends to reveal it to the most unlikely characters.
35-38 – Jesus wanted his disciples to begin bringing people to salvation based on the work he and the prophets before him had already done. They didn’t have to do the initial work, but could push the message home.
39-42 – Jesus originally came to bring salvation to the Jews, but throughout his ministry he extended it to others as well.
The Israelites shared the faithfulness of God with younger generations who had not seen it by telling the stories of his great works. This psalm is an example of that.
Like one of the Ten Commandments, this Proverb encourages its readers not to bear false witness because it only leads to destruction.