May 20 – Daily Notes – Amanda

emoji faces

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.

John 11:1-53:

  • 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.

Proverbs 15:22-23:

  • 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.

May 14 – Daily Notes – Amanda

ashamed woman

One of the major misconceptions in Christianity and modern culture is what love is. Today’s reading in John regarding the adulteress woman make it clear. We often think love is total, no-questions-asked acceptance and support. When that is not love at all. In the story Jesus offers the woman mercy, knowing she has sinned, but he doesn’t say, “and it’s cool that you sinned.” He says, “Go and sin no more.” He loves her where she is and then instructs her to pursue holiness, which is God’s best for her. That is love.

1 Samuel 15:1-16:23:

  • 1-3 – Through Samuel, God makes his instructions to Saul very clear. He is to completely destroy the city of Amalek including livestock, etc.
  • 7-9 – God’s specific instruction was to destroy everything of the Amalekites. Saul spares the king and the best of the livestock because they were valuable to him. It is clear that he did not do what God asked.
  • 10-11 – This is only the second time we hear God “regret” something. The first is just before he has Noah build the ark when he says that he regrets creating humans because they’re so wicked.
  • 22-23 – The idea of God wanting obedience more than offerings becomes a theme throughout Scripture. It is talked about in Hosea as well as by Jesus to the religious leaders. We cannot purposely choose disobedience and then get out of it with burnt offerings.
  • 24 – Humans trusting anything and everything other than God is also a theme throughout Scripture. It’s the basis of the first sins of Adam and Eve and continues throughout Scripture.
  • 1 – Note that Jesse is from Bethlehem, which becomes the birthplace of Jesus. This is not a coincidence.
  • 6-7 – Samuel and even most of us today, expect our leaders to be tall, strong, and attractive. Saul fit the part as did Eliab and Eliab was the oldest son, which would make most sense as a leader. But God judges us differently. He doesn’t care about our appearance, but about the contents of our heart.
  • 10-13 – This is a fairly quick story considering its significance. David must have felt rejected that the priest comes to your family and your father doesn’t even bother to have you meet him. Also, imagine the jealousy of the 7 older brothers who were not chosen as king. Note that David received the same Holy Spirit who guides believers today.
  • 14-23 – Some may ask why God would torture Saul with an evil spirit, but God also provided the means by which he could be soothed from it and it also provided a way for David to get near the king.

John 7:53-8:20:

  • 53-11 – There is a portion in Mark and this portion in John that both say they were not included in the earliest manuscripts. This means that they were not included in the first written accounts of these gospels. They were either found later or possibly written later. It is important to note that those who formed and finalized the canon felt that this portion of Scripture was beneficial for salvation and knowledge of Christ.
  • 2-11 – Yet again, the religious leaders try to catch Jesus disobeying Mosaic Law. Instead of condemning the woman based on Mosaic Law, he finds a faithful way to show grace. It is key that he does not condone her sin. He forgives her and then instructs her to leave that sin behind.
  • 12 – One of Jesus’ “I am” statements that reveals something about who he is. Light shines in the darkness and reveals sins. Life is found when we are freed from sin.
  • 13-20 – John puts a large emphasis on where Jesus was from and where he was going. He and the Father seem to be the only ones fully in the loop and the religious leaders are totally out of it.

Psalm 110:1-7:

  • This Psalm was most likely written for David’s appointment as king of Israel and the priest’s installation. It was most likely used for subsequent kings’ initiations too.

May 12 – Daily Notes – Amanda

butthead

My mom heard me call my sister a “butthead” once. She told me never to say it again so I literally never did until I retold the story when I was in my 20’s. It was still difficult to say. Just because we sin once doesn’t mean we should continue on with that sin. It’s not as if that has to be your “thing”. Today’s 1 Samuel reading reminds us of why this is an important concept to understand.

1 Samuel 12:1-13:22:

  • 1-5 – Some Bible scholars say that Samuel is the most boring character in Scripture. Basically, he never turns from God or is involved in a scandal of any sort. He is just steady. Not even his constituents can find fault with him.
  • 8-14 – The Lord was continuously faithful in protecting and providing for the Israelites, but people are fickle, and when things got scary, they lost trust. They convinced themselves that a human king could protect them from other nations best.
  • 20-22 – A good reminder that just because we’ve been sinful doesn’t mean we should keep on sinning and assume God is no longer for us. God redeems and restores over and over.
  • 2 – There were many places called Gibeah in the area, that’s why Gibeah has been mentioned multiple times recently. Each Gibeah is qualified, for instance, this is Gibeah of Benjamin.
  • 8-14 – Saul was not supposed to offer burnt offerings. That was the job of the priest. Saul was afraid of the Philistines and afraid that his supporters and army were abandoning him so he took matters into his own hands. Because of his lack of faith, his family line would not continue to be king.
  • 14 – The description, “A man after God’s own heart” is only used about one person throughout Scripture, the next king: David.
  • 19-22 – This sounds like a pretty difficult way to fight a battle.

John 7:1-29:

  • 2 – The Feast of Booths, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of the Ingathering, is the last of the 7 festivals Jews were to observe. During it, Jews put together a small, quickly built hut to eat their meals in. It is a time of remembering when their ancestors lived in small, quickly built huts for 40 years in the desert. It was later used to celebrate the harvest.
  • 10-13 – Jesus’ ministry caused a huge ruckus amongst the religious authorities. He was starting a movement that didn’t fit in their constraints and they felt threatened.
  • 16-18 – A good way to check ourselves. Are we seeking glory for God or for ourselves – a good way to know whether or not you should continue what you’re doing.
  • 26-28 – The people of Jerusalem who begin to question if Jesus really was the Christ or not raise the point that they know where Jesus came from, which means he can’t be the Christ. They think they know where he came from as in Mary’s womb and Nazareth his hometown. But truly, Jesus comes from God.

Psalm 108:1-13:

  • 4 – This beautiful description of God’s great love and faithfulness inspired a Third Day song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEF7IoQ3eUk
  • This psalm is a mixture of David’s praise to God and remembering the reasons he deserves praise and a plea for help in war. Often we ask for the help without offering the praise or thanksgiving.

Proverbs 15:4:

  • We often think perverse words or thoughts are all in fun or can be stopped at any time. Instead, these words and thoughts are the fruit of what we are putting into ourselves. From a good tree comes good fruit. From a bad tree comes bad fruit.

May 11 – Daily Notes – Amanda

talking

Words tend to be a large part of a variety of our sins. Deceit, manipulation, lies, etc. are all sins of words. Our words have power and we often forget that. Let today’s Proverb remind you to be careful with your words.

1 Samuel 10:1-11:15:

  • 1-8 – Samuel anoints Saul as prince (eventually king) of Israel and explains to him what God will do to confirm that this is all true. It would be pretty hard to believe that you were being anointed as the king of Israel when there had never been one and you weren’t seeking to be king.
  • 9-13 – Though Saul’s anointing hadn’t been made public yet, he was quickly revealed to some people who knew him as a prophet.
  • 20-24 – Though Saul was reluctant, the people of Israel accepted him immediately as king. He looked the part, being tall and handsome.
  • 1-15 – This story is a little confusing without context. The Ammonites attacked the Israelites in Jabesh-gilead (also known as Jabesh). The men of Jabesh are willing to make a treaty with the Ammonites to serve them. Note that they never seek God’s help throughout the story. The Ammonites want to gouge out an eye because it disgraces the Israelites and renders them unable to fight in battles. The men of Jabesh send for help and the plea reaches Saul. Saul’s army defeats the Ammonites and Saul’s position is solidified with the people.

John 6:43-71:

  • 47-51 – God provided for the physical needs of the Israelites in the desert. God uses Jesus to take it a step further by offering himself up for people’s eternal needs.
  • 52-58 – Jesus did not actually intend for the people to gnaw on his body. He did, however, intend for them to practice communion (which began with the last supper), and to allow his body and blood to be what sustained them.
  • 67-69 – Peter is the only disciple who publicly identifies Jesus as the Messiah or Son of God.

Psalm 107:1-43:

  • 1 – This verse often starts psalms and other portions of Scripture meant for praising God.
  • 8-9 – Too often we forget these things when we feel forgotten, desperate, or alone. It is beautiful when we can remember God’s “wondrous works” and testify to his faithfulness so that other “hungry souls” can hear and be filled.
  • 10-13 – Sometimes we fail and have to face our consequences, but when we cry out to God, he is always faithful to bring us back to himself.
  • 23-32 – This portion of the psalm would have been helpful for the disciples to know when they were in a storm on a boat and panicked.

Proverbs 15:1-3:

  • 1-2 – The book of James dedicates a large section to taming the tongue. The tongue is compared to a horse’s bridle or a boat’s rudder. It steers and can control us. This Proverb supports that.

May 10 – Daily Notes – Amanda

sorrow

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.

John 6:22-42:

  • 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.
  • 40 – This relates back to our reading on 5/8 in chapter 5 when it talks about a resurrection of all people when Jesus returns.
  • 41 – Basically, Jesus is the way God will provide salvation and eternal life for believers.

Psalm 106:32-48:

  • This portion of the psalm recounts the Israelites’ unfaithfulness in the Promised Land.
  • 44-48 – Once again, we see God’s grace in rescuing his people when they cry out to him. Despite a series of sin and forgiveness, God continues to love and provide for Israel.

May 8 – Daily Notes – Amanda

silence

Today’s reading from 1 Samuel says, “the word of the Lord was rare in those days.” We see with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others, God has conversations and advice for these people throughout their lives. But for a time, whether by God’s choice or because the Israelites had strayed so far from him, God was silent. God’s voice was so absent that Samuel didn’t recognize it when he called. Is it possible that we too have strayed far from God and don’t recognize his voice when he calls?

1 Samuel 2:22-4:22:

  • 25 – Eli’s sons had sinned continually against God, choosing to sin directly against his laws, against the women who served God, and against the offerings given to God. Their hearts were hardened through their vast sins and then God chooses to harden them completely.
  • 27-36 – God cuts off Eli’s family from the priesthood because of his son’s great sins. Though Eli didn’t sin to the extent of his sons, he also didn’t make a great effort to stop them.
  • 1 – This means God was not speaking directly to people much at this time. This could be a choice by God or it could be because of Israel’s distance from God.
  • 4 – Yet another biblical character who responds to God’s call with the faithful response, “Here I am.”
  • 7 – Samuel was still young and hadn’t had a direct encounter with God so he was unable to recognize his voice. In John’s gospel Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd and because of that, the sheep know his voice.
  • 9-10 – A beautiful, willing response.
  • 11-15 – Eli raised Samuel so hearing such a negative report about Eli from God would be quite troubling to the young man. It is not surprising that he was scared to tell Eli.
  • 19 – Samuel was eager to learn all he could from the Lord.
  • 3-11 – The Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments, represented the presence of God. God could have caused the Israelites to defeat the Philistines but decided not to because of the sins of Hophni and Phinehas.
  • 22 – The Ark of the Covenant being captured would be like Washington D.C. being taken over by our enemies. But it was even worse than that because it represented God no longer being in their presence.

John 5:24-47:

  • 25-29 – This passage tells us that there will be a resurrection for the dead and both believers and non-believers will be judged by Christ.
  • 45-47 – The Jews based their holiness and worthiness on Moses’ law. When Jesus says it is Moses that will accuse them before God and not him, he is expressing that none of them have succeeded in meeting Moses’ standards and thus none can be justified before God.

Psalm 106:1-12:

  • 4-5 – God was extremely gracious to his people, the Israelites and the psalmist is asking for inclusion on this treatment.
  • 7-12 – Of all the great works God did for the Israelites, clearly the most significant to them was being rescued from Egypt. It is, far and away, the most referenced act of God throughout the Old Testament.

Proverbs 14:30-31:

  • This portion of the proverb contrasts peace and dissatisfaction. The former gives us life, while the other sucks it out of us.

May 7 – Daily Notes – Amanda

priorities

Like in today’s reading from John, Jesus and the religious authorities were in a continual battle and a great deal of it revolved around priorities. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew God’s word and it said you could not work on the Sabbath. Jesus, on the other hand, believed the law’s importance and authority had limits, particularly in light of the suffering of another human. Today, Jesus prioritized a crippled man’s healing over the law. The religious authorities did not approve.

1 Samuel 1:1-2:21:

  • 5 – It was not unusual for a man to abandon a barren wife.
  • 1-8 – Note the similarities between these two women and Rachel and Leah. The less loved wife is able to bear children. Rivalry ensues. But notice how differently Hannah deals with her situation than Rachel.
  • 8 – Elkanah sounds like a wonderful, loving man.
  • 11 – Hannah is offering the son she hopes for up as a Nazirite, dedicated to the Lord’s service, like Samson.
  • 19-20 – Obviously a huge answer to prayer! Note that in ancient Israelite culture, name’s had deep meaning. We’ve seen this a lot. Name’s were not given frivolously, but with great purpose and thought.
  • 24-28 – What an incredibly difficult follow through! Hannah desperately wanted a son, but promised him to God’s service. She follows through with her promise and gives Samuel to the Lord. I’m not sure that I could do the same.
  • 1-10 – The deep faith and commitment to God expressed in her prayer makes it a little more clear how she was able to keep her promise.
  • 12-17 – The sons of Eli would have been priests as well and were not following the laws of how to sacrifice, but instead, taking the parts of the sacrifice that were meant for God.

John 5:1-23:

  • 2-9 – We often read these stories and think they’re neat or nice but fail to feel the weight of it. The man beside the pool had been an invalid for 38 years! 38 years is a long time to be sick or disabled! And then suddenly, with just a word, he is able to walk. That’s incredible!
  • 9-17 – The religious leaders were very intent on keeping the law. Note that they did not rejoice that the crippled man was healed, they noticed his infraction of picking up his mat. We can tend to be pretty bad about that too. “Sin no more” is also an interesting statement because you wonder what sin of this man Jesus is referring to. He says the same thing to the woman at the well, but he was addressing a specific sin.

Psalm 103:57-45:

  • The continuation of this Psalm tells more of the story of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites through their escape from Egypt and his provision for them in the desert. If you were an Israelite reading or hearing this, it would be a great reminder of the lengths to which God was willing to go to save you.

Proverbs 14:28-29:

  • Quick reactions, decisions, and emotions continue to be associated with folly.

What to Expect – Week 19

mother and baby

Who is the most boring character in all of Scripture? Many people would say Samuel even though he is instrumental in the development of Israel and its leaders. If you’re looking for a scandal, deceit, and drama, Samuel is not your guy. He was faithful throughout his service, respected by his people, and followed God’s directions even when they were difficult. But here are a couple of things to watch for in this week of our readings in Samuel:

  • Hannah, Samuel’s mother, prayed fervently for a child but promised to dedicate him to God
  • Samuel was raised primarily by Eli the priest
  • In a time when God didn’t speak much, he chose to speak to Samuel
  • When the Israelites begged for a king, God told Samuel they weren’t rejecting Samuel, but God
  • Samuel anointed Saul as the first King of Israel

This week in John, we’ll read the first of the 12 times Jesus says, “I am…”. This time he says, “I am the bread of life.” Though some of his “I am” statements are cryptic, he reveals himself, in part, through these statements. If our goal is to know and follow Jesus and to become more like him, these “I am” statements are crucial. Look for these throughout the rest of John’s gospel to try to piece together clues into who Jesus is and what he’s about.

Psalm 106, which we’ll read Monday and Tuesday, recounts God’s faithfulness in getting them out of Egypt and caring for them in the wilderness. It’s important to note that the writer of the psalm was not a slave in Egypt, did not witness the water’s part, and never wandered in the desert with Moses. But someone told him about it and those stories gave the writer faith that he shared with others. This is all the more reason that we must share our experiences with God with others.

We have now started our fifth month of reading! That means we are a third of the way through the Bible! That’s no small feat. Keep up the good work and let us know how your commitment to Scripture has impacted your life.